Chapter 6: Hungers

My stomach growled and he pulled back to look at me. "When was the last time you ate?"

"Two days ago I had some beef jerky." I replied.

"You need to eat, but we don't have any food." He told me apologetically.

"It's fine. It's not that bad." I said. I knew worse hungers, like my thirst. The burn picked up as I thought about it. Damn it! It had been really bearable up until then.

"Bella," Jasper inquired.

"Yeah, that's me." I rubbed my throat absent-mindedly.

"But you're human." He said as he tried to understand.

"I'm part vampire. I've been bitten many, many times. Some of the venom must have leaked into my blood stream."

"So what do you hunt?" Peter inquired.

"I used to hunt animals. I haven't hunted in over a year. Adam found out and said I could feed from humans or not at all. I chose not at all." They gaped at me.

"How the hell have you been resisting so long?"

"I won't hurt a human the way I've been hurt. Thinking about what it feels like to be bitten stops me when I'm nearly overcome." I said shivering slightly. Jasper looked pained. "I'm fine Jasper." I assured him.

"No ya aren't so stop lyin." Charlotte practically ordered.

"You know I'd rather not talk about it."

"You're goin to snap and scream at everyone and everythin one day." Jasper reminded me.

"When that day comes don't you think it'll be warranted?" He nodded.

"Hey Bella, wanna go huntin?" Peter offered. What the hell was with the cocky smirk as he looked between Jasper and I?

"Hell to the yeah! But only animals." I specified.

"They won't wanna come with us then. Would you mind goin with just me?" Jasper asked hesitantly.

"I don't mind. I trust you." I meant it. I didn't know why, but I trusted him. He smiled widely.

"Let's go." He said offering me his hand. I took it eagerly. Electricity jolted through me when our hands touched just like when he hugged me. He looked at me shocked before he hid the emotion and smiled once more. He guided me out of the house and into the woods. We stopped after a while. 'Are you going to be able to catch your own prey or do you want me to bring you something?" He questioned.

"I want to try." I decided. He nodded.

"Do you know what you're doing?" He inquired.

"I've grown up watching vampires hunt and you think I don't know what I'm doing." I regretted mentioning my past as I saw pain and anguish spread across his face. "Sorry," I muttered looking down.

He hid his emotions once more. "Have at it then." He said flashing me a small smile. His eyes were still sad and the smile seemed forced.

I looked at him once more concernedly before I focused on my hunt. I breathed in the scents of the forest around me. It smelled of home. I could detect the scent of deer to the east, and to the west there was a mountain lion. The mountain lion smelled so much better, but it was Edward's favorite, so I would stick with the deer. I stalked towards the deer cautiously. I only wanted to use my speed when I had to. I didn't want my prey to be able to escape. I could hear Jasper behind me, but I knew he wouldn't hurt me. He'd had multiple opportunities to today, and he hadn't done anything, so I knew I had nothing to fear.

When I was less than 100 yards from a large buck I lunged at it quickly. I landed on its back and yanked its head to the right sharply. I heard the break and jumped away before the creature fell to the forest floor. I latched on to its jugular artery and drank deeply. It was heaven sent and exactly what I'd been looking for. I felt stronger with each swallow. I could feel color returning to my face, and I felt stronger. When the buck was dry I stood and looked over to where Jasper stood watching me.

"You don't even have blood on you." He commented shocked. I shrugged smiling. "Better," he asked.

"I feel great." He smiled.

"I'm glad. Let's go back." He grabbed my hand and electricity jolted through me once more. I loved the feeling… then we were racing through the forest together. He was going slow, because he still didn't seem to realize how fast I truly could go, but that was fine. I could surprise him some other time.

He looked closely at my eyes once we were inside. "What is it?"

"Your eyes have a gold ring around them now." He informed me.

"It doesn't bother me." Was I supposed to care?

"How was your hunt Bella?" Charlotte inquired.

"It was good. I feel a hell of a lot better." She nodded.

"We should go to the store later when it opens, so we can get everything you need." Charlotte offered. It wasn't that early was it? I looked outside to see I was right. The sky was in the later stages of pre dawn.

"Charlotte, it's almost five." I pointed out. Jasper pulled a phone from his pocket.

"You're right." He said shocked.

"I'd hope so. I had to know this kind of shit." I said rolling my eyes. They all stiffened. Damn, note to self: never mention past. "Sorry," I muttered.

"It's not your fault." Jasper assured me. Peter smirked again looking at first Jasper then myself. What the hell was that about?

"You have every right to talk about it." Charlotte added.

"Not when it makes people upset. I used to be good at avoiding topics, and good at hiding anything that related to it, but I'm out of practice." I admitted annoyed.

"What do you mean things related to it?" Jasper questioned. He would think I was hideous. His scars showed his strength and courage. Mine proved my weakness and cowardice. His were hot… mine weren't. Whoa, I couldn't think like that. He wasn't mine. There was no way he could ever want me regardless. I shook my head internally to clear it of my ridiculous thoughts.

"It's nothing Jasper." I lied.

"That doesn't work on an empath." He reminded me. I rolled my eyes.

"It'll have to do." I wasn't playing show and tell with my body like had once before. I had so many more scars. Charlie didn't heal any of them anymore…

"She's talkin bout her scars." Peter interjected when he noticed me playing with the sleeves of my shirt.

"No, I'm not." I lied half-heartedly. They didn't believe me.

"They're nothing to be ashamed of."

"Yes they are. They should be covered up. No one wants to see them. They're hideous. I'm hideous." I added quietly.

Jasper coaxed my head up slowly. "Bella, you are anything but hideous. Who told you that?"

"Edward was disgusted when he saw even one of my scars. He made sure I knew he liked it better when they were covered up." I whispered. Jasper hissed angrily.

"Edward was lying. You shouldn't have to cover them up. They're part of you. They show how strong you are."

"They show how weak I am, nothing more." I said looking away.

"Bella please, look at me." He pleaded. He shouldn't have to beg for anything, so I looked up at them once more. "You are one of the strongest people I know. You've survived so much more than most vampires even. Your scars are reminders of your will to survive, and you are beautiful." He assured me. He thought I was beautiful. Was there something wrong with his eyes?

"How could you possibly think that about me?" I questioned. There was no way he liked me the same way I liked him. He was too perfect.

"Because you're my mate, and I've always liked you Bella," he admitted. I gasped. I was his mate? He liked me? How was that even fricking possible? I wasn't anything special, and I was being hunted. He deserved so much better. While I was going through various phases of shock Jasper started back tracking. "After all you've gone through there's no way you feel the same. Alice warned me. I'm sorry for bringing it up. I slapped a hand over his mouth. His eyes went wide with shock and confusion.

"I'm still mostly human. You need to give me time to process things." I said jokingly. "I like you too Jasper." I added smiling. It felt nice to be able to smile, but I had to warn him so I stopped. "Are you sure you want me around? I'm being hunted." I reminded him. His hands clenched into fists as he tried to stop himself from hitting something.

"We'll deal with them together."

"I don't want to put you in danger. They're strong." I forced out. Jasper wrapped me in a hug comfortingly.

"I won't let them hurt you again. I'll protect you."

"It's too dangerous." I said freaking out.

"He won't be alone. We're gonna help him. He's right. We'll keep you safe." Peter added. Charlotte nodded in agreement.

"Don't you get it? I'm not worried for myself! I've never been worried about me. I personally wouldn't have minded if they killed me this past year. What I did and do care about is what they do to all of you. I kept running to keep you safe, and I'll be damned if I screw it up now." Jasper looked tortured. I could have kicked myself. Damn, it! Why the hell did I have to say that?

"You wanted to die." Jasper forced out in a strangled whisper. His eyes looked desperate.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything." I apologized looking away.

"It's not your fault Bella. We still don't fully comprehend how bad you had it. I don't think we want to, but we have to. You've suffered so much." Jasper's voice broke over the last sentence. I walked over to him ad wrapped him in a hug.

"It's enough that you care. You don't need to hear what I went through." I said shaking my head.

"You shouldn't have to deal with it alone." Charlotte countered.

"The key word in that sentence is shouldn't. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I don't want to put you through hearing it. There are others I wouldn't mind hurting with tales of my past, but you aren't them." It was true. I didn't want to see that pained look in Jasper's eyes. It was killing me. Even seeing Charlotte flinch and Peter stiffen was getting to me, and I'd known them for less than four hours.

"We should talk to the Cullens." I stiffened at Jasper's decision. "What's wrong?"

"They won't want to see me."

"You don't know that." Charlotte argued.

"Adam told me about how Edward told everyone I'd said I hated him, and how I'd said I never wanted to see any of them again. They aren't going to want to see me." I shivered remembering my encounter with Esme once more. They growled again.

"We can make them understand."

"We can try. I really don't care as long as they're safe. I don't want them hurt." Jasper was looking at me shaking his head. "What?"

"It's hard to believe ya care so much bout them after all ya've been through." What was I supposed to say to that? I didn't understand what he meant. Yes, they'd hurt me, but that didn't mean I wanted them dead. I wasn't that cruel.

No one said anything and my hunger was easily felt with nothing to distract me from it. With my thirst sated for the first time in far too long it was easy to feel how hungry I was. There was nothing to overshadow it anymore. If Jasper hadn't been standing right next to me I would have done a back flip to try and work through a bit of the hunger. Sometimes doing something active made it go away.

He eyed me pained. "You're hungry."

"I'm fine." I replied smiling slightly. Charlotte rolled her eyes.

"Let's go to the store Bella. You need stuff."

"You don't have to buy me anything," I assured her.

"Yes I do. I'm not going to have you stand there and suffer. You've been through enough, so let's go." She practically ordered.

"I have to wear shoes." I groaned out. They looked at me strangely. "Mine are torn up to hell, so I go barefoot most of the time. I'm not used to wearing shoes anymore." I explained.

"We'll get you a new pair, but you do need to wear some or they won't let us into the store." She said rolling her eyes. I smiled.

"Ok," I relented. I grabbed my sneakers and pulled them on. I missed the lack of feeling in my feet.

"Let's take my car." Peter offered. Jasper made no complaints so I followed him out there and sat in the back beside him. Something he said earlier was bothering me. It was something to do with Alice... oh I remembered now!

"Jasper, what did you mean by Alice warned you?" I questioned.

"She told me she'd told you we were mates and you'd still wanted nothing to do with our family. She said you never wanted to see or hear from me again." He added quietly. Rage boiled in my blood. Jasper had wanted to talk to me. She'd forcibly kept him away! She could have saved Jasper heart ache. I left her a letter! I'd been protecting her!

"That selfish little bitch! I swear to god, I'm going to kill her." I growled out. Jasper's eyes widened in shock. "She did everything she possibly could to ruin our lives. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if she had something to do with the incident at my party." Jasper hung his head at that. "Hey, chin up cowboy it's not your fault. It's natural, and not a first for me. It's all good." I assured him.

Charlotte smiled at m statement. "I told ya Jasper. That bitch is stirrin up trouble for the hella it." She twanged worse than a guitar. I nodded.

"If I'd known we were mates the only reason I would have said those things would be to keep you away from me for your own protection, nothing more. I could never say things like that unless it was to keep you safe." Was there another way I could say that to help it get through to him? I didn't think so.

"Don't lie to me to keep me safe. Whatever it is we can face it together." He compromised in a strained voice. I nodded hesitantly.

"We're goin to the mall in the city, so it could take a while Bella." Peter warned me as we drove down the highway.

"I don't care. You're helping me not the other way around." I reminded her. I still couldn't believe they were helping me. I was just a vampire's play thing, their pet. Why did they care about me? Why did Jasper get stuck with me? I mean that's a shitty fate to be stuck loving something like me.

"Bella, whatever your thinkin it's not true. You have worth." I shook my head.

"No Jasper, it is true. I'm sorry you got stuck with me." I apologized.

"I'm not stuck. I want to be here."

"That's ludicrous. I'm being hunted and you want to be around?" No way in hell.

"Someday you'll believe me." He whispered.

"Oh, I believe you. I just don't see how it's possible." I explained.

"It's possible because he cares about ya Bella. Hell, we all do and we just met ya." Peter reasoned.

I needed a subject change. We weren't getting anywhere. "Jasper, what was it like with the Cullens after you all left?" He winced and I wished I hadn't said anything, but before I could take it back he was talking.

"It was bad. Carlisle was distraught when he couldn't convince Edward to stay. Alice was always angry with me and got the others to turn on me as well. Emmett was sad we were leaving, and Rosalie was pissed we were all going to leave. When Edward came back and lied to us about what you said it got worse. Carlisle threw himself into his work. He was barely home. Rosalie was pissed and she felt betrayed. Emmett was shocked and confused. Alice was indifferent. Esme was… beyond furious." I barely managed to hide my flinch at that. I knew how mad Esme was. "They were resentful towards me, but that died down when Edward told his lie. After Edward and Alice told me they were together I left. I didn't want to see them together." He finished pain in his voice.

"I'm sorry." I said looking him in the eyes.

"It's not your fault."

"If I'd been good the first time the Cullens never would have bought me, and I wouldn't have ruined your life." I felt so guilty.

"If you'd stayed with Charlie and Adam you would have died."
"You would be better off if I was dead." I whispered.

"Bullshit," Peter growled from the front seat. "Neither of you would be better off without the other. You'd be alone and in pain." No one spoke again until we were in the city.