Bella's emotions settled into a peaceful, resigned state as we got into the car again. With the stuff on the floor in the backseat and taking up one seat I had to slide into the front. Carlisle got behind the wheel and put the car in reverse without saying a word.
Bella watched out the window as we left her father's house behind.
"Are we going to the Forks house?" Bella asked.
"Yes" Carlisle answered, then paused, "unless you think that would make you too uncomfortable" he added glancing at Bella via the rear-view mirror.
Bella shook her head. "It's poetic really, where this story began is where I will close this chapter" she said softly.
I turned around to look at her. "Just remember Bella, it is a chapter, just a chapter. This was not the end of your story" I intently told her gauging her emotions.
Bella smiled a soft smile at me, and reached out to take my hand, sending me her love and care and letting me know she knew what I was doing. Finding her spirit, although subdued, in her eyes, I gave her hand a squeeze and then released her turning back around.
After another few minutes we were pulling into the long driveway that led to the Forks house. I heard Bella sigh as we pulled up.
Carlisle pulled the car straight into the garage and then we all got out of the vehicle. I came around and causally draped an arm around Bella's shoulders. We had left Forks in a hurry so who knew what we would find when we walked in.
Carlisle moved straight for the kitchen and I could hear him calling Esme to discern what needed to be purchased in order to provide food for Bella.
But as Bella and I entered at a slower pace, it was not at all what I expected. Everything was perfectly in order. It was as if nothing had ever transpired here, when in truth we all knew that this space was the location of one of the most devastating incidents in our family: the fracturing of our family with my loss of control.
Bella put her arm around my waist and tucked herself into my side before sending me her love and acceptance and then, in a bizarre twist, taking away my guilt. I looked down at her smiling ruefully, I'd never before experienced someone else using my gift in such a way or been on the receiving end. It was quite an odd feeling.
"You're getting quite good at that Darlin'. Although I'll admit, I've never had someone use my own power against me before", I told her with a small smile.
In classic Bella fashion she blushed, "Practice makes perfect, and in all honesty it's hard NOT to respond to something negative like that. Is it always like that for you?" she asked me as I guided her to the staircase.
"Yes, very much so" I told her, "it's easier around the family because they know about it and I don't have to restrain myself from intervening but around humans I have to be sure I don't overdue my "help" because it would be very odd" I told her.
I guided her into my study and over to a couch, quickly pulling a blanket from the back and handing it to her as I sat down beside her. She immediately wrapped it around herself and then snuggled into my side. It still never failed to amaze me that she liked to touch me. But it was evident that she was more comfortable when she was touching one of us. And I realized with a touch of sadness that it was probably to assure herself that we were actually there.
Bella noticed immediately. "Sadness Jasper? What's wrong?" she asked.
I chuckled, "You may be getting better at using my gift but it still takes some getting used to" I admitted, but then I pulled her closer to me.
"I've noticed you like to touch one of us at all times, even when we're all in the same room. I was sad because I realized you're probably just assuring yourself that we are actually there" I told her, sweeping my hand down her hair.
She looked up at me in surprise. "Jasper, if it bothers you, please tell me" she said, trying to move away, but I wouldn't let her move an inch.
"No, Darlin', that's not what I'm saying at all. I realized how nice it was to find someone who likes to cuddle, but then I realized you were probably doing it more as a security measure, that's why I was sad."
Bella pondered that and I could both feel and see her think that response through.
"I think in some ways you're right, Jasper. But if you think back to my time before you all left me, I was very much the same way then. You just weren't around or close enough to experience it" she told me.
I thought through her reply and in some ways, it made sense. She didn't always need to be touching us, as evidenced by the car ride, but she found comfort in it. Weird girl but I learned long ago never to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"Which means we have lots of time to make up for Darlin'" I smiled down at her.
She returned in blindingly and then laid her head in my lap. "Yes, we do. So tell me a story Jasper. Any story about your life. An adventure with Alice, a battle you fought along the way, a particular moment in time. Just tell me something you want to share" she looked up at me earnestly.
I thought about it. Alice never asked me. She had seen what she needed to and we had spent the last several decades together, where she knew my every action. As she had no past herself, she never asked me about mine. It was kind of nice. I'd never thought about it before, as I didn't feel a need to share it with someone. But if Bella was asking, I was more than happy to open up to her. She'd already proved and unfailing and willing confidant.
I stroked her hair as I sorted through my memories for something I wanted to share. I smiled as I thought of my mother baking cornbread in the kitchen. And that was the story I decided to share with Bella, complete with the antics of me and my siblings in her kitchen. I told her story after story, and it wasn't until Carlisle knocked that I glanced at the clock and realized how much time had passed. It was easy to get wrapped up with Bella.
"Come in" I told Carlisle, as he opened the door carrying a tray with, presumably, Bella's dinner on it.
Bella looked up, smiled at Carlisle and then shifted to sitting up as Carlisle brought over a small table to set Bella's food on. He then turned and pulled himself a chair over across from us.
"Thanks Carlisle" Bella told him as she reached to dig in. I could feel Bella's happiness at the simple gesture, and Carlisle's general joy and fatherly love at being able to do so. Which of course Bella could feel and she looked up at me and then at Carlisle before going back to her food.
Carlisle and I merely enjoyed the content silence as Bella ate. When she was finished Carlisle looked up at her.
"Sweetheart we need to talk about the funeral" Carlisle told Bella. She merely nodded and then tucked her blanket around herself before leaning back into me,
"What time is it Carlisle?" she asked.
"Funeral is set for 1000 day after tomorrow. Tomorrow we will have a viewing for him. Closed casket of course but we'll hold it just the same. 5pm tomorrow night. Is there anything special you'd like? I know you let Esme and Alice take care of things but anything you'd like to add?" Carlisle asked Bella.
I glanced down at her and she seemed to be thinking about it. But then she shook her head. "I guess I'll speak but who else will?" Bella asked him.
Carlisle nodded already anticipating this, "Billy offered to talk. He called while I was downstairs making your dinner. Your mother of course will be there, her and Phil will arrive early tomorrow afternoon, Esme arranged it, but she doesn't wish to speak. So anyone else you think should?" he asked her.
Bella's eyes got big. "Renee is coming? I'm a terrible daughter, I completely forgot about her" she said as she started to freak out.
I quickly pulled her into my chest. "Calm down Darlin', you had a lot of things on your mind. Your mother understands, Esme ran interference for you" I told her stroking her hair until she was calm again.
Carlisle came over and crouched in front of us, hand on Bella's knee. "And Bella you're not a terrible daughter. Never think that" he told her earnestly.
She then reached out for Carlisle who pulled her into a hug while she remained by my side. He released her, kissed her forehead and returned to his chair.
"But you're not going to let her take me, are you?" Bella whispered.
"No sweetheart, we're not" Carlisle told her as I readjusted her in my arms. "Of course, while your father gave Esme and I custody of you, Bella, you're legally old enough to make your own choices and if you'd prefer to live with your mother please know we would always understand that choice" Carlisle finished but Bella was already shaking her head.
"My home is, and always will be, with you" she told Carlisle while squeezing my arm.
"And you always have one with us" Carlisle told her, "but I want you to know that leaving is always an option. We're not here to dictate your actions."
Bella's joy burst from her and she nearly jumped at Carlisle, who easily caught her.
"Thank you" she whispered, hugging him in his chair this time,
"Always Bella, you're my daughter and I always want you to be happy" he told her before slowly pulling back and cupping her cheek.
She stepped back, grabbed her blanket, and returned to my side. This, like her using my gift, I didn't think would ever get old. This crazy little human liked being near me; it was still odd to me.
"So as for the funeral my biggest concern will be Renee; she's going to be distraught and looking to me. She's not going to believe you want to keep me and it's not going to go down well" Bella admitted.
Carlisle nodded. "We'll be sure to talk that piece with her" he promised her. "And of course, if you need anything at any time over the next couple of days grab any of us and we'll help you. Don't let her, or anyone else, overwhelm you. We know this is a hard time for you."
Bella nodded, "I will. I'm still trying to process, but the fact that I'm going home with you after should serve to give me strength."
"Well on that note you've had a long day, maybe you should go to bed" Carlisle suggested.
Suddenly Bella's anxiety skyrocketed before she clamped down on it.
"Bella, how about you sleep in my and Alice's room tonight?" I asked her.
She was flooded with relief and thanks and I tried not to smile as I correctly guessed the direction of her thoughts.
"Smugness does not suit you Jasper" she chastised me getting up. I looked up in surprise as she moved away from me.
Carlisle looked between us in interest. "She's borrowing your talent isn't she?" he asked, correctly deducing what she meant by her comment.
I nodded. "Yes, she was anxious when you suggested bed. So I offered my room guessing the location of where she'd sleep was causing the anxiety. She was thankful and relieved when I did but then I guess I was a bit smug at guessing correctly. That sum it up, Darlin?"' I asked her with a chuckle.
Bella shot me a mock glare, "Yeah" she laughed slightly, dropping her slight annoyance.
Carlisle was awed. "You two do this a lot now?" he asked.
I shrugged. "She likes to me close to me, and when she's touching me, we just seem to do it without thinking. I've been doing it for centuries but she just seems like a natural. Although it is hard to remember that she now can borrow it. Earlier Bella disappeared my guilt. I have to admit that's the first time I've ever before been on the receiving end of my talent; it can be annoying can't it?" I replied, looking at Carlisle.
Bella chuckled, "Yes, Jasper".
Carlisle was brought out of his stupor when Bella replied. "Amazing" he whispered, looking between the pair of us.
"Jasper, show me the way?" Bella asked, moving towards the door.
"Sure" I said, looking over at Carlisle who was still mostly frozen.
"Carlisle" I said, and he jolted, noticing that both Bella and I were leaving.
"Yes? Oh, yes, I'll take of this" he said waving at Bella's dinner dishes. "We'll talk later. Good night Bella" he finished.
"Good night Carlisle" she gave him a smile as she slipped from the room.
I guided Bella down the hallway to my room. Opening the door, I flipped on the light and noticed luggage for Bella just inside of the door, guess Alice must have told Carlisle where to put it. "So your stuff is here" I pointed to the bags, "bathroom through here" I said crossing the room, opening the door, and turning on the light, "and if you need anything just shout" I told her.
"Thanks Jasper" Bella said, already reaching for her bag.
"You probably want a shower; I'll be in my study. If you need me don't hesitate to call" I told her, moving back to the bedroom door.
"I will" Bella said, glancing up at me.
I gave her a smile and stepped through the door, closing it behind me. I moved towards my study and found Carlisle very much where I had left him.
"Penny for your thoughts?" I asked him.
"Yes, as a matter of fact" he replied. I settled in for what I was sure would be an eventful conversation, nonetheless keeping one ear out for Bella.