Chapter Twenty-Nine: Brotherly Love

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Chapter Twenty-Nine: Brotherly Love

 As I leaped over the river, flashing across the back lawn under the shade of the cedars, and to the back door, I continued listening to the thoughts of my family that had started trickling into my mind over the last three miles of my journey home.

Emmett had been restless, pacing before the southern wall of glass that illuminated our large, airy living room with an abundance of natural light. He was growing impatient, waiting for my return in order to go hunting in the nearby park with Jasper and myself, with Carlisle planning to join us after his shift at the hospital.

“Where the heck is he?” growled my younger, much larger brother.

Rosalie, coolly turning the pages of a glossy auto magazine while sitting on the white sofa, frowned irritably. Off with that boring, dull, blushing little human thing, she thought scornfully...but wisely didn't express aloud as she flipped another page. I felt my own irritation rising, quelling it with some effort.

I was surprised by similar irritation stemming from Jasper's mind as he quietly read a book of medieval history in one of the wing chairs. Bella was obviously quite right: I had been neglecting my family lately...well, more than just lately. Really, since Bella's return from Phoenix. Carlisle, Esme, and Alice understood: after almost losing her, they recognized my need to rarely allow Bella out of my sight.

Alice came bouncing down the stairs, joining the group in the living room, clapping her hands and exclaiming, “Edward's coming! He'll be here in just a few seconds!”

“About time,” Emmett grumbled while Jasper set aside his book in relief. Rosalie merely sighed in irritation before tossing her magazine onto the coffee table, rising from the sofa gracefully, and striding upstairs in a huff.

I sighed as I flashed through the back door, preparing myself for the mostly good-natured complaints and teasing my family would undoubtedly subject me to. Looking up from her knitting in the matching wing chair, Esme smiled at me in welcome while Alice hugged me before asking after Bella.

Not giving me time to respond to Alice, Emmett's voice interrupted rudely, “Let's go hunting, Bro!” He folded his massive body into a graceful crouch, ready to race out the back door immediately. Alice frowned, seeing him tear the back door from its hinges (once again) in his eagerness for our men-only hunt. I grinned at her as she flounced to open the back door, thus preventing the damage she had foreseen. Alice winked at me as I turned to my still-crouching brother.

“Give me a moment, Emmett,” I pleaded. “I just got in.”

“Aw, come on!” he begged. “We've been waiting all day for you to get back!”

“Besides,” added Alice, “the sooner you leave, Edward, the sooner you can return to Bella.” She put her arms around Jasper, who thought teasingly, Ah, young love!

“All right, all right,” I conceded. “Let me change and I'll be right down.”

As I changed into a charcoal-gray t-shirt and dark-wash jeans, I smiled at my brothers' restlessness and Alice's bouncy enthusiasm. Rosalie remained shut up in her room, still irritated by my presence and the thought of Bella's constant presence in our family since her return from Phoenix. Carlisle and Esme loved Bella as a daughter, and Alice looked on Bella as a best friend at least, even as a sister, barely aware of Rosalie's thinly-veiled jealousy over the closeness of their relationship. Emmett was constantly amused by Bella's clumsy ways, regarding her as a little sister and himself as her big brother who teased her mercilessly yet protected her as few would, furthering his mate's resentment. Jasper's relationship with Bella was more complex; his struggles for control around humans in general and Bella in particular concerned me, but he also regarded Bella affectionately, with an elder-brother protectiveness more quiet than Emmett's yet more deeply-set. I smiled to myself as I laced my shoes, pleased that my family—with the exception of Rosalie—so openly welcomed and loved Bella, not only for my sake but for her own brave, loving, and beautiful character.

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