They were in tune with nature as they ran, the sounds of the wildlife mingling with theirs. They were playful as they moved through the forest, testing and exciting each other, betting on who would reach their prey first.
Alice knew already, of course she did, she always did.. She slowed to admire the graceful attack of her mate.
In her peripheral vision, she could see it.
He would enjoy it, it would satisfy him…for a while, at least, leaving his eyes golden and content.
She could get lost in them, Jasper's eyes. They were deep pools of golden beauty, with an unmeasured power over her. Alice did not share Jasper's extraordinary gift, that was his alone, but his eyes were hers, a window to his soul. She had but to look in them to know his feelings.
His eyes owned her, they possessed her.
He knew that, and he used it well.
Jasper hunted quickly, he was so thirsty. His instincts took over and he lost control. Alice loved it when that happened, when he gave in to his nature. It ignited something deep within her, a fire only Jasper could temper, stirring emotions that were made for him alone.
She watched as he attempted to calm himself, his eyes closed, and head bowed.
She smiled as she walked towards him, knowing he needed help, her help. She was the only one who could reach him now, the only one who could extinguish one fire and replace it with another.
A different kind of fire, of course, a fire that burned only for him.
They didn't understand their luck, their good fortune in finding each other. It baffled them, it amazed them, but they embraced it regardless. She took his hand in hers, lacing their fingers together, sending warmth and electricity through both of them.
She sank to the ground, bringing him with her. No words were required; their touch was enough, together was enough.
They were enough.
From the moment they met, their eyes, their shared smile, it had always been enough. She'd offered her hand, he'd taken it and they left together, their future was set.
They would always be together.
Jasper let go of her hand, tilting her face so he could see her eyes.
What do you want, my love? What do you need?
I need a kiss. Kiss me, Jasper.
A kiss was pressed to her forehead, descending to the bridge of her nose, and finally, to her waiting lips. One kiss turned to another, and then another, until they stopped counting, each of them overwhelmed and intoxicated with the other.
They were desperate, passionate kisses, full of love and promises. Gasping for breath he would never need, Jasper pulled away, burying his face in her hair, inhaling her scent, the essence of her.
She smiled at their closeness, the way their bodies were pressed together. It warmed her bones; there was nothing better than this, the softness of their skin together, a delicate texture only their fingers could feel.
They lay back on the grass, staring at the sky, enjoying their moment.
The clouds hiding the sun melted away, revealing its beauty. The rays shone down from the sky, bringing them light. It danced on their skin like a diamond shower, casting an ethereal glow.
An inhuman perfection.
This was their reality, they were not human. Myths and legends portrayed them as monstrous, sadistic creatures, evil and cruel. To many, they were the creation of the devil. There were times when they both believed it to be true, especially him. But in that moment, as they bathed in the sun, it did not bother them. They felt special, unique, they felt whole.
In the privacy of their union, away from curious eyes, and suspicious glances, they felt at peace. They stared at each other, bewitched by the other's absolute beauty. They were lost in each other, both knowing they would never forget this flawless moment.
Alice felt as though she couldn't care if they were seen. Let them stare, she thought, let them witness pure love. His answering smile was blinding, and she wondered, was there anything more perfect than him?
His smile was only for her, it was her secret, her most precious thing. It was an intimate act of trust, and it was hers alone. No one else would ever see it.
The smile widened when he saw the wonder in her eyes.
Don't be so surprised, he chided silently.
You will always amaze me, my love, she replied.
They both blinked and the peaceful silence was broken by his angelic voice, too deep and low for human ears. "I enjoyed that," he said quietly. "It was too small, though."
She rolled her eyes at the absurdity of his comment; the bear was gigantic.
His answering grin was soft and light and she beamed back at him.
But, after a moment, she remembered his despair when feeding, the anguish and desperation marring his features. Her mind filled with anxiety, and a frown appeared on her face.
"You were so thirsty," she whispered, worry lacing her tone. Her fingers traced the fading purple shadows beneath his eyes.
"Remind me not to go longer than two weeks next time," he said.
She glared at him, the words 'stubborn' and 'fool,' ringing in her head. She had done exactly that.
He laughed, knowing as always exactly what she was thinking. "I know, darlin', you did tell me. I just wanted to try. Never again, though," he shook his head. "I won't do it again."
A grimace crossed his face before he could stop it, he caught himself, but not before she saw it, she always saw it.
"Explain, Jasper," she said firmly.
He sighed and turned away. She waited patiently, knowing she'd get her answer.
"It's just not enough," he said bleakly. "It will never be enough, I'll always want more. Even after that big bear, I can feel it."
He sat up and Alice instinctively moved with him, their movements as one. She placed her hand on his back, an attempt to calm him, a reminder that she was there, like she always would be.
"It's only been a few years, Jasper," she said softly. "You had years of instant gratification, decades without hunger. Don't be so hard on yourself." She rubbed his back gently, hoping he could see himself as she saw him, a strong, kind beautiful man, and more…so much more.
"I couldn't do it without you," he whispered brokenly.
"You'll never have to," she promised. "I'll always be here."
He scrambled to his feet, and when she attempted to stop him, he bent and picked her up, scooping her from the forest floor. Her arms flew to his neck, her giggle tinkling through the air.
"Mr. Whitlock," she murmured against his jaw.
"Ma'am," he answered, his voice filled with amusement and joy.
When their laughter faded, his expression was serious again. "Thank you for finding me," he told her earnestly.
She smiled and ran her hand through his soft hair. "You found me, Jasper. The second I opened my eyes, you were there. I loved you then, and I love you now."
"And I love you," he said, touching his lips to hers.
Her eyes snapped open, the light before them felt like flames. She closed them again, hoping to return to her utopia, the dream land where she could see him, her angel.
Jasper, I love him, she remembered.
But she knew she had to wait now and the grief at her loss settled heavily over her stone heart, the heart that would remain cold until she saw him again.
The light in the air stung her eyes once more, pulling her further from her angel. This time, she couldn't fight it; she knew what the light meant.
A hand grabbed her face, rough fingers scraping her skin. Her chin already ached but she refused to give in, she would not please her aggressor with any sounds of discomfort.
Not yet, at least, not until she could no longer bear the agony.
"Are you done, demon?" A voice sneered at her.
She bit her lip, holding her silence.
"When are you going to stop, Mary Alice? We just want to help, you don't need to resist." The doctor's voice was hollow with a false sincerity. But he would not fool her; they never fooled her, even as they strove to rid her of her faculties.
"I'm telling you, Doctor, she has the devil inside her." The nun holding her face looked at Alice in contempt.
"You know the results of the exorcism," the doctor said calmly, his tone belying his true character. "She is not possessed; it's just her and her putrid mind."
"She was in that trance for thirty minutes," the nun continued cruelly. "She needs another treatment today."
"Of course, Sister," the doctor responded absently, his mind already distracted by thoughts of what he could do to her this time. "Mary Alice is a difficult case."
The doctor was a sadistic man, to Alice and all the other girls in the hell pit he presided over. To the rest of the world, he was a hero, a genius. He was a man sent from God to heal the minds of lost, impure young girls.
He would save them from damnation.
Or so they thought.
"She's worse since that friend of hers left," another nun said suddenly.
Sister Edna, Alice knew her voice only too well; the scars on her body made it impossible to forget.
"Who?" the doctor asked curiously.
"The obscene girl who bared her flesh, and brought shame for her family," Sister Edna explained.
Alice wanted to grimace; she missed her friend, and she worried of her fate.
"She was a filthy whore," another voice said in disgust.
Sister Mildred, Alice knew. A person she feared, but her words made her angry.
"Damn you to hell," she muttered through her clenched teeth, the words leaving her mouth before she could stop them.
The consequences of her mistake were instant, the hands leaving her face in the same moment another struck her cheek, slapping her so hard, she felt her brain rattle.
Sister Mildred, Alice knew it was her as well; she was famous for her slaps.
Alice cursed that this was happening in one of her few lucid moments.
"Stand, Mary Alice, follow us," the doctor said.
Alice remained in her seat.
The nuns reached for her arms and pulled her to her feet, dragging her along the passageway. The cold stone stung her as she fell to the floor.
The beginning was the same, it always was, false, gentle words and reassuring phrases.
"We want to help you, this will make you better, this pain will fix you."
But they always tired of that, moving on to the real 'treatment.'
They taunted her, and sneered at her.
"You bring misery to everyone, and shame to your family, you are a demon, and you are damned."
Alice felt nothing, the numbness betraying the damage to her mind. Her spirit was shattered, she could feel nothing.
Until they tired of that, too.
She cried out as they struck her, slapping, kicking, and spitting. She could do nothing as the tears fell, powerless as the sobs wracked her body. Her robe hung loosely on her thin frame, falling away as the blows rained down. Her stomach and face bore the worst.
"When will you comply, Mary Alice? When will you accept God's will?"
She said nothing.
"God will come for you, Mary Alice, you must accept reality."
"I know what's real," she said suddenly, her voice hoarse but strong as her spirit rallied. Time stopped. Silence fell upon the room, a dark, foreboding silence. "My visions are real," she continued quietly. "My angel is real, and I love him."
Oblivious to the fury appearing in the doctors eyes, Alice turned to Sister Mildred. "Have you ever seen an angel, Sister? I have, his name is Jasper, and I love him."
"Hold her," the doctor ordered, his voice hard, his fists clenching at his sides.
But Alice didn't feel them; she didn't feel the nails digging into her skin, the rasp of the canes as they licked at her flesh. They could have torn her in two and she would not have noticed. She had fled, she had gone.
Her vision consumed her and she fell into it willingly. In that moment, it was so easy to be happy.
She was aware of every sound in the diner, the chatter, the boiling of the water. She could hear the humans eating, their conversations. She was aware of everything, but her mind was distracted.
She listened to the footsteps on the sidewalk, trying to distinguish the whisper of a vampire's pace. She tried to capture the light, soft steps of her kind. One of the many things that brought her wonder was how graceful her kind was. Humans made so much noise; their steps were always loud and heavy. Vampire steps were delicate, as if they barely touched the ground.
The air changed, and she knew it would rain. She took a deep breath; it would not be long now.
She sat up straighter as she heard his steps; she could faintly detect his scent. He was walking at a human's pace, no more than a mile away. She crossed and uncrossed her legs nervously, her anticipation building.
This was the day she'd been waiting for, her reason for living. Her first vision had been him; her very first memory was his stunning face. Even before she could focus, she saw him.
Fierce red eyes, wild blond hair, a strong and masculine jaw.
She had stood up, her eyes seeking more. Moments later, the visions came, filling her mind with him. It was then that she knew, knew for sure what she'd always suspected. She was in this world for one reason, for one being.
She was here for Jasper.
The door opened, and the air moved again. She looked up slowly; she wanted to run to him, to embrace him. But this was better, there was no rush, and from this moment on, they had all the time in the world.
She waited for him to notice her. He was there, standing at the entrance of the diner, his hair wet from the heavy rain, his eyes dark and guarded.
He was perfect.
His face was startled and confused when he caught her stare; she smiled and giggled at his shock. She could see the struggle in his body and eyes. He wanted to take a defensive stance but he…couldn't. He could feel it, she knew he could, her love…their love. She could see he was worried, but she knew he wouldn't run. She hopped down from the stool, her limbs drawing her towards him. He looked cautious, alarmed, almost, but he made no move towards the door.
Her smile widened when she reached him. She felt the relief of having him right in front of her, after countless of visions over the years. "You've kept me waiting a long time," she murmured gently.
He lowered his eyes, tipping his hat in a conciliatory gesture. "I'm sorry, Ma'am."
She extended her hand, and he took it without hesitation, just as she knew he would.
They walked away from the diner together, as they would always be.
"Darlin', you have a lot to explain," he drawled softly.
"Yes," she agreed. "I have a lot to tell you, but just walk with me for a while."
"Anything you want," he promised.
As they walked, she looked down at their joined hands as they walked and then back to him. His eyes never left her, and when her gaze met him, she knew it never would. As they continued to watch each other, his grip on her hand tightened. In that moment, Alice thought her dead heart would beat once again.
He would never let go, she knew that.
Just as she knew he was real.