FAGE 9: The Last Ride
Title: Bella and Jasper's Excellent Adventure
Written for: AbbyMickey
Written By: mama4dukes
Banner By: Sparkling Fae
Summary/Prompt used: Bella and Jasper feel trapped in their marriages and stifled living with the Cullens. When a mysterious note is sent to them urging them to go, do they take the bait and leave? Of course they do. Join Bella and Jasper as they go on an excellent adventure and perhaps discover a few surprises along the way.
Loosely based on Prompt 4—couple finds a treasure map—instead I did something else mysterious.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction by mama4dukes. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of mama4dukes—the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.
If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this exchange visit the facebook group: Fanficaholics Anon: Where Obsession Never Sleeps, or add the C2 to get all the stories direct to your inbox.
Warning: This story is non-canon / AU / OOC. Liberties were taken with the timeline and the history of characters.
7 years after Bella and Edward's wedding—no baby spawn exists. The newborn war in Eclipse never happened nor did the confrontation with the Volturi.
Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. The second hand on the clock in the Cullen's mega mansion in Alaska ticked continuously as the members of the household whiled away the time, each in their own way.
Dr. Carlisle Cullen was sitting in his home office completing his patient reports for the day. He always brought them home because it gave him something to do during those monotonous hours when he wasn't at work. He always quadruple-checked his work because he honestly didn't want to spend time with his wife who would ask him his opinion about this fabric swatch or that.
Esme Cullen sat at a drafting table in her own office drawing some new blueprints for yet another extension to their home. She wished she could become an architect or a designer, but alas her condition as a vampire took that option away from her, at least according to her husband Carlisle.
Rosalie Hale tinkered away in the garage rebuilding the engine of a 1978 Pontiac Firebird, which she hoped to restore to its original factory condition. She was happy that she had a hobby that she enjoyed. She could fiddle with engines all day long, which was a good thing because she had an extremely long life ahead of her and she truly needed something to keep her busy since her husband was married to his computer.
Rosalie's husband Emmett Cullen was in his gaming room running a raid in League of Legends for the umpteenth time that day. This was his only social outlet. He had a posse of online gaming friends who he talked to all day while they gamed. He wished he could go out and socialize with friends rather than gaming all day, but he couldn't because it was deemed unsafe to cavort with humans. In any case, gaming kept him from having to hand tools to his grease monkey wife. For some reason, she thought he enjoyed being his lackey. To him, there was nothing more boring than working on cars all day.
Alice Cullen was in her enormous walk-in closet figuring out some new outfits to wear for herself and for the other family members. She used a combination of what she thought was her fabulous skill as a fashionista, coupled with her visions as a seer, to select the perfect outfits for herself and the rest of the family members.
Alice's husband Jasper was reading the newspaper in the family room away from his annoying wife. He was having trouble concentrating because Edward was playing his damned piano again. There was only so much classical music that he could listen to. Of course, the selfish little prig was so inconsiderate that he'd play all hours of the day whether anyone wanted to hear his crap or not.
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Jasper," Edward snipped at him.
"If you don't want to know the truth, then stop reading everyone's mind!"
Edward crossed his arms in front of his chest. "You know that I can't help it. It's impossible to control my gift."
Sitting across from Jasper on the love seat was Edward's wife Bella. She looked up from the book she was reading and rolled her eyes at her husband. Jasper chuckled at the sight of her.
"I saw that, Isabella! I don't appreciate you making disrespectful eye gestures at me then laughing with Jasper at my expense." To that comment, Bella wagged her eyebrows at the Major. She was used to her husband's whiney harangues by now. "I don't know what's gotten into you lately. You have been behaving like a child rather than my wife. Now I expect you to stop this nonsensical behavior and start acting like an elegant woman or…" Edward suddenly stopped his diatribe and looked up. "Someone is coming," he whispered just before the doorbell chimed.
"Well, who is it?" his wife asked, frustrated. She glanced up at the clock and noticed it was eleven AM.
"I don't know. I can't…I can't read their thoughts. I…" By this time, the entire coven, with the notable exception of Emmett, had gathered in the living room. The majority of them surrounded Edward, hoping for his gift to kick in.
Carlisle turned to Alice. "What about you? Can you see anything?"
The pixie rubbed her temples and looked up with a worried expression. "No…nothing. I can't see anything."
While everyone gasped in shock with fearful, panicked expressions on their faces, Bella stood up from her perch on the sofa and muttered, "Oh, for crying out loud." She walked up to the door with Jasper, who was quick to guard her, and opened it before the visitor could ring the doorbell. "Hi, Steve."
"How are you, Bella?"
"Fine, thank you. What do we have today?"
"Let's see. I have packages for Alice Cullen, Rosalie Hale, and Esme Cullen." Steve paused for a second. "Oh, and I have one for Edward Cullen." He handed Bella an electronic slate. "If you could sign here, please." Bella signed several times for him confirming the deliveries. "Would you like me to bring the packages inside or shall I just leave them here?"
"You can just leave them here. We'll get them."
"Thank you. See you tomorrow."
"Yes, see you tomorrow, Steve. Drive safely."
As soon as the UPS truck was out of sight, Bella opened the door wider and turned to the stunned coven members minus Jasper, of course. "Alright, come and get your deliveries."
Edward turned to her with a stern expression. "Isabella, I do not like how you carelessly answered the door when Alice and I were unable to figure out who it was. Your blatant disregard for safety is disturbing."
"Seriously? We're going to rehash this shit again, Edward? We go through this every single weekday. Alice orders clothes, Rose orders car parts, Esme orders fabrics, and you order more music. Monday thru Friday, at around eleven AM, Steve from UPS comes to our house to deliver packages. Neither Alice nor you can read him. Everyone else congregates around the two of you in absolute shock that your gifts don't work on him while Jasper and I answer the door. It's been like this for almost seven years!"
With his mouth opening and closing as he tried to formulate a response, Bella thought Edward resembled a fish out of water. He apparently had no idea how to deal with her outburst. "I…I…I don't appreciate your attitude," he finally spit out.
Bella rolled her eyes. "I'm only stating the obvious. If you don't want any deliveries, perhaps you shouldn't order anything online anymore."
Everyone gasped in shock at the suggestion. Alice turned her chin up stoically and stated, "We overreacted, of course. Why would we be afraid of a simple delivery person?" She plastered a fake smile on her face and gestured to everyone else that they should do the same. They all robotically turned to Bella and smiled at her.
"Oookay…well…glad you guys are all happy now…um, I'm going for a walk," she said.
"Now?" Edward asked.
"Love, I was just playing piano for you."
"Right…I really need to go for a walk."
"But…" Edward crossed his arms in front of chest. "I simply can't go with you right now. It's our special time together. I play piano for you and you listen. You love hearing me play classical piano."
"Bella, you love listening to Edward play piano. You can't go now." Alice nodded her head in a creepy manner.
"No, this is your special time together," Esme agreed.
"Okay, you know something? I really need to go for a walk now."
"Well, young lady, you can't go alone. Our world is not safe," Carlisle stated with finality. "Unfortunately, this is your special music time with Edward so the two of you can't go walking right now."
All the coven members who were gathered downstairs, minus Jasper, nodded at her—fake smiles still plastered on their faces.
"Fine!" Bella sat back down on the sofa and opened up a book.
"You're going to read? Aren't you going to listen to me play?"
"I'm a vampire. I'm very good at multi-tasking," she replied as she cocooned herself in her physical shield—effectively drowning most of the music out. She looked up at Jasper who sat back down across from her and smiled. She kindly expanded her shield to cover him as well. He was the only one in the coven she could put up with at this point.
Jasper Whitlock watched Bella with a concerned expression on his face. Since her change seven years ago, she had been becoming increasingly frustrated with Edward, who kept trying to mold her into a proper Victorian lady. The problem was that Bella was not a Victorian lady and would never be. She was a modern, twenty-first century woman with modern, twenty-first century views. Edward wanted an obedient, subservient wife. Bella craved adventure, but she was confined to this house in Alaska because her husband would not let her leave without protection. Edward only trusted himself or Alice to protect his wife. Oddly enough, Bella—with her shield—was more powerful than either of them.
On top of that, she had absolutely no bloodlust whatsoever. This was discovered after Alice and Edward slipped on the way to Seattle, seven years ago, roughly three months after Bella's change. Alice was desperate to go shopping so she insisted on going with Bella, Edward, and Jasper.
Edward, of course, was arrogantly speeding like a madman on the highway in the pouring rain. He was zipping between cars and switching lanes carelessly when he collided with another vehicle that didn't have enough time to move away from the speeding Volvo. The other vehicle spun and flipped several times before ultimately landing on its roof. The passenger, a young woman, was ejected and there was blood everywhere. Jasper immediately felt Alice and Edward's bloodlust, but curiously none from Bella, who was the only one calm enough to try to help the bleeding woman.
It didn't take long for Alice and Edward to approach the scene. Unable to control their bloodlust, they each started feeding from the poor woman while Bella did her best to stop them. It was before she knew how to use her shield so she was unable to create a physical barrier. Unfortunately, a hungry vampire in the throes of bloodlust was a strong one and Bella was physically thrown onto the opposite side of the highway. Jasper tried his best to stop them, too, but it was too late. With two bloodthirsty vampires feeding from her, the woman was drained and dead in no time. After that, it was Bella and Jasper who worked together to cover up the scene because Alice and Edward had quickly run away back to Forks where they had been living.
And when they finally arrived back in Forks, Alice and Edward had betrayed them—somehow twisting the situation by stating that it was Bella's newborn rage and Jasper's uncontrolled bloodlust that had somehow caused them to lose control and feed from the injured human. Bella and Jasper were actually scolded by Carlisle when they tried to tell their version of the story, which was the absolute truth. Within twenty-four hours, they had moved to their new home in Alaska where Bella and Jasper were virtual prisoners. And it was at that exact moment that the newest coven member learned the true dynamics of the Cullens—something Jasper had known for over half a century. So why the hell were they sticking around in this coven anyway? That question still had to be answered.
One year later…
Nothing…absolutely nothing had changed in the Cullen Coven. Carlisle was in his office working on patient reports, Esme was drafting up new designs, Rosalie was in the garage tinkering, and Emmett was gaming on his PC. Alice, of course, was going through her closet again.
Bella and Jasper sat in the family room reading, the former keeping her shield firmly around the latter because Edward was subjecting them to his annoying piano playing again. It had gone on for hours.
Bella glanced up at the clock. It was eleven AM—time for the coven to go into panic mode because Edward and Alice were unable to read the UPS driver. Sure enough, Edward abruptly stopped playing piano and announced, "Someone is coming."
Alice rushed down with a panicked expression on her face and stated, "I can't see anything."
Everyone else circled around the dynamic duo in abject fear, hoping that their gifts kicked in, while Bella and Jasper went to answer the front door.
It was, of course, Steve the UPS man with a delivery—right on schedule. Bella and Jasper loaded everything into the house with each bundle of packages that Steve brought out because there were exponentially more than the norm.
After the twentieth handtruck load of packages was unloaded into the house, Steve got the electronic slate out for a signature. He held his finger up like he recalled something then rushed back to the truck for a large envelope. Jasper was about to put it into the house, but noticed that it was addressed to him and, of all people, Bella. He signed for it before the deliveryman went on his way again.
Bella and Jasper stared at the mysterious envelope. They peered inside and noticed that everyone was occupied with their packages—there had been over two hundred, after all. Bella closed the front door softly while Jasper proceeded to open the envelope. Inside was a note that read, "Shields up! If you want to find what you're seeking, then run and catch up to the UPS truck and hop into the back. Make sure to stay hidden from the driver. Get off at the third stop then go to the general store for more instructions. Don't talk to each other until then."
Shrugging their shoulders, the pair ran to the UPS truck and hopped into the back. They followed the note's instructions and did not speak until an hour later at the third stop. They hopped out of the back of the UPS truck, unnoticed by Steve, who was filling up his gas tank and took a look around.
They were in a tiny town with just a general store, a small cafe, and a gas station. In the distance, they could see a smattering of houses. Otherwise, all they could see were snowcapped peaks and trees.
They walked into the general store, which was located directly across from where they were standing.
The store was stocked with everything from groceries to dry goods to hardware—typical of a merchant catering to tiny towns. They approached the counter, which was unmanned. Propped on the counter, there was a note scribbled on a small dry-erase board that read, "Honor System. Out to lunch. Back at one." Sitting next to it, was a cash box and an envelope with their names on it.
Jasper grabbed it and tore it open. Inside was a note that read, "Stay under shield. Ask the driver for a ride to Anchorage."
"What driver?" Bella asked, just as a man rushed inside and headed straight for the bathroom. "I don't miss that part of being human," she noted.
"Nope, neither do I. I always had to go at the most inopportune moments."
"Oh, yeah. I remember when we were driving to Arizona to get away from James and you needed to go badly. Alice insisted that you didn't need to go, but I could feel your desperation. We had a hell of a time finding a bathroom for you," Jasper recalled.
"It's weird that you remember that." She giggled before turning to him with an earnest expression. "So, who is sending us these notes?"
"I have no idea. I thought it was Pete at first, but his scent is not on the notes so it can't be him."
Bella sniffed the note. "There's no scent. So, why are we doing what the notes are telling us to do?"
"Did you want to stick around with the Cullens?"
"Not really. I kind of hate them. They're creepy and weird. On top of that, we were backstabbed by the whole coven after Alice and Edward's screw up."
"Exactly! That's why we left. I have no idea where we're going, but we're going somewhere, and we're looking for something better. We'll start with Anchorage like the note is telling us to do."
A minute later, the driver walked out of the bathroom. He grabbed a bottle of soda and some chips. He walked up to the counter and dropped a five-dollar bill into the cash box.
"Excuse me, sir." Jasper tapped him on the shoulder. The man turned around to face them.
"How can I help?"
"My wife and I were wondering if we could catch a ride with you to Anchorage—if you're heading in that direction."
"Did your car break down or something?"
"Uh, yeah, a couple of towns over. It was a clunker anyway."
"You're not on drugs or anything, are you?" He peered into their eyes as if looking for dilated pupils.
"No, sir," Bella replied. "We just need to get to Anchorage where we have relatives."
The man studied them with narrowed eyes. Jasper sent him a ton of trust. Soon enough, the man smiled and said, "Alright, you kids can hop in the front seat. There's room enough for the three of us."
And just like that they were on their way to Anchorage.
Everything was going peachy keen until they heard sirens—multiple sirens—an hour into the drive, and before they knew it, their driver was handcuffed, led to the back of a squad car, and on his way to be booked for trafficking stolen guns. He was an honest chap and told the police that Bella and Jasper were merely hitchhikers that he picked up near Talkeetna, and with a healthy dose of emotional manipulation from Jasper, the cops let the pair go. Of course, now they were abandoned on the side of the road.
"Great! Just great! Now what are we supposed to do?" Jasper asked.
"Hell if I know. It's still better than being with the Cullens."
They walked at human speed on the road with Bella's shield firmly in place.
"Hey, Jasper? How come we stuck around for so long with the Cullens?"
"I don't know why. I had been contemplating leaving for years, but the right opportunity never came up. I guess that note was the extra push I needed to leave. Besides, after what happened to us eight years ago, I decided that I couldn't leave you behind no matter what."
"Hey, you've been shielding me for seven and a half years—ever since you learned how to control your shield."
"True…but you needed coverage. Edward and Alice were especially cruel to you."
"Bella, they were cruel to both of us because they were jealous of our powers. They knew that their powers were no match for ours. And we're better looking than they are. You know how vain they are."
"We're more fun, too."
"Hell, yeah, we're fun." Jasper looked around at his surroundings. They were on a stretch of road that seemed to go on for miles and miles. He stopped walking and looked at Bella. "We have to figure out what to do. We have no identification and no money. We don't even have cell phones."
"Maybe that was the whole point of running at that exact moment. We're not supposed to be found."
"You make an excellent point. Now the first thing we have to do is see about…" Jasper let his words trail off as a beat up Ford Taurus pulled up next to them. The driver, a middle aged man in his 40's was wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt that had seen better days and ripped blue jeans. He lowered the passenger side window and called to the pair. "Are you Bella and Jasper?"
The pair looked at each other then the man quizzically. Jasper could feel nothing, but good vibes coming from this man so he replied, "We are, why?"
"I'm supposed to give you two a ride to Anchorage."
"Yep. Archie's Uber Rides at your service. I was told I'd find you right around here. It's a damned, strange spot, if you ask me, but hey, I ain't complaining. I've already been paid. Well, get in."
So the pair hopped into the backseat of the Taurus wondering where the heck they were being driven to.
"Excuse me, sir," Bella questioned after a few minutes of sitting silently.
"Don't talk to me."
"Don't talk to me. I was paid to drive you, but the rules are that I can't say a word to you."
"Fine," she huffed then turned her face up towards Jasper. "What do you suppose is going on?"
"Hey! No talking to each other either! I don't want to know anything. I've been paid to take you from point A to point B and that's it. I don't need to know anything."
"Weird…" Bella commented, but resigned herself to sitting silently.
Three quarters of an hour later, the driver stopped abruptly in the middle of a field and stated, "This is where you get off."
So the pair got out and watched the driver speed away like he couldn't get away from them fast enough.
At the same, a helicopter touched down about a hundred yards away from them. A man in a flight suit hopped off, approached them, and asked, "Are you Bella and Jasper?"
"Yes, we are," Bella replied.
"Great! Hop in!"
So the pair hopped into the helicopter and were each given a flight suit, goggles, a helmet, and some sort of vest that doubled as a backpack.
"We heard you two are old pros at this," the man said.
"At what?" Bella asked.
The man chuckled at them. "Stop pulling my leg, girl. I've seen your credentials. You're a veteran at this. Alright, Ernie, we're ready to go!"
"Veteran at what?" Bella wondered as the propellers whirred into action.
The helicopter ascended into the air and before they knew it, they were hovering over what they assumed was the Gulf of Alaska or possibly the Pacific Ocean.
"Okay, we're here!" The man opened a hatch and led the pair to it. "Alright, same rules apply, pull on the ripcord when you're ready. Good luck to you." He looked curiously at the pair and said, "You'd better jump now" and gave them a mighty push before closing the hatch.
"Oh my Gawwwwwwwwwwwwwd!" Bella screamed.
"What the hell?" Jasper yelled. "Bellaaaaaaaa!
Of course, the pair, without pulling on the ripcord to release the parachute, landed in the ocean with a giant splash. The helicopter, of course, was long gone.
"Okay, Jasper, what the hell was that all about?" Bella asked.
"I'm assuming that whomever is sending us on this adventure is covering our tracks for us so the Cullens can't find us. Speaking of which, we should get rid of the gear. It'll be easier for us to swim."
"That's obvious," Bella said as she shrugged out of her flight gear, "but now what are we supposed to do? We haven't heard from this person since the general store in Talkeetna."
"We wing it because it's either that or go back to the Cullens, and I'm not ever living with those idiots again."
"Good thinking. We'll wing…ow…" Bella screamed as a white shark attempted to take a bite out of her, but failed miserably because her vampire body was now like a rock. She realized that there was a school of sharks approaching them. "We're surrounded, Jasper. What do we do?"
"Do you like seafood, Bella?"
"I used to. Why?"
"Because these sharks are a nuisance, but more importantly, we should eat, don't you think? Anyway, if we don't feed from them, they'll eat innocent human beach goers."
"Meh, why not?" And so the pair gave into their predatory instincts and fed from a few unlucky white sharks. The rest decided it would be better to escape while they still had the chance.
After they were done feeding from the last shark, Bella and Jasper decided to swim for land. So they swam and swam and swam until it became dark, but it seemed like they were getting nowhere.
"Maybe we're going in the wrong direction," Bella suggested.
"No, shit, Sherlock. Clearly, we're lost."
"Well, I'm sorry! I was following you!"
"Why the hell would you do that? I have a bad sense of direction. My buddy Pete always wondered how I became a major in the war."
"No one gave me the memo!" And just at that moment, a corked wine bottle floated by them. Inside was a note of some sort. Bella grabbed it.
"Bella, don't! What if it's someone wishing upon a star or a kid hoping to get a letter around the world or something?"
"I need some entertainment!" She uncorked the bottle and grabbed the note.
"Well, what does it say?"
Her mouth gaped when she saw who it was addressed to and decided to read out loud from it.
Dear Jasper and Bella,
Turn to your right and swim towards the beacon.
Stop arguing. Shields up.
"That's it? There's nothing else?"
"No, nothing else." She passed the note to Jasper who examined it and the bottle carefully. "What beacon?"
They both craned their necks to look around. "Hey! There's a beacon way in the distance. Cool!"
So they swam towards the beacon and realized that the closer they got to it, the better lit it became. In fact, there were a ton of lights and they could tell by the scent of human blood that it was a densely populated area that they were heading to.
They swam underneath a pier and scoped out the area. When they deemed it safe, they walked onto the shore from there. Fortunately, it was dark out and most of the population seemed to be sleeping.
"We're soaked. What should we do about our clothes?" Bella asked.
Jasper felt for her. Clearly, she had no idea about how to live life as a nomad. He would teach her, though. Besides, it wouldn't be for long. He had money stashed away…that's right, he had money stashed away separate from the Cullens. In fact, he had more money than the Cullens could ever hope to acquire thanks to some smart investments. First, he had to find Peter, though.
"Okay, first things first. I know you don't want to do this, but we're going to have to steal some clothes."
"Steal? You want me to steal? I've never stolen a thing in my entire life! I can't steal!"
"Well, shit, Bella. Look around you. This is a nice neighborhood. Look at the houses and the cars. They won't miss anything." It was true. The shoreline was dotted with gargantuan sized multimillion dollar beachfront homes and they all seemed to have swimming pools and huge garages attached to them.
"Why would you need a swimming pool if you live in front of a beach?" Bella asked.
"Because, some people like to have all the amenities just to say that they have them. Does that make sense?"
"Think of the Cullens. They have to have everything under the sun even if no one uses the amenities. Did we really need a new wardrobe each season like Alice said we did?"
"No, of course not. It was almost as if she had to make up for her deficiencies with all that shopping. Does that make sense?"
"It sure does. Its kind of like how Edward has to constantly show off his supposed talent on the piano by forcing us all to listen to him."
"Yeah, I guess you're right." They walked for a bit before she asked, "Jasper, why did you marry Alice?"
He smiled at her. "I was lonely and she appeared in my life when I was very vulnerable. It was after I had left Maria and I was struggling with guilt. It's kind of like how you ended up with Edward. You were lonely, you were struggling to fit in to a new school and a new town, and bam—your knight in shining armor appeared. Only he turned out to be a pretentious dick who tried to mold you into what he wanted you to be."
"Sounds about right…you really know me well, Jasper." She looked down at her feet before turning to him with a worried expression. "Are we going to have to stay with them? Will we be able to divorce them?"
"I promise you that we will divorce them. You have my word."
She smiled and giggled. "Okay, then Major Whitlock, let's go and steal some clothes."
"With any luck, we'll be able to shower, too." Jasper scoped out the homes and found one that seemed to be empty. It had a foreclosure sign on it and there were no signs of human life inside. They managed to break into the garage, there were no vehicles left behind except for a golf cart and a ten-speed bicycle. They found the entrance to the house from the garage. Hopefully, the alarm wouldn't go off.
The pair walked inside and took a look around. It was a large, ostentatious mansion that looked like it belonged to a movie star with its flamboyant gaudiness. Everything inside was made out of crystal and silver and it sparkled.
"Alice would love this place," Bella noted. Jasper nodded in agreement. It was definitely made to showcase the owner's wealth, which was no longer existent, considering the house was in foreclosure.
They walked into every room and managed to locate a complete set of clothes for each of them—brand, spanking new and in exactly their size. This was very odd to say the least.
When Jasper grabbed the suit, there was a note attached to the hanger that read, "Shower, shampoo, shine, and then get your asses outside."
So the pair of them went to shower in separate bathrooms. After her shower, Bella cursed when she saw that the dunderhead that picked out her outfit put her in a red, body hugging, backless, mini dress with silver, rhinestone encrusted, platform heels.
"I look like a ho!" she cried.
Jasper, on the other hand, appreciated what he saw.
"You look hot, Bella. You look way better in that dress than that matronly crap that Alice puts you in!"
"Thanks, I guess," she scoffed. "I still feel like a ho."
"Aw, come on. At least you're out of those wet clothes. Now, let's get out of here."
"Jasper, we should bring our old clothes with us and throw them out. We don't want to leave any evidence behind."
"Good point." He rolled their wet clothes up in the towels they used and they headed out the door. They threw their clothes out into a neighbor's trash bin. Apparently, it was trash day tomorrow because everyone had their barrels out in front of their homes.
While they were walking, a limousine pulled over and stopped. "Are you Jasper and Bella?" the chauffeur asked.
"Yes," they both replied.
"Great!" the driver got out of the limousine and opened the door for them. They quickly climbed inside and waited for the driver to get moving.
"Settle in, kids, it's going to be a long ride," he said as he closed the privacy window. At this point, they knew better than to question anything or to talk. Apparently, it was against the rules. They did, however, scroll through the satellite radio and listened to whatever the hell they wanted as long as it wasn't classical music.
Five hours later…
Bella and Jasper watched in horror as the lights became brighter and the streets became more populated despite the late hour. The limousine had driven them from somewhere in California to Las Vegas, Nevada. What the hell were they supposed to do here?
The chauffeur stopped the limo in front of Caesars Palace. He opened the door and handed Jasper a large, padded, sealed manila envelope. "This is your stop and this is for you. Thank you. No tip is necessary. It's all been taken care of."
As soon as the pair stepped out of the limousine, the driver got back inside and drove away.
Jasper and Bella walked into the lobby and opened up the envelope. Inside were two new iPhones, a wallet for Jasper, a silver wristlet for Bella, and new drivers licenses for each of them. There was also cash in the wallet and wristlet—only three hundred dollars each, but it was better than what they started with. Their new documents identified them as Jasper Whitlock and Isabella Swan—not Hale or Cullen—like they had been for the past few years.
"What do we do now?" Bella asked as she switched on her iPhone.
As soon as she turned it on, an anonymous text message came through.
Go and work that body of yours, and help Jasper make some money!
"Excuse me?" A horrified Bella gasped.
"What is it?" Jasper asked.
"I think that a pimp gave us this phone." She handed Jasper the text. He eyed it suspiciously then turned on his cell. Sure enough, a text message came through on his phone.
You've made it this far. Now go and play some poker.
"Poker. He wants us to play poker and you're going to be the distraction."
"Jasper, you don't need me as a distraction, you have your gift."
"Yeah, but that would be cheating. The fact that you have a hot body is completely out of my hands."
"This is so wrong! Okay, if I'm going to do this. I want to see a show."
"Fine, we'll see a show tomorrow night if we're still here. We're going to be stuck inside the casino for a while anyway. The sun is coming up and it looks like it's going to be shining bright today.
"Crap!" Bella saw the rising sun and cursed before following Jasper into the casino.
Four hours later, the sun was shining high and Jasper had turned the six hundred dollars that the pair had between them into twelve thousand dollars. Bella was doing a great job distracting all the players by simply being herself. Of course, the occasional text messages suggesting that she adjust her bra helped as well. Sometimes, she'd lean over to concentrate on a dust bunny on the floor and every single male eye at the poker table was on her.
She had received two job offers during the four hours: one to be a cocktail waitress for the bar and the other to be a professional escort. The man who offered Bella that job left after pissing his pants because Jasper had threatened him to within an inch of his life for even suggesting that type of position for her.
"How much longer are we going to be here, Jasper?" she asked.
"Bella, I'm winning big. We're going to need something to live off of and twelve grand is a great start."
"Uh, sure, big boy. That's like eight grand after Uncle Sam gets his cut."
"Grrr…taxes are a thorn in my side," he griped. "What time is it?"
"It's only ten in the morning. What time is sunset here anyway?"
A text message came into her phone.
Just sit tight, baby girl. You've got a few more hours yet.
"Baby girl? Just who the hell is texting me?"
"Hell if I know." Jasper stood up with his winning vouchers. "Apparently, this game is breaking up. Everyone folded. Let's find something else to do. At least we can stay indoors until dark."
So the pair gambled a bit more, caught a matinee show, and Bella even got to try her first whisky ever while waiting for the sun to go down in sunny Las Vegas.
Meanwhile in Alaska…
"Isabella, where are you? I was just about to give you some music." Edward Cullen searched around the massive house in Alaska from bottom to top, but couldn't seem to locate his wife. "Isabella, you are to answer me now. It is very unbecoming of you to not answer me."
Still no answer.
"Fine. If that's the game you want to play, we'll do it your way. You will pay for your immaturity, though. I won't stand for an unruly and undisciplined wife!"
Edward huffed and went back to playing his piano. He was so caught up in his self-righteousness that he had no idea that his wife was no longer even in the house.
Back in Las Vegas…
"I can't believe you just lost all that money we won, Jasper!"
"It's not my fault! The game was rigged in favor of the house!"
"It's always rigged in favor of the house! This is Las Vegas—the casinos need to make money somehow. Now what are we supposed to do? We're broke again!"
"Hell if I know. We should get out of here. It's dark out now."
"And just where are we supposed to go?" Bella arched an eyebrow at Jasper with her arms folded in front of her and one foot tapping on the ground as she waited for an answer.
"I have an idea," Jasper replied proudly.
"Well, let's hear it. What's your great idea?"
"We're going to Texas."
"How do you plan on getting there without any money? And besides, didn't you say that we couldn't go to Texas because of the ongoing vampire wars."
"That's what I told the Cullens. I have my reasons. You'll soon find out why."
A greasy, looking man wearing a satin shirt and a thick, gold link chain walked up to Bella at that moment. "Hey, baby. I'm looking for a good time. How much do you charge per night? I'll pay you double your usual."
"Excuse me! I happen to be a married woman, you jerk!"
"You're married to this guy?" he asked, pointing to Jasper.
"Uh, yes! See my wedding ring? There's the proof right there and he has one, too!" Bella suddenly smiled and turned to Jasper. "Our wedding rings! We can pawn them! This way I can buy some nicer clothes than this hooker wear!"
"Bella, you don't look like a hooker," Jasper insisted. Personally, he liked seeing Bella in that skin tight dress that showcased her perfect, round tits and the curve of her…honestly, he shouldn't be thinking of her that way. They were both, after all, still married to their twit spouses.
"Hey, you need money?" the guido asked. "Listen, just give me one night with your wife. I'll give you a thousand dollars!"
"Oh my God! I am worth way more than a thousand dollars, you asshole! And I'm not for sale! Stop trying to purchase me."
"Hey, I'm just trying to help you! You need money and I've got cash to burn."
"Dude, the wife is not for sale! Now go away!" Jasper sent him large doses of fear, which sent the guy running across the street.
"I told you I look like a hooker."
"Alright, maybe just a little, but you look good. Whoever picked your dress did a great job!"
"Ugh! Men are impossible."
"Hey, at least I'm not a stuck up little prig like Edward is. He'd be lecturing you on how inappropriate your attire is if he saw you in that dress."
"This is very true. On second thought, I look hot in this outfit."
"That's right, Bella. Own it!" He looked up at the darkening sky. "Come on. Let's get out of here. We can only move at night and we need to find a place that's desolate enough for us to start running."
He took Bella's hand in his and was about to start walking when…
"Ouch! Jasper, stop shocking me—that hurts!"
"I'm not shocking you, Bella." He had a big smile on his face and she couldn't understand why.
"Yes, you are! Let go of my hand!"
"I'm not shocking you intentionally! It's just happening…because…because you're my mate."
"That's not possible! Alice is your mate and Edward is mine."
"Bella, we've spent over 24 hours away from them. Do you feel any sort of pull towards your husband?"
She tapped her chin with her index finger as she thought about his question. "Actually, no. I don't feel any sort of pull at all."
"Yeah, that's because Edward is not your mate, and Alice isn't mine because all I ever wanted to do was leave her."
"But when Edward went away after I got that paper cut, when I was still human, I felt devastated without him."
"You were devastated because I wasn't there." He smiled proudly at the thought!
A text message came through at that moment.
DING! DING! DING! You found what you were seeking so
come on home! Stop talking and get going!
They ignored the message.
Bella slugged him across the chin. "You jackass! I was very upset when you left! Do you know that? I was suicidal, I'll have you know!"
"I'm sorry! I didn't know you were my mate. This explains a whole ton of stuff, though. Think about it! I'm the one who killed James, not Edward! The asshole just sucked out your blood and almost killed you. Damn it!"
In his anger, Jasper slammed his fist through the windshield of a parked car a bit too overzealously. Glass splattered everywhere. Unfortunately, inside the parked car were two police officers having their lunch and they weren't happy. No, they weren't happy at all.
They hauled Jasper into the station and booked him for vandalizing public property. Bella, of course, had to figure out a way to bail him out. She needed four hundred dollars fast!
She looked down at her ring finger. Of course! She could pawn her ring! She quickly located a pawn shop and rushed inside to get her ring evaluated.
"What do you mean this is sterling silver and cubic zirconia? My husband told me it's platinum and diamond!"
"Well, I'm sorry, ma'am. It's the truth. I'm not lying to you. I can give you 50 bucks for the ring and that's being generous."
Bella was very put out by this. Not only had her asshole husband lied to her about mating, he gave her a cheap ring to bless their marriage. She spotted a second pawn shop across the way so she went inside to double check to see what they'd say about the ring.
Unfortunately, they said the same thing. "There really isn't much call for imitation jewelry so I'm afraid we can't offer you anything for it," the nice man said.
"Thanks, anyway," Bella said as she walked towards the door.
"Wait! How much do you want for your shoes?"
"My shoes?" she asked curiously.
"Those are Christian Louboutins, aren't they?"
Bella slipped off her shoes and smiled. "They are Christian Louboutins. They happen to be my favorite. How much are you offering?"
"What size are they?"
The man's eyes brightened at hearing that. Bella handed him the shoes and he checked to see that everything was intact.
"I can give you two thousand dollars."
For once, Bella was thankful for Alice's incessant talk about fashion. She knew the value of these shoes. They were brand new and in pristine shape.
"I'm sorry, I can't accept that offer."
"Three thousand then."
"Nope, this is my first time wearing them." Bella snatched the shoes from the man and put them back on her feet. She walked slowly in the direction of the door.
"Thirty-five hundred—that's my final offer."
Considering that the actual price of the shoes was only a hundred dollars over that, she shook on the deal and even managed to pawn off her cheap ass wedding ring for fifty dollars. She found out that the shoes were for the owner's daughter for her wedding.
She took the cash and headed for the police station, making a stop at Payless Shoes for a pair of silver ballet flats that sold for a reasonable fifteen bucks. She was pretty sure that she shouldn't be showing up to bail her mate out of jail in her bare feet while wearing a hooker dress. She was a cop's daughter, after all.
"Thanks. How did you get the bail money?" Jasper asked.
"I sold my shoes." She explained to him about the imitation wedding ring and about the value of the pumps.
"I liked those shoes on you!"
"Well, it was either sell them or leave you in jail to rot! Now, which would you have preferred?"
"I suppose you had to bail me out. Besides, the pull was killing me, but damn it, Bella. I'm going to have to buy you another pair of those heels. I liked you in them. You looked sexy in them." He put an arm around her. "I'm never letting you go again. I hope you know that."
She smiled shyly at him as they walked along the road. They eventually reached a secluded area and started running. They were in the desert, with jagged rocks and tumbleweeds rolling around the dry, dusty landscape. They were most surely approaching the Grand Canyon.
A few minutes later, they stopped in front of a sign that read Hualapai Indian Reservation.
"Jasper, I know where we are! We're in the Grand Canyon in Peach Springs, Arizona. I came here once on a field trip. We're about two hundred miles from Phoenix."
"Alright, let's keep going then. Maybe we can get a hotel room there."
So the couple kept running. While they were in the Grand Canyon, they took down a mountain lion each to keep up their reserves. Jasper followed Bella since she seemed to know where she was going. She stopped at the top of a vista and smiled. Then she rushed down at human speed towards a brown house. The house was empty, but Bella knew exactly where to find a spare key.
"Bella?" he questioned, concerned.
"This is the house I grew up in. It's baseball season so my mom and Phil aren't home. We don't have to get a hotel room."
Jasper glanced around at the non-descript ranch house that Bella had grown up in. He realized that she was a country girl at heart. Even though Phoenix was a city, her house was surrounded by desert and in a secluded area.
She unlocked the door. "Come on in, Jasper."
He walked inside to see her completely average looking house. There was nothing special about this place. There was no flashy furniture or high-end designer flooring, just a humble home with worn wood flooring covered by a few area rugs. The sofa had a big, lived-in look to it, and it was covered with throw blankets. It was something that you'd never see at any of Esme's palatial homes. Carlisle's wife wasn't about comfort; she was more about clean lines and glitz.
She took Jasper on a quick tour, pointing out the master bedroom, the guest room, and finally her bedroom. It was a girly room, with hot pink walls and a big double bed with hot pink sheets with polka dots covering it. She had a bright pink shag rug on the ground and a desk in the corner that was also painted pink. Quite frankly, it was gaudy.
"How the hell did you sleep in this monstrosity?" he asked.
"I have no idea. It's pretty cool coming here after all these years."
"Yeah, it is," Jasper agreed because he got to see a bit of the girl that Bella was. He noticed a set of pom-poms resting in the corner along with some cleats. He looked around the wall to find pictures of his girl wearing a cheerleading outfit and smiling with her teammates. There were numerous pictures of Bella and her friends all from her high school years in Phoenix. Up on a shelf, he noticed that she had trophies for cheerleading and swimming.
He looked at her curiously. "How come you didn't tell us that you were a cheerleader and a swimmer?"
"I don't know. I just…I guess I just felt that I could never be myself around you guys. You all seemed so perfect."
"It's all a facade, though. As vampires, we are at our peak—always. We have to be at our peak because we're at the top of the food chain. Everything about us is made to attract humans because, frankly speaking, their blood is what is ideal for us. Sadly, because we are at the top of the food chain, many vampires develop an arrogance and selfishness. They begin to think that their ideals, morals, and values are the only way to be. They become self-centered and narcissistic. Look at Alice, Edward, and the Volturi. Even Carlisle, Esme, and Rosalie—to an extent—are like that. The reason why they didn't really like us is because we appreciated human life more that they ever did. Coming here and seeing your childhood home—this means a lot to me, Bella. It's a side of you that you've never shown any of the Cullens, but for some reason, you shared it with me and I appreciate it."
Jasper reached out to stroke her cheek. He placed his fingers under her chin to tip her lips towards him so he could finally kiss her when…
He sighed and took out his iPhone. There was a text message.
Get the hell out of there. Her parents are coming home!
Oh crap! Renee thought she was dead. "Bella, your parents are coming home. We've got to get out of here."
"My parents? What the hell are they doing here?"
"They think you're dead, remember?"
"Oh, fudge nuggets!"
Too late. Renee was already walking into the house, helping Phil who had a cast on his leg to the sofa. He must have been injured or something to be home mid-season.
Bella watched fondly from the doorway as her mother settled her stepfather in. She closed the door to her room softly and grabbed a hooded sweatshirt from her closet before opening the window up. "We can leave from here," she said.
"Yeah, we can." Before they left, Jasper snatched a couple of photos of a teenaged Bella off the wall for himself. He tucked the photos carefully into his jacket pocket. Hopefully, Renee wouldn't miss the photos.
"Goodbye, Mommy. I love you," Bella whispered to the house before running back into the forest.
"We still have a few more hours of darkness left. It's only midnight. Let's see how far we can get before we have to hide out," Jasper suggested, knowing that she probably wanted to get as far away from possible from her house. He knew that she was fighting back tears, but this was the life she had chosen and she had to live it the best way possible. Fortunately, now that they had found each other—life would become a little easier for them.
He put his arms around his girl—yes, his girl—and held her tight, vowing to always protect her from harm. He smiled at the knowledge that, subconsciously, Bella had always been protecting him by keeping her shield around him. He kissed the top of her head and ran his fingers through her hair while she cried softly, mourning the human life she had once had.
"It'll get better, Bella. I promise," he whispered.
The next day…
The couple made it as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico when the sun started rising. They should have made it further, but realized, too late, that they had been running in the wrong direction when they saw the San Francisco Bay Bridge after about two and a half hours of running. They were supposed to be heading east, not west.
So, they snapped their very first selfie together with the bridge in the background and then proceeded to head east using the compass app on their iPhones.
Unfortunately, now, the sun was threatening to rise and there was no room at any of the hotel rooms. Apparently, there was a major conference in the city and there were no rooms to be let within a fifty-mile radius. This didn't help Bella and Jasper at all. They needed a room immediately before they started resembling homing beacons in the middle of the city. So, they walked around, desperately trying to find shelter, when they found themselves in front of a large indoor shopping mall.
Bella snapped her fingers and, with a big smile on her face, declared, "I have an idea!"
"Please don't say you want to spend the day shopping."
"Not the whole day. I do want to change out of this slutty outfit, though."
"But I like the slutty outfit."
"We aren't in Vegas anymore. Besides, you look like a dufus walking around in an Armani suit."
"True, true," Jasper conceded. When he really thought about it, he would prefer to be wearing a pair of jeans and boots instead of the suit he was wearing.
"Anyway, here's my idea—most malls open up at six am for mall walkers. I know this because my mother was into the trend once for about a week or so. We can do that, and then head for the movie theatre and catch a few matinees before heading out again. What do you think?"
He nodded his head slowly. "That's actually a really good idea—mall walking and movies it is!"
At six am, on the dot, the doors to the mall opened. Jasper and Bella, who had been hiding in the garage, ducked into the mall at vampire speed before any humans noticed that they sparkled. They looked extremely out of place. Most of the mall walkers were senior citizens in jogging suits and sneakers while Jasper and Bella looked like they had just come from a wild night out on the town.
They strolled at human speed around the mall and did several round trips before the bookstore opened up at nine am. There, they got lost in the books and read for several hours, before a text message came through on Jasper's iPhone.
Hey! What the hell are you two doing? Get moving! It's twilight!
Bella, we need to go. The sun is going down.
"Oh, but Jasper, I was just getting to the good part."
"So was I. You know what, we'll just buy these books."
"Oh, yeah, I have the shoe money." So they paid for the books and headed back out onto the streets of Albuquerque.
"So, what direction are we going?"
"East," he said, pulling out his compass. As soon as they got to a deserted stretch of land, they started running again. "We should be in Texas in no time," he declared.
Two hours later, their cell phones started pinging nonstop. They both stopped running to check to see what their anonymous messenger had to say. It wasn't him, though. There were several emergency alerts sent to their phone stating that a tornado was imminent and that they should find shelter immediately. The final one was ominous.
TAKE SHELTER IN A PERMANENT BUILDING IMMEDIATELY!
They peered up at they sky and realized that the twister was heading straight for them.
"Jasper! What the hell are we supposed to do?"
"Uh…we have to find a place to go to!"
"No, shit! Where?"
"Damn it! I don't know. There's nothing here," he shouted as tumbleweeds, tree limbs, a boulder, and chickens pelted them from all directions.
"Jasper! Why are there chickens?"
"There must be a farm with a chicken coop around here. Come on!"
They started running away from the tornado, in hopes that they would be able to outrun it. Pouring rain, accompanied by thunder and lightening, washed down on them. Soon, they were assailed by tennis ball sized hail and there wasn't even a cave to hide in.
"Look! There's a river of some sort. Should we go in there?"
"No! Bella, no!" Jasper stopped her just in time. "Water is the most dangerous place for us to be during a lightening storm."
"Yeah, but we're vampires. It can't electrocute us, can it?"
"Let's not assume things, okay?" He took her hand and they kept running when they finally came to a thicket of bushes. They crouched down low beneath them. Jasper covered Bella with his body, terrified that she'd be whisked away by the twister.
It didn't last for long. As soon as the twister moved through, the weather cleared, and they were able to get back on the road again. Of course, they looked like they had been put through the wringer a few times, but at least they were still in one piece.
They reached for their phones, but there was no connection. The cell towers in the area must have been destroyed by the tornado. They weren't sure which direction to head so they just kept moving, hoping they would run into something that identified where they were. This was the problem with running through the woods in the dark—there were no street signs. Eventually, they learned that they had been in Lake Murray State Park, which meant they had gotten lost again because they definitely should not have been in Oklahoma.
A few minutes later, they found the highway and agreed it might be prudent for them to walk alongside it rather than risk getting lost again.
"So what now, Jasper?" Bella asked, leaning into him. He had an arm firmly around her and was contemplating how much his life had changed in less than 72 hours since they decided to run from the Cullens.
"I don't know. We'll start with my house near Houston."
"Oh, yeah, you mentioned Texas before you got arrested in Vegas. I didn't know you have a home in Houston."
"I was born in Houston, Bella. I own a house and some land near there. I also made some smart investments so I've got cash stored away for us to live on."
"Yeah, but you said that we couldn't go to Texas because of vampire territorial wars."
"That's just what I told the Cullens. I realized how greedy they were almost immediately and…"
A shiny, red Chevy Silverado pulled up next to them at that moment. "Get in! You two have the worst sense of direction I've ever seen in vampires!"
They hopped in to the truck, and the vampire behind the wheel started driving immediately.
"Petey! What's up, man? Was it you sending us the text messages?"
"For the most part." He took a look at a disheveled Bella. "What the hell happened to that pretty, little dress I picked out for you?" By now the dress was ripped in several places and she looked like she had been through a war zone.
"You picked the slutty dress?" she asked.
Peter wagged his eyebrows at her. She rolled her eyes and sighed in response, while Jasper replied, "Thank you, my friend."
"I thought you'd like that, buddy. I figured you were sick of looking at little boys." They both had a good chuckle thinking about Alice. He turned back to Jasper and motioned towards Bella. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your mate?"
"Oh, yeah, you two have never met. Bella, this is my good friend Peter Whitlock. Pete, this is Bella Swan."
"Nice to meet you. You're a big improvement over the pixie. I can tell that you're real pretty, too, when you're not covered in mud."
"Am I covered in mud?" Bella asked, trying to peer into the rearview mirror.
"Yeah, you are. You both are, but considering you were hit by rain, thunder, lightening, hail, and a tornado—it's understandable."
"We were hit by chickens, too."
"Chickens, huh? I would have liked to see that. We'll get you cleaned up and right as rain in no time."
"Thanks," she replied gratefully.
"So, Jasper, how've you been?" Peter asked.
"Good—at least now I am. How did you know it was time for us to leave the Cullens?"
"My gift told me." Peter tapped on his temple a couple of times. "Have I ever steered you wrong?" Jasper shook his head. "No, I haven't. Anyway, I knew that you and your mate had to leave at the same time so I just waited for the right moment. I wanted the bobsy twins to be distracted enough to not notice that you were gone, so I hacked into their Amazon accounts and placed a large order of clothes and sheet music to keep them busy—on their tab, of course. Speaking of which, you have your shield up, don't you, princess?"
"I always have my shield up."
"Oh, good because the Cullens are going to realize you're gone…right…about…now."
"What is it, Alice?"
"Jasper and Bella are gone."
"Impossible, they've been listening to me play since my new music arrived."
"Edward, they are not here. I searched and searched throughout the house, but couldn't find them."
"Did they take anything with them?"
"No, they left all of their belongings behind. They didn't even take their phones or wallets with them."
"Well, then, they can't get very far, can they?" he replied, arrogantly. "They'll come crawling back to us in no time, begging us to take them back. We're the best things that ever happened to them."
She chuckled. "You're right. How far can they get with no credit cards or phones?" She placed her hand on Edward's shoulder. "I'm sorry for disturbing you and being a nuisance."
"Oh, Alice. You could never be a nuisance to me. You're graceful and ladylike and always set a good example for Isabella." He shook his head when thinking about his wife. "She really is very gauche. I'll have to severely discipline her for this insubordination."
"Yes, you'll have to, and I'll have to place restrictions on Jasper." She sighed. "I so wish that he were more refined like you."
Near Houston, Texas
The truck turned off the highway and drove for a while on a long, winding road with acres and acres of lush, tree-lined fields surrounding them. They came to a large gate. To the left of it was a gilded sign, permanently posted on a column that read 'Whitlock Family Ranch~Established 1844'.
"Jeepers! Is this all yours?" Bella asked Jasper as the gate opened up and the truck drove through. The inside was more beautiful than the road leading up to it. It was a gorgeous, tree-lined property that seemed to go on and on with lush, green grass and well-tended gardens.
"It sure is—well, it belongs to Pete and me now. I inherited it from my daddy and added on to it throughout the years. Pete and his mate have been keeping it going for me all these years. This is the residential side. We own about four thousand acres and use part of it as a cattle ranch, part for farming, some as hunting ground, and another portion for recreation. We have several vampires who live and work here that have gone through a strict vetting process."
"Oh my God! So this a real working ranch?"
"It is. I've been able to keep it going all these years, despite my time with Maria and the Cullens."
"Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. You still haven't told me why it's safe to be in Texas?"
"It's safe because between Pete and I, we eradicated all the warlords in the Southern Vampire Wars. With our combined gifts, it was easy to do. After that, we took over their coffers and built it up by infusing some cash into the ranch and making some sound investments."
"So, you don't really need the Cullen money?"
"Not really. Anyway, this is your home now, too, Bella. You won't want for anything."
"Uh, yeah, I will. I want to bathe badly."
"Yeah, that's probably a good idea for both of us."
"Hey, I thought I'd bring you to my place first." Pete parked the truck in front of a large, Frank Lloyd Wright style home that looked like it belonged in Architectural Digest. Bella stared in awe at the beautiful glass lined home, which was perfectly situated in relation to its natural surroundings. Still it wasn't her style. She imagined living in a big, plantation style home like the ones in 'Gone With The Wind'.
"Come on out. I won't bite," Peter said with a grin. Bella grasped Jasper's hand tightly as they walked up the few stairs that led to the front door. "We have a few new additions to our group that you've never met."
"I trust you, Peter."
"Oh, good," he said a little nervously as the front door abruptly opened.
"Bella!" a man said with relief as he engulfed her into his arms. "God, I was so worried about you, baby girl."
She looked up into very familiar eyes that were no longer brown, but golden. "Daddy? How? When?"
"Come on in first. You're a mess. How come you're dressed like a hoochie mama?" He looked from Bella to Jasper then at Peter. "Did you pick that dress for my kid?"
"Uh…" Pete scratched his head. "I saw that Jasper would like it."
"Uh-huh, sure, it's just like you to throw me under the bus, Pete!"
"Hey, you even thanked me for picking that dress while we were in the truck! I even recorded it." He held his iPhone up and nodded.
"I swear, Peter. You never learn, do you?" a kind woman with blonde hair and a pretty smile approached. "Hello, sweetie, I'm Charlotte. I've heard so much about you that I feel like I know you already. I'm going to show you where the shower is so you can get cleaned up."
Jasper tried to tag along, but was stopped by Charlie Swan. "Don't you even think about it. That's my kid right there."
"She's my mate."
"Mate Schmate. I'm her Daddy and my word is law!" He cocked his rifle just for effect.
"You know that bullets don't affect us, don't you?"
"Yeah, I do, but it was going to be a cold day in hell before I left my favorite hunting rifle behind."
"How did you become one of us?"
"Go and get showered and dressed first, and then we'll talk, son. I promise."
Jasper walked up to the shower with a ton on his mind. He wondered how Charlie Swan, of all people, became a vampire. He also wondered if he was ever going to get time alone with his mate. Oh, well, whatever will be will be. In the last few days, he had been hit with more surprises than he ever imagined, but he knew he'd come through it all okay, because—after all—he would always have Bella.
By the time he got out of the shower, Bella was waiting for him in front of the door. He pulled her close and hugged her, then took her hand before walking hand-in-hand with her to greet everyone. What he wasn't expecting was for his mate to let out an ear-piercing scream. Jasper immediately placed her behind him for safety.
"What are you doing here?" he growled at the redhead.
She put her hands up. "I mean no harm. I'm part of the explanation…really," she said. "I won't hurt her. You have my word."
"Don't believe her, Jasper! She's bat-shit crazy!"
"Young lady, I don't appreciate you disparaging your stepmother like that."
Bella stepped out from behind her mate and stared at her father with her mouth gaping. "Oh…you…you..first my mother marries a kid who is young enough to be my older brother and then you marry the crazy witch who has a death wish for me? Is it any wonder why I clung to the Cullens for so long?" She put one hand on her hip and stood directly in front of Victoria and poked her chest. "I want the truth about what happened and I want it now!" then she cocooned the redhead into a shield and sent her spiraling into a corner of the room.
"Yeah, uh, you don't want to piss my mate off. She can do fancy things with that shield of hers."
Charlie stared dumbfounded between Victoria and Bella. He finally turned to his daughter, "Honey, would you mind releasing your step…my mate? I promise that she won't hurt you."
She turned her head away from him, unwilling to look into his eyes.
"I can explain everything, baby girl, but I need you to release her first."
"Fine, but don't try to keep me away from Jasper. That's non-negotiable."
She glared at her father until he nodded his head in agreement. She immediately released the redhead from her shield.
"Well, I believe it's time for refreshments and explanations," Charlotte, the consummate hostess said as she passed around mugs of blood.
Bella and Jasper peered curiously at their mugs while Peter mouthed to them, "Just go with it. It's her new thing."
They sat together on a love seat and waited for an explanation.
Victoria spoke first. "It was about seven and a half years ago. I came looking for you, Bella, because I wanted you dead. James was gone and I thought it was your fault. I thought I would be walking the world alone for the rest of my existence without a mate."
"You do realize that your psycho-ex played a deadly game of cat and mouse with an innocent human girl, don't you?" Jasper asked.
"It didn't occur to me that way at the time. Like I said, my vengeance was misplaced and I truly couldn't think beyond my loss." She paused and smiled at Charlie. "In my quest to find Bella, I knocked on the front door of her father's house. When he came to the door, I told him that I was her friend from Arizona. He told me that his daughter had passed away three months ago in a car accident. I was stunned. I didn't know how to respond. All those months of planning my revenge went up in smoke with that bit of information. Charlie shook my hand to thank me for stopping by—that's when I felt the electricity between us. I realized then that we were mates and that James had lied to me all along."
"And then what happened? Did you tell him you were a vampire? Did you date?" Bella asked curiously.
"Uh…no, I did what most normal, vampires would do in this situation."
"Honey, would you like to explain?" Victoria turned to Charlie.
"No, darling, you're doing just fine," her father replied.
"Well?" Bella asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest and waiting for an explanation.
"I…" Victoria suddenly lost the ability to speak.
"She fucked him, claimed him, and changed him!" Peter answered. "And he enjoyed it!"
"Oh, gross!" Bella screeched. "Oh my God! You're an animal! I so didn't need to hear that! Oh my God! Ew! Ew! And Ew!"
"It's the way of a normal vampire, little girl."
"Nah-uh. I've never even had sex, I'll have you know."
"What?!" Everyone turned at once to Bella except for Jasper. He had known this about her, and he planned to change her status as a virgin as soon as possible.
"Edward didn't see the point. He felt that since vampires were unable to procreate, sex was unnecessary."
"Oh, thank God!" Charlie replied. "I didn't like you with that disco ball, Bella. No, no. I didn't like that freak at all."
"Okay, so that explains how Charlie was changed, but it still doesn't explain how you guys met up."
"I can explain that," Peter said. "I had an inclination to visit you in Forks, but when I got there, you had moved out. I knew this, of course, but something still told me that I had to be there. When I drove by Charlie's house, I scented a vampire and the telltale screams of a human changing. So, I jumped in through a window on the second floor and asked if I could help. That's when a desperate Victoria, who had never changed anyone on her own, explained everything to me. I felt that the connection would become important to you at some point, but I didn't know why. So, we gathered up whatever we felt was important in Charlie's life, loaded them up into my truck, and headed for Texas. And that's how we all ended up here."
"And how did Daddy get his gun?"
"Oh, I went back for those and my rods and tackle. Those idiots left them behind and brought my safe, paperwork, and photos."
"Hey! I saved all of your investments and even have your pension coming to you! I even sold your house for you so you didn't lose anything."
"This is true and I appreciate that, but my guns are like my third arm."
Bella shook her head. "This is so screwed up."
"But did you find all you were looking for?" Peter asked.
Bella smiled and glanced around the room at her new family: her gruff daddy and his new sociopathic mate, Jasper's know-it-all, prankster buddy and his buxom mate who kept adjusting her boobs, and of course, Jasper—her mate.
Yes, she had found what she had been seeking all along.
She turned to everyone with a great, big smile. "Yes, I found what I was looking for. I finally found my family."
Three Years Later…
The Cullens had all gathered at the dining table to discuss Bella and Jasper, both of whom had disappeared into thin air three years ago.
"I think we can safely say that they are now deceased," Alice declared. "I haven't had a single vision of them in all these years."
"That's what I wanted to speak to you about," Carlisle said. "I went to Jenks today to have him work on our new papers for our impending move. I, of course, asked for papers for Bella and Jasper, but he refused to give them to me. Instead, he gave me a copy of two divorce decrees—one for you and Jasper, the other for Edward and Bella. Apparently, a divorce was granted on grounds of spousal abandonment. They asked for no settlement—just a straight divorce. Jenks did say that the names Swan and Whitlock were now protected domain, meaning we cannot use those names for our personal use ever.
"But, but…how can that be? We never signed anything!" Edward cried.
"Because they used spousal abandonment as the reason, they didn't need your signatures."
"Bella was my muse. She was perfection to look at."
"But we never abandoned them, Carlisle. They abandoned us!" Alice insisted.
"It doesn't matter, the two of you are now divorced from them so you will have to search for new companions. In any case, we will be moving to Paris and you will be going to high school again. I have a new job there. The humans in Alaska are becoming a bit too suspicious of us not aging. In any case, the names Jasper Whitlock and Isabella Swan will forever not be spoken in this house."
Six months later…
"Mmmm…" Bella moaned as Jasper kissed her thoroughly on the lips. "I had no idea that kissing on the Eiffel Tower could be so scintillating. I swear there's something in the air in Paris that makes everyone want to make love all day."
"We did do that, but now it's time to do some sightseeing. After that, we have to meet everyone at the club." Jasper twirled his mate around several times and she giggled. "Besides, you look sexy in that red dress and those heels." It was a different dress, a lot less slutty, but still red and sexy as hell. The heels were an identical pair to the ones she had sold to bail him out of jail three years ago in Las Vegas. It was the first thing that Jasper purchased for her.
Bella wrapped her arms around his neck and he held her as they swayed together in the moonlight in total bliss.
Of course, blissful moments sometimes must come to an end, and in this case, it ended when they heard a gasp.
"You!" Edward Cullen pointed his finger at them.
"Oh my God! Spousal infidelity! That's what this is!" Alice cried.
"Wasn't the divorce finalized a few years ago?" Bella asked her mate.
"It was," Jasper confirmed. "But the twits can't let bygones be bygones."
"You made a mockery of our marriage!" Edward declared to Bella. "I'm glad we're divorced. You were always an undisciplined, awkward girl without any grace and now look at you. You look and act like a whore!"
"What did you call my daughter?" Charlie Swan approached from the other side with Victoria. He picked Edward up by the neck and lifted him up in the air. He slammed him down onto the ground and forced him onto his knees. "Apologize to her now, scum!"
"I will not degrade myself and…"
Charlie ripped off one of Edward's fingers. "Apologize now or your piano playing days are over." He held the finger over the ledge of the Eiffel Tower.
Horrified, Edward turned to Bella and said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for saying that you look like a whore."
"And?" Charlie prompted.
"I'm sorry for saying that you were undisciplined and awkward. You are perfection and I wish you were still my wife so I can gaze upon your image as I stroke the keys of my grand piano."
Bella's face turned into an appalled grimace. "Okay, well, that's an image I didn't need. Thank you for the apology, Edward. I wish you and Alice luck in your lives and I hope to never encounter you again."
"Here's your finger back." He placed the digit into the coppertop's jacket pocket. "No hard feelings. Don't approach my kids or my wife ever. Is that understood?" Charlie gave Edward a hard glare.
"Yes, sir. You have my word."
"Oh, and Alice?" Jasper called.
She turned to her ex-husband with a fearful expression in her eyes.
"Our futures are off limits to you. Do yourself a favor and get together with Edward. You've been in love with him since you first saw him and he's in love with you, too."
Alice and Edward both gulped as they heard Jasper's very honest assessment of how they felt about each other. They nodded before running back down the stairs and into the Paris streets.
"That was nice of you, Jasper," Victoria said.
"Meh, I figured that if they were together, they wouldn't be able to inflict so much pain on the rest of us and make us all miserable. They're so arrogant that they deserve each other."
"You have a good heart."
"Yeah, he does," Bella agreed.
"Well, kids, let's get going. We have a bit more sightseeing to do. This is our family vacation, after all."
"Hey, Dad, we're going to Paris Disneyland tomorrow, right?" Jasper asked Charlie. He didn't feel funny about calling him 'dad' because he really was his father-in-law. Bella and he had tied the knot two and a half years ago, as soon as the divorce was finalized. They got married in the gardens of the plantation home he had grown up in, the one they would live in forevermore.
"Of course, we are. I promised that I'd take all of you there and I keep my promises. But tonight, we're going dancing because Vicky and Charlotte want to go. We have to live it up. After all, we only have one life to live."
Bella chuckled as she watched her father cuddle Victoria. Peter and Charlotte were waiting for them when they reached the ground floor, and together, they set off to explore Paris.
Jasper and Bella let them walk slightly ahead of them. They smiled as they watched the motley crew trek through the streets of Paris. They really were a nutty bunch, but they were good people, and most importantly, they were family—and they loved each other unconditionally. And unconditional love was a treasure that they could never put a value on.
And they lived happily ever after.