The Summer It All Began Contest

Title: The Pretense of Dominance and Control
Word Count: 5,476
Rating: M
Pairing: Jasper/Peter
Summary: Jasper must use dominance to control the unruly newborns in Maria's army. But one man defies expectations and teaches Jasper what it is to love.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight world or characters.


Summer was a brutal time to be in Texas. The sun was scorching, and the air hung thick with humidity. Of course, those things didn't matter to a vampire, except that it was nearly impossible to go outside in the daylight hours. And when there was a coven populated almost entirely by newborns, keeping them indoors for twelve straight hours was not an enviable task.

As usual, this ungodly mission fell on the shoulders of the Major. Jasper was a brave soldier, a fierce, fully-trained Major of the Confederate Army. His maker, Maria, had handpicked him to control her wayward vampire army—her faith in him as her right-hand man stemmed from his rapid rise in rank while he was a human Major. Her faith was not misplaced. Jasper was the perfect choice to command her army of newborns in the cutthroat territorial wars. He was no stranger to this structure—military life was all he knew from the age of seventeen. His experience, combined with the ability to feel and project emotions that had manifested itself in him after his change, ensured him a place by Maria's side for eternity.

Jasper presided over the fresh crop of newborns, watching them from the balcony of the large, circular holding room. He gazed down at the sea of new faces, trying to pick out who would be troublemakers and who would be wallflowers. The army was in a state of near constant turnover. Maria liked her soldiers to be as strong as possible. She would turn a large group of humans and keep the newborns through their first year, after which their strength would wane. Then she would have them all dispatched, save for a select few, and begin anew. That dreadful duty fell on Jasper's shoulders, a fact that he had first loathed, but was now accustomed to. He made sure not to make any personal connections with the army—besides, personal connections would only undermine his authority. And so, Jasper never got close to anyone—they were gone too quickly.

In truth, Jasper had a most difficult job. Newborns were volatile and dangerous, prone to fits of uncontrollable rage that would flare up at a moment's notice. Jasper had sustained many savage bites for his trouble in breaking up the fights amongst them. Scarred as his body was, Jasper wore the marks proudly, as badges of honor—proof that the Major always came out on top. Maria was proud to call him her right-hand man, "Mi Major." Maria used the name as a term of endearment, but the newborns were taught to call Jasper that as well, so they would always know their place.

It was true that Maria also used him for her own sexual gratification, but Jasper did not mind—he was a man with certain needs, after all. Just last night they had been together, and afterward Maria had chided him for the recent uprisings that had been occurring within her new army. There had been a surge in dominance play amongst the males as of late, often resulting in battles that saw vicious biting and limbs torn from bodies. Jasper sported a good number of fresh scars from breaking up such battles. Maria was quite unhappy with this.

"Mi Major, you are losing control of them."

"Lo siento, Mi Reina. I will try harder."

"Si, you will."

Maria suggested that Jasper force the submission of the unruly males by using sexual dominance. When Jasper began to protest, she assured him that many other covens used this method of control, to great effect. Although he dreaded feeling the emotions that would surely arise from what was basically a rape, he agreed to try it. There was no defying Maria anyway; she was his maker, and he had to do what she demanded. And so, when the opportunity arose next, Jasper had done it. The offender was the beastly Javier, who liked to pick on the newer additions. Jasper used his ability to his advantage, pushing feelings of submission onto Javier, which helped to mitigate the brute's fear. Mitigate, but not eliminate. Jasper had done his duty, but he had not enjoyed it. He felt guilty and cruel, but it had worked. The others knew what he did to Javier, and they were now less likely to fight amongst themselves. But newborns were impulsive and rash, and Jasper had been required to overpower several other men since that first time.

Standing on the balcony, overseeing the newborns as they waited for night to fall, Jasper fed off the emotions in the room. Today the younglings were at peace, for the most part. They were thirsty, which was to be expected, but no one had the urge to start a brawl. Confident that he could go to his quarters for some time alone, he slunk away from his post. If a problem arose, he would surely feel it in time to return and maintain order.

Jasper was standing at the window in his small room, letting the rays of the sun warm his marble skin as he stared out at the barren, uninhabited desert landscape. It was out of absolute necessity that their home was situated far from human eyes; Jasper knew that. But still, he wished he could see trees, water, green, life. Instead, he could only see sand, dust and cacti. If he was lucky, a stray tumbleweed might roll by.

He was pulled from his thoughts when the atmosphere became laden with a sense of nervous determination, suspended in the air outside of his door. He turned his head to stare at the door, just as the vampire on the other side rapped softly on the heavy wood.

"Come in," Jasper said, turning fully to face his caller. The door eased open, revealing one of the newborns who had been turned only a few short weeks before. Jasper hadn't failed to notice him when he had first entered the fold.

Peter. The man was quiet and kept to himself, outwardly expressing innocent bewilderment to the throngs of newborns surrounding him. But on the inside, he harbored a certain confidence which held an allure that Jasper couldn't pinpoint. The strange contrast between the public face he projected and what he was really feeling inside intrigued Jasper.

Peter stepped gingerly inside, closing the door behind him. His shoulder-length, silvery-blond hair was pulled back in a low ponytail, creating a small tassel at the base of his neck. His delicate features were so perfect, like a porcelain figurine of an angel. He was as tall as Jasper, but leaner in build. Jasper had never considered a man beautiful before, but this man struck him differently.

Peter stayed close to the door, feeling somewhat stressed. Jasper surmised that perhaps he was afraid to make a misstep in the face of the Major.

"How can I help you…" Jasper pretended to struggle recalling the young vampire's name.

"Peter," the young vampire said shyly, looking down at the floor.

"Peter. What can I do for you?"

He paused for a long moment, still looking at his feet.

"I…I had a question, Mi Major."

"Proceed," Jasper commanded, becoming a little bit annoyed by Peter's hesitation.

Another long pause went by before Peter raised his eyes to meet Jasper's. Jasper stared back, wondering what he could want. The man was anxious, but he was also thirsty. Thirsty for more than just blood; he was thirsty for sexual contact. This was not uncommon for newborns, as their basest instincts were amplified in their first year. Blood and sex were what most of the brawls were about, so Jasper brushed the feelings aside.

Finally, Peter spoke. "I admire the power you have over us, Mi Major. It makes me feel…safer."

Jasper crossed his arms over his chest. "Thank you. Your question?"

Peter shuffled his feet, a habit carried over from his human life. "I was wondering…why have you not taken me as you have some of the others?"

Jasper was confused by the youngling's question. Did he wantto be dominated? "Because you have not caused any trouble," Jasper replied curtly.

Peter's vibrant crimson eyes darkened to a pitch-black. He took several steps forward until he was only inches away from Jasper, whose posture was forbidding.

"Would you like me to cause trouble?" he asked, his tone husky with need.

Jasper stiffened as the newborn's lust spiked exponentially, awakening a deep-seated need within Jasper's loins. Peter desired him. And something about this shy, yet bold vampire captivated Jasper. He had never considered being intimate with another male. Doing his duty didn't count—Jasper did not do that for personal pleasure. But this…this would be different. If Jasper allowed this to happen, his life would surely change. And Maria—what would she say if she ever found out? Was he ready for that? Was he ready for this?

Whether Jasper was ready or not, Peter made the decision for him. He closed the gap between them, pressing his cool lips to Jasper's. Foreplay was never a factor in the Major's power play—it wasn't about sex; it was about control. As such, Jasper had never kissed a man before. With his eyes closed, Jasper could barely tell the difference—Peter's lips were as soft as a woman's. But when Peter parted his lips and invited Jasper inside, the ensuing tangle of tongues proved that the vampire was all man. That and the hardness prodding against Jasper's thigh left no doubt.

Jasper pulled back, causing Peter to growl at the loss of connection. The Major smirked at him, earning another shy smile in return. Jasper found himself wanting to feel the man's hair between his fingers, and he swiftly removed the rolled leather strap. Peter shook out his blond mane so that it hung in loose waves, framing his face. Jasper thought he must be the most beautiful man he had ever laid eyes on. He slid his hands into the silky strands, gripping them near the roots and pulled Peter in for another fiery kiss.

They rutted against each other, their appetite for one another escalating and intensifying their mutual arousal. The combination of his own desire and Peter's was so thick—Jasper could no longer control himself. Roughly, he tore the clothes from Peter's body, eliciting a gasp of surprise from the man, followed by an exuberant growl. Jasper tossed the shredded scraps aside, stepping out of his own clothing in a flash of motion.

Jasper pressed his naked flesh against Peter's, his hands exploring everywhere as his tongue invaded the cool cavern of his mouth, foreshadowing what he was going to do to him. Peter reciprocated eagerly, more than ready for what would come next. Jasper took the cue from Peter and broke the kiss.

"Down," Jasper commanded, and Peter's eyes widened momentarily. He stifled a self-satisfied smirk as he followed the order, getting on his hands and knees and presenting himself for the taking. Jasper simply stared for a long moment at the smooth, muscular planes of the man's back. His lightly hairy legs were spread, his testicles swaying gently, his tight, round rear beckoning Jasper to come closer.

Jasper could feel Peter's anticipation rise as he approached him and slid his hands down the curve of the man's spine, coming to a rest on each rounded cheek. He spread them apart and got down on his knees, lining up his considerable manhood with Peter's small entrance. Jasper's own anticipation, compounded by Peter's, drove him forward, and he watched in awe as the young vampire's body stretched to accommodate his girth. Jasper felt a twinge of discomfort as he sank inside the man to the hilt. He knew it was not his own discomfort—all Jasper could feel was the intense pleasure of Peter's tight, wet body constricting around him, trying to push him out.

Peter groaned low, and then the discomfort disappeared, replaced with a longing for more. Peter arched his back to take Jasper in deeper, and pushed back against the Major's hips, a silent plea to continue. Jasper did exactly that, starting out slow, learning what pleased the man as he went.

When he hit a particular spot within his body, Peter cried out, "Oh yes, Mi Major! Harder, faster, por favor!"

Jasper responded by setting a punishing pace, taking care to keep the angle that seemed to please Peter the most. Jasper's grunts and groans were joined by the cries and mewls of the man beneath him, their noises creating an erotic symphony that further stoked their desire.

Soon, Jasper could feel Peter's tension increase tenfold, his body screaming for release. Jasper was nearing the edge as well, but he wanted to be sure Peter found his pleasure before him.

For the first time ever, Jasper wrapped his hand around another man's length, stroking it furiously until Peter's tight walls clamped around him and his hot release splattered onto Jasper's hand. The Major followed closely behind him, releasing inside the young vampire and collapsing on top of him. Their breathing was harsh as they came down from their mutual high.

Jasper slipped out of Peter and rolled onto his back, pulling Peter with him so that he was flush against Jasper's side, his blond hair fanning out as his head rested in the crook of Jasper's shoulder. As they lay in recovery, Jasper sensed Peter's pure joy evolving into feelings of attachment and need. Peter still wanted him—he wouldn't be satisfied with just one night. And Jasper found that he was pleased by this. Though he had never wanted a man before, he could not deny that this particular man aroused certain feelings inside him that he had only felt vicariously before—not just feelings of lust, but a desire to know him better.

Jasper placed a hand on Peter's chin and tilted his face to look into his eyes. His formerly black eyes were a rich crimson once again, but now they burned with passion as he gazed at Jasper. Jasper bent his head and engaged Peter in a gentle kiss, letting his lips say what words could not. Peter's emotions mirrored his own, and Jasper was confident that they would continue this affair. But there was one thing…

Jasper took a firm tone, looking Peter hard in the eye.

"No one can know about us. I cannot treat you differently from the others."

Peter nodded his head in agreement and smiled shyly. "It will be our secret, Mi Major."

Internally, Jasper grimaced at the title. Everyone called him that…Peter was different.

"In this room, please…call me Jasper."

~0~0~0~0~

Their relationship continued and their connection only grew stronger over the next few weeks. Their desire for each other grew and grew, and soon the few and far between chances they found to consummate their desires were not enough. Peter began to start skirmishes in order for Jasper to publicly take him away and exert his dominance as "the Major." No one questioned it, not even Maria. It was a part of Jasper's duties, after all.

Of course, Peter was not immune to jealousy. Jasper was still required to settle arguments amongst the other vampires, and that often led to the expected display of power. Peter kept quiet about it, but the yearling forgot about Jasper's ability. Jasper knew the extent of Peter's jealousy, and so he did his best to assuage it by lavishing the young man with plenty of extra attention during their trysts. Peter would be placated—until the next time. Then Jasper would have to start all over again, reassuring him. But Jasper didn't mind. He liked giving Peter pleasure.

Months passed, and the old crop of newborns were reaching the one-year mark. Maria had begun to turn new vampires. Jasper knew that this was the signal; Maria would soon request that Jasper dispatch the older group in favor of the new ones. She did this year after year—the exorbitant strength of the typical newborn diminished after their first year, and Maria wanted her army to be as strong as possible. The older vampires would also no longer be entirely ruled by their instincts and would begin to form their own ideas, which could lead them to defect.

Jasper hated this part of his existence. He was an empath; he could feel the fear, the terror, the desperation that filled the final moments of every yearling before he twisted their heads from their bodies. He had perfected a technique, however, of taking them by surprise so he could avoid those emotions. He would lure them, one by one, onto the outside balcony at nightfall, pointing out the constellations in the starry sky above. He would point over their shoulder, and they would search the sky for what he was describing to them. While they were sufficiently distracted by the stars, he would swiftly break their necks. It would work well for the first ten yearlings or so, but the remainder would begin to get suspicious when their peers did not return. And so, Jasper couldn't avoid the terror completely—he could only lessen it for himself.

Out of every group of yearlings, Maria would allow two to continue to serve the army—one of Jasper's choosing, and one of her own. She chose to save the brutish Javier, as his strength had not waned significantly. Of course, Jasper chose Peter. Maria had rebuked his choice, as he showed no strength greater than any other yearling. But Jasper defended him, citing his fierce loyalty, and Maria had conceded. Thus, Jasper was allowed to keep their covert affair alive.

~0~0~0~0~

"Jasper, I've met someone."

Jasper turned his face away from Peter's saddened eyes. It was no secret to Jasper that Peter had been feeling differently toward him as of late. Ever since the new group of vampires had joined them, Peter had been feeling more and more guilty about their meetings, although his desire had not lessened. But still, Jasper knew something had been bothering the man, and now he knew what it was.

"Well, mi hermano. I reckon that this is the end?" Jasper had not meant it to come out as a question.

Peter placed a kiss to his chest where his dead heart resided. He turned Jasper's chin to meet his gaze; a gaze that was mournful, but loving. "Jasper, I care for you a great deal. But Charlotte…I believe she is my true mate."

Charlotte. The pretty, petite newborn with the pale blonde hair that matched Peter's in texture and length. She was tiny—no more than five feet tall. Her muted beauty had caught Jasper's eye as well. Now that he thought about it, he realized that, indeed, Peter had been spending most of his time apart from Jasper with her, as though he were glued to her side. Even now, as Peter spoke of her, his eyes brightened and his chest swelled with joy. It would be simple for Jasper to manipulate Peter's emotions so that he would choose to be with him. But Jasper was a man of honor—he didn't want to come between true love. As much as it pained him to do so, Jasper would set the man free.

Jasper bent his head, catching Peter's lips with his own, and poured all of his emotions into the kiss—passion, sadness, regret, love. Peter felt it all, returning the kiss with gusto. When they finally broke, Jasper smiled gently.

"Go to her, Peter."

Peter's brow furrowed, and he looked as though he might cry if he were able. "What about you?"

"I'll be fine, as I have always been. I will not be alone. I have Maria," Jasper replied, trying to sound convincing.

It worked. Peter believed him. "There will always be a place for you in my heart, Jasper," Peter said, his voice barely a whisper.

Jasper smiled and nodded, unable to find the words to speak. With that, Peter rose and quickly donned his clothing. He leaned down for one more kiss, albeit a chaste one.

"Goodbye, Jasper," he whispered against Jasper's lips.

"Goodbye, Peter."

~0~0~0~0~

A year passed, and summer came once again. Jasper had made himself more available to Maria. While she had kept him more than satisfied, his heart still longed for something more. Maria was a firecracker in bed, but her soul was cold and unfeeling. Peter had been warm and permissive, and Jasper missed that, more than he cared to admit. Instead, he pushed those feelings aside and took solace in watching Peter's relationship with Charlotte flourish.

The pair was inseparable. Jasper could feel the strength of their bond vividly. Jasper wanted to hate her for stealing Peter away, but he couldn't. It was impossible—not when he could feel the purity of their love for one another. So Jasper kept his distance and let them have their joy.

Before long, it was time to refresh the newborn population within the coven. Maria chose her stallion to keep, and Jasper lobbied for Charlotte. Maria would not hear of it, however. No amount of convincing on Jasper's part would work, and Maria knew when he was trying to affect her mood, so that had no effect either. She would not stand for his insolence, she had informed him. He would take out the girl or face Maria's wrath. Jasper was stuck between a rock and a hard place, but he did not have much of a choice. Peter had become his aide in dispatch; he knew that there was no escaping this part of their coven life—that Peter himself had been a rare exception. He could only hope that Peter would understand his position, and forgive him one day.

The night of eradication was upon them. Jasper and Peter were on the outer balcony, as usual. Peter had never been entirely comfortable with this role, but he always wore a stoic mask for this mission—the newborns never suspected anything from him. But tonight, behind the mask, Peter was deeply disturbed. He knew what was going to happen, and his heart was breaking. Jasper could clearly feel Peter's torment, but he was forced to ignore it. Whenever their eyes met, Peter silently pleaded with him, compounding Jasper's despair.

Jasper pointed out the constellation Pegasus to the yearling he was standing behind. The boy leaned his hands against the railing to get a closer look. As the boy stared in wonder, Jasper swiftly snapped his head off—quick and efficient, so that the boy never knew what was coming. He reverently added the boy to the purple-glowing pile of embers down below, watching as he rapidly turned to ash. When the evidence of the body was destroyed, he motioned for Peter to bring in the next victim.

Reluctantly, Peter headed for the door. He returned with Charlotte in tow. She was very afraid…would Peter have told her what was about to happen? Surely he wouldn't…for her sake. Jasper's question was answered when Charlotte approached him and dropped to her knees, sobbing tearlessly. "Please, Mi Major!" she beseeched him. "Don't end my life. Think of Peter!"

Jasper's eyes met Peter's involuntarily. He was also crying, begging Jasper with his gaze not to do this. But what choice did Jasper have? Maria would know… "It is not my choice," he said firmly.

Peter was beside Charlotte in a flash, lifting her to her feet and cradling her in his arms. She hid her face in his chest. "If she dies, you must kill me too, Mi Major. I won't continue on without her."

Jasper should have seen this coming. His eyes flitted between the pair of them. He couldn't kill Peter. He couldn't live with himself if he did. His stony expression unchanged, Jasper spoke in a voice that was barely a whisper, lest anyone overhear.

"Take her and go. Jump from the balcony. No one will know."

Peter's heart soared, but his elation came crashing down just as quickly. "But…what will Maria do to you?"

"It matters not. Just go—now, before I change my mind."

Peter rushed Charlotte to the balcony railing, and she jumped down to the ground effortlessly. Peter stood atop the railing, but before he jumped to join her, he turned back to Jasper.

"Thank you, mi amor."

And then, he was gone.

~0~0~0~0~

Maria had been surprised when Jasper returned without Peter. When pressed for a reason, Jasper told the truth. Peter had been mated to a newborn slated for destruction, so he had fought Jasper to keep her alive—and lost. Maria was satisfied with this resolution; she had no reason to doubt its validity. To her, Jasper was a warrior, unmoved by something as silly as love.

Five years had passed, and life continued in much the same way for Jasper since Peter and Charlotte had escaped. He went through the motions, never letting Maria know that anything had changed in him. But he hadchanged, in ways he could not have anticipated. Jasper had never known love before Peter had walked into his life, and while he accepted that it was not the lasting love of a true mate, it had changed him irrevocably nonetheless. Now, he too yearned to find the one who would complete him, like Peter had with Charlotte. Jasper felt empty and alone—he longed to fill that void, but he could not fathom how to accomplish that as long as he stayed with Maria.

Jasper came to the realization that he needed to leave this place, but he did not know if he could survive on his own. All he knew of vampire life was tied to Maria. He wondered if all covens operated like hers, or if Maria's was the exception. He wished to hear of Peter and Charlotte's fate, alone together out in the world, unprotected.

Tonight, Jasper stood on the infamous balcony overlooking the vast expanse of desert. The moon was new and the sky was starless this evening, a rarity in Texas. Jasper reveled in the inky blackness—it matched the feeling in his soul.

"Peter, where are you?" he breathed into the dark night.

"I can take you to him."

Jasper snapped to attention. His eyes searched the horizon, trying to pinpoint where the voice had come from. And then he saw a shadowy figure, rapidly closing the distance between them. He breathed in deeply—the scent was a familiar lilac, tinged with the aroma of his first love.

Charlotte.

She was there, standing below the balcony, gazing up at him. Her emotions bled into him—a mixture of fear, excitement and apprehension. She addressed him, keeping her voice low to avoid detection.

"I've come for you, Jasper, to save you from this place. Peter would have come himself, but he was afraid Maria would recognize his scent." Jasper simply stared at her, at a loss for words. Peter had sent her to rescue him. She went on. "Come with me. The life we've built is full of wonder and freedom. Escape with me from this prison."

She stretched out her hand to him, beckoning for Jasper to jump. He only hesitated for a moment before complying. He leapt from the balcony, landing softly on his feet. Together, they ran off into the distance, away from the war, away from Maria, and toward a new life.

~0~0~0~0~

Peter and Charlotte had settled in Pennsylvania. Life there was everything Jasper had dreamed it might be—expansive forests full of lush greenery, with enough overcast days to actually venture out in the daylight hours. That was entirely new to Jasper, and it was quite liberating. It made him feel like less of a monster. Going out in the daytime also made for more interesting hunting…he no longer only fed on the drunken vermin of the underworld. There was a downside to feeding from humans that were more vibrant and youthful, however. Whereas the drunks and fiends had been easily overtaken, often believing the blood-drinking creature attacking them to be a hallucination, the people he now fed from felt a myriad of emotions when they were bitten. Their terror, their fear, their desperation would bleed into him, spoiling his meal and sinking him into a depression that was difficult to shake.

Jasper was glad to be with his friends, but after several months of cohabitation, it was becoming nearly unbearable to be around the couple. They were blissfully happy together. Jasper should have fed off of their emotional states and been happy as well. But he wasn't. Their bliss merely reminded him that he was alone. He was not jealous of Charlotte. He had long since let Peter go from his heart. He harbored no ill will toward her. But he desired to leave—to find his own happiness.

One day, Jasper found Peter alone in the garden behind the cabin they had taken up residence in. Peter sensed his approach and turned to face him with a warm smile.

"Mi amigo," he greeted Jasper.

Jasper smiled at him, his face betraying a hint of sadness. Peter did not fail to pick up on this, judging from the feel of his rising worry. "Mi amigo, I want to thank you." Peter raised an eyebrow, but did not reply. Jasper continued, "Thank you for saving me from that Hell and showing me that there is more to life than war and fighting. Thank you for allowing me into your home…"

Peter interrupted, placing a hand on Jasper's shoulder. "You are always welcome here; mi casa, su casa."

"I know. But I must move on now."

Peter's smile faltered. "Is it because—"

"No. I am happy for the love you have found, Peter. But it makes me want to find love for myself." Peter nodded in understanding. "Besides, I need to find a new method of sustaining myself. My ability is hindering my enjoyment of my meals."

Again, Peter nodded, although he did not fully believe that this was enough of a reason to leave. Still, he did not protest. He accepted Jasper's excuse and held out his hand to him. Jasper took it, and they shared a handshake before Peter pulled him in for a farewell hug.

After several minutes, Peter stepped away and smiled sadly at his friend.

"Until we meet again, Mi Major."

~0~0~0~0~

Jasper lived nomadically for an undetermined amount of time. He did not know how long, because he had removed himself from society, exploring the rugged terrain of the Alleghany Mountains of Pennsylvania. He tried to avoid taking human life, only feeding when he was desperately thirsty, usually taking hunters or hikers by surprise. He would snap their necks and feed once their emotions had quieted. It was better, but not perfect.

One rainy day, after feeding on a pair of hikers, he found himself on the outskirts of Philadelphia. He had lived in the solitude of the wild for so long that soon his curiosity convinced him to explore city life. Thankfully, he had taken the clothing of one of the dead hikers, so he was presentable. Running his fingers through his long, wavy hair, he untangled the knots to the best of his ability and set out on this new adventure.

He followed people who exuded excitement and found himself taking in a multitude of tourist attractions. Jasper learned how the Civil War had ended on one of the tours he had joined. The city was rife with history, and although he was disappointed to learn that the side he had fought for had lost, he did not allow it to dampen his mood.

Eventually, he found himself on a busy thoroughfare, watching people take cover from the driving rain in shops and restaurants. Although the rain did not bother him, Jasper decided to follow suit to avoid suspicion. Glancing around the street lined with shops, his gaze settled on a shabby-looking diner. That would do just fine.

He crossed the street and pushed open the door. A bell chimed, alerting the staff to the entrance of another customer. Amid the smells of cooked meat and burnt coffee, he recognized a sweet aroma. It smelled like a vampire, but that couldn't be possible, could it?

And then he saw her, looking his way. A tiny pixie with short-cropped black hair and pouty pink lips. She was smiling brightly at him. Jasper couldn't help but smile back. She glided over to him, ensnaring him with her strange, golden eyes. She was so beautiful. The girl spoke to him, her smile never faltering, her lyrical voice tinkling like a bell…

"You've kept me waiting."

THE END