Alice and Jasper sat upon their bed, facing each other, hands clasped. Her legs were wrapped around his hips, and his forehead rested against hers. They were both still fully dressed, except for their shoes.
They remained silent and motionless for some time, their emotions melding, coalescing, intensifying until Jasper released her hands and began to unbutton her blouse. She did not stop him. Her fingers traced the scar lowest on his right hand.
As he slid the silky fabric down over her shoulders, she looked up at him. Immediately he caught the slight shift in her feelings. Affection and lust were still coursing through her, but now a flicker of pain crept over him.
"Alice?" he asked quietly. "What is it?"
She swallowed and waited until he had removed her blouse. Then she clasped his hands again and kissed his throat. "Something happened in Volterra," she began.
He stiffened, capturing her face in his hands. "What?"
She remained calm, however, preventing his emotions from escalating. "I was bitten. But I'm absolutely fine now."
She felt rage and hunger for vengeance surge from him. She purposely shrugged them away. She caught his wrists, just firmly enough to draw his attention to her touch.
"Jazz," she said, her tone even, "don't. It's over now. I don't want you to think about revenge. Please."
Her gaze was intense, and he found he could not look away. His seething anger was beginning to fade as the strength of her love washed over him. He swallowed, and his thumb brushed her lower lip.
"Are you sure you're all right?" he asked thickly.
She nodded serenely. She knew, of course, that he would need to see for himself anyway. She began to turn around before he could ask.
"Let me—" he began, but she was already facing away, her back revealed to his worried eyes.
She felt his fingers trail very gently around the scars. "Did Edward remove the venom?" he asked. His voice remained slightly husky.
"No, Carlisle did."
He inhaled sharply. "Damn it, Alice! You waited until you got back? Why the hell didn't you tell me? I would have—"
"I know." She remained facing away but drew his hands around to rest over her unbeating heart. "But I didn't want you to. You've had to do that so many times, and you've experienced so much pain. I couldn't put you through that again."
"But I'm your husband. I'm your mate." His tone was stricken again, and she felt his hurt as an ache in her own chest.
"And that's why I didn't ask you." She leaned her head back, nestling it beneath his chin. "I love you too much to make you do that."
The ache faded, replaced by the warmth she radiated, reflected back as Jasper absorbed it. "Oh Allie," he sighed, his fingers spreading to caress her skin with tender strokes. He bent his head to kiss her shoulder then nuzzled the back of her neck.
She turned then, kissing him ardently. Deep love enveloped the couple as Jasper's lips and fingers soothed away the last shards of Alice's pain.
Note: I'm working on a little outtake for "Touching Solitude" and a new Bella/Edward short story. If you have a preference about which one you'd like to read first, let me know and I'll give that one priority. Thank you!