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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


6. Chapter 6

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It was quiet, too quiet. I wasn't used to the house being empty, it didn't happen often. Peter and Charlotte were usually around somewhere, laughing, talking…or doing other, ahem…stuff. Hearing the rather amorous vampires having sex at all hours was just a little bit too much for me to handle. First of all, it was Peter and Charlotte…which was like listening to my siblings 'get it on'-ew. Ultimately though, it was just another reminder that I was alone…without my Jasper…without the one man I had ever loved, the only man I would ever love or want. Peter and Charlotte finally gave into my pleas a couple of years ago and soundproofed my little piece of the house, thank you sweet baby Jesus. Well, it was soundproofed enough for my delicate human ears, they could still hear me. In effect, my bathroom, bedroom and library really were a place of peace and I spent most days in here by myself; reading, studying, relaxing, hurting, crying, longing...

It was another warm and sunny Texas day, the sun was high and the air was still. It was a perfect day for doing something, yet, I was feeling lonely. Peter and Charlotte have been away since yesterday morning and wouldn't be back until they met me at my graduation the following afternoon. I hadn't seen Jasper since he'd thrown me in the swimming-hole five days ago, Peter was furious with him for what happened and on top of chewing him out, he had banned him from coming within a mile of me. Oddly enough, he hadn't said anything to me about shooting Jasper which surprised me as I'd expected a 'lecture' at the very least. Hell, he didn't even ask why I had done it in the first place which was really weird as Peter is known for being just a 'bit' overprotective to put it mildly.

I love Peter with all my heart, and I am beyond grateful for everything he has done for me. And I'll begrudgingly admit that his overprotective nature does make me feel safe, secure, and loved…sometimes. But sometimes, I wish Peter would let me make these decisions for myself. I don't need to be treated like a child…it can be smothering…and sometimes I can't help but feel a little demeaned by it. I mean, come on, I'm a big girl and I'm okay now. Well, I was okay as far as they knew. I hadn't dared tell them about the extra pain I was in; they'd freak, I'd panic… and ultimately we'd get nothing done but fight and overreact.

As far as Jaspers concerned, I'm not really scared of him. Yeah, he scared me in the barn but that wasn't entirely his fault. It was the memories that were triggered that frightened, well actually terrified, me so badly. Not Jasper. Never my Jasper. The Jasper I fell in love with, the beautiful man I gave my soul to, is kind, thoughtful, intelligent, sweet, and loving…oh, was he loving. Nothing like this Jasper. My Jasper was not the angry, dominant, hateful, cowboy that has turned my life upside down since he arrived here. Granted, this Jasper is just as enticing as my Jasper and loathe though I am to admit it, he is pure sex-on-legs. I'd never admit this to anyone, especially him, but I kinda' like this new Jasper, he makes me feel things that I didn't think I would ever feel again. Do I make him feel this way too? Does his skin prickle when I'm near like mine does? Does he still feel nervous and euphoric butterflies like he used too? Does he still hunger and yearn for me the way I do him? STOP! Stop this Bella. Of course he doesn't feel those things for you anymore, you disgust him, remember? I always knew he was too good for me, that there wasn't enough there to anchor him to me….but what I can't figure out is why he is so angry with me. He's the one that left me! Why, why, why is he doing this? What have I ever done to deserve this from him! Especially now, he left me goddammit!

Resigned and furious with myself for allowing my thoughts to tremble upon that path again, I shook my head in a desperate attempt to rid myself of Jasper, at least mentally. To get rid of these thoughts of him, these feelings for him…they are utterly useless and serve nothing more than to hurt me further. I can't go back in time and change what happened…and even if I could, I wouldn't change the months I spent with him for anything. God, how that man, that vampire, that curse, has absolutely ruined me. He's ruined me for anyone else, and it took me a long time to realize that. To realize that there is no chance that I will ever feel for someone even a fraction of the way I did for him…the way I still do. I'll never want anyone like I wanted, want him. After Jasper, I can't imagine ever loving, adoring, dreaming of, or desiring any other man again and I especially can't fathom having sex with anyone else. He spoiled me, and how could I possibly settle for anything inferior? Besides that, I'd never even thought of a man that, or any other way, before I'd met Jasper, so it isn't a terrible leap to think I wouldn't be capable of it after him. God knows I haven't found another man even the slightest bit appealing since. Beyond that, after everything with Sam, I don't think that I'll ever be able to have any sort of intimacy with a man again. My memories and fears are just too raw, even after five years. It took me a long, long time before I trusted Peter enough to let him hug me, and I trusted him.

That's it, I'm done with this train of thought….as a matter of fact, I'm jumping this train right off the tracks…

Grabbing my book, I pulled my boots on and headed out into the yard. I wasn't up to riding today, I was entirely too tired and 'out of it' to stay in the saddle. Well, you know the med's do this to you and as it progresses...NO! I'm not going there either. I'm curling up with a good book and distracting myself from the dramatic bullshit for an afternoon dammit!

Escaping my whirling, and all too self-destructive thoughts, I quickly made my way into the cool of the barn, and after saying hello 'everyone', I made my way to one of my most favorite, and definitely the most peaceful, places in the world. Confederate greeted me with a soft whicker, his head nudging my hip, and he proceeded to nuzzle against my bare legs, making me wish I had put more than a pair of shorts on. I stroked his sweet face in return and gave a command 'play dead'. Taking my cue, he laid down and I sat in the straw next to him, leaning back to rest against him. I loved being here like this, no matter what was wrecking havoc in the world around, and inside, me, I was always able to center myself with Confederate. He's my companion, my best friend really...and as long as I keep feeding him carrots, he's quite happy to let me use him as my security blanket. The first time Peter found me reading against a 'dead' Confederate, he was stunned and a bit confused. "Puss...you do realize that this is a horse, not a puppy..." he said slowly as though he was speaking to someone with a learning disability. He now finds it hilarious that I've trained my horse "like a puppy" and routinely asks whether I'm going to litter train him or start using puppy pads to get him housebroken. Ass...

Unfortunately, the book I brought wasn't able to distract me enough and I again found my thoughts wandering back to Jasper…how we met, how I fell so hard and so fast for him, how irrevocably devastated I was when I found out he was only toying with me, the impossible recovery of my ongoing ache for him, the man I thought he was, the tender man who held my hand and whispered everything from poetry to song lyrics to all of the 'naughty' things he wanted to do in my ear, our first kiss, the first time he made love to me…

"Darlin', are you sure about this"? He asked, hesitantly hovering over me. Though I was wracked with nerves, I nodded, encouraging him to carry on. His hand went lower across my belly, rubbing from hip to hip, and then he slid his fingers even lower…oh my...the feel of his fingers on my bare skin was indescribable. I couldn't help but shudder at the touch of his cold flesh on my overheated body. I wanted this, God how I wanted it, but I had also never been so scared in my life. I closed my eyes in an attempt to calm my rollercoaster emotions, and heard him breathe my name before taking my earlobe between his lips. I opened my eyes…and was gone. He was looking at me with such adoration…such devotion...'love' is a trite concept in comparison to the warmth in his eyes. I had never wanted anything or anyone more than him, and at that moment, I thought I would literally bust from the love I felt for him, convinced that my physical body couldn't contain it all.

His hand moved lower and lower, slowly sliding down to my inner thigh, and suddenly nervous again, I clamped my legs together effectively trapping his hand dangerously close to my...my uh...oh shit. What was I supposed to call 'it'? Vagina? Mmm-no, too clinical...pussy? Yeah no way, that's way too porny, advanced-class for me. I usually call it my trinket-well, in my head I do-but I don't want to come off as being immature...fuck my life. I'm never going to be able to do this right. I mean, we've gone further than this in the past, but today…this moment, everything was different. We weren't making out, we weren't succumbing to frantic hormones or the desperate need to just touch. No, right now, we were going to take that the final step. I was giving myself to Jasper in the most intimate and vulnerable way I could…I was giving Jasper, the man I loved, my virginity, my innocence…my complete devotion.

"Breathe, Isabella" he whispered, trying to reassure me…but it wasn't working, I couldn't do this. What if I was awful at this? What if I smelled bad? What if he never wanted to do this again? I know it's going to hurt, but how badly? I've heard, and read, so many different things…what if it hurt too much? What if, what if, what if…crap I suck at this...

He kissed me and pushed his reassurance and love into me. I relaxed slightly and he started slowly and softly stroking my inner thigh, the pleasure gradually taking over my nerves and fears. I heard him groan and felt him nuzzling the side of my neck. His hand moved to cup my aching center and I felt the chill of his fingers teasing my slit. "Christ darlin', you're so ready for me…oh God, my love…" he gasped in my ear, and I couldn't help the traitorous blush that scorched my cheeks straight down to the curve of my breast. Oh God, is this bad? Is it too much? Is he going to think I'm gross? Oh sweet Jesus, he felt so good...but my nerves were started to take flight again...what do I do...what do I do...what do I do...where should I put my hands? Is this okay? Oh God, did I just moan? Was it too loud? Do I sound like a porn star? I don't think I can do this...

"That's a good thing, Isabella. A very good thing…" he chuckled in response to my panic. I could feel the burning blush on my cheeks but was quickly distracted as he continued to stroke and tease and fondle me…Oh God…oh, that was out loud….

"That's right, baby." Jasper mumbled, trailing kisses down my neck…down my chest…down my stomach. "Just relax and let me take care of you. Let me show you how good it can feel…how good I can make you feel…" Slowly crawling back up my body, his hands lightly stroked my waist and I felt him draw closer and settle between my thighs…He cupped my face, lovingly rubbing his thumb along the apple of my cheek. And although I was nervous and scared…and freaking out a little bit, well a lot, I had never felt so loved, so adored in all my life. He must have felt that, his soft smile told me so…told me I was right.

"This is going to hurt, Isabella, but I'll do what I can to make it easier" he said and started nudging at my entrance. My panic flared once again….how was it going to fit? Yeah, I know 'my girl' is stretchy, but he's not a small man…what if I'm defective-what if I'm not stretchy and can never have sex? I took a deep breath and forced myself to get it together. He had stopped moving but once my eyes opened and met his again, I felt him push into me slightly. It was strange…it was uncomfortable but the chill of his body was oddly soothing. I gasped and he asked if I was okay. I nodded; at this point I just wanted to get it over with. I was tired from my bipolar, marathon emotions and nerves…and I was tired of feeling this way. I just wanted to get the pain and weirdness and awkwardness done and over with.

He pushed in further, shuddering as he filled me. He'd already broken my hymen-fear of the blood brought about some delightful 'playtime' in his hot tub about a week earlier. He came to a stop, and waited until he felt my pain diminish before he moved again. I don't think I'd ever found him to be more beautiful than he was at that moment. His golden eyes were dark with want but at the same time soft with emotion. The blonde curls that he had long ago given up on taming, brushed my forehead and he leaned in closer to me. His lips pressed against mine and as he slid his tongue along mine, he slowly started moving...pulling out, hips curling back in. The pain dulled, but it was still uncomfortable to be perfectly honest.

Apart from whispering his love, devotion, and desire, his lips never left mine. I relaxed a little more and gently thrust my hips against him. "Isabella…" he groaned and started pushing a little faster and harder against me.

"Oh my love…my mate…" I gasped when he moaned this. His love for me was just that…special, meaningful…complete. His arms started to shake, and I felt him tense...softly chanting my name as he pulled his face away from mine, his eyes boring into mine.

He held me for hours afterwards, which was my favorite part. I just wanted to be connected to him…forever. He was so loving and patient; even as I cried he never once let me go and whispered sweet nothings and promises of a beautiful future together. It was perfect…he was perfect…

After that painful and awkward first experience, it had become far more enjoyable; I loved Jasper, I loved sex, and saying that I loved sex with Jasper is an understatement of monstrous proportions. I couldn't help but laugh at the memories of the wanton woman he turned me into. Jasper was a sex-god who handed out orgasms like candy….and I was quite happy to be his diabetic little tart, or jezebel in his words.

Dammit, reminiscing about sex with Jasper wasn't going to help my mental state any. I pulled myself off the floor wincing slightly; I needed to do something, anything, to take my mind off the pain. I grabbed a bar of saddle soap, a toothbrush, and a sponge, hoping the repetitive actions would stop my self-inflicted mental torture. I walked over to the rack that held Confederate's saddle and started to lift it down onto a saddle horse when I noticed a post-it note stuck to the saddles horn. 'If you only knew how many times I counted all the words that went wrong'. Huh, well that's kind of weird. Thinking Peter had meant to leave it for Charlotte; I put it in my pocket, intending to give it to her later. I took my time cleaning the tack, but it was still finished too quickly. What now? I couldn't just stand around doing nothing, leaving myself defenseless to my own thoughts was just asking for trouble. Making my way out of the barn, I decided to go clean my room. As I leaned over to strip my bed, I found another note, 'If only you knew, how I refuse to let you go even when you're gone'. The words seemed familiar somehow, but I couldn't work out where I'd seen them and decided to leave the mystery for now.

When I finished scrubbing, dusting, and polishing every surface I came across, I checked my watch and noticed that it was just past lunchtime. I didn't want to eat, more like couldn't, but I forced myself to have an apple and a glass of water; just enough to take my meds without getting sick. I had upped my pain pills slightly and hoped that they would work enough to get me through the day, while leaving enough to get me through the night. I knew the increased pain wasn't a good sign, and prayed to whichever deity was listening that it didn't mean what I thought it did. Ah well, guess I'll find out tomorrow… In the meantime the plan was just to grit my teeth and get on with it.

Repetitive tasks seemed to be the way to go today, so after cleaning the kitchen I darted back upstairs for my dirty laundry. After unloading the dryer, I made my way back up the stairs for another load and found a note stuck to my laundry basket, 'I don't regret any days I spent, nights we shared'. I knew that note couldn't be meant for Charlotte; for one, laundry was one of my chores, furthermore, I knew it hadn't been there earlier. I knew the note had to be for me but whether I found it creepy or sweet was up in the air. I decided against mentioning the notes to Peter or Charlotte, I wasn't sure how they'd react and until I could figure out how I felt about them, I'd just keep it to myself.

Dammit! Stupid notes, stupid fabric softner...too absorbed in my 'mystery admirer', I spilled fabric softner all over myself. Stripping down, I tossed my dirty clothes in the wash, and clad in my panties, darted up the stairs to shower. Stuck to the glass door of my shower was yet another note, 'The only thing I still believe in is you'. Baffled and beyond confused, the only person I could think of was Peter, and if this is another of his jokes, he's taken it too far. But wait... how could it be one of Peter's jokes when he isn't even here and that note hadn't been there when I'd showered when I got up this morning?The only other person it could be is...no, Jasper wouldn't...no way, he hates me...but couldn't be anyone else...

Gah! I slammed my bedroom door shut, locked it, closed the shutters and the curtains, and threw myself on the bed. I turned my i-Pod on, cranked the volume up high, and buried my head under my pillow in a desperate attempt to empty my mind. Just concentrate on the music...you're not allowed to think about Jasper...or his cabin in the woods right outside of Forks...or about sitting in his steaming hot tub on cold winter nights...you're not allowed to think about him at all... Concentrating on whatever was being played, I was stunned by the lyrics...it was some song by Shinedown...and those lyrics, those lyrics were my notes...

I must have fallen asleep because the next time I opened my eyes it was pitch black outside. Realizing I was still wrapped up in nothing but a towel, I pulled on a red sundress and wrapped my shawl around my shoulders. It wasn't cold, but I was far more comfortable covered up. I never go anywhere without covering my back and shoulders because...because...because...yeah, something else to put on the 'I'll think about it tomorrow' pile. I left my feet bare and wandered downstairs carrying my book, grabbed a glass and filled it to the brim with Jack and apple juice, and walked out to the porch. I settled myself into the swing chair, hell bent on losing myself in a story.

I was totally engrossed in my book when my phone beeped, and too my absolute embarrassment, I squeaked and jumped about five feet up in the air. Not only was I startled by the noise, but had no clue as to who would be texting me, Peter and Charlotte preferred to just call, and no one else has the number as far as I know. The text was from an unknown number and I quickly put it back down, intending on ignoring it but curiosity got the better of me and with some trepidation, I opened it. 'Hi Isabella'...okay, now I was more than a little concerned, whoever was texting knew my name, what the fuck... I didn't respond, I had no clue what to do, and decided to wait until Peter got home before I did anything else. A few minutes later it beeped again, 'You look pretty tonight, you always looked pretty in red'.

Fighting the urge to lock myself in the house, as whoever was texting me could obviously see me, I answered the texts with a curt 'Who are you?' After what felt like an eternity, I finally got a reply 'Look up and you'll see'. Swallowing my fear, I slowly looked up...and there he was. Jasper...He was standing at the other end of the porch, one knee bent, his foot resting on the house wall behind him, his phone in his hand. It was the expression on his face that really caught my attention; he looked so unsure...so vulnerable...it was a side of him that I'd never seen, he was always so confident.

He was wearing jeans, as usual, but for once he actually had a shirt on; granted, the t-shirt fit him like a second skin, but it was a shirt nonetheless. He was barefoot and he wasn't wearing his hat either which was odd, his messy, blonde hair was partially tucked behind an ear and yet falling in his face at the same time. How can one man look so delicious, vulnerable, and dangerous at the same time? My phone beeped again 'I was wondering if you'd let me come a little closer Miss Isabella?'. I didn't reply immediately and could see his face fall. I just...shit, I don't know what to do! I'm nervous and scared and excited and apprehensive and thrilled...and nauseous at all at once. I don't know if I can do this with him right now, I'm too tired...I hurt too much...The last time he was this close, he threw me in the swimming hole. Okay, yes, I had just shot him, but in my defense I told him to back off and he wouldn't listen. The only other time we were alone within close proximity to each other...well, let's just say he terrified me.

He turned round and started to walk away and before I knew what I was doing, I whispered for him to wait. He paused, but kept his back to me. His arms were in front of him, and I could see him looking down at something. Another beep, 'I'd be honored if you'd trust me enough to let me sit near you, I won't touch you, I promise'. Before I could stop myself, or even realize what I was doing for that matter, I whispered yes. He slowly turned around and made his way back, keeping his eyes locked on mine the entire time. He lowered himself to the floor in front of the swing and leaned back right next to me, close enough to where I'd barely have to reach out to touch him, close enough to smell his shampoo, close enough to feel his t-shirt brush against my calf, so close...too close, yet, too far...My already flustered and manic emotions went haywire, my head telling me to run and lock the doors, my heart telling me to wait. My fingers were twitching with the need to run them through his hair, to touch him, to feel him, but I somehow managed to resist, and instead gripped my book and phone a little tighter.

I sat silently, waiting to see which of us would break and speak first. Finally, I heard Jasper sigh and ask what I was reading. I couldn't keep the smirk off my face when I told him I was finally getting around to reading Gone With the Wind, and I could feel the swing shake a little with his silent laughter. I closed my eyes as memories of familiar sentiments flooded my mind, why are you reading this darlin'? It's not historically accurate you know. He'd never grasped that I liked to read for the pure pleasure of it, I didn't care about accuracy. In this instance, I wanted to lose myself in the romance and angst of Rhett and Scarlett, if I wanted historical fact I'd pick up a non-fiction book. We sat for a little bit, talking about books, movies, and music, both of us guilty of avoiding the 'elephant in the room'. I knew it was a discussion that we would have to have, but tonight wasn't the night. My body, my mind, and my heart just weren't up to the beating tonight.

Jasper was true to his word, he didn't move from where he was sat next to my legs, though I could see him looking up at me occasionally whenever he thought my attention was elsewhere. He was asking me something but because I was lost in my thoughts, I didn't catch it and had to ask him to repeat himself.

"Your horse is somethin' else, darlin'. Where on earth did you get him?"

"Oh, he's definitely something else", I laughed. "He was a Christmas present from Peter and Char the year before last. He was standing at the foot of the stairs when I woke up. God only knows how they got him into the house. I'm not sure who was more shocked me or the horse." I replied, smiling and shaking my head at the memory.

Jasper's laughter was infectious and it was just like it was before, laughing together, smiling, the feeling of sharing something with him warming something deep within me. I reached down and gently touched the back of the his head, twisting his soft, blond curls through my fingers. He froze, and I immediately started untangling my fingers but to my surprise, his hand came up and grabbed mine, stopping me. He slowly turned his head and pressed his lips against my knuckles, his cool breath brushing my skin. Goosebumps broke out all over me and I was instantly flooded with desire and need. I wanted more, I needed more, I wanted his kiss, I needed him, more than I'd ever wanted anything in my life.

"The notes today were from you, weren't they?" I asked hesitantly. He nodded slowly as his lips caressed the back of my hand again. I was trying to think of what to say when a wave of pain washed over me. Shit, I groaned to myself, guess the drugs have worn off. I tried to resist grimacing, but was unable to hold it all back, it just hurt too much.

"You're in pain, darlin'"

I tried to reassure him that it was nothing, just a headache, to no avail.

"You know I can feel what you're feelin', Isabella. You're in pain, a lot of pain. Why are you lyin' to me about it?"

I couldn't answer him, there wasn't anything I could say to him yet. Not until I spoke with Peter and Charlotte, not until I knew for sure what I was up against. Besides, anything I'd say he would likely construe as some sort of lie and beyond that, I didn't want him to know what was really going on.

"Why are you lying to me, Isabella? Why would you lie to someone who cares so much about you? I've missed you so much, baby, why?" he pleaded, his voice breaking. "Why did you leave me like that?" he whispered hoarsely.

He was still holding my hand dammit, he needed to let me go, I needed him to let me go...and what the hell did he mean by 'you left me'? I just stared at him for a moment, blank and utterly confused.

"I didn't leave you..." I finally whispered.