Blood In The Snow Chapter 1


This has to be the worst case of writer's block I've ever had. My editor, Alice (who also happens to be my sister) is really pushing me to get at least a rough draft of the next few chapters of my new book. Much as I love her, she can be a real pain in the behind.

I came out to the family lodge to get away from the noise and distractions of Seattle. I was hoping the seclusion, the peace of the deep forest and total lack of neighbors, for at least a radius of 100 miles, would give me the chance to clear my mind and get back on track.

I never dreamed my rambling writings would be so well received. Alice found my notebooks while rummaging through my desk, looking for who knows what. Being the nosy little minx that she is, she read them and without telling me, sent them off to an editor friend of hers. Before I knew what was happening, she was shrieking at me, jumping up and down waving the letter in my face.

"I knew it! I knew it!" Her shrieking was giving me a headache.

"What, Alice?" I nearly growled at her. Snatching the paper from her hand, I looked it over quickly. Stunned, I read it over more carefully.

Dear Mr. Cullen:

Thank you for your submission of your untitled work. We see great potential for this work. Please contact Rosalie Hale for an appointment to discuss details of our upcoming partnership…

The letter went on to give me contact numbers, urging me to call as soon as possible. And I guess… the rest is history. My first book hit number one on the New York Times list within the first week and stayed there for eight weeks. The second one did just as well and now, I have two different studios vying to make my books into a three movie series. This is crazy! Who would have known a story about vampires would be so popular? I even heard that they are thinking about Robert Pattinson for the lead vampire. Hmm…yeah, that could work.

Now, I just have to write one more book to complete my three-book deal. And that brings me back here, in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, one hundred miles from anyone, in the middle of the forest, with just Alec for company. Alec is my best friend. At one hundred forty pounds, he is the biggest, couch potato Doberman I've ever known. Don't get me wrong, he's a great protector. He would just rather lie on the couch and either snooze or watch TV all day. But let anyone come anywhere near the house or me, he gets very protective. Ah well… keeps uninvited guests away and that's all I ask. Now, if I could just teach him to not let Alice out of her car, he'd be perfect. But the silly sot is crazy about her. I guess no one is perfect, including Alec.

"Come on, Alec. Let's go for a run." Grabbing my jacket, I opened the door. Must be three feet of snow out there, but I've gotta get out of the house for a while. Maybe I can get my mind back on track. Can't hurt. Running through the forest is so peaceful. Alec stays close, not wandering off the trail. He's always been good at staying where he's supposed to be, so when he suddenly skidded to a stop, hair raised down his back, a low growl rumbling in his chest, I immediately scanned the area. I couldn't see anyone and no fresh tracks in the snow.

"What is it, Alec?" He took off through the forest, nose in the air. Following him, I watched out for any intruders. It's probably just some hunters that wandered onto the property by accident. I'll just let them know this is private property and I'll have my privacy back.

I caught up with Alec just in time to see him frantically digging in the snow. "What is it, boy?" I joined him in digging. What the hell is that? As I pulled the snow back, I could see what looked like an arm. Shit. Did I just find a body? Alec kept digging, whining frantically. Then I saw the arm move slightly. No, not a body, someone buried in the snow. Alec uncovered a head and I could see that it was a man. His eyes were closed and his skin was bluish. He'd been here a while. At least overnight, since it snowed last night and he was completely covered. I finished digging him out. He was naked and lying in a pool of frozen blood. He had obviously been injured, but I couldn't tell if he'd been in an accident or if someone had purposely done this to him. He was breathing, but it was very shallow. I had to get him back to the lodge and warmed up as soon as I could, or he wasn't going to make it.

I pulled off my coat and carefully wrapped him in it. I swept him up in my arms and jogged back to the lodge, my mind racing. What kind of first aid supplies do I have? How can I warm him? The bath…start out cool and slowly add warm water. Okay. He's so thin, he weighs almost nothing. Gotta call Carlisle, he'll know what else I need to do.

Hurrying through the front door, I don't stop until I reach the upstairs bathroom. I gently laid him down on the rug in front of the big whirlpool tub while I start the water. The water should be lukewarm to start with, don't want to shock his system. Once the tub is half full, I carefully remove the coat and ease him into the tub. On my knees, I grab a clean washcloth and begin to bathe him. I leave the warm water slowly trickling to gradually warm the water and his body. I examined his injuries. Oh god, there's hardly an inch on him that isn't bruised, cut or scraped. What the hell happened? I could see that his left arm was broken. No one's arm bent at that angle naturally. That's a hand print! The hand shaped bruise marred the pale skin on his cheek and there was a matching one on his other cheek. And those look like cigarette burns on his chest. He wasn't in some accident. Someone did this to him. Obviously they wanted him dead or they wouldn't have dumped him out here. Thank god Alec found him.

The bluish tinge was starting to fade, a pink blush from the warm water replacing it. More bruises appeared. His body is covered with them. The marks on his neck look a lot like rope burns. Oh god. Did someone hang him? The marks on his wrists indicate he'd been bound at some point. They are raw and bloody. His back looks as though he'd been whipped! What kind of animal would do this? He still hadn't regained consciousness, so I grabbed a big fluffy towel and lifting him from the tub, wrapped him in it and carried him into the bedroom. Gently laying him on the king sized four poster bed, I carefully dried him and mentally made a list of the first aid supplies I needed. Gauze, antibiotic creme, some kind of splint for his arm…Covering him, I head back into the bathroom to rummage through the cabinets for what I needed. Digging through my dresser, I found a t-shirt and slipped it on him along with a pair of boxers. He doesn't need to wake up naked.

Pulling my cell phone from my pocket, I call my dad, Carlisle. He's a surgeon at Seattle Mercy and should be able to give me whatever information I needed to help him.

"Edward. How's the book coming along?"

"Slowly. That's not why I called." I hesitated a moment.

"Something wrong, Son?" I could hear the concern in his voice. "Has something happened?"

"I'm fine, Dad. It's just…well…I found something this morning that I need help with." I quickly explained to him what had transpired this morning. "I need to know what else I can do to help him. We're basically snowed in. The roads are impassable. And the weather report is warning that the worst blizzard of the year is about to hit us."

Carlisle agreed that I had the right plan in mind and that cleaning the wounds and getting his body temperature back up was the best that I could do. Ideally, he should be in a hospital, but since the estate was private property for one hundred miles, we could not expect snow plows. We were stuck here till the snow melted off.

"Edward, you should have enough supplies to take care of him. We always keep the lodge completely stocked. You will need to set that broken arm and immobilize it. Use a splint and then there are some plaster strips you can wrap it with for a cast." Carlisle told me where to find other supplies I might need.

"Thanks, Dad." I thought for a minute. "Dad, could you quietly check around and see if a young man has been reported missing. Something is not right. He looks like he's been tortured and then dumped to die."

"Will do. I've got some contacts that will keep it quiet. I'll let you know what I find out. Call me if you need me."

I walked back into the bedroom with the first aid supplies, hoping he might be awake. Looking down at him, I decide that maybe it was better that he not be awake until I had set his arm. Thank heavens I had taken pre-med before Alice decided to send off my manuscript. At least I could take care of him properly. Setting the supplies on the bed, I sit next to him and quickly tend to his injuries. Thankfully, he did not wake up. It seemed like each time that I thought I'd found all the wounds, there would be another one. Jeez….the hell this man had gone through.

As I tended him, I realized that he was an attractive man, even through all the bruising. He couldn't be more than 23 or 24. His hair falls in chin length blonde waves that would be beautiful when combed out, pale, smooth skin, too thin, but you could tell he usually kept himself well toned…he is beautiful. I wonder what color his eyes are. I felt a bit guilty, ogling him… but I couldn't help it. Since the break up with Sam, I hadn't been with another man. I hadn't turned away from them; I just wasn't interested in finding anyone else just yet. My family had been putting gentle pressure on me for the last six months to 'get back out there'. They worried about me. I just wasn't ready yet. But this man…. something drew me to him.

"Come on, Alec. Let him rest", but the silly beast refused to move from his side, whining softly at me. "Okay, stay there then." I'd never seen him so protective of anyone else like that. I quietly slipped out of the room, leaving the door open so I could hear if he woke up. I need to clean up the bathroom and then head downstairs for a cup of coffee.

I rummaged through the pantry and refrigerator to see what I had that he might be able to eat when he awoke. It would need to be fairly bland and probably liquid. Not knowing the last time he had any food, I feel sure it would take a while before he was up to a steak. He was so thin.

I carried my coffee upstairs to the room across the hall that I had converted to an office for my writing. The window overlooked Mt. Rainier, with nothing between the house and mountain but quiet forest. I often saw small herds of deer wander through the backyard. It was perfect for me, no distractions. I had floor to ceiling bookcases installed on two walls to hold my reference books and my piano on the other wall. Playing helped me to clear my thoughts. I often find that I can work out a particularly difficult passage while playing.

Setting the coffee on my desk, I move to the piano. Without really thinking about what I was playing, the notes seem to flow out of their own accord, soft and sweet. I let the muse take me.

Periodically, I check on my mystery guest. He never moved. Around midnight, my cell phone rang. Carlisle.

"Hey Carlisle"

"Edward. Listen, what does this man look like? Has he woken yet?"

"No, he's not awake. I'm getting worried."

"Sometimes it takes a while. It's the brain's way of minimizing stress and allowing the body to heal. It could take several days. Son, what does he look like?" Carlisle sounded anxious.

"He's tall, blonde, wavy hair, pale skin…"

"Edward…I think he's the man who disappeared after his home burned to the ground. His parents were found inside, dead. Coroner says they were dead before the house burned... something to do with the mob. Police says that it may have to do with slave trading. The police are looking for your guest."

"Well, whoever hurt him must think he's dead. After all, they dumped him in the middle of nowhere, in a snow storm."

"Well, if his name is Jasper Whitlock, that's him. And you need to let me know. But don't let anyone else know he's there. If those men find out there's a chance he's alive, they will come looking for him."

"Okay. I won't let anyone know I've found him. Not that I see anyone here, anyway."

"Well, just be sure you don't forget and mention him when you're talking to Alice or Rosalie, or ANYONE."

"All right Dad. I'll be careful. Let me know if you hear anything else. I'll call you if any problems come up. Tell Mom I love her." After I clicked the phone shut, I quietly stepped across the hall to check on him.

He looks so innocent, just lying there, hair spread out on the pillow like a golden halo, so peaceful and serene. I hoped he was not the one Dad worried he might be. But, if he wasn't…then who is he? I sat in the overstuffed chair across from the bed and just watched him.

Groaning, I stretched, every muscle in my body screaming at me. It must be sometime around sunrise, the last thing I remember is the slight pink glow on the clouds. What on earth did I do? Why am I in this chair and not my bed?Looking over at my bed, I remembered. He is in my bed. Quietly getting up, I moved closer to the bed to check on him. His eyes are still closed and he doesn't seem to have moved at all since I placed him there. I softly brushed my fingers across his forehead. His skin felt silky and smooth, but a bit on the warm side.

I need coffee. Moving quietly, I made my way downstairs to the kitchen, set up the coffee pot and got it brewing. I wondered how much longer he could safely be unconscious. Surely he'd need to eat or drink or something. While the coffee brewed, I powered up my laptop to look at the news. I loved how the "local" paper not only printed out the daily news, they also put it online for those of us too far out to have it delivered. The headline leaped out at me.

Aro Volturi Released, Critical Witness Missing

The article went on to say that one Jasper Whitlock, who had agreed to testify against alleged mob boss, Aro Volturi, was missing. His family home had been burned to the ground. Investigators found two bodies, later identified as Mr. Whitlock's parents, but his body had not been located.

The article went on for another two pages, talking about the Volturi family and Mr. Whitlock's intent to testify against them. They didn't give a description of him, but did say that he was in his mid twenties. The age fit my guest, but it could also fit millions of other men. What happened to him? Did these Volturi find him? Are they the ones who hurt him and then tossed him into the wilderness to die? How could anyone hurt such a beautiful, perfect creature? I won't let anyone hurt him. I wish he would wake up. Oh boy… I am really getting attached and he hasn't even regained consciousness yet! I feel like he's the one I've been waiting for, not even knowing it.

Alec still refused to leave his side, but I knew the silly animal needed to go outside, so I walked upstairs to drag him out if necessary. Before I reached the landing, a terrified scream echoed through the house. I ran to the bedroom to find my guest curled in a fetal position sobbing and screaming.

"Please! No! What do you want? Please! I don't know! I don't know!" His begging was heartbreaking. I swiftly sat next to him and tried to gather him into my arms to comfort him, but he fought me, hitting, scratching and crying even harder. "No! No!"

"It's okay. I won't hurt you. You're safe." I murmured softly in his ear, not letting go of him. From his outburst, I was pretty sure I had Jasper Whitlock in my house and in my arms.

Alec whined anxiously from his spot next to him. I hadn't noticed the dog on the bed. He knew better.

I gently stroked his back, trying desperately to help him calm. "It's okay, baby. I won't let anyone hurt you anymore." My words must be getting through to him…. his sobbing is getting softer and he stopped struggling. I continue to hold him gently in my arms, murmuring softly in his ear. He went limp in my arms. I carefully laid him back on to the bed; he had passed out. His face is flushed. Gently stroking his cheek, I realize his skin feels like it is on fire. Damn, he doesn't need any more problems. Covering him up, I get up and go into the bathroom to get a cold, wet cloth for his forehead. If he doesn't wake up soon so I can get some aspirin in him, I'm gonna have to get him back in a tub of cool water to get this fever down.

He looks so innocent lying in my bed, his hair fanned out on the pillow. I smoothed the cold cloth across his forehead, cheeks and throat. Beautiful. Long and delicate ridges, slipping down to his collarbone and shoulders.I don't even know this man and yet I am mesmerized by him. The cloth began to get warm from his heated skin. I went to cool it with fresh water and walked back to him. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I look down to see terrified ice blue eyes staring back up at me. He doesn't make a sound.

"Hello." I speak softly, not wanting to frighten him. "How are you feeling?" I reached out to place the cold cloth on his forehead and he flinched away from my hand. "It's okay. I won't hurt you. I promise." I stopped all motion toward him, instead holding the cloth where he could see it. "You've got a fever. I'm just trying to get it down." I smile at him and lay the cloth across his forehead. He didn't move, his eyes watching me closely. "Do you think you can take some aspirin?" I held up the pills and the glass of water.

He glanced at the water and slowly nodded his head. I help him sit up, handing him the aspirin. He looked at them briefly, as if checking to see if they were really aspirin, before placing them in his mouth. I help him with the water. He is weak as a kitten and couldn't support the weight of the water glass. After he swallowed, I gently laid him back on to the pillow.

"Are you hungry?" He just looked at me with his doe-like eyes, wary, but silently asking questions. "My name is Edward. You are in my house. I found you in the forest and brought you here." He said nothing. He's terrified and probably in shock. Keep talking to him. "You are safe here. No one knows you are here. Just me and Alec." At that his eyes grew big and panicky, darting around the room. I chuckle softly. "Alec is that lazy dog snuggled up against you." He apparently had not noticed him. He slid his right hand out from under the blanket and rubbed his fingers against Alec's ear. Alec leaned into his hand. Jeez! That dog had it bad! I've NEVER seen him take to someone so quickly before. "Alec is actually who found you." He kept looking at the dog with a small curving of his lips.

His eyes jerk back to me when I get up from the bed. "It's okay. I'm just going to go down to the kitchen and get you some soup and something to drink. Anything special you'd like to drink?"

"Water?" He hesitantly asks.

"Sure. Be right back. I'll leave Alec to keep you company." I walked out of the room, glancing back as I turned the corner, just in time to see him snuggle closer to Alec, his hand reaching out to rub the dog's ears. I almost missed his soft whisper to Alec, "Thank you."

A/N: What do you think? Continue? Please review and let me know what you think.