A wise man once told me that Alaska was "colder than Rosalie's soul".
That wise man was Emmett Cullen. He received a whole fifteen minutes of silent treatment from Rosalie for that quip. According to Jasper, that was a record.
But Emmett was completely right.
Forks got plenty cold some days, but never did it stay in the teens for three weeks straight. The temperature in Anchorage hadn't broken 19 degrees since November. Jasper had taken to calling me 'mi pequeño burrito', because I had developed a habit of wrapping myself in blankets at all times. The cold didn't bother him, what with his being a vampire, so I didn't think he really had room to talk.
Doing homework? Wearing a blanket.
Cooking food for myself? Wearing a blanket.
Drinking my doses of blood? Wearing a blanket.
I had no shame over this, because it was so cold that it made me sad. I was waiting impatiently for the snow to accumulate enough to go snowboarding, because Jasper and Edward had promised to teach me and Jasmine. That was the only thought getting me through the spring semester.
But I had taken up another hobby, besides sitting around in a blanket while I waited for the sun to return. 30 Days of Night is not only a fabulously terrible vampire movie, it's also the annoying truth about Alaska. It really was dark for days during the most bitterly cold winter I had ever known.
My other hobby still involved sitting around in my blankets, actually. It also involved watching Jasper be a cartographer. Sitting on our bedroom floor, I would watch Jasper paint a world map on one of the walls.
"You did buy this house, right?" I asked, probably for the hundredth time.
"Do you want to see the deed?" He teased over his shoulder. This world map was a part of Jasper's own hobby: researching my…vampiric condition. I didn't drink human blood every two weeks because I liked the taste of it (even though I had to admit that I did like it, if I were being honest). It was for health reasons—mainly, so I wouldn't outright die.
I had to have the blood because of a now-deceased vampire named Maria. She had contaminated my blood with her venom several times. Maria also happened to be Jasper's ex-girlfriend, for lack of a better word, and once bit my brother, Gunner, in an attempt to get me to sacrifice myself for his life and join Maria's army of vampires.
The first blood I ever drank was Gunner's. I spit most of it out, but I swallowed enough of his venom-tainted blood to tip myself almost entirely over the edge. No, I didn't turn into a vampire, but I was incredibly close to being one myself.
Jasper had made it his life mission to learn everything he could about others like me, if there were still any left in the world. Before Maria used the venom contamination to outright harass me—and others before me—it used to be a vampire trend to sell their venom services to humans who had the means to pay up.
That's where Jasper's map came in. He planned on using it to track where this practice was known to take place—France, for sure, was the starting place, as we had learned from a Cullen family friend named Garrett. I was useless in this process, by the way. I just liked to watch my boyfriend paint.
I was eighteen, and Jasper was undeniably gorgeous. From his usually-messy honey blonde hair and sunshine smile to his bright gold eyes and broad shoulders. How could I not enjoy watching the muscles in his back move beneath his t-shirt as he sketched Africa on our bedroom wall?
No male-loving person on this green Earth could have blamed me, an I'll stand by that.
"I'm just trying to save you some money. Can you imagine how much you would have to pay in damages if we were renting this place?"
Jasper looked over his shoulder at me, his hand stilling. He threw me a smirk. "You mean to tell me not everyone wants a giant world map painted on their wall?"
Glancing over the wall Jasper had already finished, I gave him a shrug. The silhouettes of North and South America were already finished. The American Southwest was stained a sheer, watercolor red. He hadn't started on Europe yet, but I was sure France would be similarly stained in the future.
"I don't know, I think it really sets the tone in here." His chuckle was low and deep, sending a shiver down my spine. Damn, but I loved him. I was suddenly infused with a rolling burn in my middle—Jasper using his empathic gift to let me know he felt the same.
It was hard for me to pinpoint the source of my increased desire for Jasper. Yes, he was undeniably gorgeous, and I loved him so much. But was it because I was eighteen, still very much under the influence of teenage hormones? My developing bloodlust affecting other desires? The fact that Jasper and I were alone here, far away from Forks and our parents?
More likely it was probably my frustration with the fact that, no matter where it was coming from, my desires could not be fulfilled. I already had almost too-much venom in my blood, and every bodily fluid a vampire produced was venom-based, according to Carlisle. He would know, doctor that he was and leading expert on both the human and vampire conditions.
"One day, Jasper Whitlock," I liked to use his true surname when I chastised him, "you're going to get us in trouble."
"Trust me, Maisie Thompson, there are worse ways to become a vampire."
I felt a blush burn in my cheeks at his insinuation. Lucky for me, Jasper had already turned his attention back to the wall, so he didn't see. I knew he felt my embarrassment, though, and that was confirmed with the low chuckle he gave.
"Ha-ha, you're so funny." I rolled my eyes at his back.
I pushed myself up off the floor, taking my blanket with me. While Jasper worked, I probably should, too. Downstairs, I grabbed my laptop off the couch and went to sit at the kitchen table. Right when I logged onto the Alaska Pacific University website, though, my phone buzzed with a text from my mom.
I opened it to find a picture of my little sister, Ava. Everyone said we looked a lot alike with our blonde hair, but Ava had gray eyes where mine were blue. In the picture, Ava was smiling so wide her eyes were crinkled shut.
Another tooth down! She's so excited!
I zoomed in on Ava's face. We had gone to Forks over Christmas, and even though I had just seen Ava not even a month ago, I couldn't get how grown up she looked in the picture. She was five when I left Washington, and already she was six.
She'll be a toothless millionaire at this rate, I sent back.
"Maisie, your objective here is to try not to die. Or break any bones."
"I make absolutely no promises, Edward, but okay." Shortly before my nineteenth birthday, Alaska had enough snow for Jasmine and me to learn to snowboard. It had been a slow snow year in Alaska, according to Jasper and Edward. Bitterly cold, but not a lot of precipitation.
I felt like the little brother in A Christmas Story in the snowboarding gear Jasper had insisted I wear. It wasn't even a jumpsuit, but the thick pants and jacket—plus all the layers I was wearing underneath—made my limbs feel stiff.
"Jasmine might have an easier time with it, since she already knows how to surfboard. The balance in both is similar."
I rolled my eyes so hard that I was surprised I didn't fall over. Deciding to ignore Edward and his never-ending Jasmine praise, I sat down in the snow to strap my feet onto the snowboard. But my gloves made my fingers, like the rest of me, thick and stiff, and the straps kept sliding through my fingers.
"I got it." Jasper sunk into the snow in front of me, coaxing the straps from my fingers. I watched him buckle my feet with ease. "Tight enough?"
I wiggled my toes inside my boots. "Yeah, I don't think my feet are going anywhere."
He took my hands and pulled me up with him. While Jasper took care of buckling his own feet in, I pulled my helmet over my beanie. It was a cloudy day, of course; Jasper, Edward, and Jasmine couldn't have been out here with me if the sun were shining. Still, the snow was blindingly white enough that even without the sun, I flicked the visor of my helmet down over my face.
"Alright, lean forward," Jasper instructed me. "Keep your right foot forward, it's your lead foot. If you want to stop, try to fall backward until you figure out how to stop without falling."
"You mean you don't have thirty thousand more rules?" On the ski ride up to the mountain, we had been behind Edward and Jasmine. Jasper had laughed while I mimicked Edward's hand motions as he explained the minutiae of snowboarding.
"I think you'll be fine," Jasper leaned forward, somehow maintaining his balance despite our standing on the edge of the hill. Jasmine and Edward had already snowboarded off. Jasper's kiss was a little awkward because of my helmet covering most of my face, but it was still sweet. "And if you crash into an evergreen or something, I know you're tough."
Even with Jasper's confidence in me, I watched him start to make his way down the hill first. Copying the way he had put his weight forward onto his lead foot to get himself going, I did the same.
The cold air was a stinging rush once I was going forward. I didn't realize how fast it would be. A laugh tumbled from my mouth, torn away by the wind. I figured out pretty quickly that you had to use your weight to control the board. It took me a little while to get used to, but I was keeping up with Jasper before long.
I caught up to him at one point, trailing not far behind him. Jasper told me to throw myself backwards to stop, but I didn't. Instead, I bent my knees and pushed myself forward as hard as I could, knocking into his back and taking him down with me.
"Maisie!" I heard him yell, laughing. He turned in time to wrap his arms around me, taking the brunt of the fall and cradling me to his chest. The snow sunk beneath us, flurrying all around. "I think you might have a death wish."
I was sure he could feel my heart pounding. My laugh was breathy. I pushed my helmet up off my head—Jasper hadn't even bothered to wear one—and kissed him properly, there in the snow.
"That was fun," I told him. "I see why y'all like snowboarding now."
"We'll see how fun you think it is when you try to stand up." Our legs and boards were all tangled together.
"Oh, hush," I leaned down to kiss him again. "Let me enjoy this."
It was moments like these that made me so hesitant about my future.
I knew I would have Jasper either way. If I chose to succumb to the venom slowly poisoning my blood, I knew he wouldn't leave my side. And if I chose to take another dosage of venom, to become truly a vampire, I would literally have Jasper forever.
Cold winter air stinging my skin, burning in my lungs. My breath hitching from laughing. Heart pounding in my ribcage. These human things were what I didn't want to give up.
My time was ticking. I knew that. I really did.
I would have to make a choice one day, but today…in the snow, laughing with Jasper, racing Edward and Jasmine down the hill until it was dark out.
Today was not that day.
A/N: My girl is baaaaack! I have the sequel planned out and I'm going to get updates out when I can, but honestly I can't commit to any kind of schedule because I have a lot going on this summer. I'm sorry about that! Maybe I should have waited, but I just missed Maisie too much.
I hope you guys are as excited as I am! I love you all!
ALSO. I would like to direct your attention to a really fun fic that I have been beta reading for. It is Jasper-centered, just like this one. The title is Remembrance, by littlebeachhut. I would really love it if y'all could check it out!