Chapter Two


"Well, I... Never actually left."

If I had been a cartoon character, my jaw would have been on the floor. As it was, I could only stare at Jasper while my brain struggling to process what he'd said. "Sorry, I- What?" I stammered out.

"I never left. When the family got together and Edward talked everyone else into leaving, I couldn't. I felt too guilty about what happened at your birthday party and it would have been unwise to leave you unprotected. Victoria is still out there somewhere, and Edward killed her mate. She might take her time, but she won't stop until she gets her revenge by killing his mate. Besides, I wanted to apologize for what happened that night. I lost control and I am truly sorry for everything that happened." Jasper said, watching me carefully like he was gauging my reaction – and he probably was, since he could feel the rollercoaster of emotions that he'd sent me on.

I was speechless as I took in what I had just heard. "You stayed behind… You let your family, your mate, go for me? Jasper, how could you? I'm not that important, you should be with Alice and everyone not here with me, I'm just a stupid human, I'm not that important!"

I was almost angry as I thought through the implications of what I'd just heard. I knew very little about Jasper or his past – He had never let me spend much time with Jasper because he claimed it was too dangerous, that Jasper's control was too risky, and Jasper was quiet and kept to himself most of the time anyway – but I couldn't ever imagine him without Alice around or Emmett or Esme. He may have been a quiet member of the family, but he was still important.

"For that matter, you've been here all this time and you've never even bothered to knock on the door? To say hello? I've been in my own personal hell and you've just stood by?" I hadn't even realized I'd spoken out loud until I saw Jasper's wince. I immediately felt bad and went to apologize when he cut me off.

"No, you're right to be upset. Maybe I should have made my presence known sooner but I wasn't sure how you would take it. The last time you had seen me, I tried to kill you, Bella. That's not something most people take lightly, and I wasn't sure if I would have been welcome. I wasn't sure what Ed-My brother said to you when he told you we were leaving." Jasper paused, looking me over and probably checking on my emotions before continuing. "I've always been around, doing what I could and making sure you didn't walk off of a cliff or drive off the road accidentally."

I blushed, knowing that either one of those had been a very real possibility a month ago. I felt bad for judging Jasper so quickly and before I knew it I'd started crying again. I felt horrible for separating him from his mate and family and then treating him like I had. "I'm sorry, I'm such a mess," I sobbed out.

A moment later I felt a cool hand rubbing my back, I barely thought before reaching out and pulling Jasper into a hug as I cried. He seemed startled at first, his hand pausing as he stiffened before he relaxed and sent me a soothing wave of calm. When my head cleared a little, I gasped and jerked away from him, almost falling out of the chair. "Oh gosh I'm so so sorry, I forgot about your gift, I keep making things hard for you, I'm so sorry."

Jasper had grabbed me, stopping me from faceplanting onto the floor, and he squatted from where he'd been standing beside me to look up into my face. "Now listen here, Bella, I've said it before but I'll remind you again. You're worth it, every moment. You're a kind, sweet woman who has done nothing to deserve everything you've been put through. Whatever help I can provide, I will gladly give it. You don't ever have to worry about me. Okay?"

There was something in Jasper's face that made me believe him, and whether it was his words or his gift that made me feel better I wasn't really sure, but I nodded and even gave him a small, tearful, smile. "There, that's better."

I went to go clean up and calm down a little bit by myself in the bathroom while Jasper washed the dirty dishes from my earlier sandwich. When I went back downstairs, he was standing in the living room, flipping through a book I'd left on the couch. He put it down carefully before turning to face me, "I was wondering if you had any questions? I know I threw a lot of information at you."

It looked, and felt, unreal. I'd never expected to see any of the Cullens again and here was Jasper, possibly the Cullen I knew the least, standing in my living room, with a Southern accent to boot. I wondered if it could get any stranger as I went to sit on the couch and motioned for him to join me. "You can sit down, you know, I won't break."

"I guess what I want to say first is you don't have to apologize for what happened at my birthday party, Jasper, there's nothing to forgive." I had kind of glossed over his apology in the kitchen earlier, but I felt like it was something important that needed to be addressed.

"Nothing? Bella, I almost killed you. I would have drained you dry if a part of me hadn't held onto sanity. At first– Well, never mind that part, but I had to deal with everyone else's bloodlust on top of my own. It would have been so easy to just kill you."

"Trust me when I say that there is nothing to forgive. You were dealing with everyone else's bloodlust, Jasper, you can't help that. There were six other vampires in the room and like you said you had to deal with their emotions and the important thing is that you didn't hurt me. You say it would have been easy, but you didn't take the opportunity. I've never blamed you for anything that happened that night."

I tried to put as much sincerity and trust into my words as possible, knowing Jasper could feel it all, and I hoped that my message got across. He let out a breath he didn't need, "I suppose you're right," was the only answer I got, and I wasn't sure if he was just humoring me or if he actually believed me.

"Okay, next question. Where is… Everyone else?" I asked. I wasn't sure if this was pushing too much, too soon, but I was dying to know.

Jasper answered promptly, "Down in Georgia. Alice says it's really nice down there, but really sunny." He paused to smirk, "Rosalie isn't thrilled about night school. She's getting another mechanic degree, but she's doing diesel this time. Emmett is majoring in engineering, Carlisle is teaching a few medical related classes, Alice is doing some sort of weird dance program, Esme is the perfect stay at home wife and mother, and the other member of the family is getting another philosophy degree."

The hole in my chest was aching and Jasper sent me more soothing waves of calm and peace, giving me a worried look that I firmly ignored. "They sound like they're all doing well, then," I offered shakily. It sounded like they'd forgotten me and were moving on.

"As well as they can be, under the circumstances. They all miss you, Bella, and it was hard for most of them to just up and leave without even saying goodbye. We all argued for hours about leaving, not leaving, saying goodbye, not…"

Of course Jasper had immediately caught on to my feelings, I should have known he would. Being around an empath again would take some getting used to but, in a way, I welcomed it. Even though he'd have to feel all the pain and sorrow I did, it meant someone understood what I was going though, and knew what I needed.

I looked over at the clock and saw that time had been whizzing by – It was almost time for Charlie to be home. He normally came home around 4:30 from fishing trips with Billy, and it was about 4 o'clock. "What's up?" Jasper asked, noticing my mood change.

"Charlie will be home soon…" I trailed off. It wouldn't be good if Charlie found Jasper here, his opinion of the Cullens had just about hit the deck after they left so quickly, and I turned into a zombie. I didn't really want Jasper to leave – Part of me still hadn't fully accepted he was real. I didn't want this afternoon to have been a hallucination, I wasn't ready for that. I had been given a little hope, a taste of my extended family. The thought of Jasper leaving and having that ripped away was enough to have me curled into a ball on the couch, arms protectively around my middle. "Please don't leave." I whispered.

"Hey, hey, hey, Bella, it's okay," Jasper soothed, using his gift to calm me down again. "I won't go far, but I can't stay here with Charlie. I'll stay just inside the tree line, though." He started whispering in Spanish again until I was okay. "If you need me, I'll come running, alright? I'm not leaving forever."

I heard Charlie pull into the driveway then and I locked eyes with him.
"Promise." He agreed, reaching out and rubbing my back again for a brief moment before vanishing in the blink of an eye as the front door opened.

"Bells?" I heard Charlie yell.
"In the living room, Dad!" I called back, gazing at the space Jasper had occupied only a moment before.

I truly had a lot to think about.

A/N: Sooooooo hi I'm back from the dead. How have your two years been? Were you even here then? If yes, HI GOOD TO SEE YOU. If not, HI NICE TO MEET YOU. I didn't mean to take so long, but life circumstances... Were a thing. But I have the itch to write. So hello. :) I don't much like this chapter but I hope it's decent and if I need to make any corrections feel free to let me know! It's good to be back, lovelies! (also yes I published this then exported it to add this bit in because I'm a big ole dumb it's fine sorry if you got the notif twice)