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Tiger Stripes

Summary:
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


Notes:


9. Chapter 9

Rating 0/5   Word Count 7142   Review this Chapter

JPOV

Charlotte leaving like she did had me on edge. We'd been talking and then her phone beeped with a text. The panic and fear I felt from her was so strong it nearly paralyzed me. Then, seemingly out of the blue, she grabbed her shoes and ran off…without a fucking word. I was so damn torn. One the one hand I wanted to follow her and demand to know what in the hell was going on. On the other hand, I needed to get some damn answers, once and for all, answers about Isabella. Being the selfish ass that I am, Isabella and my answers came first. Peter had run into her room and left from there, so I guess that was a good a place as any to start.

Her bedroom was so perfectly her, so light and airy. I could smell her the second I walked in and I paused for a moment to bask in the memories her scent brought back. I grinned when I saw her bed; it was huge with a beautiful handmade quilt in shades of confederate gray and blue. Trying to ignore thoughts of the bed, I followed Peter's scent into her bathroom where I noticed a prescription bottle lying on the floor and picked it up. I guessed it was some kind of pain medicine and I already knew how much pain she'd been in, the unanswered question though was why? Why was she in so much pain? Why wouldn't she tell me what was causing it? Why had Peter fled the house from her room? Fleetingly, I thought of calling Carlisle, he'd know what kind of treatments Percocet were used for, but I decided not to. I didn't want to speak to them; I didn't want the questions I'd get — questions I didn't have answers to.

I growled, not at all liking the frustration and fear rushing through my body. Putting the bottle aside, I continued to search her bathroom and bedroom for clues. Under her bed, I found a wooden box, an old jewelry box perhaps. It was nicked in spots and the hinges were slightly corroded, but it looked polished and well loved. Minding the hinges, I carefully opened the box and was stunned at what I found. The frustration and fear I felt earlier were slowly replaced with heartache and longing as I slowly went through its contents. It was full of movie and concert tickets — reminders of the past, our past. I couldn't help but smile as I rifled through the seemingly odd contents of the box. There was the plastic ring I'd 'won' from one of those quarter-eater machines inside a supermarket in Port Angeles. I'd jokingly put the ring on her finger as a tease, promising myself silently that one day I'd buy her a proper engagement ring. Tickets from a Shinedown concert — she spent the entire night singing along, smiling up at me her pink cheeks flushed with giddiness and excitement. A scrap of paper with my cell phone number on it — I'd pushed it in her hand the first night we met, the night I realized that I could fall in love. Silly little things mapping out our relationship filled the box. A pressed flower that I'd given her on Valentine's Day, a purple seashell that we'd found on the beach, a wrapper from a candy bar she'd dared me to eat. I remembered her hysterical laughter as she watched me cough and hack it back up.

I sighed as I relived the memories linked to each item, slowly remembering all the nights and days we spent together. But at the same time, I was so confused. Why had she kept them when she'd left me the way she had? They must have meant something to her for her to keep them and if so, I had to have meant something to her. Somehow, through all my confusion and doubt, I began to feel something that had eluded me, abandoned me, many years ago—hope. Hope that my love had loved me once in return, hope that my love might still harbor some affection for me—after all, she kept everything single little thing I'd ever given her, and the fledgling hope that maybe, just maybe, she would love me now.

All these conflicting emotions and thoughts were pummeling down on me. Hope, fear, confusion, anguish, love, loss….it went on and on. I put the box down and started pacing, trying to figure it all out. The notes, the secrets, the memories, Peter and Charlotte's involvement, she died, she wasn't dead—the puzzle amassing before me was definitely missing pieces, pieces I needed to put it all together. I tried viewing everything objectively, clinically, hoping that if I removed myself, my emotions, from the picture, I would see everything clearer. That didn't work though. All I could see was Isabella's face filled with pain the night we'd finally managed to have a civil conversation on the porch. Before she threw everything I thought I knew about the past out of the window, before we had a screaming argument, before she scared me with how much pain she was in.

"When I came back, you had already left me. I wanted you forever, Isabella. Forever, I would never have left you. Never! I was going to ask you to marry me, but you…you just left me." I paused, taking a deep and unneeded breath, my voice cracking. "You left me; you left me with nothin' but this fuckin' note."

I pulled the folded and creased scrap of paper out of my pocket but kept the ring out of sight.

"Don't deny that you wrote this, Isabella! How else would it get into our hotel room? Did a bird deliver it? Or were you too much of a fuckin' coward to tell me to my face that you were just screwing me to get back at your shifter boyfriend!" I screamed at her, shoving the note in her baffled, confused, and hurt face.

Despite the physical pain she was in, she pushed past me and ran indoors. I had no clue what she was doing so I paced up and down the porch waitin' to see if she'd come back or take the coward's way out and run again. She came back down stairs just a few minutes later, considerably paler and breathing heavily. Scared by her appearance and obvious decline in health, I wanted to tell her that it was okay, that we'd sort this out later, that she needed to take care of herself first. But even more than that, I was angry and tired of hurting. I wanted some fuckin' answers.

"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about, Jasper! Instead of blaming everything on me, always making me out to be the liar and the bad guy, why don't you tell the truth for once." She growled out at me, shoving a piece of paper in my face. "I found this on my pillow when I woke up that morning; not you, not the sweet notes and gestures I was used to finding when I woke up alone. Oh no, I found this…this hateful confession. You want to shove notes around, Jasper? Fine then, explain this!" She yelled, throwing the so-called damn note at me.

"I believe it says, amongst other things, that you hated me and that you'd kill me and anyone I loved if I ever approached you again. That I sickened you. That I was pathetic in your eyes and was nothing more than a game, someone to fuck while you were bored visiting with your friends. You're such a fucking hypocrite, Jasper. You know something; you're not the only one whose life was irrevocably altered from that day on. You have no idea how much I hurt that day, the extent to which I broke that day, and you have no clue how much I'm dying every day because of it. So fuck you, Jasper!

"Oh, and Jasper?" She said, glancing at the note I'd thrust at her earlier. "When did I ever call you Jazz? I knew you hated it. I always called you Jasper. I never once called you 'Jazz'. "

I couldn't do this with her now; the feelings of pain coming of her were overwhelming. I turned around and without a word I walked away, before I said something I would regret later, before she said something-anything else, before I took her in my arms and forgot about all this bullshit. We needed to sort this out, but this wasn't the time or the place.

"Jasper! Don't...don't go, don't leave me again." She whispered, pleading weakly, but I just kept right on walkin'. I had to. I couldn't face her, especially not with the tears I could smell rolling down her too pale cheeks. It felt like my whole world was falling apart, that my heart was breaking again one tiny piece at a time. Just when I thought that Isabella and I could work things out, maybe even be friends again, everything fell apart and blew up right in my face.

With a sigh, I slowly brought my thoughts back from the past and stared at the crumpled piece of paper she'd thrown at me. I couldn't understand what was going on. Yes, I'd left her a note but it hadn't said anything near as hateful as what Isabella had screamed, what the creased paper in my hand screamed at me. The note I left was simple, 'Isabella-I've gone hunting darlin' , but should be back before you wake. I love you, J.'I'd placed it on the pillow where I knew she'd see in case she woke up before I got back. I didn't want to leave her, I loved to lie down with her in my arms and read while she slept, but I had an errand to run—a ring to pick up.

This note, this hateful paper, wasn't the one I'd left her. These vile, malicious lies broke her heart and led her to leave me…they sure has hell weren't written by me. But who wrote it? I didn't want to think that someone I trusted was capable of that kind of betrayal; however, deep, down inside me, I had a niggling idea of who might have written something like that — someone who'd wanted to split us up. I desperately didn't want to believe that the person I was closest to, outside of Peter and Charlotte, could have betrayed me like this.

I was lost in my thoughts for hours, trying to work out what had happened, who did what, and ultimately, why all of this had happened. I replayed hours of conversations with Isabella, Rosalie and Peter over and over and over again; analyzing every single detail, every nuance, every twitch, every move. Desperately trying to find something — just one little clue — that would blow this secret apart.

It was clear that the notes had been written by someone else, someone whose identity I wasn't 100% sure of. But there was still the question about how they'd got into the room in the first place. At the time I hadn't considered anyone else being there, I hadn't looked for anyone else because I'd just assumed she'd left the note herself, but looking back I don't remember smelling anyone else... Hmm… another fucking piece of the puzzle that doesn't quite fit.

No matter what I did or didn't know, one thing I was sure of was that I had to let go of my anger and hatred towards Isabella. I knew now that she wasn't to blame for…anything really and that some outside force had left her the note and taken her away. Re-reading the note she'd received, I finally understood why she was so scared of me, why I terrified her, why she hadn't let me know she was alive. My heart broke a little more when I thought how alone, how scared she must have been. I was glad that she'd had my brother and Charlotte.

Isabella was, no is, my mate. I still loved her, I never stopped loving her, and I would do anything and everything I could in order to fix this goddamn mess and get us back where we used to be. No, not go back, too much had happened to go back, I wanted to start again with her. I wanted to love her like she deserved, to protect her, to worship her, and to spend eternity with her.

I heard Peter and Charlotte running up towards the house and sighed in relief. I needed to talk to them, I needed to know what they knew, and I needed their help to not only figure it all out but, and more importantly, I needed their help in fixing everything. Just as I started to walk out the door, Peter stopped and made a phone call.

"Caius, this is Peter Whitlock. There's been a complication. The wolves know that Puss is alive. Charlie called; one of the Cullen's told the Alpha."

WHAT?! No, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Peter was talking to the Volturi about her. Why was he talking to Caius about her? How the fuck did Caius know about Isabella? What the fuck had been going on here the past five years? And more importantly, what the fuck does he mean by "one of the Cullen's told the Alpha"? My earlier suspicions suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks…no, I was wrong…I had to be wrong… please, please, please let me be wrong. The Cullens had spoken to the Alpha? They only knew she was alive because I'd told Rose…but Rose wouldn't betray me, would she? I needed to speak to Rose — before I completely lost the tenuous grasp I had left on my sanity, I needed to hear it from her, I needed her confirm her betrayal herself…but it could, well, would have to wait until I'd spoken to Peter.

Furthermore, not only was Peter in contact with the fuckin' Volturi, but he was in contact with Isabella's father, too? That could only mean that whatever was going on here was done with her father's permission, or at least his knowledge. Charlie was no fool; chances are that he knows what we are, what his daughter might become in the future, and whatever happened that brought Bella here with Charlotte and Peter. When Isabella and I were together, her father was pushing her towards the Alpha. Why was he protecting her from him now? Why had he changed his mind? Why did he lie and say that she'd died? Granted, it did explain why the only things felt from him were anger and rage and the need for revenge, not the overwhelming sorrow and grief that I'd expected when I snuck into her bedroom those nights after she 'died'.

I couldn't contain my growl — my focus needed to be my mate. I would find out what was going on with her; what was done, what needed to be done and then I'd deal with the whoever was foolish enough to betray me, no, betray us, and then…then they would pay for what they'd done.

Peter finally hung up the phone and walked into the house — defeat, misery and worry pouring off him in waves. He saw me, paused, and turned to face the door as though he was thinking about leaving. I nodded at him in acknowledgement and he finally nodded back…resigned for some reason. He sank down onto the couch and bent forward, resting his head on his hands, his overwhelming emotions nearly crippling me. Charlotte walked in and kissed him on the top of his head, her emotions mimicking Peter's. What was going on?She smiled wanly at me and walked upstairs to Isabella's room.

"Peter," I said as softly as I could manage. "Peter, what's the matter?" Yes, I needed answers but I wasn't going to push him. He seemed close enough to his breaking point without my drama.

Eventually he looked up at me and the pain in his eyes was horrific. He seemed to collect himself and after a few minutes he started to speak.

"Jasper, you need to sit down and listen to every word I say. Some of this will make you angry but I need you to listen, really listen to me." Peter implored me. "I know we've been keeping secrets from you and I will tell you why, but you have to promise me that you will remain calm and listen to me. Can you do that? Can you listen without losing it please?"

I shook my head. "You know I can't guarantee that Peter, but I will try."

I swear his hand was shaking as he lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply and blowing the smoke out he started to speak.

"Okay. Five years ago, Charlotte and I were in Northern Canada. We were…well, it doesn't fuckin' matter what we were doing there. I got one of my hunches which led us to a small town in Washington." He took another pull on the cigarette, looking down at the floor. "Forks, Washington."

I took a second to realize what he'd just said. Forks…five years ago. The timing was uncanny.I decided to let him continue for now.

"We found a badly injured girl being carried home and we followed them. The guy carrying her brought her to her Daddy and took off." He ran his hand nervously over the back of his neck. "It was Bella, Jasper."

"Continue," I said coldly. He should have given me this information as soon as I arrived here.

"I don't know how much you know about the reservation near Forks—"

"I know about the pack," I growled. "She supposedly left me for the fuckin' Alpha, remember? I got told she was his imprint."

Rose had been the one to tell me that, but how the fuck would she know something like that. No, don't think about that now, hear Peter out and then think about it.

He shook his head. "Jasper, calm down…please."

I nodded for him to continue on, knowing it was somewhat petulant or rude, but I was already close to losing my damn temper and the tiny amount of patience I had.

"He lied about the imprint, Jasper. Oh hell, do you even really knowwhat an imprint is?"

I shook my head, "Nope, I've heard the term but can't say I know the details."

He was silent for a few seconds. "Wolves mate for life and they call it imprinting. They see the person that's best suited for 'em and they can't see anyone else. They claim and mark their mate. Much like we do actually, and then live happily ever after."

I put my head in my hands. "So, Isabella is still mated to this wolf for life? Well that's just great. What about me? She's mymate. How can she be mated to both of us?"

Peter started to laugh. "Jasper, you're not mated to the wolf, you fuckin' idiot. You're so dense sometimes…damn."

My hand shot out but he was too quick and dodged it.

"Sorry, Jas. But didn't you hear me? He lied. Isabella is not his imprint. He. Lied."

My relief was palpable. "So, he's not coming after her?"

"Yes, he is coming after her. He wants her. She's strong and intelligent and not to mention gorgeous. He sees her as his perfect mate." He leaned forward, his eyes boring into mine. "He is trying to forcean imprint on her Jasper, that's what the whole thing in the forest was about. He wanted her so he claimed her in a disgusting attempt to make her his."

"Claimed her?" Oh God…oh God… that he didn't mean what I thought he did…did it?

"He beat her and then he-he raped her." Peter whispered. I snarled, rage coursing through my deadened veins. I wanted to kill someone, to hurt them, to hurt Peter for not stopping it, to hurt Rose, to hurt her father…to eviscerate Sam.

"Why didn't you stop it, Peter?" I growled. "What the fucking hell were you doing there if you couldn't stop it?" I was almost insane with rage. Was he seriously telling me that he couldn't prevent her from getting hurt?

"I tried, Jasper. Honest to God, I tried, but we didn't get there in time to stop it happening. He had-" his voice cracked, "he had f-finished with her by the time we got there. Sam left her there to die in the woods alone, but one of the pack members picked her up and took her to her daddy." He looked so defeated. I knew it wasn't his fault, I knew how his gift worked and that it wasn't always timed perfectly. "I'm so sorry Jasper, I am so fuckin' sorry."

"We followed them back to her house and helped them the best we knew how. Charlotte cleaned up her wounds from where he'd beaten her and cared for her. By the time the night was over, she was on her way here to us and her Daddy had helped us fake her death." Well, that sure as shit explained Charlie's feelings and how her bloodstained clothes had been found in the woods.

I leaned over, and did my best to push some acceptance and gratitude his way before my anger completely took over. "So, this fuckin' mutt decided that he wanted my Isabella, and just raped her and beat her to try and get some supernatural mojo workin'?"

"Yeah, Jasper that's exactly what happened."

"And why, may I ask, is he still breathin' Peter?" I hissed. "Why is the animal that raped and beat my mate alive? Answer me!" I roared.

"He's still alive because gettin' Isabella out of there was my first and only priority at the time." Peter glanced over at me, obviously looking to see if I was still holding it together. "Plus, you're not the only one that wants to kick his ass."

"Kick his ass, Peter? What are we — five? I want to rip him apart. I want to see him suffer. I need to see him suffer for what he did to her." I sighed, resting my forehead in my hands. "He fuckin' raped my mate; she will carry that with her for the rest of her days because of him. He. Will. Die. Slowly and painfully." I growl out angrily. Internally, I was promising myself vengeance on Rosalie too, if she was the one that betrayed me…betrayed my Isabella. Knowing about her past made the fact that Isabella was raped because of her actions even more reprehensible. Fuckin' cunt…

I was furious, how could this happen? My mate, my beautiful Isabella, how the hell had she survived?

But how could Peter even let that fucking mangy mutt live? How could he let anyof those fuckers live? I knew if I ever fucking got my hands on Sam, I would make his death slow and painful. It took everything within me to not go and hunt him down that very moment.

"I know Jasper, but right now—"

"Peter!" I snarled, jumping to my feet. "HE NEEDS TO SUFFER FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE!" I roared. The house vibrated and I heard a window shattering somewhere.

Peter remained silent; he knew better, he damn well knew that if he wasn't careful right now, I might, just might, remove his fuckin' head. I seethed for several more minutes, imagining the ways I could make that mutt pay.

"Peter, honey, you gotta tell him the rest." Charlotte's voice was quiet as she walked down the stairs. "Do you want me to tell him?"

"Tell me what, damn it? If you're gonna tell me, then spit it the fuck out!" I needed to know everything. How the fuck was I supposed to plan our defense if they weren't being honest with me?

"Don't speak to Charlotte like that; she doesn't deserve your anger, Jasper." Peter said his voice tight with barely restrained anger.

"You two have been hiding my mate from me all this motherfuckin' time and you think you can tell me not to talk to her like that? Huh? She's the one who helped you! Didn't you think I needed to know what the fuck happened to her too, Peter!"

Charlotte lowered her head. "You know we didn't know about you, Jasper. Now, are you going to let me tell you or are you going to rip both our heads off? By the way, if the latter is your choice, you'll never know what happened because Isabella sure as shit isn't gonna tell ya'."

I collapsed down on the couch in defeat. I put my head in my hands and in a calm voice continued speaking. "I can't live like this anymore. Please, pleasetell me something before I completely lose it."

Char looked at Peter, and then glanced at me before coming to sit on the couch near me. "About Bella, Jasper. She-she's in the hospital"

"What! What the fuck for?"

"She collapsed at her doctor's office before her graduation ceremony and was rushed into surgery." Peter wasn't looking at me, I couldn't believe he knew this and hadn't told me.

I screamed in pain, could this situation get any worse? Why weren't they at the hospital with her? I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself down.

"The pain she's been feeling. The surgery was for this?"

"Yes. You see, she got really sick after she'd been here about three months and it turned out to be cancer. She's been fighting it on and off the whole time she's been here and we thought she'd finally beaten it. But we were all wrong." He sounded so defeated that I almost felt sorry for him, almost.

"This happened before? And it's come back? How bad is it? Is it treatable"

"The doctors are treating her for melanoma but it's not that simple. She seems to have a type that isn't presenting as normal but a friend has a theory about what actually caused it. This friendhas studied shifters and he thinks it might have been caused by some toxins on the shifters claws and teeth, a toxin that allows them tear into seemingly impenetrable vampiric flesh."

I shook my head to make sure I was hearing him clearly. I mean, c'mon— toxic shape shifters? This was getting beyond ridiculous.

"He thinks that when Sam attacked Bella, the toxin got into an open wound and it turned carcinogenic."

"What!" I got up and started pacing round the room, still not quite believing what I was hearing. "You're standing here tellin' me that not only did he violate her, but now he's killing her painfully and slowly." Justanother reason for me to go after the bastard.

"There's more, Jasper." Charlotte said hesitantly.

I stopped and stared at her. "More? How the fuck can there be more? This isn't enough?" I reached into my shirt pocket and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it I glared at Charlotte, daring her to tell me to take it outside. Wisely, she kept her mouth shut.

"The cancer has metastasized and she's refusing treatment, Jasper. Well, she's refusing chemotherapy anyway. She says she's having an alternative treatment." Peter's voice was cracking, "Puss says the chemo makes her too sick and that she can't go through it again. She's losing the will to fight, Jasper."

"No! I won't allow it. She can't do this to me!" I fell to my knees. "She can't Peter...she can't! Why? Why? Why? Why?" I was shaking my head and I could feel my body tensing at the thought of losing her again. "I can't do this, Peter. I need your help, I can't watch her die. I need her."

"DO IT TO YOU? YOU WON'T ALLOW IT? YOU NEED HER! What the fuck, Jasper? Don't be so fuckin selfish. She's doing this to all of us, to herself, you self-centered prick." Peter was leaning over me his fists clenched, anger pouring off him. "It's not all about you, this is about Puss."

Charlotte stood up and wrapped her arms around him, pulling him away from me. He resisted at first but then sank into her embrace.

"What do you expect me to do, Peter? My mate is dying. She's not fighting anymore; you've basically told me she's giving up." I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. Isabella,myIsabella was a fighter, she wouldn't, she couldn't give up — could she?

I stayed on my knees unable to move. Hang on a minute, why haven't they just changed her? That would solve the fuckin' cancer problem right then and there.

Straightening my back up, I looked at them and asked that very question.

Peter looked as if he was about to cry, "She's refusing point blank to be changed. Before you say anything, we've spoken to her about it and she wants to take her chances with the immunotherapy." He paused and kissed Charlotte gently, "and it's not like we can force her to do anything."

"Don't give me that shit, Peter. Are we or are we not vampires? Like she could fight us if we decided to change her. "I laughed darkly.

Peter sighed. "It's complicated, Jasper. There are other considerations and we can't just change her without her permission."

I didn't understand. "Why the fuck not? We don't need her permission; we'll change her and deal with the consequences later!"

"I know you overheard me talking to Caius — he'sthe other consideration. He came to an agreement with Bella about her change years ago."

"Fuck the Volturi! They wouldn't care about her; she's just another human to them. How the hell does he know about her anyway?" I spat out. I couldn't believe that Peter had put her in danger by exposing her to the Volturi. What the fuck had he been thinking? He could have gotten us all destroyed with one touch of Aro's hand.

"He came to the ranch with Demetri and Felix not long after Puss came here. He wanted a little information that could help them with a problem in Mexico; you know we freelance for them sometimes." He grinned. "They were a little surprised to find Bella here and once Caius heard about what happened to her, well, let's just say he was willing to be a little more lenient regarding her." The grin turned into a full out smirk. "My fee for the help was Bella having the choice about if and when she's turned."

I was skeptical, why on earth one of the proudest vampires alive would do something that broke their most absolute rule— no humans are to know about us and live to tell the tale.

"What the fuck, Peter! You could have gotten her fuckin' killed. And who's to say he won't go back on his word later. You've practically sentenced her to death, you fucking bastard!"

"You're wrong, Jasper; Caius is protective of her, hell they all are. I'm afraid that what youwant with regard to her won't matter."

I laughed bitterly. "Protective, huh? Well, look how well that's turned out. Some protectors, they should have dealt with the wolves if they wanted to protect her, yet they've done nothing! And now the one that hurt her is free to come after her…again!"

Peter sighed. "Bella made Caius promise not to go after the wolves. She didn't want the one that rescued her to be slaughtered along with the rest, and you know damn well that Caius wouldn't care about sparing one of 'em."

"Why should Caius heed her request?" Jesus Christ, just as I finally start to get some damn answers, more questions jump on the pile…

Charlotte let go of Peter and walked towards me slowly. "Because he loves her Jasper, they all do — Caius, Demetri and Felix especially."

"What about me?" I leapt back to my feet, heading straight for Charlotte. How dare she tell me that they love her! "Don't I love her? I love her more than anyof those assholes ever could! I've died every day for five fuckin' years because of my love for her and now you stand here tellin' me that I can't change her to save her life because the Volturi "love her" too? I don't fuckin' think so!" I clenched my fists, the whites of my knuckles showing. "There's got to be more to it than that. Besides, it's not like I've ever given a fuck what the Volturi want — they stay out of my way and I stay out of theirs."

Peter grabbed Charlotte, pulled her behind him, and crouched protectively.

"Yeah, you're right there's more to it than that. Trouble is, I don't think you can handle the fuckin' truth, but as you asked nicely..." Peter snorted sarcastically. "You want the truth, Jasper? Well okay then, here's the fuckin' truth. She's admitted she still loves you, but you broke her heart so bad that she doesn't trust you anymore. That's why she won't have treatment, why she refuses to let any of us change her. Because you hurt her, you broke her, youbroke her little heart, and I doubt she'll ever fuckin' recover from it you sanctimonious bastard!

So fuck you and your me, me, me shit. What about her? You claim to love her so much, think about her for a fuckin' change. And while you're at it, try take some fuckin' responsibility for your own actions for once instead of blaming everybody else-her included you asswipe."

"No…" I groaned, "I..I..I…" I felt like he'd stabbed me through the heart.

He wasn't finished twisting the knife though. "I've tried to tell her that you love her but she doesn't believe me, she thinks you're playing with her, she thinks you were lying about going to ask her to marry you."

"She...th-thinks I was l-lying?"

"Peter, how could she think this?"

"I'm not finished, Jasper." Peter seethed his voice hard, cold, and deadly. "She sees herself as damaged and youas perfect. She thinks you won't want her because of what Sam did; she thinks you'll say she deserved it. I've spent a fuckin' fortune on therapy for that girl and fuck, she still sees herself as damaged." The hardness gradually left his voice and by the end of his tirade, he just sounded damn weary.

"How could I ever think she deserved this? How could anyone? She deserves the best of everything. I could neversee her as damaged. I am so far from perfect, how she can see me like that is insane. Jesus Peter, I love her. I loved her when I thought she left me, and I love her still. I never, not once, stopped lovin' that girl." I was desperate for him to believe me, hoping he'd tell Isabella.

"She thinks you hate her, Jasper. When you walked away from her on the porch the other night, you broke her again. She was trying to explain everything to you and you fuckin' walked away from her - you no good, no account, son of a—"

"I could feel the deception coming off her! I couldn't stand there anymore and let her lie, it hurt too damn much and-and I was afraid I was gonna lose my temper with her, and I didn't want to do that. You of all people know how I can lose control of it all. I asked her what the pain was about and she lied to me. She said she was okay." I was trying to explain but hell; even I thought it sounded weak.

"Peter, I swear to you, if I'd known, I wouldn't have done what I did. I swear it." I raked my hand through my hair and across my face. "I wouldn't have walked away, I would have reacted differently."

"What would you have done if she'd said that the pain was cancer?"

"I would've begged her let me change her."

Peter smiled faintly. "And she'd have said no, and you'd have argued, and one of you would have lit out of here like your ass was on fire."

"Hindsight is twenty-twenty, Peter. I can't go back and alter the past, but I can change how she feels about me, about becomin' one of us." I hoped I could talk to her and change her mind, and if I couldn't…well, I'd turn her and face the consequences later. Not such a good idea, the voice in my head piped up, she might leave again and you don't want that, do you asshole?

"I want to see her," I whispered, somewhat calmer now. Unfortunately, for me, both Peter and Charlotte's anger and protectiveness slammed into me. Guess I got my answer 'bout that.

"She doesn't want to see you at the moment; she isn't strong enough to have you go rushing in there yelling at her again. Goddammit, Jasper! Every time you get close to her, it ends up a bloody battle and I'm not having it anymore. Can you not comprehend that she is just a little fragile and vulnerable right now? Honestly, she's a fucking mess. She just found out that they can't operate on the cancer this time, she's refusing chemo, she's hooked up to all kinds of needles and lines, and is taking enough med's to make her rattle." Charlotte seethed, her seemingly infinite patience run out.

Peter put his arm around Char's shoulders and looked at me sternly. "Here's what's gonna to happen 'round here: you WILL stay away from her, you will NOT try to see her, you WILL keep your fuckin' mouth shut around her, and you WILL do as I say. I'm sick and tired of listening to you whine about how you can't live without her. Well, guess what? You shoulda' thought about that before you broke her heart. She doesn't need you and your bellyachin' right now."

"She doesn't need me? Since you feel you know her so well Peter, why don't you tell me what the fuck she needs?"

He growled, he actually fuckin' growled at me. "She needs time, Jasper. She needs time to come to terms with the fact that there's a strong possibility that she's gonna die, time to work out how she really feels about you, and time to decide what she wants without any of us pressuring or guilting her."

He snarled at me, he knew he was pushing it but his protectiveness was starting to overtake his fear.

"She is my mate! I need her…" I muttered, closing my eyes and taking a deep breath to calm down. "Please Peter, I need to see her." I pleaded.

"No, Jasper, and that is final. If I catch you goin' near her there will be hell to pay! She can't see you yet; she's sick and is hurtin' mighty bad. Don't you dare go on up there, stirrin' up the hornets' nest and makin' matters worse. Am I clear? Do ya' hear me?" he fumed, his finger pointing at me as though he was my Pa and he was scoldin' my ass.

"Besides, you've done enough damage. I know you're the one that told the Cullen's she was alive. Well, congratu-fuckin-lations, you've probably signed her death warrant. It's yourfault that Sam is coming after her and you'll have to live with that."

Guilt crashed over me, he was right, it wasmy fault…but a small part of me thought that if they'd just told me all this when I'd first arrived, we wouldn't be in this situation. However, I would agree to keep him happy and on my side for now.

"Okay, I hear you." I sighed. I needed to see if Isabella was okay first, and despite what Peter said, I would find a way to see her come hell or high-water.

"Good." And with that he went upstairs, Charlotte following him closely. I could hear him comforting her; whispering reassurances that it would be alright, that they would deal with whatever was coming, that my Isabella would survive this, and then they would take her away and keep her safe.

I waited for a little bit, hangin' 'round the barn in case he was checking on me, before I took off runnin'. Following their scents, I found myself in front of a large medical complex. I continued followin' their trails up a flight of stairs and into the oncology floor. Doing my best to ignore the acidic stench of bleach, antibiotics, and human fluids, I walked up and down the halls until I saw 'Isabella Whitlock' written on a whiteboard outside of one of the private suites. I knew that Peter and Char treated her as family, and while I liked the sound of her being a Whitlock, I was jealous because I'dwanted to be the one to change her name, to make her mine, to make her a Whitlock.

I opened the door cautiously, as I knew there'd be hell to pay if I was caught here, but I had to see her, I had to be near her. I couldn't believe that she was so ill, that after I'd found her again I could lose her again.

And there she was. Curled up on her side, fast asleep. One arm draped and hanging over the side of the bed, and the other raised above her head, her little fingers tangled in her hair. She still had the bags of fluids Peter had mentioned, going into her hands, but at least she was resting. She looked so thin; I could see the line of her spine through the thin hospital gown. Skin and bones, my Isabella was skin and bones. I bit back a hiss, she needed protecting, she needed looking after, feeding up, and lovin'. I would take care of her properly, she would want for nothing, she is my mate and I take care of my own.

She shifted slightly, moaning softly in pain. I rushed to her side and brushed a lock of hair off her face. She instantly settled and sighed at my touch, so I left my hand where it was, just gently stroking her pale, pale face.

Touching her felt so right, she was where I belonged. My heart felt at peace for the first time in five years. If fate had been kinder to us, we would've been married by now, spending our eternity together. What I wouldn't give to be looking at that future right now.

"Isabella," I whispered softly in her pink, little ear. "I'm here darlin' and I'm not going anywhere I promise. I love you, baby."