Darkness. Pain. Anguish. It seems like there is no light at all, like everything is bleak and unnoticeable. I was better for a time, but now that Jacob has left me, it seems like everything is black again. I thought he was repairing the hole in my chest, but now I see he was only carving out a hole of his own. I have lost my sun now, too.
Such were my thoughts as I stopped my truck by the start of the trail leading to the meadow. I dried my eyes and reached for the glove compartment. I wanted to try to find the meadow again, but this time I didn’t have Jake, or . . . him. This thought brought a fresh wave of tears, and I swore, getting out of the truck after grabbing the map.
I set off into the forest, trying not to trip as I looked up ahead. The forest seemed to be getting slightly lighter, but it could just be my imagination. Distracted by a spider web, I tripped and fell, face-first, into the meadow.
I sat up and gasped, disregarding the scrapes I had on my hands. The meadow looked completely different, the grass dry and brown with no wildflowers. It wasn’t easier to remember them here, either, like I’d thought. No, it was just more painful.
I sat for a few minutes, hunched over with my arms around my chest, trying to hold myself together. “Why, Bella, is that you?” A smooth, familiar voice called from across the meadow. I stood up quickly, looking towards the sound. It was Laurent, and he was walking over. Something seemed odd about his appearance but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“Laurent, I thought you were in Denali?” I questioned, trying to be polite.
“Oh, I came up for a visit with the Cullens, but it appears that they aren’t at home. By the way things smelled they haven’t been home for a very long time. . . Am I right? Did they finally get tired of their human pet?” Laurent smiled, in rather sadistic way. But I was too distracted by his eyes to take much notice of the jab.
“I-I thought you were going vegetarian?” I stammered, starting to feel fear and a strong urge to keep the vampire talking, to stall.
“Oh, I do try. I enjoy the benefits the ‘vegetarian’ lifestyle brings. But when I’m away I tend to cheat. Human blood is so much sweeter,” Laurent paused to sniff the air. “And you do smell so delicious. Don’t take it personally, Bella, I promise I’ll make it quick and painless.”
He was almost close enough to reach out and grab me now, and I stumbled back. All my senses were screaming RUN! But I knew it would be useless, and I didn’t want to die with my back turned. Suddenly Laurent’s eyes widened, in what looked like. . . Fear. A second later a blur came out of nowhere, passing in front of me and smacking into Laurent. After a short moment, both the blur and Laurent were gone. There was a small fire with odd purple smoke in Laurent’s place. But my attention was caught by the figure standing by the fire, putting away a box of matches and watching me carefully.
It was Jasper Cullen.
I blinked, trying to see through the darkness on the edges of my vision, “Jasper?” My hand reached out as if to touch him, although he was too far away. Jasper nodded, and then alarm crossed his face as the dark fuzzy spots took over, and the last thing I saw was him lunging forward to catch me as I fell.
I groaned and opened my eyes to find that I was lying mostly on the ground, my head in Jasper’s lap. “Bella? How are you feeling?” Jasper asked, as if he didn’t know. I reached up to touch his face, ignoring the question.
“Are you real?” With all my recent hallucinations, I wasn’t quite sure. But then, why Jasper? I barely knew him. Sorrow crossed his face, and I attempted to smooth out the lines on his forehead. They didn’t belong there, and they didn’t look right either, they looked wrong somehow.
“I’m real, Bella, I’m right here.”
My brain processed that slowly, and when it finally hit I burst into tears. Jasper quickly sat me up and wrapped his arms around me, letting me cry into his shoulder and ruin his shirt. He murmured to me in Spanish, rocking me gently, and letting me cry it out.
Sometime later, I wasn’t sure how long, the tears stopped coming and I pulled away, remembering Jasper’s empathic gift and struggles with control. “I’m so sorry, I forgot-” I started to apologize
“No apology needed, Bella, I’m fine and you needed comfort I was more than happy to give.” Jasper stated firmly. I could feel him taking the edges off my guilt. I hesitantly smiled at him in thanks, and to my surprise I got a smile in return. Jasper rarely smiled or laughed, at least around me.
Jasper stood up in a quick graceful movement, successfully breaking me out of my thoughts. “Charlie will be home soon, we should go.” He said gently. I stood up as well, nowhere near as gracefully or fluid.
“Okay,” I agreed, not looking forwards to going back through the forest.
“I could carry you, if you like. It’ll be much faster.” Jasper suggested slowly.
“Um, sure, if you’re okay with it,” I didn’t want to cause Jasper any pain. He snorted, and I thought I heard him mutter “If you only knew,” under his breath as he swooped to pick me up bridal style.
I squeaked when Jasper started running, and I felt the amusement radiating off of him. It had been so long since I’d been running with Edward (Thinking his name sent a fresh stab of pain through the hole in my chest) and Jasper’s running style was. . . Different, somehow. He ran more aggressive, although I wasn’t sure how. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see the forest rushing by nauseatingly fast and held on with all my strength, locking my elbows.
A few moments later we were back at my truck and I realized I’d clung so tightly I was, well, stuck. I couldn’t unlock my arms, they were too stiff. “Bella, you can let go now.” Jasper said patiently. I paused, embarrassed.
It came out sounding like a question, although it wasn’t. Jasper laughed and a moment later I was in the passenger seat of the truck, buckled and all. My elation at getting Jasper to laugh quickly turned to dismay. Why do vampires always have to drive? I thought grumpily.
“Next time, Bella; you’re in no shape to get behind the wheel right now. If something happens, I walk away just fine. You, on the other hand, are much more fragile and do not.” Jasper reminded me, starting the engine.
I was about to reply when a thought struck me and I gasped with the pain, hunching over and wrapping my arms around myself. “Bella? Bella! What’s wrong? Are you okay? Answer me, Bella!” Jasper’s panicked questions made their way through the fog in my brain and I felt guilty. Of course he felt it too. “Bella, answer me, damnit!” He pleaded, and I felt his hands running over my back, arms, and shoulders. That made me feel guiltier, so I told him.
“You said ‘next time.’ But there won’t be a next time, will there?”
Comprehension dawned on Jasper’s face and he slid over to my seat and curled around me as well as he could. “Oh, Bella. ¿Que te dijo para destruirte tan completamente? Por supuesto que me quedaré, querida. Niunca volveré a dejarte.” I had no idea what Jasper was saying, it sounded like Spanish, but it made me feel better, as did the physical contact. He used his gift to make me feel even more wrapped in comfort, and that helped even more.
The intensity decreased when Jasper pulled away but I could still feel it. “Thank you,” I sniffed, looking for a tissue. I hadn’t realized I’d started crying again. “I’m sorry for being such a mess,” I muttered, taking the napkin Jasper silently offered.
“Don’t be, it’s our fault.”
“I suppose,” I dubiously agreed. “I didn’t know you speak Spanish.” I offered as a conversation starter.
“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me, Bella.” Jasper said in a sad sort of way as he restarted the truck.
We spent the rest of the drive in a comfortable silence until we turned on to my street. “Charlie’s still not home.” Jasper said suddenly with a frown.
“He spends a lot of time fishing, especially if he goes with friends.” I said. Still, I’d been gone a long time and a knot of cold unease settled in my stomach. Jasper parked, and had turned off the truck and was in the house by the time I’d unbuckled. At least he respected my truck’s internal speed limit, I thought to myself.
Jasper came back out with a note then and handed it to me. I scanned it quickly,
“Bells, I got called into the station. Be home soon, left Harry Clearwater’s fish fry in the fridge. Love, Dad.”
I sighed. “Fish again.” Jasper raised an eyebrow,
“You don’t like fish?” He asked.
“I do, but not more than once or twice a week.” I complained, walking for the house. The hole in my chest panged when I realized Jasper hadn’t moved from his spot by the truck. He was at my side in an instant, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I just. . . It didn’t look like you were coming.” I explained, moving one arm from around my torso to brush a piece of hair out of my face.
“Do you. . . Want me to come in?” Jasper asked hesitantly.
I nodded, ignoring his pause and feeling slightly selfish for once. “Please?” I whispered.
“Of course,” Jasper said immediately, motioning for me to lead the way.
Once inside I realized I was extremely hungry and asked if Jasper minded me putting together a quick sandwich. After I sat down with it, Jasper leaned forward with his elbows on the table. “Bella, I’m sure you have a few questions and I will do my best to answer them as truthfully as I can, whenever you’re ready to ask. But there are some things I can’t answer just yet because I really don’t think you’re ready but I will answer them one day if you still want to know. Deal?” Jasper watched me carefully, and no doubt was keeping just as careful an eye on m emotions, as he spoke.
“Okay, deal,” I agreed, pushing sandwich crumbs around my plate. This was the hard part. I took a deep breath, “Jasper? How long have you. . . Been back?” I asked, staring down at my plate. A moment of silence passed and I looked up at Jasper to find him studying the table as intently as I had been my plate. “Jasper?” I asked, hoping he’d look up. He finally did, looking extremely uncomfortable.
“Well, I. . . Never actually left.”