Standing before the door of Jasper’s ward, I sucked in a deep breath.
I tried to persuade myself.
Or Jasper would definitely notice something had gone wrong.
The doctor said his heart couldn’t bear emotions coming too strong.
I had to make him believe that everything was fine.
The wounds Beatrice and her minions left me were nasty. But luckily, they were only on my body.
My face betrayed nothing.
I had found a turtle neck with a pair of long sleeves earlier to cover most of my skin.
Jasper wouldn’t know if I didn’t mention it.
I plastered a big smile on my lips and knocked on the door, hand clutching the basket of food I brought.
“Come in,” the voice behind the door was muffled, yet still as musical as always.
When I walked in, Jasper was sitting by the window. Sunshine poured in, giving his bronze hair a metallic hue. His skin was still as pale as thin paper, but he looked much more alive compared with the last time I saw him before the surgery. His beautiful green eyes lit up when they spotted me.
“Lola!” He put down the book in his hands and smiled, his arms wide opening.
I hurriedly walked over and threw my arms around him.
“Where have you been all these days? I missed you…” He said against my hair, hot breath fanning my ear.
I didn’t say anything as I buried my face into his shoulder. The warmth and clean scent radiating from his body almost made me tear up.
Growing up in the orphanage, Jasper was the only family I got.
Even though not blood-related, he was still just like a little brother to me.
My whole world had almost collapsed when I got to know Jasper’s heavy heart condition…
“Been busy with work…” I sniffed as I pulled away, turning around and unwrapping the cloth of the basket on the table, “I brought you your favorites…”
“Mr. Charles is working you to death,” Jasper’s voice was angry from my back, “You need to stop working for him…”
I produced a plate of freshly baked muffins as I turned around to smile at him, “Mr. Charles paid me the most. Come on, Jasper. You know we need the money.”
“You mean I need the money…” Anger shone across his face as he took me by my wrist and pulled me in, his eyes sad as they searched for mine, “I can’t just stay in this expensive ward when you work your ass off for me… I owe you too much… I feel like a deadweight…”
“Don’t say that, Jasper,” I put down the plate of muffins and frowned, “You’re NOT a deadweight. You’re my family. I wouldn’t know how to make it through those awful days in the orphanage if it were not for you… I’m doing this not just for you, but also for myself. I can’t imagine what life would be like without you.”
“Lola…” Jasper’s voice was sad as a fit of cough burst out from his chest.
“Oh my gosh… Are you okay? I thought the coughing would have stopped after the surgery…” I instantly went forth, attempting to help him lie down, “Are you feeling chest pain again?”
Jasper waved me off, refusing to lie down. His hand was cold and pale when it wrapped around mine. “I’m okay, Lola… Just— stay with me for a while…”
I thus stood still silently and let him hold my hand. Jasper’s face was still beautiful, yet as pastry as a porcelain doll’s. I didn’t have the heart to look directly into his eyes for fear of having my heart broken.
So I cast my eyes down to our intertwined fingers. His hands were pale yet veiny, much larger than mine. It was hard to believe that those hands belonged to a 17 years old boy instead of a man.
I didn’t know when this happened. But one day, Jasper just suddenly grew much taller and bigger than me.
I remember he had still been so small and chubby when he first came to the orphanage.
The old memories brought a faint smile to my lips.
“What are you smiling at, Lo?” Jasper asked gently.
I looked up and caught his soft gaze. Jasper was usually cold and aloof to other people. I was probably the only one who got to see his fluffy side.
“Nothing,” I said as I pulled my hand away gently and took out more fresh fruits I brought from the basket, “You really need to eat now, Jasper. Doctors said low blood sugar is no good for you…”
I was still smiling when I whirled to face Jasper. But the raw anger on his face brought me to a start, “…Jess? What’s wrong?”
“What’s that?” He asked sternly, eyes fixing hard on my wrist.
My gaze dropped and noticed the bruise peeking out under my sleeve…
I cursed inwardly as I hurried to pull down the sleeve.
“No-nothing…” I forced out a smile, “It’s just… Jess!”
I was pulled in forcefully. Jess pushed my sleeve up and saw the wounds covering my skin. His eyes were red with anger as he took in the black and blue on my pale wrist.
“Jess… Stop!” I cried in horror. How the heck did he possess so much strength when he was still sick in bed?
But Jasper didn’t stop. His hand grabbed the side of my collar and tucked it down, revealing my naked shoulder and those wounds on it.
“Who did this to you?” His voice was trembling with raw rage.
“No-no one…” I stuttered as I pulled away in a hurry, “Nothing happened… ”
I knew Jasper too well. If he knew that I was bullied by Beatrice and her bunch, he would definitely go find her and make her pay.
Beatrice might not be on par with Jasper when it came to strength.
But her connections with multiple administrators in our orphanage were rather “intimate” and she was extremely vengeful.
I didn’t want what happened to Frank to repeat on Jasper.
If anything happened to my only family, my whole world would crumble.
“STOP lying to me, Lola,” Jasper hissed, veins popping on his pale temples, “Did those kids bully you because you’re going to be adopted? Who are they?”
“No one…” I said breathlessly, “No one really…”
“Do you really expect me to believe this after what I saw?” Jasper growled, “I have the heart to rip their throats out right now. Lola, I just need names…”
“I know… I know… Jess. I know you’re angry… But I don’t want you to do anything impulsive… Just calm down…” I almost cried, “…Please stop looking at me that way… You scared me…”
Shockingness and realization shot across Jasper’s eyes when he heard that I was scared.
He closed his eyes as if trying to calm himself.
When he opened his eyes again, the boiling madness in his eyes seemed to subside, “Lo, this is a stupid plan. Getting adopted and everything…”
“But I will have more free time once got adopted… That means I could take more shifts to get money… It is the only way to pay your medical bill…”
“Damn it! I don’t want you to pay my medical bills. I just want you, Lola… Don’t you understand?” His eyes were wild as he grabbed my hands, “the idea of having you taken away by some predatory Lycan General drives me mad. I can’t bear it…”
My heart sank. This again?
I let Jasper pull me in. His one arm hooked around my waist as he pressed his forehead against my stomach. I could feel the warmth of his ragged breath as his arm tightened around me.
“I don’t want you to go, Lo… I’d rather die to give you to other men… Sometimes I wish… I wish I could transform into an alpha… So I could protect you…and take care of you… But I’m so f*****g useless… so f*****g useless…”
I swallowed down the lump in my throat, my voice hoarse and gentle, “Jess, please don’t say that. You’re killing me. You’re the only family I have. You already did me a great favor by existing in this world at all… You… you’re like a little brother to me.”
“A brother?” Jasper’s bitter laugh was muffled, but the pain in his voice was clear to hear. “You know I want more than that, Lo.”
My body stiffened.
“Jasper, not this again…” I breathed.
“I couldn’t sleep at night when I remembered you’re gonna leave… and the reason for your departure was all because of me.” Jasper grabbed my hand, leaving gentle kisses against my palm, his voice muffled with desire, “You always say I’m a little brother to you and I don’t even know what that means… Is this really what you want, Lola? Having me as your little brother?”
“Jess…” I finally managed to choke out his name, “Please… don’t say that…”
“Okay…” Jess looked up, the pain churning under his beautiful green eyes almost paralyzing me, “I won’t mention that again if you don’t like it. I just want you to answer a couple of questions.”
I thought for a beat and nodded vaguely.
“Do you really want to be claimed by some Lycan who barely know you? Do you really want to throw your whole life away for me? Even if it is not what I want?” His eyes implored mine when he asked.
My chest was tightened with restrained emotions. The way Jasper looked at me told me that he was ready to give me his whole world if I answered otherwise.
But I still couldn’t bring myself to neglect rights and wrongs.
I grew up with Jasper and I knew his nature too well. If one day, he was gonna fall in love with a girl, that girl had to be the luckiest person in the whole universe.
But I couldn’t be that girl.
It would be so wrong.
I didn’t want what we already had to be ruined and treaded.
It was…immoral… and forbidden…
In the end, I finally managed to speak softly, “Jess, you know I love you more than anything. But it is not in that way. If you don’t want to destroy me and see me break into pieces, please don’t mention this ever again…”
The silence in the room was cutting.
After a while, Jasper finally let go of my body, his voice hoarse and thick with sadness.
“Okay, Lo,” he said, the look on his face heartbreakingly lost. “I’m sorry. If those feelings I generated for you disgust you, I will never speak of them again…”