A/N Thanks for all the feedback for the second chapter: SAVAGEGRACEx, Kathy Hiester, VampireInDisguise, maria28, gredelina1, twimama77, Lady Ramona, ashley4948, jtwsnw20, mssmith, sshart, Princess Mishawaka, baby mama in training, ktdid23, cathy29jes, free-to-fly-2010, Nena1981, Hisuiko, , Nicoconsd, TotallyTeamAlec, Sapphirepa, drkvctry, twilightfan888, Minnakoda, sha711 and Moon Princess623 (you'll see that you've been dead on with your hunch).
Without any further delay I give you Jasper, our knight in shining armor … well Edward's for now anyway. *sniggers*
Chapter 3 The only course of action
When the bell rang, signaling the end of my Spanish class, I let out a deep-felt sigh of relief.
Another day of pure torture was finally over.
Of course, I knew, in order to uphold our public image, it was necessary for us kids to blend in as well, which meant once again we had to resume the roles of high school students. Fortunately, we all had been changed at such a young age, making it easy to pass as a senior high school students. Okay maybe, fortunately was the wrong word, considering none of us actually enjoyed playing this game, over and over again, but under the circumstances it was the correct term.
I thought it was funny … in a perverse, twisted sort of way. But at another point in the time I'd done the exact opposite of what I was doing now, with the same end result. I'd pretended to be older, in order to accomplish the only ambition I'd had at the time, joining the Confederate Army. True, back then I'd been happy beyond doubt, and proud. But now … I couldn't help but wonder. What if I hadn't succeeded? What if they hadn't believed my lies? Would things have turned out differently for me, if I'd joined the army at a later point or not at all? Or was I destined to meet Maria and her sisters, no matter what?
Of course, those were all valid questions, and I had every right to seek answers to each and every one. But even if I'd get them, I knew it wouldn't change anything. What's done it's, nobody can change the past, live in the now … and all that. Besides, I've already accepted my fate, a long time ago.
In any case, the point was that this kind of deceptive maneuver was working both ways for me. And right here and now it was certainly both a blessing as well as a prerequisite.
For one, many years ago we children have made a pact to do the school thing together or not at all … or at least we would start out together.
Emmett used to call us the four musketeers. Once he'd even gotten us T-Shirts with 'One for all and all for one' printed on the front. I'd thought it was hilarious, Edward and Rose … not so much. Those two seriously lacked a certain kind of humor.
We always signed up in pairs. Occasionally we took turns at who gets to be the younger couple of siblings, but more often than not Edward and I drew the short straw, which was probably for the best, considering we both had a certain advantage.
Of course, we couldn't all be of the same age. That would have been too suspicious. And we certainly didn't want to raise any more question than we already did. Pretending to be adoptive kids played a vital part in our cover, but apparently it wasn't working as well as we'd hoped. Although nobody has ever confronted us directly, we knew that some of the humans were entertaining doubts, and for good reason. Sure, at first glance we didn't look much alike, but you ought to be blind not to notice the physical similarities we did share … our golden eyes and pale skin color.
But more importantly, by more or less successfully pretending to be just another human family, we had the chance to have a resemblance of a normal life. We were able to stay together in one place, for a couple of years at least, instead of being forced to wander from place to place like most of our kind.
True, in theory vampires didn't have to be nomads. They could set up house anywhere, as long as it was far away from any human population. Considering that human blood was a vampire's natural choice of food, it would be impractical, if not dangerous to live among humans, because sooner or later someone would notice if the locals started to go missing.
It was different for us, though. We've decided to go veggie, for a reason. None of us actually wanted to be monsters, especially not Carlisle. In fact, he had made it his life's ambition to save as much human lives as possible. To an outsider it might seem he was trying to atone for his sins, but we, his family, did know better. There was nothing he'd done in his life that he had to make amends for.
Of course Carlisle did disagree. He might not have taken a human life, at least not to in a conventional sense, to quench his bloodthirst. But in a way he was responsible for the death of four humans. After all he was the one who'd turned Edward, Esme, Rosalie and Emmett into vampires. Of course they didn't blame him, quite the opposite actually. They were grateful for having a second chance at life … especially Rosalie. True, she, just like Carlisle, has never tasted human blood, but she'd gone on a small killing rampage shortly after her transition, taking revenge on the men who'd raped and then left her for dead. No one rebuked her for her behavior though, not even Esme, who truly detested any kind of violence.
All things considered, things were working quite nicely for us, but that's a far cry from saying that I was happy about this whole arrangement. Quite the opposite, I hated it. Of course, I did.
After the umpteenth time going through high school education I was utterly bored. But having to endure the same lectures over and over again wasn't the worst part. The monotony was comparatively easy to handle. I've made it a habit to bring a book with me. Edward did the same.
It was the smells in this place that were slowly but surely getting to me. And I wasn't talking about the blood, steadily pumping through the humans' veins. By now, I was practiced enough to ignore that scent … for the most part. No, it was the amount of perfume most of them were wearing that was making me want to hurl on a daily basis. It was truly beyond me, why human spent shitloads of money on that crap. I'd rather prefer their natural odor, sweat and all. Anything was better than the synthetic stuff, they dared to call perfume. To their inferior senses it might smell like flowers and fruits, but to a vampire … not so much. Nothing humans concocted in their laboratories would ever come close to the real thing. Someone should really enlighten them.
True, I could just stop breathing, thereby cutting of my sense of smell altogether. It wasn't like I needed oxygen to survive anyway. But I couldn't do that. For one, it would go against my nature. My kind was used to rely on that particular sense, for numerous reasons. But more importantly we couldn't risk drawing (any more) attention than we already did. Humans usually weren't very perceptive, but there were always exceptions to the rule. Sooner or later someone would notice that our chests were not moving. And then what? No better safe than sorry.
And yet the smells weren't the worst thing I had to deal with … not by a long shot.
Emmett, Rose, Edward and I had been through college a couple of times, too, but high school was without a doubt way more taxing, hormone-wise. The constant sexual tension in this place was impossible to ignore, especially for someone like me.
In college you had at least some options. There you had the choice to attend courses or you could do the work on your own. Of course, we mostly did the latter, keeping our contact with humans to a minimum. But here, in high school every course was mandatory … including gym class, which naturally posed a problem for us. Sure, we've learned to control our strength a long time ago, but it still wasn't easy to hide our true potential. It was especially hard for Emmett. He was competitive by nature. Faking things has never been his strong suit. He was upfront with everything. But knowing what was at stake, he went along with the rules … grudgingly though. Needless to say, he found ways to let out his frustration.
Anyhow … the bottom line was, in this small place there was no escape from the people who got on your last nerves … like Jessica Stanley or that Mallory chick. We, more precisely Edward and I, didn't share more than two classes with them, thank God for small favors, but that didn't seem to be a hindrance for them, more like an incentive … to try harder. They both truly loved the challenge, we inadvertently presented them with.
Sure, for the first few weeks we've drawn attention from pretty much everybody in this school, which was to be expected, but over time things had calmed down considerably. We still got the looks, but aside from that we were left alone. But not by those two … their habit to haunt us during the breaks hasn't stopped to this day.
How many times had their pathetic advances been rejected now? One too many as far as Edward and Emmett were concerned, that's for sure. But apparently these two female specimens of the human population in this town weren't easily discouraged, but rather persistent to achieve their goals, by any means necessary.
It was really a wonder that they hadn't tried to follow us home. According to Edward they had thought about it, more than once actually. But they had never gone through with it, because they had dreaded to face Esme. It wasn't that they were scared of her. Who could be scared of Esme? I've never met anyone who was more tenderhearted than her, human or vampire. No, they were afraid to make a fool of themselves. Esme and Carlisle were highly respected in this little town.
Usually I admired people who had a strong will, who didn't throw in the towel prematurely, simply giving up when things got tough, but there was a big difference between healthy ambition and delusional obsession. Sometimes it really was a shame that we couldn't show them exactly why it was in their best interest to stay away from us. Jessica and Lauren didn't care how unrealistic their dreams were, or how inappropriate (and stupid) it was to come on to someone who was clearly already taken.
To this day, Lauren had no idea how lucky she really was to be still alive, especially after that last stunt she'd pulled. I still didn't know how exactly she had done it, but one day she'd miraculously managed to corner Emmett behind the gym after school. And from the looks of it, she might have even succeeded in laying a kiss on him, if it hadn't been for my and Rose's untimely appearance at the site.
Emmett had just stood there, frozen in shock. I had been able to tell that he had been struggling with his instincts. Sure, he could have easily escaped her hold, pushing her away, but he had been scared to use too much force, therefore risking hurting the human.
Needless to say, the situation could have turned out quite differently if it hadn't been for my presence. Provoking a vampire was never a good idea, but stirring up the possessive side of a mated one was downright suicidal. Understandably, Rosalie had been a hair's breadth away from clawing Lauren's eyes out, before ripping her to shreds. Fortunately, thanks to my gift, I'd managed to dampen Rosalie's strong feelings of jealousy by pushing as much calm as needed into her, before she'd been able to act on her instincts, thus preventing her from killing a human and blowing our cover.
Sure, Emmett was the strongest among us, physically speaking. But in that specific situation he wouldn't have been able to achieve much … holding Rose back or talking to her wouldn't have done any good. She had been too far gone. She had been really, really pissed.
As expected, the following two weeks had been pure hell for Emmett … and by association for me and Edward as well. Having a special power wasn't always a blessing. Most of the times, it was more like a burden, a curse.
Even though Rose had known perfectly well that her mate hadn't encouraged Lauren in any way, or that he wouldn't have enjoyed being kissed by that human girl, at all, Rose had made him pay for allowing Lauren to trap him in the first place. Maybe he'd deserved his punishment, the silent treatment and the sex-suspension, maybe he hadn't, but in the end it had taken a lot of groveling on Emmett's part, and my fervent begging, for her to finally give in and forgive him.
Unsurprisingly, Emmett and Rose have barely left each other's side at school for the rest of their final year, but not only because they didn't want to give Lauren another chance to try and drive a wedge between them. Not that it was possible, for a mere human or anyone else for that matter, to break their mated bond, but still … they'd both learned their lesson, not wanting to have a repeat performance of Rosalie's choice of retribution. We all knew that abstaining sex for two weeks had been a punishment for both of them. Rose was simply stronger than Emmett to actually go through with it, even though she was suffering just as much as her mate.
But there had been a more pressing reason for their behavior … to avoid any kind of trouble that could jeopardize our lifestyle. With Edward keeping a closer 'watch' on Lauren and Jessica, and Emmett and Rosalie acting like newly enamored, we'd made through the year without another hitch.
I grinned at the memories, swiftly packing up my things, trying my best to ignore the fact that today was just the first day of the second week. The school year had only just begun. Fortunately it was our final year.
Still, without Emmett and Rose it was going to be a long year.
I missed them, very much. Don't get me wrong, Edward and I did along great. In fact, we were as close as you could get without being actually blood related, but having Em and Rose around, made things somehow easier to bear at school … and certainly more entertaining.
Of course, I only thought so, because I wasn't sought after like the rest of my siblings.
Sure, generally speaking, I did possess the same natural allure like the rest of my kind. My numerous scars were practically invisible to the human eye, and yet they seemed to sense that there was something seriously off about me. Vampires knew I was dangerous, human just suspected it. But their reaction towards me was pretty much the same.
Every day I could feel their uncertainty, their apprehension, their deference … and even though I didn't take pleasure in causing such reactions in anyone, it always did serve its purpose. Vampires rarely dared to challenge me, and humans tend to avoid me, at all cost. They didn't even dare to look at me for me more than ten seconds, before averting his or her eyes in shame or fear.
Until today …
Throughout the entire past week the majority of the student body had been talking about the new girl, the Police Chief's daughter. The constant high level of euphoria even had me anticipate her arrival, even though I couldn't care less. To a vampire she just represented another potential prey, nothing more.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
If truth be told, I'd spent most of my Spanish class thinking about her … Isabella Swan, or Bella, like she insisted to be called. Considering how small this place was, it was rather strange that we hadn't run across into each other before lunch hour.
Bella had shared a table with Jessica Stanley and Lauren Mallory, but it had been plain obvious that she didn't enjoy their company. You didn't have to be an empath to pick up on that. Her discomfort at the situation had been written all over her face … which was probably a good thing, because when I'd eventually put out me feelers, so to speak, I had been unable to get a read on her. Edward had been faced with the same problem. According to him, her mind was like a void, though I doubted very much that there was nothing going on in that pretty little head of hers.
It was a first, for both of us. We've never met anyone who was impervious to our gifts.
Naturally, I was intrigued. But at the same time I was worried, deeply worried. Not because she was able to deflect my gift, as well as Edward's. It was certainly a surprising novelty, but no reason to get upset, to freak out. No, it was the look on her face, when she'd locked her eyes with mine that had me worried.
Somehow, I didn't know how it was possible, but she knew exactly what we were.
Who was this girl? How could she know about our true identity, and still be alive?
On first glance Bella Swan appeared to be ordinary, a little dull even. I probably wouldn't have looked at her twice, if she hadn't been able to capture my attention so profoundly. But as it was, I hadn't been able to take my eyes of her … for quite some time. It had felt weird, a little unsettling even, being trapped in her gaze, but at least it had given me the chance to study her, calmly and covertly. I might not be able to use my gift, but my peripheral vision was working just fine.
The girl was obviously slender, but she didn't put her body on display like most girls her age. She was dressed very casual, in jeans, a dark-green sweater and a pair of no-name sneakers. Her long, dark hair was undone, falling in waves down her back. She didn't wear any make-up, but then again she didn't need it. She was a natural beauty. The way she held herself, and acted around people indicated that she had no idea how alluring she really was. Or she didn't care.
The bottom line was that Bella Swan was far from ordinary or dull. She was a mystery, begging to be solved.
Needless to say, Edward was just as surprised and concerned as me, but we've both decided to speak with Carlisle first before we would take any action … as in carefully approaching her. Sure, given her initial reaction, the unmistakable scowl distorting her beautiful features, it would be anything but easy to get her to talk to us. But then again … I always loved a challenge. And as a vampire I had literally all time in the world.
Grinning, I shouldered my bag and finally left the room. Not wanting to make Edward wait any longer, I hurried through the hall, as fast as I could without drawing any attention from the remaining stragglers. When I left the building, I immediately noticed something amiss. Edward's car was gone.
"Thanks for leaving me hanging, bro." I grumbled under my breath. Of course, I wasn't dependent on my brother to get home. I could easily get there on foot. It was the fastest way anyway. But I was still a little irritated. It's not like Edward could have forgotten about me. I pulled out my cell, checking for missed messages. There were none.
The lack of communication was no cause for worry, though. Leaving me high and dry was probably just my brother's way to get back at me. On our journey here I'd complained, rather incessantly, about his choice of wheels. But seriously, a Volvo was a terrible choice, especially since money wasn't an issue for us. And I wasn't the only one who thought so.
Normally we didn't carpool, but unfortunately until the end of the week my bike was at the body shop. For decency's sake I probably should keep my mouth shut for the duration of this arrangement … although that wouldn't do me much good, considering Edward could read my mind.
With a shrug I turned to the left, heading straight for the forest. It took me just two minutes to get home. Edward wasn't there, and neither was Esme. She was probably shopping and my brother … well at the moment I didn't really care where he was.
I just stayed long enough to ditch my bag in my room and change my clothes. And then I was off again, doing what I always did after school. It wasn't truly necessary to go hunting on a daily basis but I did it anyway, just to be on the safe side.
I was just in the middle of draining a deer, when my phone started buzzing.
With a growl of annoyance I stopped feeding, simultaneously unhooking my sharp teeth and releasing my tight grip on the already lifeless, yet not completely drained carcass. I let the corpse slide to the ground, watching the blood oozing from the open wound on its throat, seeping into cold, drenched soil. It had rained overnight, which wasn't a great rarity around here, quite the opposite actually. The superior number of overcast days had been one of the main reasons why we'd decided to settle down in this area.
What a waste … I mourned my loss, but only halfheartedly. There was a lot of game out here. I could easily find and catch another one. With some luck, maybe even something tastier than an herbivore.
But I was still annoyed for the interruption. And with good reason. Being disturbed at such a crucial moment was never pleasant … or wise. Luckily I wasn't interrupted by a person, only by a phone call, otherwise … well … there would be more than one dead body lying on the ground by now. Vampire or human, it wouldn't make a difference. The end result would be the same.
If it hadn't been for our mutual agreement to use our cell phones only in case of an emergency, I would have simply ignored the disturbance. I would have finished my meal in peace and called back later.
Sure, we used our phones to text each other, but never for talking purposes. For that we had our land line at the house. Or we would text first, announcing our call.
The method might seem weird to an outsider, but it made sense to us. After running into some trouble a couple of years back, we'd come up with this strange, yet effective strategy. This way, anyone of us would answer his or her phone at any given time … even at the most inappropriate moment (much to annoyance of Emmett and Rose).
The call could be about anything … from something (relatively) trivial, like someone needing bail money, which had happened more than once, much to Esme's and Carlisle's dismay … to something serious, like someone asking for help to clean up certain messes.
Fortunately that hasn't happened for quite a while. In fact, it's been thirty four years since the last time one of us had slipped up. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that person had been me. Sure, I'd come a long way since I've joined the Cullens, back in the fifties, but considering my less than fortunate 'upbringing' it had been, and still was, much more difficult for me to stick to this new, and extremely unusual diet, than it was for any of my family members. I've never used my past as an excuse for the numerous hiccups along the way of my recovery from hell, even though it would be a convenient one. No, every setback was just the motivation to try harder … because I really wanted this life.
Anyhow … we did have another, a far more pressing reason, as far as I was concerned, why we'd come up with this little arrangement.
Sure, generally speaking, we were safe. Not only did we outnumber the average nomadic coven, two to one, but Edward's telepathy and my ability to sense and influence other people's emotions made us practically untouchable. Only a fool, with a serious death wish, would try and challenge us … as a unit.
But therein lay the problem. We didn't spend every second of every day together. Of course we didn't. That would be impractical, awkward, tiresome … Like everyone, from time to time, we all needed break from each other.
As a group we did pose a formidable threat, but as individuals … Sure, no one would dare me, for obvious reasons. My scars were like a billboard, screaming danger. Emmett's sturdy physique usually had a similar effect, making people think twice before approaching him. But as for the rest of the family … well to put it nicely, they weren't the fighting types, Esme in particular. I was in no way a sexist. How could I be, after Maria? But it was obvious that Esme couldn't hurt a fly, figuratively speaking.
A couple of years ago two rogue vampires had reached the same conclusion, thinking that Esme was an easy target. As soon as they'd spotted her in the streets of the small town, we'd resided in at the time they'd stuck to her heels, just waiting for an opportunity to strike. But thanks to my special (non-combat) training, Esme had been able to detect their presence straight away. She'd continued with her shopping, pretending to be completely oblivious thus weighing them in false security, though she'd used the first chance she'd gotten to call for backup. Needless to say, it had been very easy for me and Emmett to take care of the problem.
After that incident we'd come up with our strange arrangement, because Carlisle had been the first person she'd tried to reach … and failed.
With my usual sparring partner gone, I was seriously itching for a fight, and yet I was hoping this call wasn't about something serious.
I left my half-crouched position, wiping my hands clean on my jeans, before reaching into my back pocket to pull my phone out, which hadn't stopped ringing. Not a good sign. Before answering, I checked the display. It was Edward's number.
"This better be good, Eddie. What the hell were you thinking leaving me at school without a word?" I grumbled into the receiver.
"I'm sorry but your brother can't answer your questions right now." A female voice replied. She sounded familiar, but at the moment I couldn't quite place the voice.
"Who is this?" I growled.
"Bella Swan." She answered, managing to sound both amused and miffed at the same time.
I was anything but amused. Completely confused, and slightly concerned was more like it. "Where is my brother? What have you done to him?" I demanded to know, momentarily forgetting the fact that she was a human.
She snorted. "That's rich. I haven't done anything. Like I would stand a chance against your kind …" She trailed off, taking a deep breath to calm herself, before continuing. "Your brother is in my house, lying floor on the kitchen floor. It seems like he had some kind of anaphylactic shock after HE attacked ME."
For a few seconds I was too shocked to form words. But I caught myself quickly. "What do you mean he attacked you? Fuck … Did he bite you?"
"He did, but I'm alright. Thanks for asking." She scoffed, clearly fed up with me and my questions. I wanted to assure her that my concern was genuine, but she didn't give me the chance. "Hey, listen, Jasper. I don't know what's wrong with your brother, but I would greatly appreciate if you could come and get him. My father will be coming home in an hour or so. There is some damage I have to clean up, before he gets here. The front door is unlocked. I'll be back in fifteen minutes, and I expect both of you to be gone by then."
It wasn't a request, it was an order. A certain part of me didn't like that at all, but mostly I was stunned and impressed by her straightforwardness. She didn't seem to be scared at all.
"Or what?" I couldn't help but asked.
"Or I'll burn the house down." She answered, matter-of-factly.
I almost laughed. Almost. "A little overdramatic, don't you think?"
"Beats explaining the dead body, lying on the kitchen floor to my Dad, aka the Chief of Police, don't you think?" She shot back, adding with huff, "Just do it."
Before I could reply anything, the line disconnected. I stared at my phone, with my mouth hanging open.
What the fuck?
A/N What do you think? Can Edward be saved?