I sat back on my heels and stared at my mate, dumbfounded. I slowly loosened my grip on her wrist and let my hand fall slack in my lap.
“What’s your name?” I asked softly. Hesitantly.
She gave me a small smile and subtly shrugged, then held Isabella’s doll out to me in offering. “Wanna play with me?” she repeated.
And I thought Isabella’s voice was soft.
This voice was barely there…just a whisper with a faint, high-pitched undertone that let me know she actually had a voice. It was almost the exact replica of my Isabella’s voice, but softer, if that makes any sense.
I nodded in response to her request and gently took the doll from her hands. She beamed up at me, glad that I was going to play with her apparently, then reached for Isabella’s stuffed bear.
Would she care that this…um, ‘other person’, was playing with her toys?
Only one way to find out.
I noticed then, that my mate was very curiously looking at my posture with a puzzled look on her face. She turned to face me and went up on her knees, then sat back on her heels, mirroring my position with the soft toy in her lap.
There was a small smile on her face as she gazed into my gold eyes with her chocolate ones. I felt encouraged by her adorable expression and mirrored her small smile with my own, trying to ignore the ridiculous nervous feeling that had begun plaguing my mind.
This is my mate.
No matter who she is at the moment, she is mine and I should always feel comfortable in her presence.
I took a deep breath then, pulling her scent deep into my lungs and effectively relaxing my body. My eyes quickly scanned her small form, trying to detect any unique, yet subtle differences that would let me know she is someone different than Marie or Isabella. I found none, though, and I don’t know why I expected to. This new alternate had been aware all of five minutes - of course she wouldn’t have displayed any unique traits of her own yet.
I realized then, that I was becoming impatient in wanting to know this person.
I wanted to know everything about her. What’s her name? How old is she? How long has she been around? What kinds of things does she like? Does she know who I am?
Whoa, slow down, Cullen…
I definitely had to keep my overbearing, impatient ways in check and take this slow.
Step by step…baby steps.
Just like I had done with my other girls.
So after I pulled in another lungful of her intoxicating scent, I gave her a small, reassuring smile and settled on just asking, “What do you want to play?”
She subtly shrugged again, keeping up that same penetrating stare. “Um…” her whisper trailed off before her little hands began absently stroking the fur on the stuffed bear’s belly.
When she cocked her head to the side a bit and gave me another little shrug, I came to the conclusion that she was either very shy, or very quiet. Or both. So I decided that I would have to be the instigator of this conversation and asked, “How old are you?”
She proudly held up two fingers and my eyes widened in shock before I could stop them.
She’s two… Wait, she’s two?!
I was brought out of my surprised reverie by her soft little giggle. “Two,” she told me, confirming my thoughts.
I subtly nodded, letting her know that I had heard her, but couldn’t quite find my voice at the moment.
I could barely keep up with what Isabella required of me and all the juvenile things that she wanted to do - how was I going to handle a two year old?
Oh god, please tell me she’s potty trained.
She reached for the doll in my lap then, and turned her body slightly to the side so that she could put the toy back in the plastic basinet. “Isabella says no…” she said then.
I furrowed my brow, just now noticing her slight lisp when she said Isabella’s name. “Um, what?”
She turned back to face me and I was surprised to see that her beautiful eyes were glistening with unshed tears. I studied the sad look on her face as she sniffled and fisted the hem of her jeans shorts in her right hand. “Can’t play with her toys,” she said despondently, clarifying her previous statement for me before she slowly leaned forward and put the stuffed bear back in the basinet.
She sat back on her heels when she was done, still wanting to mirror my position apparently, but kept her sad gaze focused longingly on the toys in front of her.
I was surprised at the slight anger I felt towards Isabella then. Why couldn’t she just share her fucking toys? Only for a little while, until I could go to the store and get some more.
I smelt the salt in her tears and watched as a tiny wet drop slid down her soft rosy cheek. When she gave another little sniffle, I said ‘fuck it’ and lost my already weak resolve to take things slow.
“C’mere, sweetheart…” I said, reaching for her and not caring in the least that we weren’t properly acquainted yet.
Two years old or not, she is my mate. I love her. And I can’t stand the sight of her tears.
A very small cry escaped her lips as I positioned her to sit sideways on my lap. She kept her intent focus trained on Isabella’s toys as she laid her head down on my shoulder.
I kissed the hair at the top of her head and lightly caressed her back, rocking her a bit. “Don’t cry…” I pleaded.
“I wanna play with the teddy…” her small voice whimpered.
I nodded in understanding. “I can get you a teddy that’s all your own,” I placated in a soft voice. “Would you like that?”
I felt her subtle nod against my shoulder as a little whispered “yes” fell from her lips.
Nine seconds later, the room fell silent again. My mate’s tears had stopped, and I was glad for that, but I was also a bit frustrated because I still didn’t know anything about this new little alternate, besides the fact that she’s two years old, has a slight lisp, and wants a teddy, apparently.
I kept her cradled to my chest and never stopped my trailing fingertips as I sat on the floor and tried to figure out what I was supposed to do next. I decided that I needed to know what to call her, so after I placed a soft kiss to the silky hair on her temple, I repeated my earlier question. “What’s your name?”
She shrugged again and whispered, “Wha’s yours?”
“Edward,” I murmured close to her ear.
“Ed-ward,” she repeated, trying it out.
I nodded and hummed, “Mm-hmm…very good.”
She just silently nodded in acknowledgement of her small accomplishment in pronouncing my name.
“Why don’t you know your name?”
“Don’t have one…” her whisper informed me.
I furrowed my brow in confusion.
How could she not have a name?
Isabella and Marie had both come to me, already named. The only thing this personality appears to know about herself is her age.
She stuck her thumb in her mouth then, but I ignored it, not exactly sure yet if I would let it slide with my new two year old, or not. I didn’t want her doing it at all, but I had to keep her age in mind. Isn’t it common for two year olds to suck their thumbs?
I knew Isabella wouldn’t give a damn about ages, though. She’d see this as me not being fair. If I let this particular personality have her thumb, then I’d have to let Isabella have it, as well…outside of bedtime.
Ugh, things just got really fucking complicated.
How do I stay fair to my little girl while taking this new baby’s needs into consideration?
Carlisle came into the room then, eyes light and mind bright with excitement at hearing the last five minutes of conversation between me and my mate‘s new arrival. He had successfully come to the right conclusion; there’s another one.
And he couldn’t wait to meet her.
He slowly walked over and sat down beside us, his thoughts unsure of this new alternate’s potential demeanor. She watched his movements curiously while her thumb remained contently placed in her mouth.
It was clear that this alternate was a child, and he knew from experience with Isabella, my mate’s first child alternate, that she had been wary and scared of him at first, so he chose to remain cautious in his approach with her new one.
“Hello,” he greeted, his bedside manner voice in place.
Her pink lips curled upward around her thumb as she unclenched her fist from the hem of her jean shorts and gave him a little wave in response.
“How old are you, dear?”
Wow, he doesn’t waste any time.
His thoughts informed then, that no…he wasn’t wasting any time. He wanted to know, almost as badly as I did, why this new alternate didn’t have a name.
She held up two small fingers for him to see before she let her hand fall back down to her lap.
He nodded. “And, what’s your name?”
She shrugged again.
He sighed and whispered in our frequency, “Edward, I think she‘s brand new.”
I furrowed my brow, not exactly sure what he meant by that statement.
Of course she’s brand new; this is the first time she’s ever come around. I would have known if she had made an appearance before. I’m around my mate all the time. I never leave her side, not if I can help it.
He subtly nodded at my little girl and gave her a small, reassuring smile. “Would you like one?” he asked then.
Her thumb immediately popped out of her mouth and she smiled brightly up at him, then silently nodded.
He smiled back, very happy with her responsiveness, quiet or not. She didn’t appear to be skittish, or hostile, or even scared…much like my other little girl.
“What would you like to be called, sweetie?”
She simply shrugged at him again, then turned her attention back to me. “Edward, wha’s my name?” she asked in that same softly whispered voice I was quickly beginning to familiarize myself with.
My eyes widened a bit in response, and now it was my turn to shrug. “Um…” was all I could come up with. I was at a loss.
I’m supposed to name her?
She was still staring at me thirteen seconds later when I still hadn’t given her an answer.
I smiled at my brand new baby girl and suggested, “How about you let me think about it, okay? You can help me think of a really pretty one…”
She smiled back, placated by my answer, and nodded.
“Do you know who Jim is?” Carlisle asked then.
I barely suppressed a growl as I shot my Sire a sudden murderous, scathing glare.
Why does he always have to bring that therapy bullshit up? First time Marie comes around, he asks why she exists. First time Isabella comes around, he shows her those pictures and asks why Charlie is a ‘bad man’. Now, this new baby shows up, and he asks her about that asshole, Jim. I don’t care if he’s her doctor - can’t he just give it a fucking break every once in a while?
I noticed his eager thoughts were remaining apprehensive, though, so he was very well aware of the fact that his question could incite a negative reaction from her.
Why ask it then?
I was brought out of my silent ramblings by the delicate shake of a little head. “No…” she answered softly.
He nodded in response and I sighed in relief. I guess it would make sense that she knew nothing of Jim since he didn’t enter my Bella’s life until she was five years old. Marie’s statement the second night she was here came unbidden in my mind then…”Those are Isabella’s memories, not mine”.
Yes. Isabella is the abused, tortured one. Marie is the insecure, abandoned one.
Hmmm…what is this one?
My girl raised herself up out of my lap then.
I furrowed my brow as she stood before me. “Where are you going?” I asked, making sure to keep my voice soft.
“Potty,” she answered, then turned and walked the five feet to the brightly lit bathroom.
Guess she’s potty trained, after all.
When she didn’t shut the door behind her, I called out the reminder, “Don’t forget to close the door, baby.”
“Kay,” she muttered in response, turning back around to shut the door with a soft click.
“Edward…” Carlisle called out then, trying to turn my attention away from the closed bathroom door.
My new baby is in there…my new baby.
With one last glance, I reluctantly turned my head and tried to focus on Carlisle and what he was trying to tell me.
I gave him a questioning look. “What?”
He nodded, glad that I was paying attention to him now. “Son, Charlie is gone now, as I’m sure you already know. I made sure he knew that Bella’s alternate, Marie, acted out of self-defense in that alleyway. I also informed him of her history with violence and that she has killed before, but that it was also in self-defense. He seemed to notice a pattern with Marie’s extreme protectiveness of Bella and ‘the body’. He is going to work on it from his end, so hopefully this doesn’t come back to bite Bella in the ass. We may have to move, though…just until things cool down…” he trailed off suggestively.
I nodded in agreement. “Yes, if we need to, we’ll move. I’m not going to have these pathetic humans coming after my girl whether she did it in self-defense, or not. My Bella is not going to be incarcerated. She is staying with me, goddamn it - I’ll fucking hide her if I have to. I will take care of my mate,” I stated with conviction. There may have been some growl in it, too.
Carlisle raised his brow slightly, his thoughts beseeching me to calm down. I nodded silently, paying attention to the sweet scent saturating the air in my bedroom and the sounds coming from the other side of that bathroom door in an effort to calm myself.
My new baby is in there…
Carlisle’s voice started to fade back in, eventually winning out over the sounds of soft fabric sliding over my mate’s smooth skin with ease. “…and I can almost guarantee you that this new alternate popped up in response to his trip down memory lane earlier. Bella may not consciously remember what happened to her as a toddler, but her mind remembers,” he informed me.
I looked down at my lap and nodded, coming to that conclusion as well. I knew just as much about this disorder as he did. Listening to his thoughts and learning things from my Bella’s therapy sessions have given me a sufficient education on the subject.
I looked back at Carlisle with furrowed brows. “I kind of figured that, but what did you mean earlier when you said ‘I think she’s brand new’?”
He nodded, understanding my slight confusion on the matter. “I meant, I think this is the first time she’s come around…ever. The very first time.”
I nodded slowly, absorbing this information.
“I think it also explains why she doesn’t have a name,” he concluded.
“Okay…” I whispered, turning my gaze back to the door when it opened. “Did you flush?” I asked her.
“No,” she answered, then turned right back around and hit the flush button.
I watched as she silently stood by the toilet and watched the flush process play itself out. When it was through, she turned around and started walking back towards me again.
“Did you wash your hands?” I asked then.
She paused her steps. “No,” she responded with a little shake of her head, then turned right back around, again, and went over to the sink to wash her hands.
She listens well…
So it would appear that she is potty trained, but she needs an occasional reminder when it comes to certain aspects of it.
I turned my gaze back to Carlisle. “So, if this is her first time out…then everything is new to her?” I asked, perplexed.
He nodded, gazing at me seriously. “Yes,” he clarified. His thoughts mirrored his expression.
This alternate was brand new in every sense of the word. She wouldn’t know what foods she liked, or what toys she wanted. She wouldn’t be aware of what’s dangerous and what’s not…he was even wondering if we needed to child proof the damn house.
I furrowed my brow at that thought. She may be two, but she’s in the body of an eighteen year old. Baby gates and cabinet hooks were not needed in this situation.
I noticed the water to the sink hadn’t shut off yet, so I looked back over to the girl in question and found that she was pumping the fourth serving of antibacterial foaming soap into her hands with an adorable smile on her face. The bubbly substance was now overflowing in her little palm.
I chuckled. “Excuse me…” I muttered to Carlisle, not bothering to wait for his response before standing up and walking over to my little mate.
“Hi…” I called out softly when I was standing beside her.
She looked up at my reflection on the mirror. “Hi…” she responded, mirroring my tone.
I nodded pointedly to her hands. “Rub your hands together, sweetheart,” I gently instructed.
She nodded, then flattened her palms against one another, and started a slow rubbing motion. After a few seconds, she looked up to me for approval. “Like this?” she asked, that little lisp still in place.
I smiled and nodded encouragingly. “Here, watch…” I told her, pumping some soap into my own hands and slowly rubbing them together.
She smiled and giggled softly, noticing that our hands were mimicking each other’s movements.
After a few seconds, I said, “And now, you rinse…” then placed my hands under the faucet’s running water.
She subtly nodded and paused her hand’s movements, patiently waiting for her turn.
When I removed my hands from the warm water, I quickly dried them off on the small white hand towel, and watched as my mate rinsed her little hands in the same fashion.
She quietly yawned as she reached for the same small hand towel and dried her hands, just like she’d seen me do.
“Are you tired?” I asked softly.
“Edward?” she chirped.
I smiled. “Yes?”
“I got a new friend,” Isabella informed me as she turned to face me.
I nodded. “Mm-hmm, I know it…”
She reached for me then, so I picked her up, knowing from my other little girl’s yawn that she was just about ready for her afternoon nap.
“Charlie’s gone, huh…” she inquired as she laid her head down on my shoulder.
I hit the bathroom‘s light switch and walked back into the bedroom with Isabella in my arms. “Mm-hmm…”
I started pacing the room then, and noticed that Carlisle had left to go back downstairs and do some more research on dissociative identity disorder.
“You’re mine, huh?”
I tightened my hold on her, hugging her to me. “Yes baby love, I‘m yours.”
I felt her nod against my shoulder. “Mm-hmm…and Edward?”
“My toys are mine too, huh?”
I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Yes…”
I turned back the direction we had just come from and kept pacing. “Hmm?”
“My new friend needs toys too, huh?”
I nodded. “Yes, she does. She needs toys too, baby,” I agreed.
She sighed out another little yawn then. “Yah-huh, mm-hmm…”
I furrowed my brow and began running the pad of my thumb along her small shoulder blade. “I don’t see why you just can’t share your toys, Isabella…that was mean earlier,” I admonished her.
She lifted her head and furrowed her thin brow. “What was?” she muttered curiously in a small voice.
I gave her a slightly stern look. “Why couldn’t she hold Fuzzy bear?”
“B’cuz he’s mine,” she said simply.
I sighed in exasperation and relaxed my features. “You girls are gonna have to learn how to share sooner or later,” I told her.
Isabella slowly shook her head, keeping eye contact and started to suck on her pouty pink lips. “Mm-mmmm…” her voice lilted in disagreement.
I rolled my eyes, but didn’t say anything further on the matter.
If Marie and Isabella wanted to be stubborn and possessive with their things, then I would just go out and get this new baby some toys of her own, and if she didn’t want them playing with her new things, then they wouldn’t be allowed to either.
Isabella is going to have to learn the hard way that it hurts when kids won’t share their shiny new toys with you.
I sighed and pushed my slight irritation aside, then sat down on the rocking recliner, kissing my little girl’s soft, rosy cheek. “What, sweetie pie…” my voice trailed off as I started the soothing rocking motions of this chair.
She laid her head down on my shoulder, and I felt her left hand’s little fingers slowly make their way into the hair at the nape of my neck. After a minute of lightly tickling my hair with her warm fingertips, I heard that familiar little sniffle sound off right next to my ear.
I furrowed my brow and started rubbing little circles on her back with my own fingertips, trying to coax a response out of her. Is she upset about the new arrival of another alternate? Is she still upset about Carlisle‘s betrayal with her pictures earlier? Is she upset that Charlie was here, in her room?
Is she even upset, or is she just tired?
“Want my granny…” her sad voice trailed off then.
I subtly nodded in understanding. “Sorry, angel…you miss your granny?”
She nodded. “Yah-huh…miss her bunches,” she told me.
I sighed, deciding that talking about her grandmother could help make her feel better about it.
It could also make her cry, though…
I would have to be careful when it comes to the subject of dear old Granny.
I bit my lip and went through a hundred different possible questions before finally settling on one. “What do you miss about her, angel?” I asked, keeping her cradled to my chest and my voice soft.
There; that one seems harmless enough.
“Miss her b’cuz she’s nice and she gots Eskimo kisses for me all the tiiime…” she supplied in a tired voice.
I nodded, relieved that she wasn’t upset, and kissed the silky hair lining her temple. “She does Eskimo kisses the best, huh?” I murmured against her warm skin.
She nodded. “Mm-hmm, I get ’em all the time b’cuz I’m her special girl,” she told me.
I smiled. “She loves you very, very much,” I assured her.
“I love her, too…but Edward?”
I kissed her shoulder. “Hmm?”
“I love you more…” her soft voice trailed off then.
That’s fucking right.
“I love you too, Isabella,” I whispered my assurance.
“Mm-hmmm…” she hummed.
After a minute of rocking my little girl in silence, I got an idea and asked, “Baby, what was her name?”
I softly chuckled and noticed how it made a small trail of tiny goosebumps erupt along my mate’s smooth shoulder. “No, pretty girl…her name. Like, I called my granny, Grandma, but her name was Elizabeth. So what’s your granny’s name?”
“Um…it’s Huhh…Huh-daaasss-uhh…um, I think,” she told me, sounding out her grandmother’s name in an unsure voice.
“Hadassah?” I hedged.
She nodded against my shoulder. “Yah-huh…huh-dass-uh,” she confirmed, sticking her thumb in her mouth.
I smiled and kissed her cheek once more. “Okay, baby love…I think it’s time for your nap,” I whispered in her ear.
She nodded again, squeezing her left arm tighter around my neck, latching herself onto me further. I tightened my hold around her back in response, silently telling her that I’d hold her while she slept.
I’ll never let you go, angel…
I kept up the slow rocking motion and began lightly humming her lullaby to the delicate shell of her ear, smiling when she was fast asleep four minutes later.
Hmmm, Hadassah…a very pretty name for my very new baby girl.