“For almost ninety years I’ve walked among my kind, and yours… all the time thinking I was complete in myself, not realizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because you weren’t alive yet.” – Edward Cullen, Twilight, page 304
August 9, 1997
It’s a dark and stormy night – well, not exactly stormy since it’s a clear night tonight in Riverside, California. My family and I had moved into the city just a few months ago, which was odd since as vampires, we cannot go out in sunlight without glittering up a storm.
Did your eyes just jump out of its sockets? Yes, you read right. Vampires. My family and I are vampires. We used to be humans at one point, but we were turned into these bloodsucking monsters because another vampire bit us – in my case, Charlotte, who changed me to help her in the newborn wars.
That was way back in 1863. Now I’m living in a penthouse apartment with my loving family. My wife, currently, is lying next to me as she flips through the book she was reading. The author’s called L.J. Smith, and the book’s titled Night City – I think. I can’t really remember since I didn’t bother reading the title. I don’t like reading, a habit I picked up from my human years. Writing, on the other hand
I looked up from my journal, feeling my wife stir beside me.
“Alice?” I asked, in one swift movement tucking away the pen I was using into the book to mark my page and then stowing it away under my pillow. I wrapped an arm around my wife and lifted her chin up to face me. She was frowning, but I didn’t need to ask the question. Alice was answering already.
“I’m just at a really good part, Jazz,” she said, smiling that impish smile of hers whenever she’s in the middle of a good part in a story.
“Oh?” The interest in my voice wasn’t feigned.
“Yes,” Alice nodded. “Rashel and Quinn are exchanging blood, finally. That means she can become a vampire if they do it a couple more times.”
I looked at the cover of the book with longing. If only vampire transformations were like that: lengthy with intervals in between. But the truth is, it was neither lengthy nor did it have intervals. Once you’re bitten, you’re done for. Then after three day’s worth of screaming from the burning sensation, you’re finally a vampire – a bloodsucker, an unnatural abomination.
“Oh, Jazz,” Alice gushed, probably at seeing the forlorn expression on my face. “I’m so sorry…”
Now it was her turn to comfort me. Before I could even appreciate the warmth and love I felt in embracing my lovely little wife, I heard a commotion from outside of the apartment. I locked eyes with Alice. It seemed it wasn’t just me who noticed.
“It’s Edward,” she said, straight to the point. “He found something while hunting. It looked like a brown bundle in my vision; I couldn’t see much because it was shorter than the ones I usually get.”
Edward had left two days ago to go hunting. Living in the city, proper hunting times in the wilderness were few and far in between, so we have to make do with whatever wildlife we find lurking in alleys, or sometimes we just steal from the local zoo. No one really notices anyway. We cover our tracks meticulously.
“Can you smell that?” Emmett, who was holed up in the kitchen playing battleships with Carlisle, asked. “Smells like blood…”
I stiffened at the mention of the very substance that was both the bane of my existence and the reason. I instantly calmed, though, when Alice slipped her tiny hand in mine and began leading me to the living room to meet Edward. He burst in through the entrance only a second later, hair very much a mess and standing in many different directions. I only had time to take in my brother’s haggard appearance before the brown bundle in his arms moved.
“Edward, what…?” Esmé tried to form a question, but stopped when the answer came to her.
“A human infant,” I asked, confused. Why would Edward, of all people, bring home a child from a hunting trip? It was definitely not because he accidentally killed the parents and felt pity on the child – that sounded more like something I could do, though I hope it would never happen.
“Not an infant,” Edward corrected. “I think the girl’s around seven or eight.”
Rosalie, who perked up at the mention of a child, looked up from the bundle in Edward’s arms and said, “I think she’s older than that, just small for her age. I’ve never seen an eight year old wear hairspray before.” She pointed to the tight mass of curls on the child’s head.
“And she seems to be dressed for some sort of special occasion,” said Alice, coming closer. “Brown chiffon,” she muttered lowly. “Tsk! She should be wearing something more girly, like pink or yellow… or blue! She’ll look stunning in blue.”
“Yes,” agreed Rosalie, “though I think pink is more her color. She certainly will look adorable in it, especially with those curls.”
I watched alone in a corner as Edward handed the girl to Esmé, who carefully settled her on the sofa. Carlisle then started interrogating him. Where did he find her? Who was she? Why did he save her? Was there anything wrong with her? Thankfully, the blood was not the child’s, but from whichever animal Edward was gorging himself with before he found the girl. He must have been taken by surprise if he managed to spill that much blood on himself.
“So you’re saying you found her behind a dumpster?” I was unabashedly eavesdropping on the conversation, and it was clear that everyone else was as well.
“She was shivering from the cold,” nodded Edward. “I think she has fever, but I can’t be sure without using the thermometer. Our skin’s too cold to – but back to the point, I think she got separated from her parents. You simply don’t find young girls in dresses sleeping behind a dumpster.”
“You can’t rule out kidnapping,” inserted Alice. “If she was, then she might have run away from the people who kidnapped her.”
Esmé frowned. “She doesn’t strike me as the kind to be kidnapped, Alice.” She cast a sad look at the sleeping girl on the sofa, bundled up into a protective ball. “She’s a tough one. Too tough, I reckon, for someone her age.”
“Do you think she was abused?” was Rosalie’s uncharacteristically timid reply.
Feeling like I should step in, I literally took a step forward and addressed my sister. “She’s not an abused child, Rosalie. The pretty dress should tell you that she’s taken cared of and well loved. I’m sure that her parents, whoever they are and wherever they might be, are worried for her.” But I didn’t stop there. This seemed to be one of those times wherein I wasn’t able to control myself. “She’s having a very disturbing dream,” I grimaced. “Her emotions are everywhere, mostly focusing on fear and confusion.”
“Delirium can be one of the symptoms of influenza,” said Carlisle. I felt a minute spike of apprehension from Edward at the mention of the cause of his death, but it was gone a second later. “She definitely has a fever, though. I’ll need to run out and get some medicines for her, but first… Rosalie?”
Rosalie straightened up, listening with rapt attention.
“Since you’re a nurse, you take care of her while I’m gone. Bring her some more blankets and pillows if necessary. Esme, you’re going to be in charge of the food. I think a sandwich or soup will suffice. Buy something sweet, too. We’ll need it for bribery purposes. We need to her speak about what happened to her.”
“Can’t I just make her feel like talking?” I asked.
“No!” growled Edward, taking me by surprise. “She’s just a child. You can’t manipulate her like that.”
I backed away with both my hands in the air, the universal sign for surrender. I wonder what got his knickers in a twist. My brother, who has the ability to read people’s thoughts, growled again at the mention of his checkered boxers.
“What should everyone else do?” questioned Emmett. I felt both excitement and wariness, protectiveness, coming from him. Did he see this girl as danger to the family? I wonder why.
“Oh,” Alice grinned, breaking the seriousness of the situation, “everyone else is going to sit here in the living room and wait until Carlisle and Esmé comes back. Edward’s going to hover around the girl and annoys Rosalie in the process, while you, Emmett, are going to challenge my Jazz to an arm wrestling match.”
My eyes bugged out at this. For a vampire, I was pretty strong. Above average due to the fact that I was a soldier in the civil war, but it’s nothing compared to Emmett and his muscles. Strength was the characteristic he brought into this damned life, while all I took was the ability to control emotions. This was an unfair trial. I told Alice so.
“Oh, c’mon, Jazz!” she giggled. “Win it for me, please?” She batted her eyelashes.
“So I’m guaranteed to win, then?” Alice was blessed with the ability to see the outcome of certain events, much like a psychic or a seer. There were many names for it, but my special favorite was oracle – Alice was my petite Oracle, and only mine.
“Na-uh,” she shook her head. “I can’t say that! At least try, will you?”
Sighing mock dejectedly, I crossed the room, sat down in front of the coffee table and positioned my arm appropriately. Emmett was already waiting, and so the moment I clasped his hand, I knew I was in for a fight. I didn’t let it show in my face though. I didn’t let my fear and nervousness show every time I went to battle, and I’m definitely not going to let anything show for this silly game of arm wrestling.
As to no surprise, Emmett won the competition, but I got one over him when I hid the TV Guide amongst Edward’s extensive CD collection. Neither of my brothers had the time to pay me attention, which was a good thing. Emmett was in a deep conversation about the child with Rosalie, while Edward was pacing up and down the length of the room. It was an annoying habit of his, actually.
“I’m sorry,” Edward said immediately, and I felt slightly embarrassed at being caught. “I’m not trying to bother anyone. It’s just…” He glanced helplessly at the sleeping girl.
“I know what you’re feeling,” I said slowly. “I simply don’t know the reasons behind it, but who am I to delve into people’s minds? That’s your job, Edward.” His face broke into a quirky grin, an expression rarely seen by the family – an expression rarely seen by anyone, actually.
“I found the girl, Jasper,” he said after the smile slipped off of his face. “I don’t know why I’m worried. I think it has something to do with the fact that I was the one who brought her here.”
“Like a Savior Syndrome?” I suggested. “You saved her. It’s understandable if you’re worried.”
Edward nodded thoughtfully. “Of course,” he added, “it would help considerably if her blood wasn’t as strong as it is. Can’t you smell it, Jasper? It’s very sweet… very tempting, very alluring…” He trailed off, his gaze longingly trailed on the child. His tongue flicked between his lips. And then he growled, ran his hand through his hair and restarted his pacing.
I watched on with worry. “Edward,” I said, confused, “her blood smells normal to me. Are you sure you’re not just imagining it?”
“Oh, I’m sure,” he said, smiling a snide smile. “I didn’t tell Carlisle about this because I knew it would just distract him. I want him to focus on the girl. Still, I’m worried. I’m not sure if I can control myself.”
“Hey,” I tried to raise his spirits, both with my words and with my powers. “You didn’t attack her on your way here, right? You must be stronger than you think. In fact, you are stronger than you think.”
Happy with my words, I seated myself beside my wife and took her hand, leaving Edward to think by himself. I had a feeling that this night was going to be a long night – longer than it usually was. Perhaps the little girl would wake up soon. I hope the little girl would wake up soon, just to solve the mystery of her identity, and perhaps to figure out why her scent was driving Edward crazy. Everyone for sure was eager to know. Events like this rarely happen to any family, let alone a family made up of vampires.