Kristin

Once you get used to the idea, nothing is funnier than watching a coven of vampires fawn over your four year old. Especially when you consider that these vampires are strong enough to crush her without an effort and fast enough that if they decided she would make a nice snack, she would be dead in less than a second. Not to mention the fact that she's just a plain, ordinary, four year old human child. It's bizarre.

Yet there she was, in the yard, playing with Emmett and Alice and Rosalie and Edward and Bella and and Esme, while Seth and I watched from the porch. She was having a great time.

And I was actually okay with the idea, though I kept an eye on her anyway, out of habit. The Cullens didn't worry me anymore. Neither did the werewolves, for that matter.

Jasper still worried me, a little, though I hadn't actually seen much of him. He stayed away from my daughter and me as much as possible.

It made sense that he would. After all, he'd just spent the last five years locked in a hospital as a mental patient. And they hadn't exactly been accommodating over his diet during that time, so he was still a little shaky when it came to being around humans without giving into the urge to sink his teeth into them.

Emmett swooped in on Sam, caught her, and threw her about ten feet up in the air. She shrieked and giggled, and I reminded myself that she was perfectly safe. Even if Emmett were going to drop her, Alice would see it and keep her from hitting the ground.

Seth chuckled and laid his hand on mine. "She's not the least bit afraid." He commented easily. His attention shifted to me. "You aren't, either. Not anymore."

"Took her long enough!" Emmett shouted. Gotta love vampire hearing. He had heard us clear from the porch steps where we were sitting.

"It only took her a week." Alice defended me. "You've got to stop judging people based on Bella's reaction to us. It wasn't normal."

"Hey!" Bella protested half-heartedly.

"Well, it wasn't." Alice retorted. "Any sane person would have run away screaming."

Seth growled. "This was supposed to be a private conversation." He grumbled, but his smile assured that he wasn't really angry. "Stupid bloodsuckers." He added.

"I thought that was supposed to Jacob's line." I about jumped out of my skin as I realized Jasper was behind us. He moved forward to lean on the rail on the other side of Seth. "Didn't they warn you that there's no such thing as privacy around here?" Seth merely shrugged.

It made sense, though. A vampire that could see the future, one that could sense your emotions, and another that could actually read your mind. Never mind the vampire senses of hearing, sight, and smell. Of course there wouldn't be much privacy here.

"Why do you think Nessie and Jacob went out?" Jasper asked after a second.

"Good point." Seth conceded. "So what brings you out? Finally decide to quit torturing yourself and just eat the humans?"

Jasper frowned. "That's not funny." He replied, shifting uncomfortably.

Seth sighed. "Okay, sorry." He apologized. "Too soon, I guess."

Jasper offered a wan smile. "Just a little." He agreed tersely. His eyes were already darker than when he had first come out here, I noticed. "It doesn't get better though, not by avoiding the problem."

"That sucks." Seth said. Guessing accurately that I hadn't quite understood, he turned to me. "The only way to get used to being around you is to be around you and get used to smelling you without giving in." He translated. "So, just in case, if he lunges, run for the large group of vampires out in the yard."

I wasn't used to this new lifestyle enough that the thought that if something happened I'd been running to a group of vampires for safety didn't strike me as odd. I tried not to laugh at the idea.

I needn't have bothered. Jasper snorted, and Seth cracked up. Out in the yard, Rosalie rolled her eyes as she obligingly set my daughter on her shoulders.

"How bad is it?" I asked Jasper, and his smile quickly faded, leaving him looking tired and worn.

He licked his lips nervously, but didn't answer. Instead he stared across the yard, his eyes focusing on Alice. She turned and smiled at him; suddenly she was there on the porch with us.

"Hi." She greeted everyone, moving to stand beside Jasper. "I was wondering why we were going hunting again tonight." She said lightly. "Good for you."

He sighed. "I don't know…maybe it's a bad idea."

Alice shrugged. "I don't think Seth would let you get very far." She commented off-handedly.

"You've got that right." Seth growled, underneath his good-natured threat was a warning. I wondered, if it came down to it, who would win: the vampire or the werewolf?

Emmett had hinted once that Jasper used to be a soldier. He hadn't gotten any farther than that, though, because Alice had shot him a glare that would make a trained assassin reconsider his position. Emmett had muttered something about meaning the Civil War and sullenly retreated. I had wondered at the time if Emmett had meant something else, but had never actually tried to find out more.

Certainly Seth came off as more aggressive than Jasper. Here, at least. I could still remember the vampire back at the hospital. Some nights I was still there, in my dreams, and all I could do was watch helplessly as he ripped into those people.

I really didn't know what would happen if it came to a fight. Both of them were generally pretty tense whenever I was around. Jasper worried about losing control and attacking me, and, well, Seth worried about Jasper losing control and attacking me. Not that I was usually around Jasper much. This was probably the first time he had spoken to me since he had thanked me for helping rescue him.

My daughter appeared, apparently she had noticed Jasper's arrival. Hesitantly she approached us. Sam had somehow, during the very short time that she had known Jasper, developed quite a fondness for him. It had nearly caused some serious problems at first, but Alice had taken the child aside and explained that she needed to be careful around Jasper for the time being.

She stopped when Jasper zeroed in on her. I watched with baited breath as he studied her intently. Alice and Seth waited, too, ready to intervene should the need arise. I wondered if they would be fast enough if Jasper decided to go for her.

"Hi." He said at last.

"Hi." She beamed up at him. "Wanna play?"

He swallowed nervously. I spoke up quickly. "Honey, I'm not so sure that's such a good idea right now."

She nodded solemnly. "That's okay." She said to Jasper. "Alice said it might be a while before you're ready."

He managed a smile, and Sam waved and turned to rejoin the others in the yard.

Jasper stared after her. His expression changed abruptly. He let loose a snarl and, far faster than either Seth or even Alice could react, threw himself at my daughter!

Disclaimer: Twilight does not belong to me.