Let me preface this glowing report of 'Afterlife' by saying, this story does not start off on a happy foot. Like every Disney movie I've ever seen, heartbreak and tears mark the beginning. Mainly Bella's heartbreak and tears (and possibly a few of your own). The first chapter opens onto a charming scene of Alice picking out vacation destinations while Edward and Bella lounge around on a normal, lazy evening. Bella has already been turned into a vampire at this point (sans hybrid spawn). Their quiet evening is suddenly interrupted by the appearance of... (*insert dramatic music here*) the Volturi. The second chapter begins in the classic styling of the majority of vamp flicks, with the two opposing sides fighting, but this time, our team doesn't win. Good does not triumph evil, and Edward and Alice are killed. In one fell swoop, the red-caped villains destroy two pairs of soul mates, and the lives of the Cullens will never be the same.
The story picks up five years later in chapter three. Jasper vanished soon after Alice's death, unable to handle the emotions coming from the family on top of his own. And Bella is immobile. She sits on top of the bookcase in what is now her room, listless, lifeless, and above all else, unable to forget. The rest of the family move around her, prodding her to respond and rejoin life, but to no avail. The only time she moves is to hunt, but even then it's just enough to placate whoever is with her. The spark that gets her to move, however, the thing that sets her off is news of Jasper and his dramatic lifestyle change, which has angered the local vampires in the town he now hunts in, San... wait for it... Antonio! Yes, he's back in Texas. Good ol' Tejas, where suicidally depressed vampires go to anger the locals and have a hit taken out on them.
That's where my summary of the story ends because I want you, the reader, to discover what happens next. (It's really, really good, in case you were wondering.)
Here's why I recommend it: the friendship, and later the romance, between Bella and Jasper after losing their significant others is actually believable! (I know! I was surprised, too.) I totally bought their budding friendship, which started out in tentative steps toward comradery, and then later when it turned into something deeper. But whatever their feelings grew to be toward each other, it never eclipsed the original love they felt for Alice and Edward, which I really appreciated. Though I might be Team Belsper, I would have found Bella suddenly loving Jasper more than Edward a red 'X' click kind of story.
Where so many stories that have used this plot before failed, this story succeeds. It's a wonderful story of overcoming soul-crushing sorrow to find the will to live again, and I love it. The flashbacks that Bella has of her and Edward throughout the story made me actually tear up at one point, so be warned, you might cry. It will make your heart ache, but I think that just makes for a better HEA. And while the story is rated M, there is no outright explicit sex. (Bummer, I know, but I think having it would have ruined the believability of Bella and Jasper's growing feelings.) Thankfully the author has started a sequel, titled 'Vie', so *fingers crossed* maybe there will be some soon.
In short, if you like Bella and Jasper together and have ever wanted to see what would have happened had Edward and Alice been taken out of the equation, this is the story for you. I highly, highly recommend it and can't wait to see what happens in the sequel. (If you know me at all, you'll know I'm serious because I usually avoid sequels at all costs.)
Now go, read and enjoy.
CDunbar is the author of Resident Geek and some other stories that have little to no consequence on the Twilight fandom as a whole, but the admins of the Ficster allow her to think she's important enough to rec stories and such on here, and that people actually care about her opinion. She's also a co-host on Temptation, a Twilight podcast, which is currently on hold until the hosts' lives calm down into some semblance of order.