"Touch your lips just so I know
In your eyes, love, it glows so
I'm bare boned and crazy for you"
Dave Matthews-Crash Into Me
It was just after nine o'clock in the morning when Jasper jumped through my window with me in his arms. The journey back had been…interesting. The events before the journey back had been… miraculous. Literally. Miracles could happen, did happen, and someone, somewhere decided that they should happen to me…in the form of Jasper.
At first I was unsure as to how Jasper felt about our kiss. The way he ended it, barely spending a second between the time our lips parted and swinging me up onto his back.
As for me, well…
The thing is…
The kiss was…
This kiss was the single most breathtaking moment of my life up until then. Better than my best memory, which was sitting in Jasper's lap in the cafeteria the day Jessica died. The tension I felt from Jasper melted away the moment our lips connected. I had imagined the moment time and time again in my mind, picturing his lips crashing into mine, I never truly believed it would actually happen. But he had kissed me. Not the other way around. All my daydreams were garbage next to the real thing.
The reel was replaying over and over in my head: Jasper glimmering in the sun, Jasper shouting at me, and then Jasper's cold mouth on my own. I tried to open my mouth wider, needing to be even closer to him than I was, needing to feel his tongue on my own. But he rejected it. He kept his mouth closed, though he did not stop kissing me. I broke away for a millisecond to take a much-needed breath, and his name escaped my lips, followed by mine from his. And then his hands that were tangled in my hair pulled my head to his again. He didn't want to stop.
No, my daydreams had nothing on the reality of myths and fantasy. My dreams could not compare to the beauty that is Jasper in real life, on my lips, in my hair, all around me. He was pervasive, and I knew, even more than I thought I did before he'd kissed me, that I never wanted to be apart from him again.
Even as I felt that sensation, a part of me wanted it gone, the logical part, the serious, the non romantic part of me knew that such a feeling could only leave me alone and broken in the end. And as I clung to a vampire's back and flew down a mountainside, the two sides of me clashed with one another, battling for footing at the peak of my thoughts. The part of me that was so far gone in love with the man to whom I clung, and the part that knew it was illogical and impetuous to feel so strongly for someone so quickly, for something so unknown. I immediately felt ashamed that I should be acting so much like Renee, the mother whom all my life I had tried to keep from making choices like this, from behaving rashly. The thought made me shiver.
Choices like this! Shouted the part of me that stood for love, quoting my own thoughts back to me. I had already made the choice. I was already too far-gone to let go of him without a fight. He knew I loved him, he told me so the day he came back. Only the day before, he came back into my life and told me that he could feel my emotion, could feel that I loved him.
But he'll leave again and you know it. Reasoned my logic.
But that kiss! He wants me too. I warred back at myself.
And he broke contact without even looking at you. You're senile if you think that's a good sign.
I let out a frustrated sigh and opened my eyes. Which was a huge mistake, though it did end my internal debate. Everything was a blur of green and brown, the motion of which caused me to yelp and scream at the same time, which caused me to choke on my own saliva and air.
Jasper stopped so fast that my head fell forward, my left eye making direct contact with his apparently rock hard exterior. I yelled again, this time in pain.
"Bella?" Jasper's worried voice asked. My right eye opened, my hand was covering my wounded eye. I was no longer on his back, but he was holding me cradled in his arms in front of him. The expression in his eyes was alarmed. There was glassiness to them like he was about to cry. I felt like holding him in my arms and calming him. I suddenly felt like smiling, and the pain in my eye seemed to ebb slightly.
I laughed a little, "Owe." I said anticlimactically. He shook his head and smiled with me. "You weren't kidding when you told me to keep my eyes closed." I said, happy he wasn't brooding.
"No Bella, I wasn't kidding." He sobered up, and looked at me with a serene expression. "Are you alright?"
I thought about his question for a moment, the pause seemed to accentuate the fact that his arms were holding me protectively against his torso, and I smiled, thinking I had never been better in my life. I nodded.
"You scared me Bella. Would you do me a favor?" He asked, with a slight curve of his eyebrow.
"Anything." I nearly blurted out.
"Will you calm down? I haven't the stamina to withstand your range of emotions." He laughed again, and I felt myself relax even further in his arms, the sound of his laughter making me melt. He started to walk slowly with me in his arms, I didn't know where we were, nor did I care or have the will to take my eyes from his face to look. He shook his head. "Armies of vampires I can deal with, but Bella Swan's heart, I'm left barely able to stand."
His words seemed to finally cut through my haze of awe at his glorious face, which was alternating between diamonds and shadow, as the trees above opened to let slight vestiges of sunlight through their limbs. My heart sped suddenly at the sound of Bella Swan's heart through his lips, in his melodious voice. "What about 'Armies of Vampires?'" I asked.
His mouth opened slightly and the corners of his lips curled and he let out a low chuckle. I was momentarily distracted yet again by the sound of his laugh, by the sight of his smile, which was so infrequent. His teeth were perfect and stark white against the unusual berry color of his lips, which were the perfect…
"Bella." He stated my name, and it felt like an alarm clock going off, an interruption of my ogling. My eyes shot to his, and he smirked.
"Hm?" I asked. He just shook his head and smiled. Perfection.
"What am I going to do with you?" He asked in a light tone.
I was caught off guard, but my mouth was already speaking unbeknownst to me. "I could think of a thing or two. Something to do with a mountain and a lake, and…"
His face took on a worried look, which halted me in my lame attempt at seduction. "What's wrong?" I asked.
"Your eye is swelling."
I had forgotten all about it, but when he brought it up I felt it throbbing. "Oh. Yeah. I'm fine." I stated dully.
He laughed but it wasn't jovial. In fact, he seemed disappointed. "You're lying. But I don't blame you. I know it hurts. I can feel it hurting you Bella."
"What do you mean you can feel it?" I asked. I wondered if he literally felt the pain I was feeling, or just the emotion behind it.
He lowered his face until it was inches from my own…inch from my own. "Shhh." He barely whispered as his forehead made contact with my throbbing left eye. I instantly felt better, although I wasn't sure if it was the way his forehead mimicked an icepack, or if the intimate position made me forget about my pain all together. Either way I relished it. My heartbeat picked up an unnatural pace, while the hair on my skin along every inch of my body seemed to stand alert.
His head tilted in toward my face, his breath cool and sweet above my lips, as his forehead gently soothed my eye. "Calm." He whispered. And I felt my skin, which was on fire from ice; melt into his embrace, which simultaneously tightened around me.
We stayed like that for an immeasurable moment in time. I spared no care for whether we were moving or stopped in space, all I knew was that I never wanted it to cease. I brought my hand up to rest on the back of his head, his eyes fluttered open. I only knew because I felt the hair of his eyelashes tickle my cheek. "Beautiful." He barely whispered. My stomach tightened into knots and released at the same time, willing him closer to me. I wrapped my hand around his neck and tried to pull myself closer, he lifted his head to allow me traction, to help me in my endeavor. I breathed in his scent as I brought my face even closer to his. He seemed to be doing the same to me, the breath he took in sounded like a growl, and it made me want him even more. I opened my mouth to taste the flavor of the arousing scent I smelled coming off of him. He bent his head down and lifted me up with his arms at the same time and grazed his nose gently over my lips, which wanted only his to come down on them. I groaned and then kissed his forehead, which was the first part of his face I could find, as his mouth was then doing interesting things to my chin, and then my neck. He wasn't kissing me, he was breathing me in, barely gracing my skin with his lips, and it made the bumps on my skin rise even higher.
His breathing seemed to grow deeper the lower down my neck he went. "Jasper." I gasped as I grabbed tighter to his hair in a plea for him to continue. And that's when I felt it, a great sense of tranquility overcome me, as if I were floating in warm ocean water, inside a warm blanket, content to float aimlessly forever. A second later I felt his tongue, cold as ice on the skin of my neck. My head fell back on my shoulders and my eyes rolled to the back of my head as the calming sensation coupled with the piercing feeling of his tongue on my skin jolted through my body. I was in heaven. A God was holding me, and I was in heaven. I felt the wet trail burn its way up my neck, as his tongue never relented, it left my skin when it reached my chin, and I let out a sound that sounded like, "Gah."
I felt my head being lifted by the All Mighty himself. How my eyes found their rightful place in my head again, I will never know. "Jas…" I began to say but his lips cut me off. I was on the ground floor of the forest at this point, how I got there was beyond me at that point. His lips moved agonizingly slow against mine. I couldn't find it in me to care what pace his mouth took on my own. I was swimming in that warm ocean now. I opened my mouth to let him take me inside his own, but he pulled back. I was too slow to realize, as my mouth was still opening and waiting for more, when I heard his low chuckle. My eyes shot open. My first noises were inaudible jumbles of syllables and vowels. He loomed over me, somehow not touching me with any part of his body, unfortunately. He was smiling. "What?" I asked, bewildered.
"I've never tried that. Did you enjoy it?" He asked with a serious face.
"You've never kissed anyone before?" The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. I immediately regretted them, remembering his brief mention of his love for a woman named Vera. I would never forget her name. I wasn't talking to just an 18-year-old boy, but an immortal. How old was he exactly?
He interrupted my thoughts. "No, that's not what I was referring to." He stood then, seeming to sober immediately.
I followed suit and stood as well, albeit much clumsier as I was still feeling light headed by the best kiss in the history of kisses in the entire known universe.
"I'm sorry, I know you've done that before." Clearly alluding to the kissing. "I'll never forget what you told me, what you told me about her." I ended lamely.
"Don't worry Bella. I brought it up, remember." He said, though his eyes were downtrodden and avoiding mine. I decided to change the subject.
"Jasper, how old are you?" I asked.
He laughed again, for what seemed like the hundredth time that day, "Bella you are so easily distracted."
What did that mean? Well, he was right. Though, it was his fault! "I'm different when I'm with you." I said.
He tilted his head, interested. "How are you different?" He put his hands in his pockets, like he wanted to stand in the middle of the freezing forest on the outskirts of a mountain and discuss the inner workings of my convoluted behavior.
That wasn't exactly my idea of a good time, so I began to walk forward, in the direction I imagined we'd been going before we ended up on the ground. "I just am. You tell me I'm easily distracted, you haven't answered any of my questions."
He fell in step beside me. "I was 20 years old when I became a vampire."
"Okay." I kept my head forward, partly because I wanted to seem nonchalant about whatever he said, and partly because I didn't want to trip or walk into a tree. From the corner of my eye I saw him watching me.
"I was a soldier in the Confederate Army." He seemed to be watching me carefully. I stole a glance in his direction and smiled.
"Okay." I stated again. It wasn't even hard to keep my voice even. On some level I must have been freaking out. Confederate Army, that means the Civil War. That means…
"I was born in 1843. I died in 1863. And here I am." He shrugged and I did what I was afraid of, I tripped and stumbled. Before I could even complete the usual falling ritual: yell, flail, land, and wince. I was caught. That was not part of the deal. Falling and being caught was not part of the routine.
But I immediately threw the old routine out and traded up for Jasper's arms. "Wow." I said in a breathy voice. I cleared my throat as he stood us both upright. "Thanks."
"I was expecting it actually." He said. "I knew my age would be surprising."
"Yeah. Surprising." I said still reeling from not landing on my face, but into his arms. "Surprising, but I don't feel that shocked or anything." I concluded, comfortable with my easy acceptance of his age.
He nodded as we continued to walk forward. "No, you don't. Why is that?"
"I knew what you were, who you are. I guess the surprising part is imagining you in history. I mean, I've read history books about what you've lived through." I shook my head at the sheer impossibility of such a thing. "I mean the Civil War." I said in awe. And then I realized how inadequate I was standing next to him. How wise and learned and experienced he was, while I was 17 and awkward and very inexperienced in life. I doubted the awkward and inexperienced teenager that I was, was much of an appeal to someone like him.
"Bella, what's wrong? You do realize I'm the one who should be in doubt here." He said.
That caught me and I stopped walking. "And how do you always do that? Always know what I'm thinking the exact moment I'm thinking it."
He looked at me with a stern gaze. "Bella, you already know that can feel emotions. I was feeling you doubting yourself."
Oh. Right. That. "I forgot." I must have looked like such an idiot. "Are you sure that's all though? I mean you're sure you can't maybe read minds…just a little bit?"
He smirked. "Why? What were you thinking?
"You tell me." I said incredulously.
He rolled his eyes. "It's getting too cold out here for you. Can we continue this discussion when you're indoors?"
"No." I said and I felt heat rise to my face. I was worried that he could in fact hear my thoughts, and the very thought of it had me going mad. "Tell me now. I probably would have accepted it if you told me I was crazy, but now that you admit there's something to tell, I want to know now."
He sighed heavily. "If I hold you again, will you wait until I can get you home."
"No." I crossed my arms. "Maybe." I looked down at my feet and blew out a breath of frustration, how easily distracted I was. "Hold me how?"
He smiled and closed the small distance between us. He picked me up in his arms, cradling me to his chest once again. "Okay, I'll wait." I grumbled.
He nodded. "Close your eyes, and keep them closed." I did as was asked.
I could feel the air caress my skin as he ran. I knew better than to open my eyes, and I even began to relax and revel in the feel of the crisp morning air against my hair and face, that coupled with the fact that I felt like I was already safe at home in his arms made me feel lighter than I ever remembered feeling. I was at peace, there, seemingly floating in midair.
And then I felt the air change and felt my feet come down on solid ground. I felt his fingers lightly touch my eyelids, and on instinct they opened. We were in my room. I let out a small laugh at the absurdity of it all. "Home sweet home." I said, a little sarcastically. He didn't respond. He just stared at me with an expression I couldn't decipher.
I didn't waste any time. "So you got me home. Now own up Mister." I playfully poked him in the chest. He looked down at the place where I had just barely touched him, and slowly nodded.
"I told you that I could feel others' emotions. I told you that and you believed me, but it's more than I think you realize."
I nodded. I knew it had to be more than his ability to feel emotion. "So you can hear thoughts." I stated, like it was the obvious conclusion.
"Why don't you sit down Bella?" He asked.
I moved to my bed and sat, curling my legs beneath me comfortably. I'm ready. I thought. And a part of me figured he could hear that thought.
He made no movement to join me only stared deeply at the wooden floor. "I can't read your thoughts." He began, and I was about to protest, as I had just been thinking that he could. But he held up a hand for my silence. "Edward is the one in the family who can do that."
I heard myself gasp and his lips twitched slightly in what I was coming to recognize as a smile. "Although, he can't read yours. Which was a surprise to all of us." He began to walk the length of my room, and then retrace his steps. Pacing. "You're the anomaly in his ninety some years of being able to read the thoughts of those around him, vampire and human alike. You, Bella, are the one he cannot read." He smirked at that. "You see, not all vampires have abilities. Only those of us who are damned enough to warrant such a curse." He stared into my eyes so strongly that I nearly fell over from the force. He broke the gaze as quick as he made it, and I found myself blinking rapidly.
"Ask me Bella. I will make you understand what I failed to the last time I told you. Ask me one more time, ask me what you want to know." He said, his voice dripping with severity.
"What is your ability?" I delivered unwaveringly.
"I can feel the emotions of everyone around me. I can feel them like a pulse, as if I had a goddamn pulse of my own. They course through me; happiness, sadness, regret, doubt, anger, fear." His voice grew in volume and he stalked toward me on the bed. "Lust, hate, trust, wonder, I feel it all Bella, I feel it all at once. You. I feel you…all at once." He leaned into me, and I leaned back on instinct as he was still speaking. "Tell me what you think I feel from you. Tell me what one emotion I get from you above all others. Tell me Bella." His knee came up on the bed and he leaned even further into me, as I fell back onto my elbows he breathed his deliciously tempting aroma onto my face. "Tell me what you feel." My head fell back slightly as his question rolled off his tongue. I could refuse him nothing. "Love." I breathed, giving it no real voice.
And then he was gone, and I felt anger wash over me. I felt it so deeply that my skin felt damp and my face hot with rage. I wanted to scream at him, or at the ceiling, or at the sheets beneath me. I wanted to break the windows with my scream I was so mad. "What is this?" I barely croaked out between my teeth. I felt tears singe my cheeks. My eyes squinted against the barrage of seething fury.
He was standing, almost hunching over in front of my bed. "This." He ground out between his teeth. "Is the other side of my curse." He whirled around breaking his eye contact with me and faced the opposite wall. I felt the anger release, the absence of which left me merely confused. "What…" I couldn't formulate a question for what I was feeling, what I had just felt. The strongest anger I had ever experienced.
Still turned away from me, I saw his head roll back on his shoulders, as if he were momentarily glancing at the ceiling, but I couldn't tell if his eyes were open or closed. "I feel emotion from others, and I can influence theirs just as easily. I made you that angry Bella. That is who I am. That is what I am…and more. Worse."
I swallowed down bile that had risen to my throat. Anger so strong it nearly made me sick, literally. I let out a shaky breath as I wiped away the tears from my face. "You are more than that. You are good. I know you are. How many times have you saved my life Jasper? How many times have you fed from animals and not humans…" I was cut off by his sudden movement. His eyes caught mine in a ferocious glare.
"Finally something to scare you off." He intoned darkly. "Do you know how long I did feed on humans?" He inclined his head. "No? Not scared yet? Nearly one hundred years Bella. Nearly one hundred years I preyed on humans. I feasted on the blood of your kind. Do not mistake good and evil Bella. And do not mistake me for the former."
I was taken aback. One hundred years? Again I felt inadequate. He had been on this earth for so many years. That in itself was so inhuman. What he must have gone through, I would never fully know. Who was I to judge his experiences, his choices, in that long span of time? I swallowed again. "Jasper. Do you kill humans now?" I asked something I already knew the answer to.
He didn't answer me, but his silence was answer enough. "You lived a different life, a different existence entirely. I only know the man I see today, a decent being. Someone, who, for the life of me, I need to know more about," I let out a frustrated laugh. "You might think that you're scaring me away by telling me that you've killed people. But you haven't. I'm not put at ease either; I mean there are many things about you that frighten me. But I'm not running away. I'm not scared off by your gruesome past Jasper."
He turned away from me again hiding his expression. Though I imagined it to be one of brooding, frustrated, anger. He let out an uneven breath and hung his head. "I'm sorry, truly I am. For bringing you into this world." He straightened his stance but did not face me. "This should never have happened…" He was cut off by the touch of my hand upon his back. There was no more choices where Jasper was concerned, no more hesitation. I wanted to ease his plight, and so I did. It ceased to be a choice to stay on the bed and watch him seethe or close the distance between us. It ceased to be a decision I could make anymore. The choice was made long ago. It would always be that of closing the distance.
"It has happened Jasper. I'm not concerned with what should or shouldn't have been. I only know that I was blind before it did." I ran my hand down his spine and reached my other to his open hand at his side. I didn't hold it gently as I had before, but I grabbed onto it, and squeezed tighter than I knew possible, to where it was painful for me. "Do you hear me? Do you feel this?" I asked him, growing more passionate about my resolve. "I am not letting you go. I don't care what your ability is, what you think is a curse. I don't care how old you are, I don't care that you drink blood, or sleep in coffins. Believe me, I don't care about any of that." I was gritting my teeth by the end of my declaration.
He stared down at me, his eyes brought together with aggravation, he was angry. I just tightened my death grip on his hand. "How could you not care? You speak of things you no nothing about, still. How could you be so dense Bella?" There was something beneath his aggressive tone that let me know that he felt relief that I was accepting him, even if he didn't realize it himself. "How can you stand here looking at me like this, feeling…what you're feeling? What is wrong with you? Something is wrong with you. You know that right?"
I looked past the hatred in his eyes. I looked past what was obviously pain. I looked past the color of gold and shimmers of amber. I looked straight through him, past years of facades, and lies, past war and strife, past strength and weakness, I looked at him, I saw him. The night before I looked at him and thought he was dead inside. I wasn't looking deep enough. No. There was death, to be sure. But he was so alive that it had me feeling powerful just sharing his presence. His life was hidden behind layers and layers of pain and sorrow. And what else, I was not sure. But of one thing I was sure of was my love for him.
I love you. "I love you." I said. And never did I speak truer words; never did I know myself better than that moment.
He seemed to crack, to melt right before me. Though he did not move, my place was still deep within his eyes, and I saw something breakdown inside of them. I saw something shift. Whatever it was, it did not make me fear him, it gave me hope; it made me feel loved back.