Jasper waited quietly, watching Bella stir the soup and hum absently to herself. He knew cooking was one of the things she missed about being human.
Hearing McCoy curse the elements as he made his way around the cabin, Jasper unfolded his arms, re-crossed his legs, and leaned on the table.
“Bella, what are your intentions regarding the human?”
She blew out an annoyed breath. “You mean Leonard?” She eyed him icily over her shoulder and turned back to stirring the soup. “The human? Is that how you referred to me when I first showed up?”
“Yes, but you know that, and you’re avoiding answering the question.”
“I … I don’t know.” She tapped the spoon on the edge of the pan. “I could probably get him to the closest town fast enough so he wouldn’t freeze, but what would he do there? He’s from the future. I doubt he has a current driver’s license. He’s got nowhere to live. He doesn’t know anyone. I doubt he has any money—American or Canadian.”
“All things I could take care of.” Jasper spoke softly. “He could have a new name and identification within days. We could get him a place to live, and pay for it, until he finds a job. We could take him south to his home state of Georgia, if he wanted, and set him up there. No more snow. You wouldn’t have to be burdened with taking care of a human.” The corner of Jasper’s mouth curved upward when Bella peeked at him again.
“He’s not a burden,” Bella protested, placing the steaming pot on the table. “Um, I don’t … I want—” she stuttered, frustrated.
“How about what he wants?” Jasper’s left eyebrow crept upward. “He may not be able to go back to his own time, but I don’t think he’d want to stay here in the great white north. I suppose you noticed he’s not fond of the weather.”
“I did happen to notice that. I never liked it much as a human, either.” She sat across from him, resting her elbow on the table and propping her chin on the heel of her hand. “I don’t really know what I want to do. I suppose it would be a good idea to ask him what he thinks.”
“I already know you want to stay here with him.” Jasper smirked knowingly and looked at her from the corner of his eye. “And I bet if you asked him, he’d want to stay with you.”
She opened her mouth to argue, but he held up a hand to stop her. “Don’t try to deny it.” He nudged the tricorder closer to her. “You have some reading to do.”
She frowned at him.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do. After you make a list, I’ll go to the store for you, so you won’t worry about him here alone with me.”
A small growl escaped Bella. “Who said you were staying?”
Bella snapped her mouth shut, realizing she’d just outed herself and reaffirmed Jasper’s unsubtle suspicions. She did want to stay there with Leonard. She even felt a bit of resentment because Jasper had intruded on them. He must have felt it. She nervously drew random swirls and lines on the table top with her finger, refusing to acknowledge the smug look she knew would be on his face. He was always so good at interpreting emotions, even those that were quickly suppressed. One would think he was the mind reader. In fact, he was often much better at reading people than Edward was.
She didn’t even know what she wanted to do. The only thing on her mind when she’d run from the Cullens was to get as far from Edward as she could before she did to him what she did to his piano, and keep him from finding her. Then she’d run across Leonard freezing to death, and what her next move might be hadn’t even entered her mind. She’d been fascinated by her guest from the future.
Jasper abruptly stood from the table. “McCoy’s on his way back. I’ll get your groceries.” He disappeared through the opening to the attic and reappeared with a small note pad, dropping it on the table along with a pencil. “Start your list.” He tapped it with one finger. “I’ll take my leave after I bring back supplies. I expect the former associates are beginning to wonder where I am.”
Instantly annoyed, Bella nearly growled again. “You had to bring that up didn’t you?”
Ignoring her indignation, he grinned at her. “Of course. Though I imagine they’re more concerned about you.” He sauntered toward the door and reached for his coat. “When I come back, I’ll leave this here with you. If you and Leonard decide to go anywhere, you’ll both need coats.”
“You won’t rat me out, right?” Bella asked anxiously. “What if Edward is back? He’ll hear where I am in your head.”
“Please.” Jasper rolled his eyes and shot her a disappointed look. “You know better.”
Hearing muffled complaints and curses outside, and McCoy stamping his feet on the porch, Jasper reached for the door knob. Before opening it and allowing the grumbling man to enter, he winked at Bella. “Don’t worry. All your secrets are safe with me.”