Disclaimer: All Twilight Saga characters belong to Stephanie Meyer. Unless stated otherwise. The plot to Temptation belongs to me, please respect artistic creativity. This is a non-profit story. No copyrights infringements intended.


JASPER

"She hates us, Jasper, she completely hates us." Alice wept, shuddering in my lap. I stroked her hair, the only comfort I can offer. Her grief alone would have suffice my ability to reduce it, yet it's proven to be hard as I got hindered by the sulky teen on the top floor. All too much to bear, I groaned.

Alice was too, for lack of a better word, distressed to divulge but I somehow got the gist of what went down. "Sweetheart, you know she doesn't hate ….. you." I soothed my wife, tucking her head under my chin.

This is so hard. I didn't want to speak for Bella. I didn't know how the family stood for her anymore. What we done was unforgivable. I didn't want to offer comforting words when such comfort spoke false and tainted. No one in their right mind can forgive and forget such a fault, not so easily and not so soon.

"You didn't hear what she said, Jazz ….. it was just …" she inhaled sharply. "For what we did, she will never forgive us." She whispered. I couldn't counter those words unless I prepared to lie. My wife's words echoed truth.

I swallowed; I reckon these shaky emotions I'm feeling aren't just affected as the product of empathy. "Give her some time, sweetie. Can't exactly expect her to bottle her self up, plaster a smile, pretend all is right as rain, do you?"

Alice shook her head against my chest. "But she was right! We should have fought for her." She spoke against my shirt, voice muffled but still loud and clear. I heard creakin' and clatterin' followed by silence from down stairs. I knew the family was standing still, listening to every word. Alice got their undivided attention now. "We brought her in as one of our own and then left her behind. We didn't fight for her. We just …. Left her. Abandoned her." Alice cuddled closer to my chest, and I held her tight to me.

I knew it should have been me! I knew I should've been the only one to leave. Stay away for some time, collect myself, and then come back. The family would have welcomed me and looked away from such a mistake. Bella, with her larger than life heart, would have forgiven me instantly for my slip-up. I know that now! More than I knew it then. She understood my nature, my hardship, yet she didn't judge. She never judged.

I just didn't figure in such a short time, that dumbass would be swayin' the family to pick up and leave. As if Alice can read my mind, so attuned, as a mate should be, spoke up my silent words to the sulky little fuck up. "Stupid ….. idiot … jerk!" Alice muttered. Then I heard a faint growl preceding us from above, from the third floor. I was morbidly assuming my darlin' Alice was hitting Edward with even fouler names within her mind. I can only shake my head in complete and forlorn trounce.

Alice pulled her face suddenly away from me, and sucked in a sharp breath. My hand paused its rhythmic stroking on her hair. I met her gaze, her golden eyes looked too far and too lost. "What's wrong, sweetheart?" I inquired anxiously, sensing distress in her mood.

"Jasper .." she flustered in a faint gasp, before she uttered them words that left me rigid as wood with my mind working double time. "Our future is gone." Already my thoughts were conjuring up the causes, and only came with two answers ….

Werewolves … or

I chewed the inside of my cheek as I considered the second alternative.

Last time that happened, the Volturi were involved.

I heard a clatter from above and felt an immediate twinge of panic. Little bitch heard my thoughts. And then I was diverted by voices from outside the house that required my extreme attention, for I didn't notice it until now, too soaked on the emotional blanket of my wife. Now there are more than the usual six entities of my family members within the vicinity.

I heard the front door being opened in a faint creak. "Can I help you?" Emmett's sarcastic tone echoed in my ear, like he was right next to me.

And I was already moving. Already in action. Acting on instincts before consideration. A blur of motion. I collected my wife and placed her on the bed beside me, rising to my feet I turned around and cupped her face in my hands, forcing her to meet my gaze. "Sweetheart, I want you to stay here no matter what happens, you hear?"

"But Jazz …"

"No." I shook my head. "Not this time, Ali. You stay put, don't interfere." I spoke, no, I ordered strictly, too fast to be heard by any mortal ears. But my baby could hear me just fine. And I didn't want my wife getting tangled in anything in her fragile state. To my sheer relief, Alice nodded, far too upset to counter me, and all too soon I was out the door and two flights down within a split second.

I made it out the door, which was left wide open, and my suspensions were confirmed. My latter suspensions. Damn it!

Ironically, I half hoped it would be the wolves to come a knockin'. But no, it was the force that dared not be reckoned with. Him and his band of lackeys.

I've never felt so completely defenseless, senses heightened to the extreme. But only to be stripped with trepidation. My hands twitched and tingled, itching for a fight, to awaken a side of me I haven't been in nearly 60 years. Not since my time with the little whore, Maria, my demon, my cross to bear. So this would be the second worse problem my immortal hide encountered. God damn it.

Tall, dark and white as chalk dust, Aro stood across the farthest end of the yard, his guards stuck to his back like flies on fresh meat. Taking the word 'protect' far to literal. Aro himself, stood at ease, his eyes were sizing up Emmett's burly form until he smiled, though the smile didn't reach his eyes.

"Young Emmett Cullen." Aro spoke, more to himself. Whispering meant as much as screaming words aloud right next to our ears. The smile was gone now, but Aro's eyes widened, alight with secret thoughts, but a hint of curiosity was something to be sensed.

The tallest of them hooded figures behind him, now I'm guessing would be Felix, took a step forward and growled. I sensed a hint of familiarity from Emmett at the Volturi Hulk. Emmett did say a few words on this fellow when they met in Seattle. The excitement rolling off of both of them was severely infectious to me and I tried not to project it.

I reckon when you meet your evil counter part, things get a little spicy with competition. Emmett was a brawny bulk of a bear, wider in flesh and muscles, but Felix was a monster in height. He could eclipse the fucking sun.

"All in good time, Felix my boy. All in good time." Aro soothed the giant. And Felix stepped back among his ranks of guards, but still looked to my brother head on, with a smirk and a promise of a challenge. I hope it never comes to that.

Aro, completely unfazed, looked between Emmett and myself nonchalantly. "Is the patriarch within residence? I wish to exchange a few … words … with my dear friend."

His face looked to be one of peace but the small rising tension in his shoulders said otherwise. I grew far too nervous, for his tone and mood grew from passive, to passive with a slight malicious tint, like a bitter aftertaste.

Just as I was about to give voice, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Carlisle stood behind me. I didn't realize I was blocking the entrance and took a step to the side. His hand gripped my shoulder briefly, and he gave me a slightly nervous smile. His perfectly side swept hair now fell forward, over his bourbon colored eyes. I sent him calming waves and he squeezed my shoulder, sending me gratitude before he dropped his hand and walked forward to our unwelcomed guests. But I didn't let him walk alone; I was on his tail, but not too overly close to give our visitors a bad idea.

Carlisle descended the porch stairs and passed Emmett on the large clearing, and like me, Emmett took to flanking Carlisle's other side, stopping a yard away from Aro and his dark cloaked minions. A few whispers broke among the guards but they were silenced when their coven master spoke.

"Let us go somewhere more privately, Carlisle. I have words to speak that might not be preferred to be heeded by your …. wards." Aro spoke calmly. Too calm for my liking, his face and mood were far too trained to remain preserved. A little emotion seeped but its intent and objective was hard to place.

Carlisle grew nervous. The most nervous I have seen him in all the time I have come to know him. And it beckoned me all the more curious. Because there is a slight fear that lingered yet it was not his dominant emotion.

"Whatever that needs to be said, you can say it in front of my family, Aro. We hide nothing from one another." Carlisle stated.

I sensed disapproval coming from the Volturi leader, light and faint. "An unwise decision, coven leader-rrrr." Aro drawl, smirking with mischief.

Suddenly, the glimmer of a smile on Aro's lips disappeared, meeting our father figure with a sharp gaze. "You disappoint me, Carlisle. You are not the same man I once knew many decades ago." He sighed loud, a little to theatrically. "What a pity. What a waste you have become, friend."

Carlisle looked taken aback by Aro's words. "I don't … understand … but …. Aro, where are these words coming from?" He spoke. His foot edging to take a step forward, but I held onto his arm to stop him when a slight wave of hostility broke among the guards. I tried, with so much effort, and sent calming waves across them. It was harder to will my powers on a group, but with much concentration they relaxed. I, on the other, felt the wind getting knocked out of me, although for a brief second. That was the most I had to use my powers in many decades. I'm a little rusty so it seems. But being a vampire had its merited for I recovered instantly.

Aro peered over his shoulder at the guards, then looked to me. His mouth twitched and there was admiration and curiosity to him. Both emotions I neither liked nor welcomed. I felt slightly guilty for being grateful when he returned to addressing Carlisle. His attention I did not welcome.

"As I was saying …" Aro's eyes narrowed sharply. "Carlisle, ever since our first encounter, I always knew I had found a friend, a brother, in you. Despite your peculiar diet, I never judged ….….. too harshly." he smiled fondly at Carlisle, a warm reminiscing of old memories. In a way an elder sibling looks upon his little brother. It was a strange emotion of warmth, and I felt oddly drawn to it. It was happy but turned sour just as quickly.

The smile melted from Aro's face, like candle wax. "However, even when you were so different living among our ranks, I constantly saw potential within you. Had you never left the Volturi to pursue your own path, I would have envisioned you would be a part of us. Not as a ranking coven member, but a leader among my brethren." That earned a gasp all around the clearing, even from the house, and when I turned to look, Rosalie, Esme, and to my sheer dislike, Alice, were all standing on the front porch. All our female occupants mirroring our shared bewildered feelings at the words spoken by this leader of our kind.

But Aro continued, impervious by our shock. "A peacekeeper of our race, beside me, you would have been. Yet … our dreams … our ambitions …. proved to be … different." He sneered, lips pulled back in obvious disgust.

Aro looked to Carlisle with scrutiny that conveyed so much depth, it tingled, like an eerie sensation. Eyes so deep, they sucked you right in. To Carlisle it had to have meant something, because he emitted a wave of disgrace and shame. We were just exterior specters, observing, watching, in utter disbelief.

Aro pursed his lips. Confliction marred his face but it only lasted an inkling before it was wiped by a vision of indifference. "I never begrudged you when you left us to find the companionship of others, Carlisle. Wither its fellow vampires who cross your path or wards created from your venom. You did not wish for a coven, but a family."

He gestured his guards. "And we, the Volturi, are no family." He added with shocking sincere honesty in his eyes, shaking his head slowly as the words left his mouth.

He then tucked his arm behind him, standing taller, his manner growing more serious and grim. "Right now I come to you as a long time friend in second, and a leader of the Volturi first." I heard light gravel shuffling under Carlisle's feet as his shoes dug into the ground. His nervousness now magnified in folds.

Suddenly a voice spoke from the top balcony of the house. "Why are you here?" All our heads looked up at the source. Edward stood behind the banister, looking down at the Volturi with disdain. The dark circles under his hungry eyes were more prominent. He looked hostile and disheveled. More the vampire and less of the pristine perfection of Edward Mason Cullen we grew accustomed to over the decades.

I looked to the Volturi leader and his eyes returned to our father. "I am here to question you, Carlisle Cullen, on your fallen duties as leader of your coven." I suppressed the gasp, which bubbled, in my throat, but my family members couldn't contain their emotions at what we just heard.

But Aro continued. "Call it a family all you like Carlisle, but it is you who leads them … guides them …. and you have severely failed!" he growled and I believe that was a first. "Far overly engrossed in the role of the father to see the error of your ways as a leader." I can feel the disappointment from Aro and the shame that Carlisle mirrored. I never comprehended how they were friends in the first place. But clearly they shared a bond, it was there, condensed between them. And despite their differences, they somehow managed to over look it.

Oh hell's fury rain down on my damned soul! Its like watching Peter and myself in this moment. The similarity was eerily parallel, right down to the hair and eye color. I shivered, shaking into the core of my spine, like a bolt of electricity shooting through me.

"Aro …. I don't .." Carlisle began to say, though stuttering to find his voice.

"You don't. You don't. You don't." Aro tilted his head, leering heavy at Carlisle. "What do you do, Carlisle?" he asked rhetorically, edging slightly forward but remaining a safe distance from us.

"You may be the face of the coven, but its your first son that puppeteers you and your entire lot right to its downfall." He looked to Edward from the corner of his eyes before looking back to our patriarch.

"Is this about Edward revealing …." Carlisle trailed off.

Aro huffed. "Exposing our secret to a human girl is only the tiny morsel in this growing pus of a problem you have conjured. For I am referring to letting your little boy, though gifted he may be, to play around with a mind of a human, warping her into our world, denying her the promise of immortality when clearly she was wishful of it, then swaying your family into tossing her aside."

He took another step forward. "And I furthermore, speak of letting your boy, barely of a century old, to wander around freely among humans with no restrictions or restraints. To sway the decisions of this coven, when in every corner a problem blooms to surface from said choices." He chastised. "Instead of learning from mistakes, your lot just dooms to repeat them."

"Aro, the blame doesn't fall solely on my son. We as a family and coven accept that all our decisions led to these consequences." Carlisle spoke, for the first time more calm and in control.

Sparks of anger grew in Aro's eyes. "Every decision I see is only led by your ungrateful little brat of a child. Whom you have given too much freedom to prance around when he should have been tied down and leashed into subservience by his creator."

"This not how we lead our lives, Aro." Carlisle shook his head.

"No you do not." Aro nodded. "Instead, you depend far too willingly on this boy, his gifts, and his lack of experience. You favored him all for the purpose of him being your first son, when you should have been placing your trust" he pointed a finger at me. "on the wisdom of your elder son instead."

What?!

I do believe my ears were playing tricks on me. Did he say what I thought he said? Suddenly, everyone looked to me. The sheer pressure and mixed emotions of their presence was like a bolder on my back. I looked around the clearing and felt like a deer in the headlights. I can see and sense the shock in Carlisle. Behind him, Emmett looked to me with radiating acceptance …. ?

Aro's voice broke the seconds of silence. "But o-oh no, Carlisle, you thrust your favor on the little brat like the apple of your eye."

"This must be a mistake, old friend. I do not favor one of my children above the rest. They …" Carlisle gestured to us. "are everything that means all in my existence. Mistakes happen, but they are minor. We take responsibility in what our family has done and we shall correct them and see to them to be made right once again."

Ruby eyes flashed wide and wild. "Your mistakes will be corrected indeed, but not by you." Aro declared, rubbing his hands together. "It seems I must move my hands to purpose."

"I hoped it would have never come to this but you give me no choice." Aro spoke, almost apologetically.

"And in so, I herby relief you Carlisle Cullen of your duties as coven leader."

"Please don't do that." Esme suddenly spoke, pleading, on the verge of weeping. "Carlisle is our maker. He only ever had our best interest at heart. Please. This cannot happen." She approached our proximity, wrapping her arms around Carlisle's waist and holding him tight.

"It will be fine, my love." Carlisle soothed into her caramel curls, embracing her in his arms. "This might be what is best."

"What?" Esme's golden bewildered gaze looked up into his eyes. "I can't believe you are saying this, Carlisle."

"Aro is only doing what he believes to be best for all. And ….." He broke his gaze from his wife to meet the crimson eyes of the, so called, king of our race with a frightening sense of resolution. "I think I agree with him, my Esme. I may be blind to the ways our family is being led."

"I am thrilled you accept the error of your ways, Carlisle." Aro cut in, exclaiming enthusiastically. A smile of pleasure and radiance illuminated his feature, and this one reach all the way to his ruby eyes and twinkled with delight. But Carlisle remained silent, meeting none of our eyes, his family, as we stood digesting what was being declared.

"This is ridiculous." Edward stated, leaping from the top balcony and landing loudly on the pebbled clearing.

A rage suddenly grew in Aro. A fury that no one anticipated, nor saw coming.

To be continued …..