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worth the pain
Set about 6 months after the fateful 18th Birthday party from New Moon, the Cullens have left. A horrible tragedy strikes the Cullens. Can Bella help the remaining members heal? Bella/Jasper, Rosalie/Emmett.
10. chapter 10
Word Count 1752
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I finished eating my grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, drank a glass of milk and slowly washed the dishes. Then, I noticed the counters needed wiping, so I wiped them. OK, Swan, quit being a wimp. You're stalling and you know it. March up those stairs right now and reward that amazing man for being everything you need in your life!
I darted into the half-bath next to the stairs and brushed my teeth. I turned to leave and ran smack into Rose. "Crap, Rose, you scared me. I'm going to put a bell around your neck." I muttered. She just grinned and pulled me out the door to the little utility room across from the bathroom. "OK, Bella, don't flip out on me, but you're going to need these tonight and I'm not sure if Jasper thought this far ahead. You know the whole human/vampire thing is a bit risky. You'll need the protection from the venom." She commented, as casually as possible, and handed me a box of condoms. I know I blushed like a fool, but Rose just grinned and gave me a light hug and disappeared back to her room with Emmett. I had no idea what I had done to deserve such a wonderful friend and sister, but I would find a way to make sure she knew how much I loved her. I stepped out of the utility room and headed up the stairs.
I hesitated just a moment, with my hand over the doorknob of Jasper's, no, our room. Taking a deep breath, I turned the knob and walked in. He had wasted no time on making it inviting. Vanilla scented candles were scattered strategically around the room and already lit, giving the room a soft inviting feel. Comfortable and not threatening, I should have known Jasper would try to put me at ease. In the attached bathroom, I could hear the shower running and Jasper's warm baritone singing some country ballad. I relaxed knowing he was giving me a few minutes to make myself comfortable before he came in. I took full advantage by stashing Rose's "gift" in the nightstand on what I figured to be my side of the bed and slipping into a pair of cropped cotton pajama pants and matching sleep tank. I moved over to the vanity and began to brush my hair, lost in my own thoughts for a moment, marveling over how lucky I was to have so much love in my life. I must have really been zoned out; because I didn't hear him when he came up behind me and gently took the brush from me and took over. It was incredibly sensual to have him running the brush through my hair with his scent swirling around me. He smelled like cinnamon, sandalwood, and honey; at once sweet and spicy. It was a very masculine smell and I couldn't get enough of it.
Neither of us spoke for a few moments; we knew that our relationship was about to change in a significant way. Slowly, I turned to gaze at his body. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He wore flannel bottoms and his chest was bare. He was long and lean, muscular, but like a runner, not bulky in any way. He had stepped back a bit when I turned and was watching me watch him with hooded butterscotch eyes. I had never really seen him shirtless before. I instinctively knew he was ashamed of his scars. He was very careful not to show them. I could see his nervousness in the slight tremor of his hands. He wasn't sure if I liked what I saw. I rose and went to him. He opened his arms to hold me and I gently kissed his chest, moving from scar to scar. He whimpered slightly and I knew I needed to reassure him that I didn't care. "Jasper, you've been hurt so much in the past. I wish I could take that pain away, but I know I can never make you forget it. Let me try to show you how to get past it. I love you, Jaz." I murmured.
His lips crashed down onto mine and he lifted me into his arms and carried me over to our bed. "Bella, I want you tonight," he rasped, "but I need you to know about me first. You need to know who I am before you decide." I could feel the shame he was projecting. I reached up to stroke his cheek and nodded. I knew nothing he could say would change my feelings, but he needed to share this with me. I scooted away from him on the bed and tucked my feet under me. He needed a little distance for the telling of his story. He shot me a grateful look and looking down began anew, his accent very thick at the memory.
"I was the youngest major in the Civil War. Did I ever tell you that? Even if I hadn't lied and told them I was 18 when I was only 16, I still would have been the youngest. I was 20 when I was promoted to the rank of Major in the Confederate Army. I had a way with people. I guess you could say I was charismatic and I was a brilliant strategist. My duty, on the night I was changed, was to evacuate the townspeople in a town where a battle was to be fought. I took my job seriously and had ordered my men to lead the women and children to a nearby fort for safety. I was riding the empty road at twilight looking for stragglers, when I saw three of the most beautiful women I had ever beheld. They were having a strange discussion about me. I walked over to them and asked if I could help them. The brunette, who I would later learn was named Maria, ignored my question, turning instead to her companions and told them she thought she would keep me.
I remember nothing else until the agony of my changing. I burned for three days and when I woke, Maria began to teach me how to fight & feed. You see, not all parts of our world are peaceful, even now, Bella. In the South, there are constant turf wars. Territory is won and lost and the strongest covens create armies of newborns to fight those battles. Maria had learned of my military gifts through my reputation and had sought me out and turned me specifically for that reason. For the better part of a century, I fought. I rose through the hierarchy of Maria's army and became her lover. She rewarded me when I did well and punished me when I did not. The scars you see are from the battles I fought against other covens. It was also my job to destroy the newborns as their strength waned after a year. I did so without questioning her orders for many years. I had no friends apart from Maria and I had lost my humanity. I fed, I fucked, I fought, and I existed.
One day, I had been sent to dispatch the latest crop of newborns, when I was overcome by depression. I had an acquaintance, Peter. He was my second in command. He was trying to protect one of the newborns that we were to destroy. Her name was Charlotte and I could feel their love. It was so strong, Bella. In that moment, I hated what I had become, and myself, but I knew no other life. I allowed them to leave, knowing that Maria would punish me, but unable to destroy them. I sank into a deep depression. Maria didn't understand this change in me and punished me all the more for it.
Five years passed, and once again I was faced with a choice. Peter and Charlotte returned for me in 1885. Peter begged me to come with them. They were nomads you see, not vegetarians, but peaceful. God, Bella, I was so tired of war. I left with them. I told no one I was going and I left without a backward glance. I stayed with Peter and Charlotte for many years, but the depression did not ease. The peaceful life was better, but I felt extreme guilt every time I would feed. Imagine for a moment not only seeing the terror of your victim, but also feeling it. I would stretch out my feedings as long as I could, but eventually I would break and then I would spiral into black despair again. I hated myself. Peter and Charlotte were concerned for me, as I said, they were and still are good friends to me, though we don't share the same feeding philosophy, and Peter finally told me to go and search out a family he had heard of called the Cullen's. Another nomad had told him they lived a different lifestyle and he thought it might help me.
I left him and Charlotte in that very day. You know that Alice and I met in 1948 in Philadelphia and we joined Carlisle and the rest of the family in 1950. So, you see, Bella, this is the reason why it has always been so hard for me to control my bloodlust. I spent 85 years essentially giving it free reign, but I swear to you, I will never hurt you. I do not thirst for you that way anymore. The only desire I have for you now is that of a man for a woman." Jasper finished, his voice trembling.
He didn't lift his head when he finished and his shame and revulsion hung heavy in the room. Tears ran down my face at the pain he had lived through. I couldn't imagine my beautiful, sensitive, gentle Jasper living like that and I knew in that instant what I had to say to him to make him understand.
I pulled him to me tightly, pouring all my love and acceptance into my voice, knowing he could feel it, and murmured, "That Jasper died a long time ago. He doesn't exist anymore. You are a better man for having had those experiences and having rejected them and I am so very proud to know and love you, Jasper Whitlock." I felt his rigid body relax into mine and rocked him as his body was racked with tearless sobs.