2-1 Bennington, Vermont

Three months after we got married, Jasper and I sat beneath the willow tree and talked. We were barefoot, and Jasper kept walking his toes up my calves, which tickles and makes me giggle.

“Stop,” I said, but he just laughed.

“I like to hear you giggle,” he said. But he stopped, and instead we just sat there, listening to the wind whistle its way through the willow branches and made them sway in front of us like little strings.

The next time Jasper’s feet worked their way up my legs, it wasn’t to tickle. He flipped me onto my back, and our lips met. Jasper’s a good kisser—a perfect kisser, and I know that without having to try anyone else. But he’s also an empath, and that works against me sometimes.

He laid his head next to mine and stroked my hair. “Your head isn’t here,” he said.

“My head is right here.”

I gestured to it.

Kissing my forehead, he laughed. “Yes, I understand. And I like this head.” He propped himself up on one elbow and ran his fingers through my hair.

He kissed me again.

“Nope,” he said. “Not here. Where is your head?”

I was thinking about our wedding, in fact. Standing there, under the willow, with the breeze rustling through Jasper’s hair, causing it to wisp around his face. Kissing him after I said I wanted to be his wife forever.

And Edward, standing off to the side, with his arms wrapped around himself as though the breeze was a bitter winter wind—like we were affected by a bitter winter wind.

His hair, blowing behind him as he stalked off into the house.

Buddy Holly, blasting from his bedroom.


I sighed, and rolled over onto my side, propping my head up on one hand and staring at Jasper. He looks better with golden eyes, though I don’t actually mind the red. The red bothers Carlisle and the others; the times that he’s slipped. I think it reminds them that we’re not all perfect. That’s the real problem with Jasper slipping—it reminds them all that all of us could slip; it reminds them all that we’re all that way. But me, I never mind the red, even though I think the gold is better.

The gold eyes bore down on me, looking confused and concerned and delighted all at once. Edward hears thoughts, which is obnoxious, but Jasper feels feelings. So I knew he knew that I was feeling sad, and happy, and lustful, and all the things that could get tangled up at once with lying in the grass under the willow tree where we were married, thinking about the boy who had become my brother.


It was the first time I’d thought that.


“Do you think Edward thinks of himself as my brother?”

Jasper snorted. “I think Edward thinks too highly of himself to think of himself as anyone’s anything.”

I punched him in the shoulder, and he faked a flinch. Then he rolled back over onto his back and stared up into the tree branches.

He didn’t say anything for a long while.

“Do you think of him as your brother?” he asked at last.

I shrugged. “Maybe. He was sad at our wedding.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jasper nodding. Of course, he would’ve felt that, too. Known Edward was feeling sad.

Jasper closed his eyes, and I knew he was seeing what I was, the way Edward had stood there, with his arms wrapped around himself like he needed some kind of coat.

“He’s lonely,” Jasper said after a long pause.

“Lonely? There are seven of us.” Seven people who were totally different, crammed into one house so firmly it felt entirely claustrophobic most of the time. Seven people vying for time alone in a bedroom. Seven people competing for a quiet corner to read.

“Seven of us and six of us are mated.”

And six of us are mated.

I hadn’t thought about that.

Edward listened to love songs, most of the time. The upbeat ones. The ones where you sang about how the girl was your girl; how you had fun with your girl.

It was like I’d never heard them before.

That was when I decided to start paying more attention.


Back to Part I

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