Chapter 22 - A Ruined Birthday

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It couldn't be said that the Cullen's didn't enjoy a good celebration. That was especially true for Alice. Alice, Lily's most exuberant sister, is notorious for being relentless in planning and prepping for celebrations whether the recipient wanted it or not.  Lily could say she was relieved that Alice's focus seemed to be Bella instead of her this year. Bella had finally relented in having a small party at the Cullen's house to celebrate her eighteenth birthday.

Lily, despite her sour mood of late, found herself looking forward to the celebration. It was nice to have another human that her family could focus on. She also found herself treasuring these moments. Her own birthday was only a few weeks away and she logically knew it would more than likely be the last one she celebrated with her family.

Lily was glad her family seemed to be in a better place than they had at the beginning of the year. It seemed that the additional time at home had been good for Jasper and Rosalie. On the flip side, Emmett seemed to have even more energy to burn when the others returned home. He had offered multiple times to do a variety of activities with Lily which she turned down more often than not. She just couldn't bring herself to have the energy. Without the constant pressure of being surrounded by humans at school, Jasper seemed more relaxed than others. He had always enjoyed quiet moments around the home. This had a visual impact on the entire Cullen clan. Even Rosalie seemed to be more open. She had started to come around to the idea of having Bella around. Even though she still wasn't a fan of Bella's and Edward's relationship, she was less hostile to the new human.

Rosalie had also tried to reach out to Lily multiple times without much success. The girl wasn't pushing her away, but she was more closed off than before. Rosalie knew she should have expected it, but she didn't want to admit how much that hurt. Rosalie realized she took advantage of how open the blonde human had always been. She had hoped her less hostile actions around Bella would help, but it didn't seem to make an impact. She had also noticed Jasper's attention on their human family member which stressed her out more. Jasper never said anything, but something was obviously wrong. Rosalie didn't dare bring it up in fear it would destroy any of the progress she had made since prom. As Rosalie watched the blonde human sleep from her chair in Lily's room, she knew she would have the time to repair their relationship. She knew why she was so focused on Lily, even if she didn't dare say it out loud. She couldn't imagine her life without her now. She refused to think about the future. Refused to acknowledge the fundamental difference between Lily and the rest of the clan. She knew it was something the Cullen family at large refused to address and she knew they had years before it should become an issue.

Too bad that wasn't true.


The sound of Bella's truck was unmistakable even for Lily's normal sense of hearing. She couldn't help but roll her eyes at the look of annoyance on Rosalie's face at the sound. No matter how many times she brought it up to Bella, the girl refused to believe that Rosalie would actually work on the truck. Rosalie's dislike for Bella may be deep, but it was nothing compared to her hatred of poor machinery.

Lily moved into the family room to join the rest of her family. She moved to stand next to Carlisle.

"Wow, I guess Alice wasn't joking about dressing up," Lily said under her breath knowing the rest of the Cullens could hear her regardless. While she had no interest in dressing up, she couldn't help but feel underdressed in her black jeans, brown boots, and a slightly cropped black tank. She hadn't planned on staying the whole time anyway. She was hoping to escape the party early and take a small hike.

"We've learned long ago that Alice is serious about her dress codes," Carlisle says with a hint of fondness.

"Where even is she? I thought she would be the first one down here. Even I could hear them pull up."

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