Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, they belong to Stephanie Meyer.
Time-Frame: Pre-Bella. Set after "Masculine Pursuits" and "Remember the First Time."
Chapter 1: Family Meeting
I was deeply troubled as I drove home.
There was a rogue coven killing innocent people in nearby towns.
They hadn't made it to Forks, yet, but it was only a matter of time…
Pulling into the garage, I headed inside to be greeted at the door by Esme.
This was nothing unusual; she often greeted me at the door after work.
"How was your day?" she asked, kissing me.
"All right," I told her, allowing her to see my worry. "Where are the kids?"
She frowned, knowing something wasn't right. "In their rooms doing homework," she told me. "Why?"
"We need to have a family meeting," I told her, loosening my tie. "Get them together in the living room while I go change."
She nodded. "Of course," she said, trusting me as she always did in these situations.
I smiled. There were times she amazed me…
Giving her a quick kiss, I headed upstairs to change.
After pulling on my most comfortable (and worn, I might add) pair of jeans and my favorite (most comfortable, though definitely faded) sweater, along with my almost-had-it pair of sneakers I descended back downstairs to find everyone in the living room.
The kids had equal looks of puzzlement on their faces, all except Alice and Edward.
Our eyes met as I entered the room, and I knew she had seen what was going on. I knew Edward also knew because he had read either my mind or his sister's; either they both were already aware of what was happening.
"They're headed this way," my pixie-like daughter told me, causing her siblings and mother to look at her and then at me.
"I was afraid of that," I told them, glancing at each other them. "There's a rogue coven in the area."
"How do you know?" Rosalie asked, worriedly.
Her voice was slightly higher than usual. This often happened when she was upset.
"One of the victims was brought to the hospital today," I told them, "and after I examined the body—confirming my suspicions—I spoke to the local sheriff. He informed me there had been other such 'attacks', though they believe it to be the work of a rabid wolf or some other wild animal."
"What do we do?" Jasper asked with an intense look in his eyes. "Confront them?"
I shook my head firmly on that idea. "Absolutely not," I told him.
"That would only lead to more trouble. We lay low for now. Hopefully, they will change course and head somewhere else."
"And if they don't?" Jasper asked, stubbornly. There was a feral glint in his eyes.
I sighed. Jasper not only had trouble with our diet at times, he also had trouble with the fact that we did not solve our problems by fighting.
In the coven he was 'born' in, fighting was natural as breathing, but that was not our way and Jasper well knew it.
I stared him down, until he looked away. I hated doing it, but in this matter my word had to be law.
Our lives, our family, and our home depended on it.
"Then we hope and pray they only kill what they need and move on," I told him, sadly.
I glanced at all of them, knowing they knew how I felt. I hated the thought of innocent people being killed, but there would be no way to protect everyone in Forks should the coven come here.
"In the mean time, all of our activities must be restricted," I told them, sternly. "For you all, that means school and home. Understand? We can not risk them discovering us…otherwise it will lead to a confrontation and we do not know exactly how many of them there are."
I could tell by the looks in their eyes that none of them liked the plan, but I knew they would obey it; there was only one of them I feared wouldn't.
"Whatever we do," I said, eyeing Jasper, "no one is to attempt to go near them. Is that understood?"
One by one, they all nodded. Jasper was last and his gaze met mine.
I saw the defiance in his stare, the feral instinct to protect what was his, but in the end he nodded as well.
"All right," I told them, slightly relieved. "You all go back to your homework. I'll come up to see how you all are doing in a little bit. Give you some pointers."
They all groaned, of course. Human or vampire, teenagers hate homework.
One by one they headed back up the stairs. Jasper was the last in the line and for a brief moment he turned to look over his shoulder at me.
I couldn't quite read his expression, but it still worried me.
After all, as much progress as I had made with the boy over these last fifty years, I still had not quite 'tamed' him out of his feral ways.
Esme wrapped her arms around me from behind, and I turned to wrap my arms around her, pulling her close.
"You're still worried," she said, putting her head on my chest. It wasn't a question.
"Yes," I said, smiling, "but I can't help it. I'm a worry-wart, remember?"
Emmett had called me that a few years ago, the last time we had encountered a rogue coven.
It was the truth, so I couldn't very well scold him for it. Esme had, though.
My wife smiled at me. "Maybe so," she said, "but you're my worry-wart."
I grinned, leaning down to kiss her passionately on the lips.
Oh, how I loved this beautiful vampire wife of mine!
As we sat down on the sofa to watch the evening news, I couldn't quite let go of the main thing that was worrying me.
You see, it wasn't so much the rogue coven that was bothering me…but Jasper.
Please, Son, don't do anything rash!