The kit-cat clock on the wall ticked the seconds away with the even waves of its tail, my nerves being shot a little bit more with each audible click. I tried to drown out the sound by loudly drumming my fingernails on the countertop, further distracting myself by sneaking glances out the front windows of the diner. It was raining, the same as yesterday, and yesterday he hadn't shown. I was a little upset that I couldn't pinpoint exactly when he would arrive; I only had the vision of the rain splattering the street behind him to guide me.
He looked very handsome in my mind's eye, but I had yet to meet a vampire who wasn't. He was quite tall, but then again, most people were when compared with my four-feet-ten-inch stature. Yet even if he were the most gruesome-looking thing to ever walk the planet, I would still sit here, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the man who may be the key to something different, something better. I still couldn't see everything that awaited me with his arrival, but I saw enough to know that we would help each other find what we were each searching for…whatever that might be.
What if he changed his mind? The thought rushed through me like wind through a fence. I felt my breath stop cold in my lungs and the smells of the diner – the greasy food, the dirty mop water, the warm, fresh blood of the patrons – ceased to be known. I didn't know what he was looking for, or even what I was seeking, to tell the truth, but I was sure we needed each other to figure out where to go next on our so-called quests. Were we supposed to take the same journey? Would he impart some sort of vital information and be off on his way? Would his arrival trigger some new vision that would give me any kind of information? I needed this man, that much was clear, needed him to give me the answers to all the problems I was forever seeking to resolve. If he didn't show…but I shook my head, assuring myself that he would come and hoping that I would get another vision of his imminent arrival.
The bells above the door jingled as someone entered the diner, bringing a cold breeze in with them only a few degrees warmer than my skin. Was it him? My head whipped towards the entrance with unnatural quickness that I hoped no one had noticed. No one had, and I turned my head back to my lukewarm cup of untouched coffee after glancing at the elderly couple who had just entered.
I focused my gaze on the chipped green cup with Pop's emblazoned on the side, still filled to the brim with murky brown liquid. The waitress, a rotund, middle-aged woman with a few gray hairs sprouting out of her badly-dyed brown locks, noticed the cup shortly after I did. She leaned across the counter, brandishing a steaming pot of coffee and poured out a fresh cup, whisking the old one away.
"There, now, doesn't that smell good?" the waitress asked cheerily. I smiled, hesitantly in my nervous apprehension, and reminded myself to keep up with the human charade of breathing. The scent of the coffee, freshly ground and slightly burnt, filled my nostrils before being overpowered by the stronger smell of the waitress. She was awash with the odors of oranges, her husband's cologne, and spoiled milk. It was not the best scent I had ever met with, but it was enough to set my throat afire and my muscles tightening. He'd better get here soon, I thought. Hunting was an immediate requirement if I was to continue living among the mortals of Philadelphia.
I had only been in Philadelphia a week since October 14th. I had been seeing this man for a while now and was continually trying to pinpoint where he was forever wandering. It wasn't until I saw him trudging through the rain past Independence Hall that I realized he was in Philadelphia. I quickly left the abandoned house in Savannah I was living in and drove to Pennsylvania, stopping at the Philadelphia Racetrack to earn enough money to foot the bills. Of course, I got a little too excited and won race after race, losing only when I stopped to allow the vision of the blond man entering the diner play through my mind.
I left the track with enough money to book a suite at the Philadelphia Crown Hotel, stopping just long enough to drop my meager belongings on the enormous bed and head over to Pop's Diner on Oregon Avenue. I only left when the rain stopped or the day broke, knowing very well that he wouldn't be arriving amid the glaring brightness of the sun, and to make myself less suspicious; it was odd enough spending my evenings and much of my nights in a diner, staying there the entire 24 hours of the day would just attract unnecessary attention.
So here I sat, fussing with the skirt of my favorite red dress, pretending to sip at my warm cup of coffee whenever the waitress glanced my way. If I could hear her thoughts, I'm sure she'd be wondering why I was still sitting here after three days of waiting. Hearing thoughts was quite beyond my realm of expertise, but I had my own unnatural gift, and it chose to take over at that moment. My muscles tensed and my eyes glazed over as the vision seeped into my brain.
The blond man from Alice's visions stood amid a group of people just as pale as he was. A family of beautiful blonde vampires: a tall, strikingly handsome man, a smaller, softer-looking woman, and a statuesque young woman of intense beauty. They were in the foyer of a beautifully-decorated home, standing close together but still looking as if they were missing some of their number.
"Welcome, Jasper," the man said, his voice resonating through the hall, making him sound even more handsome, cultured, and wise than he already seemed.
The man from her visions, Jasper as she knew him to now be called, reached out a hand to shake the one offered to him. "Thank you, Carlisle," he said softly, and his own voice, a rich bass timbre, thrilled Alice to her very core with its heavy, melodic tones slightly tinged with a Southern twang. She stopped breathing as his hand slid casually into hers, as if it were old hat, and began massaging the pad where her thumb joined her palm.
"Rosalie, won't you show Alice and Jasper around the house?" the smaller woman suggested, beaming down at Alice with kind golden eyes, eyes Alice had never before seen on any vampire – save herself. The goddess, Rosalie, nodded, her own tawny eyes staring curiously at the two. Carlisle encouraged them with a wave of his hand and a twinkle in his topaz eyes.
My hand had tightened around the coffee cup's handle as I came to, breaking it neatly off in my palm. I meekly turned the cup so the waitress wouldn't notice, but it was too late. She rushed over, bringing another wave of her orange-y scent with her as she did so.
"Don't you worry, dear, these things break all the time," she tutted and gave me yet another new cup of coffee.
"I'm sorry," I apologized, handing her the previous cup's handle and trying hard to control the excess flow of venom in my mouth by once again holding my breath. The waitress smiled, revealing a row of straight nicotine-stained teeth, and bustled off.
I was left alone with my thoughts, but I no longer felt alone. Every vampire I had ever met had all had the same blood-stained ruby eyes that came with feasting upon the mass of humans around us. I thought I had been the only one to choose animals over men, giving my eyes a honeyed hue that no one – up until now – had shared. I wondered if this man I was about to meet…Jasper…would have the same fair coloring.
Jasper. The name rolled around in my head, dripping onto my tongue until I was forced to whisper it aloud, quiet enough so the humans couldn't hear but loud enough so that it meant something to me. That hand in mine, those eyes on my own…if this vision was a sure thing (and the permanence of the images assured me it was), then there had to be something more, something much more, to this Jasper of mine. I straightened up on the stool I sat on, anxiously stirring my coffee as butterflies flitted around my stomach, my mind so distracted that the tempting scent of the humans around me was just a mere memory.
The homeless woman sitting next to me who badly needed a washing stood up to leave, leaving my view of the front window almost entirely clear. If that young man skipping school sitting at the far end of the counter would just move…
There was no need. The door's swift opening jingled the bells hanging from the frame, letting the diner know of another entrance. My head turned to the door out of habit, and I half-expected it to not be him, to be instead another young couple or a mother with her little daughter or maybe a group of old men ready for their afternoon caffeine jolt.
He stood just in the doorway, his dark eyes scanning the people happily going about their business, oblivious to the fact that two bloodthirsty monsters were standing in their midst. He was as tall as I imagined and even handsomer with the rain plastering his blond hair to his face and shoulders and making his thin button-down shirt hug his body, showing his muscles in sharp relief.
I hopped off the stool before he could take another step. He stopped as his eyes met mine, taking in my pale skin and graceful step as I came ever closer to him, knowing exactly what I was. I felt the strangest sensation of trepidation wash over me, strange because it wasn't my own fear, but his. It was odd, this feeling of his feelings. I tried to smile and make him feel more at ease, and it seemed to work. The fear was swept away in a moment, and I felt a surge of emotions come to replace it: nervousness, happiness, complacency, and the most comforting sense of belonging, something I had never felt before in all my life. I reached his side and looked up – goodness, he's awfully tall – and grinned.
"You've kept me waiting a long time."