He did not blink.
His hand reached out and brushed against the side of her face. In that instant, she realized something more terrifying than seeing the ghost of her attacker. Of feeling haunted by the one person who hurt her most.
He was really here.
She's only in her towel, the water gliding down her skin and onto the floor. Kiera takes a step back. He follows. They continue this dance until she's pressed against the wall, cornered and quaking before him.
Sebastián frowns. "This is no way to say hello to an old friend."
"You're no friend of mine," Kiera hears herself say, surprised by her own firm tone.
Sebastián shrugs, tilting his head and examining her like one would a prized horse. "I'm curious as to why you're alive."
"Diwata don't go down that easily." She'd kept that from him, hidden her nature as best she could. She'd thought she could reveal it once they were married. It was worse knowing he'd kept his own secret.
One that'd gotten her torn apart.
"No, but you of all people should have. You were always a weak one, Kiera. Always too kind, too soft."
"I thought you liked that about me."
"I'll admit I did admire it once upon a time. Then I tried to help you. Tried to harden you. But you bled out so easily and then your cousin came. I'd thought you'd died out there." He said it like it was all a matter of fact, so unlike the gentle Sebastián she'd thought she'd known. Like he hadn't cared.
Her stomach rolled.
"Were you always this cruel?" She asked in a hoarse whisper.
It's like it was on that day, laying at the forest floor. Like a balloon with her string cut, floating above her own body. Kiera was startled by the distance she found within herself. Like she was watching all of this happen on the T.V. screen.
"We are all cruel creatures, deep down. Though if I'd known what you were, I'd never have tried so hard to change you. Even I know changing a creature into another is impossible."
The admission was a stone that sunk to the bottom of her stomach, the earnestness in his eyes more disturbing than his factual tone. He really believed he'd been trying to help her, she realized. He really believed he wasn't in the wrong.
She turned her head and spewed the contents of her stomach, her meager breakfast of cereal spilling across the floor. Sebastián stepped away from her, unaffected. Kiera brought up a shaking hand to wipe away the trail of spit on her chin.
"I'd thought becoming a Lycan would have helped keep you safe. You were so girlish back then, so full of hope. It was hard to see at times." He chuckled.
"You snuffed out everything good in me."
"Now, don't cry. This is meant to be a happy reunion," He cooed, reaching out a hand once more.
Kiera didn't think. When his hand came forward, she bit into it, her mouth filling with the copper taste of his blood. A yowl fled from him, but it only spurned her on. The grind of bone on bone echoed in her ears as her jaw clenched further.
His fist knocked into her temple, the force of it snapping her head to the side and her entire body backward. She hit the wall, the side of her face slamming into the hallway cabinet. Wood buckles beneath her skin, splintering and snowing onto the ground.
The scent of a storm piercing the ozone filled her lungs. She could feel the flighty weight of something tingly zapping around her skin, and Kiera let that feeling build, build, build.
When she was sure she couldn't take it anymore, when she thought she'd simply burst from within, Kiera pushed .
Instead of a controlled blast, the hallway lit up with the blinding blue light of lightning. It singed the walls where it hit, blasting through the cheap plaster. The smell of burnt flesh attacked her nose, the pained screeching that followed threatening to spear her eardrums.
Kiera blinks in and out of consciousness, her limbs spazzing uncontrollably.
The taste of copper fills her mouth once more, but somehow she knows that this is her own blood and not Sebastiáns.
Her brain goes cloudy, and Kiera is lost to the black abyss.
Nothing makes sense when she comes to.
Flashes of color confuse her, takes her mind by storm, a brilliant shade of molten gold transfixing her. Kiera peers closer, counting the breaks in color. Melted chocolate intermixed with sprinkles of rich soil, all encompassed with a shade she hazily decides is butterscotch.
That delightful, beautiful shade, darkens into the blackest night the longer she stares.
Sound comes back to her in waves and she realizes she's been babbling.
"She must have hit her head on the way down," A voice explains, tone measured. It belongs to one of the many blobs dotting her hallway, their face indecipherable in her current state.
"Jasper, you may want to give her some air." Soothes another.
It's answered with a guttural snarl. Stone arms encircled Kiera, the source of the noise vibrating above her. The movement pulled her from her reverie, coaxing her into the waking world. Strands of desert sand and starlight tickled the skin beneath her eyes, causing her to shift uncomfortably. The room grows louder, then silent all at once when her stony protector lets lose another low growl.
Reassurance floods into her, along with a feeling so warm and so kind it nearly brings tears to her eyes. It takes a moment to sort through it all and she has to peel it back layer by layer to get even the barest sense of its depth. But beneath the affection is a storm of anger and something a lot like fear. It tastes bitter in her mouth and Kiera wants to wash it away with the sweetness of the feelings from earlier.
Jasper's eyes are tar and she thinks she could sink into them right then and there. A tentative smile curls at her lips, lifting the night sky from his gaze and returning it to the star bright shade she knows so well.
"Darlin', you gave us all quite a scare," Jasper mutters, voice rough.
"I was coming over to see if you wanted to watch a movie." Rosalie supplied, peeking around Jasper's shoulder. Her lips are pursed and her eyes are aflame, shimmering with worry. "When I got here, I smelt someone else and you weren't answering...so I broke in. I'll pay for your door, by the way."
"Don't worry about it, I'll get it." Jasper moves a wet tendril of hair from Kiera's face, eyes unblinking.
It rushes in on her, the memory of Sebastián. It chokes her, threatening to send her beneath the sea of unconscious black once more. But Jasper keeps her afloat, her only lifeboat.
"It was him," She gasped out, the tears finally spilling. "Sebastián is alive, and he was here."
Rosalie never looked more like Jasper's sister at that moment. Her beautifully cold face twists with a rage that sends a shiver down Kiera's spine. Jasper rubs at her arms, sending her a spike of relief to soothe her. The beautiful vampiress tempers her anger, closing her eyes and settling against Emmett. Blinking up in surprise, the set up of the room becoming clearer to her.
Kiera was exactly where she'd fallen. Still in her towel, which bared her from the thigh down for the entire room to see. That meant the shape of her scars were on display as well.
Embarrassment and shame were chased away by another flood of assurance. Water pooled beneath her, her hair tangled and clinging to where it rested on her skin. The Cullens, sans Edward, were littered about the small space, a mixture of anger and concern in their eyes.
"Who is Sebastián?" Jasper asked, pure stone.
"My ex-fiance. The same one who gave me these." Kiera nodded at her scars with her chin.
The hallway erupted with hisses and growls. The impeccable power couple that is Esme and Carlisle look half-feral where they stand, bending at the knees with their hands twisted into claws. It was the first time Kiera truly believed Carlisle capable of murder. Jasper's teeth gleam where the light catches them and he clutches at her tighter.
Emmett disappears from view, his wife following him in a blink. Slumped against the wall is Alice, who is rubbing at her temples, her eyes fluttering as she tries to make sense of what she's seeing.
"Where's Edward?" She croaked, smiling at Jasper as he helped her sit up.
She didn't particularly care that Edward was gone, but wherever he was, Bella would be.
Bella. Ramona. Paul. Those names sieged her heart, threatening to spin her into a panicked fit. Jasper whispered into her hair, words she couldn't quite understand, his accent thicker than molasses. It's sweetness did little to banish her worry, but the soothing crash of affection and contentment eased the worst of it.
"We have to contact everybody."
"We will. Rosalie and Emmett went to make sure he's out of the area, Alice is checking all our futures for any possible blackouts that can give him away. We need to get you back to the house. Edward is already on his way there with Bella and some of her things."
"What about Charlie? What does he think is happening?"
"He thinks us girls are going to have a sleepover," Alice muttered, still rubbing at her temples. "Edward told him I'm fighting with my boyfriend."
"But you don't have a- Demetri, really? I didn't know you guys were still talking."
"Kind of hard to ignore him, even when he's irritating me." Alice sounded exasperated but fond, ochre eyes cracking open and turning to awed crescents. "He's a pretentious brand whore, but so am I. He's my pretentious brand whore."
Kiera shook her head, promising to make Alice unpack that further when things were more settled. Right now, she needed to get into some warm clothes and out of this house. Ramona and the pack needed to be filled in, but she couldn't think of any other way than to gather them all together. Alice groaned from her perch, sinking into Esme's suddenly open arms.
"No! I hate the wolves, they make everything so dark." She whined. "Jasper, tell her no."
"Tell who no to what?" Jasper asked cautiously.
"Me," Kiera sighed. "I think it's high time we all gathered. You guys can set aside your hatred for this, right? The pack deserves a full rundown of the situation."
"But why can't you just tell one? They can tell the others." Carlisle asked, worry painted on his handsome Hollywood-esque face. "I have no issue with meeting with the wolves. I just don't see why it has to be all of them. While we are strong, they have the advantage of numbers."
"If we can find a way to keep him gone, we won't need to involve the wolves. We should deal with this as a family." Alice pouted.
"Paul is a part of Kiera's family, and therefore ours," Esme spoke gently, rubbing Alice's back. "And where he goes, they will follow."
"Kiera and Esme are right." Jasper said, grudgingly. "They should be involved. The bigger our numbers, the faster we can catch him. And we will catch him."
Jasper's dark promise hung in the air, the threat made clear.
Sebastián wouldn't get away the next time.
They'd make sure of it.
Kiera had set the time later that evening, knowing it'd be easier to corral everyone together if most of them were free from classes and work. She'd taken the clothes Alice had plucked for her, then reluctantly let Carlisle do an examination. He had a room in the basement specifically made for this very thing, which amused Kiera to no end. Everything you'd see in a high-quality hospital was in the room, including an adjoined room solely for X-rays.
"Are vampires prone to accidents?" Kiera winced at how dry her mouth felt, smiling gratefully when Carlisle handed her a cool water bottle.
"Not particularly, no," He chuckled. "But Bella is, and you both are frankly easier to break. It was the only way to appease-" He stopped himself.
Carlisle cleared his throat. "Esme. You know how she worries."
"...It wasn't just Esme was it?"
"Honestly, no. Even Rosalie asked for this room. She is very fond of you, you see. If something happened to you, I'm afraid of the repercussions."
"Something already did happen to me, Doc." Kiera pointed out.
"Something more permanent, I mean. Something that cannot be fixed or coaxed back into place by time." Carlisle's voice was soft, his hands gentle as he pressed the stethoscope to Kiera's chest.
It was an odd thing, to be cared about. And by an entire family no less. It was jarring, painful in a way she couldn't explain. Carlisle chucked her under the chin, his caramel eyes crinkling at the corners. It was such a human expression, one so terribly kind, and yet it was enough to bring Kiera to silent tears.
Carlisle put down his stethoscope, wrapping her in his arms. "Dear, what is it? Have I hurt you in some way? You must tell me if I have. Is it my hands, are they too cold?"
"No, Carlisle, you're fine." Kiera choked out. "Oh, I'm so embarrassed."
"You needn't be. This room is soundproof if you're afraid of being overheard. What is it, Kiera?"
She didn't know. Maybe it was because, after the morning she had, she's glad for a kind gesture. Maybe Kiera has always been starving for this, and she'd just never known. Her tears spilled faster, her hands clutching at Carlisle like he were a lifeline.
"I was so scared," She sobbed. "So scared, and I still am. I don't know what to do."
"Oh, sweetheart." His arms tightened. "I won't tell you to not be afraid, that would be unkind. But just know you are safe with us. We will never let him hurt you again. And Jasper will find him, make sure he can never hurt another girl again."
"I don't want him to hurt anyone again."
"Of course not," Carlisle whispered, pulling back to brush the frizzy hair from her eyes. "I'm a firm believer in redemption, but something's only God can forgive."
Kiera choked on her laugh, eyes stinging with a fresh onslaught of tears. "Where is He now? Where was he when I was in the forest? When Rosalie was in that alley? With any of us, really?"
Carlisle pulled back fully, brows knitted and eyes closed as if in pain. "Dear, if only I knew."
"Isn't it ironic, to be a vampire and believe in God?"
"Forever is a long time to not believe in something. You'll find you share similar sentiments with Jasper and Rosalie, unsurprisingly." Carlisle smiled at the thought of his children.
"Not the others?"
"Edward is much like me. Alice is uncaring, has no need for a God when she's the master of her own future. Emmett and Esme are what you'd call agnostic. They don't know and don't care to."
"My mother believed in God." Kiera sighed. "I used to, as a child. But Him and I are no longer talking."
Carlisle shrugged, moving about the sterile white room to put away his instruments. "Your relationship with God is your business. If you ever find yourself believing again, or believing in more than one, or simply find that you do not care to know- that's your journey. We all have our own stories outside of Him. And frankly we always will."
"Sebastián never believed," Kiera says tentatively, pulling at the freshly washed black hoodie Jasper had handed to her. It no longer smelt like him, which bothered her on some level. "My mother claimed that's why he did what he did. Or why he could do it. Because he didn't believe. At one point she said it was because I didn't either."
Carlisle snarled, the sound jolting up Kiera's spine. He apologized, bringing a hand to cover his pearly white fangs, allowing them to recede before speaking once more.
"He hurt you because he could. It has nothing to do with his beliefs. Never doubt his intentions. What he did to you," Carlisle took in a deep breath, "He did of his own violation. It wasn't your fault, the fault lied with him."
The only people who'd ever said that had been Ramona and Rosalie. To hear it from Carlisle, who surely only knew the barest of the story given when Ramona must have told the coven that day so long ago, say it wasn't her fault? She bit her lip to stifle her crying. No matter how many times she told the story, no matter how many times she'd been told it wasn't her fault- Kiera wondered if she'd ever believe it.
If that niggling doubt in her mind, the one that whispered in the dark with her shame, would ever believe it.
She stepped out into the living room, blinking at the sudden weight of everyone's gaze. Bella was upon her in a moment, her frail arms gripping onto Kiera.
"How are you? Sebastián is alive? Oh my God, when Edward picked me up, I was terrified."
"I'm alright. As alright as someone dying can be, anyways. Wow, that's actually coming up fast. Terrible timing."
Kiera had meant it to be humorous, but her joke went unlaughed at. Even Emmett looked pensive. Sinking her head into Kiera's shoulder, Bella groaned.
"That's not funny."
"Sorry, too tired to be funny right now." Jasper flashed over to her side, a golden blur, his hand encircling her elbow.
"Would you like a nap?" He asked softly as if they were the only two people in the room.
"Honestly, yes please." Kiera hadn't noticed how heavy her eyelids were until then. It was a struggle to keep her eyes open as he led her up the stairs and to a room she'd never been in before.
Soft warm neutrals and gentle greens greeted her. Old Western movie posters hung framed about the room, and an entire wall was dedicated to a personal library. A mahogany office set rested by the floor-length window, the gentle morning rays shining onto a cluster of documents Kiera could barely make sense of. Everything was pristine, the room was rather spartan and filed away with militant precision. A plush daybed sat in the corner, obviously unused.
She inhaled. Just as she'd predicted, the coaxing smell of rainwater mingled with mouthwatering blackberry and comforting cedar.
"It's your room." Kiera stated.
"Yes. Does that bother you?" Jasper drawled, moving over to the sage green bedspread, peeling the comforter back.
"Not really." And it didn't. Kiera simply wanted to sink into the bed and never get back up. She didn't care whose room she slept in.
"Is there anything you need? Water, an extra blanket?"
Kiera crawled into the bed, twisting the comforter around her with a groan. "It's a bit bright in here, isn't it?"
"Oh. Right." Jasper zipped across the room, pulling back a pair of blackout curtains.
Blissfully, the room grew dark. She sighed in contentment, snuggling in deeper. Jasper hovered at the door, the oddest expression on his face. Like he was in disbelief at the current situation.
"Sleep well, Kiera." Jasper whispered.
"Yes?" He paused, turning to look at her from over his shoulder.
"...Stay? At least until I fall asleep?"
Tenderness overtook his features and Jasper softly shut the door. He brought over his office chair, sitting next to the daybed, settling into it easily. Tentatively, Kiera brought her hand free from the safety of her comforter, reaching out for him. In the low light of the room, Kiera could have sworn his eyes grew glossy. But she blinked once, and then his hand was wrapped around hers, and the ache of the day melted away. Any nightmares she was meant to have were chased away by blank dreams of quiet bliss.
When she woke up and Jasper was still holding her hand, eyes too tender to bare, she snatched it back with the subtlety of a flustered goose. He only smiles, eyes tracing the side of her face. Ever the gentlemen, Jasper gets up and extends his hand to her, helping her to her feet.
"As ready as I can be."
As if on a battlefield, the Cullens and the La push pack stood on opposite sides of the field. The wind blew through the long grass, and for a moment, nobody spoke. Nobody blinked.
"Well, this is going to be awkward and uncomfortable for everyone around." Bella muttered.
It did little to break the tension, but it helped ease it. A few sets of shoulders dropped, those on both sides lowering their guards for the time being. Paul broke through the trees, making a bee line for Kiera, ignoring the hissing of the Cullens and the warnings of his pack mates. Scooping her up into his arms, Paul crushed her to his broad warm chest.
"You've been hanging out with the leech girl too much, her bad luck is rubbing off on you. We need to see each other more often, I've missed you like crazy, princess."
A rumble echoes from right behind her and Paul stiffens. He slowly places Kiera to her feet, eyes locking with someone just over her shoulder, his toasty hands resting at her waist. Stuck between a cold draft and a blazing summer day, Kiera can feel the animosity building. She does what she does best in awkward situations.
She smiles and steps back. "Paul Lahote, Jasper Whitlock. Jasper meet Paul. My imprint for all intents and purposes, whatever that means."
The two just continue to look at each other, as if they had time for whatever rivalry they had. It was Ramona who stepped up, shoving them both away from Kiera, her cousin bravely ignoring their respective snarls. Ramona only held her hands up, effectively shutting them up.
"No time for a dick measuring contest, boys. We have a true monster on the loose. Either get with Operation: Destroy the Bitch, or pack it up and get out of our faces." She muttered under her breath in rapid Tagalog, dark eyes searching the heavens for strength. "Morons, everyone here."
"I resent that!" Emmett crowed, only to be slapped in the chest by Rosalie. "Aw, babe, that kinda hurt."
Sam drifted closer, a stony face turned towards the Cullens but his words were gentle. "You might want to explain what's going on, Kiera."
So Kiera did. All the while, she sat back and silently watched everyone around her. Paul wouldn't stop pacing, his feet threatening to wear down the earth beneath his feet. The careful eyes of his pack never left their brother, their own limbs vibrating with the need to move, to act.
Jared and Sam seemed to be communicating without words, the subtlest of body twitches giving away little of their thoughts. It was times like this that Kiera could spot the difference between a pack and a coven, the stark contrast in behavior startling.
The wolves were all movement, the very air and earth around them bending to their will. As she spoke of the worser things Sebastián had done to her, the field erupted with snarls and pained whines. All the while, the Cullens stood stock still. Cold and utterly inhuman. The sunken skin beneath their eyes was dark as if bruised, their eyes darker than their usual gold. Jasper's gaze was the shade of asphalt, eyes never leaving her face.
"I don't know how long he's been around here, but he's back." Kiera finished with an awkward shrug, feeling terribly small in the clearing of monsters much stronger than she.
"You should come stay with me," Paul paused his pacing long enough to gruffly state his opinion. "You'd be safest on La Push territory. I have a spare futon, you could sleep in my room."
"I think not." Jasper snarls from Kiera's side. "She's going to be staying with us. She's safest where I can see her, with the coven."
"She's not going anywhere," Rosalie steps forward. The mock twins stand on either side of Kiera, scowling sentinels ready to rush forward at the first sight of danger. Always at his girlfriend's side, Emmett glares Paul down.
Paul's shaking begins in earnest. His breathing begins to come out in short gasps that escape from clenched teeth, his eyes screwing shut. Sam lays a hand on his pack mate and the motion rolls to a stop. When he opens his eyes again, Paul is calmer but still seething.
"You have no right to dictate what she does. She is not a part of your coven, she is not dating one of you." Paul grits out.
"She's not dating you either, nor is she a wolf." Esme says carefully, eyebrows knitting.
"But she is Pauls' imprint." Sam's voice cuts through the trees, crushing the rising tension. "What happens to her, happens to Paul. Therefore she is a part of this pack, whether you accept that or not is not really my concern."
"How about being concerned with my cousin's life?" Ramona snaps. "I don't care what has to happen, as long as she's away from him."
"Jasper," Edward whispered. "Now might be the time."
"Time for what?" Bella asked, her doe brown eyes blinking up at him owlishly. She followed his line of sight, her boyfriend's gaze boring into the back of Jasper's head. Jasper, who was now standing in front of Kiera, his chest nearly touching Pauls, spittle and snarls flying in the air.
"Oh. You are so in trouble," Bella frowned.
"Love, I couldn't exactly tell you-"
"Shush." Bella put a finger to his lips, silencing him. "Ramona is right, now isn't the time."
Kiera could only squint at the exchange. She was happy she wasn't in a romantic relationship. It seemed harder than it looked. In the time she looked away, Paul was beginning to shake and shiver, his words becoming garbled with the growl coming from his chest. Unlike last time, Sam pulled himself away from his brother, harding the rest of the pack off to one side.
"What the hell is going on now?" She sighed.
"Jasper and Paul want to throw down." Emmett said all too nonchalantly. "We should get out of the way, and soon."
"Let these idiots get it out of their system now, or it'll just linger the entire time." Rosalie muttered, trying to steer Kiera back towards the Cullens.
Kiera had had enough. Her life was on the line, and everyone was stuck on some stupid species rivalry. She pried herself from Rosalie's slender hands, stomping and shoving her way into the small space between Paul and Jasper. A sharp crackling noise struck the air, her dark hair growing wild with static.
"While I get you both care very much about me, does it really matter where I stay?" Kiera hissed.
"This isn't some machismo pissing contest." Paul spat. "My instincts are going haywire right now, the idea of you getting hurt is killing me."
"As are mine ." Jasper ground out, fangs flashing. A thousand words must have been spoken between the two of them, all without having been spoken aloud.
The shaking and shivering stopped. Paul stuck out his hand, face unhappy but alight with understanding that Kiera couldn't follow. Jasper's own eyes widened minusculely, before he gripped Pauls' hand in his own. Mouths dropped all over the field.
"Oh." Edward whispered. "That's unexpected of them both."
"What? What is it?" Kiera's head whipped backward, gold meeting ground coffee.
"They've reached an understanding." He said blandly. "They both just want you safe, and now they get just how much."
"You can stay with the Cullens, if you want." Paul called, hand falling to his side. "Cowboy can take it from here."
"What?" Leah gasped.
Paul only shrugged. "I learned I can trust him. That's all I needed to know."
"I don't know what's going on and at this point, I'm too afraid to ask." Seth whimpered from his sister's side.
"You and me both, buddy." Kiera sighed.
"Regardless of where you go, you will be with someone at all times." Jasper said. He turned in place, ghosting over to where Kiera stood.
Kiera only shrugged. "I can work with that."
Everywhere she looked, Jasper's blonde head was not too far from sight. He rarely left her side, becoming her silent sentinel, his mere presence as settling as Ramona's or even Bella's. The wolves and the Cullens worked in shifts, always one or two of them at Kiera's side. Paul had let Jasper take the reins, the two of them often communicating through text messages, much to Kiera's never-ending amusement.
After a week of Jasper refusing to hunt, Bella was not allowed inside the Cullen household. As fragile as she was, as human as she was, Edward couldn't risk a repeat of her big birthday disaster. The ache of missing her friend's gentle laugh made Kiera ask something she'd never thought she'd ask. Both of them were in Jasper's room, the room that'd slowly become hers as she hardly left it unless it was to spend time with the rest of the Cullens or seek out Paul when they'd become too much.
"You should take me with you to hunt." She tried for casual, only for it to come out awkwardly.
Jasper stilled. "No."
He'd been at his desk, pouring over documents he'd been teasing the contents of. In the soft light of his room, he looked like an angel carved in stone, his gently curling blonde hair aflame beneath the sun's rays. Kiera tossed the book she'd been reading, a battered copy of Wuthering Heights she knew Bella had left behind just for her.
"Why not? You don't crave my blood, it's not like you'll hurt me."
"That's not the issue." He muttered.
"Then what is the issue? Scared I'll see you snack on Thumper and go running?" She teased, lightly kicking one of the legs of his chair with a socked foot.
"I'm not worried about that. I know you wouldn't run from that kind of thing."
"Then what is it? Jasper, you can't possibly think you'll hurt me."
Jasper is silent, the pen in his hand dropping onto his desk. She slinks from her seat on his bed, coming up behind him and resting a hand on his stiff hand. Unbidden, torrents of his emotion became open to her, sucking her in and threatening to steal the breath from her lungs.
Anxiety. Fear. Excitement. His white-hot hunger for his next meal.
A miserableness and guilt that swam too close to the edge of being shoved away.
It was hard to not flinch away. She didn't want Jasper to shut her out, not after asking to be a part of such an intimate moment with him. It was just so hard to be on the receiving end of such strong emotions. But she held firm, gripping his hand tighter.
"You've abstained from feeding this entire week. It can't go on, you'll be even more miserable than you feel right now. Not that I don't believe in you, but things can get really dicey really fast if you don't eat soon."
"That's very encouraging." He said dryly, his free hand coming to settle on top of hers.
"I can understand if it's too intimate to ask of you, we just became friends-"
"I'll do it. Just, listen to what I tell you, alright?"
She squeezed his hand, sending him what she hopes to be enough encouragement. "Of course."
"Put on your coat and shoes, we are going to have to go pretty far."
He'd helped her into the arms of her only coat, a thick tan one she'd found at a thrift store and had decided she'd needed right then. Alice had seen it and almost pitched a fit, hating the shaky stitching Kiera had needed to do to keep it from falling apart at the seams. She'd even threatened her with the promise of ordering Kiera at least twenty new coats, only being able to be brought to the still tremulous number of fifteen due to Kiera's outright begging.
She was lucky they wouldn't be arriving for another few days, what with all the details Alice had specially ordered.
Jasper didn't need a coat, his skin impenetrable despite the biting weather. She sent him a small frown, to which he'd playfully rolled his eyes and pulled on the navy blue scarf that hung off his doorknob.
The trek into the woods by the Cullen's house was slow going, but Jasper was patient with her. It was easier to face the looming threat of the woods with him at her side, his fierce black eyes scanning the trees for any sort of disturbance, his own hand guiding hers over the crooks and valleys of roots. When the thirty-minute mark came, he'd easily swept her up and sped through the trees, letting the world blur around them.
It'd never stop surprising her, the infinite care with which he placed her head on his chest. It was to keep her neck from snapping from the sheer force generated by his speed, she knew, but the blooming kernel of warmth in her chest didn't dare to flicker despite the reminder.
Snow covers the mountains they settle on, white caps topping sharp grey rocks. She catches a glimpse of the greenery that will flourish once the snow recedes and she immediately jots it down in her mind to come back to this place.
"Didn't want your siblings to hear you?" she asks, thanking Jasper as he sets her down, her boots sinking into the soft snow.
"They can still hear us if we scream loud enough," Jasper says, a quirk to his lips. "Needed to stay in range, just in case."
They both creep into the sparse gathering of trees, not quite a forest but not quite a clearing either. The trees become more clustered as they step through the snow, both of them silent as ghosts. It's been a while since Kiera has walked through the woods at such a leisurely pace, and she can't help but cling to Jasper's sleeve, unwilling to fade into the memories Sebastián's appearance has drummed up.
It's second nature to keep her knees slightly bent, to avoid the patches of earth she can tell would give way beneath her steps. She's almost dancing through the trees, gliding past the spruces and pines like she's been living in this snowy wonderland her entire life. Her companion watches on in quiet amusement, eyes flitting towards her when he's not scanning the area.
"I'd never seen snow till I moved here," She admits with a laugh.
"And what do you think of it? It is enjoyable for you?"
"It's beautiful, of course. Makes me feel like I'm watching A White Christmas for the fortyish time. "
"I can sense the 'but' coming." Jasper chuckles, bumping into her gently.
"But I do miss the sun. We lived mostly in the south when we came to America. You'd think we would have drifted to the greener parts, given what we are, but the sun was too delicious to give up. Made life very hard as a trio of brown women though."
"Would you ever go back?" He asked abruptly, halting in place. She threatens to warm under his gaze. "The South, I mean?"
Kiera shrugged, jumping over a log with as much grace as she can muster. "One day, I think so. I have forever, it's bound to happen at some point. What about you?"
"Sometimes I forget I don't need to hide that part from you," Jasper mused to himself. When he spoke again, his drawl was thicker, more prominent than before. "I'll be sure to remedy that."
"Yeah, don't hide the accent. It's one of my favorite parts about you." She was teasing, but the look he sent her made her chuckle.
It came across his face slowly but uninterrupted like he couldn't help himself, the smile perfectly crooked.
"And what are those other things? Since you seem to have a list." His eyes gleamed with mirth.
"Your humbleness, obviously. Since you don't need to fish for compliments or anything." She danced out of his reach, snickering the scowl he can't keep.
He comes to a sudden stop, his body turning to stone. Like this, beneath the low light of the morning sun that roused a halo from his glimmering skin, he looked like some grand angel, ready for battle. Listening to sounds too soft for her to hear, Jasper begins to stalk forward, a cold hand entwining with hers to pull her along.
They settle at a cliff; Kiera crouching just as he shows her. They are hidden just out of sight from a small herd of deer, their white tails twitching as they graze amongst the meager grass in the small field below. Jasper turns from angel to lion, his muscles coiled and body ready to pounce. His mouth parts and hit fangs catch in the light, one that draws Kiera's attention in like a moth.
He's gone before she can blink, his face buried into the side of his second deer by the time she swivels her head back to the herd. It's fast and brutal, each strike carefully placed. With each deer, something in Jasper unhinges more and more, the last of the herd meeting a rather gruesome end. It's squeals are cut off but the snapping of its neck, his powerful hands gripped around the column of it's throat.
Kiera watches with morbid fascination, her own mouth falling open as she takes in the way he groans into his meal. Gone is the southern gentleman she'd grown to know- here is the killer she'd gotten a glimpse of that first day they'd met. For someone who cries every time Bambi loses his mother, Kiera is mostly unaffected by the plague of deaths littered about the field.
She's too busy studying Jasper with rapt attention, a sense of realization bruning through her as he licks his gore covered mouth.
He's savagely beautiful in a way she'd never expected.
Kiera wonders if his meal tastes as good as it looks against his lips, if she'd licked into it, would he let her? Jasper's head spins towards her, trapping her in his tar black gaze. She stumbles to her feet, alarmed at the hunger in his eyes. A blink and he's in front of her once more, a rumble stemming from his chest and spinning a melody into the air around them.
She leans into the sound, shuddering. He's a magnetic force of his own and it's all she can do to force herself to take a step back. Jasper follows, matching her step for step, crowding her against a tree she didn't remember being there earlier.
No words come from him, only a low growl as he reaches out, his hands unbelievably hot on her hips. He's a brand, a live wire, the heat sinking into her and melting her to the bone. Fresh from his killing, Jasper still doesn't feel human, his touch too warm. He rumbles again, looming in close, and she realizes what the sound actually is.
A small part in the back of her brain babbles that lions can't purr, but it's silenced as he brings a bloodied finger to her mouth, dragging it across her plush lips.
He wasn't going to hurt her, he was-
Kiera flushed. He had a hunger of a different kind in his mind. Trapped between his body and the rough bark of a tree digging into her back, Kiera thinks he's going to try to eat her alive. He brings his head in for a bloody kiss and Kiera calls out his name, panicked.
"Jasper." She breathed.
Like a spell breaking, Jasper is away from her in an instant. Emmett's name spills from his lips and his brother is there before she can process that Jasper is now long gone.
"He's gone and mucked it up now, huh?" Emmett grins, all cruel glee that only older siblings could have.
"Isn't that normal for vampires?" Kiera blurts out, desperate to save whatever face she can.
"Yeah, it is. Don't take it out on him too much, he's probably already pretty upset with himself as it is."
"I couldn't be upset, not if it's just his body responding to the blood. It's not his fault." Kiera offers awkwardly, climbing onto his back when Emmett crouches.
Emmett opens his mouth but closes it, shaking his head. "You two, I swear to God, are going to be the second death of me."
The sight of her leaning against that tree, her wide brown eyes locked onto his like a mouse enthralled by a snake, makes him groan into his hand.
So small, so trusting, right in his hands-
Jasper made sure to travel as far as he could from the cliff, running just out of his family's sensitive hearing range. If Emmett knows what's good for him, he'll have scooped Jasper's mate right up and fled the area. Jasper can't stop his hands, still blood covered and warm, from pulling himself free. He bucks into his own grasp, imagining it to be Kiera's heat.
It's so perfect in his mind, thoughts of his red-stained mouth kissing hers with such a ferocity that it'd make her shiver and groan beneath him. His hand, the same one he held himself in, slipping down the front of her pants and touching her where he wants to be most. His fingers sinking into her, knuckle deep, working her open and getting her to cry so prettily for him.
He wants to lick away those imaged tears, trail his teeth at her neck. Rest them against her pulse and tease skin there with his tongue. Get her to buckle from his hand alone.
His hand tightens around himself, his free hand crushing the trunk of a tree where he grips it too hard. The idea of bringing her to her own cliff's edge and letting her get off on his hand once more before he takes mercy on her, ripping her underwear from her and driving himself into her is what sends him tumbling close to his oblivion.
Jasper's hand doesn't stop. He's done this plenty of times before, getting off to the thought of her calling out his name, even before she'd been given a shape and form. Even before they'd met, he'd dreamed of meeting his mate, of sinking into them and painting them white from the inside.
But now she has a face, a name. Her voice, sweet yet oddly raspy, her gleaming eyes the very color of the soil meant for living things to sprout from. Her kindness, her wit, her laugh- his hips sputter and his hand comes away sticky with more than just blood.
He curses loudly, body heaving despite its lack for needing air. It isn't long before he's stiffening again, the thought of her writhing beneath him a siren's call.
Jasper had a feeling he was going to be spending a while out here.
AN: /tosses this at you guys and runs/ i decided to write some horny!jasper, hope you guys don't mind . also, told you there'd be no romantic feelings for Paul and Kiera!