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.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

UB Chapter 13 - Bad News Travels Fast

Charlotte POV

“Damn it.  You’re lucky I love you so fucking much or else I’d roast your balls,” I grumbled at Peter as we ghosted through the hall toward Marcus’ chambers.  “It’s hopeless.”  I sighed, looking down at my ruined shirt – one of my favorites.  My darling husband had had the grand idea of trying his hand at laundry.  There is a reason I do the laundry at home.  My clothes always suffered, as evidenced by the shrunken shirt I was wearing, when he did it.  The damn thing barely covered my tits. 

Peter, of course, was drinking in the sight.  I knew he wanted to drag me back to our room, or even against the wall, but he knew he couldn’t or else we’d be late – and it wouldn’t do to be late to a meeting with the Masters.  I snorted.  It served the bastard right that he would have to keep it in his pants until after our meeting.  The fucker had been trying to bounce quarters off my tits when we got the summons.  I only had time to grab a white button down shirt.

Of course, as luck would have it, Peter had also washed and shrunk this shirt, so the best I could do was cover the outsides of my boobs and tie it under them.  Great.  Now I looked like Daisy fucking Duke.  I was going to give my husband a piece of my mind later – complete with my foot up his ass if he didn’t apologize properly.

Like I said, there is a reason I don’t let him do the fucking laundry.

With a final glare at my husband, who just gave me a smile and a wink, I knocked on the door to the Masters’ chambers.  Not half a second later, it was opened by Marcus.  He took in my attire and raised his eyes to mine in question.  I just pointed at Peter, who smirked, and Marcus shook his head.

“Please make yourselves comfortable.  I fear we have some distressing news to impart.  We await only Caius at present.”  Marcus stepped back, allowing us to enter, before he closed the door behind us. 

As we made our way across the room, I noted everyone present.  Aro occupied a large wingback chair to one side.  He had a dark, brooding expression on his face as he watched Bella and Sera talk quietly on the sofa to his right.

Marcus took the empty space next to Sera on the sofa and returned her soft smile as he did so.  I grinned at that.  It was good to see him happy.  I have great respect for the man, I always have, but he seriously needed someone to smack him out of his head, so-to-speak. 

Peter sat on one of the chairs on the other side of the sofa and I perched my ass on its arm while smiling at Jasper.  He was standing behind the sofa to one side - our side.  Like Marcus, Jasper noted my undersized tops and raised an eyebrow at me.  I snorted and glared at Peter a moment before turning back to Jasper. 

As Jasper chuckled and shook his head, Bella, who was seated in front of him on the sofa, turned toward him.  I watched them for a moment.  Bella’s eyes were light and her smile soft and inviting as she looked up at him in question.

Jasper leaned down to her and gave her a sexy little smile.  “I’ll tell you later, princess,” he whispered.

Bella smiled back, her cheeks turning just a little pink before her attention was drawn back to Sera, who had asked her a question.

I continued watching them for a few moments.  Jasper continuously scoped the room for threats, as did Peter and I.  It was a lesson learned long ago - always be aware of your surroundings.  So, while Jasper was ever the soldier and keeping his vigil as such, his eyes would travel repeatedly back to Bella, filled with a mixture of interest and confusion. 

Bella was no less interested, it seemed.  When she thought no one was looking, she would sneak a peek at him.  Sometimes he would catch her, but he’d just grin, making her give a smile, but she’d blush and turn away quickly, embarrassed it seemed. 

After watching them flirt for a while, I looked down at Peter.  He had been watching them too.  I saw his gaze turn and I followed it to Marcus and Aro, who were also watching the couple’s play with interest.  Peter caught Marcus’ gaze, the obvious question in his eyes.  Marcus glanced at Jasper and Bella, who were too busy flirting in that moment to notice us, before looking back at us.  He gave a small smile and the slightest nod, but we saw it.

“Holy shit!” I exclaimed in a loud voice, excited as I realized what this meant.  Seven pairs of eyes turned to me and I froze a second before spitting out the first thing that came to mind.  “I forgot to add the fabric softener!”

Fuck, I sounded like Peter.  But it wasn’t like I could blurt out that I was surprised and happy that Jasper had found his mate now, could I?


Jasper POV

I looked around the room, curious about Char’s outburst and the heavy torrent of happiness and excitement that was coming from the vampires within.  I would have asked them about it, but Aro stood and moved to the side, calling me over to him.

Moving swiftly across the room, I was at his side in a moment.  “Master?”

“Jasper, we may have need of your gift this evening,” he began.  “There is much to tell and I fear at least one part will be quite distressing.”

“Of course, Master.”

As we returned to our previous locations, there was another knock on the door.  Marcus answered it and greeted Caius briefly before they joined the rest of us.  Marcus resumed his seat next to Sera and Caius sat in an unoccupied wing chair next to Aro.

Now that all the players had assembled, Aro leaned forward in his seat to address the room.  “Thank you all for coming.  I have much news.”  He looked over to Sera and Bella, pausing.  I felt indecision and worry before he continued.  “Normally, we would not be sharing such things with you, but in this instance there may be a need for you to know.”  Before they could speak, he continued.  “You will understand soon enough, I fear.”

The room was filled with confusion from all but the Masters, including my own.

Marcus spoke next, addressing the women beside him.  “Do you recall when we spoke of being a newborn?”

Bella’s eyebrows were scrunched together in an adorably curious expression, but she answered in the affirmative.  “Yes.  You said we’d be really fast and strong but also bloodthirsty and temperamental.  Uncontrollable, right?”

“Precisely.  Throughout our history, there have been times when those seeking power would create armies of newborns to aid them, taking advantage of their newborn strengths.  At those times, we were forced to take action against these armies and their leaders.”  He paused, frowning.  “The loss of so many lives in this fashion is unfortunate, but it is a necessary evil, if you will.”

I focused on Bella.  She was upset at the thought of such losses, her compassion and sorrow at the forefront of her emotions, but she was also projecting understanding for such methods.  She stayed silent as Marcus spoke, the underlying curiosity still there as she waited for the stories to be told and her part in it. 

I had to admit to my own curiosity.  Why were Bella and Sera being informed of these things?  What did the women have to do with the newborn situation?  What news had Aro discovered that made him decide to involve them?

I kept my questions to myself for now and listened to Marcus speak.  He started off explaining that Peter, Charlotte, and I had a history dealing with newborns and, more specifically, newborn armies.  He didn’t go into any detail regarding our past experiences, for which I was grateful.  I owned up to my past, but it was a private thing and I thought each person should decide to divulge it as they wished, as well as to whom.

There were even a few moments set aside to give more details on our positions within the Volturi.  I had already informed Bella of my own position, but she listened quietly as Marcus recounted them and filled her in on Peter’s and Charlotte’s positions.  Essentially they were liaisons for the Volturi, enforcers of our laws and information gatherers based primarily in the United States, although their domain included all of North America.

Every once in a while during the telling, Bella would turn my way, as if she were checking to see if I was still there.  She’d then smile at me and turn back to the conversation at hand.  It was a quick glance, but it warmed me just the same.  My interest in this woman grew with each small gesture.

Aro then took over the conversation.  He gave a brief rundown of the current newborn situation, beginning with Peter and Charlotte receiving the initial reports a few months ago and all subsequent events that led up to the previous night when Laurent attacked.  He even mentioned our subsequent discussion after the fact and what we’d learned from our prisoner before his execution.

I glanced at Caius.  He was quiet and looked as if he was brooding, but I knew that look.  He was planning, strategizing.  They must have learned something and he was going over the various options, accepting and discarding them much as I would have done.  In this area, Caius and I were very much alike, which explained our mutual respect.

Aro’s eyes drifted to Bella as he paused, his lips forming in a grim line as if he had a distaste for what he was about to reveal.  His emotions only confirmed it.  My curiosity spiked again and I felt myself growing impatient.  But now that the ‘history lesson’ was over, I was sure he would get to the point, so I gathered my patience and pushed it across to the others in the room who were getting just as antsy as I was with the delay.

“I did speak with Carlisle, but before that I would like to hear from Peter and Charlotte.  Have you learned anything new?”  Aro turned his attention to the couple in the chair.

“Not really,” Charlotte answered.  “Additional reports in the same areas, including a few still in Vegas.  It seems we didn’t catch them all, but there aren’t as many as there are in southern California and Washington.”

“I think if we send a few of the Guard to deal with Vegas, it should be fairly simple.  At my best guess, there isn’t more than a handful left,” Peter suggested.  “We have a few people keeping an eye out in the other two areas but nothing concrete yet.  A few leads on bases that need to be checked out, that kind of thing.  No news on the ringleader, though.”

What Peter left unsaid was that we still didn’t know if Maria was involved.  I couldn’t stifle the low growl at the thought of my sire.  If I ever got my hands on that bitch again, I would rip her head from her shoulders and burn her body while she watched. 

Bella had turned to look at me, worry seeping from her upon hearing my growl.  Taking a breath, I forced a smile for her.  She raised her eyebrow at me and I felt her disbelief, but she turned back to Marcus so he could continue.

Everyone was quiet for a moment, each lost in their thoughts.  I centered myself, pushing back my thoughts of revenge for now as we continued our discussions.

“Thank you, Peter…Charlotte,” Aro acknowledged each of them before moving on.  “My discussion with Carlisle did give us some additional information.  As requested, his seer has been searching for any information that could aid us.  In addition, the rest of his coven has volunteered their services.  They have been scouting the area between Seattle and their home.  They have been hoping to capture and interrogate a newborn or follow a scent back to a home base.”

I decided to speak up at this.  “Do they have any experience with handling newborns if they do catch one?  Would they be able to keep the captive in custody until we could send someone to interrogate, or perhaps until Demetri can get there and then let the newborn go and track him?”

Aro held up his hand, stemming my flow of questions.  “These are all options.  They have yet to capture a newborn, but if and when they do, we will keep that in mind.  However, the Cullens do have one advantage.  The boy, Edward, is a mind reader.”  I raised an eyebrow in surprise.  “His ability is different from my own, as it seems he can use it at a distance.  He does not require touch, but he only gets surface thoughts.”

“It could prove very useful to you, Jasper,” Caius spoke up.  “However, they have no skill in interrogation, and since the boy only reads the surface thoughts, we want you, Peter, or Demetri to do the questioning.  This should bring the thoughts to the forefront for the mind reader if the newborn is uncooperative.”

Nodding my agreement to Caius, I began turning over tactics in my mind.  Interrogating a newborn may be fruitless.  Depending on the level of their bloodlust and their age, they may be too wild for coherent thought.  But it was worth a try. 

“The Cullens have come across a few kills that look to be the work of these newborns.  Thankfully, most of the attacks are being written off as either serial killers in the cities or animal maulings in the forests.  But Carlisle is getting distressed.  The attacks are spiraling out further and further each week.  We must put a stop to this and soon.”  Aro’s voice was firm as he made his decree.  Everyone in the room felt the same.

“Was there anything from the seer, or anything else the Cullens could find out?”  Peter asked.

“The seer is mostly getting random images of attacks.  Most have been reported and others are too obscure for her to decipher, but she is continuing to look,” Aro replied.

Caius sat forward in his seat and addressed me.  “Jasper, we want you to go to the Cullens.  They’ve offered to help.  You can use their home as a base while you are in the area.  Utilize their gifts.  Maybe you will be able to capture one of these newborns.”

Peter interjected, “What about Char and me?”

Caius looked to me and I knew he wanted my input.  After a brief moment to consider our options, I spoke.  “I think I should go to Washington, as you said.  Peter and Charlotte could go to California, hook up with their contacts, and then do a little recon.  They can hook up with me in Washington later if needed.  I think Demetri should go with a few of the Guard to Vegas.  He can deal with the newborns left there and then meet up with me, and he’ll be close so that if either Peter or I capture a newborn before that, he can get to us quickly to help with our catch and release plan.”

“Agreed.  We’ll send Felix with Demetri and a few lesser Guardsmen.  Peter and Charlotte, we’ll send Jane and Alec with you in case you run into any trouble in California.  We can decide later who to send north if and when it comes to that, or vice versa.  And we’ll expect daily reports at minimum.”  Caius looked at each of us, waiting for our nods of agreement. 

Bella raised a delicate hand, drawing our attention.  “Um, this is all fascinating and all, but…I’m confused why you’re telling us this?”  I felt her wonder and confusion at the mass of information she’d been given, but just like the other night when faced with the truth of what we are, she was taking it amazingly well.

Aro glanced quickly at me before turning back to Bella.  “My dear,” he began but paused.  I could feel the turmoil within him and I could tell this was not going to be good.  “The Cullens, do you know them?”

Her face scrunched up in that confused look I found so enchanting.  “No.  Should I?”

Aro shook his head.  “No, I just thought you might.  You see, they live in Forks at present and I thought your father might have spoken of them.”

Fear and dread filled the room, mixing within Bella along with worry.  She gripped her hands together in her lap, clasping them so tight I could see her knuckles whiten.  I stepped from behind the sofa and sat next to her, placing a hand on her shoulder and dreading Aro’s next words.

“I’m so sorry, Bella,” Aro said.  At his words, Bella’s heart plummeted and she began to shake her head, tears slipping from her eyes.  “It seems that one of the newborns…well, your father…he was attacked.”  Aro’s emotions mirrored those of the others in the room.  “He’s dead, Bella.”

Bella turned to me, grabbing hold of my hand and begging me with those beautiful brown eyes to tell her it wasn’t true.  But I knew it was.  Much as I wished it weren’t true for her sake, I had to nod my head, affirming what Aro had told her.  Even if I didn’t trust that Aro would never say such a thing were it not the truth, I could feel his emotions.  He was genuinely upset and worried for Bella. 

“No, no, no!  Jasper…” she cried, her face twisted in grief.  Her expression, coupled with the anguish and loss I could feel from her, struck me.  I sent her a touch of serenity - just enough to take the edge off - but I let her grieve.  Pulling her into my embrace, I held her close.  She cried heavy tears, wetting my shirt, as the others watched morosely. 

Sera sat on the other side of Bella.  She too was crying, and she leaned into Bella’s back, stroking her hair and trying to offer what comfort she could to her friend. 

Time passed slowly as I held Bella in my embrace.  I barely noted the departure of Aro, Caius, Peter, and Charlotte.  My entire focus was on the petite woman crying her heart out into my shirt.  Sera and I did our best to comfort her as Marcus watched from afar. His face was a mask, but his emotions were swirling with sorrow for his friend.

Eventually, Bella cried herself out and lay quietly in my arms.  I felt her exhaustion - both physical and emotional - so I enhanced it just a bit until she fell under its spell.  

“I think I should take Bella to her room.”  I looked up at Marcus and Sera, who both stood.  Sera seemed as if she wanted to come with me, but Marcus took her hand and gently shook his head. 

“Please, Jasper, take care of her,” Sera pleaded.

“Of course,” I promised her.  Sweeping one arm under Bella’s legs, I lifted her against me and stood, uttering a swift but respectful goodbye before striding across the room and out the door with her in my arms.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

UB Chapter 12 - Reassurance

Jasper POV

The days passed quietly in the castle as I simultaneously kept watch over Bella and waited for Aro to call another meeting regarding the situation in the Americas.  We knew that time was of the essence but, as the saying goes, ‘Forewarned is forearmed’. 

Aro had placed a call to the Cullens requesting that their seer attempt to discover whatever information she could find while the others scout the outlying towns for traces of the newborns expanding their territory.  Carlisle Cullen was due to call this afternoon.

Aro had called a meeting for early this evening after he received the call from the Cullens.  In the meantime, Peter and Charlotte were monitoring the news and filtering through reports from the various representatives and informants throughout the Americas.  Being the American liaisons for the Volturi, they had a number of resources at their disposal and they were utilizing every one in search of any possible advantages.

The meeting this evening would be to report everything we’d learned and to plan the next step.  That next step would be, inevitably, to send us back to the Americas – to either the southwest or the Pacific Northwest, if not both. 

Normally I would be eager for the challenge presented by these newborns, as I had been when originally sent to Vegas, but I’d discovered in the last few days that I was reluctant to go.  The feeling made me uneasy because I knew the reason for why I was hesitant to leave. 

Said reason was currently sitting across the room from me, ensconced in the window seat with a book in her lap.  She was curled up almost out of sight behind the curtain with her feet tucked under her.  If you didn’t know better, you’d think I was alone in the expansive library.  But I’ve learned much about this petite woman in the last few days of guarding her, watching her. 

Bella was a refreshing combination of terms.  She was fierce and protective yet shy and selfless.  When alone, she was often reading or pensive, her emotions a swirling myriad that included anything from love to worry to lust. 

I felt my lips turn up on one side in a smirk as I considered the latter.  Lust.  She tried to hide it, but I knew she was attracted to me.  I am a vampire, after all.  It was natural for our prey to be attracted to us.  But with Bella, that lust was always followed quickly by embarrassment and a very beautiful blush that covered her cheeks, sometimes sweeping down her neck and disappearing into her shirt.  More often than not I found myself wondering what had lain beneath that towel the other day when I’d watched her skin turn pink as she belatedly realized her attire included naught else. 

I nearly groaned aloud as I shifted in the chair and adjusted myself.  Bella was a beautiful woman, there was no doubt, and I could not help my physical reaction to her.  But there was more to her than that.  I knew this from my observations.  More and more I found myself wondering at her thoughts.  What were the reasons behind the emotions I felt from her?  I could guess, but I’ve discovered that assumptions can be wrong.  At this point, I didn’t think there was much more I could discover about this woman through observation and minimal conversations.

Standing, I crossed the room with silent tread and came to a halt a few feet away from her to watch her a moment longer.  Her attention was miles away, it seemed, even while her eyes were fixed on the colored horizon in the distance.  She was barely registering the sunset signaling the closing of the day. 

Her eyes were the warmest, most expressive eyes I’d ever seen.  Sure, she expressed herself in other ways – biting her lip, smiling or frowning, raising her eyebrow – but it was her eyes that I noticed.  Deep, intelligent, mature, soulful eyes. 

I let my own gaze travel to her hair.  It was a deep brown, like the color of dark chocolate, and it looked as soft as silk.  She had gathered her hair and pulled it over one shoulder, where it strayed down one side to cover her left breast.  My fingers itched to touch it on a regular basis.  She fidgeted with her hair a lot, often pulling it up and over one shoulder and then the other, pushing it back, or clipping it up and then taking it down.  It was an endless cycle, as if she could never decide how she wished to wear it. 

I smiled at that quirk as I continued my perusal, taking in the soft, creamy neck that was bared from her most recent  fidgeting.  It was pale, as she was, and I could both see and hear her pulse beating just beneath the skin.  Bloodlust was not an issue with Bella, but lust was.  I felt my mouth fill with venom, watering at the thought of my lips traveling over that exposed neck and then down along the collar of her shirt…

I shook my head from my thoughts, trying to divert both them and my eyes from her body.  She had a luscious, ample chest with breasts that would fit nicely into my hands.  Her waist was slightly narrowed but she had wide hips, which gave her just the right amount of curves.  She wasn’t skin and bones, either.  The trend for modern women was ridiculous, making them have to starve themselves to fit the contemporary vision of ‘beauty’.  But Bella…well, she had just enough meat on her to mesh with the curves given to her and make a man take notice.  And I had definitely noticed.

I cleared my throat just loud enough to draw her attention before my lascivious thoughts could continue.

She jumped slightly, grabbing her book quickly before it fell from her lap, and then grabbed her chest.  I heard her heartbeat skip and then flutter quickly.  “Jasper, you scared me!” she admonished.

“Sorry, princess,” I apologized, giving her a sheepish smile that deepened as I noted her reactionary spike of attraction.  She also seemed pleased.  I had guessed over the last few days that she liked it when I called her ‘princess’.  “May I?” I waved my hand to the open area opposite her on the window seat.

Curiosity sparked through her as she nodded.  “Please.” 

Sitting across from her, I lifted one foot, bending it at the knee, and rested my arm over it as I leaned back and regarded her intently, wondering how to proceed.

Bella watched me for a while as I gathered myself and then leaned back and waited for me to speak.

“Could I ask you something?”

Bella tilted her head at me, a tiny smile playing over her lips.  “Of course, Jasper.”

“So, you’ve decided?” I asked.  She knew what I meant.  Her emotions had been fluxing all afternoon, anxiety tinged with sadness and a touch of hope.  I imagined it was due to her meeting with the Masters that she had asked for me to arrange.  I had informed her that she would see them later this evening after my own meeting with them regarding the newborns.  She had smiled and thanked me, but ever since then she had been a bit of a nervous mess emotionally.  I can’t imagine how it must feel to make this decision.  I was almost grateful for having had no choice in my change.

“Yes.”  She took a deep breath and released it slowly in an attempt to calm herself.

“What have you decided?” I asked as I continued to monitor her both visually and emotionally.

She made a face that would have made me smile were the discussion not so serious.  “There isn’t really much of a decision to make, is there?  I choose to be changed.”

I let out a long, unnecessary breath, not realizing until that moment that I had worried over her choice and the slim chance that she would choose death.  “I’m glad, Bella,”  I told her.  “I think you will come to enjoy life as a vampire.”

“Why do you say that?” she asked, sitting up a little straighter.  I could tell I had piqued her interest.

“While it is difficult to get over the…disadvantages of being one of us, there are a lot of advantages too.  You’re stronger and faster than humans, incredibly so.  Never having to sleep and having near perfect memory recall make us smarter than most humans.  And we live forever, allowing us to watch and experience history unfold around us.  We can pursue any number of interests.  Our options are actually limitless, really.”

“So it doesn’t bother you, the people you kill to survive?” she asked, though her emotions were calm.  She was curious without the typical indignant emotions of a normal human, which was somewhat surprising.

“We all deal with that part of our nature in different ways.  Some just accept it and try not to think about the fact that we need to take life to survive.  Others, those we call vegetarians, refuse to imbibe human blood and feed only off non-human animals.  Personally I don’t see the difference.  At least my food source isn’t imprisoned and forced to breed in order to reproduce and provide more for humans to feed themselves.  We are all part of the food chain.  It’s just that vampires are currently at the top.”  I grinned at that, noting her soft chuckle.

“Yeah, I suppose so.  If you truly think about it, vampires feed in a much more humane way, don’t they?” 

I nodded, my grin still in place.  “Is that part of what was bothering you about being changed?”

“No, not really.  I mean, yeah, it’s a little strange to think about feeding off humans and having to kill.”  She was quiet for a moment as she gathered her thoughts.  “I think what I worry about the most, besides never being able to see my father again, is losing myself.  Will I still be me afterward?  What will my life be like then?  Will I regret never being able to have children of my own?” 

Her voice trailed off and I felt a flash of sorrow from her.  I couldn’t resist the urge to lean forward and reach for her hand, grasping it in my own and giving it a light squeeze.  “I can’t imagine what it would feel like, but I can understand.  In this instance, men have it easy.”  I paused.  “Did you want children?”

Shaking her head, she gave my hand a reciprocal squeeze, ignoring the chill she must have felt with our hands clasped together as they were.  “No…I don’t know.  I mean, I never really thought about it because there were so many other things I wanted to do.  University, work, love…”  Longing poured from her.  “Will I ever have what Sera and Marcus found?  I don’t begrudge them finding each other, but sometimes I envy them.”  She looked at me and gave a sad shrug with her shoulders.  “I am such a girl, aren’t I?”

“Not at all.  You’re human.  Actually, no, you’re a person.  Humans, vampires…almost all of us want that, admitted or not.”  My voice had a strange edge to it, emotion seeping into it in a way that it never before had done.  I moved on quickly.  “Let’s see if I can answer your questions.  Will you still be you afterward?  Yes, most likely.  Many of us bring over memories of our human life and have a very similar personality.  The memories are often fuzzy and some traits may change, become more or less pronounced, but the core of who you are remains the same.  It varies, though.  I’ve heard of some being changed and becoming a ‘blank slate’ so to speak – little to no memory at all and nearly infantile in personality. (1) But it is rare.”

Bella gave a slight shudder at the thought.  “I don’t think I’d like that, though I guess if I didn’t remember anything I wouldn’t know the difference, huh?”

“True.  I’ve heard that you may retain your memories if you go through them during your change.  Think of the important ones and remember them - people, places, events, whatever is important to you.  Visualize it as well as you possibly can.”  She nodded, listening and waiting for me to continue. 

“Your life as a vampire can be almost anything you’d like it to be.  Master Aro has offered you a position within the guard.  If that doesn’t appeal to you then you are welcome to stay or go as you please.  Almost all vampires are or have been nomadic, but there are covens that form – friends and/or mates that stick together.  Some stay hidden away from the human world and interact as little as possible with it.  Others embrace the human world and live within it.  Some even have jobs.”

“Blue collar vampires?”  She chuckled at that.  “You work for the Volturi, right?” she asked, shifting in the window seat so that her legs were pulled up and her free arm was wrapped around her knee, her chin resting on top.  Our hands were still clasped together, but she didn’t pull away and I reveled in her warmth.

“Yes, it is a job, but more than a job truly.  I believe in the laws and values the Volturi practice.  My position is part enforcer and part information gatherer.  It depends on the circumstances, really.  Most of the time it’s the latter.  I filter through the reports sent in from various locations around the world and then advise the Masters, that kind of thing.”

“So how did you get demoted to babysitter?” she teased.

My grin widened.  “I’m not entirely sure, but I can’t say as I mind being yours, princess.”

Bella blushed and ducked her head, tucking some of her hair behind her ear nervously, but I could feel she was pleased by my reply.  I decided not to think about the double entendre one could apply to the phrasing I had used.

She cleared her throat.  “So what are your hours?  Do you even have hours?”

“No, not really.  If we are needed as guard, we often rotate to give us each a break for a while.  Sometimes I get field work.”  I smiled.  “If I’m not here, others pitch in so I can focus on my mission.  Really, we do have a decent amount of free time.  Everyone here believes in the Volturi and are committed to it, but we are pretty laid back most of the time.”

“What do you do with your free time then?”

“Probably a lot of the same things human males do.  I game with my friends, play my guitar, read, surf the net...” I trailed off at her laugh.

“I’m sorry,” she said between giggles.  “It’s just so...normal.”

I shrugged my shoulders but kept my smile, enjoying her laughter.  “You’ll learn that underneath our supernatural existence we are just normal people.”

We sat for a few moments, just watching each other with smiles on our faces.  I could tell she was considering everything I had told her.  She still felt a bit apprehensive and anxious, but the feelings weren’t as strong as before and the hope was starting to take dominance within her. 

“Thank you, Jasper.”  I just inclined my head to her.  “I feel a lot better now.  I know I’ve been like a crazy emo chick lately and it can’t have been pleasant for you…with your ability and all, I mean.”

I shook my head at her.  “Not at all, princess.  I’ve enjoyed being your ‘babysitter’.”

She giggled again, sighing as happiness flushed through her, and she turned her head to the darkening sky out the window.  “Not long now,” she said quietly, more to herself than to me.

“No, not long now.  Did you want me to help you during the meeting?” I asked.  “I won’t if you tell me not to.”

She continued to look out the window for a bit, chewing on her lip as she thought.  “Only if you really think it’s necessary.  I hope it won’t be, though.  I want to do this on my own, you know?”

I nodded again, understanding.  She wanted to be strong and independent.  My admiration for her increased tenfold.

We sat in a comfortable silence, both of us lost in our thoughts.  My own were filled with her, as they often have been of late. 

As I was considering whether or not to ask Marcus what he saw between Bella and me, my phone buzzed, vibrating from its place in my back pocket.  I leaned forward and took it out, noting I had a text from Marcus.

My chambers.  Immediately.  Bring Bella.

A sense of foreboding stole into me as I read it.  Bring Bella?  With this urgency, it couldn’t be good.  I wondered what had happened as I looked over at Bella, hoping nothing had happened to Sera.  It would devastate not only Marcus but Bella as well, and I was loathe to see her unhappy in any way.

“We’ve been summoned, princess,” I informed her.

She turned to me, her eyebrows drawn together in confusion.  “So soon?  But my meeting isn’t for a few hours, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but Master Marcus wants us to meet him in his chambers ‘immediately’, so...” I trailed off as I stood, keeping hold of her hand and tugging gently for her to follow.

She followed suit and fell into step next to me.  “I wonder what it is…  Nothing bad, I hope.” 

“We won’t know until we get there, princess.” 

I felt her worry increase as we reached the door.  Releasing her hand reluctantly, I held open the door for her to pass through and then fell back into step next to her as we traveled the corridors to Marcus’ chambers.

UB Extras - Chapter 12

The ‘blank slate’ vampire description is in homage to mama4dukes’ Life Happens, So Just Roll with It.  It’s a great story!  Truly funny shit.  Here is the link to the story as well as a link to my rec for it on our blog.