She asked, "What's your name?"
I sniffed, "Jasper."
She chuckled, "Isn't that a cat name?"
He asked me gently, "How badly does it all hurt, Jasper?"
I chocked out, "Really bad!"
He set his hand on my knee and I flinched, drawing quickly away from him.
He soothed, "It's okay Jasper, I'm not going to hurt you. I'm a doctor; I can help you if you let me. You just have to trust me."
I asked Edward desperately, "Can you call me tonight?"
He looked somber and he nodded quickly.
I swallowed back a knot of terror and whispered, "If I don't answer, call the cops."
Was I serious, or just being dramatic?
After considering it, I think I was serious.
I put my shirt back on and leaned against the car seat carefully. "Thanks for letting me come over."
She smiled brightly, "It's fun having you over! We can do sibling stuff."
Both of us being only children, we liked to do brother sister stuff with one another.
I smiled shyly at her, "Got any cookie dough?"
Smiling to myself I opened the door a bit, trying to ignore her flinch when she saw my shirtless chest.
I joked lightly, "What brings you so close to hell?"
She ran her hand across my face gently and vowed, "One day things will get better."
I hugged her against me a little bit and sighed, "Only once you and I are together; and far away from Detroit!"
She set her hands on my shoulders and smiled, eyes shining with a raw and terrifyingly powerful love.
"The day I turn 18 we're going to Vegas and getting married. Alice and Edward can sit in the backseat and watch, and that will be that. You'll be mine forever!"
The desperate rage that must have shown in my eyes made her shrink away from me.
I hissed, "You promised me Bella, on your life, you will never tell him."
She gazed into my face for the longest time before sighing and leaning back, her head resting on my chest.
She whispered weakly, "I'll keep that promise, Jasper, on my life. I just hope it doesn't cost you yours."
"Hell Jasper, where did you learn to kiss like that? Should I be worried about some competition?"
I asked, in a playful aghast, "You think I'm cheating on you?"
Her eyes twinkled and she sighed, "I don't know, you're awfully close to Alice."
I locked my eyes with Bella's in desperation.
Her face went white when she saw the raw terror shining back at her.
I was, for the first time in my life, deathly afraid to return home.
How many times have I imagined that?
Imagined myself dancing on his grave.
Imagined myself setting him on fire, listening to his screams until he was ash then kicking it into the wind as I laughed.
Imagined myself getting the biggest knife we had in the kitchen and slamming it into his chest as hard as I could.
I pressed my nose into her hair and breathed, "I love you, Isabella Swan."
I don't know where the sudden confession came from, but I could feel it to my very bones. Bella was my angel; she was my whole life now. She looked up at me and smiled, her beautiful brown eyes dancing. She looked so pure.
"I love you too, Jasper, more then the world."
Any future with Bella was a good one, a perfect one.
I smiled a little bit and settled into the seat of the car comfortably, thinking about pleasant things of what was to come now that I was free.
Now that I had something to look forward to, and someone to love me.
Edward was glaring furiously at his father, who gazing at me, eyes shining with a deep sorrow.
I suddenly felt very embarrassed with myself, hurt even.
I know that I am safe here, and that Carlisle loves me like one of his own sons. I am just hurting him because I am too big of an idiot to let myself trust him.
Fifteen years without knowing her.
My light, my angel.
The one thing that keeps me centered and determined to fight away from the shadows of my past that try to swallow me.
She is my reason for fighting onward in this world. Three weeks is going to be hell, really.
Life before Bella was no life worth living.
Alice patted my arm and asked, "So, how are you holding up? I can go get the phone if you want, Emmett will never know."
It made me oddly emotional to know that both she and Edward were willing to help me get a-hold of Bella.
I shook my head and asserted, "It's fine, really."
After a long second of silence she grinned, "Come on, let's go make some cookies."
She chuckled, "I'm fine, life is pretty boring without you, and dad says hi. Now, how long are you grounded for?"
I sighed, "Another week, or so."
She scolded, "Jasper, can't you try to behave yourself?
I snorted, "Me? Behave? No, it's against my nature. You're still coming over for Christmas, right?"
She laughed, "Yes! I'd swim there if I had to."
I felt his tears falling into my hair as I rested my cheek against his chest.
I wrapped my arms around his waist, feeling incredibly safe in his arms.
I shakily assured, "I'm fine, dad, just a few cuts."
I could feel my heart threatening to rip out of my chest. I lifted my arm and moved my hand, showing the golden silk box. I felt my throat tighten and I slowly pulled it open to reveal my mother's wedding ring.
It was a gorgeous white-gold band with a small, pretty diamond in the center of it.
Realization hit her and her eyes began to water.
I spoke softly, tenderly, "Isabella Marie Swan, if you truly love me like you say you do, if the want to have me for the rest of your life, then say yes. Will you marry me?"
Her hand very gently skimmed some scratches on my back.
She asked, embarrassed, "Do they hurt?"
I grinned at her from over my shoulder and she blushed a terrible shade of red.
I leaned back and kissed her before promising, "I didn't even notice them."
I glared murder at them, but Bella just hugged me. "I think a sensitive man is sexy."
I fretted, "I think we should check their temperatures."
Alice set the tray down and nodded, disappearing to go find the thermometer.
Edward laughed the tiniest bit, "The one time dad would be useful and he's in Orcabessa hundreds of miles away."
I patted his shoulder, "You'll be fine. Alice can take care of you."
I asked, "Bella, honey, can you walk?"
She was starting to get as confused as Edward was. She asked, "Why would I want a waffle?"
Fear clawed at my chest and I ended up just picking her up. She clung to my neck as I carefully carried her across the snowy street and into the emergency room.
She could die. She could die.
Oh my god! I didn't even want to think about that.
My body felt like it physically started to ache.
Every instinct I had was rejecting that idea, denying its possibility.
Just by being me, everything is so much more complicated.
All I have to do is lean forward, and I can let her be happy.
No more phone calls at midnight listening to me cry over my nightmares.
No more clinging onto her like the needy child I am.
No more letting her waste her love on someone like me. A broken young man who will never be good enough for her.
My life had flashed before my eyes so quickly it was insane.
"Jasper, this wasn't your fault."
I always thought that was a joke, re-living important memories when death is glaring right at you.
"Of course we aren't angry with you, son. There's no reason to be."
They put me on Anafranil, a medication for anyone diagnosed with clinical depression.
"Nobody noticed the signs, among everything else going on."
I had to stay at the Aurora Behavioral Health Center in St. Luke's for a few weeks.
"Just until you get better, Jasper. Just until you're happy again."
Apparently, the stress of everything going on mixed with my untreated condition was too much for me to mentally absorb. They told me I had developed something called 'tunnel vision.'
"Don't feel so bad, you didn't ask for this to happen. You couldn't have helped it."
Apparently, the world can be just black and white.
Death or life.
Peace or pain.
Jump or don't jump.
No middle ground, no other option. It had been one or the other for me.
But which one was more important?
I had decided not to jump. To stay alive, to suffer through the pain.
I'm used to the pain, right? It's not like it can hurt me anymore then it already has.
On top of everything else, my death would just hurt my family. How could I inflict that upon the people I love? I am not selfish enough to make them suffer.
Esme shouldn't have to bury her son. Bella shouldn't have to be a widow before she's even married.
I was glad, indescribably grateful, that Carlisle was there. I didn't want to die yet, not after fighting so hard to live through everything I have.
I had lost my balance when I was trying to step down from the ledge. The wind almost knocked me over. It was in that second that I realized what I was doing. Realized what I would be giving up. Realized I was considering, coming dangerously close, to suicide.
Suicide is just a form of murder. Dad was a murderer. I refuse turn into him.
I'm lucky Carlisle was there to catch me.
There to pull me onto the ground.
To hug me and tell me everything was going to be all right.
To hold me and cry with me.
My real father never would have.
My reflection was interrupted and I looked up to see who wanted me.
Rosalie smiled, "Be a useful godfather for a second and hold Danny for me."
Daniel Edward Cullen was born five weeks ago on February 19th.
I took the wiggling infant from her and she disappeared into the house. I sat back down on the steps and smiled, kissing the top of little Danny's head.
A sudden grumbling near the fence caught my attention.
Having been bedridden for three entire months, Edward was still very weak. It's only been eight days since they let him come home from the hospital's physical therapy unit.
Alice had taken him out for some exercise along the beach just across the street from the house.
I heard him complain, "Do you enjoy wearing me out, Alice?"
She held onto his arm, helping to steady his shaky walking.
She softly reminded, "You'll feel better sooner if you walk with me every day."
Edward pouted, "I'd have felt better if you let me stay in the house!"
Alice put up with his grouchiness as they entered the gate into the yard. She was very gentle and patient with him; even though his temper's been worse then it has ever been before.
I can understand why, though. It sucks feeling tired all of the time.
I tried to cheer him up, "If you had stayed inside, you wouldn't have been able to see your nephew enjoying his first April afternoon."
Edward smiled a little and Alice helped him down onto the steps with me. He leaned against her for some extra support and I handed Danny to him.
After a short silence I quietly reminded, "It won't be too long until you're strong again, Edward. You were very sick, you need time to recover."
He avoided looking at me when he sighed, "I know that. I just hate feeling like this. A ten minuet walk and I'm exhausted. I bet I couldn't make it upstairs without Emmett's help."
I asked hesitantly, "Do you want to take a nap on the couch?"
I was afraid he was going to snap at me. He's becoming notorious for getting sharp when we suggest anything to him. Poor guy, he's always been very independent.
To my surprise he whispered sadly, "I guess so."
Alice took Danny, probably to pawn him off with Esme, and I helped Edward into the house.
He sank onto the couch and I gave him a pillow so he could lie down before turning off the light.
When he was comfortable I wandered into the kitchen and found Alice sitting on the table.
She smiled, "So, spring break in two days. Is Bella coming down again, or are you visiting her?"
I smiled, "She's coming here. She wants to see the baby."
I told you I knew she was going to be okay.
Bella was safe, I was healthy.
Just one more year and she's going to be eighteen.
One more year until we can pursue our happily ever after.
I asked suddenly, "Hey, Alice?"
She glanced at me, "What?"
I grinned, "How about we make some cookies?"