Forks, Washington, Tuesday January 3rd, 2006
"Oh my god! Jasper!" Jasper looked up automatically when he heard his name whispered, almost too quietly even for his super hearing. The new girl—Bella Swan—was staring at him with a shocked expression on her face from across the Forks High cafeteria. She couldn't possibly know him, yet as he made eye contact with her and automatically searched out her feelings he could feel her recognition combined with shock, joy and hope.
Realising that he was staring, he looked away, only to have her feelings blink off completely. He glanced back to see what had distracted her, only to see her looking down. She was flushed with, he supposed, embarrassment. She had been staring too. But try as he might, he couldn't single out her feelings again. He frowned, confused.
"What was that?" Edward asked curiously.
"I have no idea. It felt as though she recognised me, and she obviously knew my name, but I don't see how she could have. Maybe her emotions were about something else. What's she thinking?"
Now it was Edward's turn to frown as he stared over at her.
"I don't know," he said slowly.
"What do you mean?" Alice looked at him, concerned.
"I can't hear her," Edward said. "It's like there's just a blank hole, where her thoughts should be. Even when she speaks, there's no thought process around it."
They all tuned in to the conversation she was having with Jessica Stanley.
"It's creepy if you ask me. I'm surprised it's allowed. Last year their older brother and sister were seniors—Emmett, Alice's biological brother, and Rosalie, who's Jasper's sister—and they were together too. I mean, I know they're not blood related, but even so..."
'What about the blond one? Jasper, is it?' Bella asked briefly glancing back at them. They were all carefully looking away, but they could easily watch through their peripheral vision.
"Don't even bother! He may be good looking, but he's just as stuck up as the rest of them. Apparently, none of the girls in Forks are good enough for him."
"Maybe he has a girlfriend somewhere else," Bella murmured, looking down again. "I need to use the restroom before class. I'll see you later."
Jasper watched out of the corner of his eye, as she hurried out of the cafeteria. She looked over at him as she left, but he didn't look back. He still couldn't feel anything from her though.
"Do you guys have any classes with her?" he asked.
"Not so far." Alice and Edward had worked it so they had most of their classes together this year. Being in school six hours a day was painful enough without being separated from your mate as well.
Jasper used to schedule his classes with them too. It gave him more confidence that he could withstand the constant temptation of human blood. But they eventually realised that he actually did better with some distance from them, so their bloodlust would have less impact on him.
"And I haven't had any visions of her," Alice added, "although..." She scrunched up her forehead, concentrating. "I think you might have biology with her, next lesson."
"What do you mean, can't you see?"
"I don't know, maybe she's thinking of skipping class? It's blurry, and I'm just getting glimpses. The seat next to you is the only seat open in that class, right?"
"Well, I think she'll be in it, but I'm not sure. She must be blocking us somehow."
"It sure seems like it," Edward said. "Do you think she knows? Is she doing it on purpose?"
"I don't know," Jasper said slowly. "I didn't get any sense of that though, when I could read her. But I can't be sure."
"I don't like it," Edward said. "See what you can find out in Biology. Try to get her to talk to you."
"Yeah, okay. We'd better get to class."
Jasper arrived at class in time to slip into his seat before Bella arrived, so he was able to watch her reactions as she came in. She went up to Mr Banner first, to introduce herself and get him to sign her slip. He then directed her to the only empty seat in class, and Jasper watched as she looked over curiously and saw him.
As they made eye contact, he could once again feel her emotions. Joy, again, and hope, combined with some apprehension. That was the only emotion he understood. Most people were apprehensive when they had to interact closely with his kind, even if they had no idea why.
She stumbled then, and as she looked down her emotions were closed off again. They had to be making eye contact, perhaps? Interesting.
As she sat down she turned to look at him and again he felt her almost overwhelming hope. Maybe even relief. She held out her hand to him.
"I'm Bella," she said quietly, "Bella Swan."
He took her hand in a brief clasp, hoping she didn't notice how cold his was.
"Jasper Hale," he replied. "It's very nice to meet you."
"Hale?" She said, clearly surprised, "Oh, I thought..." He could feel her growing doubt, as she spoke.
"You've probably heard I'm one of the Cullens," he explained, though not knowing why it would matter. "But my sister Rosalie and I kept our birth name."
"No, that's not it, it's just—you look like— Sorry," She finished, lamely. "You just look like someone else. His name's Jasper too." She looked down now, that delicate blush staining her cheeks with embarrassment again, but before she did he felt her growing sadness. Almost… grief? Who did she think he was?
"What name were you expecting?" he asked quickly, wanting to get as much as possible out of her before Mr Banner started the class. "Maybe it's a relation?"
"Whitlock," she all but whispered, without looking up. "I thought you were Jasper Whitlock."
Jasper gasped lightly and felt his jaw drop open. He was glad she wasn't looking at him just then, because he wasn't sure he could mask his shock. How the hell did she know him as Jasper Whitlock? He hadn't used that name in years. Not in her lifetime in fact.
She glanced back up at him then and it was all he could do to school his features into the mild curiosity he should have been showing.
"You look just like him," she said. "Well, except for your eyes." What colour was she expecting? Red? "His eyes are grey actually," she said, almost as though she'd heard his thought. "Though they look blue too, depending on his shirt." She was feeling pure sadness now, and moving into resignation. She looked away. "I thought maybe contacts though... I should have known better."
Shocked, Jasper was just about to ask her how she knew this Jasper Whitlock, when Mr Banner called them to attention.
Edited to add: for those coming "late" to the party (I'm not even half was through as I write this, so it's all relative, but you know what I mean), I'd LOVE it if you would still leave comments here and there as you read and let me know what you think. Feel free to mention any errors you find and what have you, too. I do send out teasers to reviewers, but if you want one, let me know when you've read all the way to the end, so I'm not sending you spoilers!
Also, I use *mostly*Australian spellings (except for mom), but am attempting to use US appropriate lingo. Let me know if any Australianisms slip through that you don't understand (or that just seem out of place).
I don't have a Beta reader and was entirely overwhelmed when I looked at the beta reader page, so if you are interested... let me know. I don't really need someone to help me with grammar and punctuation, having worked in copy editing in a past life... but plot development, character arcs, continuity error checks and proof reading could all be helpful! This is only the second time I have attempted a piece of fiction of this length, and the first time with this complexity. Plus I am Australian, and while I have lived in America, it could still be handy to have an American beta reader who can point out if I have used English/Australian idioms that you are unfamiliar with.
Finally I'm curious to know - would you prefer I post a chapter a week and hope that my writing stays far enough ahead not to have delays, or would you prefer I waited and posted the rest when it is complete? I'm up to 36,000 words so far, and expect it to be between 50,000 and 70,000 (not counting author notes!). Probably at the upper end of that. I do have a complete plan. [haha, edited to add 12 chapters later to add, I'm thinking it's going to be over 100,000 at this point. Some of my chapters I thought would be short have turned out not to be. At All.]
I'm rating the story as M, for occasional course language, and some non-explicit but definitely suggestive adult themes, including one or two scenes that may be somewhat disturbing. I am not quite sure how I am going to handle them yet and I don't want to be hamstrung by rating it too low to begin with. However, while there may be one "suggestive" (non-disturbing) scene, I want to emphasise that it is not going to be an "adult" story, so please don't read with the expectation of a lot of that sort of fun. Up to chapter 20 there is so far nothing I wouldn't let my teenagers read. But i haven't written the disturbing bits yet.
(January 2020 - for those just starting this now - as I type (fixing a few typos) it's been months since I updated, but if you are reading this now, just so you know, I am still working on it, and plan to start publishing again when I have the rest all completed. Hopefully that will be later this month. It's not abandoned.)