He promised he wasn't going to leave while I felt this way, while I couldn't talk, while I was changing into whatever it was … vampire, creature of the night, bloodsucker. I had spent the last day coming up with all the terms I could think of for my new standing in this world. It helped during the quiet times when Jasper wasn't trying to comfort me or explain how life as a vampire was.

The pain was awful, but when I listened to him, it pulled my focus away from the torture my body suffered. The sound of his voice with its slight lilting accent that I was eventually able to place as southern, almost had a lulling quality … if sleep was even an option for me considering the whole being on fire thing. When he spoke he described my new reality as dangerous. That word had been used a lot. So, why was he now handing me off to one of his followers … things he had said were unpredictable?

Jasper also told me about their situation. This clan of vampires lived together and he and Maria were in charge. Everyone else was younger, inferior and he didn't trust them. They were kept around simply to help regain territory that had been taken from them by other vampires or so the story went.

After all the explaining he had done about vampires, with most of the narrative being negative, it made absolutely no sense for him to be placing me in the care of those he didn't trust. Why would he do this after saying he wanted to take care of me, giving me reassurances that I was his priority? I had seen what the others were capable of when angry. Torn limbs and flesh, which really wasn't flesh at all, but more like blocks of concrete that when ripped off by another fell to the ground with the thud of a boulder.

"Isabella, I'm sorry that I am going to have to do this, but some matters need to be taken care of and I should be the one to do it." He spoke calmly into my ear as I felt his protective arms begin to loosen around me.

It was that woman vampire, Maria. She had forced him into doing this. By wanting to go with James she had set off Jasper's jealousy. It was weird, but sometimes I thought I could almost feel what Jasper was feeling, especially when he talked to me about James. It was like his anger and distrust for James would radiate off him. He was probably telling me more than he should, but I sensed the emotions had been building inside him for a while. Maybe he just needed someone to tell. More than likely it was a relief for him to get it all off his chest, especially to someone who couldn't talk back.

So, I had listened to his whispers in my ear about how James had come into this clan intent on taking his place. Jasper's reaction of saving me had been a chance for James. It meant Jasper had to watch my attacker all the more closely. James would use me as leverage with Maria, but to me it looked as if Maria was doing the exact same thing to Jasper … using James against him. It all seemed reminiscent of a soap opera … not that I ever bothered with them, but Renee, well, she was another story. Her nights were filled with DVRed episodes of soaps and I usually was dragged along for the ride. The one difference though was Jasper, Maria, and James were much more violent than your average daytime television actor.

This recent go around between the three was going to be what eventually did me in. I could see it. The second life Jasper had given me would end quickly and most likely at the hands of one of these creatures I was now becoming. Perhaps it would even be the vampire who took hold of me now. Peter was what Jasper had called him. Would this Peter destroy me after Jasper left? Even though I had great fears about turning into a monster there was a larger dread inside me. As soon as Jasper told me his intentions of handing me over to the other vampire my fear turned into not wanting to meet my death at the vicious hands of Peter. The truth was that even as a vampire I still had the chance of seeing my family again. It might have been a one-sided relationship with me watching both my mom and dad from afar, but I still wanted that possibility. If I died I wouldn't even have that. I had to remain in this world, so that I could eventually work my way back to my parents. Right now it was my only hope and I wanted to see that pipe dream come to life.

My voice wasn't completely back to its full capability, but I had managed to express myself before to Jasper with a soft cry or whimper. I thought now if I truly tried to see through the pain and attempted to focus all my energy on speaking maybe I could convince Jasper not to go. I closed my eyes and willed myself to speak and when I opened my lids once more I stared straight up at Jasper, who was busy talking with Peter, and I squeaked out with the smallest of voices, "No."

He heard me. It was impossible for him not to. I observed more than once in the past two days his uncanny ability to hear the tiniest of sounds around him. My word was so quiet, normal human ears wouldn't have caught it, but Jasper was no human. His face turned down to look at me and I saw concern shroud his eyes. "You are afraid of Peter," he stated after a moment in thought.

I wasn't sure if his ability to know exactly how I felt was a trait all vampires had. If it was, I certainly hadn't developed that part yet. There were other things that overtime I had noticed changing in me, like my senses sharpening … smell for instance. My nose could now pick out things around me that before it wouldn't have been able. The scent of the dirt beneath me or of Jasper's body pressed against mine, was more distinct. I knew I could probably expect more changes to happen after my three days were up. Jasper had vampire abilities and I was sure that one of them let him sense what I felt. It was something that hadn't been lost on me. Somehow he could look and see exactly what was stirring inside me.

"Don't worry about Peter. I trust him. He has been with us for a few years now," Jasper spoke softly into my ear.

From almost the start, I had placed my hope of survival in Jasper's hands. Who else was I going to turn to? Regardless of the fact that he had been the one to decide my future as a vampire, he had nonetheless saved me from death. Neither of these were great choices to begin with and I was sure I would have to eventually deal with my feelings about him choosing this life for me, but now wasn't the time for that. I needed to survive until his venom finished its way through my body, when it no longer had this paralyzing effect on me, and how could I do that if he was abandoning me?

"No," I managed to say again and I caught sight of a frown from Jasper.

He was conflicted. Good. Perhaps this would work, but just as quickly as hope swelled inside my chest, Peter deflated this emotion by taking me from Jasper's strong arms, "Don't worry. I'll watch over her, so you can join Maria."

I wanted to scream out for him not to go, but of course, that wasn't an option. Instead I sent Jasper a pleading look from my new position in Peter's arms.

"Don't worry. I promise I won't be long. This has to be done and Peter is more than qualified to care for you until I return," he reassured me, although I was finding it hard to feel comforted.

Jasper's attention shifted from me back to Peter. "Keep James away from her," he stated, the warmth I had just heard in his voice completely gone.

Then he ran off towards Maria and along with him went all my hope.


I knew Isabella felt I was abandoning her, but I tried to ignore the guilt tugging at my conscious as I ran alongside Maria. I trusted Peter and leaving with Maria was good for everyone as a whole. I couldn't place my feelings, whatever they may be, for one vampire over all the others.

As I moved, I forced my mind away from the newborn waiting anxiously for my return. Instead I tried to remember how at one point in time the feel of the air against my body while I moved at high speeds with my mate by my side, brought me a feeling of exhilaration. Although, that had been a long time ago. Lately I had grown tired of the life we led and everything felt like a chore. Creating vampires, destroying vampires, what was it all for? Alice had formed a spark inside me briefly, but of course, it had been snuffed out by her death.

Now I felt another spark, a feeling of wanting to try and push against this whole business of fighting wars for blood. There had to be another way and I wanted to try and incorporate my new ideas into my life with Maria and the others.

Maria was slightly ahead of me and when she stopped I was quick to follow her lead. "What is it?" I asked.

"This place will do," she stated flatly, still treating me as if I was someone not to be trusted.

I glanced at the house, which was much nicer than our group was used to. I gave her a curious stare and she replied, "It's abandoned."

I didn't ask how she knew. That was Maria's gift. She had a knack for these things … one of her many talents. As I watched her eyes look over the house, I decided to take that moment and grasp her hand, a gesture of companionship to help ease the tension pulsating between us. Her dark eyes moved down towards our hands intertwined and she sneered while jerking from my hold.

"Don't start with your tenderness, Jasper. I'm unable to stomach anymore of your emotions at the moment. If I were human I'd have a headache from all your blubbering of feelings ... your need to cause disruptions, because you feel it's the right thing to do. You say this girl you changed has special abilities, but I'm more inclined to think you honestly wanted to stop her pain and nothing more."

"What are you implying?" I asked, wanting to hurt at her words, but unable to muster much of anything other than frustration with her inability to see the world as I did.

"You know exactly what I mean. You're not the same. You haven't been for a long time. I tolerate it, but …" She stopped talking and let out a long exasperated sigh.

"But what?" I prompted. "You'd rather have someone like James at your side. Someone to screw you and his victims?"

I usually didn't lose myself in front of Maria, but she was showing a side of herself to me now that was new. Why not show her another side of me as well?

"He gives me more action than you have in ages and it's not weepy or emotional. It's raw and it's real," she shot back, but then put her hands up in defeat. "I'm sorry. I'm thirsty. We all need to feed. Let's not do this now."

I shrugged and then began running back in the direction of our clan, not really caring if Maria was following me or not. The honesty I had just been dealt about her relationship with James didn't much bother me. I was a vampire. It was hard not to notice the signs leading up to this moment as my senses were always heightened. Not to mention my ability to read emotions. I knew what lust felt like when it was near me, and therefore I saw this months ago. I simply hoped that I would be able to win her back from James grasp. Apparently this wasn't an option anymore and I decided that I didn't care. Whatever happened now, I would only focus on what was important and at the moment that was on Isabella.