A/N - Lisa has a Cranky Arse, Fish talks weird and Mich is a Brit but still, none of us own Twilight, we totally wish we did though, that way we would be UBER rich and have the male cast members all to ourselves. (Mich would lock herself away with Jackson. Fish would gladly steal Kellan and escape to Ireland and Lisa would have a nekkid Fatch)
Red Hooded Rose and the
Curse of the Beast
The familiar wood was quiet that Spring afternoon as Rose wandered along the winding path that was surrounded by wildflowers. Rose's favourites among them all were definitely the wild daisies that grew in every colour imaginable. Unfortunately for her, they were also the ones that were located furthest from the path. For as long as she could remember, she was always told that she should never deviate from the path that meandered through the woods surrounding the small village from which she came. She knew that danger lurked within its depths, but she also knew, as her grandmother had attested, that the rarest and most untouched blooms lay in wait in the most secluded parts of the forest. They were always the most beautiful, and their perfect shape would look heavenly arranged in the vase which sat on the kitchen table of her cottage. Her home lay at the start of this path, sitting on the edge of the very woods she walked through now...a home that she was happy living in for the most part, but deep within her she knew that something was missing, something important...like a piece of an unsolved puzzle.
As she walked slowly through the forest, following the path that lay before her, her mind cast itself to what her grandmother had told her. "Never go into the woods alone and never stray from the 'll always be safe if you stay on the path, and the flowers nearby are just as pretty."
"What the hell does she know?" she muttered to herself as she skipped along the path, her actions of innocence belying her true inner nature. Rose wasn't exactly what you would call 'streetwise' having being brought up in and around the woods, but she felt stifled in her mundane existence. She'd been to the town nearby a few times and it scared her half to death, all those people, staring at her almost like she was a piece of meat...she couldn't understand it. Many a young girl from her village had been engaged to husbands not of their choosing, but she did not desire that kind of life for herself. She knew, deep in her heart, that she was destined for something else.
After their parents died, and because she much preferred to be amongst the animals and flowers, Rose and Jasper made their home in the old family cottage located near the woods. It meant she hardly had to deal with people of any kind, least of all a husband that she did not love. She had never been in love before, nor did it appear as she ever would. Of course, she came from a poor family as did they all, and Rose often recruited Bella and Alice to gather and sell flowers to help keep their combined heads above water. Material things never mattered to Rose, but she did have bills to pay, and having an everyday job meant that she would have to deal with people. For Rose, the less she dealt with strangers the better...and she much preferred to lead a simple life.
As she ventured deep into the forest, basket in hand and red hooded cape drawn tight around her curvacious frame to ward off the slight chill in the air, she came upon the most beautiful meadow...one that she had never seen before. The forest held many secrets and yet another one had been revealed. The meadow was filled with a multitude of flower species, and not one piece of ground was left uncovered...the flowers carpet-like in appearance. She had never laid eyes on some of the species before, and others she only knew of from reading her small collection of books. The smell that suddenly wafted through the air was intoxicating rather than overpowering, alluring rather than sickening, the marvellous scent beckoning her like a moth to a flame.
Knowing that it was somewhat irresponsible, she battled with her conscience for a split second before giving in to the sensations that now overwhelmed her, and stepped off the path and into the arms of the waiting meadow. She slipped off her shoes and let the grass gently tickle her bare feet as her eyes darted around while she took a few tentative steps through the soft foliage. She knew it was wrong to deviate from her path, but it felt so right to be doing something oh so wrong. Something that was not becoming of her. Something, that for once was unexpected of her. Something that broke the shackles of her good girl persona without regard of the consequences. If her brother Jasper could be rebellious, then so could she, and as much as Rose knew this to be true, she would never go to the lengths that her rogue of a brother did.
Jasper was a cad and used his handsome face to leave the girls in the town swooning left right and centre. He reminded her of Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, just without the conceit and arrogance. She loved her brother dearly, but he was a complete ass when it came to treating women with any sort of respect...loving and leaving them, never seeing them again...not even acknowledging them if he passed them in the street. So many of these heartbroken girls would come knocking on her door, begging her to pass messages on to him. If their mother could see him now, she would be so ashamed. She hadn't raised either of her children to be disrespectful of anyone.
As soon as her toes left the path, she felt an unbridled sense of freedom rush through her body. The overgrown, damp grass caressed her calves as she made her way through the thickets that surrounded the perfectly circular meadow, and the breeze rustled through the forest, carrying to her the scent of the most exquisite flowers in the forest. Revelling in the absolute silence, she closed her eyes and inhaled their heady perfume, losing herself in the sensation of being surrounded by nothing but the dappling sunshine, the humid air and flowers that displayed every colour known to nature. Their vivacity reminded her of a rainbow after a warm spring sun shower.
Just as she was about to be swept away by the sensations, she heard a twig snap, followed by a strange sound that could only be described as heavy snorting. The noises came from the perimeter of the meadow, from the area forest located furthest from the path. She knew right away that she was no longer alone in the one place that had become like a second home to her...and her only source of peace and comfort. Her scarlet hood fell to rest on her back as her head whipped around towards the direction of the noise, causing her tresses to come loose from the clip that held them off her face. Her blonde locks tumbled down her shoulders, her uniquely violet eyes widening with fear of the unknown as she watched, and waited.
"Wh-who's there?" she called out as she scanned the perimeter of the meadow, searching for any signs of this unknown intruder. A thundering growl and the sound of rustling bushes then echoed through the forest, and when the sounds reached her delicate ears, it caused the hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. Still, no answer came forth...nor did a single word escape the lips of the unknown intruder. She gripped the handle of her basket tightly, bringing it above her shoulder as if doing so would somehow protect her from whomever lurked in the forest. It was the first time she'd ever felt scared in the one place that had become her safe haven...her escape from the mundane existence that was her small, insignificant life. She realised that she'd never heard anything like that growl before, and she didn't like the unexpected. This experience had raised the bar to a whole new level of weird.
Spotting movement within the brush, she drew in a gasp as the biggest wolf that she had ever laid eyes on emerged. It didn't look like any of the pack that had moved in last winter to shelter their cubs...in fact it didn't look like any other wolf she had ever seen before. It was monstrous in size, and it's coat was a strange russet colour...a hue that reminded her more of a bear than of a wolf. It moved so slowly, so smoothly that she felt as if it were stalking her. Its white fangs were bared through trembling lips, and its chest vibrated as it appeared to size her up. Its huge, deep brown eyes never left her face as it began to circle the suddenly trembling young Rose, who was frozen to the spot and unable to move. Her mind was screaming for her legs to help her make a hasty escape, but they refused to cooperate. It wouldn't matter. Like her running down path of dirt was going to stop this particular wolf. She could see its every muscle shift under its fur as it closed in on her. Then suddenly...it just stopped. It stood directly in front of her and stared into her eyes, standing so close that she could feel its hot breath fan across her face. Its eyes were intense and almost had a human-like quality to them...behind which held an intelligence that she had never seen in the eyes of any other animal before. It almost felt as if it were somehow trying to communicate with her, and for a brief moment, an unseen connection occurred between the two of them, causing her mouth to gape open in surprise.
Without warning, and just as quickly as it appeared, the immense beast turned tail and ran off at full speed into the trees, leaving not only Rose, but the meadow disturbed in its wake. The grass and flowers had been churned up by the beast's claws and all that remained as proof of it's presence were deep gashes in the ground and trampled blooms. As if an unseen spell between them had finally been broken, Rose remembered herself and took one step, then two, before fleeing towards the path for home...the picking of her precious flowers long forgotten in that moment.
She arrived at the cottage breathless and confused, but as she entered her home, a strange sense of calm overwhelmed her as she remembered the beast's eyes. They never held anything within them other than curiosity. Yes, the beast had stalked her and could quite easily have maimed or killed her, but instead it simply stopped and watched her, almost like it was trying to work up the courage to communicate with her, if that were even possible. She let out a loud sigh as she tried but failed to get her head around the entire experience. She needed to forget this chance encounter before she went mad. It wasn't like it meant anything...or did it mean more than she cared to admit?
Rose began to tidy up the already spotless room to occupy herself, but was unable to shift the feeling of having been studied, the memory of the russet coloured beast sending chills down her spine. Just as she was considering going back outside to check that all was well, the door flew open and her brother walked in, his appearance startling her and causing her to yelp in horror.
"Rose? Why are you shrieking?" Jasper regarded her, a crooked smile on his annoyingly beautiful face. Instead of acknowledging her fearful expression, his own expression turned to one of suspicion. "Are you hiding something?" he asked with a raised brow as he looked round the room, trying to catch her out doing something...anything to give her away and make her appear less innocent than she was. He loved his sister, there was no doubt about it, but he was tired of being the 'black sheep' of the family...forever bearing the brunt of the blame when anything went wrong.
"You can't be an ass all your life Jaz, otherwise it could end earlier than you think," she said, rolling her eyes at him. "Besides, dear brother, unlike you I don't go hiding naked people under my bed...or in my wardrobe. I have self-respect and strangely enough, I have respect for others."
He smirked at her and said, "Tell me then, dear sister, why it is that you've got grass stains on your dress and..." he reached over and picked something off her shoulder, holding it between his fingers and studying it closely. She narrowed her eyes, trying to focus on what he held in his hand. "Animal hair on your cloak? Care to explain, oh dear one?" She frowned in confusion. She didn't think that she had come that close to the wolf...but clearly she was incorrect in that assumption. The smug look on his face was making it even harder for her to control her building anger and as much as he was just joking, sometimes her brother really did piss her off.
"Jasper Mary Hale!" she laughed as he winced at her usage of his middle name. It was a tradition that all the men in their family were given the middle name of Mary, which was a fact her darling brother hid, stating that whenever someone asked that it stood for Mike. Whoever in the family that came up with that tradition was nothing but a genius. "Just because your mind immediately sinks into the gutter, doesn't mean that I have been off cavorting with all and sundry. And remember that I don't really care what people think of me, so, unless you have a reason for being here, just leave me alone. I need to start cooking dinner." He looked at her with incredulous eyes, the shock of her statement clearly evident on his face. Rose usually tried not to be so short with Jasper, but she was only human.
"Rosie, I was just kidding. You know that, right?" He smirked at her, showing her his best innocent puppy dog eyes, which unfortunately weren't helping her forget the damned wolf. "Want me to help cook?" he added. Rose laughed loudly in response, remembering her brother's last attempt at cooking...an attempt which left her with not only unrecognisable charred remains for dinner, but three less pots to cook with and numerous bent utensils.
"No Jaz, just leave me be, alright? I really need this to be perfect. No mistakes." She smiled assuringly at him and added, "And I really like my new pots, so could you just go get some firewood instead?" He grinned at her before grabbing the axe from behind the door and exiting with a flourish. He always knew how to make her smile, and even if he was the biggest goof in the village, she didn't mind for the most part. She busied herself with chopping vegetables and meat, readying the ingredients so that I could make one of her favourite recipes. Her mother's stew always brought back fond memories of her to Rose's mind, but as she picked up the meat and placed it in the pot, thoughts of her frightening experience rushed back as she realised where she had just sent Jasper. "Oh no!" she screamed as she dropped the knife and ran outside. What if...what if he came upon the wolf and it wasn't so forgiving this time? She knew she couldn't live without her stupid brother, or be the cause of his demise. How could she have been so thoughtless? She knew that he was old enough and handsome enough to talk himself out of any situation, but for heaven's sakes...there was no reasoning with a feral animal!
Rose carefully scanned the edge of the woods, searching for any signs of Jasper, beginning to panic when she couldn't see him. A sense of relief washed over her as she heard his off-key whistling echo through the forest, the sound getting louder as he approached home. He emerged from the treeline carrying an armful of freshly chopped wood, the axe nonchalantly slung over his shoulder as he continued to whistle. She rushed to his side, hand on her thudding heart, relieved that he had not come to any harm.
"What's wrong Rosie? You look as though someone just died." She sighed and simply brushed a few errant wood chips out of his hair before she turned and walked back inside, not trusting herself to speak without conveying her worst fears to him. She went about finishing the stew, all the while her heart continuing to race as her mind cast itself back to the strange encounter. Jasper went back and forth between the woodshed and woods a few more times as Rose peered out the window and kept a watchful eye on him. She really was amazed at the speed with which he was chopping. Eventually, once he was finished, he went to wash and change for dinner, reminding her so much of their father, who always insisted on wearing fresh clothing at mealtimes. When he emerged, Rose was struck again by just how much Jasper resembled him. It was as if she had a piece of him still here with her, protecting her, loving her. He flashed her his wide grin as she placed a bowl of food in front of him and gave him a small smile in return. "Hey, you'll make some lucky guy a damn good wife one of these days Rosie." He spoke with his mouth full as usual, and up until today that ill-mannered behaviour would have earned him a swift clip over the ear. But, up until today, Rose's life was small in comparison, so she took in a deep breath and chose to ignore it. "What time are the others arriving?"
"I'm not too sure, sometime soon. Edward was working late and had to pick up Bella, so they should be here within the next ten minutes." She left out any mention of Alice on purpose, knowing that the subject of her was like a thorn in his side. "You know Bella can't manage to walk very far now, what with the extreme pregnant state she's in."
"Yeah and Edward's just as bad. I was over there the other day. He wouldn't even let her walk upstairs to get a cloak by herself, which by the way, she's grown out of."
"Well, he has always been somewhat overprotective of her. I don't know how she copes. I couldn't handle someone hovering over me, just in case I hurt myself."
"Yeah fuck that, huh!" Jasper cursed. Rose sighed at his comments while waiting for him to mention Alice, but for the first time it seemed that he wasn't taking the bait. He was being patient and waiting to see if Rose would crack first, doubtful as that was.
"Yes Jasper?" Rose looked him square in the eye, a smirk on her face that she couldn't hide.
"What's for dessert?" That little shit. He knew that if Alice was coming by his sister would make some form of cheesecake, and one that would be vegetarian friendly.
"Ice cream and fresh fruit salad." Hah! Take that! No hint there. "Bella's fruit craving is taking over everyone's life, and besides it's good for you." A flash of disappointment crossed his face, but it was gone practically before it was even there. Jasper always was able to keep his emotions in check. Rose hated him for it, as he always seemed to know exactly how she was feeling, but in turn Rose could never tell what was going on with him. Their little 'show-down' of sorts was interrupted by a knock on the door. Rose made a move to answer it, but before she had taken a single step towards the door, Jasper had shot up from his seat, practically tripping over it in the desperation to get there first. It was Rose who stood there shocked, mouth agape, when he opened the door to reveal a tall, dark-haired man standing on their porch.
"Can I help you?" Jasper's voice held the merest hint of nervousness as the stranger's deep brown eyes wildly darted around the perimeter of the house.
"Err...sorry to disturb you, but I'm a bit lost. I'm looking for Forks and I think I got a bit turned around in the woods and ended up here." Jasper tilted his head, his eyes curious as he studied this imposing man. Sensing his trepidation, the man cleared his throat and added, "My apologies for being so rude. I'm Emmett." Jasper suddenly grinned widely at him, as if introducing himself somehow made them instant friends.
"Emmett? Well if you're lost, don't just stand there, come on in, man." Rose looked at her brother in horror. What did he think he was doing? "I'm Jasper, and this is my sister Rose." He waved his hand in her general direction, his behaviour unintentionally ill-mannered as always.
"Thanks Jasper, and nice to meet you...Rose, was it?" Instead of answering, Rose watched on, gobsmacked as the giant's hand enveloped Jasper's in a handshake, while at the same time giving her a nervous wink. He had to duck his head to get through the door, but once he was inside, Emmett was able to stand at his full height, which was really tall. "It's hard to get your bearings round here huh?" His voice was actually quite soft, lilting even...something which surprised her considering his size. She had to admit though, he didn't seem as scary now that he was inside their home. With his curly brown hair and cheeky grin showing the prominent dimples in his cheeks, he exuded a child-like innocence despite the extremely large body that was definitely all man.
"Just a bit." Jasper said with a grin, no doubt thinking back to their childhood when he would disappear for hours to go fishing and return home without having even found the lake. "Rosie's the one that knows it the best. She practically knows the name of every animal and tree in there." She glared at Jasper, unsurprised yet concerned to see a slightly troublesome look in his eyes. Rose knew that look. It was the one that made his eyes twinkle, just before the shit hit the fan...the same look that got her set up with Mike Newton when she was sixteen, and Eric Yorkie the week after she told Newton to get stuffed.
"Oh I wouldn't go that far, Jasper," she answered, rolling her eyes. "Anyone would think I was some character out of a fairytale when you say stuff like that." He let out a laugh as Rose turned toward the giant and tried to ignore my irritating brother. "So, Emmett, how long have you been in the area?" And why do I feel like I know you? she mentally added.
"Not long. A couple of weeks. There's a group of us here for the annual 'Chopping for Charity' fundraiser." Of course he had to be one of those kinds. Rose literally could not hate anyone who willingly gave up their own time to help those less fortunate. "It's to raise some money and to get enough wood to build houses for those recently destroyed by the storm that hit the reservation not far from here."
"Oh, I heard about that. Did many people lose their homes?" Rose asked. They were luckier than most...the woods seemed to shelter them from the worst of the weather, and for that small mercy, they were more than grateful. Their father had built the house when their mother was pregnant with them, it's walls a testament of the entire family's existence. She couldn't imagine their home just disappearing into thin air, and from the look on Jasper's face, Rose could tell that he was thinking the same thing.
"How many of you are there?" Jasper asked as his voice cut into Rose's thoughts.
"There's about seven of us at the moment, but we're always trying to recruit more people to help us out. That's how I came to be here, but I got lost while I was seeking out new recruits that I heard were scattered in the villages around here. I noticed your brother when he was chopping firewood, and well, I followed him home. I hope you don't mind." Typical Jasper. Without any effort at all, he still managed to pick up any strays that wandered into town. But, Rose had to admit that she didn't mind this particular stray appearing at their doorstop at all, what with it being a departure from the usual female kind. "And to answer your question Rose, too many homes were lost, I'm afraid."
"I still have some stew left, if you'd like something to eat," she offered, suddenly feeling a blush creep across her cheeks in response to the way Emmett mentioned her name. What was she doing?
"Well that's very kind of you, Rose," he grinned widely and those dimples just deepened. Rose suddenly found myself smiling coyly at him in return.
"Have a seat, and I'll bring you a serving," she offered as she cleared her throat while at the same time trying to clear her suddenly fuzzy head.
The two of them sat down and Jasper, as was his way, began to talk his ear off, asking him where he was from, and what he did before his charity work. Emmett politely answered his questions as best he could, but Rose sensed that he was a private man, and didn't really much care to discuss his past. Curious.
"Jasper, I don't know if you're interested, but we sure could use some help down at the reservation." Emmet smiled at Rose as she placed a bowl of steaming stew in front of him. "Thanks. This looks and smells wonderful," he complimented. Rose simply smiled at him before seating herself at her own bowl of food and beginning to eat, quietly listening to the conversation that carried on between the two men. Rose missed the sounds of chatter in the cottage in the evenings. The only people that visited were her friends, and now that Bella was pregnant, that wasn't going to happen as often once the baby was born.
Rose was so excited for Bella and Edward, but something told her that with the birth of their child, things would never be the same again. Their family was growing and she knew she would always be involved, but things were changing...heading down an unstoppable path. Before she knew it, Alice would have found someone and would also have a family of her own, Jasper would eventually find the one person who would put a stop to his womanising ways, and he too would be forced to settle down. Where would that leave her? Alone in this small cottage? She envisioned herself as the crazy cottage lady, with a thousand cats as her only family, when all she ever wanted was a real family of her own. Was it too much to ask to have a husband to love and who loved her in return as they grew old, surrounded by their children and grandchildren? The cottage rarely heard the sound of laughter echo off its walls anymore and that was something that she mourned the loss of. This place was, after all, meant to be a family home.
She was pulled out of her morose thoughts by Alice bounding through the door with her usual exuberance. Out of the corner of her eye, Rose saw Jasper straighten slightly in his chair as the tiny dark haired girl ushered Bella and her extremely pregnant form through the door. Emmett immediately offered his seat to her, having finished eating his meal.
"Thank you." Bella's voice betrayed how tired she felt. Rose could see the bags beginning to form under her friend's eyes. No wonder Edward was treating her like fine bone china.
"Are you okay, Bella?"she asked nervously.
"I'm fine. I just can't seem to sleep for more than an hour or two of a night thanks to the little nudger here," she said, lovingly rubbing her swollen stomach as she spoke. "Every time I try to get some sleep, someone who is, unfortunately, still nameless thinks it's a real fun idea to wake up and play a game of football, using my internal organs as the ball."
"Just think, in just three short weeks, you'll be back to your gorgeous self, with a beautiful baby to boot." Alice's sweet voice did nothing to hide her excitement at becoming an aunt. Rose had a vision of Alice treating her niece or nephew like a doll, dressing it up and parading it around town. She then silently chastised herself for demeaning Alice. She was going to make a wonderful aunt. Overbearing yes, but full of love just the same. Just as she was about to speak further, her nose crinkled in disgust. "Hey, what's that God-awful wet dog smell?"
"Oh, sorry Alice. That could be me. I think I must have come into contact with some wolf hairs in my travels," Rose answered, trying to remain vague on what exactly had happened.
Emmett was watching the exchange with a small bemused smile on his face. Jasper quickly made all the necessary introductions as he gathered up the empty dishes and placed them into the sink, letting Alice sit in his vacant seat. He stood behind talking in a voice only she could hear, they really did make a cute couple.
"Oh for the love of all that's holy, get a room you two..." Rose teased as she began washing all the dishes. A good hosts work is never done. As she was placing the third plate on the bench, a large hand reached out and took it from her up, her eyes connected with two large brown ones as she said softly, "Emmett, you're a guest, you really don't need to help with the dishes."
"I don't mind helping Miss Rose. Anything to be able to talk to you alone." He winked and a cheeky grin overtook his face, causing his eyes to crinkle and those dimples of his show through again. He really did have the most enchanting smile.
"You do know those dimples of yours could be used as a weapon of mass destruction, don't you?" Alice called over as Emmett caught Rose's ever-increasing blush. Of course she had been watching their little encounter, ever the match maker that Alice was.
"I have absolutely no idea what you mean, Alice," Emmett answered with an innocent tone, but from the huge wolfish grin on his face, Rose could tell he knew exactly what Alice was implying.
"Yeah, sure." Alice turned back to her conversation with Jasper and Bella, a small smile playing on her lips.
"Is Edward not joining us tonight?" Rose asked Bella as she finished the last of the dishes as she attempted to change the subject.
"He's got some work to catch up with at home. He's locked up in his study, but he hopes to get her in an hour or two. To be honest, I'm grateful for the break."She rolled her eyes slightly, even that small movement looking like it took a huge effort. "It's not that I don't love him, but his fussing is becoming rather tedious." Rose laughed as she began to serve up dessert, which was the only reason Alice and Bella had joined them that evening.
"Well you know he only means well, and he's no more worried than the rest of us about how worn down you're getting. Never fear...ice-cream and fresh fruit will make you feel so much better." She smiled knowingly at her expectant friend as she continued to dish up the delicious sweet.
"A quart of whiskey would make me feel even better, but hey," Bella shrugged, grinning at them before diving into the bowl. Rose noticed the slight glow to Bella's skin. Pregnancy obviously agreed with her, and no matter how much she complained, anyone could tell that she was enjoying the fact somebody special was growing inside of her. Her and Edward sure did make a perfect match. Bella made no secret of the fact that she was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with her high school sweetheart. It made the green eyed monster appear in Rose, and recently it had reared its ugly head on more than the odd occasion. Unlike her, Bella had everything she wanted and desired in life. Rose felt the familiar telltale sting in her eyes and she turned towards the counter where she had a pot of coffee brewing, blinking back the tears that threatened to stream down her cheeks. Once she had composed herself, she turned back to her friends, but it didn't escape her notice that Emmett's brown eyes were watching her intently.
Suddenly, Emmett stood to his feet, and all too quickly, he announced that he had to leave.
"It's been wonderful meeting you all. Rose, thank you for the wonderful meal." He took Rose's hand into his own, placing a gentle kiss on her knuckles. "I hope to see you all again very soon, and please Jasper, don't forget my offer. We will be on the reservation for the next few weeks at least." Jasper nodded in agreement as Emmett reluctantly released Rose's delicate hand and quickly shook hands with Jasper before turning to leave. Within moments he was out of the door. Jasper went to the window to watch him depart, drawing in a small gasp of surprise as Emmett disappeared in a near blur.
"Boy, he sure can move fast for a big fella. He's quicker than a bear in need of a dump!" He rejoined the girls back at the table, shrugging off the odd occurrence. They chatted and laughed into the evening as they awaited Edward's arrival, but he never came.
The next morning, Jasper awoke to discover Rose had already left the cottage. Not thinking anything of it, he made his way into the town intending to go to work, but as he arrived at a fork in the road, he made a split second decision to head towards the reservation rather than go to the mill where he would no doubt endure yet another day of monotonous repetition. He ambled along the path at a casual pace, his boots kicking up the dust which clung to the back of his trousers. He hadn't been out this way in a long time so he made the most of the time he had to look around at the change of scenery. He could see the edge of the rez as he crested the slight hill.
He made his way towards the reservation, the smell of salt air hitting him as the moisture in the air hung heavily. He never really liked the sea, as too many memories of past summers spent here with his parents and Rose came flooding back to him. He wasn't sure exactly where to find Emmett so he stopped by Billy's place to see what damage they had sustained, and to see if he knew where the charity had set up 'base camp'. As if he'd lived there his whole life, he easily found his way to the familiar small red house and strode towards the front porch. He tapped firmly on the front window as he always did as a kid, not bothering to knock on the front door. The door opened to reveal a familiar man, who wore nothing but a huge grin on his face and cut off jeans, his teeth gleaming white against his brown skin as he greeted Jasper.
"Dude! Were the hell have you been?" Jacob pulled his childhood friend into a 'man hug' before granting him entry to the house.
"You know how it is Jake. Working, looking after Rose."
"Sowing your seeds of love?" Jacob asked as he teased his friend about his reputation. Jasper simply grinned at him in return.
"Hey, I'm looking for the charity guys. Do you know where they're at?" Jacob looked at his friend curiously.
"Charity? You feeling okay?"
"Whatever dude. I'm looking for Emmett." Cue blank look. "Big guy? Looks a bit like Paul Bunyon?"
"I have no idea what the hell you are on about, but there are a group of palefaces set up by the old community hall." From the grim look on Jacob's face, Jasper knew that that had been one of the buildings destroyed. He clasped his friend's arm. "Aw shit, I'm sorry man. Were the elders able to salvage anything?"
"A few things, but not as much as they would have liked. It's killed my dad to have to see it."
"I could imagine, that really sucks. Anyway man, I gotta go find Emmett. You wanna come help out?" Jasper asked with enthusiasm.
"I wish I could...but really should get to...uh school." Jacob answered with a grimace as he stepped outside and shut the door. He seemed to hover on the porch, as if waiting for Jasper to leave first, his eyes suddenly seeming to look everywhere but at Jasper.
"Sweet, man. Well I'll catch ya later." Jasper slapped Jacob on the back before turning to walk off in the direction of the town, feeling good about what he was about to do. He turned to look back at his old friend for a brief moment as a pang of sadness hit him. He watched as the forlorn figure of Jacob walked in the complete opposite direction of the reservation's school, shoulders hunched and hands shoved in the pockets of his cut off sweats as he disappeared quickly through the dense trees and into the forest. Little shit was probably ditching. Jasper couldn't wait till he saw Billy next, because he was sure that he'd love to know of his son's escapades.
Jacob's feelings made him more determined than ever to help fix whatever it was that may be broken. It had been a while since he'd done something decent for others, something he could be proud of, without trying to find an angle or garner the 'affections' of a pretty girl. Jasper knew what people said about him, but he honestly couldn't see the problem. He was like his sister in that way, and never really gave a shit what others thought of him…mostly. They always thought he wasn't up for a committed relationship, but he just hadn't found the right girl...yet. He also knew the comments that people would make even if he did settle down with one girl...comments that he felt were expected, but undeserved.
As soon as he saw the state of the community centre, he stopped dead in his tracks. Jake hadn't been kidding when he said there wasn't much left. The guys from 'Chopping for Charity' had needed to construct a marquee over the site as the roof and the walls were non-existent. He fought back his emotions as he remembered running around this place with Rose, Jake and his older sisters. It felt like only yesterday, not ten years ago that they all played there together. He strode over to the marquee in search of Emmett, but instead he came face to face with six more gigantic, well built lumberjacks.
"How's it, eh?" One of the older looking guys said, as though Jasper was miles away instead of mere feet. He sounded Canadian, so much so that Jasper thought he could smell the scent of maple syrup from where he was standing. "You here to help eh?"
"Yeah…uh Emmett told me to come and help out if I could...said you guys could use an extra pair of hands. Is he around?"
"Emmett? Nah he hasn't shown his ugly mug around here yet, but we don't usually start till ten, so he's got another fifteen to get his cranky arse here." Jasper grinned in response, finding it amusing that anybody found Emmett cranky. Huh. Maybe Emmett wasn't much of a morning person.
"Well, I'm here and its not like I have anything better to do, may as well make myself useful. D'you guys want my help?"
"You serious? Do bears shit in the woods?" the man answered with a mischievous smile. Jasper let out an uproarious guffaw. The man handed him an axe, his movements showing more of his upper arm where Jasper spotted a tattoo of a maple leaf. Figured.
Rose had woken at first light that morning. Her dreams had been full of deep brown eyes, russet fur and, oddly enough, dimples. She washed and dressed quietly so she wouldn't wake Jasper and slipped out the front door.
She took a deep breath, drawing in the crisp morning air deep into her lungs as her eyes darted about cautiously. She slowly walked down the path that led to the woods, and without realising it, she began heading towards the meadow where she first encountered the russet wolf. As the meadow came into view, she secretly wished he would be there waiting for her. Of course it was a crazy thought, as she had only been acting on a whim, and after the many confusing dreams she'd had, she hoped that seeing the russet beast would somehow give her clarity of thought. A feeling of disappointment rippled through her when she reached the meadow only to discover that she was there alone and her journey was in vain. As she stood solitary amongst the wild flowers she thought over the encounter she'd had the day before, and once again a sense of peace overcame her. Noticing that the basket and her shoes still remained where she had left them, she decided to complete the job that she had neglected to do the day before and head back home to begin making more floral displays for Alice to sell at on her stall later that day.
Once she began her journey home, Rose moved swiftly, not wanting to waste one more second of precious time. After all, time was money...as the big shots said. She gasped as she emerged from the woods, and at first she thought she was daydreaming, the sight in front of her so illusory that she blinked several times in quick succession. She had exited the woods only to find the huge wolf that she had encountered the day before...it's large form pacing behind the cottage. Its muzzle jerked towards her as it snorted and caught her scent. Once again they stood gazing at each other, silently communicating, but what they were actually trying to say to one another was far beyond her understanding, and yet, she could not look away. Rose placed her overflowing basket on the ground at her feet, drew in a deep, cleansing breath and took a tentative step towards the trembling beast.
It's eyes never left hers as she slowly pushed the hood off her head before reaching out a trembling hand to touch it. She saw it bristle in the seconds before she made contact, after which it seemed to relax under her touch. She even heard a low humming from deep within it's broad chest, which she took as a sign of trust. She stood there with her hand on his head, her fingers playing with his thick wavy fur and as she looked into the creature's half closed eyes, she felt as though she was staring into his soul. The enormous beast bent its head and leaned into her hand as if it not only relished her touch, but was in desperate need of more than her small hands were able to give. Suddenly, a rumble coursed through it's entire body as it tilted it's head to once again look her directly in the eye. Rose felt as if the beast was trying to say something, but she couldn't work out what that something was.
"You know, you're not scary like the big bad wolves in fairytales," she whispered quietly, his nudge to her shoulder confirming that he'd not only heard her, but had understood each and every word that left her lips.
Suddenly, it backed away and loped off into the woods, it's quick departure leaving her missing the warmth of it's presence against her skin. Rose simply stood looking at the gap between the trees through which it had disappeared. She sighed sadly and then gathered her basket of flowers before heading into the cottage.
She began internally debating whether or not to tell anyone about the russet wolf, especially after what had just occurred. If she ever decided to tell anyone about her strange encounter, she knew of only one person that she could confide in without feeling like she was being judged or laughed at. Thankfully, that one person was on her way over to collect some of the flowers that she had just gathered. But, as she tried to decipher her feelings, Rose realised that she was scared. Would Alice understand this, or fear for her life? Would she comprehend that Rose truly felt safe around the wolf or run for the hills? As she thought about her situation further, she realised it what she felt was true. The huge animal exuded a calmness that had wordlessly transferred to her, and she knew that no harm would ever come to her.
She decided to prepare a pot of herbal tea before making a start on making the floral arrangements, and so that they would be ready when Alice arrived, therefore leaving them more time to talk. Just as the water had boiled and she had poured it into her mother's white china teapot, there was a gentle knock on the door. As she walked over and opened it, she was surprised and a little confused to find that it was not Alice, but Emmett that now stood there, waiting in her doorway.
"Morning Miss Rose," he said, greeting her with a smile and flashing those very dangerous dimples. She was quickly learning that those dimples and that perfect smile were obviously the classic Emmett greeting, for her at least.
"Morning Emmett. Er...would you like to come in for some tea? It's freshly brewed."
"That'd be nice. Thanks," he replied graciously. She was shocked again by his size as he loped through the door and took a seat in the kitchen. She smiled slightly as she brushed past him, feeling at ease in his presence, grabbing the tea and two mugs from the rack on the counter.
"So, did you stop by for any particular reason Mr… ? I'm sorry, but I don't know your last name."
"McCarty, Emmet McCarty. No...I really didn't have a reason for stopping by. I was sort of just in the neighbourhood, so I thought I'd thank you again for the delicious meal last night." He smiled his thanks, those dimples making an encore appearance as I placed the tea in front of him. "And please, call me Emmett."
"Okay then Emmett. Would you like some sugar?" I asked, stifling a giggle at my innuendo.
"Oh no, I'm sweet enough thank you." He winked and took in a huge mouthful of tea, his expression suddenly a combination of pain and surprise as the hot brew seared his mouth. He coughed and spluttered and swallowed the tea quickly, his reddening face making him appear ridiculous. Rosalie laughed in response, the sound of it music to her own ears. It had been a long time since she had laughed heartily and not felt like it had been forced from her lungs. "I'd also like to apologise for running out on all of you last night."
"Honestly, there's no need. If you had to go, you had to go." Rose smiled shyly at him as she took a small, careful sip of the hot brew. As she took him in with her eyes, she couldn't understand it. By all rights, this man was a stranger, and yet she had let him into her home for the second time in two days, and felt nothing but comfort...even an odd sense of belonging in his presence.
"Well, if I didn't apologise and my momma found out, she would whup my ass!" He smiled that winning smile at her again before he feigned to take another sip of tea, shaking his head and placing his cup on the table without drinking another drop. This time, when she caught sight of those dimples, a warm tingly feeling surged through her entire body, but as things were about to get interesting, a light tap on the door dissolved any chance of further conversation between the two. Before Rose could get up to answer the door, Alice came barging in with her hands full of bags, muttering under her breath about how cold it was and how the damp in the air was going to make her hair frizz to oblivion.
"Rosalie, why isn't the fire going already? It's just as bloody cold in here as it is out there!" She nodded towards the door she had just emerged through with her head, at first oblivious to the company that Rosalie had been keeping. And up until that moment, Rose had been oblivious to the fact that the cottage was freezing cold.
"You know, I sure hope you are going to get off you arse and…" She cut off her sentence mid-way as she turned around and saw Emmett and Rosalie looking as cosy as any couple drinking their steaming mugs of tea. "Oh crap, sorry Rosie. I didn't realise you had company. Nice to see you again, Emmett." Her light green eyes flickered between the two, Alice taking note of the slightly guilty look on Rose's face.
"It's fine Alice, I was just about to leave anyway. I just stopped by to thank Miss Rose for the delicious meal last night. I'll leave you ladies to go about your business. Have a good day." He grinned at them as he stood and nodded at them both while he quickly let himself out.
As soon as he was gone, Alice honed in on Rosalie. "Care to explain what he was doing here?"
Rose gulped as she fumbled for the right words.
"Um...like he err...he just wanted to say thanks." She wanted to kick herself for being so tongue- tied, but after gauging Alice's reaction to Emmett, she changed her mind immediately and decided not to tell Alice about the wolf's existence. She knew that if this was the way she reacted to Rose being alone with a mere man, then God only knew how she would react to her being alone with a wolf! She could just envision Alice's reaction when she told her about her touching and talking to a wolf of…rather large proportion.
"He came all this way just to thank you for food?" she questioned with suspicion.
"Apparently he was in the neighbourhood, but you obviously don't recognise a true gentleman even when one hits you in the face. I know what my brother's like, Alice, because I often have to deal with the fallout of his behaviour. He's like a nuclear bomb, leaving broken hearts and tears for everyone else to pick up. It's a pity you can't see past my brother and those wandering hands of his."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Rose. I've never even considered Jasper in...that way." Alice's voice sounded firm, but the light blush that crept under her ears and her hesitancy gave her away. She picked up some flowers and shoved them at Rose, telling her in her own subtle way that she wanted the subject dropped. Oh, she's just as bad as Jasper! Rose thought to herself as the two women got to work their magic and weave the flowers into beautiful bouquets while they talked.
"I've seen the way you look at each other Alice. You should know better than to take me for a fool." Rose glanced at Alice's face while she worked; she was concentrating on what was in her hands so that her feelings weren't etched onto her face. "You are like a baby sister to me and as much as it annoys me to need to point this out, you and Jasper would make the perfect couple. You might even be the one to finally get him to settle down. I've seen how he looks at you...it's like you are the hope he needs for the future, one he would never admit he wanted."
Rosalie put down her partially made bouquet and turned herself fully to Alice, waiting for her friend to look up before she continued. "I know that a part of you is scared Alice. Scared for the future, for the unknown, most of all, scared of Jasper's reputation. But if you never take the step, never admit your true feelings, you will forever live in the what ifs. Granted taking the leap from friend to..." at the next word out of her mouth Rosalie physically cringed, "lover is a big one and if it doesn't work out so well it could make life hard. Forget that. I will always be here for you. If you have been waiting for some kind of sign, like you usually do, take my word, this is about as good as it gets. For what it's worth, not that it probably even means anything, I give you my blessing. I can see that he would make you happy and that's all I want for you." Rosalie finished, slightly out of breath but looking at Alice with the full weight of everything she had just said in her eyes. She meant every single word and couldn't get past the fact that some of the words she had spoken applied to her and Emmett. Theirs was a strange situation. She'd only met him twice, yet she couldn't shake off the fact that she had now suddenly become firm believer in love at first sight. Could it actually happen to her? Could it be that she wasn't destined to a life alone after all? Rosalie picked up her bouquet and placed it in a bucket, which she then proceeded to fill with water. It was clear that Rose had given Alice a lot to think about.
Alice was staring at Rosalie with a dumbfounded look upon her face. Rose was known for speaking the truth, but Alice hadn't really been on the receiving end of her bluntness and truly wasn't expecting the forcefulness and passion behind her words. As she considered what Rose had said, her mind drifted to Jasper and she realised Rosalie was, as usual, right. Yes, having known the Hales all her life made her very aware of what Jasper got up to, and yes, this made her nervous. She had only been with one man, and evidently James wasn't exactly husband material, even if he had stuck around the morning after. What if she decided to give into her attraction to Jasper and allowed him to...to have her, and she was so bad he left her too? What if she never pleased a man enough for him to stay with her? She wasn't made to be alone. Maybe if it came down to it her and Rosalie could live together as crazy old spinsters.
"You're right Rose. I am scared. Scared at the thought of not being good enough for him. He's just so...so experienced and I'm...well...just me."
"You listen to me Mary Alice Brandon." Rose snorted at the irony of Alice's first name. "And you listen good. I love my brother, I truly do. He is the one who's not good enough for you, but, if he's the one you have chosen, and he has chosen you, then I will stand by both of you."
"I really appreciate your support Rosie, you know I do. But I wouldn't even know how to begin. I can't just walk up to him and say 'Jasper, hey, guess what? I'm pretty sure I'm in love with you!', can I?"
"Alice?" Alice's eyes widened in fear as she took in Rosalie's wide eyed expression which was aimed over her shoulder. She cringed as she slowly turned towards Jasper who was wearing a flannel shirt, open and showing his once white t-shirt underneath, a pair of old jeans which had been ripped, his scent of the woods and well...Jasper invading her every pore. Alice sat there looking at the beautiful creature with her mouth slightly agape, feeling like she should say something, but feeling incapable of forming coherent words. Jasper stood awkwardly in the doorway, waiting expectantly for someone to explain what he thought he'd had just overheard. Alice couldn't handle the tension in the room any longer, and decided it was best she made a quick exit. She flashed Rose a silent apology for leaving her in the middle of it all as she ran from the room and exited through the door located furthest away from Jasper. "Alice wait!" he called as he watched helplessly as she left. "Rosalie?" Jasper shot his sister a questioning look as the door slammed shut.
"Jasper you had better go after the girl you love before you lose her for reasons that are beyond both of your control," Rose warned. Jasper stared at Rosalie through widened eyes.
"Love?" he spluttered. "I don't lo..." He trailed off, unable to utter those final words of condemnation.
"Don't you dare give me that shit Jasper Mary Hale! I know you better than most people and I know for a fact that you love that damn girl! For Christ's sake, you have done for as long as we've known her, you thickhead...even if you don't realise it yourself! You forget how well I know you my dear brother. You may be a master of hiding your feelings from others, but you can't hide them from me! Besides, that level of adoration is pretty fucking hard to mask!" Jasper was rendered speechless, not only by the force behind Rose's words, but by the fact that she swore. It wasn't very often she cursed, so when she did, everyone sat up and took notice.
"Uh, so I should go out there and tell her huh ?" A mild look of amusement crossed Rosalie's face as she rolled her eyes at her brother's dumb statement.
"No Jasper, you should continue to stand there looking like a moron," Rosalie answered, laying on the sarcasm thick. "Look, you need to fix this. Even if it was unintentional, you overheard something that she wasn't quite ready to tell you."
Jasper thought carefully. Did he love Alice? He couldn't, could he? After all, he'd known her almost as long as he'd known Rose, and besides, they were kind of related. He saw her as a sister. It wouldn't be right. But, it felt kind of right...the thought of the two of them growing old together somehow seeming to work in his head. Thoughts of a possible future with Alice made Jasper smile softly.
Rose regarded his expression, and realising that he was doubting his feelings on the matter, she decided to take the bull by the horns before he changed his mind. "Go," she urged. That one word was all she needed to say for him to slowly turn and head out the way Alice had dashed in a panic. Rose smiled to herself as she picked up the discarded flowers and continued working her magic.
Finally finished, Rose placed the finished bouquets in the box, readying them for Alice to take them to sell on her market stall, that was if she ever returned to the cottage to collect them. Once the table was clear, she headed outside to get some fresh air and stretch her limbs. As she opened the door, her brother's voice floated towards her. As much as she knew she shouldn't eavesdrop, she just couldn't help but listen in.
"Alice I have loved you for so long, but I never recognised that fact until I heard your admission. I do love you, and the only thing I'd ever want to change about you is your last name. I'll understand if you don't want to rush things...we can go as slow or as fast as you want. But if there is one thing I have learnt from my parents' untimely death, is that life is too short to not take the opportunities laid at your feet."
"Oh Jasper!" Alice squealed in delight, her voice followed by nothing but silence.
Rose smiled to herself as she stood out of sight while listening for signs of movement. Her smile was tinged with sadness. Did this mean that Jasper would move out and she'd be all alone in the cottage? Tears pricked at her eyes, but they were a mixture of tears of joy at the thought of her brother happy and settled, and tears of sadness. Sadness at being the only one left alone, the only one with no-one to hold, or to hold her. The only one who would go to bed alone every night.
She was startled as she heard the sound of their laughter suddenly increase in volume, realising that they must be making their way back towards the house. Rose quickly rushed towards the front porch and sat on the bottom step, trying to remain casual as they approached. She composed herself just in time as they rounded the corner hand in hand.
"Hey Rose." Alice's voice was shy. She tried to remove her hand from Jasper's discreetly, but he held on tightly.
"I'm not letting you go anymore Alice," he promised. He whispered only loud enough for her ears to hear his declaration.
"You don't have to do that Alice. I want you to be happy, even if it is with my brother," Rose laughed as she smiled sweetly at the two of them. They really did make a nice couple.
"I'm gonna go pack up some sandwiches and stuff for me and Alice for a picnic. Are there any leftovers in the fridge Rosie?"
"Yeah sure there is Jazz. Take whatever you want. The basket's under the spare bed, and the blanket and plates are already packed inside."
"Okay thanks," he answered, reluctantly releasing Alice's hand as he stepped up onto the porch and headed inside.
Alice sat on the bottom step with Rosalie and linked their arms together. "Thank you Rosie."
She turned to look at the blonde who sat next to her, noticing the simple beauty that was uniquely Rose...from her long curly hair, to big, beautiful eyes which were the colour of violets and framed by long, dark lashes. She considered Rose to be closest thing to a sister, having known her most of her life. "You know I would probably be lost without having you around to shove me in the right direction," Alice added. They laughed loudly together as they reached for one another and fondly embraced. Rosalie could definitely be pushy at the best of times, but this time Alice realised that things had worked out perfectly.
"Oh I almost forgot. Will you be okay to take the flowers to market?" Alice asked with a pleading look in her eyes as Jasper opened the door and walked outside to meet her, basket in hand.
"Yes of course I will," Rose replied as she released her friend and stood to her feet, allowing the lovebirds to pass her and join hands once more. "Have fun you two! Oh, and don't stray too far from the path, okay?" she added as an afterthought.
"Stop it with the worrying, Rose. I'll protect my fair Alice from the big bad wolf," Jasper joked with a laugh as they headed down the path that led towards the forest.
"Alice isn't the one I'm worried about," she muttered to herself, watching as the two of them disappeared, their laughter and animated chatter fading into background. Though her thoughts would appear anything but rational to an outsider, Rose was far more concerned about the safety of the beast than she was for the safety of her brother and his new fiance. Somehow, Rose knew in her heart that he wouldn't harm them. She didn't know how she knew this, but knew this she did.
Rose walked into the cottage to prepare the flowers for the market. She was a bundle of nerves, but realised this was something she needed to do to garner her independence, and besides, the task at hand served as a welcome distraction. If she was to be left alone, she had to be able to depend on and support herself somehow. She was just about to leave when the door flew open. Rose spun round to see a wild eyed and panting Edward.
"Bella...baby...coming...now!" he rambled incoherently. Rose immediately forgot the flowers and dashed out of the door behind Edward, who had arrived on foot. They both flew to the small medical centre where Bella was propped up in bed serenely, drinking a cup of tea.
"Hey honey. Are you okay?" Rose rushed to her side while Edward collapsed into a chair by the door, seemingly scared to go anywhere near his wife.
"I'm fine Rosie. It's this idiot over there that needs the help." She smile affectionately at him. "I've been having contractions for most of the day, so we came in. There's nothing to worry about." She screwed up her face as another wave of pain suddenly hit her, her hand shaking as she placed the cup on the bedside table.
"It'll all be worth it in the end. Both of us are here for you. Right Edward?" Rose turned to look at him. He simply nodded weakly, his face ashen. "Wimp," Rose muttered under her breath. Edward slouched where he sat, nervously running his hands through his ridiculous hair as he fidgeted, unsure of what to do. Rose secretly hoped that the baby would inherit Bella's beautiful tresses, imagining that if it didn't, that Bella would be spending her days brushing her child's odd coloured, wayward locks.
"Shit!" Bella cursed as she breathed heavily, her cheeks puffing and in and out as she gripped Rose's hand like a vice, riding out her contraction.
Just as her contraction subsided, another one hit with full force. "Fuck!" Bella yelped as her face contorted in agony, crushing Rose's hand in hers. If the situation wasn't so serious and her hand didn't feel as though it was about to be broken, Rose would be laughing at Bella's out of character use of curse words.
"Go get the Doctor! Now!" Rose screamed at Edward through clenched teeth as her hand throbbed in agony. He jumped to his feet and raced out of the room, relieved that he could make himself useful for once...
Jasper and Alice had sat in the meadow for hours, simply eating, chatting and generally savouring each other's company, but as the sun set behind them, the air began to turn cold. They packed everything away and began to head back to the cottage slowly, hand in hand, talking and laughing along the way. About five minutes from home, Jasper stopped and suddenly found himself frozen to the spot as he heard a strange sound coming from the direction of the cottage. It was definitely some kind of animal. He couldn't tell exactly what it kind it was was, but the thought of how big it had to be judging by that noise sent chills down his spine. He glanced at Alice, noticing that she had stopped just short of where he was, the fear in her eyes making it obvious she had heard it too. Jasper held his finger to his lips, indicating to Alice that she needed to be extremely quiet. He leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, whispering to her to stay right there. Her eyes widened even further at the prospect of being left alone with something lurking in the woods.
"Jasper Hale, if you know what's good for you, you will not leave me here by myself in these godforsaken woods," she mouthed to him, the stern look on her face conveying her emotions better than what she said, without even having to shout them at him.
"Fine," he hissed as he took her hand and dragged her towards the cottage, his eyes darting around the perimeter of the forest as they quickly made their way home. As they passed the woodshed, another growling sound emanated from the area behind the cottage and that's when Jasper got himself an idea. He pulled Alice into the small shed with him, covering her mouth gently with his hand as she opened it to question his motives. He shook his head, silently telling her to keep quiet. She nodded as he took his hand away, the panic never leaving her eyes as she watched him pick up his trusty axe.
"Jasper! What are you doing?" she hissed.
"What about Rose? I don't know where she is, and she could be in trouble, Alice." he answered in an agonised whisper before he took her hand in his free one and dragged her outside.
"Oh Shit!" Alice squeaked, covering her mouth herself as she struggled to keep calm and remain quiet. Jasper gripped her hand tighter as they left the shed and crept along the wall. His eyes scoped the open area between the shed and the house as he tried to keep Alice safe, while at the same time figure out what was going on. When silence fell for a brief moment, they took the opportunity to tiptoe across the yard to the cottage, but before they reached the backyard, the sweetest sound reached their ears...a sound Jasper hadn't heard in such a long time. It was the mesmerising sound of Rose's beautiful laughter...and it was coming from the vicinity of the back porch.
Jasper let out a sigh of relief, hesitating as he heard a snort followed by a growl, and frowned with confusion at the strange combination of sounds. "What the hell?" he mouthed to himself as he braced Alice against the wall with his arm, silently urging her to stay close. Sensing that his sister could still be in danger but at the same time feeling somewhat curious about who or what his sister was with, he mouthed to Alice, "Stay here."
Alice reluctantly agreed, the fear overtaking everything in that moment as she watched Jasper grasp the axe between both hands and raise it above his shoulder before easing his way along the wall, his ear cocked and axe at the ready to meet whatever lay in wait for him. Before he could move one step closer, his ears pricked as his sister spoke.
"You're so easy to talk to. You don't answer back!" she giggled as a strange deep purring noise followed. Jasper took a step closer, craning his neck as he peeked around the corner of the house, trying to catch a glimpse of the goings-on without being caught, but all he could see was the back of his sister's head. "And your coat is so soft, but you really do smell. I think you could do with a nice bubble bath."
Jasper tried with all his might to stop himself from laughing. Who on earth would Rose be associating with that smelled so horrible? Even if this mystery friend wore expensive coats, Rose was a stickler for personal cleanliness and would never tolerate somebody that had excessive body odour. If it was a secret guy friend he was sure that Alice would be able to tell, so he waved her forward to where he was standing. "What do you make of this?" he mouthed to her, asking her to try and decipher the conversation. After all she was a girl and she was the only other person who knew Rose as well as he did. She sidled beside him and then craned her neck to hear the conversation too, wearing a confused expression on her face. Both of them listened intently, surprised as Rose's mood suddenly shifted.
"Nobody understands anything about me. I've always felt like a fifth wheel, even before Jasper and Alice finally decided to acknowledge their feelings for each other. I don't know how long it will be before they marry and he moves out. When that happens, I'm going to be all alone," she said sadly as Jasper heard her sniffle. Who on earth was she confiding in?
"And Bella has Edward. Now they have their own troubles and worries, what with Nessie and all..."
Jasper and Alice stared at each other quizzically for a brief moment, both of them wondering who the hell Nessie was, but shrugged their shoulders in unison and figured...all in good time. There were more important issues to be dealt with in that moment. They both continued to listen as she added, "But who do I have? I mean I like my own company and all but if there's anything I want in life it's a family of my own. A husband, maybe a daughter of my own. We could be happy…" Rosalie trailed off, sighing longingly. Jasper and Alice flinched in reaction to a throaty type grunt. "I've met a man...a man that I think could be the one...a man I think I'm falling in love with! His name's Emmett. I've only just met him, but I just feel...admired when he's near me, appreciated even, like I'm a fine piece of art. It's not like he's trying to undress me with his eyes...it's like he wants to know me too," Rose rambled, the animal letting out a howl in response to her confessions.
With Rose's declaration and the howling noise that followed, Alice couldn't handle the suspense any longer. She crept straight past Jasper and tiptoed around the corner, the scene in front of her causing her to gasp louder than expected. She stumbled over her two left feet in response, almost tripping before Jasper reached out to catch her, dropping his axe on the ground as he prevented her from doing a face plant in the grass.
"Alice? Jasper?" Rosalie got up from the porch, stepping around the giant wolf and standing protectively between him and her family. Her voice wavered slightly as she realised what they must have overheard.
"Wh-what the fuck is going on here Rosalie?" Jasper spluttered, after helping Alice stand upright again, picking up the axe and wielding it like he had seen the lumberjacks doing just hours earlier. He knew what to do when any animal got too close...but it was a shame that the shotgun was in the house. "Who or what the fuck is that...that thing? A wolf? You sit here and talk to a wolf like it's a fucking human? What the fuck Rosalie? That beast is a wild animal for fuck's sake! It could have killed you! You can't trust an anima-"
"JASPER! Shut the fuck up!" Rosalie interrupted, causing both Alice and Jasper to stop and look at her, the shock of her outburst clear on each of their faces. "Now you just listen to me for one second. This animal has treated me with more kindness and respect than many other so-called humans that I know! He is not dangerous, he is not going to hurt me or either of you, and I trust him!" Rose's words drew an incredulous look from Jasper, but before he could speak, Rosalie held her hand up, silently telling him not to interrupt. "I know it sounds crazy, but I'm just telling it like it is."
"Okay, so what other secrets have you been keeping, dear sister?" Jasper asked. Rose's eye's flashed with a touch of guilt before she took a deep breath and composed herself, ready to lay her cards on the table.
"Nothing…well nothing intentionally," she mumbled. "I didn't mean to hide anything, and you know how I despise secrets, but it just...well snowballed. Then with Emmett showing up, and Bella having the baby today..."
"What? The baby? Why on earth didn't you tell us about this?" The incredulity rolled off Alice in waves. "Jasper, I have to go." She placed a quick kiss on his lips and fled down the path. Jasper watched her for a moment, then turned back to his sister, his blue eyes sharp.
"Rose? What's going on here?"
"Honestly, I don't know what to tell you, how to even begin explaining. I can't even seem to get it straight in my own mind."
"Start with what I overheard you saying about Emmett. How can you feel that way about him, when we only met him yesterday?"
"You're not such a prude that you can't believe in love at first sight, are you? And before you say anything, it's not just about lust." She took a deep breath to calm herself before she added, "There's just something about him. He makes me feel safe, and when he looks at me, I feel like he can see right through to my soul. Besides, I know when he looks at me, it's like he's really looking at me and not just at my body, you know?" Jasper opened his mouth to answer her question, but Rose didn't really want Jasper's opinion, and before one word fell from his lips, she continued, "Yes, I know I only met him yesterday, but I've known him long enough to realise that I want to see more of him and get to know him a little more. Then who knows where that'll lead? Besides, is it so wrong for me to want to spend time with a man that I consider to be someone special? You have Alice now, and Bella has Edward. Who do I have?"
"You have me," said a familiar voice. Both Rosalie and Jasper whipped their heads around as their ears followed the sound of the voice. Where there was once a huge, russett wolf, now stood a naked Emmett, his eyes smouldering. Remembering that he was standing in the presence of a beautiful woman, he attempted to cover his family jewels and untie the cutoffs that were lashed to his ankle, nearly falling over in the process. Jasper dropped his axe in shock, his mouth agape, and out of the corner of his eye he saw Rosalie begin to sway. Before he could even begin to move, Emmett was by her side, sweeping her into his arms as she lost consciousness.
"Rosie," Emmett's gentle voice, thick with concern, shocked Jasper. "Rosie, wake up. It's going to be okay. I feel the same way, and I promise, I will never leave you alone." Jasper was taken aback, but as much as he was shocked by Emmett's words, his admission of his feelings for Rose made him realise that Emmett was the one for his sister.
"I knew it was you," Rosalie whispered with a lazy smile and as she gazed into the big brown eyes of the man she loved, one solitary tear slid down her flushed pink cheek. Before she could reach up and wipe it away, Emmett leaned in and kissed her slowly and sweetly, full on the lips.
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