The Amaranthine Mirage
Jasper has mercilessly been ripped from Alice's loving arms by Maria. Can the Cullens get to him in time? Or will they be too late to stop the beast he will become? sequel to visions of you!
1. chapter one
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"…There are some places in my world where the lifespan of the never-aging is measured in weeks and not centuries…in so many years of slaughter and carnage I'd lost nearly all humanity. I was undeniably a nightmare, a monster of the grisliest kind…" ~Jasper Whitlock Hale, Eclipse~
Rome; crazy streets, way too many humans and a sun that shone unrelentingly upon the earth. I found myself smack in the middle of this crazy jungle practically dying of thirst. The extravagance of the hotel room I wallowed in only added to the depression I was unable to pull out of. Blues and reds covered everything. Ornate moldings were hand crafted into the walls and inlaid with gold filigree. The size of the suite mirrored the first floor of my old home in Forks almost exactly. There was a balcony, a living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom in which the previous tenants now lay dead, poisoning the air with the stench of decomposing bodies. I longed to rip apart the perfectly made beds. I wanted to smash through the beauty of the walls. This wasn't right, it wasn't fair! "He's going to die inside," Alice had shouted. I shuddered to think what she could have seen. Even Edward found some of my memories a little disconcerting should I make the mistake of pondering upon them. I'd come a long way from the monster I'd been but now Maria was trying to coax it out of me once again and there was nothing I could do to stop it, at least not alone. My feet paced back and forth across the tile floor of the entryway passing the same round table with its vase of flowers over and over. I'd barely escaped the first time and even then I was in a fit of depression for a decent three or four years afterward. I didn't want to go back to that but how could I stop it? With a snarl, I whirled around and threw the nearby vase across the room. It crashed against the far wall shattering into a million pieces and soaking the wall with water as the flowers fell in a heap to the floor. It had been four weeks since I'd last hunted but around here there was only one way to find food: murder. My thirst had done nothing good for my already sour mood at all the hatred I was forced to endure. Much like a climate of heat would make a human sweat, a climate of anger tended to make me violent. What did it matter how angry I got? Alice couldn't see. Not with that mongrel guarding the door at Maria's command. I was a prisoner once again and there was nothing I could do to escape.
Almost as if on cue, Palo opened the door to the vaulted rotund entry of the room. His dark masses of curly hair matched the abysmal depths of his eyes. It seemed La Push was not the only location one could find a werewolf in this crazy world. The Italian version of Jacob Black sauntered into the room with a look of enjoyment on his face. "I'm not going to have to subdue you again, am I Jasper," he inquired jeeringly in his accent.
I merely stared at him breathing heavily with rage.
"Good," he drew the word out, adjusting the blue tie beneath his white suit, "because this is tailored just right and I wouldn't want to ruin it so soon. Besides, you wouldn't want to draw attention to this room until the week is out otherwise killing those humans for the key would have been a waste."
My lips pursed in a thin line as I stared with hatred at the man who'd been glued to my side since we'd landed in this country. He laughed in amusement and mumbled in Italian to himself as he exited the room once again, leaving me to my own devices. With a heavy sigh, I kicked one of the broken shards of pottery across the smooth surface of the floor and blurred to the red and gold hued couch where I collapsed in exasperation trying to regain control of myself. They wanted me to break. It was the whole purpose of this torture. Maria intended to force me back into my pattern of bloodlust by any means possible. I'd flat out refused her invitations to hunt. I wouldn't murder another human. I couldn't. It would kill me inside even more than past events already had.
I'd been counting on Alice to pin point my location quickly and fly with the Cullens to set me free of my personal hell but Maria, as she always did, had thought of that. Palo had been instructed to never leave my side even for an instant. The hot headed, foul smelling mutt was always a stone's throw away from my location and I couldn't do anything to get away without risking severe punishment. He was nothing short of a mercenary, a traitor to his kind. He wasn't sworn by duty as the La Push wolves deemed themselves to be. Instead he was a ruthless beast who killed for fun and worked for anyone who would pay him cash for his muscle. His aura was a disgusting filthy hole that sickened me to the core to be around. It seeped into my own giving me a short temper and slightly wavering judgment. Alice would have been very disappointed if she could see the behavior I'd been exhibiting as of late.
A sudden thought occurred to me as I sat there with my head buried in my hands and my heart on the floor; did she even know I was still alive? If my future suddenly disappeared due to Palo's presence would she hold out hope or would she assume the worst. I felt horrible for even suggesting such a thing in my subconscious but everything was going so horribly wrong. Peter was dead, my family was broken and I was far away in another part of the world with no knowledge of why I was there or when we'd be moving on. Whoever said the course of true love never did run smooth certainly knew what they were talking about.
So far it had been just as horrid an experience as it was before I left. Maria was recruiting all sorts of crazies to her cause though I still wasn't sure exactly what that was. There was Victoria, the revengeful female who seemed to eye me hungrily when Maria wasn't looking. I could sense the longing within her to rip my throat out for aiding in the demise of James but Victoria was a gambler. She wanted the knowledge Maria offered much too strongly to throw it away by harming Maria's most prized possession. There was of course, Palo, the sadistic werewolf whose job was to keep me within sight in hopes that Alice wouldn't find me. The third, and so far final member of this coven, was Nadia; a beautiful flower from India and the only kind soul amongst the group. Her aura was at least bearable to be around though I could sense in it a slight attraction for me that was unsettling. I didn't mind others finding me attractive when I had Alice by my side to prove I was indeed already taken. In fact I used to take great pleasure in turning their emotions against them when I was bored. Emmett and I had made a game of it until Alice and Rosalie made us swear to cease.
The thought of my brother caused me to remember his torn emotions when I'd chosen to leave in order to save them. Possibly one of the worst downsides of my ability was its tendency to remember a person's emotions long after I'd sensed them. It was like an invisible fingerprint left behind and the very reason killing humans depressed me. Their emotions would haunt me for days and sometimes weeks afterwards unrelentingly until something else pulled them away. Animals didn't feel the same things as humans; it was natural for them to be hunted and they generally gave themselves willingly to the cause. How much longer could I go without feeding before it became too much to bear? It seemed even my thoughts were scatterbrained, bouncing around from topic to topic; I must be thirstier than I thought.
A sudden click of the doorknob turning made me jump to my feet. I swallowed hard, wincing at the venom as it burned down my throat. If Jessica Stanley could see the pained expression I bore it would be gossip central at Forks High, at least more so than usual. Maria walked fluidly through the door followed closely by Victoria, who was sporting a new Jacket from her latest victim, and Nadia who wore a light blue sundress with sandals. All of them were feeling quite content and shared the same glowing red hues that signified a good hunt, one in which several innocent humans had lost their lives.
I remained standing still as a statue with balled fists and a stoic expression that would have made Alice pull out all the stops until she'd coaxed out a smile. Maria ghosted immediately to the desk where she began laying out papers full of plans that she had yet to show me. Victoria snapped her teeth playfully at me as she passed but I merely stared at her; I refused to give her the satisfaction of flinching. Her laughter filled the air as she hopped merrily atop the couch and began flipping through channels on the television. My will to fight back could only last for so much longer. I still had Alice in my memory to keep me mostly sane, though Maria had been trying without success to erase her. The headaches I'd endured over the past week were excruciating but Alice was worth every pain I suffered. Not even Maria could make me let her go.
I was so enwrapped in my thoughts that I didn't notice Nadia stop in front of me until I felt her worried emotions. My eyes refocused on her as a frigid hand touched my cheek. "You're eyes are so dark," she complained, her accent made more musical by the natural allure we all received at the change. "You should have come with us. It is not safe to go thirsty for so long."
"Yes, well in the past I didn't hunt every three days and I had two brothers to hold me back when I got out of hand," I stated flatly; "I can manage."
"But only for so long," Maria muttered as she turned her head to glance at me over her shoulder. "You will break, Jasper. There is nothing that can be done about it."
Nadia gave a sigh as she ghosted to the couch to join the red headed nomad. "My family won't let you get away with this," I mumbled rather stoically, trying to keep my anger under control.
"You're so called family is no longer a part of you," she spat as she placed her hands on her hips and turned to face me. "They will never find you; I've made sure of that! You would do well to forget them and remember your place!"
"No," I uttered in a low and wavering tone.
Maria's emotions shifted towards astonishment. "Perdón… what did you just say to me?"
The television no longer seemed to hold interest for the others as I blatantly disobeyed the woman in front of me. "Let them go, Jasper," Maria's alluring voice suggested in my mind. "They don't want you anymore. They're glad to have you gone."
I started to believe her at first but swiftly realized what she was making me do. "NO," I shouted aloud as I gripped my head trying to sever her hold, "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!" My head suddenly exploded as I tried to force it to go in one direction while Maria held it in the other. I emitted an anguished cry as I doubled over, falling to the floor in a heap. "You can't fight against me forever, Whitlock," she hissed through her teeth as she stood above me. "Sooner or later I will win."
I wanted the pain to stop. For half a second I considered giving in but the memory of my loved ones was the only hope I had to survive the darkness of the world I found myself in. With a scream of agony, I fought all the harder to hold on. The suffering was only made worse but I forced myself to endure it, I had to endure it. Giving up hope would be giving up on Alice and I couldn't do that. She would find a way to get through, I simply had to wait. When Maria finally let go, I breathed a sigh of relief and rested my forehead against the coolness of the tile floor. The stench of rotting flesh and entirely too much pinesol met my nose as I lay there trying to recollect myself.
How much longer before the light would leave my eyes and I truly did give up? I was, after all, undeserving of Alice's affection. As soon as the thought crossed my mind I recalled the sincerity of her emotions. It was the one fingerprint that never faded for I'd memorized it well. Something as pure and whole as what she felt for me could not be faked even if one tried. It was to this notion I desperately clung.
"Let's try and keep our temper under control, Jasper," Maria ordered as she noted the pottery scattered about the floor; "I don't wish to leave before the intended date."
I made no attempt to respond but instead gave a slight groan as I moved minimally to lay my head upon my arm. A grimace crossed my face as the sound of thrumming heartbeats in the surrounding city began to drown out all other sounds causing venom to accumulate in my mouth. It felt as though I'd been traveling the desert for quite some time and was now staring at a pool of water that was poisoned through and through. I couldn't go on like this much longer.
"Nadia, be of some help and check in on the Volturi, would you?" Maria cooed softly across the room.
"Certainly." was the response that came.
There was no hesitation in the girl's emotions, no second guessing of the one in charge; she simply complied without prodding of any nature. How could someone who appeared so pure of heart willingly serve a tyrant as twisted as Maria? A breeze blew in the balcony door as Nadia opened it and stepped outside bringing with it the all too sweet smelling aroma of humans. I gave a groan of frustration as it tempted me, singing a sirens song to my thirst. Come to me, it seemed to whisper, Come…I'm waiting just outside.
My fist balled as my other hand twisted itself in my tangle of blonde hair. My poor self control was not aiding in my desperate plight of starvation. Maria gave a tiny smile as she exchanged a glance with Victoria. I was crumbling and what was worse, I had no more strength to hide it from them. It took all my concentration to remain where I was, pathetically sprawled out on the floor. The sound of Nadia meditating floated to my ears mixing with the song that seemed to be picking up pace. "It won't be much longer now," Maria smiled, speaking directly to Victoria.
The fiery haired vampire gave a tiny smile in return, "And I thought you wouldn't be able to do it."
"Your lack of faith in me is astounding, mi amiga," Maria joked as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and returned to her papers. "I know Jasper like the back of my hand. He still struggles with the temptation of human blood even after all these years of holding off. He's tasted too much to go back completely. He will fall back to his old habits soon. I have no doubt."
"Well it will certainly be entertaining to watch," Victoria mused as she turned her gaze back to me.
I wanted to retort, to fight back, anything to prove I wasn't falling apart. To so much as move would aggravate the urge I was restraining from. It was bad enough that I nearly killed the entire population of Forks High School on more than one occasion. I knew what I was capable of; I knew the monster that lay within begging to be set free. The instant I let it loose it would be impossible to get back. The only reason I'd managed to last this long was the fear of disappointing Alice. Even though I knew she couldn't see, the thought that somehow she might made me try all the harder to hold off.
Nadia reentered the room gracefully, closing the door behind her and shutting off the scent that was making me so dizzy. I let out a sigh of relief and relaxed only just as I pulled myself back under control. I felt a pang of sympathy and knew at once that Nadia had glanced in my direction. Jasper Hale was fading. Traces of my once stoic manner were already appearing followed in the rear by my short temperament. I was losing. How could that be? I never lost.
"The Volturi suspect nothing," Nadia announced happily; "They are preoccupied with a disturbance in Canada."
"Muy bueno," Maria smiled looking up at the young woman, "Gracias."
Nadia's gift was still a mystery to me. She was somehow able to leave herself and spy on anyone she chose no matter their location. How it worked, I couldn't be sure, but the fact that Maria had her willingly complying was a dangerous business. With an imperceptible grimace, I managed to get back to my feet and blur to the bathroom just to my left. The door was shut fleetly behind making the odor of the dead sprawled in the large bathtub much stronger. I stared at them for a moment before snapping the curtain shut with pursed lips and a set jaw. My breath was still coming sharply as though shards of glass were woven throughout the sides of my throat. Keep it together, Jasper, I thought to myself, you don't have to give in to what you are.
Two sides of me were fighting for domination. The thoughts swimming round in my mind would have given Edward quite the headache at their rate of changing. One minute, I was in full control, the next minute, the beast inside me was starting to take over. What was this madness? It seemed that my entire existence would be given to war whether it be literally or simply just within. In an attempt to calm myself, I turned on the faucet of the sink as cold as it would go and rolled back my sleeves taking a few deep breaths as I leaned against the counter. My features distorted once again at the flames that ripped at the sides of my throat. It was enough that I was almost choking. I made a cup from my hands and filled it with water, splashing the chilling liquid all over my face. I did this several more times before cutting off the flow and reaching for the nearby towel.
I knew I couldn't hide in here forever; one, because the stench of the bodies was entirely too strong and two, because sooner or later Maria would need my assistance, whether I wanted to give it or not. As I dried my face the smell of wet dog accumulated in the air and I picked up the sound of Palo's heartbeat crossing the hotel room outside the bathroom door. Just knowing he was so close by sent anger coursing through me. I tossed the hand towel violently on the counter and gripped the marble edges of the sink once again, giving a small shake of my head in an attempt to remain under control. My eyes dragged upwards to stare at my reflection in the mirror. I barely recognized the man before me. My orbs were completely black with thirst, my hair was slightly disheveled, my ash blue shirt was wrinkled, and my face held little to none of its former light. All that Alice had brought into my life had slowly been diminishing until now; there was barely any of it left. In an effort to calm myself, I leaned against the door and sunk quietly to the floor. My elbows rested comfortably on my knees as I tried to sift through the millions of thoughts that ran unrelentingly through my mind.
Was I even salvageable anymore? Or was I better off just giving in and accepting my fate? My stomach gave a gurgle of disapproval at its emptiness. Instinctively, I hugged my arms around my middle in an effort to make it cease. I truly felt sick, frail, all of the things that would make Esme worry entirely too much about me; I looked it too. To say I was starving would be sugar coating the situation, there wasn't a word in any language to describe the severity of what I felt. My overly sensitive hearing suddenly picked up Nadia's whisper, "Let him be. It will take its natural course."
I realized instantly that I wasn't meant to hear this. They were talking about me in hushed tones below even my hearing. Maria had fortunately forgotten that my auditory senses were much more attuned than most of our kind due to my past experiences. I had to know what they were saying. I closed my eyes and shut down my respiratory system, turning all efforts to my sense of hearing alone. "We tried that already!" I heard Victoria hiss out in a low whisper. "We told the wolves not to let him feed on anything while they waited to hand him over in hopes that he would accidentally kill the human. It failed!"
"Si," Maria agreed in an equally quiet whisper, unaware that I could hear the conversation; "It did fail pero only because of Alice and the rest of the Cullens. We have taken them away. He cannot last much longer. The scents and sounds of the humans all around us are already calling out to him. Give him time."
"We don't have any more time!" Victoria retorted.
"I agree with Victoria," Palo's Italian accent spoke in a fluidly low tone, "time is short. Someone should…help him along; guide him in the proper direction, if you catch my drift."
"Hasn't he suffered enough?" Nadia complained.
"Silencio!" Maria commanded, "I understand your feelings Nadia, but Jasper deserves to suffer. He has been disobedient and uncooperative, this cannot go unpunished."
Silence was all I could pick up for the next few moments and I half wondered if my hearing had given out. The conversation resumed itself shortly thereafter. "So we're agreed?" Victoria seemed to whisper in satisfaction. A chill coursed through me; agreed on what? What did they agree on!
"Si," I heard Maria give a nod of her head, "We'll do it tonight when the sun has left the sky."
"And what about me," Palo inquired softly. "What would you like me to do?"
"You will accompany us to the location of choice but then you will leave," pleasure dripped from every inflection as Maria responded. "I want his precious Alice to see this; I want her to forever remember the image of him as the light leaves his eyes once and for all!"
My eyes snapped open as adrenaline coursed through me propelled by the fear that now gripped my soul. What could they possibly do to me? Where were they going to take me? Why wasn't I waking up from this nightmare? I had to have fallen asleep at my post in Galveston and this was all a dream. It had been a good dream since Alice had found me but now the horror was back. That's the last time I have a ration of ale before bed. I mentally slapped myself knowing I was being driven to hysterics by thirst and panic. They were all gathered in the common area leaving a decent fifteen feet from the bathroom to the front door of our hideout. Did I dare?
Slowly, I pulled myself to my feet, keeping my breath held still in my chest, trying not to make a sound. They were immersed in their business. There was a slight chance this could work. My head nodded just once as I loosened my limbs a bit and turned towards the door. I could only hope that I had enough energy to make it. My muscles coiled back like a spring, I swallowed hard; release!
A streak of porcelain was all they could see before I was out the front door and tearing down the hallway as fast as I could go. The stairwell door jammed into the wall as I burst through it. Joy flooded my heart for only a moment; I'd made it! One flight of stairs passed. I flew around the corner. A second flight of stairs passed. I jumped the last half and landed on the third flight. That's when it all went wrong. Victoria dropped in front of me and knocked me backwards off my feet. I landed hard on my back but didn't fly through the wall, miraculously enough. Dang it! I wasn't fast enough. Thinking apace, I rolled to the side and tried to continue my decent down the stairs but she blurred in front of me, tilting her head curiously to the side. I gave off the air of defeat, acting as though I was giving up; she straightened her stance believing it. My mind, however, hadn't given up just yet. If I could only get to a location with a lot of humans, she couldn't act the vampire there, especially not with the Volturi so close by.
Swiftly, I vaulted over the rail and began free falling down the rectangular space between the stairs. I'd reached the third floor when something hard slammed into me. My body crumbled a portion of the wall as I hit it before I collapsed atop the stairs in a daze. I tried to move but it was impossible, I couldn't be sure why. My eyes shifted up and my question was answered; a large black and gray wolf was holding its large paw against my chest. It was over. I was caught. Escape foiled.
Victoria's laughter floated to my ears from above my head. I craned my neck to see her standing with her hands upon her hips on the landing just above. "Good boy, Palo," she patronizingly praised. "I'm sure Maria will give you a bone." The mutt rolled his eyes but gave a slight grin, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. The three of us turned our gaze to the stairwell door as an older woman with a shawl draped around her shoulders stumbled through. I could sense her fear and shock at the scene before her but didn't have time to compute it before Victoria ghosted to the poor soul and broke her neck. I grimaced at the sound. "Such a waste," she muttered tossing the body over the rail. It hit the floor two stories below ours with a sickening crunch.
I felt sorry for the woman. She hadn't deserved to die. It was the same old story; she'd been collateral damage. According to law, she had to be destroyed before she could tell the tale. Still, I couldn't help but be enraged. If I hadn't tried to run she would have wandered upon an empty stairwell and continued on her merry way. Why did I always seem to be the weakest link? Why did I always mess things up? Palo pressed on my ribcage a tad; it threatened to burst. "Palo," Victoria warned icily, "Be careful! Maria doesn't want damaged goods."
A chuckle seemed to rumble in the beast's throat as Victoria suddenly was standing over me. The dog let up and backed away. Victoria's frigid hand closed on the collar of my shirt and she lifted it slightly, pulling my face closer to hers. "Now then," she murmured softly, "You're not going to give me any more trouble, are you?"
My lips pursed defiantly but I gave a small shake of my head. "Good," she cooed. "I'll take it from here," she snarled, turning her gaze to the mongrel. "Why don't you return to your human form and meet us back upstairs?" The animal nodded its head in understanding before disappearing down the steps. Victoria closed her hand on my wrist and yanked me to my feet. I stumbled only just. Hatred was clearly shown in my eyes as they stared daggers at Victoria. Her hand slipped in mine as if she was my lover causing my lips to tighten all the more. She dragged me into the hallway beyond the door. Upon seeing no humans, she dropped my hand and gripped my shoulder instead. There was no way to escape the punishment I knew was waiting for me on the top floor. Fear tugged lightly at my emotions as she pressed a gelid finger to the elevator call button. Maria was going to be furious.
If the Cullens really were going to find me as they'd promised, why weren't they here? There had to have been something to follow; a plane ticket, an accidental glimpse of my future, anything! There's always hope, I encouraged myself. Alice had told me this once before. Who was I to deny her words? Victoria shoved me into the elevator as the doors slid open. Again, there were no humans inside, though I was sure there had to be cameras. I could be wrong about that last bit. I sulked in the corner of the steel box, leaning causally against the wall with my arms crossed and a stoic look to my face. I selfishly hoped we would come across humans simply so I could try to get away. Victoria couldn't kill every single one of them that got in the way. None crossed our path, however, and the elevator stopped on the desired floor. Victoria kept her grip tight on my shoulder as she steered me out of the square confinement and into the hall.
I was instantly consumed in a wave of anger and bitterness as my eyes fell on Maria standing with her hands on her hips and a stiletto heel tapping against the floor. She looked like a model posing for a portrait. Sadly she was no angel. She was more like a demonic spirit on a mission to punish the world. Why did the bad ones always have such alluring qualities? The two of us, prisoner and warden, stopped before Maria momentarily. A sting met my cheek as Maria slapped my face hard enough to turn my head. "How dare you!" She pointed her finger in my face, "I have given you a second chance and this is how you repay me? You insult me! Take him inside," she hissed with a jerk of her head.
Clearly she was too angered to speak. I had a horrid feeling that today was the last day I would see even the smallest glimpse of Jasper Hale. Even now, I could sense the wall around my heart setting up its final bricks. Hope; I'd found it in Alice. Now it was gone. I couldn't find it as I was so desperately trying. What else could I do but shut down? Victoria propelled me forward roughly and shoved me down upon the couch. "Don't move!"
I did as I was bidden out of self preservation. Nadia's sympathy lightened my hatred minimally from where she sat reading, but it wasn't enough to make a difference in my mannerisms. Shortly thereafter, Palo stumbled in, his perfectly tailored suit unharmed. How he'd managed that, I didn't want to know. He straightened the light blue tie and gave a dazzling smile in my direction. "Thank you for the sport, Jasper," he jeered patronizingly. "You are much faster than you look but… sadly I am faster."
I made to retort but Maria held up a finger signaling silence. With aggravation ever present on her features, she shut the door with a snap. Her heels clicked with each step across the tile of the large entryway. My black eyes followed her tiny form until it came to rest in front of me. Silence was the only utterance for a good thirty two seconds before Maria saw fit to break it. "This will end, Jasper, and it will end tonight!" She crossed her arms over her chest and eyed me cruelly, "You're stubborn streak has seen its last day!"
"How exactly do you intend to see to that," I inquired, ignoring the flames that tore at my throat.
"Oh I have my ways," she hissed, "and believe me they are very potent." Maria's head snapped to Palo, "See that he does not move!"
"With pleasure," the mutt chuckled happily, adjusting his tie once again.
"Victoria, Nadia, follow me!" Maria barked the orders as though time was running out.
It was conceivable that time was indeed running out for me but why she seemed so harried was beyond me. They left the hotel room in a blur of colors. A casual glance out the window and I realized at once that twilight was beginning outside. My mind instantly flew back to the conversation I'd overheard. "We'll do it tonight when the sun has left the sky." The sun was definitely leaving the sky. What did they have planned for me? Should I fight back at all? The black depths of my orbs sunk to the floor landing on my boots. This entire thing was a losing battle but I couldn't give up completely. Yes, I would die inside. Yes, I would become a ruthless and heartless monster before too much time had gone by. There was no stopping it, I could see that now, but I refused to go down without a fight. I'd made it this far, I could make it a bit more, for Alice's sake if no one else's. Whatever they planned to do to me in the next few hours, I would make it as difficult as possible. Jasper Hale might be fading away into the recesses of the past but Jasper Whitlock was about to rise with a vengeance.