AN: No excuses...but here is the next chapter! I hope you enjoy it!
The position was now more than familiar to me and oddly comforting. I was wrapped around the back of a vampire while we flew through the forest surrounding Forks. The thick canopy made the forest dim but every so often where there was a break in the thick foliage, spots of sunlight dotted the forest floor since it was a rare sunny day in Forks. Jasper was running swiftly and dodging through the trees but I knew I had absolutely nothing to fear. In my mind, it seemed as if Jasper was put on this Earth to protect me and I would never fear the man who carried me now. It was definitely a turn of events that I would never have dreamed of a few months ago. He must have sensed my contentment because he moved his cheek slightly brushing my forehead with it, projecting his own contentment to me. I still marveled at the way we seemed to be able to communicate with each other through not only words, but our emotions as well.
I couldn't help but smile at the thought of how much Jasper now meant to me. Fate had thrown us together in an awful way but our relationship was healing and loving. That particular observation caused me to start slightly on Jasper's back but he didn't miss a single stride if he noticed it. I buried my nose in his neck and inhaled deeply. There was nothing more soothing or calming than Jasper's own particular scent to me and there were no words to describe it, it was just Jasper. I could almost understand what Edward had meant when he said my blood was like a drug to him, that was how I felt about Jasper's scent. I was addicted to it and it made me feel cherished.
As Jasper began to slow slightly, I felt the smooth shift in his speed. He had wanted to show me something and as he slowed even further to a walk, I looked up from his shoulder as I heard the distinctive roar of water. Up ahead of us was a slight break in the forest that was dominated by a large majestic waterfall. I gasped at the beauty of it as the pillar of water fell from an enormous height to create a small pond just below it. The waterfall was white and boiling where it met the still blue water below. The concentric circles creating diminishing ripples as the water traveled to the edges of the small pond. As we approached the water's edge, I prepared myself to slide to ground as usual. Instead, Jasper held me firmly to his torso as he came to a stop just in front a large gray boulder at the water's edge.
"Jasper?" I wondered if something was wrong. I had no idea what he was thinking since I couldn't see his face and he wasn't projecting any feelings to me. It was oddly disconcerting since I was usually so attuned to his moods.
Jasper still didn't speak a word but using his hands he pulled my body fully around his without releasing me to the ground. He held me firmly against him with his hands clasped securely under my bottom. Instinctively, I locked my legs around his firm waist and held onto his shoulders tightly. Merely inches from Jasper's handsome face, I lost myself in his intense amber gaze and the sparkle of his skin in the dancing sunlight. I had no idea what was happening but my heart must have known because it was beating so wildly that I could hear every beat in my ears and felt them throughout my entire body.
Slowly, Jasper moved his face closer to mine before he brought his nose to rest against my chin. He then continued the trail along my jawline from my chin up to my ear where he breathed my scent deeply into his nostrils. Jasper's cold breath on my warm skin caused me to shiver. He pulled his face back from mine as his eyes began carefully studying my entire face, one feature at a time. Jasper started around the fringe of my face but he spent a long time just looking into my eyes before moving his gaze to my lips. He still hadn't spoken a word but he opened up his emotions and now they were communicating strongly with my emotions. Jasper's eyes had changed to a deep bronze and I knew instinctively he was hungry for more than my blood. Love and lust were literally pouring from him into me, yet he remained stoically silent. Uncertainty was playing with my sanity causing my heart to threaten to leave my chest as it wildly jumped inside my chest.
Jasper moved slightly forward to the boulder in front of him and set me gently on it. He ran his hands up my back, one of his hands found its way to the hair at the nape of my neck and Jasper twined his fingers through my locks. I moved my right hand slowly down his chest where I gripped his shirt tightly in my fist, needing to feel the smooth fabric in my grasp trying to ground myself to the man who held me to him. Jasper locked his eyes on mine once again and then he moved his face closer to mine and he began to gently caress my face with his smooth cheek. I shuddered not from the coolness of his skin but from the mere touch of him against me once again.
"Bella, everyone has a secret." Jasper's lips were touching my cheek as he whispered against my skin brushing the area gently with them as he spoke. The next words he spoke vibrated over my skin. "The only real question is, can they keep it? Can you guess what mine is? Hmm?"
Jasper pulled back from my face, "Do you have any secrets, my sweet Bella?"
My breath caught in my throat as the enormity of the moment slammed into me and I realized I wanted nothing more than to feel Jasper's lips on mine. My feelings were a churning, molten flow throughout my whole body and I couldn't quite name what I was feeling for the man who was holding me so closely. I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time but I managed to force myself to remain still and quiet. I felt like I was betraying both Alice and Edward's memory and I was desperately trying to remind myself that sadly Jasper belonged to another and I had no right to be here like this with him. I closed my eyes and buried my face as far into his chest as I could before he could see the blush and tears that I knew were coming as my emotions overtook me.
"Bella? The words washed over me as he questioned me gently. My emotions were still raw and out of control and I couldn't have made myself speak if I had wanted to. I forced my mind to focus and I suddenly realized that my face was extremely cold and my right fingers were stiff with cold too.
"Bella..." Jasper's voice sounded further away as it swirled around me and I couldn't figure out why. Everything seemed kind of hazy and out of focus. Confused, I tried harder to focus.
"Isabella..." This time his voice was more forceful and closer, but not as close as it should be since he was right in front of me. Jasper cleared his throat in an attempt to get my attention.
My eyes blinked open and I realized with a start that while I was still pressed against Jasper, we were not next to a majestic waterfall. The shirt that I currently had my face pressed into and fisted in my hand was not the same shirt Jasper was wearing just a moment earlier. The rest of my body was wrapped in a warm cocoon next to the beautiful vampire, but my face was cold because it was turned into Jasper's hard chest and my right hand was clutching Jasper's shirt as if it were a lifeline. Oh, God...I felt embarrassment wash over me and I refused to look up pressing my face even further into my cold, hard pillow. I knew Jasper must have felt my almost X rated dream. Well, maybe it was more of an R rated or at least a solidly PG-13 dream. Crap, now I was rambling in my own mind. I hastily made sure I had my feelings solidly in check now, but I knew the embarrassment was too far out of control for me to fully suppress.
"Um, Bella, are you alright? Can you actually breathe with your face pressed into me like that?" Jasper's voice seemed to warble with amusement and my embarrassment escalated to epic proportions. I should have known he sensed my feelings during my crazy dream.
I realized he was right, I couldn't breathe very well and I turned my head up slightly from Jasper's solid chest, gasping like a guppy out of her tank. How did I get myself into such a mess? Jasper was my best friend and somehow my mind had betrayed me while I slept.
"Yeah, I'm fine." I mumbled, still trying to get my sleep addled brain to focus.
I rolled onto my back, as I unsuccessfully tried to avoid Jasper's gaze. I couldn't help myself, I had to see his face. Still in a sitting position, with his back propped against the headboard, he smiled down at me gently as he clasped his hands together on his stomach. It seemed Jasper's body stretched on forever as he crossed his ankles together near the foot of the bed, he was the ultimate picture of relaxation. I on the other hand felt supremely uncomfortable.
"How did you sleep? You didn't seem to have any more bad dreams." He was soft spoken and sweet.
Jasper's face didn't seem to reflect anything other than genuine concern. Maybe, just maybe, I hadn't projected my crazy feelings all over the room and I didn't have to be so embarrassed after all. I had been working on controlling my feelings, trying to offer any sort of reprieve to him from feeling everything everyone felt. Yeah, I bet I was able to control it as I slept. I knew I needed to figure out what on Earth was wrong with me before I freaked Jasper out, I needed him and I didn't want him to be overwhelmed with inappropriate emotions from me. I couldn't lose him now.
"I slept just fine, Jasper." I propped my head up on my hand, resting my elbow on the pillow. "I don't know what I would do without you. I am sorry you were stuck next to me all night long, but I am glad you stayed with me."
"Bella, it was my pleasure." Again, he smiled at me. His eyes were suddenly serious and intense. "I would do anything for you, sweetheart."
The intensity of his words made my body shiver of its own volition. The need for some time to myself suddenly overwhelmed me and I thought a hot shower was in order to put my crazy jumbled self back into order. I sat up and turned to face Jasper's still intense gaze.
"I'm going to take a shower. Jasper, would you mind telling Esme not to bother with breakfast? I'll just grab something small. I think I want to see if Charlie will be at home today. I think I should go and see him, maybe fix him a decent lunch. I bet he's living off of take out food." I watched as Jasper's face relaxed at my words and I realized he was probably confused by his inability to read me.
"Sure, Bella." Jasper smiled, although it seemed a little forced.
I scooted to the edge of the bed and as soon as my feet hit the floor, I hurried to the bathroom while I still had some semblance of my dignity intact. I darted quickly through the open bathroom door so I could further gather my emotions.
When the bathroom door closed solidly behind Bella, I was left wondering what had just happened between us. I was immediately worried that she had guessed my feelings for her were changing. I had tried and hopefully succeeded in keeping my growing affection for the brown-eyed beauty under wraps because I didn't want to manufacture feelings of love for me. If Bella loved me, I wanted it to be all her.
Bella had slept soundly during the night but her emotions during her slumber had been confusing to say the least. She had apparently been having a very involved dream but I almost couldn't keep up with the changes her emotions went though as it unfolded in her mind. If I was being totally honest with myself, I had quite enjoyed holding her during the night. Being able to hold her and experience her emotions while she was resting, left me feeling almost as if I had been able to sleep myself. It was something I hadn't experienced since I had my unfortunate rendezvous with Maria.
I was sure that Bella was dreaming about Edward because of the positive feelings she emitted and I fought the sadness that welled up in me at this realization. She was content and happy, sighing in her sleep as she clutched me and buried her face into my shirt as she inhaled deeply. Then her feelings had changed to longing and desire and I was fighting jealousy. That was really all kinds of messed up since Edward was my brother and her first love, I shouldn't be jealous of my brother. I had no reason to expect Bella to suddenly forget about her love for Edward but I couldn't help the way I felt and I would just have to learn to deal with it. The more I focused on her, the more I loved her and I desperately wanted her to love me too. I only hoped it wouldn't take her long to realize that we were meant for one another.
It was time to tell Carlisle and Esme what I had just discovered about my feelings for Bella. I only hoped they were as receptive as Emmett to the idea. I loved them and respected them as the parents of our family. I never wanted to disappoint them and I didn't know what I would do if they were to tell me that my love for Bella was inappropriate.
I tasted the emotional climate of the household and immediately knew they were still in their bedroom. Although we all avoided purposely eavesdropping on our fellow family members, I allowed myself to listen to theirs to determine if they were sharing a private moment. I heard the sounds of drawers opening and closing and hangers shuffling in the closet so it sounded as if Esme was rearranging items in their closet. The distinctive sound of pages turning indicated that Carlisle was reading.
I was at their door in an instant and I knocked softly, taking a deep unnecessary breath to prepare myself to make my announcement to my parents.
"Esme, Carlisle can I speak with you both for a moment?" I spoke quietly through the door.
Esme opened the door quickly and true to her mother role, she studied my face as I stood before her. If there was one thing I was used to, it was that Esme took her mother duties very seriously. She prided herself on reading her children before they had a chance to speak, and even though I could project my feelings I allowed her to reach her own conclusions. She drew her brows together slightly and stared at my face for a moment. Then she just smiled broadly and turning to walk into the room, she began to chuckle softly.
"Jasper has figured it out." She announced proudly to Carlisle who was seated in a chair next to the glass wall at the back of their large bedroom. Esme perched herself on the arm of his chair and he smiled at her jubilant announcement. "I told you it wouldn't take him long."
"I figured what out?" I wasn't sure what Esme was talking about but this was beginning to feel a bit surreal.
"Esme has noticed that you and Bella have a very strong connection. She thinks your feelings for Bella are evolving into something a little stronger than just friendship." Carlisle kindly tried to fill in the blanks. "I told her that it was something you should discover for yourself, if it is true. We love you both and want what is best for you both. We think that you two are meant to heal each other. Jasper, we will always stand beside you."
My mouth opened and closed a few times as if I were impersonating a trout. Finally, I took a deep breath and sank to the edge of their bed. I studied my hands clasped in front of me before I could get words to actually come out of my mouth.
"Well, actually Jacob was kind enough to point out that we seemed to be falling for one another. I realized that the mutt is right, we have a connection that we will not be able to deny or break. I'm not sure Bella feels the same but I am sure how I feel now. I am in love with Bella and I don't know what to do next." I looked up at Esme and Carlisle's encouraging faces. "I don't want to push her but I don't know how long I can keep it to myself. I also don't want to betray Alice in any way."
Esme was quickly sitting beside me, pulling me into a hug. Her happiness was bubbling out of her and its contagious quality left me hopeful and relieved.
"Bella isn't far behind you, dear. She will realize what fate has in store for her isn't all sadness and grief. With you she will get to experience unfathomable love and joy. Jasper, I see a love between you two that is comparable to what Carlisle and I feel for each other. " She pulled back so she could meet my eyes and her smile was reassuring. "It's true that you love Alice and always will on some level but I know in my heart this is different. Alice did too and she meant for this love to grow between you and Bella. She left Forks so it could."
"I think I have accepted that but I am worried Bella won't. She will never want to betray Alice and I am not sure how we will ever get around that obstacle. Bella has also learned how to block her emotions from me when she wants. I know that she originally wanted to spare me from feeling her extreme grief but I think she does it now without even thinking about it most of the time. Of course, she does open up to me too." I smiled at the next thought. "Bella actually can push emotions to me when she wants to help me."
"I am not surprised that she is able to block her emotions. It's probably similar to her subconsciously blocking her thoughts from Edward." Carlisle thoughtfully added, "Bella will be a strong vampire, Jasper. I am not sure what her actual gift will be but it is apparent that she will be special."
"She already is special, Carlisle." I smiled at him.
"Love conquers all. It's not always simple and neat, but I believe it to be true." Esme was sure of her response and I hugged my mother to me tightly and let her love and hope wash over me.
AN: So who guessed that was a dream at the beginning of the chapter? Anyone ready to throw things at me? LOL. I know I totally suck. Songspiration is "Secret" by Maroon 5 and it's in my profile. Leave me some love if you are so inclined!