"You need to go hunt," I whispered, trying to keep my stomach down long enough to argue with Edward. It had been a week since we had returned. A week of watching Edward torture himself for no reason. A week of arguing with him over what was the right thing to do. A week of watching his eyes darken, knowing that he felt his own pain was just punishment for what I was going through.
"I'm fine," he promised, the lie not quite reaching his eyes.
"Please," I pleaded, reaching out to stroke my fingers along his jaw line. "Please go. I can't stand to see you hurting. I can't stand to see any of you hurting," I added, looking over to where Rosalie sat, her eyes as dark as Edward's.
I knew it was the wrong thing to say as soon as the words passed my lips. His eyes grew even more tortured, if possible, the gold all but obliterated from his darkening irises.
"Stop it! Stop worrying about me. Worry about yourself," Edward groaned, turning to face away from me. "I can't stand that you worry about me now, of all times. Bella-"
"Edward," I cut him off, struggling to pull myself in to a sitting position on the couch. My stomach rolled once. I gritted my teeth, waiting for the nausea to pass before I spoke again. "I love you. Of course I'm more worried about you than I am myself. Isn't that a part of being married? Caring for someone more than you care for yourself?"
He was at my side in instant, re-adjusting pillows to provide better support as I sat. I reached a hand up to curl my fingers behind his neck, tugging to let him know I wanted him closer. He bent down, our faces only inches apart. "Today isn't the day I die," I promised him, ignoring the tortured grimace that flashed across his face. "We have time. Please, Edward, please," I resorted to begging.
"Why don't all of you go, get out of the house for a few hours?" Carlisle suggested, looking up from the large book in his lap. "Esme and I will stay with Bella, so you don't have to rush back."
"It's a good idea," I seconded, leaning forward to place a light kiss on my husband's mouth. "Please?" I whispered against his lips.
"I should never have let you know that I can deny you nothing you ask for," Edward grimaced, a ghost of his old smile peeking through. "Very well, we'll go." He waved his hand toward the door. "After you, Rosalie."
Jasper had elected to stay behind, though he holed himself up in his study. Esme had moved to the couch, placing a pillow on her lap before inviting me to lay my head down. Her fingers combed through my hair, the action soothing both my emotional turmoil and my stomach. Carlisle had then sat at the other end of the couch, taking my sock covered feet in to his hands, gently kneading them. It felt absolutely wonderful. I sighed, feeling myself relaxing even more. I had such wonderful parents. In fact, I had a wonderful family.
I was drowsily thinking about each of my family members, smiling to myself at little things, when I suddenly realized why Jasper had elected to stay behind. For someone so in tune with the emotional climate, he must have been suffering tremendously along with Edward.
"Jasper," I whispered, knowing he could hear even though he was upstairs. I had only to blink before he was before me, seated on the floor, his calm face a foot away from mine.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, feeling tears gather in my eyes. Was I ever going to stop causing pain in those around me?
"For what?" Jasper asked, looking puzzled.
"For what you're having to experience," I stated, clarifying further when he only raised an eyebrow in question. "I know that it isn't...pleasant, to always feel what others are feeling. I'm sorry that Edward's upset with me. He's feeling needlessly guilty over this, though I wish he wouldn't. He's hating himself over this," I murmured, reaching up to brush a tear away.
Jasper beat me to it, his thumb a soft whisper against my skin. I was shocked in to stillness. Jasper didn't do casual touching, especially not with me. What was happening?
He flicked the tear away, further surprising me when he pushed an errant lock of hair behind my ear.
"Bella," he started, smiling at my startled expression. "Are you ever going to worry just for yourself?"
"Edward worries enough for the two of us," I grinned. "I figure that leaves me plenty of room to worry over everyone else. Besides, isn't that the job of an older brother?" I teased, glad when he smiled back.
"Yes, it is. Remember that when Emmett and I are driving you crazy."
I yawned, feeling the pull of sleep suddenly. "Jasper," I started, interrupted by yet another yawn. My eyes felt heavy, my limbs like lead.
"Go to sleep, Bella. Edward will feel better when he comes home to find you resting comfortably," he whispered.
I fought against the pull, wanting to get the words out; afraid the moment would never come again.
"Love you," I mumbled.
His words came from a distance, the smile still evident. "Love you too...little sister."