I wake up breathing his name, already knowing that he's not here.
He won't come back.
Arms slide around my waist, as lethargic kisses are planted on my shoulders, drawing me back into the mess of covers.
"Bella. You okay love?"
I look down upon the man that shares my bed, and I can feel my heart splintering into yet more pieces. He doesn't really need to ask. We both know what I just said. Vampires hear everything, and they never forget.
"What? Oh I'm fine Jasper. Just a nightmare, that's all."
I lay back down, placing my head over his dead heart. My fingers fan out trying to cover of much of his naked chest as possible. The body of ice cooling my sweltering skin. He traces inconsequential shapes across my back, as I feel a wave of lethargy permeate my senses. He's just as scared about facing it as I am.
He may have left me but Edward doesn't stop hounding my dreams. They have become less frequent with time, but they never stop.
He never vanishes.
"You can go on with your life without anymore interference from me. It'll be as if I'd never existed."
Everything changed after Edward left.
I changed after Edward left.
I am no longer Isabella Swan. Edward took that girl when he left.
I am now Belle Whitlock.
I stare down at the glittering rock on my finger.
Thick and gold, the diamond a reflection of his skin
Isabella would hate it.
Belle doesn't. She enjoys the weight of it on her finger. Reminding her of the commitment she's made. They've made.
And I can't even tell my mother and father.
I haven't really spoken to Charlie in months; and haven't seen him properly in years. After the whole Edward fiasco, I completely switched off, letting auto-pilot take over. I went to school, I came back from school. That was it. I probably still cooked but I can't remember, all I do know is that it felt like I was staring into a deep pit, knowing with utmost certainty that I would fall into it.
I know I wasn't being fair to Charlie. He wasn't really used to living with a teenage girl let alone helping her through a mental breakdown. To be honest he held up better than I expected. lasting three months before sending me back to his ex-wife. I think he thought it would snap me out of it. The threat of Renee putting me on the straight and narrow, but it didn't. I just let him do it. When I left him at the airport, I knew that I was breaking his heart. I felt his arms pull me into his iron grip.
"I'm sorry Bella. But I don't know what else to do. If I thought we could work this through. If I knew I could help you. Just give me an inkling kid. A small step in the right direction and I'll call it off. You can come back. home" His eyes were beseeching, the iron grip never loosening. But I didn't say a word, boarding the plane silently.
My relationship with Renee is a little better. Coming home for Christmas and Easter. I've mentioned Jasper in passing, - a guy from class that I have the occasional date with- but know better than to divulge just how serious it is. Since my little breakdown, her hawk eyes have been out making sure that nothing like this happens again. It was impossible to stay silent with my mother. I couldn't stay cooped up in my room as I had done in forks. There was Phil's weekly game to attend. Shopping trips to endure, and movies to watch. I got better; slowly. But I hated it In the heat. I thought that if I got back under the sun everything would return to normal. Edward didn't exist in the sunlight.
I could forget. But I didn't. I learnt to move on but I still ached for the cold. The dark encompassing clouds. My mother thought I was crazy but after a lot of cajoling she allowed me to apply to the university of Alaska, which readily accepted me into their English course. There was a lot of heated phone calls between forks and Phoenix. Charlie didn't accept my choice of university as quickly as Renee.
"That's where they cam from. Jesus Christ Renee. They could so easily be there."
How right he was. He just imagined the wrong Cullen.
"To be fair Charlie, He could be almost anywhere on the planet. There's no guarantees that he won't pop in her life at some point, but we can't wrap her up in cotton wool."
Thankfully he finally relented, but we still don't see much of each other even though Alaska isn't that far away from Forks. I tell myself it's because I'm too busy, or that I'm afraid he's still mad. But the truth is I don't want to step foot in that house again. The thought of my room, still full of memories.
when I wake I don't know if it's day or night. All I know is that I am in the bed alone. He's either hunting or brooding. I don't know which I prefer. I glide through the house of glass, finding myself home alone. At least hunting is productive I suppose. I know he's fallen off the wagon since we have arrived here. A hint of burgundy has bled into his eyes, diluting the startling golden irises.
Who was it? Did they have a family? Would they be missed?
I can't help but blame myself. I have shackled him to me, the ever-present thudding of my splintered heart driving him wild. I should just be grateful he hasn't bitten me; yet. He wants to wait. The official motivation is so I will be around the same age as he was when he was converted so to speak. Yet I think his intentions are more noble. He wants me to have as many human experience as possible. He's more like Edward then he thinks.
I find one of Jasper's discarded shirts in the lounge, and shrug it on buttoning it all the way up. I'm slightly embarrassed by my bare skin, even though I am the only one who can see it. I inhale his scent that clings to it deeply. He smells like, wood shavings, Pine and the forest after it rains. He is earthy and grounded, and I love him. I think I want to spend the rest of eternity with him;
But he's not Edward..
And That is why I am here.
He is stronger; less idealistic; quicker to find humour. Impulsive; recklessly so. Jasper Is not a martyr; and much more importantly he doesn't love me as much as Edward protested he did. And therein lies the problem. The reason why I am standing in Jasper's shirt and not Edward's. Edward loves me too much apparently. For that's the reason Jasper gave for Edward leaving. He left me because he loves me.
I remember it differently.
So typically Edward. The tortured martyr. For a vampire with his twenty twenty vision, he can sometime be incredibly blind. He knew everything about me, he could draw me in surprising detail; but he still can't see me. I am not perfect, or innocent, most certainly not worth saving. Maybe there is a reason I'm constantly being pulled into a life of danger. He holds onto the innocent notion of good and evil. Right and wrong. Darkness and light. He casts himself as the evil villain, and I; the young women of virtue. Yet nothing can be as black and white as he paints it.
Jasper isn't afraid to taint my white virtuous skin with his black hands.
I am picking at my lunch when Jasper reappears. The chicken salad is even less appealing now, as I stare at the stain of scarlet that runs down his white shirt. There's not much of it, less than a table spoon, but I can't help but feel my stomach churn. My repulsion is mirrored in his eyes as my emotions hit him square in the jaw.
"It's Animal blood Belle."
His voice is deep and smooth as he silently manoeuvres himself behind me, rubbing my back soothingly with the palm of his hand. I let myself swallow.
"Sorry… I didn't…. I didn't think that.." I shake my head, wanting the visions of Jasper crouched over a lifeless corpse to vanish.
"Sshh… It's… fine. It…""But it's not!"
I swivel my body round on the stool to face him, my knees knocking against his legs. Shame shining in my eyes. "Your not…that anymore…"
I grip his face between my hands, wanting to burn my eyes into his.
"I am though…. There will always be a part of me… however much I hate it… that will be a monster."
I want to argue but his expression silences me.
"But you aspire me to be better. Bella I see… in your eyes; how you see me… I want to be that person Bella… You make me better.."
I don't know how to reply, knowing any words will fall short, so I crash my lips against his, wrapping my arms around his neck, desperate for no space to be between us. I pour all my emotion into the kiss hoping that he understands.
Need for oxygen finally has me pulling away, though I keep my body as close to his as possible, watching a contented smile fall into place across his features.
All traces of the monster are gone.
"You are already that person Jasper." And I believe it.
He looks down at me, the smile changing. His hands smooth out the collar on the shirt I'm wearing, as he kisses the pulse point on my neck.
"I think you look better in that shirt, than I do."
His breath tickles my neck, as I squirm under him. In a blink of an eye his own shirt is off, and in the washing machine. but I can't stare at it as it makes it's cycle because I can't take my eyes off the god that stands before me, a marble Adonis.
"But I'm going to need that shirt back Bella… NOW!"
I shriek; jumping off my stool, my hands clutching at the fabric. I manage to make it out of the kitchen, so I know he wants to play.
We spend the rest of the day in bed. Both our weekend assignments are left un-opened in the study. They will wait till tomorrow. I never thought I could have this kind of relationship with a vampire. Edward always took control of the physical side; deciding what was safe and what was unacceptable. Jasper seeks no such authority; we are a partnership. It's not perfect, I have fading bruises and the odd scratch to prove it, but I'm happy; we're content. Yet I still can't help but think about Edward; constantly comparing my life with Jasper, to what it was like with his Brother. I'm happier with Jasper; there's no conflict, no stupid notions of ill-conceived chivalry. But sometimes I think it's too real. My time with Edward always had the feel of a dream, with happily ever afters, and knights upon steeds. With dragons to slay and sleeping beauties to awaken with a kiss.
Edward was my prince charming, a knight in shining armour, how can Jasper ever hope to beat that?
We're both enrolled in English courses at Alaska, not exactly Ivy league but it suits our needs for the moment. I sometimes wonder if it would be easier just to drop out of society completely. Though I enjoy my course I can't give it my undivided attention, always making glances between Jasper and the door. Half expecting Alice to enter, or Jasper to snap and drink the class dry. I shouldn't think of him that way. It's cruel and unfair. But he doesn't have the restraint of Edward, or the practise. he's learning though. And I trust him.
"Why was there so much controversy surrounded by 'A doll's house', when it was first performed, in Ibsen's native Sweden?"
The question filters through the classroom, as I take another furtive glance at Jasper, trying to gauge his emotions through the colour of his eyes.
The lecturer, who's name still escapes me, is calling me and, my head snaps in his direction.
He shakes his head as Jasper, lets out a badly disguised snigger.
"The question, Miss Swan? About the controversy and original boycott of the play by many theatres?"
I inwardly cringe at the use of my maiden name, but I keep it out of necessity. Dreading anyone from the university letting the news slip to anyone of my old life.
I look hopelessly down at my notebook, full of useless doodles, and a coloured in date. Jasper surreptitiously places his own beautifully written notes, with the exact answer I need on top of my own. I squeak it out, my cheeks quickly turning their usual fuchsia, keeping my eyes on the page, hoping that the teacher won't notice.
"Thanks." I breathe out to Jasper, as the lecturer turns back to the board.
I get the impression that he's not overly pleased that I came up with answer, probably hoping for a chance to call me out on my recent lack of attention, or maybe I'm reading too much into it.
"It's okay Darlin', I know how hard it is to concentrate, sitting so close to you, unable to touch…"
His voice turns into a purr as he breathes the sentence into my ear, causing Goosebumps to erupt across my skin, the colour on my cheeks now even more bright.
"Jasper Cullen, you are not playing fair …"
His old surname escapes my lips before I can catch it. He's not a Cullen anymore, both of using his human surname for enrolment here. Yet security is not the reason I see a small shiver roll through his spine, his eyes momentarily turning into two black orbs.
"I'm sorry Jasper.. I didn't think"
I place a soothing hand on his back, as his stance becomes more relaxed; his eyes becoming liquid honey once more.
"It's fine Belle, I think it just caught me off-guard that's all…."
I know he misses them. I miss them too. But that's where the similarities end. If he really wants to. He could go back to them. He left them after all. But I know he won't. When he first came to me I thought he stayed out of a warped sense of duty. Guilt over his involvement in Edward and his families desertion. But I don't think that anymore. I see it when he looks at me, the same way I remember Carlisle staring at Esme.
And the lamb laid with the Lion.. Again.