AN: Bella stays; she and Jasper take a new turn.
Chapter nineteen: Whole New Light
Bella, January, 2011…
I woke up in a darkened bedroom, disoriented and wondering how I got there before it all came back to me.
I was in Jasper's bedroom; he had taken me here after I passed out during my session with Esme.
I sat up, tears immediately spilling from my eyes when I thought about leaving. I had been so harsh to Jasper. A part of me meant it, and another part was sorry for even thinking about saying it.
I didn't want to go but what choice did I have?
As I thought about all that James had done to me during my session with Esme, I realized that I would never escape James. I could never be happy with Jasper, because James would always live inside me. He would always be on my mind and I would always be looking over my shoulder, waiting for him to come steal my happiness away.
I couldn't live like that. I would not be able to bear the thought of a world without Jasper, but I had to. I had to forget these feelings and get out of here.
"Whatever you're thinking about, don't." Jasper's voice made me jump. I flipped on the light and saw him in the leather chair in the corner. He looked so uncomfortable; his large frame twisted up in the too small for sleeping chair.
"I can't," I answered, knowing he understood. "I have to go."
"No, you don't," Jasper said, getting up, stretching and then making his way over to me. "You need to forget about that. That's your fear talking. You know that I can protect you. Hold to that thought, not your fear."
"My fear will keep you alive," I reasoned while roughly wiping the tears away.
Jasper swiped a tear from my cheek and took my hand. "Your fear is keeping you from trusting me; loving me."
"I can't." I cried. "He'll kill you. And he'll make me watch the light leave your eyes. I can't do that, Jasper. I can't. I won't be able to live with myself."
"He can't touch you," Jasper insisted. "I won't ever let him touch you again."
How could he be so sure? "How can you be sure?" I had to know. What was driving Jasper to believe that he could keep James away?
Jasper grew serious; darkness swept through his beautiful eyes, making them seem lifeless, black, and evil.
I was frightened of him. "You have to learn to trust me, Bella. If we're gonna be anything, darlin', you have to trust me."
I nodded, shakily as Jasper went on, the darkness in his eyes. "I think we need to talk. We understand each other."
"Okay," I replied, watching as his eyes seemingly lighten.
"Come on…" he said, getting up and holding a hand out for me to take. "…let's get something to eat."
I took his hand, letting him steady me as I breathed in his rich scent. Jasper smelled like sandalwood and sunshine. "Who are you?" I asked in amazement. "And what have I done to deserve you?"
He stopped us at the door, leaned in, and kissed my cheek. "I'm the man who's falling for you, Ms. Swan. And what have I done to deserve a treasure like you?"
Jasper eased back with a relaxing smile that made my stomach do flips and ruined my panties. "You're you."
"Well, there you go, Ms. Swan," he drawled.
I blushed when he said that. God, my entire body must be red right now. Every word out of Jasper's mouth left me swooning.
"What's got you blushing?" he asked as we took the stairs. That drawl of his made my stomach tighten. And I loved how his accent would deepen at the oddest times, awakening desire in me.
"Nothing," I laughed, trying to cover up my lust while hoping like hell that my voice didn't tremble when I said that. Just the words that fell from his sexy lips made me think about all the things I want to do to him.
"Really?" he countered with a raised brow, "Your cheeks look like they're on fire."
I could go about this meekly but this was Jasper, and he loved when I let my confidence be known. "That's what happens when I think about you."
He caressed my palm. "You should do it more often then."
Jasper led us to the kitchen, where he sat me down at the island. He cursed under his breath, berating himself for forgetting my plate upstairs and went to get it.
When he got back, I was to sit and let him take care of me. I tried to protest, but Jasper wasn't taking 'no' for an answer. He heated my dinner and sat with me while I ate.
We eyed each other, but didn't say a word. Jasper looked as if he was deep in thought and I didn't want to interrupt.
But his silence was deafening. So when I had enough, I sighed and voiced my concern, "You should just say something," I said. "It'll be easier if we just started talking or you could ask me questions. I find that when Esme does that, I relax."
"Alright then," Jasper said. He took my empty plate and went to the sink, washing it.
"I'm not sure where to begin," he said with his back to me.
"How about the beginning?"
"Are you sure?" he said cautiously.
"No," I chuckled and Jasper turned to look at me. "But we've got to start somewhere."
When he was through with my plate, we left the kitchen behind, and headed to the living room, together. Jasper's hand stayed in mine as he went around the room, turning the lights on, but dimming them and switching on his fireplace. The night was a little chilly.
"Why not Esme first?" Jasper asked.
"She knows some, and she'll learn the rest, but I want you to know me."
"Okay," he said softly.
He sat down on the couch, pulled the throw off the back of the couch and threw it over us. I leaned my head against his chest, loving the feel of his warm body against me.
"So the beginning huh?" Jasper chuckled.
"I want to know a lot about you," he said.
"That's fine; I want to know you too."
"That's good, because there are things you should know about me," he said cryptically, but I didn't have time to question him, because Jasper dived right in. "What's your favorite color?"
"Why?" he asked, playing with my fingers.
His gentle voice spurred me on to talk. "Lots of reasons."
I smiled, remembering my profound reasons. "It's the color of the sky on a sunny day; it's the color jeans I like to wear–" he laughed with me on that one. "And it's…" I paused, looking down at our joined hands for a second. "It's the color of your eyes."
I looked up in time to see a faint blush gracing his cheeks. "It's good to know I've got company in the blushing department," I commented, making him chuckle before he grew serious.
"Bella…" He started.
"Yeah?" My grip on his hand tightened, and he accepted it, grasping mine fully.
"Aren't James's eyes blue?" he scowled. "His file said that. So why do you like the color on me?"
"You're not a sick, kinder version of James," I said, my voice raising a little. Jasper needed to get that I wasn't here…with him, because I was looking for a kinder version of that asshole. And I guess some of that anger from my session was still lingering beneath the surface.
I pulled away from him, moving down the couch, giving us space. "I hate him, Jasper. I would never think of him in any other context, but to hate him. Sure, I was shocked to see that you two almost look alike, and yes, your eyes are the same color, but that's the extent of it. You're nothing like James."
Jasper smiled slightly while I tried to calm down. "Next question."
"Alright, what was your momma like?"
Again, I was truthful. "Everything I needed and nothing I wanted."
"What does that mean?" he asked, furrowing his brows.
I chuckled and then started, "Living with Renee was like living in a dream…her dream. Renee loved the high society life. She adored the parties, the status, and the money. Boy, did she love the money. But I was a glitch in her world because I was this down to earth girl who just loved reading, cooking and dancing."
"There is nothing wrong with that," Jasper said crossly.
"I know," I sighed. "But in Renee's world, that wasn't enough."
"So she wasn't supportive of your choices?"
"No," I whispered. "I wanted to be a chef, Jasper. As much as I loved dancing, and I had been doing it since I was a kid, cooking and traveling were what I dreamed of; it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
Jasper smiled but it quickly faded. "I'm guessing she hated the idea?"
"More than anything," I chuckled darkly. "She was well aware of my ambition, and she hated it with a passion."
"Has there ever been anything that you did that she liked?" Jasper asked.
"Yes, one thing."
"What was that?" Jasper actually sounded hopeful when he said that.
"Well, that's good." Here we go…I was about to drop him on his head.
"Jasper, Renee loved that I danced, because it kept me in shape."
"Slim," he concurred sadly.
"Exactly." I needed Jasper to understand. "Jasper, please remember that this is a woman who knew what James was doing to me and did nothing. I went to her. I begged her for help. I wanted to leave, and she told James everything I said. I can't even begin to tell you the amount of pain I was in when he got home that night and confronted me."
Jasper didn't say anything, but I could see the anger in his eyes. I could also feel it in his grip.
But I didn't let go. Jasper was what was keeping me grounded as I went through these memories for the second time today.
"Do you want me to stop?" I asked; maybe this was too much for him.
"No," he said with finality. "I want to know you. It's…it's just that I can't understand your mother. James could have killed you, and then what? What would she have gained?"
"You're right, but I don't think she cared as much as you do." Jasper smiled at my answer.
"Okay, next question," I said, trying to smile.
His eyes softened significantly with his next question. "Were you in love with Garrett?" He said it so soft, I almost didn't hear him.
Admittedly, the question caught me off guard though. "Why do you ask?"
"Your eyes always light up when you talk about him." Jasper shrugged; there was uncertainty written all over his face when he met my eyes. "Even at Christmas breakfast when you broke down, for a minute there, you looked so happy," he explained.
I sighed, letting the thought of Garrett in. This was for Jasper. I wanted to be with him, so I had to make him understand.
"Garrett was a great person. He took his time with me. He showed me how to love. Things were never hard with Garrett; he was an incredible human being." My sadness constricted my throat. "That's why I worry about you," I pleaded while trying to fight back the tears. "I don't want to lose you. I don't want anything to happen to you because of me."
"Like what happened to Garrett, you mean?" he said, stunning me.
"What do you know about what happened to Garrett, Jasper?" I asked in a defensive tone. I didn't want to sound like that, but I couldn't help it. My heart was pounding, my breath was choppy, and my palms were sweaty. Did Jasper know about Garrett's death? The whole truth?
He looked me dead in the eye and asked," What do you know about Garrett's death?"
"I know it wasn't a suicide."
"How?" Jasper asked in a calm tone.
"Because Vicky said so," I admitted. Maybe if I told the truth, Jasper would share what he knows.
"Vicky? James's former stepsister."
"Yes. How do you know that?" It was a dumb question, because Jasper was letting his 'team' run surveillance on James. So naturally, he knew about Victoria.
"The background check I ran on James revealed a lot," Jasper said scornfully. "Victoria's mother's marriage to James's father didn't last, but I'm guessing whatever those two had going on, did, and they even involved you in their sick games."
"Yes. As you heard."
Jasper looked bashful. "I'm sorry about that, Bella. That was wrong of me."
I shook my head, dismissing his apology. "No, a part of me is glad you know."
He smiled a little.
"So you think Vicky was right?" I asked, bringing us back on point.
"Yes, I think she admitted it, because she thought you'd never escape them so why hide anything. I doubt she was lying."
"Me too," I whispered. "What do you know about the Carter family, Jasper?"
He looked a little skeptical to share that, but then he just sighed and said, "I know that the Carter family is very wealthy, and that they have the right people to cover up their dirty deeds. But I want you to know that the Whitlock family is far more powerful and that we do whatever it takes to protect our own."
"Okay," I whispered.
He sighed again. That worried me. Was he hiding something? Was it more about me? "There is something I know that may come as a shock to you."
"What?" I was on edge.
"Are you certain you want to know?"
"Yes," I said hastily.
"Bella, James and Garrett were cousins."
Jasper said it fast enough. It was like ripping off a band aid, but my world stopped. I couldn't breathe, even though I could hear Jasper's frantic voice as he shook me, "Bella…Bella…are you okay?"
"Y-y-yeah," I stuttered while using his shoulders for support; I felt like I was going to pass out.
Jasper held on to me, and then hurried through his explanation, "I don't think Garrett was his favorite cousin and I think when James somehow found out Garrett was interested in you, it made him target you even more. Maybe Garrett and James have seen each other somewhere, further confirming James's suspicion that his least favorite cousin was interested in you."
"At the party," I gasped, remembering the party.
"What party?" Jasper inquired, urging me to continue.
"Yeah," I breathed. "I asked Garrett to accompany me to this party. He didn't want to go," I said, recalling Garrett's apprehension as clear as day. "He was actually nervous."
"Where was the party?"
"At this society club," I said frantically. "Oh my God, Jasper, it was so strange. Garrett seemed so in his element. He knew more things than me; foods, politics and such. He wasn't out of place in any conversation with the other guests. But it all changed when he saw James. James smirked…" I was lost in the memory. I thought James was looking at me.
"What is it, Bella?" Jasper asked, bringing me back to the present.
"He was smirking at Garrett, Jasper. Oh my God."
"What happened next?" Jasper questioned.
"Garrett grabbed me and we left the party. Jasper, he was so mad."
"Did he tell you anything after that?" Jasper asked, rubbing my shoulders; comforting me.
"No," I cried. "He only said, 'One day. One day, I'll tell you everything'. But, that day never came. So, they both knew?" I couldn't believe this.
"I think so. Bella, did Garrett want you to stay away from James?"
"Yes," I told him. "Garrett would get angry whenever I talked about my mom wanting me to date James."
"I think Garrett was aware of his cousin's faults, and he wanted to save you from it," Jasper concluded.
"But I thought he liked me?" I sobbed. "Why would he not tell me about James?"
"I think he wanted to," Jasper said sadly. "My sources tell me that there was this aunt that stayed away from the Carter family. I think she is…or was Garrett's mom."
"Carol," I whispered, recalling James mentioning that his estranged aunt that had taken her life after her son's death. Suddenly, it all made sense. "Garrett died so she couldn't go on," I surmised.
"I think so, darlin'," he whispered, placing my head on his shoulder.
"It's my fault," I sobbed.
"No," Jasper said harshly. "It was James' fault."
We sat there, while Jasper let me cry. I cried for everything. For the wasted years. For Garrett.
I don't know where I found the strength, but I said, "Ask me something else."
"Are you sure?" He was hesitant and I could understand why, but this had to be done. I wanted to go on. We were making progress, and I needed to do this.
"Yes," I mumbled in his chest.
"It won't be an easy one."
"Well, after Garrett died, why did you marry James?"
I didn't pause. I just dived right in. "I was so out of it," I said, recalling my mindset back then. "I was depressed; nothing made sense to me. Life was…" I wanted to cry, but I forced myself to calm down. I wouldn't cry again. "It was shit. I moved back home with my mother and her pathetic attempt at sympathy. But I saw right through her. She wasn't sorry. Garrett was out of her way."
"I was a shell of myself, Jasper. Days passed and I was unmoving. I hardly ate. I spoke to no one. I hardly slept because when I closed my eyes, all I saw was Garrett's smiling face. And all I could think about was how we never got the chance to be together." Maybe I shouldn't be telling Jasper this. "I shouldn't be saying this to you."
"No," he whispered, running a hand through my hair; it felt so good. "I want to know."
"Because I want to know you, Bella, and from what I'm hearing, I'm realizing that back then, everything was happening around you and that led you to James and his sadistic ways and I hate that."
"You blame Garrett too?"
"No, Bella," Jasper said. "I don't blame him."
"You're right," I said. "I blame me. I was a fool."
"You weren't a fool," Jasper stated. "They used you. They abused your kindness."
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, absorbing his kind words. I leaned my head on his shoulder, loving the feeling of his hand running through my hair. "Ask me something else."
I could feel Jasper taking a deep breath before he asked, "When…" He paused and then went on, "…did the abuse start?"
"The wedding night," Jasper gasped. "He just took what he wanted, and when I tried to fight back, he reprimanded me. He was too strong. After that, everything was on his account. I couldn't go anywhere, eat anything, or even speak to anyone without his permission."
Jasper sighed. "What about Vicky?" he bravely asked. "When did she step in?"
"It started a year after I married him," I told him. "It didn't happen all the time, but it was a painful experience all the same. Jasper, I didn't want to," I sobbed again.
"I know," Jasper whispered. "Bella, was James...your first?"
The question made me cry even harder and Jasper coaxed me when I nodded. "I'm sorry, but why not Garrett?" He was right to ask. Why not Garrett?
I laughed out. "We were foolishly, or at least, I was foolishly waiting on the right moment. The perfect moment, and instead of that, look what I got. Funny, isn't it?"
"No, it isn't," Jasper said sternly. "I'm so sorry it happened to you."
I fanned him off as tears trailed down my cheeks. "Maybe I deserved it."
Jasper went quiet. He was breathing. I could feel and hear his heavy breaths. But when I got up to glance at him, I almost jumped off the couch.
That murderous, dark look was back in his eyes. The stark blue of them had darkened significantly; it was like I was staring into a stormy ocean.
"Don't you ever think that," he said menacingly. His tone made me regret the statement I just made. "What you deserve is happiness and love. Do you understand me, Bella?"
"Yes," I whispered out; my voice unsurprising lost due to the look in his eyes.
Jasper must have realized that he was scaring me because he got up and moved away. With his back to me, he said, "I'm sorry for that. It's…it's just when you do that, you say things like that, I hate it. I hate that you'd think or could even fathom that you deserve what James dealt out." He turned to me then. "You're so much more, Bella. I'm sorry about Garrett and I admit the first time you mentioned him, I was a little jealous."
"Because I knew that something was building inside me for you," Jasper expressed. "I knew that I wanted to get to know you, care you, and now, fall for you, darlin'. So I don't want to hear you degrading the beautiful person you are over an asshole or the idiots that helped him imprison you." Jasper huffed out a breath and I felt for him.
This must be so stressful. I doubt whatever he wanted me to know about himself would be done tonight.
I wanted to stick around and find out though. I was foolish to think that I could leave just yet.
No. Life had too much to offer here.
"We should stop," I said.
"Maybe we should," Jasper agreed.
"That was what I thought you know," I told him. "You're making me see things differently now."
"You're learning to?"
"Every day," I smiled.
"That's good." Jasper looked up at the clock on the wall. "We should head to bed. You had a long day."
"You too," I smiled timidly, getting off the couch and making my way over to him. I leaned my head on his chest, sighing in relaxation when he wrapped an arm around me.
"Alright, we both had a long day," he drawled, making my stomach do flips.
We headed upstairs together. Jasper led me to my room but I didn't want to be alone.
"Would you stay with me?"
"Of course I will," he smiled.
We walked in together, got into bed together, and curled up in each other's arms. But a thought nagged me. Our talk was still on my mind and I felt it was on Jasper's too.
His question confirmed my suspicion. "Did he ever allow anyone else aside from him and Vicky to hurt you?"
The question should have left me panicking, but it didn't. "His friend, Alec."
"I feel like shit to say this again, but I'm sorry," Jasper said.
I looked up at Jasper, taking his hand. "Don't be. It's not your fault."
"You don't have to tell me if you're ready, you know?"
"I can tell you, but are you ready to hear it?" I asked.
"Yes," Jasper said without trepidation.
"James and Alec went golfing that day," I said, remembering it clear as day. "He left me with instructions to have the house spotless before he got back."
"And you did," Jasper said.
"Yes," I replied, playing with my fingers. I didn't want to face him while I said this. I was too ashamed. "They got back in the early evening, around three or so, and James began to ridicule me."
"So Alec knew how he treated you?" Jasper inquired.
"Oh yeah, he knew everything," I told Jasper. "Anyways, James told me to get them something to drink, but it felt weird."
"From the moment they stepped through the door, they kept giving me these weird looks, I hated it."
"So what happened?"
"When I brought back the drinks to them, James purposely spilled some of his on the floor in front of him, and then gave me that look."
"What look?" Jasper growled.
"A 'clean it up or else' look," I said solemnly.
Jasper sighed deeply. "What else happened?"
"James laughed at me when I got down on the floor and started cleaning."
"Look at that," James sneered to Alec. "You think you can discipline a bitch like that?"
"Oh, I don't know," Alec said snidely. "I think I could get her to do more than that." He hit me on the ass when he said and I trembled. "Marie can multi-task, can't she?"
"Well, she is a good little slut so let's see what else she can do," James chuckled darkly.
I relayed the memory to Jasper, and his grip on me tightened. "I'm sorry, Bella."
"It went on all evening," I said. "They took their turns and I wasn't…but I wasn't there. I hurt like hell afterwards, but I must have phased out while it was happening."
"You found somewhere to go in your mind," Jasper stated.
I glanced up at him, to find him looking down at me intently. "Yeah. I don't know how I did it, but I did."
"That's good," he rasped out.
"Maybe we should stop."
"No, you're too concerned about me," Jasper smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. "What happened afterwards?"
I chuckled darkly. "I got pregnant, but James hates kids so he forced me to have an abortion."
I didn't realize I was crying until Jasper started hushing me. "It's okay, Bella. You won't ever have to live like that again. I'm here now."
And he was.
I fell asleep in Jasper's arms, safe and sound.