I had another story in mind to write about, but my beta all but demanded me to write Alice and Jasper's story. And rather than risk the fury of Katie, here it is.
I tried to make the story flow with the information learned in Eclipse. If you haven't read Eclipse yet, you might want to wait to read this story or risk being spoiled.
I try to update quickly — and reviews always make me write faster — but it may take a little longer this week because of my busy schedule.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, or any of Stephenie Meyer's characters.
I glowered at the menacing rain clouds gathering in the sky over my head. It had been one of those uncommon overcast days in Philadelphia, and I was glad I could spend the day outside without the fear of discovery. The darkening sky, however, told me I would need to find cover soon, and I dreaded another day indoors.
I headed off down the street, glancing in store windows as I went. The wide variety of stores and boutiques offered plenty of shelter for me, and were this any other day I would be glad to pass the storm shopping for the latest fashions. But today was different; I couldn't afford to be late.
The street lamps began to flicker on one by one as dusk set in. The streets quickly cleared of people as the first few drops began to fall, and I was relieved that I could now wander the deserted streets without the danger of running into someone. Even after all this time, being in close contact with humans for any extended period of time tested my self-control. I needed a break from their heady, permeating scents. I would be able to avoid any umbrella-bearing pedestrians, providing they made the decision to take a certain route well enough in advance for me to see it in my mind.
As I walked, steering clear of the pool of yellow light beneath each street lamp, an image of two lovers holding hands and oblivious to the heavy raindrops falling around them, appeared in my mind. I recognized the place where they walked, and swiftly turned right into an alley to keep our paths from crossing. I melted into the shadows as the couple turned the corner, their words of love and devotion lingering in the air behind them.
I had discovered this peculiar ability to see things before they happened a few months ago, right after I had woken up. I had found myself all alone in a dark forest without any memory of where I was or how I had gotten there. In fact, I had no memory of anything at all. I have no memories to this day.
It didn't take me long to realize what I was. My throat was burning, and I had stumbled upon a house on the edge of the forest, close to a small town. I rang the bell, meaning to ask for a glass of water and perhaps some information concerning my whereabouts. When the door opened, however, and the scent had reached my nose, all that was forgotten. I attacked without thinking, my hands closing around the woman's neck and breaking it in half. Before I knew it, I had completely drained her body of blood. Gasping in horror, I spun around and launched myself towards the door, meaning to put as much space between me and the rest of the humans in that house as possible. On my way out, I caught sight of my face in a mirror hanging on the wall. My eyes were a shocking shade of crimson.
On my mad rush to get back into the wilderness, I remember seeing a man walking down the sidewalk, a briefcase under his arm. When I blinked, the sidewalk was empty. I shook my head and raced around the street corner, coming face to face with the man I had seen. He lifted his hand to tip his hat, but my blood-red eyes and wild expression drew him up short. He paused with his hand in the air. The movement wafted his scent around me, making my head spin. Before I could stop myself, his limp body was lying across the sidewalk in a pool of blood.
I didn't waste any time getting out of town after that. I traveled deeper and deeper into the forest, ignoring my ravaging thirst. I used my uncanny gift to foresee myself coming across any hikers or mountaineers, and spent my time hiding in the gloom of the close-set trees. When my thirst couldn't be disregarded any longer, I had no choice but to head back into town.
I remember knowing during that time, when my mind wasn't clouded with untamed thirst, that what I was doing was wrong. Yet, I saw no alternative. I didn't enjoy feeling their bones snap beneath my fingers, or watching the light go out of their eyes. But the sweet taste of their blood flowing down my parched throat was enough to make me forget what I had to do in the exchange. Once I felt fully satiated after each hunt, I went back to the forest. Once the town grew alarmed by the rise in homicides, I moved on to the next one.
I shuddered at the memory.
It was on my nomadic journey that I first saw the family. They were like me, their skin pale and faces inhumanly stunning. There were three total, two men and one woman. The first one I saw was obviously the leader. He looked to be in his early twenties, with golden hair and eyes to match. His "family," though they were clearly not related, possessed the same eye color. The other man was barely passed his teen years, looking no older than seventeen. The female looked like she could pass for twenty-five, and she assumed the role of wife to the leader.
What interested me most about their little entourage was not that they were of my own kind, but how they chose to feed. I had watched their eyes turn from golden to black, intrigued to find out how they would handle their thirst. When their time drew close, I was surprised to see them head in the opposite direction of the town they were living in, trekking into the surrounding mountains instead. As I watched, they separated, following some invisible scent. I followed the path of the younger male. He moved swiftly through the trees, overtaking a large mountain lion. When he moved in to attack, I grew fearful for his safety. To my relief, he easily overpowered the animal and drank it dry.
I had kept close tabs on their group, never letting a day go by where I didn't see some image of them. Observing their vampire family in my visions served to comfort me in my eternal life of solitude.
I had learned almost everything there was to know about their lives and vampirism in general over the last couple of decades through watching them. Two others had joined the coven since I first started seeing them, a female first and then a male shortly after. Carlisle Cullen, the "father," was their creator. He had been attacked back in the sixteen hundreds by less civilized vampires occupying the London sewers. He learned to manage his thirst to the point where he could practice medicine without losing control. The first family member he changed out of want for a companion. He chose Edward, who was near death in Chicago during the Spanish flu. He added Esme next after she had jumped off a cliff, trying to commit suicide over the loss of her only child. A few years later, Rosalie joined their pack. She happened upon Emmett while out hunting, and he became the most recent addition to the Cullen clan.
The Cullen I took the keenest interest to above the others was Edward. He possessed a talent similar to mine; he could read minds. It comforted me to know I wasn't the only one of our kind with some supernatural gift — I was afraid it set me apart from everyone else, and I feared the prospect of being singled out. He also played the piano, an instrument I've always admired. After I had been watching him and the rest of the Cullens from a distance for awhile, I began to think of them as a surrogate family of my own. I didn't feel so alone in the world knowing they were out there, somewhere.
I was about to begin searching for them and asking to join their coven when I started to see visions of him.
He was traveling alone, much like me, and trying to control his thirst. He was not new to our existence — he had been transformed around the time of the Civil War — but he had no knowledge of our way of life. He didn't know about the second option. He had spent a long time with another group of vampires, much larger than the Cullens and much more vicious. They fought amongst themselves, many times killing each other. He eventually left them, moving off with two friends as traveling companions. But after a short time he drifted away from them, as well.
I recognized in him many of the emotions I myself bore during those first few months. The depression, the sense of loss, the helplessness — and the loneliness of our lives is not something that can be easily reconciled. But unlike me, he had no hope of a better life. He didn't know about the Cullens — as far as he was concerned, he would be forced to live off of humans for the rest of eternity. I felt it was my obligation to find him and guide him away from the nightmare life he led. He needed a companion, I needed a companion. It seemed fitting we should travel together.
I saw visions of us meeting, but the scenes always changed whenever he made another decision. I began to follow him from place to place, trying to catch him before he moved on again. But he was restless, and couldn't make up his mind. Several times I lost track of him altogether, winding up in one place when he was miles away. My visions were always imprecise, and his roaming nature proved very hard to pin down.
So when I had a vision of us meeting in Philadelphia, I almost ignored it entirely. I was in Louisiana, and I wasn't sure I could cover that amount of distance in time to catch him. But then the visions came more frequently, always the same image. I had learned by then that a constant picture was more likely to happen, so I wasted no time departing for Philadelphia.
Once I had arrived in the 'city of brotherly love,' it became obvious he was still traveling and would end up here in a few days. The next vision I had showed him stopping in Ohio, and not coming to Philadelphia for another week. A third vision suggested a fortnight. But as the images always verified that our meeting place would stay the same, I remained in Philadelphia and waited for him to find me.
The storm was gathering volume, peals of thunder echoing in the distance. The rain beat down on the sidewalk in torrents, and it wasn't long before I was soaked to the skin. I continued to trudge forward however, knowing the diner was just around the corner. Like me, he would be driven off the streets to find cover there.
A small bell tinkled as I pushed the door open. The diner was partially filled with people, most of them trying to escape the storm. There were several empty booths, but I made my way to the counter instead. Placing one saddle shoe on the foot rest, I hopped onto one of the high-top chairs and idly took in my surroundings. The small room was quaint, with a black and white tiled floor and a juke box in the corner. I quickly scanned the options on the chalk board behind the counter, preparing to choose something random when the waitress came over.
"Hot chocolate," I said with a small smile. Of course, I had no idea what hot chocolate tasted like, or if I even liked it as a human. But it seemed the appropriate thing to order on a day like today, with the rain pounding against the windows and the wind howling outside.
I stirred in the whipped cream, pretending to take a sip. I didn't bother to turn around when I heard the bell tinkle over the door, already knowing it wasn't him. He hadn't made the decision to duck into the diner yet, though I was confident he would soon.
I was on my third mug of hot chocolate — I had dumped the contents of the first two in the sink on the other side of the counter when no one was looking — when I saw him. He wasn't in my mind this time, but rather his tall figure was reflected in the mirror above the chalk board menu.
Smiling to myself, I quickly fished two quarters out of my pocket and dropped them on the counter before I turned around to face him. Jumping off the bar stool, I quickly crossed the room to his side.
He seemed taken aback at my show of friendliness, almost afraid to allow such close proximity between us. I smiled reassuringly. He relaxed visibly, and I felt myself growing calm as well.
"You've kept me waiting a long time," I gently chastised him, knowing he had no idea how long I had been searching for him.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," he replied uncertainly, his polite bow matching the slight southern accent I detected in his smooth, melodic voice.
"Come." I surprised him again by taking his hand and leading him back out the door and into the rain. We had much to talk about.
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