And so, once again, I must blame this on a constant stream of problems out of my control-we switched our internet service from Telstra to Optus, my charger cable has had issues, and some program called RelevantKnowledge has been wreaking havoc with my operating system.
You should all just desert me for this.
This chapter was so large I've split it into three. Bit of a time skip, bear with me.
Over the next couple of months, my friendship with Jasper only got stronger. I could not bear to be away from him for any length of time. He was my one connection to that world, the world I had once belonged to. I truly could not have foreseen how strong my bond was with him. He really was my friend, probably my best friend. The only one of my friends I still talked to was Angela; she was the only one willing to forgive my behaviour. But that was okay. Angela was probably the only one who I really missed.
Jasper effortlessly managed to insert himself into an American History course of the University of Alaska, quelling any lingering fear that I would be left alone. It came as no surprise to me, or anyone else, that the University was happy to give such a gracious beneficiary a place in their university. I shuddered to think the size of the check that changed hands, but for once, I wasn't going to complain; I was glad he was coming with me. I was sure that Jasper would never leave me.
You were sure Edward would never leave you once, too.
It was the day of our move. Jasper had a house on campus (of course), and we were going to live together. I was actually surprised that Charlie was okay with this. But Charlie was just as taken to Jasper as I was. I was worried about that, at the start. I wasn't entirely sure how dad was going to react with me being friends with the brother of the one who broke my heart and left me suicidal.
But it had gone better than I thought it would…
Two weeks ago:
"Are you sure that we should do this?" I asked, nervously, stepping in front of Jasper as he got out of his car.
"Bella, you're being silly," Jasper said, a slight smile on his face. "It'll be fine." He tapped his head. "Empath, remember?"
"I know, but shouldn't we not push our luck?" I said, refusing to move."He might shoot you. Seriously. That's how much he hates Edward."
Jasper snorted. "A bullet is hardly going to hurt me."
I rolled my eyes. "I know that. I mean, it'll probably make him a bit suspicious when the bullet doesn't hurt you. Not to mention the fact that he will probably be angrier when he doesn't seriously injure you."
He was full out grinning now. "Is your father a naturally violent man? Or does he just make an exception for vampires."
I chose not to answer that.
He put his hands on my shoulder, looking into my face. I could feel the cold leak through my thin sweater.
"It'll be fine," he breathed, his cold breath washing over my face like the finest fragrance. Damn vampires and their natural beauty…
"Yes, Jasper," I said, though it sounded more like a breathy sigh.
Jasper chuckled throatily and kissed me on the forehead. "I promise that it will go great. Besides. Your father needs to know who I am. And he needs to know that I'm nothing like Edward."
I had to admit that Jasper with his blond hair and muscular form, didn't really look like Edward. But, the difference was deeper than just his looks. Jasper was more relaxed than Edward ever was around me. He was easier to get along with, and was a true friend. With Edward, there had always just been an intense physical connection, as though something was drawing me to him, as though something was making me love him. But with Jasper, I truly liked him, because he'd given me a reason to. He was deep, thoughtful, funny and sarcastic in equal measures. There was something around him that drew me to him, and I don't think it's his gift. Probably others would be drawn to him like this too, if they had gotten past his scary façade like me.
So, I knew that it would be okay, with Charlie. His latent draw would be enough. And if it wasn't, well, his gift with emotions would be more than enough to win him over, though I loathe to force Charlie to feel something he didn't naturally.
I stepped aside in surrender, and then whispered, "If he does shoot you, make sure to look injured."
Jasper grinned. "I'll try to remember that."
"Good. Oh, and…" I bit my lip. "Do you think you'll be okay, you know, with the scent…?"
Jasper laughed. "I haven't killed you yet, have I?" I was almost surprised at the blunt and nonchalant way he said it, reminded once again that this was not Edward, would never be Edward. We just needed to prove it to Charlie."
I knew it was a rhetorical question, so I didn't answer. We slowly walked up the pathway, side by side, Jasper completely calm, me with bowed shoulders as though I was about to face the firing squad. For all I knew, I was about to face the firing squad.
I stepped onto the front porch a half a step ahead of him and turned around, pleading with my eyes.
"Please," I said. "Wait out here for a while, just until I tell Charlie who you are. Then I'll come and get you."
Jasper sighed. "All right," he relented. "But only cause it's you."
I smiled at him, feeling a little more hopeful. I then pivoted on my heel and went inside the house, closing the door behind me.
Dad was in the living room, watching the pre-game program, and I walked in there, though I would have rather to go upstairs to my bedroom and wait for Jasper there.
"Hey, dad…" I said to him, looking at the ground as I rounded the corner.
"Hey, Bells," Charlie said, not looking away from the television. "How's your day?"
"It was okay…"
He seemed to pick up on my mood, which I found odd, considering he'd never done it before.
"Something wrong, Bella?" he asked,
"Kind of. I need to ask you something. I have a… friend… outside."
"So why don't you let her in?"
"It's not a her."
Charlie's eyebrows rose fractionally. "Is this person your boyfriend?"
"What? No!" I couldn't believe he'd jump to conclusions like that. "Can't I have a friend who is a guy?"
It's pretty obvious when I'm lying, and I wasn't lying this time, so Charlie nodded slowly. "So what are you so nervous about, then?"
"It'sJasperHale," I said in a rush, half-hoping he wouldn't be able to decipher my words. Unfortunately, what with my luck being what it is, he understood immediately.
The blood drained from Charlie's face, and he half stood up.
"Jasper Hale? His brother?" We all knew who the 'his' was.
"Yes," I whispered. "But Char—dad, he's my friend, one of my best ones. He's the reason why I've gotten better all of a sudden. He's nothing like… Edward—" We both cringed at his name—"Do you think I could be about to stay with him if he was? Please, just give him a chance. You'll see."
My little tirade ended on a pleading note, and Charlie looked at me, looking for any sign that I was lying.
Eventually, with a sigh, he sat back down.
"If you really think he's different," Charlie said, grudgingly. "Then I suppose I don't have a problem with him. I want to see this for myself though. So…" His tone was one of extreme reluctance. "Let him in."
My shoulders bowed in relief. He was going to accept Jasper. Maybe. Hopefully.
He was waiting just outside the door, leaning on the railing of the porch with an amused expression.
"You heard that?" I asked, blushing.
"Every word," he said, chuckling lightly. "I loved how your father instantly jumped to 'boyfriend'."
I turned redder, if that was possible. "I don't think I'll be having a boyfriend again for a long time," I said to him.
He nodded. "Are you going to let me in now?" he asked.
Instead of answering, I just pressed myself against the door, allowing him to come in. He walked past me, into Charlie's tiny house, and I felt my anxiety being driven up another notch. Why was I so nervous?
A feeling of calm settled over me, though, and I sighed in relief, looking at Jasper.
"Thanks," I said.
"That's okay. You're going to give yourself an ulcer or something, worrying that much."
"I'm just… nervous."
He looked at me. "It'll be fine," he whispered, and the calm got stronger.
Thanks to Jasper's gift, I was totally relaxed as we both stepped around the corner into the living room, and didn't even flinch when Charlie put the television on mute, which would have normally put me into anxiety-overdrive.
Jasper was formal. "Charlie Swan, I'm Jasper Hale," he said, stepping forward with his hand outstretched. An even stronger cloud of calm and serenity filled the room. It was like being high.
"Uh, hi," Charlie said, as eloquent as always. He reached out and shook Jasper's hand, looking confused as he did so.
"Nice to meet you," he said.
The calm feeling, combined with Jasper's knowledge of football, ensured that Charlie didn't have a problem. This was a slight understatement. Charlie completely and utterly approved of Jasper, something that brought me great relief. Charlie had no qualms about me going to university together, not even about us living in the same house together. Charlie trusted us, and I was glad as could be.
Finally, though, it was time for me to say goodbye to Charlie, and Forks itself. It was a forty-eight hour trip to the university non-stop driving, but we were planning to stop overnight and would be there in about four days. Jasper's car was packed (my truck had died a couple of weeks earlier, unfortunately), I had said my goodbyes to my friends, I had gone back to the La Push cliffs and cried a little over Edward—this one I couldn't help—and I had promised to see Renée in a couple of months. The last thing left to do was to say goodbye to Charlie, which l loathed to do.
We were standing outside Charlie's small house, the police cruiser in the driveway. Dad had taken the day off to see me off, and I was oddly touched.
Jasper had excused himself to get in the car, leaving myself and my father alone on the front porch.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye," I said to my father, stuffing my hands in the pocket of my jeans. He nodded at me, just staring.
"I can't believe it, kid," he said. "It seems like not so long ago you were chucking a fit about going fishing with Jacob and Billy Black." We both grinned at that. "And now here you are, off to college with your friend."
"I know, dad…" I said, letting his words sink in. "I can't believe it's been nearly three years since I came to live with you. I'm glad I did."
Charlie sniffed. "I love you, kid," he said, gruffly.
"I love you too, dad," I said, putting my arms around him in a loose hug. We were never really good at expressing our emotions, but we were trying.
"Oh, and there's this," Charlie said, stepping back. He put a hand in his pocket, and drew out a black felt jewellery box.
"Naw, really dad?" I said, blushing. "You didn't have to."
Charlie cleared his throat. "We wanted to."
He gave it to me, and I took it, opening it up. There, nestled on a bed of velvet, was a heart-shaped locket on a golden chain, a small diamond set into the crease between the two halves at the top.
"Thanks, dad," I said, touching it softly with my finger. There were tears in my eyes as the reality of the moment crashed down on me.
"Here, let me put it on," Charlie said, taking the box back from me, and extracting the locket from the box. He swept my hair out of the way and unfastened it, putting it around and then fastening it with clumsy fingers. He swept my hair back down, and I stood back in front of him.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye," I said, after we had a moment of silence.
Charlie nodded. "Goodbye, Bells. I'm gonna miss you."
"I'm going to miss you too. And, who will cook for you? It seems like it's almost neglect to leave you by yourself."
Charlie did something I never expected him to do. He blushed.
"Well, Sue Clearwater has made it clear I'm welcome over for dinner every night…" He trailed off, and I wondered whether there was something more to it than that.
"At least you won't die of hunger, then," I said, lightly, before turning around and walking down the steps to the path. Jasper's car sat, shiny and expensive, on the side of the road, with Jasper himself in it. I could just make him out through the tinted windows.
"Well, bye then, dad," I said to him.
"Bye, Bells," he said, softly, as I open the door of Jasper's car, got into it, and closed the door.
"You ready?" he asked softly. I nodded, wiping a few tears out of my eyes.
"Let's go," I said, quietly, and Jasper started up the car. Slowly, too slowly, Jasper pulled away from the curb, heading down the highway out of Forks.
It was silent in the car, except for my sniffing as I rubbed the tears out of my eyes. Finally, as the last tears dried, and we turned onto the main highway, which would take us almost the entire way to the university, I leaned back in my seat, yawning. I hadn't slept much the night before, the stress of leaving everything behind keeping me awake.
"Tired?" Jasper asked me.
"Very," I replied, closing my eyes and settling back in my seat. "I might take a nap, if it doesn't bother you."
Clouds of peace, serenity and calm filled the car. I yawned again as my eyes dropped.
"Thanks, Jasper," I muttered, as I feel into a deep sleep.
There was a screaming in my ears. I opened my eyes and saw a luggage rack above me, part of a plane.
I was sitting in a plane. It was noisy, the engine was screaming and the wind was lashing the windows. But at the same time, it was eerily silent. No one was talking, or breathing, or making any noise at all. We were angled downward, and through the window the sky was tilted, the grey clouds on an angle, and the water rushing up to meet us.
We were crashing.
I clutched the armrests tighter, the wood and metal creaking and buckling as I moulded the metal with my fingers.
Down below, the blue water came rushing up to meet us.
There was an arm shaking me.
I jumped, my body dumping me back into reality as the aeroplane melted away. We were still in Jasper's car, still speeding down the rain-slicked highway, always too fast.
"Are you all right?" he asked me, concerned.
I took a deep breath. "I think so…" I said, as the dream faded away.
"You just got really fidgety, and you were clamping your knee, and you were really scared." He was still concerned.
"Just a bad dream," I said.
I smiled. "Yes, Jasper. I'm sure."
"Good," he said. "Because we're stopping for the night."
He slowed down—now he was only forty kilometres above the speed limit—and took an exit I hadn't seen through the rain that was pelting the highway with a vengeance. Probably trying to make up for its absence this morning. Stupid Washington weather.
That reminded me. "How long was I asleep?" I asked.
"Exactly eight hours, twenty-three minutes, and eighteen seconds."
I rolled my eyes. "Thanks."
He grinned. "Anytime."
"Why's the window open?" I asked, looking back. The back window was open, the rain coming in and soaking the seat.
The smile slid off of his face. "It got a bit too much…" he said. "With the fear radiating off of you… and your smell…"
"Oh." I swallowed quickly. "Sorry."
He smiled again. "Not your fault. Besides, I think I'm okay now."
He slid the window closed, and the natural cool temperature disappeared, replaced by the filtered air from the air-conditioning duct.
I stretched in my seat, my stiff muscles protesting, and yawned. My stomach growled. Jasper chuckled.
"Dinner time for the human?" he asked.
"Don't call me that," I said, and he stared at me in surprise. "I'm sorry. It's just... Edward used to say that." He nodded, and we drove in silence for a little while longer.
"But yes, food would be nice," I said, as he drove along one of those roads by the side of the highway that no one really takes any notice of. With the rain and the dark and the fact that there was no one around, it would have been straight out of a horror movie. Anything out of a horror movie, however, would have a bit of trouble fighting off Jasper, and I was reasonably confident that he'd protect me against any psychotic killers. Actually, the thought of anything trying to kill me when I was with Jasper was almost laughable.
"Something funny?" Jasper asked, staring ahead at the road.
"Oh, I was just thinking about how this could almost be a scene out of a horror movie."
"What, the evil vampire taking his hapless prey down a road to an abandoned hotel so that he could have his way with her?"
"Oh, yes, totally," I said, layering the sarcasm. "How shall I escape?"
He looked at me, serious for once.
"You've changed," he said. "From what you used to be like, with Edward." I cringed when he said the name. He noticed, I saw it in his eyes, but I spoke quickly in an unsuccessful attempt to appear nonchalant.
"Well, you've changed too," I said to him. "You used to be really quiet, and reserved."
"Nah," he said. "You just never really got to know me."
"A mistake," I said, smiling.
A couple of minutes later, we pulled up at a Super 8, the vacancy sign shining in the darkness. There were a couple of rooms left for hire, and Jasper was handed the keys to number nine by a creaky old man. The entire place was pretty creepy, and I was glad I was there with Jasper.
We got back in the car and Jasper parked in front of number nine, giving me the key and fetching my overnight bag from the trunk.
I unlocked my door, and then pushed it open. There was a light switch on the wall and I flicked it. The room was fairly clean, with a double bed, a television, a mini fridge and in the corner, a bathroom. The walls were painted a cheerful blue.
I dropped my bag on the bed, and looked lay down next to it, yawning. I was still quite tired, despite my sleep in the car. But then my stomach growled and I decided the first thing to do would be to eat.
"Jasper?" I asked. He was there in an instant, the door closed behind him.
"Is there anywhere around here that sells food?"
"I just went a couple of miles up and down the road. There's a McDonalds not far from here."
"Sounds good. Take me there?" I asked.
I eat quickly at the fast-food restaurant, and we returned to the room for the night. There was a comfortable silence between us, one that I enjoyed. I showered, brushed my teeth, and slid between the sheets of the bed. Jasper was in the corner, staring at me with eyes that reflected the moonlight coming from a chink in the blinds. The rest of the room was dark.
"Well, goodnight," I said, turning on my side and closing my eyes.
"Goodnight, Bella," his voice came in reply, but I was already asleep, deep within my now comfortable dreams.
She stood in amongst the trees.
The moon beamed down onto the scene, giving off an ethereal light. It made the entire place look quite creepy, but she didn't care about creepy. She was almost the embodiment of something worse than merely 'creepy'.
Directly in front of her was an abandoned stretch of road, stretching from left to right out of her field of vision. Further across was a motor-inn, one of those-the ones that sprung up off the roads off every highway in America. The front office was close, the windows darkened. A few of the rooms were lit. The one she was concentrating on wasn't.
She could smell him, on the air-the large, blond vampire. She couldn't risk it at the moment, but soon, oh so soon...
She twirled around, a dancer's pirouette, and stalked off into the forest, the darkness and the trees swallowing her within a couple of seconds.
Just a random note: If there's one word in the English language I can't spell right ever, it's 'restaurant'. Seriously, gets me every time.
Until the next chapter, WHICH SHOULD BE SOON, I bid thee farewell.
If I don't update within a week, feel free to spam my inbox with messages complaining.