Chapter One: Epiphany
I felt her apprehension coming even before I heard her gentle footsteps getting closer to the room I shared with my beloved. Eventually, I could smell her floral scent at my door, though it was half a minute before I heard her softly knock. She must really be nervous to talk to me – I could understand why, of course, after what happened at her birthday party last year. Guilt started to settle in briefly as I started to relive that weak moment that led to even worse consequences. One of those consequences was the potential for Alice to get hurt when she'd ran off to Volterra to retrieve our brother. I fought to adjust my mood so that it wouldn't reach Bella and send her into a depression. I had a feeling she'd already had enough of that because of me. Suddenly, I realized I was keeping her waiting. I flitted to the door and opened it to find her deep brown eyes staring up at me nervously. I struggled to cut off my air supply once I caught a strong whiff of her appetizing scent.
"Bella," I managed to say. "Can I help you?"
"Hi Jasper… Alice and Rosalie went shopping, as you know, and Edward and the rest of the family is out hunting."
"Yes?" I was waiting for her to tell me something I didn't already know. Normally I'd take any opportunity to hunt, especially with Bella spending more and more time at the house, but I'd just gone last night with Alice.
Bella chewed on her lip and turned a bit pink as she struggled to get her next words out. I wondered if she realized the effect it was having on me, and was thankful I didn't need to breathe just yet. "Well, I was just wondering if you'd like to accompany me to a book store in Port Angeles."
Well, this was sudden. I'd never spent much time alone with Bella, but Alice really wanted to go shopping and even though she was her best friend, I could tell even Bella needed a break from my overenthusiastic wife sometimes. I offered to stay home with Bella so that my love could have her fun. Most girls Bella's age didn't need babysitters, but Edward had the distinct impression that if she was left alone, the only vampire in a hundred mile radius would somehow find their way to her. He also didn't want her sneaking out to La Push to hang out with her werewolf best friend. His worry was understandable, filthy and savage creatures that werewolves were. Even I could say I had more control over my animal nature than those mutts did.
"Um, Jasper?" Bella snapped me out of my reverie.
"Well…" I could barely handle being in this close proximity with her. Could I handle being alone in the car with her? I suddenly realized I would need more air if I intended to say anymore. I braced myself and inhaled. My throat burned and then my vision took on a slight pinkish hue. "Bella… I don't think that would be a very good idea."
I grabbed the doorknob to steady myself. Images of her disastrous birthday party flashed, and re-imagining the blood she'd spilled that night drove me almost to the edge. I forced myself to remember the pain my brother felt over her absence from his life, and his subsequent decision to commit suicide. This of course led to the memory of how beside myself with worry I was when Alice and Bella flew to Italy to save him. I inhaled sharply at the thought of losing my one and only love. Surprisingly, Bella's scent became less appealing to me then. I couldn't believe it. Was my current line of thinking actually dampening my bloodlust? I breathed in again, and felt almost nothing after her scent hit me… Venom still pooled in my mouth instinctively, but there was no burning in my throat – not even an uncomfortable itch.
"Oh… okay." Bella looked disappointed in my response.
"Wait! Maybe that'd be alright." I sent out a wave of reassurance that I hoped would help her feel less put out, but she actually just looked confused. "I'm sorry Bella. At first I thought I might not be able to handle the bloodlust… I've always been the weakest link." I smiled sadly at her. "But I guess… I've just had a bit of an epiphany. I think I can control myself now."
She blinked, still confused. "So… you're not… hungry?" She struggled with trying to find the right words. I smiled at her effort.
"No, not in the slightest. Would you still like to go? I'd be honored to accompany you. Let me just make a phone call." I caught her smiling brightly at me before I turned to grab my cell phone. I punched in a number on my speed dial and put the phone to my ear. It rang once.
"Jasper? What is it, is Bella okay?" Edward sounded frantic.
"She's fine, she's perfectly fine." I rushed to calm him before he came running back home rashly. I spoke hurriedly in hushed tones to hide our conversation from Bella's mortal ears, not wanting her to feel uncomfortable. "She asked me to take her to Port Angeles for a while, and I wasn't sure how you would feel about it."
"What? Where's Alice?"
"She went shopping with Rosalie. Bella didn't want to go – I think she needed a break." I chuckled.
"Are you sure you can take her?" he asked, hesitantly. I understood the double meaning in his question.
"Yes. I couldn't hurt Bella after what happened… I almost lost a brother and my wife." It hurt to say the words, to even think of the possibility of losing my Alice.
"I… don't know…" I could understand his hesitancy.
"I think Alice would have called me by now if she saw any trouble, and I fed yesterday." I reminded.
"Alright. But be careful."
"I will. I promise nothing will happen to her. You know I think of her as a little sister." I realized how much I meant what I said.
"I know," Edward said before hanging up. I put my phone in my pocket and turned again to Bella, smiling.
"Ready to go?"