"I should call him...," I murmured to myself, but, listening to my own voice, I understood the new difficulties. He wouldn't recognize this voice. It wouldn't reassure him. And then the earlier surprise intruded. "Hold on - Jacob is still here?"
Another glance between them.
"Bella," Edward said quickly. "There's much to discuss, but we should take care of you first. You have to be in pain___"
When he pointed that out, I remembered the burn in my throat and swallowed convulsively. "But Jacob - "
"We have all the time in the world for explanations, love," he reminded me gently.
Of course. I could wait a little longer for the answer; it would be easier to listen when the fierce pain of the fiery thirst was no longer scattering my concentration. "Okay."
"Wait, wait, wait," Alice trilled from the doorway. She danced across the room, dreamily graceful. As with Edward and Carlisle, I felt some shock as I really looked at her face for the first time. So lovely. "You promised I could be there the first time! What if you two run past something reflective?"
"Alice - ," Edward protested.
"It will only take a second!" And with that, Alice darted from the room.
"What is she talking about?"
But Alice was already back, carrying the huge, gilt-framed mirror from Rosalie's room, which was nearly twice as tall as she was, and several times as wide.
Jasper had been so still and silent that I'd taken no notice of him since he'd followed behind Carlisle. Now he moved again, to hover over Alice, his eyes locked on my expression. Because I was the danger here.
I knew he would be tasting the mood around me, too, and so he must have felt my jolt of shock as I studied his face, looking at it closely for the first time.
Through my sightless human eyes, the scars left from his former life with the newborn armies in the South had been mostly invisible. Only with a bright light to throw their slightly raised shapes into definition could I even make out their existence.
Now that I could see, the scars were Jasper's most dominant feature. It was hard to take my eyes off his ravaged neck and jaw - hard to believe that even a vampire could have survived so many sets of teeth ripping into his throat.
Instinctively, I tensed to defend myself. Any vampire who saw Jasper would have had the same reaction. The scars were like a lighted billboard. Dangerous, they screamed. How many vampires had tried to kill Jasper? Hundreds? Thousands? The same number that had died in the attempt
Jasper both saw and felt my assessment, my caution, and he smiled wryly.
"Edward gave me grief for not getting you to a mirror before the wedding," Alice said, pulling my attention away from her frightening lover. Tm not going to be chewed out again."
"Chewed out?" Edward asked skeptically, one eyebrow curving upward.
"Maybe I'm overstating things," she murmured absently as she turned the mirror to face me.
"And maybe this has solely to do with your own voyeuristic gratification," he countered.
Alice winked at him.
I was only aware of this exchange with the lesser part of my concentration. The greater part was riveted on the person in the mirror.
My first reaction was an unthinking pleasure. The alien creature in the glass was indisputably beautiful, every bit as beautiful as Alice or Esme. She was fluid even in stillness, and her flawless face was pale as the moon against the frame of her dark, heavy hair. Her limbs were smooth and strong, skin glistening subtly, luminous as a pearl.
My second reaction was horror.
Who was she? At first glance, I couldn't find my face anywhere in the smooth, perfect planes of her features.
And her eyes! Though I'd known to expect them, her eyes still sent a thrill of terror through me.
All the while I studied and reacted, her face was perfectly composed, a carving of a goddess, showing nothing of the turmoil roiling inside me. And then her full lips moved.
"The eyes?" I whispered, unwilling to say my eyes. "How long?
"They'll darken up in a few months," Edward said in a soft, comforting voice. "Animal blood dilutes the color more quickly than a diet of human blood. They'll turn amber first, then gold."
My eyes would blaze like vicious red flames for months?
"Months?" My voice was higher now, stressed. In the mirror, the perfect eyebrows lifted incredulously above her glowing crimson eyes - brighter than any I'd ever seen before.
Jasper took a step forward, alarmed by the intensity of my sudden anxiety. He knew young vampires only too well; did this emotion presage some misstep on my part?
No one answered my question. I looked away, to Edward and Alice. Both their eyes were slightly
unfocused - reacting to Jasper's unease. Listening to its cause, looking ahead to the immediate future.
I took another deep, unnecessary breath.
"No, I'm fine," I promised them. My eyes flickered to the stranger in the mirror and back. "It's just... a lot to take in."
Jasper's brow furrowed, highlighting the two scars over his left eye.
"I don't know," Edward murmured.
The woman in the mirror frowned. "What question did I miss?"
Edward grinned. "Jasper wonders how you're doing it."
"Controlling your emotions, Bella," Jasper answered. "I've never seen a newborn do that - stop an emotion in its tracks that way. You were upset, but when you saw our concern, you reined it in, regained power over yourself. I was prepared to help, but you didn't need it."
"Is that wrong?" I asked. My body automatically froze as I waited for his verdict.