Chapter 20: Imminent Futures

About, oh, an age or two ago, I promised something to rhanw. Here you go, Darling.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental.

This chapter corresponds to Chapters 44-46 of 'I Hunger'.

Music can be found on my jmollytwilight2 Youtube, and begins at number 72:

'Bless the Broken Road' by Rascal Flatts

My heart felt liable to break. "I'm sorry, Jazz. I can't tell you. There's no way you would be able to stop thinking about it, to keep it from Edward."

He looked at me, trying to contain his hurt. Usually, I didn't keep secrets from him, but he would never be able to keep it from Edward that Jacob was going to rescue Renesmee.

After a moment, Jasper's face cleared. "That's okay, Mary Alice Brandon Cullen-Hale," he murmured. "I understand."

"I love you, Jasper Whitlock Hale," I smiled.

"I know that," he declared, picking me up and depositing me on the bed. "Now how 'bout you show me?"

I cupped his face happily. "I think I can oblige you, there, Handsome."

Monday, September 5th, 2005, in the wee hours of the morning:

Alice's pov:

Slowly, Jazz sank onto his elbow, undoing buttons on my crisp, white blouse, revealing a new, demure ice pink bra with a little pink bow that I knew would make him throb with want. "Right pretty, Jelli," he told me. "This one of the ones you've had Edward and Bella carrying around in their suitcase?"

"Yes. You know they didn't need the room. Bella didn't learn to shop until I took her to the flea market in Rio," I told him.

"Edward may come to regret letting Bee go there with you," he teased.

"Do we have to talk about them right now?" I pouted.

"No Ma'am," he said quickly, bending to press a kiss to each corner of my mouth. "Had any spicy visions lately?" he asked me, eyes dancing. It was his way of asking what I wanted.

"A few," I said coyly, looking at the ceiling. "I See us rejoining the Mile High Club on our way to Cornell."

"Ooh. It's been a while," Jasper drawled.

"Nineteen Eighty-Six," I growled.

"Yeah," he moaned, unhooking my bra and slipping it off. He bent to take my nipple into his mouth, and I gathered back his hair, purring.

"We almost got caught that time," I reminded him.

"Mmm. Nobody is gonna catch us out tonight, unless we're downright careless," he said, smiling smugly against my skin.

I reached between us to fondle his straining cock through his jeans, noting the dampness. My underwear was drenched. "Why don't you roll over, big boy?" Jasper did so, and I knelt on my hands and knees beside him, and pressed my nose against his bulge.

I wrapped my mouth around his cock, through the denim, kneading it with my lips and tongue. Soon, his jeans were soaked through with my drool. I was careful not to release any venom. It would ruin his Dolce and Gabanna outfit, and we hadn't packed a change of clothes to wear in the morning.

"Lord, you feel good, woman," my mate groaned, toeing off his boots, and scraping his fingers along my scalp. "Scrootch on over here." Obligingly, I straddled him, and continued masticating him carefully. He pulled me down, and started to reciprocate. His mouth felt so hot and wet, and his breath tickled my clit as it penetrated the wet denim of my jeans. His hands reached up to fondle my bare boobs.

My mate is great at multitasking.

With my mouth wrapped around his ball sack, I undid Jasper's belt, and sat up enough to unbutton his flies and release him. His long cock sprang free and waggled at me. I captured it and took him eagerly into my mouth. Groaning, he lapped at me. I felt his finger run down the seam of my crotch. Then, he put his mouth back on me. To my shock, I realized his lips were wrapped around my clit, and froze.

"Jasper!" I gasped, looking between my legs. "Did you just slit open my jeans?"

"Mmm, yeah," he moaned, and stuck his tongue in me.

"Unh! Jasper! Don't you realize that we didn't pack any clothes to wear in the morning?" I squeaked, caught immobile between horror and arousal.

Jasper's mouth left my folds, to be replaced by his fingers. "Well, unless you go around bent over double tomorrow morning, i'n't anyone going to know. I just couldn't help myself, Lissy, with you talking about sex on airplanes and all." His fingers slid in and out of me slowly, his knuckles doing a marvelous job of contacting all of my sensitive nerve endings.

"You are a bad fellow, Jasper Hale," I told him.

Ignoring me, he gripped my hips, pulled me down and penetrated me with his tongue. I forgot all about propriety, and enjoyed it. He swirled and stroked his tongue around, and dipped it in and out of me, and I dribbled my juices down his chin and throat, getting them on his shirt. Eventually, he urged me away.

"I cannot wait any longer, Jellicle. I have got to have you," he rasped.

"Where?" I asked him. Without speaking, Jasper stood and slung me under his arm, and carried me, arms and legs dangling, through the patio door onto the small balcony. All was quiet. There was only a one-in-ten chance that we were going to get caught.

My naughty husband pushed me up and tipped me over, so that my upper body dangled over the metal railing. I reached out to grip it, feeling the refreshing night-time breeze ghost over my bare torso. I groaned, waiting for the sensation of oneness. "You are such a bad boy," I growled. I felt the head of his cock press against my entrance, and pull out again. He rearranged me a little to fix the angle, and pushed in, making me clench and release around him.

He bent over and growled in my ear, "It takes a bad girl to recognize a bad boy." Holding me firmly, he began to thrust in and out, and I moaned, feeling the ridges under his foreskin rub over the mouth of my pussy. I realized that were anyone to watch, they would probably think we were just dry humping, as we both still had on our jeans. Although I was topless. A voyeur would still enjoy the show, not that it was probable that one was around.

Jasper reached down and grabbed me by the ankles, allowing my legs to bend so that I was kneeling on air. My head dipped further over the railing, and I hung on tightly, allowing my eyes to roll shut. "I like the shoes," my mate declared. They were black patent Mary Janes with chunky-soled spike heels.

"I'm glad," I gasped out.

My mate rolled his hips, purring deeply, and his apadravya caressed my g-spot. He tucked my left foot behind his back, and used that hand to hold me up and his right to rub over my clit. Both pairs of our jeans were going to be drenched. I had no idea how we were going to manage in the morning, especially with a Kwoli in our car.

"Fuck," my mate gasped, driving himself deeply into me.

"Ye-ah!" I moaned. He so rarely said the word that it was an incredible turn-on whenever he did it. "Harder, Jasper! You're right on my gee!"

"Okay, Lissy," he said, pistoning his hips. His balls slapped against my clit, gripping it every time he pulled away.

"Oh, yeah!" I gasped, watching cars pass far below.

"Cum for me, Jelli," Jazz ordered me, and I shuddered and trembled for him, releasing jism in spurts between us until both of us were thoroughly soaked through. "Aw, hell, yeah!" he enthused, and then I felt his back arch as he pressed further into me. The base of his cock pulsed as he released inside me, and I continued to spasm as he rode his climax out.

Breathing heavily, he lowered my legs back to the floor, and spun me around. He sat me in the little chair on the patio, and spread my legs wide, kneeling between them and setting my feet on his lap. Grasping his hardening cock, he tugged at it, while bending to lap at my slick pussy, pulling his own flavour and mine into his mouth. I climaxed again, my heels digging at his thighs.

Hurriedly, Jasper stood and bent over, still pulling on his cock, and bent up my chin with his other hand. His pursed mouth descended on mine, and he drooled our mixed juices into my mouth, followed by a chaser of venom. I swished it in my mouth as he knelt again, then passed it back into his mouth, releasing my venom into it. Jazz swallowed it down, gasping, and with a groan, stood, jerking his cock so that the apadravya-adorned glans stood proudly clear of his foreskin. His cum flew out, spattering on my chest, hot and white and so sexy.

Jasper knelt again, and rubbed his essence into my skin, where it shimmered in the light of the rising sun. Then he stood and swept me into his arms, and sat, cradling me on his lap. We watched the hot Florida sun ease its way into the sky, breathing in our shared scent. I rested my head on his strong shoulder, glad we could have a few minutes in the sun before any humans were awake to notice us.

"I suppose we need to find the dog soon," my mate murmured at last, holding me firmly in place nonetheless.

"Yes. I don't know how you think we're going to meet him, dressed like this," I frowned.

Jasper sighed, shifting me on his knee. "Jellicle, we'll clean up as much as we can, but let's face it: the times are extraordinary. We are rescuing a young pup who's meant to be our mortal enemy, in order to preserve him for the sake of our niece. That's what we're doing, i'nt it?"

I swallowed hard. "You're a smart man, Jasper." I checked my Sight. Nothing had changed.

"And we're going to keep everything from Edward for… how long?"

I pursed my lips. "Well, the gig will be up when she's born."

Jasper sighed again. "Nigh on three months. How are we going to keep it from him? Thank goodness we'll be at Cornell most of that time."

"Yes," I agreed. I slid reluctantly off Jazzy's lap. "It will be okay. Everything will work out."

"Join me in the shower?" my mate invited.

"Okay. But will you call Jacob first and make sure he's up? We have to leave the hotel by 7:30 am at the very latest."

"Yes, Darling."

Retrieving my purse, I went in the bathroom to see what supplies I had dumped in it. I never quite paid attention to what I was throwing in there, and the contents sometimes surprised me. I was glad to discover that I had a full complement of make-up in it, plus a fresh pair of underpants and some hairspray.

Shame I didn't have a spare pair of jeans in that little bag.

Jasper strolled into the bathroom wearing only his jewellery and a smug grin. "Jacob has been down to the gym already this morning, working off his nerves. He's presently awaiting a breakfast fit for an army."

"You just had to wreck my jeans, didn't you?" I grumbled, stripping off my clothes. My mate's eyes twinkled entirely too merrily.

"Can I help it if you are temptation on legs?"

"It's a good thing you're cute, Jasper Hale," I pouted as he took my hand and pulled me into the shower.

"I can think of many occasions when I have thought the same of you, Miss Jelli," he smirked, adjusting the water to suit us. "Tell you what: fortunately, our next door neighbour put out an undershirt to dry on the balcony last night. I shall take it, and leave him payment. Then, you may wear my shirt. It's long enough to cover your… assets." Water coursed gently down the back of his head, leaving his silky hair dark on his scalp. Gently, he manoeuvered me under the spray, making my black bangs drip into my eyes.

"Thanks, Jazzy," I said happily.

Jasper picked up the hotel shampoo and sniffed it. "Not bad. Almond," he informed me. I shut my eyes and purred while he washed my hair, then stroked the soap down my body. I anticipated his next words. Politeness dictated that I allow him to say them, rather than pre-empting him with an unexpected answer.

"Jelli," he said pensively, soaping himself. "Are you certain we ought to be keeping this from Edward? Maybe if we warned him now, things would go easier with Jacob."

"No," I said sadly. "If we were to go to Renée's this morning, and tell him and Bella the truth, no matter how gently, they would literally murder Jacob. They're both still too raw."

"Okay," Jazz sighed sadly.

"I'm sorry to put you through this, Love."

He shrugged dismissively. "I'nt like you can help Knowing. It will all come out in the wash, like you said. We are just going to have to… have faith."

"Faith?" I echoed.

"In the future," he said, getting out and passing me a towel. He gave me a wry look, knowing I was ruminating on his long-avowed atheism. "If Edward's God exists, Jellicle, He surely has a sense of humour."

"That He does," I murmured pensively.

An hour later, we entered the lobby, wearing clothes sponged as clean as possible of various bodily fluids. Jasper turned a lot of heads as he strolled across the floor in his wife-beater and jeans. Jacob was there, pacing, looking nervous enough to lose his breakfast all over the gleaming white floor. When we joined him, his nose wrinkled, and he eyed our rumpled clothes with disapproval.

"Couldn't you at least have …um," he groused.

"What?" Jasper asked with deceptive innocence.

Jacob's eyes rolled. "Do you have to rub it in that you're … together?"

Jasper regarded him calmly. "Jacob? It behooved us to collect you in a hurry, knowing that you are not allowed to phase and your sorry backside would be extraordinarily uncomfortable spending the night curled up under a tree in the swamp. We did not stop for luggage. I am not trying to flaunt my mated status. However, I will not apologize for it either. I waited 84 years for Alice. You will not be alone nearly that long. So kindly count your blessings."

Jacob paled, stunned. "Just how long will I be waiting for my Imprint?" he asked through bloodless lips.

"Not long," I informed him, avoiding his eyes.

"Not long as in ten years? Or more?" he pressed.

"Less," I revealed.

"A year? More?" he demanded anxiously.

"Jacob, do not ask questions that might impact your future," Jasper warned, leading us to the elevator. "Besides, you are only seventeen. It will not harm you to bide a little time."

Jacob was quiet as we traveled down to the parking garage. We got in the Beemer and rolled out into the early morning traffic. Jasper reached for my hand and held it gently.

"Is Edward really going to forgive me?" Jacob fretted.

"He is," I promised.

"Why?" he asked sadly.

"He's a Christian," Jasper shrugged.

White mist… Edward is holding hands with Bella as they sit with their feet in the pool. "He… he goaded me, Bella."

She looks at him warily. "What do you mean?"

Edward swallows hard, running his free hand through his hair. "He used to… picture …"

"Go on," she says, eyes narrowed.

"The two of you, having sex. He'd claim the pair of you had … done things when you visited. Kissing… and groping, mostly. And he focused on how much you were supposedly enjoying it. He has a pretty good imagination, but-"

Jacob walks into the yard. Bella flies to her feet.

"Is it true that when Edward dropped me off so I could visit you, you played mindfuck games about having sex with me?" she demands loudly.

Jacob meets her eyes squarely, not backing down from a predator as he ought to do. "Yes."

Bella is on him instantly, yowling like a jaguar. Blood is everywhere. Edward grasps her wrists from behind, his eyes a frightened black as he fights her Newborn strength.

Bella's palms are coated in blood, and it drips from the corners of her mouth. She screams like a banshee.

The vision is so clear, I know it is imminent.

"Lissy!" Jasper barks.

"Drive, drive! We have to either arrive five minutes earlier than planned, or we can't take Jacob back there at all!" I yelled. Jasper floored the pedal and three minutes later, we were pulling into Renées neighbourhood.

Jacob's pupils dilated in panic, and his heart beat hard against his ribs.

"Lissy?" Jasper checked.

I mastered my trembling. "We have three minutes. Jacob, you have to get to the back yard right now, before Edward starts to talk. Do not raise your eyes to them. Be submissive. Run, Jacob!"

Jasper caromed into the drive, and the three of us exited the Beemer, slamming doors. In the kitchen, we found Edward and Bella sitting quietly at the table, staring at us in surprise. They had not yet gone out to the pool. When Jacob barged in, Edward's eyes flew to Bella, but he relaxed as he perceived that she was fine. Bella's eyes took in Jacob, Edward and Jasper, then came to rest speculatively upon me.

"Please don't say anything, Edward!" Jacob begged.

Edward hesitated, a million possible futures appearing as he questioned each possible decision. And that's when I realized that it was wrong not to trust him to make the right one.

I thought at him: I'm not interfering. Let the cards play out. I prayed that for once, Jacob would behave wisely.

Jacob prudently stopped looking at Edward. He lowered his eyes to the floor.

Good dog.

"What shouldn't my husband be saying to me, Jacob?" Bella growled, taking Edward's hand. Her mate dropped his eyes to the table, sighing.

"Um, it's not that he shouldn't be telling you, it's just that ... I should tell you. It's my responsibility. I know you'll hate me even more after, but I must be honest with you, Bella, because that's what's right, and I want to do right for you and Edward from now on," he admitted, meeting her eyes squarely.

Edward's lips thinned. He shot Jasper an accusatory look, then nodded curtly and stared at the tabletop again.He was letting his mate lead. I was impressed. It was totally unlike him not to take over.

Bella looked from Edward, to Jacob, to me and Jazz, and back at her husband. "What is going on?"

"Um, it's something I did, Bella," Jacob told her. "That you should know about, even if it means you won't forgive me. Because I did something ... really bad." Wisely, he looked down at the floor.

"What did you do now, Jacob?" Bella asked woodenly. "What could you possibly have done that was worse than assaulting me?"

"Um, I ..." Jacob sighed. "You know I'm sorry, and I'll never do it again. You know I didn't think your mate was a man, so I thought he had no feelings?"

"Yes, you made that amply clear," Bella growled.

"Well... he has ... a habit of turning the other cheek," Jacob winced. "He's actually ... r-really mature that way."

Edward's face cleared. He peeked at Jacob hopefully, and then looked down at the table again. Bella's stormy eyes darted to claim her mate's, and he turned silver all over. "Yes, he does turn the other cheek," she growled. "And you're right, he's really mature when it comes to putting others first."

"Well," Jacob continued. "I didn't know I was hurting him at first, but then during the night we all spent in the tent, I found out I was wrong. And I kept doing it anyway."

"Kept doing what?" Bella asked, perplexed.

"Taunting him. I would show him all kinds of mental pictures, of you when he left, and us together just hanging out, and you marrying me, and having my kids, and ..." he stopped.

"And what?" Bella asked flatly.

"And ... having sex with me," Jacob gulped. "Of every kind I could dream up. I pretty much kept up the stream of bullying all the time."

Bella turned to Edward, her mouth in a thin line. "Was this what you were going to tell me this morning?"

He nodded, not lifting his eyes.

"And you didn't trust me enough to tell me before?" she asked narrowly.

Edward shook his head reluctantly.

"This was an important thing to keep from me. I'm going to turn you over my knee, Edward Anthony Masen Cullen," she sighed.

Edward nodded, his face assuming a lopsided grin. Brat. She would, too. But he must have felt very safe to have reacted with amusement. I conveyed my pleasure to Jazzy and he winked.

Bella stood calmly, and walked over to Jacob, looking him dead in the eye.

Here it comes! I warned my brother.

"You know, I was feeling sorry for ranting at you last night, and now you tell me this? You took advantage of a ... kind person," Bella told Jacob. "You hurt him purposefully, when he had done nothing to you."

"I didn't know him, Bella," Jacob pleaded. "I didn't give him a chance to show me who he was. I was prejudiced, and selfish, and I never would have done it if I had just paid attention to how well he treated you. I was wrong, and I'll never do it again, I swear. You're right. Edward's behaviour toward me has always been ... gentlemanly."

Wow.

Bella sighed, and gestured dismissively with one hand. "It's not all your fault, Jacob. I gave you ammunition. I didn't stand up for him like I should have. I should have seen it, and stopped you. Or I should have made Edward believe he could trust me enough to tell me about it. Obviously, he didn't tell me because he thought I wouldn't believe him."

"Bella? It's worse. I ... took advantage of that," Jacob lamented. "I was sure you'd say you didn't believe him, even if he told you. I was pretty sure you'd side with me."

I wondered whether I ought to have interfered after all. Edward was looking at me like he wondered the same thing.

Dona Bella Cullen shook her head in disbelief, then hauled back her arm, and slapped her former best friend hard enough to turn his head. Then she pushed past him, and hurried from the room, banging the bedroom door shut as she went through it, bawling. Jasper eyed Edward meaningfully, and he nodded. My mate followed Bella, tapping on the bedroom door, and then just walked in without asking. So I followed him.

As I left the room, Jacob nursed his jaw, blood dripping from his lip. "Well, at least she didn't break her hand this time."

Edward silently handed him a tissue. See? My brother is a saint. He never holds a grudge.

I shut the door and turned to Bella and Jazzy. She was lying supine, sniveling into Renée's frayed 1980's era comforter. Jasper pulled up a spot on Edward's side of the bed, and put out his arm, and Bella tucked herself into his side, bawling. My mate indicated that I should scrootch up next to her on the other side. I did so, and Bella rested her head on both our arms, becoming the meat in the sandwich.

"Make it go away, Jazz," Bella cried. "I can't take it anymore. Edward didn't trust me. When Jake was first around, he used to tell me Jake had a crush on me, and I laughed it off. And then Edward stopped telling me about it, and I thought, 'See? He was just making it up because he was jealous. Jake doesn't feel that way about me'. Bella sobbed. "And the whole time, Jake was filling his head with bullshit. No wonder he left me. I never gained his trust. He seriously thought I loved Jacob, because Jacob was feeding him false stories about us kissing and me responding to that and stuff, wasn't he?"

"You have Edward's trust now, Baby Bee," Jazz said gently. "It's best if I don't medicate you. It's all water under the bridge. Listen: Edward is out there right now, comforting Jacob. Do you hear that?"

We all stilled ourselves and listened.

Edward said, "Thank you. I forgive you."

"I don't want to fight with you anymore," Jacob said tremulously.

"I still want to scream at him," Bella growled sotto voce.

"Hush," Jazzy breathed.

"Me neither," Edward told Jacob. "I never wanted to fight with you."

"I know," Jacob admitted to Edward.

"Edward is a prince," I said, shaking my head in admiration.

Jasper assessed Bella's mood. "Alright, Missy, you don't need to hogtie your emotions, but you do need to bridle them."

Bella nodded slowly, wiped her cheeks, and crab-crawled down to the end of the bed. "I understand. Thanks guys. Love you."

"We love you, too," I told her. Bella nodded, and exited the room. Jazz and I exchanged a triumphant look.

"We need to change into our bathing suits," I mouthed at Jasper. Nodding, he retrieved our suitcase, which was piled with the newlyweds' luggage, and we quickly pulled out suits and donned them.

"Come here, Love," Edward invited Bella. "Jacob and I were just ... chatting."

By the time Jazzy and I got outside, Jacob was in tears, and Edward's left arm was draped casually over his shoulders. To Edward's right, a wary-looking Bella had just apologized to Jacob for slapping him. "Just please, never ever hurt me like that again. Or my mate," she ordered.

"Can I have a hug, Bella?" Jacob asked.

Bella flinched. "No. I would appreciate it if you don't touch me, okay? That flashback yesterday was very, very scary." She leaned heavily against Edward's right side, and he put his arm around her and kissed her temple. I was so, so proud of both of them in that moment.

"Aw, it's so good to see the children getting along, i'n't it Lissy?" Jasper winked, sitting down on the side and pulling me down between himself and Bella. She eyed him sidelong.

"Yep," I sang.

"Your t-shirts are highly appropos this morning. You look spanking fine. I do hope they will not make Jacob more nervous, however. Hanging around all you Emos is plum tuckering me out," Jazzy teased.

"Jacob has had enough to be nervous about, without worrying about shirts," Edward smiled, slapping him on the back. "Do Bella and I need to go change clothes, Jacob?" Edward nudged him with his elbow.

"Um, I really hadn't noticed what you were wearing," he winced.

"Oh, come on! These shirts are perfect," Edward protested, sticking out his chest. Everyone snorted.

"They ... are too true," Jacob decided.

Edward seemed to be holding a silent conversation with Jacob and Jazzy. Then, he nodded fractionally at Jacob, who perked up a little.

"Can I photograph you, and send the pictures home to Sam?" Jacob asked slyly.

"Probably ... not a good idea right now," Edward said, eyes rolling. His shirt was white, with a yellow, black-edged road construction sign across the chest, reading 'Danger'.

"Especially since he thinks our baby is a demon," Bella pouted. Her shirt had the same 'Danger' sign on the right breast, and the picture of a U-shaped red and silver magnet on the left one. It also had a big black arrow on it, pointing down to her crotch.

It was one of the best days we had in a long time, sunning ourselves and playing by the pool until Edward carried Bella into their bedroom, and their feelings got so out of control that Jazz told me he couldn't take it anymore. We suggested that everyone go to the beach or the boardwalk, to give Bella and Edward some peace, and then Jazz and I beat a hasty retreat to our hotel to enjoy some of our own quality time. We were enjoying our third climax when my eyes clouded over.

Edward had decided to tell Bella his biggest secret.

Her eyes are black. "I've never seen you like this, Edward. You look ... ghastly."

"I'm fine, Minx. He was a good father. He was no different than any of my friends' fathers. I can remember Laurie once, coming to school with cane marks on his palms. They were absolutely raw. So swollen that he couldn't even write for days. I was really glad my father never hit my hands. Only ever hit me on the backside."

Bella watches him narrowly. "But he didn't just hit you on the backside, did he? Otherwise, you wouldn't have said you know what it's like to have the whip wrap around and hit-" she stopped dead, comprehension flooding her face, blanching. "Hit the front. He struck ... your front with his belt."

Reluctantly, he nods once.

Bella recoils, reeling. "Jesus Christ!"

Edward panics. "Calm down, Bella! It was an accident. I was trying to get away. I'll admit I was frightened, and trying to get away from him, alright? And I rolled, and he... he missed. He didn't mean to, and I remember that he was so sorry. He wasn't a monster, Bella. He wasn't."

"Edward! He beat a helpless child with a belt. He abused you," she says adamantly.

"No, Bella. I had to have done something really bad to make him lose his temper like that. He was usually so even-tempered. But he never would have hit me there like that on purpose, I promise you. He loved me," Edward protests.

He abused you!" she insists.

"No, no. He loved me. He loved me," he says, bursting into tears. "He loved me. They both did. They were glad I was their son." He turns his face away and hugs himself.

"Oh, Baby! Sssh. Don't cry. Don't cry, Love. I hate it when you cry. Of course he loved you. And your mother, too. Of course they loved you. Who wouldn't love you?" Bella says desperately, lifting Edward's upper body into her arms. He clings to her, crying, while she hushes him…

"Lissy!" Jasper moaned, wiping invisible tears from my face as I sobbed. "What did you See?"

"I know what happened to him," I babbled. "It's why he doesn't like to be touched. It's why he's always been afraid of Carlisle. It's why he's so insecure."

"Edward?" Jazzy checked, his face sober. "What happened to him?"

"His father beat him with a belt, and he… missed and hit Edward's … front," I said shakily. My mate's jaw fell. "I don't know what happened before or after, just that it was traumatic."

Jasper's face hardened. "Don't you let on to him that you know."

I searched his face. Surely it would be better to… No. Edward would be mortified to discover that we knew. If he hadn't told us about it after fifty-plus years, he wasn't going to want the story made public now. "Yessir," I whispered.

"I mean it, Jelli. If he doesn't want people to know, it's not our business," Jasper warned.

"Yessir. I know," I said, dropping my eyes.

"So, he's telling Bella what put the stick up his caboose," Jasper mused.

I felt my face lift with surprise. "Yes. He is, isn't he?"

"And she's supporting him?" my mate checked.

"Of course," I confirmed.

Jasper kissed my nose. "They're going to be fine, Lissy. It will take a while, but if he's told her, he's going to start healing. As long as he has Bee, you don't need to worry about him anymore."

White flashes… The autumn sun kisses the leaves of a golden maple as Edward stands under it, waiting. In a flash, Bella is behind him, covering his eyes with her shimmering hands. He laughs for sheer joy, and reaches for her.

Jasper is right. They are going to live happily ever after. Like Jazzy and me.