Big thank you to Obsessedtwibrarian (OTB) for looking this over and fixing all my mistakes.
Letting Her In
One would think that as an empath he would be better at this, but his own feelings confused him more than the ones he sensed from others.
She danced easily into his life; all wit, charm and beauty. She was comfortable around him, so at ease that he felt compelled to follow her lead, which frightened him. His mind screamed that this was all wrong, that he could not let her get close to him, that it was wrong to trust her, even though his heart ached for some connection.
"Are you alright?"
Jasper lifted his head slightly, his burgundy eyes sliding from the forest floor and locking onto a pair of gentle golden eyes-eyes that mocked the control he knew he would never be able to attain.
"I am fine," he whispered, watching as her face fell slightly.
She knew he was lying and he hated it. He hated how she knew, as if she could read him like an open book. He hated how exposed it made him feel; so vulnerable and open to scrutiny. Most of all, he hated hurting Alice with his lies, but he could not bring himself to stop. It was all done in defense, as he was desperate to keep her at arm's length.
"Are you sure?" she questioned gently and with some hesitancy to show that she was not going to push the subject.
He nodded mutely; too afraid to trust in what he might say.
She gave him a small smile that did not reach her eyes, which shone sadly up at him. He was shocked to find that that saddened him. It was not the bright, large, overjoyed smile he had grown accustomed to.
"Okay," she said, conceding, though she clearly wanted to say more. "There is a herd of deer nearby. Would you like to hunt?" she questioned, changing the subject easily.
He shrugged his shoulders. He found the deer blood quite repulsive, though he would not complain. It was better than being in a cloud of despair and depression. "If you would like."
"I could use a hunt," she chirped happily, though he knew she was not being completely honest. She had hunted just a few days ago. It was him who really needed it.
He had killed a human just the other day, and he'd been so certain it would be the last straw with Alice. He had been trying her diet for the last month and was still not all that good at it. They had kept to the forest for the last two weeks trying to remove the temptation. Unfortunately, they had stumbled across a hunter. Afterward, he had not even remembered attacking him.
He'd come to his senses when the fear had flooded into him, causing him to drop to his knees. He'd coughed on the mouthful of blood as he'd struggled to breathe and somehow had managed to swallow it. He'd been unable to stop himself as he'd continued to feed, shuddering through each mouth full and fighting not to choke. His hands had shook violently as he'd gripped the man desperately. Then, as suddenly as it had all appeared it was gone. He'd felt nothing, just hollow, empty and alone. He'd taken a few shuddering breaths and had choked on the depression that had begun to settle in.
Alice had moved forward to help him, startling him when she'd entered his peripheral vision. He'd been unable to help the defensive snarl as he'd whipped around with teeth bared.
"I'll take care of the body," she'd said, reaching down and grabbing the man gently by the arm.
He'd watched, as she'd drug him deeper into the forest, hiding him where he would not be found. She'd returned quickly to his side, giving him a sad smile as he'd prepared himself for what he was certain she would say. He'd been so convinced she would tell him she was done-that he was broken beyond repair and he simply was not worth the effort. When she'd held out her hand for him he'd watched her in shock. He'd watched her hand for a moment more before reaching out to slowly and hesitantly place his hand in hers. She'd squeezed her hand tightly around his, her love flowing into him, drowning his depression.
Jasper shook his head fighting away the feeling along with the memory. After taking her hand, he had clung to her like a lost pup. Now he was just fighting to push her away.
"They're just ahead," Alice said, and then took off suddenly, bolting through the trees. He followed at her heels, quickly spotting the deer. They broke off from each other as they moved to take down their own prey. Jasper snapped the neck effortlessly, grimacing just before he moved to press his mouth to the animal's neck, fighting not to gag as the blood began to pool in his mouth. He finished it off quickly, and then stood, glancing around for Alice.
He was surprised to feel his chest constrict with panic when he could not see her. Just moments before he had been fighting to keep his distance, and now he wanted her back at his side.
"Alice!" he called out to the empty clearing, uncaring when his voice cracked slightly with worry.
Relief flooded through him when she sat up, suddenly appearing in the tall grass with a smile, no doubt hearing his concern. He let out a breath he had not realized he had been holding, finally coming to terms with the fact that he cared about her and that one day he would let her in fully. The smile on her face said that she knew it, too.