Author: SweetDulcinea PM
As a photographer, many beautiful things cross Bella's path, but none so captivating as him. Despite all her efforts to distance herself, they just keep getting closer & their attraction grows. One afternoon in her darkroom changes everything.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Jasper & Bella - Chapters: 11 - Words: 59,332 - Reviews: 381 - Favs: 295 - Follows: 200 - Updated: 03-01-10 - Published: 09-21-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5393752
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"For the Love of Jasper" One-Shot Contest
Title: Shameless Developments
Pen name: SweetDulcinea
Existing work: N/A
Primary Players: Jasper & Bella
Disclaimer: Any characters, products, or other recognizable items are property of their respective owners. Apologies to SM for defiling her characters, but I've seen worse =)
To see other entries in the "For the Love of Jasper" contest, please visit the C2:
A/N: Thanks to keepingupwiththekids for mad beta skillz & friendship; love to rachael1042 for insight, encouragement, and giggles; and 4lettrwrd, without whom this story would not flow. She schooled me on photography and held my hand through the tough spots.
The delightful attention to my breasts moved slowly down my body until pumping fingers, a flickering tongue, and sucking lips all worked in tandem between my thighs.
"Oh god, baby…that feels so good," I moaned.
The appreciative hum in response sent reverberations over my scorching flesh, driving me closer to my impending climax.
This impassioned act was perfected in a nearly scientific way, but I never tired of the orgasm-inducing attention. Every time, my hips would buck wildly, seeking more and more and more. I was an instrument, played carefully by my musician to elicit a beautiful array of melodies and harmonies.
My fingers instinctively wound through the thick disarray of hair atop my lover's head. While my clit was circled and sucked, I clenched tightly, signaling the nearness of my release. With that heated cue, three slim fingers curled into the spongy surface of my G-Spot.
"Whose delicious pussy is this? Say it!" The words were garbled as my hands were still fisting silky strands of hair, holding that amazing mouth in place, but I understood this part well.
"Mmm…" I cried out in a feminine, high-pitched tone. "Fuck!"
Without warning, the fingers that were fucking me froze in place, making me writhe to create some kind of friction. I was too close for games. I needed to get off or I might possibly die.
"Uh, uh, Bella. Tell me who this pussy belongs to if you want me to finish. Tell me baby, and I'll make you come so hard you'll see stars."
"Yours! It's yours!" I yelled, yanking the hair between my fingers again. "Please…I'm so close…fuck me!"
With my submission, the spiraling pleasure course continued. Moments later, my back was arching off the bed while I screamed through my promised orgasm. Ripples of ecstasy shot through my body over and over again, starting in my lower belly and overpowering each limb and brain cell. Collapsing onto the mattress, my hands relaxed beside me. I closed my eyes, inhaling deeply through my nose.
The bed shifted beside me, and I rolled to face my beautiful lover whose skills never ceased to amaze me. Slowly, I allowed the light of the room to return as I stared into the gorgeous green eyes that had enraptured me the first time I saw them three years ago. Our lips met, pressing together gently at first and then molding into one another for a passionate reprise. Tongues danced and tiny moans permeated the thick air surrounding us. My hand found purchase on a prominent hipbone, trailing over taunt abs and working its way higher.
"That was unfuckingbelievable," I mumbled between sweet kisses.
"Anything for you, baby. I love you."
Lazily cupping the modest breast in my hand, I lowered my mouth toward the tantalizing pink nipple.
"I love you too, Alice."
As we stood in front of the brightly lit vanity in our bathroom, Alice told me about tonight's premiere party at the art museum. As Public Relations and Publicity Director, it was her responsibility to ensure that these events went off without a hitch. She had been doing it since completing graduate school two years ago, and she was spectacular at her job. Alice had a way of charming people, so coupling her refined social graces with party planning was a match made in Heaven. Nothing was more exciting to my girlfriend than a grand affair.
Tonight held a particular significance for her. The museum's latest exhibit was a feature on local artists. Five talented artists, all originally from the area or current residents, were selected to display their work in the guest gallery. The art included an eclectic blend of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and drawings from the honored guests. One of those, a painter named Jasper Hale, was Alice's childhood friend. She had nothing to do with his feature in the exhibit, but she was certainly looking forward to catching up with him after all the years that had passed.
"He was my first kiss," she said with a smile as she smoothed a deep red stain across her lips.
"You told me you'd never been with a man," I stated in confusion. This news was surprising to me because Alice's major hang up when we first started dating was my bisexual past. Despite our attraction and connection, she didn't want to be involved with someone who might become fickle and leave her when I "got over my experimental stage." Alice was most definitely not an experiment in sexuality where I was concerned. I had never loved anyone, male or female, before I met her.
She giggled and quickly corrected my assumption. "It was only a kiss. The Hales lived down the street from my family. Jasper and his twin sister Rosalie are eerily identical. He is very masculine and she is definitely feminine, but somehow, they still looked exactly alike. They are gorgeous. I mean, model beauty. By the time we were all sixteen, I was transfixed by both of them."
"So how did you end up kissing Jasper?" I asked.
"Well, a part of me knew what I wanted back then, but I had never acted on it. Since Jasper was the only boy I ever felt drawn to, I cornered him at a party one night and asked him to kiss me."
"And?" I asked expectantly.
"And nothing. He was pretty and I suppose quite good at it, but I didn't feel anything. By the end of the night, everyone was drunk and passing out, and in my uninhibited state, I decided I should test my theory further."
Furrowing my eyebrows in confusion, I listened intently as her story continued.
"I found Rosalie and dragged her away from some auto shop asshole from school. She was too drunk to recognize his intentions. We were friends, you know, so I told her we could go hide out together. We found an empty guest bedroom and crawled into the bed together. Before she knew what was really going on, I started kissing her."
A wry smile found its way to my lips against my own volition. In all the time we'd been together, Alice had never shared any details of her "early" years with me. This story was actually turning me on a little. "What did she do?" I asked.
"She kissed me back, of course!" Alice giggled again. "I knew Rosalie had experience with guys, but she certainly wasn't kicking me out of bed."
"Oh my gosh! Did you date after that?"
"No. She laughed it off the next morning, saying I was hot, but she liked cock too much to be a dyke – her words, not mine." Alice shook her head at the memory, now working on her stylishly short, black hair. "She said she'd try anything once."
"Crazy," I mused. "Your first kiss with a guy and a girl were with twins! That's hilarious!"
"Not just my first kiss. There were a few other firsts with Rosalie, too!"
Delighted laughter filled our bathroom as we finished getting ready for tonight's event. By the time we were out the door, Alice looked stunning in a form-hugging black and white Versace dress, while I opted for a more comfortable look in tailored slacks and a sleeveless scarlet blouse. While Alice's position called for schmoozing and charm, my role was to capture the night in stills. As a professional photographer, I offered my services to my love at these events. I wasn't hired by the museum, but I liked doing it for her. She used the candid shots of guests, artists, and museum patrons for museum P.R. and in her personal portfolio. Like many other events before, I would spend more time with my camera and a glass of wine than I would Alice.
An hour into the evening, I had only seen her once. She was working the crowd in true Alice Brandon form, introducing patrons to the artists and the Board of Trustees and taking potential donors on tours of the various floors of the museum. It was as though this job was designed for her.
While she worked the crowd, I was busy catching up on my shots. My first distraction had been a delicious Shiraz that kept finding its way into my wine glass. The wait staff at this event was top notch. My slight buzz only added to my enchantment as I wandered through the guest gallery, carefully examining each piece of art representing the honored guests. Every item told a story. I had always been captivated by the expression of life and emotion through various artistic medium, but I was not gifted in that way. It's why I turned to photography. Where my hands lacked the necessary skills to turn canvas into a masterpiece, I had the eye for framing a subject and bringing it to life in a photo.
Resolving to take at least a few rolls of black and white snapshots before indulging again, I set my wine glass on a nearby cocktail table before my favorite waiter could refill it. In my opinion, film was a greater challenge than digital photography. The use of film made me savor each opportunity, taking care to be certain of a shot prior to depressing the shutter button. Focus was necessary. I could drink more once I was using my digital camera.
Things were going well, and I was really looking forward to getting this film into my darkroom to see the results. That anticipation and gratification was another reason I loved doing things the old-fashioned way. The act of mixing chemicals with film to produce a strip of miniature images was a soothing, magical process for me.
I captured many delightful moments: smiling faces, contemplative patrons as they viewed a particular piece, a group of suited old men arguing over who would purchase this or that. The malleable, emotional human face was my artistic medium, and setting it to film was a high like no other.
As I prepared to snap a few candids of a mother and child pointing at an enormous wheel-thrown vase, another form stepped into the frame. When my lens zoomed in on my subjects in the distance, I was met with the face of a very handsome man. I gasped in shock, both at the surprise of having him cross into my line of sight and at his sheer beauty.
The camera dropped from in front of my face, still held in my hands, but resting just below my chest. Greedily, I drank in the sight fifteen yards away from me. Tall. He was very, very tall. Broad shoulders, an obviously sculpted chest, narrow waist. His skin had a warm glow of color, and his hair was styled into a shaggy, surfer-like cut of golden blonde tresses. I stared at his profile, as he was only partially facing my direction. High cheekbones, a prominently cut jaw, and full, pouty lips adorned his god-like face. Never, never had I seen a man like this. As he turned, I noticed that his cobalt blue tie perfectly offset the matching blue of his devastating, dangerous eyes.
My knees were weak.
My panties were moist.
When a flirtatious smile graced his lovely lips, it hit me.
I was staring.
How long had I been staring?
Oh! He was staring back at me!
The fire of a deep crimson blush burned in my cheeks, spreading down my neck and to my chest. I involuntarily took quick breaths, diverting my eyes to the floor before peeking back up at the heavenly creature. He was still looking at me.
This feeling…it was not good. This reckless attraction could be my undoing.
I had not felt this kind of instantaneous desire for another person since meeting Alice.
No, not good at all.
My mind registered that he was moving. Moving toward me. A wave of panic struck, dropping my stomach into my kitten heels and causing my mind to race. In a flash, I turned away, pretending to take a few photos before bolting toward the ladies room.
Fifteen minutes later, I emerged. I couldn't hide all night. I had a job to do. I had a commitment to fulfill. At the bar, I downed a glass of Shiraz quickly and accepted a refill before setting back out to the party.
I ducked around corners when I would spot Blue Eyes, but my camera always seemed to point itself in his direction. What could a few innocent photos hurt? At least with these I would have proof that he wasn't merely an apparition.
Alas, my avoidance was futile. His eyes always found mine, piercing me with lustful stares and sexy smirks. He would lick his lips flirtatiously before sipping his wine, never taking his eyes off me, even if he was speaking to someone else.
I wouldn't approach him. I couldn't. But I wasn't sure if I could keep him from seeking me out another time. In a last ditch effort to ease my stress and sexual tension, I alternated between drinking my wine far too fast and continuing my photography.
When the last of my film had been used, I felt an encouraging sense of relief. The evening was nearing its end, I could switch to my digital camera and soon, I would be home in bed with Alice. I would never have to see the painfully alluring man again.
Slipping away from the crowd, I made my way toward Alice's office where my other camera was stowed. I tucked my first camera in its case, carefully placing the lens in its compartment and then removing my digital from the second camera bag. I heard the soft click of the door closing and breathed a sigh of relief. My absent Alice was here to calm and level me. With a smile on my face, I turned to meet her.
I reflexively jumped back at the sight before me, for it was not Alice. Blue Eyes loomed over me, seductive and sultry, gazing at me with an intensity that made my entire body shudder.
"Wh-what are you doing in here?" I stuttered, surprised that I could actually form words given the storm raging inside me.
"I think you know," he offered suggestively, stepping closer as I stepped back.
"You should go. I have to get back out there. I should go. We should go." The words tumbled from my lips, assuredly making me sound like an utter fool. Again, he stepped forward, I retreated. My heart thrummed in my ears. Could he hear it, too?
"I don't want to go, beautiful. I'd much rather be here with you…alone, than out there." Step forward, step back.
"I need to take more photos," I weakly protested.
My back was flush against the wall. He was close. Too close. Not close enough. My body ached for him to touch me, just once, anywhere, while my mind screamed for him to stay away.
With one hand flattened against the wall beside my head, he hovered over me, inching closer, leaning in…
I lost the battle.
His lips crushed mine, immediately working into a frenzied pace. My body reacted as any woman would. My teeth grazed his lower lip, my arms wound around his muscular frame, and my chest heaved against his. Before I knew what was happening, he hoisted me up, pinning my body between his and the wall. The fight was useless. My legs wrapped around his waist in simultaneous defeat and victory. The alignment was perfect; his prominent erection pressed directly against my center, causing me to whimper and cry out with each thrust of his angular hips.
I devoured him, sucking on his tongue and lips, tasting cinnamon and wine in his mouth. His hand fumbled with the buttons of my top, but I could not will myself to stop it. To stop any of it. My entire body wanted him, wanted this. I peeled my eyes open to soak up the ethereal beauty of the man who held me, and that was when reality crashed down upon me.
We were in Alice's office.
My girlfriend. My love.
I couldn't do this to her.
My legs unhooked from their position, immediately disconnecting our clothed sex and taking him by surprise. He tried to pull me back to him, but I wiggled until I was on my feet and our mouths unlocked.
"I can't do this," I whispered, staring down at my trembling hands.
"I'm sorry. Oh god, I don't even know your name," he sputtered out with a panicked, guilty tone. "Fuck! I'm such as ass." His hand went to my chin, lifting my face to meet his gaze. "What's your name, beautiful?"
"Bella," I whispered. "It's Bella, but we can't do this." My head shook furiously. "I'm…I'm…"
"You're what, Bella?"
"You're married? Fuuuuuck…" he groaned. "I'm sorry."
"No, not married. Just unavailable, but listen, I need to get back. Take more photos, you know?"
With that, I grabbed my camera and darted out into the hall. I gasped when I saw Alice turn the corner toward me, her face lighting up with a wide smile when she spotted me.
"There you are, sweetie! I've been looking all over for you!" she said, closing the gap between us and kissing me quickly on my lips. I cringed at the thought that she might taste someone else on what was hers. Looking over my shoulder, she bounced with excited joy. "Oh! I see you've already met Jasper."
Completely and utterly horrified, I slowly turned toward the man she was speaking of – the man who had just walked out of her office.
I quickly departed under the guise of needing to take more photos, and I avoided Jasper for the rest of the evening. When Alice and I left, his forlorn expression did not escape my notice. Any relief I felt for getting the hell out of there was voided by my guilt. How could I have done something so rash and disrespectful? I didn't even know this man, and I allowed him to seduce me. He was practically fucking me before we even introduced ourselves. Then, to find out he is the Jasper that Alice had told me about before the party…the whole thing was a disaster.
Never in our three years together had I doubted my feelings for Alice. I went back and forth between dating men and women in college, but when we met, it had been almost two years since I'd been with a man. She was it for me; at least I thought so before tonight. Was it possible that someone could swoop in and shake the foundation of my relationship – of my life – so easily? Obviously, it was that easy. Lines were crossed and there was no going back.
My night called for a steaming hot shower to loosen my anxiety-ridden muscles and wash away my betrayal. When Alice slipped under the flow with me, I sought penance the only way I knew how – worshipping her body. With care and reverence, I stroked each inch of her petite frame with a soapy bath puff, following it with a gentle hand. I turned her from me, peppering her neck and shoulders with soft kisses as my hands trailed to her belly. One held her against me while the other teased her swollen clit. When I knew she could take no more, my fingers slid between her warm folds and into her slippery sex. I would need to bring her that kind of pleasure a thousand times before I could make it up to her, even if she never knew my secret sin.
All I wanted to do was surround myself with the woman I love and forget this night ever happened, so when she dragged me to our bed to reciprocate, I willingly gave myself over to her. Unfortunately, each time I closed my eyes, I was seeing another face. With each touch, I imagined another set of hands. For a split second, I even thought I smelled Jasper's musky essence in the air. I wanted to focus on Alice, but it became too much. Giving into my fantasies, I made a request.
"I want you to fuck me tonight."
"Oh, I plan to," she promised, sliding her lips across my stomach.
"No, not like that. With one of the boys."
"Oh! Feeling kinky tonight, huh baby?" she replied with a mischievous smirk covering her face. I propped myself up on my elbows as she opened our nightstand drawer. "Who would you like tonight? Jake?" she asked, dangling a smooth pink vibrator over me. I shook my head. "Carlisle?" This time she waved our Rabbit in the air.
"No," I answered, scrunching my nose. "Edward."
"Mmm…you really do want to get fucked tonight, don't you, baby?" Placing Carlisle back in the drawer, she produced the thick toy, detailed with 'realistic' penis features. Edward was a big boy, and I was ready for him.
Lying back against the pillows, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensations of the vibrator against my nipples, my belly, and finally inside me. The faint buzzing filled the air, but did not distract us from what we were doing. Alice expertly worked the toy in and out of my body, leaning over me to kiss my neck and suckle my breasts. I panted and moaned from all the attention as my mind flooded with images of Jasper. I could imagine his tall, lean body, glistening with sweat as he drove into me over and over again. His tongue had performed so perfectly in my mouth that I wondered what it could do to the rest of my body. Biting my lip to keep the words from falling out, I cried his name out in my head, and then I took control.
I flipped the dark-haired beauty onto the bed and positioned our toy between her legs. She clasped it with her thighs, keeping one hand on the base to hold it in place. We didn't do this often, but it was not something new in our sexual repertoire. Straddling her body, I sank down onto the vibrator, trembling at the delectable new angle. Though my intentions for this position were selfish, I knew that it would keep the buzzing toy pressed against Alice's clit, allowing her to come with me.
Closing my eyes, I completely let go of myself. It was Jasper beneath me, Jasper's hard cock fucking me for all I was worth, Jasper moaning my name, and Jasper driving me to a long, hard, screaming orgasm.
I'm surely going to Hell for that.
The next morning, I awoke to find Alice stroking my hair and watching me. This was not so different from our usual lazy Sunday mornings, except that a look of concern had created a worried frown on her lips.
"Good morning, lovey," I smiled, hoping her expression would mirror mine. I was relaxed and sated from the previous night, and I wanted to bask in that a little longer.
"Morning," she mumbled distractedly.
"Hey, what's wrong, Ali?"
For almost a full minute she did not speak, opting instead to study my face, as if searching for something.
"Bella, last night…do you…miss fucking men?"
"What? Why would you say that?" I snapped back, though not harshly. "Is it because we used Edward? Baby, we've done that a hundred times before. It was just a different way to get off."
"No, I don't care about that. It's just the way you looked. Something was different. God Bella, when you came…I've never seen that kind of look on your face."
"Ali," I whispered, stroking her wild, unstyled hair. "We were playing. I love you." I knew I wasn't directly answering her question, but I hoped my answer would satisfy her enough to forget about it. What was I supposed to say? Yeah, baby. I was fantasizing about your friend while using your body and a fake dick to get fucked. That would go over spectacularly. Fuck no.
"I love you, too, Bella. If you ever need or want something, you know I'd give it to you, right? I would do anything to make you happy…to make you feel good."
"I know." Giving her a soft kiss, I rolled out of bed to brush my teeth and make breakfast.
I arrived home from my studio later than usual on Wednesday evening and could hear the sound of laughter as I walked through the foyer. Though indecipherable from there, Alice's tone was light and friendly, and the responding voice was undeniably male.
Kicking off my shoes and leafing through the mail, I called out to Alice. "Ali, I'm home!"
"In the kitchen," she sang back.
I nearly passed out when I walked into the kitchen. Leaning against the island with a smile on his perfect face was none other than Jasper Hale. Fuck me, if I didn't blush like an idiot.
"Hi baby," Alice said as she danced over and gave me a light kiss on the cheek. "Jasper was at the museum today, so I invited him over for dinner. It's been so fun catching up on life since high school."
I returned her greeting, offering generic words of agreement. Fun was not exactly the word I would use to describe seeing this man in my home. As it would be rude and suspicious to give him the cold shoulder, I finally raised my eyes to meet his stare.
"It's nice to see you again, Jasper." His name stung my tongue, as it was the first time I had said it aloud since meeting him. "I'm glad you could co…" I cut myself off, cringing at my Freudian slip and hoping they didn't notice. "…join us tonight."
He nodded once, a bewitching grin forming at the corners of his mouth. "Thank you for having me, Bella. Alice has been telling me what a lucky woman she is to have you in her life. I don't doubt that in the least."
We moved to the dining room a short while later, plates and wine glasses full. As usual, Alice and I sat perpendicular to one another, and Jasper took the seat across from me. I was forced to look at him far more than I was comfortable, a fact that seemed to amuse him greatly. Despite my war with my attraction, the conversation was easy and pleasant. Over after-dinner coffee, I received some unexpected news.
"So Jasper, how much longer will you be in the city?" Alice asked.
"Well, it looks like I could be staying anywhere from six months to a year. I've been commissioned to paint a mural at the university, and I'm not sure how long it will take," he told us. "I'll still need to travel occasionally for gallery appearances, but this will be my home base for a while."
I immediately recognized the excitement in Alice's eyes and the little gears in her mind planning God knows what.
"This is amazing! We'll have so much time to hang out, and I can set you up with some friends of ours. Straight friends, of course," she added with a giggle. "Bella, won't it be so nice to have Jasper around?"
"Yeah, Alice. It's great," I replied, trying to sound enthusiastic. Her joy obviously overshadowed my nerves because she continued without so much as blinking at my reaction.
"Jasper, you'll have to go over to Bella's studio sometime. You two can do some artist bonding! I'm so excited!"
When he was finally able to get a word in edgewise, Jasper smiled affectionately at Alice's raving. His history of friendship with her shone through in amused understanding of her ways. "I would love to see your studio," he told me, casually ignoring Alice's first suggestion to fix him up on some dates.
"How about some music?" she asked after dinner.
"That sounds great. I'll clean up," he offered.
"You're our guest," I protested, trying to be gracious even though he was making me a nervous wreck.
"The chef should never do the dishes. Let it be my thank you for the lovely dinner and lovelier company."
Feeling defeated, I gathered a stack of dishes from the table and quickly walked to the kitchen with him. As I placed the items in the sink, I sensed Jasper's body behind me before I felt him. He pressed himself flush against me, giving a special poke of hello to my lower back.
"Alice truly is a lucky woman," he whispered, weakening my knees and my resolve. The warmth of his breath danced over my ears and tickled the sensitive hairs along my neck. An involuntary shiver ran through me.
I stood stiff, trying my damnedest to keep still and not lean back into his hard, inviting body. He knew what he was doing to me as he placed his hands on my shoulders, slowly running them down my arms.
"Tell me this isn't killing you, Bella."
"Just what, sweet Bella?"
"This is wrong."
"Don't put me in this position."
A dark chuckle rose from his chest, and I could feel the vibrations against my back. "What position would you like me to put you in, then? I'm willing to try almost anything, especially for you."
"Oh god…" I muttered, feeling myself fall deeper under his spell. "I love Alice. I love her. And you're supposed to be her friend."
"You're right. I'm sorry."
"Oh, well thank you."
"But you can't possibly deny that you want me."
"No," I squeaked.
"No, you don't want me, or no, you can't deny it?"
"Please…" I begged.
After a moment of silence, he pulled away. I immediately missed his contact, his warmth, his scent.
"I won't push you. It's wrong of me, and I don't want to make you uncomfortable. I don't want to hurt Alice, but I can't deny this attraction. If you ever change your mind, I'll be here waiting."
The weeks passed, and Jasper stayed true to his word. With Alice's eager insistence that he become a regular part of our life, we all spent a lot of time together. Sometimes it would be the three of us for dinner or a movie, other times Jasper would join us with our friends. No matter the circumstances, he respected my boundaries, though the hungry looks he gave me remained.
For Alice's sake, I attempted to really get to know Jasper as a friend. If she could see me making a cordial effort, perhaps she would not notice the way I avoided being too close to him. I tamed the amount of time I spent staring at him, but sometimes he was simply too beautiful to deny.
Conversely, the sexual tension rose each time one of those forbidden touches would occur. They were never suggestive or suspicious, rather the brush of fingertips as we passed serving dishes around the dinner table, a strand of hair wiped off my face while cooking, or a goodnight whispered in my ear.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get past the simple truth of it all. I wanted him.
Despite all my history with Alice, I couldn't get the man with those shocking blue eyes out of my mind. In the few months I had known him, something had changed in me. Things were no longer the same with Alice. The rose-colored glasses of our romance lifted, and I realized that our relationship wasn't as perfect as I had once thought. Our future together was no longer guaranteed. I did not want to give up my life with her, yet my thirst for Jasper would not subside. Part of me hoped that by spending time with him, I could find something unappealing, something to me turn off and end this attraction. Of course, that never happened. The more time we were around one another, the more I craved his presence. We were never truly alone; that was a boundary I could not break for fear of the consequences. However, we were afforded the opportunity for private conversations.
Jasper never ceased to amaze me. We had endless conversations about his art, the inspiration behind each piece, and the deep symbolism he tried to instill in each one. I had met countless artists and photographers, but none had ever shared my passion the way he did. It was something I didn't have to explain to him because he felt it, too – the way a subject could tear and torture, infusing itself with your heart and soul until you found the perfect way to release it onto canvas or paper or whatever medium you chose. Creating art was not about making something, it was about feeling. Even Alice, who worked directly within the art community, had never grasped that concept the way Jasper and I did.
It was no longer just our bodies calling to one another. There was more. The pull was greater than both of us, and I did not know how to handle it.
One weekend, Alice finally made good on her promise to set Jasper up on a date with one of her friends. We decided to double date in order to avoid that awkward blind date stigma. Selfishly, part of me dreaded the thought of Jasper with someone else, even though he had seen me with Alice dozens of times. Regardless, I would be a part of this date, thus privy to all their interactions.
The woman was a leggy, strawberry-blonde who performed with a string quartet that played at museum events. She was grace and beauty, exactly the kind of woman Jasper should have on his arm. They got along well. Too well. My jealousy flared, turning to anger as the amount of attention he normally bestowed upon me was given to the woman with the sparkling white smile. By the latter half of our evening, sipping drinks at a swanky club, I had turned into an irritable bitch. Finally tired of my attitude, Jasper asked me to go to the bar with him for another round of drinks.
Instead of walking toward the bar, he led me to a dark corner near the restrooms. With my back pressed into the wall, he glared down upon me, cold steel in his normally warm eyes.
"What is your fucking problem tonight?" he growled.
"What makes you think I'm the one with the problem?" I countered, folding my arms over my chest and staring to my left at nothing.
"You think I haven't noticed the way you've been shooting daggers at Tanya? The snarky comments you've made at me all night?" He took a step back, pulling his hair between his fingers. "Why do you want to ruin this for me?"
I opened my mouth, uttering a sound of protest, but not finding the words.
"Exactly," he said, his shoulders falling in defeat.
My body froze as he moved closer to me again, leaning down until our foreheads pressed together. I was aware of my sharp breathing and the proximity of his mouth to mine, but I was completely powerless.
"What would you have me do?" he asked quietly, squeezing his eyes closed and brushing his thumb over my cheekbone. "Sit around and wait for you? Indefinitely? I can't take it any longer, Bella."
His words stung, sharp and deep, the way old stories describe heavy swords piercing through a foe. I didn't feel the hot tears soaking my cheeks until Jasper wiped them away.
"I'm sorry," I whispered pitifully.
"Me too. In more ways than you could possibly imagine. Now go get cleaned up. I'll tell Alice you had a reaction to something at dinner."
I looked into his eyes one last time, certain that their lost hope mirrored my own.
The confusion and pain were too much, so when the opportunity arose to take a destination assignment for a small travel magazine, I jumped on it. It had always been a dream of mine to travel the world and capture each memory in my lens, but that was a hard field to segue into without a significant amount of cash up front. I imagined coalescing with wild animals and exotic tribes and seeing my photographs in National Geographic. Unfortunately, the majority of my income came from photographing up and coming models who wanted to build their portfolio. I could not pass up the chance to take this freelance job.
My trip lasted eighteen days, taking me to four locations to shoot alluring photographs of Spring Break hot spots. It wasn't National Geographic, but it provided the time I needed to clear my head and come home refreshed. I had resolved to push away my feelings for Jasper once and for all, and if he was still seeing Tanya when I returned, I would be happy for him. I think.
Three days after returning, I was in my studio developing some of the shots I had taken on my trip. As usual, I had done a great deal of the assignment on film. I had the equipment to develop some of it myself, but most of it had to go to a special printer.
I was in my darkroom working on some black and whites I had taken for my personal collection when I heard the buzzer of my door. Alice had a key to the studio, and I had no appointments for the day, so I had no idea who it could be. Unfortunately, I had just placed a print into the developer solution. The developing process took patience and careful timing, and I risked ruining this print if I abandoned it now. The buzzer called out a second time, but I couldn't make a dash for the door until I had moved the print into the wash.
To my complete and utter surprise, I opened the door to find Jasper staring back at me.
"Hey Bella," he said softly, peering into my studio and looking around. It was a simple thousand square foot loft containing my computers, backdrops, lighting equipment, and the darkroom I had installed when I bought it. "Alice told me to meet you guys here for lunch."
"Lunch?" I asked, frowning. "She didn't say anything to me about that."
"She was supposed to call you."
"That explains it then. I've been in the darkroom all morning. Can you grab my phone and follow me?"
Back in the darkroom, I moved my print into the fixer, dialing my voicemail as I worked. My messages informed me that she did indeed tell Jasper to meet us at my studio, only to be pulled for a business meeting. She couldn't get in touch with him but instructed us to have a nice lunch together. I relayed the messages and continued working.
I watched him wander through the relatively small space, examining photographs I had already developed and dried. He studied each one carefully, often holding them up to get a better angle in the dim red light of the room. I was relieved by how amicable our interaction had been so far, even though I still felt that nagging pull in his general direction.
"How was your trip?" he asked casually, not looking at me when he spoke.
"It was nice…to get away…to do something I love. I took a lot of photos that weren't part of the assignment."
After running my print through the dryer twice, I stood beside him, answering his questions about the various locales and subjects. He continued to view each photo in silence for a while longer before turning toward me, leaning his hip against the counter.
"Nice locations. I'm sure the rest will be amazing once you get them back from the printer."
"I hope so."
My breath hitched when he cupped my cheek in his hand. After the initial shock, I involuntarily leaned into his touch.
"Was it difficult to be in such beautiful places by yourself?" he asked in a low, soothing tone, stroking my skin with his thumb.
"Sometimes," I answered simply.
He took a deep breath, staring intensely down at me. My heart raced as I watched his lips part, tongue darting out to lick the enticing pink clouds. Implications swam through my mind, but everything was hazy and lost in the moment.
"Did you miss Alice?" he asked so softly it was almost a whisper.
I stared at him, not answering immediately. "Less than I thought I would," I admitted.
He hummed in response, looking over my body before bringing his other hand to my face. I could not have looked away if I tried. "Did you miss me?" he finally asked.
Those four small words unwound all the promises I had made to myself while I was gone. It was a work trip, but there was no doubt that I had run away. From the truth, from my guilt and fear, from the unknown. I still loved Alice, but this thing with Jasper was different. I was a fool to pretend I could deny it. We would either go on this way until someone recognized our intense sexual tension, or I would live the rest of my life with a Jasper-shaped hole in my heart. I could not fathom hurting Alice, but it had to be done. This wasn't fair to anyone, especially her. Submitting to my deepest desires, I answered his question. If he would have me, I belonged to him.
I nodded, closing my eyes and just…waiting. My heart and my future were in his hands.
"I can't do this anymore, Bella."
I squeezed my eyes tighter, expecting him to back away, but he didn't.
Instead, he pulled me against him, smashing my mouth with a series of fast, hungry kisses. Throwing aside all previous commitments and all reservations, I met him in our crazed embrace. I unfastened two buttons of his shirt, but he grew impatient and yanked it over his head hastily. Pulling back, I admired his fine form, running flattened palms up his chest and dragging my fingernails along his skin on the way down. He hissed at the sensation, yet made no move to stop me. His hands were already on the hem of my tank top, lifting it over my head and exposing my bare chest to him. Sinking down, he devoured one breast while massaging the other in his large hand. I fell into him, grasping his shoulders and hunching forward in hopeless ecstasy.
Standing abruptly, he resumed our previous position, his hands firmly holding my face once more. "I can't do it. I can't keep pretending I don't want you, Bella. I need you. Right now, tomorrow, every day. I can't stay away from you any longer."
"Don't," I said, winding my hands around his neck and pulling his lips back to mine. "I can't fight it either. I thought I could talk myself into going back to the way things used to be, but I know that's impossible now. I'll…I'll figure it out somehow. You…you are what I want." My words, uttered in broken phrases between kisses, brought a joyful smile to his handsome face.
"Oh god…" he moaned, yanking at the loose waist of my peasant skirt with hasty fervor. The light cotton fluttered to a pool at my feet, followed quickly by my panties. Scrambling to touch, feel, grope and control, he lifted my naked body and sat me on the counter. We fought to maintain some form of connection as four hands hastily struggled with his jeans. Somehow, we managed to unclasp them, but before I could shove them down, he pulled out his wallet, drawing a condom from between the folds. I halted my actions for a moment.
"Did you plan this?" I asked, a hint of accusation in my tone.
"No, Bella, of course not, but since I met you…I didn't rule out the possibility. If it ever happened, I wanted to be prepared."
"Oh, I guess I can't blame you for that," I giggled as I hooked my big toes into his belt loops and shoved his pants down his legs. He laughed at my antics, stepping out of the pants and removing his boxers as well. His erection sprang free, and the sight of it literally made my pussy clench. It had been nearly five years since I had been with a man and he was…perfect.
Noticing my awestruck face and the way my eyes were glued to his cock, Jasper lifted my chin and looked at me seriously. "You've been with a man before?"
"Yeah," I nodded, smiling at his obvious concern for me. "It's been a really long time, but yes, I have."
"Okay," he smiled, leaning forward to kiss me. It was slower this time, but the urgency and desire were still there. Laying the condom next to my leg, his hands smoothed over the top of my ass and pulled me to the edge of the counter. He positioned himself between my legs as his fingers traced invisible lines forward, pausing at my inner thighs. "You are so beautiful, Bella."
I touched him everywhere, relishing the feeling of a masculine body beneath my hands. He was warm and hard, smooth and inviting. As I explored every muscular angle and flat plain, he ran a tentative thumb over my clit. I jumped at the sensation, rocking my hips into his hand for more. As soon as his long fingers slid inside me, the slow, savory moments were gone. Primal need took hold of me, and I attacked his lips. My kisses became harder and more forceful in his mouth, as did his strokes. Between the pumping and the way his thumb circled my swollen clit, I fell quickly into a sharp orgasm. My body seized around his fingers, spilling my climax into his hand.
His arms wrapped around me, pulling me into a warm embrace. It felt amazing. Not because he just made me come, but because of who he was to me. This man…this beautiful, charming, ravishing man wanted me. Not as some random fuck, but to be his. Though our physical attraction was powerful, this was more. The two of us were kindred spirits, lovers of beauty and creativity. When I could not find the words to describe the way a photo or painting made me feel, he would complete my thoughts. The more I allowed myself to think about it, the less I understood why I had resisted him. Deep inside, I did know why, but I couldn't think about that. Right now I needed him, more than I had ever needed anyone or anything in my life.
We held onto one another, hands running up and down the other's back. Lips moved from mouths to necks and back again. Hugging, holding, kissing. Fast and slow, rough and gentle, tiger and kitten. It wasn't just a sexual experience; we were finally allowing our souls to meet, suturing us together in passion, need and fury.
My hand slipped into the minuscule space between our bodies, wrapping around the rock hard evidence of his desire for me. I wanted him inside me, but there was some other need, something lascivious that begged to feel his weight in the palm of my hand. He groaned at my grasp, shifting impossibly closer while leaving a startled nip on my shoulder. I stroked him experimentally, testing my pressure and pace against his reactions. Each was a delight to me. I had forgotten the thrill of bringing a man pleasure at my hand. There was something empowering about doing this to a man – dominating his entire body, his entire existence with a few carefully conducted squeezes and flicks of the wrist. But I did not want to dominate Jasper right now. I wanted us to give and take in time with one another, sharing in each ounce of blissful gratification. My choice was made; my life was about to change in innumerable ways.
Nudging him back, I reached for the condom that lay nearby. I bit my lip in anticipation, catching his saucer eyes as he watched me do his duty. With care, I rolled the barrier over his length in preparation.
This was it. This was our moment to become one – to become whole. Once we crossed this threshold, there would be no going back. He would possess me wholly. First, he had captured my mind, and in time, he took hold of my heart. Now I would grant him access to my body – in me, on me, with me.
I was unprepared when he plunged into me. My pussy was wet, and he was looking into my eyes as he did, but I could not have anticipated the way I would respond to him. The fit was snug, eliciting a hissing, "So tight," from Jasper's pretty lips, and he filled me completely. A slight sting shot through me, but I focused on the bliss in our union. My heart exploded for him. This was exactly where and who I was meant to be with. Every fiber of my being knew it, nothing could take that away. As truth and understanding filled me, they forced streams of burning tears from my eyes. Tears of infallible acceptance, validating the necessity of pain and broken hearts in order for us to be together.
"Oh god, Bella, are you all right?" he asked urgently, kissing away each drop of saline.
"Yes. Yes, Jasper. I just need you…need you so much."
"You have me. I'm yours," he affirmed.
Time did not exist in the haven created by the bonding of our souls. We could have been there minutes or hours, I did not know. Being together was all that mattered. After some immeasurable number of minutes, thrusts and kisses, I felt the coil tighten in my lower belly. My legs wrapped around his waist so hard it must have been painful, but my heart's keeper never complained. On the contrary, his shaggy head fell back, then forward to press our foreheads together. He drove harder and faster as I cried his name repeatedly…until it was merely a whispered prayer. My body convulsed and tightened upon him, drawing his orgasm to me like a siren's call. He stiffened and then relaxed, sliding out and pulling me down to the floor with him.
His arms wrapped around me, offering a security and assurance I had never known. I was home. I clung to him like a frightened toddler. We would have to face the world all too soon, and it was a reality I feared.
Sensing my animosity, he squeezed me lovingly. "Don't be scared, we'll do this together. I can't let you go, Bella. I'll never let you go."