Disclaimer: I am not Stephanie Meyer. I do not own Twilight.
I stood watching the fight going on before me, arms crossed, scowl in place. She was doing much better, everyone could see it. Two days ago, she'd let Charlotte take her down in less than a second. Now, she was taking on Emmett and Edward, two of the most challenging in our family.
And she was winning.
As Emmett charged her, she shifted her feet slightly, grabbed his arm and used him momentum to swing the big lug into Edward, sending both of them into the ground a few yards away. She jumped on them in the next instant, teeth bared.
"Kill!" Peter shouted gleefully.
I watched as she helped Emmett and Edward up before skipping over to stand in front of me. I allowed a small smile to break through as she stared up at me expectantly.
"Well done, darlin'. You've caught on quick," I nodded.
"It's not like you gave me much of a choice," Bella glared.
I smirked, knowing it was true. Since the time we'd come back from her first hunting trip, I'd worked her constantly. Even when we'd gone hunting, she'd had to fight off the rest of the family as she drank from her kill. She never complained, though, knowing it was the only way she could gain the skills needed for the possible battle.
"How about a break for doing so well these past two days?" I offered, hold out my hand for hers.
Her hand was instantly in mine and we took off into the forest, eager for some alone time. We made it about two miles out before coming to stop, my back against a tree with her positioned between my legs.
"You have no idea how amazing it is to watch you fight, darlin'," I murmured, my lips trailing across the skin at her neck.
"Mmm. Do you think we're ready, Jazz?" Bella asked, playing with my fingers.
"I do. You've caught on to everything so well. And the rest of the family has had even more training. Charlotte and Peter were trained by me and Maria. We'll be able to handle this, darlin'," I assured her.
"What if something goes wrong?" Bella asked, her emotions fading from my senses.
I sighed, knowing something else was going on that she didn't want me to feel.
Her ability as a human to shield her mind had developed more in her vampire life to encase her emotions, if she so chose to. She'd been shielding her emotions quite often over the past two days and I knew she was keeping something from me. I just hoped it wasn't something that would tear us apart.
"If something goes wrong, I'll protect you with my life. No one will hurt you, Isabella," I vowed, tightening my arms around her.
"If something happens to me…" Bella trailed off, leaving me growling ferociously.
"Nothing will happen to you. I won't let it," I growled.
"But, if something does, I want you to promise me that you won't do anything to hurt our family," Bella pleaded.
"I won't have time to do anything. I'll be throwing myself into the fire right behind you," I told her.
She sighed heavily, as if the weight of the world were on her shoulders, and snuggled into my chest. Sensing her need for comfort, I began purring, running my fingers through her hair. Slowly, her emotions began to seep back through, allowing me to feel her contentment, love, acceptance. It all swirled around the air, encasing the two of us in an impenetrable bubble.
"No matter what happens, we'll be together," I promised her.
"I love you," Bella whispered.
"I love you, too, darlin'," I murmured into her hair.
We stayed lost within the trees until the sun had long ago set before finally turning back towards home, both of us sensing that the danger was finally approaching.
I could feel it on the back of my neck, in the palms of my hands, and in the pit of my stomach. The Volturi were coming, would likely be here within the next few hours. The family was gathered around the living room, going over a few last minute pep-talks before we left to meet the vampire monarchy at the baseball field.
Jasper came to grab my hand, bringing it to his lips.
"Don't worry, darlin'. Just remember everything I taught you and you'll be fine," Jasper reassured me.
"I know," I whispered, nervous at what was to come.
According to my dream, I wouldn't be coming home with my family tonight. The thought of losing Jasper was enough to send my depressing mood into an outright agonizing pain. I quickly shut off my emotions, worried Jasper might catch something he wasn't meant to.
"Alright, everybody knows what to do. No one attacks until they move first. Edward, you let me know if they're going to turn violent," Jasper ordered, his eyes hard as he looked over our family.
Everyone nodded in agreement, their faces grim as they took on the seriousness of this meeting. Even Emmett was holding off on his usually boisterous antics. Jasper looked over our family once more before squeezing my hand briefly.
"Let's go," Jasper nodded, turning and pulling me from the house, our family close behind us.
We made it to the field within minutes, all of us standing towards one side, leaving plenty of space for the Volturi when they arrived.
"Wait until they attack first. Remember your training," Jasper reminded us.
I closed my eyes, hoping against hope that what Amira had shown me would be wrong. As I opened my eyes once again, I surveyed the area around us, paying strict attention to the woods in front of us.
Jasper was standing beside me, his body turned slightly in front of my own. Our hands were twisted together, each of us gripping as hard as possible.
Carlisle and Esme were to the back of us, standing about a foot apart from each other. Esme's intensity as she looked for danger was frightening. She knew her children were in danger and she was determined to keep them all safe, no matter the cost.
Emmett was grinning, balancing on the balls of his feet in anticipation for the battle to come. Rosalie stood beside him, her golden eyes fierce as she scanned the trees. Her stance was lower than her Mate's and she looked prepared to jump at a moment's notice.
Alice had her eyes closed as she stood to the far left, struggling to see the future that had yet to play out. Edward stood close by her, searching through the trees for any errant thoughts that may allow us time to prepare.
Peter and Charlotte stood on either side of Jasper and myself, appearing completely at ease in the tense situation. Peter was rocking back and forth on his feet, a small smile about his lips. Charlotte sighed continuously, looking as if she wished the whole mess would be over with so she could return home with her Mate.
I jerked, hearing the sound of footsteps hitting the ground at amazing force and speed. They were moving quickly and yet, it seemed as if they emerged from the forest in slow motion, each vampire that walked out more vicious looking than the one before it, all of them dressed in black cloaks.
My vampire family stood at attention, watching as the Volturi came closer to where they stood. The sea of black parted, revealing the three leaders. They stood just in front of their guards, watching my family with curious eyes. I recognized each of them, though I'd never seen the three before in my life.
"Carlisle, my dear friend! It's been so long!" Aro greeted, spreading out his arms.
"Indeed it has, Aro. Might I ask what brings you to America?" Carlisle asked, his voice strictly polite.
"Of course! How could you not know we would come once we'd heard of the newest addition to your family?" Aro smiled.
"So Laurent told you of our Bella," Carlisle stated.
"Yes. My goodness, the fierceness in which your son protected his human mate was quite astonishing," Aro beamed, his red eyes fastening on Jasper and myself.
"They are True Mates, Aro. It's really not all that surprising," Carlisle denied.
"Really? Fascinating. A vampire Mating with a human," Aro exclaimed.
Marcus reached forward and placed his hand in Aro's sharing his thoughts with the higher brother. Aro's eyebrows rose in surprise as he read the bond between Jasper and I.
"Fascinating," Aro repeated, dropping Marcus' hand.
His eyes lingered upon Jasper and I, flickering down to our joined hands.
"Would you permit me?" Aro asked, lifting a hand towards me.
Jasper growled, low and long, moving further in front of me.
"Fear not, Jasper. I have no intentions of harm against your Mate," Aro assured him.
I swallowed the venom pooling in my mouth. This was happening exactly as my dream had.
"Jazz," I whispered, placing a hand on his arm.
He just continued to growl, placing himself completely in front of me.
"Perhaps if you were to come forward with her," Aro suggested.
I nearly sobbed at those words. I knew they would be our undoing. I almost told Jasper to stay here, to let me go alone, but that's not what would happen and I knew it.
"It's okay, Jazz," I encouraged him gently, my heart slowly breaking.
Slowly, Jasper began to walk forward, always keeping me firmly behind him. He stopped us about halfway between our family and the Volturi.
"Come," Jasper snapped.
Aro grinned widely, walking towards us with one of the guards in tow. When he stood about a foot away, he reached out his hand again. Jasper glared at the appendage before reaching back for my hand, slowly moving it forward until just the tip of my fingers touched Aro's.
Aro's eyes fluttered closed, his head bowed low. After a few minutes, he raised his head, giving me a slight smile.
"Interesting. A shield," Aro murmured, stroking my fingers.
Jasper hissed, yanking my hand away from Aro's and crouching before me. A series of growls started up behind Aro, but a simple raise of his hand cut them off.
"Young Jasper is simply defending his Mate, not showing rebellion," Aro told his guard.
His eyes fixated on my own, his smile never wavering. I felt it then, the shift in the air. Aro was already planning someone's death.
"It seems your newest daughter is quite gifted, Carlisle. She would make a great addition to the guard," Aro offered.
Before anyone else could speak, or even blink, Jasper leapt at the Volturi leader, taking him to the ground.
"NO!" I screamed.
I wasn't able to so much as jump forward before Jasper being pulled off Aro by numerous other guards and hand enclosed on my own arms. I began struggling to get to him, but being held back by two of the more burly guards made it impossible, despite my newborn strength. The Cullens were quick to move forward, standing directly behind me.
"Release my daughter and son, Aro," Carlisle ordered, his golden eyes flashing in anger.
"I don't think you are in any position to be casting orders, Carlisle. Your son attacked me. His life is forfeit," Aro decided.
"NO! Jasper!" I screamed, struggling against the two vampires holding me.
"The Volturi have spoken," Aro said, clapping his hands once.
"No! Please! I'll do anything!" I cried, still struggling.
Aro turned his red eyes to me, triumph in their depths.
"Anything, you say? Will you join the guard?" Aro asked.
"Yes! Anything! Just don't kill him!" I begged.
"Aro, the law claims his life. We cannot make exceptions for this," Caius decreed.
"Alas, my brother is correct," Aro sighed, as if it truly grieved him.
"No!" I shouted, struggling all the harder.
"Stop your shouting or you will join him!" Caius ordered.
"No! Take me instead! Let him live! Please!" I offered desperately.
"You will take your Mate's place?" Aro questioned, triumph again in his eyes.
"Yes. Just please, let him go," I sobbed, staring at my Mate who was still being restrained.
His golden eyes were staring blankly ahead. He appeared dead already.
"Very well. In exchange for Jasper Whitlock's life, you will forfeit your own," Aro agreed.
Shouts of protest erupted from my family behind me.
"Bella, you can't do this! Jasper would want you to live!" Alice shouted.
In an instant, guards surrounded the Cullens, preventing them from approaching any further.
"Come forth, Isabella Whitlock," Aro commanded.
I walked towards the man who was taking away everything, my vampire eyes incapable of shedding the tears gathered there as I looked at my Mate. Aro grasped my head in his hands, his smile beatific as he gazed down at me.
"Release Jasper, Alec. I want him to see just what love has cost him," Aro insisted.
I watched as Jasper's eyes regained their life. Immediately, they attached onto mine, filled with horror at what was about to happen.
"I love you," I sobbed.
Before another word could be spoken, I felt Aro's hands grasp my head and begin pulling. A sudden screeching sound was heard and my eyes feasted on Jasper for what I thought would be the last time.
Everything around us froze at the voice, except Jasper. He still struggled to get to me, growls ripping through his throat. Abruptly, his captors dropped him, staggering back as if they'd been dealt a blow to the head. The instant he was free, I was in his arms and Aro was sent more than a hundred yards away from us.
Looking up at my Mate, I was in awe of the possessive anger rolling off him as he eyed the Volturi angrily. I was held securely in his arms, his body between me and the Volturi.
The Volturi parted easily as a woman made her way through the crowd, stopping once she'd reached the brothers. I felt as if I'd met her before, but I was unable to place where exactly. Her blond hair was almost white and seemed to blend right into her pale skin. She was tall, standing well over Marcus and Caius as they eyed her warily.
"You will leave this place now. Your laws do not apply to those under my protection and this family has just earned that privilege," the woman said, her voice deep with authority.
"Yes, mistress," Marcus bowed before turning to his coven.
"Collect our brother, Felix. It is time for us to return home," Caius ordered.
I watched in amazement as the Volturi slowly disappeared the same way they'd come. When they were all gone, the woman turned to us, smiling proudly. Jasper growled, tensing as she started moving towards us. I stroked his arm, trying to calm him down.
Something inside me told me we didn't want to hurt this woman.
"Well done, Isabel," the woman smiled.
Looking into her ice blue eyes, I realized exactly who it was I was looking at.
"Amira?" I asked, wanting to make sure.
Jasper's body tensed even more in surprise, but his growls did stop.
"Of course. Do you think I would miss your finest moment?" Amira asked, smiling wider.
"But… you said…" I trailed off, confused.
There was a sudden roar from behind me and I found myself behind Jasper and Edward. Edward's eyes were black as he glared at Amira, his body crouched in a fighting stance. Amira continued to smile, her eyes never wavering from mine.
"Yes, I did tell you this would be your last life and I did not lie. I did, however, mislead you. Jasper has proven himself to the goddess which I serve that he is deserving of the gift I bestowed upon you. You, however, had not. My goddess was very pleased with the way you were so willing to sacrifice your own life for that of Jasper's. Even more so when she discovered you knew you were going to die before hand. It takes great courage to go through with something, knowing the outcome will not be in your favor," Amira explained.
"So, this was all a test?" I asked, more than a little angry at the deception.
"Yes. And you passed. You and Jasper will live the rest of this life together forever. The goddess whom I serve will watch over you, protecting you and your family. She is greatly pleased with the bonds that have formed between all of you are unbreakable. You should be proud, Carlisle," Amira grinned.
"I have always been proud of my children," Carlisle told her.
I looked back to see Alice between Carlisle and Esme, her head resting on Esme's shoulder. Emmett and Rosalie were in a tight embrace, Emmett placed between her and Amira as he eyed her suspiciously. Peter and Charlotte were right behind Jasper and I, Peter's hand resting on Jasper's shoulder. Edward was still crouched in front of me and Jasper still had me held tightly in his arms.
"Enjoy this life, Jasper and Isabella. Live it well. Love strongly. The goddess whom I serve and I will always be watching over you," Amira promised.
And with that, Amira vanished, leaving nothing but a faint breeze in her wake. As soon as she was gone, Jasper lifted me in his arms and took off running. I turned into his chest, trembling as the reality of the situation began sinking in.
I was still alive. Jasper was still alive. And we were both going to live a long, happy existence.
From the time I realized that Aro was trying to take Bella from me to the time I realized who the woman speaking to us was, I couldn't really remember much. I knew that if Amira had been one second later, Bella would be dead and that thought terrified me. I also understood that Bella had known about the fight for a while, but hadn't spoken a word about it to me.
She knew she was going to be taken from me and she said nothing. The anger I felt at her was only overshadowed by my relief that it hadn't happened, that she was safe and in my arms. As I came to a stop a few miles away from everyone else, I set her on her feet and, keeping a grip on her upper arms, held her slightly away from me.
"Explain," I demanded, my voice deep in my anger.
Her honey colored eyes, a last gift from Amira, sparkled with unshed tears as she looked up to meet mine, her emotions completely open to me. I was surrounded by her love, relief, joy, guilt, and sorrowful emotions. Closing my eyes as I tasted each of them, I couldn't help but pull her closer. Once I had buried my nose in her neck, I was able to breathe easier and my voice was much softer when I spoke again.
"Tell me what happened, Isabella. Tell me everything you know, because I don't know if I could stand to have you keep something from me right now," I pleaded.
"Oh, God, Jasper, I'm so sorry. I never wanted to lie to you, but I just knew if I told you… it wouldn't have changed a thing. I needed to do this," Bella whispered, her voice rough with unshed tears.
I didn't say anything, just waited for her to continue.
"It started that night Edward came over to talk to you after I was asleep. The dream you couldn't wake me from, it was of today. I saw it all happening and it happened just like my dream. Except, in my dream, I died. Amira told me it was necessary for the greater good, that sometimes love had to be sacrificed. I knew it would hurt you, but I also knew nothing we did would be able to stop it," Bella finished, sobbing into my shoulder.
Slowly, I began rubbing up and down her back, purring to assure her that all was okay.
"You are very lucky, Isabella. If I wasn't so relieved that you're in my arms and alive, I'd have you over my knees, giving you the beating you deserve for lying to me," I informed her darkly.
"I'm so sorry, Jazz. I just… I thought… and Amira. I'm just so sorry. I love you so much and I couldn't…" Bella cried brokenly.
"I understand, darlin'. I love you, too. So much that it's physically painful to be holding you right now," I admitted, squeezing her all the tighter because of it.
"I know what you mean," Bella chuckled humorlessly.
"Don't ever put me through something like that again," I demanded, the growl coming back into my voice.
"I won't," Bella murmured, brushing her lips against my neck.
I lifted my head so I could look down at my beautiful Mate. Her honey eyes still held unshed tears, the venom making them appear glossy. As I brought one of my hands up to stroke her cheek, she took her bottom lip between her teeth and a small crease appeared above her nose. Leaning down, I kissed the crease away, lingering on her skin as I breathed deeply.
Leisurely, my hands began running up and down her arms as my mouth moved to pay homage to her neck. My tongue worshiped the mark I had made a few days prior, feeling a primal satisfaction when my Mate leaned against me, an eager sound escaping her lips.
"Jasper," Bella moaned, gripping my shirt in her hands.
I purred, luxuriating in the effects of our Mating bond. Moving my hands away from her arms, I rested one on her hip, stroking the delicate skin between her jeans and shirt, and the other moved to the back of her neck, drawing her lips to mine.
The moment our lips touched, everything came back. Each lifetime, each love, each kiss, each love-making, each marriage, each child. All of it came back in a rush that nearly knocked me to the ground. As I tightened my hold around Bella, I felt so much more from her than I'd ever felt before and I knew, she was seeing the same things I was.
When our lips finally parted, I looked down at my Mate in complete awe.
"My sweet little southern Bella. I can't believe I forgot you," I breathed, resting my forehead against hers.
Bella gave me a bright smile, pressing closer into my chest.
"I've waited so long to hear you say that," Bella sighed, her eyes fluttering closed.
"All of it, darlin'. I remember everything. I've loved you for a long time," I smiled.
"I've loved you just as long," Bella assured me.
"And we'll get to love each other ten times as long in this lifetime. No more being taken apart," I reminded her.
"I can't wait," Bella murmured, pressing her lips to mine once again.
This time, I didn't bother taking them away, letting my tongue sweep into her mouth as I lowered us to the ground. My body hovered over hers, my hands caressed her very soul. As each piece of clothing was removed, our love and lust mixed together to make a heady combination that had my head spinning.
"I love you," Bella gasped as I positioned myself between her legs.
"I love you," I moaned, sliding home where I belonged.
Our movements were slow, measured, timed. Each thrust bringing us together flawlessly in a dance we had perfected over centuries of being together. As her walls began fluttering around me, I knew she was getting close. Angling my body lower, I placed my teeth against my mark. Just as I felt her climax taking over, I sank my teeth into my mark, reclaiming her as my Mate. I felt her teeth sinking into my shoulder at the same moment, bringing on my own climax as my Mate claimed me.
Once we had come down from the high of being together, I brushed her hair away from her face, still nestled between her legs.
"I think it's time we headed home, darlin'," I said softly, unwilling to break the peaceful spell around us.
"Yes," Bella agreed, nudging my cheek with her nose.
I smiled as we nuzzled each other, my purr the only sound in the forest.
It took us a while, but we were eventually able to disentangle ourselves and make our way back to the house. As the large white mansion came into view, I felt a sense of peace come over me unlike anything I'd felt before. I paused for a second, just taking it all in.
I looked down at my Mate, smiling at her worried expression.
"I think this lifetime is going to be the best out of all of them," I told her.
"What makes you say that?" Bella asked, her tone teasing.
"Because it involves you, me, and forever," I answered, bringing her close to me.
"My three favorite words," Bella smiled.
"How about three more? I love you," I murmured, kissing her sweetly.
"Hmm. Contenders. I'd have to say it's a tie," Bella sighed dramatically.
"Just so long as I'm the only one you ever repeat them to," I growled, grinning as I swung her into my arms.
"Now that is a promise I think I'll find very easy to keep," Bella laughed as I walked us towards the house.
Walking in, I looked around at our family, finding that the peace was radiating from each of them. Knowing it was because the threat was over and our family was still intact, I could only smile as Bella and I were hugged by each of them.
And as I watched Edward chastise Bella for putting her life in danger, I couldn't help but allow the family's love to overcome me, because even though Edward was raging at her, he couldn't seem to stop hugging her to him. That was family.
And our family was finally home.
That's the end, everybody. Can you believe it? The story is over. It's kind of sad, actually.
But, worry not! Soon, I'll have another story coming for you all. I will post the information on my profile as soon as I can. I will tell you this much, it's a wolf pack story. With Bella as our heroine, of course. Keep a look out if you're interested.
I have thoroughly enjoyed taking this journey with all of you and I'd just like to thank each and every one of you for reviewing. I know I didn't always respond and I'm sorry for that, but your reviews have always made my day. I hope to hear from all of you again!
P.S. Those of you who have added me as a Facebook friend, keep an eye out for a special sneak peak of previously stated new story. If you want to be friends on Facebook and get to read this sneak peak, look me up under Untamed Loner on Facebook and I'll be sure to add you.
See you later!