Chapter 1

JPOV

The sheer heat and humidity was ridiculous. I could not help but tug at my shirt as I sipped my drink. Mrs. Hammond, the hostess of this ball, was nothing but inconvenient. I myself was not entirely fond or acquainted with these soirees, but this was absolutely drab. The torturous boredom of her latest predicament was aggravating, as were the various ladies batting their lashes in vain attemps at capturing my attention. I sipped my glass of champange once again as I looked admist the dense crowds of heavily made up women and well dressed men, focusing instead on the nice decor of the place.

Though I was not very fond of her latest venue, I had to give Mrs. Hammond some credit. She lavishly decorated her upscale home in the nicer part of Houston, where the rich and powerful resided. Her Victorian styled mansion was decked in fragrant flowers of every imaginable kind. Her imperious foyer was converted into a virtual mini garden, full or roses, hydrangeas, jasmine, and other flowers that I had no knowledge of. The rest of her expensive home was equally embellished, and the beauty of it all rather astounded the viewer. But, as Mrs. Hammond seemed to do with propensity, she took no note of the fact that it was ninety degrees and the humidity was barely tolerable; weather she should have taken into consideration before thinking of such a lavish Spring Ball.

No longer comfortable being the object of many ladies' attentions, I ambled off, stopping here and there to catch snippets of conversations.

"...yes, I heard that General Lee is in desperate need of recruits. His armies are dwindling down to nothing." a man boomed loudly next to me. He was Mr. Hammond, a large, red faced man with thin blonde hair and a booming voice. He was talking about the on going Civil War ravaging our country at the time; another factor his wife had clearly forgoed. I myself wanted to aid General Lee and join the Confederate army, and even though I was not yet of age, I could possibly lie my way into the ranks with my looks.

"I do think that it would be in the best interest of the Confederacy to start drafting men. This would be a much more efficient method rather than recruiting." said another. As the men argued about the war, I made my way through the crowds, losing interest in their talk. I stopped only briefly to salute acquaintances every now and then, sometimes making small talk. As I was speaking with a Mr. Gitney, I looked up to see what couples were dancing, feeling rather bored with the small talk the poor old man was trying to sustain. He was clearly nervous being amongst so many people. I nodded and smiled every now and then to let him think I was listening to him attentively, when in reality I was looking over every couple that twirled and pranced on the dancefloor. Most were clumsy, boring couples, yet my eyes were intent on looking at these people rather than stare directly at the old Gitney.

And then I saw her.

She was standing alone on the other end of the room, clearly uncomfortable being surrounded by so many people at one time, wringing her hands every now and then. Her hair was a silky brown pinned up into an elegant twist, her heart shaped face breathtaking, even with the frown she wore on her red, pouty mouth. Her skin was ivory and had porecelain like quality; but her eyes were most captivating. A vivacious brown amongst the blues and greens of the crowds, she was scanning the room with a sharpness that belied her intelligence.

Simply put, she was perfect.

Not wanting to waste another moment speaking to Mr.Gitney, I excused myself from his presence and made my way to the nervous angel standing quite self consciously on the other end of the room. I did not bother to make pleasantires with anyone on my way to her- I had not another second to lose speaking with others when I could be with her.

I managed to wrangle my way through the crowds to her, never once straying my gaze. She was but a few feet from my reach- and her perfection, which did not seem liekly to increase since I had first laid eyes on her, only managed to maximize exponentially. Now that I was so close to her, I could truly appreciate this rare and magnificent beauty.

As I stared at her utter perfection, I was jostled by the crowds and the few feet that seperated us were nonexistent as I bumped into her.

She jumped a bit in surprise, snapping her head towards me; looking right into my blue gaze. Her chocolate brown eyes were indescribable- so full of emotion, of a sparkle that no other could possibly match. I looked at her and smiled as best I could through my embarassment. A radiant blush tinted her smooth cheeks as she averted her enigamtic gaze from mine.

I cleared my throat a bit before actually speaking to this angel.

"I'm terribly sorry for startling you Miss..." I trailed of, trying to make my apologies.

"Miss Isabella Swan. And not to worry; I am quite fine Mr..." Now she trailed of, looking at me with a hint of a smile on her ruby mouth. I couldn't help but stare at her as she talked- she had such a sweet and melodious voice like no other. I forced myself to attention as I replied to her.

"Mr. Jasper Whitlock. I truly am sorry, Miss Swan. I should try to be more careful." I said, smiling slightly. She flushed, lowering her head a bit. She was a goddess, an angel fallen from heaven, there was no other possible explanation to her perfection...

"No, it is quite alright Mr. Whitlock. But please call me Bella, Mr. Whitlock. Formalities seem so useless to me. I was daydreaming myself. The heat does seem to get to me, and the ambient certainly doesn't help much." She chirped happily, now at ease. I had been told to have that certain effect on people, and was glad that Bella seemed to feel just as they did around my prescence.

"I have to agree with you on that account, Bella. It seems that our hostess has taken it upon herself to ignore all the rules of modesty in hosting such fanfare, without much of a though of her guests' comforts." I replied, fixated on her face, gauging her reactions. On an after thought, I added, "And please, call me Jasper if you will."

Bella laughed at my banter. Her laugh was like a wind chime, so tinkling and captivating, just like the rest of her. I could not help but join her in her mirth.

"Oh I did not think that the other guests would have agreed with us, Jasper. They seem awfully comfortable sitting in a room packed with bodies and insuffarable heat and humidity. Not to mention the reek that the flowers give off in this environment. It is barely even tolerable." She commented. I nodded my head- the people in this party were talking and socializing as if they were not in the least perturbed by the intolerable conditions. Not only that, but the climate quite unsatisfactory, as were the overpowering stench of the flowers. No matter that they looked pretty, they certainly did not smell the part.

Our conversation flowed naturaly from then on. We talked for quite a while and I learned a great deal about the magnificent girl before me. She was originally from a tiny town in the Washington territory called Forks. She made the trip to Texas with her mother who was visiting a sickly aunt. They did not have a set date to depart from the city, but from the looks of it, as she told me, they were in for the long run.

We kept on talking, and before I knew it, the musicians were begining to play the last piece of the evening. The evening seemed to have breezed right past us as we conversed. Not wanting to waste an opportunity of having Bella close, I asked her to dance.

"No. It's not that I ...well it actually...uhm...I'm just very clumsy, Jasper. I don't think that anyone would survive if I got on the dancefloor." he said, blushing furiously as she said it.

I couldn't help but laugh- she just looked more embarassed. "No, it's quite alright Bella. I think I can manage. Afterall, it's all in the leading." I said confidently.

She opened her mouth to retort to my comment, but thought better of it. She said nothing but her actions spoke louder than any words could have. She took my hand as I led her toward the moving bodies on the dancefloor.

I placed my hand on her back and held on tightly to her right hand. She looked quite nervous, but I smiled in reassurance to her, easing some of her anxiety. We waited until the next beat and I began to lead her through the dance. She wasn't lying when she told me that she was clumsy; on more than one occasion she tripped. But for the most part, the dance was a happy one for me. I felt so at ease with Bella, so happy. It was more than I could say for how I felt during the duration of the party. She looked at me throughout the entire dance. Her expression was that of content, and if I wasn;t mistaken, she was feeling just as blissfully happy as I did.

As the final notes hung in the air, I held on to Bella a little longer before releasing her, smiling. She beamed at me before she was pulled by the arm by what I supposed was her mother. She looked like an older version of Bella, only she had laugh lines.

"We must be taking our leave now, dear. Aunt Josephine is still ill." With that, Bella turned to me, a sad look on her face. I could feel an equal look of discontent on my own, but before she gave me her goodbye I said, "Would you like to go to the park tomorrow? I would be delighted to accompany you there. Say, around noon?"

She looked taken aback by my proposition before smiling and nodding her head as her mother yanked her away. On the way home, I could do nothing but think of Bella.