It's been a lot of fun writing this (again). I hope you enjoyed it! Again, I'll be chatting on G-Chat on Saturday, September 19th around 7 PM Eastern Standard Time if you wanna come say hi or ask questions or whatever. Yyou need to have a Gmail account to chat, but it's easy and free. My SN is on my author page if you're interested. Thank you for reading, reviewing, and everything else.

Happy reading,



Late August, 2006

My hands were flying across the keyboard as I attempted to distract myself by editing an inanely misinformed Wikipedia article about the second Battle of Sabine Pass. Having led a battalion to victory there, I figured myself the right sort to make such corrections. It was fairly mind-consuming, this work, and I was beyond grateful for that. Reading one article led to reading another which led to finding more false information which led to my having to correct a lengthy paragraph about Sam Houston.

I paused to lean over and switch the oscillating fan to a higher setting, breathing the freshly manufactured air in deeper. It still wasn't enough to get the blood-drenched scent that permeated the house from my nostrils and I had to stand and stick my head out the window for a few moments just to clear my head. I loved Bella like a sister, truly I did, but this was getting to be too much.

Shrugging such treasonous thoughts aside – and hoping Edward couldn't hear – I turned back to the computer and continued typing, losing myself in the barrage of information that was the Internet. The glaring brightness of the screen soothed me in silence broken only when a pair of light footsteps sounded in the hall.

I could feel Alice before I could see her, a complicated sense of worried excitement. I could smell her too, her intoxicating aroma that quickened my breath and made my entire body alert. I leaned back from the computer screen, swiveling around in my chair to face the door as it flew open. Alice came in to my study, her face bright and breathtaking, and bounded across the room and landed neatly in my lap.

"He did it, he really did it," she said rapidly and kissed my cheek. "He of course regretted it once she started screaming, but Carlisle's going to try the morphine soon, and…what? What is it?"

Her tiny palm came to rest on the side of my face as she peered down at me with those all-knowing eyes, surely seeing exactly what I was thinking. That was what was so intriguing about my Alice, her intelligent, womanly mind so far removed from her small, child-like hands, with her body somewhere deliciously in between. But now wasn't the time to be thinking about that, not when I could smell the last vestiges of my sister's human life lingering in the air. I swiveled the chair around with Alice still on my lap so I could face the fan again and took a deep breath.

"Ah," she said knowingly and moved to curl up against my chest, her head tucked neatly in my neck. I leaned my head ever-so-slightly onto hers, breathing her scent in deeply.

"Do you want to get out of the house, then?" she asked. Her breath was cool against my adam's apple, and I clenched my hand against the armrest of the chair to keep from taking her right there at the desk.

"I won't be weak," I said into her hair.

"It's not weakness. We could just go to the movies. Or the theater, they've started the new season in Seattle. You know how much you love Les Miserables."

I chuckled a little. "I believe you're mistaking me for Edward, my dear."

"You know you would go if I asked you," she said, the both of us knowing very well she was right.

"True," I admitted. "That's why I already bought us season tickets."

She moved her head up to look at me, her eyes twinkling and her smile wide.

"See, I knew I picked you for some reason."

These were the moments I lived for. The happy times. Happier, oh-so-much happier than those dark depressing days before we had met. Even happier than the slightly darker days before we had reached the Cullens. And of course happier than those few gut-wrenching times we had been apart.

"Maybe we could go to Jecerae," she suggested suddenly. I pondered the thought; about a year ago, after an embarrassing windfall came our way due to Alice's careful stock market playing, she had gotten permission from Carlisle to make our biggest purchase yet, her own private island off the coast of Fiji. It was a beautiful place, the only place we could stroll about in the sun uninhibited. And as much as I loved seeing Alice stroll about in the sun uninhibited clad in her favorite blue bikini – or in much less when we would go alone – now wasn't the time.

"No?" Alice guessed from my silence.

"Not now," I answered. I didn't want to be the one to give up first. I was sick and tired of being the weakest link. Now that Bella was currently upstairs in Edward's – her and Edward's room, giving up the last trace of her humanity, perhaps things would be easier. For me at least. Bella would be the weak one now, and I –


She had moved so her head was above mine, looking down at me with a reproachful stare I would expect to see from Rosalie or Esme but never her. I hung my head.

"Sorry," I muttered. Her hands came under my chin, drawing my face up to meet hers.

"Stop being so sullen, Jasper," she ordered. "And don't you dare even think such things around Edward. He's worried enough as it is without you being vindictive."

I sighed and tightened my arms around her waist. "I'm just ready for a change."

It was hardly an excuse. But what was I supposed to say when she was being so bluntly truthful?

"Come out, then," she urged once more. "We can go to Port Angeles or to the shore or anything you want."

"Anything?" I repeated.

"Even the shooting range."

I raised my eyebrows. This was a rare occurrence, her agreeing to accompany me to the one place she refused to go. As deadly as our jaws were, Alice still didn't like the idea of my using a gun.

"Don't look so surprised," she chastised, a little hint of a smile playing on her face and filling me with her jovial teasing. "If it'll make you feel better…well, I'll suffer through it."

Her melodrama almost made me grin. "I would never want you to suffer, my love."

"Then cheer up. Please. Only two more days and we'll have a new sister that you can finally be comfortable around."

I tried hard not to sigh. Maybe Alice was right. Maybe I did need to get away. Two days of being trapped in this blood-soaked house…it felt as if the smell would never recede.

Cool, soft lips touched lightly to my own, moving as she spoke. "What can I do, Jazz? Tell me what you need."

I skimmed my nose across her cheek and down her neck so that, once again, her scent was the one to fill my mind.

"Just this," I murmured against her collarbone, sucking softly at her skin so that she moaned quietly, a sound that never failed to set me stirring. She rearranged her denim-clad legs so that they were straddling mine and pressed her small, lithe frame to my own. My arousal was quickly growing and I wondered if I could handle moving upstairs with my wife, closer to where the still-human Bella was dying, or if we would have to make do with the top of my desk. Alice made the decision for me, reaching a hand behind her to move my laptop before sitting on the desk and pulling my chair close.

My face was still level with her neck and I resumed running my lips up and down her creamy ivory skin as one of my hands surreptitiously snaked up her shirt. She gasped a little and moved her torso so that my fingertips brushed against the tiny concoction of lace-and-satin she wore. I marveled at the way her perfect breasts filled my hands for the billionth time since I had ever touched her, wondering what I had ever done right to be able to possess such a magnificent creature.

The door to the study flew open with a bang and Emmett came striding in, his face wild.

"Jasper, do you want – oh, crap!"

He stopped dead in his tracks and clapped a massive hand over his eyes as I repositioned Alice's bra and put my hands in a more appropriate place. We had been caught before (mostly by Emmett and his tendency to burst into rooms unannounced), but we had caught Emmett and Rosalie in far more compromising positions much more.

"Good Lord, Em, do you ever knock?" Alice asked, her high voice deadly. I was almost drowning in her ire.

"Sorry!" he apologized hastily. "Do you want me to leave, or, erm…"

I tried not to laugh at his discomfort. "Open your eyes, Emmett." This was nowhere near as bad as the Schoolgirl Incident.

Emmett cracked open one yellow eye to make sure the coast was clear, opening the other one only after he was sure. There must have been nothing too inappropriate about out positions, Alice sitting on the edge of the desk with her feet on the edge of my chair, my hands resting on her knees and he came a little closer.

"Was there something you wanted to ask?" Alice's tone was still slightly miffed. I bit back another laugh.

"I was going to get out, maybe go see Snakes on a Plane," Emmett announced, still slightly uncomfortable and embarrassing; it was near suffocating. "Do either of you want to go?"

Alice fixed him with a Stare.

"I'll take that as a no." Emmett slipped a cheeky grin. "You two just go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before."

"Good-bye, Emmett," I said forcefully, giving him my own glaring look. At this, our brother chuckled and stepped from the room, firmly shutting the door behind him to ward off any other potential intruders.

"Now," Alice said, using her feet to hook through the arms of the rolling chair and pull me closer to her, "where were we?"

And she picked up right where we had left off, playing with my hands as if I were a marionette and positioning my palm back at her exquisite chest, her own hands drifting down to work on my belt. As hard as it (and I) was, I somehow managed to pull back.

"Not here," I said quickly, now gasping for fresh air so I could slow down the frenzy she was creating inside of me.

"Do you want to go upstairs?" Her small bare foot was rubbing along the inside of my thigh, driving me insane. I pushed the chair back beyond her reach and watched her delicate face turn into a pout.

"I do need to get out of this house," I admitted. "Go pack a bag. I'll get the car."

Knowing she could see the hotel room I was planning on as well as I could, I rose from the chair without further explanation. She hopped down from the desk and hurried out the door so fast that I wondered if I would have time to pull the Porsche out of the garage before she was finished.

I didn't. She was waiting on the porch, looking mock-annoyed with her arms crossed and her toe tapping anxiously as I drove towards the front door, hopping out to help her with the bags and open her door. She smiled, as she always did at my chivalry, but slipped inside without a word. I got into the driver's seat, feeling her anxiety and knowing she would be too distracted to handle the car right now. She settled instead for pressing against my side, her lips at my neck as I started the engine.

"No funny business, now," I ordered. "I don't want to crash."

"Of course not," she agreed with a smile. "I wouldn't want to have to kill you for ruining my car."

I rolled my eyes, knowing she was half-serious. "How's Bella?"

Her lips stopped their enticing trails and I immediately regretted my question.

"The morphine's burning off too fast and Carlisle doesn't want to chance giving her too much," she explained. "Edward's out of his mind with worry…but she'll make it. I can already see that. Let's think about something else."

And she resumed her light kisses, something I wasn't about to argue with. I pressed a little harder on the gas, anxious to get away from the blood-soaked house and into the hotel room.

We both enjoyed these solitary getaways. They reminded us of the special time we had spent alone before the Cullen family had entered our lives. The time of Atlantic City and Boston and Ten Sleep. We had recently returned to that little town in Wyoming to attend Marlene Walsh's funeral, claiming we were relatives of the 90-year-old woman. We had even stopped at the lot where our old house had been and where a crumbling foundation now stood, looking as if it had been abandoned long ago and only frequented by vandals and squatters. Being back there had made me almost long for those simpler times when it was just Alice and me, living life away from the world, away from the young denizens of Forks that made my days such a trial.

When we returned to Washington, I had almost mentioned this desire to Alice. But then I saw her face as she hugged Carlisle and teased Edward and pounced on Emmett's back, and I knew I could never take her from this. Being in this family was like being in heaven for her, and I was in heaven wherever she was. Not a word was said, and I once again realized how special my wife was to me, how devoted I was to her.

Alice was my world. My reason for being. I could give her up as soon as I could give up blood. From the second I had seen her standing in that diner in Philadelphia, I knew she would change my life, and change it she had. My life had begun that day. It would surely end if ever I lost the wonderful, beautiful, bewitching woman that was my wife, my Alice. I would do anything and everything to keep her at my side, even if it meant constant sacrifice and torture. She was worth that. She was worth much more than that.

"Thinking about something important?"

I looked down at the heartbreaking golden orbs twinkling up at me and smiled.

"You might say that."