Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight and the characters contained in this story – I own nothing.

Warning: There is some graphic violence in this one, please be forewarned.

Anyone still with me? I'm so very sorry for the delay!

I'd like to dedicate this chapter to my reviewers. 'Cause, truthfully, if it wasn't for your encouraging words this might not be posted yet. It's been a very rough go for me since the last update happened. I've struggled finding time and then when there was time, there was simply no motivation to write – it was a vicious cycle. So I went back and re-read all of the reviews from last chapter, hoping they might give me the kick in the ass I needed. So this one is for all of you who take the time to leave a word, a sentence, a paragraph, and sometimes more...Thank you so much – your words have inspired my words! I just hope you like them. ;)

Song I listened to while writing this chapter: 30 Seconds To Mars, Vox Populi (you'll see why and the link will be on my profile if you are interested)

Shall we?...

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"You fucking psychotic bitch, he is not yours!" Bella growled, lunging forward quickly. Just as she knocked Alice to the ground like a ragdoll, I wrapped my arms around her and prayed that she wouldn't fight me on this. Fortunately for Alice, Bella's shield must have still been wrapped around more than just herself and my gift calmed her body easily...but not her mind.

She looked up at me with hurt and incredulous eyes, wondering why I would stop her. We were going to clear this shit up, right now, because I could not survive having her look at me with that expression ever again. I wasn't backing out of our deal and I sure as hell wasn't interested in anything Alice had to say, especially in her current delusional state.

"Don't even think it, do you hear me? I stopped you because she doesn't know what she's saying at the moment, Bella. She's sick and under the circumstances, I don't think we ca-..."

"I don't care!" Bella hissed, turning her murderous glare back to Alice, who was getting up slowly and backing away.

I quickly spun her back around to look into my eyes. "Listen to me for a minute! I'm yours, only yours...and nothing and no one will ever change that. And if she wasn't in this 'condition', Bella, I promise you, I wouldn't have stopped you from kicking her ass."

She stared at me for a moment before blowing out a long breath and then letting her head fall to my chest in defeat. "I'm sorry, Jasper," she murmured while winding her arms around me. "It's just...it's frustrating listening to her say all that stuff," she sighed, "And someone really needs to shut her the fuck up," she added lowly under her breath.

"I know this is difficult for you and I understand completely," I sighed in relief while pressing my lips to her forehead.

She hummed as my lips made contact. "But, Jasper? I still want to tear her to pieces...really, really badly," she stated with a small growl that vibrated through me deliciously.

"Just let me help you with that, baby. As long as you let me, I can help you resist that urge," I assured her with a stronger dose of calm. She squeezed me tighter, her body pressed against mine without an inch of space between us, and I seriously would have been happy to stand that way for the rest of our eternity. Okay, maybe minus the clothing...and some different positioning - numbers 4, 7, and 9 to be exact. My cock nodded at me, agreeing with my choices eagerly.

"Arghhhh!" Alice roared in frustration, pacing back and forth like a caged animal as she glared over at us.

"Alice, just calm down. It's going to be okay," Edward said softly, attempting to move forward and approach her.

"You!" she seethed, her icy glare turning in his direction. "This...," she gestured wildly over to Bella. "...is all your fault!"

Edward stopped in his tracks, shocked by her sudden accusation and hostility towards him. "Alice, I didn't..."

"'She's my mate, I just know it, Alice'... 'Don't worry about Jasper, she hates him'... 'It will all be fine, Alice'," she spat at him mockingly. "I trusted you and look...look at them, Edward! Does that look like hate to you?"

"I know, believe me I know. It hasn't been easy for me to accept either, Alice, and I never meant to hurt you. I was wrong about everything and I'm so sorry," Edward apologized genuinely.

"You're sorry? If you hadn't been showing your dick to that whore -Tanya- then maybe I'd still have my mate!" Alice seethed.

"You saw that?" he choked out, completely mortified.

"Yes, I saw that," she replied, glancing at his jean covered crotch briefly. "Really, Edward, you need to learn how to use what you've been given a little better."

Edward's eyes widened and snapped closed so tightly, he looked like he was willing himself to disappear. Bella squirmed in my arms and I felt her anger rising once again – fuck, she was beyond pissed at this point. I wasn't sure I'd be able to contain her much longer at this rate.

I was debating on whether or not to get her the hell away from Alice before she snapped again, when Alice suddenly began sobbing uncontrollably. Loud, air-gasping, gut-wrenching sobs.

Edward immediately let go of his own embarrassment and moved forward, pulling her into a tight embrace. She didn't resist and went completely limp in his arms as he cradled her small form against him. There was nothing romantic behind their embrace, it was that of a brother comforting a little sister. They'd always shared that type of bond with one another – their gifts gave them a unique closeness the other Cullens simply couldn't attain, no matter how hard they tried to mimic one.

"What am I suppose to do now?" she cried against him. "I can't be all alone like you...Edward, I just can't!"

"Shh. You won't be alone, I've got you," he shushed her, tightening his hold further and resting his cheek on the top of her head. "We've got each other and that will have to be enough for both of us for now." I was floored by the amount of sadness and loneliness that radiated from him when he said that. Edward felt truly alone. I'd always known he felt left out - having to endure a house full of couples, mostly mated, would be torturous for any vampire. But this went beyond that... he was losing hope, fast.

His eyes met mine pleadingly, silently asking for my help with her, as he held her now shuddering form. I wasn't sure what he wanted me to fucking say or do. I couldn't give her what she truly wanted in this situation - which was me - and I didn't know how to make it better for her any other way. Nor did I know how to handle a crazy person; excluding Peter, of course. That kind of crazy, I can somewhat manage.

"Edward, why don't you take Alice back to the house, hmm? I think Esme and Carmen might be better equipped to deal with this situation," Carlisle suggested. "I'll be along in a minute to help them."

Edward nodded, extremely thankful for the life-line he had been thrown. "Come on, sweetheart – let's go see Esme and Carmen, okay? They'll know what to do to fix this. Everything is going to be alright now."

"Carlisle, do you really think that's wise?" I interjected, concerned. She could be unpredictable -wild- in this state of mind. He would be foolish to blindly trust her simply because she's Alice.

He raised an eyebrow at me and looked over at Alice pointedly. It was then that I saw what he had and realized she was definitely not a threat to anyone in her current state. Any fight she marched in with, had completely left her.

Edward began trying to lead her away but her feet literally dragged against the forest floor causing leaves to bunch around her shoes as she moved. And the look on her face...was almost catatonic. He paused for a moment, studying her sadly, before finally lifting her up into his arms bridle-style and taking off swiftly towards the house without another word. I couldn't imagine what he was reading in her thoughts right now - none of them could be good the way he took off in such a rush.

And I felt...like shit. While it was true, Alice and I had our arguments and issues throughout the years – I never wanted this for her. I wanted to see her happy...for her to find her own true mate and find the same level of peace and happiness that I've found with Bella. I felt...guilty, and it wasn't a feeling I was used to...nor liked.

Once they were out of range, Carlisle addressed the next problem we faced. "Who is she?" he inquired, gesturing over to Victoria.

"The nomad I killed...she was his mate," I informed him, watching as her eyes blackened and narrowed into slits at my words.

"I see. And what are you going to do with her?" he asked uncomfortably, though it sounded like he knew exactly what I was going to do. He shifted nervously on his feet while he waited for my answer.

"You know what losing a mate means, Carlisle, you said so yourself - there is only one thing that will stop her," I explained, though I wasn't sure why I even felt the need to. It wasn't his decision to make; she was after my mate.

When he stayed silent, it was my turn to raise an eyebrow; having fully expected him to argue in her defense. Instead, he simply nodded as he stared at Victoria deep in thought and then glanced over at me before nodding again, almost as if he was giving me his consent; like I fucking needed it, but at least he understood and wasn't going to lecture me. That was definite progress on his part. This whole situation with the Volturi, appears to have changed him somewhat - and for the better, in my opinion.

I let go of Bella's hand and motioned with my own for Peter to move to the side.

"Stand up," I ordered her.

Victoria tilted her head to the side inquisitively. "You want to fight me? One on one?" she asked suspiciously.

"It's what you came here for, is it not? A fight," I played along.

"I was forced to come here, remember?" she answered coyly.

"You can cut the fucking act now, Victoria. I know you let Alice drag you here," I informed her. "You're older than her, and Alice's strong points aren't her strength. She would not have been able to bring you all this way on her own, regardless of her 'other' abilities."

Her eyes grew wide for a moment before masking her expression to a cool, calm one – that was an act as well. "It appears I underestimated you," she said, pausing to study me further before she decided to simply confess. "Yes, I let her win and bring me here. Why spend the next year tracking you down when all I had to do was pretend to struggle a little? It really was so very easy to fool her...what with her mind being so weak. It was rather fun playing with her, I must admit; James would have definitely liked her. We could have had a lot of fun with her together."

She leaped to her feet smoothly, crouching with her back still against the tree. Her surge of confidence standing before me was incredibly fucking foolish – she apparently shared that trait with her mate. She'd be sharing another trait with him soon; death.

"Too bad he's a pile of ashes in an alley dumpster," I goaded her with a smirk. She hissed in response and bared her freshly venom coated teeth.

"You will pay for taking him from me," she snarled, her wild ruby eyes darting over to Bella and then back to me.

"Go ahead, she's right there. Just a few yards away," I egged her on, dropping my voice to a very low whisper, "She's not even paying attention and she's who you really want, isn't she?"

Bella had her back turned, talking with Peter and Emmett in hushed tones...something about needing her opinion on the integrity of paper versus a rock. Fucking incredible. Of course she wasn't really oblivious – I could see her body shifting minutely in response to every single movement that Victoria made. Beautiful, so fucking beautiful – moving art is what she was. Victoria was too inept a fighter to notice the minute movements, however, and it would be the biggest mistake she made yet.

Victoria's eyes darted from mine to Bella as her mind calculated her options and the probability that she would succeed. The odds were not good – but logic was quickly dwindling in her vengeance centric mind and I pried further at the crack she showed, widening it even more.

"She's just a newborn; surely you can take her before I reach you. What would James think if you can't even avenge his death against a measly newborn...pathetic."

With that she sprung at Bella viciously, her hands hooked into claws, ready to find purchase around my mate's neck when she landed. Bella didn't react at all until the precise moment Victoria was within her leg's length, a look of menace on her face as spun like a gust of wind. Her leg kicked out, catching Victoria just under the chin, mid-air, with her foot. Victoria's head snapped back with a sharp crack, a look of utter shock and confusion on her face as she clutched at her throat with both hands. Her body was still in backward motion, until it landed at my feet with a skid and a large pile of collected leaves, mud, and her own leaking venom.

"Oops, I guess she was paying attention after all," I shrugged down at her, unapologetic.

She looked up into my eyes completely panicked as she realized she was already half-way decapitated. Her windpipe was still intact but clearly visible as whimpers left her mouth. Good, then she can still talk while I end this.

"Mistake number three."

"Three?" she gurgled, attempting to scoot away from me with her legs while simultaneously holding onto her neck; her fear was suddenly very palpable. Ahh, she was catching on – a little slow, but better late than never I supposed.

"One, you came here to my home. Two, you underestimated more than just me. And three, you tried to attack my mate," I hissed. "You know what they say, Victoria, don't you?"

She tried to get to her feet but I used my gift, sending her a heavy dose of paralyzing fear. "Please!" she mouthed.

"Say hello to James for me," I growled, reaching down and swiftly twisting her head between my palms, decapitating her fully. Peter already had a fire going and I wasted no time tossing her head and body into the flames. I was done toying with her.

Bella wound her arms around my waist from behind and I turned around and clutched her to me. "God, that felt really good," she murmured into my chest. I knew it would help her to assist in taking out Victoria – she needed to vent some of that newborn rage on someone. I was also pretty sure the others - particularly Alice - would be thankful for a much calmer Bella as well.

"You feel really good," I hummed back, ghosting my nose and lips against the skin of her neck.

"Yeah?" she purred, pulling back to look up at me with the most seductive eyes I've ever seen. My cock simply stared, looking a little dazzled by her. I didn't blame him, I was dazzled myself. She owned me, every single fucking part of me...and it felt amazing to be hers.

"Ahem."

Of course.

I turned to see Carlisle still standing there, blatantly staring at us.

"Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt anything or intrude," he apologized, with a slight twitch of lips and a smile in his eyes.

"Why are you still here?" I asked, perhaps a little rudely, but mostly curious. I was surprised he had stayed and watched, I had expected him to leave not wanting to see such a thing. He certainly was surprising me a lot lately.

"I initially came to see if you would come to the house. The Denalis are there and they'd really love to meet Bella," he answered, looking hopeful.

They did come to help, I guess I owed them an appearance and an introduction to my mate. That is if Bella was okay with it.

"What do you think about that idea, baby?" I asked, rubbing the back of her neck soothingly while feeling the softness of her hair slide against my fingers.

She chewed on her lip for a moment and then glanced around to the others. Some wore blank faces – Peter and Char. Others were looking at the ground sadly – Emmett and Rose.

"If we all are invited to the house, yes. Otherwise, no thank you," she finally answered – her voice sure and strong. She'd not budge on her condition. And I loved her all the more – if that was even possible at this point, though I didn't think it was.

The others smiled so widely over at her, I thought their faces might break.

"Of course they're invited," Carlisle replied instantly. "I know Esme and I-..."

The buzzing of his phone interrupted him and he pulled it from his pocket, confused as he glanced down at the id to see who was calling him. Like him, I had just assumed it was Esme wondering what was taking so long or calling about Alice – but his face told me it was definitely not any of the others calling.

"Liam?" he gasped into the receiver. Fear poured from him as he said the name with a shaky voice; his eyes wide, pitch black, and staring straight into mine as he did so.

Fuck!

"You need to run, Carlisle! I'm so sorry," Liam rushed out from the other end.

"What? What do you mean?" Carlisle demanded, but his eyes were closed now and there was a look of bitter acceptance on his face that pissed me the fuck off, and also told me he knew exactly what Liam meant. He'd been expecting this call...maybe not right at this moment, but soon.

"I'm sorry, I had no choice but to do what he's wanted all these years. I...I swear I had no choice, he threatened my mate," Liam choked.

"I knew you were feeding him information, Liam," Carlisle sighed. Liam gasped and choked out yet another apology. "What changed?" Carlisle questioned hesitantly.

"He had someone watching the Denalis – all of you gathering together in one place...it was too much." Fuck, it was him trying to help Bella that finally triggered this.

"How long?"

"Maybe long enough for you to get a small head start with the help of your seer..."

"How do you know about Alice? I never told you...," Carlisle gasped in horror. Before Liam could answer, however, Carlisle came to a startling realization, "He's always known about them, hasn't he? All this time...he's been playing with me..."

"Yes. I'm sorry. But with her help maybe you could..."

"That's not possible, I'm afraid," Carlisle sighed in defeat. "She's...unwell."

"Then what are you going to do?" Liam gasped fearfully.

"I don't know, but I do know you should not have warned me..."

"My mate disagrees," Liam replied with just a hint of anger. His hidden meaning was obvious; he wouldn't have made the call were it not for his own mate's insistence. I can't say I blamed him for it, either. He merely wanted to protect her...now they too were in danger from Aro's wrath.

"Send her my regards," Carlisle choked out, squatting down low to the ground.

"I will. And, Carlisle... Good luck, old friend," Liam said with finality.

"To you as well, Liam," Carlisle echoed. The line clicked and the silence was deafening. His hand released his hold on the phone, causing it to tumble to the ground near his feet. He stared at it, completely motionless and quiet.

"Carlisle...," I began.

"You should run. Take the others and run, Jasper – now, before it's too late," he cut me off, looking up at me in anguish.

I looked over at Bella, whose eyes were narrowed and glaring down at the offending phone – no doubt taking in all the information and debating on how to kick the Volturi's asses single-handed.

Her eyes met mine in fierce determination and I knew, there would be no running – not that I would have chosen that option anyway, but options were always nice to have when plans went to shit.

"We aren't going anywhere," I said firmly while Bella nodded sharply in agreement.

"You do realize it's a death sentence for anyone who stays here with Esme and I?" he asked imploringly as he got to his feet and picked up his phone.

"Running isn't going to change that and you know it," I stated. They would merely track us down, and they were gifted in that regard.

"I need to tell the others... Are you coming?" he questioned over his shoulder as he turned in the direction of the house.

"Right behind you," I replied, seeing the nods of everyone else out of my peripheral. I wasn't speaking for them – I only spoke for Bella and myself. They would need to make their own decisions on whether they stayed or ran and it appeared they already had.

Carlisle took off with a remorseful nod and the others followed behind him without hesitation or words. I grabbed Bella's hand and held her back for moment.

She stared up at me in confusion, scanning my face for the unspoken answer to her question. Her other hand reached up and silky soft fingertips danced lightly across my cheek bone and then traced my jawline as she hummed her assessment of my state of mind.

"You know why I waited to claim you, right?" I blurted out, closing my eyes against the onslaught of tingling sensations that were shooting through my body from her soft caresses of my face. She made my body come alive and I wanted her. God, how I wanted her...right now...but she was too important not to talk through things with, so I pushed it back.

She moved her hands from my face and raised an eyebrow – there was a lot of that going around today it seemed.

"That's what has you so worried?" she asked in confusion.

"Well...I want to make sure you know why I did things the way I did. Why we did things the way we did. I just felt I should explain further because what Alice tried to imply earlier is a load of bullshit and...I need to make sure you know how much I love you. I've never loved anyone the way I love you, Bella."

She smiled and pecked my lips lightly with her own to silence me. "I know why things happened the way they did, so don't worry about it," she said somewhat confidently. "And I know you love me, Jasper."

I studied her for a moment, comparing what she was saying with the emotions she was giving off.

"They're only words, Bella. If you don't believe them, then no matter how many times I say them to you, they will just be words. I need you to believe them, to feel the truth of them - do you really?"

She blinked slowly and looked down to her feet for a moment before looking back up at me. "I do believe them - I know you love me differently than you ever loved her..."

"Then why do I still sense some need for reassurance from you right now? Remember what I said, no secrets and you can always ask me anything," I prodded.

She took a deep breath before finally asking what was bothering her, "We would have been together - in that way - sooner, if I hadn't asked for time, right? It wasn't because you were trying to avoid being my mate?"

I couldn't let her entertain that ludicrous idea a moment longer. This was something I could very easily reassure her of.

"I have wanted you as my mate from the very first moment I saw you. I have wanted you - that way - so badly, it fucking hurt. I guarantee we would have been together much, much sooner," I assured her immediately. "Though I think waiting for you was worth every single fucking moment of torture I had to endure," I informed her with a wicked grin.

"Torture?" she gasped in shock. "Aren't you over-exaggerating just a little?" she said in amusement, her mood lifted greatly by the words she obviously had needed to hear - thank fucking God. My cock was not as amused at the moment, however – he had truly suffered waiting all that time for her to be ready and she wasn't being sympathetic, at all. He was willing to forgive her though...

"If that's the case – how ever can I make it up to you for all those days of torture I made you endure?" she continued, reading his mind quite well I must say. Fuck, I could think of so many ways...as could my cock and I think...ahh, yes, he's flipped the paper over and is writing them down for her. Oh, and I think he might be adding pictures this time.

"If we had the time, I'd bend you over right here and show you," I growled into her ear. Her breath hitched and I decided to give her a small taste of what torture was really like. "Like this," I purred, spinning her around and marching her over to the nearest tree. I bent my body forward, forcing hers forward with mine, then placed our palms onto the trunk of the tree and ground my erection hard into her firm ass. Fuck, I love her ass. It appeared my cock completely agreed, if his latest drawing was any indication.

"Jasper," she gasped. "Please."

"Ah, ah, ah. We can't, darlin'. We need to get to the house, remember?" I breathed behind her ear, my lips skimming over her skin ever so slightly.

Her responding growl rumbled against my chest. Well, well, well... Looks like someone doesn't handle frustration very well either.

"That is not nice, Jasper Whitlock!" she snarled as she slipped out of my cage of limbs and cock.

I straightened up and raised an eyebrow at her, waiting. I so won this...say it, baby...

She rolled her eyes, sighed, and then... "Fine, it must have been torture for you, alright?" she relented reluctantly. Yes! My cock gave her an acknowledging nod and then went back to his new picture list. Forgiveness was divine after all.

"Come on, let's go figure this shit out quickly – because I've yet to lick that beautiful pussy of yours and it's seriously torturing me," I growled. Her responding moan and scent only ended up torturing myself further, dammit. My cock was glaring at me; even he knew it would be awhile before he'd be in his favorite spot once again. Not my fault if his drawings were inspiring. Fucking Volturi cockblocking bullshit.

We ran side by side. She was still much faster so she needed to tone it down a bit so I could keep up. I could see her itching to use her full speed, though. How I wished I could let her, but it was just too dangerous to let her go off on her own. It didn't take long before the house came into our view.

As we came upon the house, my feet came to an abrupt halt, catching Bella by surprise as she continued on towards the doorway; our hands stretched out between us but still interlocked. She followed my gaze and shook her head rapidly, tugging on my hand insistently.

"Go inside, Bella," I told her firmly.

"No," she replied just as firmly. Of fucking course.

"Then stay out of it," I warned her sternly, my eyes showing her how very fucking serious I was.

She frowned deeply and glanced over at Edward who still had his face planted into his palms, sitting on a carved log bench beside the house.

She sighed and her fingers slipped from mine, her arm falling limply down at her side as she looked up at me. "Fine, but I'm staying out here and watching."

I knew arguing with her further would be futile, so I nodded and moved towards Edward, stopping right in front of him. He still hadn't looked up at us - either of us - but he obviously knew we were there.

"Look at me," I demanded and his head instantly snapped up, his eyes and emotions a raging sea of guilt and shame.

I grabbed him swiftly and threw him away from the house – Esme would be pissed if I fucked the house up and she did build us that amazing tree-house, it was the least I could do. Besides, I was trying.

He stumbled slightly from my sudden move, apparently having not been able to read it in my mind beforehand. Bella's shield must still be very much intact – good to know.

I rushed forward and tackled him to the ground before he could get his bearings.

"Your fucking mouth almost got my mate killed, Edward. Maybe I should remove it for you, huh? What do you think?" I taunted, grabbing his jaw and wrenching his neck upward. His neck was fully exposed in this position and I wrapped my hand around it and squeezed - hard.

He winced but said nothing. Smart – for once.

"You need to learn to stay out of other people's business and keep your fucking mouth shut," I growled.

I didn't hesitate and ripped his shirt over his right shoulder. Then I sunk my teeth deeply into him, moving my head side to side several times so that they tore the internal flesh jaggedly - it would take much longer to heal that way and he needed a good long reminder, as well as a clearly visible scar. Taking it a step further, because I seriously wanted nothing more than to rip his fucking head off for what he had done, I took a lesson that Bella had taught me...and drew a mouthful of venom from him. He wailed in pain beneath me but made no move to push me off of him. That earned him some respect – for once he was taking his punishment like a man, instead of a whiny seventeen year old boy. His venom tasted disgustingly sour and I released his flesh and spat it out next to head.

"If you ever fucking endanger my mate again...so help me, you will die slowly, painfully...but you will die. Do you understand?" I growled into his ear.

"Y-yes, I'm sorry," he gritted out, his hand reaching up to clamp over his seeping wound. He was in excruciating pain, I could feel it and I reveled in it. He deserved every bit of it and more...because it would not have come close to comparing to what I would have felt had Bella... No, I couldn't even think the word. The only thing that held me back from doing more to him, was Bella – I could feel her anxiety loud and clear as I kept him pinned; my growls vibrating the earth angrily beneath us.

I stood up and turned towards her, intent on walking away from Edward's shuddering form when his voice stopped me dead in my tracks...

"How does it feel?" he whispered with a hollow gasping breath; the pain taking his air from him.

I spun angrily, thinking he was mocking me. "What?" I growled, my fists clenching at my sides.

"To finally find your mate? How does it feel?" he asked, his emotions sincere curiosity and...that same intense longing and sadness from earlier. Fuck!

His face was crumpled in anguish...and not from his wound. Son of a bitch! I didn't want to feel sorry for him...I didn't want to feel anything! Dammit, why do these people keep making me feel this way?

I glanced over my shoulder at Bella but she simply stared back at me with a sympathetic look. Fucked up...that's what all of this was.

I sighed heavily and faced Edward once more. "You'll find her, Edward."

"But what if I don't?" he immediately shot back. "I've been alone for so long...I don't know if I can keep on like this...alone," he said, leaving it hang there. His eyes moved to the sky above him, his hand still clutching his shoulder painfully. He looked like he was pleading with the heavens and I had no idea what I could say to reassure him further.

"Edward?" Bella addressed him softly.

His eyes snapped down as he looked at her in shock that she was actually speaking to him.

"You will find her and when you do, well...I'm told that every moment you had to wait, no matter how long and torturous, will have been worth it," she told him, using some of my words from earlier to her.

He looked to me for confirmation and I nodded in agreement.

"But in the meantime, you really aren't alone," she stated firmly, giving him a meaningful look. "You have an entire family behind you...myself included."

"You...you forgive me?" he gasped in awe of her.

"On one condition," she answered.

"Anything," he breathed and I narrowed my eyes at him pointedly.

"You never again go to that bitch for sex. Wait for your mate for your real first time," she begged him. "I promise you it will be so much better with someone who loves you. You don't need to be experienced when it's with the right person. Trust me it will be a completely different experience."

He winced and closed his guilt filled eyes while nodding in agreement. "I promise."

Satisfied with his response, Bella turned to go into the house, her hand once again laced with mine. We had only made it a few feet when she paused. "Edward...you coming already?" she asked him and then slapped her hand over her mouth in horror at how that might have sounded.

I mashed my lips together in an attempt not to laugh out loud – but come the fuck on, that shit was hilarious.

"I...I didn't mean it...like that," she sputtered out in embarrassment. "Oh God, I'm so sorry."

Edward shook his head with a snort and stood up. "It's okay. I know you didn't. And I'm right behind you."

She gave him a small apologetic smile which he returned.

Upon entering the house, my first observation was that Esme was angrier than I'd ever felt her. Her back was turned to Carlisle, as she refused to even look at him.

Next, my eyes fell on Garrett – who was standing next to Kate and radiating a ridiculous amount of lust. For fuck's sake, that's what he's been up to instead of helping with Alice? He shrugged sheepishly at me, as if he could read my thoughts. Bella smiled widely at him and he immediately introduced her to Kate. Garrett had never met Kate – the one time he met the Denalis, she had been away on an extended hunting trip. I wasn't sure if it was more than just lust between them...but it was quite possible; it was hard to tell with the amount of emotions swirling in the air currently. I'd need to talk to him about it later.

Kate introduced Bella to her sister, Tanya. Bella glared at Tanya and eyed her outstretched hand like it was the plague. Tanya looked confused at first but I could tell she was chalking it up to crazy newborn emotions. Little did she know, she was already on Bella's shit list and I doubt she'd be off of it anytime soon.

The sisters looked to Carlisle to introduce Carmen and Eleazar but he was simply staring at the back of Esme's head despondently.

"Bella. It's so nice to meet you. I'm Carmen and this is my mate, Eleazar," Carmen stepped forward and embraced Bella in a small, gentle hug. Bella tensed, but I was proud of her for forcing herself to relax immediately. Eleazar on the other hand, looked on in what could only be described as sheer panic. As soon as Carmen was slightly clear of Bella, he snatched her back towards him and eyed Bella warily.

"It's nice to meet you as well," Bella said, cocking her head and eyeing Eleazar curiously. "Is there a problem?" she asked him when he continued to gape at her.

"Do you know what she is, Carlisle?" he said instead of answering her. That seemed to snap Carlisle out of his Esme staring and he turned to his friend.

"Yes, or I suspect I should say," Carlisle replied simply.

"Then you know that her mere presence here puts us all in danger," Eleazar snapped, looking upset with Carlisle. How much worse could it truly get?

"She's Jasper's mate, therefore she's family, Eleazar. I couldn't and I won't turn her away. It's a moot point now, anyway," Carlisle sighed, glancing sadly at Esme once more before sitting down on the sofa and covering his face with his hands.

Eleazar's gaze rested on Bella once again and remained there, contemplative. Bella stared right back, but I couldn't get a read on her...she must have pulled her shield in on herself. Eleazar arched an eyebrow at her and she arched one right back. It was like some kind of silent chess match happening between them.

"Where is Alice?" I asked Carlisle, suddenly realizing she wasn't here.

"Packing. Edward is going to run with her back to the Denali's home in Alaska, where she'll be staying for a while."

"But we need her, her visions could help us..."

"No, son. What she needs, is some rest and time to collect herself," Carlisle answered solemnly, shaking his head.

Tanya snorted. "That's code for 'she's completely useless to us in the condition you've put her in'. And now we all get to die because of it," she sneered and huffed.

"Tanya!" Carmen admonished, but she wasn't listening.

"Why you bitch...how fucking dare you try to blame Jasper for this!" Rosalie interjected, fuming.

"I think we should run," Kate suggested quietly while Garrett sidled up closer to her, trying to offer some sort of comfort. Definitely something more going on there.

"They'll just track us down if we run," Tanya argued with a roll of her eyes.

"It might give us time to figure something else out..."

"You want to run forever?"

"Got any better ideas?" Kate shot back and Tanya said nothing. "I didn't think so," Kate growled, starting to lose what little patience she had left for her sister.

"This is really all Rosalie's fault anyway," Tanya accused.

"Now it's my fault? What the fuck, Tanya?"

"If you hadn't been selfish bringing Emmett back to Carlisle to change..."

"So you wanted me to let my mate die?" Rosalie bellowed while Emmett moved to restrain her.

"You better back the fuck off my sister, now!" Char roared, stepping up next to Rose and facing off against Tanya.

The resulting voices were a mess of noise – each one overlapping the other in stress, fear, and misplaced anger. Bella winced and pulled herself from my embrace, walked to the door, and...walked out.

I wasn't far behind, but I had to run full speed just to catch up to her. Thankfully, she wasn't trying to outrun me this time. She stopped a short distance away and began pacing while rubbing her temples soothingly.

"Baby? You okay?" I approached her cautiously. I wasn't afraid of her, I was incredibly worried about her. Her emotions were raging...anger, frustration, sadness.

She sighed and looked up at me. "Yeah, I had to get out of there so I could hear myself think, ya know?"

"They're just stressed right now. They'll calm down," I assured her, rubbing her shoulders. She sighed and leaned back against me.

"This is so fucked up, Jasper," she commented. "We don't have time for their stupid, petty arguing – it's not going to get us anywhere."

"We have time..."

"Do we?" she cut me off and turned around to face me. "Aro's been using fear against Carlisle all these years...do you think he'd change that tactic now when it's worked so well for him?"

"You think he let it slip to Liam, knowing he'd warn Carlisle?" I gasped, having never thought of that myself. Of course now it made perfect sense that she mentioned it.

"Fear makes people act impulsively, irrationally. I'd bet my life, he is banking on that holding true - now more than ever," she stated confidently.

Jesus, if I didn't know better, I'd think she knew Aro personally. She certainly seemed to have a good insight into what made him tick. As far as her comment about betting her life...never going to fucking happen - just the thought made me insanely angry. She ignored my growl, knowing what I was responding to without even having to ask.

"That's it!" she gasped, a look of excitement taking over her whole beautiful face.

"What's 'it'?" I asked slowly, my brows furrowing in confusion. Had I missed something?

"I have an idea!" she breathed, grabbing my hand and dragging me back to the house as quick as my feet could go. She sighed in frustration when I couldn't keep up with her pace and I could almost see her deciding whether or not to pick me up and carry me back. That would have been a humiliating sight – thank fucking God she thought better of it. Peter would never have let me live that one down.

The tone hadn't changed with our departure. In fact, they didn't seem to have even noticed we left.

"ENOUGH!" Bella snarled viciously followed immediately by a long rumbling, commanding growl. It was an extremely menacing growl and if she hadn't been my mate, I'd have probably cringed a bit myself; it was that menacing. She wasn't fucking around anymore, that much was clear. I sent some calm into the room of now shocked and cowering bodies, hoping to help diffuse the situation further.

"Blaming each other isn't going to help anything," she stated, glaring pointedly at Tanya. "You are just feeding into what they want," she continued on in a calmer voice, her eyes now locked on Carlisle.

Heads dropped and guilt trickled forth into the room quickly. Tanya actually had enough sense that she looked thoroughly chastised. Good.

"Bella is absolutely right. I am the sole one responsible for this mess. I'm so sorry...to each and every one of you," Carlisle whispered in an agonized voice.

Esme, who had still been standing on the other side of the room looking out the window and completely ignoring him, turned and walked over to him. She stood infront of him seated on the couch and he pulled her body closer. He pressed his face into her abdomen as he choked out another apology meant only for her. He had kept this from her for so long, and I could feel her hurt from his deep betrayal, sharply. Even still, she couldn't not comfort her mate when he needed her. Her hands cradled his head gently against her body while he sobbed against her like a baby; her own eyes glistening with venom as her body shook from his cries of remorse.

Everyone averted their eyes – wanting to give them their moment...except Bella, and of course my eyes were on her; as they always were. She cleared her throat unnecessarily.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but we just don't have time for apologies and regret right now," she told them bluntly.

Carlisle lifted his head and nodded in agreement. Esme turned in his arms so she was facing the room, and sat down on his lap while Carlisle wrapped her in his arms tightly.

"I have an idea," Bella began once she had everyone's attention again, glancing at each scared face in the room. Their guilt had dissipated and fear was becoming prevalent once more.

She stayed in silent contemplation for a moment before finally turning to Peter. "Would it be possible to get a message to Maria?" she asked him.

Peter's eyes widened as he choked out his words hastily, "W-why the fuck would you want to do that?"

"Because I need her to know that Jasper has found his mate, and I need her to think that her little plan didn't work," she explained with a low growl. "I also need to disclose our location – but it can't be obvious that it is on purpose..."

"You realize she'll come here to kill you if you do that!" Char exclaimed in horror, staring at Bella in shock.

"That's the idea," Bella replied simply, staring back at Char calmly.

"I don't think...," Carlisle began.

"What are you willing to do to save your mate and your family?" Bella cut him off, staring him down.

"Anything, I'll do anything," Carlisle replied vehemently, clutching onto Esme desperately.

"Bella, just what are you suggesting here?" I asked her myself, worried that this might be more about the lingering pull for vengeance she could still feel, than anything else. Why else would she want to bring Maria here?

She gazed up at me, her lips turning up into a half angelic, half diabolical smirk.

"War."

~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~

AN:

Hmm, that sounds ominous, doesn't it? ;)

So, what do you think of Edward now? Do you think his punishment was enough? Do you think he just might be learning and growing up? And what about Carlisle? Is he 'growing up' into a proper coven leader/vampire? Alice is going away for some r & r, will that be enough I wonder?

Only two more to go now, folks... While I have large chunks of the next two chapters rough drafted already, it could be a bit before the next update. Don't panic! I won't abandon this story and I promise I am working on it!

Anyway, I'd love to know your thoughts on this chapter if you have a moment; even it's just to tell me how bad I suck at updating (or writing). ;)

Question for my fellow authors: Did they remove the spellchecker from FF with the new layout? I used to do my finally edit here but now it's a pain in the arse without it. I so hate the changes! =(