Chapter 12

Bella POV

I kept running past the Canadian border. What was I supposed to think? Suddenly Alice and Edward are dead and now Jasper and I are mates? Isn't that too quick? What if I can't provide for his, um, needs?

Then again, maybe this wouldn't be too bad. He didn't seem to grievous over Alice when I last saw him—mainly just worried for me. Why did I doubt his feelings? Was it even possible to not love your mate?

Do I love Jasper? I shook my head at that one and skipped it. Though my brain automatically started spitting out lovey-dovey answers about how 'soulmates are for ever' and 'you can't deny the mating pull' and 'OF COURSE YOU LOVE HIM, HE'S YOUR MATE'. I never thought about how aggravating it would be to have a vampire's mind. Edward wasn't exaggerating: Vampires are easily distracted.

What if Carlisle doesn't approve of all of this? What if Esme doesn't? They are Jasper, Alice, and Edward's parents for most intents and purposes after all, so—

Parents.

I stopped dead in my tracks. My mind was quickly cataloguing everything around me. I was still in a wooded area but I could hear cars on a nearby highway. My vampire sense of direction and navigation told me that I was only two hours away from home. Two hours away from Jasper. Meanwhile, another part of my mind was stuck on its previous reel.

Charlie. What happens now? What do we tell Charlie? Does he know I'm with the Cullens? Does he know I'm a vampire? Well, probably not, but still. Does he think I've run off with another boy? He must think I'm horrible to keep leaving him like this.

I heard a crunch behind me—the sound of a foot stepping onto crisp leaves, my mind helpfully filled in—and turned around.

All I saw was a flash of red.

Then I ran as quickly and forcefully as my newborn legs would let me. The two-hour trip back home took me less than half an hour. It only took five minutes to lose the person (vampire) trailing me.

I was still terrified out of my wits yet relieved and cocky that I lost the vampire when I ran into a hard wall.

I thought that avoiding stuff like this was hardwired into all vampires, I thought to myself. Leave it to me to be the only graceless vampire.

A soft chuckle emanated from the 'wall'. I looked up into a pair of dark black eyes and sighed.

"Naturally."

Jasper laughed. "You should start being more observant of where you run," he said, "or you might run into a tree next time."

I huffed and rolled my eyes. Whatever. I had started to walk towards the house when Jasper grabbed my hand, pulling me back. I gave him a look and raised an eyebrow. He kept staring.

I checked myself to make sure I wasn't projecting. I wasn't.

He was still staring, and inscrutable expression resting on his face.

"Um. Can I help you?"

He shifted awkwardly and the sun blinded me. I blinked a few times and then realized that Jasper was sparkling.

I've always wondered about this trait. When Edward first showed me his glittery self, I contemplated the possibility that vampires like Dracula existing long ago, and awkward interspecies breeding between them and fairies led to this disadvantage.

Now, though, I could see the allure. I never thought something as silly as sparkling in the sun would be so attractive. I reached out and laid my hand upon Jasper's glittery cheek.

Oooh. Shiny

I projected that to Jasper and he laughed, returning back to me our combined feelings: joy, wonder, awe, adoration, and love. For a few moments we were stuck there in the forest surrounding the Cullen house, our emotions and thoughts bouncing off of each other, playing a desperate game of ping-pong in which the feelings grew and grew. The love we felt for each other was definitely no longer familial, that's for sure.

Jasper wrinkled his nose and ticked an eyebrow at me.

"What's so funny?"

"Ah… I was just thinking about us."

He looked confused.

I waited.

"What about us is so amusing?" He asked.

I shrugged. "Just that, well, we barely know each other, yet this feels so right. When I was human Edward seemed to go out of his way to keep us apart." A thought struck me. "Do you think he knew?"

Shock permeated the space between us.

Jasper shook his head. "I hope not. There are laws against forcing two mates apart. Though…" he looked away from me, turning to stare up at the sun behind him, "I suppose it doesn't matter now."

A sliver of grief shot from one of us to the other, and I stepped next to him.

"I think we'll be okay." I grabbed his hand, trying to push happy feelings towards him.

"Yeah," he said, staring into the sun. "Yeah, I think we will."

And, for that short moment, we were happy. He gripped my hand like it was the last thing holding him to this earth, and I held him there.

If only we'd known then how wrong we were…

About everything.

Jasper turned to me with a sly grin. "You're eyes are weird."

I gasped and turned around to stomp back to the house.

"No! Bella, I just meant that they're not black. Or red. Or even gold. Did you know your eyes are silver?"

Well. Maybe not wrong about everything.