It's New Year's Eve, the start of a new year, and hopefully, it will be that for me. I cannot apologize to each of you enough for the delay in updating. In short answer, I had a miscarriage that completely decimated me for a time (I will include a longer detailed author's note at the bottom for those of you who might want the details.) Needless to say, I was not in the frame of mind to write for some time.

I realize that many of you might have lost interest in the story…so many months in between updates can cause the flow of the story to be completely lost. I just hope I have not lost too many readers. For those of you who continued to read and review during this time…thanks. Your words brought me joy, even when they were begs for updates or PM questioning my lack of response I still completely enjoyed knowing that others were reading the story.

I will be honest that I am unsure with this chapter. Jasper is beginning to turn a corner, even if he doesn't know it. But there is a sadness that still lingers in me and I've worked very hard to keep it from spilling over to him too much.

For those of you able to pick back up in the flow of the story…here is the latest update. I am going to try to return to the once a week update. I am not giving up on this story.

Minutes passed as I sat against the cold, hardness of the ground. I wasn't even sure how long it had been since I walked away from Bella; I just knew I didn't want to go back yet. Fuck. Who was I kidding? I wanted to go back the moment I walked away. But, I wasn't ready. Too much had happened, too much was at stake. I couldn't be the man she needed and I refused to hurt her again.

I knew she had forgiven me for the incident at her birthday. Her words told me that, but her actions in the past week said more than words ever could. And, I knew I was strong enough to never attack her for the sake of her blood again. She didn't understand though that I was more dangerous now than I ever was before. Years ago I would have drained her in an instant, killing her swiftly with no remorse. But now? Now the pain would drain from me and pour into her. It would decimate her, kill her slowly, and I wouldn't be able to do one damn thing about it. I'd watch from the side as the vibrancy that was Bella slowly suffocated

"Fuck!" I yelled, slamming my hand into the ground beside me. This whole situation was entirely my fault. Of course, Bella didn't exactly help the circumstances much; she was just way too damn willing for her, and my, own good. But it was my lack of control that put us in this situation. I needed a fucking release and I needed one soon. Maybe I should just seek out Maria myself, end this situation once and for all, and return to Volterra. As soon as that thought entered my head, I knew it wasn't realistic thought.

I had no plan and I needed one. Now.

Raking my fingers through my hair, I closed my eyes and forced my brain to focus. Maria was the key factor in all of this. She had a plan which was a little disconcerting for me because from my understanding, she had never been very strong in that area ever since I had left. Someone was helping her and it was beyond her supposed Volterra support.

If the support was legitimate I had no doubt Caius was involved somehow. His hatred for humans was so strong it almost knocked me over when I first entered into the ancient city. He would certainly be the first to encourage complete domination of humans. But, who was the second?

The strongest part of me wanted to believe it had to be Marcus. Surely Aro, the one who took me in and afforded me the most leniency could not be involved. But the way my time ended with the Cullens, with Alice, taught me never to completely and blindly trust anyone again. Which led me back to Bella. Fuck if I didn't find myself trusting her, at least enough to get us through the situation we found ourselves in. There didn't seem to be a dishonest bone in her entire body, her unbelievably fucking hot body.

Fuck! And now, I'm right back where I started; thinking things about Bella I had no business thinking.

Standing and adjusting the evidence of my physical arousal, I decided it was time to head back to her house. I needed to lock myself in the tech room and watch Maria again, soak in every detail I possibly could. Maybe I'd be able to get an update on the hunt for Bella as well.

Before I even broke through the tree line, I knew she was not alone. Wade was here. I'm sure he was in there annoying her again. Hell, I wasn't even in the house yet and he was annoying me. I'd love to get him alone; venom pooled in my mouth thinking of the release I would get by unleashing my pain on him in an effort to taste his emotions. Damn, I might actually enjoy that. But, I wouldn't risk it if Bella was around. Opening the door, I was surprised to see Bella slipping on a pair of shoes and grabbing her keys.

"Where the hell are you going?"I demanded as I stepped inside and shut the door harder than I probably should have.

Her eyes narrowed in my direction and I could see Wade smirking as he picked up on Bella's irritation. Fucker. "Out," she answered, almost daring me to stop her.

But, I wouldn't. She knew it and I knew it. So, I ignored every instinct I had and moved slowly towards the couch sprawling almost lazily on it. "Where are you going?" I repeated my question, stressing the where.

"Does it matter?" Damn, she was sexy when she was irritated. Hell, she was just sexy period.

"I thought we agreed we'd let each other know where the other was going?"

"We agreed on several…steps, if I remember correctly." Bella arched an eyebrow at me.

Well, fuck me.

We stared for a moment, unspoken words flowing between us and I could see Wade shift uncomfortably behind her. "I've got my cell phone, Jasper," she continued. "Wade will be with me. If we need anything, we'll call."

I didn't own her, didn't control her. As stupid as her choice was to go out when there were groups vampires searching heavily for her, I wouldn't stop her. I watched Bella continue grabbing the few things she needed and head towards the front door. "I may be gone when you get back," I called out to her as she moved past the couch. "But, I'll have my cell phone if you need me."

She turned her head back over her shoulder and glared at me. It was my turn to raise an eyebrow. Yes, Bella; two can play at that game. I wasn't going anywhere but up to the tech room the moment they left, but she didn't need to know that. Wade's voice ripped through the thorny silence.

"Come on Bells, let's just go. You don't need to worry about him."

And again, I say 'Fucker'. "Yeah, Bells, you don't need to worry about me." I chimed in officially acting like the asshole that I am.

The slam of the door echoed throughout the entire house and my head fell against the back of the couch, my jaw clenched tightly. I had no right to keep her here, no right to wander about her relationship with Wade. Hell, I had no right to anything relating to Bella at all, but damn if I didn't find myself wanting that right, even if it was just for this short amount of time.

I heard the start of Wade's car and a smile tugged at my lips seconds later, the moment I heard Bella's bike roar to life. Wherever they were going, they weren't going together. I pushed off the couch and headed up the stairs, ignoring the scents coming from Bella's room before opening and shutting the door to the tech room. Almost immediately my eyes were drawn to the screen.

They were scurrying, almost frenzied. I wasn't sure if it was the fact that it must be near feeding time, or the fact that Maria's attentions were that unfocused on them. Whatever the reason, there was no real organization to them at the moment. Fights broke out all over the place and I couldn't help but notice the clear lack of organization came from the lack of a clear strategy. Maybe Maria wasn't that strong right now after all. Try as I might not to, I had couldn't help but keep tabs on Maria and her organization over the years, particularly since I had joined the Volutri. It seems she had tried and failed to find a replacement for me over the years. No one measured up in her eyes. I would often hear tales of her destroying her second in commands and I knew she hated me. I did not have a problem at that at all; in fact, when the time came for us to finally meet, it would probably help me.

I wasn't even sure how long I stared at the monitors, I just knew I was searching for something, anything, that would give me an edge and end this crap. The frenzied behavior quickly became more contained and I sensed Maria must be near the main room. I had been watching for her, knowing she wasn't ballsy enough to leave the confines of her current location, but I had not seen her yet.

Within moments, she stepped into view.

God she was still beautiful. I sank further into the chair wishing that wasn't the case, wishing I could shake that reality from my head, but it was the truth. Maria was beautiful. Long, flowing black hair that even looked as silky to the touch on screen as it I remembered it being in reality. I watched her closely for awhile as she moved between rooms. She stopped in the main room, her contained training area, and my mind was ripped back to a time when it was my training area. But I couldn't dwell there; the past was the past and I had now to focus on.

She was pacing back and forth, yelling, her body coiled with rage and desire. I had to turn up the volume to hear her.

"I don't care where they are," she was yelling. "Somebody better get them on the phone. I want an update as to where they are in the search for her."

"Mistress," I heard a sniveling newborn try to speak up from behind her and I waited for the reaction I knew would come.

"You dare address me?" She raged, snapping her fingers and watching as the current training master ripped the arms from the offending newborn.

"I only mean to offer my humblest services, Mistress." On her knees, the newborn held the most submissive pose possible, balancing herself perfectly even without arms.

"What service could you be to me other than that of a lowly foot soldier?" Maria snarled at the female vampire on the floor in front of her, smiling slightly as the training master gripped the girl's hair pulling her head as far back as possible without ripping it from her neck.

"I see things, Mistress."

"Future things, worthless soldier? Are you are seer?"

"No, Mistress, not exactly," she replied, her face still pointed towards the ground.

"Well what use are you to me if you cannot see the future?" Maria snarled but I could see the hesitancy in her actions. She wanted to know the use of this slave just as much as I did.

"Because I can see the present, Mistress. I can help locate missing things."

"Fuck," I muttered just as Maria's face lit up. She ran her fingers lovingly over the young girl's face, placing her thumb under the girl's chin and forcing her to look up.

"And can you help me find my lost possession my pet?"

"She's not your damn possession," I growled at the screen.

"I can offer you my best services, my beautiful Mistress."

Maria scoffed and I knew she didn't like the answer she had been given. "Your best services better end with the result of me finding what is mine." She looked at the girl kneeling before her and I knew the rush of power that moment filled her with; it was the same one that filled me time and time again when I was with her. "What is your name my pet?"

"Carly, Mistress."

"Well now Carly my pet, it seems like you might need to get busy." She noticed the hesitancy of the girl just a few short moments after I did. "Was there something else," she sneered.

Carly took in a deep breath of unnecessary air trying to calm herself before she spoke. "It has always worked best for me in the past if I have something to touch that may have belonged to the person or object that I am looking for," she whispered.

Fury danced across Maria's face. "What the hell does this look like," she gestured around the room before dragging Carly to her feet with a tight grip on her hair. "Does it look like this is the factory of the Bitch's personal possessions?"

"No Mistress. I only meant to suggest I may be more successful if that were the case, not that I couldn't do it."

"I should hope not my pet." She dragged the girl to the head of the newborn from yesterday. "Remember him?" Maria hissed. "What happened to him will pale in comparison to what I do to you if you fail. Do you understand?"

"Yes-s-s, Mistress Maria," Carly managed to stutter out.

Moments passed before Maria threw her head back in laughter. "Wonderful my pet," Maria exclaimed as she kissed the girl on the forehead. "Now, run along. I have things to take care of."

Without a look behind her, Maria sashayed out of the training room. Carly fell against the body of the trainer for just a moment before she realized what she was doing. She scurried away from him and headed to a small corner I realized must be her "home" in the hellhole. Maria always allowed them too much indulgence but it was a slipup I knew would work in our favor. I knew where to find Carly; now, I wanted to follow Maria.

Scanning the cameras quickly, I found her heading back to her opulent room. It was decorated as Maria's always had been – in deep reds and golds with luscious silks and velvets that felt amazing against our cold, naked skin. I slammed my eyes shut as memories threatened to bubble out but opened them immediately when I heard another voice.

"Calm down my Maria," a sultry voice whispered behind her.

'Maria?' I couldn't help but think to myself. 'Not Mistress?' This was someone special. While I had never called her my Maria, I was the only one who had ever gotten away with calling her simply Maria.

The shadow moved again and I was surprised to make out the shape of a woman behind her. Maria turned and melted into her awaiting embrace. I couldn't help but quirk my eyebrow; this was new. Sure I had seen her with women before. She would take them as I would in the past, indulging in the moment of passion, usually only when I was fucking them as well. And usually as quickly as it ended, so did they. She always laughed it off saying she didn't want them to think they would get special favors. Now, I had to wonder if it was because she may have enjoyed it a little too much. My thoughts were confirmed seconds later.

Maria melted into her embrace, their lips immediately touching, caressing, tasting. The lights were dim in her room, dim even for my eyes when trying to look through the camera, but they weren't so dark that I couldn't see the show in front of me.

Sighing, Maria turned around in the woman's arms and I watched as her hand made quick work of the buttons on Maria's shirt and slipped inside. "I hate what she has done to you my dark haired goddess," the woman whispered before leaning forward and taking Maria's earlobe into her mouth.

"To us, my precious Firebird, what she has done to us. That bitch is fucking with my plans and is delaying them. I don't like to be delayed."

"I know, I know," the woman, obviously known as Firebird whispered against the skin of her neck. I knew this tactic, had practiced it often enough myself. Nothing calmed Maria down better than to be worshipped to the point of multiple orgasms. This was not some fly by night girl in Maria's chambers. Firebird knew Maria, was already playing her body like the tightened, sexual instrument I knew it to be. "Let me revere your body Maria." She ghosted the shirt off Maria's arms, her skirt following quickly.

"Yes, yes, my love. Worship me as I worship you." One of Maria's slender arms raised behind her slipping into the girl's hair, drawing her lips harder against her neck. That move brought Firebird's hair into the soft light and I was surprised to see the dark blonde hair peeking out. With a name like Firebird, I had expected a redhead.

They lead each other back to the bed, their lips never leaving each other. Maria drew her body down softly over the woman's and I watched Maria dart her tongue out, running it along Firebird's neck, lifting the shirt she had on to swirl her tongue around the already tightened nipples. Firebird arched against her, encouraging her to take more into her mouth.

"You taste delicious, my love," Maria mumbled as she continued her exploration further, pressing her hands against the woman's pale thighs. "Open for me," Maria commanded gently. "I need to taste you, to slip my tongue deep inside that delicious pussy of yours."

I couldn't help but close my eyes again, forcing my brain to close off the images in front of my so I could process this new information. I didn't care how much I hated Maria, she was beautiful to watch when she was cumming and from the sounds of things, that would be occurring very soon; but, I couldn't focus on that now. Firebird was providing a unique fold in the plan for me.

"Are you enjoying yourself too much or are you remembering?" The voice rang out behind me.

"Shit, Bella!" I swung the chair around. My eyes drank her in as she leaned against the doorframe of the tech room. She was wearing those damn low slung jeans that appeared as if they were painted on and with her thumbs tucked into the pockets, the waistband pulled even lower down her hips. Add that to the too short tank top she was wearing and I had to force myself to swallow the pooling venom at the sight of that creamy sliver of exposed skin clearly visible. How the hell had I not heard her?

My back was still to the computers, not that it would matter anyway; all I could see was Bella. The sounds of sex from the screen behind us filled the room, throwing gasoline on the flames that constantly appeared between the two of us. I stretched out my arm to her, ignoring her initial question. "Come here."

She eyed me warily for half a second before she stepped closer, her fingers lacing with mine. The warmth hit me immediately and coursed through my body. Damn, she felt good. Tugging her hand, I moved her to stand in front of me. I looked into the warm chocolate pools of her eyes and could see the emotions written there: confusion, anger, hope, plus so many others that made Bella who she is. "I may not feel remorse, Bella; but I am sorry about this afternoon. The last thing I want to do is hurt you," I whispered.

"I appreciate the apology, Jasper. I just don't understand why this keeps happening." I knew she was referring to more than the physical draw between us.

"And I don't know how to explain it to you any other way. This is who I am, Bella. The more you are near me, the greater the risk that you are going to get hurt."

"Isn't that my risk to take?" At her words, my head fell forward and I felt her close the distance between us, her fingers running through my hair as my forehead rested on her stomach.

"Maybe it's a risk I don't want to take," I whispered again, my lips brushing against her stomach as I spoke.

"What are you looking for, Jasper? Why this constant battle for control? Is it repentance? Guilt?"

How could I explain the necessity for control in my immortal life? I had none, from the moment of my vampiric birth, control had been stripped of me. All I wanted was control over my own life and the battle I waged inside of myself was the only way I knew to get it. I countered with questions of my own. "Why does it matter, Bella? Why do you feel this need know? What do you want from me?"

"I don't know," she answered honestly. "I'm so tired, Jasper. The fighting, the loss, never having a life of my own." Her voice was quite as she spoke and I could hear the fatigue and hurt laced in her words. I brought my hands up to her waist and felt her melt closer into me. "I hate Maria for who she is, what she did. There's even a part of me that hates Edward for drawing me into a world he had no intention of leaving me in."

"Are you sorry you met us?"

Her hesitancy betrayed her confusion and I found myself trying to wipe it away with the constant movement of my thumb against the soft skin of her exposed back. She finally spoke. "Honestly, no. I've never regretted my time with your family in Forks. I've never begrudged Edward's notorious control issues or even Alice's ever-present visions."

"So why the hatred for Edward? Why stay away from the Cullens'? Why fight this battle alone, or hell Bella, why even fight it at all?"

"Like I have a choice?" She tore herself from my embrace and I immediately felt the loss. "Where could I go? The family didn't want me. Yes, they came back, but they came back for Edward; but, not for me. Edward never had any intention of changing me, never would have allowed it. He wanted me to dance in both worlds for the rest of my life. He didn't realize though what that would do to me. The constant necessity of protection he felt for me would have disappeared over time if I could have taken care of myself, but he would never allow that.

"As for you," she continued, dropping to her knees in front of my, her hands on my shoulders, her eyes locked onto mine. "I can't explain you." A calm quietness spread between the two of us for a moment as we just stared at each other. "I've never been alone, even after I left Forks, I wasn't alone. But, I always felt like I was. You change that for me. I feel safe with you."

"I wish you wouldn't." My fingers were running through the ends of her hair, the softness unlike anything I had ever felt before. "I can't be what you need."

"Just be you," she murmured. "I don't know why I feel the way I do when you are around. You are more than a wonderful solution to my Maria issues, more than a companion in my exile. I just feel right when you are with me. Hell, I've told you more about me than anyone else since I left Forks, probably even before then."

"Even Wade?" I had to ask.

"Yes, even Wade. He's been a good friend, solid support when I needed it. But, he's not what I need."

I sighed. "I'm not either Bella. I won't deny that I want you." My lips brushed against her the soft skin of her neck and I lost myself for a moment in the scent and taste of her. She shivered against my mouth and instinctively, I knew it was from more than the temperature of my tongue. "But I don't want to hurt you. I can't lose control around you."

"You can't always be in control, Jasper. Sometimes things happen. Let go, for me." Her fingers still laced in my hair, she pulled back. Her eyes met mine for a moment before I swept them over her face. Fuck she was gorgeous and for whatever reason, she wanted me.

One taste, I told myself. I could allow myself one simple taste of her, one drink from her warm mouth. Just to show that I could physically give in and still hold all the control I needed. I glanced at her eyes again, noticing the hooded desire there mixed with several other emotions I just could not decipher. My eyes dropped to her lips, noticing the bottom one drawn between her teeth and I realized I could no longer deny her this, any more than I could deny myself.

I leaned closer, closing the distance between us and brushed my lips against hers. The fire was instantaneous, addictive. Warmth spilled through me as she sighed and opened her lips to mine. I brought my hands to face, cupping her jaw as my tongue slipped in between her open lips, tasting her deeply for the first time. She moaned and I realized I could die, truly die right now and never miss a thing. Nothing was sweeter than her. Nothing was more desirable to me. The kiss went on and on, both of us wanting more, neither of us sated. Her tongue danced into my mouth, her lips closed around my tongue, sucking me further into her.

Fuck. I was wrong. Once will never be enough.

She wrenched her mouth away from mine, gasping for breath as her head fell back. Her neck was an open buffet for me and I immediately responded to the invitation. I placed open mouthed kisses all over her neck, nipping gently against her skin, relishing in this simple taste of her. I moved my way upwards, tasting her jaw, her cheeks, the corners of her mouth as she tightened her fingers in my hair, refusing to let go.

"Jasper," she moaned , her voice hot and sultry with desire. "Please, feel what I can't explain. Feel what you do to me, what I feel for you." She leaned forward, her tongue running along the outside of my earlobe. "Let go, for me."

I pulled back, thumbs tracing her cheekbones, running across her swollen lips. I saw the tears pool in her eyes. "My beautiful, beautiful Bella," I murmured, kissing each of eyelids, forcing the tears to spill down her cheeks. I kissed those away as well before looking back at her.

I leaned in, once more pressing my lips against hers before pulling back. "I can't."

She exhaled and drew herself up further, brushing her lips against my forehead. "I won't push, Jasper."

"I'm sorry, Bella."

"Don't be. I'd rather have you here right now just as you are, than have you somewhere else."

"Thank you."

"Don't thank me, just don't leave. And please do something for me."

I tore my eyes back up to hers, getting lost momentarily in the depth of her orbs. "Anything."

"Please just don't shut totally back down on me. I don't know why I feel like I need you in my life, I just do."

I closed my eyes. Could I give this to her, knowing that I would not be here forever? "I'll try."

"Thank you. And just remember, Jasper. You can be in control of your life without completely shutting down your emotions.

"I don't think so, Bella. Not feeling is the only protection, the only control, I have left."

There you go folks…Jasper is turning a corner he doesn't know is there and Bella is helping him along. I just love an honest Bella.

For those of you interested, I feel I need to share my story. I realize there are others out there who have experienced the loss of a miscarriage and I feel for you. I also realize that a moment in life like this does not have to shut absolutely everything down for you. I'm just thankful that I have such a wonderful husband (he's my own personal Jasper) to pull me in from my own shut down. Long story short, I have been married for almost 13 years and have one daughter who is 5 years old. Almost as soon as hubby and I were married, we started trying to have children. It took us years of infertility drugs, 11 cycles of IUI's and In-Vitro with ICSI for my daughter. Bottom line…my body rejects sperm and my eggs basically have a wall around them. We are so blessed to have her in our life. But we did continue to try and have other children. We completed the IVF with ICSI again and were blessed to find out we were having twins. After losing the twins though, my husband and I decided we did not want to spend time wishing away our daughter's childhood for something that may not ever happen when we have this beautiful girl with us. IVF is expensive monetarily and emotionally; so, we gave up the notion of having any other children.

That brings us to this fall. I felt something was unusual shortly after my last update. I had Mirena inserted last Spring (even though I cannot have any other children does not mean that we don't try to be smart. Plus, the hormones from Mirena are used to regulate other health issues). My body was trying to expel the Mirena so my doctor removed it, told me to let the uterus rest for a month and then we would try to place another one. The pain during this time was not easy to bear so I took some time resting my body and not doing much else but reading. Low and behold, I conceived two weeks later and by the end of the month, found out I was pregnant. To say that we were surprised is an understatement. Beside ourselves with joy is more like it. Words could not express our feelings at what happened. But it was not to be. My body once again rejected the foreign invasion and expelled the embryo. I was devastated. I would rather not be pregnant at all than once again experience the joy of a pregnancy and the severe loss when it ends.

I shut down…only able to focus on my husband and my daughter, which is honestly where it needed to be at the time. I did try to write some, but for the longest time, Jasper refused to talk to me. When he finally did, I swear he was feeling my emotions because the sadness and depression pouring on to his pages was just too much for me to even read, so again I put the story down.

As we have moved through Christmas though, I feel more healed. I have a beautiful daughter who is the light of my life, and husband who is worth more to me than anything else. And I have the support of a wonderful family. I picked up the writing again and Jasper was finally speaking to me in a healthy way which leads us to this update.

I am so sorry about the delay but it could not be helped. I am not giving this story up, and I will try to get back on a once a week schedule. I hope that I have not lost too many readers and I hope you enjoy this latest update.

I am not looking for sympathy I just wanted to explain to those of you interested why there was a delay.

As always, I look forward to your comments…favorite moments, lines, scenes, things that don't make sense.

Review if you can!