Waking up slowly, the musty smell of age and dampness surrounded me. I was lying on something hard and flat. My fingers traced over irregular dirty planks. I cautiously reached out with my hands and hit a coarse wall to my left. Thinking I must be in a building of some sort, I opened my eyes all the way and only saw darkness. As they adjusted, I noticed dim light. It must have been the moon.
It was still night. I could just make out a ceiling above me, and it seemed to be made of the same sort of rough cut wood as the floor and wall. Darker beams held up the roof.
The building seemed to be a shed or cabin. I listened intently but all I could hear was my own breathing and the soft chirp of crickets outside. There was some sort of buzzing sound. More bugs, I thought.
I moved to sit up and groaned. My muscles were achy and stiff and not cooperating. With another groan, I pushed myself up and leaned against the wall, stretching my legs out in front of me.
I looked around the room or shack or whatever it was and saw an old stone fireplace to my right. There was a small window just beyond it. That was where the moonlight was coming in. There was no glass in the window.
As my eyes made their circuit around the room, I could see there wasn’t anything in there but a bit of trash, crumpled papers, and a few crushed aluminum cans. Maybe it had been a hunting cabin
Directly across from me, a shadowy figure was standing in the doorway. There was no door. His back was to me. I gasped and scrambled into the corner, looking around desperately for another way out.
There was only one exit, and he was blocking it! Who was it?
“Jasper?” I asked tentatively.
His head turned to look over his shoulder. He slowly turned toward me, his entire body rigid with tension. His clenched fists trembled at his sides.
He must have knocked me out before. I didn’t remember how I got there.
My eyes had gotten used to the dark in the old, abandoned cabin, but even if there hadn’t been that small bit of light from the moon, I would have known when his glittering obsidian eyes reached me. I didn’t think he was projecting his emotions toward me, but I felt it when his eyes touched my face.
I huddled in the corner beside the old stone fire place, drawing my knees up to my chest and covering my head with my hands. I couldn’t help trying to make myself as small as possible; to hide from him. It was stupid, it was pointless, but I couldn’t help it. His eyes roamed over me, and I began to feel the frigid hate radiating from him. I snatched my hands from my face to look at him. For the first time, I truly feared him.
When his tall form was square to me, I took in a breath to speak, not knowing what I could possibly say to him. Was there anything I could say?
His left hand shot out in a slicing gesture, and I cringed away from him. There was no way I could escape even if I tried. He was blocking the only exit. I was a fragile, breakable human, and he was a vampire. The most lethal predator the world had ever known. I was trapped there in that corner, and I knew he was going to kill me. After all the near misses, I was finally going to die.
I heard him draw in a short breath.
“Quiet,” he commanded.
The faint moonlight shining through the small window to my right lit his marble skin with a soft glow. I could see his jaw flex and his head cock to his right.
“The Volturi won’t be able to ignore this.” His deep voice was barely a whisper across his lips. He took a silent step toward me. A low growl rumbled in his chest. “They’ll be here soon if they’re not already.”
As he took another measured step forward, his head suddenly tilted up, and one eyebrow lifted. The corners of his mouth twitched faintly.
“I’m sure you didn’t hear that. That was the first explosion. In Forks. The Volturi are here. Many more will die as they clean up.”
He took another slow step, as if he were stalking me. I was caught in his eyes. A rabbit frozen in the gaze of a cobra poised to strike. My body couldn’t move except to tremble and cower away from him.
His black eyes snapped to his left and then back to me, and his lips curved slightly higher.
“More explosions. Sounds like some of Forks is going to burn. Like Jacob Black said, ‘you got your wish’.”
I never saw the movement, never saw the cobra strike. I was off the floor and pinned to the wall by his cold, steel-like body. His large hands gripped my arms, and his nose nearly touched mine. I couldn’t breathe.
His black eyes slid shut. His lips brushed across mine then trailed along the edge of my jaw to my neck. He inhaled and his wintry lips traced a searing line down my throat to my shoulder, placing a feathery kiss at the curve.
With the tip of his nose he drew a faint line along my skin. I felt his tongue touch the pulse frantically racing through my jugular.
“Your scent …” he sighed.
He pressed his body more firmly to mine, forcing me more tightly against the wall. His right hand slid up my arm, over my shoulder, and slipped around the back of my neck.
My left arm was free, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t escape him or the death I knew was coming for me at his hands—his teeth.
His rage pulsed into me, hot and red. Instinctively, I tried to turn my face away from him, but he thrust his jaw against mine, his long fingers spreading over my face, holding me still.
His broad shoulders blocked my view of the small one-room cabin, but it didn’t matter any longer.
Nothing mattered any longer. I accepted my fate. I had tried to run with the wolves and the vampires for too long, tempting that fate, and there was nothing left for me to live for.
Ed … Edward was gone. Alice and Esme were gone. I didn’t know what had happened to the rest of them. Were they torn apart? Dead and burned to ashes?
I didn’t know what had happened to Char… Dad. Would he have been safe on the Reservation? Would anyone? How much of the town of Forks would the Volturi destroy to stop two newborn vampires?
I didn’t hear the explosions. My weak human ears couldn’t pick up what Jasper’s could, but he had no reason to lie. He had never lied to me. Forks and the people I loved were gone. It was all gone. I could only hope that Charlie had stayed on the Reservation with Jake and the wolf pack; hope that the newborns had been stopped and destroyed.
Utter despair filled me, forcing out Jasper’s fury. I closed my eyes. My last view of the world would be of a dark, dirty abandoned shack deep in the mountains and Jasper’s black, rage-filled eyes, his golden head bent to my throat.
Jasper had tried to stop the newborns. He had tried to save all of us. Because of me he lost his wife—his mate. Alice was gone. My Edward was … gone. Because of me. But Jasper had tried. He had fought so hard.
He was pressing me so tightly to the wall, I didn’t know if I had enough air to speak, but I had to attempt it.
“Jasper,” I choked out. “Jasper, I am so sorry I didn’t listen to you. So sorry. Jasper, I love you.”
His cool breath flowed across my neck and face, then he inhaled deeply again.
“You got your wish,” he said again, his lips brushing against my throat. “I feel your despair and resignation. Your hopelessness. I will grant your other wish.”
I barely felt the sting.
>>* the end *<<