I was running. I was running from my past, my present, and my almost no guarantee of a future. Running through the great depths of woods behind my house would be a tough challenge. Looking back I now realize what a great risk I was taking. I can't bring myself to think what would have happened – or for that matter what wouldn't have happened – had I not ran away from home. I might not be alive right now. It still doesn't feel as if I am. Running into that forest turned out to be the most intriguingly delicious mistake of my life.
The fresh sting of a harsh slap burned like acid on my cheek. It was familiar and haunting. As I saw my own father stalks towards me and yell in my face as spittle sprayed my face. I found myself unable to pay attention to his endless babble on what a terrible daughter I am. Everything inside was numb and raw. I felt like a jumbled mess that no one could ever unscramble enough to understand.
"Answer me!" Charlie screamed in my face violent profanities and bottomless threats. I snapped out of my thoughts and discovered he was waiting for an answer to something I hadn't heard. My palms started to sweat and my eyes stung as I knew what was about to happen.
"You ungrateful brat!" his last words I remember keep echoing through my head. I felt his grimy hands wind in my hair and jerk hard.
He was pulling me out of my once refuge of a bedroom. It was now to full of memories of my old family. The Cullen's were good to me, but they left and I refuse to think or speak of them anymore. I can't even bare to say HIS name. After they left the side of my father I hadn't seen since I was a very small girl was brought to the surface.
"You don't deserve this house. You don't appreciate it enough you little-," Charlie rambled on. I noticed with dread that he was pulling me towards the stairs. I started fighting, panic and adrenaline rushing through my veins now that I knew his plan. He was still pulling me along by my hair and everything seemed in slow motion as he gave me a final shove.
I was so close to falling down the stairs now. I was standing on the edge and I realized how much of my life was spent 'on the edge'. "Are you going to beg? Or fight little one?" Charlie mocked. I wasn't the quiet Bella that I was when the Cullen's were here. So my response may come as a surprise. I spat in his face.
"How dare you!" he yelled and then his hand jerked my hair back again which sent me tumbling down the stairs. Each bump was like an earthquake. I could feel my world shattering into pieces. When I finally reached the bottom I lay there for a moment. Unable to move or barely breathe because of shock; I listened to see if he would come down the stairs or walk away.
I finally heard his drunken footsteps retreat. I picked myself and looked around at this small house. The tears spilled up again when I remembered the good memories of playing princess, going on treasure hunts, playing dress up in my mama's closet, and late family dinners.
It was all gone now. I'm certainly no child anymore. But, oh, how I wish I was. The divorce between Rene and Charlie was peaceful and I lived with her in Phoenix until I was 18. Then I moved here with Charlie and met HIM and the Cullen's. My life was amazing until the night that Jasper almost lost control and they all left me. Coincidently, that's when Charlie turned bad again. I've lived with his abuse for almost a year. They've been gone for almost a year.
I looked down at the many bruises and cuts caused by Charlie. Then lifted my wrists at the once I'd caused myself. I felt weak and stupid, and couldn't take this life anymore. Only thing was that I was too much of a coward to kill myself. So I decided to run.
So now I'm running as fast as I can. The wind is whirring in my face and hair, and I love the feeling. My sides are burning with the need for a rest so I stop. The pure white of the falling snow surrounds me and the lonely silence was profound and beautiful. I stare up at the sky as the sun sets. I've never witnessed a real sunset but this is lovely.
That's when it happened. I felt a rush of wind and could sense someone was here. The smell of honeysuckle and sunlight was thick and intoxicated. I knew that smell.
"Mm, you smell delectable, Bella." His dark voice drawls out. "It's like strawberries and freesia." I can feel his nose skim across my shoulder as he stands behind me. I shiver just now realizing how cold it is out here.
"Jasper." I can't find the words to say anything else. I turn my head to see his face and gasp as I notice his eyes are red as rubies now.
"That's Major Whitlock to you." He drawls again as his voice takes on a commanding tone. This isn't the Jasper I knew from a year ago. Just as I notice how close my face is to his, he notices my breath on his face and his eyes darken with blood lust.
"Bella take a step back, I'm not like you remember." He says quietly as his eye stare unblinkingly at my neck. Deep down I know that there is no way in hell Jasper would hurt me. So I do the most stupid thing in that moment.
I throw myself in his arms and inhale his sweet scent. "I missed you. You all just left without a goodbye." He stiffens in front of me, and I jump back in shock. "Crap, I'm sorry I just couldn't…" I say unsure how to phrase it. Jasper just chuckles darkly and says, "You're foolish you know that right?"
This hurts a little because of how many times Charlie has said it. So I stare down at my hands and say, "Yeah, I get that a lot." He must have noticed my emotions go down so he put a hand on my shoulder. "Why are your eyes red?"
"You're not scared?"
"You should know that better than anyone."
Jasper had a tempting smirk on his face that made my heart flutter. "True enough. I have strayed from the Cullen's veggie diet." I chuckled at this humorlessly. "Carlisle has been gracious enough to allow me to stay at their house even though Alice and I are not together, as long as I don't kill anyone that could bring suspicion to fall upon us."
"Wait a minute you and Alice aren't together? Since when; I thought you guys were mates." I exclaimed.
I looked up at the sky; it was getting darker and night would fall soon. Jasper, of course, had noticed this too. "Well, I presume you don't want to go home?" I shook my head. "Then let me carry you to our new home. We live up higher into Canada now. I can answer that last question of yours on the way."
"I don't know will he be there?" Jasper face softened as he noticed my hurt at the mention of him. He shook his head. "Then I would love to."
Jasper picked me up bridal style. I was relieved that I didn't have to piggyback like he used to make me do. He started running and it had been such a long time that I gasped at the speed. Jasper smirked at this.
"Okay well, when Alice met me so long ago she had told me of my future with the Cullen's. She told me we would be best friends for nearly 50 years, and then I would meet my mate. So we got married so we could spend that time together. She helped me so much. She brought me back from the darkness that Maria's army gave me. I will be eternally grateful for that. Alice is still my best friend; we just got a divorce a week ago. That was when she told me it was 'time'." He said all of this with no emotion. But as he continued his voice got deeper and darker. "I've realized now, though, the darkness she took away from me is part of who I am. I did terrible things to humans and vampires alike while I worked for Maria and I still feel no guilt for it."
This was the dark side of Jasper that I had heard about but never seen. My thoughts were unable to linger on that for we had arrived at a large Victorian house. The shudders around the windows were pitch black and the house seemed vintage yet magnificent. "The house is lovely. It looks perfect for a house of vampires." I say as my eyes turn to Jasper. He laughs, actually laughs, at this and it's a gorgeous sound, like thunder and southern church bells.
He lowers me slowly to the ground, and catches me as I almost fall. He walks into the house first and I follow. Everyone is standing around. Though, as
Jasper promised he isn't there. Jasper resumes his place in the back, farthest from me, like he normally would.
"Bella!" Alice exclaims, and gives me a bone crunching hug. Ever since Charlie has started acting abusive I can't stand having people touch me. I don't hug back but I let her hug me because I know she's missed me. As I'm staring at the ground, a hear Jasper tell me she shouldn't touch me right now.
Alice fly back a few feet and looks at me. Her face is full of hurt, and her eyes fill with tears that will never spill over. I smile sadly at her and quietly say, "Sorry, Alice, I've missed you too. I've missed all of you."
I can feel them scrutinizing my face. Even Rosalie looks a little apologetic. Emmett steps in front of me and looks down. "We really hurt you when we left didn't we?"
For some odd reason this angers me and I can see a smirk light up Jasper's face then it disappears as quick as it came. "Hurt me? Hurt me? You all left without even a 'screw you Bella'!" I can't help the tears that fall now. "The worst part isn't even that. It's that you all weren't there to protect me from –?" I realize I'm about to spill the beans on my father so I shut my mouth. "You know what, never mind."
"Protect you from whom, Bella?" Esme asks with concern covering her face. I just shake my head to indicate I don't want to talk about it.
"Bella, we apologize for leaving you, it was a huge mistake, which we can't take back. Edward convinced us it would be best for your safety. I can see that was the wrong solution to solve the problem of your safety." Carlisle, always the compassionate one, says to me. He gives me a sympathetic smile when he sees me cringe at his name.
"Thank you, Carlisle that means a lot to me."
I walk over and sit on the couch and Esme sit next to me and puts an arm around me. Emmett and Carlisle sit on the opposite couch, and Jasper sits in a chair while Alice stands next to him. My eyes widen when Rosalie comes to sit next to me and smiles at me. I must be in a parallel universe, I think to myself.
"So Bella, it's really late, are you going to stay with us tonight?" Rosalie asks as she puts a hand on my knee. I'm shocked that she's acting so nice to me that I can't think of anything to say for a moment.
In that moment, a ferocious growl fills the room and everyone turn to look at Jasper. He has a grimace on his face and he stalks over to me. He gets on his knees in front of me. "Did I do that to you when I carried you here?" he demands. He's staring at one of the many bruises on my leg from the fall off the stairs.
"No, Jasper you didn't do that." I say wanting this topic to be over. He looks into my eyes; a silent question in his eyes. I just stare back unable to think because of how charming he looks. I'm officially dazzled.
He growls quieter and asks, "Well what are they from?" One moment he was kneeling in front of me, the next he's standing and jerking me to a standing position also. "They're all over you, and scars also." He cries as he inspects my arms and shoulders.
"My father," I say quietly, unable to hold it in anymore. His head jerks up at inhuman speed. I've observed that when he's angry he seems incapable of human speed. His eyes are black and angry, and demanding me to tell him.
Alice's tiny voice comes from behind me, "No." she says as she sees the future of what I'm about to tell them. The Cullen's are all standing around me and the sobs seem to come quietly for once. I give them the cliff notes version of how my father turned abusive. How it started out as yelling, then the slaps and hits, then how he had pulled the knife on me before. I finish with how he threw me down the stares.
Emmett is the first to envelop me in his large embrace, and then the rest follow. I allow them all to hug me, and for once it feels… good. I feel a cool hand on my cheek and calm and peace enters me. I turn towards it and find Jasper and gasp in shock. Jasper never touched me when I was with Edward. In fact he hardly came close to me at all.
He must have felt my shock because he jerked his hand away, and stepped back into the corners again. "Jasper?" I ask. His face shows no emotion. I step up close to him. "Why did you shrink back?"
"Your emotions." He answers simply.
I sigh, and ask exasperatedly, "And what exactly was I feeling, Jasper?"
"Sadness, peace, contentment, then shock." He answers with a confused look on his face.
"And what am I feeling now?" I question, hoping he'll understand.
"Confusion, amusement, frustration, and well… your pissed." Bingo.
"Jasper I was shocked because you've never tried to get close to me before, that's all." I explain.
He smirks. "That wasn't my entire fault. Edward warned me to stay away from you." He says. I look around at the room and notice everyone finds our interaction rather funny. I was smiling at Alice when Jasper grabs my wrist, and peace and calm fill me again. I turn towards him again with my eyes closed in contentment. I slowly open them and see Jasper is frowning angrily at me.
"Jasper?" I ask kind of frightened by his mood swings, but I guess I should expect that from an empath.
"Please tell me you didn't do this to yourself." He says with a voice that doesn't quite match his expression. I'm completely confused until I feel his thumb rub the underside of my wrist; the place that I had cut myself. My eyes widen with recognition and I shake my head.
Suddenly my back is to the wall while he holds my wrists up and stares me in the eyes. "Don't you dare lie to me, Isabella." His eyes are piercing into my soul as they turn black with anger, once again. I look down and away from them because they do something to me but it's definitely not fear.
"I'm sorry." I say.
"No, you're not." Note to self: Do not lie to an empath.
"Jasper please let Bella go, I'm sure she can explain this to us in a different manner." Car-lisle says with his parental voice.
Alice gasps audibly as she has a vision. Jasper turns his head to look at her. Her face goes blank for a second then her eyes flicker to me then to Jasper. "Don't do this, please Jasper." She pleads.
He turns back to me and looks as if he's deciding something, then he smirks. Emmett tries to walk up to us. "Let her go, Jasper. You're acting foolishly." He says. But as he takes his first step Jasper growls. And the sound sends butterflies to my stomach. Angry Jasper is kind of hot.
"Emmett wait! This isn't the Jasper you know." Alice says in a tiny voice.
Jasper shakes his head and says something I can't hear. "We'll be back, Carlisle." He says. His voice sounds kind of distracted like he's trying to control something. The next thing I know he's pulling me outside. I hear Emmett and Alice rush forward to stop him, but Carlisle commands them to let us go.