Author's Note: No excuses from me regarding my lack of updating this time. It is what it is. Sorry.
I have the best beta EVER! Big thanks from me to you, cullen818!
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The song that inspired me when writing this chapter is Drain You by Nirvana. If you've been living under a rock since the 90's please go check it out; it's one of my favorites from them.
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the characters. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Well I guess that I'll have to start at the beginning," Alice said with a small sigh.
"That would be nice," I commented sarcastically. I was very anxious to find out what was going on, but my annoyance with Edward was still lingering in my mind. Thoughts of what was going on in my own life were so all over the place that I was having a hard time concentrating and I just wanted her to explain things to me without all the bullshit.
"Do you want to hear this or not? I could make you wait just like everybody else," she chastised.
"What do you mean? Nobody else knows what's going on?" I was astonished. Surely at least Edward would know, it's almost impossible for any of them to keep things from him.
"Nobody else knows anything that I'm about to tell you other than myself and Jasper," she explained. "We were planning on explaining everything at a family meeting tonight. That way we only have to explain it once and everybody gets to hear it."
"Aren't they curious about why you need your own room?" I was already confused, but I'm sure that Alice and Jasper needing separate rooms should raise some sort of red flag.
"Esme asked, but I told her that I wasn't ready to talk about it. Nobody else seems too worried about it; I think that they know we'll explain it all when we're ready. Or maybe they just think that we're fighting," she explained nonchalantly with a shrug of her shoulders.
"Well I'm ready, so let's hear it."
"As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted," she said with a smile, "I'll have to start at the beginning." She took a deep breath while collecting her thoughts; I had a feeling that this was going to be a long story.
I was still in shock as we all gathered in the dining room. I wasn't sure what to think or how to process what Alice had told me only moments before. I really needed a few more moments to myself so I could gather my thoughts, but that was impossible as Edward had already glued himself to my side with his arm held possessively around my shoulders.
I couldn't even use the excuse of needing a 'human moment' as I didn't need to use the restroom and he would hear that I didn't make the necessary sounds that that entailed. My thoughts were a jumbled mess and my emotions weren't any better, causing a huge clusterfuck to swirl around untamed in my mind.
I wanted to support Alice, but everything was so new and different than what I had believed all this time. I still couldn't quite understand why they hadn't told their family the truth. She hadn't had a chance to properly explain that point as the guys had made a last minute decision to come back to the house. She said that they had hurried back because Jasper was having difficulties keeping his thoughts away from this family meeting. I wasn't sure if I should be here, but Alice insisted that I was part of the family and that she needed me here for moral support.
Edward pulled out a chair, and I sat silently at the large dining room table, hoping that I would be of some use to Alice during their big reveal. I tried to take low calming breaths as quietly as possible so no one would know that inside I was feeling so confused. He then hastily pulled out the chair on my left, and brought it as close to mine as possible.
I hoped that this would be over soon so I could escape to my house and have some time to calm my thoughts properly. That seemed to be the only place that I could think anymore because Charlie gave me my space. With Edward always hanging on me and rarely ever leaving me alone, I was feeling so smothered that my mind was having difficulty functioning properly.
The rest of the family began to take their seats as well; Carlisle took his place on the other side of Edward, at the head of the table, with Esme on his left – across from Edward. Rosalie sat next to Esme – straight across from me – as they were discussing renovations for her and Emmett's room, and Emmett excitedly took his seat on Rosalie's left. Alice entered the room and hastily sat down in the seat at the opposite end of the table from Carlisle. I thought this was strange since the seat next to me was still vacant, and she had wanted me to be here to give her some moral support. I gave her a quizzical look which she returned with a smug smile. I would never understand the inner workings of my best friend's mind, but I knew that she had her reasons.
Jasper entered the room last and seemed a bit on edge. He scanned the room and realized that the only seat available was next to me. Edward seemed to notice this at the same instant and before I knew what happened, my seat had been moved down the table, away from the offending open seat, causing a crowding at the end with Carlisle, Edward and myself. My annoyance was displayed clearly on my face as I looked into the eyes of my clingy and overprotective boyfriend. Did he really think that sitting next to Jasper would end my life? Well that's a stupid question, of course he did!
Jasper dropped his head slightly in shame as he proceeded to take his seat at the table. Carlisle frowned his disapproval at Edward, and Alice shot him a death glare. I wrenched myself free from his prisoning embrace and placed my chair back in its original position. I couldn't care less about what he thought right now, that was just plain rude. He didn't seem to be sorry for his actions at all. Didn't she see this coming? Even I knew that Edward wouldn't approve of Jasper being near me. I was starting to think that Alice wasn't as observant as she had once been.
Edward stared at me for a moment with a bewildered look on his face, but I didn't back down. I sat up a little straighter and waited for him to come to his senses; I refused to budge on the matter of where my chair would be at the table. I was not going to let him use me as an excuse to hurt anyone in his family. Was this an immature argument to have? Yes. Did I care? No. He let out a loud sigh before he scooted his chair back to my side and wrapped his confining arms around me again. I almost wished that he had stayed where he was, cramped next to Carlisle.
Carlisle stood up and the room fell silent, it was obvious in this moment that this family held him in the highest respect. "Alice has informed me that she and Jasper have something that they need to speak with all of us about. I'm sure that with all that has happened recently that we all have our suspicions as to what this is, but I would like to remind all of you to let them explain everything before you jump to conclusions and interrupt." He locked gazes with each of us one by one reiterating his point with a stern face.
I knew that I was the only person in the room other than Alice and Jasper who knew what was about to be said at this point, but if I hadn't known better I would have put my money on Carlisle knowing what was about to happen. He seemed a bit on edge and this feeling seemed to spread around the table instantly.
We all turned our gazes to Alice, expecting her to be the one to start talking. Instead she turned towards Jasper with an encouraging smile on her face and reached out to hold his hands which were clasped together tightly on the table.
He took a long deep breath before lifting his eyes to meet everyone's stares. He didn't try to work up to the point, or sugarcoat it to make it easier to take down; without further hesitation he blurted out, "Alice and I aren't married."
I did a quick survey of the stoic faces around the table and could see the shock flare in everyone's eyes. Rose definitely already had something to say, but was doing a good job of biting her tongue. Emmett put his arm around her pulling her closer instantly; he knew Rose well enough to know that she wouldn't stay silent for long. I turned to see Edward's reaction and was met with narrowed eyes of fury. This couldn't end well.
After a few more seconds Jasper continued. "We never were actually. In fact, we haven't even been romantically involved this whole time that we've known you." He took another pause and when I looked at his face I saw fear for the first time there. His eyebrows were knit together causing his forehead to furrow and his lower lip was trembling slightly. This was definitely far from anyone's comfort zone, but I could only imagine the feelings that were bouncing around the room at this revelation, and poor Jasper was feeling every single one.
I had never been close to Jasper and I doubt that I ever would be, but I was starting to think that Alice sat where she did so I could be there for Jasper at this moment. He obviously needed some kind of support. I guess that I was her safest bet since I already knew what was going on.
I wasn't sure exactly how to comfort him though. I began by focusing on feelings of calm and support, but then realized that I wouldn't have had to sit next to him to help in that way. I looked to Alice for some indication of what to do. She looked at me expectantly, and then down at Jasper's free hand.
His hands were still on the table, his right was held tightly by Alice, but his left was laying palm down and all alone, his fingers were drumming quietly on the smooth table top. I slowly reached out and took hold of his hand. Edward instantly pulled me closer to him - as if there had been any distance between us before – but I refused to let go of Jasper's hand. As the left side of my body was being crushed into Edward's chest, Jasper looked up and gave me a slight smile. I suddenly felt warm feelings of gratitude flow through my very soul, and I smiled back to him in return.
With this encouragement Jasper went into the details of their story. "Before we found you all we did try to have a relationship, but it just didn't feel right. We were very close and loved each other tremendously, only it wasn't in a romantic way. I have never lied about the love that I feel for Allie, I would do anything for her." He paused to look at Alice and she nodded to him in reassurance.
"When we came here she saw that the only way that you all would accept us so easily would be for you to think that we were a mated and a married couple. We didn't want to lie to you, but she saw that if we told you the truth that you wouldn't accept us."
I chanced another glance around the table at this and saw five faces filled with disbelief, stoic faces gone. I wasn't sure if they didn't believe Jasper and Alice's reason for lying or if they were still having a hard time grasping the fact that the whole marriage had been a lie. Either way, I was worried that this would turn out bad very quickly.
Alice then spoke for the first time, "You have to admit that if you knew that Jasper wasn't my husband that you would have thrown him out of the family one of the numerous times that he slipped in our diet." She stared pointedly at each member of the family, daring them to contradict her.
When she reached Edward he opened his mouth as if to speak, but she cut him off before he could get a word out. "Save it Edward. I know that you fought with Carlisle to leave Jasper behind after his indiscretion in New York back in '82. Did you really think that I would have stayed if Carlisle had agreed with you? Married or not, I love Jasper, it's just not the way you believed it to be.
"I would have a horrible vision every time we decided to come clean. Sometimes we would leave the family and Jasper would go into a depression causing him to revert back to his former diet. Other times a huge argument would start and the family would split up completely. The worst of those visions is when a physical fight would break out and someone would always end up dead."
I couldn't believe that the family would get so upset about Jasper and Alice not being together. Sure they lied, but they only did it to keep the peace. I wonder what changed this time that they felt safe telling the family.
"So you see? We had to lie, no matter how much we hated doing it. It tore us up inside to lie to our family who took us in, our family that we love so much."
"This is one of the reasons that we felt forced to lie to you all of these years. The other is it felt so comfortable to be a married couple. I have never trusted anyone as I do Jasper; we have been and always will be very close. We have wanted to tell you the truth for so long, but it never seemed like the right time. So many years spent together has made us very comfortable with each other. It's comforting to know that someone loves you and will be there for you no matter what happens."
Jasper looked at Alice with a small smile. He seemed to come back to life after hearing what she just explained to the family. Now that I knew why they had kept this a secret for so long, I could feel nothing but understanding and compassion. Alice knew that she was destined to live with the Cullen's and that she would be happy here, but she also loved Jasper and wanted to help him. Although I didn't know anything specific about Jasper's past, I did know that it was an unhappy one and that he cherished his time with the Cullen's and Alice.
The room was quiet for a few moments as everyone sifted through this new information. The tension was growing thicker while I'm sure that everyone had something to say, nobody wanted to be the first to speak. I gave a little squeeze to Jasper's hand, hoping that it would remind him that I understood and would be on their side if need be.
In true Rosalie fashion, she was the first to speak, no longer able to hold in what she had to say. "Do you really think so little of us? You really believe that we would be so unaccepting of you?" Her questions were directed at Jasper, but it was Alice who answered them.
"I'm sorry Rosalie, you were the one exception. No matter how we came to this family you were the one who would have accepted us no matter what. You were also the only one other than Esme who never considered kicking Jasper out of the family when he had troubles following this diet."
I wished that I had a camera with me to take a picture of the astonishment on Rosalie's face at that moment. She quickly turned to Emmett, who immediately found the grains in the wood of the table interesting.
"I can't believe you!" she chastised him. "Of all of us, you actually wanted to leave Jasper behind? You have slipped up too!"
Emmett looked so sad when he looked up from the table and into Rosalie's eyes. I almost felt bad for witnessing him in this state; I don't remember ever seeing him anything other than overly happy. He quickly turned to Jasper, "I'm so sorry! It wasn't that I wanted you gone, it was just that… well I didn't want to leave Minnesota," he finished in shame.
"I was finally getting comfortable somewhere and when you drained that girl I was so… mad. I didn't want to leave, for a second I thought that if you just left then everything would be okay and we could stay." When he was finished with his explanation he bowed his head in shame and stared at the grain pattern on the table again.
Rosalie's look of shock still had not left her face. She was staring at her husband as if she no longer knew who he was. No one spoke until Rose was able to calm herself enough to look calmly back at the family.
Why Edward chose this moment to say something so fucking stupid was beyond me. "So does this mean that Jasper is finally leaving us in peace?"
Esme didn't hesitate in her rushed exclamation, "Jasper, please don't leave! You are my son and I would be heartbroken if you left our family." Carlisle placed his hand on her shoulder in an attempt to calm his wife. He looked between Jasper and Alice expectantly.
My mind started racing, trying to remember everything from our conversation earlier; did Alice mention either of them leaving? I realized at that moment that Alice had a new room and Jasper had taken over their old one. She wouldn't need a new room if he planned on leaving the house. I was pretty confident in my musing to know that Jasper wasn't going anywhere.
"No, I'm not leaving," he whispered so quietly that I barely heard him. Did he forget that a human was in the room? I gave his hand a little squeeze in reminder of the human's not so skilled ears. He spoke up a little louder, "I just couldn't take the lies anymore."
Alice chimed in a little happier than anyone else. She must have known by now that everything was going to work out fine. "It's time for Jasper and I to open ourselves romantically to others. We can't pretend to be married for eternity; we would never find our true mates."
By this point she was bouncing in her seat and I couldn't help the small giggle that came out of my mouth. I think that it had more to do with the immense relief that I felt with Alice seeming to feel so optimistic about this situation then it had to do with her comical behavior.
Edward, however, was not amused. He quickly pulled me into him and wrapped his other arm around me while letting out a low growl. I couldn't understand what set him off in our conversation and figured that it must have been someone's thoughts. I looked around the table for an explanation, but found none.
Carlisle then spoke to the group, "I am sorry to both Alice and Jasper for feeling that they had to lie to us about something so trivial to be accepted into this family. I hope that in the future none of you will feel the need to lie about anything and will know that you will only find understanding and compassion from your family."
He gave Esme's shoulder a squeeze and she took the queue to speak. "I ask you both to please stay and continue to be a part of this family. I promise to try to always be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a heart that will love you. I don't know what I would do without either of you. I consider all of you my children no matter your age. You both have a rather large piece of my heart and I couldn't picture this family without you."
Rosalie then took a deep breath and spoke her piece to the newly separated couple. "I love you both and have always accepted you, as proven in Alice's visions," she nodded at Alice. "I would only like to add that if you leave Jasper, I'm coming with you. I refuse to let my brother leave his family and face this world alone. I will always be there for you."
"I'm coming too," Emmett added at the end, but didn't offer anything else. His eyes were still stuck looking down at the table in shame.
The attention of the family was suddenly on me, having skipped both Alice and Jasper. I didn't know that I would have to say anything and hadn't even given a thought to what I would say if given a chance. I could feel the blood rush to my face in my sudden embarrassment and began to open my mouth to speak when I was abruptly cut off by Edward.
"I think that it's time that Jasper leaves to work on his control for a while on his own. He almost killed Bella and I don't feel comfortable with him anywhere near her now." His hold on me became tighter as he spoke and I was dangerously close to having my oxygen being cut off completely.
I was so angry with Edward using me as an excuse to kick Jasper out of his home! I wanted to hit him, but knew that it would only injure me, and he probably wouldn't even feel it. I sensed Jasper trying to reclaim his hand that I was holding, but I refused to let it go. I grasped it tighter and when he let his hand fall into his lap I didn't even flinch as I let mine nestle there too. I knew that he was only trying to respect Edward as my mate, but I wouldn't let him believe for a minute that I agreed with any word that just came out of Edward's mouth.
Sadly, he wasn't finished. "I never wanted Jasper to join us in the first place. Every time we had to pick up and move because he couldn't find any control has made me dislike him even more. I am so sick of having to babysit him because he can't keep his urges in check. I've wanted him to leave since the moment that he got-"
"That is quite enough, Edward," Carlisle interrupted in a quiet but firm voice. "I think that we all understand how you feel now. However, it was Bella's turn to speak."
Again I felt everyone staring at me expectantly. I wasn't sure what to say, but again I didn't need to say anything because Edward started speaking for me. "Bella agrees with me." What the fuck!? When did he ever get that idea? "Jasper is dangerous and she's afraid of him. He needs to leave for her safety."
I was so angry that my thoughts and answers to what he just said began swimming through my head at a frantic pace. I wasn't sure exactly what to say to that. I was in no way afraid of Jasper, and I definitely didn't want him to leave because of me. This was his family and his home. If anything I would stay away so that he would be more comfortable.
And who did Edward think he was, speaking for me like that? I have never said anything remotely close to what he just expressed as my thoughts to his whole family. I was so angry with Edward for so many things that I didn't know where to begin.
"Jasper you're exactly what I am trying to protect Bella from. I need you to leave so she has a chance to live. You of all people know how much I love her and still you're here threatening that. Please just leave us in peace."
By the time that he was finished I was afraid that I was going to lose consciousness from the lack of oxygen. Edward had held me so close that I was having a difficult time breathing. It didn't help that I had to lean over his imprisoning arm to be able to reach Jasper, but I didn't say anything of my troubles out loud – I did however, curse Edward silently in my head.
How could he be so heartless? It was obvious that Jasper wasn't going to hurt me! His brother needed support and all that Edward could find in himself to do was make him feel even worse. Edward was being cold hearted, and for the first time I saw him as the soulless vampire that he had always claimed to be.
I realized that the family was still waiting to hear what I had to say on the matter at hand, and it was alarmingly clear that I needed to speak up for myself since Edward had said some horrible things on my behalf. I still wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to say, and my mind was going a mile a minute, but I couldn't continue to sit there and say nothing.
I spoke about the actual matter at hand, but in my mind I was already planning my talk with Edward; I couldn't continue to turn my back on what was going on between us. "I don't see any reason for Jasper or Alice to leave. This is their home and I'm not afraid of-"
"But Bella," Edward exclaimed.
"Let her speak!" Rosalie shouted at Edward as she jumped up from her chair and slammed her fists into the table. "She can talk for herself!"
"Rose, please calm down, violence will get us nowhere," Esme said in a calming voice as she rubbed circles on Rosalie's back softly.
"Please continue Bella," Carlisle urged.
Rosalie sat back in her chair with a loud, "humph!" but didn't turn her glare from Edward. I'm sure that she wasn't finished with Edward either.
I took a deep breath, I had guessed that Edward would interrupt me again, but Rosalie's reaction was much unexpected, at least by me. "I was saying that I'm not afraid of Jasper, I never said that I was. I would hate for him to leave because of me, and if it's too difficult to be around me I can stop coming over so often or at all. I don't want anyone to leave their home or their family because of me." Jasper gave my hand a slight squeeze, but other than that he showed no acknowledgement of what I had just said.
"Alice? Jasper? Do either of you have anything to add?" Carlisle asked hopefully. They both shook their heads in a negative and he continued. "What are your plans then? As you can tell, we would love for you to stay and hope that you can trust us in the future."
"I'm staying, no worries," Alice said through a huge smile.
Jasper still wasn't speaking and by the looks of it he didn't plan to for a while. He held his head low looking into his lap where he held my hand in his left and Alice's in his right. I gave his hand another squeeze and tried to muster up all of the feelings of belonging, hope and courage that I could.
After another moment he looked up and found Carlisle still waiting for an answer. "I plan on stayin here… for now. I can't promise anything about the future, but for now, I'm stayin put."
Everyone seemed appeased with his answer and turned to Carlisle for anything further. He dismissed us and everyone began to get up and leave the room. Alice gave Jasper a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek before she danced through the doorway and up the stairs. Esme and Rosalie also both gave him hugs before leaving with Carlisle and Emmett. I refused to get up while everyone left the room, because I still had a lot that needed to be said to Edward. I gave Jasper's hand one last squeeze before he let go and left the room leaving Edward and I alone.
He had finally unwrapped his arms from around me; they were lifeless at his sides with his hands resting gently in his lap. I felt so free. I felt as if I could even breathe easier. I stretched my arms slightly enjoying the space to move properly and then turned in my chair to face Edward head on.
When I turned to face him I realized just how pissed off he really was. His stoic face portrayed nothing, but his rigid posture and clenching jaw were dead giveaways. I wasn't sure if it was safe to say anything without him going off the deep end. I waited a few moments in silence, but with each second that passed I cared less and less about what his reaction would be; he needed to hear this.
"What the fuck, Edward!" I shouted much louder than the silence called for. I knew no matter how loud or quiet I was that the rest of the family would hear this conversation, so it really didn't matter what volume my voice was. "How could you be so damn heartless?"
"Isabella do NOT use that language with me. You are a lady and need to act as such," he chastised. "I was well within my rights to speak my opinions. I was trying to keep you safe."
"Stop trying to use me as a reason to degrade others. I'm perfectly safe and I don't need you to always make my decisions for me. I am old enough to decide and speak for myself! I'm also old enough to use any language I choose."
"You're so ridiculous sometimes. You don't think anything of your safety. Do you forget that you are amongst seven vampires? I keep trying to keep you safe, but you are making that very difficult for me."
"I'm safe Edward. Jasper won't hurt me! And I won't allow you to use me as a reason to hurt him or anyone else."
"But he is unstable Bella. He could attack you at any time. Every second that you spend in his presence is a second too long. It is a second spent in the grip of death. I cannot always protect you, no matter how badly I wish I could."
"I don't need you to protect me from Jasper! I'm perfectly safe around him. What happened on my birthday was nothing-"
"That wasn't 'nothing', Bella! You almost died! I can't keep putting you in those situations. I have to protect you; if anything ever happened to you I would die!"
"Nothing is going to happen to me! I am safe and I refuse to let you dictate everyone's lives based on what you think is safe for me! I don't want you using me as an excuse to treat other people the way you just treated Jasper!"
"It doesn't matter how I treated him, what matters is your life. Why can't you understand that?"
"Why can't you understand that everything isn't about you and what you want? I can make my own decisions and speak for myself."
"But you make horrible decisions! You're dating a bloodthirsty vampire; I would say that's a pretty bad decision."
"Maybe it is! But I refuse to let you make my decisions for me! I refuse to let you speak for me! It's about time that you realize that I'm a woman who has her own thoughts and is capable of running her own life!"
"Bella please calm down. I know that you think that you're capable, but you're really only a human child. I can't change my need to help you; I couldn't survive without you. All I want is your safety and I'm willing to do anything to ensure it. I would do anything for you. Why can't you see that?"
"I do see it, Edward, but you cage me in. Lately all I feel like is a prisoner… our relationship shouldn't make me feel like that. But I feel like a caged animal, I'm just trying to find my way out. I need room to make my own choices. I will deal with the consequences of my choices happily, but I need to make them myself. I can't let you dictate everything about my life, and that includes speaking for me. Don't EVER do that again!"
"I will make any decisions that I see fit. If I left it up to you, you wouldn't last a week."
"I'm done with this shit! I can't even look at you right now! You're absolutely ridiculous!"
"Don't walk away from me! Why can't you talk to me and attempt to see reason? Why do you have to be so difficult?"
"I am an adult Edward, not the child you claim that I am. A very pissed off adult who is ready to go home. I'll see you at school tomorrow." I walked out of the dining room and made a bee line for the front door. The last thing that I wanted was for Edward to follow me and try to continue this conversation.
Once I made it to the front yard I realized that Edward drove me here in his stupid Volvo. Even worse, it was raining again and the last place in the world that I wanted to be at that moment was in the car with Edward. My decision probably wasn't the best, but I didn't care because all I wanted was to get the hell out of here. A walk seemed like a good idea at the time.
I crossed the yard as quickly as I could without injury and started my trek down their winding driveway toward my freedom. Edward didn't follow me and I refused to look back at the house to find out if he was watching me. To be frank, I couldn't care less what he was doing.
When I was about halfway to the freedom of the highway at the end of the driveway I heard a car approaching behind me. I became anxious and my heart started racing a mile a minute. What should I do? Turn around and argue with the most annoying vampire that I've ever met? Or run into the woods and hope that he doesn't follow me? I wasn't sure what to do and I didn't have any more time to figure it out as the car came to a stop next to me.
Instead of the shiny silver of Dumbass's Volvo I saw Carlisle's sleek, black Mercedes. I breathed out a sigh of relief and turned to face the car fully. The passenger door opened and Alice jumped out.
"Bella, you must be crazy! It's pouring down rain and the walk to your house is a couple miles! Get in the car and we'll drive you home."
I was still slightly apprehensive since I didn't know who was driving. I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer that it wasn't Edward or Rosalie willing to drive me home. When I leaned down to catch a glimpse of the driver I was pleasantly surprised to find Jasper looking back at me. Oh this was going to piss Edward off even more.
I excitedly hopped in the back seat and Jasper took off at a much more comfortable pace than Edward would have. Alice instantly turned around in her seat with a huge smile on her face.
"I'm so proud of you Bella! You really stood up for yourself to Edward. That was amazing!"
I let out a giggle at Alice's compliment; it's one that I never thought that I would get. "Thanks, I just couldn't take it anymore. He's been so different this last week."
"I know. He really needed to hear that and I hope that he'll actually think about what you said."
Jasper didn't say anything as we continued to talk about school tomorrow. Alice offered to help me keep Edward in line, but I was sure that tomorrow would be better. After all we did love each other very much and I was positive that he would be more understanding now that he knew how I felt.
When we arrived at my house the cruiser was already parked out front. I checked my iPod and realized that it was already six forty-five and Charlie would be waiting for dinner. I got out of the car and Alice handed me my backpack which I had forgotten at their house in my haste to leave. I gave her a quick hug goodbye and took my bag.
"See you guys later. Thanks for the ride!"
"I'll be here in the morning to ride to school with you, if that's okay?" Alice asked.
"Sure that'll be nice. See you then."
Jasper got out of the car and was already at my side before I could finish my sentence. "May I walk you to your door Bella?"
I gave a nod of my head and turned toward my house with a final wave to Alice.
As we began walking, Jasper said quietly, "Bella I would like to thank you for your support today… and for sticking up for me."
"Not a problem Jasper. I'm sorry that Edward treated you like that. Please believe me that what he claimed was my opinion has never crossed my thoughts much less my lips. I trust you and I'm sure that you can tell that I don't fear you," I said with a knowing smirk. We arrived on my front porch, but Jasper continued talking. Obviously he didn't notice my desire to get out of the cold, wet rain and into my warm, dry house.
"I know that, and I appreciate it. I feel horrible that you and Edward are fighting about me. Please don't feel like you have to defend me to-"
"Jasper!" I interrupted as I stomped my foot in frustration. "I will always defend what I think is right and I refuse to sit back while Edward tries to control everyone. He needs to grow up and start treating people with respect; and that includes the both of us." I still couldn't believe that Edward talked so horribly about Jasper; they were family… kind of.
"I need to get inside and cook Charlie some dinner before he starves to death. I'll see you later."
"See ya later, Bella."
I walked into the house and leaned backwards into the front door. Today had been such a long day; I really just wanted to crawl into my bed upstairs and go to sleep. My only problem was that Charlie was expecting dinner and it was getting too late to put it off.
Suddenly there was a loud knock on the front door right behind my head. I jumped at the sound, twisting around at the same time to look at the door in surprise, as if it made the sound itself. Mid turn my feet somehow got twisted and I tripped over myself without even taking a step. I fell to the floor on my side and Charlie appeared in the doorway from the living room where I could now hear the sounds of a game of some sort on TV.
His laughter rang loud and clear when he found me sprawled out on the floor. Thankfully he didn't ask me if I was okay, and let it go with a shake of his head. I scrambled off the floor and dusted myself off as Charlie opened the door to reveal Conner delivering dinner. Well at least I wouldn't have to cook.
I fell down twice today and both times were partially Conner's fault. I glared at him in irritation and stomped up the stairs to change into dry clothes. I couldn't figure out who I was madder at Edward, Conner or myself. It would seem that we have all had a part in fucking up my day.
I decided to take a shower hoping that it would alleviate some of my stress. I let the hot water run down my back and pound out the tension there. I couldn't seem to stop thinking of everything that happened today. It was exhausting me both physically and mentally. Edward had me stressed to my limit and I wasn't looking forward to our next conversation; it was sure to be unpleasant at the least.
My thigh began to throb after a few minutes and I turned to allow the hot water to soften the muscle that I injured in my second fall of the day. My irritation level finally lowered as the hot water washed the pain from my leg. I just needed to get through dinner and then maybe I could get away with going to bed early.
I quickly finished my shower and pulled on my holey sweats and an old shirt. I smelled the pizza that Conner delivered as soon as I opened the bathroom door. I quickly went in my room to discard my dirty clothes and toiletries and went downstairs to eat my gourmet dinner.
Charlie was sitting in his recliner in front of the TV watching a football game. The pizza and a bottle of Coke were on the table next to a plate and cup waiting for me. I sat down and dug in. I was glad that only Charlie was present to witness me like this. You would think that I hadn't eaten in weeks! The pizza was amazing with lots of piping hot, extra cheese and the Coke was so cold and bubbly. The bubbles felt so good going down my throat that they made me forget all of my troubles, however temporarily. I was in complete bliss.
We watched some football game. I have no idea who was playing; one team wore white uniforms and the other wore dark green. I had no clue what was going on. Charlie was busy cheering and yelling at the TV screen. Who knew that Monday Night Football could evoke such emotions?
When I finished my dinner I washed the dishes and put the remaining pizza in the fridge. "I'm going to do my homework and hit the sheets."
"Alright. Goodnight Bells."
"Goodnight Dad." I bounced up the stairs with a new pep in my step. I felt energized and ready to get my homework done. I wasn't sure what I would do once it was complete, but I wasn't feeling tired anymore.
Sadly, my homework didn't take much time to finish. I only had to do a few book problems for Math and a worksheet for Spanish. I looked around my room willing to find something to occupy my time. I figured that Renee had probably emailed me again and I should reply before she goes bat shit crazy.
While I was waiting for my ancient computer to start I heard a strange buzzing noise. I leaned closer to the tower to see if my computer was making the noise; maybe it was finally calling it quits. Nope. I checked my nightstand thinking that maybe it was my alarm clock. Still no.
Strangely it sounded like it might be coming from the direction of my closet. As I approached the door I realized that I had left my stupid, new cell phone in my jeans and it was on vibrate. I dug it out of the pocket and checked the screen. Edward was calling. Obviously; he was the only person who had the number. I pressed ignore. He was the last person that I wanted to talk to.
I walked back to my desk and tossed the irritating phone on my bed. Finally my computer was booted and I had about a million programs opened. Okay maybe not a million, but it might as well have been, as annoying as it was. I closed everything and opened my internet browser. No messages from Renee; although someone named Maraj Namjuk sent me an email offering a deal on Viagra.
I didn't have anything new to report to Renee and I didn't really feel like surfing the net, so I closed out my email and shut down my computer. Just as I turned to face my room again - in hopes of finding something to occupy my time - my stupid phone started buzzing again. This time though it only buzzed once.
I dragged my feet to the bed and dropped down dramatically. When I checked the phone I realized that it was only a text message this time. 'I need to talk to you. Can I come over please?'
I noticed instantly that Edward said that he needed to talk to me. I was guessing that meant that he didn't plan on listening to anything that I had to say. I still wasn't in the mood to talk to him or listen to his stream of bullshit, so I didn't answer; maybe he would think that I was asleep.
I immediately turned off the phone and tossed it in the top drawer of my desk. That should shut it up.
I was so exhausted. It had felt good to get that off my chest at the family meeting, but just being around Edward lately seemed to suck out all of my energy. It was too early to go to sleep, but I didn't have much else to do. I didn't want to sit downstairs with Charlie and I sure as hell didn't want to talk with anyone and pretend that everything was okay. Everything was definitely not okay.
I went into the bathroom and performed my nightly routine in a daze. Just the thought of Edward was enough to reverse my good mood and energy level. When I was finished I dragged myself to bed with the hope that tomorrow would be better than today. It couldn't be much worse, could it?
Edward's calls caused my mind to keep replaying my argument with him earlier without my permission. I wanted to forget about it, but my mind insisted on coming up with things that I should have said. I always seem to do that in arguments; my best material doesn't come to me until it's all over and done with. I could always turn my phone back on and call him back, but I was sure that the things that I wanted to say to him would only make the situation worse.
I sighed in frustration and rolled over, trying to find some comfort in my empty bed. I wanted so desperately to occupy my mind with something other than Edward, but a part of me missed him. I didn't want to deal with him right now; I didn't even want to think about him, but I couldn't help it. My mind needed a break from it all.
I thought about the rest of the day and Alice's story this afternoon. So much had changed and everything was skewed from what I originally thought was truth. I wasn't mad at her about it, I could understand to a point why she and Jasper had lied, but I had to admit that it was a lot to take in at once.
I replayed the conversation in my mind, in hopes of a healthy distraction from its current course.
"As you know, when I woke up into this life I was all alone. I didn't know anything about my life before that moment… I was so afraid."
She let out a low sigh before continuing. "In that same moment my mind was flooded with visions. I didn't understand at first what was happening. I kept seeing myself with the Cullen's, but I had no idea who they were as I had never seen them before. Jasper showed up more than the others. I knew he was special and that we would be close.
"I wandered around aimlessly not knowing where I would find these vampires, but that I would. Before I knew it I was in Philadelphia and I was having my strongest vision ever." A large smile spread across her face as she remembered this part of her story.
"I saw myself in a diner with Jasper. He looked confused, but we left together. I wasn't going to be alone, I would have a friend.
"I had seen the diner on my way into town and knew that it was on the west side. I wasn't exactly sure when my vision would play out since I couldn't see a calendar or even a clock in the background, so I went straight there. I waited for him all day. I was starting to get scared that maybe I was crazy and some serious doubt crept over me about my visions. He never came.
"I was sure at this point that I was crazy, so I tried to avoid and ignore my visions. I became depressed and believed that I would have to live out my existence solitarily. I even contemplated feeding off of humans since I was sure that the Cullen's were all a figment of my wild imagination. About a week later I decided to leave Philly and head out west. I wanted to change locations hoping that I would come across another of my kind, I was so lonely."
I hadn't thought much before about any of the Cullen's lives before they were part of the family. It was sad to know now that Alice had been so alone and afraid. I couldn't even picture her anything other than the way she was now.
"One day a couple weeks later I was wandering around not paying attention to where I was. I happened to pass that same diner that I had the vision of meeting Jasper in and saw an ordinary man sitting by himself at a table by the window drinking coffee. I remembered him from my vision because he was wearing a hideous olive green and brown tweed suit with shiny black shoes. I went into the diner to sneak a peek at his feet to be absolutely positive that this was the same man; and can you believe it? Shiny black shoes!" she exclaimed through her laughter.
Only Alice would be worried about someone's fashion sense as she was contemplating a solitary existence. It made me happy to know that even in her depression she was still the Alice that I know and love today.
She stifled her giggles and continued with her story. "The second that I saw his shoes I made the decision to wait for Jasper. I was sure that my visions were true and I would meet him that day. I waited for hours. The man in the ugly suit left which made me really scared since he had been in the background of my vision. I figured that Jasper wasn't coming since the man was no longer there, but there was a part of me holding on to the last hope that I would finally meet another of my kind.
"Every hour I got a refill on my coffee and would dump it out in the sink when no one was looking as I silently promised myself that I would only wait another hour. Every hour I made the same promise and every hour I met only disappointment. I was certain by noon that he wasn't coming that day, but I refused to give up on him. The waitress asked me a couple times if I was okay because I wasn't eating and I had been there for hours. I told her that I was waiting to meet my friend and she left me alone.
"Just when I was about to give up and leave, the same man who was there that morning for breakfast came back for lunch. I began to feel hope again and was so happy that I could hardly stay in my seat. I could feel it in my soul that my life was about to change for the better; I wouldn't have to be alone much longer. This also cemented my faith in my visions, now I knew that I would have a family one day.
"By the time that Jasper walked into that diner it was packed with people running inside form the rain. He looked like the embodiment of how I had felt since I was changed; scared, sad and confused. He had dark circles under his completely black eyes. His skin was sallow and pale; he looked as if he hadn't fed in months. The expression on his face showed that he was uncomfortable and having a lot of difficulty around so may warm bodies.
"I ran up to him and he recognized me as a vampire immediately. I was so excited that I could hardly contain myself. I knew in that moment that my visions were true and that we would be happy together and with the Cullen's. Jasper, of course, thought that I was crazy, but he was so nice to me. We left the diner together and went to a nearby park with a lot of tree cover to shield us from the rain.
"We sat there for hours trying to decipher my visions and figure out what we wanted to do. There was no question about if we were going to head off together. We were both so lonely and desperate for companionship.
"The first thing we did was find Peter and Charlotte; they're old friends of Jasper's. We found them in Ohio and went with them to their 'home base' of sorts. They had this great cabin that they had built in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. We had so much fun there. Peter is hilarious and Charlotte and I clicked instantly.
"I showed all of them how I had been surviving on animal blood and they all gave it a try. Peter and Charlotte only did it to support Jasper because they knew how human's emotions affected him while feeding. They hoped that this would be a better alternative for him. Peter hated it and wouldn't speak to me for a week. Charlotte was much more open-minded and appreciative to know that she could do it if circumstances demanded it.
"It was there that Jasper and I attempted to further our relationship. We already cared about each other so much and my visions showed that we would be very close in the future; so we figured that we were destined to be together.
"We left Peter and Charlotte to go off on our own. We traveled the US, mostly in the north. We were together for a whole year before I finally grew the courage and spoke up that it just didn't feel right. I was so scared to hurt his feelings, but he agreed that he preferred us as friends. Jasper would never do anything to hurt someone intentionally and he was afraid that the love he felt from me meant that I was in love with him. He didn't say anything because he didn't want to hurt me. Thankfully for the both of us that the only love I felt for him was as a friend.
"We decided to put some effort into finding the Cullen's, and trying to join their family. Every vision that I had of meeting them showed that Jasper and I were pretending to be a couple. We had no idea why, but we agreed that it was safest to follow the vision.
"Right before we met the Cullen's, Jasper decided that he didn't want to lie to those that we would consider family. I had a horrible vision of Edward attacking Jasper out of fear of his scars. It turned into a huge mess, Edward was dead and Jasper was alone - and feeding on humans again. I couldn't bear to think of that happening, so I convinced Jasper that it was the only way. I never told him exactly what would happen."
I wondered idly what Jasper's reaction would be if Alice had told him what her vision held. Would he still have come with her to join the Cullen family? I didn't think that he would ever consider Edward his brother if he knew that outcome, but I didn't know him well enough to know if he would still follow Alice. In fact I really didn't know anything about Jasper; we were rarely ever near each other. I was confused about what Alice meant by Jasper having scars; he had flawless skin just like the rest of the family.
"We fell into a comfortable friendship. I haven't been closer to anyone, and I haven't seen a closer relationship between anyone in my existence other than a mated couple. It was so comfortable and safe to keep things exactly how they were. Neither of us wanted to lose that, but we didn't want to lie either.
"Jasper has wanted to tell the family the truth so many times over the years. He really feels horrid for lying, he is such an honest person, but-"
Alice suddenly stiffened where she sat. I moved toward her to get a closer look. She was staring at nothing, intently with a glazed look in her eyes. I recognized that she was having a vision and waited another minute for her to come out of it.
"We need to go downstairs, they're almost back."
"I should leave. I don't need to be here for this."
"Of course you do! You're part of this family."
"I need you there. I need help with moral support." I couldn't very well refuse my best friend in her hour of need. Although I didn't want to be present for what was sure to be a lot of drama, I knew that I couldn't just leave.
"Why are they coming back early?" I wanted to hear the rest of Alice's explanation. I couldn't figure out why she and Jasper had to continue to lie all these years, and was sure that's what she was about to explain. I was a bit irritated that we had been interrupted.
"Jasper couldn't take it anymore. He's ready to come clean at the meeting." Well now I felt bad for being irritated by the interruption. Jasper has had to carry this load for so long, he was anxious to unload it. I couldn't fault him for that.
Thinking back on the conversation, and my thoughts regarding what Alice and Jasper had gone through; I got even angrier with Edward. He was so cruel to Jasper at the meeting and Jasper was the one who wanted to tell them the truth so badly. He was the one who felt the worst about lying to his family. After seeing the reactions of the family, I was sure that Edward was the reason that they had to lie all this time. I became even angrier with him at that revelation… if that was possible.
End Note: I really love reviews, and I always respond. Please tell me what you liked or didn't like in this chapter or the story so far. *puppy dog face*