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worth the pain

Summary:


Notes:


1. everyone's pov

Rating 0/5   Word Count 47274   Review this Chapter

Prologue – An Ending

French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

6 months after Bella's 18th birthday…

APOV

"Alice! Alice…what did you see?" Edward gently cradled my head in his lap. I couldn't explain; it was too awful and too inevitable. I just pushed it toward him in my thoughts and felt him convulse with the weight and atrocity of the horrific vision.

"How long do we have, Alice?" he gasped. "20 minutes at the most, Edward. Demetri is with them. We…we… can't escape." I replied.

"Will none of us survive, then?" he murmured.

"Jasper, Rose, & Emmett, no one else. This is Caius' punishment of Carlisle. He's finally decided our family is too much of a threat." I replied, numb.

He nodded and, resigned, he called out to Carlisle & Esme. They joined us and we held hands. We would be strong and love each other to the end. The Volturi would not have the satisfaction of breaking us before destroying us. We couldn't win, but we could stay together in death as we always had in this existence, no, in this life. I silently thanked God that Jasper was in Europe studying at Oxford this term, waiting for me to join him in June. He would survive. Rose & Emmett would, as well. They, thankfully, had not yet returned from their African safari, though they were due next week.

Jane, Alec, Felix, & Demetri appeared in the doorway and our world exploded in pain and ended in fire. My last thoughts were of my dear Jasper…
RPOV

I was numb. For the first time, I didn't know what to do. I was rocking Emmett. He'd finally quieted, but I knew the worst wasn't over yet…not by a long shot. Jasper was on his way. Then it would be worse, so much worse. In the space of a week, I had lost my sister, my brooding emo brother, and the only parents that had ever loved me unconditionally. The awful images arose in my mind and I wasn't strong enough to keep them at bay.

Hmmm, the house is dark. "Emmett, are you sure you told Esme we'd be home tonight?" I asked. "Yeah, Rosie. I talked to her last week." he replied. He turned the doorknob and the door popped open. We were hit with the unmistakably sweet smell of burning immortal flesh. We ran up the stairs to the attic that Esme had converted to a library for Edward. What we saw would haunt me for the rest of my life. Four piles of ash, Esme's wedding band, Alice's locket, Carlisle's watch, & Edward's Cullen crest adorned each pile. I knew in that moment as I collapsed to the floor and Emmett moaned behind me that our lives had been forever altered and we were like planets that had lost the pull of their sun. Through the haze of grief, I pulled out my phone and dialed…praying that he would answer and be OK…

"Rose? Emmett? “Jasper yelled, dashing up the stairs. Emmett grabbed him at the door to the attic and held him back, sobbing tearlessly, "They're gone, Jazz. The Volturi came and they're gone, all gone." Jasper pushed past him and sank to his knees wracked with grief.

Emmett POV

Somehow, we pulled ourselves together. What would we do now? Would we hold ourselves together or scatter, never to be a family again? I loved this family; it was all I had ever known of this immortal life. I squeezed Rose close to me and gave Jasper a gentle squeeze. "Come on, we need to take care of them now." I sighed.

Rose was mute and all Jasper seemed to be able to do was moan. But, they pulled themselves up off the floor and we set about cleaning the scene. We gathered only the things we couldn't bear to leave behind. Pictures, Carlisle's cross & medical bag, Esme's jewelry and reminders of her lost son, Edward's music & especially the CD of his compositions that he had made for Bella and then taken back when we left, & Alice's sketches. Finally, we collected a small container of their ashes each.

"What do we do now?" I asked. Rose sighed, "I don't know Emmett. We leave here and start again somewhere. It's what they would have wanted."

Jasper glanced up; his eyes were wild with pain and despair. "Forks, we go back to Forks." he whispered. Slowly, Rose nodded. "We were happy there, it was maybe the last time we were all happy." she murmured. We left without a backward glance.
Forks, Washington

1 week later

BPOV

I was sitting at the table in the sunny yellow kitchen at my house, when my life changed again. I was fiddling with the laptop that Charlie, Renee, & Phil had given me for graduation. It was hard to believe that in a few short months I would be headed to New Hampshire to attend Dartmouth. It was surreal actually; so much had happened over the past two years. If Alice hadn't been emailing me with updates on their lives, I don't know if I would have survived.

I hadn't had an email from Alice for two weeks and was beginning to wonder if everything was OK. She'd never gone so long without a message before and was not returning my messages, either. So, it was with resignation that I opened up my Gmail account and began to scan my new messages. I had one from Angela (who had already left for school at the University of Washington in Seattle). She was attending summer classes with Ben and I'm sure wanted to update me on campus life. I missed them both like the dickens and couldn't wait to see what she was up to! We had become very close over the last 6 months and I loved her like a sister. Ben was good for her and I loved him, too. Of course, there were about 10 from Renee. My crazy mom, she never did have any patience! I knew I had better address hers first and then I could get back to Angela & Ben. Of course, I also had the usual smattering of junk mail: lose 50 pounds in 2 days, you've won the Nigerian lottery, Come see my sexy XXX pictures. I quickly scrapped those wastes of storage space and scrolled down to see what else was in the inbox. That's when I saw it; a single message from pixiegrrl. With trembling fingers, I clicked the link and began to read:

To: swandive

From: pixiegrrl

Sent: 8 JUNE 2007

Bella –

I need to talk to you in person. I'll be in Forks tomorrow. I can't explain right now, and I know I'm not the one you probably most want to see, but I always cared about you, Bella. If you'll come to the house tomorrow afternoon, I'll explain as best I can. Maybe we can become friends…

-Rosalie

I tried to absorb the fact that Rose was emailing me from Alice's account. Then, with a start, I realized that the message was from yesterday! That meant she would be here now and would be waiting for me this afternoon. I glanced at the clock over the stove and saw that it was already 11:45. I catapulted out of my chair and raced up the steps, not tripping one single time and thank you very much, to shower & dress.

I quickly showered, threw on a pair of khaki cargo shorts, a navy blue tank top, & my old reliable blue Chucks, ran a comb through my still damp hair and tossed it up into a messy knot with a clip. A smear of lip-gloss, and I was charging out the front door and slamming the keys into the ignition of my old beat up truck. Silently, I prayed that she would start, and, wonder of wonders, she cranked on the first try.

I pushed her to the limit of speed, a whopping 55 mph, and made my way to the familiar gravel driveway deep in the woods.

As I turned onto the drive, I had a momentary bout of panic. What could be going on? Were they all here? Why had Rose contacted me instead of Alice?

I had long since forgiven them for leaving. I knew that Edward had lied to me that day in the woods and was trying in his own way to keep me safe. I couldn't truly blame his family for going with him. After all, blood is thicker than water, no pun intended.

As all of these thoughts were racing through my head, I saw the house rise up from the mist of the deep green woods ahead. Standing on the front porch was Rosalie.

I was out of the truck so fast she barely had time to brace herself before I launched herself into her arms. I was laughing and crying at the same time; so happy to see her.

"Bella" she sighed. "Come in…we need to talk." I let go and nodded, following her quietly into the house. The atmosphere was heavy with pain when we made our way to the living room. Emmett was standing in the doorway waiting for us and Jasper was sitting still as a statue on the sofa.

I gasped as I took in the emotions that were heavy in the room. Emmett heard me and launched himself over to me scooping me up in his massive arms. "Bells, I missed you!" he cried out. "Em…can't….breathe…please." I wheezed. He swiftly released me and dropped me on the opposite end of the sofa from Jasper. He plopped himself on the loveseat and Rosalie joined him there.

I snuck a quick curious glance at Jasper, who had not moved or even seemed to notice that I was here. His eyes were blank and despair rolled off of him in heavy waves.

"Rose, Emmett, where is everyone? Why did you ask me to come?" I asked with a tremor in my voice. I suspected instinctively that this was not a social visit.

With a sigh, Rosalie leaned forward and took my warm hands in hers. "Bella, how much did Edward tell you about our world? Did he ever tell you about the Volturi?" she began. I numbly shook my head.

When she finished, I was completely still & in shock, trying to decide what to say. I was gripping Rose's hands as tightly as I could.

Finally, after a moment of stunned silence, I exhaled and whispered, "My God, what can I do? How can I help you all?" Rose squeezed my hands gently and asked if I was OK.

I looked at her and quietly stated, "Rosalie, you've just told me that I've lost my second parents, my sister and best friend, and former lover. I'm a damn sight away from OK, but I'm also not the same weak emotional girl you left behind. I can handle this…now what can I do?" Suddenly, she was wracked with violent tearless sobs. I silently rose from the sofa and hugged her fiercely as Emmett circled us both in his arms, shaking, too, with sobs. I was dimly aware that Jasper still hadn't moved.

We stayed locked together for a long time, Emmett, Rosalie, and I. My tears mixed with their sobs. Finally, I felt Rosalie calming and I caught her eye and twitched my head towards the kitchen. She nodded and rose with Emmett to follow me. Before I left the room, I placed a gentle hand on Jasper's knee, trying not to notice as he flinched like I had burned him. "Jasper, we'll be right back, OK? We're not leaving you. We're just going to the kitchen for a second." I murmured to him, praying it would get through to him.

Rose, Emmett, & I made it to the kitchen and I immediately knew they needed me to help with Jasper. He had shut down. "OK, you need to fill me in on Jasper. How long has he been like this and how bad is it?" I demanded.

"Bells, he hasn't said a single word since the day he got home from Oxford and saw what had happened. The last thing he told us was to come back here to Forks. He hunts only when I physically take him to the woods and even you could feel his pain." Emmett said. "To be honest, Rosie and I are a little out of our depth here. We would have depended on Car-Carlisle or Alice to help him…we just don't know what to do for him!" With that, he slammed his massive fist onto the granite countertop causing a jagged crack to race down its surface. Rosalie reached out to him and pulled him to her, stroking his massive shoulders as they shook again with his sobs. She solemnly nodded in agreement with what Emmett had said.

"OK, I'm calling Charlie to let him know where I am. What's our cover story?" I asked.

"We set it up as a tragic fire. There was no issue with having the case closed in New Orleans." Rosalie responded.

"OK, Charlie is on his honeymoon with Sue. They went to Vancouver and won't be back for at least another month. I'll move my things in today. Oh, I had better call Sam, too, and let him know what's happened. We need to make sure the treaty will hold without Carlisle and Edward." I said.

"Bella, remember, Em & I are original members of the treaty, too. It should be fine, but let Sam know that Em & I can meet with the pack, if needed. Please tell him we will not violate the treaty in any way." Rose replied.

"Emmett, can you come with me to my house? I need you to help me pack and bring my things over. Rose, will you be OK here by yourself with him for a little bit? We can be back in an hour." I asked.

"Of course, Bella", they replied immediately.

I returned to the living room. Jasper was now curled into a fetal position on the sofa. His eyes were still blank and unseeing, though they were a warm golden light brown. Whatever he was feeling, I knew I was safe here with him. I kneeled in front of him and gently cupped his cheek with my hand. He didn't flinch this time. "Jasper, honey, I'm going home for a minute. Rose is here with you, so don't worry. Em & I will be back very soon." I murmured softly. There was no flicker of recognition, no hint he had heard me. Jasper had been there for me through many things; I would not give up on my brother now.
BPOV

Halfway down the driveway, it hit me. I would never feel Esme's warm embrace or Carlisle's pride, never go on a stupid shopping trip with Alice, or see Edward's crooked smile again. The gravity of what had been lost, not only by me, but by the world, slammed into me. Emmett noticed that I was losing it and grabbed the wheel, pulling us to the shoulder of the road as I dissolved into sobs.

He jumped out and ran around the truck with vampire speed. He pulled me out of the cab and cuddled me to his chest. Rocking me gently, I never knew this side to Emmett; he murmured that it would be OK and that he & Rose loved me.

I finally began to calm down and, sniffling, said, "Emmett, I never got to tell him that I forgave him for leaving. He died thinking I hated him. Emmett, I loved him so much!"

"Sweetie, he knew. He was sad to leave you, but he loved you enough to try to do what he thought was right for you. It tore him up, but he never thought you hated him." crooned Emmett.

"Thank you, Emmett, for coming back, for being here for me. I'm going to be OK. We all are going to be OK, damn it!" I growled.

"Come on, Rose needs you and God only knows what Jasper needs, but I'll try to help him. He's our brother and I will not lose him, too! Let's go." I said.

We pulled up to the house and went inside.

"Em, would you go upstairs and grab me some clothes? Everything is in the dresser and there's a suitcase under the bed. Don't forget my shower stuff in the bag on my desk. I'm going to make some phone calls." I said. "Don't worry; I'm going to be OK now." I declared, seeing the worried expression, so out of place, on his normally happy face.

Silently he nodded and headed up the stairs. I headed into the kitchen, grabbed the phone from the wall stretching it to the table. I had to sit down to deliver the messages that were needed now. I dialed Sam's number. It rang and rang, but there was no answer. "Damn," I thought, "they must be out." I hung up and dialed Jake's number. He answered on the first ring.

"Hey Bells, what's up? Sammie's dying to go to Port Angeles with you…when are you coming back over?" he demanded.

A ghost of a smiled crossed my lips at the thought of Jake's soul mate, Sammie. She was Embry's cousin from the Makah reservation and Jake had imprinted on her about 3 months ago. They were blissfully happy & Jake took every opportunity to get us together wanting his lover to get along with his best friend. She was a shy but happy girl and she looked at Jake like he hung the moon. We had become good friends over the last few months.

"Jake, I've got bad news; I tried Sam but couldn't get him. You'll need to fill in the pack or have Sam call me, OK? It's important, Jake." I pleaded.

"Bells, what happened? Sam & Emily are on vacation. We convinced them to go to California and take a break. He won't be back for two weeks. I'm heading the pack while he's gone. Are Charlie & Sue OK? What can I do? Do I need to get Seth & Leah?" he cried.

"No…No, Jake. Charlie & Sue are fine. The Cullen's are back in Forks, well some of them, and I needed to make sure the treaty still held." I said.

"Why are they back? What's going on Bella? Are you OK? Wait…I'm on my way." he shouted.

"Jake, wait. Jake? OK, good you're still there. Carlisle, Esme, A-A-Alice, & Ed-Ed-war-d were killed last week. Jasper, Rosalie, & Emmett are the only ones left. They're here and I need to be with them right now." I stammered, overcome with tears again.

"God, Bella, I'm so sorry! I know you loved them. Do you need me to come over? I can leave now if you need me…" he exclaimed.

"No, Jake. Thanks, really. But right now, Jasper is really messed up. Rose is with him, and I just came home to grab some stuff and head back over to the house. I'll keep you posted though, OK?" I said.

"You better, Bells. You got a cell to call me on?" he asked.

"Yeah, Jake. Charlie left his with me, so just look for his number on the CallerID, OK? Jake, I need to know if the pack is OK with the treaty still…" I trailed off.

"Of course, Bella. We respected Carlisle and will honor the treaty with his remaining family." Jake answered in his all business pack leader voice. "Call me soon, OK?" he asked in a softer tone.

"I will. Love you, Jake. Give my love to Sammie." I said.

"I love you, too, Bells, and I will." He said and hung up. I did too, steeling myself for the next call I had to make.

Removing the receiver again, I dialed the Four Seasons in Vancouver and asked for room 206. Sue answered on the second ring.

"Hi Sue, sorry to bother you guys, but is my dad around? I really need to speak to him." I said. "OK, hang on Bella; he just got out of the shower. Is everything OK?" she asked."Bells, what's wrong? What happened?" Charlie asked frantically. "Hi Dad, calm down, I'm fine. I wanted to let you know that Carlisle, Esme, A-A-Alice, & Ed-Edward were killed last week in a house fire. I just found out today. Rosalie, Emmett, & Jasper have come back to Forks and I need to be with them right now, OK?" I blurted with my voice breaking in strange places as I tried to maintain my composure."Oh, Bells, God, I'm so sorry. Do you need me to come home? Sue & I can get a flight out tonight and be there with you!" he declared."No, Dad, it's OK. I'm heading over there right now and I have your cell with me. I'll give you a call later, OK? I just didn't want to worry you, if you call the house and I'm not here. Give my love to Sue, OK?" I responded."OK, Bella, I love you and all you have to do is say the word and we'll come home, OK?" he murmured."I know, Dad. I love you, too! Bye." I said, gently cradling the receiver.

I had gotten through the telling twice. But, it wasn't easy. I was shaking so hard that my teeth were chattering. I had to pull myself together. My family needed me to be strong right now. Slowly, the shaking eased and Emmett lightly squeezed my shoulder. I covered his big cold mitt with my own tiny warm one and gave it a gentle squeeze. Silently, we loaded up the truck & drove back to the house.
BPOV

Emmett pulled into the garage between Edward's Volvo, Jasper's Navigator, & Alice's Porsche. I must have looked at the Volvo funny, because Emmett explained that they had driven Edward's Volvo to Forks from New Orleans because they wanted me to have it. I sighed and mumbled thanks. I wasn't ready to look at their possessions; it made everything too real and I couldn't afford the luxury of my own grief yet.

We climbed out of the truck and entered the house. Jasper and Rose were gone from the living room. I looked at Emmett; he shrugged and said they were upstairs. We headed that way. Rose met us at the top of the stairs.

"Bella, I carried him up here. I was hoping he would be more comfortable. He hasn't moved at all or made a single sound. I'm scared for him, Bella." she whispered.

"I know, Rose. I am, too. We're going to make it through this, though, OK? I'm going to go to him now. Does he need to hunt?" I asked her.

"No, I took him while you and Em were gone. Just a quick jaunt into the woods; Bella, I had to hunt for him, he couldn't." she shuddered at the memory.

"OK, Rose. Why don't you and Emmett go for a little bit? I want to minimize how much emotion he's being exposed to and see if I can break through to him." I said.

She nodded. Emmett came up behind her and wrapped her in his arms. "We're going to go to the little guest house in the backyard, Bella. We're in earshot, so if you need us, just holler and we'll be here in a flash. I'm really glad you're here 'lil sis." he said.

Smiling weakly at them, I eased open the bedroom door and went inside shutting it softly behind me. Jasper was rolled into a tight ball on the bed he used to share with Alice. He made no sign that he knew I was here. I crossed slowly to him, the last thing I wanted to do was provoke him, so I made my movements small and non-threatening.

"Jasper, its Bella, is it OK if I sit with you for awhile? Could you give me a sign that you hear me, honey?" I whispered. He made no movement, not even blinking.

I climbed onto the bed and gently rubbed circles on his back. He flinched slightly at first, but then seemed to relax into my warm hands. I talked gently to him as I rubbed his back. Reminding him of how much we loved him and asked him to come back to us. We stayed that way for hours, until the moon rose.

I was beginning to get very sleepy. Rose peeked into the room. I quietly told her we were OK and she nodded, closed the door and walked back to the guesthouse with Emmett. I hoped they were able to comfort each other. I knew they would be all right. As she closed the door, I gently pulled away from him. He whimpered so low I almost didn't hear it.

It broke my heart. I whispered gently, "Jaz, I'm not leaving you. I'm going to put on some pajamas and brush my teeth, but I'll be right back. I won't leave you, Jaz, not as long as you want me to stay."

I crept to my bag and pulled out my things, a soft tank top, cotton sleep pants, toothbrush, & toothpaste. I slipped into the attached bathroom and changed quickly. I grabbed a washrag from the linen closet inside the door and washed my face. My stomach growled, so I ate a granola bar from my purse and quickly brushed my teeth and hair, pulling it up into a ponytail.

As I walked silently back to Jasper, I saw that his eyes were closed. I didn't know if it was better or worse than the unblinking emptiness, but I'm an optimist. As I climbed back onto the bed, I arranged my body around his. I knew I would have to sleep soon, but I wanted to comfort him as much as I could all night. He shifted just the tiniest bit to lay his head on my lap. My heart leapt with hope. I began to gently stroke his blond curls and hummed a lullaby from my childhood. His eyes were open now, light golden brown, but still unfocused and blank. I could only imagine what he was feeling. He had shut down to the point where he was no longer projecting any emotion to me. Tears welled up in my eyes and streamed down my face as the terrible weight of the loss we had suffered crashed into me. Sometime later, I slept; my hands still in his hair. Sometime in the long night, I felt Emmett's cold hands gently tuck Edward's black quilt around us. Thankfully, I slept without dreaming.

When I woke up, I could tell it was late in the morning. Jasper lay exactly as he had the night before, but I think I might have seen some measure of peace in his bottomless eyes. I gently began to detangle myself from him, but his hand grabbed my leg. Obviously, he didn't want me to go.

Remembering his whimper from the day before, I gently whispered again to him, "Jaz, I'm not leaving you. I'm going to put on some clothes and brush my teeth, but I'll be right back. I won't leave you, Jaz, not as long as you want me to stay."

His hand relaxed and I slipped over to my bag. I quickly grabbed a pair of soft, almost destroyed, jeans and a pink t-shirt. I padded to the bathroom and grabbed a quick shower, rubbed as much water out of my hair as I could, threw on my clothes, devoured another granola bar from my purse, & brushed my teeth.

EmPOV

I heard Bella start the shower, so I decided to check on my brother. He was on the bed pretty much the same as yesterday, but he looked more relaxed. I glanced at his eyes and noticed they were still golden. Hunting could wait. I decided to sit next to the bed for a while.

"Hey man, look I don't really know what to say right now. I'm pretty messed up myself, but I miss you. I know you're hurting real bad right now. Let us help you, bro." I said quietly.

Then, I just sat there next to him. I wished I was the smart one, like Edward, or the compassionate one, like Carlisle. But I was just big dumb Emmett. So, I sat and I waited, not wanting him to be alone and hurting.

About ten minutes later, Bella opened the bathroom door. She saw me sitting there and asked me quietly if I wanted her to leave for a little bit to give us privacy. Jasper twitched a little at that, so, I told her to stay and I would go hunt with Rosalie for a little bit. I hoped she could help him some more. She had done more in a day than Rosie & I had been able to do in a week. For the first time since this mess began, I was hopeful. Before I left, I motioned for her to come outside the door with me. I knew Jaz could still hear us, but I wanted the illusion of privacy.

"Bells, Rosie & I are not going to go far. Jaz is fine; he doesn't need to hunt right now. We just want you to know you're safe with him, OK?" I told her.

"I know, Emmett. Jasper and I have an agreement, I think. He won't hurt me." she replied confidently.

BPOV

Once Emmett & Rose left to go hunt, I went back to Jasper's room. I might have been imagining it, but I think his eyes might have tracked me just a tiny bit as I walked back over to him and began to gently stroke his hair again. "Jasper, I know it hurts right now, let me in so I can help you. Please, honey, come back to us. Come back to me." I murmured. We stayed that way for a long time. Rose came in after a while.

"Bella, you need to take a break and eat something, OK? You're going to make yourself sick if you don't." she pleaded. "I'll sit with Jasper for a few minutes."

I gently stopped stroking Jaz's hair, and slid away slightly.

"Don't leave me." he whimpered, "Please, Bella."

A wave of crushing sadness and loss swept over the room from Jasper. I ran back over to him and dropped to my knees, so I could be level with his face. "Jaz, honey, are you there? Talk to me, please, Jasper!" I begged. "Please…stay." he rasped, so quietly I could have missed it.

I cupped his cheek in my hand and whispered our mantra, "Jaz, I'm not leaving you. I'm going to get a sandwich in the kitchen, but I'll be right back. I won't leave you, Jaz, not as long as you want me to stay."

I saw and felt his awareness as it snapped back into his golden brown eyes.

"OK" he mumbled, quiet as a breeze.

I kissed him gently on the forehead and asked Rose to stay with him. She nodded; her face showing me she would be crying if her immortal body would allow it. I knew in that moment that I would never leave him, could never leave him.
BPOV

I flew out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen. I grabbed the turkey, cheese, bread, & mayo out of the fridge and slapped together the world's quickest sandwich. I inhaled it standing over the sink and downed a glass of milk. As I was heading up the stairs, I met Rose.

"Rose, how is he?" I asked.

"Bella, he's still not really talking, but he went hunting with Emmett. They'll be back in an hour or so. Why don't you take a break and watch a movie with me?" Rose asked.

"OK, Rose. But when he gets back, I'm going to stay with him." I replied.

She nodded and led me to the living room where "Pretty Woman" was already playing. She curled up on the sofa and patted the cushion next to her. I sank down next to her and promptly fell asleep.

"Bella, love, can you hear me?" he called. "Edward, I hear you, but it's so bright, I can't see you." I cried.

"Bella, we don't have much time and I need you to understand what I'm telling you. Bella, I'm so sorry that I couldn't stay with you. I love you so much, but I need you to stay with Rose, Emmett, & Jasper, especially Jasper. He feels so much more than you know. He will need your compassion and love. Don't waste your life grieving for us. Your love is a gift; please, share it with someone else. Never doubt how much I love you. Sleep, my Bella, and only dream of happiness." Edward whispered.

I woke with a start completely disoriented and sitting bolt upright in bed with tears running down my face. Two strong cold arms encircled me. "Darlin' it's OK, don't cry. I've got you. Let me take care of you now, Bella." Jasper crooned. He gently wiped the tears from my cheeks and eased me back down tucked against him. I was already drifting back to sleep when I felt his long gentle fingers stroking my hair and the gentle kiss he laid on my forehead, whispering, "Bella, I'm not leaving you. I won't leave you, Bella, not as long as you want me to stay."
BPOV

The next two months passed in a blur of grief. None of us could quite fathom that they were truly never coming back. During that time, we had also been busy settling their affairs, so to speak. Carlisle had an estate to settle because of his current work in the medical field. It was easy enough to dissolve his accounts and pay the required taxes. Esme's estate was simpler. All her accounts had long since been combined with Carlisle's, so there was nothing to be done from a legal standpoint. Alice's accounts were merged into Jasper's and Edward's accounts were transferred into my name, and though I protested this mightily, Rose, Emmett, & Jasper were adamant that it was what he would have wanted. Carlisle & Esme's accounts & all family properties were placed in Rosalie's name, since she was the "oldest" remaining family member. This money would be used by the family collectively as needed to maintain their lifestyle.

I had reluctantly sold my truck for scrap and now drove the silver Volvo that held so many memories for me. Charlie and Sue had moved to La Push into Sue's home with Leah & Seth. I loved them all and visited often, even spending the night quite frequently, but my home was now truly with the remaining Cullen's. We had bonded through our grief, to the point that none of us could bear to be without each other for very long.

Rosalie had become the sister and best friend that I had always wished she would be & Emmett was my goofy big brother. Jasper, well, Jasper was a brother to me, too, but also something much stronger. I wish I knew what he was to me. I'd recently realized that I cared very deeply for him, maybe loved him, but I knew he was still too broken to reciprocate those feelings. Alice had been his rock; never ceasing to believe in his strength. He struggled with his grief, magnified so much by the depth of ours.

I was also contemplating a brief hiatus from school. I felt like they needed me and I really wasn't ready to leave any of them. I was going to have to talk to them about my plans soon. Charlie and I had discussed options and he was not supportive of an indefinite hiatus between high school and college, but understood that I felt fragile still.

As I left La Push and headed toward my true home, my cell phone began to ring. "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred filled the interior of the Volvo. OK, Emmett was calling me. "Hi Emmett" I said. "Bells, whatcha doin'? Emmett boomed on the other end. Wincing, I pulled the phone away from my ear. "Not much, Em. I'm heading over to the house now. Why what's up?" I replied. "Nothin', just gonna have a family meeting when you get here, OK? No biggie." He said. "OK, see you in a bit, Emmett; I'm just going to grab something to eat on the way." I muttered, flipping the phone closed with a decisive click and wondering what I was getting ready to face.

Thirty minutes later, I was pulling up to the house. Jasper was sitting on the front porch steps waiting for me. He smiled his crooked gentle smile at me as I rounded the car. "Hello, Bella. Emmett and Rose are inside. Did you have a good weekend with your father?" he asked, pulling me to him in a gentle embrace. I was flooded with a wave of affection, curiosity, and something else that I couldn't quite place. "Yeah, it was good, Jasper. How are you doing?" I replied. "Your father loves you very much, Bella. He seems very content at La Push." Jasper responded. I looked at his face trying to decipher his unreadable golden butterscotch eyes. He hadn't answered my question about how he was, but that was very Jasper. He never wanted to burden us with his grief. "See anything you like?" he asked, teasingly. Lightly I punched his arm and laughed. With a quick peck on his cheek, I headed towards the front door and the unknown topic of the family meeting; sorry already to be leaving the circle of his arms and knowing it was futile to wish for more with him.

"Hey Rose, Hey Emmett." I hollered as I entered the house & made my way to the kitchen to grab a Coke from the fridge.

"Hi, Bella. I'm glad to see you." Rose called softly from the living room.

I popped the tab on the can and headed into the living room. Hopefully, the family meeting would be brief. I was feeling a bit apprehensive.

Jasper, Rose, & Emmett were waiting for me, so I plopped down on the floor leaning against Jasper's long legs. "OK guys, what's up?" I asked.

JPOV

I tried to reign in my feelings as Bella settled back against my legs. It wouldn't do for me to project them to the room. After all, it had only been a few months and I really wasn't sure exactly what they meant yet. God, being an empath was a pain in the ass sometimes.

Gently, I reached down and began stroking her hair. She looked up at me and gave me a gentle smile.

Rose cleared her throat and began. She explained that it was time for us to move on. We all love it here, but we were risking exposure by lingering. We needed to discuss what move we would make.

Bella looked startled by the topic and I could feel her panic starting to rise. Surely she didn't think we were going to leave her behind? I sent a wave of calm to her and she glanced at me gratefully. "Bella, we're discussing this with you because we want you to help us decide and come with us." I murmured to her. Understanding dawned on her face and I was almost overwhelmed at the force of her gratefulness and relief. Silently, I cursed my dead brother for having so broken her spirit when he had forced us to abandon her all those months ago.

"Well, umm, I had planned to talk with you all anyway about this. You see, I was planning, umm, to go to Dartmouth in the fall, but, umm, I had just about decided to take a break for a while. You see, I can't bear to leave you right now." She stammered.

"Well, Bella, would you mind if we went with you?" I asked, "We have a great house near the campus and Rose, Emmett, & I could enroll, too. Unless, you want to have that experience just to yourself. We don't want to smother you." Emmett and Rose were nodding their agreement.

I felt a burst of love, definitely familial, rush from Bella as I finished speaking, but there was an undercurrent to the emotion, something stronger as she looked up at me from her spot on the floor. Suddenly, I was vividly aware of every spot where her body was touching mine and my fingers were tingling where they were still lightly twining in her hair. With a jolt, I realized that she cared very deeply for me, and not just as a brother. Did I feel that way, too? I was afraid to acknowledge it, but I was pretty sure I did.

"That would be fantastic!" she shrieked. "Rose, Emmett, Jasper, are you sure you want to do that for me?"

"Bella, you are our sister. It would hurt us to be separated from you! We go where you go." Rose responded quickly, her eyes shining with unshed tears.

"Well, awesome." boomed Emmett. "When do we leave?"

"Classes start in three weeks, so I guess we need to leave pretty soon to get the house in order and get registered." Bella mused. "Can we pull things together that quickly?"

"Piece of cake, sis." declared Rose. "Are you up for shopping tomorrow? We have a lot to do and not much time to do it!"

I gently detangled myself from Bella and dashed up to my room to get my laptop. We had arrangements to make and we were ready to get started. When I returned to the living room, Bella was on the phone with Charlie, telling him the good news. It went well and she was beaming when she hung up.

"OK, it's all set up with Charlie. I told him we would be leaving in a week." Bella trilled. She was so happy. Joy was radiating off of her and bouncing around the room. I couldn't help but smile at her enthusiasm. This would be really good for us all.
BPOV

It was only 6am when Rose knocked on my door in the morning. Good grief, did she really think the shops opened this early? I groaned and she laughed and poked her head in the room. "OK sleepyhead, we have to drive this morning, so hurry up. You've got 30 minutes and we're pulling out!"she called. I rolled over and buried my head in my soft pillow and muttered something about 5 more minutes. "I heard that! Get up, Bella!" she laughed from the hallway. Damn stupid vampire hearing. So, grumbling the whole way, I grabbed my stuff and dashed to the bathroom. I threw open the door and to my embarrassment walked right in on Jasper wearing nothing but a towel. "Good morning, Bella." he said mildly, a smile in his voice. I blushed and mumbled "Sorry" before hauling tail out of there and back to my room. I threw myself face down on the bed and hoped I would suffocate so I'd be spared the embarrassment of facing Jasper later. A few minutes passed as I waited for the bathroom to be open. "Bella, darlin', what's wrong?" Jasper whispered right next to me. I yelped and jumped a foot in the air. "You scared me to death, Jasper Whitlock!" I panted. He chuckled and I realized I was all but straddling him on the bed in my fright. I raised my head and was suddenly dizzy at how close his lips were to mine from this angle. I couldn't help it as a tiny moan escaped my lips. "Bella" Jasper sighed huskily. Just as his cool perfect lips grazed mine, Emmett hollered "Bella, aren't you ready yet? Let's go!" In the blink of an eye, Jasper was gone and my head was reeling. Had I just imagined that? What the hell was that? No time to analyze it now though, so I headed to the shower and hauled ass to Rose's BMW waiting outside.

Rose and Emmett were in the front seat, so that left Jasper & I in the back. Well, crap! Awkward much? I slid in the seat and pretended to be very interested in the trees whizzing by the window.

JPOV

What was I doing? What were we doing? Bella slid quietly into the car, without as much as a glance my way. She was radiating confusion, embarrassment, and, hmm this was interesting, could that be lust? For me? I knew the last few months had forged an incredible bond between us, but I had no idea she had been feeling this way. Well, Whitlock, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I reached across the seat and gently took her small warm hand in mine. I gave her a gentle smile when she looked over at me. I felt a quick brush of embarrassment and a much stronger flash of attraction. I noticed Rose glance at me in the rearview mirror then, so I reigned myself in a little, must have been shooting out a little too much information there for a minute. This car ride to Seattle was going to be much too short.

BPOV

My whole hand was tingling. Every single point of contact between Jasper and I was aflame with sensation. I tried to sneak a peak through my lashes at him, but he was staring at me, too. I quickly resumed my study of the scenery outside the car windows. Rose & Emmett were singing at the top of their lungs to a song on the radio, so Jasper took advantage of their disinterest to squeeze my hand gently and whisper, "You OK, darlin'?" I nodded at him and gave his hand a squeeze back. I didn't dare to hope that he felt anything more than a brotherly affection for me, so I silently cursed my stupid heart for yet again thinking I was worth loving. From that point on in the ride, every time I glanced at Jasper, he was looking at me and frowning lightly as if he couldn't quite figure out what to say to me.

Finally, Rose pulled into the mall parking lot and we all piled out. "OK, folks, here's our plan." she declared, handing Emmett a long list and keeping one for herself. "Jasper & Emmett, you guys need to handle the electronics and other things on your list. Bella and I are getting clothing, linens, and other household stuff. The house in New Hampshire should be partially stocked, but it's been awhile since anyone stayed there, so better to be prepared!" she commanded. Snapping a jaunty salute at Rose and a quick wink at me, Jasper disappeared with Emmett in tow. Rose grabbed my hand and we headed into the trenches.

Our first stop was Abercrombie & Fitch. I loved Rose in that moment. I knew I would be OK shopping there. It was just my style. She caught the look on my face and grinned. "Bella, honey, you are beautiful just as you are. Buy what you like, you're the one who has to wear it." I thought I would like shopping with Rose. The store was busy, so we had to share a large dressing room. As soon as we were behind the closed door, she grinned evilly and said "OK, Bella, dish, what is up with you and Jasper? You guys looked pretty cozy back there!" With a sigh, I figured honesty was the best policy, so I dished. "Well, Rose, I'm not really sure. I think we might be a little closer that siblings." "Do you want more with him, Bella?" she interrupted. "I don't know, Rose. How could he want that with me? And, I really want it to be because he feels the same way I do and not because he feels obligated or, I don't know, whatever." I finished lamely. She turned to me and gently grasped my cheeks in her hands, "Bella, Jasper feels things very deeply, but he doesn't act on his feelings lightly. If he's giving you signs that he wants more with you, then it's because he does and not for any other reason. Do you know much about his past?" I shook my head no. "Well, it's not for me to tell, but Jasper has had a very hard existence. He loved Alice, but he was also indebted to her for showing him a better life. Go slow with him. He'll need you to be gentle. Don't hold back your feelings around him; he needs to know you're OK." And with that, she spun in a small circle and asked, "Well, what do you think of this outfit?"

An hour later, we were leaving Abercrombie loaded down with bags. As we stepped out into the mall, I tripped over a loose floor tile. I was just getting ready to land on my face, when a pair of cool marble arms caught me. "Careful, Darlin'" Jasper breathed in my ear "I can't have you getting hurt." The double entendre was very clear in his voice and eyes. "I'll be fine as long as you catch me." I murmured.

After a few more hours of shopping, we had checked off all the items on our lists and were heading back to Forks. I was dead on my feet and couldn't wait to climb back into the car. As soon as we started moving, I could feel myself beginning to doze. Jasper noticed and pulled me gently over so I could lay my head in his lap. The last thing I remembered, before falling asleep, was the love shining in his eyes and the feel of his fingers stroking my hair gently.
BPOV

I stretched like a cat and climbed out of the BMW. Jasper & Emmet were already lugging our bags into the house. Rose caught my eye and motioned me to come upstairs with her. I could feel Jasper's eyes on me the whole way up the staircase.

Rose led me to their bedroom and shut the door. She pulled me into a fierce hug and whispered "Bella, I am very happy for you and Jasper. But, whatever comes of this, remember you will always be my sister." She completely alleviated my fears and I whispered back, my voice thick with unshed tears "I love you, Rose, and thank you."

"OK, Bella, now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, let's make those boys down there crazy." she said with a grin and a twinkle in her eye. She walked over to her closet and grabbed two dresses. She looked me over and promptly handed me a shimmering dark blue dress with spaghetti straps and an empire waist. It was gorgeous! Silver ballet flats materialized out of another alcove in her closet and she started to tell me what the plan was. For the next hour, we primped, gossiped, and giggled. It was a great moment with her and I felt intense love for this amazing woman who had accepted me into her family. Apparently, there was a new dance club in Portland. We were going to go and turn some heads! Hopefully, Emmett's and Jasper's would be the first to turn. She had already filled Emmett in on the plan and he was getting himself and Jasper outfitted.

"OK, Bella, are you ready to blow two gorgeous vampire guys away?" she asked laughing. "Let's do it!" I exclaimed.

We made our final adjustments and got ready to descend the stairs. Rose went first, gliding down like the goddess she was. Emmett let out a loud wolf whistle and exclaimed, "Dayum, Rosie. You look good enough to eat!" She grinned and rewarded him with a quick peck. I, meanwhile, had begun making my way down the stairs, praying I wouldn't trip. As I reached the bottom, I glanced up. Jasper looked like he had just stepped off the cover of GQ. He was wearing well-worn blue jeans and a vintage black Ramones t-shirt under a black linen blazer. My heart definitely skipped a beat and I could feel my arousal. He was staring at me so intensely, that I began to get embarrassed. "Well, what do you think?" I stuttered, affecting a small spin. He strode forward and caught me up in a tight hug and said huskily, "You look amazing, Bella. Darlin', you are absolutely gorgeous!" Emmett cleared his throat loudly and boomed "OK, you two save it for the club. Let's go!"

We piled into Jasper's Navigator and headed to the club. When we arrived, there was a line wrapped all the way around the block to get in. I groaned. Rose, her eyes twinkling, said "Watch and learn, sister!" She strode up to the bouncer and spoke to him for a few moments and motioned us over. The bouncer opened the door for us and in we went.

It was crowded inside the club and I started to get a little bit panicky because of the crush of people inside. Jasper must have felt it, because he sent a wave of calm to me and pressed his hand a little more firmly into my lower back as I wrapped my arm around his waist. We made our way over to an area marked VIP with plush couches. I noticed Jasper & Emmett saying something to one of the waiters, who rushed off and quickly returned with drinks for us all and a variety of appetizers for us to "share". The four of us sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, just people watching.

Finally, Rose stood up and grabbed my hand. She pulled me over to the dance floor and started dancing with me. Thank goodness she had given me pointers while we were getting ready, or I'd have never known what to do. We danced for two or three songs and then I felt his cool breath on my overheated neck and realized that Jasper was dancing behind me. I gasped and backed up a little into his hard body. Rose gave me a wink and turned her attention to Emmett who had likewise come up behind her. Jasper wrapped his arm around my stomach and ran his other hand over my hip, causing me to shiver and push myself a little harder against his hips. I heard and felt a quiet growl roll through his body. I raised my arm and pulled his face down to my neck. He needed no further invitation and began to gently nuzzle my neck making my knees weak and my breathing erratic.

All too soon the song ended and we drifted back over to our couch in the VIP section. Jasper, laughing, pulled me onto his lap. Emmett and Rose were, umm, otherwise engaged. Rose caught my eye and winked sending us both into a fit of giggles. I grabbed a bottle of water and gulped half of it down immediately. My stomach growled and I could feel Jasper's smile in my hair where he had pressed his lips. I leaned over and grabbed a strawberry from the tray of fruit on the table and brought it to my lips to take a bite. I felt Jasper stiffen, so I glanced over at him to see what was wrong, the berry still at my lips. I met his eyes and almost lost it when I saw his smoldering butterscotch eyes fixated on my lips with the berry. I blushed from head to toe and he smirked. "I wish I was a strawberry," he growled in my ear. I smiled, coyly I hoped, and took another bite. Suddenly, he threw me over his shoulder, growling, and carried me back to the dance floor. A slow song was playing and he wrapped his arms around me, pulling us so close there wasn't even any air between us. I wrapped my arms around his neck and followed his lead.

The rest of the night passed in a blur of dancing. As it neared closing time, I was dozing on Jasper's shoulder. He murmured in my ear that it was time to go. Before I could get up, he scooped me up in his arms and carried me back to the car. I never wanted the night to end. He wrapped his long fingers around mine and held my hand as I slept on the way home.

We were almost home when the nightmare hit me. It was the one I had begun having off and on since the family had left after my 18th birthday. I was running through the woods trying to catch them but I couldn't. The faster I ran the farther away they got. I awoke with a bloodcurdling scream, drenched in sweat and gasping like I had just run a marathon. To my utter embarrassment, I burst into tears. In the blink of an eye, I was in Jasper's arms and he was rocking me and whispering in my ear "Shhh, Bella, I'm here. It's OK, darlin'. You're not alone now. Shhh, Bella."

Apparently, we had arrived home right at the moment I screamed, because Emmett & Rose had already slipped into the house. Jasper sent waves of calm to me as he scooped me up in his arms, still sobbing into his chest, and carried me up the stairs to his room. "What did we do to you, darlin'?" he crooned in my ear; his southern drawl more pronounced than I had ever heard it. "Please, Bella, talk to me, darlin', let me help." he sighed. I tilted my head up so I could see his eyes and saw my own pain reflected back at me in the instant before his lips crashed down onto mine.

JPOV

It felt like I was losing my mind as her lips moved under mine. I licked the outside of her lips gently with my tongue asking for entrance. I rejoiced when she opened to me and almost wept at the taste of her sweet mouth. I moved down to tease her neck when she needed a breath. Nipping lightly at the place where her neck met her collarbone. She moaned deep in her throat and I was almost undone. I moved back to her lips and kissed her hard, pouring all my love for her into the kiss and again was almost undone when she moaned my name around me.

God, I wanted her. Not her blood, but her body. I knew I was whipping us into a frenzy and she deserved gentleness. So, mustering every bit of self-control I possessed, I pulled back slightly letting the kiss edge back toward sweetness. I felt her gentle hands in my hair and her gorgeous body pressed against me. "God, Bella, we have to stop or I won't be able to and I don't want to take you like this. I want to be gentle and sweet with you. Please, darlin', slow down." I begged.

She slowly relaxed and released my hair and nuzzled against my neck. "What are we doing, Jasper?" she murmured. "Oh Bella, I only know that I love you. Can you feel anything like that for me?" I whispered desperately. I heard her heart skip a beat and her sighed, "Jasper, yes, of course, I love you so much." Blissful, I pulled her down and wrapped myself around her. "Jasper?" she asked. "Hmmm?" I replied, still blissed out from the exquisite feel of her love. "You're purring." she giggled.

She gently pulled away from me and I caught her arm "Don't go darlin', stay with me tonight." I crooned.

She whispered back "Jaz, I'm not leaving you. I'm going to put on some pajamas and brush my teeth, but I'll be right back. I won't leave you, Jaz, not as long as you want me to stay."

I recognized the words that had brought me back from the abyss of my pain and I loved her more in that moment than I had ever loved anyone in my very long life.
JPOV

The rest of our week in Forks passed in a blur. We packed a mountain of boxes. Rose & Emmett rented a U-Haul and left 2 days before Bella and I, so that they could have the basics done at the Hanover house before we arrived.

The night before our departure, Bella asked Charlie, Sue, Leah, & Seth to meet us for dinner at the diner in town. She wanted them to see how happy she was with me and have a chance to tell them goodbye since we wouldn't be able to come visit until Christmas at the soonest. The dinner went well. Leah was able to be civil to me and Seth was downright friendly. I was glad the pack seemed so content to continue our pleasant relationship. After all, we had never given them any reason to fear our motives or us.

At the end of the evening, I saw Bella to the car and turned to get in myself, when Charlie stopped me. He reached out and grabbed my arm. "Listen, Jasper, take care of her, OK? For some reason, it feels like she belongs to you more than me, now. I love her, so just take care of her, OK?" he said. "Of course, Charlie. I love Bella very much and I will never let anything hurt her again. You have my word on it." I replied sending a wave of sincerity to him. He glanced at me and nodded. "OK, well, drive safe, then," he replied and with a quick wave he climbed into his truck and was gone.

I could feel her sadness when I started the engine. So, I reached over and squeezed her fingers gently. She smiled at me with her eyes full of unshed tears. "I'm OK, Jaz. I'll just miss him. He'll be OK, though. He has a new life with Sue," she murmured. I nodded and smoothly pulled away from the curb and headed back to spend our last night in the home that held so many memories for us both.

The next morning, we locked the doors, grabbed our last few bags and headed towards our new life without a backwards glance.

It was still pretty early when we set out, so Bella curled up against the window with a pillow and dozed for the first few hours of our trip. Being the selfish monster that I am, though, I decided to wake her up after about the 4th hour of driving by turning on the radio to a country station and singing along, loudly. She laughed, seeing through my ruse, and stretched lithely. "OK, Jaz, are you lonely, honey?" she asked sweetly. I grabbed her hand and kissed her knuckles. "Yep, darlin', I missed you." I replied.

The next ten hours passed in a blur of conversation and bad radio karaoke. Surprisingly, Bella had diverse taste in music and knew many of the country songs I favored. We stopped a few times for her to have "human moments" and to grab snacks for the car and just generally enjoyed each other's company. Eventually, I could feel her exhaustion and her desire to fight it, so I told her "Bella, it's OK. Go to sleep. When you wake up, we'll be at the new house. We have all the time in the world to be together." With a content sigh, she nodded and slept.

"Bella, darlin', wake up." I called "We're almost there." It was early the next morning and I wanted her to get the full effect of the home we were going to be living in for the next several years.

"Mmmm, OK, Jaz." she mumbled. Stretching, she sat up and gazed out the window.

"Oh. My. God. Jasper, this is amazing! When you said the family had a little home in Hanover already, I expected a small flat or something, not this incredible Victorian mansion!" she exclaimed.

Chuckling, I asked "Do you like it, Bella?" "Honey, I love it!" she replied. "Good, because I never want you to have a moments unhappiness again if I can prevent it." I replied seriously, taking her hand in mine and squeezing it gently. "Jasper, life is good and bad. You can't protect me from everything, but I love you for wanting to." She responded with a tiny hitch in her voice. Smiling, I gently squeezed her hand again and parked the car in the driveway. "Well, let's go check it out, shall we?" I asked.

The rest of the day was spent in a blur of unpacking and reuniting with Rose & Emmett. As night fell, Bella padded into the kitchen to make something to eat. I sat at the counter content to watch her.

"Jasper?" she asked. "Yes, Bella?" I replied, wondering why she was hesitant. "Nothing, never mind." She flushed, embarrassed. "Bella, you can ask me anything, you know that." I prodded, rising to encircle her with my arms from behind and nuzzling her neck gently. "Well, I was just going to ask if you would mind if I just shared a room with you. I mean, you don't have to, if you want your own space or whatever. I just thought…" I stopped her with my lips on hers, hard. I was overcome in that moment with my love for her. This beautiful innocent woman wanted to be with me and share everything with me. How could I refuse her? I wanted nothing more than to spend every moment with her, too. I broke off the kiss and replied huskily "Bella, eat your supper and then come upstairs to our room. I'll move your things now."
BPOV

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.
JPOV

She accepted me. My dead heart soared in my chest. What had I done to deserve this happiness? I knew I was where I belonged and I would spend the rest of eternity showing Isabella Swan how very much I loved her.

I lifted her chin with my thumb and kissed her gently, wanting this night to last. She moaned lightly and pressed herself more fully against me. I gently pushed her back against the pillows and covered her with my body, resting my weight on my forearms. I deepened the kiss and licked her lip lightly asking permission to enter. She opened her mouth to me and I was lost in the sweet taste. Our tongues fought for dominance and we moaned together. I broke contact and she whimpered. With a low growl, I moved to her neck and licked and nipped my way to her collarbone. She bucked her hips into me and curled her fingers tighter into my hair as my name fell from her lips like a whispered prayer.

I was moving too fast and I wanted to be slow with her. I reigned myself in and slowed my movements. I kissed her eyelids and she opened them and gazed at me with such love that my heart almost burst. "Look at me darlin', I need to see how you feel." I whispered huskily. She nibbled her bottom lip and nodded. I slid my hand under her top and gently stroked the soft skin of her stomach, feeling it flutter under my cool hand. I leaned down and kissed her softly. "Let's get a little more comfortable, OK?" I asked; wanting to make sure she was ready. She blushed and nodded again. I could feel her nerves and embarrassment, but also her desire and love warring inside her. "Bella, darlin', have you ever been with a man before?" I asked gently, not wanting to embarrass her, but guessing this was the source of her nerves. Embarrassed, she turned her head away and whispered a barely audible no. I gently turned her head back to me and with a tremor in my voice, I whispered, "Oh Bella, thank you. What a gift you're giving me. Never be ashamed, darlin'. It's a beautiful thing." She smiled at me and I felt her embarrassment slip away. She was still nervous but it was overshadowed by her love.

We removed our clothing and I scooped her up and laid her on the bed after pulling back the covers. I needed to go slowly. She was a virgin and I was an unusually largely endowed vampire. I covered her again with my body this time fitting myself gently between her legs. She gasped and tensed as she felt my large hard member pressing against her stomach. "Shhh, honey, not until you're ready, OK? We have all the time you need." I cooed in her ear and she relaxed under me.

I wanted to taste every inch of her. I began to lick and nip her collarbone again before moving gently down to cup her breast in my cool palm. She arched her back into my hand and moaned my name softly. God, she was amazing! Her nipples were hard and perfect and I had to taste them. I sucked one into my cold mouth and flicked it with my tongue. She writhed under me, fisting her hands in my hair. I continued my exploration moving down to her firm flat belly. I nipped and sucked the spot where her pelvic bone jutted out against her perfect skin and felt her shudder. I could feel the delicious heat radiating off her warm wet core and didn't know how much longer I could hold on, but I would be patient for Bella. She would enjoy this and I would never make her sorry for the gift she was giving me tonight.

I slipped my hand between her thighs and traced one cold finger up her dripping slit to gently stroke her clit. She exhaled harshly and panted my name. I slid my middle finger inside her and used my thumb to massage her tight bundle of nerves. She writhed and bucked under me. "Oh, God, Bella. You are so tight…Uggghh…so warm." I groaned. "Please, Jasper…Please…Uggghh…. don't… stop" she moaned. I felt her begin to tighten around me and knew she was close to her climax. I thrust a bit harder and faster, rubbing her clit with just a bit more force as I felt the tiniest spasm inside her. "Come for me, darlin'. Come now, Bella." I rasped. She exploded, screaming my name in the ecstasy of her first orgasm. I kissed her gently bringing her down again.

She opened her eyes and I felt myself drowning in the love swimming in their liquid depths. "Jasper, please, I need you inside me now. I can't wait any longer." she whispered. I leaned down and kissed her gently. She leaned over on the bed reaching into the nightstand. I was momentarily confused. What was she doing? She handed me a foil packet and I immediately understood. Of course, what an idiot I was. Here she was prepared and I could have killed her. "Jasper, I didn't think of it either. Rose gave them to me earlier. Don't worry so much, honey. This is kind of new for both of us, OK?" she asked gently. I nodded and tearing the packet, rolled the condom onto my hard throbbing cock.

I kissed her again gently and spread her legs with my knees. "Darlin' this is going to hurt a bit. I can ease it for you with my gift, shall I?" I asked gently, not wanting to scare her. She was chewing her bottom lip again, nervous, but she nodded. I leaned down and kissed her, opening up the floodgates of my feelings for her, projecting all my love and all my lust onto her as I eased into her bit by bit. I could feel her barrier now and knew there was nothing I could do to ease her pain completely, so I quickly pushed through. She cried out and went rigid beneath me. I panted with the exertion of keeping perfectly still. She was sobbing just a bit. I took her mouth with mine again pouring all my love into her.

Gradually, I felt her fear and pain begin to subside. "Can I move a little now, Bella?" I asked gently. "Yes, Jasper, I'm OK now." She whispered. I sank the rest of the way into her and it was like coming home. I felt her body stretch around me and relax. I began to move gently inside her and I could feel her desire and arousal returning.

"Oh, darlin', you feel so good. Uggghh…so warm and tight." I moaned, lost in the rhythm of our bodies. "Jasper, please…Uggghh…need you…so much." She grunted.

We were both racing towards the edge. I could feel her tightening around me. I reached between us and rubbed her clit with my thumb. She cried out and I felt her body explode as I tumbled over with her, growling her name as I poured out my need.

I collapsed next to her. I disposed of the condom with vampire speed and pulled her close to me, never wanting to let her go again.

"I love you, Bella. Thank you for loving me." I whispered. "Love you, too, Jasper, always." she sighed as sleep took her. I pulled the covers up over us and promised myself I would never let her go.
BPOV

"Jaz, don't go" I mumbled, feeling him pull away through a fog of sleep. I felt his cool lips on my ear then, whispering, "Shhh, darlin', go back to sleep. It's early and I need to hunt. I'll be back before you have time to miss me." "Too late." I sighed, but sleep was already closing in on me. I heard his gentle laugh as it pulled me softly under again.

When I woke up next, the morning light was slanting through our windows. Our windows, wow, it felt wonderful to think that. I could hear Jasper in the shower. He was singing again. For some reason that made me giggle; I hadn't pegged him for a sing in the shower kind of guy. Experimentally, I flexed all my limbs and stretched lithely like a cat. I was a little sore, but it was a pleasant soreness that reminded me of our passion from the night before.

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with a desire to touch him. I knew he would feel it if I gave it free reign, so I didn't. Instead, I jumped out of bed and hastily combed through my hair with my fingers and padded towards the bathroom. I opened the door as quietly as I could and tiptoed over to the shower.

Jasper was belting out "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" by Bryan Adams along with his Ipod, when I snuck in behind him. He stiffened his posture just a bit, so I knew he was aware of me, but he was playing along and I loved him for it.

"Hey honey, need me to wash your back?" I purred seductively. He spun fast and caught me around the waist lifting me to his height to devour my lips. "Is that a yes?" I asked huskily. Butterscotch eyes smoldering, he nodded. I turned and leaned over to grab the soap and a rag from the shower floor and heard him hiss. I gave a little shake of my ass and winked at him over my shoulder before I straightened back up and began to lightly rub the soap over the surface of the wet cloth.

"Darlin' you are going to be the end of me." he growled. Grinning at him, I grabbed his shoulders and gave a gentle nudge letting him know I wanted him to turn around. He did, and I noticed he was trembling. "Why Mr. Whitlock, am I making you nervous?" I whispered innocently. He growled low in his chest in response.

I just laughed softly and began to rub small circles on his back with the now soapy rag. Once I had a good lather started, I hung the rag over the bar on the wall and used my hands to massage his shoulders and back. I traced the crescent shaped scars tenderly; hoping he could feel my love and sorrow at the pain he had suffered all those years ago. Little by little, I felt the tension in his body slip away under my ministrations. OK, time to step it up a notch. Pressing my body tightly against his back, I reached around him and began to massage his chest and abs. "Ahh, Bella, darlin', that is so good. You have no idea how wonderful it feels when you touch me." he moaned. I began to rub myself against his back creating a gentle friction as I moved my hands lower to graze his rock hard cock and then slip back up to his stomach and chest, teasing him.

With a growl he spun around and grabbed me around the waist and I wrapped my legs around him. His lips crushed down onto mine and the scent and taste of him invaded my senses. Lost in him, I moaned his name. He reached between us and found me wet and ready. He broke off our kiss and whispered in my ear "Bella, I want you to scream my name when I make you cum. Can you do that for me, darlin'?" Too far gone to answer, I just gazed at him and nodded.

Never breaking eye contact, he thrust all the way into me, filling me completely. I threw my head back and cried out at the pleasure of him inside me. He waited a moment and began to thrust. He was chanting my name, "Bella, Bella, Bella." I could feel my orgasm curling in my belly about to break free. "Jasper…uggghhh…. so close…please…don't stop." I moaned. "Cum for me darlin'. Say my name." he growled. He reached between us and rubbed my clit viciously. I lost all reason and felt my orgasm rip through me. "Fuck, Jasper. Oh, God. Jasper!" I screamed convulsing in his arms. He pulled out of me and I felt his cool release on my belly and felt his panting breath on my neck. We clung to each other for a moment, letting our breathing return to normal.

He slowly lowered me to my feet but didn't release me. I was glad; there was no way my legs would hold me up after that mind-blowing pleasure. I leaned forward to lay my head against his shoulder, still weak from the force of my release. He reached around behind me and grabbed the rag off the bar and gently soaped my body. This time, there was nothing but tenderness and love in his motives and when he was done, he scooped me into his arms, wrapped us both in a fluffy oversized towel, and carried me back to our bed.
JPOV

We were lying on the bed just cuddling, not trying to start anything, but unable to be separated yet after our shower encounter. I was drawing lazy circles on her stomach with my head laid over her heart. It was an absolute wonder to hear its strong beat in her chest. I was basking in her warmth and allowing myself to wallow in the purity and strength of her emotions as they swirled around me. She was tugging her fingers gently through my wavy locks of hair and it felt like heaven. After a few minutes more, though, I felt a delicate shiver run through her body and knew that I needed to remove my body from hers and get her dressed.

With a tender kiss, I pulled myself away from her and said "Come on darlin', let's get dressed and get you something to eat for breakfast." As if on cue, her stomach growled loudly and we both laughed. As I began to get up, she caught my hand. Curious, I looked down at her and raised my eyebrow. "Jaz, I just want to thank you for loving me so much. I feel whole for the first time in my life and I know it's because you're now such an important part of it. I love you, Jasper Whitlock." She whispered and flushed, averting her eyes, embarrassed at having been so bold in declaring herself to me. I could feel the brutal intensity of her love in that moment and I fell to my knees beside the bed. Taking her face gently between my palms, I rasped, "Bella, you are the other half of my soul. When I lost Alice, I thought I would never know happiness again, much less love. I loved Alice very much, you know that, but what I felt with her pales in comparison to my feelings for you. To be without you now would, quite possibly, be the end of my existence. I will never leave you. I love you, Isabella Marie Swan, now and for all eternity."

I kissed her gently and walked over to the closet, pulling out a pair of faded blue jeans and an old Rolling Stones t-shirt. I pulled on the jeans and shrugged into the shirt, aware of Bella's eyes on me. I shot her a quick wink and headed downstairs to fix her some breakfast.

Rose was in the hallway when I exited our room and she grinned at me before asking "Did you enjoy my present last night, brother?" I grinned back and gave her thumbs up as I continued towards the stairs. She chuckled and sent me a wave of affection before whispering "I'm happy for you both, Jasper." and knocking on the door, presumably to have a chat with Bella.
BPOV

I had just finished pulling on my jeans, when there was a knock on the door. "Hang on a sec" I said, not knowing whether Emmett or Rosalie stood on the other side. I grabbed a soft pink tank top with a shelf bra and spaghetti straps out of the dresser drawer. Slipping it over my head, I walked over to the door and opened it. Rose stood on the other side with a mischievous smile on her angelic face. "Good morning, Bella. Feel like a chat?" she trilled. I grinned like the cat that ate the canary and pulled her into the room, shutting the door behind her.

She arranged herself gracefully across the bed, laying on her stomach and watched me as I crossed over to the vanity and began to brush my hair. Ten strokes in, she lost patience with my silence and prodded me with a good natured "So? Spill the details, sister!" I calmly grabbed a few beaded necklaces from the pile in the vanity drawer, looped them around my neck, and slicked on some lip-gloss. "Bella!" she growled.

"Sure, Sure. I'm just trying to figure out how to explain how wonderful it was!" I said with a wicked grin. "Now that's more like it!" she replied with a satisfied huff.

I launched into my story. I wouldn't kiss and tell, but I definitely had to brag on Jasper to someone and Rose was not only my sister, for all intents and purposes, but also my best friend!

When I finished telling all I was going to, Rose motioned me over to the bed beside her. I lay down and she grabbed my hand. "Bella, do you want to know why I was always so against you and Edward?" she asked.

"Rose, that's in the past. We don't have to dredge up those old hurts." I replied.

She nodded, but continued, "Bella, I think you should know my reasons. It'll make more sense to you now." Realizing that it was important to her to tell me this, I nodded to give her my permission to continue.

"Bella, you know that Carlisle created me with the hope that I would be a mate for Edward, right? I mean, it wasn't his only reason, but it was one of them. Anyway, we never hit it off. Edward was hostile to me from the moment I opened my eyes in this life. I'm not sure what I thought that made him dislike me so much, but any chance we might have had to be friends ended in that moment. As the years passed, I found Emmett and I was very happy with him. I still am. Edward never found anyone he cared enough for to put aside his arrogance and natural control tendencies for.

I'm not trying to hurt you, Bella, but this is my perception of your relationship with him, OK? When I'm done you can tell me to go to hell, but I hope you'll understand that I love you and just needed to get this off my chest." She glanced at me to gauge my reaction.

I nodded again and smiled warmly at her. There was nothing she could say to me that would ruin our relationship.

Satisfied, she continued, "When Edward found you and became public with your relationship, you knew that Jasper and I were the most outspoken about how much of a mistake it was, right? I know that Edward gave you that information early on in your relationship; I guess he had his reasons, but I think it was to isolate you from us because we saw most clearly his true feelings for you. Jasper backed off pretty quickly because he didn't want to harm his relationship with Alice and she loved you dearly from the moment she saw you in her vision. I couldn't do that, though. Emmett knew what I thought, but he didn't think it was my business to be involved in, so I was rude to you instead of talking to you about it. I am sorry for that. I could have been a good sister to you and had a good friend in return if I hadn't been so damn stubborn."

"Rose, I'm sorry, but you're losing me a little bit here. Could you break it down for me?" I interrupted.

"I'm sorry, Bella, I'm just having a hard time saying this because it will sound like I'm talking ill of my dead brother, but I did love him.

What I'm trying to say is, I don't believe he ever loved you the way a man loves a woman, Bella. He was drawn to your blood and came to love you as a possession. He needed you, but it was not love of you, the individual, that he felt.

I'm sorry, Bella, I don't say this to hurt you. I just say it to illustrate the absolute difference between him and Jasper. Jasper loves you because you're you. It's not your scent he loves or your heartbeat that draws him to you. Though I'm sure he loves those things, too. Bella, he loves you as an equal, his equal. You will never have to feel like you aren't good enough for Jasper or that your relationship is unequal. It's not, Bella.

Jasper has been waiting since 1863 to find you. He loved Alice, but you are his soul mate. This is serious. He'll want you forever, so if you are not sure of that, then it would be kinder to break it off with him now. No matter what you decide, I love you and am here for you." She finished and looked at me to gauge my reaction.

I took a moment to think about what she had said, turning it over in my head and looking at it from all angles. It was actually refreshing to hear this description of Edward's love as it concerned me. I had long suspected it was more an obsession than a relationship. It was how I had managed to recover after he had left me.

I rolled to my side and propped my head up on my hand to look Rose in the eye while I replied, "Rose, thank you for being honest with me. I won't lie to you and tell you that your behavior at that time didn't hurt me. I just couldn't figure out what I had done to make you hate me so much. Edward always implied you were jealous of me or scared for the exposure of the family, but deep down I knew that was bullshit.

I think your description of how Edward felt about me is probably accurate. But I'd like to clarify one thing; I think in Edward's mind that was as close to real love as he was able to get. It was the most he could give to me or anyone else, so I still treasure that memory, even though I now know it for what it was. I forgave him long ago for it. You can't hate someone for something they can't help and it wasn't something he could control.

With regard to Jasper, I'll just have to prove to you through my actions that I am taking this very seriously. I have never felt what I feel with Jasper with anyone, Edward included. I cannot imagine not spending eternity with him. When he's ready to take that step, I will be, too.

Thank you for loving me enough to talk about this with me, Rose. You are truly my sister and you will never know how grateful I am to have you in my life!

Now, I'm starving and it's sunny outside, so I think a day of Wii games and DVDs is on the agenda, don't you?"

The next thing I knew, I was enveloped in Rose's cold embrace and she was squeezing me so hard I couldn't breathe. "Rose. Human. Needs. Air. 'Kay?" I gasped. Laughing she released me and we walked hand in hand down the stairs to the kitchen.
JPOV

I couldn't stop smiling as I walked downstairs to fix Bella some breakfast. I was hoping to be done in time to serve it to her in bed, but that probably wasn't in the cards with Rose with her at the moment. Oh well, there's always tomorrow, I thought, grinning to myself.

I preheated the oven and mixed up blueberry muffin batter. Popping them in the oven and setting the timer, I strolled to the den, where Emmett was playing Call of Duty on the XBOX 360.

"Hey, Bro." Emmett muttered, engrossed in his game. I slouched on the sofa and watched him for a minute before he spoke again. "So, you and Bella, eh?" he said, never taking his eyes away from the game.

"Yeah." I replied simply. His emotions were hitting me in the face. I could tell he was happy for us & glad to see us happy, but he felt protective of Bella, too. Emmett was loyal and he loved us both unconditionally, of that I was positive.

"Look, Jaz…" he began. I stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Emmett, I love Bella more than I have ever loved anyone else. I would die myself before I would ever hurt her."

He nodded & replied, "OK, Jaz. I know you're a good man, but Bella's my baby sister, ya know? It's kinda my job to look out for her. Hey, want to play a game with me?"

I still had fifteen minutes before the muffins would be done, so why not? 'Sure, Em. I'm always ready to kick your ass on Call of Duty", I smirked. He just growled and tossed me the other controller.

Sixteen minutes later, after demolishing Emmett in the game, I was in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on Bella's breakfast when a pair of warm, tiny arms wrapped around my waist. It was going to be a great day!
BPOV
I was excited to spend some time with Rose, Emmett, & Jasper. It was nice to hang out with them and just be lazy. Since it was sunny, we planned on playing video games, watching Vampire movies on DVD (if you've never done that with a house full of real vampires, then you are missing out!), and ordering pizza for the human.

When I had come downstairs with Rose, I headed straight to the kitchen and wrapped my arms around Jasper's waist. I could feel his happiness and our contentment was definitely affecting the whole household, courtesy of his talents. Rose wasn't even riding Emmett's ass today!

He spun around and kissed me before drawing me to him for a brief hug. "Hey Darlin', you hungry?" he drawled, a plate in his hand. "Mmmm, that looks delicious, Jaz! I'm starving!" I replied, sitting down at the counter as he handed me the plate. "You guys sure know how to feed a girl! I'm going to have to start going to the gym before I gain a ton!" I giggled around a mouthful of the best blueberry muffin ever. He laughed softly and came to sit next to me, handing me a cup of coffee fixed just right. Man, I am one lucky human! A girl could get spoiled with this kind of attention!

"Bella! Hurry up!" Emmett whined from the living room. "I want to play Rock Band!" Rolling my eyes and grinning at an amused Jasper, I grabbed my plate and walked over to the sink to wash it off.

"Ok, honey, ready to be in the band?" I asked, taking his hand in mine. We ambled into the living room and were greeted with the sight of an exasperated but amused Rosalie holding a guitar controller & Emmett hulking behind the drum set. "OK, guys, we're here. Who's who?" I asked.

Emmett was practically vibrating with excitement to start the game and he replied quickly, "Rosie is playing bass, I'm doing drums, so you and Jaz need to figure out either lead guitar or vocals." Well, that was no contest, I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, so I walked over and grabbed the other guitar controller and handed Jaz the microphone. "Sorry, honey" I said with a wink "My voice would make your ears bleed!"

His cool fingers brushed mine as I handed the microphone over and held on just a few seconds longer than necessary as his butterscotch eyes burned into mine. "I would love any sound that came out of your mouth, darlin'" he murmured before releasing my hand and grinning. Well, shit! How could one man, or vampire but whatever, know exactly what to say to turn my entire body into Jell-O? I mean, really? What the hell? Too damn sexy, that's what Jasper Whitlock was. I was in deep trouble, but I was loving every second of it!

Three hours and 2 renditions of "Flirtin' With Disaster" by Molly Hatchet later, we were totally rocked out and I was ready for pizza. I stretched and headed to the kitchen to grab the phone book and call in the order. As I was bent over the center island thumbing though the listings, Jasper wrapped his arms around me and nuzzled my neck. "I missed you, baby," he whispered. "Mmmm, me too," I murmured back, leaning my head to the side to give him better access. His hands dropped to my hips, pressing me back further into him.

"For God's sake you two, get a room already!" Emmett boomed from the kitchen doorway. Jasper squeezed me a little tighter and I could feel him grinning against the crook of my neck. "Fine, Emmett, Bella's ordering her pizza now." He growled, but in a teasing way. I felt him press his lips to me once more before releasing me. I groaned in disappointment and they both laughed. "Geez, Bella, sorry I interrupted!" Emmett cackled. Resigned to my task, I dialed the number, placed my order, and turned around to sneak another kiss before leaving the kitchen. I was rewarded with a gentle purr from Jasper before we walked into the living room where Rose was popping in the movie Underworld. It was one of my favorites!

Rose was sitting on Emmett's lap on the loveseat and Jaz had already claimed a spot on the sofa and was sprawled gracefully along it. He pulled me down and snuggled me close to him, draping us with a blanket, as we settled in to watch. There was no place better in the whole world than his arms at that moment, or, if I was really being truthful to myself, any moment. I was head over heels in love with this man. There was absolutely no going back again. I must have been shooting out some pretty serious vibes, because he leaned down and whispered, "I know, darlin', me too."

Sunny Sundays are the absolute best!
JPOV

The credits on our final movie, The Lost Boys, finally began to roll across the screen. Not a moment too soon, in my opinion. I had given up trying to watch the movie about an hour ago. All I could concentrate on was Bella, who was snuggled up in my lap, tiny, warm, and perfect. She sat up and stretched with a little groan. Well, hell, that might have been the most unconsciously sexy thing I have ever seen! I scooped her up and bid Rose & Emmett goodnight. My sweet Bella giggled the whole way to our room.

I dropped her unceremoniously on the bed before pouncing on her and tickling her mercilessly. "Jasper! Please! Stop!" Bella screeched between howls. I relented and hovered over her for a moment. God, I wanted to kiss her senseless! I leaned down and brushed her warm lips with mine. "Oh, Jasper" she moaned lightly. I couldn't help myself; I crushed my lips to hers, my own moan vibrating between us as I tasted her sweetness. Her hands were fisting in my hair, trying to pull me even closer. With a groan, I broke the kiss.

"Baby, we're going to need to take it easy tonight. You've got to be sore and I don't want to hurt you." I whispered. She blushed and nodded. With a soft peck, I rolled to my back and she curled up with me. She began lightly tracing the scars on my forearm. It never ceased to amaze me how she could love even the ugliest parts of me. I could feel her love rolling over me as she stroked my arm.

"Jasper?" she asked. "Hmmm?" I mumbled in reply. "Tell me a story about the family before I knew you all." She said. I thought for a few moments, trying to decide what to tell her about. I must have hesitated a few moments too long, because she laid a soft kiss on my chest through my t-shirt and murmured, "Jaz, I'm sorry. If it's too painful, you don't have to." "No, darlin', it's not that, I was just trying to think of which story to tell you." I replied. She snuggled a little more into my side & I grabbed the blanket from the end of the bed, wrapped us up, and began.

For hours we lay together in the bedroom; comfortable with each other and remembering our family. I shared stories of Christmases past and the extravagant weddings of Rose & Emmett. I told her about meeting Alice and how it felt to fall in love and have hope for a better life. She told me about how it felt to fall in love with Edward and how she had learned our secret. She laughed while telling the story about visiting our house in Forks for the first time.

I wiped the tears from her face and she held me when I was overcome. Finally, we trailed into silence. I could feel her exhaustion and how hard she was trying to fight it. I leaned down and kissed her gently.

"Come on darlin', let's get you ready for bed. We'll talk more tomorrow." I whispered. She nodded and gave my hand a squeeze before she got up to change and use the bathroom. While she was getting ready for bed, I blew out the candles we had lit earlier and changed into a pair of flannel sleep pants. I had just pulled back the covers when she emerged from the bathroom, fresh scrubbed and beautiful. She crawled into the bed and I clicked off the light and wrapped her securely in my arms. "Goodnight, Jasper, I love you." She murmured as sleep claimed her. "Love you, too, darlin', always and forever." I breathed. I settled in to watch her sleep. She was truly the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

She had been asleep for a couple hours when I began to feel the first pangs of anxiety. She must be having a nightmare again. I reached out to her with a wave of calm, but it didn't seem to affect her. She began to thrash and cry in her sleep.

BPOV

I knew on some level that I was asleep. It didn't matter; I couldn't wake up. I was running through the forest chasing the family and the faster I ran the farther away they got. I was screaming at them to wait. I knew they were headed for something terrible, but they either couldn't hear me or didn't care. We broke through the forest and into a small meadow. It was our meadow. Standing in the middle of the meadow were three hooded figures. They pulled back their hoods and I saw their piercing red eyes. I woke myself screaming and shaking. Jasper was hovering over me with a concerned look on his face. Then everything went black.

JPOV

Her eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped back into the pillows. Shit! "Bella! Bella! Baby, come back to me. It's OK, it was just a nightmare. You're safe now. I'm here, sweetheart." I crooned. I held her close to me and waited. After a few minutes she shifted a little in my arms and whispered, "Jasper?" Relief flooded me and I stroked her cheek. "Yeah, baby, I'm here. Are you OK, now?" I asked. "Yeah, I think so. It was really bad tonight. The same, but different. I guess talking about everything tonight dredged up the old feelings." She replied. "Do you want to tell me about it? It might help."I asked gently. "Not tonight, Jaz, I can't tonight." She said with a shudder. "OK, baby, just rest now. Do you want me to help you go back to sleep?" I asked. I felt a wave of gratitude as she nodded and settled back down into the circle of my arms. I began to gently rub her back while sending her waves of calm and lethargy. She slept the rest of the night without dreaming.
BPOV

I woke up alone the next morning laying next to an envelope with my name scrawled on the front in Jasper's strong handwriting. It was very different from Edward's beautiful script. It was rougher and more masculine. Not uneducated in any way, but just harsher somehow. It showed the differences between the two men. I reached over to open it.

Inside was a single sheet of paper folded once and a small red origami heart. I smiled and opened the paper and read:

My dearest Bella,

I'm sorry I wasn't with you when you woke this morning. You were sleeping so soundly, I couldn't disturb you. Emmett, Rose, & I have gone for a quick hunt since we'll be going over to the campus later for registration & to get our books. We should be back by noon. Please take care of my heart as I've left it in your care until I return.

All my love,

Jasper

I brought the tiny folded heart to my lips briefly and inhaled Jasper's spicy scent before placing it in my jewelry box on the nightstand. I walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower letting the water heat up as I stripped off my clothes and popped my Ipod into the dock on the counter. I stepped into the now warm shower and relaxed under the gentle pressure of the water. 15 minutes later, I was finished and reluctantly stepped back out into the bathroom and grabbed my fluffy purple robe from the hook next to the door. I dressed quickly in a pair of cutoff jeans and a brown empire-waisted tank top. I grabbed my battered Rainbows out of the closet & brushed out my hair.

Finished with my low-maintenance primping routine, I headed to the kitchen and grabbed one of the leftover blueberry muffins and started a small pot of coffee.

A few minutes later, I made my way to the study with muffin and coffee in hand. I planned on grabbing a good book from the overflowing bookshelves and curling up on the window seat to pass the next few hours. I ran my hands lovingly over the bindings of the books, many first editions. My fingers came to rest on "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier. I had been meaning to read it, so it seemed like as good a choice as any.

I was pulled from the dream world of Manderlay by his voice from the doorway.

"Hey, Darlin'. How was your morning?" He drawled. I looked up from my book and my heart skipped a beat. He was leaning against the doorframe and looked long, lean, and sexy. Manderlay was forgotten as I rushed into his waiting arms. "Fine, but I missed you!" I mumbled into the soft cloth of his t-shirt. "Me, too, baby." he murmured drawing my chin up to kiss my lips softly. Pulling away gently, he said, "I'm going to go get cleaned up and then we'll head to campus." "OK" I replied, "I'm just going to mark my place and I'll be ready." I stood on my tiptoes to give him a quick peck on the cheek and headed back over to grab the discarded "Rebecca".

A mere 10 minutes later, got to love that vampire speed, Jasper reappeared. His hair was damp and messy. I just wanted to run my fingers through it, preferably while pressing every inch of my body against his. He smirked at me and drawled, " Darlin', we will never get our campus business taken care of unless you reign that in a little." "Well, honey, I can't help what the very sight of you does to me." I huffed in response.

Then before I could even blink, he'd crossed the room and pressed his cool marble lips to mine. I responded by latching my arms around his neck and holding on for dear life. He broke off and I whimpered a little as he leaned his forehead against mine. His unnecessary breathing was ragged and harsh. "Fuck, Bella, If you only knew what you do to me!" he growled. I knew exactly what I did to him because he did the same to me. I chuckled huskily as he gently stood me back on my feet.

Rose appeared in the doorway, smirking. "Ready to go you two?" she asked, her double meaning quite clear. "We'll finish this later, darlin'." Jasper whispered in my ear before grabbing my hand to follow Rose & Emmett to the front door. It was a nice, but of course, overcast day, so we decided to walk to the campus. It was only a few blocks from our house.

I pecked Jasper on the cheek and ran up to Emmett and Rose, grabbing Rose's hand when I got there. "Sorry, Em, but I'm stealing Rose for a few minutes." I trilled. Laughing, we linked arms and strolled the rest of the way to campus with Jaz & Emmett trailing behind enjoying the view.

We headed straight to the registrar's office and Rose, Emmett, & Jasper quickly registered for classes. I had already done this online before we left Forks, so I just sat on a bench outside the door soaking up the atmosphere while I waited for them.

I had just popped my headphones in and was listening to my Ipod when a nervous looking guy came over. "Hi, I'm Jeff. I saw you over here and wondered whether you wanted to go to a party at our frat house tonight?" he asked in a rush. I had just opened my mouth to reply when a pair of cold arms draped over my shoulders. I tilted my head up to see Jasper leaning down over me. He caught my lips in a passionate kiss and left me breathless. "Hey, honey. This is Jeff. He just invited me to a frat party." I choked out. "Hi there, Jeff. Jasper Whitlock." he drawled, sticking out his hand while still draped over my shoulders. "Well, you're both welcome to come. Here's a flyer, maybe I'll see you there," he mumbled awkwardly before shoving a flyer at me and making a break for it. "Jasper Whitlock, you scared that poor boy to death!" I exclaimed with a grin. "Yep, sure did, darlin'. I don't share well with others, I guess." He said with a little shrug and a smirk. Mmmm, Jasper was jealous. How hot was that!

Rose and Emmett strolled over to us then, so we headed to the bookstore to grab our textbooks. Rose and I were in the lead, heads together whispering and arms wrapped around each other's waists. "Shit, Jaz! That is majorly sexy!" Emmett groaned. "To be sure." I heard Jasper reply, before opening the bookstore door.

Several hundred dollars later, we were outfitted for class and headed back to the house, Emmett and Jasper gallantly shouldering the load for Rose and I.
BPOV

Days melted into weeks and weeks into months as we established our new school routine. I had never felt such a sense of completeness and belonging as I felt here with my family of vampires. We had arranged our schedule so that they were my constant companions, my best friend, my big brother, and my lover. I had come a long way from feeling like the emotionally crippled girl they had known before.

Rose had become the sister that I had always hoped she would be. I no longer compared her to Alice. Alice had been larger than life, a pure force of nature. To know her was to love her and you never bet against her. I missed her deeply, though the enormous scary pain of the early days and weeks after her loss had dulled to a lonely ache. Rose was at once my sister and my friend. She respected my opinions and shopping with her was never the grueling ordeal that it had been with Alice. Rose loved all of me, even the fashion handicapped parts! We made time for ourselves even in the chaos of school and our time with our men. She and Emmett were going to marry again in the Spring, so much of our time was spent pouring over bridal magazines and discussing the endless options available. My taste was much simpler that Rosalie's, so I soon assumed the roll of reigning her in if she got ornate to the point that I thought Emmett would be uncomfortable. There was nothing I wouldn't do for my lovable brother!

Emmett was still fascinated by my human blushing and took full advantage of teasing me to inspire it. Even so, he very rarely teased my about my intense relationship with Jasper. The loss of the rest of our family had perhaps changed Emmett the most. He was never quite able to be the same carefree gentle giant following their loss. He was happy and could often become excited to the point of giddiness, but some of the light had left his eyes and I didn't think it would ever come back completely. I had pulled him aside in a rare private moment once when he seemed to be struggling and hugged him, telling him that I knew he still grieved their loss and that I loved him. He had pulled me down to sit next to him and told me how hard it was for him. He wanted to be strong for Rosalie and for me. He was so afraid that our family would cease to exist. He saw my relationship with Jasper and our deep commitment to each other as a sign that our family had a future again. Then, he did something that I knew I would never forget and that I would never have previously suspected from him. He pulled me into his arms very gently, like I was made of spun glass, and thanked me for saving his brother and told me all he wanted was for his family to be happy. Then he kissed the top of my head and gave me a final squeeze and left to play a video game. His spirit seemed lighter after that day and I was glad I had been able to help give a little bit of that lightness back to him.

Jasper continued to be everything I needed in my life, but not in a way where I was losing who I was. We completed each other, complementing the good parts and helping each other to overcome our weaknesses. We had an equality in our relationship that seemed to allow us both to blossom and I couldn't imagine my life without him in it. His very touch calmed me, even without the use of his gift, and I knew mine did the same for him. He no longer struggled with his control around other humans and told me I helped him to be a better man, the Jasper he had been as a human. I loved doing anything with him; reading, playing video games, watching TV or a movie. There was nothing that his presence with me couldn't make more enjoyable. At night he made my body sing and gave me unimaginable pleasure from the simplest touch of his hands on my body. Every encounter strengthened our love and devotion to each other. He played my body like and instrument and I was slowly learning to do the same for him. He refrained from using his gift with me at times, though I think he wanted to show me the depth of his love and emotion during our most tender moments. A part of him was still grieving for Alice, though I never doubted the force of his love for me. I didn't push him and we had talked about both Edward and Alice a few times briefly, hoping to heal some of the sorrow at their loss that we both still felt at times. I still suffered from nightmares, but the plot had changed slightly. My subconscious knew that I was now most afraid of losing the family I had left and found endless ways to torment me with that scenario. Jasper was my anchor to this life and happiness on the nights when I would awake screaming and terrified. He never pushed, though I knew he hoped I would tell him about the nightmares sometime. I just couldn't bring myself to show him how afraid I was of them, though. I knew that this abandonment I feared so much was a deep scar from the departure of Edward and the rest of the family a lifetime ago and I didn't want him to feel anymore guilt over the lapse of control that had given Edward the excuse for his selfish removal from my life of all I had come to love. I truly was no longer angry about the situation and couldn't bear for Jasper to be in pain. His pain was my pain and I knew that it was not a cliché for him to say he felt mine. I knew he was still broken in a small corner of his spirit as well, though he hid it well from Rose & Emmett, he couldn't hide it from me. When our lovemaking was particularly tender, he would sometimes sob in the moment of climax and I knew he felt conflicted by the depth of his love for me when Alice had been stolen from him. I knew that my acceptance of his dark past and steadfast belief in his inherent goodness and control were at once wonderful for him and a sad reminder that, though Alice had loved him deeply, she had always been disappointed at his inability to control his thirst easily. So, we clung to each other with our perfect brand of love and accepted the scars that made us ourselves. We were healing each other, happy, and in love and I wanted nothing else from eternity but to be with him.

"Are you OK, darlin'?" his gentle voice called from the doorway of our study, pulling me from my thoughts. I was curled up with my head resting on my knees on the window seat staring out across the heavily wooded backyard of our home, my book forgotten on the cushion beside me. Turning my head to him, I smiled and nodded lightly. "You were putting out some heavy emotions. Do you want to talk?" he asked coming over and sitting cross-legged on the floor beside my perch. "It's nothing, baby," I replied, "I was just thinking about how far we've all come since the summer and how much I love you and am thankful for you being in my life." His warm expressive butterscotch eyes were full of love as he huskily replied, "Isabella, you have saved me. You brought me back from an abyss of unendurable pain and allowed me to hope again. I am a better man because of your light in my life. I hope to be able to show you my thankfulness every day for the rest of our lives." He leaned over gently and stroked the tears from my cheeks with his cool thumb, his whole hand caressing my cheek. "No more tears tonight, darlin'," he whispered, "Let's go out, just us and spend some time together tonight. I missed you while we were hunting." I smiled at him and nodded again as I uncurled my body from my perch and we both rose to our feet. He wrapped his arms around me and pressed a tender kiss to my lips. "Wear something nice, baby. I want to show you off tonight." he said with a grin and released me to start getting ready.

Rose was standing in the doorway of the room she shared with Emmett and gave me a quick wink and as I passed I heard her whisper, "Come over to my room and I'll help you get ready after your shower, Bella. He'll never know what hit him when we're done!"

15 minutes later I was comfortably stretched across the massive king sized bed in Rose's room. Everything in here was oversized, of course, since Emmett was such a giant! "OK, Rose, do you know something I don't know?" I quizzed. "Bella, I know many things you don't, but about tonight, wild horses couldn't drag anything out of me!" she quipped. Huffing a sigh, I resigned myself to a mystery evening with Jaz. If he would be there, then I would be happy, no matter what activities the evening held! "Earth to Bella…where were you?" asked Rose. "Sorry, I was daydreaming there for a minute." I replied sheepishly. "No problem, Bella, you're in love. It's to be expected!" she replied with a grin, "Now, which dress do you like more?" and held up two beautiful dresses; one a simple and understated little black dress and the other a vibrant red. "Let's go with the black one, Rose. I want to look sophisticated tonight and I think it's perfect for that." I decided. "OK, Bella, and I agree. This one will be perfect!" she exclaimed.

For the next 45 minutes, Rose helped me realize my vision of elegance. She dressed me in the black dress with kitten-heeled black shoes and accessorized with diamond drop earrings, matching necklace, and tennis bracelet. She curled my hair into messy curls that she pinned up in an exotic way on the sides and left my make-up light, but with a sophisticated flare on my eyes and lips. When she was finally finished, she stood me in front of her full-length mirror to survey the completed work. I gasped at the reflection I saw. It was undoubtedly me, but also more. I whirled around and embraced her as tightly as I could, breathing my thanks. She smiled and kissed my cheek. "Now, don't keep my brother waiting." She said with watery eyes, handing me a black beaded clutch, "I'll meet you downstairs, so you can make an entrance."

I took a few calming breaths and a last glance in the mirror and headed towards the stairs and my lover. Please don't let me trip on the stairs, I silently prayed as I began to descend. As I made my way down the last few steps, I heard Jasper's low sexy growl and raised my head to gaze into his smoldering eyes. He quickly closed the distance between us and offered me his arm. I slid my hand into it as he commented in a low sexy voice, "Darlin', you look absolutely ravishing. I am so lucky to have you on my arm." I blushed and replied, "You look very handsome yourself, Jasper." He did, too. He was dressed in a coal black pin-stripped suit with a French blue shirt open at the throat. The cuffs were held with cufflinks in the shape of the Cullen family crest. His honey-blond hair, as always, fell in gorgeous messy waves to just above his collar. My heart skipped a beat just looking at him!

"OK, kids," boomed Emmett, teasingly, "Time for a Kodak moment!" Whipping out a digital camera, he snapped a picture. Laughing, Jasper and I bid them goodnight. Outside, Jasper had already warmed up his special occasion car, a shiny black Audi R8. He opened the passenger door for me and waited for me to get settled before closing it and joining me on the driver's side.

It was warm and comfortable inside the car, or maybe that was just how I always felt with Jasper near me. I turned my head to study him and found myself amazed yet again at the depth of my love for this amazing man. Feeling my stare, or perhaps my emotions, he reached over and wrapped my hand in his and brought my knuckles to his lips before setting our joined hands on the armrest. There was soft jazz playing on the car stereo. Neither of us felt the need to speak; it was a comfortable expectant silence. I could tell he was driving very fast, but I also knew I was completely safe, so I just let it be and enjoyed the feelings swirling in the car.

After a few minutes, my curiosity began to win out. "Jasper, where are we going?" I asked. "Well, darlin', if I tell you everything it'll ruin the surprise, but we're going to Boston," he replied with a small smirk. He loved to surprise me and I loved him, so I let him. I knew anything he had planned would be brilliant.

Finally, we arrived at the Prudential Building in downtown Boston. We parked and began walking towards the entrance of the building. Why were we going to an office building? I must have looked at Jaz funny, because he laughed and reached over and whispered in my ear, "We're going upstairs to the restaurant, Top of the Hub". I shivered at the feel of his lips on my ear. He felt it and pressed them to the hollow beneath my jaw and wrapped my hand into the crook of his elbow again.

After an elevator ride to the top of the building, we stepped out into the lobby of an amazing restaurant surrounded by windows. You could see all of Boston from any table. A crisply dressed maitre d' approached and Jasper gave him our name before we were led to a cozy table near the window. Jasper pulled out my chair for me and I felt the tingle as his hands brushed my shoulders gently as he swept my curls behind them as I sat. It was an erotic and intimate gesture. "Jasper, this is beautiful! I've never seen such an amazing view." I said, somewhat astounded. "Not as beautiful as you, darlin'," he replied, "but I'm glad you like it." I blushed and he reached across to take my hand.

We, well I, had an amazing meal. The conversation was light and we were enjoying this peaceful time together, talking and listening to the jazz band play. There was a slight lull in the conversation and Jasper rose and extended his hand to me, "May I have this dance, Bella?" I blushed and stuttered, "Jasper, I don't, umm, I can't, umm, clumsy remember?" I finished awkwardly. He smiled and took my hand and led me towards the other couples dancing near the band and whispered in my ear, "Bella, it's all in the leading. I won't let you fall." Gracefully, he pulled me to him placing his hand low on my hip and keeping the other wrapped around mine and curled to his chest. He softly called out the steps for me and before I knew it, we were dancing gracefully. The music ended and another song began. I leaned my head against his shoulder and, with a sigh, closed my eyes; just relaxing in the feel of his arms around me and the love he was projecting to me. He pressed his lips softly to my hair and murmured, "God, how I love you, darlin'."

Eventually, the band took a break and we returned to our table. "Are you ready to go, Isabella?" he asked, "I have something else I'd like to show you." I nodded, so he signaled the waiter and paid the bill.

He again offered me his arm and we walked across the lobby to a door marked "Skywalk Observatory". He led me through the doorway and I gasped as I took in the beauty of the city from the deserted 52nd floor observation area. He came to stand behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist, and began to point out places of interest in the city skyline. We could see all the way to the Back Bay. It was a gorgeous night. Suddenly, he turned me to face him and dropped to one knee. Huskily he began, "Bella, these last few months have been some of the most wonderful of my very long life. I was a broken shell of a man and you brought me back from the brink of despair. I thought my life was over, never to experience happiness again, much less love. Bella, you have shown me that while we lost so much, it was not the end, but a chance at a new beginning. I want to be the man you believe me to be. I want that new beginning with you by my side for eternity. Isabella Marie Swan, will you allow me to do that and be my wife?" He pulled a box from his pocket and opened it to reveal a beautiful platinum engagement ring with a princess cut diamond and diamond baguettes set into the band. He gazed up hopefully at me, waiting to hear my response. My eyes had filled with tears during his little speech. I loved this man more than anything in my life, in fact, I would give up my life to be with him forever if he would but have me. "Oh Jasper, yes, of course, a thousand times yes." I replied my voice trembling with emotion and the tears I was struggling still not to shed. He took my left hand in his and slid he ring onto my third finger and brought his lips to it in a gentle kiss. Then rising, he pulled me to him and whispered, "Thank you, Bella. You have given me so much! I will love you forever, darlin'." I pulled back slightly to gaze into his eyes and was overcome by the depth of emotion shining in them. "Jasper, you are everything to me. My life is already yours. This just makes it official. I love you, now and forever." I replied. As he brought his lips to mine, I knew that the love we shared burned hotter and brighter than any that had gone before us and knew I was home in his arms.
JPOV

I had never been happier than I was at that moment. Bella was in my arms and had agreed to marry me. She was so amazing; I still couldn't believe she was mine and I hers. I never wanted to spend another second away from her and I knew she felt the same.

It was hard to believe that such happiness was possible after the losses we had suffered only a few short months ago, but I thanked everything holy that this woman had cared enough to save me. I was broken and she repaired my spirit and taught me how to hope again.

When I had found Alice all those decades before, she had given me the hope for a better life. For almost 60 years, she was my anchor to the peaceful existence that I so desperately wanted and needed. When she was lost, I couldn't cope. I had lost everything, my love, my hope, and my future. I couldn't see through the pain and I wanted to die for the first time in the almost 165 years that I had existed. I was drowning in my pain and despair, as well as that of the remainder of my family.

Somehow, through the utter fogginess of my grief, this tiny fragile girl had reached out to me. It was her voice, telling me to come back, that slowly eased the pain. It was her warm touch that soothed my spirit in those early days. But most of all, it was her love, always radiating from her to me, that helped me to begin living again. It was a whispered phrase: "I not leaving you, Jaz. I'll be right back. I won't leave you as long as you want me to stay."

Over the next days and weeks, I could feel the subtle change in her love and knew my feelings were deepening, too. We had taken the chance together, risking heartbreak yet again. It was a love born of friendship and comfort. It was stronger than any other love I had ever known. Bella was my existence, the reason I was still on this earth. I wanted nothing else but her. I needed her and my every thought was for her happiness.

I still loved Alice, of course; but I hoped she would have approved of my relationship with Bella. On good days, I knew she would have wanted us both to be happy and would have wanted this for us. On bad days, I knew Bella sometimes felt my internal conflict. She was so perceptive to my feelings and moods…

"Jasper? Are you OK, baby?" she asked, interrupting my reflection, "You left me for a while there." "Fine, darlin'. Just thinking about everything we've been through together." I replied. We were wrapped in a comfortable embrace, looking out over the night skyline. I leaned down to nuzzle her neck and squeezed her a little more tightly to me. She sighed and relaxed into my embrace, her heartbeat quickening. I would never get tired of hearing her reaction and I smiled into the hollow of her neck. "Are you ready to go, Bella?" I asked. "Mmmm, I never want this night to end," she murmured softly. "Nor do I,"I replied huskily, "and it doesn't have to, yet. Would you like to see the last part of your surprise, darlin'?" Smiling, she turned and took the arm I offered her.

There was a chill in the air as a breeze blew in from the bay; she shivered slightly. Removing my jacket, I wrapped it around her shoulders and snuggled her to my side as we made our way back to the car. Once we were comfortably ensconced inside it again, I took her left hand in mine and kissed the ring on her finger before placing our clasped hands on the armrest. I couldn't stand to not be touching her; it would have caused me physical pain to not be in contact with her.

I made short work of the drive to the Omni Parker House Hotel. I had reserved a premium suite there for us. Rose had been my confidant during the planning of this evening and had packed a bag for Bella. It lay inside the trunk next to mine. We parked the car and strolled arm in arm into the hotel lobby. Bella gave a small gasp as she took in the atmosphere. "Wait until you see our suite, darlin'," I whispered with a grin.

A few moments later, we were in the elevator and ascending to the penthouse floor. As soon as the elevator doors slid shut, I pulled her to me and leaned down to brush her lips with mine. "I love you, Isabella." I sighed, as I deepened the kiss. She sighed against my lips and reached up to wind her fingers through my hair. A low purr rumbled in my chest at the feel of her warm fingers in my hair. I moved my attention to her slender neck, so she could take in a much-needed breath, and she moaned my name. The elevator doors slid open at that moment and I actually groaned in relief. Scooping her up in my arms, while never breaking the contact between my lips and her neck, I carried her to our room and opened the door.

Our bags had already arrived in our room, courtesy of the hotel concierge, so I moved swiftly with her to the bedroom. I needed her and neither of us could wait much longer.

My sweet Bella had shifted in my arms and now had her legs wrapped securely around my waist and was pressing her body against me while devouring my lips. I could barely control myself. God, I wanted this woman so much!

"Don't rip the dress, Jasper, or Rose will kill us both." Bella moaned, "but get it off me, fast, now!" With a growl, I pulled down the zipper on the back of her dress and peeled it from her body along with her bra. God, she was gloriously beautiful. Her body was flushed with excitement. I leaned down to taste her. I licked and teased my way down her chest to her hard pink nipple. Sucking it into my cool mouth I felt her shudder and arch her back, pressing into me.

Never breaking contact, I lay her back onto the soft bed and covered her with my body, resting most of my weight on my forearms, so I could hover over her. "Jasper, please baby, I need you so much," she moaned brokenly beneath me.

"What do you need, darlin'? I'll do anything you want." I asked between harsh pants of unneeded air. "I need to touch you, please. Please, let me touch you," she begged.

"Isabella, you never have to beg me for anything. There is nothing I wouldn't do for you." I rasped, leaning back to remove my clothing. The only thing between us now was her thin black lace panties. As I moved to lay with her again, she nudged my shoulders and I rolled onto my back for her.

I closed my eyes and moaned loudly as I felt her warm soft hands wrap around my throbbing cock and begin to stroke my length. "Oh God, Bella. Honey, that is so good." I moaned. I felt her slide down my body and take me into her mouth. "Fuck! Oh, fuck, Bella. Please don't stop…uggghhh…please." I all but shouted. Then I was lost in the sensation of her warm mouth on me and her tiny hands stroking me rhythmically and I could only moan her name. I could feel my orgasm fast approaching and I knew I would have to pull back from her. "Bella, stop baby. I can't hold on much longer. You need to stop now." I groaned urgently. She pulled me from her mouth but continued to stroke my length with her hands. She leaned down and gently began to suck and nibble the base of my cock and balls. Her ministrations pushed me over the edge and I came hard, screaming her name. Her strokes gentled as she brought me back down. She kissed my thigh and rose to enter the bathroom. She returned a moment later with a damp washcloth and tenderly cleaned my body before stretching out next to me and curling up to my chest. "I love you, Jasper Whitlock. Thank you for letting me show you. I can't wait to be your wife," she murmured.

I could feel her love and desire warring inside her as I gently lifted her chin and brought her lips to mine. As I tasted the sweetness of her mouth, I knew that I would spend every minute of the rest of my life thanking her for the pleasure she gave me, both in an out of our bed. I broke off our kiss and she whimpered softly from the loss. Gently, I slipped down her body, resting between her parted legs. I took her nipple into my mouth again and began to tease it with my tongue and teeth. She let out a ragged moan and I continued to torment and tease her. I stroked her sides and hips with my hands as I turned my attention to laying soft open mouthed kisses across her ribcage and belly, feeling her flutter beneath me. "Jasper," she breathed softly, like a prayer.

I slid her black lace panties from her body and continued my journey down to the apex of her heat and buried my nose in the soft curls there. She bucked her hips into me and cried out in expectation. "Darlin', I have to taste you. Hold on, Bella." I groaned. I pushed her thighs out and up and wrapped one of my arms across her hips, holding her in place. Her breathing was ragged and harsh in the otherwise silent room as I took in the sight and smell of her glorious body. I leaned in and flicked her engorged nub with my tongue and she cried out trying to buck her hips. "Please…baby…please," she gasped. I thrust my tongue into her warm sweet center and began to tease her. I made love to her with my tongue, teeth, and lips, as she moaned my name and writhed under my loving movements. I slowly slid my finger into her depths and felt her tense around it. "Jasper…God…so good…baby," she moaned. Adding another, I slid my fingers in and out until she was on the brink of her orgasm, never ceasing my constant attention to her bundle of nerves. Just as she began to fall over the edge, I pulled my fingers from her and gentled my movements, bringing her down just enough to prolong the experience. She whimpered above me. I returned to her center licking, tasting, and sucking her as I gently began to press into her tight little anus with my slick finger. I inserted just the tip and began to thrust gently. "Shit! Jasper, Oh my God," she cried out and her orgasm ripped through her. I pulled way from her and kissed her softly. She was sobbing with the ecstasy of her release. I kissed away her tears, murmuring my love to her as she calmed.

Recovering, she whispered huskily, "Jasper, make love to me now. I need you inside me. Fill me up, baby." I kissed her again, before leaning over to grab the foil packet she had placed on the nightstand after cleaning me up. I ripped it open and slid it onto my throbbing erection.

I crushed my lips to hers and parted her legs with my knees. Our tongues licking and teasing each other as I slid deep inside of her with a sigh. I began to thrust into her and she met me thrust for thrust. We were moving together in a dance as ancient as time. Our moans and sighs were the only sounds between us. I could feel her tightening around me and I was hanging on by a thread wanting to cum with her. "Cum now, Bella. Cum for me darlin'," I moaned. I thrust into her deeper and harder. She cried out my name as she tumbled over the edge, and the sensation of her muscles gripping me sent me over the edge right behind her, as I cried out her name in my moment of release.

I pulled out of her and sighed at the loss of contact. Disposing of the condom quickly, I pulled her into the circle of my arms and covered her face and neck with gentle kisses, as her breathing calmed. "I love you, Isabella. There will never be another for me. I love you so much," I murmured, my face buried in her hair, breathing in her scent. "I love you, too, Jasper. You are my everything," she sighed.

"Sleep now, darlin', and dream of me." I whispered, feeling her exhaustion. "Always," she replied softly, as she drifted to sleep in my arms.
BPOV

I woke the next morning to the heavenly feel of Jasper kissing every inch of my naked back, shoulders, and neck. I was sprawled out on my stomach with the sheets wrapped loosely over my intimate areas, but otherwise bare. "Mmmm, this must be heaven," I mumbled, my voice still thick from sleeping. "Of course it is; you're my angel," Jasper whispered in reply. He began to massage my back with firm strokes, easing the soreness in my muscles from our frenzied lovemaking the night before. I groaned as he continued to work the knots from my shoulders. Just as I was about to roll over and bring him to me for a kiss, the damn cell phone started playing "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon. I was going to kill Rose later for the interruption. Jasper laughed softly, no doubt feeling my irritation and leaned over to answer the phone.

"Mornin', Rose," he drawled, "Yes, everything went well last night. Thank you! I love you, too, sis. Hold on, here's Bella." I rolled over with a sigh and took the phone from his outstretched hand. "Hi, Rose," I said, still a little grumpy, "What do you want?" She laughed and replied, "Sorry, Bella, did I interrupt something?" I just let out an exasperated sigh and replied, "Well, Rose, you did call the morning after the best day of my life and I'm in a private luxury suite with the love of my existence. Is everything OK?" "Everything is fine, Bella, I just couldn't wait to hear how things went last night," she replied with a smile in her voice. "It was absolutely fabulous, Rose. We'll have a good chat session when we get home, OK?" I replied, my irritation melting away at the memory of the perfection that was currently my life. "OK, see you soon, little sister," she replied. I could hear Emmett yelling "Congratulations" in the background. "OK, bye Rose." I replied and ended the call.

I turned to Jasper's waiting arms and kissed him softly. "Now, where were we?" I murmured. Two blissful and satisfying hours later, my stomach growled loudly. "Time for breakfast, darlin'." Jasper teased, "Shall I order room service for you while you get cleaned up?" With another sweet kiss, I nodded and headed to the bathroom to grab a shower before breakfast.

20 minutes later, I was digging into my breakfast. Jasper, of course, had ordered way too much food, but it all looked so good that I was going to eat at least a bite of everything. Jasper was watching my with an intensely interested expression on his face as I started eating. "Is it really that interesting to watch me eat, Jaz?" I asked, curious. "Well, darlin', it has been about 145 years since I've been able to do that, so you might say it holds a certain novelty for me, but mostly it's just sexy to watch you eat; like I'm sharing something very intimate with you," he replied. "Really?" I asked, biting into a large ripe strawberry. Then grinning wickedly, I asked, "Would you like to feed me, Jasper?" His eyes darkened with desire and I felt his excitement flood the room for a moment before he reined it in. He nodded and grabbed another strawberry from the bowl on the table and ran it around my lips before I opened my mouth to bite into it, juice running down my chin. We finished the rest of the berries in the same manner, teasing each other with the innocent sensuality of the shared task. Once the last berry was consumed, we cleaned up the trays and left them outside the hotel door to be picked up. I noticed Jasper also hang the "Do Not Disturb" tag on the door before closing it again.

"Bella," he began, coming to sit with me on the sofa, "I know it's selfish of me to keep you here all to myself today, but what do you say about just laying around with me here today?" "Well, Jasper, that actually sounds lovely to me." I replied with a smile, eager to have him all to myself for the whole day.

With a content purr, he pulled my feet into his lap and began to massage my foot. "You're going to spoil me, honey." I said with a groan. "Bella, there is not a single part of your body that I don't want to give pleasure to. Let me pamper you today, darlin'," he replied in a low sexy voice, "Just relax and let me take care of you today." He was now massaging my calf, his cool hard fingers gently digging into the muscle before returning to my foot. Finished with that side, he turned his attention to my other foot and calf. After a few more minutes of this, he rose and walked over to my make-up bag and returned with a bottle of nail polish in his hand. Oh my God, this man was pure sex. He lightly shook the bottle of polish and took my foot in his hand again and stroked polish on each toenail. When he was finished with that foot, he blew lightly on the nails to help the polish dry and the feel of his cool breath on my toes sent a shiver up my spine. He chuckled at the burst of desire that I threw at him and calmly took my other foot in his hand to repeat the process. "Patience, darlin'," he drawled, "we have all day."

Oh. Fuck. Me. I was one lucky lady and it was going to be a great day!
BPOV

What was I going to do with myself this weekend? Rose, Emmett, & Jasper had gone hunting for the weekend in the Catskills, so I was uncharacteristically on my own until tomorrow afternoon. I was glad Jasper had gone with Rose & Em. It had taken a lot of convincing to get him to do it, but I really needed a weekend to do my Christmas shopping for them. I decided to go grab a shower and head to the mall. I had to get Renee, Phil, Jacob, & Sammie's presents purchased and wrapped. They would need to be shipped before the end of the week if I wanted them to arrive before Christmas. Charlie, Sue, Seth, & Leah had been invited to come to our home for Christmas and had accepted, so technically I could procrastinate on their presents awhile longer.

I loved Christmas; it was my favorite holiday. I couldn't wait to see the looks on everyone's faces as they got their presents. Now that I had ample money to spend on my friends and family, it was much more pleasant to give and receive.

I was planning on going to the outlet mall in Tilton today. The two-hour round-trip drive was worth it and I had nothing else on the agenda anyway. My mind made up, I slid into the driver's seat of the Volvo and headed out.

Halfway to the mall, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" by Big and Rich started to play on my cell phone. Smiling, I reached over to answer it. "Hey darlin'," Jasper drawled on the other end, "What are you up to today?" "Hi, honey! I'm heading to the outlets in Tilton to finish my Christmas shopping. How's the hunting? Catching anything good?" I replied. "Yeah, you know Emmett. He's tangoing with black bears already. Rose and I are always amused," he said with a quiet laugh, "It's fun to hang out with them, but I miss you, Bella," he said, in a more serious tone. "I know, Jaz, I miss you, too. Will you still be home tomorrow afternoon?" I asked. "Yeah, we're leaving to come home in the morning. So, I'll see you soon," he replied. "Good! I can't wait to see you, hon.," I said in a husky voice. "Me either, darlin'," he responded, "see you tomorrow. I love you, Bella." "Love you more, Jaz. Bye." I said, flipping the phone closed. I could make it until tomorrow, right? I had it bad for that man!

Unknown POV

My mistress wanted me to follow the silly human girl, so I did, watching as she got into her car and headed out of town. I knew why my mistress wanted me to perform this task. I was a gifted vampire. She had saved me from the other newborns' fates when I began to show potential at the end of my newborn year. I was a tracker, but with a twist. I followed psychic essences as well as scents. Once I had made a decision to track a human or vampire, I could follow their scent, but more importantly, I could follow their mind, so to speak. It was a kind of psychic bond that I was able to form with my prey. It allowed me to follow this silly human for my mistress without appearing to be following her. I was about 5 miles behind her now, but could feel exactly where she was. I would wait for my opportunity to begin the next phase of my mistress's plan. All I needed was a moment of carelessness on the part of the human girl. My mistress would have her revenge.

The day passed slowly as I milled through the shopping center with all the humans. They were like cattle, blindly following the sale signs and herding themselves into a semblance of order inside the shops. I never let myself get too close to the girl. I couldn't afford for her to notice me. I knew she would recognize what I am. Soon, it would be time to make my move.

BPOV

I couldn't believe how much I had accomplished today! I'd found a great sporting goods store and stocked up on fishing supplies for Charlie, a set of herbal stress relief masks and a fluffy natural fiber organic cotton robe for Renee, a copy of Underworld & Underworld: Evolution on DVD for Phil (he loved Vampire movies, how ironic), a hand-knitted alpaca wool hat, scarf, & gloves for Sammie, a couple of Wii games for Seth & Leah, and a book about restoring cars for Jake. I hadn't figured out presents for Rose, Emmett, or Jasper yet. It was their presents that I was musing over on my way back to the car.

I loaded my things into the Volvo's trunk and slid back into the driver's seat to begin the trip home. I drove through the McDonald's drive through and got a chocolate shake & a cheeseburger Happy Meal before merging back onto the interstate headed home.

It had been a good day. I had gotten all the presents that I needed to ship out, so I planned on wrapping and boxing them up when I got home, after a nice hot shower, of course.

Unknown POV

I saw the human girl make her way back to her car. The parking lot was nearly deserted. Perhaps now would be the time to take her…no, there was too much chance for us to be seen and I couldn't afford to ruin the surprise my mistress had in store for this little human pet.

I resigned myself to wait patiently as her car pulled back onto the highway. I knew she would be alone again tonight. Our spies were keeping an eye on her "family" in the Catskills. My mistress wanted me to do this correctly and I could control myself to make her happy. I couldn't wait for the violence I so enjoyed to be unleashed later tonight. Stupid human, you're going to wish you hadn't meddled in our affairs.

BPOV

It was twilight when I arrived home and parked the Volvo by the back door. I'd move it to the garage in the morning, for now it was easier to carry my things into the house from here.

I was just coming down the stairs to get the last load from the trunk of the Volvo when I saw him leaning casually against the doorframe. He was tall and big, bigger even than Emmett. With white blond hair and cruel red eyes. He was a vampire and definitely not a vegetarian.

He looked up as I entered the room, a cruel smile playing on the edges of his mouth. "Who are you and what are you doing in my house?" I asked in a panicky voice. Think, Bella, think. How can you get out of this? "I have very important friends, you know. They will hunt you down if I am hurt." I continued, trying to control the tremor in my voice that betrayed my terror.

Casually, he straightened up, flexing all of his bunched muscles, and calmly replied, "My name is Alexei and I know who your friends are. Why do you think my mistress sent me to you?" In that instant, it dawned on me that I was in much deeper trouble than I had first supposed. This was not a hungry vampire that had been drawn to the human danger magnet. This was a vampire on a mission to hurt my family and me. I opened my mouth to scream, but he was on me before I could loose the sound from my panicked throat. "No you don't, you bitch! My mistress is waiting," he growled and then cuffing me hard in the face, I knew nothing more.

Alexei's POV

I bound and gagged the human as my mistress had ordered, taking pictures of her naked body and battered face, and locked her into the trunk of my car. Then, grabbing the letter and pictures, I headed back into the house. My mistress had told me to make them suspect that the human had been violated before being dragged off. I hadn't done that to her, but had staged the pictures to cast that doubt.

Getting into my task, I marked various intimate areas of the home, lingering on their bed and making sure to smear a bit of blood from her nosebleed on the bedding. That bastard didn't know what was coming and I only hoped my mistress would allow me to fight him at the end of the game.

I could feel myself getting hard at the thought of all the damage and pain I was going to inflict on that whore in the trunk. Wrapping my fingers around my hard length, I stroked myself and wiped my release onto her shredded panties. Enjoy that you bastard, I thought to myself as I tossed the ripped and soiled cloth on the floor next to the letter and pictures. What I wouldn't give to see that scarred bastard's reaction to my little present tomorrow. I turned out the lights and returned to my car to begin the ride to the rendezvous point.
JPOV

I couldn't wait to get home to my Bella. I had tried to call her last night without success. It had been late, so she probably had already been asleep, but I needed to hear her sweet voice. I pulled out my phone and dialed the familiar number:

3 rings…4 rings...Hi, this is Bella. Sorry, I can't get your call right now. Leave me a message and I'll call you back…BEEP.

Still no answer, so I left her a message: "Hi, darlin', sorry I missed you again. We're on our way home and should be there by noon. Call me when you get this message, OK? I need to hear your voice. I love you. See you soon." I hung up. I was uneasy; it wasn't like Bella to not answer her phone and definitely not like her to not return my calls. Nervously, I glanced at the clock on the Jeep's dash, 10am. Maybe she slept late and is in the shower? Only two more hours and she would be safely in my arms.

An hour and a half later, Bella still hadn't returned my calls. I was so tense that I could literally hear my tendons creaking from the pressure. Rosalie & Emmett reflected my tension and, try as I might, I couldn't pull back on the powerful emotions I was sending out into the closed space of the car interior.

With a groan of relief, I saw the "Welcome to Hanover" sign flash past the Jeep window. "Hang on, Jaz. We're almost there." Emmett growled. We all knew that something was wrong; Bella would have returned my calls if she could have. Visions of her broken body lying at the foot of the stairs or crumpled in the bottom of the shower after a fall kept floating in front of my eyes. I replayed our last conversation and had a vision of a fiery car accident on the way home from Tilton. I heard the armrest crack under the pressure of my grasping fingers and forced myself to release it.

With a moan of brief relief, I saw the Volvo parked calmly by the back door of the house. I leapt out of the Jeep the same instant as Emmett & Rose. A growl ripped through my body, as my senses were assaulted by the sharp odor of unfamiliar vampire. I was vaguely aware of the echoing growls from behind and Emmett's protective crouch in front of Rosalie.

I pushed the back door open slowly and scanned the kitchen for any sign of the unknown visitor or my Bella. Nothing. I sniffed the air, my warning growls never ceasing. Emmett & Rose were flanking me, also assessing the situation. The unknown vampire's scent was all over the house, as was Bella's; I could detect the slightest hint of adrenaline and fear in her normally sweet floral odor. She had been in this room recently and had been terrified.

Cautiously, I gestured for Emmett & Rose to take the stairs off the kitchen and check upstairs as I continued towards the living room. As I pushed through the swinging doors, a snarl ripped from my chest as I saw the destroyed furniture. There had been one hell of a struggle in here. As I scanned the room, senses on high alert, Rose's inhuman snarl ripped through the air from our bedroom.

I was up the stairs and standing before our bed before her snarl had finished. "Fuck! Fuck! His smell is all over the bed." I snarled, "If he's fucking touched a single hair…" Emmett grabbed me at that moment, effectively silencing me, and I saw what had provoked Rosalie so much. She was snarling continuously, low in her chest, as she gathered Bella's ripped, bloody clothing from the floor next to the bed; the last thing she gathered was Bella's black lace panties.

I could smell him on the fabric and, in that moment, I lost my mind, ripping myself from Emmett's restraint. I was snarling and growling, cursing and pacing. Emmett had pulled Rose slightly behind him again, afraid of my outburst and loss of control. "Jasper, man, get a fuckin' hold of yourself," he shouted, "You can't help Bella like this." My vision had tinted red from my rage. I knew I had to get control again, had to become the God of War that I had once been, bury my fear and rage. Bella needed me and I would fucking rip that motherfucker to shreds and let him watch himself burn before I was through with him, but that had to wait. I had to calm down so I could plan my attack.

Gradually, very gradually, my vision returned to normal. I forced the emotions back down. I could feel the emotionless mask of the soldier I had been slip over my face. There was nowhere on this earth that piece of shit that had taken my Bella could hide. He would pay and I would enjoy it!

"Emmett, Rose, search the house for any clues as to where they might be. There's no body so there's still hope." I said calmly through my clenched teeth. They nodded and continued their search of the upstairs.

I approached the spot where her clothing had been strewn. Peeking from under a pile of the destroyed beaded necklaces was a 9 X 13 manila clasp top envelope. It bore my name in a fluid script on the front. I grabbed it and flipped it open. Inside was a single sheet of stationary folded in half and a few Polaroid pictures. As I unfolded the paper, I was hit with a scent I had not smelled since before my time with the Cullens. The odor of orchids wafted up from the paper. With shaking hands, I held the paper and read:

Jasper, mi amor –

It has been far too long since last I saw you. Alexei was kind enough to collect your little pet and bring her for a visit. Tell me, querido; does it hurt you to imagine his hands on her soft little body? Does it hurt as much as when I imagine your hands on her? As it did me when your fortune-telling bitch touched you? I told you when you left me that you would regret it. Do you regret it yet, mi amor? Did you regret it when the seer was burned? Do you regret it while I torture your human pet? She's very breakable, as you'll see from the pictures, m'ijo. Maybe I'll send her back to you in pieces, cabrón.

Maria

The letter slipped from my hands to the floor. If I had been human, I would have vomited at the thought of Bella in Maria's vile clutches. Against my will, I grasped the pictures and began to flip through them. Bella naked, bound and gagged; Bella bleeding with her eyes closed; another with her face swollen and blackened from a brutal beating, her lips split and her nose dripping blood; and the final one, Bella, her eyes wild with pain and terror, with a leering red-eyed vampire naked above her with her tiny wrists clenched brutally in his fist.

With a howl of rage and pain, I fell to my knees. Bella, Bella, what have I allowed to happen to you? Dimly, I felt Rosalie's comforting arms encircle me and Emmett's enraged snarls as he picked up the pictures and letter I had dropped.

Gradually, I regained control and slipped into my soldier's persona again. If there were any hope for Bella, I would have to push away all emotion and fight for her survival. I had to believe that I would feel it in my soul if her light was extinguished from this world, so until I felt that, I would fight. Damn it, not just fight, I was going to fucking win!

I rose from my knees and taking my cell phone from my pocket called the airport to schedule a flight to Leon, Mexico. From there, I would travel on foot to Maria's hideout near the ghost town, Mineral de Pozos. The chartered flight would be ready at 6am in the morning. I would be in Leon by 4pm tomorrow.

Emmett growled, "Don't think for one second you're going by yourself, bro. Bella's my sister and you're going to need help getting her back!" Rose snarled her agreement, "That fucker hurt her. I'm going to rip his goddamn dick off and shove it down his throat before I light him on fire!" I shook my head slowly and replied, "I can't guarantee that this isn't going to be a suicide mission. She'll have newborns, a lot of them." "Then you better fucking teach us to fight, Jasper, because you're not leaving us here!" Rose growled. I nodded; I would need help. God forgive me, but I would sacrifice everything, even the rest of my family, to save my Bella.

The rest of the long night, we trained. We fed again, gorging ourselves so as to be as strong as possible, and then we locked the doors to our home. Maybe we would be able to all return here, maybe not. Silently, we climbed into the Jeep and headed to Logan airport.
JPOV

Just a few more hours and we'd be in Leon. Every nerve ending in my body was thrumming in anticipation of the fight we were facing. I could feel the tension and rage flowing over me; I had long since realized that I couldn't stay in fight mode and reign it in. I heard a soft growl next to me and Rose spoke so fast that a human wouldn't notice, "Jasper, for God's sake, knock it off. I'm sitting here ready to kill somebody." I nodded slightly in response and did the only thing I knew would relax me. I thought of Bella…

At the hotel in Phoenix hiding her from James, this was the moment I realized I could love her as my sister:

"I can feel what you're feeling now — and you are worth it." I'd said to her.

"You have nothing to worry about. You are completely safe here." I'd tried so hard to reassure her, misunderstanding the reason for her fear.

"What if something goes wrong, and they get separated? If something happens to any of them, Carlisle, Emmett… Edward… If that wild female hurts Esme… How could I live with myself when it's my fault? None of you should be risking yourselves for me." My Bella was so selfless, her only concern for us.

"You're worrying about all the wrong things, Bella. Trust me on this — none of us are in jeopardy. You are under too much strain as it is; don't add to it with wholly unnecessary worries. Listen to me! Our family is strong. Our only fear is losing you." I'd already started to care for her, unheard of for me at that time. I'd often wondered if Alice somehow knew what Bella would one day mean to me and that's why she had insisted that we take care of her for Edward. It would have fitted my sweet Alice's personality to try to help me form the relationship I would need so badly later.

I could feel some of my tension easing as I remembered her. My fingers relaxed their grip on Rose's hand as I continued to remember…

The dark days after the loss of Alice, Edward, Carlisle, & Esme:

"Jasper, we'll be right back, OK? We're not leaving you. We're just going to the kitchen for a second."

"Jasper, honey, I'm going home for a minute. Rose is here with you, so don't worry. Em & I will be back very soon."

"Jasper, its Bella, is it OK if I sit with you for awhile? Could you give me a sign that you hear me, honey?"

"Jaz, I'm not leaving you. I'm going to put on some pajamas and brush my teeth, but I'll be right back. I won't leave you, Jaz, not as long as you want me to stay," her sweet voice pulling me back from the abyss.

Her love and acceptance for my violent painful past:

"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."

"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."

Her acceptance of my marriage proposal:

"Oh Jasper, yes, of course, a thousand times yes."

"Jasper, you are everything to me. My life is already yours. This just makes it official. I love you, now and forever."

I had been so caught up in my memories, I hadn't noticed we had landed in Leon until Rose shook me a little and hissed that we had arrived. It was time to shove the emotions away again. Nothing mattered now except finding Bella and making her safe again.

We had to lay low until twilight. This part of Mexico was always sunny and it wouldn't do to expose ourselves and jeopardize our attack. The 2 hours between our arrival and the setting of the sun were excruciatingly slow. Finally, we were able to leave. We picked up our rental Jeep and headed to our hotel.

Rose, Emmett, and I were lost in our thoughts as we sat in the room waiting. I heard Emmett and Rose get up and head to the bedroom of our suite. I could feel their intense love mixed with fear. They were afraid this was the last time they would be together. I was afraid of that for them, as well. I rose and crossed to the private balcony, I would give them what privacy I could until it was time to leave. I took my sketchbook, charcoals, & the hotel pen & stationary with me. I would try to survive this fight, but if I should fall in battle, I wanted Bella to remember my love and live for me.

I began to sketch scenes from our life together over the last several months. I sketched us in an embrace the night I showed her my scars, her curled up in the window seat of our study looking out the window, us newly engaged with clasped hands and her ring, me giving her a piggyback ride across the quad at Dartmouth, and the final one of me hovering over her as we made love. I began to write her a letter; I couldn't let her believe I would ever leave her willingly.

My dearest Bella –

My heart is heavy as I write you this letter, darlin'. Even now, I can only hope you are alive. I don't know what tonight will hold. I hope we will triumph and you will soon be in my arms again, but the outcome is uncertain.

These last several months have been the best of my existence, Bella. Yu have saved me in so many ways. I can be a better man because you believe steadfastly in my goodness. I never knew that such a large piece of my soul was missing, but now that I've found you, I can't live without that missing piece. Darlin', you have completed my broken and empty heart. I love you so much that it is painful to be separated from you now.

Bella, this is very important, so I need you to pay attention. If something has happened to me and I can't be with you anymore, I need you to live, Bella. This world cannot bear the loss of your light. Rosalie & Emmett will need you to be strong for them and they will need your compassion. Help them get through my loss, if it comes to that, as I know they will help you. I will always be with you in spirit, even if I cannot be physically with you on this earth.

Finally, if you should need help getting out of Mexico, I am leaving my phone in our hotel room. Call Peter and Charlotte; he is my brother and, she my sister, every bit as much as Emmett and Rose are and they will help you. He has a power, Bella, so he will know who you are and will love you as a sister. I pray this letter will be unnecessary, but should that prove untrue, know that I am and always will be…

Yours,

Jasper

With trembling hands, I folded the paper once in half and stuck it in the cover of my sketchbook. I took them both over to the suitcase that Rosalie had packed for Bella and laid them and my small silver cell phone inside on top of her clothing.

I checked the sky and saw there was still time before we would need to leave the hotel. I opened the door and ran to the nearby desert and began to hunt. I had to lock away my emotions again; become the soldier I had so long repressed and tried to forget. Everything depended on my ability to fight tonight and I would prepare the only way I knew how. I would be, once again, the cold calculating mercenary. I would get my Bella back. She would suffer no longer for my past sins. I threw my head back and growled, letting the bloodlust consume me. Maria would pay for her games. Her days on this earth were about to come to a violent and painful end.

EmPOV

Rose and I lay in the bed, unable to let go of each other just yet. I heard Jasper leave with a whispered, "Going to hunt, back in 30 minutes. Then we go." I pulled Rosalie a bit closer to me and turned slightly to face her.

"Rosie," I began, "if things go bad tonight, you run. Do you hear me? You run fast and you run far. Don't stop until you get to the Denali's. I will come for you there. But you will not die for me…you are my life, Rosalie, and I can't lose you."

She reached with a trembling hand to touch my face and replied, "Emmett, you have been my life since the moment I saw you all those years ago. You were my salvation and I will not live this existence without you. If you want me to run, I will do it because I love you enough to do as you ask. But, Emmett, if you get yourself killed, I'll join you in whatever afterlife exists for our kind and I'll kick your ass for the rest of eternity." She finished with a growl and then crushed her lips to mine.

I rolled her onto her back and slid into her with a moan, my Rose, my life, my beautiful blond angel. I thrust into her and whispered my love to her until we both dissolved into each other in release.

After a moment, it was time to get dressed and ready to go. We were holding each other when Jasper returned. He was in full on soldier mode and I have to admit, he looked like one tough son of a bitch. I was glad I was fighting with him instead of on the other side. I'd never seen him shed all of his humanity, but I was pretty sure he was currently one vicious damn vampire.

Rose and I stood and followed him out the door at the insistence of his curt nod and cold glare. Our brother had left the building; this was the God of War now.

I caught a quick glimpse of my brother again as he pulled me behind Rose and to the side. "Emmett, if I tell you to run, you goddamn better run. You grab Rose and Bella and you run like hell. You come back here and then you get the hell out of Mexico. You hear me, brother?" he said, before crushing me to him in a fierce as hell hug. "Yeah, Jaz, I got you. Don't do anything stupid though, bro. We're not ready to lose you just yet." I replied. He nodded and I saw the soldier's persona slip over him again as we left the building and began to run across the desert sand.

What would have taken 2 hours by car, took us about an hour at a vampire's run. The ghost town loomed over the ridge and we could see Maria's guards circling the entrance to an abandoned mine. They would have to be taken out if we had any hope of getting to Bella.

The plan was for Rose to walk over to them and distract them. She would be the bait while Jasper and I sneaked up from around the sides of the mine entrance and took them out. There were four guards and three of us, but this would be the easiest part of our attack.

The moon disappeared behind the clouds and Rose squeezed my hand tightly and began her sashaying walk across the desert towards the mine entrance. I forced my fear for her safety down and waited for Jasper's signal to begin.

He signaled, we ran, and we destroyed. We quickly gathered the leftover pieces and tossed them into a pile with some dry brush and Jasper flicked open his silver lighter and sent those bastards to hell. Rose spat a mouthful of venom at the fire as we walked by it and entered the mineshaft.

I saw Jasper's shoulders tense as we entered the second tunnel inside and at the same moment, I smelled Bella's freesia scent and strawberry shampoo. She had been in this tunnel and it had been recently, too. We crept closer to the heavy steel door at the end of the tunnel. Bella was in there and we were going to make these bastards pay. I cracked my knuckles reflexively, ready for the fight.

RPOV

I could smell my little sister's scent in this tunnel. It was freesia and strawberry shampoo. I could smell her blood, too. She was hurt. My rage bubbled close to the surface as images of that piece of shit, Alexei, surfaced from the Polaroids that cunt Maria had left for Jasper.

Images from my final moments as a human surfaced as we made our way to the steel door behind which my sister was being held. I had meant it when I said I wanted to rip that fucker's dick off and shove it down his throat before he burned.

A growl began to rumble in my chest as we reached the door. Emmett laid his hand on my shoulder and pulled me slightly behind him. His eyes begged me to run if needed.

My eyes were hard as flint, but I nodded. I would do this for him if I had to, but I wouldn't be happy about it!

We all tensed as Jasper ripped open the door and sprang through in a fighting crouch.

The room was empty apart from Bella strapped to a cot with a filthy mattress. She was still as death and had I not been able to hear her heartbeat, I would have thought we were too late. For that matter, she had been badly beaten and if not for her distinct scent, I wouldn't have recognized my sister.

After a quick sweep of the room, Jasper ran to her side. I was right on his heels to assess her condition. I had trained as a nurse and even worked alongside Carlisle from time to time throughout the decades.

I watched as he dropped to his knees beside her broken body and searched for an undamaged place to touch her. His voice broke as he looked up at me and groaned, "Rose, what do we do for her? How bad is it? She's in so much pain, Rose." His soldier persona had slipped away the moment he saw her.

And then, we were no longer alone in the room…

JPOV

I growled as Maria and the fucker who had hurt my Bella entered the room. Rose and Emmett echoed it from defensive positions around Bella's cot. I flicked my gaze to Emmett and snarled, "Don't forget what I said, Emmett." He nodded tersely and flexed his muscles ready to defend Rose & Bella.

"Well, mi amor, come to rescue your little whore," Maria trilled, like we were old friends discussing the weather. Alexei stood by her side, crouched and ready to fight.

"Maria, you will not hurt her anymore," I growled. "You've hurt me for the last time."

"Oh querido, I think not. My newborns will be here soon, so I think this will be the last stand for you, your whore, and your little family," she replied smugly, "Tell me, what was it like, Cullens, to find your family a pile of ashes? I'm proud of the scheme that I worked out with Caius over that little treat. A few months of my attentions and misinformation about your family and he was only too eager to destroy them. Were they still smoldering when you arrived?"

A vicious snarl ripped from Emmett's chest. I flicked my eyes to him, warning him with a glance to hold his ground.

She laughed, a bitter deranged cackle, "Oh, Jasper! Did you honestly think I would just let you leave? Cabrón, I've been planning this little party for the last 50 years. It was only too easy to poison the Volturi against you and yours."

I could hear the snarling newborn army approaching from the other side of the mineshaft. "Emmett, run!" I snarled while simultaneously launching myself at Alexei, cleanly removing his head and flicking my lighter, as Maria laughed and jumped away from the attack and resulting pile of ashes.

I saw him rip through the restraints on the cot and curl Bella protectively to his chest and grab Rose's hand as the first of the newborns burst into the torture chamber from the opposite wall.

Bella, I'm sorry. I love you…
EmPOV

"Emmett, run!" Jasper snarled while simultaneously launching himself at Alexei, cleanly removing his head and flicking his lighter, as Maria laughed and jumped away from the attack and resulting pile of ashes.

I could hear the newborns coming down the tunnel and Jasper growling and snarling in the torture chamber behind me. I was torn between protecting my mate and baby sister and helping my brother.

Bella was completely unconscious and I had handed her over to Rosie as we ran out of the chamber after Jasper's snarled command. "Emmett, we have to get Bella out of her now!" Rose said with a note of hysteria in her voice. "Jasper wants us to take care of her. I love him, too, but our job is to get Bella to safety. Jasper will take care of Maria in his own way," she continued.

I nodded and we continued our run. We rounded the curve to enter the main tunnel when the first enemy vampire came into view. It looked like Maria was trying to replace the guards we had taken out earlier.

There was no option but to take these out, too. With a snarl, I threw myself into the fray. I dispatched the first guard with no issue. As I was flicking my lighter to take care of him for good, the second guard leaped onto my back and sank her teeth into my shoulder with a snarl. I howled as the venom started its slow burn and rammed myself back first into the tunnel wall. This dislodged my frisky little biter. "It's not nice to bite, bitch!" I snarled as I ripped her limb from limb and lit her up.

Just as the pile of limbs caught fire, Rose screamed, "Emmett! Help us!" I whirled around and saw two big motherfuckers closing in on Rose who was crouched protectively in front of Bella's still unmoving body.

I launched myself across the tunnel and promptly knocked the first one to the ground. I was aware of Rose tearing into the second one at the same time. I was just finishing up when I heard Rose's cry of pain. A growl ripped from my chest at the sound. Nobody was going to hurt my Rosie, my mate. I was going to rip his goddamn head of and spit into his pyre! Rose was snarling and hissing, her arm twitching on the ground at her feet. That shithead was still circling my girl, so he never even saw me coming. I ripped off his arms and legs first and then lit them while he watched.

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum now taken care of, I rushed over to Rose and Bella, ignoring my own injuries, just those damn burning bites anyway. Rose was grimacing in pain but already holding her severed arm to her shoulder, as she sat against the tunnel wall. "Rosie, Oh Shit! Baby, are you OK?" I cried, gathering her into my arms. She grimaced and nodded pain evident on her angelic features. I gathered her in my arms and rocked her gently until her arm finished fusing. "Come on, baby, we've got to get Bella out of this shithole and wait for Jas at the hotel." I gathered Bella up in my arms and we set out from the tunnel entrance into the dark Mexican desert.

We ran for an hour and finally the dim lights of our hotel in Leon shimmered on the horizon. We made our way back to our room. Rose gently laid Bella on the pull out sofa that we had made up before setting out on our rescue mission.

She had not made a single noise or so much as twitched since I'd ripped through her restraints and curled her to my chest. Rose was in full on nurse mode, Carlisle's black bag open at her side as she hovered over Bella's broken body.

"Em, I need warm water and a washrag. I need to clean her up a little so I can see how bad she's hurt." Rose commanded. I went to the bathroom, grabbed the things she needed, and was back at her side before the sentence was completely out of her mouth. She began to gently sponge Bella's face and neck with the warm washcloth. It was obvious that Bella had been badly beaten. "Emmett, baby, I need you to make yourself scarce for a little bit while I change her and make sure they didn't hurt her anywhere else, OK?" Rose asked softly. I nodded, knowing this was bringing back awful memories for Rose, and headed to the bathroom to take a shower.

When I finished and figured enough time had passed, I ventured back over to gently rub Rose's shoulders. She hissed in pain as I grazed a fresh bite. I leaned down and gently kissed the newly formed scar. Her sigh of relief was the best reward for my gentleness.

"How is she, Rosie?" I asked quietly. "They beat the hell out of her, Em, but it looks like she's otherwise OK. I'm going to try and wake her using these smelling salts." Rose replied, as she cracked a foul smelling capsule and began to wave it under Bella's nose.

Bella's weak moan was music to my ears. "Bella, honey, it's Rose and Emmett. You're with us at a hotel. You're safe now, sweetie." Rose crooned. Her eyes flickered open and she muttered softly, "Rose?" "Yes, Bella. It's going to be OK now." Rose murmured back in response. "It hurts." Bella whimpered. "I know, sweetie, I'm going to give you some morphine and let you sleep for awhile. Rest now. Bella." Rose whispered, as she injected the morphine into Bella's arm.

We listened as her breathing deepened and her heartbeat slowed. "Is she going to be alright, Rosie?" I asked. "Physically, she'll be fine, Emmett, but if Jasper doesn't get his ass back to this hotel soon, I'm not sure if she'll ever truly be OK again." Rose replied softly. I pulled her into my arms and held her as she sobbed.

Damnit, Jasper! You better get your goddamn ass back to her, bro…

BPOV

I was floating. There was no pain right now. Maybe I was dead? Is this what dead feels like? Slowly, I became aware of my limbs. I could feel aching pretty much all over my body. I didn't want to hurt anymore…just float.

"Bella?" A voice broke through the black floating. I knew that voice. "Isabella Marie Swan!", I really did know that voice. Gradually the black floating became lighter and I could see someone sitting in the mist facing me.

"Bella, I need you to pay attention because there isn't much time. Once you wake up, I won't be able to talk to you anymore. Bella, he's not dead, but he's hurt and she's going to hurt him more. You have to save him Bella. Please, you are my sister and my best friend. Don't let Jasper die!" she said.

"Alice! No don't go…" I cried, "Alice! How do I save him? ALICE?" I screamed and sat up in the bed.

"Shhh, sweetie, shhh. It's OK, I'm here with you." I heard Rose murmur, wrapping her cold comforting arms around me.

"Rose, he's alive. Alice said he's alive. I have to save him!" I moaned. "OK, Bella. OK, we won't leave him there." She replied still stroking my back soothingly.

"When you're ready Bella, Jasper left you a letter and his phone. I'm going to put them here for you," she said in a soothing tone, "Emmett and I are in the bedroom if you need us. Here's some pain medication. You're pretty beaten up, Bella, so take this. It'll take the edge off the pain."

"Thank you, Rose." I sighed, accepting and swallowing the pills she handed me. I waited until she had returned to Emmett before I grabbed the sketchbook she had placed on the table.

With trembling hands and tears in my eyes, I opened the sketchbook and looked at what my lover had left for me.

I sobbed quietly as I read the letter and lovingly ran my fingers over the sketches. Oh Jasper, why is everything so hard for us? Don't we deserve happiness?

I'm not sure how long I sat there groggy from the pain medication and rocking back and forth sobbing softly.

The first rays of sunlight were beginning to light the sky when I came to a decision. I had never bet against Alice when she was alive, I wasn't about to start now.

I picked up the silver cell phone and inhaled Jasper's scent on it before hitting the speed dial I needed.

"Peter, you don't know me…"I began, "but I need your help."

JPOV

Why am I still alive and what the hell knocked me out? I'm a goddamn vampire for chrissake! That's when I heard her.

"Ah, mi amor, did you have a pleasant rest?" Maria hissed, close to my ear, "How did it feel to be knocked unconscious, querido? I've not had an opportunity to enjoy my new friend, Joaquin's, power yet. Tell me, mi amor, did you really think you could take me out so easily? You don't know pain yet, Jasper. I'm going to make you beg for the flames before we're through!"

I struggled against my restraints, growling when they refused to budge. What the hell?

"Ah Jasper, Joaquin's powers are very impressive. He is able to steal the strength of his adversaries. You, cabrón, are no longer stronger than I. Oh, Jasper; we are going to have so much fun!"

She stalked towards me and my world dissolved into pain…
BPOV

Peter, you don't know me…"I began, "but I need your help." God, I hoped I had made the right decision. I would just have to deal with the consequences later, but I could not allow that evil bitch to hurt Jasper for any longer than absolutely necessary. I only prayed that Jasper could forgive me and see that I would have done anything to keep him safe and alive.

"Bella. I was waiting for your call. Charlotte and I are already on our way. Are you sure of your decision?" Peter asked. It was strange, almost like having a conversation with Alice. He seemed to be aware of my decision almost before I was.

"Yes, Peter. It's the only way I can see to save him." I replied. "Ok, Bella, we'll be there in 30 minutes. See you soon. Get Rosalie & Emmett ready to go. We can't do this at the hotel, but Charlotte and I know a place nearby that will be safe," he commanded in a deep bass voice tinged with the slightest Texas accent, "We love him, too, Bella. This is going to work." He finished before disconnecting.

Sighing, I rose from the bed where I was sitting and made my way to the bedroom door and knocked lightly.

RPOV

"When you're ready Bella, Jasper left you a letter and his phone. I'm going to put them here for you," I said in a soothing tone, "Emmett and I are in the bedroom if you need us. Here's some pain medication. You're pretty beaten up, Bella, so take this. It'll take the edge off the pain."

"Thank you, Rose." Bella sighed, accepting and swallowing the pills I handed her. I squeezed her shoulder very gently, knowing she was sore, before crossing the room to the bedroom. I needed Emmett right now. The panic from the fight was fading and I needed him to comfort me and I him.

He was sitting on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands, when I opened the door. I crossed to him and knelt in front of him pulling his head up to look in his eyes. Relief was shining in both our eyes as I crushed my lips to his.

"I thought I'd lost you, baby," he whispered as he pulled my shirt over my head, a soft moan escaping him as he saw the newly healed scar circling my right shoulder and the 2 half-crescent bite marks on my neck and shoulder. With trembling fingers, he reached out to stroke the first bite mark. A low hiss escaped me as his touch rekindled the venomous burn. "I'm sorry," he murmured, bringing his lips to it instead and flicking his tongue gently over the silvery scar. A low moan escaped me this time, but instead of being born of pain, it was a result of the pleasure his lips gave me. He moved to the other bite, repeating his gesture; his name slipped from my lips in a whisper.

I pushed gently on his shoulders and we fell together backwards onto the bed. Tonight we would be tender with each other. We needed to release our fear and pain. Comfort, tonight was about comfort and tenderness.

He rolled with me until he was on top and brought his lips to mine again, his hands ghosting over my ribs and stomach. I lifted my hips as he slid my pants and panties down my hips and off over my legs. With a sign of contentment, he was all I needed right now, I reached for him and removed his clothing. With nothing between us, I reveled in the feel of his hard muscular body trembling over mine. "Em, please. Touch me!" I moaned, huskily. He claimed my lips again, slipping his tongue into my waiting mouth. Teasing my with his tongue and lips, he slid his hand back down my body and cupped my entire womanhood. I gasped in anticipation as he broke the kiss and slid my hard nipple into his mouth, suckling and teasing it with his tongue and teeth.

"Please," I moaned brokenly, arching into him. A soft growl rumbled in his chest as he slipped his fingers deep into me. "Ah, Rosie…you feel so good," he sighed, rubbing insistently at my clit. I could feel myself tightening around him already and knew I wouldn't last much longer. "I'm so close…Emmett…" I moaned. "Cum for me baby," he growled, thrusting his fingers faster and harder into me. I clenched around him and he crushed his lips to mine, swallowing my scream of ecstasy.

He didn't wait for me to come down before thrusting to the hilt into my throbbing core. A groan escaped my lips at the feel of him stretching and filling me. We found a fast hard rhythm and were soon tumbling over the edge with each other. Spent we lay in each other's arms, unable to be separated yet.

We heard a light knock at the door and Bella called, "Rose, Emmett, sorry to interrupt, but Peter and Charlotte will be here in 30 minutes. I need to talk to you both before they arrive." "OK, Bella, give us a few minutes to get cleaned up and we'll be right there." Emmett called back softly and scooping me into his arms, carried me to the shower. Once there, we washed each other tenderly and dressed again.

Some time passed before we were sitting on the sofa with Bella, waiting expectantly to hear her plan.

BPOV

"Em, Rose, he's not dead. I saw Alice when I was unconscious and it was not a dream. She told me to save him and I am going to do just that!" she said, "I called Peter. He and Charlotte are going to help us. They know Maria better than we do, almost as well as Jasper does."

Taking a deep breath, she continued, "I'm going to ask Peter to change me. We're going to need all the manpower we can get. Please don't argue with me; I have to do this. It's the only way to save him. I can't live without him!"

"Bella, are you sure? There's no undoing this if you change your mind…" Rose replied, grasping my hand tightly in hers. I nodded and replied, "Rose, I am absolutely sure. It seems my whole life has been leading up to this decision. I wish Jasper could be the one to change me, and I hope he'll forgive me, but this is the right decision and I need your support. Both of you are so important to me, you know that, but I cannot allow Maria to destroy him!"

"Bella, we love you, little sis. We'll support you in this decision and Jasper is going to be OK. We aren't going to let that bitch, Maria, win." Emmett snarled.

Just then, there was a knock at the hotel room door. Peter and Charlotte had arrived. I rose and walked to the door. Opening it, I was immediately engulfed in a pair of strong cool arms. I had a moment of déjà vu, remembering the enthusiasm of Alice's greeting the first time we officially met.

"Bella, it's good to meet you, sister," Peter said before releasing me. He was blond, tall, but sturdy, built like a professional diver or swimmer. His eyes were a vibrant red, reminding me that he and his mate, Charlotte, led a different lifestyle from my vegetarian family. He noticed my shock when our eyes met and smiled in a kind way, "Bella, it's true that I hunt differently from Jasper, but I will not hurt you and am not cruel like the others you have encountered in the past." I nodded, returning his smile. He was Jasper's brother and I knew no harm would come to me. A petite blond woman with the same vibrant red eyes, leaned around Peter and grasped my hands in hers squeezing lightly. "Bella," she murmured, "it's so good to meet you. I wish it was under better circumstances." "Charlotte, thank you. There will be time later to get to know each other." I replied with a smile. I liked them both instantly. "Come in, please. Rosalie and Emmett are waiting for us. I filled them in a little bit, but I didn't know all the details." I stated calmly, leading them toward the suite's living room.

Thirty minutes later, we had a plan in place and were checking out of the hotel. Peter and Charlotte had run here, so we all climbed into our rental car and headed towards their hacienda in the desert outside of Leon. It was a short trip, and we were soon settled into our new base. Rose and Emmett left to hunt and Peter and Charlotte soon followed.

I was tense; I knew I was doing the right thing. Jasper and I would be together forever and the newborn strength would be what was needed to rescue him, however, the decision to end my human life was still monumental.

Peter knocked lightly on the door frame of my bedroom before entering. He sat next to me on the bed and pulled one of my hands into his. "Bella, what has Jasper told you about me?" he asked. "Nothing really, Peter, just that you were his brother and that I could trust you to help me." I replied, curiosity evident in my voice.

He chuckled, a beautiful rich sound, "Well, that is of course true, but there's more to our relationship than that. Jasper is my brother, as he is Charlotte's as well, but he is also my sire, Bella. I have a particular talent, Bella. It is very narrow. I can see the future as it relates to Jasper and those he loves, as well as my own and Charlotte's. I also share a sort of psychic bond with him, so I know that he is alive. I would feel it if he wasn't. I expect to share a similar bond with you after your change, since you are Jasper's mate and I will be your sire. Bella, do you have any questions? We will be pressed for time when we return after the hunt."

I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, gathering my thoughts before replying, "Peter, I am positive I am making the only choice that will result in saving Jasper. The only question I really have is whether or not I will be able to control myself long enough to be a help to the rest of you after I awake. I'm afraid of not being Bella anymore, Peter."

His squeezed my hand gently, "Bella, do not underestimate your strength. You will amaze us all with your control and abilities. Jasper will be fine, physically and emotionally. He loves you very much, Bella. That isn't going to change."

Grateful for his reassurance, I nodded. "Thank you, Peter. Could I ask one more thing?" I asked tentatively. I didn't want to offend him, but I needed to know.

"Bella, Charlotte and I are not 'vegetarians', but neither are we cruel. When we hunt, we prey on evil doers or those that are terminally ill. We both lived through brutality at the hands of Maria and her unquenchable thirst for domination. We would never inflict pain on another being if we could avoid it. Do not worry, sister, I will not let you feel any unnecessary pain. Charlotte will help in this area as well. She has the ability to dull physical pain with her touch and she will not leave your side until it is over."

I nodded and released his hand so he could leave. He surprised me by leaning over and kissing my forehead gently. "Thank you for loving him, Bella. I'll see you soon, try to relax," he murmured.

I knew they would be gone for a few hours, so I wandered to the kitchen and made some spaghetti and garlic bread. It would be my last meal. I cleaned my dishes and went back to my room to shower and change into a ragged old t-shirt and pair of old boxer shorts. I gingerly traced the bruises on my face, neck, and torso. They would soon be healed by Peter's venom. I lay down on the soft bed and slipped quickly into sleep, as I slept, I dreamed of Jasper.

PPOV

Four hours had passed since we had left the hacienda. Rosalie and Emmett were sitting on the veranda when Charlotte and I returned. I nodded at them, waiting to hear what they needed. Emmett cleared his throat first and then said, "Rose and I want to be in the room when you do this Peter. She's our sister and it would mean a lot to us." Rosalie nodded in agreement with her mate, though didn't speak. There was sadness in her eyes. She wasn't completely happy with Bella's decision, but I could tell she was supportive.

"Come and speak to Bella before I make the bites. Once I've sealed the wounds, you can return. You have nothing to worry about. I can control my thirst and I have experience with making the change. Bella is my sister also, and I will not lose my control with her." I replied. They nodded in agreement and we all entered the home.

Arriving at Bella's doorway, I motioned for Rosalie and Emmett to enter in front of Charlotte and I. Rosalie approached Bella's sleeping form and gently stroked her cheek while calling her name softly. "Bella, honey, wake up. It's time and Emmett and I want to speak to you before Peter begins." She murmured. Charlotte and I stepped out of the room to give them privacy with Bella as we gathered the needed supplies. Charlotte filled a cooler with ice and gathered soft clean towels. Her job would be to make Bella as comfortable as possible during the burning. Her gift would alleviate some of the agony, but some of the burn was simply the price to be paid for immortality. The ice packs would soothe Bella's pain when Charlotte's gift couldn't.

Once our supplies were gathered, I knocked lightly at Bella's door again. Charlotte and I entered and with a final embrace for Bella, Rosalie and Emmett retired to their room.

Charlotte crossed to Bella first and embraced her. Bella thanked us both for our help and, as Charlotte removed herself to the waiting chair in the corner, I crossed to Bella. "Bella, this will hurt you, but I will do this as quickly as I can." She nodded and relaxed her body into the soft mattress. I moved quickly and pierced the skin of her neck before she had time to react. I took two long pulls of her blood before forcing in my venom and sealing the wound. As I moved down to her wrists, Charlotte moved to hold Bella, who was now whimpering slightly in pain, as the burn began.

"Shhh, Bella dear. Relax and don't fight him," she crooned, as I finished the final bites, pushing my venom, which was of course born of Jasper's, into the wounds before sealing them. I moved the head of the bed and whispered into her ear, "Bella, it's started. Scream if you need to, sister, I know how badly it hurts. Think of the memories you don't want to lose and your love for Jasper. Soon, you'll be ready to help him." I kissed her forehead gently and pulled away to gather an ice pack. Her first scream ripped through the air as I returned to her side. Charlotte pressed her hands to Bella's temples in an attempt to ease her suffering.

Three days and then she'd awake. What an amazing vampire she was going to be…
BPOV

I had long since stopped screaming; it helped nothing and only exhausted me. I could feel cool hands on my face. Charlotte, maybe? It was hard to pay attention to my body, the burning was too intense. It consumed everything, burning white hot. Gradually, I became aware of my mind again. The burn was still constant and excruciating, but I found that if I focused, I could now think about other things. What had Peter whispered in my ear as the burn began? I tried to remember…it was hazy now through the pain.

Suddenly, I remembered. "Bella, it's started. Scream if you need to, sister, I know how badly it hurts. Think of the memories you don't want to lose and your love for Jasper. Soon, you'll be ready to help him." Then he kissed my forehead gently and pulled away.

What did I want to remember from my human life? Mostly people: Renee, Charlie, Jake, Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, Edward, and most of all, Jasper.

Renee:

I focused on a picture of my scatterbrained mother's well-loved face. I saw her in her straw cowboy hat in the Phoenix desert, standing at the altar of the church when she married Phil, her tearful goodbye as I boarded the flight to join Charlie in Forks. I wanted to remember how much she loved me and I her.

A memory rushed up to meet me. I was very young, maybe 7 or 8, I had just fallen off my bike and scraped my knees. Renee had been watching me and rushed to gather me in her arms. She rocked me as I cried; stroking my hair, she crooned softly in my ear and I felt safe and loved. Later, when she tried to get me back on the bike, I had refused. I didn't want to risk being hurt again. "Bella, nothing good in this life comes without some risk of pain. Don't miss out on the good things in this life because of fear. Grab life with both hands, baby. Sometimes it will hurt, but the greatness will overshadow that if you let it," she had told me. Then she'd led me back over to the bike and I'd climbed on and rode so fast it had felt like I was flying. I was taking the risk again and there was pain involved, but Jasper was the reward and there was no pain in this world that would overshadow the greatness of us together.

The memory swirled away into the mists of my memory and an image of my Charlie swam before me.

Charlie:

He was so like me in personality and even in looks. He had the same chocolate brown eyes and rich brown hair. Like me he was shy and reserved in social situations.

I saw his cautious optimism as he presented me with my old clunker of a Chevy and the happiness light up his eyes when I shrieked in joy and hugged him for the unexpected present.

I saw him sitting in his fishing boat; a full cooler of fish at his feet to bring home for the freezer.

I saw him sitting at our old scuffed up kitchen table, rolling his eyes in pleasure, as he bit into the first taste of my Grandma Swan's stroganoff that I had cooked for him.

I saw him sitting at the dining room table cleaning his gun as I told him that I was seeing Edward Cullen. Always protective, I could feel his concern as he asked if Edward wasn't a bit too old for me. My heart swelled as I thought of the love his concern demonstrated. I was his baby girl and no one would ever be good enough as far as he was concerned. Well, except maybe, Jacob…

Jake:

My light, my best friend, my Jacob. He had helped me piece my world back together after Edward left me. I remembered seeing him phase into the huge russet colored wolf for the first time, walking along First Beach and sitting on our driftwood log, seeing him with Sammie.

My Jacob, I wondered if I would ever see him again. It seemed unlikely, but he had a good life now with Sammie. She would be there for him in all the ways I couldn't.

He was Edward's opposite in every way. He has hot, obnoxious, and brazen.

Edward:

I saw bronze tousled hair and bottomless topaz eyes, a flashed crooked smile, sparkling skin in an errant ray of sunshine through a deep green forest canopy.

I concentrated and heard his voice-

"Bella, I couldn't live with myself if I ever hurt you. You don't know how it's tortured me. The thought of you, still, white, cold… to never see you blush scarlet again, to never see that flash of intuition in your eyes when you see through my pretenses… it would be unendurable. You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever," he'd whispered intensely.

"You already know how I feel, of course. I'm here… which, roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you," I had replied, more than a little dazzled by what he'd professed.

"And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…" he murmured, placing his hand over my heart and closing his eyes.

"What a stupid lamb," I stuttered, dazzled yet again.

"What a sick, masochistic lion," he'dwhispered, resting his forehead against mine gently.

The memory dissolved into the ether and another rose unbidden before my eyes –

A clearing in the woods, clouds swirling in the overcast sky, bases marked out unbelievably far from each other. My family, the Cullen's, all wore baseball uniforms of varying types. Carlisle in his jersey, his usually serious face stretched into a smile of anticipation; Esme looking calm and cool as always, smiling in that maternal way at her mischievous brood; Alice, that little pixie, standing on the pitcher's mound, her spiky hair tamed under a ball cap, eyes wide and staring as she looked to the future for the first crash of thunder. I saw Jasper; it was the first time I had seen him smile. He always wore such a pained expression around me at that time. He positively radiated excitement as he twirled and tossed the bat, showing for once how much inhuman grace he possessed. I saw Rosalie and Emmett, laughing and messing around.

I remembered there was something bad that happened that day, but the memory swirled away before I could fully claim it.

In its place was a perfect image of Alice; oh my best friend, my sister – how I miss you!

Alice:

I saw her in my mind's eye once again. The tilt of her head when I was being stubborn about Bella Barbie time; the way she looked at Jasper as if he alone controlled the gravity that held her to this earth; I saw her twirling and dancing at the prom, dragging me along to endless shopping trips, always laughing, hugging me and telling me we would be great friends. I saw her and Jasper sitting with me in a hotel room and heard her tell me:

"It's been almost a century that Edward's been alone. Now he's found you. You can't see the changes that we see, we who have been with him for so long. Do you think any of us want to look into his eyes for the next hundred years if he loses you?"

before rising from the sofa and leaving me with Jasper.

Jasper:

"I can feel what you're feeling now — and you are worth it," he'd said in that room, reading my emotions of self-doubt and fear before continuing, "you're worrying about all the wrong things, Bella. Trust me on this — none of us are in jeopardy. You are under too much strain as it is; don't add to it with wholly unnecessary worries. Listen to me! Our family is strong. Our only fear is losing you."

The memory faded as another swirled to the surface –

Jasper, diminished in his grief, but achingly beautiful; his eyes blank, his emotions locked down. I could feel him in my arms, stroking his hair, trying to comfort him, the empath, in his brokenness and grief at the loss of Alice, Edward, Esme, & Carlisle.

I remembered his cold strong arms encircling me as he whispered his love in my ear after that first beautiful time making love. I could feel my heart swelling at the memory of his love swirling around me in that moment.

I saw a band playing, jazz music floating in the air. I could feel how safe and in love I felt dancing in his arms.

I saw a beautiful cityscape stretching in front of me. Jasper on his knee saying:

"Bella, these last few months have been some of the most wonderful of my very long life. I was a broken shell of a man and you brought me back from the brink of despair. I thought my life was over, never to experience happiness again, much less love. Bella, you have shown me that while we lost so much, it was not the end, but a chance at a new beginning. I want to be the man you believe me to be. I want that new beginning with you by my side for eternity. Isabella Marie Swan, will you allow me to do that and be my wife?"

Jasper, my love, soon…

The memories faded and I was hit with an excruciating pain. My heart was beating so hard I thought it would rip itself from my chest…Oh God, the pain!

And then, it all stopped.

I lay still assessing the lack of pain in my body. I took in a breath, but it felt unnecessary.

A clear bell-like voice rang out, "Bella, honey, open your eyes. Come back to us now, Bella." I knew that voice.

Slowly I opened my eyes and a gasp escaped my lips. I could see the dust motes dancing in the air. The light they floated in was a shade of the spectrum I had never seen before. I could smell the dust and something else…roses and honey? Warm wood and musk? Sea breeze and wildflowers? Tobacco smoke and soft leather?

"Bella, I know it's a little confusing, but could you talk to us, sugar?" another deeper, yet still melodic, voice asked. I felt a connection deep inside at that voice. Its owner was very special, but why?

I moved to sit up, quickly, too quickly. Startled, I leapt from the bed and crouched defensively in the corner of the room. What the hell was going on and who was in here with me?

RPOV

We held perfectly still, Emmett, Charlotte, Peter, and I, as Bella whirled into a defensive crouch. Fear and confusion were evident in her eyes.

I raised my hands in a gesture of peace and took a small step toward her. I heard Emmett hiss a warning behind me, but I shook my head slightly, letting him know this would be OK.

"Bella, honey, do you know who I am?" I asked gently, keeping my voice low and even to avoid spooking her further.

Her eyes were roaming the room; panic barely concealed within their bottomless depths. Her eyes were the color of copper pennies, I noticed with a gasp, and not the blood red I had expected.

At the sound of my surprise, a low warning growl rumbled from her chest. I stopped my advancing steps. "Bella, honey, it's OK. I know it's a little scary. Can I come closer now? I would never hurt you, honey." I asked, edging forward again.

She tensed as I moved and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the stack of magazines from the dresser begin to shake and hover.

PPOV

Bella was very afraid and confused. She recognized us on some level but hadn't fully remembered us yet. I could see the magazines begin to hover as Rosalie edged closer. "Rosalie, stop, please." I spoke softly and she heeded my words.

I edged forward a little in front of her as Emmett pulled her back and tight to his side.

"Bella, sugar, I need you to calm down and take my hand, OK? I promise you are safe with us. Take my hand, sugar," I spoke calmly, as she relaxed a bit and tentatively reached toward my outstretched hand, "That's it, sugar, just a little closer and you'll be fine." I murmured.

Her fingertips brushed mine and I curled my fingers around hers, pulling her to me in an embrace quickly as she shuddered and shrank against me, her muscles all quivering.

We sank to the floor and I rocked her gently in my arms, stroking her long chestnut curls until the shaking stopped. Abruptly, the magazines crashed back onto the surface of the dresser.

"Bella, sugar, do you remember who I am?" I asked her softly. I felt her tense up in my arms again, and relax again as she whispered a barely audible, "Peter…"

I nodded and waited for her to continue, memories couldn't be rushed after the change. It would be best to give her a few moments to relax and remember on her own time.

"You're Jasper's brother…my brother. You changed me…thank you, Peter," she said in a rush.

"Very good, Bella. Who else is here with us?" I asked gently.

She unburied her face from my shoulder and glanced at Rose, Emmett, and Charlotte.

Recognition appeared in her beautiful eyes. She turned from my shoulder and I released her from my loose embrace.

She took a tentative step towards the others. I saw Emmett tense and subtly shook my head. He needed to relax; she wasn't going to hurt anyone.

"Emmett? Why are you hiding Rose behind you?" she asked in a quivering voice.

"Sorry, Bells, you were freaking out for a minute there," the words were barely out of his mouth before Rosalie launched herself at Bella and wrapped her in a tight embrace.

Bella stood stunned for a moment, but slowly wrapped her arms around Rosalie's body and smiled. The tension was broken and Emmett strode forward to wrap them both in his massive arms.

I caught Charlotte's eye and we slipped out of the bedroom to give them a few moments together.

Fifteen minutes passed before we heard them coming down the stairs to the den. Charlotte and I stood to greet them as they entered.

Bella was beautiful. If she had been gorgeous before, now she was a vision of female perfection. Her hair was a luscious thick chestnut brown with red highlights woven through it. It fell in loose curls to her waist. Her skin was as pale as it previously had been but now had a luster and smoothness that human women would have paid almost anything to possess.

Jasper, you are one lucky son of a bitch; I thought, as Bella drifted over to Charlotte and I. She threw her arms around a surprised Charlotte and kissed her cheek. Charlotte laughed and returned the embrace. "Bella, sister, I'm glad to see you again, too," she said.

"Bella, are you thirsty, sugar?" I asked. She seemed a bit taken aback at the question. She swallowed experimentally. "Well, it's not too bad, Peter. Is that a problem?" she inquired, nervously. "Well, Bella, I did tell you that you would be an exceptional vampire, but hunting might help you to relax a little." I replied with a grin.

EmPOV

Yes! Bella hunting; what a rush that was going to be! I sure wish the Mexican desert offered bears.

"Um, Em, do you think bears are a good idea for my first hunt?" Bella asked nervously.

What the hell? I didn't say that out loud, did I?

"What's wrong, Emmett? You look like you saw a ghost." Bella said with a laugh. "Well, Bells, I didn't say anything about bears…" I began. "But, I heard you…just a second ago, I heard you say you wished the Mexican desert had bears," she insisted. "Bells, you're not wrong, but, um, I only thought it. I didn't say it out loud." I replied. To say I was shocked would have been a laughable understatement! Peter laughed, "Well, Bella, it seems you are a very exceptional vampire indeed!"
JPOV

I couldn't tell how much time had passed. The days blurred together and all I knew was pain; physical pain from Maria's torture and emotional pain from the absence of Bella.

Maria loved nothing more than to torture me. Her lap dog, Joaquin, made sure that all her devices caused me pain. I wondered when she would grow tired of her games and finally kill me. She was trying to break me. She wanted me to lead her army again. I would die first!

The worst of my tortures was the thirst. I was quite literally starving. Day in and day out Maria paraded beautiful young human girls in front of me. She urged me to take them; drink from them, fuck them, defile them. I had managed to resist up to this point by keeping the image of my Bella in front of me.

I don't know how much longer I can hold out.

I'm so thirsty…Oh God, Bella…I don't want to disappoint you.

BPOV

Peter had convinced us to wait a few more days to train before rescuing Jasper. I had to fight every moment of every day to not run to Maria's abandoned hellhole.

A week had passed since my change, so the vile bitch had had him for about 10 days now. I knew Peter could feel what she was doing to him. I would catch him wincing in pain sometimes and when I would ask what was wrong, he would lie. You see, I could tell when he lied because I could feel it, too.

I was a very gifted vampire, just as Peter had said I would be. I was telekinetic, a mind reader, and I shared the same psychic bond with Peter and Jasper that Peter shared with us.

In the evenings, when the couples would pair off for their nocturnal activities, I could feel Jasper the most. It was horrific, but I couldn't leave him. I could feel his pain as she tortured him; the burn of the venom from the bites she inflicted, pain from the fire she loved to hold to his ravaged skin, but lately the worst affliction was the thirst. He was starving and I could do nothing yet to help him. I was afraid for him and worst of all, I could feel his fear. He didn't know how long he could resist the blood.

Oh baby, hang on…we're coming!

PPOV

I knew Bella wouldn't wait much longer and, if I was being truthful to myself, I couldn't wait either. My brother was in so much pain. Bella was becoming more aware of her gifts and they would serve her well in the coming fight.

Our fighting lessons had come along nicely and I could honestly say that we were ready. Tomorrow it would be time for a reconnaissance mission. We had to know what we were up against before we made our attack plan. I had already asked Emmett to accompany me. We would leave at midnight tonight.

"Peter?" Bella asked, "When are we going to be ready? I can't stand to feel his pain anymore. Please, Peter…I can't do this anymore!"

I crossed the room quickly. She was standing in front of the roaring fireplace, gazing into the fire. I drew her into my arms. Her entire body was trembling and I knew she was feeling his pain and despair, as I was, too. Bella was an extraordinary vampire. She was gifted in so many ways. I idly wondered if there was something to be said for having chosen this life and coming into it with the knowledge of what we were.

"Soon, Bella. I promise you, we will get him back to you." I replied, rubbing soothing circles onto her back until her trembling eased. She wouldn't wait much longer. We would mount our attack the day after tomorrow.

BPOV

Peter and Emmett thought they were being sneaky. They thought I didn't know they were going to scope out the mine tonight. Tonight I would follow them. Tonight I would end this with Maria.

The day dragged on endlessly. I sparred with Rose and Charlotte, went for a hunt with Emmett, retired to the library and read Wuthering Heights for roughly the two-thousandth time. I was locked in on Peter's mind, I knew that he would give me a clue about when to leave and I couldn't afford to arouse his or Emmett's suspicion by hovering downstairs.

As twilight fell, I began to get nervous so I started cleaning the hacienda. It wasn't actually dirty, but the busy work gave me something to focus on. I had just finished mopping the floors and starting a load of laundry, when Charlotte came downstairs.

She sat down at the bar and gazed at me with her fathomless maroon eyes. "Bella," she began, "don't do anything hasty. If you follow them tonight and get yourself killed, what good will that do Jasper? He can't live without you anymore than you can without him. Be patient, Bella. It hurts Peter to wait, too, but it is necessary in order to successfully complete our mission." I forgot sometimes that Charlotte had been a soldier in Maria's army, too. It showed in her speech as she spoke of our strategic planning.

I nodded, acknowledging what she had said, but I would follow them tonight and do whatever I could to save Jasper.

Finally, I heard Emmett & Peter leaving the hacienda. I had dressed in black jeans, and black long-sleeved t-shirt, and had my hair pulled up into a messy knot and shoved under a ball cap. I didn't want to take the chance on being seen easily in the inky black night. I silently slipped out of the hacienda, slipping a book of matches into my pocket, and followed them into the night.

JPOV

I knew on some level that this wasn't reality, but I'd taken as much reality as I could handle right now, so I really didn't care. I relaxed again into the delusion.

It was twilight and I was sitting on our back deck in Hanover. I had my sketchbook out and I was sketching a picture of Bella. Everything was quiet except for the chirping of crickets and the occasional bull frog from the nearby pond. After a few minutes, I could smell her coming up behind me; delicate freesia and lilac. I smiled as her warm arms snaked around my neck and I turned to kiss her gently; feeling the softness of her warm lips and breathing in her sweet scent. A gentle sigh escaped her lips as our kiss deepened. I laid my sketchbook and charcoals aside and pulled her into my lap; running kisses down her jaw and neck.

I could smell her arousal now, so I picked her up and carried her into the house, climbing the stairs to our bedroom. Once there, I laid her down in the center of our bed and with a gentle kiss, I left her to light the vanilla scented candles scattered about the room. God, she looked so beautiful in the flickering candlelight, her lips swollen from our kisses and her breasts heaving with her desire.

I crossed back to the bed and my own slice of heaven. Claiming her lips again, I nipped her bottom lip gently and moaned when she parted her lips and gave me entrance. As our tongues danced together and the heat of our passion increased, I slid my hand under the hem of her shirt and tenderly massaged the skin along her ribcage. She shuddered against me, but not with cold. I could feel her desire for me and her love. She pushed against my shoulders, so I sat up a bit and she grabbed the hem of her shirt and lifted it quickly over her head before doing the same to mine.

Before I could return my attentions to her gorgeous body, she had begun to kiss me. He hot little mouth sought out each scar and imperfection on my neck and torso. She poured all her love, passion, and acceptance into her ministrations and I moaned and felt my arousal grow even harder. Now it was my turn to shudder against her. Never had I felt such love and acceptance. My Bella, always mine as I was hers.

Her mouth continued its trail down my body until her lips skimmed the waistband of my jeans. My unneeded breath caught as her hands tugged open the button and divested me of my cotton hindrances. "Aw fuck, baby!" I groaned, as she enveloped me with the liquid warmth of her mouth and began to lick and suck my impossibly hard cock. I was rushing towards my release, so I pulled her back slightly. I wasn't ready yet. She would scream my name before we were through.

I pulled her to me and kissed her hard while laying her back on the bed again. I ripped off her bra, jeans, and panties in a flash. She cried out in surprise and pleasure at my unexpected roughness. I wasn't often rough with her; I couldn't afford to lose all my careful control with her. I broke our kiss and moved down to suckle at her breast; sucking her nipple into my cool mouth and flicking it with my tongue. She moaned and began to writhe under my careful attentions. I stroked the rest of her body with my free hand; her firm flat belly, her thigh, her lower back. I couldn't get enough of her and the lust now mingled in with her love would be my undoing soon.

I slowly twitched my fingers closer to the prize and could feel the heat radiating from the apex of her thighs. "Please, Jasper," slid from her lips as I continued to tease her, "touch me." Anything for you, darlin'! I stroked my finger up her dripping folds and began to rub her swollen nub. God, she was so wet and ready for me. I slipped my finger inside her and was almost undone by her wet warmth surrounding me. She sighed as I began to thrust slowly into her depths. I wanted to taste her. Never breaking my rhythm, I slid a second finger into her dripping pussy and slid down to flick her with my tongue. Overwhelmed, she bucked against me and cried out my name. Hold on, darlin', this is just the start! I continued to thrust my fingers and I could feel her beginning to tense around me. I increased the pressure I was exerting and hit her with a blast of our combined passion. With a sob, she fell over the precipice and began to spasm around me. I ripped my fingers from her and licked and sucked her juices. Thrusting my tongue into her depths, I lapped up every sweet drop she had to offer before she finished.

I moved back up her body to kiss her lips again. She tangled her hands in my hair to hold me to her. I pulled her into my lap and she wrapped her legs around me. Never breaking the kiss, I thrust to the hilt inside her.

Time stood still as I was wrapped in her warmth. For these moments with her, I wasn't a monster. I was a man, her man, the man I had been as a human. Only Bella could give that precious moment of humanity back to me. Only she could calm the beast that raged within me, a product of so many years of Maria's wars. As I thrust into her, I felt my release rushing towards me. We came together both crying out the others name.

"Well, well, mi amor," Maria crooned by my ear, pulling me from my delusions, "It seems you're having some very naughty thoughts!" I shuddered as I felt her cold hard hands caress me. My traitorous body responded to her touch and made her bolder. I growled and tried to shrink away from her touch, but I was weak from not feeding. All I could do is hope she'd make this fast and leave me to my delusions again. I slid my eyes shut and desperately tried to shut off my emotions.

BPOV

We had gotten halfway to the mine when Peter and Emmett had stopped and waited for me to catch up. As I rounded a curve, I saw them sitting patiently on an outcropping of rocks. Peter just laughed and told me to keep up as we took off again across the desert.

Finally, we reached the Mineral de Pozos and headed towards the mine entrance. There were four guards, but that wouldn't deter us. Peter and Emmett had come to gather information only, but I was here for Jasper. He would not suffer for another moment at Maria's hands.

I was quick and I was strong. I had the first two guards disabled before Peter and Emmett could catch me. Our die had now been cast, so they joined me and took out the other two. We were now committed to our attack. If we killed the guards and left, it might force Maria to kill Jasper and that would not happen.

Quickly and quietly, we moved down the tunnel to the steel door that we had previously seen. It was locked and had a guard outside the door. We had to take him out and we had to do it silently to avoid alerting any others in the area.

Pulling strength internally, I used my gift to lift him into the air and cleanly ripped his head from his shoulders. Peter grabbed what was left of him and tossed it aside. Emmett was at the door wrenching it open. Jasper was inside, I could feel him and he was afraid.

We rushed into the room and Maria was kneeling over Jasper's naked form in the corner of the room. He wasn't struggling with her. His eyes were wide and blank, staring through her. As we entered, she sunk her teeth into his thigh and I roared with outrage.

That bitch was going to be confetti when I was done with her for hurting my mate! At the sound of my roar, she whirled around and hissed at me. That dumb bitch had the audacity to hiss at me! I was losing control of my emotions and everything in the room began to twitch as my telekinesis struggled to overcome my control.

Powers were great, but I was going to rip this poor excuse for a vampire to shreds with my own two hands. I sunk into a crouch and snarled, "Get away from him, Maria. You are going to feel me, bitch!"

"Well, isn't this a turn of events. Jasper's little human pet has gone and been changed," she snarled in reply, "I'm going to enjoy ending your existence, Niña."

I launched myself at her and we crashed together like thunder. I heard Peter and Emmett snarling behind me and realized that some of Maria's guards had joined our little party.

I sank my teeth into Maria's shoulder and she hissed with pain before knocking me off. I recovered quickly and launched myself at her again. Remembering the lessons from Peter and Charlotte, I went for her hips and managed to jerk one of her legs off. She cried out in pain and fell hard to the ground. I seized my opportunity and snatched the other leg off. She was now disabled, so I turned my attention to the guards that had swarmed to her rescue. Peter and Emmett had handled them with ease and it didn't appear any more were coming.

Peter and Emmett began to gather the pieces of our adversaries into a pile. Peter walked over to Maria and spit a mouthful of venom at Maria before ripping her head from her shoulders and pitching her into the inferno.

I stepped over to Jasper and cradled his cheek in my hand. His eyes were pitch black with thirst and hollow. No emotion was coming from him. His already scarred body was covered with new shiny crescent marks, some still leaking venom. He flinched away from my touch with a low whimper.

"Jasper, honey, it's OK. She is never going to hurt you again. You're safe now, baby," I crooned. There was no recognition in his eyes and his posture did not change. "Peter, Emmett, I need your help over here!" I cried.

Peter was the first to arrive. He quickly ripped off his trench coat and tugged it over Jasper's naked body. Emmett arrived shortly after and gently picked Jasper up, ready to run back to the hacienda.

Peter and I took a last look around the torture chamber, slammed the door shut, and made our way back out of the tunnel behind Emmett and Jasper.

I was frantically discussing Jasper's condition with Peter through our link, as we made our way out of the mine and back to the Mexican desert.

"Bella, calm down, sugar. I think once he feeds and has a chance to rest, he'll be fine. He's practically starving." Peter said. "What if that's not enough, Peter? I can't feel very much coming from him right now…I'm afraid, Peter." I replied. "I know, Bella. He's going to need you very badly for the next few days. He's been hurt by her again and I don't just mean physically, but he will be OK. He loves you and you love him; it'll be enough, sugar," he responded, "Now, I'll stay here with him for a bit while you and Emmett get him something to eat."

Emmett had slowed to a stop and had set Jasper down near an outcropping of rocks. He waited for us to catch up. "Bella, he needs to eat. He's starving," Emmett said, as we drew nearer. I nodded and took off after Emmett to get a vampire to-go meal for Jasper. We came back with two coyotes. I snapped the first one's neck and took it over to Jasper. He didn't seem to recognize that supper had arrived and that scared me all over again.

"Jaz, it's Bella. Baby, you need to eat. Please, honey, please eat." I crooned as I stroked his cheek. I ripped the fur and skin from the neck of the coyote I held and pressed it to his lips. If I could have wept, I would have, as he latched on and began to drink in long shuddering pulls. When he finished with that one, I took the still struggling coyote from Emmett and repeated the process. Emmett ran off to find more. This time he returned with two jackrabbits and another coyote. Jasper quickly drained the coyote and one of the jackrabbits. Emmett held onto the other when I reached for it. He shook his head and mouthed that it was for me. I hadn't been paying attention to my own thirst, but at the reminder, my throat began to burn fiercely. I nodded my thanks and made short work of it.

Jasper still had not spoken, but his eyes had lightened considerably. He was now sitting up without assistance, so we decided it would be safe to continue back to the hacienda. Jasper managed to run with us the rest of the way.

The first rays of the morning sun were beginning to brighten the sky as we crossed the threshold at the hacienda. Charlotte and Rosalie were both waiting when we arrived. Rose held an insulated container of animal blood. Somehow, they must have suspected that Jasper would be coming home today. I hugged her fiercely and took the container from her, before leading Jasper to my bedroom.

He still wore Peter's trench coat, but was visibly trembling now. I could feel his pain and fear. The fresh bites that Maria had inflicted on him tonight were still leaking venom and he hissed lightly when my fingers brushed one as I removed the coat. "I'm sorry, baby." I whispered.

He sat down on the bed and I kissed him lightly on the forehead before I turned to go to the bathroom and run some water in the tub. He whimpered as I turned, so I took his hand and sat him on the closed toilet seat while I ran the water. As the soaking tub filled, I removed my shirt and pants and kicked off my boots. I was careful to leave my bra and panties on. I had felt some of the things that Maria had done to him and I knew she had used him for her own pleasure, essentially raping him. I wanted him to feel safe with me.

I led him over to the tub and helped him climb into the warm water, turning on the jets so that it would circulate and take longer for our cold bodies to cool it down.

Jasper was watching me as I climbed into the tub in front of him. He still had not said anything, but I could tell he was aware of what was going on around him. I talked to him about what I was doing as I soaped a washrag and gently began to scrub his body. I could feel the tension easing from his muscles as I continued to scrub his shoulders, chest, and back. I had him turn his body in the water and lean back against me as I tilted his head back and washed his hair. I let my fingernails lightly scratch his scalp, as I lathered his honey blond waves. I covered his eyes with my hand, like you would for a child, as I rinsed the suds from his hair. Finished, we got out of the tub, dried off, and I led him back to the bedroom. I walked to the dresser and pulled a soft clean pair of flannel lounge pants and a pair of boxers from the drawer. Returning to him, I helped him dress and then quickly pulled on my own pajamas.

He was trembling again slightly as I returned to the bed to sit with him. His eyes were still too dark, so I pulled out the thermoses that Rose had handed me and held one out to him. "You need to eat, Jaz, I know it's not as tasty out of a jug, but it'll have to do for now." I murmured. He took the jug and drank quickly. Once he finished, I set the jug outside the door and returned to the bed and wrapped him in my arms. He was shaking, but I felt him snake his arms around my back as I slowly rocked him in my arms.

"Bella? Is that really you?" he croaked. "Yes, baby, it's me. You're safe now. She won't ever hurt us again." I whispered into his ear. He pulled me tighter to him and sobbed.

JPOV

A month had passed since I was reunited with Bella. She had told me everything that had happened while I was Maria's prisoner. I still couldn't talk about the torture I had endured, but Bella knew. I had made a lot of progress over the last few weeks, but we had not been able to make love. Every time we got close, I would see Maria and feel her cold touch again. Bella was patient with me and I could feel her love for me. I was slowly healing and I wanted to make love to her. God, I wanted her, but it just got jumbled up in my head and I couldn't get past it.

We had left the hacienda in Mexico a few days after the raid and had flown to the Cullen cabin near Denali. Bella, though remarkably controlled, was still a newborn and needed some more time before being exposed to humans. Peter and Charlotte decided to stay with us awhile. It was good to have them nearby. Other than Bella, Peter understood me the best. Charlotte could understand, too, and she was able to support Bella. She had loved a damaged man, too.

It wasn't often that I was glad for the inability to sleep, but during the last month I had positively reveled in that fact. I, no doubt, would have suffered from awful nightmares.

Every night, Bella and I would lie in our bed and read to each other or just cuddle. I never sensed the slightest resentment from her over the loss of our physical relationship. Her love was every bit as strong, if not stronger, than it had been before the change and Maria incident.

As the days passed, I often caught her staring into space and twirling her engagement ring, profound sadness often leaching off of her. She was going to break off our engagement. I couldn't blame her. She deserved someone who wasn't so broken, who could love her the way she deserved to be loved. I became even more depressed.

About a week into this new depression, Rosalie and Emmett decided they needed to get away for awhile. They were going to go to London for a few weeks. Peter and Charlotte decided to go with them. I wondered if they were planning this trip to avoid the inevitable break-up speech from Bella to me.

The morning that they left, Emmett pulled me out to hunt with him. We pulled down a few deer, he got a grumpy grizzly just out of hibernation, and I scored a lynx. Satiated, we sank down onto a fallen log to relax for awhile.

"What's on your mind, Em?" I asked, wearily. He was putting out all sorts of emotions, so I knew he had something on his mind.

He sighed heavily, "Jaz, man, what is up with you? You're ignoring Bella and it's making her a complete mess. I know Maria screwed you up, but the girl fuckin' died for you! You've got to work this out with her."

"Em, she deserves better than me. I'm broken, man. I'm not the Jasper she fell in love with anymore and I'm not sure I ever will be. How could she still want that?" I replied, dejectedly.

"Dude, you have to talk to her. Tell her what happened. Let her love you and help you put this behind you. She loves you, Jaz; nothing you tell her is going to change that. Don't let that bitch Maria ruin anything else for you!" he growled, "Besides, Bella's my baby sister and Peter's, too. If you make her cry again, we'll rip you apart and hide the pieces!"

I had a lot to think about after my conversation with Emmett, so I went to my study and sat staring out the window. A few hours into my reflections, Bella knocked on the door.

"Jasper, I'm going for a walk. Do you want to go with me?" she asked, tentatively, "You don't have to if you'd rather be alone…" Her eyes were hopeful, but her face was guarded, expecting me to push her away.

"Darlin', I would really like that." I replied, trying to give her a smile. In that moment, I realized how much I had cut her out of my life, afraid of her disappointment or disgust over my story. I was destroying what we had together. It was my fault that she was so sad. She missed me!

"Bella, I'm going to grab a blanket. The weather is nice today. Maybe we could spend some time in that meadow near the lake." I commented, casually. She smiled and nodded. "That would be nice, Jaz," she replied.

BPOV

He wanted to go with me. I allowed myself just the tiniest hope that he still wanted me and loved me. I knew he cared about me; that was evident every night as we lay side by side reading to each other. I knew Maria had hurt him and it would take time to get over that, but I was beginning to feel like maybe he didn't want me to be the one to help him. It had been weeks since he had projected his love to me and I was beginning to think that maybe he didn't love me now that I wasn't the same human Bella he had fallen in love with.

Maybe he had decided to let me in. Maybe he would finally share the pain with me and let me help him. I knew if he would just let me in, I could help him to heal.

We walked hand in hand through the forest to the little meadow near the icy blue lake. It was a beautiful day, cloudy but not rainy. Christmas had come and gone without much fanfare; same with New Year's. Of course, it was quite cold in Alaska this time of year, but we weren't bothered by the cold, so it was as good a day as any for us to "picnic".

Jasper found a patch of grass near the edge of the lake and spread our blanket out before plopping down on it himself. He shyly smiled at me and patted the spot next to him. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close in to him as I sat down, too.

We sat in comfortable silence for a few moments, just gazing out across the beautiful, if icy, lake. I felt him take a breath and knew he wanted to say something. I waited…

"Bella, I know I haven't been very easy to live with these last few weeks. I've been trying to work through my feelings. I've be unfair to you, pushing you away. I don't want to do that anymore, darlin'. I love you too much to let her ruin this for us," he began. I opened my mouth to tell him it was OK, that I could wait forever if he needed me to, but he gently put his finger to my lips and whispered, "Please, let me get this out. If I stop now, I might never do it." I nodded and settled back into the circle of his arms as he began the story of his captivity.

He told me everything, the physical torture courtesy of Joaquin's gift, the starvation, the endless parade of human women to tempt him, and finally the sexual abuse he suffered at her hands. He told me how he tried to live in his mind, how I was the only thing that kept him from giving in to the thirst or her demands to rejoin the vampire army.

When he was done, I couldn't find any words to express my feelings, so I settled for trying to send them to him. I concentrated on my sorrow for his pain, my anger at her for what she did to him and, most of all, the absolute and unconditional love I had for him. As I sent the feelings out to him, I leaned in and kissed him gently, pressing my lips softly to his.

I felt him begin to respond to the kiss and tighten his arms around me. I reached up and wound my fingers into his blond waves. He moaned lightly as my fingernails lightly scratched his scalp. He leaned me back onto the blanket and deepened our kiss. He pulled back slightly and murmured in my ear, "This belongs to us, darlin'. I won't let her have any power over me anymore."

We removed our clothing and gazed at each other for a few moments; touching when and where we wanted, reacquainting ourselves with our bodies. Our unneeded breaths were harsh pants in the quiet meadow. We never broke eye contact and I saw the pleasure in his eyes as he sunk deep into me. We were quiet this time, only whispering our love to each other; our lovemaking was about tenderness and healing. There would be time for passion later. We fell over the edge together, murmuring each other's names.

I felt a lightness of spirit after that. We would be OK. Our future was again bright.

Sometime much later, we gathered our things and headed back to the cabin. I was enveloped in Jasper's warm fuzzy feelings. I couldn't sense the terrible depression in him anymore. We dropped our things off in the utility room and headed upstairs to our bedroom, we had a lot of time to make up for…
BPOV

"Rose, Charlotte, how can I thank you enough for everything?" I whispered, looking at myself in the full-length mirror at the Denali's beautiful home. It had been a long time coming, but today my heart's fondest desire would be fulfilled.

My dress was simple and romantic. My hair had been swept up and the ends curled into ringlets. Rosalie and Charlotte stood behind me, clothed in elegant strapless black gowns with the palest pink accents.

Today I would finally marry my Jasper. I could feel the anguish of the last year melting away as I thought of my friend and lover downstairs in the beautiful Denali backyard waiting for us.

There was a light knock at the door and Carmen entered. "Rose, Charlotte, it's time to begin," she said in her lightly accented English. Rose kissed my cheek gently and whispered, "You are beautiful, sister!" Charlotte nodded in agreement and squeezed my hand before they slipped downstairs to join their mates for the procession, followed by Carmen.

I was left alone to my own thoughts for but a moment before there again was a tap at the door. "Come in, Eleazar," I softly called.

Eleazar entered the room and came to stand slightly behind me, smiling softly in the mirrored reflection. "Bella, prima, estas lista? Are you ready, my cousin?" he asked, extending his arm to lead me downstairs. Eleazar had been honored when I asked him to walk me down the aisle. I was saddened at the fact that neither Charlie nor Carlisle could do this for me. We had faked my death several months ago, so Charlie and Renee could have closure. I forced away the sadness. The Denali's were our family. It would never be the same as the relationships I had with my own parents, or even the bond I had shared with Carlisle and Esme, but I felt their love and was grateful for their support. Smiling, I slipped my hand into the crook of his waiting arm and we began our descent.

Tanya was just beginning Pachelbel's Canon in D as we reached our position. Rose and Emmett began to glide down the aisle to take their positions; Charlotte and Peter followed a few beats behind.

Verdi's Triumphal March began and I squeezed Eleazar's arm slightly as we began the slow walk down the aisle to my future. I raised my eyes to look forward and was immediately caught up in the intense golden gaze of my love. Had I been human, my heart would have begun beating out a furious rhythm.

As we neared my Jasper, I could feel his joy flooding the area. Eleazar kissed me gently and placed my hand in Jasper's. Electricity shot through my hand at every point of contact, as it had every time we had touched since we had first declared our love to each other, as I knew it would every day of eternity.

We turned slightly to face Garrett, Kate's mate. Smiling at us both, he began the ceremony.

It came time for us to say our vows. We had written our own. Jasper turned to face me, his eyes shining and a soft smile gracing his lips. He began, softly, passionately:

I used to be afraid of falling in love, of giving my heart away.
How could I trust a woman to love me,
to give to me all that I wanted to give to her?
Isabella, when I discovered you, I realized how much we could share together.
You have renewed my life:
Today, I join that life with yours.

He accepted the ring that Peter handed him and slipped the gleaming platinum band onto my finger, his eyes never leaving my face. He whispered the engraving on the inside of the band as he slid it onto my finger: For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.

Softly he squeezed my fingers as I took his hand in mine to begin my vows, my voice trembling at the force of emotion flooding through me:

Jasper, I love you. You are my best friend.
Today I give myself to you in marriage.
I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you,
and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle.
I promise to love you in good times and in bad,
when life seems easy and when it seems hard,
when our love is simple, and when it is an effort.
I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard.
These things I give to you today, and all the days of our life.

I could feel my eyes shining with the tears that would never fall as Rose handed me the simple platinum band I had chosen for Jasper. I repeated his simple gesture, whispering his ring's inscription: When I found you, I fell in love; you smiled because you knew.

We turned still clasping hands and faced Garrett as he intoned: "Let no one separate that which was joined together here today. Jasper, kiss your bride."

Jasper lifted the veil covering my face and leaned in to gently press his lips to mine. I felt him pour all his love and desire into me in the moment of that most tender of kisses. After an endless moment, he pulled away and came back for a brief soft peck, before we turned to beam at our gathered guests.

I couldn't contain my joy and was positively giddy with happiness. Jasper leaned over and whispered in my ear, "I know, darlin'. Me, too," as he led me to the reception line to great the vampires that had come from all over the world to share our happiness. Carlisle had many friends and they were all there.

After about 15 minutes of greeting guests, Emmett came over and boomed, "Jaz, Bells, we're wasting good partying time! Come on!"

Jasper and I walked slowly to the dance floor as the first notes of our first dance as husband and wife began. Jasper pulled me impossibly close to him and sang along softly in my ear:

The first time I looked in your eyes I knew
That I would do anything for you
The first time you touched my face I felt
Like I've never felt with anyone else

I wanna give back what you've givin' to me
And I wanna witness all of your dreams
Now that you've shown me who I really am
I wanna be more then just your man

I wanna be the wind that fills your sails
And be the hand that lifts your veil
And be the moon that moves your tide
The sun coming up in your eyes
Be the wheels that never rust
And be the spark that lights you up
All that you've been dreaming of and more
So much more, I wanna be your everything...

When you wake up, I'll be the first thing you see
And when it gets dark you can reach out for me
I'll cherish your words and I'll finish your thoughts
And I'll be your compass baby, when you get lost

I wanna be the wind that fills your sails
And be the hand that lifts your veil
And be the moon that moves your tide
The sun coming up in your eyes
Be the wheels that never rust
And be the spark that lights you up
All that you've been dreaming of and more
So much more, I wanna be your everything...

Be the wheels that never rust
And be the spark that lights you up
All that you've been dreaming of and more
So much more, I wanna be your everything...
I wanna be your everything

(Keith Urban – Your Everything)

As the song ended, Peter came over to us. "Mrs. Whitlock, may I have this dance?" he asked with a grin. I smiled and watched as Jasper drifted over to dance with Rose. Peter pulled me close to him and whispered in my ear. "I love you, sugar. You look like a princess. Thank you for loving him." The song ended and Emmett claimed me, standing me atop his feet like a small child. Finally, I made me way over to my husband. God, I couldn't get enough of that, my husband!

Gradually, our guests began to drift over to bid us farewell. Finally, only the Denali's, Rose & Emmett, Peter & Charlotte were left. Rose took my hand and led me away back to the main house and upstairs again. She quickly helped me change out of my wedding dress and into another outfit that would be more comfortable for our flight out tonight. We were due to leave the Anchorage airport on a flight to New Zealand later tonight and would need to leave soon to head to the airport.

With last hugs all around, Jasper and I ran to the car and headed to the airport. Finally, we were settled into our seats in first class. As soon as the fasten seatbelts sign clicked off with a chime, I turned to lean into Jasper's arms and tucked my legs underneath me. His strong arms encircled me and I felt him tracing abstract patterns on my back. I sighed contentedly and he pressed his lips to my hair. "Happy, Mrs. Whitlock?" he asked. "Mmmm, very happy, Mr. Whitlock." I replied, snuggling a little tighter into his arms. We spent the rest of the flight murmuring to each other, protected in our own happy bubble.

In what seemed the blink of an eye, our plane began its descent and we landed in Auckland. We collected our bags and rental car and were soon on our way to the secluded cabin that Jasper and Alice had bought so many years ago. I was a bit nervous about the memories the place might evoke for Jasper.

No doubt feeling my nerves, he brought my hand to his lips and gently kissed each knuckle. "Darlin', you are going to love this place. I want us to make it ours. It is our home now and she'd be happy to have you enjoy it," he murmured.

We pulled onto a heavily overgrown gravel drive and I got my first glimpse of my New Zealand home. It was gorgeous and surrounded by a lush green forest.

Jasper pulled to a stop in front of the door. "Stay here just a moment, darlin'," he said with a grin, "I want to get it ready for you before you go inside."

A few moments later, he was opening my door and holding out his hand for me to join him. I took his hand and spun in a slow circle, awestruck by the beauty of the home and land.

With a low sexy chuckle, I was swept off my feet and carried through the front door. "Welcome home, Mrs. Whitlock. What do you think?" he drawled, holding me close to his hard sexy body. "It's amazing, Jaz. I love it!" I breathed.

We stood inside the doorway of a light airy lounge room. There was a smooth stone fireplace with a raging fire and candles had been lit on every available surface.

"Well, darlin', I'll give you the full tour later, because right now I can't wait one more moment to make love to you, my wife." Jasper whispered huskily in my ear before catching my lips with his.

My unneeded breath caught in my throat and came out as breathy moan against his lips. He tightened his hold on me, still wrapped securely in his arms, and began to make his way to the loft stairway. A growl was building in his chest and I could feel the rumble.

We made our way upstairs and arrived in a gorgeous master suite, again with candles covering every available surface. He set me carefully on my feet again. Thank goodness for my newfound vampire grace, because I know my human legs would have never held me up at this point. There would be time for tenderness later; right now this was about possession and need.

I began to unbutton his shirt, tugging it from the waist of his jeans and throwing it to the floor before tugging loose the button on his jeans and sliding them and his boxers down his strong legs. Pausing to lick and nip him as I knelt down to let him step out of the clothing. He shuddered as my breath caressed his nether regions, now standing at attention.

He grasped my shoulders and pulled me back up in front of him. My clothing disappeared in a flash and he claimed my lips again. This kiss was harsh and full of our need. He pulled my lower lip into his mouth and lightly nipped it, causing me to moan harshly at the sensation of his teeth on my flesh. I grabbed his shoulders and wrapped my legs tightly around his waist. He groaned as I brushed his erection with my core.

"Now, Mr. Whitlock, don't make me wait, baby." I moaned in his ear, before sucking his earlobe into my mouth.

"Your wish, my command, Mrs. Whitlock," he managed to rasp in between moans.

Without further ado, he carried me over to the bed and followed me down onto it, fitting himself neatly between my thighs and thrusting hard into me.

"Oh, Jasper. Yes, baby…so good." I moaned as the sensation of being fully one with my husband hit me.

Jasper was thrusting hard, with enough force to have killed me as a human, and moaning my name brokenly.

"More, Jaz…harder, please." I sighed. He flipped me to my stomach and grabbed my hips hard, pounding into me from behind.

He was hitting a new angle that was quickly going to make me incoherent. "Oh shit, baby. What you do to me…yes, God, yes." I babbled, no longer able to form sentences.

Jasper wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me back until I was pressed against his chest, riding his cock. He leaned in and began to lightly nip my neck. "Ride me, Bella. Fuck me senseless, baby," He groaned in my ear.

I was not going to disappoint my man, so I did. "Like this, baby? Is this how you want me? Sliding your hard throbbing cock into my tight wet pussy?" I purred, as I thrust my hips down onto him.

It was his turn for incoherence as he moaned, "Bella, fuck darlin', so tight…wet." I could tell he was on the edge, so I redoubled my efforts, thrusting my hips down harder and faster.

He cried out at the sensation and reached around to twist my clit viciously between his thumb and forefinger.

A growl ripped from my lips as I plunged over the edge with one of the strongest orgasms of my life. I felt him twitch inside me as his own release burst forth within my depths.

Spent, I collapsed against his chest as he nuzzled my neck and murmured, "I love you so much, my wife. You're my life, Bella."

"I know, Jasper. I love you forever, my husband." I sighed, as we collapsed down onto the bed, content to just lie in each other's arms as the sun set outside our windows.

Forever wouldn't be long enough.