This is Part 1 of Chapter 30 from my story Golden Moon, told in Jasper's POV. If you haven't read Golden Moon, this will not make any sense – sorry!

Also, unlike Bella's version of Golden Moon, which is rated T, this chapter has an M rating for language, adult themes and situations. Don't get too excited – this is not a lemonade stand! But Jasper is a guy so you've been warned.

Thanks, as always, to IdreamofEddy, bbwhisperer, Calliope Jones, and mmsimpy09, the ladies who help me keep it real and preview the chapters to make sure the final product is enjoyable for all of you.

All the Twilight characters belong to Stephanie Meyer.

Chapter 30: Of Vampires and Women – Part 1

Jasper's POV

Watching Bella eat her dessert was an immensely satisfying experience. Her face, so wonderfully expressive, showed every moment of her enjoyment. I stared at her as much as I thought I could without making her uncomfortable and marveled at the bizarre turn of events. Somehow this slip of a human girl cracked open my vampire façade and reached somewhere deep inside me to re-start my heart - figuratively, if not literally. And while tonight I told her how I felt about her on an emotional and intellectual level, there was no denying that she affected me physically as well.

When she finished eating, we positioned ourselves on the sofa so that I sat with my legs stretched out along its length, leaning against one of the arms, and she sat between my legs, her back pressed against my chest. Her scent, her unbelievably fucking delicious, alluring scent, wafted into my nostrils and made my throat burn hotter than it had since I was a newborn, yet I couldn't get enough. I briefly wondered where this new masochistic personality trait was coming from – I actually craved the pain brought on by her proximity.

I placed a couple of pillows between our bodies, both to make her warmer and more comfortable, and to eliminate direct physical contact between us. I was thinking about the other two times today when my attraction to her threatened to make me decidedly too uncomfortable. The last thing she needed tonight, of all nights, was to feel the physical manifestation of my desire for her as she was trying to rest. No matter how difficult it might be, I had to hide the base side of my nature until she was ready to know that part of me.

She leaned against me and we briefly discussed our musical preferences before she drifted off to sleep. Taking care not to wake her, I ran my fingers lightly up and down her arm and watched the steady, rhythmic rise of her chest as she slept. I saw the fascinating rapid eye movements behind her closed eyelids and was amazed by the gorgeous smile gracing her lips.

And then she started to talk. At first it was just incomprehensible gibberish and small moans, but as she fell into deeper sleep she began to talk in earnest. I listened as she called out my name. I had heard her talk in her sleep all those nights on the phone, but none of that compared to experiencing it in person. I suddenly understood why Edward had felt compelled to spend as many nights as he could with her, despite the physical discomfort it caused him.

Based on the accompanying moans, the sensuous expression on her face, and the slightly musky change in her scent, I could easily picture what she was dreaming about. I was grateful for the pillows between us serving their intended barrier function, as her subconscious arousal prompted my instinctive response. I wanted so badly to touch her, to kiss her, to do everything I imagined she experienced in her dreams, but I knew it would be wrong. Wrong not just because she had so trustingly fallen asleep in my presence and my violation of that trust would be unpardonable, but also because I knew that neither one of us wanted to tarnish our first physical encounter with the guilt we would both feel if we acted before I resolved my relationship with Alice. So I ignored my close to overwhelming sexual need and forced myself to think about the only topic that could sufficiently douse my Bella fantasies – I thought about my impending talk with Alice.

As fearless as I have ever been in battle, the thought of facing Alice to let her know of the change in my feelings for her absolutely terrified me. The terror wasn't tempered in the slightest by the fact that she would be prepared, would know what I would say before I could even open my mouth. More than anything else I was terrified of causing Alice permanent harm. In our world the bond between mates was one of the most resilient, indestructible attachments, and breaking that bond could have far-reaching effects.

I wasn't worried for myself – I knew I was strong enough to withstand the pain even without the promise of a future with Bella. I wasn't as certain about Alice and it was this doubt that was most frightening. I never, ever meant for Alice to be the injured party, never wanted to be the one to hurt her. She had waited for me, found me in one of my darkest hours, and then loved me unconditionally despite my physical scars and my weaknesses and limitations. I did not deserve her and she most certainly did not deserve what I was about to do to her.

And yet, despite all that, I knew there was no other way. I was no longer the man she met all those years ago. In just a few short weeks Bella showed me a man I thought was long dead. A man who could make decisions, could plan, could exercise self-control, could surprise, could make romantic gestures, could make another tremble with anticipation. I could never be that man around Alice. Her special ability, the same ability that brought us together in the first place, was now driving us apart. Her knowledge of everything I was about to say or do before I was able to say or do it, once so welcome, was now repugnant to me. Bella had innocently suggested that Alice could change, but she didn't understand. The chasm that I now saw between me and my mate consisted of more than just her disinterest in any of the things that mattered to me. It was also filled with that power – her power to know everything before it happened, robbing me of free choice. Even if she could hide her visions from me, I would know that she was anticipating my every action, and I would never be able to reconcile myself to that again.

Of course I could be noble, self sacrificing. I could deny my feelings for Bella and go back to Alice and the rest of the Cullens, grit my teeth and try to pretend that nothing had changed. But that wasn't me. I didn't believe in nobility, self-sacrifice or needless suffering. Besides, no mater what I did, Alice would certainly sense the changes in me. And Edward, if he ever re-joined the family, would be able to read the changes in my thoughts. And undoubtedly I would be unable to keep my own depression to myself any more than I had been able to following Bella's birthday party, so the whole family would be impacted negatively by my feelings again. No. Going back simply wasn't an option anymore. I meant what I told Bella earlier – I would much rather live alone now than to go back and be the weak, depressed freak of the Cullen Coven.

Now that I knew what needed to be done, the course was set. There was no changing my mind. I only wondered what to expect form Alice and the other Cullenswhen I informed them of my decision. Would Alice accept my betrayal with the grace I knew she was capable of, break down, or try to kill me in her fury? Most people only saw the happy-go-lucky side of Alice, but I knew the other side, the side that could not accept her will thwarted. And I knew that in a fight she could be vicious and relentless. Despite her special abilities, I was sure a fight between us would be equal, perhaps even skewed a bit in my favor, given my extensive experience. But if any of the Cullens stood with her, I would havea problem. Under those circumstances running would be my only hope of survival, and I had to prepare myself for that very real possibility. It wouldn't be my finest hour, but I knew from experience that in battle survival was more important than heroism or false courage. The main point of any battle was to live so you could fight another day. I would have to prepare for flight, have contingency plans and getaway vehicles in place.

Bella shifted in my arms and murmured, "Kiss me, Jasper. Just like that," distracting me from my planning. It was all I could do not to comply with her subconscious demand. It was absolutely maddening how much I wanted her naked beneath me, moaning my name as I filled her every need. But that was impossible, not just because of Alice, but because she was so human, so damn fragile. I didn't know how Edward had been able to resist her as long as he had and I certainly didn't understand his refusal to even consider turning her into a vampire, despite her stated desire to become one. After the Alice situation was resolved, Bella would only have to ask me to turn her once and I would happily oblige. I would nurse and guide her through her newborn year and be rewarded with the most fucking spectacular mate in the vampire world. Until then, I would just have to take care of myself to make sure Bella wasn't harmed. It was a small price to pay for an eternity of happiness and satisfaction.

I heard a knock on the door from the wheelhouse and turned to see the chef walk in timidly. Seeing us on the sofa, Bella fast asleep, the man started to apologize. I cut him off with a wave of my hand and raised an eyebrow at him in silent question.

"The Captain wanted me to let you know that we were almost in Port Townsend, sir."

I thanked him and, holding Bella steady with my arms, slipped my legs out from under her. I laid her down gently on the sofa, getting up to gather our things. I packed the sketch and the Caramello bar into her book bag. I had hoped to feed her the chocolate tonight, but it would have to wait. I placed Bella's jacket in her bag as well, wearing my own jacket to avoid having another thing to carry. I heard the yacht enter the slip and leaned down to lift Bella in my arms. She stretched and snuggled up to my chest. I held her close, relishing the contact. This whole day had been so much better than I had any right to expect or hope for. Ending it with Bella in my arms, however briefly, was as perfect as it could get.

As I carried Bella off the yacht, I paused to quietly thank the captain for his services and inform him of the gratuity I had left inside for him and the crew. Bella shifted in my arms, gripping my sweater in her hand to pull herself closer to me and murmuring "You smell soooo good." The captain winked and I couldn't keep the self-satisfied grin off my face. It was good to know I wasn't the only one with an olfactory obsession.

I got Bella settled in the passenger seat, buckling her in just in case. The odds of us being in an accident were virtually nonexistent, but with Bella's unnatural attraction for disaster, I didn't want to take any chances. It was late and the roads were deserted. With Bella asleep, as soon as we left Port Townsend I was able to really open up the R8 to her full capabilities. She purred beneath me as we flew back to Forks. Once again I congratulated myself on procuring this amazing machine. Nothing could touch her – not even Edward's Vanquish. Hell, even Bella admired this beauty.

Thinking how turned on Bella had been earlier today by the car and the sight of me driving only succeeded in getting me hard again. I cursed my stupid mind for going places it knew better than to go and my ridiculous, sudden lack of self control for making me react like a pubescent teenager. I loved spending the whole day with Bella and I understood why we had to be platonic. I didn't even mind being platonic, since that part of our relationship was so different from anything I've experienced before, it completely blew my mind. But this other driving need had to be satisfied too. I knew damn well it wasn't going to go away on its own. With a sigh, I resigned myself to another shower 'date with Manuela', snickering at the completely ridiculous euphemism. It wasn't so bad, really. It's not like I didn't know what I was doing. And it was only a temporary situation. Remembering Bella's reactions and responses to the few relatively innocent things I'd said and done so far, I knew she'd be amazing in bed. If nothing else, I was a good judge of those types of reactions. And anything that fucking good was well worth the wait.

She was still sleeping when we got home. I transferred her and her bag back to her truck and drove to her house. I parked a couple of blocks away and gently ran my hand over her face to wake her slowly without startling her. Finally she opened her eyes and looked around, clearly disoriented.

"It's time to wake up, Darlin'," I said. "You have to get home by curfew."

It took her a while to focus. When it finally looked like she recognized where she was, I helped her move from the passenger side to the driver's side. I made sure she was okay to drive the rest of the way, reminded her to call me, and watched as she pulled into her driveway and walked into the house.

I ran home as fast as I could, wanting to be there when she called. I knew she was exhausted, so I didn't bother trying to talk to her. Instead I told her goodnight and sang "I don't want to miss a thing" by Aerosmith. It was the perfect song for the night. I had loved watching her sleep and I sure as hell hated to miss even a second of her life. I briefly wondered how the hell it was possible for me to fall for a woman so fast, so hard and so completely, but then decided that my feelings really weren't worth dissecting. She was now the center of my universe and nothing else compared. End of story.

I could hear that she fell asleep before I was even done with the first verse of the song, but I finished singing anyway. Afterwards I grabbed some fresh clothes and headed for the shower. I took off my earpiece, put the phone on mute, and switched it to speaker mode in case she started talking in her sleep again. I turned on the water, not caring about the temperature, and stepped into the shower. I was already painfully hard just thinking about her, so I knew I'd be able to take care of things quickly, especially now that I had more raw fantasy material to work with. I didn't need to leave much to my imagination as I began with smooth, easy strokes. I just focused on how amazing her body looked that first night I spoke to her on the phone when she surprised the shit out of me by changing in her bedroom instead of the bathroom, giving me an unannounced free show. I combined the images with the sounds she made tonight after she fell asleep, the memory of the feel of her in my arms and the musky aroma of her arousal. The thought of her scent really got me going and my stroke rate rapidly increased. A couple more visualizations of her gorgeous eyes and luscious lips, and I was spent. I didn't mind the short duration. I wasn't looking for a one hand love affair. This was more about release than desire, just something to quell my basic need. Hopefully it was enough to keep me in control when she came over tomorrow.

I washed up, stepped out of the shower, toweled off and got dressed. No longer distracted, I could finally properly focus on going over my day with Bella. It had been beyond unbelievable, beyond my most optimistic expectations. I thoroughly reveled in her total enjoyment of every activity, her willingness to trust me completely, and that look in her eyes every time she looked at me. Fuck! That look was everything! No one had ever looked at me that way and I could swear she had never looked that way at anyone else.

I'd seen the way she had looked at Edward – the puppy dog devotion and awe. It made me sick at the time. I didn't understand what he had ever done to deserve it. Thinking about it now, I wondered if I wanted her to look at me that way?

But that's not the way she looked at me and I didn't miss it, because the way she looked at me was so much better! She looked at me with complete understanding, faith, confidence and regard. It sounded trite to even think it, but she made me want to be a better man. And more than that, she made me a better man by helping me see my potential through her eyes. It was fucking amazing! I've never experienced anything like it and knew she was the only person in the world who could make me feel that way. She was like a precious gift, a talisman. And, most unbelievable of all, she actually felt the same way about me that I felt about her! If I had any choice in the matter, I would never let her out of my sight.

I silently thanked Edward again for being too damn stupid to hold on to a good thing when he found it. He tossed her away like a rag doll, ostensibly out of love, ostensibly for her own good. Edward had many redeeming values, but the sick fuck didn't know shit about what real love was. Thank God I was here to help her keep it together and claim her as my own. I wouldn't make the same mistakes Edward made. I would be sure to love, cherish, respect, support and protect her for the rest of my days. And God help him if he ever tried to come back to remedy his mistake. Now that she chose me, he would get her back one way and one way only – over my dead body.

I realized that standing in the bathroom staring at my own reflection was not going to do me much good. I needed to hunt so that I could safely see Bella tomorrow. I rolled up the sleeves of my shirt to a ¾ length, fitted the earpiece, turned the speaker off and secured the phone in my back pocket. If tonight was like all the other nights, Bella would sleep straight through to the morning, but I needed to be there for her if for whatever reason she woke up. Plus, I loved hearing her say my name in her sleep. There was absolutely nothing else I loved hearing more.

Out of the house I took a good whiff of the air and listened intently. All the woodland creatures were out in full force, but I was listening for larger game. Across the river I could smell a faint scent of elk. The herd must have passed though several hours ago, but I knew I could still follow them. I turned and broke into an easy run.

Much as I hated the smell and taste of animal blood, I actually enjoyed the hunt. It was more of a challenge to hunt for animals. Humans were too easy – they almost never put up true resistance. An animal could not be seduced by a Vampire's looks, scent or charm – they had to be caught and often fought. I loved the fight when it came along. It revitalized me, reminded me of the days when I was a soldier, a leader, a strategist, instead of the Cullens' weakest link. Only now, with Bella, I didn't feel that way anymore. She made me feel strong and controlled. I loved it and loved her for it. But I still enjoyed a good turbulent hunt.

The elk trail was leading me closer and closer to the reservation border. I just fucking hoped they hadn't crossed onto Quileute land before I had a chance to take a couple down. I slowed, wanting to prolong the chase just in case it ended in disappointment.

Suddenly my nostrils were filled with a disgusting new scent, a scent I recognized from a week ago, but that I couldn't place otherwise. It was a warm-blooded carnivore, of that I was certain, but I couldn't say anything beyond that. Curious, I abandoned the elk trail and followed the new scent. It was definitely coming form across the border. I had absolutely no intention of breaking the Quileute treaty, but it wouldn't be a violation of the treaty to go right up to the border, so I continued on the path towards the stench.

Halfway there I picked up another 3 odors, similar to the first, yet unique. So there were more of them. I wondered what "they" would turn out to be. I proceeded cautiously. I knew that nothing in the animal kingdom could come close to threatening me, but something about this scent made me edgy. I debated whether to stay on the ground or to move into the trees and decided that being up higher would give me greater visibility. Using every stealth stalking skill I learned in Maria's service, I climbed into the nearest tree until I was approximately 20 feet off the ground. At this height the limbs on the old growth trees were still able to support my weight easily and I could move silently from tree to tree as easily as if I were traversing along the ground.

I moved towards the reservation border as I scanned the ground below. The strange odors were stronger now, and I knew I was getting close to their source, just over the invisible line into the Quileute reservation. Before I could see them, I heard their soft panting and the pads of their paws softly striking the moss-covered forest floor. The sound told me they were moving slowly in a close formation, coming from the south.

I trained my eyes on the spot where I expected them to emerge from the verdant underbrush. I sat absolutely still, holding my breath, sound serving as my only data reference. Finally, a few seconds later, I saw movement and glimpsed short canine fur. Wolves?

I was shocked. In the years that we have been living in Forks none of us had seen any wolves. And by the sound of them these were no ordinary wolves. The pressure they exerted on the ground and the height of the moving vegetation indicated beasts the size of small to medium bears. Puzzled, I kept watching the underbrush and was finally rewarded when they emerged, nearly simultaneously.

There were four of them. The largest, a black beast, held the point position. To his left stood a slightly shorter deep gray colored wolf and, next to him, one with gray black-spotted fur. The wolf to the left of the black was brown. Though they varied slightly in size in relation to one another, these were by far the largest wolves I had ever seen, unnaturally large. And suddenly I knew. These were not ordinary wolves. These were the Quileute shape shifting werewolf warriors, the protectors of the Quileute tribe whose chief, many years ago, made the peace treaty with Carlisle and established the boundary line none of us had ever crossed.

I remembered Bella telling me about Sam Uley knowing I was back, about seeing me near the border, and I remembered the last time I came across this strange odor. That day I hadn't bothered to investigate, but he must have seen me hunting and reported my whereabouts to the tribe. I looked over the four werewolves, wondering which one of them was Sam.

Though I had been nearly silent in my approach and sat absolutely still in the tree, my presence did not escape the wolves' attention. All four pairs of wolf eyes were trained on me. The deep gray wolf stood with his teeth bared, a continuous menacing growl emanating from his throat. Since my element of surprise was lost, I decided there was no point remaining in my treetop location. I jumped to the ground and walked a few steps closer to the border.

Seeing my leap, the wolves all crouched, ready to attack. I held out my hands to indicate lack of violent intentions, while simultaneously sending them a wave of calm and serenity. They whined as they found themselves unable to formulate the aggression necessary to mount an attack. They tried to bear their teeth but it now looked more laughable than menacing.

"I'm Jasper Hale, member of the coven of Carlisle Cullen. I am here, on Cullen land, and I fully intend to honor the treaty made by Carlisle with your ancestors. In return, I demand that you honor your part of the treaty. Respect the boundary line and keep our secret from the humans."

I tried to gauge the reactions in their eyes, especially in the eyes of the large black wolf. There was no friendliness there, but there was understanding. I stopped sending the calming waves and waited for a response. The deep gray wolf immediately resumed his aggressive stance, but a look from the black wolf quieted him immediately. The black wolf turned to me and let out one sharp bark. Then, without a single other sound exchanged between them, the wolves backed away from me into the underbrush, until they were invisible even to my vampire eyes.

I backed away from the border as well, unsure whether I could entirely trust my interpretation of the lead wolf's bark. I sensed the pack's hostility as the wolves left, though I didn't sense deception. I picked up the elk scent trail again and headed in the direction of the herd, but my mind stayed with the wolves. I wondered who they were and if I saw the whole pack or just a subgroup? How long had they been around? I found it hard to believe that they could have been around a long time without me or someone else in the family noticing. Their stench was so distinctive, one of us would have gotten curious long before now. Of course, if they stayed away from the border, we may not have been able to smell or see them on the reservation.

When the Cullens told Alice and me about the Quileute treaty and the werewolves, they always assumed that the wolves died out with Ephraim Black and his contemporaries. While Carlisle insisted that we continue to comply with the treaty, no one seriously thought that we would run into the werewolves again. This was big news, and if any other member of the family had intentions to come back to Forks any time soon, I would have called them to let them know immediately. But since I knew it would be years before any of them returned, I figured I could wait to tell them when I went up to Alaska to see Alice.

I sniffed the air again, noticing that the elk scent was getting stronger. I paused to listen, and I heard the sounds of the elk munching on some ground cover, approximately two miles up ahead. Dragging up a mental picture of our land and the reservation border, I calculated that the herd would span the boundary. If I got there fast enough, I could easily down one or two animals that remained on Cullen land.

I sprinted towards the elk. They never saw me coming. The biggest buck was safe on the Quileute side of the border, so I had to settle for a mature doe. I grabbed her by the neck, carefully avoiding her kicking hooves and thrashing head. I twisted her neck with my hands and bit into her jugular. The disgusting blood satisfied the need for nourishment, but did little to quench the real thirst. I drained the doe and ran after a young buck fleeing deeper into Cullen territory. Although he was more prepared for me and put up more of a fight, I dealt with him almost as quickly and as efficiently as I had with the doe. I was nearly done draining him when, suddenly, a breeze blew a hint of a scent in my direction.

I froze. Fuck! It couldn't be! I flipped the buck over and sniffed his hind leg. It was faint, barely there, but also unmistakable. The scent of another vampire, a vampire I had met, a vampire whose intentions for visiting Forks were still unclear – Laurent.

Fuck, Fuck, FUCK! My mind filled with frantic thoughts. The scent was so light it must have come from him brushing against the buck as he was hunting. It could have happened any time. Hours ago. I hadn't come across his scent trail so it must have happened miles form here as well. There was no telling where the fucker was now. Oh God! Bella's house?

I dropped the buck and ran faster than I ever had before. I doubted even Edward would have been able to catch me tonight. I could hear Bella's even breaths in my earpiece, so I knew that she was all right, for now. But Laurent could arrive at her house any moment – I had to get there before he did!

I briefly contemplated waking her up and letting her know what was happening, but that would only frighten her and there was nowhere safe for her to go. Better to let her sleep and just pray that I got to her before the nomad.

Bella filled my mind. I smelled her delicious scent, heard her heartbeat and the blood rushing through her veins, saw each and every one of her pulse points, all the things that would be so attractive to any vampire. I wondered how committed Laurent was to the vegetarian lifestyle he adopted while staying with Tanya's family in Denali. If he got to Bella first, would it help stop him long enough for me to get there and rip him to shreds?

I berated myself for being so careless, for not paying more attention. Some fucking protector I turned out to be. I hadn't even taken the time to work out a game plan of what we would do when this happened. And it's not like I didn't know that it was going to happen. Alice had given me plenty of advance notice. I was such an incompetent bastard.

I was finally reaching the edge of the forest near Bella's house. I still hadn't passed Laurent's scent trail and I began to hope. He didn't know where Bella lived – only Victoria and James had actually been to her house. It could be that he was still miles away and unable to track her here. If I was right, it would give me time to plan, time to figure out how to tell Bella that her worse nightmare was coming true.

I ran up to and all around Bella's house. Still no vampire scent other than my own. I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. What fucking relief! She was safe, and I would stay here to make sure that she remained that way.

I made my way back to the forest and climbed up into the trees. I found a lookout point high enough that I had a perfect view of the house and the surrounding area. No one could come within 20 feet of the house without me seeing them. I cursed myself for wearing such light colored clothing – I was sticking out like a sore thumb. My only hope of Laurent's not detecting me would be if he didn't bother to look up.

It was time to plan. While Laurent was in the area I could not leave Bella. She would have to tell me where she was at all times and I would have to figure out a way to guard her. I thought about the places in Forks where she absolutely had to be: School, work, and home. I would have to ask her not to go anywhere else in the coming week, not to deviate from the plan.

Fuck! I suddenly realized that she was planning to go to La Push Sunday morning. I couldn't let her do that. I couldn't let her go to the one place in the vicinity of Forks where all my skills and talents were useless because I was not allowed to be there. She'd have to make an excuse, get out of it somehow. Shit! I knew she had been looking forward to the outing and, as much as I hated the thought of her cooking for Jacob, I hated to deny her something that obviously brought her so much pleasure. Damn Jacob! I could just imagine him suffering from the worst case of puppy love.

Wait a second. Puppy love? Suddenly going to La Push didn't seem like a bad idea. Those damn werewolves existed to protect people on their reservation from vampires. As long as Bella was in La Push, she would be safe without me having to watch her. Hell, if I got lucky I could catch that bastard before she got back and I might get away with not having to tell her anything. And if I didn't catch her I would simply meet her at the reservation border as she was coming back and I would explain everything to her in my house.

For the rest of the night I planned. I liked the particular lookout point I had selected tonight and knew that this would be my recognizance post at Bella's house. I picture Forks High school and settled on a decent observation post just off the school grounds. Finally I determined where I would hide in order to watch Bella while she was working at the store. As long as she didn't deviate from plan, she would be safe and sound.

There was still no sign of Laurent as dawn broke. I had gone through my plan countless times in my head, making sure nothing was left to chance. I was so fucking absorbed in my thoughts, I didn't even realize Bella was up, until I heard a buzzing in the background and Bella said "Good Morning."

"Hello, Bella. Did you sleep well?" I couldn't believe I had been distracted enough to let her catch me off guard, making my morning greeting unnatural.

"Is everything all right?" She asked, sounding anxious. She already sensed something was wrong. Get your shit together, Whitlock! Be the fucking stone-cold warrior that she needs right now.

"Everything's fine. When are you leaving for La Push?"

"Half an hour. I just need to shower, get dressed and get all the food together."

I got a flash image of Bella in the shower before I chased the thought away, forcing my concentration back on the task at hand.

"Good. You're going directly there, right? No stops?" I was pretty sure there would be no reason for her to stop anywhere, but in these situations it was best not to assume. Knowledge helped anticipate problems and correctly anticipating and planning for problems was the key to winning any conflict.

"Right," I could hear the suspicion in her voice. "Jasper, what's going on?"

Damn, but she was perceptive. It was almost as difficult to hide things form her as it was for others to hide things from me.

"I'll tell you about it when I see you later, I promise. Right now I don't want to make you late. You'd better go and get ready, all right?" I hated telling her to go, hated not being able to talk to her more, but the more we said the more likely I was to reveal something, and I didn't want her scared right now. I needed to tell her when I was with her, so I could help her if she needed it.

"Okay," she said hesitantly. "You will explain later, right?"

"Of course, Darlin'," I tried to sound as reassuring as I could. "Just trust me for now. I'll see you soon."

"See you soon," I barely heard her as I turned off the phone. I was already planning the route I would take to trail her and Charlie to La Push. Then, while she was safe on the reservation, I would head out to see if I could scare up Laurent.

To Be Continued.

So, what did you think? Did Jasper live up to your expectations? Leave a review and let me know!