3-11 Calgary, Alberta

In my vision, I could see exactly where Jasper was, except that I couldn’t see exactly where he was. I saw landmarks: a fir tree with an odd shape in the trunk, a little stand of trees where the branches were so thick that the snow cover was little more than a dusting and you could see the pine needles littering the forest floor.

“All you’ve got are pine trees?”

But just as he said it, the scent of human blood hit us like a wall, fragrant, and lovely and almost irresistible…except we would resist.

“I guess we don’t need the pine trees,” I muttered.

“Shut up,” Edward said. Then, as though realizing he’d been abrupt, he added, “You should hold your breath.”

I nodded, and we rushed toward the scent.

The scene was a lot worse than I’d imagined. At least ten corpses lay scattered in the clearing, some of them with grotesque injuries—bones sticking out of skin, severed limbs. I had already started to weep for the savagery my husband had committed when Edward muttered, “Those are accident injuries. All that blood from the wound was what drew them in the first place.”

We picked our way through the bodies, trying to hold our breath enough to tamp the desire to run back to the accident site ourselves. But we both needed to breathe just enough to keep Maria and Jasper in our sights.

Feeding causes a frenzy in our kind; it’s one of the few ways we aren’t like humans. We don’t get lethargic after we eat. Exactly the opposite, in fact. I’ve seen it with all of them, the way Rosalie and Emmett come back from a hunting trip together and even though Emmett is bragging about the bear and has blood running down his shirt, Rosalie is giggling and leaning into him. Carlisle and Esme disappear for a few hours and come back just serenely holding hands, but when you look more closely, you see that Esme has a stray leaf stuck somewhere in her hair and Carlisle has missed a belt loop or two.

It happens to me and Jasper, too.

Which was why I wasn’t that surprised when we found the two of them, even though pain sliced through me with such force I fell to my knees and couldn’t move. It had always been there, one of the possible outcomes of Maria’s arrival. But you aren’t tied to your destiny. The future doesn’t work like that.

My husband had the ability to make choices.

Now, Emmett always says Edward hits like a girl; that he never learned properly as a human and that he couldn’t hurt someone if his life depended on it. He always nudges Jasper to back him up, to tease Edward about how weak he is, and Jasper never does.

Because there, in the snow, with his pants unfastened and Maria with her head someplace it really should not have been, Jasper wound up on the service end of Edward’s fist.

As it turns out, Edward hits like a vampire.

Jasper tried to stand up, but he stumbled; tripping over his own pants and falling, face first, into the thin cover of snow. Pine needles stuck in his hair, poking out this way and that and making him look ridiculous.

I wanted to move toward him, but I found I couldn’t.

Edward socked him again.

Jasper is taller than Edward, but only by an inch; and an inch doesn’t matter when the shorter person is pissed off. Edward grabbed Jasper by the collar and slammed him against a tree with such force the top of the tree broke off with a sickening crack and fell to the ground, spraying all of us with freshly-fallen snow.

Maria started screaming.

“Go,” Jasper yelled. “Go, Maria, and don’t come back.”

She took two steps and paused.

“And don’t run toward the accident, either.”

A pained look crossed her face. “Querido,” she said softly, which is the Spanish word for lover. It’s one of the better words in any language for describing that—it literally translates as “my wanted one.”

Jasper spat in her direction, a slick, pinkish concoction of blood and venom.

“Get out of here,” he snarled. It was slightly choked off, because Edward’s hand was still around Jasper’s throat, pinning him to the tree. Edward turned to Maria, too.

“Don’t you dare come back,” he said. “Ever. Don’t you ever find my family again. Don’t you ever humiliate my sister like this again.”

Even with the wind howling, and the sirens wailing in the distance, I heard Maria gulp.

Then she nodded, and disappeared.


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