Chapter One

Scars

It was raining. It was always raining in the small town of Forks, Washington. Always green, surrounded by too many trees.

Bella Swan used to hate it. She used to hate the rain and the green, thriving for the dry and brown deserts of Phoenix. When she first arrived with her dad she missed home. It was a good outlook for the day when she could wake up to the sun. It was too rare. She truly loathed the rain and cold.

Then she met Edward Cullen. A boy - termed loosely - and because of him she learned to love it all. She loved the feel of his cold skin that smelled so sweetly, how it wrapped strongly around her. She loved him unconditionally and wholly. He made the place bearable, he made Forks home. And he was gone. Left. He didn't love her anymore as he made strictly clear in the forest outside of her home, and she wondered if she could ever love Forks the same way when she felt it had betrayed her so.

Honestly, she missed all of the Cullen's. The family she should have belonged to - was meant to belong to. Emmet and Alice the big bear of a brother and pixie-like sister she never had. Esme and Carlisle with their kind, silent hearts. Even Rosalie, Emmett's wife, though she loathed her for Bella's aversion to her own human life.

Then there was Jasper. Jasper who was strong and quiet, but loving and caring. He was handsome like all of them, but in a different and more dangerous way with his lack of control for blood. There was always an attraction to him that was not all together brotherly, but she loved Edward and Alice (Jasper's wife) and she ignored it. She tried to keep her feelings from him and she always assumed she did a good job. He showed no signs of returning or feeling it from her, as was his special power to feel and generate emotions of those around him.

He was the reason Edward left, or was at least the catalyst. On her eighteenth birthday she sliced her finger on a present she was opening. One drop of blood and that was all it took. He charged at her, and Edward pushed her out of the way. Jasper was angry with himself for being weak, but Bella forgave him, made sure that Alice told him so. It wasn't his fault. It was none of their faults...

The Cullen's were gone, and she was once again being hunted by a vampire. It was unknown to the family but not unknown to her werewolf best friend, Jacob Black and his pack. A week after Edward left she went to the Quileute reservation and sought after her old friend. Through his hints she learned of his transformation into a wolf and together after learning of the danger she was in that the vampire they'd been hunting was Victoria his pack began protecting her and her father.

Victoria... The red-haired nomad, the old mate of James. She was intent on killing her. A mate for a mate. The drawback was that she had no idea that Edward didn't feel that way for her. Not anymore...

Her dark brown hair fell into her face and she pushed it back behind her ear. She was plain. People saw her as beautiful, Edward thought (at least he had) that she was gorgeous. Her skin was near translucent, her hair to her waist, her eyes chocolate brown. No matter what people thought, she was obviously not enough for him and she wanted no one else. At least not anyone she could have.

The rain pattered against the window. Bella curled up on her bed watched it. She watched where the droplets slapped against the pane and streamed down like small rivers.

She fingered her curved scar on her arm while she did this. It was one of the two scars she had. Miraculously due to her clumsiness she hadn't received more, but even if she had, only those two would've been the most meaningful. The crescent shaped scar on her right hand she gotten when James, a sadistic vampire bit her. If Edward had left her be she would be one of them, but he sucked out the venom, saving her life, keeping her precious humanity. The other was from cause of Jasper, the glass from the birthday table cutting her.

Four months, fifteen days. She was beginning to wonder if they'd all been her imagination, the group of vegetarian vampires she had come to love. She knew they weren't a figment of her mind though. They were all very real. She had the scars to prove it.

Bella hoped for sleep, more than hope she craved it. It was near two in the morning and she didn't feel at all tired. Of course for four months and fifteen days she hadn't slept well. She was accustomed to the sculpted body of ice lying next to her, humming her lullaby. Even worse was anticipating Victoria to come in to slaughter her.

She was about to fetch sleep aids that stayed permanently on the nightstand. She would take anything if it meant forgetting, if just for a little while. She needed something. It wouldn't take the dreams or nightmares - whatever they were to be called, but they would give her a little bit of rest to get through the next day. The stretch of days of a lifetime ahead of her.

Then, with one foot on the floor, a shadow outside of her window eclipsed the moon, her only source of light. She was shrouded in darkness. There was only one thing that could be outside of her second story window, and that was a vampire. It could have been Jacob, but Jacob wasn't that small, and as he had proved that one night he made an awful lot of noise trying to come through her window.

Victoria had come for her, she knew it. She was doomed, but she wouldn't scream. If she screamed Charlie would come through and she wouldn't have the hope that Victoria would stop at her. She had to be brave and sit there and let it come. But it didn't help that her heart beat sped a roaring in her ears. She thought she might black out. That would help. She wouldn't feel the sharp teeth sinking into her.

The window opened, the cool January air following, and Victoria hopped gracefully in. Only it didn't look like her... She had wild red hair and though Bella couldn't see the colors of the person, she discerned that this person - who had the figure of a man - was not Victoria. Then who? Not Edward. He was gone...

Don't scream, she told herself. It was funny in a pathetic way; her throat was too constricted to utter a whimper much less a full fledged scream. She couldn't even move toward the cordless phone she placed in her room so she could call Jacob - whose pack and himself had been patrolling her house and woods for danger of Victoria. She wouldn't be able to call him or the Alpha, Sam Uley, or his father Billy. Not like she would've had time. In the spans of half a heartbeat she would be dead. Somehow that was comforting. It would be quick. She would never have to feel pain again. Perhaps in death the longing would die too.

The stranger ever-so slowly raised his hands in the air. "I won't hurt you. I promise."

She recognized that voice, deep and melodic and silky that soothed her to the core. There could only be one person - vampire - that the voice belonged to. Jasper Hale. Her heart leapt into her windpipe cutting off her oxygen.

Jasper!

Curse her for her lack of voice for she so wanted to speak then, to be sure that she hadn't fallen asleep and it was all a dream. She squinted her eyes to be certain he was really there.

The shadow didn't move. "Bella? Are you all right? I didn't mean to frighten you."

She croaked, "I know..." She burst into tears then, hot and scorching down her warm cheeks. It was like a flood from a faucet as sudden as spinning the knob. From the shock or relief or the pure happiness she hadn't known for so long she couldn't determine.

He was there. He was real, and all she wanted at that moment was to run to him and hug him. To feel him and smell him. She never had before been so close to him, keeping a good distance from his teeth and her flesh, but she wanted to be near him then, but she didn't move.

She tried to slow her breathing - her heartbeat that could only entice the vampire who had never learned self-control very well. If she was to die, at least it would be at the jaws of someone she loved, but she wouldn't tempt him. It was an innate habit to keep the distance, like a small voice in the back of her mind - Edward's voice - that told her so.

Then a strong wave of calm came over her, and it became easier to slow her breathing and heart. "Thank you, Jasper," she said gratefully, wiping her tears on her long sleeve.

"You're welcome. Do you mind..." He gestured to the end of her bed.

"No, of course not."

He moved and the light put the room into a glow once more. Jasper sat perched on the end of her bed, soaking the comforter. He was soaked from the rain, specks still hanging onto his lashes and trickle from the trendles of his hair. His back was perfectly straight as he observed her with his very golden eyes. He'd hunted recently.

For at least a minute she studied his features. Her weak human eyes couldn't see the scars that he was covered in but she knew they were there, Alice had told her little of her husbands combative past. His hair hadn't grown (none of theirs did) but she learned the curves that reached his eyes, purple shadows underneath. His neck was tense with desire, her scent all around him, and Edward said once that she smelled better in the rain... It must've been torturing him.

"I'm so glad you're here..." Even his powers couldn't keep out the longing.

He seemed shocked, "you are?"

"Of course I am, I've missed you all so much! Who's with you?" She was positive of the answer, but she wanted to know for sure. She had to know.

"No one."

"Where are they? Where's Alice?"

"Alice is in Alaska visiting the Denali clan. The others are elsewhere. I'm here alone."

"Why?"

"Do you want me to leave," he asked, worry lacing in his beautiful voice.

"NO! No, please, Jasper, don't leave me!"

Hesitantly he scooted closer sending another calm wave to her. "I'm not going anywhere, Bella, please calm down. Your heart is going too fast," he swallowed thirstily.

She nodded. "Okay..." She breathed evenly focusing on her breaths. "Okay... But why are you here... I don't understand..." Jasper always seemed to be on the fringe of the Cullen family and he had never made an attempt to get closer to her. So why? Why him when Edward left?

"I was worried. So were the others, but..."

"But what?"

He shifted in a habit of show of being uncomfortable. After 142 years spent as a vampire he had kept most of his human habits to blend in, especially since becoming vegetarian. "Bella, how much has Alice told you about her visions?"

"She told me how they worked..."

"That's not what I meant."

"I don't understand, Jasper..."

"She had a vision -"

Her heart skipped a beat, she knew (or she thought she did) what the vision was about. "About Victoria?"

His features turned to stone, more-so than it already was, only his thin lips moved. "What about Victoria?"

"She didn't see her?"

"What are you talking about, Bella?"

"Victoria came back for me..."

He was calculating, she could practically hear the whirring in his head as he thought with speed. She recognized that look, it was the same one that came when Alice had her visions, no matter what she saw he asked skilled questions of a practiced nature. "When?"

"I don't know... The werewolves -"

His eyes widened. "Werewolves?!"

That was right... No one knew about the werewolves, at least not her involvement with them. She hadn't known that they existed (though she shouldn't have been shocked) until Edward and his family left.

Jasper flew to the window and slammed it shut, the pane trembling.

"Charlie," she hissed in reminder and they both froze listening for his snores. When they were heard Jasper returned to his seat on her bed. It was odd seeing him there. It was like he belonged...

"Tell me what's happened," he asked politely.

She crossed her legs, leaned on her knees and told him everything. She told him of her best friend as she watched the hard lines forming in his face as though willing himself stay calm. She told him of how the pack was hunting Victoria and that seemed to lighten him up considerably, the lines grew fainter. She talked to him about every trivial thing in order to keep him there with her and he listened intently on her every word.

She moved and laid back on her bed and listened to him talk about Alaska, the sky, the smells, the Denali clan. She memorized the cadence of his tone, how he didn't speak with hand movements as many people did, he kept them relaxed on his stomach. She memorized everything about him right down to the worn hole forming in the knee of his jeans and she idly thought why Alice hadn't thrown a fit about it.

When her red luminous clock read that it was three-thirty in the morning he said, "go to sleep, Bella. You're tired. We can talk more in the morning."

"No, I don't want to stop now. I don't want you to go," she said quickly reaching out for his hand which he did not take, he looked too surprised. He stared at her hand as if it was something quite foreign and suspicious.

Although she never spoke such words to him before, never so deep and real, she wasn't surprised like he was. That night they had become friends. Not that they weren't before, but that night was truly the beginning of it and she didn't want it all to be false, to give the darkness a chance to take it away. To take him away...

He nodded solemnly. "Then I won't go. I give you my word. But please sleep. I'll be here when you wake."

Before she could say anything else the powerful wave of his power engulfed her, and as she fell she distantly felt her blankets covering her. She fell so deeply into slumber that she didn't moved at all during the night.