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Tiger Stripes

Jasper found his everything in Bella. Bella found nothing she desired in Sam. Being stripped of everything she had Bella finds solace with Peter and Char. Can mates separated by hate overcome their haunted past? AU, Non Canon, Jasper/Bella, M for language/lemons


10. Chapter 10

Rating 0/5   Word Count 4233   Review this Chapter

Jasper's POV


"Isabella," I whispered softly. "I'm here darlin' and I'm not going anywhere I promise, I love you."

"Mmfsper," Bella mumbled in her sleep. Even with my enhanced vampiric hearing, I couldn't make out what she was saying. Was it my name? I wasn't sure, but Lawdy, how I wish it was. I would love to know that she dreamed about me, that she craved me like I did her...that she hasn't been able to escape me, just as I've been unable to escape her.

I whispered softly, "I'm here darlin' and I'm not going anywhere, I promise. I love you."

I heard her mumble something else and watched as her mouth curved into a devilish smile.

"More ice cream, Petey." She sighed, her plump, pink bottom lip pouting out a little bit in her sleep. Pretty little weirdo, I chuckled to myself. Why would she be dreaming about ice cream? I wanted to know everything going through her mind; I wanted to know everything that made her smile, everything that made her sigh, everything that brought her peace — I wanted, no I needed, to know everything.

"No, I want the butter p'can, Petey," she mumbled. It became obvious that she was no longer dreaming about me but was instead engaged in an argument with "Petey" about ice cream of all things. I couldn't believe he let her call him Petey, I'd have to give him shit 'bout that. Petey...I snorted to myself.

I pulled the visitor's chair to the side of the bed and tried my best not to disturb the needles and lines as I picked up her warm, little hand. I stroked her palm slowly with my thumb, something that she used to love, and reached over with my other hand to caress her hair.

I loved her hair. The way it felt like silk in my fingers, the way it fell down her back in wild, shining, mahogany waves. I loved tangling my fingers and burying my face in that mane of hers while she slept. I loved the way the sleek strands felt trailing down my chest, thighs, back, and shoulders. The scent, the texture...it was just her...and nothing could soothe or center me like surrounding myself in her — like drowningmyself in her.

I remembered the first time I got to play with her hair. I was early to pick her up and she'd obviously just gotten out of the shower. She was so cute rushing around like a maniac, trying to get ready in a hurry so I wouldn't have to wait. As I sat back on her bed and watched her, I noticed that her hair was soppin' wet and that she was struggling to get the tangles out. I couldn't help it, I was like a man possessed because the next thing I knew, I was taking the brush out of her hand, sitting her down in front of me, and brushing her hair before braiding it for her. Later that very night, she calmly accepted what I was, what I was capable of, and what I'd done in the past. It was also the night that I realized that this girl no that woman — was everythin' to me. It wasn't our first date, but it was the first of many nights we spent just talking and getting to know each other. Our first date came later.

I could smell the healing wound in her back from her biopsy. She smelled of antiseptic, what I now knew to be the cancer, and drugs. It dulled not only her scent, but the inherent fragrance of her blood as well. Not that I ever lusted after Isabella's blood. I never doubted my control around her once. She was the one good thing to happen to me and draining her was never an option, never a thought really.

I sat there quietly, just watching her sleep for what felt like hours. It was strange — though my heart was breaking at her pain, and her past, and I was struggling to maintain control over my temper, I hadn't been this calm or relaxed in what felt like forever. I hadn't been that peaceful in five years. I felt relief that in spite of her being so ill, she was comfortable and sleeping peacefully. Sleeping peacefully at my touch, my presence. As though she knew what I was thinking, she breathed out a contented sigh while nuzzling her face against my hand, almost as if she was seeking me out.

A little later, her nurse walked in, effectively interrupting my memories of our initial courtship. Debbie Sue, according to her name tag — an older woman with short, curly salt and pepper hair, and the hips and soft, wrinkled skin of a grandmother. I watched and smiled, as she fussed over my Isabella for a while — changin' the bags supplyin' her drips, muttering under her breath 'bout how Isabella "had best be healin' soon", tsking and clucking her tongue over her IV's and chart, and at one point, whispering in Isabella's ear that she has more cookies for her to try.

"Oh, you must be her beau. I knew a girl as pretty as Miss Isabella had to have one. You're a mighty fine lookin' boy but you better take good care of her. She deserves someone to make her happy" Debbie Sue said, a gentle smile on her face. "Today's a good day, she seems to be doin' well enough. Her pain seems to have gone down a little, too. I just need to check her wound then I'm done in here."

I couldn't really think of anything to say so I just smiled at her in response, relieved that my darling was having a good day. I liked her nurse. She seemed like a kind woman and there was nothin' but love, concern, and tenderness coming from her.

She drew the curtains 'round Isabella's bed, and I heard rustlin' as she uncovered her and took the dressing off her wound. She hummed in approval at what she saw and tore open new packets of dressings and ointments. I could tell that Isabella had woken up briefly while Ms. Debbie turned her to clean her wound, and heard her hiss a little in discomfort.

"Good girl, that's healing nicely. You're doing just fine, Miss Isabella. We'll get you patched up and out of here as soon as we can," The nurse said soothingly. "There, there, child. You go on back to sleep. That's a good girl." She cooed at Isabella as she pressed the button to increase the flow of Isabella's pain meds, effectively knocking her back out.

She opened the curtain and smiled at me, before walking over to a cupboard in the corner of the room. "Here, you'll need this if you're going to stay the night. Might as well keep your girl company a while longer," She said softly, giving me a thin, stiff hospital blanket and pillow.

I smiled and thanked her, making a show of wrapping myself in the blanket. As she left the room and closed the door, I settled back into watching my Isabella sleep…and I drifted back into my thoughts of the past.

I recalled one of my favorite memories of her — of us really — our first official date. We had spent a little time together, just talking and getting to know each other a bit, but this was the first time I had actually taken her out instead of just hanging out. We'd been 'together' for about two weeks at that point, but we hadn't progressed past talking and holding hands. I hadn't even kissed her.

I'd put a lot of thought into where to take her. I had been desperate for the night to be perfect. I wanted to court her, woo her, knock her off her feet, and some regular dinner and a movie date wouldn't cut it. I'd finally found the perfect place when the theatre company in Port Angeles put on a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I'd had the tickets for about a week before I mustered up the courage to ask Isabella to accompany me.

When we arrived at the theatre, I got out of my truck and scrambled over as quickly as I could at a human speed to open her door and help her step out of the truck. As I took her hand and placed it in the crook of my arm, she smiled at me, and it was blinding. She was always so lovely...so very, very lovely...but that night she took my breath away. I could tell that she had put an extra effort into her appearance. Her hair had been smoothed into long, loose, shiny curls, and she had on a light dusting of makeup.

I couldn't stop myself, and hesitantly reached to touch one of her curls. I brought it to my face, inhaling and drowning in her soft, warm scent. I was immediately embarrassed when I realized that I was essentially huffing her hair like some sort of odd-fetish junkie...but I couldn't stop. I gently pushed the curl back over her shoulder and tentatively tangled my fingers into the ends of her hair. As I watched her cheeks bloom into a gentle, pink blush, I slid my hand down to the small of her back and led her towards the theatre.

I loved that, the feel of my hand resting against the small of her back, the experience of guiding her. I loved touching her however I could, but there was something about my hand on the soft, warm, vulnerable part of her.

Her unconscious submission.

Her scent and softness and warmth all around me.

I felt...I felt whole, completed, powerful for the first time in my life. While I was thoroughly enjoying this seemingly simple — but so very complex — contact with my Isabella, the looks and emotions from others was rapidly pushing me into a more aggressive state. A state where there would be no questions as to whose woman Isabella was — for she was mine, and she was her own, and she was no one else's.

Granted, I hadn't been surprised by the reactions of the other males, and some females, in the room, but it didn't mean I was necessarily pleased by it. Isabella was an exceptionally beautiful woman and tonight she was positively stunning. My jaw damn near hit the ground when my blue-jean baby opened the door wearing a dress. It was light purple and had a lot of papery looking layers. It made her look like a flower or a fairy — something delicate and rare — it made her look ethereal. And these prepubescent little shits had best stop with their lustful ways. She was made to be worshipped from afar, like some sort of precious religious idol, not drooled and pawed over like some cheap trinket.

As we took our seats, she unconsciously angled her body towards mine and pressed herself into my side. I have to admit that while she was immersed and mesmerized by the play, I was immersed and mesmerized by her. Her responses, her gasps, the flush of her cheeks — she was just so…lovely. Being with her, near her, filled me with a peace I never thought possible.

That whole experience was so new and unknown to me. Perhaps I had courted and wooed women during my time as a human; however, I was so far removed from that man, that time, those women I guess that was what I was trying to do with my Isabella — to court her that is. But it was so very different and I couldn't believe how nervous I was. For the first time in my inexhaustible memory, I was nervous about a woman. More so, I was nervous about what I should and shouldn't do...what she wanted and didn't want.

When the performance ended, we drove back to Forks and parked the truck outside her house. As I walked around the truck to her door, I noted that her father's cruiser wasn't there. I opened her door, which gained me a shy smile. I reveled in the warmth of her fingers on my shoulders and the soft feel of her waist as I lifted her out of the truck and placed her on the ground. I was so distracted by my nerves, and hers, that I stumbled a bit causing her to lurch against me and slowly slide down my body.

I couldn't stop staring at her mouth, her soft, full, rose-colored lips. It was as though they were beckoning me, and I couldn't stop myself from leaning closer and closer. I noticed that her pulse was thrumming faster and faster. Her hot, moist breath was heavy on my neck, and her eyes were fixated on my mouth, just as mine were on hers.

So, so slowly, I lowered my face to hers, wrapped her hair around my fingers, and pulled her closer and closer to me. Closer to where her beautiful mouth was only a few scant centimeters away.

And then she kissed me.

She kissed me innocently and passionately, softly and full of fervor. It shocked me, thrilled me to my core, and at that moment I knew. I knew without a doubt that she was meant for me, that she was made to be mine. As I pressed my lips against hers, I knew that above everything else she was the greatest gift, the most beautiful blessing that had ever been bestowed upon me.

I was so lost in my thoughts and memories of my past with Isabella, that I almost missed her soft cries of pain. Startled, I took a closer look at her and noticed that her brow was furrowed, and she had started sweating.

"Too warm," she mumbled hoarsely, trying to flip over in agitation.

"Isabella," I whispered, hoping that speaking softly to her would soothe her. I talked to her about Confederate — how he missed her, and how she had to come home to ride him again. I spoke to her about books I'd read, music I'd listened to. I talked about anything and everything in an attempt to calm her — or at least distract her from her pain. I reminded her of all the things she wanted to do, all the things that we'd planned to do together. However, it wasn't working as well as I'd hoped as she was growing increasingly aggravated, thrashing and moaning in her fitful sleep.

"Isabella, baby, you need to calm down," I said desperately. I hated seeing her like this and could feel myself starting to panic. I had no idea what to do, so like an idiot, I just sat there waiting and hoping that she'd settle back down into a peaceful slumber.

After about twenty minutes, it was obvious that she was still uncomfortable, so I toed off my boots and climbed onto the bed next to her. Lifting her gently, I leaned back against the pillows and pressed her against my chest. I made sure that she was still on her side avoiding her back, and her wound. I wrapped my arms around her, taking care not to get tangled in all the tubing from her IV's.

She felt so good in my arms; I'd forgotten how warmshe was. She was so fragile, I felt like if I squeezed her she would break. She'd never been heavy but now she was feather light, as if a stiff breeze would blow her away from me. I held her a little tighter, irrationally frightened that would happen.

The last time she'd been in my arms like this was the day she graduated from high school. After the ceremony and a small celebration with her father, I'd picked her up and drove her down to Seattle where I'd booked us into a little hotel on the outskirts of the city. I'd wanted to take her out for dinner but she'd been in a rush to get to our room. After making love for hours, and missing the evening that I had originally planned, I'd ordered her Chinese food, and she snuggled against me while we watched a movie until she fell asleep...safe and secure and loved in my arms. That is, until I'd gone to pick up that damn ring. If I hadn't left her none of this would have happened.

Lovingly, I pressed my lips to the top of her head and sent her a small amount of calm and lethargy. I was thrown when her fragile hands crept up and grabbed the edge of my shirtsleeve. I tried to unclasp them but she just gripped on even tighter. I was amazed at her strength — she'd just had surgery and was so fragile, yet her grip was tight and unrelenting. I yielded and left her little hands there, taking comfort in the fact that her unconscious self was happy to touch me. She was smiling in her sleep after all. Maybe this will bode well for me when she awakens. God, I hope so.

I knew I needed to talk to her — I needed to beg, plead, apologize, and throw myself at her feet — but it was more important that she rest. Even though I had no idea how she'd react to me when she woke up, I'd take the risk and hope that she'd listen to me and give me a chance to explain.

It was almost dawn when she finally started to stir against me. I tensed, waiting for her to pull away, but was shocked when she actually snuggled closer to me, sighing my name. I could feel nothing but love coming from her as she sleepily mumbled that she'd missed me, needed me, and wanted to keep me forever and ever.

"Yes, Querida, I'm here," I whispered. "I'll never leave you again, my love."

Querida. I hadn't called her that in five years. I hadn't been able to call her that — couldn't endear her to me with that. That it came naturally to my lips at that moment just proved to me that I'd finally let go of my anger towards her.

She dozed on and off for ages without waking up fully despite the nurses popping in and out to check her vitals. I filled the nursing and tech staff with acceptance whenever it seemed as though they were going to tell me to get out of her bed. I took advantage of what might be the last time she allowed me to hold her. Although she'd mumbled sweetness in her sleep, she could always tell me to leave when she was fully cognizant. I didn't know what I'd do if that's what she did, but I'd man up and deal with whatever her decision was. If she sent me away I would go, but I swore I'd find a way to get back to her if she did.

I vowed to myself right then and there that I'd never willingly leave her side again if she let me stay. I'd change her as soon as I could, consequences be damned — she would be my forever love. We'd get married and finally have our long overdue happily ever after. That almosttook priority over dealing with the fuckin' bastard that was coming after her...but caring for and healing my Isabella, my heart's other half — my soul mate — had precedence over everything.

I needed to talk to Peter about a possible relocation, too. We shouldn't stay in a location that was known to the enemy. We might as well get the tactical advantage from moving; we could move quickly and quietly and stay hidden while we worked out a way to deal with Sam. One thing I still wasn't sure about was how I felt about the Volturi being involved. I could reluctantly see Peter's point that they'd be useful, and that they desired to protect Isabella as much as we did, but the mere thought of them loving her drove me to distraction. What if she preferred them to me? What if she loved them back? What if she loved them more than me? Admit it. You're fuckin' jealous,the voice in my head pointed out, and I had to admit that it was right. I am, was, and always will be, a jealous son of a bitch where Isabella's concerned.

I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn't notice that she'd woken up until I felt her tense in my arms and heard her pulse quicken. I relaxed my hold on her, not wanting her to hurt herself if she tried to get away from me.

"Jasper? No…not real, I'm dreaming." Her voice was full of disbelief, she shook her head, "I must be dreaming."

"You're not dreaming, Querida. I'm here." I spoke softly, not wanting to spook her. "I'm here, baby. I'm real, you're not dreaming. I promise."

"Ja-Ja-Jasper…" Isabella stuttered, her voice hesitant and unsure. She started to cry quietly, I could smell the tears running down her face. I wanted to kiss them away but I had to let her deal with this herself to get an honest reaction from her about how she felt.

"Let go of me, Jasper," She said, her voice weak and scratchy but surprisingly firm at the same time. I held onto her for a few more minutes, praying silently that she'd relent and not ask again. I just...I just couldn't let her go — not now, not ever really, but especially not now when she needed me so much...when I needed her so much.

"Jasper, let go of me now," She whimpered as her tears flowed faster and her body starting quivering and jerking with the force of her sobs.

She started to struggle against my hold, and I reluctantly let her go. She twisted so her back was to me and shuffled forward whimpering with pain as her wound brushed against me. I had to fight the urge to take her in my arms — to never let her go again.

Although I really didn't want to, I moved my legs so I could climb off the bed. I sat back down on the chair and looked at her. Isabella's pale, shaking form was huddled over itself — her legs pulled against her chest and her arms wrapped 'round them as though she was trying to make herself as small as possible. I wanted nothing more than to snatch her up into my arms to comfort her, but I had to be patient for once.

"Is this some kinda fucking game to you? To see how much I can take before I break?" She stared at me, her eyes swimming with tears. Even though her eyes were bloodshot and her face was blotchy from strain, she was still the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

"You know what? You win — I give up. I can't do this anymore — I can't fight you anymore. Just...just take it, take it all. I can't...I can't do this anymore, Jasper. So ju-just leave, puh-please."

"Querida," I said softly, my heart breaking at her words, at her heartache...a heartache I caused in my pigheadedness. "That's not what I'm here for, I promise." She snorted, obviously not believing me so I tried to convince her, to explain.

"I never stopped loving you, baby — never, not once. It was just so hard to see through the pain, it-it blinded me. But I never, everstopped loving you, Isabella."

Her emotions shifted minutely from complete despair to a tiny bit of hope. Her eyes hadn't left mine and as much as I wanted to send her all my love, I hesitated. I was worried that it would overwhelm her, and I needed her to believe me on her own.

"Isabella, my love, I am so sorry for everything. I should have known that you didn't leave me, that you were takenfrom me. I am so sorry, baby." I broke down, needing her to feel how genuine my love was and how much I regretted everything that had happened, the angry words, the accusations.

"Isabella," I reached out a hand towards her needing to touch her. "I love you."

"You-you love me?" The pain in her voice was clear, but her emotions were telling me she was desperate to believe me.

"Oh Isabella, don't you understand? Can't you see it? I am nothin', absolutely nothin' without you. My past, my present, my dreams, my everything. All that I am, all that I could be, all that I want to be...there is none of me without you."

She remained quiet for fourteen minutes and thirty-nine seconds, then she smiled...and it was as if the light of heaven shone on her face.

"Okay," she sniffled. "I believe you."

And that's all it took. Just those four little words, and my entire world changed again.

She changed my entire world again.

My Isabella, my most darling love, flooded me with love and longing, and I couldn't help the rush of hope, unadulterated hope, that rushed through my body.

And I realized then, just how powerful hope could be.