The two vampires stopped in front of a heavy wooden door, and the larger of the two rapped out a quick beat. He waited a moment, turned the knob, and swung the door into the room. Stepping back, he waved Jasper in. He bowed his dark head, keeping an eye on the newcomer, and grinned, showing even white teeth. “Wait here,” the muscular man said and pulled the door closed, leaving Jasper alone in the room.
Jasper was tall at six foot three, but Felix had towered over him. He had to have been seven feet tall and was the tallest vampire he’d ever seen. When Felix had met him at the airport, he had been dressed in a smartly tailored charcoal grey suit, but as soon as they had entered the castle, Felix had put on a medium grey hooded cloak that swept the tile floor, and led Jasper swiftly through dimly lit stone corridors.
Jasper looked around and took in the comfortable room. Other furnishings he had seen throughout the castle had been rather ornate, but that room was quite relaxed and inviting. Low lights from lamps placed on sturdy tables accented with wrought iron were next to deep brown leather upholstered chairs and couches. There were several vases of fresh flowers around the room, but even those he wouldn’t have considered fussy. There wasn’t one piece of cut glass or crystal among them. The vases appeared to be made of stone.
“Ten years is a long time, Jasper.” Bella appeared in a doorway at the rear of the large sitting room to greet the tall blond man standing in front of her.
She wanted him badly. From the first time she had seen his beautifully rugged face on her laptop, she had wanted him; she had craved him. Then he was in her rooms, and she had breathed in his scent and nearly been overcome with how … delicious it was. How sensual, how erotic … how so very perfect.
She inhaled his warm leather and sunshine and cinnamon and … knew. She had to quickly calm herself before she left her bedroom to greet him. She forcefully calmed her nerves; grateful her shield could block her emotions and her scent from him.
Jasper studied her. She had changed quite a bit since the last time he had seen her. Of course, the last time he had seen her was at her eighteenth birthday, and he had tried to take a bite out of her.
Immediately afterward, Edward had convinced the family that Bella would only be safe from the dark and depraved world of the vampires if they all left; cutting all ties to the young human girl they had all come to love.
They hadn’t realized when Edward had abandoned her in the forest behind her house, some of those very same depraved creatures he had been trying to save her from had been lying in wait.
“Yes. Ten years can be a long time.” Jasper turned only his head to watch her as she walked slowly to his left and around him. “But what’s ten years between old friends who happen to be immortal?”
“You’re right.” Bella laughed lightly as she moved silently toward a small table in front of the window. She ran her finger along the top of the gleaming wood and delicately touched the flowers arranged in a rounded vase, her back to him. “I’m glad we were able to contact each other and keep in touch.”
“We were surprised to hear from you eight years ago, to say the least.” Jasper was currently astounded as he perused her form. No vampire would ever turn his or her back on him. The many silvery battle scars that showed on him, even when he wore long-sleeved shirts, guaranteed their caution and wariness. But Bella had nothing to fear from him. He had never truly wanted to harm her, and then there was her shield. She had told him no one could touch her unless she allowed it.
She hadn’t mentioned it, but he was unable to feel her emotions, as he could with every other vampire or human, and though he thought he could detect a faint hint of her spicy scent throughout the room, he was unable to breathe it in completely. The flowers that were placed around the room seemed to be masking it. He was puzzled by that.
She had told him at the beginning of their tentative communications she didn’t blame him for trying to attack her at that ill-fated and unwanted birthday party. Through their infrequent video chats, emails, and phone calls, she had finally convinced him that he had actually done her a favor. At the time, she had not elaborated.
He had found that he looked forward to every communication from her, no matter how brief, and had eagerly anticipated finally seeing her in the flesh after so long. Had it only been three days since she had called and formerly invited him?
He had dressed simply in boots, blue jeans, and a plain white oxford shirt he had left unbuttoned at the collar. He hadn’t wanted to alarm her with the scars that littered his arms, so he had only rolled the cuffs twice. Unexpectedly, she seemed to have had no reaction at all. Vampires, male or female, saw them as a warning of danger and often shied away from him.
He was gratified to see she had also dressed simply in black, low-heeled boots, blue jeans and a forest green, fitted blouse. The clothes were unassuming, but they were anything but plain. He imagined the kings had had her measure taken; the clothes fit so well and enhanced her womanly curves. She looked …
He hadn’t known what he expected her to wear, but she was perfect.
As she plucked a pink and white lily from the large arrangement, he couldn’t help studying her further. It was only expected that she would have become even more beautiful than she had been as a human, but seeing her through the imperfect lens of a web cam had not done her justice. Her hair flowed down her back like a waterfall and the deep brown and chestnut color was even glossier than it had been when she was human. He had the sudden urge to run his fingers through its silky strands.
She twirled the leafless stem of the lily in her slim fingers as she gazed out the window at the darkening landscape. She looked quickly over her shoulder at him. “I’m glad you came to Volterra.” She turned toward him and leaned back against the table, tugging at the curved tail of her tailored, silk top.
The deep green was striking against the pale ivory of her skin, and the unbuttoned collar gave him an enticing peek of her collar bones. It pleased him that her skin was perfectly smooth and showed no indication of scars or that any had tried to claim her. That thought caught him up short. She was beautiful, desirable—any male would be proud to claim her.
The only scar he could see was the one from her human days when the nomad James had bitten her on her right wrist. Her sleeves were rolled to just beneath her elbows. Of course, he couldn’t see any more of her skin. He tried to suppress the disappointment.
He also found her deep red eyes to be strangely mesmerizing. He knew she indulged in the Volturi’s preferred diet of human blood, but seeing them in person had a stronger effect on him than he had anticipated. He liked it.
“Did Felix behave himself? He can be a handful at times.”
Startled, Jasper blurted out, “Yes. He barely spoke at all when he met me at the airport. He didn’t say anything on the drive over, and when we came into the castle, he led me directly here. I never even saw any anyone else.”
Bella smiled slightly and nodded her head. “Good. He can be a good boy when he wants to, but he’s usually a jerk.”
Baffled again, Jasper cocked his head at her. When it was evident she wasn’t going to explain what she’d said about the huge, intimidating vampire, he continued with, “Thank you for inviting me. I did want to see you.” He moved to face her, but remained standing in the center of the carpeted floor. Had they been human, she would have directed him to a seat on the well-padded leather couch and probably offered him a glass of iced tea to help cool the summer’s heat.
His eyes roamed quickly over her very feminine form, and he noted with appreciation that her time as a human in Volterra had been very good for her. He wondered how long they had allowed her to remain human.
She had been slim when he knew her before, but as a vampire, she had the full, rounded curves of a mature woman, and he was finding it difficult to keep his golden eyes on her face, beautiful as it was.
Thankfully, his gaze was drawn by her movement to her hands holding the flower just below her heart-shaped face. The pink of the throat of the lily seemed to be a deeper shade of Bella’s lips. As her index finger and thumb slid down and back up the woody stem of the lily, he quickly swallowed and asked, “You never told me who caught you in the woods behind your house, or even really what happened afterward.”
During their early pen pal days, and beyond, she had always kept her messages brief. The more she talked to him and wrote to him the more she wanted to, and she was afraid she would let it slip that she had come to adore him. But that wouldn’t stop her from plying her evil feminine wiles, as Felix had joked before he went to the airport to pick Jasper up.
After her fingers slid down and off the green stem, she lifted its firm cut end and drew it slowly across her bottom lip.
Jasper’s eyes followed its progress. He was entranced, and his fingers flexed and tightened as he waited for her to respond.
“Oh,” she began as she very casually tapped her pouting lips with the cut end of the lily. “Aro had Carlisle and everyone watched. He’d had guardsmen over there for months.” She absently traced the flower stem over her chin and cheek and down the smooth column of her throat.
Captivated, Jasper’s eyes followed the stem’s path downward where Bella proceeded to drag it across her chest and tap her shoulder.
He cleared his throat and forced his eyes up to her amused ones. “They’d been watching us?” He’d been completely unaware of it.
“Oh, yeah. Just a routine check,” she said nonchalantly, waving the flower in the air. “Aro had wanted to surprise his good friend Carlisle with a little visit, since it had been so long, so he did the Aro thing and had the guard go and check it all out.” She dipped her head to the lily and took a deep sniff, closing her eyes as she did so.
Her long, thick lashes rested on her cheeks, and Jasper inhaled slowly. She was beyond beautiful.
Bella’s eyes opened again, and she looked up at Jasper. “Then I showed up.” She blinked a few times, fluttering those dark lashes. “Felix and Demetri were intrigued with Edward and his little pet. They had bets about how long I would last.”
Jasper couldn’t help cringing at the “pet” reference. He’d thought the same thing until he had gotten to know her a little better when he and Alice had taken her to Phoenix to keep her from the sadistic James who was hunting her. He didn’t even want to think about all the different bets he and Emmett had made concerning her.
He was truly grateful he hadn’t won any of those bets.
“After a while, they went away, but they came back shortly before my eighteenth birthday and were amazed to see I was still alive and human. So they hung out a little.” She traced underneath her chin with the white and pink petals. “They just happened to be in the neighborhood when Edward threw me away in the woods behind my house.”
Suddenly, Jasper was anxious and beginning to get angry. “Did they hurt you?”
“Oh, no.” She took a step toward him, shaking her head. “They were under strict orders not to let any sort of physical harm come to me.” She shrugged her shoulders, making long locks of her shining hair slip forward over her breasts. “Of course scaring me to death doesn’t count. Besides, how hard would it be for a couple of vampires to grab a blubbering human that was lost in the dark in the woods?” She advanced another step toward him. “They tossed me into a big black SUV, injected me with some kind of drug, and I woke up in Italy.”
She extended the lily toward him and brushed it over his shoulder. Jasper thought the sensation was quite pleasant. It was even more pleasant that she was closer to him.
“Come to find out, Jane couldn’t zap me, and that really pissed her off, but she got over it. Sometimes, we even go shopping together, but I’d rather go shopping with Alec. He likes to go to the game stores, and they usually have tables set up with the miniatures for those role play card games … whatever they are. I don’t play, but the sets are like very intricate train gardens—filled with monsters. Alec and I play video games together though.” She drew the flower down his arm to his elbow. “Anyway, Alec couldn’t make me deaf and blind, Aro couldn’t read my mind, Chelsea couldn’t bond me to anyone, and Demetri couldn’t catch that … tenor or frequency or whatever from my mind to track me. Even when he touched me, he couldn’t get it.” She stepped to his side and reached up to whisper at his ear. “And after I became a vampire, he touched me quite thoroughly.”
She smiled as he inhaled her breath and closed his eyes. She dipped her head and smiled wider at his deep growl at the mention of Demetri and continued behind him, dragging the trumpet-shaped flower around his shoulder. She stopped behind him and exhaled against the back of his neck.
Jasper drew in the scent of her breath and let the rich aroma of it fill him. As a human, she’d had a youthful, sweet floral scent. It had been light and pleasant, but it was nothing compared to her scent as a mature vampire. It had changed dramatically to an earthy, alluring spice. There were notes of sandalwood, cinnamon, and cloves. He briefly wondered who her sire was. He was puzzled about why he couldn’t catch her scent when he had first entered her quarters. The reflexive growl that arose at the mention of Demetri’s name astonished him.
As she breathed against the back of his neck, causing his collar-length hair to tickle his skin, he parted his lips and turned slightly to draw it in and taste it. Her enticing fragrance was full of promises and possibilities; tempting him, calling to him, urging him to some action. The only acts that came to his mind were crushing her body to his, kissing those seductive lips, and drinking in the concentrated essence of her venom. He clenched his teeth together, trying to suppress the errant and bewildering thoughts.
A feather-light touch at the center of his back between his shoulders caused a shiver to ripple through him, and he knew it wasn’t one of the flower petals. Bella had touched him. He wanted more. He wanted to feel her skin and breathe in more of her scent and … He swallowed the venom that formed in his mouth and tried to steer his mind in another direction.
Bella saw that Jasper was having some small bit of difficulty with her being behind him and touching him, and she was pleased at his slight discomfort. She was hoping to make him even more uncomfortable. She increased the pressure of her finger on his back and began to move it slowly down the valley between the curved muscles. Her eyes raked over his wide shoulders, his slim hips and that perfect, denim-clad ass. She stifled the urge to lean closer to him and inhale his delicious, masculine scent. In fact, what she wanted to do was rip his shirt from his body and lick every inch of his skin.
She reinforced her shield around her emotions and continued drawing a line with her finger until she reached his waistband and brown leather belt. She lifted her fingertip from him, and heard him let out a breath as if he’d been holding it. She traced another path with the lily across the top of his shoulders as she moved to his right side.
“Tell me, Jasper,” she said softly, drawing the petals down his arm. “How did my old buddy Alice meet her mate?”
Jasper cleared his throat, and Bella almost chuckled. She knew she was getting to him. Vampires usually had no need to clear their throats.
He had told her the year before that Alice had found her mate, but he had never divulged any details. She thought it was time.
His eyes flicked to hers, and she saw no sign of pain or loss which reassured her. All he had said at the time was that Alice had found her mate and he’d wished her a happy life. Bella hadn’t pried any further.
“Esme had hired a crew to add on to the house they own in Maine, since Emmett and Rosalie were gone on another three-month vacation. When the carpenters showed up to frame it, Alice took one look at Jimbo and it was love at first sight. When he went behind one of the trucks to get some tools out of the back, she grabbed him and disappeared into the woods. She bit him while they were still in Maine, and waited for him to wake up. She wanted to take him into Canada, but she had a hell of a time getting him across the St. Lawrence River. We haven’t seen her since, but she calls every couple of months. He’s just over a year old, and according to Alice, he still acts like a newborn.”
“Jimbo?” Bella chuckled. “I imagine Alice would think anyone who didn’t want to go shopping was acting like an irrational newborn.” She studied his face. “Do you miss her?”
He sighed. “Yes and no. We were together a long time, and I had thought …” he trailed off. “Anyway, who am I to stand in the way of true love? She found her mate.” He gave her a sardonic look. “The house has sure been a lot calmer and quiet.” He chuckled deeply. “She was very annoyed that she hadn’t seen that comin’.”
“I bet she was.” Bella smiled again. His chuckle had sung to her heart, and she longed to hear it again.
Wrenching her mind back to the present topic, she found it hard to believe that Alice would find her mate in a blue collar worker named Jimbo.
Jasper cleared his throat again and asked. “How long were you human before they changed you?”
She stopped just in front of his right arm. “Actually, quite a bit longer than I expected.” She dragged the flower head down his arm. “I thought I would be changed immediately, but Felix whined and said he nearly cut his hand on my hip bone when he grabbed me, and I needed fattening up. Felix is a jerk. Have I mentioned that? Caius happened to agree with him. That’s when I knew they weren’t going to kill me after all. Well, I mean, end my existence completely.” She shrugged her shoulders again. “It was about six months. In that time, I came to know the brothers and their closest guards. I spent quite a bit of time with the wives. Believe it or not, the Volturi aren’t the depraved, degenerate, slavering beasts Edward made them out to be.”
“Imagine that.” Jasper turned his head to look down at her by his side while she looked up at him from the corner of her eye. “Speaking of … how is my former brother Edward?”
“Edward is on a mission in Siberia.” Bella almost giggled. “He’s looking for some Children of the Moon for Caius. Personally, I think his whining and self-incriminations are getting on everyone’s nerves, and Caius sent him there to get him out of Volterra again.” She pressed her lips in a straight line and then added, “There just aren’t enough bad guys for him to interrogate here.” She rolled her eyes. “And it’s to keep Felix from pounding him into the courtyard. He says the same shit he’s always said about how horrible he is and what a monster he is, and I can’t understand why I ever listened to it. I was an idiot.” She turned to face him, though she was still standing near his side. “They changed me and went and picked him up in Rio de Janeiro. He was ridiculously easy to find, even though Demetri didn’t have a bead on him. Did Edward ever tell you he was tracking Victoria?” she asked derisively.
She laughed and the ringing chimes of the sound vibrated down through his very bones. She was standing so close to him, he could almost feel the spirit, the soul—the life—of her sinking into him, and he began to ache with the need to touch her.
Jasper forced himself to smile. “He may have mentioned it. Funny thing was, he was in down in South America and Victoria was up in Seattle. Carlisle’s old friends the wolves got her.” Jasper shook his head. “Edward never contacted any of us until a year after he disappeared. I reckon that was about six months after they turned you and caught him.”
“Yeah,” Bella said smiling up at him. “He was mortified that after all the sacrifices he had made, he still hadn’t been able to save me from this horrific existence.” Sarcasm dripped from her words. “That and his little gift hadn’t been able to keep him from being caught and hauled back here. But the worst thing of all?” She dramatically tilted her head back and brought her right hand up, still holding the lily, and touched her wrist to her forehead. “He must now perform the most loathsome mind reading duties for these heinous evildoers.”
Jasper was enthralled by her exposed neck. He could envision his lips at her throat, kissing her, tasting her. He ground his teeth together and shoved that tempting vision from his mind.
She laughed again, and as she did so, she placed her left hand on Jasper’s arm above his elbow. His breath caught, and he stared at her in wonder. It was impossible, but he felt her warmth. It was radiating into him. There was almost a pulse of energy passing between them. He turned toward her, raising his left hand to grasp her arm, but she halted him by pressing the lily to his chest.
She raised her eyebrows and a smirk grew across her full lips. “Now, now, Jasper.”
She was truly enjoying the effect she was having on him. He wanted her, and she was thrilled, but she was also enjoying teasing him. She thought he would break soon. “Another reason Edward keeps getting sent on missions is he won’t leave me alone, and I keep kicking his ass. I’ve done the fight training—it’s beneath him. They kept him from me while I was transforming, and for about a week after I woke up, but he was sneaky and determined, and I was a pain in the ass. I got away from Felix and Demetri, and Edward happened to be lurking through the lower corridors looking for me. Again.” She smiled broadly. “Took them two days to get all his itty bitty parts put back in the right place, though only God knows why they bothered. He annoys everyone. They never did find the tip of his right pinky finger.” She drew the lily across his chest. “He still won’t leave me alone. Apparently, he thinks I’m durable enough to touch now.” An evil gleam sparked in her eyes. She leaned closer to him, making sure her breasts nearly touched him. She whispered, “Don’t tell anyone, but I bit the tip off his finger and swallowed it.”
When she closed her eyes and shuddered against him, he thought he was going to implode. Her full breasts were pressed against him, and he thought he wouldn’t be able to resist grabbing her and kissing her any longer. He could imagine her naked body against his, and he was salivating at the image in his mind. He swallowed again and tried to force those erotic thoughts away. He was confused as to why he couldn’t seem to control himself. No female had ever affected him in quite that way before.
Bella opened her eyes slowly and continued. “After I tore him up the first time, it was three days before they took me outside to the gardens. When Demetri was on the other side of the turret, I coughed it up and buried it under the rose bushes.” She smirked again. “Aro seems to think it’s funny, but if Edward doesn’t leave me alone, I’ll break off something else and really hurt him. Maybe I’ll just let Felix take care of him because he can’t stand him. I honestly don’t know how the Cullens put up with him for so many years.”
Jasper didn’t really care about Edward, and he couldn’t stand not knowing anymore. He had to know. “Who changed you?” he blurted out.
Her eyebrows went up in surprise at his question. She had purposely not said who it was to see how long he could hold out. She knew the effect she was having on him. She had the same effect on most males, and some females, but Jasper was the only one that counted. She’d known from the moment she had seen him in their first video chat. She had also known he wouldn’t have come to her then.
“Demetri,” she said softly, placing her right hand on the center of his chest. She’d never felt it from another before, but he felt warm to her and the sensation was reassuring and comforting. She couldn’t wait to touch his skin. Then she felt the beginnings of a growl vibrate in his chest.
She blinked several times, giving herself a moment to collect her thoughts. “Felix, the jerk, said I was fattening up nicely, and Caius said it was time. Aro wanted to wait another month or so because he found human me simply delightful and so engaging,” she mimicked Aro’s lilting voice. She couldn’t help smiling at the memory. “I was used to them all by then, and liked them, so their arguing was kind of funny.” She slid her hand down to his stomach, and his muscles tensed at her touch. She was gratified to see his honey amber eyes darkening.
“Aro and Caius were arguing over when to change me, then they were arguing over who would do it. Jane and Alec were just bored with the whole thing because they’d been fighting about it for a week. Jane grabbed Alec, and they snuck out of the room. Marcus stared up at the ceiling for a second, then he pointed at Demetri, since he was sitting right next to me, and then pointed at me. Next thing I knew, I was across Demetri’s lap and his teeth were in my throat.”
Jasper’s growl grew louder.
“Demetri stayed with me the whole time. He was the first one I saw when I woke up.”
The rumbling growl was vibrating Jasper’s entire body and they were transferred straight through Bella. She couldn’t help leaning into him.
His emotions and thoughts were beginning to careen out of control. He was colossally envious that Demetri had been the one to bite her and push his venom into her. He should have been the one. The thought she could be mated to Demetri flashed hotly through his mind, and jealousy overtook the envy. He had to know. She could not belong to Demetri because she belonged to him.
Bewildered—his thoughts were muddled and tangled. He didn’t know where most of them were coming from. They shot jaggedly through his mind, pinging from side to side, and he was having difficulty catching on to any of them.
It slowly worked its way through his building anger that her body was against his, and her right hand had made its way around his belly to his side. Sometime or other she had finally dropped that damn lily.
In a flash, he turned so she was directly in front of him. He grabbed hold of her arm and held her to his body. “Are you mates? Is he your mate?”
The black of his pupils had spread to completely cover the deep amber, and Bella was pulled into their ebony depths.
She couldn’t find her voice until Jasper shook her.
“Er, uh. No. No, he’s not my mate.” She stared up into his eyes and swallowed the venom forming in her mouth.
Jasper was breathing very quickly. His eyes sparked with anger. “Then what is he?” he asked, his voice deepening.
His face was even closer to hers, and she drew in his spicy scent. She could drown in it; she wanted to. She wanted to taste him, and feel him, and run her hands over his body. She’d been waiting eight years.
“What is he to you, Bella?” His lips were nearly touching hers.
“He’s my sire. We’ve spent a lot of time together. We’re friends. We …” Bella swallowed nervously. “We’re lovers,” she finished in a weak voice.
Jasper’s eyes grew wide then narrowed to glittering black slits. He released her arms and stepped back, turning away. It was the first time he had even moved from his spot. His hand went to his forehead, and he dragged his fingers through his hair. He blew out a sharp breath, and his eyes snapped to hers. “I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t feel what you’re feeling, but I assumed that was your shield, but I can’t even smell you.” He took a step to bring himself closer to her. He had to be near her, and he didn’t know why.
“You’ve been teasing me since you came into the room, and I …” His chest was heaving, and he grabbed her arms again, crushing wrinkles into the silk. “You’ve been teasing the shit out of me and then you tell me he’s your lover!” He growled and lurched away from her again.
“But you’re my mate,” Bella said taking a cautious step forward and reaching toward his arm. “I knew the first time I saw you in a video chat. That’s why I didn’t stay on long. I couldn’t stand to look at you and not touch you. As soon as I closed the laptop, I smashed it because I wanted you so bad, and I didn’t know why! Felix grabbed me and threw me out the window before I tore up my room. That’s when he knew. He’s the one that actually explained it to me.” Her head dropped and she stared at the floor. “You’re my mate, and I couldn’t go to you because you were with Alice. I couldn’t hurt her—I couldn’t hurt you. If I had gone to you and touched you …”
“What? How can you be my mate? You have touched me!” He backed away, his hands at his head. He flung his arms out, “You’re beautiful, and I want to … uh, but …”
“But you haven’t touched my skin yet.” Bella looked up at him, and she knew her own eyes had gone from their deep burgundy to a shining black. She dropped the part of her shield that kept her scent from him, but she tightened the wall around her emotions and her heart. She loved him. She had loved him for years, but she was afraid he would reject her. She had toyed with him by teasing him, but part of that had been her own insecurities—to see if he found her attractive and desirable without smelling her scent or touching her skin. It worried her he might be angry Demetri had been her lover.
She knew when her scent hit him because he inhaled deeply, his head dropped back, and he groaned. “You smell so …”
The next moment, she was in his arms and his lips were on hers. She felt the heat—the energy—surging from him to her and she knew. It was like Caius’ wife Athenodora had said it would be. They weren’t alive, but when you met and touched your mate it was like the very spark of life was transferred, one to the other and you were filled; you had found your other half—you were complete.
Jasper groaned again as his tongue sought to slip between her lips and taste her. Her scent had awakened some part of him that had been dormant since his creation, and coming in contact with her skin had sent some charge, some … power through him. All he knew then was he wanted more of it. He wanted all of it. He wanted her.
He slid his hands down her back and reached under her shirt so he could touch more of her skin. When he did, he groaned into her mouth and thrust his hardening dick against her hip. He had never been so aroused in his life, and he had to have all of her.
He yanked his mouth from hers and stared into her face, waiting for her to open her eyes. When she finally did, he asked, “You’re my mate?” His right hand caressed the side of her face.
“Yes,” she said breathlessly.
“You knew, and you didn’t tell me. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you were happy with Alice, and I didn’t want to hurt either of you. You don’t miss what you haven’t had.” She blinked slowly. “Then she met her mate, but I didn’t know how you would take it, and I didn’t know what to do. We had talked some and sent emails back and forth, but I didn’t know how upset you were about her leaving you.” She dropped her eyes. “After a while I thought that maybe you didn’t seem really all that upset about it, but I still didn’t know what to do.” She glanced quickly up at him and dropped her eyes again. Her voice was barely a whisper when she confessed, “It … it was Demetri that said I should invite you to come here.”
Jasper growl renewed at the mention of her lover’s name.
“He’s not here,” she said quickly. “He left on a mission when I called and invited you to come. He won’t be back for a few weeks.”
“Look at me.” He tilted her face up to his. He had to see her beautiful face. “You said you knew?”
“Aro’s and Caius’ wives, and the other ladies, helped with my vampire education. Sulpicia said she knew Aro was her mate as soon as she saw his face. I knew when we had that first video chat. Who’d have thought it would work through a laptop screen? Athenodora said she knew Caius was hers when she smelled him. Chelsea mentioned the same thing. They all said when they touched their mates it was like—”
“It was like a flame ignited where our skin touched and a spark of electricity blazed straight to my heart.” His eyes were a liquid black and they sparkled and shone like stars in the night sky. “What the hell were you doing with that goddamn flower?”
“Foreplay?” she asked with a guilty smile and ducking her head. At his snort, she continued. “Okay, I was being an ass, but I shielded my scent from you and kept you from touching my skin because I wanted to know if you would think I was … attractive without being influenced by the mate bond.”
“I think you’re … not half-bad looking,” he murmured as his lips touched the top of her head. Despite her growl, he inhaled deeply, and his body shivered against hers. “And stunning, and exquisite, and lovely.” His hands were on her waist, and he thrust slowly against her hip again. “And I wanna fuck you so bad I can’t fuckin’ think.”
His southern accent was finally emerging and it sent a shockwave through her. “Oh, good,” she snarled as she ripped his shirt from his back. “I’ve wanted to fuck you for eight years.” She started backing toward her room and pulled off the rest of his shirt as they went, dropping the tattered pieces on the floor. Her lips were on his, and she reached to unbuckle his belt.
He pulled his mouth away with another gasp. “Where are we goin’?”
“Bed.” The belt was undone, and she lowered the zipper on his jeans and slipped her right hand inside. She was very pleased to note he wasn’t wearing any underwear. As her fingers gripped his thick dick, her left slid around the waistband of his jeans and began pushing them down.
He moaned loudly and the next instant she was shirtless and on her king-sized bed, and his right hand was on her breast, squeezing and massaging. When his fingers brushed over her taut nipple, another shock went through her body, and she groaned into his mouth. Her back arched up toward him hovering over her. She ached to feel all of him.
His left hand slid under her back, and he gripped her neck. He licked her lips and peppered kisses over her chin and down her jaw. Another growl rumbled up through his chest. “You taste so good.” His tongue left a broad wet trail from her collar bone to the corner of her jaw.
Her hands went to his head, and she fisted handfuls of his silky hair. She had wanted to run her fingers through his golden hair for nearly a decade. She suddenly realized she was still wearing her pants and pulled her fingers away to reach her jeans.
As if he’d read her mind, his right hand roamed down her body until he reached her ass. He rolled to the right, pulling her on top of him, and he ripped the denim from her and flung it away. He immediately put her on her back and his hand went to her sex. His large, calloused fingers slid between her hot, swollen lips and pressed his jaw to hers. He whispered roughly into her ear, “You feel warm to me. You are so wet, I can’t wait to be inside you.”
She couldn’t speak. His fingers were circling her clit, and she was matching his rhythm, her hips thrusting up against his hand.
“Oh, pants off,” she commanded.
He lifted his hips away from her, and she shoved them down as far as she could reach. Then he was directly on top of her, pushing the head of his dick between her slick folds. “I can’t wait. I want you. I wanna be inside you.”
She lifted her legs, sliding them up his thighs and over his hips until the head was at her aching entrance. She needed for him to be inside her finally.
He wasn’t moving fast enough. “Jasper, please. Please,” she begged, her voice cracking. She tried to force him into her with her legs and her hands. “Please.”
He growled in her ear again and lifted his head to look at her. He licked over her lips and kissed her slowly as she squirmed beneath him.
She clenched her teeth and growled angrily at him—she almost couldn’t bear it. He was right there! Why was he teasing her?
“Jasper! What are you doing? Fuck me!”
“No more Demetri,” he demanded, his voice deeper than it had been.
“No! No more.” She was getting desperate. She clutched at his broad back and tried again to pull him into her. “Jasper! Please!” She reached up and nipped at his bottom lip. “What are you doing?”
“Foreplay?” he asked, a malicious smirk growing across his face.
“Oh! You’re a bastard!” She snarled at him.
He shoved his cock into her depths. He flung his head back, his teeth snapped together, and his eyes squeezed shut. Another growl started low in his chest, but he didn’t move. “Let me feel you.”
She couldn’t believe how he filled her. She was ecstatic that he hadn’t turned away from her. He was made for her, he was perfect, and she let go of the rigid hold she had on her emotions. All the love she’d held for him for eight years let go and poured over him.
Love. Pure love flowed softly over him and into him. It filled him and lifted him, and his heart soared like it never had before, and he felt … alive.
Then her lust and yearning crashed into him, stunning him again. He couldn’t breathe; he couldn’t think; he couldn’t move.
It began gradually, but a feeling of possessiveness overcame him and surged upward, and he knew he had to make her his. Only his. He began to thrust into her, making her grunt with each strong push. He dropped his lips to the curve of her neck and licked her again, spreading his venom over her flawless, unblemished skin.
Bella had been blocking his emotions from her, but when she released her shield, his shifted and fluttered and caressed her. His possessiveness crept around her, binding her to him and urging her to clutch him to her even more fiercely. She gasped and groaned with each of his powerful thrusts, and her right hand was back in his hair, forcing his head to the left side of her neck where he licked and sucked at her skin.
As his thrusts increased their speed, she felt his teeth graze over her shoulder and neck. He licked her again, snarled, and sharp teeth sliced into her flesh at the curve above her shoulder. The jolt and erotic sting of his venom entering her veins ignited her orgasm, and she screamed his name as her muscles clenched around his pounding dick.
He held her with his teeth, as well as his hands, ensuring she could not escape him as he claimed and marked her. She was his. She would always be his, and the imprint of his teeth in her perfect skin would be a declaration of his ownership to everyone.
The echoes of her orgasm fluctuated around him and at last, the muscles in his groin tightened, his balls pulled up against his body, and his venom emptied into her. He growled out his release, his teeth still gripping her, holding her; his hands forcing her body to his.
With his final thrust, he yanked his teeth from her and roared, proclaiming his possession of her. He collapsed over her equally satisfied and limp body, his lips brushing over his venom-slicked mark.
Bella blew out a gusty breath and shoved her nose into his hair. “You’re mine now, Jasper.”
He drew his tongue slowly over the fresh bite, caring for his mate and sealing his venom inside her. He then nuzzled her neck and whispered, “And you’re mine.”
* the end*