Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the characters: they are the property of Stephanie Meyer. I just daydream with them a bit.

Rated M for profanity, violence and potential adult situations.

Author's Note: Wow! I'm totally blown away. :-) Thank you all for your great comments and reviews; it's really made the process of telling this story exciting! Here's Bella's perspective of their meet-n-greet...

Chapter 5

BPOV

When the appointed time came for the Cullen's "guests" to arrive, we paraded out to the front porch. I felt as though we were meeting foreign dignitaries, instead of strange nomadic vampires. Carlisle waited on the bottom step with Esme by his side, the rest of us clumped on the porch behind.

We didn't know what the visitors' motivation for coming was, since Alice's vision hadn't been very specific. She insisted that she would see if the meeting was going to go bad; but her visions had been unclear as of late, a fact that was driving her crazy. No skin off my nose, I thought. I want her to stay out of my future.

Carlisle didn't want to take any chances since we were going in blind, so I was hidden behind Emmett's bulk and Rosalie's statuesque frame. Peering between their shoulders, I kept my eyes trained to the forest that bordered the southern end of the lawn. They were all gazing in that direction, obviously hearing something I could not.

Minutes dragged by and I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. Stupid never-tiring Vampires, I grumbled internally. Some of us still have to sit down on occasion. I fidgeted a bit to ease my tension.

Breaking branches cracked, and I could hear the rustling of leaves. All of a sudden, I could detect movement though the gaps in the underbrush. Three Vampires emerged from under cover of the trees, one slightly in the lead, flanked by the others. I stood on my tip toes and craned my neck to get a better view of the newcomers.

Both men were shirtless and even from this distance, I could tell there was something odd about the texture of their skin. My eyes snapped to the tall, sandy-blonde haired man in the center. He was lean, but strongly built. His rippling muscles were well defined, the result of years of hard labor before he became a vampire. He carried himself with a lethal grace, exuding confidence and expectation. I could tell instantly this was a man used to getting his way.

As the three vampires approached, the Cullens and I were hit with wave after wave of terror and awe. Rosalie clung to Emmett and Alice stumbled several steps back. I had never seen her look so small and fragile. Esme moved so that Carlisle was blocking her from view, gripping his arm. Edward hunched over, growling lowly. My knees knocked together and threatened to fold under me. Clearly this is not going to be the easy encounter Alice had expected, I groaned internally.

Carlisle turned to us, instructing us to go into the house. The others complied, heading inside, but my feet were glued to the ground. As Rosalie and Emmett moved, I finally got a full view of the blonde man. Curly hair fell haphazardly in his face, framing a strong jaw and jet black eyes.

Our eyes met and a profound connection ricocheted between us. I could feel the air grow heavy, laden with anticipation and things unsaid. I was surprised that I couldn't see the cords that tied me to this inscrutable stranger; surely they should be obvious. I needed to be near him, I had to touch him. Longing consumed me and I took a step forward.

Everything happened so suddenly. One second my body was being pulled toward the god-like man. The next moment, Edward had roughly grabbed me around my waist and was dragging me inside. In my ear he hissed, "Come on love. Carlisle said to go in. It's not safe for you out here with these monsters." His fingers dug into my stomach, his chisel-like nails a microscopic movement away from piercing my skin.

I didn't think, I just acted. I jabbed my leg back, kicking Edward in his shin. He didn't even flinch; it resulted only in my foot throbbing. I tried vainly to pry his vice grip from my waist. "Let me go Edward! You have no right!" I screamed at him, suddenly livid.

Even before I had finished speaking, Edward was gone, his fingers ripped from around me. I rubbed the spot; I would have bruises for sure. Stunned, I looked around to see what had happened to Edward.

About 100 feet away, the blonde man had Edward pinned, his shining teeth at Edward's neck. Their combined growling reverberated off the house and trees. The force of their impact had driven them a good 6 inches into the ground, spraying dirt in all directions. The newcomer's companions were trying to calm him down, reasoning with him to listen. Carlisle was slowly approaching them with his hands up.

I was rooted to the spot in fascination. I had seen the Cullens use their natural speed and strength on many occasions and have even watched Emmett and Edward wrestle; however, never had I witnessed such raw, animalistic power. My heart did a flip-flop at the sight; whether from fear or from excitement, I wasn't sure. The blond's back rippled with his snarls, his arms taut with tension.

I came to with a start at hearing myself being addressed. Somehow, inexplicably, the blonde vampire knew my name and wanted me to stay. Questions filled my mind. How does he know me? Did they come here just for me? What's going to happen now? Steady, Bella. I tried to calm myself.

Carlisle motioned for me to join him. It felt like the universe was moving in slow motion; time slowed down. I walked to where they were grouped in the middle of the yard, the newcomer still holding Edward down. When I neared, the blonde released Edward and pushed him to the house.

I tried not to gloat to much at seeing Edward beaten; he always bragged about how his gift made him nearly invincible. Dusting off his clothes, Edward turned and glared daggers at me. For a brief moment I wondered if he had heard my thoughts.

I stopped so that I was standing right in front of the blonde, allowing me to have a detailed view. Up close, I realized that the blonde was even more magnificent that I could have believed. He stood over 6 feet tall, and had a way of carrying himself that made him seem to tower over the rest of us. He held himself straight, shoulders back and head held high.

His piercing eyes, so different than the Cullens' molten bronze, were peering directly into my heart. They had faded from black and now shone bright crimson: glowing like fiery, hot coals. I was scorched in the flames of his eyes, burned to my very soul.

Tearing my gaze away from his, I looked down. I was captivated by the crisscrossing pattern that spread across his chest and abs, over his shoulders and neck, and down his arms. When I looked closely, I realized the pattern was comprised of innumerable crescent-shaped marks; I quickly recognized them, with a gasp, as Vampire bites. My hand moved of its own accord and I traced the mass of scars directly over his heart. It felt like I was running my fingers over the bark of petrified wood.

It was all I could do to not faint when the blonde reached out one finger and gently caressed my face. I closed my eyes and relished in his singeing touch. What is happening to me? I mentally screamed. Never had I experienced anything like this. It felt as though my very reason for living was embodied in the man before me. Nothing else mattered. By his side, I could do anything.

The moment popped like a bubble and I felt deprived. The blonde turned to Carlisle, introducing himself and his companions. Jasper. Well nice to meet you too, Jasper, I hummed. His old-fashioned name suited him well. I wondered just how old he was. Physically, he looked to be only a few years older than me.

When he spoke, my stomach quavered with butterflies. Did I say butterflies? I meant albatross. He had a rich, molasses drawl with hints of some sort of foreign accent. Spanish, maybe? I pondered. I had taken a couple of years, but was by no means fluent enough to pick out residual inflections.

He offered to explain how he got here and how he knew me, so Carlisle invited Jasper, Peter and Charlotte inside. My heart pounded loudly when Jasper turned to me and offered me his arm. Being a gentleman seems to natural to him, I mused, once again curious to learn his history.

I linked mine through his, shivering in delight at the close contact. Electricity thrummed in the space between our bodies. As he accompanied me across the lawn and into the house, I felt as though I had been transported to another era.

The Cullens were waiting together and swarmed us when we entered the house. Rose's eyebrows shot up when she saw my arm linked with Jasper's and she mouthed the word, "Later." Edward snarled at the sight of Jasper and I together, but I just ignored him, not wanting a confrontation at the moment.

Carlisle, however, shot a sharp look at Edward, obviously giving silent orders. Edward nodded sharply, a grimace marring his perfect features. Addressing the family, Carlisle explained: "This is Jasper Whitlock. If you will all sit down, he has offered to explain how he and his companions have come to be here."

We congregated in the living room, scattered around on couches and chairs; Charlotte and I on the floor. I leaned up against's Rose's legs, directly across from Jasper. The better to see you, my dear, I mentally had not taken a seat, but instead opted to stand in the middle of the room, hands clasped behind his back, his feet planted shoulder width apart.

Jasper began as soon as we were settled. He started with a brief overview of his history. "I was born in 1844. I don't remember much of my human life except for my time in the Confederate Army. I lied about my age so I could join up. Because I was—skilled—in many ways, I rose quickly through the ranks. Soon I was the youngest Major in the whole Army. Every battle I fought, I won."

Images of uniforms and horses, Calvary swords and southern belles flashed in my mind. The picture of Jasper in a uniform was a wildly attractive image. How much has he seen? I wondered. Jasper started to pace like a lion trapped in a cage. Three strides to the left, three to the right. Our eyes followed him, hypnotized by his savage poise.

We were transported as he continue to speak. "That is, until one night, when I met three women traveling alone on a dark road. It was a vampire by the name of Maria, and her two companions. Of course I didn't know that at the time. When I offered my assistance, they overtook me. They proceeded to take turns feeding, before Maria turned me."

The temperature dropped several degrees and I shivered. Jasper recited his story as though he were reading a list of facts. I wasn't sure if his cold, detached manner made hearing it easier, or harder. "I woke up and it was fight or die. Most fought and still died. I was lucky. Some part of the charisma I had as a human carried over when I was changed. I was able to manipulate the emotions of others. My gift came in useful for controlling newborns and soon I was commanding Maria's army."

My heart ached for Jasper's pain. He died living a life of war and woke to an even more sinister life of war. I wished I could take it all away, ease his memories; but I knew from experience that it was what you went through that made you who you were. Jasper was clearly a strong, courageous, resourceful man.

Jasper went on to tell us about turning Peter and how he was able to break through Jasper's impenetrable shell. He told us about letting Peter escape with Charlotte; then how ran he away from his sire when Peter came back for him. He explained their bond and how they had lived and travelled together for decades. How every so often they would move to a different home, and had one day, nearly seven years ago, decided to go to their house in Phoenix.

As I listened, alarm bells began to ring in my head, clamoring to a climax when Jasper turned to me, his voice lowering an octave, and said, "On a dark night, circumstances led me to a small neighborhood. As I was passing through, I was unexpectedly met with some of the most extraordinary emotions I have ever felt. They were coming from a young girl. You, Isabella."

There was a collective gasp, as though we had all been reading the same cue card. Edward jumped up, fists clenched to his sides. Jasper ignored our reactions. He plowed ahead, speaking quickly: as though his story was a band-aid that would hurt to rip off. "It was the night that you were worried you would lose the house. I saw you paying bills and trying to figure out how to do what your mom should have done. My heart shattered when I watched you cry on the porch. I so wanted to hold you in my arms, but all I could do was to send you my love."

"You?" I faltered. I could recall that very moment with perfect clarity. The recollection of the indescribable love I had felt was burned into my mind. Out of nowhere I had gone from desperate to calm, from lonely to loved. "You did that?" I asked, but did not give him time to respond. Events were clicking into place. "And the rest? The trust fund? Rex. Was that you too?" I couldn't tell if I was irritated at his high handed interference, or grateful that a wonderful man had worked to bring good to my life.

"Yes," was all Jasper said. His eyes blazed, daring me to argue, daring me to complain. I didn't. I knew I couldn't. He had looked after me, cared for me, when no one else did. His actions were the reason my mom still had her house, why we had never ended up on the street. He was why I hadn't had to grow up constantly worried and stressed, possibly beaten or worse. My life would have been very different, and not for the better, had Jasper not decided to help. I owed him. Big time.

I got to my feet and reached out to him, palm up. He clasped my hand in his and I said, "Thank you, Jasper, really. For everything." I was frustrated that my words couldn't even begin to adequately express my feelings. Then I remembered what Jasper had said he could do. I gathered all my gratitude, all my thankfulness, all my love, and sent it to him, mentally crossing my fingers that it would work.

Jasper gently squeezed my hand and the barest smile twitched on his lips. "I know," he replied. "There's more I need to say." I nodded and Jasper went on, still holding my hand. It felt right. It belonged that way. "I was drawn to you Isabella. Time and time again I would feel the urge to see you, just to be near you."

"Damn right he was," Peter interjected. "The love-sick bastard had us running to Phoenix every other day!"

"Peter," Jasper barked. Peter got the hint and shut up, waving for Jasper to go on. "It wasn't until we returned to Phoenix a few days ago, that I realized what we were; what you really meant to me. We went by your mother's house and you were gone, and had evidently been gone for a while. I nearly lost it. I finally admitted to myself that I couldn't live without you. I realized that you are my Mate." He said it in such a way that I could hear the capital 'M'.

I could see that the room exploded—everyone leaped to their feet—but all their shouting was a dull buzz. Edward lunged for Jasper and I gasped. The room spun and I was suddenly standing behind Jasper. Emmett grabbed Edward from behind and pushed him out of the room. It all happened in the space of a second or two and my mind raced to catch up. Leaning my forehead against Jasper's back, I frantically tried to process.

Mates? Carlisle had told me about the phenomenon. Some vampires were lucky enough to find their other half, their Soul Mate. When they did, it was instantaneous and irrevocable. They would be together forever, unless one of them was ended; in that case, the separation would be short. One mate could not live without the other. It was generally thought to be impossible.

But vampires did not mate with humans, only other vampires, or so I thought. Come to think of it, Carlisle never went into detail about the logistics. Is that what I'm feeling? Could Jasper be my mate? It wasn't the most outlandish idea. I bought into the whole vampire thing, so compared to that, the idea of love at first sight was not at all far-fetched. Having my mate would make eternity much more bearable.

The feelings whirling inside of me certainly fit the description Carlisle had given. I was inexplicably drawn to a man I had just met. I had an overwhelming urge to care for him, comfort him, hold him in my arms. He was my life. "If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it."* Cathy's words never made more sense than in that moment. It made sense in a crazy, horror movie sort of way. Oh well, I thought, In for a penny, in for a pound.

*Bella is quoting Cathy, from Wuthering Heights. (Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Ch. 9)

A/N: So there you go! What did you think of the Major's story? And Bella's reaction to him telling her that they are Mates? Next up is some Jasper love; previews for those who want them! :-)