Summary

Bella never goes to Forks, instead living with Renee and Phil throughout high school. During her 3rd year at NYU, she is studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Her life is forever changed when she is compelled to visit Volterra; stumbling into a world she never dreamed could exist. AU, OOC, MA, Bella/Jasper

A Note from Mae

I am an avid fan of Twilight fanfiction. I've also been a fan of writing my own stories from time to time. So I decided to combine the two and recently started writing my own fanfiction. Feel free to check out my profile on FFn.

This blog is primarily for additional info and pics to accompany my story, Unfathomable Bonds. This is my first multi-chapter fanfiction story and I'm very excited about it.

If this story sounds interesting to you, please check it out. If you do, please feel free to let me know how you like it.

Lots of love, Mae.

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and all its affiliated characters; I just like to play with them. I also do not own any of the artwork discussed in any chapter of this fic. I am merely using them in one way or another for the purpose of my story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

UB Chapter 19 - Change of Plans


Jasper POV

Silence reigned in the room as I stood with Bella securely within my arms.  The others had discreetly left the room, not wishing to intrude on the private moment between Bella and me.

I took a few long moments, unmoving, as I allowed my frayed emotions to settle.  Only when I felt her fatigue did I relax my hold and step back from her.  “Tired?” I asked.

She nodded, giving me a sleepy smile.  “Bedtime for the human,” she joked.

Chuckling, I tugged at her hand.  “Come on, then.  Let me take you to bed.”  Chuckles turned to laughter as I noted the blush staining her cheeks. 

“Incorrigible,” she muttered under her breath.

Walking backward, still pulling on her hand as she moved with me, I just gave her a wink and a knowing look.  Her blush deepened and I felt her lust increase, which only made my gaze darken and grow more intimate.  “Absolutely, princess.”

As we crossed the room, Bella noticed the others had gone.  “Where did everyone go?”

I could tell she was trying to change the subject.  “Just noticed they were gone?”  I stopped at the stairs and gestured for her to precede me.

“Yeah,” she said, heading up the stairs ahead of me and giving me a perfect view of her ass.  Knowing now that she was my mate, I allowed myself the luxury of enjoying the sight.  Her hips swayed to and fro with each step and I had to take a moment to adjust myself.

Reaching the door to our room, Bella entered and went to the suitcase lying in the chair there.  She pulled out some clothing before disappearing into the bathroom to change. 

I made my way to the window to inspect the perimeter.  I knew we were not alone in the house, but I wondered how long it would be before the others returned with Edward.  And what would I do with him?  As much as I wished otherwise, I couldn’t be with Bella every instant and still do what needed to be done.  I did plan to spend as much time as possible with her, but I had surmised from my conversations with Aro that she would be safe with the Cullens.  Clearly, that may not be the case.  There is no way in hell I could leave my mate without ensuring her safety.  At the moment, that safety seemed questionable at best.

The sound of the bathroom door opening distracted me from my thoughts.  Bella appeared, smiling softly at me – a sad smile – and I felt her grief become more pronounced.  She had managed to keep it subdued for the greater part of the day after the funeral home.

Walking to the bed, she shifted the covers and slipped under them, pulling them up around herself as she lay on her side and looked up at me.  “Are you–" she paused and I waited for her to finish.  “Will you stay?  Till I fall asleep?” she asked. 

Smiling, I kicked off my boots and curled up on the bed with her, pulling her close so she could rest her head on my shoulder.

“Thank you, Jasper.”

“My pleasure, princess.”

UBUBUBUBUB

My posture was relaxed as I reclined on the bed next to Bella, one hand curled around her waist and the other sifting gently through her hair.  I had spent the last thirty minutes contemplating the idea of Bella as my mate and how it would affect not only the current situation with the newborns but the future as well.

Amid these thoughts, Bella herself would distract me – shifting her weight, letting out soft huffs and murmuring or talking quietly as she began to dream.  At one point, she curled her leg up and wrapped it over my own, her knee sitting perilously close to my crotch.  I hardened at the proximity.

Trying to cool my ardor, I focused again on the current situation.  First, I needed to come up with a plan for Edward.  Once he was taken care of, I would aid Bella in any way necessary to help her through the arrangements and interment of her father.  I would also evaluate each Cullen to gauge their strengths, weaknesses, and trustworthiness.  Once that was established, I would ensure Bella’s safety during moments I needed to be elsewhere – to feed or further my investigation. 

Depending upon what I discovered with the Cullens, I may or may not have to postpone the investigation until either I could get someone I trusted to care for Bella or wait until after the funeral and Bella was safely returned to Volterra.  I refused to leave her with the Cullens if I felt at all wary of any of them.

A whisper of movement came from outside the door, followed by a soft voice.  “Jasper,” Alice called.  I felt she was trying to keep from waking Bella, which I appreciated.

“A moment,” I called just as softly as I began extricating myself from Bella.  While I wished I could stay, I knew there was much to be done. 

“No…” she moaned, her lips turning down in the sexiest pout that made me regret leaving her even more – not to mention the other direction my thoughts had taken.  I would love to stay, push her back upon the bed, capture those pouty lips between my own, and wake her with my mouth and hands upon her delicate skin.  But duty called, so I consoled myself with a soft, gentle kiss on the inside of her wrist as I settled her in, tucking the covers around her and pushing a dose of lethargy at her to help her rest.

Quickly slipping my feet into my boots, I crossed the room and opened the door to see Alice’s small frame at the door.  She was grinning but her emotions were more complex.  She was happy but also anxious and a little distracted.  “Yes, Alice?” I asked as I stepped out into the hallway and closed the door behind me with a quiet click.

“Emmett, Rose, and Edward will be back in a few minutes,” she began.  “Edward will be very upset about the…about what happened…and he won’t want to chance anything, so we will meet him outside.”

I looked down at her for a moment, sifting through the information while considering its messenger.  “All right,” I agreed, content with the idea that I could position myself between the Cullens and the house and still be close enough to hear if any others approached from beyond.

She smiled and turned to head toward the stairs with a light step.  “Three minutes,” she stated.

I nodded and followed her down the stairs.  Exiting the back door of the house, I noted that Esme and Carlisle were already at the edge of the yard by the woods.  I allowed Alice to precede me, keeping myself alert for any and all dangers to my mate or me.

The time waiting for Edward was spent listening to Esme and Carlisle apologize for the attack.  I accepted the apology, respectful of its nature as coming from the head of their coven, but I was firm in warning them that should something similar happen, I would not be so lenient.  I would burn first and ask questions later.

The flurry of emotions warned me of their arrival, the headiest of which was remorse.  I turned to face the woods while keeping the others in my peripheral vision.  My legs were braced shoulder width apart, and I crossed my arms over my chest, watching the three vampires come to a halt a few yards in front of me.  They looked a bit ragged – their clothes mussed with dirt here and there but still in tact with the exception of a tear in Edward’s shirt by his shoulder.  But his eyes were golden, matching the others, and that was a good sign.

Edward was the first to speak.  “I wish to apologize for my recent behavior,” he started.  “I have never felt bloodlust like that and I’m ashamed to say I was unable to control myself.” 

I watched him closely while monitoring his emotions, curious what else he had to say.  He was filled with regret and his contrition was genuine. 

“I understand that an apology hardly suffices for my actions, but if you could pass it along on my behalf, I would be grateful.  I have no wish to harm your mate.”

At the word ‘mate’, shock echoed through all but one of the others, along with a few gasps as they looked at me.  I looked to Alice, who just grinned and winked at me.

“You realize I cannot allow you to remain in the vicinity under these circumstances.”  It was more a statement than a question.

Edward nodded.  “I had hoped to help in some way, but I do not wish to add to the danger.  I understand I have to leave.  I can go to Alaska for a time.”

Alaska?” I asked.  “Why there?”

Carlisle answered.  “Our cousins, the Denalis, live there.  They would be happy to have Edward visit for a time.”

“Yeah, Eddie.  Tanya would love to see you, eh?” Emmett teased, punching Edward on the shoulder and giving him a wink, causing Edward to roll his eyes.

Rosalie stood next to them with a bored expression on her face, but her disdain was clear to me.  I was curious about it, but it was inconsequential at the moment, so I filed the information away for now.

The question was what to do with Edward.  If I sent him off to his family, the Denalis, would they truly watch over him or would the memory of his bloodlust lead him back to Bella?  If it did, would we have enough warning to be able to catch him before he could cause harm?  Was it worth the risk to Bella?  Absolutely not.  I sighed.  I almost regretted not killing him when I’d had the chance so I wouldn’t have to deal with this just now.

Seeing Edward staring at me, feeling a bit apprehensive, I just raised my brow and shrugged my shoulders.  If he didn’t like what he saw in my head, he could get the fuck out of it.  I wouldn’t apologize for my thoughts.

“I understand your dilemma.  I just want to help, Jasper.”  His answer was simple and sincere.

He wanted to help.  And I wanted to keep an eye on him.  The answer was simple, really.

“Here is the plan,” I began, glancing at each Cullen in turn.  “Edward, you will leave immediately for Vegas.  When you get there, you can help Demetri cull the remainder of the newborn threat there.  It should only take a week or two.  While there, he will assess your fighting ability, among other things.”  I looked Edward in the eye as I spoke the last part.  “Demetri is also a tracker.  So, if you do happen to run, he can and will find you.”

Edward nodded and felt no anxiety over the decree. 

I then set my gaze on the others.  “Over the next week, I will be dividing my time between Bella and the rest of you.  I will attend to Bella as necessary to aid her in dealing with the death of her father and overseeing the preparations for his funeral.  When I am not so occupied, I will be spending time with each of you to gauge your abilities.  In addition, I would like to consolidate our information and formulate a strategy for the near future.”

I watched everyone carefully, taking note of each of their reactions – both visual and emotional.  They all seemed at least a little anxious about the newborn threat.  Carlisle was resolved.  From what I had learned from Aro, Carlisle was as compassionate as they come, only rivaled by his mate, but he would rise to the occasion if the situation warranted it.  His emotions seemed to mirror Aro’s assessment of the man.

Esme was the most anxious.  She stood close to her mate, but her hands were clasped in front of her in a worrying grip as she looked from one to the next of her coven members.  I had a feeling Esme would worry over the situation and the fate of her coven without pause, but when the time came to fight, she would be fiercely protective of them – like a mama bear if you threatened her cubs.  I smirked at the analogy and caught Edward’s lips turn up a notch in response to my thought.

Rosalie looked angry, a scowl marring her otherwise beautiful features.  The disdain was still present…but also anger and, like Carlisle, resolve.  Meeting with her would be a test in patience, I could tell.

Emmett was mostly excited, and I took note of his stance.  He stood with one hand clasped on Edward’s shoulder, his grip firm.  Even though he was attentive and his posture seemed at ease, he wasn’t.  Underneath the smiling, happy boy was a warrior waiting to come out.  I was relieved to have at least one potential fighter within the coven.

Alice was the most curious of them all in regards to her emotions.  She often seemed happy and at ease, smiling, much the same as Emmett.  But, again like Emmett, there were underlying emotions and they were constantly changing.  As soon as I’d recognize one, it would be replaced with another.  The most common I’d felt since meeting Alice were love, protectiveness, anxiety, and excitement.

“It’s a possibility, Alice, but…” Edward said out of the blue.  I didn’t say anything; I just watched.  “It’s risky… Maybe… Well, I–”

“Excuse me,” I interrupted, holding my hand up.  “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Emmett laughed.  “They do this all the time.”

I shook my head and sighed, feeling like the only adult in the room – or yard.  “For those of us who don’t read minds – care to share?”

Edward and Alice looked a bit sheepish.  Alice spoke up.  “Sorry.  We’re kind of used to it.”

“Doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying,” Rosalie snapped out, the scowl still present.

Alice had an idea to desensitize me from Bella’s scent,” Edward interjected.

“And what is this idea?” I asked, turning to Alice. 

She smiled.  “If we could have a piece of her clothing, something she’s worn that would have her scent on it, Edward could take it with him.  We could seal it for him and he could bring it out a little each day so he could get used to it.  If he does this, he would be desensitized by the time he returns to Forks.”

It was an interesting approach to the problem.  “How can you be so sure that the desensitizing will work?”

“It will.  I’ve seen it.”  She grinned at me, confidence radiating from her.

While I applauded her creativity, enthusiasm, and confidence, I had to burst her bubble.  “How can you be so confident of Bella’s safety when you already failed to see the initial threat itself?  Or did you see and say nothing of it?”  My eyes narrowed at the new thought.

She gasped with surprise, feeling a little hurt at my accusation.  “If I had seen any danger, I would have said and done something to prevent it.  I’ve been concentrating on the newborn threat.  Edward has always had exceptional control around humans.”

I felt no deceit from her response to my accusation, so I dropped the issue, instead considering her idea.  But I still wasn’t sure about it.  “We will give Edward the clothing in an attempt to desensitize him while he’s in Vegas.  I am still not comfortable with this, however.  Edward is to never be left alone with Bella until I say otherwise.  Is that clear?”  My last words came out as a command.

They all nodded their assent, punctuated by the resigned acceptance I felt from them.

“I understand, Jasper,” Edward said.  “I don’t want to chance returning to the house just yet…” he began, but Alice piped in when he paused.

“I’ll get you a bag,” she offered.  Turning to me, she waved her hand ahead of her.  “Shall we?”

I looked at Edward one last time.  “Don’t make me regret not killing you.  I will not be so lenient if you attempt to harm Bella again.”

“I would expect nothing less.  Please, offer my apologies to your mate.  I am truly sorry for my actions.”

“I will,” I affirmed.  “I’ll leave you all to say your goodbyes.  We can meet again in a few hours’ time.”

I didn’t wait for their agreement this time.  Instead, I turned on my heel and preceded Alice into the house.  It was strange to allow an unknown vampire at my back, but the alternative would grant her an advantage should she attempt to get to Bella.  I refused to allow such a thing until I knew more about the character of each member of this coven.  Until then, I would need to keep my guard up.

Alice paused in the hallway outside the guest room where Bella lay sleeping.  I raised a brow at Alice, but she didn’t say anything – she just smirked and glided over to the next set of stairs.  I shook my head at the strange girl and entered the room to check on Bella. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

UB Chapter 18 - Clarity

Jasper POV

Ignoring the sounds from behind me, I leaned down and sunk my teeth into the side of his neck, my growl still rumbling from my chest.  My other hand reached up to grip his jaw and I felt his fear spike even more.  I smiled against his neck and tensed to pull.

The muscles in my arm strained against the material of my shirt as I began to pull, feeling the skin separate beneath my lips.  I pulled back to watch the progress, a malicious smile on my face.  My initial reaction had been instinctual, but now the inner monster in me was glorying in the pain and fear I could sense from him.  He would regret his actions if it was the last thing he ever did.  And it would be.

Arms tensing again as Edward struggled further, I tightened my grip and pulled harder.  The wrenching sound of the hardened tissue separating, widening the gap in his neck, was music to my ears in this moment.  No one would ever hurt Bella.  She was mine; mine to protect. 

My mate.

The shock of the revelation stunned me.  I felt an echoing shock from Edward and looked into his eyes to see it reflected there as well.  The change in the atmosphere and the resultant inaction on my part, due to my emotional discovery, gave the others the opening they needed.

Emmett and Carlisle reached down and pulled Edward from me, holding him in a tight grip, their emotions a mixture of shock and protectiveness.  Their shock was most likely from watching me try to kill their coven mate and they were more protective of him than they were of Bella.

Rising, I took a ready stance in front of Bella.  I could hear her heart beating at a frantic pace.  I wanted to turn to her and offer her comfort, but I couldn’t until the threat to her had been dealt with. 

Carlisle broke the silence.  “Perhaps Edward should hunt.  Emmett?  Rose?”

Rose took Carlisle’s place holding Edward.  “We’ve got it, Carlisle.”  Her voice was firm, but her gaze and emotions were worried and she gave me a hard glance.  I glared back and tilted my head slightly, daring her to say anything, but she didn’t.  Her grip tightened on Edward and she tugged.  “Come on, Edward.”

Edward went with them, but I could still feel his struggle to control his bloodlust – although now it was mixed with feelings of remorse and self-loathing. 

No one spoke as we listened to the three take off into the woods.

When the last of their footfalls receded into silence, I backed up against the couch and pulled Bella up with one hand to make sure she was okay while keeping my eye on the others in the room.  I was alert for any further dangers from our host coven, but I needed to see to my mate.

Looking down into her face, I noticed the shock and fear mirrored there from her emotions.  “Bella?”  I tried to keep my voice soft and gentle as I spoke.  My one hand rose to her face and cupped her cheek and I brushed back a stray hair with the other.  “You okay, princess?”

I vaguely noted the curious glances from the others in the room, especially after I called her ‘princess’, but I ignored them.

With wide, tear-filled eyes, Bella looked up at me and nodded slowly.  “I…I think so?  But I don’t understand.  Why did he attack us?”  She stepped closer and raised one hand to circle my wrist, though she didn’t pull it away. 

I pulled her closer and felt her other arm curl around my back.  Were I not concerned with the others in the room, I’d have closed my eyes and reveled in the feelings swirling within me at this moment.  But now was not the time.  I needed to ensure Bella was okay, and then I would deal with the situation at hand.  Still, the idea of Bella being my mate, while surprising, was not an unwelcome development.

“You remember how we mentioned bloodlust?  If we don’t feed properly, it can be very difficult to control.  The Cullens are vegetarians, so their bloodlust is a constant issue for them.”  I stroked my hand down her hair, knowing how much she liked it, and smiled as I felt her tension loosen and her calm increase.  “We also have something we call ‘singers’.  Basically it means that certain people’s blood can ‘sing’ to certain vampires, making it nearly irresistible.  It seems you are Edward’s singer.  Couple that with the fact that he constantly denies himself human blood, it isn’t surprising that he couldn’t control it.  I’ve never felt such severe bloodlust before.”

She trailed her hand up and down my back, an idle gesture that I’m not even sure she was aware she was doing.  “You feel what he does, right?” she asked.  When I nodded, she continued.  “How did you control yourself?”

I smirked down at her.  “I’m just that good, sweetheart.”  She rolled her eyes and scoffed, making me laugh.  “A couple of reasons, really.  I feed properly and on a regular schedule, for one, so I wasn’t thirsty to begin with.  Also, I’ve been dealing with the emotions of others for a long time.  I know how to control my reaction to them.  And the most important reason?”  She raised a brow, asking silently for me to explain.  “No harm will ever come to you if I can help it, Bella.  You are my first priority.”  I knew she didn’t quite understand the intensity of my words at that moment, but I needed to tell her.  I needed to reassure her that she was safe with me.

Her smile and the sense of relief she felt lightened my heart.  I couldn’t resist pulling her close and holding her for just a moment. 

I knew the others in the room were waiting to address the issue.  I could feel their impatience but also their warm sentiments as they witnessed our exchange.  Somehow, I think they understood, keeping their silence as I took another moment with her. 

I enjoyed the feel of her pressed close within my arms, my face buried in her hair.  Pressing a soft kiss into her silky hair, I wondered how I could have been so lucky to be mated to this beautiful woman.  Suddenly, everything I had been feeling was clear; I’d just been too caught up in the feelings she invoked in me to realize it earlier.  I’d been falling in love with Bella.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

UB Chapter 17 - An Unexpected Setback

Jasper POV

I hummed a quiet lullaby as my fingers sifted through Bella’s soft hair, attempting to soothe her turbulent emotions as she slept.  She had wrapped her arms around my waist, crying in earnest while standing next to the body of her father.  After feeding her a measure of calm, I had urged her out of the funeral home and back into the car with Carlisle and Esme.  Both Cullens were sensitive to Bella’s grief, feeling distressed for the young woman as we drove the rest of the way to the Cullen home.

Upon reaching the house, I took note of the layout while leading a distraught Bella inside.  Esme showed us to the room she had set aside for Bella, turning down the bedcovers and helping Bella out of her shoes and coat.  After asking if we needed anything else, to which I shook my head no, she quietly left us alone in the room. 

The room itself was decorated in neutral colors – oak wood with brown and cream fabrics on the furniture and windows.  I barely noted its simple elegance, however.  My attention was focused on the woman on the bed, her head laying on the pillow as she stared unseeing across the room and out the window.  She wasn’t crying, though her nose was red and her eyes still glassy from her earlier tears.  Her blank expression tugged at my heart and I couldn’t bear seeing her like this. 

Shrugging off my own coat and toeing off my shoes, I rounded the bed to the other side and crawled onto it behind Bella.  Slowly, carefully, I curled up next to Bella and put my arm around her waist.  As soon as I got close, Bella turned and buried her head into my chest, her arm circling my waist.

“Thank you,” she whispered, her voice hoarse from crying.

“My pleasure,” I whispered in return, pulling her flush against me.  “Rest, Bella.”

She just nodded and sighed, sniffled once, and relaxed.  A few moments later, she was sleeping fitfully.

I stayed a while, listening to her sleep and feeding her a little extra lethargy to make sure it was deep and restful.  It had been a long flight with an emotional trip this afternoon.

As I lay with Bella, Carlisle came to the door, speaking quietly from the other side so as not to disturb Bella.  “Jasper, I’m leaving your bags just outside the door.  The rest of the family is patrolling.  They will return this evening.”  He paused just a moment.  “Esme is making a light meal for when Bella awakens.”

“Thank you, Carlisle.”  My voice was soft and too quiet for Bella to hear.

“Of course,” was Carlisle’s reply before I heard his footsteps recede down the hall.

It was another hour before I decided to ease back on the lethargy I was sending to Bella.  I wanted her to be rested and refreshed before meeting the other Cullens, as I am sure she would as well.  As I let the last of the lethargy go I looked down at the sleeping woman, struck as always by her natural beauty.  She didn’t need the modern trappings of makeup and other such products to showcase her allure.  Bella was an exquisite creature in her own right. 

Of its own accord, my hand slid up her side and over her shoulder to cup her neck.  My thumb brushed lightly over her lips and cheek, reveling in their silky texture.  My eyes followed my fingers as they traced the curve of her jaw, the arch of her brow, the length of her nose, and then the fullness of her lips again.  I was so distracted by my discoveries that I failed to notice she had awoken until I saw her eyes flutter and open slowly.  She gazed up at me, her eyes shining beneath the soft pink blush that began to spread over her face and neck.

“Jasper,” she said, her voice as soft and silky as her skin.  I felt her small hand flex against the skin of my hip before rubbing gently with her thumb.  I felt my eyes half close and my head dipped even lower in response to her innocent touch.

“Good evening, princess,” I greeted, keeping my voice low, making it all the more intimate.

Bella’s eyes dropped and I saw her look at my lips briefly before taking her bottom lip between her teeth.  When her eyes returned to mine, looking up from beneath her long lashes, and I felt the spike of lust associated with the look, I nearly groaned.  She’s not ready, I told myself, followed with a rundown of all the reasons it would be better to wait before pushing things in this vein.  But, damn, if I wasn’t tempted.

Taking a deep breath as I fought with myself, I pulled her closer to me, tucking her head under my chin and denying myself the temptation of her soft lips.  Hearing her sigh, I felt her touch of disappointment and felt a ghost of a smile cross my lips knowing she had wanted the same thing as me.  In spite of her disappointment, though, she was feeling content and calm within my embrace and so I prolonged it, enjoying the sensations swirling between us. 

It wasn’t until we both felt and heard the protests of her stomach that our moment was interrupted.  She blushed again with embarrassment and I chuckled softly. 

“How about you shower and freshen up?  Then Esme has some dinner for you,” I said, leaning back to look down at her.

“Sure,” she agreed, pulling away and turning to get out of the bed.  I watched as she entered the bathroom before standing and crossing to the door to get our bags.  As I set them on the bed, I heard Bella return from the bathroom.  She smiled as she opened her bag, grabbing some toiletries and clothes before returning for her shower. 

Knowing she was disrobing and would soon be standing naked under the water of the shower made me groan softly and close my eyes.  I allowed myself the small luxury of letting my imagination fly for a moment.  I could see the beads of water plastering her hair to her back, following the gentle curves down her spine and coming to rest just above the swell of her ass.  I briefly wondered if her ass would be as soft as her face had been were I to grip it with both hands while pulling her wet and naked body flush against my own.  What would it feel like, her delicate flesh against the hardness of my own?  Breast to chest, hip to hip, thigh to thigh…

This time my groan was almost humanly audible and I knew I needed a distraction.  Grabbing my phone from my pocket, I made a few phone calls to check in with Peter and Demetri before calling Aro to give him an update. 

Peter and his team had arrived in California but were still gathering their Intel.  He had a meeting with an old contact in an hour, he informed me, and would get back to me afterward. 

Demetri didn’t have much to report either.  They had to be more careful while the sun was out, but once the sun was low enough, he and Felix would each be taking out a team to hunt for newborns. 

I had every confidence in both men and their teams.  While I, too, did not have much to report, I still contacted Aro to inform him of the news.  He also asked about Bella. 

“And how is our fair Bella, Jasper?” he asked.  I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was worried about her.

“She is holding up well, Master.  It was a hard afternoon for her.  We stopped by the funeral home on the way here.”  Aro made a noncommittal sound of sympathy.  “She rested for a while this afternoon and seems in better spirits at the moment, though.”

“Ah, good, Jasper.  Very good.  I’m sure you will see to our Bella and take care of all her needs.  I’ve the utmost faith in you.  I don’t need to tell you how special she is, Jasper,” Aro told me.

“Of course, Master,” I replied.  “She is very special.”

There was a pause, as if he was going to say more, but instead he just proceeded to say his goodbyes, asking that I send Bella their love and sympathies, before disconnecting. 

I was just tucking the phone back into my pocket when Bella emerged from the bathroom in a pair of worn jeans and a dark green, long sleeved shirt.  She smiled and set her dirty clothes on the bed.

“Feel better?” I asked.

“Yes, much.  Thank you.”  She smiled, tucking her hands into the back pockets of her jeans.  “Now, what was this about food?”

I laughed and grabbed her hand.  “Let’s find it together.”

After making our way downstairs, we were greeted by Esme, who led us into the kitchen.  We exchanged small talk as Bella ate a foul smelling tomato soup with a ham and cheese panini that she seemed to enjoy all the while praising Esme’s cooking skills and showering her with compliments. 

Once Bella’s meal was finished, Esme offered to show us around the house.  I paid particular attention to the layout – entrances, exits, and other weak points of the building while – trailing quietly behind the women.  Bella again complimented Esme, this time on the beauty of her d├ęcor, while asking about some of the items in the rooms – artwork, pictures, books, or whatever else she thought was interesting.  She was polite and courteous to our hostess, who beamed at Bella’s attention.

The main areas of the house were decorated in much the same way as the bedroom in which she had shown us earlier.  The furnishings were oak blended with creamy fabrics and brass tacks.  Everything was accented with deep rich browns that made me think of Bella’s eyes – though in my opinion, nothing could compare to the swirling depths held within them. 

There were artworks, artifacts, and other items throughout the rooms.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think they’d raided an antique shop in some cases.  But in truth, they had simply filled their home with mementos from their pasts.  It is a trait of many vampires, although less likely with nomads.

We were given glimpses into the bedrooms, each decorated differently from the rest of the house, with the exception of Carlisle and Esme’s room.  One was very feminine, with pastel colors, lots of fabrics all over the place and a mannequin in one corner.  Esme commented that it was Alice’s room and that she enjoyed designing clothes.

The room across from Alice’s was more masculine but with clean lines.  It was immaculate, not a thing out of place, and it had a wall filled with shelves of books and CDs – mostly the latter.  This was Edward’s room, Esme informed us.  She explained that he was quite a musician and loved to play the piano that we had seen in the alcove off the living room.

The last bedroom was reminiscent of a boudoir done in deep red and gold and filled with dark wood furniture.  The bed itself was four posted, massive and seemed quite solid, obviously custom made.  It somehow came across as both masculine and feminine despite the intense color.  Emmett and Rosalie’s room, Esme explained. 

We drifted back to the living room.  Bella took a seat on the sofa, smiling and taking my hand as I sat down next to her.  I returned her smile and rubbed her hand with my thumb.  Esme perched herself on the love seat opposite, Carlisle appearing after a moment to take the empty seat next to his wife, his arm curving around her waist.  They looked at each other for a moment and I felt the love flow between them, which made me smile.

Feeling a tug on my arm, I looked down to see a questioning look from Bella.  I smiled and nodded at them, and she grinned.

Once the moment passed, Bella asked them how they met.  Esme was just getting ready to speak when I heard running footsteps – four sets – moving faster than humans could.  There were vampires approaching.  I rose from the couch, standing protectively in front of Bella as they reached the front door.  Carlisle and Esme also stood up, their expressions unworried and loving, so I assumed it would be the rest of the family.  But I did not remove myself from in front of Bella.

The first to appear was a mountain of a man.  He was as tall as me but so broad he could easily make up two of me.  He would have been frightening if not for the smile on his face and the mop of dark curls on his head that gave him an almost boyish charm.  His grin and his emotions were light and playful as he looked at us.

Next to the great bear of a man was a beautiful woman – no, not just beautiful, but stunningly gorgeous.  Hers was the kind of beauty to make men stop and stare.  She was tall for a woman, with light blonde hair that fell in soft waves down her back and legs that went on for miles.  She could have stepped off the cover of a magazine.  Her emotions were curiosity mixed with apprehension and a touch of resentment.

From behind the large man came a very short woman.  She stood at only about five feet tall and I was surprised because she was actually shorter than Charlotte.  She had short, spiky black hair and elfin features.  You’d almost think she was a child if not for the way she carried herself.  She stood tall and proud, confident even, and she had a welcoming smile on her face, which matched her emotions exactly.  She seemed excited and happy.

The last to appear was a tall, lanky-figured man with wild auburn hair that shone with different shades of brown and copper.  His face was angular with a sharp jaw and half tilted lips as he smiled at Carlisle and Esme in greeting.  He seemed at ease but curious, looking intently in my direction.  I raised a brow at his gaze.

Across from us, Esme began introductions.  Until now, Bella had sat quietly behind me.  But as Esme spoke, Bella stood and took my hand, holding my arm in front of her as she gave everyone a shy smile. “Jasper, Bella, this is Emmett,” Esme indicated the tall, broad shouldered man, “Rosalie,” the statuesque blonde, “Alice,” the small fey woman, “and Edward,” the auburn haired man with the heavy gaze.

“I’m Jasper Whitlock.  This is Bella Swan.”  I squeezed her hand and smiled down at her.  She was a little nervous but not frightened.  I found it endearing.

“Hello,” Bella said quietly, moving to stand beside me as she took in Emmett’s wide grin and Alice’s welcoming smile.  She still seemed a bit apprehensive of Rosalie, though. 

I felt frustration and curiosity surge from Edward.  Looking over, I noticed his brow was deeply furrowed.  I knew from Aro that he was the mind reader and wondered at his reaction.

“What is it?”  I asked him.

Edward took a breath to reply and three things happened simultaneously. 

First, I heard Alice gasp and then scream out, “No!  Edward!”

Second, Edward’s frustration and curiosity dimmed in a millisecond, only to be replaced with the most blinding bloodlust I’d ever encountered.

Third, I realized Bella was Edward’s singer and he was about to fall off the veggie wagon.

He was fast, I’ll give him that.  If I weren’t who I was, Bella would be a goner.  And the Cullens were going to find out exactly how dangerous I can be.  So I bit down on my reaction to Edward’s bloodlust.  There was no way I was going to let Bella be hurt, especially by me. 

As Edward flew across the room, I twisted my arm, curling it around Bella’s waist and pulling her behind me in one swift movement.  With Bella secure behind me, my other hand flew out and caught Edward by the throat.  Had I been a fraction of a second slower, he would have gotten through.  As it was, the force of the impact made me stumble back a few feet, pushing Bella back down onto the couch.  Recovering swiftly, I used the momentum of my body to spring back up and flip over, Edward’s throat still in my grip.  I landed in a crouch over top of him, his hands clawing at mine as I looked into his pitch black eyes.  A loud, fierce growl erupted from my chest – a warning – coupled with an intense wave of fear so strong that Edward immediately quieted and lay still, trembling beneath my hand.

Ignoring the sounds from behind me, I leaned down and sunk my teeth into the side of his neck, my growl still rumbling from my chest.  My other hand reached up to grip his jaw and I felt his fear spike even more.  I smiled against his neck and tensed to pull.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

UB Chapter 16 - Arrivals

Bella POV

When the pilot announced we would be landing, I resumed my seat across from Jasper and buckled my seat belt.

Being in Jasper’s arms had been such a comfort.  I knew he hadn’t been using his ability either.  He was just being there for me and I was thankful for it.  My grief was like a constant ache in the vicinity of my heart and I knew it must be difficult for him to feel, but I was selfishly pleased at his presence. 

Shaking my thoughts from my mourning, I thought of the situation here in Washington.  I knew it would be dangerous here – as it is for any human with so many of these newborns on the loose.  I did not particularly want to be near said danger, but I needed to clamp down on my apprehension about it so I could deal with Charlie’s death.  And then I could leave as soon as I was finished.

Thoughts of leaving made me sad and worried for another reason – that reason being the man sitting across from me.  I knew I was attracted to him.  Obviously.  His likeness fair littered one of my sketchbooks.  I’d say it was borderline obsession before I’d met him again.  But the time we’d spent together at the castle had shown me a glimpse of the man he is behind the body I so admired.  The more I learned about him, the more I realized my attraction had less to do about his looks and more to do with the man himself. 

I readily admit – to myself, at least – that I liked him and wanted to continue to learn about him.  His care of me as I dealt with Charlie’s death was only solidifying that desire.  I knew this was a time when I was quite vulnerable, but I knew Jasper’s care was genuine.  I could feel it even without his power to guide me. 

What I wasn’t sure about was the depth of that care.  There were times when I thought he felt as I did, but then I still didn’t know him that well.  He could be so kind with everyone.  I knew it was my fear of rejection speaking - my insecurities - but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about my attraction. 

To be honest, now didn’t seem the time to be worrying about such things.  I had to deal with my grief and see to Charlie.  I knew thoughts of Jasper were only distracting me from the sadness.  I needed to get through the next few days and say my goodbyes to my father.  While I did that, I would be patient and observe.  Perhaps if I was perceptive enough, I could come up with a solution to my little dilemma.

“Princess?”

Jasper’s voice startled me from my thoughts and I blushed.  “Sorry, I was…thinking,” I apologized, unbuckling my belt and taking his proffered hand, only just noticing that the plane had stopped.

He squeezed my hand, his eyes capturing my own.  “You okay?” he asked.  “I’ve been trying not to tamper with your emotions, but if you need help, just say the word.”

I stood and squeezed back with my fingers, rubbing my other hand up his arm.  Trying to ignore the feel of the sculpted muscles beneath his shirt, I answered, “I’m okay for now.  But thanks, Jasper.”

He smiled and turned, releasing my hand.  Grabbing our coats, he handed me mine while putting on his own.  I followed suit.  Then he slung his carry-on over his head, the strap crossing over his chest with the contents behind his back.  He passed me my purse, which I perched on my shoulder, and then took my hand once again.

Exiting the plane, we stepped onto a connected platform and down the stairs to the tarmac.  The weather was cold and it was drizzling, the shock of it after the warm, sunny weather of Italy making me gasp.  I saw my breath when I exhaled and shivered slightly.

Jasper looked over at me with concern.  “We’ll get out of the cold soon, princess.”

I nodded and made my way down the stairs with him, being careful of my footing on the slippery steps.  As we reached the bottom, I saw a man get out of a sleek, black Mercedes.  He smiled in greeting as he rounded the car.  I noted the pale complexion and light blond hair, every strand in its place even in the slight wind of the day.  Vampire.  I wondered if this was Carlisle.

When he reached the other side of the car, he took the hand of a petite young woman with caramel colored hair that also looked untouched and perfectly coiffed.  They walked forward together, hand in hand, with similar smiles of welcome on their faces.  As they grew closer, I gasped again, though not from the cold this time.  I had expected the crimson eyes I’d grown accustomed to, but instead these vampires had pale golden ones.

“Their eyes,” I whispered to Jasper before he could ask, looking up to him for an explanation.

“Ah, yes.  It’s their diet.  Remember I told you about the ‘vegetarian’ vampires?”  I nodded.  “The Cullens are vegetarians.”

“Oh,” I said noncommittally.  I pondered this as the couple reached us.

The man offered his hand out to Jasper, who released mine to shake his.  “Welcome.  I’m Carlisle Cullen,” he said, then stepped back and put his arm around the woman.  “This is my wife and mate, Esme.”

Jasper nodded.  “Jasper Whitlock,” he greeted.  “And this is Bella Swan,” he gestured to me.  “It’s good to meet you finally, Carlisle.  I’ve heard quite a lot about you over the years.” 

Carlisle smiled and nodded.  “Aro is a very good friend.  I do hope he hasn’t told you too much.”  He winked at us and chuckled, making me smile with the light banter.

“Nice to meet you both,” I said, shivering again as I did.

“We are very pleased to see you both,” Esme said in a soft, soothing tone.

“Perhaps we could move this conversation to the car?  It’s a bit cold and wet out here,” Jasper suggested.  I was instantly grateful, shivering again as he turned to smile at me.

“Oh!  Of course, my dear.  Come, let’s get you settled,” Esme said.  Carlisle, put their bags in the trunk.” 

Carlisle just smiled and reached for the bags that I’d just noticed were sitting in a baggage cart next to the stairs.  Esme moved forward and extended her hand to me, which I took, letting her lead me to the car.  She got me settled in the rear driver side seat, then rounded the car and resumed her position in the front, twisting in her seat to look at me.

“Are you warm enough?” she asked as she turned a dial on the console.

The warm air was a relief even after the short time in the cold, wet weather.  “Yes, thank you.  I’d forgotten how harsh the weather can be here.”

She nodded, pausing before speaking again.  “I’m so sorry to meet you like this, Bella.  I met your father a number of times.  He was such a good man.  I’m sorry for your loss.”  Her voice was soft and sincere.

“Thank you, Esme.”  I swallowed and watched as Jasper and Carlisle entered the car.  Jasper slid into the seat next to me and I immediately reached for his hand.  He readily accepted it, concern in his eyes as he felt my sadness at Esme’s words.

Carlisle looked at me through the rearview mirror as he put the car in gear and headed to the exit.  “Please accept my condolences on your father’s passing, Bella.  He will be missed.”

I nodded, a lump forming in my throat, and squeezed Jasper’s hand tighter.

“We’ll be stopping at the funeral home before heading to our house?” he asked.

Jasper answered.  “Yes, head to the funeral home, but I’d like to make a pass through town before we stop there so I can get familiar with it and see what scents we may pick up.”

Carlisle nodded.  “Of course.  Did you need anything before we go?  Food…drink…facilities?  It’s two or three hours to Forks.”

I shook my head and the ride commenced with small talk.  They asked about the flight and my studies, and then Jasper and Carlisle discussed past events with the Volturi from when Carlisle had apparently been a part of the guard for a time.  I listened quietly as I lay my head back and closed my eyes.

Carlisle and Esme were a pleasant couple.  I liked them.  They were very mature and gracious, and they seemed genuinely sympathetic to my loss.  I was glad they didn’t say much about Charlie, though.  I didn’t want to start crying again just yet.

I idly wondered about the other Cullens.  I didn’t know anything about them.  The only name I’d heard before was Carlisle’s, and besides what Aro had told us, I didn’t know anything further.  I didn’t even know how many there were or what their names were. 

I guess I’d find out soon enough, though.  It had been a long flight and this would be a long ride, so I let myself doze in and out during the trip.  At one point, I awoke to find myself curled on my side with my head in Jasper’s lap and my hands curled around his thigh.  I jumped, startled and embarrassed, but he just told me to stay still and rest.  His hand was trailing through my hair and I sighed, content with the soothing feel that I was coming to love too much.

I drifted in and out of consciousness for the rest of the long ride.  Each time I came to, Jasper would be there, his voice and hand quieting me back into slumber. 

When we finally arrived, he shook my shoulder gently.  “Bella, we’re here.”

I opened my eyes, blinking a few times as I sat up, and leaned sleepily against him as I looked around.  Carlisle and Esme were gone and the car was parked on the curb in front of the Forks Funeral Home.  It was a quiet building with sedate landscaping, a long drive, and a parking lot.

“Bella?”

My head turned to him and I immediately noticed the change in his eyes.  Instead of the normal red, they were a dark muddy brown like I remembered Marcus’ had been before we knew the truth.  “Jasper, your eyes…”

“Yeah, brown contacts to disguise the red,” he informed me.  “It’s easier to blend in with humans this way.”

“Oh.”

He nudged my shoulder gently.  “You ready to do this?” Jasper asked. 

I felt my anxiety spike and shook my head.  “I can’t.  I don’t want to...”  I sniffled and felt tears form and begin to spill as I thought of seeing my father.

“Shh,” Jasper soothed me, taking my face in his hands.  “You can do this, Bella,” he told me.  I shook my head again and he gently wiped the tears from my cheeks.  “Do you want me to help?”

I nodded.  “Just a little, please, so I can get through this.  But you’ll still stay with me, right?”

“I won’t leave you,” he promised and I felt a subtle wave of calm come over me.  I took a deep breath and sniffled again.  Exhaling through my mouth, I looked up at Jasper.  “Thank you.”

“My pleasure, princess.”  His lips twitched in a tiny smile and he smoothed my hair for me.  “Ready?”

“Ready,” I said with another deep breath.  He went to get out and I grabbed his hand, scooting across the seat to exit on his side.  He closed the door behind us and shifted our positions so I was tucked under his left arm while my right hand was held in his.

We crossed the lot and up the few steps to the entrance.  Jasper opened the door and led me through.  Inside, I saw Carlisle and Esme standing with an older gentleman in a dark suit who I vaguely recognized.  He made his way to me when I entered.

“Miss Swan, please accept my most sincere condolences on your loss,” he stated.  “I’m Phillip Yorkie.  My son, Eric, asked me to send his sympathies as well.”

“Thank you, Mr. Yorkie.”

He gave a sympathetic smile before turning to Jasper.  “You must be Mr. Whitlock.  Nice to meet you.”  Mr. Yorkie turned back to me.  “Dr. Cullen says you wished to see your father.  We have everything arranged in the other room.  If you’d like, we could go over some details in my office beforehand?”

I just nodded and let Jasper lead me, Carlisle and Esme opting to wait in the foyer for us.  Jasper and I followed Mr. Yorkie to a small office and we sat in front of his desk on the chairs there. 

“Now, Miss Swan, you don’t need to make any decisions today, but I wanted to go over what I’ve done so far, what information I’ve been provided regarding your father’s wishes, and give you some paperwork for your perusal.  The paperwork will give details on the type of ceremony you might prefer and other such details.”  He sifted through some papers on his desk and pulled out a file, handing it to me. 

Jasper took it for me and held it as Mr. Yorkie continued on, running through the various options for the funeral, filling me in on the plans already set in place, and getting my affirmation for them.  I could only nod, already starting to feel overwhelmed by the entire thing.

As if he knew it was getting to be too much, Mr. Yorkie wrapped up quickly.  “Miss Swan, I know this is a difficult task.  It’s never easy.  If I can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to call me.”

“Thank you.  Can I-” I looked up at Mr. Yorkie, “Can I see him now?”

“Of course.”  He stood and led us out of the office and down the hall to another room.  It was a cold, sterile room with a number of steel tables in the center.  Along the sides were equipment, sinks, cabinets and a series of small doors to what I suspected were the freezers where the bodies were kept.

A shiver went down my spine as I entered the room.  Feeling Jasper behind me, I reached out to him, nestling myself against his side as I had before, his arm secure around my shoulders.  I stopped a few feet from the covered body next to which Mr. Yorkie stood, waiting patiently.

“Jasper,” I began.

He moved behind me, his hands on my shoulders as he leaned down.  “Shh, you can do this,” he said softly into my ear and I felt the telltale calm mixed with a bit of confidence enter my system.  It was just the boost I needed to continue forward and nod to Mr. Yorkie, who pulled back the sheet from my father’s  face and shoulders, laying it gently against his chest, before quietly exiting the room and giving me a few moments alone with my father.

Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of my father at that moment.  In my mind, I’d known he was dead and that he’d be lifeless and cold, but I still couldn’t quite grasp the concept that he was truly gone until that moment. 

His skin was a bluish-white, even paler than the vampires I’d met, and there were various smudges of discoloration along his shoulders.  There was a white bandage covering his neck and I knew it must have been damage from the newborn that had attacked him.  Mr. Yorkie must have covered it out of respect.  I shifted my gaze to his face, taking note of the firm and rigid set of his features.  I could barely see the laugh lines next to his eyes and it suddenly struck me how he looked exactly like my father and nothing like him at the same time.

With a heavy lump in my throat, I swallowed and tried to hold back my sobs. 

“Oh, Daddy,” I whispered, letting the tears fall as Jasper stood behind me, rubbing my arms and feeding me a steady stream of calm.  “I’m so sorry.”  I gave a humorless laugh.  “That’s silly isn’t it?  I don’t know why I apologized.”  I reached up to touch his hair, marveling that it was still somewhat soft.  “I wish we’d had more time.  You never know how...precious time is until it’s cut short or gone completely.”  I choked a little but contained the sob, stroking back his hair.  “So, I guess that’s why I’m sorry.  I’m sorry I didn’t spend more of that time with you.  I’d give anything to just see you smile one more time.”  I took a deep breath.  “I will miss you so much, Dad.  You were there for me every time I needed you.  I wish I could have been there for you.”  My voice had dropped to a strangled whisper as I tried to speak through my tears.  “I love you, Dad.”

As I began to break down, I lost my balance, my legs barely able to support me.  Jasper held me up and turned me into his arms, holding me tightly against him.  “It’s okay, Bella.  Just let it out.  Take as long as you need and just let it out.  I’ll be here as long as you want me.”

I continued to cry, thinking how much I hoped that statement was true even while my despair was threatening to overwhelm me.