I held my breath while his skin changed colors—fair to red, red to purple, purple to blue. I started to get up—I'm not sure what I planned to do; maybe use the Heimlich maneuver to make sure he wasn't choking—but Edward squeezed my hand and murmured "Give him a minute" so low that only I could hear.
The silence was much longer this time. Then, gradually, shade by shade, Charlie's color returned to normal. His lips pursed, and his eyebrows furrowed; I recognized his "deep in thought" expression. He studied the two of us for a long moment, and I felt Edward relax at my side.
"Guess I'm not that surprised," Charlie grumbled. "Knew I'd have to deal with something like this soon enough."
"You sure about this?" Charlie demanded, glaring at me.
"I'm one hundred percent sure about Edward," I told him without missing a beat.
"Getting married, though? What's the rush?" He eyed me suspiciously again.
The rush was due to the fact that I was getting closer to nineteen every stinking day, while Edward stayed frozen in all his seventeen-year-old perfection. Not that this fact necessitated marriage in my book, but the wedding was required due to the delicate and tangled compromise Edward and I had made to get to this point, the brink of my transformation from mortal to immortal.
These weren't things I could explain to Charlie.
"We're going away to Dartmouth together in the fall, Charlie," Edward reminded him. "I'd like to do that, well, the right way. It's how I was raised." He shrugged. He wasn't exaggerating; they'd been big on old-fashioned morals during World War I.
Charlie's mouth twisted to the side. Looking for an angle to argue from. But what could he say? I'd prefer you live in sin first? He was a dad; his hands were tied.
"Knew this was coming," he muttered to himself, frowning. Then, suddenly, his face went perfectly smooth and blank. "Dad?" I asked anxiously. I glanced at Edward, but I couldn't read his face, either, as he watched Charlie.
"Ha!" Charlie exploded. I jumped in my seat. "Ha, ha, ha!"
I stared incredulously as Charlie doubled over in laughter; his whole body shook with it.
I looked at Edward for a translation, but Edward had his lips pressed tightly together, like he was trying to hold back laughter himself.
"Okay, fine," Charlie choked out. "Get married." Another roll of laughter shook through him. "But…"
"But what?" I demanded.
"But you have to tell your mom! I'm not saying one word to Renee! That's all yours!" He busted into loud guffaws.
I paused with my hand on the doorknob, smiling. Sure, at the time, his words had terrified me. The ultimate doom: telling Renée. Early marriage was higher up on her black list than boiling live puppies.
Who could have foreseen her response? Not me. Certainly not Charlie. Maybe Alice, but I hadn't thought to ask her. "Well, Bella," Renée had said after I'd choked and stuttered out the impossible words: Mom, I'm marrying Edward. "I'm a little miffed that you waited so long to tell me. Plane tickets only get more expensive. Oooh," she'd fretted. "Do you think Phil's cast will be off by then? It will spoil the pictures if he's not in a tux—"
"Back up a second, Mom." I'd gasped. "What do you mean, waited so long? I just got en-en…"—I'd been unable to force out the word engaged— "things settled, you know, today."
"Today? Really? That is a surprise. I assumed.…"
"What did you assume? When did you assume?"