Chapter 19. Revealings
I had no idea what had happened exactly, but Jasper turned into something wild and not manageable. He was an epitome of violence.
His face from his profile was intense, worse than the night when he had saved me from Victoria. It was monstrous; it was horrific; and, there was something else there. It took me a minute to think of what it was. And it was fear.
But he also looked like he was trying to fight something, and I think he was trying not to kill Felix. At least not right away.
The way he was on that vampire, was like a cat feasting on its prey. I could see spasms running through his back as he quivered with fury. The tendons in his neck that was exposed from his shirt stood out, and I realized his jaw was clenched. For a moment I thought it was clenched so tight he would end up breaking his own teeth. But the noise coming out of his throat from his chest was the most terrifying thing about the entire situation. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand, and chills ran down my spine.
While Jane had told Felix's story, the look in him that I thought was fear was suddenly replaced with determination. I knew he was going to kill him, and after everything was said in done, I had wished that he would.
One little twist and his head was off with a sickening snap. Peter, Charlotte, and Rosalie were gone in an instant with Felix. Emmett finally let me go, and he headed off to the back where I assumed they went to finish the job.
Carlisle, Esme, and Jane were just standing there, with looks of shock on their faces. But I could swear I saw Jane smile.
Jasper had stood up and moved off a few feet, and he was looking out to the meadow.
I moved toward him, but Carlisle grabbed my arm and whispered to me to leave him be, that he needed space so he could calm down.
I wasn't afraid of Jasper. I knew he wouldn't hurt me, but at that moment he seemed like he was at a loss. He looked alone, and I didn't want him to be alone. I tried to wiggle free from Carlisle's grasp and Esme told him to just let me go.
I walked over to Jasper and I slowly took his hand in both of mine first. He didn't even move, but the black globes of death that were his eyes contracted slightly. I watched his face for a second, and I moved in and laid my head on his chest.
He didn't say anything, and that worried me. I was worried that he was giving up on keeping me alive because certain death seemed to be following me around. And I didn't want him to give up. I wanted to stay with him and the rest of the family forever.
I cared for him and wished like hell I knew what I could do to help him.
I was just starting to lose the hold on my bravado when he took a deep breath. I felt him relax, and I felt his free hand touch my head. He started to run his fingertips through my hair.
Time seemed immeasurable for a while, but the calm and quiet returned.
I was starting to get a little cold. The wind was blowing in from the north, and being next to Jasper's wasn't helping either. The hand that was still holding his was going numb.
I could smell the fire, and I almost suggested that we go sit by it, when I finally realized it was more than just wood burning.
The entire event played through my mind over and over again. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement, and Peter and Charlotte were both standing in front of us, looking concerned.
"Jasper, you okay?" Peter asked. I moved away from Jasper's chest, but he kept a firm hold on my hand.
"Yeah. I'm fine," Jasper answered, quiet and subdued.
"Well, he's dust in the wind now. Your sister is very upset. Emmett's taking her for a walk. When they get back, we need to have a little meeting with the midget. Carlisle is behind the house and already on the phone with Aro. Carlisle's got a colorful vocabulary when he's pissed off. I've also let him know that I don't want anyone else coming to replace that perverted fuck we just roasted. I don't want any more of them here. I don't even know if I trust her yet."
"Jane?" Jasper asked.
"Yeah," Peter answered, nodding, and looking pretty severe. "Get Bella inside. She doesn't have her coat on. Bella are you alright? Do you need anything? I know that was probably upsetting to see, but it was for the best."
"No, I'm perfectly fine. I'm just worried about Jasper."
Jasper looked down at me. "Don't worry about me, I'm okay. I'm just sorry you had to see me like that. But I had to kill him. I had to."
I realized there was still an audience, but I didn't care.
"You don't need to be sorry for anything. That sick fucker deserved it, and I was hoping you would. I just don't want you to give up, is all."
Jasper let go of my hand, wrapping one arm around my waist as he moved to stand in front of me somewhat so I could just focus on him. His eyes were still strikingly black, yet full of depth at the same time. He looked at me concerned.
"Why would I give up? What do you mean?" He asked, quietly.
"I'm worried that you might want to give up on all of this. All that's happened with Victoria, putting the pieces of me back together because of my dad, this thing that just happened with that Felix...I'm sorry, but death just seems to keep knocking at my door. Maybe I should just answer it. You all could go back to your lives and I'll..be in a nice, quiet place. It just seems like maybe it's starting to tear at you, and I don't want that."
Jasper sighed, he was irritated.
"You know what tears at me? When you talk like this. I'm not giving up. Not ever. You seem to have forgotten she's after all of us. I just worry how all this ugliness affects you. Like this? This that just happened? I'm not a cruel man, and I don't want you to think I am."
Peter interrupted as Jasper pulled me against him, embracing me.
"I don't think you give her enough credit, my friend. She knows evil when she sees it. She's not afraid of you, she's afraid for you. Now why don't you take care of your sister and get her inside before she catches pneumonia."
I could have sworn I heard a snort from Charlotte, and I hoped they weren't misreading things.
I didn't look at them though because Jasper had pulled away and grabbed my hand to lead me into the house. The splintered remains of Charlotte's custom-made doors were lying everywhere, outside and inside.
Jane was sitting in the area on the left, her back straight, watching us with big, curious eyes. She looked like an innocent, bloodsucking child. Esme flitted to us, her face concerned.
"Are you both okay?" She asked.
Jasper didn't answer, and when I looked at him, he was waiting for me to answer. "Yeah, I'm good."
"I'm good too, Esme." Jasper smiled at her.
She looked us both over. "Okay. Jasper, I want to talk to you. Bella, I can hear your stomach. Get in the kitchen, now," she said kindly, but there was something about her face that said the only winner of a potential argument would be her and her alone.
My stomach was growling because it was in upheaval, but I would appease Esme and try to eat. Jasper had asked Charlotte if she would go with me, his eyes glancing in Jane's direction.
Charlotte told him yes, and Peter came along, too. Nothing sounded good, but I made a couple of pieces of cinnamon toast and drank a glass of milk.
Peter and I started talking about scents when he eyed my lunch. I told him the Cullen's have always told me that I have a floral smell, like freesia. They asked me if I could smell them and what they smelled like. I never could identify it; each one of them smelled sweet, and I even smelled them. Peter didn't smell like anything but fabric softener and smoke. That's when he told me about his gift.
Charlotte asked me about the draw, about the attraction to them, and if I ever had any issues with being attracted to any of the Cullen's besides Edward. Peter in turn, wanted to know if I thought he was cute. I attempted to push him off the chair, and Charlotte helped.
I liked them immensely, I realized. The conversation drifted over to places they had been to when Rosalie and Emmett came through the back door.
Rosalie looked very upset. She tried to smile, but failed miserably. She didn't say anything and flitted through the kitchen door to the family area.
I had never seen her like that; it was not a becoming look for her.
Emmett gave us a nod and a smile and stopped beside me.
"You okay?" He asked.
I nodded at him. "Emmett, what's wrong with Rosalie? Is she alright?"
"Yeah, she'll be fine. After hearing about the things that Felix has done, it kinda fucked her up, but she'll be good. She needs to be alone for a little bit, but later on, if you guys talk, maybe you should ask her why she was changed. I think she'll be forthcoming. How's Jasper?"
"He's fine, so he says. He's talking with Esme now." I answered.
"He scared the shit out of me. I've never seen him that bad before. The guy couldn't even talk. That was something else." Emmett pretended to shiver.
"His gland was working overtime. He was drowning in venom, Emmett. Weren't you?"
"Yeah, I was. But hey, answer me this. Why did you call him your 'God of War'?" Emmett asked.
Peter thought for a moment and his eyes shifted from me to Emmett, then back to me. His lips moved infinitesimally and I could have sworn he was telling Emmett something.
Emmett looked at me with sympathy. This was the kind of shit that irritated me. I got up to pull the pitcher of tea out of the fridge. Before I realized it, Peter was standing in front of the open fridge handing me the pitcher.
"I'm sorry. I made a promise and I'm sticking to it. I don't want to keep you out of the loop."
I shrugged my shoulders at him.
"Don't worry, I'm used to it."
I poured my glass, not looking at him. I knew later I would feel terrible for talking to Peter like that, but right then I was just irritated as hell. Peter walked back over to the island.
Charlotte squeezed my arm reassuringly when I got back to my seat.
Emmett and Peter started talking of the meeting about to take place when Peter's head shot over in the direction of the door.
"They're ready. Let's get this little meeting over with so we can get the old doors out of the attic and back up where they belong. Bella, you're coming, too. So, if you're done, let's go," he said, and his tone told me he was irritated, too.
"Jasper owes me a set of new doors," Charlotte said.
"Surely you can't blame him for attacking Felix, honey," Peter said, as he pulled her chair out so she could get up.
"Of course not, but he could have opened them first. We wouldn't have known what he was doing. But no, it was much easier for him to get all pissy, and fly through them..."
We headed out of the kitchen and into the family area. Rosalie was the only one missing. Jane had moved over and was sitting in one of the chairs pulled over from the other side. Esme, Carlisle, and Emmett sat down on the larger part of the sectional.
Jasper flitted over once we had walked out of the kitchen, taking my hand again and using his eyes to ask if I was okay. I gave him a smile as we walked over to sit on the smaller side of the sectional.
Jasper himself seemed like he was deep in thought and concerned. Peter sat next to him with Charlotte.
"Well, I talked to Aro. I informed him about what happened with that fucking piece of..." Esme elbowed Carlisle in his ribs.
"Anyway, he wasn't happy about the fact that we executed him, but after some choice words, he understood that it couldn't be helped. It's up to us if we want Jane to stay, otherwise, she's to return home."
Peter leaned forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees. "Good. Jane? We apologize for the loss of your comrade. We'll understand if you choose to leave. I don't mean to be rude, but we didn't expect someone of your...stature. I'm sorry, but I just don't see how you will be of any use to us."
Jane was insulted, and she glared at Peter.
"First of all, he was not my comrade. If I wanted to stop that little altercation out there and if I wanted to save that fucker's life, I could have. I'm quite capable of physically defending myself. I just prefer not to get my hands dirty," Jane said, defensively. "Why don't you ask me why Aro sent me?"
"Okay, why?" Jasper asked.
She looked at him for a moment before she answered.
"I can disable an enemy for any given length of time with just a look."
There was a long pause before Peter asked.
"What do you mean?"
Jane smiled. "I'd be glad to show you, but I need a volunteer." Jane looked over in Emmett's direction.
"You can't be serious," Emmett laughed.
Jane just smiled at him.
Emmett smiled maliciously.
"Okay, maybe you are. This is gonna be fun..." Emmett laughed again and heaved himself up from the couch. He walked over to the window.
Jane casually stood up from her chair and followed him over. They stood about six feet apart. Emmett had a huge smile on his face as he looked at her. It was almost like he was saying, "give it your best shot."
"I've never fought a midget before, but I'll try not to do any permanent damage." he said.
Jane smiled at him and looked between Carlisle and Peter.
"He'll be quite alright afterward, but you might want to be prepared." Jane looked back over to Emmett.
Her face was angelic, and she had a slight grin plastered on her lips and her head lowered a little bit.
Emmett dropped and it sounded like his head cracked when it hit the floor. His limbs were immobile and his face was contorted in what looked like sheer agony. In fact, I was pretty sure he was screaming, but no sound came out.
I was already standing, because Jasper pulled me up. Everyone was yelling, or screaming. Peter was moving towards Emmett when all of a sudden Emmett stopped writhing, and started breathing, and moaned as the echos of the pain left him. Everybody just stopped and watched.
He caught his breath, and blinked a few times. He sat up. Everyone was still standing, watching him.
"What the fuck was that?" he asked very loudly, looking at Jane for some sort of explanation. "I felt that. That fucking hurt. Even my balls felt that, fucking everything felt that."
"What was it? Are you okay? What did you do to him?" Esme accused, giving Jane a look that could kill.
"It was bad. I was in pain. My whole body felt like it was burning. I felt it everywhere. It was fucking awful." Emmett told her, the feeling still in his eyes.
It was then that I noticed that Rosalie was on the landing by the stairs, looking alarmed. She walked over and stood in front of him.
Emmett stood up and reassured her that he was alright. He walked over to the couch and sat back down, with Rosalie on his lap.
Jane looked apologetic.
"I'm sorry, I was only going to do that for a second, but I got a little carried away. I don't like being called a midget. I'm just small. I wasn't very old when I was changed," Jane said, and I felt sorry for her.
"How did you do that?" Peter asked, and he was impressed.
"It's an illusion. I can only make you think you're in pain, and your nervous system does the rest. I can turn it on and off in an instant. But I can't control the level," she answered.
"Can you take down more than one enemy at a time?" Jasper asked.
"Yes, but I need them to be relatively close together. If you're in the middle of a group shall we say, you will be affected. I can't pick and choose. Not yet, anyway. Like I said, I can keep them down for as long as you need," she answered.
Jasper still had my hand and I wanted to sit back down, so I tried to let go of his hand. He followed.
"Since when did 'Holy Crow' turn to 'Holy Shit'? That's the second time today." He said quietly while I settled back. He was smiling at me widely and his eyes were aloof.
"It's your fault. You're starting to rub off on me." I whispered, smiling at him.
"Rubbing off, huh?" His smile fell and he grew serious. "I want to take you for a walk later. I'd like to talk to you."
I nodded at Jasper just as Peter cleared his throat. When I turned my head Peter was looking at us, with a sly grin on his face and a look that clearly said 'we're waiting'. I felt the heat hit my face.
Peter turned back to Jane, and he nodded somewhat to himself.
"Well, you've got me fucking convinced. Will you stay? We need you to understand, though, no harm is to come to Bella. You'll need to maintain control around her. You can hunt with me and Charlotte."
Jane was already nodding and smiling. "I would love to. I wasn't doing anything besides being Aro's little toy to parade around, anyways. And I have excellent control. Even if she bleeds in front of me, I will not attack her. I give you my word."
Jane looked at me and nodded her head once. She meant it, I hoped.
"Good. If the time comes, we'll still be outnumbered. But, your gift gives us an excellent advantage. If you need anything, let us know. We'll be happy to supply it. Jasper, it's your turn," Peter said as he glanced at Emmett. Emmett was completely fine.
Jasper was looking around at all of them. He took a breath and spoke quietly.
"Peter and I have an idea, which is to do nothing. With us being possibly outnumbered, it could be extremely bad if we go looking for Victoria. Peter thinks that if Victoria and her friends are creating an army, they're probably together, in one big group. I'm not so sure. But if we split up and try and search her out, we could be ambushed, and I don't want to risk even one of us for that. We don't even have a clue where to begin, anyways. Billy told me they've found no new trails, and they've gone as far as Seattle and have found nothing. She's moved out of the area. The wolves will help us when the time comes. If they do stay in one big group, it'll be easier to pinpoint where they are," Jasper finished, subdued.
Carlisle asked, "How will it make it easy?"
"Because if it's a newborn army they're creating, they'll be feeding frequently. Which means people will start disappearing, and lots of them. She's not gonna want to move them around too much, so we'll wait," Peter answered.
"We wait. We watch the news. We look online. We look into anything out of the ordinary. Hopefully we'll find something that gives us an idea of where to look. If something pops up, Peter will go in and check it out, and give us a better idea of what we're dealing with if he finds something. But we'll all go together when the time comes. We'll coordinate with Billy, and we'll go in for the kill," Jasper said, looking over at Carlisle.
"You have no scent," Jane said to Peter, she seemed to suddenly realize it.
"I know." He smiled at her.
Carlisle sighed. "So, we'll wait."
"We wait." But it was both Jasper and Peter.
Maybe they were twins in a different life. It was kind of strange and scary how in tune they seemed together. Charlotte shook her head and rolled her eyes.
The way they talked, and their tone, it was almost like they had done this sort of thing before. I was curious, and irritated, all at the same time.
Jasper gave me an understanding look and squeezed my hand. He seemed worried, too. I figured he was going to tell me his story when we went for our walk later. I hoped he would, but I didn't understand why he would worry about it. Nothing he could say would change my opinion of him. Nothing.
After some questions from Jane about Victoria's unknown history and the unknown vampires that were helping her, everyone seemed to disperse. Charlotte took Jane to show her to her room, and Emmett went with Peter upstairs to access the attic. Rosalie came over and stood in front of me with concern in her eyes.
"Do you feel up to talking?" she asked.
"Yeah, but Jasper..."
"No. Go ahead. I'm going to go to a small town not too far from here with Carlisle for a few things. We need to set up a post office box anyways, for bills and such. I'll be back before three, and we'll talk then." He got up and kiss Rosalie on the cheek. Her face fell.
I grabbed her hand, and we went upstairs.
I was waiting in the library, pretending to read, while I was drying up the rest of the tears that I had tried not to let fall. It's not every day you hear a story like Rosalie's. Rosalie had suffered the ultimate betrayal by the man who she had thought loved her. Maybe he did in his own sick, perverted way.
That sick son of a bitch, though, that she almost married? It made me angry. What was worse than him raping her was that he let his friends rape her, too. I was glad she killed the son of a bitch. I was glad she killed all of them. I was salivating when she told me how she killed them.
"It felt good killing them, it did. Watching them scream and bleed out was truly satisfying. Shoving his dick in his mouth made me feel even better. But I 'll forever be this way. I'll never grow old, I'll never have children. That's what I wanted the most. A husband who loved me, and children. I would have been a wonderful mother, and a grandmother. That's why I've always envied you. You have your humanity."
That entire conversation, her face pretty much was a reflection of grief and profound loss. She thanked me for listening.
It wasn't right that she had to be the one to comfort me, so I held it in until I got to the library.
I was pissed. It wasn't just what had happened to her, it was the way that that self-righteous son of bitch, Edward, had treated her while she was changing and even after. Who did he think he was? He was not a judge or jury, just because he could read a fucking mind.
It made me wonder what he had said or done to Jasper after the birthday party incident. I wanted to know.
All of my anger just bubbled to the surface and, of course, made me cry. I was blowing snot out of my nose when Jasper appeared in front of the couch. He crouched down, looking worried, of course.
"You know, I heard you crying from outside. But when I got closer to the door..and I felt...Well, I wondered if maybe it was a good idea for me to come in. Granted you can't hurt me physically, but you're a killer with words. Christ, Bella. You're pissed. You..um.. also have a little snot on the side of your cheek. You okay?"
Jasper took some of the toilet paper from the roll that I had taken from my bathroom before I came in the library. He dabbed at my cheek; and then he started dabbing at my eyes.
"Yeah, I'm alright. It's just Rosalie, everything she told me, and that son of bitch, Edward."
Jasper looked taken aback. He scrunched his eyes. "What does he have to do with it?"
I blew my nose.
"The way he treated her when Carlisle saved her. He was an asshole. He thought her to be simple, and he really didn't even know her. Like she..like she wasn't good enough for him. Like she wasn't even good enough to be his sister. She didn't ask to be changed. He could have been a little sympathetic." I answered.
"It wasn't always like that, though. They did get close, it just took some time," he said.
"I know. But, you can't say he didn't think her shallow. Just like that Royce did. He was the true piece of shit. All she wanted was to be loved and to love. And a family, that's what she wanted most. Maybe she was shallow as a human, but she still deserved to live a fulfilling life," I told him. He was rubbing my hands with his.
"Yeah, she did deserve that. But, I gotta tell you, those Victorian Era pussies back then were a bunch of self absorbed snobs."
Jasper cocked his head up and started to laugh.
"What's so funny?" I asked.
"Rosalie just had some choice words for me, is all. Don't worry, she already knows how I really feel about her." Jasper was looking at me with worry.
"Look, I went to town and bought us some fishing gear. I thought maybe we could go fishing while we talked. You've had a lot to deal with today, we can always do it tomorrow, if you want." he said quietly.
Jasper had this piece of hair hanging down over his left eye that was driving me nuts because it looked like it was going to poke him in the eye. I reached out and pulled it back, running my hand through his hair for just a moment.
"No, not if you're going to tell me what I think you are. I want to know. It seems Peter has to try hard to not mention certain things in front of me and I don't think that's really fair to him. I'll be fine. But, if you want to wait, I'll understand. You haven't had a great day, either. So the decision is yours. I want to go fishing with you, Jasper."
I wasn't looking at him at first, but when I did, I was taken aback.
I don't know how to describe his eyes at that point, but the butterscotch in them really stood out. He was intense, and there was fire in them. They were breathtaking. They were...
It was a few seconds later when he broke the silence. I took a breath.
"Alright. Let's go, then. It'll start getting dark soon and the fish will start to bite more, right?" Jasper had looked away. He looked nervous.
I was. I didn't know what the hell had just happened, and I didn't want to analyze it, either.
"Yes, that's right. I need to go grab my coat, first," but I couldn't look at him.
Jasper stood up, moved back, and I got up. "Don't forget your hat and gloves. I'm gonna see if Charlotte has a blanket to throw over your legs while you sit on the dock. We're not going far, but I'll grab you some water, too."
I finally looked at him. I smiled. "Alright, I'll be right down."
What the fuck was that?
What the fuck was that? What the fuck am I doing? Shit. Shit, shit, shit...
She had given me the perfect escape that I had been looking for. She had left it up to me and I could have had maybe an extra day or more to prepare for it. It took a lot to scare me, but at that moment I was a little fucking afraid. It was almost like what I would see and feel from her would finally execute me for my crimes against both our societies.
My judge and jury.
It felt like last night's dinner was going to surge out of my throat.
She had touched me.
When I had come in, she was crying. But, that anger that was radiating out of her reminded me of that moment in the car two days before when I had pissed her off by my choice of words. Her face was tear-stained, her eye lids were swollen and pink, and the brown in her eyes was liquid.
Her nose was all red from blowing it and she just looked...beautiful. Emotionally and physically imperfect and she was fucking beautiful.
And then she touched me.
The desire rushed out of me and slammed into her like a motherfucking wrecking ball.
I wanted to pull her forward and smash those breasts of hers against my chest and pull the hair at the nape of her neck and breathe in her breath. I wanted to feel the lines of her body against me, and I wanted to feel the heat of her skin sear mine. I wanted her naked. I wanted her...
To just go fishing with me. And maybe she could tuck that tight, black turtleneck into the waist of her jeans again, because it had pulled up a little on the side, and I could see some of her pale skin on her midriff.
She had been waiting for me to say something, and something did come out of my mouth, not even thinking it through because she said she wanted to go fishing. Of course, that would mean I would get to spend some time with her, and that's why I told her the only thing that came to mind. But after I said it?
Shit. Shit, Shit, Shit,...
We had taken a narrow trail in the Trailblazer to the north side of the lake. It was only a ten minute drive, but Jasper's driving skills were phenomenal, but terrifying. Not because he had been going too fast, but a couple of places along the trail would tilt the vehicle at an angle that was not in my best interest. It wasn't even a trail, it was just a break in the trees near the shore of the lake, rock and tree root ridden. Jasper laughed under his breath every now and then, because I was cursing under my breath.
After maneuvering around to park so we were facing the direction of the house when we left, he carried down the fishing poles, and a backpack that held my water, a blanket, and a tackle box. Jasper only let me carry myself. We had to walk down forty feet to a short boat dock that floated on the lake. Jasper had to help me in a couple spots because I could still only bend my foot a certain way. The water was perfectly clear, and you could see the stony and earthy bottom.
"So, what's your biggest?" I asked.
"My biggest what?" He looked at me curiously.
"Your biggest fish. I once caught an eighteen inch bass. That's my biggest bass. I've caught my share of the larger trout, though."
I looked out across the lake. Jasper didn't say anything, so I looked at him questioningly. He seemed a little embarrassed and he even groaned.
"Um, I've never caught anything. I lied. The only reason why is because Esme and Carlisle were worried that I'd only find disappointment instead of a distraction. What they didn't realize was that out there..alone on that lake, I was fine. So, they would ask if I caught any fish, and I would lie, just so they would relax. I did try. A lot. The fish seem to know that there's something very bad is on the other side of my line. Smart little fuckers, I guess. I think they can scent me off of the bait. I tried wearing gloves, but no good. Nothing." He looked down and off to the right.
"Why don't I try baiting your lure, but you cast. I can't cast at all." I said. I really couldn't. I managed to hook Charlie once, and Charlie always cast for me after that.
My heart sank.
"You okay?" Jasper asked. I looked at him and he looked worried. But, it also seemed that he knew what I was thinking about.
I nodded at him and smiled. Jasper didn't say anything, and I was glad.
We sat down at the end of the dock. The dock was about five feet wide, and it extended off the shore line about thirty feet. He sat down on my left and he took the tackle box from the backpack. I took a pole and pushed the reel release; pulling some line out from the catch. I threaded and knotted a lead, with a weighted hook on the end of his line. I took a worm out of the bait container, and slid the worm on the hook.
Jasper had also bought a container of salmon eggs. I put a couple on, with the worm. I looked up at him. He was watching me intently as I did the same to mine, except I used a spinner as a lure. Jasper cast mine out first, far into the lake. He grabbed the blanket from behind me and laid it out across my lap. Jasper cast his out, and we sat in silence.
His voice shocked me out of the silence. The air was still, but an uncomfortable atmosphere had slowly settled over us.
"Do you know how old I am?" he quietly asked.
I looked over at him and shook my head.
"I just turned a hundred and sixty four. I was twenty when I was changed. I was alive for the beginning of the Civil War. That's what lead me to this." Jasper motioned at himself with a wave of his hand.
I cleared my head and listened intently. I did not look at him as he told his story. Looking at him just made him more nervous and worried. I just looked out across the lake and listened to the hell his life became when Major Jasper Whitlock met his first vampire.
I listened as he talked about his entrance into the Confederate Army. He didn't really reflect a whole lot on the skirmishes or battles he was in. He only remembered bits and pieces, he said. He told me how he was promoted quickly through the ranks over the more experienced soldiers and officers. He told me of the night his life ended, when he met three beautiful women he had thought were evacuees from Galveston.
Jasper did not hold anything back, at least I don't think he did. When he talked about the three days after he was bitten by Maria, he described the burning agony he had been in while he changed. He still was unaware at the time about what was happening to him. I didn't look at him, but I noticed that the end of Jasper's pole was slightly shaking. He would stop every now and then, and pause for a moment. I was becoming more and more horrified as he described the life he was born into.
What horrified me was the fact that the fighting was simply over food, more or less. Cities and towns full of blood for the taking, people who were innocent and oblivious to the battles that raged on for years for their very lives.
Jasper told me how he first fought with his own members of the band of vampires he was in. He killed a lot of them, and Maria would need to replace them. She knew he was strong, and skilled like none of the others. He was eventually put in charge of the newborns that Maria and her sisters made. He trained them and gave them skills, strengthening their group. He told me he was rewarded often for his efforts.
"How were you rewarded?" I interrupted, my voice shaky as I asked. It took a minute before he answered.
"I fed more often than the others. A lot more often. Maria and her sisters also sought me out for...my and their own personal gratification, more or less," he answered quietly.
"You're talking about sex? You had sex with all of them? At the same time?" My shaky voice had risen, and I could not keep the disgust from my feelings.
"No, it was never like that. I also wasn't only exclusively for them, either. I won't lie, Bella. I certainly had more than my share of women back then," he said with an edge.
I could see his profile and he had turned to look at me. I looked at him and his eyes looked worried. Scared even. Like he felt that maybe he had said too much. I nodded my head quickly and looked down. I swallowed hard.
"Go on..." I prodded.
Jasper took a deep breath and continued. He told me of their conquests and how he eventually had made an army of twenty-three strong vampires. He explained that his ability had not completely defined itself, but he was able to make the others work together; to cooperate. They headed towards Monterrey, and Maria unleashed Jasper and his army on her enemies. They did not fail.
Jasper said that he himself had killed thousands of vampires over those years. Thousands. Jasper explained the Volturi's involvement in the south, how they would go in and exterminate the bands that grew out of control. Theirs had many close calls, and, out of the twenty-three, Jasper had been the only one to survive.
It was horrifying to think about what he had to go through to survive that. Jasper explained how Maria's sisters had tried to turn on her; they had wanted to take over some of the larger cities. Maria and Jasper didn't want to create attention. He helped Maria kill her sisters and they ran their group where she chose.
The revelation that left me unsettled was that Jasper had killed not only those that were his enemies, but every year he would kill the members of their band and they would start anew. Vampires that he would know for short periods of time. Decades later, in the late thirties, Jasper was out feeding and he came upon a man who helped change the course of his life.
"We were up by the border between Mexico and Texas. He was a tourist, and I cornered him in an alley in Progresso, Mexico. He looked at me, and he...he knew. He knew what I was there for. He knew what I was. He didn't say anything to me, but I felt it. I felt the realization...the recognition."
Jasper paused, and shook his head back and forth minutely while looking out at the lake. He let out short laugh under his breath.
"Peter was sweating profusely. Sweat literally fell off of him in streams. When I bit him, his scent hit me hard. It was awful. I could hardly stand to drink from him, it was so bad. I guess he had eaten something that didn't agree with him, too, because he crapped his pants and that just made things worse. I threw him away from me. He was still alive, so I had no choice but to bring him with me."
I don't know why, but some sick part of me found that funny. I was horrified and disgusted because he had taken Peter's life, but Jasper's face as he told this story was almost priceless. It was like he could remember the smell, so when I burst out in a fit of hysterical, frightened giggles, Jasper was only a little surprised.
"Was that the first time you ever threw out a meal?" I asked.
"Yeah, it was. But the bastard shit all over himself and I couldn't help it. It wasn't meant to be, thank God," he said, but in his smile there was pain, too.
Jasper continued to tell me how Peter and he became friends. He had remained useful, fought hard, and Jasper liked him. Peter was civilized and did not enjoy the fighting. He had become the band's babysitter when he had met Charlotte, who Maria had changed. Unbeknownst to Jasper, they had fallen in love, and when it was time for them to exterminate the older newborns, Peter grew angry and furious with Jasper when it was Charlotte's turn.
I knew how it would turn out, but it was still horrifying to hear. Peter had told Charlotte to run, and then he followed her. Jasper could have easily caught them, he said, but he did not want to destroy them. He did not want to kill the only friend he had made in the world.
Jasper told me how he became depressed. Through the years with Maria he began to mentally deteriorate as his gift became more pronounced. He could feel the horror and fear in his victims and he started to pay the price. Maria grew to resent him, and he had thought it was only a matter of time before she would try to kill him. He was going to get the upper hand and kill her when Peter returned for him. Peter convinced him to come with him to the north and he walked away. Peter gave him hope and he never looked back.
Jasper grew silent after he talked about Peter and Charlotte. It was completely still, even time seemed that way. I reflected back on the story he had told me and just thought about it all.
After a few more silent minutes, Jasper began to reel in his line slowly.
"What are you doing?"
Jasper wouldn't look at me. "I'm going to take you back to the house."
"But, why? We just got here," I said, irritated.
"Because Bella, you're radiating disgust, anger, disappointment, and revulsion. I don't know what your thoughts are, but your feelings are pretty clear. You don't need to pretend that you want to spend any more time with me. I don't blame you at all, so I'm taking you back." He said firmly.
I came unglued.
"You know what? Fuck you, Jasper! You have no fucking idea what I'm thinking so fuck you! If I wanted to go, I would have told you a long time ago. What the fuck did you think I was going to feel after hearing something like that? Huh? Did you expect me to understand why you did those things? I do, to a point. Did you expect me to not show any kind of revulsion or disgust at the loss of innocent lives, whether for food or just to be changed to be some vampire soldier and die either in battle or by your hands? It was a fucking waste. Am I disappointed because it took you...it took you so long to find out there was a better way to live, and to take the steps necessary to achieve that? Yes. More than disappointed. Don't you dare try and do my own fucking thinking for me. You've done it again by the way, after you promised you wouldn't do that. You wanna know who I blame? I blame that bitch. That evil, horrendous, Nazi bitch for taking your life and turning you into that goddamn monster..Jesus Christ."
At some point I had thrown aside my pole to the dock and stood up. Jasper had not moved and was looking at me with wide eyes. I was furious. How dare he expect me not to be disgusted at the loss of human lives involved? How dare he not ask me what my thoughts were? If he didn't want to know, why the hell even bother telling me the truth? He could have spun whatever tale he wanted to. Jasper started to stand up and talk, but I wasn't done.
"No! You know what Jasper? Just shut the fuck up. You used to be real good at keeping to yourself, so just shut the fuck up. You don't blame me for my reaction? You were expecting it? You should have asked me how I felt, how it makes me feel, instead of reading me like an open, fucking book. You want to take me back to the house? Is that what's best for me? Well, guess what? You're just like that fucking self-righteous brother of yours. He thought he knew what was best for me, too. Well, fuck both of you!"
The tears were falling, and I was too far gone to even try to blink them out and away. They started flowing effortlessly as I tried to catch my breath. I made myself calm down. Jasper had stood up and was standing in front of me, but I wouldn't look at his face.
"You were horrible. You were a monster. You did some pretty fucking terrible things. Thousands, Jasper. You said it. Thousands dead. Maria took your life away from you, and turned you into something awful. She ripped your heart out of you and threw it away like garbage. She gave you no fucking hope for a peaceful existence. She gave you no reason to have one. Peter gave you hope, he gave you something to look forward to. But why did it take so long for you to go and find your own way? Were you so far gone that you truly believed that there was no other way to exist?" I asked.
"When I was still a newborn, I ran away, but I had no idea where to go. I ran as far as I could and I went to Texas. I ran back to Houston, Bella. I went to see my father. I didn't know what I was going to do, where I was going to go, but I wanted to see him one last time. I didn't stop to feed on the way there. I just went. It was in the evening when I arrived. I went in through my old bedroom window. He was down in the kitchen, and I could smell him. I could hear his heartbeat. Two seconds later, when I dropped him, was when I finally realized what I had done. I killed my own father, Bella," he said, and it sounded like he was being strangled, and every day he blamed himself for it was in his eyes.
"I wanted to die. I just wanted to die. I ran back to Maria and I told her what I had done. I asked her to kill me. She wouldn't do it. I was too useful. She told me I would never find happiness without her, and I believed it. I believed it because I didn't deserve such a thing. The quickest way for me to die would be to stay with her and fight our enemies. The thing is though, I never could just let them take me down. I always fought and won. I couldn't die, but I should have. I had no hope, nothing that told me that there was something better out there, until Peter came back. I look in the mirror every day, Bella. That thing that I was stares back at me every time and that will never change. Never."
Jasper's tortured frown turned into one of determination. He blurred, and the next second he was standing before me with his shirts off; bare from the waist up in front of me.
I was taken aback at first. Jasper was ripped. His pale chest was perfectly sculptured, as was his abdomen. Shadows highlighted subtle muscle definition. His biceps bulged even with his arms relaxed at his sides. Not as big as Emmett's, but just as impressive.
I looked some more. There was something odd about some of his skin. I stepped forward to look at him more closely.
Jasper wouldn't look at me. His eyes were looking at something off to my left. Jasper's skin was pale, honed marble, but there was something else. His shoulders, neck, upper chest, and his upper arms was covered in silver crescent shapes. Some were standing straight out, layering over each other. His left shoulder was the worst, a complete groove of them marred his skin from the left side of his neck, over his shoulder to his upper back. Layers and layers of silver crescent marks. The pattern was different on the right side, and I followed the many paths that fell down his arm.
Jasper was trembling. I had never seen him so nervous, so uneasy before. He was waiting for my reaction, I suppose. I looked down at the single one on my hand. He was scarred terribly. He was imperfect.
He was beautiful.
My eyes found the newest addition to his battle wounds. On the front of his left shoulder was a mark that stood out from the others. Laurent's. I was at arms' length from Jasper, and I stepped forward. I could feel his eyes on me, and I only just glanced at him. Because I was going to touch him.
I looked back to his shoulder and I raised my hand to feel Laurent's bite. He twitched, but then settled. His skin was cold, but he didn't move as I ran my index finger along the shape. I looked at him all over again, over every scar. Thousands. Over a thousand reminders. I didn't know what to say. The tears just fell.
"Does it disgust you?" Jasper looked at me wearily.
"What are my feelings telling you? You like to read them so much. What do you feel from me?" I asked.
Jasper looked into my eyes. He raised his eyebrows a little and the corners of his mouth twitched. "Sorrow, guilt, regret, and...attraction."
Oh, shit. He did catch that.
I looked out at the lake. I could feel the heat in my face and neck. I responded, though it was weak.
"You're not exactly less appealing with your scars, you know. You're quite attractive."
I tried to say it indifferently and failed miserably.
Jasper cleared his throat. "If you're through ogling, I'll put my shirts back on." I shot a look at him and he was clearly trying not to laugh. But, he seemed excited, also. Jasper put his shirts back on and looked at my face. Blankly.
I sighed. Just as I was about to say what I was going to say, Jasper beat me to the punch.
"I'm not looking for your forgiveness, Bella. Not where my history is concerned."
"I know, but you want my acceptance, and you've got that. I told you, it wouldn't change my opinion of you and it hasn't. It's not my place to forgive you for the lives that you took. But I hope that you think they have. Including your father. You changed the course of your life when you left Maria. You've tried and you've succeeded at making the most of it. Peter just showed you the way. You're making amends. That's all you can do. He's forgiven you. I believe it. Because that's what..that's what father's do, because they love us. I believe it. So should you."
Of course my own came to mind, but that was an entirely different situation all together.
Jasper didn't say anything. He just looked at me with a little concern. He nodded a little. I don't think he believed that his father would have forgiven him, or all those people. But I believed they would have.
"Do you still feel like fishing?" He asked. His face was giving nothing away. But his eyes were liquid amber.
"Yeah, I do." I answered.
Jasper's bait had fallen off, so I threaded some salmon eggs on his lure. I reeled mine in and checked it. Mine was gone,too. Jasper cast both our lines out into the water. We both sat back down and he put the blanket back over my lap. It stayed quiet and calm as daylight descended.
It was twilight when Jasper's pole twitched. He jerked it and started reeling it in. Jasper caught about a three pound trout.
"You caught my dinner!"
He grinned wide and proud. But something else was in his eyes. I couldn't describe it.
I scaled the fish and filleted it as he looked on and laughed because it still grossed me out. I put it in a bag, and we headed home.
I didn't see Jasper for the rest of the evening. Peter was missing, too, along with Emmett and Carlisle. I cooked Jasper's fish in lemon juice and ate it for dinner. It was perfect.
After a shower, I eventually made my way to the library, and I found a non-fiction in the history section on the Civil War. I sat down on the couch and nodded off at some point.
I woke up when I felt movement. I was no longer on the couch and Jasper was carrying me to my room.
"You can put me down, I can walk."
"Shh. Just go back to sleep, I almost have you there."
Jasper put me down only at bedside, and I pulled back the covers and got in. He pulled the covers up as I propped myself up on my elbow.
"Where did you go?"
"I was with Carlisle, Emmett, and Peter. They heard you yelling at me when we were out at the lake. Evidently, they were out collecting limbs for kindling, or so they told me. They wanted to make sure I survived. They're all just fucking nosy."
"Did you tell them to mind their own business?" I asked.
"Of course, and I physically persuaded them, too," he said. Jasper sat down on the edge of the bed. His eyes met mine, and they seemed to be glowing.
Jasper broke the silence after a few seconds of silence from the both of us.
"Well, get some sleep. You've had a long day, and so have I." Jasper didn't move. He was still looking at me intently.
He stood up and tentatively bent down and kissed me right on the lips. It wasn't a light peck.
It was a kiss.
"Goodnight." I said. He turned around and left the room, shutting the door softly behind him.
It took me forever to go to sleep. I thought about all that had happened. It also took me forever because I was still thinking about Jasper's kiss. My lips still tingled. I was wondering what had brought it on, and I was wondering why I kissed him back.
It didn't feel wrong. It was just a friendly goodnight kiss.
Somewhere in my thoughts about the day and Jasper, I fell asleep.
I sat in the same tree. I brought a book with me and tried to read, but my thoughts wouldn't let me.
Peter came strolling out just like he had the night before. When he took his spot, his shit eating grin graced his face once more.
"You might want to slow down a little. It's too soon. Do it the right way." he said.
I gave up.
"I don't know what the right way is."
"You'll figure it out. The first step is time. Time for both of you. Time to heal." He cautioned.
Time I had plenty of.