The soft beat of her heart called to him.

Forgetting about the book he'd been reading, Jasper Hale tensed as soon as the scent of blood and lavender intermingled in the air. Even as he sat on the leather seat in his study with the door shut, he could practically sense her presence seeping through the cracks of the doorframe. He had to hold his breath, clenching his jaw until his teeth ached when the sting of venom flooded his mouth.

He'd intended to run away, escape before anyone could notice, and feign disinterest in the human he'd once offered to kill to protect his family. But Alice was suddenly beside him before he could stand from his seat, a smile on her lips as she took his hand in hers, "You won't hurt her."

The surety in her words did little to console him as Jasper allowed the pixie to pull him close behind her. His stoic demeanor slowly masked the trepidation stirring inside him as he straightened and schooled his face to appear cold and distant.

It was impossible to ignore the girl's scent the moment she walked into the room, hand in hand with Edward, who had somehow fallen in love with a human. A human who was now welcomed with open arms by Carlisle and Esme. A young woman who would become "great friends" with Alice and a sister to Emmett. No matter how perplexed Jasper was to have a human in their lives, he wasn't nearly as hostile as Rosalie was when she seethed with jealousy at the sight of Bella.

The need to sink his teeth in her was almost overpowering, and it would have been had he not forced himself to focus on the fast beating of her heart as Alice wrapped her arms around her. Affection for the girl filling his senses when Alice beamed at her.

There was a small hint of fear that flowed in his direction when Bella looked at him, but there was also...wonder. A raw emotion inside him sprouted when she spoke to him for the first time, granting him a small awkward smile when he nodded in acknowledgment.

Betraying his instincts would be the most difficult thing Jasper has ever had to do, but the more he got to know Bella Swan, felt her troubled yet gentle emotions, the more he slowly convinced himself that he would indeed not harm her.

Because for Edward—for his family—he would not harm her.

That had been true, truer than anything Jasper had ever obsessed over in his immortal existence.

Until Bella's birthday, and he realized that he truly had no control over the monster that loomed over his shoulders—that urged him forward when a single drop of her blood ran down her index finger. The sound of her blood hitting the carpet making his entire body lock up as he instantly held his breath. But it wasn't Jasper who was about to lunge for Bella...

No, no no!

When he sensed Edward's need to kill permeate the room, Jasper charged for him before it was too late. Before Bella would be killed by the man she trusted and loved.

Edward!

Edward's eyes darkened when he read his brother's mind, instantly reining in the predator inside and replacing it with anger as he shoved Bella behind him and restrained Jasper when he charged.

The feral look in both their eyes as they came face to face was what spurred the other to react, Carlisle and Emmett wrapping their arms around both of them before they started fighting and harmed someone else. Jasper's growl resounded from within his chest as Edward wrapped his hand around his neck to prevent him from attacking.

I know what you want. But, stop now before it's too late. You can't hurt her, Edward! Not like this...

As he's hauled away by Emmett and Alice, the only thing Jasper could do was snap his teeth as a fraction of Edward's guilt swept over him before his thirst was awakened once more. When Edward turned to face Bella and found her even more injured than a simple paper cut, red blood running down the inside of her arm as she sat up in a daze. Crystals and ruined roses scattered on the floor around her. But before Edward could lay a hand on her as Jasper had expected him to, Carlisle kneeled next to the girl and inspected the damage done.

The distressed look on Bella's face as she watched Jasper get dragged away hurt him more than he thought it would. As if she felt guilty for hurting him. As if that were possible.

Try as he might, the anger and fear his family shared with him was impossible to fight off, and soon, he forced himself to come down to himself. Rejecting the pull that urged him to go back into that room and stand beside Bella, to know that she was alright.

Edward's emotions were the only ones he focused on as the thirst and want for the human girl in the house remained strong. Clenching his jaw and holding his breath once more, Jasper shut his eyes and begged, Don't hurt her, Edward. Please, don't hurt her.

That night, Jasper couldn't help but follow after them back to Bella's home, wanting to know Bella would be safe if Edward lost his control once more.

Jasper had been horrified that he'd taken the blame for a slip of his brother's control and created bigger chaos for wanting to protect Bella. Regardless of how unjust it was, he allowed Carlisle and Esme to convey their disappointment for him and Alice's hurt that she hadn't seen this happen. To protect his brother, Jasper gave up the truth...but maybe it was to hide his own truth as well. Why had he reacted in such a way? Why did he lose control of himself so easily to protect Bella when he'd wanted to kill her long ago to prevent this very thing from happening?

The empath had expected himself to slip up and try to kill her—he hadn't expected Edward to be the one to do so. Not Edward, of all people.

Watching from the tree line beside her home, hidden by the shadows, he watched her own shadow move behind the curtain of her bedroom as she paced uneasily back and forth. Clearly still frightened by the events of the night.

Jasper conveyed his lament and affection for the girl he'd unknowingly started to care for and when she paused in front of the window, he stepped further away before she could see him.

Jasper was utterly unaware that he'd never felt love for her the same way Emmett or Carlisle did. That wasn't the sort of affection he felt for Bella Swan—it never was. It was different...

Jasper left with a sigh of resignation when he felt Bella's emotions settle, and exhaustion took over her body and mind as she slipped into a deep sleep.

Hoping to ask for her forgiveness the next day, if she was willing to hear him out, he returned home and faced the consequences of his and Edward's actions.

Unaware that he would soon be betrayed by the fact that Edward knew that Jasper was Bella's true mate all along.


This was supposed to be a short story but I don't know ... there's a lot of opportunity for angst here lol