An: This story begins fifteen years after Edward left in new moon, there was no cliff diving, so the Cullen's never came back.

The story will eventually be Jasper/Bella, but there won't be any romance for quite some time. The fic isn't going to be fluffy and light. The M is for language, violence, dark themes and possible future lemons. Consider yourselves warned ; )

Thanks to xteamxjasperx for all her brilliant help with this story. It wouldn't have been written without you!

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, any of its characters and settings, and make no money from this. Sadly…

Chapter One

"Well done Bella. Great plan. Brilliant. You can't go outside in the sunlight, and you have no money to get a room to hide in. And now you've got yourself stuck spending the day in a barn because you're too stupid to have seen this coming. Head south. Fantastic."

"Now I'm talking to myself. It doesn't get much better than this." What made me think, even for a second that the Cullen's might have come to Texas? Why would any Vampires live in a place that would leave them trapped inside all day?

Maybe I'd been looking for them for too long. I was getting desperate. Who was I kidding, I'd been desperate for most of the last fifteen years. I'd seen a paper on the street last night, on my way to this little shack, and I knew it would be exactly fifteen years to the day tomorrow, since Edward left me.

I'd missed my birthday again, I should be thirty three, I thought. I wondered how my life would be if things had been different. I might have a job, a home, a family. Would I be married? Have children? If I'd managed to keep Victoria talking for longer that day, would I be with Jacob now with lots of little werewolf babies?

I wasn't sure why I always tortured myself with these thoughts. Sometimes I went further back. What if I'd been good enough for Edward? Would I be with the Cullen's, safe and loved? Or would he have gotten tired of me eventually, and left me alone anyway?

Every day I thought of what I'd lost, and every day it hurt just as much as it had in the beginning. I couldn't allow myself to stop thinking about them though, or the memories might drift away, and I might forget what I was looking for. My family.

I didn't know if they would want me, they hadn't wanted me then, but I was different now. I was like them. Not someone to protect, to be careful with, but an equal. I had to try, I wouldn't last much longer on my own. Even Jacob and Garrett hadn't been able to fully dull the ache their absence had left.

I pushed the hay around to make a sort of bed and laid back in it. I tried to sleep for a few hours every day if I could. Not real sleep of course, that was something I'd never do again, but it helped to pretend. I closed my eyes and slowed my breathing, curled around myself and let my thoughts drift.

Sometimes I tried not to think at all, but that always led me back to the what-ifs, so usually, I pretended to dream. They were better than my human dreams in some ways; I had control over what happened for one thing. They were never nightmares, nothing bad ever happened in the few hours I 'slept'. My imagination was as clear and detailed as reality and sometimes in the midst of one of my fantasies I'd believe it was real.

My most recurring 'dream' was of finding my family. In the dream they were always pleased to see me. Esme and Carlisle would embrace me like a long lost daughter, Emmett would almost crush me with his hugs, and Alice would laugh at my tattered clothes and tell me we needed a shopping trip. Even Jasper would look happy I'd found them again.

And Edward would take me in his arms and tell me he was sorry, that it had all been a mistake and that he'd loved me all along. If I carried on the dream long enough, Rosalie would accept me and become as much my sister as Alice. I would get to know Jasper now that I didn't have any blood to bother him. Edward and I would get married, quietly away from the others, and we'd spend a whole month getting to know each other again. He'd hold me and touch me in ways he couldn't allow himself to before.

Sometimes I'd find them in Alaska, sometimes in Canada, once I found them in Russia and a few times they found me. I liked those ones the best. Sometimes when I was feeling worse than usual I'd tell myself they were looking for me. I knew this wasn't true, but it helped.

What should I dream today? Nothing came to mind. I hadn't felt this bad since the day I'd left Garrett. Why had I even come here? I was wasting time in a place I'd find no answers. I cursed the sun that shone through the cracks in the roof and wriggled irritably in my makeshift bed.

At dusk I'd hunt and then I'd leave. But hunt what? Every time I'd moved on to a new state alone, I'd found out where the best places to hunt would be, and what I could expect to find there. How could I possibly have forgotten to do that? I'd just have to wander until I found something. I'd been on my own again for two years now, and I knew how to take care of myself. I shouldn't have done this.

Stupid Bella. Can't do anything right as usual. You've fucked-up once again. You shouldn't have followed the impulse to come down here. You should've gone to Europe. But you didn't.

As the hours passed, I counted particles of dust, and pieces of hay to keep my mind occupied. Infinitely slowly, the barn grew darker as the sun sank into the horizon. I wished I could go outside and see it, but I didn't like to take risks. It was better to wait until it was safe.

I decided to head south once I was out in the open. I couldn't be bothered to make any real plans. That was the problem with a nomadic life. There was never anywhere to go back to.

The loneliness of it all but crushed me completely. I'd thought, in a vague way of turning a human, at least then I'd have someone if not somewhere. More than anything I just wanted to belong. I might have done it if I'd ever found a human that interested me enough, but my fleeting encounters with them only ever left me nostalgic for my own humanity, and I knew I'd never be able to force this life on someone else.

Maybe Texas wouldn't be so bad. I could stay for a little while, I had forever after all. I had to fill my time somehow. Why not spend a few weeks exploring? I could even go down to Mexico. There was always a chance that I'd meet someone who knew where the Cullen's were.

I'd been running south for a few hours, keeping to back roads so I wouldn't be seen, when I came across the scent I longed for most. Vampires. Lots of them. There were trails everywhere, suggesting they lived here, rather than just nomads passing through. I could smell at least ten different Vampires, mostly males. A lot of the trails were fairly old, but there was a stronger set running further south into a town. I picked up a female and three males, and they'd been here within the last hour.

Nerves and hope swirled within me as I followed the trail. Even if they didn't know the Cullen's, I might be able to stay with them for a few weeks. How long had it been since I'd spoken to someone besides myself? Months.

When I was sure I was getting close I took a glance at my reflection in a darkened shop window. It wasn't good. My hair wasn't too bad, but my clothes were dusty, and coming apart at the seams in places. I'd need to find more soon. I was tempted to try to find the vampires tomorrow after I'd had chance to clean up, but the thought that I might lose them terrified me.

Again I cursed myself for my lack of planning on this trip, I usually took a bag with clothes that would help me fit in when I moved to a new area, but something had compelled me to head south, and I'd followed my instincts without a thought for the consequences.

Further into town I had to slow down. There were people here, going in and out of diners and bars. Every loved up couple, or group of friends I saw sent a pang through me that physically hurt. I swallowed my jealousy and followed the scent into a bar. It was easy to spot the Vampires inside, everyone else looked so dull in comparison.

The first was a girl who must have been even younger than me when she was changed. She was tiny, clearly Mexican, and had a strange, youthful beauty. Her straight dark hair was cut into a perfect bob that bounced against her shouldered as she hopped lithely onto a stool.

On either side of her stood a male. The first was about six feet tall with reddish hair and a slim build, the second was taller and broader, but looked older, maybe in his forties when he'd been changed. His salt and pepper hair made me smile. I'd never seen one of our kind with grey hair before.

All of their eyes were red, but that didn't bother me. They were normal. My eyes scanned the room for the third man. I knew he'd come in here but I couldn't find him. Once again I wished for nicer clothes and the chance to fix my hair before I introduced myself, but my desire for some company propelled me forward.

As I knew they would be, the females eyes were on me before I'd completed my first step in her direction. Though she was small, I got the feeling that she was in charge here, the other two were posted like guards at her sides.

She scanned me speculatively then the corners of her lips quirked up in a smile. I watched her speak to the taller man, who left quickly through a back door. Her head tipped to one side as she waited for me to reach her.

"Hello." I said quietly. "I'm Bella."

"Maria." She drawled, nodding her head towards the stool beside her. "What brings you to Texas?"

Her question surprised me. All of my infrequent meetings with my kind had begun with the same question- 'why are your eyes gold?' she must already know. Excitement fluttered in my chest. She must have met vegetarians before, and I only knew two sets of vegetarians. The Cullen's and the Denali's. And the Denali's never left Alaska.

"I'm looking for friends of mine." I said eagerly. "Perhaps you know them. The Cullen's?"

I could tell immediately that she at least recognised the name, but her words squashed my hope. "I've never had the pleasure of making their acquaintance, but I have heard of them. They were living up north somewhere last I heard."

I was used to this answer, but it still hurt every time I received it. "Never mind." I said, barely concealing my pain.

"You'll stay a while? We'll be going home soon, it would be nice to have another girl around for a change." There was something about her tone that I didn't like, it was as if she knew I would be coming with her. As if she wasn't actually giving me a choice. I wasn't so sure I wanted to go with her anymore.

"Are you here hunting?" I asked conversationally. If they were, I could use it as an excuse to leave.

"Not hunting exactly." She purred. "Recruiting would be a better word."

"Recruiting?" I didn't understand.

"Yes, recruiting. The newborns got into a fight yesterday and we lost four of them. They need to be replaced." Her gaze was as curious as mine must have been, what she said didn't make much sense.

So, she had several newborn vampires for reasons unknown. Four of them had died, and this annoyed, rather than saddened her, and she was talking about replacing them like they were old shoes. I liked her less every minute. "Why would you want newborns?" I was baffled. I was also confused by the fact that they'd died. I could understand that they may have pulled each other apart, but why hadn't they just been put back together?

She laughed delightedly. "How old are you? I bet you're not much more than a newborn yourself are you? This is Texas, Bella."

I was well aware of which state I was in, but that didn't explain why she'd want a bunch of reckless, uncontrollable vampires. Besides, I was no newborn. "I was changed fourteen years ago." I snapped.

"As I thought." She giggled. "A baby really, and all alone too. Whitlock would love you, you're just his type. Come along, we'll go home now and I'll explain everything." She hopped off her stool and held out her hand.

I backed away from her. I didn't want to meet this Whitlock, and I didn't want to go anywhere with her. I had been curious, but I'd lost all desire to find out why she spoke of taking lives with such a lack of feeling.

"I'd really better be going." I said as politely as I could manage, moving towards the door. "It was nice to meet you."

I was not a fighter, but I was fast, if I could get away from the busier streets she wouldn't catch me. I'd long ago learnt to escape. I didn't wait for her answer, walking quickly through the door, and out into the quiet street. I ran at human pace into the nearest alley, glanced around for a split second to make sure I was alone and took off.

I'd run only about a hundred feet when someone smashed into me and pinned me to the ground. I tried to buck them off, but they were much stronger than me, so I tried wiggling out from under them instead. Someone else crashed into us, and before I knew what was happening I was flying through the air, being carried by two of the men that had been with Maria.

I tried not to panic as I thrashed wildly against their immovable hands for a few seconds. Where were they taking me? What was the point? I wasn't a meal. The air changed as we entered a building, and the men slowed down enough for me to see that we were heading down stone steps. Listening carefully for something that might tell me what was happening, I heard Maria somewhere ahead of us.

"Take her to the Major's room and subdue her." She ordered. I had been right, she was in charge, but maybe this Major was the real head of the coven. I stopped trying to get free, I didn't want to be subdued, and I didn't want to find out how they expected to do it.

The room they took me to was dark and fairly large. I could see the silhouette of a bed and what might have been a desk and chair, but nothing else. The men shoved me into a wall and clipped restraints around my wrists and ankles. It would only take me seconds to get out of them once they left, so I was no longer worried. Finally, they tied something over my eyes and left the room.

I waited a few seconds, listening to their retreating footsteps before I broke free. Or tried to. No matter how hard I tugged on the cuffs, they wouldn't break, and I couldn't pull them off the wall either. I could move my feet a little more than my hands, but the extra leverage didn't make it any easier to escape. I started to panic again. I should have been able to release myself easily.

I could hear and see nothing at all, so I focused on smell. Many different vampires, human blood, venom, smoke and sex. Those scents were most prevalent, and I ignored them, trying to find the subtler fragrances in this room.

A single male vampire's scent was strong in here, it reminded me of home. Like standing in the forest in the rain. Leather, paper and dust hit me next, and I figured there were old books in the room, the scent of them made me feel a little better. There had been flowers too, at some point but they were long dead.

I was totally alone. No one was looking for me, no one would even know I was missing. What the hell was I going to do?

I lounged against the wall watching my troops fight amongst themselves, currently, there were six males and three females. Using my gift I played with the emotions of those closest to me, amusing myself as they fell in love, tried to kill each other, kissed, became jealous and inevitably tore into each other again.

I was bored. Nothing unusual about that. With a bit of luck Maria had plans for me. Or at the very least some new ones to train. I remembered when she would only pick the best, and I'd have them ready in months. Now she took whatever she could get, and I didn't care enough to try harder with them.

The latest bunch were perhaps my most useless to date, she'd taken the only mildly competent ones with her. How long until she came back?

I hated her, but I would always respect her. She took me back after all. My eyes found Lucian across the room, another of her favourites. She didn't like him as much as she liked me, he wasn't as useful in their training, but he made up for it in battle.

He was the single most vile, vicious creature I'd come across. He took enormous pleasure in disposing of the newborns that had outlived their usefulness, and often took a new vampire to his room to play with if he was bored. He had a special fondness for females. Maria found these qualities amusing, and even endearing, but it made me sick.

I might be a monster, but I wasn't like him. I didn't play with my food, and when we fought I was methodical, I enjoyed the rush to an extent, but feeling the fear of someone you're about to kill makes the experience much less enjoyable.

Turning my attention back to my wards I noticed that several of them were now missing limbs. I calmed them down to the point where they would have fallen asleep if they'd been human. "Put yourselves back together before I burn the pieces!" I bellowed. It was not an idle threat and they all knew it.

I chuckled humourlessly as they scrambled about and fought over arms and fingers. Any vampire worth his salt could tell his own fingers from another's blindfolded, but not these. Many of the vampires under my care could probably have been declared clinically insane as humans, and in some cases the three days of burning had made them worse.

Maria had chosen them from the dregs of society so that they wouldn't be missed, and Lucian had tormented those of them that had been close to normal to the brink of insanity. They'd never make good soldiers and Maria knew it, but for some reason she still insisted I teach them all to fight. They'd probably die never having seen a battle like most of the last lot had.

Their life or un-life was meaningless. And so was mine.

"The mistress wishes to see you, Major." The man beside me had his head bowed respectfully but the excitement was pouring off him. Their little trip had clearly been a success. I began to wish I'd gone with them, it was a while since I'd gone out, even to find a meal.

I made my way to Maria's quarters wondering if she'd have anything of any interest to tell me, or if it was just my company she sought. Most of those that lived with us assumed we were mates, but the bond between us was entirely different. She loved me, in her own way, but we both took other lovers more often than each other. Maria had once been a reward, now she was convenient at best and a nuisance at worst.

I found myself hoping she would want me tonight, that would stave off the boredom for a few hours at least.

I didn't knock as I entered the room, I was no longer her subordinate, but her equal. She held the reigns, but I was free to come and go as I pleased. And it was easier to stay and do what she wanted than to have to figure things out for myself. Making decisions led to thinking about the past, and the past brought only pain.

"Maria." I said by way of a greeting. She was sprawled across a couch with her favourite of the newborns sitting at her feet. He was sucking greedily on the already cooling body of a teenage boy. So she was already being taken care of, it wasn't my company she craved.

Her lips curled up in a slow smile as she looked me over. "Whitlock." Always Whitlock. She had never called me by my first name, not even all those years ago when I was hers to do with as she pleased. I knew I had spoken my name to her only once, when I had still been human. Not that it mattered what she called me.

"I have a present for you." She grinned licking her lips. "She's waiting in your room. I really think you'll like this one. Be sure to mark her if you want to keep her. If not let Lucian have her, he's been pestering me for a pet for months."

I felt a jolt of anticipation. She'd brought me a woman. She hadn't done that for months, after she'd gotten jealous of the last one. "Thank you." I said quickly and left the room, her laughter following me down the corridor.

I knew Maria was trying to keep me happy, she was worried I'd leave her again. Silly really, as there was nowhere else for me to go. That old saying wasn't true at all 'Home's the place you go to, where they have to take you in.' I had a home once, but I wouldn't be welcomed back. In fact, I'd probably be chased away.

I would not think of that now, not when I had much more pleasurable things awaiting me. Picking up my pace I strode towards my rooms imagining what I would find there. I hoped she was young, but not too young, or the seduction would be too easy. I liked it best when I had to make an effort.

They always gave in eventually, they always begged for me. It was the only time I ever felt needed. I felt the fear and confusion long before I reached my room, but there was also anger and some curiosity. This one would be interesting.

I opened the door quietly and chuckled as the girls fear heightened and her head snapped towards me. In the darkness of the room I couldn't really see her, but I could tell she had a pleasing shape and long wavy hair.

Ignoring her struggles I rounded the room lighting candles until I could see her fully. She looked about twenty from what I could see of her, small and slim with hair that might have been beautiful if it wasn't so mussed. The thin cotton dress was ragged and torn in places, and her shoes were worn almost through. "A nomad." I said aloud and she stiffened, pressing back against the wall.

"Who are you?" She asked, her voice was remarkably steady considering how afraid she was.

"I don't think you're in any position to be asking questions." I laughed stepping closer to inhale her scent. Dust and mud and hay, but somewhere underneath it was something floral and light. "Tell me your name." I whispered against her neck, using my gift to make her more pliable.

"Bella." She whispered.

Without planning to, my arm struck out, the back of my hand cracking hard across her face. Her head snapped back into the wall as she let out a pained gasp. "Never say that name." I growled, already reaching out to stroke her cheek, but she flinched away from me.

Well done, make her afraid of you, that's a great place to start. Knowing I'd already lost all hope of her trusting me, I ignored my usual plans. I tore off her dress and stood back to look at her as she stood before me in her underwear. She became even more frightened, but battling against it were shame, and quickly mounting anger. "A feisty one." I whispered to myself.

I was amazed by her skin and stepped closer to her not quite believing what I was seeing. Running a hand from her wrist to her shoulder, and down to her waist I felt nothing but smooth uninterrupted skin. "No scars." I hadn't seen a vampire without scars in fifteen years.

The girl was still cringing away from my touch, but she had stopped trying to escape. "Don't touch me." She snapped.

"As you wish." I smiled, she'd soon change her tune. I sat at my desk and watched her for a while, she got more uncomfortable with every passing second. "You need a name." I said thoughtfully.

"I told you, my name's Be-" I had my hand firmly over her mouth before she could finish.

"And I told you not to say that name! I'd hate to have to hurt you." I let the threat hang in the air, not letting her go, pressing her firmly against the wall. "Do you think you can behave?"

She nodded once, and I removed my hand. "Why can't I say it?" She whispered shakily.

"Because she ruined my life." What I wouldn't give to be able to drain that stupid human girl, I'd lost everything because of her blood, and I'd never even got to taste it. "Izzy." I muttered. "You'll be Izzy."

She was still very scared but annoyance, curiosity and anger were taking over. "How old are you?" I asked, she must be fairly young, too young to be alone, certainly, in a place like this.

"Eighteen." She said, and I could tell the lie was automatic, that must be how old she'd been when she'd been changed.

I ran my hands along her ribs, down to her hips and gripped them harder than was necessary. "The truth." I growled.

"Thirty three." She bit out, pulling away from me again. I let her go and moved back to the chair.

"Where's your maker?"


"You killed him?" I asked. The girl ignited my curiosity.

"It was a woman, and she was killed just after she bit me." Telling me this caused her great pain, and I wondered if the woman had been her mate. That would complicate things.

"She was to be your mate?"

The girl snarled. "No." She spat. "I was to be her victim."

"Interesting. Who killed her then?" I waited for her answer, but it never came, she only became more distressed.

Only another vampire would have been able to do it, so the girl must have already had a mate. A mate that would kill for her. Unwillingly, I began to think of my brother. He would have done that. If I'd got any closer he'd have killed me to save her.

"And where is your mate now?" She flinched like I'd hit her again.

"Gone." She whimpered.

"Dead?" I asked. I wasn't usually this cruel, but something about her made me want to know everything, and I was happy to pull it out of her slowly.

"No! I don't know. He left me, both of them did. They all leave eventually." She was getting frantic, so I returned to her side and put one hand on her abdomen to calm her, but she fought against it, becoming more upset and I had to step away.

"Both of them? You've had two mates?" Two mates in the last fourteen years seemed unlikely.

She didn't answer me at all this time, but started sobbing quietly. I noticed the bracelet around her wrist, tarnished silver with a tiny wooden dog charm attached. "One of them gave you this?" I held the charm up to see it better in the light and realised it was a wolf.

"Please don't break it." She begged. "It's all I've got."

The charm confused me. A wolf charm wasn't something any vampire would wish to give or receive, so either her mate had been not been taught our ways, or, more likely, he had been human. Those questions could be answered another day, if I upset her much more she'd never be any good to me.

"I'm going to take off your blindfold; can you keep your teeth to yourself?" I reached up slowly as she nodded and tensed, and untied the scarf.

Her eyes stayed closed for a second, and I noticed that she was very beautiful, her face was as perfect as the rest of her body had been. She was, perhaps, the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen.

And then she opened her eyes.

An: So, tell me what you think. Do you like evil Jasper? Do you hate him? Let me know.