I don't own Twilight. all Stephenie Meyer.
Alice POV 1
It took a little time for me to figure it out, but Jasper was a man who liked to keep a set routine and schedule. Even with the housework that I did, he liked it done a certain way. He left me a schedule in the mornings and had spent the first days that I moved in, going over what cleaning supplies were used for certain chores, how they should be performed, and when.
Most might have found his slight OCD personality a bit much, but for me it was comforting. Every day I knew exactly what was expected of me. And for someone whose life was a complete mystery, that was important.
I never really told anyone what it had been like first waking up in the hospital. Since I couldn't remember who I was, there wasn't really anyone for me to tell, but those first few hours had been quite possibly the worst I had experienced. Everything around me had been a blur as I tried desperately to answer the doctor's questions.
What was my name?
Where was I from?
Did I know what happened to me?
Each new question only added to the frustration. I had been so overwhelmed that I hadn't realized my sense of touch was non-existent. It wasn't until they began running some tests to figure out the extent of my injuries that we all realized I couldn't feel anything. The doctor wanted to wait a few days to see if that would change as I began the recovery process, but then it became apparent that I wasn't regaining that particular sense. He wanted to run more tests: x-rays, CAT-scans, full body scans.
But I refused.
A huge chunk of my life had been lost. I couldn't remember who I was or where I had come from. It was all gone, and spending an indefinite amount of time in the hospital, hoping to figure out what had caused the damage to my nerves wasn't how I wanted to spend my time. They reluctantly allowed me to checkout after going through enough physical therapy and hiring a nurse to help me at home.
The only reason I eventually learned anything about my past at all was because of an article in the newspaper. A picture along with some details about my family had been printed. So I went to the local police station that had been listed if anyone had any information. They barely knew what to think when I came in, but jumped into action as soon as it sunk in.
I wasn't able to get a whole lot of information from them, just the basics: name, date of birth, hometown, and family members. From what the article had said, my parents had passed away when I was in high school and my younger sister had been a part of the accident that landed me in the hospital.
The officers had been hesitant to give me the majority of the information, finally handing me the file with everything they had in the end. I could understand their reluctance, but everything they were telling me was new. The pictures of my family and myself, I didn't recognize. It hurt that that part of my life was a blank, but I wanted to know.
Everything I had found gave me a brief overview of what happened, but it just felt like something was missing, that there was more to the story than what I was seeing. It was an instinctual feeling, but not one I couldn't present to the police and have them believe me. So, I decided to grit my teeth and accept the small bit of information that I had been given. It was better than nothing at all.
Once I was able to move around on my own and was released from the hospitals outpatient care, I went about figuring what I could do with myself. I traveled around for a few months until I ended up in Seattle with a good agency that put me in touch with Jasper Whitlock.
It took some time for the both of us to find a groove with each other, but we soon grew comfortable with one another. I understood his quirks and preferences, doing my best to help him get better in the process.
He tried not to show it, but I could see how difficult it was for him having to rely on someone to help him out. After spending so many years as a Marine and taking care of himself and his troops, I knew that letting go of his pride to ask for help was not easy for him.
When he was at the local museum working on his exhibit, I kept busy by following the lists he left for me on the fridge each morning to the letter.
One afternoon I got to work cleaning out the hall closet across from his study. It was bigger than I had expected, and stuffed to the brim with boxes and clothes. For the majority of the afternoon I worked on getting everything out of the closet.
The last box I found was pushed to the back of the space and I had to drag it out because it was so heavy. Inside I found trophies, photo albums, baseballs, and a few picture frames. Picking them up, I realized that the frames were Jasper's diplomas from school and the Marine's.
The frames had gotten a bit dusty after months of being locked away, so I wiped them down and carried them over to the coffee table in the living room. I wouldn't be able to hang them by myself, so I'd wait until Jasper came home. He probably wasn't going to be very happy with me, but his accomplishments deserved to be on display. He'd worked hard for them.
"Something smells amazing," Jasper's husky southern drawl filled the house. "You spoil me too much, Alice."
I grinned, stirring the glaze for the orange chicken we would be eating.
When the timer on the microwave went off, I pulled the skillet off the stove and brought it over to the place I had set on the kitchen table. Rice, chicken, and vegetables were already on them, so I quickly poured the sweet smelling glaze on top and placed the skillet back on the stove.
Jasper came into the kitchen as I set two glasses of water on the table and sat down. His honey blond hair reached his shoulders, a few strands falling in front of his deep blue eyes. The cane that he walked with made him looked more distinguished. It was almost like an extension of his muscular arm and shoulder. He was beautiful and strong; sometimes I found it nearly impossible to look away from him.
"Woman, I swear that I'll gain a hundred pounds if you keep this up." He groaned, sitting down across from me. "I don't think I've ever eaten this well."
"And I don't know how you survived," I teased.
He chuckled, scooping up his food and eating quietly. "Neither do I." He said the words so softly I wasn't I'd heard him correctly. "Oh, Bella stopped by my office today. She dropped off some books that she wanted you to have. There still in my bag."
"Wonderful." I smiled. Jasper's friend Bella was quite possibly the kindest person I had ever met. She thanked me nearly all the time for the help that I was giving Jasper, even though I couldn't really take the credit, it was all Jasper. "Thank you."
Nodding, Jasper went back to his food, even going back for seconds.
Eating, for me, was always a bit strange since I couldn't really feel the food in my mouth and had to be sure I chewed everything thoroughly before swallowing. Sometimes I could taste what I was eating, but it was very minimal. Since I couldn't really remember anything before waking up in the hospital, it wasn't as though I was really missing out on anything.
Jasper looked over at me as he finished, wiping his mouth on his napkin. "What is it like?"
I paused. "What?"
"Not being able to feel anything. What is it like for you?" he asked, genuine curiosity written all over his features. This was the first time he had asked anything about my injury and I'd been working for him for a few months.
Shrugging my shoulders, I tried to think of a way to explain it to him. "It's sort of like a constant humming all over my body. Almost as though there's an invisible layer all over me that's blocking out every sensation I should be feeling, like I'm in a bubble."
"Can you taste anything?"
"Not really. I barely notice it if I can," I admitted.
He leaned forward a little. "Can you smell?"
His eyes widened slightly and I could tell that he was fascinated by that. A small smile formed across his lips as we continued to watch one another, his mind formulating more questions that he didn't ask. When he finally spoke again, he didn't say what I had been expecting. "Have you tried finding out what happened to you? The accident?"
I didn't know how to answer his question. The police had given me some information, and I had a run-down of how the injuries I had sustained might have been caused, but trying to figure out more seemed impossible. "No," I whispered, shaking my head.
"Why not?" he asked softly.
"There's no point. What good will it do me now?" I gathered up our dishes to take to the sink. "I'm alive and breathing. I have a job and a kind boss who has put a roof over my head. Dredging up what happened will only cause more pain."
Jasper followed behind me, his limp becoming less and less prominent with time. "Maybe it will give you closure. Perhaps it will help unlock the memories that you lost. Or, maybe, it will just give you the answers to the questions you ask yourself when no one else is around." His deep voice was filled with passion and urgency.
If only he could have that for himself.
"I really appreciate what you're trying to do, Jasper. Honestly, I do. But I've moved on from that." Setting the dishes in the sink, I turned around to face him and leaned back against the counter. "This is my life now and I couldn't ask for more."
He stepped closer to me, moving so that he was inches from me. "Maybe it's my turn to help you, Alice. You've done so much for me." He brought his hand up to my face. "Let someone take care of you for once."
His words sparked something in me. I wanted to cry, I couldn't remember how to do so, but I felt the urge to sob. No one else had worried about me, or offered to, in quite a long time.
"You're probably not going to feel that way in a couple of minutes."
"Why do you say that?" Pulling his hand away, I saw some glistening wetness on his thumb. Tears. He had wiped away my tears.
I couldn't even feel myself cry.
Having him so close made my head spin. I yearned to be able to feel his touch, to press my lips to his and feel him kiss me back. Not even realizing that I had been crying told me that would never happen.
Sighing, I kept my eyes on his shirt, afraid to meet his eyes. "This afternoon, I found that closet across from your study. So, I decided to clean it out, which was no easy feat. And I came across your diplomas."
Jasper didn't say anything at first, but I could feel his eyes on me. When he finally did speak, his voice sounded strained with effort to keep calm. "Where are they now?"
"On the coffee table in the living room," I said softly.
After a few seconds of silence, I glanced up. He didn't look angry, but I could tell he wasn't pleased with me. "Jasper, I… I know you miss being in the Marine's. It was such a big part of your life, but why would you want to keep all of your awards and diplomas boxed up and hidden away in the back of a closet?" I asked him. "You worked so hard to get to where you were. A Major for the Marine Corps and you got a doctorate."
"Those days are over now. I'm not that man anymore," he ground out.
I chanced bringing my hands up to his shoulders, feeling incredibly small as he loomed over me. "But you are. Just because you aren't leading troops anymore doesn't mean you aren't still accomplished and strong."
Jasper just shook his head.
I tried a different tactic. "What's so fascinating about the Civil War?"
"The reasons they went to war," he eventually answered. "We, today, are fighting to protect this nation from threats and attacks, to give us the freedom to live as a free country. But, during the Civil War they fought against their brethren over political views and slavery."
"Don't you think that you have something worth saying on that subject?"
He didn't answer.
"You could teach college students, open the minds of high school kids, give lectures all over the world. You could even write books or articles for magazines. There's so much more that you can do than just sitting in an old museum that hardly anyone goes to anymore, trying to put together an exhibit," I finished. The urge to hide came over me as I realized that I had just lectured my boss.
We stood their quietly for a few minutes, allowing each other's words to sink in.
Jasper eventually turned so that he was leaning back against the counter next to me, holding on to his cane. "Aren't we a pair?" He chuckled. "I'll promise to try, if you do the same. We can help each other."
I thought over his proposal for a moment. Trying to find information on my accident seemed like it would only be upsetting, but if it meant that Jasper would be willing to do something new I would agree to it.
Jasper POV 2
I had been staring at my computer screen for over an hour when I finally growled and pushed back from the desk.
It was all her fault. Alice had gotten into my head again and I'd had an instant replay of her words playing in my head all morning. She thought that I could do more, but I wasn't so sure. Fighting in the war had changed me, and coming back injured had added to that.
She had no idea the effect she had on me; just her presence alone was enough to drive me crazy.
A knock at my door jerked me from my musing and I glanced up.
Grinning, I nodded my head. "You are the best, Bella."
She blushed slightly, coming into the room with two bags in her hands. She sat in the seat on the other side of my desk and handed one of the bags to me. "It's a cheeseburger and fries. I even got Emmett to throw in some honey-mustard." Her smile was bright and warm. I loved her like a little sister and was never more thankful that we knew each other so well, than on days like this.
I pulled the container out of the bag and opened it, holding back a groan when I smelled the freshly prepared food. I could feel my mouth watering. "Thanks."
Bella took her time, opening up the container with her salad and preparing it with the toppings and dressing, before she finally began eating it. "Is there something on your mind?" she eventually asked.
Taking a moment to swallow the food I was chewing, I shrugged my shoulders.
"Come on, Jazz. You and I have been friends since high school, and you've always tried to pull that tough-guy crap on me," Bella admonished. She was always so sweet and gentle, but could drop that real quick if I pissed her off enough. "I can tell when something's bothering you."
I snorted, chuckling at her candidness. "Not bothering me really. Just… do you think I'm wasting my time here?"
Bella put her fork down. "What do you mean?" she asked.
"Since I've been back, I've been trying to take things easy. With my hip I can't do certain things and working on this new exhibit seemed like the perfect job for me. But now I'm not so sure." I ate a couple of fries.
"What would you want to do instead? It's always been your choice." One of the things I loved about Bella was that she never outright told me what I should decide; she gave me a little push so that I could figure it out on my own.
That was the million-dollar question. "I don't know. History has always fascinated me, I wouldn't be working here if it didn't, but what else could I do with that? It's not like historians are in great demand now-a-days."
"No." Bella smiled. "But there's always a great need for teachers or lecturers, and you have so much knowledge that you could pass on to others. With your background and experience, there are so many things that you could try doing. You just need to decide what that is."
I knew that she was right. They both were.
Alice saw right through me, right into my soul, and knew that I needed more.
How did she do that?
Taking a deep breath, I let it out before speaking. "You're right. I'll figure it out."
"Whatever you decide, I'll be here for you," Bella assured me.
"Thanks." I went back to eating my burger, finishing it before another idea occurred to me. "How do you feel about doing a little research?"
A few days later, I was in the living room on my lap top when my cell phone rang. I picked it up without looking to see who it was and answered. "Yeah?"
"Well, it's good to hear your voice, too. Thanks, man," Peter complained.
I chuckled, taking my attention off the computer screen for a moment. "Sorry, Peter. Thanks for calling me back." I had left a message for him earlier that day and was glad he'd been able to get in touch with me.
Peter sounded relaxed, more so than he had a few months ago before the move. "No problem."
"How are you enjoying married life? Is Charlotte driving you crazy yet?"
"It's better than I ever could have imagined, because I have Charlotte with me. We're like a couple of newlyweds." He chuckled, and I could just picture him waggling his eyebrows.
I groaned. "Too much information, man. But I am happy for you."
Peter laughed louder. "Thanks. So, what can I do for you?"
That was the difficult part. Since I had retired from the Marine's, I no longer had my security clearance to be able to access certain files. Peter was the only person I knew that would help me get the information I needed.
I hesitated for a moment. "Do you still have the base access at your apartment?"
"Yeah. Why?" he asked warily.
"There's a girl I need you to run a background check on," I muttered.
"A background check? Do you have any idea the trouble I could get into if they found out I used my clearance on that?" Peter groaned.
I rubbed my eyes, feeling horrible for asking him. "Peter, I know. Man, I wouldn't be asking you if it wasn't important. I've only been able to get run of the mill stuff, but I know that there's more."
He didn't say anything.
"This girl, there's something about her. I can't explain it, but she needs me. Peter, after everything you've done for Charlotte, you have to know what I'm talking about," I said.
Peter finally growled in frustration. "Fine."
I pumped my fist, silently thrilled he had agreed.
"What's her name?"
"Alice Brandon. See how deep you can go with the search."
"Okay, give me some time. I'll send you what I find."
"Thanks, man. I owe you." I hung up and set my cell phone down on the coffee table.
Shutting my laptop down, I leaned back into the couch. Alice and I had promised to help each other try to move forward. For me, that was helping me decide what I could do with my life that would make me happy after serving my country. For Alice, that was a lot easier said than done. Her past was a terrifying thing for her, which was understandable since she couldn't remember any of it, but anything I could do to help make things easier for her I was willing to.
My hope was that if she could face her demons, then maybe she'd consider going back to the doctor for those tests. When she told me that her doctor had urged her to go through more tests to find the cause of the nerve damage in her body and she'd refused, I knew that she was just afraid.
Who could blame her?
I had been terrified to leave my house after returning from Iraq. The things I had seen on the battlefield had been horrific and the injuries I had endured left me helpless. Stepping outside and being unable to defend myself had plagued me for months. I couldn't imagine how terrified Alice must have felt having to relearn her past, not knowing what she would find.
Let me help. I'll be there every step of the way.
"Come on, Mr. Whitlock. Let's get you upstairs for your exercises," Alice's light trill broke me from my thoughts.
Opening my eyes, I saw Alice standing in front of me. A gentle smile spread across her lips, lighting up her delicate features. The only part of her that the smile didn't reach was her eyes. Her beautiful gray eyes were wide and haunted, holding the true depth of the horrors she must have endured but couldn't remember.
"Are you ready?" she asked me.
"Yeah." I reached for my cane and pulled myself off the couch with Alice's help.
Her arm wrapped around my waist and she helped me up the stairs. Once we got to my room, she helped me down onto the exercise mat. I grumbled and growled with each exercise she moved onto, the pain in my hip increasing the longer we went.
Alice only patted my leg and encouraged me to continue, her gentle voice urging me on.
When we were finally finished I lay on the floor, panting and sweating, worked over hard. "You are trying to kill me woman," I groaned.
"Oh, quit being such a big baby," she teased. "You're the big bad Marine. This should be a snap for you to get through."
I rolled my eyes at her, letting out a sigh. "That was the case, until I got hit by some shrapnel. It was imbedded in my hip and leg. I could feel it the entire flight back. The burning was excruciating."
Alice sat beside me on the floor, placing her hand on my shoulder. "I'm sorry. Were they able to remove it?" she asked softly.
I nodded, struggling to get my heart to slow down. "Mostly. There are a few pieces they were unable to get to without causing further damage. So, I just have to work through the pain and build up my muscles again."
"You'll get there," she encouraged, running her fingers through my hair. "You've made such amazing progress in the few months that I've been here. Just don't let yourself get discouraged."
Her fingers felt wonderful as they tenderly worked through my hair and massaged my scalp. I had to stop myself from moaning in pleasure. "Thank you." Our eyes met, and for a brief moment, I felt a spark.
Being close to her always drove me insane, but I never really knew if she felt it, too. Watching her eyes widen and her lips part slightly, I knew that she did. She could sense the shift in the air around us and was responding to it automatically.
I pushed myself up onto my elbows, leaning a little closer toward her and fighting the urge to kiss her. My body was responding to her nearness, begging me to pull her close and claim her as mine. And from the way her body moved toward me, I could tell she wanted the same.
Cupping her face in my hand, I wished that she could feel it. I wanted Alice to be able to respond to my touch, but she just sat there, anxiously waiting for me to move. I pressed my forehead to hers, closing my eyes in defeat. "I can't. You have no idea how much I want to, but I can't-" I muttered.
This was not the time.
Alice pulled back slightly, her eyes swimming with tears. "I wish that… I wish that I could feel you." Her voice trembled with each word, the pain she felt clear and heart breaking.
I made myself sit up all the way and brought her hand to my face. Her touch made my skin feel warm. "Someday, Alice. I swear that we will figure something out." I kissed the top of her head, inhaling her delicate scent and trying to offer her what comfort I could.
Her head nodded against my hand and her lip trembled, a single tear sliding down her cheek. I wiped it away, keeping my eyes locked with her. "So I guess this means I'm not just your physical therapist anymore."
I couldn't help laughing, pressing my forehead to hers again and relaxing at the sound of her trilling giggles. "Alice, you were never just my physical therapist."
Alice POV 3
The shift in the way Jasper and I were together felt so natural. I hadn't even realized my feelings for him had changed so drastically; it had happened subtly. Jasper made me feel normal and safe, like everything else that had happened to me was insignificant as long as he was near.
I managed to talk him into soaking in his outdoor hot tub the following evening. His muscles were sore and tense from his exercises the night before, and I thought that the hot water and jets would be just the right antidote for his hip. And thankfully, there was a patio cover set up so that we wouldn't be disturbed by the constant rain.
After we had eaten dinner and relaxed for a bit, I told Jasper to change into some swimming clothes and I'd meet him outside. I went to my room once he grumbled his way into the guest bathroom downstairs and pulled on a bikini that Bella had been gracious enough to let me borrow. It was black lace with a gold underlay, strings along the bottoms, and was surprisingly modest. I pinned my hair back with bobby pins before leaving my room.
Jasper was standing near the hot tub when I made my way out there, fiddling with some of the buttons and testing the water to be sure it was the right temperature.
Shyly, I made my over to him, unsure about revealing so much of my body to him. I couldn't remember my life before the accident, but I was sure that most women my age had at least dated steadily or been married. So, I had probably been with a man before, had allowed him to see me naked, but the idea of being so vulnerable in front of Jasper made my knees weak. There was something him that I just couldn't explain, something that drew me to him.
Even though I couldn't feel the heat or the water itself, I dipped my fingers into the clear surface of the tub. It was strange not feeling anything, as though I actually did live in a bubble.
Jasper gasped, bringing my attention back to him. His blue eyes were large and wide, his mouth open slightly and his shoulders tense. "You… you, uh… that looks good on you," he stammered.
I giggled, feeling my cheeks redden at his compliment. "Thank you, Jazz."
He was wearing a form fitting pair of black trunks. They looked like what you'd see team swimmers wear to a meet. The planes and contours of his muscles rippled as he stood there, his cane barely even noticeable. "Are you ready?" he asked, his voice low and husky.
Nodding, I watched as he made his way over to the ladder and then helped him inside before climbing in myself. Once he settled down into the right spot, I gave him a massage and helped him stretch out his hip. The soft grunts of approval that he made let me know that it was helping.
When I finished, Jasper lay his head back against the tub and closed his eyes for a moment. The relaxed look of his features made me smile.
He reached for me and pulled me to his side, keeping me close against him.
I ran my fingers through his hair the way I had done the night before and he sighed softly.
"Thank you, Alice." He sounded completely at ease, perfectly relaxed.
"You're welcome," I whispered.
After a few minutes, he opened his eyes and looked up at me. "I have something that I need to tell you." He sounded so desperate.
I stopped stroking his hair and scooted back a little, allowing him to sit up.
"Do you remember my friend, Peter, that I told you about?" he asked me. The water around us splashed gently, the jets humming a low rhythm.
"Sure. He and his wife, Charlotte, lived here with you after you guys got back from Iraq." I always listened to his war stories, fascinated by all he had seen and been through.
Jasper nodded. "Well, he's retired from active duty, but still does contract work for our commanding officers on occasion. He still has his security clearances."
I listened to him as he told me this, not really sure where he was going with it.
His cheeks were flushed from the warm water and I could tell that he was hesitant to tell me whatever it was he had been trying to. "You know that I care very deeply for you? That I want to help you as you have helped me?"
"Of course, Jasper. What's going on with you?"
Running a hand through his hair, Jasper let out a deep breath. "Not that long ago, I called Peter up and asked him to run a background check for me. It was the only way to get all of the information that I needed. I asked him to run a background check on you since I don't have the clearances to do that anymore."
I froze. He asked someone to look into my past? A person I didn't know.
"Most of what I had been able to find before was what you already knew. I just… I wanted you to have more. What you've been through is more than anyone can comprehend, all without knowing who you really are." He was nervous, chewing his lip and running his fingers through his hair.
I didn't know what to do, how to respond. Did I really want to know what his friend had managed to find? Would discovering those dark secrets make any difference?
He took my face in his hands. "I swear to you that I didn't read it, what Peter sent me. That is your life and I would never violate your trust that way, but I did print it out for you. It's in a folder on the coffee table in the living room."
I wasn't sure what to say. This was all so much.
"Alice," Jasper pleaded with me.
My mind was reeling. Inside the house was a folder with answers to every question I'd had for the past year of my life. The idea of finally discovering them was terrifying, but I had to at least look. Jasper had gone to great trouble to get the information for me, and deep down, I wanted to know, to understand what had happened to me.
He really did care about me.
"Please don't be angry with me. I couldn't stand it if you hated me."
Shaking my head, I met Jasper's eyes. "I'm not angry with you. This is just a lot to take in," I finally managed to say.
Jasper sat back and allowed me to absorb his words. His concern was evident and comforting as he watched me, his brows furrowed with worry.
"I'm scared." The words caught in my throat as I said them.
"Alice, no matter what you find in that file, I will be here. Let me take care of you." Jasper moved his hand along my skin in an attempt to comfort me.
A cry came from lips as I realized that I still couldn't feel him, my heart breaking with each unfelt touch. The longer I spent not knowing what had happened to me, the more I was hurting us both. Before either of us could move on, I had to lay my past to rest.
Jasper sat with me for hours as we poured over the pages in the file. I had assured him before we came inside that I wanted him with me. We went back into the house, dried off, and changed our clothes before meeting up in the living room. He pulled me down onto the couch next to him and wrapped a blanket around us. The comfort of his presence kept me from completely losing control as I read through the information.
A husband. I'd had a husband.
We'd met while I was in college and married my sophomore year. He'd worked as a financial advisor for big name companies in New York until he made some bad calls. We moved back to Biloxi to take care of my sister when she lost her boyfriend in a fire, giving us a chance to start over.
How did they get all of this information?
Police reports had been written up a few times for domestic violence calls. Nothing had ever been filed or pursued, though. The pictures they had of bruises and cuts were the hardest to look at, even Jasper had growled at the sight.
That's when I finally found it.
My sister, Cynthia, and I had been attacked while Felix was out of town. He had been called away on business to New Orleans and was to return a few days later. The crime scene photos were horrific; there was no way I should have survived.
Why hadn't any of this been in the original police report?
No one had been able to locate Felix. It was almost as though he had disappeared off the face of the Earth. He had become a ghost.
I stared at the pages in front of me, confused and disgusted. "What does all of this mean, Jasper?"
He shook his head. "I'm not really sure. From what it looks like, it seems that Felix got away with murder, and your attempted murder."
"But," I broke off. If he and I had been married, how could he possibly try to kill me? It didn't make any sense.
Going back through the pages to the file on Felix, I picked it up and looked over his picture again. His features were large and square, his hair and eyes both a deep brown. Just looking at his picture alone, it seemed as though he could have squashed me alive; his arms and shoulders bigger than my entire body.
I could feel my head beginning to pound the longer I stared at the picture, images and memories flashing in rapid succession in my mind. A groan escaped my lips as pieces of my past came back to me, clearer and more terrifying than anything else I had experienced since coming out of the coma.
"Oh God," I cried.
"What is it? Are you alright?" Jasper was by my side in a second, trying desperately to comfort.
I screamed and sobbed, horrible gut-wrenching sobs, as my memories of Felix and that day filled my conscious mind again. "Felix. He… he… he told me. He told me he'd do anything to stay on top."
"You remember? Alice, baby, talk to me. Tell me what you remember." Jasper smoothed his thumb across my cheeks, wiping my tears away.
"Not everything, I can't remember everything. But I do remember Felix." I tried to control my sobs, clinging to Jasper with everything I had. "Oh, Jazz. He was so angry. It was him, I know that he set it up."
"Felix? He tried to have you killed?" he asked, trying to decipher my ramblings.
Jasper didn't say anything else, he just pulled me into his embrace and tried his best to comfort me. He shushed me gently, whispering that it would be okay and that we'd figure something out, but I barely heard him.
All I could see and hear was Felix.
He had come after me once and had nearly succeeded in killing me. If he knew that I was alive, what would stop him from coming back and trying to finish the job?
Jasper POV 4
My anger and frustration only grew as I held Alice in my arms. Her tears and cries of pain broke my heart and I wanted to do something, anything to fix it. She clung to me, her fists gripping my shirt and showing no signs of letting go.
The fact that her supposed husband, Felix, could do those things to her drove me insane. He was supposed to protect her and love her, but instead he tortured her and nearly killed her.
I tried to calm her down, whispering soothing words to her as she cried herself to sleep, completely exhausted from the emotional overload. What she had uncovered was harrowing and probably nothing like she had expected to find.
Even in her sleep, she clung tightly to me, refusing to loosen her grip even for a moment and murmuring my name intermittently.
Alice looked so peaceful and innocent in sleep. Her naturally pale skin, now flushed from her tears, was smooth and silky, her lips were full and pouty, and she smelled of sunflowers. I kept my arms tightly around her, letting her know that she was safe and not alone as she slumbered.
When the morning came, I was going to track down this guy and make sure he paid.
I woke up to Alice's cool breath blowing against my neck. Her little body was wrapped around mine, a perfect fit, and she was so warm. A light pressure of her skin against mine caused a shiver to run down my spine. Her lips. I knew that she had pressed a kiss against my skin, probably thinking that I was still asleep.
Yawning and stretching my arms above my head, I pretended to wake up slowly. I glanced down and saw Alice curled into my side, her head resting against my shoulder. There was a deep sadness in her eyes that I hated to see.
"Hey," I whispered.
Alice smiled softly. "Hey."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No." She played with the collar of my shirt. "Thank you."
"For what?" If anything, I figured she would be angry with me, maybe even a little resentful that I had forced that information on her.
She brought her hand up to my face and stroked her thumb along my cheek. "For helping me find the truth. I was too afraid to do so, on my own." Her voice was soft, slightly husky still from sleep.
I leaned further into her hand, enjoying the contact. "You're welcome."
She didn't say anything for a few minutes, chewing nervously on her lip until she lifted her eyes back to mine. "There's still so much that I don't understand. And I know that eventually, I'll have to face Felix again. If I don't find him first, he'll come after me.
"But, for now, I just want to stop running, from everything."
My heart rate increased at her words. Could she mean what I thought she did? I didn't say anything, too afraid that I was jumping to conclusions.
Alice sat up slightly in my arms so that she was looking down at me. Her hair was flying around her face, there were mascara smudges and trails down her cheeks, but she had never looked more beautiful to me. She was a beautiful mess.
"Jazz, I want to stay here with you, as long as you'll have me. I love taking care of you and keeping up with your obsessive compulsive tendencies." We both chuckled at that, my need for cleanliness and order had increased dramatically since joining the Marines. "And, I'm thinking of making an appointment with Dr. Cullen, Bella's father-in-law, to run those tests."
I sat, staring at her in complete shock. "Where did all of this come from? Yesterday, you were completely against going to the hospital and looking further into you past. What changed?"
Shrugging, the corners of Alice's lips twitched up into a smile. "When I woke up in the hospital, I had no one and nothing tying me down. And everything that I've been doing since then has kept me at arm's length from people. I just… I don't want to end up alone. I don't want to be afraid."
"You're safe," I promised her, pulling her back down into my arms. "I've got you and I'm never letting go."
Alice was a ray of sunshine in my life that I never knew I needed. Her smile and laughter, in spite of her circumstances kept me going. She always managed to find the good in things around her, pushing me to find a better outlook, too.
While I struggled to find my place, working on a series of lectures for a history course at the University of Washington, Alice faced her fear and went to the hospital. Dr. Cullen had an extensive amount of tests done on her, looking for anything and everything that might have caused the nerve damage in her body.
One of my mentors from when I was working on my doctorate put me in touch with a colleague of his at the University in Seattle. We met a few times and I told her about my experiences in the Marine's, as well as my thesis and dissertation papers. She was practically begging me to teach and lecture in the History and Humanities departments. I finally agreed after talking it over with Alice, realizing that it would be a good challenge for me that wouldn't put me in a position to hurt my hip anymore.
I finished up my first lecture when she got the call that her results were in. She asked me to go in with her, which I would have done regardless.
She trembled as we waited for Carlisle Cullen to speak, gnawing on her lip in anticipation. I pulled her lip out from between her teeth, worried that she would cause them to bleed if she continued, and whispered that I loved her.
It had been the first time I said those words to her, and her reaction didn't disappoint me. A barely discernable gasp escaped her lips and she met my eyes, hers glistening with tears as she mouthed that she loved me as well.
When Dr. Cullen finally read us the results, I think we were both fairly calm. Apparently, there was a blood clot in her brain that had gotten wrapped around some blood vessels, and was blocking the sections that told her body what to feel. He told us that they could correct the problem with surgery, that it was dangerous and may not be completely successful, but that if she didn't, she might not live long enough to find a better solution.
Alice had made up her mind before we even made it home. She was going to go through with the surgery. I tried to talk her into finding a second opinion, but knew there wasn't anyone more trustworthy than Carlisle. And just like I had done for her, Alice held me against her as I cried, quietly assuring me that she would be fine and that she needed to do this.
I wasn't so sure, but let Alice make the decision for herself.
Since she had come into my life, nothing had been what I thought it was. Everything had been turned upside down and I had never been happier. If having the surgery would make her better and give us more time together, then I was willing to set aside my fears and support her.
Two weeks before my first class began, I found myself pacing around the waiting room. Her surgery lasted well into the evening and I began to grow nervous. Just when I was about to seek out one of the nurses at the front desk again, my cell phone rang.
A buddy of mine from the FBI was calling to let me know that they had Felix Volturi in custody. I had sent him the information we had on him and asked if they could look into it. I never dreamed that they would be able to build a case against him, get enough charges against him to bring him in for questioning. They wanted me to bring Alice in as soon as she was able.
I let out a deep breath. Maybe she could finally get some closure.
Dr. Cullen finally came out into the waiting room to let me know that Alice had made it through just fine and she was being brought back to her room. I nearly sprinted down the hall to her room, feeling like I could finally breathe.
She didn't wake up for quite a long time, but I never left her side, holding her hand and stroking her cheek the entire time. Before she had been wheeled off to surgery, I promised her that we would get married. I wasn't sure if she would remember upon waking up, but I was already picturing her in a beautiful white dress as she walked down the aisle to me. I just wanted to make her happy. When her eyes finally began to flutter open, I pressed my forehead against her temple, trying not to disrupt her bandages.
"Hey, sleeping beauty. It's so good to see you." I kissed her cheek.
Alice blinked her eyes a couple of times, disoriented at first, but her eyes finally settled on me. "Hey."
I chuckled, gently squeezing her hand. "Welcome back."
And four of the most glorious words I had ever heard exited her mouth. "I can feel you."
Okay, so first of all I would like to thank Anna of Greece for bidding on the continuation of this story in the Eclipse edition of The Fandom Gives Back. I really wanted to tell more of this story and was so honored by her generosity. This was a novella length continuation that I decided to post as one chapter. There will also be an outtake written for this story that will be posted later.
A million thanks and love to my beta and partner in crime, kyla713. I don't know what I'd do without her and am so grateful for her support. Thank you bb for always being there!
For anyone who reads my regular stories: For the Love of a King and The Family that Stays Together, they will be completed. My life has just been completely insane lately (especially when my computer decided to be put out of commission for a week), but I do plan on finishing my stories. Please don't give up on me yet!