Twilight character names belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. I want to thank my betas, U2Shay and Adt216, for helping me through this process.
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Alice cradled a steaming hot cup of tea tightly against her chest as she ascended the stairs. Darkened rooms and an empty hall echoed her padded footsteps as she made her way around the banister and toward her room. She could feel the comforting warmth of the tea settle against her chilled skin. It was a pale echo of the warm touch she'd only dreamt of, but that was only a dream and one she kept closely guarded in her heart.
The only light in the room came through the window from the lamppost below. But, despite the darkened shadows, Alice felt comforted in the old house. The dark was not oppressive; rather it was a warm blanket that swaddled her like a newborn.
Alice tiptoed forward across the hardwood and delicately maneuvered herself around piles of boxes. Each would be picked up by the movers in the morning and transported to her new home. Alice shook her head and quickly turned her thoughts away from the impending move; that was for tomorrow. Tonight she was allowing herself a simple but precious gift. Time. Tonight she would take time to remember, to relish, and to relive her dreams before laying them all to rest.
The tea was placed neatly on the window seat while she went in search of her favorite afghan. It was a putrid shade of brown, but the comforting scent and warmth it provided more than made up for its distasteful color. Alice pulled the coveted blanket from its resting place and wrapped it around her shoulders. As she walked, she looked like the cloaked Aurora making her way up the spiral staircase of her father's ancient castle.
Alice sat gingerly on the window seat so as not to upset her tea. The steaming cup wafted around her most precious possessions. They weren't valuable in worldly terms but to her heart, they were more treasured than any flawless gemstone. Jasper's letters. She picked up her favorite, the pages well-worn from countless re-reading, and placed it on her lap. The words no longer needed to be read—she had them all memorized. The feel of the indentations that his pen had once made in the paper brought her a little closer to the hand that had touched her heart. She wouldn't read the words tonight. No. Instead she pulled her knees to her chest, pressing the worn pages of his letter against her heart. She stretched out her fingers until they caught the edge of the teacup handle and slid it ever so carefully into her grasp. With the tea warming her fingers, and Jasper's words warming her heart, Alice stared blindly out the window and into the drifting snowflakes that danced in the night.
Across town a man dumped a well-worn duffel bag into the trunk of his cab and shivered against the wind. His tired passenger had already climbed into the backseat without a single word. The young man had hailed him from the bus depot's curb, but seemed to barely have the strength to lift his own arm. With a quick pull, the trunk slammed shut beneath the cabbie's hands. The cold metal nearly stuck to his fingers like a wet tongue against a metal pole. He quickly hurried around the side of the car and jumped back into the cab. A violent tremor rushed through him. In response, he blew heated air into his clasped fingers to warm them against the November chill.
"Where to, son?"
The cabbie's young passenger handed a note over the seat without any further acknowledgment. Looking down at the scribbled note, the cabbie instantly knew he wouldn't have any trouble finding the old colonial on the far edge of town. He turned the key, bringing the old car to life, and checked his mirrors before putting the car into drive. His eyes stayed on the rear view a moment longer than necessary, and acknowledging how his passenger was dressed, he tried once again to make small talk.
"Good time of the year to be comin' home with Thanksgiving only being a few days away," he said kindly. "You stayin' with family?"
The passenger's painfully scratchy voice startled the cabbie. It sounded like it belonged more to an old man rather than this young lad.
"Not family," he replied.
The young man closed his eyes and rested his head against the back of the seat. His body was exhausted, but his mind bounced with anxious possibilities. Without conscious thought, he reached inside his jacket to delicately touch his talisman for comfort. It was a well-worn scrap of paper, no bigger than a quarter. The delicate edges were so worn that the fibers felt more like cloth, than crisp writing paper. The ink that had once been fresh and blue was now faded to nothing more than the faintest of images. It didn't matter, for he would always remember the two simple words emblazoned in ink. They had kept him afloat during months of agonizing fear, hunger, loneliness and hell. Tonight, those words would carry his heart to the only home it had ever known. His fingers lightly traced the paper, and in his mind he repeated her words written long ago.
A/N: Thank you for reading and let me know what you think.