"Hey, Charlie," Edward called, entirely relaxed.
"No!" I hissed under my breath.
"What?" Edward whispered back.
"Wait till he hangs his gun up!"
Edward chuckled and ran his free hand through his tousled bronze hair.
Charlie came around the corner, still in his uniform, still armed, and tried not to make a face when he spied us sitting together on the loveseat. Lately, he'd been putting forth a lot of effort to like Edward more. Of course, this revelation was sure to end that effort immediately.
"Hey, kids. What's up?"
"We'd like to talk to you," Edward said, so serene. "We have some good news."
Charlie's expression went from strained friendliness to black suspicion in a second.
"Good news?" Charlie growled, looking straight at me.
"Have a seat, Dad."
He raised one eyebrow, stared at me for five seconds, then stomped to the recliner and sat down on the very edge, his back ramrod straight.
"Don't get worked up, Dad," I said after a moment of loaded silence. "Everything's okay."
Edward grimaced, and I knew it was in objection to the word "okay." He probably would have used something more like "wonderful" or "perfect" or "glorious."
"Sure it is, Bella, sure it is. If everything is so great then why are you sweating bullets?"
"I'm not sweating," I lied.
I leaned away from his fierce scowl, cringing into Edward, and instinctively wiped the back of my right hand across my forehead to remove the evidence.
"You're pregnant!" Charlie exploded. "You're pregnant, aren't you?"
Though the question was probably meant for me, he was glaring at Edward now, and I could have sworn I saw his hand twitch toward the gun.
"No! Of course I'm not!" I wanted to elbow Edward in the ribs, but I knew that move would only give me a bruise. I'd told Edward that people would immediately jump to this conclusion! What other possible reason would sane people have for getting married at eighteen? (His answer then had made me roll my eyes. Love. Right.)
Charlie's glower lightened a shade. It was usually pretty clear on my face when I was telling the truth, and he believed me now. "Oh. Sorry."
There was a long pause. After a moment, I realized everyone was waiting for me to say something. I looked up at Edward, panic-stricken. There was no way I was going to get the words out.
He smiled at me and then squared his shoulders and turned to my father.
"Charlie, I realize that I've gone about this out of order. Traditionally, I should have asked you first. I mean no disrespect, but since Bella has already said yes and I don't want to diminish her choice in the matter, instead of asking you for her hand, I'm asking you for your blessing. We're getting married, Charlie. I love her more than anything in the world, more than my own life, and—by some miracle—she loves me that way, too. Will you give us your blessing?"
He sounded so sure, so calm. For just an instant, listening to the absolute confidence in his voice, I experienced a rare moment of insight. I could see, fleetingly, the way the world looked to him. For the length of one heartbeat, this news made perfect sense.
And then I caught sight of the expression on Charlie's face, his eyes now locked on the ring.