SUMMARY: "All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling." A battle between duty and love. Where the lines of righteousness and forgiveness are blurred when it comes to the matters of a soldier's heart. A world in which, the memories of a man lead to a god's redemption.
. . . WARNING . . .
This might not be the Jasper you love, as it takes place when he was with Maria. I give a different perspective of him and his gift, which you'll find out eventually. (You'll either shun or love me for this, maybe even both.) RAPE is implied. SUICIDE and DRUGS are mentioned–briefly. LANGUAGE, LEMONS and SOME VIOLENCE (in the outtake) are also included. (Jeez, what kind of OS is this?) *Jasper* "The depressing kind."
FYI: This story is heavy on the Texan accent. Need help picturing it? Go to youtube and watch clips of Doc Holiday from Tombstone (links on my profile). I also owe one of my betas, DreaC, from Texas for her help and direction! I wanted to capture Jasper—an authentic Jasper of his era—his history, accent, emotion…feeling. I gave him everything I had, and I'm sooo glad I did. But if you must, the no accent version of this can be found on TWCS (link on my profile).
I decided to write a supplemental OS for "In Love and War" because I feel terrible that all of you have been waiting for an update. So here it is! Finally! And it's also for CareMarie's birthday . . . way back when! *laughs* (Thanks for bearing with me, hon.) This isn't exactly like ILaW as of writing style—at last, I'm finding my own and getting comfortable with it. I like to think most writers are made, not born. I normally try to keep a character's "voice" and I haven't really done Jasper's POV, so I gave this sucker my all. I'm a little nervous and I hope every single one of you like it.*The God of War* "And you had better…" O.O
To those who have NOT read "In Love and War"— although this OS will make sense without having read the fic, I do suggest you read the actual story beforehand. This OS is a back-story for ILaW's Jasper and this will spoil some of it for you—that is, if you end up wanting to read that fic. *The Major* "About face!"
DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its recognizable characters, plots, and storylines. But this . . . this Major-ing, fucked up God-like Jasper —I own his ass, and in the process, he owned mine. *? ? ? *
"Strength of the World" by Avenged Sevenfold – "Worlds Collide" by Apocalyptica – "S.O.S. (Anything But Love)" by Apocalyptica feat. Cristina Scabbia – "Breathe Me" by Sia
— "Gunslinger" by Avenged Sevenfold —
All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.
– Blaise Pascal
As I followed Maria to her quarters, I raised my chin and thought of how long I had been in this position—this position of portrayed power, of being merciless and unyielding, of carrying the burdened name the God of War. For that was exactly what it was—a burden.
I had the gift that everyone wanted, the most useful gift in power-hungry eyes. Aside from death, emotion was the one thing we all experienced, the one trait every person vitally shared. Feeling was a blessing and a curse that no one could escape.
Not even me—or more accurately, especially me.
My inescapable and influential ability had damned me to an existence of slavery, to service the devil draped in white lace and satin, for my gift was rewarding in more ways one.
With the use of said gift, I exuded pride for the on-looking horde of vampires. I couldn't show my shame of this supposed "honor," even if Maria knew that the women believed the honor was essentially hers.
When she and I reached the threshold of the newly plundered dwelling, the army sighed in disappointment, and with some, I easily felt their jealousy and hate. I quickly tried to bury my disgust, but I wasn't quick enough.
Maria glanced at me in angry disbelief. "Is that what yah feel fah meh, Major? Disgust?"
I bowed my head, projecting a false sincerity. "Not fah yah, darlin'. It's this group that repulses meh." Along with this life, I finished with a thought.
"And whay is that?" she asked while seductively walking up the stairs.
"They'ah lazy 'n inexperienced," I answered, once again following her. "They should be practicin', but they'ah standin' idly, speakin' amongst themselves. I'm certain we'll lose more'n half in the raid tanight."
I sensed Maria's malicious glee as she answered, "Yes, creatin' less work fah yah when 'disposal' comes next week."
Her mood abruptly hardened, and I inwardly snarled. I knew she was thinking of the incident three months ago at the last disposal—when Peter and Charlotte had miraculously escaped. I had incurred the brunt of Maria's wrath that day, and I prayed never to experience it again. It was the lowest I had ever felt.
She stopped in front of the bedroom door, her displeasure was evident when she turned to study me. I didn't have to forge the anger in my eyes—my believed anger for having been "outsmarted" by Peter—as I recalled that night and all she had done to me.
Maria truly was the devil in disguise, I brooded. I desperately needed to dispel the memory from her mind, and swiftly, because this wasn't a good way to start the evening.
I opened the door for her. "Shall weh?"
She assented and entered. "Well, I'll be accompanyin' yah next week. That is, until Carlos returns. Yah no longer have ta git ridda the trash alone."
I slammed the door and narrowed my eyes, though I already knew she was suspicious of me.
Maria raised a brow, smirking. "Is that a problem, Major?"
I lowly stated the obvious. "Yah don't trust meh."
She shrugged, appearing to be nonchalant. "I still wonder how those two escaped ch'yah—yah, the God 'a War. Yah either let them go, or maybe, just maybe, yah'ah losin' yah touch."
Maria's rage was stewing just beneath the surface, ready to boil over. But, I also recognized her buried fear. She was terrified of losing me—her strength and reason for her territorial power.
I leered as I slowly walked toward her, wishing I were moving further from the greedy beast, not closer. Yet, I was also thankful I knew Maria's preference—her weakness—for being pursued and ravaged, particularly by her precious God of War.
I unsnapped the button of my trousers as I continued to stalk her. Maria's eyes flicked down to the movement, and her pupils engulfed the burning red orbs that were the windows to her black soul.
I began rolling up my sleeves and circling her. I oozed authority, the waves of power rolled off me with every step I took. With each complete pass, I fed Maria a heavy dose of terror. Her breath quickened as I started closing in and finally came up behind her. I caressed her sides ever . . . so . . . slowly . . . barely touching her. My hands gradually moved toward the hooking busk of her corset, lightly skimming her breasts as I tilted my head down. My thumb unfastened the clasp with a flick. I was breathing heavily on her shoulder and columned neck, trailing unhurriedly up to her ear. My lips left whispers of the danger she'd be in if she continued to mock me. One skillful bite, and the eternal life of utter hell she so eagerly gave me would be finally bestowed upon her. The tips of my fingers lingered on the top edge of her looted garment, lightly teasing the stone flesh spilling out and brimming with each breath she took.
Whispering, I asked, "Losin' my touch, yah say?"
I hissed in her ear before grabbing the adorning piece of clothing and ripping it off.
Maria gasped, genuinely surprised and all the more excited.
Even though I loathed the thought of doing it, I pushed her up against the dresser, pinned her down with my forearm, and tore off her remaining clothes. I stepped back slightly and examined her. I could feel her watching me through the mirror as my hands reached forward to graze her collarbones, gliding down to her pebbled peaks, over her ribs. I roughly grabbed her hips as I reached them, jerking them up and back. I watched as I buried myself deep inside of her with one forceful thrust.
We both let out a groan. My forehead fell upon her shoulder blade and one of my hands moved to grip one of hers on the dresser as I gave without pause.
The animal in me growled in satisfaction and roared in pleasure while I began to pound into her—relentlessly.
She's a vision, he thought, a vision of perfection with her long, dark hair cascadin' down her creamy, supple form. Maria threw her head back from the exquisite torture of her approaching orgasm, her pink lips parted in pleasure. Her body was tense and quivering with her nails digging into stone and wood as she grinded back against me.
I disagreed with my inner demon. Maria was a picture of everything I hated. She was my prison in every way possible, the prison I'd never escape. I reflected back to when I had actually left . . . only to return. The world was a bleak place to wander alone, and I had gotten used to the spoils of being in Maria's army.
Then, I met Peter. We would have left long ago, as there were plenty of opportunities, but he knew that he had to stay—that we had to stay. And he was right—he found Charlotte, and I stayed behind to ensure their getaway. They needed all the help they could get; Maria still had Carlos and three others searching for them.
Now I longed for my own mate, for the woman who'd take precedence in every aspect of my life. She'd be my reason to exist, as I'd fight the legions of Hell to protect her—and I would have to protect her. Maria wouldn't only hunt me down, but specifically target the one who held my heart as well.
With that thought, I wrapped my arms around the resentful warden of my existence. My right hand slid up and grasped her throat. Maria loved it rough, which suited my desire to kill her.
She had taken my innocence decades ago, robbing me of the pure gift intended for the woman who should've worn my mother's ring; the ring Maria destroyed after I retrieved it from what would've been my home.
You see, I was engaged once. Before joining the Confederate Army, I had finally asked the girl I grew up with to marry me and her name . . . her name was Marie Tulle. My memories of the time spent with her would forever haunt me—taunt me—of the man I used to be, but couldn't be again.
Yet, on the other hand, I was proud of the mercy I had granted her. Running into Maria and the deceivingly beautiful twins caused sardonic parallels. I lost my better half and the optimistic man, easily consumed by lust in every form, and Marie . . . Marie had become overwhelmed by devastating need—her need for opium.
To see the strong-willed girl that held my heart in the woman lying amongst the garbage, drunk and selling her body for her addiction had brought me to my knees. I waited ten years to see her, to take solace in the vision of her happy . . . only to witness that.
When she saw me, she begged, without an ounce of surprise or fear, to be taken home, and I had no choice but to fulfill her request. There was no alternative; I knew what she meant, and she knew I was already gone.
Even now, I could still smell the drug that had been in her system when she had reached for my face, her wrist not even an inch beneath my nose. My granite face pierced to this day by the heat from her hand of that last touch, of her caressing the shadows under my eyes and down my cheek before cupping it. And as she had done so, the sorrow when she whispered my childhood name, mimicking the lisp she had as a little girl, would forever echo in the vast emptiness of my soul. It continued to hack at my pebbled heart—the reflection of regret and pity in her eyes that had matched my own as she studied me.
Of course, the vision of our reunion slashed more vividly than anything else because of our kiss. It held a lifetime of tenderness and longing, yielding our memoir of shared childhood moments, adolescent trials, and grown dreams in what only lasted seconds. Each of us left with more than before—utter anguish.
For it was before the end of that kiss . . .
. . . that I snapped her neck.
I snarled aloud at the recollection of it. I had often asked myself if it was the right choice, yet I knew the dark waves she was swallowed by after having learned of my death was nothing compared to the abyss of a bottomless hunger that'd permeate the salty sea, a moonlight requisition blindly bogging her down to survive on rust-colored madness.
Yes, I had always concluded it was best that I hadn't changed her. I had actually entertained the thought of doing more to Marie than I had before I approached her in that alleyway. The brute amongst my own despair goaded me to—for she was supposed to wait for me! I could remember the exhilaration of focusing on her as my prey, the insa—
I cleared my throat and rubbed my jaw, cracking it back in place, as I stared at what wasn't the clear sky of that star-filled night, but the plank-boarded ceiling of the present.
Well, I shoulda expected that, I mused while running my tongue over my misplaced teeth and swallowing the acidic substance that filled me.
I quickly reached down and grasped the base of one my better attributes, rubbing to make sure all was well. I g'ess it wouldn't matta, as it seems ta serve someone oth'uh than meh.
I lifted my head and looked around the room. I behold the woman standing several feet away in all of her glory, heaving with hands on bare hips and a livid expression that would've had me cowering if I weren't actually me.
I sucked on the tip of my bitten tongue and raised a brow while smirking. I take that back—I g'ess it served no one this time 'round.
Maria's eyes narrowed further, her lips pursing before parting in questionable disbelief. I lost the smart-ass grin and tilted my head back slightly and to the side, showing my obedience and bitterly waiting to see what she'd do to me. I knew she was indecisive, and that wasn't a good thing. Worse was that I didn't know if she was beginning to doubt me even more than she already was. She was hiding something from me, and I didn't like it.
"Welcome back," she stated dangerously as she began tapping her foot steadily like she were counting, thinking. It was a sure sign of her not-so-patiently waiting to strike. Despite the fact that Maria was getting better at disguising her emotions, she couldn't hide her tell.
I raised both my brows in mock surprise, knowing what I had to do to make her decide and react.
My left thumb grazed my split bottom lip that began healing, while the other ran over the tip of my cock.
Just as I expected, Maria glanced at the latter.
We've played this game before, this tug-o-war of strength and footing. One had to have the knowledge of just when to pull, when to feign weakness, and when to give in. I'd have to do make her temporarily forget what just happened by doing all three: I'd draw her in by submitting to my supposed weakness for her, when in all actuality, I wasn't giving in this time—I knew I held her noose.
I forced myself to stay compliant on the dusty floor as she circled me. I fought the affliction clawing at my insides. The urge to be rid of her once and for all was the hardest temptation I've had to face in decades. Yet, I wouldn't waiver from my purpose to help Peter and Charlotte—they needed more time. Still, as I continued to watch her quiet, raging debate, I indulged in the thought of torturing her and killing those enraptured and listening outside. I had to remind myself that this wasn't about me, nor was I interested in playing the bounty hunter or sheriff when the maggots scattered from my lone barrage.
Maria was swift with her foot as it came bearing down on my throat. I had known it'd only anger her further when I had stopped watching her, so I expected it when I had glanced away in boredom. Although she liked me obedient, she didn't want a submissive—not really. She wanted to know that she brought a worthy opponent—a man who faced everything—to sweet surrender.
"Look at meh," she demanded, pushing down harder.
My gaze crept up her body, taking in all that was sickeningly beautiful of her hourglass figure: her toned calves and shapely thighs—my eyes lingering on the apex between them—next, her well-formed, luxurious hips and the refined torso that lead to her enticing assets. My eyes hovered a moment over the exquisite throat I'd savor biting and ripping apart. I licked my lips as I stared at her full ones, before finally meeting her striking eyes. They became hooded when I extended a hand to her leg next to me, slowly retracing what my eyes had just feasted upon.
My feather-light touch swept up from her ankle, curving behind her knee as we stared at each other—fire and brimstone piercingly caught. My hand splayed across her thigh, massaging the resilient skin with the heel of my hand while I continued my ascent. As I neared the top, I reached back to her outstanding ass, my thumb grazing where she wanted me. I palmed one of her luscious cheeks, squeezing, and then . . . raked my fingers down. We both hissed. This time as I brushed her heat, my fingers rubbed against her core, my middle finger slipping—curving—in because of the angle of my reach. We both threw our heads back and bucked our hips—hers into my passing hand, my own into my other.
We both muttered a "fuck."
We were breathing heavily in unison as my condemning script over her body moved down her weightless leg. Her gaze snapped back to mine as I gripped the top of her knee and pressed it harder upon my throat. Her eyes flicked to the movement of my other hand that was stroking purposefully, my thumb swirling over the tip as I reached it and my hips rolling rhythmically.
She made a sound between a gasp and snarl, her head falling back. Her hands spread across her thighs, gripping them to stop what she ached to do.
I pulled down on her leg again, commanding her attention. "Look at meh, Marie."
Now, don't ask me what I was thinking, because I obviously wasn't. I was caught completely off guard when I was kicked through a wall and went flying across a field—only realizing my mistake after having landed on a knee and a fist. I growled and punched the ground from my own stupidity. My other hand went to my ribs, and I hissed when I felt the gaping hole.
Damn, she won this round.
I scanned the sultry red and orange horizon of southern Louisiana. I noted it'd be an inky black soon enough. I saw four newborns gaping, and I sent them a small amount of fear as I raised a brow. Shouldn't yah be busyin' yahselves?
I smirked when they quickly looked away and began practicing. I immediately scowled when I discerned they had just thought of it, for they were unsure and sloppy. I would've done something if I wasn't already waiting for Maria and I figured . . . they'd take care of themselves to die tonight anyway. Although I didn't like having an undertrained army, I had gotten used to being disappointed, and having new recruits replaced by fresh, unskilled ones only made matters worse. Sometimes, it was simply better not to care.
I knew Maria was coming because I could feel her seething. I held in my chuckle as her anger licked at my stone surface, lashing and broiling, simply heating what was inside of me: irritation and bitterness, with a bit of anticipation mixed in. Even if I lost that last round, I could still use the outcome to my advantage, and Maria's ire would certainly help.
I raised my chin, still on a knee as I watched her approach. I tried to keep my face clear of any emotion while she took her time, just as I had instructed her to do. It always made the enemy more fearful, but this was me, and as she got closer, all I could feel were flames.
Others came, watching with frightened awe, and even I could appreciate their view. The white robe she wore floated across her body, barely covering what was underneath. She stood tall, proud and triumphant, with black strands whipping all around her. Her eyes, on the other hand, were blazing with indignation. I would've said she looked like a wrathful goddess, but I knew better—she was only a diva, if that. And here I was—the man known as the God of War—naked and as still as a Greek statue, on a bended knee.
She stopped twenty yards away, her fury blurring out the army. Torrents of resentment and rage crashed into each of us and we were panting from the intensity of them as we eyed at each other.
Maria raised her head higher, and through gritted teeth, she was the first to speak. "So, yah were thinkin' of her."
I didn't answer, didn't react. It was a statement, not a question.
Maria admired the horizon a moment, trying to hold back an outburst, before she began pacing.
"Yah know, Major . . ." I narrowed my eyes and she glanced at me from the corner of hers ". . . I rememb'uh that name engraved on that ring."
I held my tongue and clamped my jaw shut. I knew what she was doing. One of the things Maria was notorious for was creating drama, using others' weaknesses; whether they were memories, family, mates, or the like, she used it against them.
"Marie," she slowly sneered.
A low, warning growl started in the back of my throat. That name should nev'uh be said by her.
"Funn'eh. I think yah actually resent her more'n yah resent meh." She smirked in my direction, expectantly.
I swallowed the venom pooling in my mouth and clenched my fists. I resented them both.
She stopped in front of me, peering down haughtily.
"Pit'eh that yah had ta go back fah it, that I had ta destroy it, fah wasn't that ring also yah moth'uh's?" she questioned lowly before leaning forward and raising a brow. "Who was also named Marie?"
My lips curled back and I snarled. "Watch yahself, Maria."
"Hmm, I don't know," she taunted and leaned back. "I onl'eh want ta make sure that my memor'eh serves meh correctl'eh, that I'm not imaginin' things."
Her anger spiked and I gritted my teeth from the exertion to keep myself grounded. She wanted me to attack her, to give in to her bait. She held the look that all men knew. You know . . . the look that meant nothing good. I already apprehended that she was the woman scorned—it was obvious—but this, this meant she was about to do something spiteful to get a response.
And boy, is she goin' ta regret it.
"What, Major? Yah don't like be reminded that yah failed her? Yah 'n yah precious Marie," she spat. "Yah couldn't keep yah promise ta take care 'a Joel?"
I was reeling from that name spoken, especially by Maria. I hadn't heard it aloud since the time I told her about him—my twin, who was nothing like me because he never had the chance to be. I closed my eyes when grief shot through my chest as the image of him being trampled by that horse flashed before my eyes. We were such ignorant kids. What two 11-year-old boys were thinking for punishing a new mare for injuring their Marie, I still didn't know. It was four years later that Marie and I had made that promise to my dying mother. Even though Marie had come from money and her parents wanted to help Joel and me, I was too proud to accept it. I joined the Texas Confederate Army a year after that. When I was away, Marie would take care of Joel. Well, that is, until I was gone and drugs took precedence.
"Oh, don't feel bad, Major," the drudger cooed. "He was just a cripple anyway."
Now that was where she went wrong.
I stood slowly, feeling Maria's delight at getting a reaction. However, I began pulling the elation out of her, letting it feed me—her own cultivated Leviathan. The golden joy churned amidst the torment of entrapment—of me having no control over my circumstances—only for it to be snuffed out by the agonizing darkness.
I breathed out, opening my eyes, and offered Maria a slow and dangerously seductive smile. She knew that where I could give pleasure, I could also induce pain.
Utter terror flashed through Maria. Nevertheless, even with her instincts screaming for her to run, she stood determinedly in place.
Stupid, stupid woman, I chided. She knew I'd rather her flee. It made things more interesting, more fun for me, which was part of the reason she didn't. The other reason being was that she didn't want to appear weak in front of those still watching.
I chuckled darkly. She asked fah it.
Not wanting to waste one moment, I flew at her. Of course, I gave her a burst of fright right before—she'd run, simply because I wanted her to.
Caught off guard and no longer able to go against the feeling, Maria bolted.
I ran after her at a leisurely speed. I knew where she'd go to begin with; she never stayed with me and the army—she had other minions she surrounded herself with.
The wind surged past us in a howling cadence, a breath between a muffled scream and a stuttering heart. I relished the sound of it beating against my ears.
It was as a river came into view that I realized where I wanted Maria. I picked up the pace and gradually closed the distance between us. I passed her, grabbing her robe, and with a snap of my wrist, it was gone.
I leaped over the river and skidded to a halt, my left side low to the ground with my hand holding me up. I looked over my shoulder and narrowed my eyes at the nude woman standing defiantly on the other side of the river.
It was time I used her past against her. Everyone had at least one—something that molded the person into what he or she was today. Whether they loathed or cherished them was another matter, and luckily, I knew Maria had a beast of a human life. And for her to have used my brother against me—while using that term for him—made the pity I had for her disintegrate.
I turned and laid on my side, plucking the grass and trying to contain the anger in my voice. "It's a pit'eh that your family's closest friend isn't here."
"What was his name agin?" I asked, peering up. "Espiridión?"
She snarled, rocking slightly on the balls of her feet.
"What happened ta 'im?" I inquired. "Oh, that's right, he committed suicide."
I felt Maria's hatred welling up as she began pacing and tugging on her hair. She was enraged at not being able to bring herself some justice. It nagged at her repeatedly.
I pushed a little more. "How many young women—girls, really—do yah think he did that ta before he offed 'imself?"
She growled. Even if Maria was 22 when it happened, she knew there were others, others that were younger, who hadn't seen retribution either.
"How many do yah think that you've condemned—ordered—ta the same fate?" I probed her, standing. "Hmm, Maria? Do yah think he'd be proud 'a yah? The monst'uh that he created by leavin' her in that field? He took his ring back too, didn't he?"
The only thing that bothered her, that made her glower at me, was the last question.
I snorted as I recalled what I had learned of Maria during one of our more . . . tender meetings. She was an innocent in her human life—shy and hopeful . . . naïve. Her parents had sheltered her, only to give their blessing to a suitor who they believed was a man of God.
I could feel a small amount of turmoil underneath all of Maria's hostility at being forsaken—yet she no longer recognized it, no longer acknowledged it. For that reason, she felt no remorse . . . not anymore.
So why would I regret the things I said next?
"'Usted sabe, Gloria gritó más fuerte que tú.'" (You know, Gloria screamed louder than you.)
She stopped and glared at me, baring her teeth as she dropped into her fighting stance.
I showed my teeth as well—in the form of an all-knowing, vindictive grin. I seized the same accent, the same lyrical quality, while using the same words he had used. Deep down, I knew it was cruel to bring up what Maria's older sister had already endured before her, but it didn't bother me—for it wasn't what irritated Maria. What she hated was the comparison.
I licked my lips before saying, "'Ella sentía mejor, también.'" (She felt better, too.)
I laughed maliciously as she flew at me, easily dodging her pathetic approach.
Reaching back quickly, I snatched Maria by her hair and yanked her down. As I looked down at her, I briefly envisioned the frightened woman deserted in that forest, but I knew full well she wasn't the same anymore.
Maria proved it by hooking an arm around my leg and pulling it out from under me.
Landing on my back for the second time today made my insides boil. What the fuck is with meh?
She sprang up and slammed on top of me, snarling and snapping at my neck. One of her hands clawed and ripped open what was the healing wound in my side.
I growled and grabbed her hand, twisting it up behind her. Caging her free arm with my own, my other hand fisted the hair at the nape of her neck and wrenched her head back. My legs wrapped around hers as I rolled us, pinning her to the earth.
Maria ground her teeth, panting—not from exertion, but fury—as she hopelessly tried to liberate herself.
I tugged her head back even more and squeezed her entire body. "Yah emotions are governin' yah moves, Maria."
She roared and tried to wriggle from my hold.
I closed my eyes and tried to focus; her rage was only infuriating me more, and I was going to kill her. Although I knew that that was probably for the best, that it'd give Peter and Charlotte a chance, that the world would be better without her, a part of me couldn't do it—wouldn't do it.
Marie's lifeless body in my arms flitted across my closed lids, making my eyes snap open.
I urged my body to cooperate, to do it one more time.
My head gradually moved to Maria's exposed neck as I gazed into her black eyes that were watching me—daring me, yet, somehow, slightly begging. My teeth touched her pearly, granite skin, and all the while, we regarded each other—Maria, from the corner of hers and me peering up at her as I paused.
Self-loathing bloomed inside of me. Why couldn't I do this? Maria deserves this . . . more than anyone has.
I swallowed hard, though there was no venom pooling in my mouth, and then Maria's body went limp. She was no longer fighting me and I couldn't figure out why. I searched her eyes, but she looked away quickly. Her emotions told me nothing, and it wasn't because she successfully closed me off. No, this time she was just . . . empty . . . resigned.
And a part of me hated her for it. Why does she feel this way now?
"As John Calhoun said, 'The surrender of life is nothing to sinking down into acknowledgment of inferiority.'" She looked at me and raised her chin, arching her body and pressing her neck into my teeth.
Then, I felt it . . . recognition—not Maria's, but my own. I jolted away from her as though she was a pit of fire.
She smirked, almost sadly. "Finally gettin' it, aren't yah?"
I stumbled back further, shaking my head at her in colored disbelief, as she stood up. I once believed in that which she had just proclaimed—to a point, and in different a way, I still did. I'd rather endure a thousand deaths than face the man I was now. It was part of what kept me here—the promise of death and on my terms.
Maria and I flew at each other, making the woods around us vibrate from our booming collision. Her head whipped back from the force I used and I heard her neck crack.
We tumbled back and over, once . . . twice . . . three times, before I was on top of her.
I grabbed her face. "I wanna hear yah say it."
If she says it aloud, there's hope fah her . . . maybeh.
She furiously shook her head as her voice trembled. "No."
"Maria . . ." I started, but was suddenly cut off by her mouth on my mine.
Our eyes were wide in shock. We had never done this. Out of everything we had done to each other, for ourselves, this . . . this we would've never even tried.
My hands moved into her dark hair, my ring and pinky fingers rubbed the nape of her cracked neck as I used my lips to keep her close to me—with me, here . . . in this moment. We were the same . . .
She reached up, her arms locking around my head, and her hands gripped my pale hair—clutching—as she gazed at me with frightened, crimson eyes.
My tongue cautiously licked her top lip, asking—for the first time—for entrance. Maria opened willing—a paramount submission.
I felt her sudden, slight resistance and my thumbs grazed her jaw line, tilting her head back so our tongues would touch . . .
Please don't fight me. Don't let it end . . . not yet.
. . . and as they met—shock . . . gasps.
I leaned my head back to take her bottom lip between my teeth—gently biting, sucking . . . dragging as I watched her. Maria's eyes begged me as she gasped once more and lifted her head. I eagerly took that opportunity to taste her again . . . further . . . deeper.
I had no idea . . .
Tendrils of dangerous passion and desire whirled around us as she and I both let go, allowing it to slowly seep in. We both needed this; decades of being alone, of having no real affection—no tender contact . . .
Panting, she hooked a leg over my hip, pulling me closer. She slid the sole of her other foot up and then down one my own legs—retracing again . . . and again. Her hands moved down my back in devotion, surprising me as I keenly felt it, before she grabbed my ass and arched her back.
God, I can feel her everywhere . . .
I planted my hand on the ground above her shoulder and took her knee and pulled it up higher . . . wider—positioning myself. My hand glided down her thigh, brushing past her ass to small of her back.
I need her closer . . .
I leaned down and kissed her top lip and then her bottom, savoring our taste in between each pass. We searched each other eyes, speaking volumes in utter silence . . . stillness.
Say it, Maria, my own eyes beseeched of her.
She breathed out and it sounded pained as she viciously shook her head—she wouldn't say it, her pride wouldn't let her.
My forehead fell upon hers and grief filled me as I unhurriedly entered her, pushing . . . pressing only what I could.
We were slow—hesitant—in our movements, lest we shattered the looking glass . . . self . . . being. She hid her face in my chest, breathing heavily over my stone heart as she held onto my midsection, meeting me thrust for aching thrust. I buried my face in her hair, taking in her scent—wild blossoms.
Then, as she rolled us over and her hair curtained out the world, I knew I had to help her redeem herself, and in some way, save others—myself included.
"Say it," I whispered against her lips as I drove up, pulling her hips down and pushing back—picking up speed in need . . . urgency.
Maria bit her lip and sat up, riding . . . grinding . . . circling, before she panted out an "I can't."
I groaned, from both pleasure and frustration, before sitting up. I pushed her hair away from her face, witnessing firsthand a truly exquisite Maria as she looked at me with lidded, yet adoring eyes.
She should always be this way—vulnerable . . . givin' . . . peaceful.
My mouth moved to her throat. I kissed it and then . . .
. . . nipped. I then lightly bit where her shoulder met her neck and she held me there—we moaned as I sucked.
Fuck, I want more of her . . .
With laden breaths, ghosted kisses, and flitted licks, my mouth drifted over her shoulder . . . collarbone . . . chest, and against it, I pleaded, "Say it . . . please."
She clutched me, her cry barely muffled by her face in my hair. Both of us became desperate as we built each other up—fire blazing and coiling.
It was as our world exploded that I heard her breathing me in and then roughly whisper in my ear . . .
"I love you, and for that reason alone . . . I will never be sorry."
I felt a small amount of pressure on my shoulders before . . . she was gone.
I stood atop the small water tower as I watched the remaining newborns finish throwing the remnants of the covens we had destroyed. The four columns of smoke, eight miles east, marked the sixteen we decimated, which were more vampires than we had anticipated. Although the army did better than I had actually thought capable of them, we lost twelve—half of the newborns.
I massaged the shoulder that had the new bites as I looked around; I still couldn't catch a glimpse of the person I wanted to see.
I groaned and furiously rubbed my face, almost to the point of it peeling off, while I looked up at the clusterfuck of stars that matched the mess in my head.
Why am I worrying? Why does it matt'uh? Does any of it really fuckin' matt'uh? And why am I asking you?
I groaned again.
"Are you all right, Major?" a voice inquired behind me.
I spun around and growled at one of Maria's lackeys, though my anger was mainly toward myself.
Head outta yah ass. Buck up. Now.
He raised his hands and stepped back, quick to explain his presence. "The Mistress . . ."
I narrowed my eyes at him. I always hated them calling her that; yet now, it was for different reasons entirely.
The filthy coward diverted his gaze as he continued, "She wanted me to check on you and to also let you know that she and some of others went to meet the other covens in the west."
I was in front of him in a flash. "What oth'uh covens?"
He went rigid and started slowly, "A scout spotted them and heard them talking about splitting the Dufrene territories."
My hand shot out, gripping his neck. He fought his instincts and stayed put. Good.
"How many?" I gritted out.
"Three separate covens—eight vampires total."
I squeezed his throat, suddenly anxious. "How many does Maria have with her?"
My anger flared. What in the hell is she thinkin'?
I grabbed his arm, jumped over the railing and took off, dragging him with me as I ran—the idiot's knees had buckled when we hit the ground.
I roughly pulled him up. "Where exactly is Maria?"
"A few miles north of Lake Charles," he answered, somewhat confused as he got his footing.
Dread filled me. I knew he was wondering why I cared all of a sudden, for I never worried about Maria. I'll admit that my voice held more vulnerability than I wished to show, but the thought of her, and the lousy bootlickers with her, made me forget about him. I turned and made a mad dash in that direction. I knew it was roughly twenty miles away.
Dammit, Maria, I cursed, plowing through the trees.
She was going to get it from me. She really was. We had never gone this far north—we had always stayed in Mexico—but she had this idea to expand. With vampires moving in to obtain America's southern region because of all the ports, the growing cities—the humans—I thought it best to cover our backs, just in case they decided to come into our territories. Bordering covens was never a good thing; it created raiders and even bigger armies.
The place Maria was heading was smack dab in the middle—in between Baton Rouge and Houston—a span covering small towns like Beaumont, Texas, and larger cities such as Lafayette, Louisiana. We planned to eliminate the covens from strategic angles and in a peculiar order to prevent being surrounded or outnumbered—the whole time feeding, enlarging, and training the army.
Fah once, she 'ad better pray no oth'uh coven has the same idea as the maggots she's meetin'.
As I neared the outskirts of Lake Charles and slowed down, I scanned the area, visually and emotionally. Then, I smelt it . . .
Wildflowers . . .
There were other scents—tamarinds, white pine, coriander, honey—yet I only focused on the wildflowers as I swiftly climbed a tree, silently bounding from it to the next, to follow her scent.
I tried to remember what my mother called the specific blossom, but came up blank. I was only getting an image of purple, hanging bells for flowers, my mother scolding my brother and me, and oddly, a fox thrown in the mix.
I halted when I reached a set of train tracks. I looked both ways and spotted Maria on my side, down the line and in another tree. I almost sighed aloud when I realized Saul was with her. He was one of the better fighters, and he actually owned a pair of fucking ears and a working brain to match.
Maria looked at me from the corner of her eye. I easily felt her relief and excitement; whether the latter was directed at me or for me, I couldn't exactly tell, nor did I give a damn.
I wanted her. Now.
And preferably, in the tree she's in . . . in the same position—her bent down lowly, back arched, a hand on the branch above her . . .
I shook my head and looked away. That was a one-time deal. It's never happenin' agin. C'mon, d—
Before the beast of a man on top of me could piss me off further by biting my shoulder and ripping it off, my hand was on his forehead, pushing it back. The fingers of my other hand jammed into his open mouth, gripping his chin as I twisted his head the opposite direction—tearing his mandible clean off.
I was at his back as his garbled scream pierced the forest. His forearms were in my grasp with my foot slamming down between his shoulder blades, when I suddenly heard a woman scream.
I smirked. I knew Maria got his mate, who was about to attack me from behind.
I leaned down and silenced him. One needed lungs to speak and he was no longer attached to his.
Before turning around, I sent the vampire Saul was fighting a dash of fear.
"No fair, Major," he commented as he finished the vampire.
Well, I thought it was subtle.
I scanned the area and then studied Maria. She wasn't injured, yet she wouldn't look me.
"The oth'uhs?" I asked.
She glanced in my direction, before her eyes flicked away. "They'ah four miles north, gettin' one 'a the oth'uh covens."
Even though her voice was steel and she was agitated, I would've believed she was afraid of me with way she avoided my gaze. But when she scrutinized the forest—taking me in as she peered around—I felt pain tinge her irritation before it turned into . . . protective anger?
"Are yah all right?" she questioned lowly. "That was the third time yah were on yah back taday."
I glared at her and her lips twitched.
"Well, fourth, actually," she corrected herself, finally meeting my stare.
Flames . . . They were all I felt as they licked up spine, curling up and over—engulfing. I sucked in a sharp breath as I looked into barely concealed soulful eyes.
I opened my mouth to say that we needed to talk about that, but she shook her head and smiled pityingly, almost resentfully.
"Don't," she warned, her eyes hardening along with her tone. "It was mistake. Somethin' we got caught up in. Yah know, a part 'a the game."
"Yah forget I can feel what yah feelin'," I pointed out, slightly bitter.
"Then yah should understand," she shot back through clenched teeth.
I stepped toward her, searching her face. "Understand what? Hmm? That yah don't want ta feel that way? I get it, I do. That yah want ta regret it, but yah can't? Oh, Darlin', do I."
She turned away—another shocking first, but I ignored it and roughly grabbed her arm.
"That yah want ta protect yahself? Keep the part 'a yah that makes yah . . . yah?" I sneered, before I leaned down closer. "That lovin' yah feels like dyin'?"
I chuckled without humor at her expression from my admission—as if I had slapped her.
"Yeah, I fuckin' do," I said, straightening. "But fah the life of meh, I can't figure out why."
Okay, so I'm more than slightly bitter.
Maria raised her hand. I blocked it easily.
Holding her wrist, I tugged her toward me and sullenly held her angry glare. "Why I love yah when yah and I both know I should despise yah."
She was panting in fury, but excruciating bliss sparked within her.
"Why this. . ." I shoved my hand in her hair and I bit, then scraped her bottom lip, hissing ". . . burns, in the most delicious fuckin' way."
I swept my tongue across the marks and then nudged her head back.
My nose skimmed, bit by bit, down the front of her neck as I breathed her in. I snarled against it. "Why I'd bathe the world in yah scent, just ta torture myself—ta aimlessly foll'uh it."
My tongue darted out for the dip at the base of her throat and then it peeked out as my lips ran up to her chin—I nipped it.
Against her mouth, I growled. "Why I love the taste yah tongue, but I think the flav'uh of us is so much. Fuckin'. Bett'uh."
She curled the tip of her tongue at my top lip, but I pulled back, earning a hiss. Then, I crashed my mouth to hers. I knew I had to taste her and I was none too gentle about it.
I was desperate . . .
Starving . . .
And Maria met me there.
Lost . . . Both of us were as I let go of her wrist and wrapped my arm around her waist, lifting her up. Neither one of us cared what this would bring as she wrapped her legs around my waist with an arm around my neck, locking me to her. Neither of us paid any mind to the pair of eyes watching us while I pushed her up against a tree. Her other hand gripped the wrist of my hand, which held her head . . . her mouth to mine; she wasn't ready to be released either.
Unfathomable consequences be damned. I pushed her skirt back and ripped off her undergarments, throwing them on the ground.
Profound heartache—yes, please. I unbuckled my trousers, hearing them fall.
She could have me. All of me. I slammed into her.
There were no spoken pleas or words of resistance as I drove into her hard . . . long; only grunts and moans could be heard as we panted into each other's hovering mouths. Gentle caresses of awe and devotion were absent, replaced by searing marks and sufferable, raw sensations.
We were drowning.
Our effort to save the other would be what condemned us. Maria wouldn't let go of the demon that, for decades, she survived on and later hoped would push me from her. I'd sacrifice myself for the girl I cherished and had finally found in her. Unknowingly, I was the ghost of a man who tried to make her happy by bending to her every whim and desire, and she became the distant dream—my north, my General. Inwardly, each of us turning into the monster and strength we kept on the surface to sate and repel the other.
Even though I didn't believe the words she had quoted to the same degree—in the same instances—there were circumstances that I had lived it. I forfeited parts of me—fundamentals that made me—to the standards and orders of a woman who uplifted and brought me down . . . that ended me. And the game she and I had played was exactly that—a surrender of a piece of ourselves, and in the end . . . all of it.
Together, Maria could lose the demon, and I . . . the good.
I plunged into her one last time, roaring behind gritted teeth with a hand striking the tree, causing it to snap back. She and I fell with it, and it was at that moment I heard a sound that'd decide for me, a sound that'd both save and condemn.
Laughter—hers and mine.
Enthralled by the melody I had never heard from Maria before, I savored it. I studied her, entirely captivated, as we rolled off the tree trunk and plopped into the grass. Her shoulders curled up to her ears, bouncing, whilst she squeezed me closer. She looked as though I was tickling her. Her nose was adorably scrunched and her eyes were alight with happiness and gleamed with an air I only wished for her. The dark strands of hair haphazardly strewn across the grass, tangled with the front of my own as I peered down at her, shone in brilliance. Her grin was the most blinding. It was so large it showed most of her teeth and the tip of her tongue, which was pressed against her top pearly whites.
It was the sexiest thing I had ever seen . . . and would ever see.
When she met my ogling, her smile only grew. Then, a gust of breath came out of her nose and I swear she would've been blushing if given the option.
I couldn't stand it anymore; I captured her mouth and that teasing tongue. Forcefully at first, sucking, tasting, before the kiss became nothing but intense, tender . . . breathless. As it ended, she delicately stroked the line of my jaw with tips of her fingers. I shivered.
Lingering near my mouth, she whispered, "I love yah."
I shivered again, but not from her doing. I began to tremble as I hurriedly buried my face in her neck and breathed her in, trying for the life of me to envelope her in every overcoming emotion I could.
I pulled out of her and gasped in her ear. "Forgive meh."
Sooner than she could react, I bit into Maria's throat, crying out as I did so, and wrenched her head off her shoulders.
Moving quickly, to the point of frenzied panic, I dismembered her arms from her body, then her legs. The screeching sound, once again, foreign to my ears, like the day I had been brought into this life.
Shoving the parts into Saul's arms, I ordered him, "Go."
Entirely shocked, he gasped, too. "What . . .?"
I winced. "She wouldn't have gone. She wouldn't have left me."
I pulled up my trousers, glanced north, and then looked at him. "Go."
Saul searched my face, before nodding solemnly. In an instant, he—with the parts of Maria—was gone.
I closed my eyes; I couldn't watch them leave, and I ignored the throbbing in my chest.
Take care of her, Saul.
Leaning a shoulder against a tree, I released a drawn out breath and waited. This last time told me more than what I needed to know—that that was Maria had a chance, and I wanted to be the one who gave it to her.
I couldn't help but smile as I recognized the matrix of emotions within a group of vampires on the other side of the tracks. I snorted.
Of course, I thought.
"Major," greeted the man on the other side. I could even hear the smirk.
I peered up and shook my head. Proudly standing at attention, and indeed, with a cheeky grin was my brother . . . in this life, anyway. "Peter."
"Well, don't you look like shit?"
I laughed, sounding slightly hollow to, what I hoped, were my ears only.
"Don't ch'yah look like a dandy?" I looked pointedly at the starched white shirt with the sleeves unconventionally rolled up, pressed gray slacks and matching tailored vest, topped off with a bowler hat. To accentuate my point, the bastard slung the jacket over his shoulder with his finger and tucked his hand in a vest pocket.
He rocked on his heels. "No need to be sour, Major. We'll get you some boots with a coordinating Stetson."
"A Ten Gallon?" I inquired quickly.
Peter scoffed and shook his head sadly. "You really are a Texan, aren't you?"
I genuinely laughed this time. I knew Peter hated the style, and though it was ridiculous looking, I loved it. It reminded me of home. Joel.
Silence descended and ensued. Although it wasn't uncommon between Peter and me—we never needed words to understand each other—this was different . . . loaded, stifling.
He sighed. "Are you just going to stand there, Major? Or do you want that Godforsaken hat?"
"I missed ch'yah, Peter," I vocalized, pushing off the tree.
"Dear Lord, I know you're an emotional bastard, seeing as you are an empath, but don't you dare start with me."
I stopped abruptly at the edge of the track when I realized he didn't sound right. Not like Peter. He was uneasy.
"Who'd ch'yah bring with yah?" I asked, suspicious. Peter would've never brought strangers or new acquaintances to come for me.
He swallowed. "Family."
"What?" I questioned, lowly and disbelieving. He had never changed anyone before, and I knew he never had the desire to, either.
I scanned the forest behind him, but there no one was there. Yet, I knew they were around—I could feel their eyes on me. There could be only one explanation. My eyes snapped to his.
"Who, Peter? Tell meh," I demanded, even more alarmed. Instinct took over and I clenched my fists and eased down, prepared to fight; my thoughts on the one person who could still be in danger.
I roared. "Who, Peter!"
He flinched and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he looked sad, remorseful.
"The Volturi, Major. I brought the Volturi."
I shook my head at him, betrayed and thoroughly empty. He told them.
Peter stepped forward and, for my ears only, he added, "But we're not after Maria."
I wished I could say I was sorry that I relaxed minutely and that the statement brought me comfort and reassurance to the utmost degree.
But like I said, you surrender a piece of yourself, and in the end, all of it.
And surrendered . . . I had.
*bites lip and peeks one eye open* What did you think? Are you at war with yourself? I'd love to know…
So, was Maria playing him? Did he do the right thing? What do you think Jasper wanted to hear from her? And what in the hell did Peter tell the Volturi exactly? Hmm… You'll find out more in "In Love and War." ;)
The name Marie is not as intentional as you think— 'Marie' is CareMarie's middle name and this is dedicated to her. While writing, I realized all the possibilities . . . *evil snicker* Marie, Maria, Mary Alice. Everything else…well, I left some clues in there for you—and I'm not talking about the glaringly obvious. Eventually, I'll be posting the alternate endings and the long outtake that'll shed some light on this madness (I need to finish it first ;D). (3/4/11—update notes on profile.)
The outtake, which was the original intention of writing this OS and is more of a continuation — In Volterra, a righteous, yet self-deprecating God of War.
Many, many thanks to:
TWIMARTI, who is the best beta any author could ask for. DREAC, she helped me with my authentic Texan-speaking Jaspa. My ultimate encourager and Pysch Resource: WONDERWOUNDEDHEARERS — Beth, I heart you. Together, you and I will rule the world! *Vincent Price cackle* Bear hugs to my MOM, my proofreader. The hotties that complete me over at The LUV'NV — AUTUMN, BETH, CARRIE, MARISSA, RALEIGH and VENETIA — Thanks for the input and dealing with me and my absence, babes. I hope to meet all of you in person . . . someday ;D.
YOU, for reading (and hopefully, reviewing. *chuckles*)