It was another ordinary day at the orphanage. We'd just finished eating our daily bowl of broth and we were cleaning the rooms now. I looked down at the nearly scorched picture in my hands and at my reflection in the mirror beside me. I looked so much like my mother, it was painful. I had the same rose colored cheeks. My mother's skin was tan, and mine was just a bit lighter. My eyes were probably our only large difference. My mom had had heterochromia, so one of her eyes was brown while the other was green. I had my dad's eyes, large, blue-green ones. I was tall, about five foot three and when I smiled—which had probably been once in the past sixteen years—I might've been my mother's twin. I sighed. I never smiled anymore. It didn't feel right to smile with a hole in my heart.
My parents, Lidia and Robert Brandon, died in a terrible fire the day they brought me home from the hospital, I'd survived on account of a firefighter that had gotten me out before it was too late. I'd been here ever since. My parents left no will and there was no one to take me in. My birth certificate had been burnt in the fire so there was no trace of my name or the hospital I'd been born in. I didn't have an identity. All I knew for sure about myself was that my birthday was on November 23rd, so I was turning seventeen in three months.
In other news about my putrid life, all the girls at the orphanage hated me. They called me 'Burn'. I was just picking up a broom to sweep around my bed area when a girl, Samantha, tapped me on the shoulder.
"Hey, Burn," she said mockingly. "A couple just walked in, said they were gonna adopt today."
I sighed. I hated adoptions. All these people came in saying one of us was going home with them but no one ever did. All the girls rushed downstairs but I sat on my bed. I refused to face another disappointment.
"Now, Jasper," I heard a trilling voice say from downstairs. "She's here, I just know she is!"
I stared at the wall, stunned.
The voice had been beautiful! Like music. No, better than music. It was…magical.
"Alice, if you say she's here, then she's here. We'll find her." It was a deeper voice this time. A male's voice, for sure. Somehow, it was still beautiful.
I had to see the faces these voices belonged to. I stood up and scurried down the hall. I peeked down the stairs at saw the two most inhumanly beautiful people I was sure I'd ever seen.
The woman was short and graceful. Every part of her sparkled in the dim light. She walked—almost danced—up and down the line of orphaned girls asking them each questions and staring at them for moments at a time. She was very pale—almost white; it looked—with butterscotch gold eyes and short, spiked, black hair. She was extremely thin and looked very happy.
The male was also graceful—surprisingly—as he followed behind her every step. The adoring look he gave her told me that they were both very in love with each other. His blonde hair and equally pale skin sparkled in the dim light of the orphanage. He, too, had gold eyes. He was much taller than the woman—Alice, I believed he'd called her—and muscular.
I couldn't take my eyes off of them
Suddenly, the woman named Alice's head snapped up. She saw me staring at her at the top of the stairs and—just as I was about to drop my gaze—she smiled adoringly, like a mother seeing her child for the first time, and motioned for me to come down.
I looked behind me to see if I was the one she was speaking of and she laughed a laugh like bells.
"Yes, Sweetie," she said, motioning for me again with that same, maternal look on her face. "Come here."
I couldn't disobey here, not that I wanted to anyways. I stumbled my way down the stairs, holding onto the railing for support.
"Her!?!" one of the girls—Samantha, probably—scoffed rather loudly.
"What about me, Alice?" another of the girls whined, it sounded like Amy. Alice and the male—Jasper, I recalled—ignored them.
I got to the bottom of the stairs and Alice grabbed my hand gently and pulled me forward through the group of girls.
I probably would've pulled away if I'd remembered how to work my hand muscle. Her skin was freezing! Like ice, almost! And hard! Her skin was pure, beautiful marble. I found myself wondering if Jasper's was the same…
I got to the front of the girls when she released my hand. She stared at me, not the way she had the other girls, but as if her eyes were warming after every second that passed while she was looking at me. She looked at me the way I imagined my mother would have if she were still alive. Did she really like me so much?
"What is your name?" she asked sweetly.
I wasn't sure what to tell her. I wasn't going to tell her that my name was Burn because…well…it just wasn't.
"I—I'm—" I stuttered. "I'm not sure," I managed to choke out.
She and Jasper continued to just look at me. Their butterscotch eyes stared into my green ones and they smiled. I felt something stretch across my face, something I hadn't felt in a while. I knew a huge smile of excitement and happiness was welling up on my face. Alice turned to face the head mistress, Ms. Frieder.
"This is her," Alice said with beautiful warmth to her voice. Ms. Frieder frowned.
"Well, Mrs. Cullen, there's a lot of things to do. You'd have to make sure she came from a respectable background and, of course you should—"
Jasper held up a finger for her to stop.
"Please, Ms. Frieder, my wife knows that this girl is the one." His voice was like honey. So…so…alluring? No, that wasn't it. I couldn't find the right words. I sighed. I needed better words.
"Er…um…h—he—here," the head Mistress stuttered. She handed them a piece of paper and pens. "F—for the quick adoption." She pointed at a spot on the page. "Sign here, please. You!" she said, pointing at me. "You stay here; the rest of you girls can go upstairs."
There were angry, jealous murmurs behind me as the girls shuffled back up the stairs.
Alice signed the paper quickly then left Jasper to do the pre-adoption talk.
"Hello," she said wrapping me into a gentle hug. "Welcome to the Cullen family."
Cullen, I said in my head. Sounded nice. She gave my hand a gentle squeeze and I returned it. She smiled revealing a mouth of snow white, glistening teeth.
"Hello," I said. "Alice."
"Mhm," she laughed. "Hi."
I smiled. She was so bubbly. I loved her already.
"Come now, Alice," said Jasper. "I'm sure the others can't wait to meet our new daughter."
"Daughter," I said—what I thought was—inaudibly to myself. I liked the sound of it.
"Yes," Alice squealed. She was almost childlike. She didn't look less—or more—than twenty, however. Neither did Jasper. They seemed a lot older. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were middle aged. The thought of these two being middle aged almost made me burst into laughter.
"Others?" I inquired suddenly.
"Yes. Our adoptive parents and siblings," Alice responded.
I stopped walking and turned to look at her.
"Yes. Our parents died many years ago. We were foster children and Carlisle and Esme just became our parents. Jasper and I met because of them." She blew a kiss to Jasper.
"Ah," I said. "Siblings?"
"Also all adopted. Their parents died as well. Rosalie, Jasper's…er…twin sister, and Emmett and Bella and Edward were much like us. We all met because of Carlisle and Esme. Bella and Edward have a twelve year old girl. Her name is Renesmee…"
She trailed off. There was a lie in her voice. I could tell. I didn't push for more answers though. There was a secret this family had, I was sure of it.
We drove home in Alice's yellow Porshe 911 Turbo. Jasper was at the wheel and I sat on Alice's lap in the passenger seat like a child, though I was a few inches taller than she was.
My eyes darted back and forth of the faces of my new parents. They were so beautiful it almost hurt to see their faces. Why did they choose me? I wasn't the most interesting girl in the world and certainly not the most beautiful. A quick glance at the speedometer stopped my evaluation.
"Oh my GOSH!" I screamed. "Slow DOWN!"
The little needle was inching right over 120 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone.
Alice looked like she was going to die of laughter.
"Relax!" she said through giggles. "We've never been in an accident. We've never even gotten a ticket. Everyone in our family drives like this, none of us have ever had a bad experience when driving. We all like to drive fast."
I stared into her golden eyes. I trusted them. I nodded with a faint smile creeping over my lips. I nestled my head against her cold, stone neck.
"You know," she said. "I was hoping you'd let me name you."
My head snapped up.
"Name?" I asked. That word was barely in my vocabulary. They both laughed at my confused expression.
"Well, yeah," Jasper said turning to look at me. "A small girl as beautiful as you is going to need a name in a family as big as ours."
"Actually," Alice was saying. "I was really hoping you'd like the name I chose. I knew your name the second I saw you."
She passed me the adoption papers and my eyes scanned the page until I saw the line titled "NAME".
"Jasmine Isabella Cullen," I whispered.
"Do you like it?" Alice asked me.
"No." I shook my head.
I nodded quickly.
Alice and Jasper laughed. Bass and bells.
Jasmine Isabella Cullen.
It was me, it was my name.
I threw my arms around Alice and pecked her on both cheeks. She laughed but I could feel her neck strain a bit away from me. I leaned back wondering what I'd done wrong.
"Nothing," she said with a smile, guessing my question. "I just think I was allergic to something in that orphanage." I sensed a bit of falsehood to her tone but she sneezed very convincingly four times so I backed away from her face a little. She smiled and pressed my head back against her neck. I knew she knew how much I'd wanted to do that.
"I love you," she whispered in my ear.
"I do, too," I said. I was surprised, because it was true. I loved Alice and Jasper already, as if they were my true parents. Mostly because, I thought, now they were. They were the mom and dad I hadn't had my entire life.
The rest of the ride home was quiet besides Alice's velvet voice that was singing to me quietly. Singing the words of a song in a language that sounded like it would be the native tongue of fairies.
I wasn't sure when I drifted to sleep but I did. Alice had to shake me w few times before I woke up.
"Jasmine, Jasmine," she was saying.
"Jasmine, wake up," Jasper said.
"Huh?" I said a bit disarmed. As I saw their faces I gasped. I might've sworn it had all just been a beautiful, beautiful dream. But no, here I was, awake and with two people who already loved me, despite the fact that they had just met me. Two people that I loved too, despite that same fact.
"Jasmine, sweetie, we're home," Alice said nudging me.
"Home," I repeated, softly. Jasper pointed past me to a large lawn with steps that led up to a grand white house. Where were we anyways? I was sure we weren't in Oregon anymore.
"We're just in Forks, Washington," said Jasper, guessing my thoughts.
I didn't know much about Washington, besides the fact that it was one of the rainiest places in the world, and that it was my new home.
"Home!" I said with more volume.
Alice opened the door and carried me just as easily as if I weighed five pounds instead of one hundred and five. She put me on my feet and grabbed my right hand while Jasper grabbed the other.
"Home," I repeated.
I was finally at a place that I could actually call home.