A/N As always you all just blew me away with your responses. Thanks!
In this chapter an important detail about Jasper's past will be revealed, and hopefully some of your questions will be answered.
A feeling of déjà-vu came over me. It was nearly fifty years ago …
I was in Philadelphia. There was a storm that night, and it was raining quite heavily. Due to the late hour and the bad weather condition there was barely a living soul on the street, but taking into consideration that I still would have drawn too much attention to myself by walking carefree through the pouring rain, I knew I needed to find some shelter.
I didn't have to look long, spotting a small diner right across the street. I quickly made the decision to wait in there for the rain to cease. It wasn't like I had places to be … not yet anyway. I had all the time in the world … literally.
Through the window I was able to ascertain that the place was pretty much vacant, much to my delight. It was probably a good thing, that wasn't hungry at the moment. I'd already quenched my thirst on two humans that night. But to be honest, I was more concerned about my ability to control my gift than my bloodlust. To me all humans smelt pretty much the same, but only blood wise. So far I hadn't had the pleasure yet to come across one human whose blood sang to me. That was probably a good thing, though. I could only imagine the extreme, but at the same time short-lived satisfaction that came with the experience of drinking the perfect blood. What a shame it would be, to discover something like this, only to lose it just as quickly.
I had to swallow a mouthful of venom, and shook my head, to rid myself of these disconcerting thoughts. I knew thinking about feeding wouldn't be prudent, when I was about to deal with humans.
As soon as I was through the door, my body instantly stiffened. I was assaulted by an unfamiliar but still well-known scent. There was another vampire in here, apparently for quite some time since the entire room reeked of his or her smell, overshadowing even the mixed stink of alcohol, human sweat and stale grease.
Of course, my vampire instincts kicked in right away. Fight or flight? Fight or flight? My gut told me to get out of there at once, but of course my brain (and my pride) was telling me to stay. Maybe I was too over-confident for my own good, but considering there were humans around, I didn't really expect an attack.
In the end I didn't get the chance to make a final decision on either one of my choices, because just a few seconds after my entrance a tiny woman with black, spiky hair jumped from a stool at the bar, and walked … well more like danced right over to me. I still stood at the door, rooted in place, contemplating my options.
When she came closer, a growl, too low for human ears, broke free from my chest. It was a warning, and she seemed to recognize it as such, keeping some distance between us, but it still wasn't good enough for me.
Even though it was quite obvious that she wasn't much of a threat to someone like me, with my background, her presence still made me extremely uncomfortable. I knew she would be easily dealt with, if necessary, but then again I also knew where there was one there could easily be another, hiding. I prepared myself for a fight … mentally and physically. I quickly glanced around the room, counting heartbeats, and faces …
I sighed internally, relaxing a bit, when I realized that she was on her own … well at least in here.
"You've kept me waiting for a long time. I was starting to get worried." She chirped, smiling at me sweetly, almost persuasively. According to her emotions she wasn't just weighing me in false security, she actually meant every word. In fact, her emotions were pretty easy to read. She was practically bouncing, absolutely ecstatic with joy. The unfamiliar feeling of pure happiness was creeping up on me, threatening to consume me.
I shook it off on impulse. I hated being influenced by the emotions of others. It made me feel incapable of making my own decisions. I needed to keep a level head, especially as long as I didn't know what the hell was going on.
For a moment there, I was truly lost for words, as the meaning behind her words sank in. She has been waiting for me, but why? Fortunately, I managed to keep the full extent of my bewilderment from showing on my face. Being a vampire implied being a good actor by nature.
"I beg your pardon?" My voice was rather harsh, but I didn't care. I wanted her to know, that I wasn't as delighted as she was about our encounter.
Her face fell ever so slightly. Apparently this wasn't the reaction she was expecting.
"Well … like I'd said, I've been waiting for you." She said, hurt evident in her voice. "You should have been here an hour ago. But never mind that, you are here now, that's all that matters." She gained some of her earlier confidence back at the end.
"Well, that's real nice, but I am not in the mood for company." I scoffed, pushing past her. I knew it was rude of me to act this way, but I couldn't find it in me to actually care. And I hoped that this way she would get the message and leave me the fuck alone. I walked over to an empty booth. I could feel her eyes on me, but I ignored it. I sat down, facing the entrance out of habit.
The little vampire stood there, looking like someone who just got dumped by her lover … for no good reason. She huffed, and then made her way over to my table. If I wasn't already irritated to death by her, I would have found her persistence rather amusing, maybe even endearing. But apparently she wasn't smart enough to take the hint I gave her. I rolled my eyes at her, but she decided to ignore it, determined to follow her own course.
She slid in the booth across from me. Before any of us could say anything, the waitress made her appearance at our table.
"What can I get you?" She asked.
"Bourbon, straight. No ice." I said, emphasizing the last two words. I didn't look up, keeping my eyes on the gnome.
"Nothing for me, thank you." My table companion said, staring back at me. For the first time I noticed the strange color of her eyes. Instead of deep blood red like mine, hers were orange-red. For a brief moment I wondered about the reason behind this unique shade. But then again, I've met vampires who had kept their original eye-color.
The waitress left, only to return with my drink a minute later. At least the service in here was good. She left us alone again, probably sensing the tension between the two of us.
"Are you really going to drink that?" The strange vampire asked, eyeing my drink speculatively.
"So what if I do?" I snapped back. What was she, my mother? I took a mouthful of my drink, enjoying the familiar taste on my tongue. She watched me with interest, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
It was true; normally a vampire couldn't drink or eat anything except blood. Well, we could ingest anything, but we couldn't digest it. But it turned out that high-proof alcohol was an exception to that rule. And from time to time, I truly enjoyed a glass of good, old Bourbon. It reminded me of my human days. Of course, it hadn't the same effect on a vampire, since we couldn't get drunk, but still.
I set my glass back on the table. "So, since you aren't going to leave me alone, can you at least tell me, what you want from me?" I demanded.
She flinched again at my less than polite tone of voice. She took a moment to collect herself, taking in a deep, but unnecessary breath, before she began to talk. "Well, okay. My name is Alice. And I possess a special ability just like you do, Jasper." She stopped, gauging my reaction. So she knew my name, what else is new? I was pretty well known in the vampire society. I leaned back, crossing my arms, signaling her with a flick of one hand to continue. Against all odds, I was starting to enjoy this. Sufficed to say, I was a little curious about the so-called gift of hers.
"I knew that you were coming in here tonight, because I saw it. I had a vision of you … well of us actually." She stared at the table, playing with a napkin. It almost looked like she would be blushing, if that were possible. I tried hard to suppress a laugh, because I've never, not even once, met a vampire who was acting this … human. I could still sense a flicker of hope in her. I let her continue, because I could sense something else coming. "You are supposed to come with me … in my vision we are going to join a coven … and we are happy. We are going to survive on animals and you won't have to feed on humans anymore …"
"Hold it right there, missy. Can you repeat the last thing? I think I didn't quite catch that." I mocked. Of course I've heard her just fine. I was a vampire after all. But was she serious?
Her head snapped up, and she was glaring at me. "Why are you being so mean? What is wrong with you?" Alice cried, a little too loud. We were starting to draw attention to ourselves. I didn't like it, not one bit. But I liked her aggravating behavior even less.
"What is wrong with me? Are you serious? You came on to me, telling me some tall tell … and you actually have the audacity to believe that I would trust you, and go with you … just like that, just because you tell me you saw it happen. You must be delusional." I shook my head in exasperation. My earlier amusement was completely gone.
"I just want to help you …" She tried to defend herself.
"But I don't want your help." I growled, sensing my control slipping. "Nor do I need help."
"But it will be for the best …" She argued.
I slapped my hand on the table, cutting her off mid-sentence. I had enough of this farce. Who did she think she was? Mother Teresa? I leaned across the table, speaking only loud enough for her to hear. "You listen, and listen good, little one, because I hate to repeat myself. I have no desire whatsoever to go with you and join some stupid coven. And as long as there are humans to feed on, I won't have to think twice about changing my diet.
"And as for you and me," I gestured between us, "That will never happen. You are not simply my type, get it?"
Alice visibly recoiled, like I'd just slapped her. And in truth, I wasn't very far from doing the exact thing. She was pissing me off with her Good Samaritan act. She might believe that she was really going to help me. But I saw it differently. I've just managed to escape the claws of one manipulative bitch. I had no desire whatsoever to replace her with another. And at that precise moment that's all I saw in the little vampire who sat across from me. Of course, I could sense her disappointment, her pain and her anger. I pushed against it, but my own feelings were too strong at the moment.
I knew I had to get out of here, before I would finally lose it.
I pulled a bill out of my wallet and placed it on the table. Then I stood up. "I'm leaving. If you are smart, you will not try to follow me. You seem to know enough about me, so you know what I am capable of when I'm angry." I said, menacingly.
Without another word, I left the diner. I didn't glance back, but I could hear her silent sobs of grief on my way out. I didn't care one bit.
I grinned, remembering the day I told Peter about that bizarre confrontation, which was actually only a few days later, since I was already on my way to visit him and Charlotte up in Maine, when I came across Alice.
All three of us had a good laugh … for days.
But Charlotte being Charlotte couldn't help herself and gave me good scolding about the way I'd let Alice down. Thankfully she had done it in private. I didn't need Peter to witness this. He would have teased me about it to no end. But he was hardly the one to talk, since he was completely whipped. I knew he would deny it, but it was obvious who had the pants on in their relationship… so to speak.
A small … very small part of me felt guilty. I knew my mother had raised me better. And Charlotte didn't let the opportunity slide to remind me of that fact. She was convinced that even though we were vampires, living of humans, we could at least try to do better.
And maybe she was right. I could have handled the situation with more finesse. But back then and even now, my gift made it difficult to act accordingly. Alice's high-handed behavior has been enough to push me over the edge. Maybe I'd have reacted differently if she'd taken a different approach. Anyhow, there was no doubt in my mind, that I still would have declined her gracious offer, but in a nicer way.
Once, and only once Peter and I had actually tried out deer, out of sheer curiosity. We both agreed to never repeat that experiment. The taste was disgusting at best, though I had to admit that animal blood might make a reasonable substitute … for some. It didn't quench the thirst, only dulled it. It would take an entire herd to compensate for one human. And I imaged that abstaining would make it more difficult to control our bloodlust.
I shook my head, and walked through the door. Surprisingly, the diner was more occupied than I would have expected, due to the hour and the place. I took a seat at the bar, far enough away from the other patrons.
"What can I get you?" The middle-aged woman working the bar asked. She sounded tired, and a little annoyed.
I pointed at the shelf behind her. "Just give me that and an empty glass."
She frowned at first, but complied as soon as I put a bill on the counter, more than enough to cover the worth of the bottle. She simply shrugged and went back to her business, cleaning glasses, paying me no more attention.
Because I had nothing else to do, I scanned the room. There were two truckers sitting in one corner, playing cards and drinking beer. A couple, in desperate need to get a room sooner rather than later, were busy kissing, licking and groping each other. I tried my best to ignore their heavy state of arousal, hoping that they would soon decide to relocate their make-out session elsewhere. In the farthest corner sat a young woman with long, dark hair, reading a book. She was drinking something hot, coffee perhaps.
She looked up at the same moment, and our eyes met. I could have sworn that I saw a flicker of recognition in her beautiful deep brown eyes. But I couldn't be sure because she hastily diverted her eyes back to the book in front of her. That wasn't the kind of reaction I was used to. Generally, women would be staring at me, flirting like mad in the hopes to get a chance with me. They didn't have a clue that they were better off, when I declined.
But this one acted odd. I knew for certain that I had never seen this girl in my life before. Did she know what I was? And if she did, why wasn't she out of here the minute she saw me? Humans normally had a healthy sense of self-preservation. Maybe she didn't?
But more importantly … why do I care at all?
I didn't know why, but I couldn't take my eyes of her. Something about her had caught my full attention. I continued to study her. From the looks of her I estimated that she was probably around nineteen or twenty years old. The clothes she wore didn't give much away, simple blue jeans and a sweater, nothing special. She was pale, very pale, which I thought was quite unusual for this area, but maybe she wasn't from around here, just passing through like me. She didn't strike me as sick though.
Again … why do you care?
Somehow she must have sensed my lingering gaze. She didn't look up again, but I could tell from her posture that she was starting to get uncomfortable. And then she was blushing furiously. I groaned at the sight, gulping down the entire content of my glass. The taste of the alcohol helped a little to get my mind off the thought of tasting her blood. I wasn't thirsty, but she was still tantalizing me.
Come and have a taste …
Abruptly she closed her book, and hastily placed some coins to pay for her beverage. In the next moment she was out of her seat, and practically fled the scene. I caught a whiff of her scent, when she moved passed me. She smelled like nothing I'd ever encountered before. But it wasn't her blood that called to me. It seemed to be her.
I stared after her, watching as she entered one of the rooms of the motel. What the hell was that about? Should I go after her? Was she alone? I remained on my seat, contemplating my options.
Finally, I'd made my decision. There was no doubt in my mind. I wanted her … one way or another. None of the other patrons had paid any attention to me or her abrupt departure, which made it easier for me to slip out and follow her, totally unnoticed.
I walked over to her motel room, struggling to keep a human pace. Not that it was necessary, because there wasn't anyone out here, just a few stay dogs. It was too dark anyway, for the humans to see me.
When I reached the door, I tried the doorknob first. To my surprise but utter delight it wasn't locked. She made it far too easy for me. I slipped into the room, closing the door behind me without making any noise. I heard water running. Obviously she was in the bathroom. I moved stealthily not wanting to alert her to my presence. The door to the small bathroom stood slightly ajar. I was able to see her, standing in front of the sink, brushing her teeth. She had managed to change her outfit. Now she was dressed in some loose sweatpants and t-shirt, apparently her attire for the night.
She leaned over the sink, rinsing her mouth. I took my chance and moved inside the bathroom, standing right behind her, without touching her. When she straightened up, our eyes met in the mirror above the sink. I was ready to clap my hand over her mouth, to silence her scream. Her eyes went wide, and her breath got stuck, but she didn't make a sound.
I didn't know why I hadn't noticed it before, but suddenly I realized that I wasn't able to get a read on her emotions … at all. Nothing but static. How peaceful! But then again, using my special gift wasn't necessary. One look into her brown, bottomless eyes and I knew everything I needed to know. She knew what I was, and she wasn't afraid.
Her eyes never left mine. She pulled her long hair out-of-the-way, exposing her throat to me.
"Do it!" She said, tilting her head.
A/N Will he, won't he? That's the question! What do you think?