A/N - I do not own the Twilight saga or related characters and plot lines, that honor belongs to the wonderful Stephanie Meyer. Any original characters/plot lines do belong to me.
This foray into Jasper's world before the Twilight saga is being written after a lot of positive encouragement from javamomma0921, the author of "The Life (and Death) of Edward Anthony Masen - an incredibly well-written look at Edward as a human and his first years as a Vampire. If you haven't already read it, you should check it out. Jen has been kind enough to beta this for me, and gave me the confidence to tackle Jasper's story. Without her, I would have put this off for years, even as much as I am enjoying Jasper's point of view.
While Jasper in Eclipse tells Bella that he was turned before the first Battle of Galveston (1862) (Ch 13), most accepted timelines have Jasper's change in early 1863, right after the second battle . With this in mind, the story begins in 1862, approximately a month before the Battle of Galveston Harbor, where troops did indeed evacuate women and children.
Chapter One: Surprise Package
The air was finally cooling as the sun set and I led my exhausted troops back to the boarding house we were using as a makeshift field office.
The idea of sleeping in real beds instead of the hard ground was appealing to us all; the toil and grind of the War was taking a toll on the entire company. Disappointment, anger and weariness poured off the soldiers flanking me.
We had been riding for the better part of a week, patrolling the towns of La Marque, Texas City and Galveston, making sure the harbor was secure from the Union Navy. Other Generals and commanders were insistent that the civilians would be safe, but I was filled with unease. Something about the situation didn't sit right with me. I allowed my thoughts to drift towards a contingency plan, in case everything blew up in our faces. Unconsciously, I ran my fingers through the tangle of blonde hair at the nape of my neck and adjusted my kepi hat onto the crown of my head.
Through my short career in the military, I had come to trust my instincts, and usually had no problem convincing those around me to see things my way. Other generals had even called upon me to diffuse potential deadly situations. They always brought up something about my 'calming persona.' I just shrugged it off, stating I was just doing my job. Because of the immense trust in my skills, I was promoted rather quickly, even as I hid the fact that I was a year younger than the military believed me to be.
"Major Whitlock?! Major Jasper Whitlock?" My thoughts and planning were broken by the sound of hooves skidding to a halt, a cloud of dust and a startled yet happy shout.
I reined in my black gelding, quickly dismounting, and bowed to the young woman who had appeared by my side. The rest of my company reined in as well, but remained mounted. "Miss Meyer. And what brings you down to Galveston?"
Alicia Meyer laughed as she leapt from her chestnut mare and engulfed me in a huge hug. Her embrace was much too big for her fifteen year old body to handle and caused quite a stir among my comrades, as my six foot three inch frame dwarfed her petite one.
I had never been one for physical contact, but here was this slip of a girl forgetting herself and wrapping her arms around my waist as I awkwardly patted her back. Alicia always managed to overwhelm me with her exuberant personality.
"Mother wanted to visit her sister," she said, "she's from Galveston, and well, your mother may have mentioned that your latest letter had your location here."
Alicia's sheepish smile and infectious excitement reminded me so much of her best friend, my baby sister Jessica. Her green eyes twinkled mischievously as she continued her story, ignoring the hem of her riding habit as it fell into the dirt.
"When I found out Mother was planning a trip, I begged to go. Jessie wanted me to give you this." Her tiny hand pressed a square package into mine. "And please, none of this 'Miss Meyer' nonsense. I've known you far too long to be called that. It does not sound right."
Winking, I replied, "But it's only proper for a gentleman to address a lady in that manner. Do you need an escort home ma'am? It is growing late."
Alicia scowled, swinging herself back into the saddle. "No. Aunt Melly's house is just around the bend. I was just running an order to the chemist for Uncle. I have not been out long."
Remounting my own horse, I tipped my hat one last time, "Give my best to your mother and aunt. I'm sorry to have missed them. Be safe Alicia."
Mahogany curls bouncing, Alicia nodded her agreement. As I turned to ride away, she shouted: "Goodbye Jasper! Come home soon!"
The rest of my company laughed as I shook my head and waved Alicia back to her aunt's residence. I could not fight the grin that was spreading across my lips, "She's always been a bit…unrestrained. She and Jess always ran amok back home. And I was sent to wrangle them back in."
We rode on in silence for a few more miles, suddenly all the more eager to get back to the boarding house. The sun was even lower in the sky, the darkness seeping into my bones.
Charles was a dear friend of mine from back in Sugarloaf and I was happy to have him on my right. I was, however, surprised when he broke our wearied silence.
"Jas," he said. "If I may speak freely. . ."
I bowed my head in ascent, too tired to put up an argument. The levity that Alicia brought with her had quickly disappeared in the cloud of dust behind the cavalry's hooves.
"You may Charles."
"I don't like the looks of things here in Galveston. The harbor is too open. How can we blockade it if we're the only Army maintaining a permanent residence here? Yes, we have the cooperation of the other divisions, but if something happens, how long will it take them to arrive? We may not have that time." Charles' voice was low, only audible to the two of us, and his tone was saturated in the hopelessness we both felt.
"I don't like it either. We can only hope that there will be enough warning, and that we can evacuate as many people as possible." My eyes caught the boarding house as I spoke and I instantly relaxed, as at ease as a solider could be. Even though most of it was artificial, the rest of my boys followed my lead and gave the owners of the boarding house no reason to worry. We led our horses to the rear stables, dusted off our uniforms and boots, and entered the house quietly. Due to our odd hours, we generally used the rear entrance and tried to keep as silent as possible, out of respect to the other guests.
As we traipsed up the stairs, I suddenly remembered the small package Alicia had given me from my sister. Pulling it out of my jacket pocket, I fingered the twine holding the brown wrapping, wondering what Jessica had smuggled out with Alicia. Ensuring I would be left alone for the night, I ordered the men to relax and enjoy a rare night away from the drones of planning and reconnaissance missions. The shouts and thundering boots back down the stairs told me all I needed to know - the brothels would be busy tonight.
Calling for a manservant, I entered my room and sank onto a nearby bench, ready for the servant to pull off my knee high and tight leather riding boots and help me get ready for bed. Within the half hour, I was dressed in my night clothes, and fighting back tears as my long fingers traced over the worn brown leather cover of the hand sewn journal from my baby sister. Her letter lay at my feet, forgotten, the words engrained in my head.
My dearest brother, Jasper,
Mama is so worried about you, and proud of you at the same time, running off to join the army at such a young age, and then suddenly rising through the ranks, and becoming a Major! The youngest one in all of Texas. I only feel pride, my brother, my hero is fighting for our country.
I remember how much I loved to watch you write in your journal, making notes of everything you came across. Your letters to Mother and Father hold the same detail, but not the passion, not the emotions. I made this for you, so you can get that passion back.
Please use this, I want to read about all of your experiences, don't hold anything back. I'm not afraid - I'm an adult now, 16 years old.
I miss you, and I love you
Jessica Anne Whitlock
Trying to stop the shaking, I picked up a pen, and began my first entry in my 'War Journal,' as Jessica had elegantly engraved into the cover. If she wanted details, I was happy to oblige.
A/N - A huge thanks again to Jen for Beta'ing this chapter for me, and helping to cure me of my gratuitous comma usage. As this story progresses, I expect Jasper to have a lot more to say, so the chapters should get longer. Please let me know what you think, and what you would like to see Jasper face. ~B