Playing With Fate
Hold Onto The Nights: By Richard Marx
Twenty Years into the Future after Breaking Dawn
"Yeah." Jasper's gruff voice still held just the barest hint of Texan Twang even after years away from the southern state.
"Can you talk?" Bella's voice was low, hesitant, almost as if she was afraid to be overheard. Edward was away hunting, but still she took precautions. She knew she was taking chances making this call from the border to La Push, hoping the nearness of the wolves would be enough to scramble Alice's visions for a while.
"Yeah, Alice is organizing her new closet, again. She hasn't stopped redecorating and updating this place since we got here." Rolling his eyes, Jasper opened the French doors that led outside and stepped out into crisp Montana mountain air. The moon was just rising high over the Rocky Mountains. Aspen trees blew softly in the light breeze, while the stars were shining in the billions.
Step after step brought him down the worn path to a lake edge. Soft ripples of waves reflected the moonlight.
"I miss you. I'm sorry that you and Alice had to move away." Bella sat on a huge boulder and looked out over the valley below. Sighing she leaned her head back against another rock and looked for the moon, which was just beginning to show in the east. The sunset behind her didn't matter. She needed to look to where he was.
"I'm sorry too, sorry that I got us all in this mess." Jasper laid down on the ground, his head against the trunk of an ancient aspen tree. He stared up into the stars toward the west. The west, because that's where Bella was.
"You're not the only one at fault. I had a part in it as well. I'm so sorry about everything. How are things with Alice?" Bella cringed at the name. If she could have, she would have cried the tears that seemed to get lodged in her throat and chest.
"Alice is fine. We built this place a long time ago. She seems happy here, at least for now. You have nothing to be sorry for, Bella. I let my feelings for you run away with me. I'm most sorry for hurting you. Is Edward still angry?" Jasper tried hard not to think of the night just weeks ago, the night that did the final blow, tearing their family apart.
"Furious, he still hasn't talked to me. He leaves notes on the bathroom mirror to let me know where he's going, but that's it. God, everything is such a mess! Carlisle and Esme just seem to shake their heads every time that I'm around. Rose has laid into me a couple of times. Emmett just shrugs his shoulders and walks away. I wish you were here. I understand why you had to leave, but it's so hard here without you. I miss you so much. They're all glad that you and Alice left." Bella's fist pounded into the boulder upon which she sat, turning a sizable portion to pebbles.
"Oh God! I'm such an idiot for leaving you in this situation. You shouldn't have to go through that alone, Bella. If I'd been able to keep my hands and feelings to myself, none of this would have happened. You and Edward would still be happy and the family would still be together again." Jasper banged his hand back into the tree hearing the wood splinter and crack. His hand tightened on the minuscule cell phone. Upon hearing the plastic breaking he let loose, afraid that his anguish would sever the only line he had with Bella.
"Things weren't going well with Edward and me for a while, Jasper. You know that. Even before Renesmee and Jacob got married, every day was a struggle just to be civil. We hadn't been happy in a few years, Jasper, neither had you and Alice. What we had, Jasper, was special, I'm sorry that everything has ended this way." Bella, bent over, afraid that the pain would be more than she could bear. Life was following apart around her. The one person who could make it better was too far away to help.
One night had changed everything. Their family and their lives would never be the same. Things had started to strain heavily in Bella in Edward's marriage as their only daughter got older. They never argued, at least not in public, it was the in private moments when the strain got too much to bear. The final straw was Bella's insistence that she was not joining the rest of the family in Alaska after Nessie and Jacob's wedding. Charlie had gotten older and after retiring from the force, his health had taken a dive for the worse. Bella was not leaving him behind, and he couldn't go with them. Charlie's years of smoking in secret, along with a bad diet, had led to heart problems and the beginnings of lung cancer.
Jasper alone knew her pain. He had sided with her in more than one family discussion, causing rifts between him and Alice, and also him and Edward. When the fighting had started between Jasper and Alice, the whole family knew. It was hard not to hear a pixie when she was shouting with all her might, and throwing things. Over the years, which took many, Jasper had gotten tired of Alice's fishwife ways, and had started fully sharing his opinion of her addiction to shopping, and meddling in other people's lives. Since the beginning, his life had been one big pet project for Alice, and he was finally tired of it.
Bella and Jasper had grown closer, leaning on each other, when no one else seemed to understand. It was only inevitable that their feelings would begin to grow and change from friendship and family to something more. It was something more that got them in the current situation.
Not being able to deny their feelings any longer, little things began happening. Their first kiss was smoldering with passion against a tree while hunting. It had left Bella breathless, Jasper aching for release, and both of them knowing that there was no turning back.
After the first kiss every opportunity was taken to be together. Family hunting trips saw the most opportunity. With each member off on their own hunt, it was easy to sneak and find each other. In those hours they would be lost in each other arms. The first time they made love had been near a beautiful waterfall. On that day, kisses and caresses were not enough. Later, laying in the after glow, their confession to each other, rocked them both to the core. The love was too strong, too powerful and emotion. It grew every day until neither of them knew what the next step would be.
Inevitably their desire, their lust, their love, was their undoing. It was late summer, just a few days before Jacob and Renesmee's wedding. Bella and Jasper, with no time alone due to the wedding and its preparations, became careless. Bella's old room in Charlie's house had become the chosen rendezvous point. Neither one of them expected Edward to find them, which is exactly what happened.
Bella would never forget the look on Edward's face when the door to her old room burst in. Rage, disgust, sorrow, and hate turned his amber eyes deadly black. While not in the middle of their dirty deed, the evidence against them was more than clear. It had taken every ounce of strength Bella possessed to keep Edward from ripping Jasper apart.
Alice, having a vision, showed up soon after, along with the rest of the family. Bella and Jasper had just enough time to clothe themselves when Carlisle and Esme came in.
Hell, everything went to hell after that. Two weeks after the wedding, Charlie took a turn from the worse. Bella had been there, holding his hand as he gently faded into a sleep he would never return from. First Charlie, then Jasper, had left her. Charlie was gone forever and in more ways it seemed the way with Jasper. It was worse now than when Edward had left all those years ago. Now Bella was certain that a part of her, her very soul was missing.
"Darlin', you still there?" Jasper's voice sounded worried.
"Yeah, I'm here. I was just thinking, sorry. God, I miss you so much. I can't keep denying that I love you, Jasper, that I want to be with you. I can't lie to them anymore, I don't want to." Bella pulled her legs up to her chest, the ache inside her too much to bear.
"I'm tired of denying it as well." Jasper, could feel Bella's pain as if she was beside him. It had always been that way. He fell her from the other side of the world. It amazed him, tore at his heart, then punished him. It punished him that he wasn't there with her where he should be. He missed the smell of her skin, the gentle presence and feeling of her. Blindfolded, he could walk into a sea of people and be able to find her. Even in the beginning, he was the moth to her flame.
The answer was simple, clear, and concise. No longer could he live with Alice, pretending that he was not in love with someone else. Jasper wanted, desired, burned, and needed, Bella. They would go away, just the two of them. To hell with the consequences. Renesmee was now married, her own life ahead of her. Charlie now buried, but never forgotten. If Bella was right and her once love for Edward was truly dead, then there was nothing holding them back.
"What should we do? I can't keep going like this every day without you." Bella's soft voice woke Jasper out of his revelry.
"Me either, my love. Leave now, we'll meet each other halfway. Follow I-90 to a city called Coeur d'Alene, in Idaho. Meet me at the Silver Mountain Resort. Together we'll decide what to do about the rest of our lives. I can't live without you, any more Bella, I don't want to."
"I love you, Jasper, I'll be there."
"I love you too. We should be together before dawn, my love."
They both hung up their phones simultaneously and ran. Jasper ran to garage where he found Alice leaning against the hood of his black Mustang. He spoke before giving Alice the opportunity.
"I'm sorry Ali, sorry for hurting you. You're my best friend, and I should have been honest with you about everything from the start. I was always so afraid that if I didn't give in to you, that I'd lose you. It took seeing me in Bella to know that what we were doing was wrong. Over the years I became the man you wanted, instead of the man I was. I tried to tell you so many times how I was really feeling, but I didn't want to lose my best friend, so I gave in. She needs me, Alice. Bella needs me in ways you never have, and I need her. She soothes me and completes me. I know that hurts you, and I'm sorry. I can't live our lie anymore. I know you're not in love with me anymore, you haven't for a long time, even before Bella ever came into our lives. What we had was wonderful while we had it. I will never regret one moment of our lives together. I know I've screwed up, but please don't let me lose you as my best friend." Jasper leaned against the car door as Alice hopped off the hood.
"I can forgive you, if you can forgive me. I knew you were in love with Bella before you did. I saw it many years ago and decided to let it play out. I wasn't ready to let you go. You've been the only thing I can remember for so long that I was afraid to let you go. My first visions were of you. I've always been afraid that if you left I wouldn't know who I was anymore. I was wrong, so wrong. Go, and be happy, I've seen what will happen if you don't. We had a long and happy life together, Jazzy, I don't regret one moment. Tell Bella that I'm sorry, we'll always be friends and sisters. I'm sorry for us too, Jasper. A part of me will always love you, but its time, time for us to move on and now just be friends. It's also time for me to find who I am, without you. You will always be my best friend, Jasper, nothing will ever change that." Alice flew into his arms, hugging him with all her strength. Jasper hugged her back, then stepped away. Opening the car door he got in and started the powerful engine. He caught Alice in the review mirror. Jasper knew that she was hurting, along with a mixture of other feelings, including relief and excitement at the new life ahead of her. Hopefully Bella will have it even half as easy with Edward. Unfortunately, Jasper doubted that would be the case.
Throwing the car into drive, he shot down the stone driveway and into the night.
Bella raced toward the cottage excitement and longing fueling her speed. Upon arrival, the cottage seemed dark, empty. One thought came to her mind, was she ready to give this up. Her home and life had been wrapped in Edward for so long, could she leave so easily.
Images of Jasper and the love, strength and courage he gave her, made the previous question mute. Yes, to be with Jasper, she could leave. Jasper was her future, and her present. Edward was her past.
The house was quiet as she entered. Looking around, Bella made a mental list of the things that she wanted to take. It wasn't much, Renesmee, Charlie and Jacob's pictures, trinkets from her daughter over the years, and a small suitcase of clothes.
Scribbling a quick letter to Edward, she stated that she was sorry, but the love was gone, and she could no longer live a lie, especially when she loved someone else. Bella wished for his future happiness and the hope that they could still be friends, at least for the sake of their daughter.
Zipping the case shut, Bella looked down at her left hand to the wedding ring that had laid there for so many years. It didn't feel like a promise anymore, it was a sign of fighting and heartache. Twisting it, Bella was surprised that it came off with barely a tug.
Laying the ring on the dresser, Bella was startled by the low, dangerous, growls, from behind her.
"You're going to him, aren't you? Doesn't surprise me really, considering you have a hard time with closing your legs whenever he comes sniffing around? Did you fuck Emmett too, Bella, how about Jacob, hell, even Carlisle? How many men have there been, Bella, considering I haven't had you in over a year?"
In a flash he was beside her. With a flick of his wrist the suitcase slammed against the wall. Edward's hands were crushing as they grabbed Bella's arms, forcing them behind her and onto the bed. His mouth was cold and hard as Edward crushed Bella's lips to his own.
Edward's age as a vampire gave him a strength that Bella had never seen. Using one arm, Edward began ripping at the snug jeans and sweater that covered Bella's body.
"I can make you feel just as good, Bella. He can't do anything to you that I can't do. Is this what you like, Bella, do you like it rough?" Edward's strong hands made shreds of Bella's delicate lace bra.
"Edward, stop! Don't do this, Edward." Bella's pleas rang out not caring if anyone in the main house heard. She knew that if she were human again that her skin would be mottled in black and blue. Right now she felt more human than she had in a long time.
Bella's phone rang, the ring tone playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" was distinctly Alice's. She had seen what Edward was doing and about ready to do. It had made Edward stop. Edward pulled away from Bella to sit on the edge of the bed. With his head in his hands, he rocked back and forth, trying to come to terms with the monster he had turned into.
Bella laid in the bed in nothing but her underwear and let the anger simmer until it boiled over. Rising she walked to the closet and pulled out an old pair of jeans and a grey cable knit sweater. Her ballet flats had come off while fighting with Edward. Bella kicked them away and reached beside her suitcase for a pair of worn, black cowboy boots, a gift from Jasper, long ago. Just putting them on her feet gave her strength and comfort.
Edward still sat on the bed, no longer rocking, he stared at her as she dressed, then dug her phone out of her ruined jeans.
"We can make this work, Bella. I know we can. I love you. I'm sorry I hurt you, this whole mess has me crazy. I just want it to be like it was. Let's go to the meadow, you used to love it there. We'll go away, just the two of us. I tried to get you to go to Denali, away from here, but no, you had to stay. Charlie would have died whether you were there or not. You almost blew our cover when that doctor recognized you, by staying, you could have killed us all. Think of Nessie and what this will do to her. Do you want her to be a child of divorce like you were? What about Carlisle and Esme, they have loved you like a daughter, how could you hurt them like this? No, going away is our only option, Maine is beautiful this time of year, the leaves are just changing color. On second thought, Isle Esme is perfect, we'll have another honeymoon. Don't pack too much, we'll buy whatever we need once we're there. In time I'll forgive you for everything with Jasper, and some day we'll come back and everything will be the same again. I'll make you love me again, Bella. I'll make you forget about Jasper. He's just a phase, my love, probably because I was your first and only. You'll see in time you'll forget everything. Soon, it will be, how it used to be."
Edward stood and placed both hands on Bella's upper arms, gripping them firmly but tightly, he pulled her against him. Her obedience was all he ever wanted, was all he ever expected, and sometimes demanded. His domineering ways, was why Bella's love had begun fading long ago.
Bella stood still, not returning the hug that was wrapped around her. Edward had finally snapped and lost his marbles. All the poking, prodding and belittling may have worked when she was eighteen, even up until a few years ago. She had been fine to go along with most whatever he wanted as long as they could be together. Things changed when he began demanding more and more of her that Bella was unwilling to give. His comments about Charlie cut to the bone, they were the final straw.
Using her strength Bella pried herself out of Edward's arms. She turned her back as Edward began making preparations for a trip she would not be taking with him. Picking up her cell phone, Bella sent a quick text to the number of the one family member she could trust. Yeah he was mad at her, but he was her big brother, and wouldn't allow her to be hurt physically if it came to that.
"Emmett, could you come up to the cottage please." The text was simple and quick enough that Edward did not notice.
The knock came on the door a mere minute later. Without knocking, Emmett, walked into the little cottage that he dwarfed with his size.
"Edward, please listen. Listen to me." Bella grabbed Edward's arm as he packed a suitcase.
"I'm not going anywhere with you Edward, and please don't force me. I'm sorry that I've hurt you, sorry that I've hurt our family. This has got to stop Edward. You can't think that just because you force me or belittle me anymore, that I'll go away with you. What we had is over, we had eighteen good years, but the last two have changed me. I'm not the girl I was. You can't keep treating me like a child, or what's worse, your pet. In case you've forgotten, I'm all grown up now. I'm not going with you Edward, in fact, this is goodbye. I don't want to forget Jasper, or the fact that I love him. I'm in love with Jasper, Edward, and no matter you're plans to abduct me away, nothing is going to change that. Maybe someday we can still be friends for Nessie's sake, but that's going to be a long time from now. This really is goodbye, Edward. As soon as I'm settled, you'll get the papers for a divorce. Goodbye, Edward." Bella picked up her suitcase then turned to leave the room.
Edward had stopped in his tracks, standing, blocking the doorway, and Bella's exit. His eyes were black as night. Edward gripped his hands so tight that venom began dripping onto the floor. Bella went to move him aside and the murderous intent in his eyes made Bella flinch away. Channeling her anger, while thinking of Jasper, Bella pushed him aside.
Edward made one move as Bella pushed past him, the move was to grab her by her throat. He never got the chance.
A meaty fist easily palmed his, stopping it in mid swing.
Bella didn't stop to see the exchange between Emmett and Edward, her hearing, however, was enough. The battle that raged between the two of them leveled walls and stone, louder than any wrecking ball.
Running, Bella made it to the only car in the Cullen garage, Rosalie's classic Shelby Mustang. Throwing her bag in the backseat, Bella gunned the engine and flew into the night. Somehow she'd make it up to both Emmett and Rosalie.
Once on the interstate, Bella pushed the powerful car to the limits of its speed. Once she hit the Idaho border she stopped looking over her shoulder for a following vehicle.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Bella started looking for signs of the resort and its turn off. Darkness still clung to the night. Soon its vestige hold would give up to the light of day. The dawn would bring the safety and love of Jasper's arms.
The drive had given her many opportunities to think of her life with Edward. He had been her first true love, her friend, lover, and husband. Edward was Nessie's father, that would never change. Some of Bella's life memories were precious, then some reminded her of a gilded prison. Life with Edward before they were married seemed so perfect, so beautiful and right. The bars of immortality looked completely different once you were on the inside looking out.
Bella drove and remembered, counting the minutes until she was with Jasper.
Jasper paced the balcony of the suite. Luckily there was no snow yet in the mountains or obtaining a room on such short notice would have been impossible. Most of the resort's inhabitants were back to jobs and school now that summer was officially over. As it was, the leaves were rapidly losing their summer greens. It would be an early fall, if the slight nip in the air told him anything.
The room looked over the parking lot on one side and that's where he stood, waiting for the roar of her car engine to break through the quiet of the night.
He paced and prayed that everything was all right with Bella. There had been no calls yet from her, though Alice called him frantic, but not to worry, she would be joining him soon. Alice's message also told him not to call Bella, she needed to concentrate and drive, calling her would just distract her.
So he waited, he paced, and tried hard not to destroy the room in his agitation. If Edward had hurt her in any way, Jasper would kill him. Jasper had actually wanted to kill Edward for the past few years. His growing treatment of Bella as nothing more than a pet, made the whole family cringe. Nothing they could say to Edward had made him see things any differently. Edward still felt Bella needed to be protected and treated with kid gloves. It didn't matter that she was not only a grown woman, but a vampire. Edward always felt he was right and everyone else was wrong.
Like Bella and Edward, a rift formed between Jasper and Alice. Jasper would never regret the way things had turned out. Since his affair with Bella, he had watched her grow with self confidence, and a strength none of them ever knew she possessed.
It had never been Bella, nor Jasper's intention to start the affair, let alone fall in love. As Bella's relationship with Edward began turning for the worst, Jasper had taken to brushing up against her whenever she was blue or angry. Jasper knew in those first few months that Bella chose to be near him more because of his power, using it like a band-aid.
When Charlie had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Bella had not run to Edward, she had run to Jasper. It had been his arms that had comforted and held her as her body shook with pain, fear and grief.
In the early days of Charlie's diagnosis, Bella begged to be allowed to turn him and never understood why Carlisle and Edward said no. He was dying, and they wouldn't save him. Bella never knew of her father's request. Charlie didn't want to be a vampire and had told the family, minus Bella, in a private meeting. Charlie knew the grief would be hard on her, but he never wanted to live forever. Charlie tried to get Bella to go away. He didn't want his daughter to see him die. Bella was insistent that she should be with Charlie.
When Charlie had been taken into the nursing home, Bella would go visit him late at night. One night changed everything. A former student, now a doctor, Angela Weber, caught sight of her long lost friend. She began to make inquiries about the young woman visiting Charlie Swan. Luckily, Bella had been stealthy enough the rest of the times that no one else was aware of her presence, so Angela banished the images as a case of fatigue. The situation had been close. If Angela had chosen to pursue the truth, they might all be dead now. The Volturi took even the smallest rumors very seriously.
Every day Edward tried to force Bella into leaving Forks for Denali, and every day as Charlie worsened, Bella said no. Even if it meant her life, she would not leave her father to die alone.
Jasper's phone rang. The call wasn't from Alice or Bella, it was from Emmett.
"Hello." Jasper's voice was tense as he pulled his phone from his pocket and answered.
"I don't know why you two are doing this now, but you'd better run as soon as she gets there. Edward's following her. She doesn't know that Rosalie's car has a tiny leak in the oil pan. I tried to stall him for as long as I could. If she doesn't have the hammer down all the way, he's going to catch up with her. His Volvo's fast, but doesn't have the Shelby's power. Edward's full of hate, love, and rage. If he gets to you, Jasper, he'll kill you. He's dangerous. Edward wasn't going to let her leave, Jasper. He took a swing at her, right in front of me. There is no way that he is going to let her go without a fight. For both of your sakes, I would leave wherever you're at and meet her on the road. Leave Rosalie's car. I'll find it. Take care of her, no matter what, she's still my baby sister. I want her to be happy, and you give that to her. When you've got her and you're safely away, call me and let me know. Don't tell me where you are, I don't want Edward looking into my head for it. Tell Alice to get the hell out of Dodge as well, he'll be looking for her next. Take care man, we love you both."
Jasper never uttered one word as he ran. He quickly checked out over the suites TV, and made it to his car as Emmett was still talking. The blowing wind, and the smell of impending storm hung in the air. It was a blessing and would wipe away the traces of his exhaust once Jasper met up with Bella.
Jasper's own Mustang was a newer model of Rosalie's and he slammed the gas to the floor. With smoke and squealing tires, the car rocketed out of the resort and down the road toward the highway. He slammed on the brakes at the on ramp and pulled parallel on the road. Bella would be forced to stop as she turned from the highway.
In the distance, about one mile back, Jasper could see Edward's car. It closed in on Bella at heart thumping rates of speed. Luckily for all of them, Bella would be gone by the time Edward left the highway. Leaving the car running, Jasper went and stood in front of the car.
Just as he predicted, Bella was forced to stop as she saw his car across the road. She had yet to regain any speed and he was able to point her to the side of the road. Within a moment he was wrenching open her door.
"Get into mine, and hurry. Emmett called, Edward's right behind you." Jasper grabbed her case out of the back as Bella turned off the engine, grabbed her purse, then threw Rosalie's keys on the floor. Bella didn't say a word, just obeyed Jasper's commands and sped to his car.
Jasper threw Bella's suitcase into the back of the car, slammed the car into reverse, he killed the headlights and shot into the opposite direction of where he had come. A dirt road was just ahead on his left and Jasper took it. Making an U-turn he pulled flush with the road, just enough so that they could watch where Edward went. Jasper shut the engine off, glad that the road was barely visible and hidden among the trees. The black of the car was blending in with the shadows of the overhanging branches.
Neither said a word as Edward's car became visible on the hill and predictably turning left. Bella's hand found his as they watched Edward stop his Volvo alongside Rosalie's car. Her hand squeezed Jasper's as she watched in horror as Edward's anger had him beating in the top of Rosalie's car.
Edward stopped at the driver's side door of his car, then turned around. Now facing their direction, Bella was glad that she no longer had a heartbeat to give them away. Wind blew leaves over the road, as Bella and Jasper held hands and waited. Neither moved, nor breathed as Edward searched the road before getting in his car and heading in the direction of the resort. Still, in silence, they watched as Edward drove into out of human sight.
Jasper still didn't turn on the lights as he pulled out of their hiding spot and to the right, in the direction of Edward. Instead of traveling toward the resort, Jasper turned onto the interstate and let the car go as fast as it was able. Bella's hand stayed in Jasper's even as he changed gears. Jasper could read her fear, and finally relief as they were now too far away. Edward would not be able to follow.
Just past the Colorado border, the sun began rising in the east. Bella's phone rang. It was Alice. Bella hit the button that put the call on its speaker.
"Thank goodness, you're both okay. Jasper, bring her here. Edward doesn't know about this place, and you'll be safe here. It's going to be three years before he calms down enough not to kill both of you. After a year, Carlisle is going to send Edward away. He has a friend in a monastery in Tibet, that is going to teach him to control his anger. I'm sorry Bella. He will never fully forget, and will struggle to forgive. I won't be here when you arrive. Paris is beautiful in the fall, so I've decided on a long vacation. Always know that I love you both. It hurts, but I forgive you. You both fill a void in each other that neither Edward, nor I, ever could. I'll call often, and you will be in Paris for Christmas. I have to go, Nessie is going to be calling in a few seconds. Don't worry Bella, she understands why you left. I'll call you from Paris once I'm settled. Take good care of my little sister, Jazzy. Love you."
As soon as Alice hung up on her end the phone rang again, this time it was Renesmee.
"Mom! Are you okay? Dad didn't hurt you did he?" Jasper could read the fear in her voice, even over the phone.
"No, I'm okay. I'm sorry, Nessie. I won't wait to tell you that your father and I are getting a divorce. I know you're undoubtably hurt and upset. I'm sorry." Bella clung to Jasper's hand as he pulled down a hidden dirt drive set among ancient Aspen trees.
"I'm just upset that you waited this long to tell me. I'm not stupid, Mom. I know things haven't been okay with you and Dad for years. I don't know if I will ever forgive him for wanting to leave Grandpa to die alone." There was a pause. Both Jasper and Bella could hear Nessie crying on the phone line.
"You always taught me to be independent and strong, to have courage, and to protect those I love. I'm sorry that I didn't protect you, and I'm glad that Uncle Jasper will. You should have left him a long time ago, Mom. We both know it. I love you and Dad, Mom. I'm sorry that you both made each other miserable in order to make me happy. Uncle Jasper, if you're listening, I want to thank you. Thank you for making my mom happy, and for loving her. Don't take her for granted, or you'll have Jacob and I kicking your ass. You've loved her a lot longer than anyone else knows. I've seen it in your memories. I think you've loved her all along. I'm good with it, happy even, to know you love her so much. I have to go. I love you both so much, be ecstatically happy for me, and I'll see you both for Christmas at Aunt Alice's." The dial tone indicated she'd hung up.
Jasper pulled over to the side of the road. Bella was hunched over in the seat, her body shaking with the sobs she could not cry. Like a flood gate opening, Jasper let loose all the love he felt for Bella as he cradled her in his arms.
"Hush love, everything is going to be okay now. We're together. Everything will turn out all right, you heard Alice. Haven't you learned by now, don't bet against hyper pixies protecting their family?" Driving with one hand and holding Bella in his lap, Jasper drove the rest of the way to the house.
After putting the car in park and turning off the ignition, Jasper opened the car door all the way. Stepping out, he still held Bella in his arms. It was from this cocoon that Bella got the first look at her new home.
The small, aged, chalet seemed at home in its surroundings. The wood had aged a dark color and smoke rose from the stone chimney. Mullioned windows reminded Bella of the fairy tales of youth. Boxes underneath the windows held a variety of early fall mums, and a wreath filled with pine cones, leaves, and berry twigs adorned the door. Jasper stood on a stone walkway that looked as if it had been there forever. At any moment Bella expected to see her fairy godmother telling her that her wish is granted.
"How long have you and Alice had this place?" Bella cuddled up against Jasper's chest. She wasn't ready yet to be parted from him.
"We built this place that fall we all left Forks. Alice had the whole thing designed in her head and began sketching it the night of your birthday. Once it was built, we never used it. She had the vision of you and left for Forks." As Jasper talked, pieces of his earlier conversation with Alice played in his head. Realization dawned on him and he set Bella down. Grabbing her hand he led the way into the house.
The main floor contained a great room, kitchen, large bathroom, and a spare bedroom. Looking around Jasper took a hard look at his wife's work. Nothing about the decor said Alice. The warm colored tones, comfy furniture and enormous bookshelves said nothing of Alice's character. The kitchen contained all new appliances with plates in a holder by the stove. The bathroom with its large shower and Jacuzzi tub, even contained a toilet, something none of the family as vampires, needed.
Alice had designed this place for him and Bella, years ago. Her comment now made sense. Alice had known, even before Bella and Edward were married, that someday Bella and Jasper would be here together.
"This place is amazing Jasper. We can leave though if it reminds you too much of you and Alice." Bella let go of Jasper's hand and began looking around the room. This was exactly how she would have decorated the cottage, if she would have ever been given the choice. Edward had always asked Esme to do their decorating, often saying that Bella just wasn't that into it. The truth was he'd never given Bella the chance.
As Jasper watched Bella, he noticed the letter with his and Bella's names on the mantle. He plucked the paper from its spot. Opening it, he quickly scanned it. Bella, feeling Jasper's rolling emotions went immediately to his side. Wrapping her arms around him she leaned her head into his chest.
"What does it say?" Bella placed a kiss over where Jasper's heart should have been beating then snuggled her nose into the same spot.
"Come sit on the couch with me, and I'll read it to you." Jasper moved them backward toward the couch and down. Bella curled up in his lap, her ear pressed to his chest. Often on their hunts alone he would quote passages from books and poetry to her as they lay together. Bella loved the sound of his voice as it rumbled in his chest.
"Jasper and Bella, this place is for you. In the early days, I had many visions of Bella being like us. So many of them changed, except this one. Bella, this cabin was originally planned to be your new home after you were turned. We all knew that Jasper was the only one who would be able to control you once the change happened. You surprised us all, none more that Jazz. In my visions of the future, I always saw you here, and together. Because the time has now come to pass, and both of you got together on your own, I can now tell you the vision I had years ago. I know this may hurt. I'm sorry. For so long I kept this vision to myself because I didn't want to lose you, Jasper. I was so very wrong. Years ago, on your birthday Bella, I had a vision. It was immediately after Jasper's lunge at you. I saw Jasper's guilt making him stay to take care of you. I saw both of you change, and slowly fall in love. If I would not have made Jasper leave, Bella, Renesmee would have been his daughter. No matter the way I spun my visions, the two of you were together. Whatever my visions showed, I did the opposite and manipulated you to do the same. What I have done to both of you, because of my own fear is unforgivable. I could try to spin everything in my favor, but I won't. I was jealous, selfish, and afraid. I played with fate and we all lost. Please come to Paris for Christmas, I want to begin to make everything up to both of you, even if it takes me forever. Love, Alice."
Bella could feel Jasper's anger, as he projected it out through the room. His hand balled the piece of paper then threw it into the fire.
"Damn her, damn her and her meddling. So many years wasted, for what?" Setting Bella aside on the couch, Jasper rose and began pacing in front of the fire. "All of this time we could have been together, happy. God, Bella, Nessie could have been my daughter. I've always felt so jealous of Edward for having her. He alone, had a child when none of us could. I hated him for it. Now to find out that she could have been ours. It hurts, more than I can bear. I'll never forgive Alice for that, never." Jasper's hands balled into fists with the need to destroy before slowing sliding to the floor.
Crawling off the couch and onto the floor, Bella went to where Jasper now sat. His pain was overwhelming as she pulled him into her arms.
"What's done is done, my love. We can't go back and erase the past, no matter how much we want to. Alice played with fate and we all found out that fate has a way of getting what it wants. We're together now, and that's what matter most. Edward for all of his faults is a wonderful father, as you would have been. We have to put all of this behind us and start new. Forever is too long to hold a grudge, especially against our family. I don't blame Alice or Edward, Jasper. Their actions were because they loved us, we have to remember that. Someday, hopefully we can all be a family again, for now I have you and Nessie. I can live with that. You may not be her biological father, Jasper, but Nessie loves you. When the time is right, you'll be the best step father a girl could ever have. I want to spend forever with you, Jasper. Actually, forever doesn't seem long enough. I love you, and I plan on spending every day of existence showing you how much. It doesn't matter how we got here, as long as we have."
Jasper reached up, flicking a long brown strand of hair behind Bella's ear, he looked into the eyes of the woman he would not only kill for, but die for. She was his soul's mate. Looking into her amber eyes he remembered the first day he saw her, he had been afraid, curious and more tempted than ever in his life. From the moment he'd seen Bella Swan he'd wanted to claim her, to turn her and make her his. The feeling never changed. Now that he had her, Jasper planned on claiming her every day of their lives.
Pulling her down, Jasper's lips met Bella in fiery abandon. In seconds he had his own and her clothes off and scattered. The firelight cast wonderful shadows and colors on their skin making it sparkle in golds and oranges. Jasper groaned as he looked into the eyes of his mate and slid into her silken folds. Bella clutched to Jasper's shoulders, her eyes never leaving his, as he began to stroke in and out of her. Climax left them both shaking and spent. Wrapped in Jasper's arms, Bella sat between his legs and they stared at the fire. Neither said a word other than declarations of love, for hours as the fire faded to embers, then ash. Over and over again they made love until it was the start of a new day and the rest of their lives.
Christmas - Paris - Three Years Later
"Aunt Alice, do you have any more bulbs for the tree, Jacob just dropped the box." Nessie elbowed her husband in the ribs, just hard enough to make him wince.
"If you wouldn't have been teasing me, I wouldn't have dropped the box in the first place." Jacob wrapped his arms around his wife's swollen belly and kissed her on the neck. He pressed himself hard into her back, making them both sigh.
Jasper and Bella were adding the final decorations to the enormous Christmas tree in Alice's Parisian loft. The rest of the family would be joining them shortly for the holidays. This would be there first together as a family for three years. Both Bella and Jasper were nervous. A year ago, Edward had finally granted Bella the divorce she had been seeking. Tonight, on Christmas Eve, if Carlisle would officiate, Bella and Jasper would be joined as husband and wife. They had waited until the right moment when Alice had told them the time was right.
It had taken two years and Nessie's constant love, for Jasper to forgive Alice. The past year had been repairing the damage with the rest of the family. Edward was still in Tibet and it wasn't known whether he would be here or not, even Alice didn't know. Alice had explained her actions and fought a long battle with Carlisle and Esme, to win back their trust. Emmett and Rosalie had come around after six months of Emmett's whining that he missed Jasper and their week long, video game challenges.
Repairing things with Edward had been a long hard process. The monastery and its monks had helped him come to terms with everything. He, Bella and Jasper had been writing letters for the past year and a half. Slowly the damage was being repaired and Bella found a solid friendship with Edward, that had never been there, even in the beginning. Together Bella, Jasper, and Edward were rebuilding their lives. Edward even promised to try to be here for Christmas so that the hatchet could be buried once and for all.
"They're here." Alice's voice rang through the penthouse loft and over the sound soft of Christmas music. Together, Alice, Jacob, Jasper and Bella flew through the house, making sure there were no stray ornaments or papers laying within sight. Bella and Alice were laughing after an almost collision, just as the door rang.
After an hour of eggshells, the family felt right again. Everyone marveled over the newest joy to the family. Nessie's round pregnant belly was patted and cooed over by everyone. More than one person slapped Emmett for peaking into presents and the whole room was filled with joy. Bella was wrapped more than once in Carlisle and Esme's arms, along with a couple of Emmett's bear hugs. Rosalie, obviously in the Christmas spirit, even hugged Alice and Bella.
"Can I have everyone's attention?" Jasper gently tapped his champagne glass of blood as he shouted over the noise. Everyone stopped and turned to him.
"Tonight, is the first night in three years that we have been together as a family. With such a joyous occasion, Bella and I would like to make it even more special. Carlisle, if you would agree as the patriarch of our family, Bella and I would like to be married. We want to start off the new year as husband and wife." Jasper stepped away from the crackling fireplace and toward Bella. Grabbing her, they waited for Carlisle's reply. For several, long agonizing seconds, the quiet in the room became deafening.
"It would be an honor." Carlisle stepped forward with Esme and together they wrapped their arms around Bella and Jasper, bestowing their blessing upon them.
"When would you like to do this?" Carlisle looked at Jasper and Bella and became overcome with emotion. He had missed his children, and his family more than any of them knew.
"There's no time like the present." Bella wrapped her arm securely around Jasper's waist and learned her right cheek into his shoulder.
"All right then, gather around everyone." Carlisle turned so that his back was to the fireplace. Nessie followed to stand beside her mother as Matron of Honor.
As Carlisle went into the traditional marriage vows the only sound in the room was Nessie's soft cries and the tapping of her tears as they hit the hardwood floor.
"If there is anyone present who knows why these two should not be joined, let them speak now, or forever hold your peace." Carlisle waited for a brief second. As soon as he went to start again, Alice's door was thrust open hard enough to hit the wall.
"I object." Edward stood in the doorway, his mouth in a firm line. He stared at Jasper, whose eyes had become a deadly black.
In one swift move, Jasper was shielding Bella and Nessie with his body. He growled low, and dangerous. No one doubted that Jasper could kill Edward if one hair on his family's head was touched.
Jasper and Edward had been on cordial terms for the past year, it didn't mean that Jasper trusted him.
"Let me finish, I object, because I'd like to give the bride away." Holding out his arms, Edward's smile lit up the room as his daughter ran into his arms.
"I've missed you, daddy." Nessie's face was brighter than the Christmas tree.
"I've missed you too, sweetheart. I'm glad to see Jacob is taking good care of you." Edward's voice was raw as he clung to his daughter. If there was any reason for Edward's existence, Renesmee was it.
Bella watched as Jasper turned away from the overwhelming emotions that were surrounding him. She knew how much he wished Edward would never come back, just so he could pretend to be Nessie's father. Tightly Bella wrapped her arm around Jasper's waist and pulled him close. Placing her right hand over his heart, Bella let Jasper feel all the love she had for him.
With one arm around his daughter, Edward walked forward until he was facing Bella and Jasper. Jasper could feel no animosity or anger coming from Edward. He let himself relax just a little.
"Please allow me to give you away. It's the beginning of what I can and will do to make up for my horrible mistakes. All I've ever wanted was for you to have a happy life. I'm glad that Jasper makes you happy. I hope you will have a wonderful life together." Edward went to move a stray strand of Bella's hair then stopped. He stood waiting for Bella's reply.
"Yes, I'd like that." Tentatively Bella put her hand on Edward's arm.
With Bella's hand in the crook of Edward's arm they walked back to the front door. Music began playing in the form of a wedding march and all laughed as Alice rushed back into the room with a smile on her face.
"I have a surprise for both of you later, think of it as and I'm sorry and a Christmas present." Edward whispered in Bella's ear as they walked forward, and even smiled before kissing Bella on the cheek, then putting her hand into Jasper's outstretched one.
A few moments later, Carlisle asked the very pertinent question. "Who gives this woman in marriage?"
Edward spoke clearly and with no hesitation to his voice. "I do."
"And your relationship to the bride?" Carlisle and the rest of the family turned to Edward, all were anxious for his reply.
"Her friend." Edward smiled and stepped back and next to Alice who gathered him into a huge hug.
The rest of the small ceremony went off without a hitch. Jasper pulled a simple gold band, as he held it up to the light, Bella was able to see an inscription. If she could have cried, she would have. The inscription was perfect. "Jasper and Bella, For All Eternity." Jasper slid the band on her finger, then kissed the back of her hand. Bella was now his, forever. Forever definitely wasn't long enough.
When Carlisle pronounced the happy couple as man and wife the family cheered as Jasper swept Bella into a searing, passionate kiss.
Later after much merriment and an exorbitance of presents, Edward came forth. Raising his glass called everyone to silence.
"To Bella and Jasper, may you have many lifetimes of happiness. I have a special gift for both of you, that can't wait any longer. Many months ago, as I began preparing to come home a young woman came to the door. She was sixteen years old and had run away from home in disgrace. Her face, clothing, and hair were muddy. There was no doubt in my mind that she had been surviving in the jungle for some time. In some monasteries it is forbidden for women to enter. After a meeting with the elders, it was decided that this young girl would be taken in and cared for. As the months passed, Li Li, or Lily as we all took to calling her, grew ripe with her child and quickly became doted on, even by me. She had little education and we all began teaching her a basic education, so that someday she could support herself and her child. The days leading up to the birth of the child seemed to fly by for us all. Lily was the reason I stayed at the monastery longer, and why I doubted I would make it here tonight, the birth was due to take place in a few weeks and I didn't want to leave her as I had the most medical experience." Edward stopped, his head hung low, grief pouring out of his very soul. Turning his back, he strode out the door, leaving his family his family, especially Jasper, feeling the full strength of his sorrow.
Moments later he came back in the door, a bundle in his arms."Three days ago, Lily went into pre term labor. There were complications and the hospital was a day ride away. I did everything I could to save her and the life of her child. As she was dying in my arms, Lily told me to find kind, loving and wonderful parents for her daughter. I knew without a doubt there was only couple I knew of with enough love to have fate on their side. So many times, Alice and I played God and decided fate's hands. We were wrong. Had things been different, I wouldn't be standing here now. I'm glad I am though. I'd like to think that this was fate's plan all along, but I'm not going to tempt or question it. I was lucky enough to fall in love twice in my existence, and from now on I'm going to let fate play itself out." Walking over to Bella and Jasper, Edward placed the tiny bundle in Jasper's arms.
"Merry Christmas, and say hello to your daughter, Lily Isabella Cullen, named aptly for the two women I have loved most in life. I know you will take great care of her. I made a decision on the way here. Tonight I am returning to the monastery. I am needed there, the local people have no doctor to speak of. Please keep me up to date on her progress. I love you all." Lifting the blanket off the baby's sweet face, Edward pushed back her mass of black unruly spiked hair and kissed her forehead.
Edward's shoulders were hunched as he left. He'd said the only goodbye he could muster. In this moment all he wanted was to be back at the monastery and soaking in the memories of the woman he loved. He was a block down the street when he heard the clack of heels on the sidewalk.
"Edward, wait, please, wait!" The voice made him stop in his tracks. Turning around, he was assaulted in a hug.
"Thank you. I can't tell you enough how much tonight has meant to me. I don't regret the years we had. We have a wonderful daughter and too many good years to throw them away. Thank you for giving me away, and for becoming my friend. I'm glad that you found someone to love, and I'm sorry that you lost her. Your mate is out there, Edward, of that I have no doubt. I hope you find her. As soon as we can, we will bring Lily to see you. We will love her as our own, though you know that. Goodbye, for now." Bella stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek, hugging her body to his, before turning away and heading back to Alice's loft.
Three days later, Bella watched as Jasper held Lily in front of the fire in their cabin. She was curled against his chest, fast asleep. Jasper's joy had been flowing nonstop since the moment Edward had put their daughter in his arms. For Jasper, being a father meant more to him than anyone in the family ever could have known, it didn't matter where Lily came from biologically. All that mattered for Jasper was that Lily was his, and Bella's.
Bella watched in awe as her husband, her soul mate, bent down and kissed a dark, downy head. His whispered words of love to the baby in his arms made Bella glad that Alice and Edward had played with fate. If they hadn't, she wouldn't be here now, not only with one precious daughter, but two. Who knows what would have happened if fate had played out the way it had meant to. Maybe Bella wouldn't have moved to Forks, or had Carlisle turning Edward. Did fate lead Jasper to the military and Maria, or to a diner to meet Alice, or with Rosalie deciding that a dying Emmett must be saved? Even Esme had played with fate the night she jumped off a cliff to end her life. Did they not play with fate with their very existence?
Bella was glad for the way things had worked out in her life. Without Edward playing with her fate, she never would have known his love, or his family's love. Her beloved Nessie would never have been born, nor would Bella be staring at the man she loved more than life, holding their new daughter.
Playing with fate has cost them so much, but the rewards greatly outweighed the risks. Playing with fate had led Bella to Jasper, which in turn led Edward to Tibet for Li Li and Lily. Looking at her husband and daughter, Bella was grateful for every turn of events in their lives.
Walking to the couch and Jasper, Bella scooted in beside him. Laying her head on Jasper's chest, she came face to face with dark tiny eyes and the promise of a future that was better than any other fairy tale.