- Preface -
I sat gasping for breath at the head of our bed, my heart was racing in my chest, I could feel the blush in my cheeks, and every inch of my body felt like it was on fire. Adrenaline coursed through my veins and my mind was in chaos, I felt confusion and awareness. There was also reticent desire, I couldn't pretend that wasn't present. It was ephemeral, but it was palpably there
This is the state Edward found me in when he returned from his hunt. I must have looked truly alarming because despite entering the room casually enough, flicking on the light uncaringly, Edward no sooner caught sight of my expression than he was at my side.
"Bella, what's wrong, what happened? Did you have a nightmare?" His hands held my upper arms with a delicate urgency, pleading with me to tell him what had happened.
I stuttered and gasped, I didn't know how to begin. I was able to say one word, and as I did my eyes went wide, "Jasper!" I gasped.
"Bella, tell me what's happened."
"I don't want to. I don't want you to be angry, and I'm afraid you will be." After a few more gasping breaths I was able to speak coherently again. I couldn't believe how strongly it had affected me. Edward was being patient, but I could tell it was frustrating him as always that he couldn't simply lift my thoughts directly from where they flew through my mind.
"What about Jasper?" he tensed slightly, looking me over for a moment to see if I was in any kind of disarray, and I shook my head. He gave me a pleading look, "Bella, please."
I took a steadying breath and began, "I-I c-can't believe…no, I" I cleared my throat and tried again, "I was just lying here resting. Waiting for you to come back. You'd been gone awhile so I thought it would only be a short time before you returned. When the door opened I assumed it was you. But when I looked up, the profile was all wrong, the shape blocking light from the hall wasn't yours. It took me a moment to realize it was Jasper. He let the door slowly open all the way. He had a look on his face that I hadn't seen since I cut my finger on my 18th birthday. Edward, I was scared out of my mind, trying to figure out if I had cut myself anywhere, or what about me might have caused him to have that look again. He began to walk towards me, his face looked really determined, sort of like Jake – perhaps that should have tipped me off."
I could tell I still wasn't getting to the point fast enough for him. But I had to tell Edward the whole story. That seemed important.
"His face was blazing as I crawled backwards on the bed and hit the wall, Jasper climbed onto the foot of the bed. He grabbed hold of my ankles and held me securely, he smiled then showing me all his teeth. Gripping me with his hands he climbed up my body. Grabbing first at my ankles, then my calves, thighs, waist and finally my shoulders. Jasper chuckled and I tried to remind him he couldn't kill me, I spoke of you, "Jasper, you can't do this. Edward will be horrified, you've worked so hard on your desire for human blood, and you can't lose the battle now. Jasper?"
I went on, Edward listened, his whole body tensed. "Edward, he laughed then, it was not a laugh I've ever heard from him before. It sounded like one of your playful laughs, but deeper, more menacing and he spoke finally. He said, It's true Bella, I have always lusted for human blood, your blood, but that isn't what should concern you just now. He was just over me by then, his hands held me against the wall behind me. Jasper's not huge, but he seemed to be towering over me at that moment. His face was right in front of mine, inside that barrier that is each persons personal space".
"Jasper kept talking in that same tone, the nuances of that tone," I felt my heart race a little faster again, and I was sure Edward heard it.
"He went on; you know my special vampire power, don't you? I nodded yes, and he said, Have you ever thought about what sort of feelings you and Edward might radiate when you 're busy losing yourselves in each other, and your mutual passion? Well, I thought this might be a good opportunity to show you what it does to me because Bella, I couldn't make Edward understand the way I'm able to make you comprehend."
"I wasn't sure what that might mean, but he started then. First he curled his arms behind me, one hand just cupping the back of my neck, the other behind my back, and he pulled me up against him, his face directly before mine, he breathed against me. He started on my neck, making me flinch thinking perhaps he was going to attack me after all, but he only breathed right against my skin – he's not you Edward, but he, like Alice and the rest of your family, definitely smells just as wonderful to my human senses."
I continued, using my finger to point out his trail as I explained, "He ran his lips just above my skin, never touching - over my neck from my collarbone, up under my ear lobe, then over it and onto my cheek, up, over my eyelids, which closed as his breath covered them. Then he crossed my nose and did the same thing on my other cheek, and my other eyelid. Then he rolled all the way down my face and neck, never more than perhaps a millimeter from my skin, exhaling against it, making it tingle all over." I blushed again to admit this to this man who I loved more than myself.
"Then he moved across my chest, his lips never quite touching me, but the threat or idea, implicit. As he reached the middle of my chest, he slowly ran his lips, back up my throat and then hovered just above my lips, he stayed there for several minutes, I'm sure. Edward, I hate to admit it, but he was so close I nearly moved forward to him. He spoke as he was doing this to me, his voice was far more hoarse than I could have believed. This is what it's like to feel everything in the way of passion for someone who inspires none in you normally. Alice is my everything; she is all that I am. Yet now that you're coming here with Edward, and he's constantly insisting you two not take things beyond a safely guarded barrier, I have to feel the lust, and the impassioned hesitation between you every time you're together. I feel these things, and I can tell by your heart racing, the sheen of moisture on your skin, as well as the emotions coming off of you, that you are feeling these things at the moment as well. Just as with you now – there is no relief from these feelings for me. I want you to remember what this has felt like,"His voice became huskier for a moment." Because I don't want to keep feeling these suddenly destabilizing moments of yearning for you. It isn't right, and you have to share this with Edward – so he understands what you two are doing to me. Because if you don't I am going to hurt everyone in this house one of these nights. You, me, Edward, Alice, as well as the rest of them because of what relieving myself of this desire will do to the four of us, and what that will consequently mean for everyone else." His voice became grave, and huskier than he'd been yet, "Because Bella one day I won't be able to stop myself. It is utterly confusing and I can't stand it anymore. He stood then, releasing me. He turned and walked out, closing the door behind himself, and that's when you walked in."
Edward stared gape-jawed at me. His face was furious, but concerned too. He looked at me, "I'm sorry Bella. I know it frightened you, I'm sure Jasper intended only to warn you though. I've asked him to maintain a safe distance from you, because I've heard his thoughts when you and I have been together. He's always re-directed his thoughts to something inane though, and I assumed it was in the interest of discretion. I had no idea it was more for his own self-preservation." He seemed to be considering something, and then he stood up off the bed. He looked at me, his eyes full of concern, "are you okay Bella?"
I nodded my head, "He didn't do anything to me, really, Edward. It was just so…confusing." I frowned at how inadequately that described what I was feeling.
He smiled down at me, leaned forward and kissed my forehead, "Don't worry yourself Bella. Jasper knew what he was doing, but he meant no harm. You've done nothing wrong, my love. I'm going to go speak with
him, I'll be back soon."
He walked out the door and I finally unwound myself from the position Jasper had left me in.
I tried to relax, lying down and stretching out on my side. My mind and traitor body kept re-playing the moments over and over. I was so disoriented, and felt so oddly out of sync with myself. I couldn't understand why it troubled me so, until I recognized the feeling for what it was. It was curiosity. I had no doubt in my mind that I loved Edward, body and soul, forever. Still, the honest fact was, I hadn't ever experienced those feelings with anyone else, and it never would have crossed my mind to investigate it. I had never felt that kind of curiosity with Jacob, and Jacob had forced himself wholly on me, ruining that chance. Technically, Jasper hadn't done anything out of bounds. How then, had he opened a door I'd never even known was there?