Disclaimer: Characters contained within do not belong to me.
Author's Notes: This story stands on its own, but it could also pick up right after one of my shorter pieces, "You'll Never Walk Alone." Either way, I thank you so much for stopping by to read. This will be the first multi-chaptered story I've written for Twilight, and I hope you'll enjoy the first part enough to come back next time!
What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
by Kristen Elizabeth
There were so many befores and afters in Alice's life.
Before, when she was human, the time she couldn't remember. After, when she was a vampire, and the blood lust consumed and confused her.
Before she met Jasper, when she was all alone save for the visions in her head. After she met Jasper, when she knew what it felt like to love and be loved.
Before the Cullens, when it was her and Jasper against the world. After, when she had a family and a home.
Before she went shopping with Esme. And after...
"It's a Givenchy," the saleswoman told Esme as they both watched the petite girl stare at herself in the store's three-sided mirror. "Just arrived from Paris last week. Stunning, isn't it?"
The dress was far too formal for any practical use, but Esme nodded, still closely following her newest daughter's every move. It was their first shopping trip together, but judging by the pure delight written all over Alice's pale face, she had a feeling it would not be their last.
"We'll take it. As well as all the others." With a casual wave of her hand, Esme indicated the two racks of expensive clothes Alice had tried on before she'd laid eyes on the strapless ivory gown.
"Of course, Mrs. Cullen!" The saleswoman was already adding up the total in her head from her look of flabbergasted delight. "And will you be buying anything for yourself, ma'am?"
Esme shook her head. "No. Today is all about my daughter."
"Oh, but you hardly look old enough! More like her sister than her..."
It was nothing she hadn't heard before, whenever she was out with Rosalie. With a polite smile, Esme excused herself and left the woman to begin tallying up their purchases.
Unable to tear her eyes away from the gown and its intricate mother-of-pearl beadwork, Alice didn't notice Esme coming up behind her until her new mother put her cool hands on Alice's bare shoulders.
"It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," Alice whispered. A shadow crossed her face. "But...it's too much, right? It has to be. It's too incredible not to be worth thousands!"
"Shh." Esme squeezed her gently. "I told you money is no object. Besides." She reached up to touch a spiky lock of Alice's hair. "It'll make the most wonderful wedding gown."
Alice dropped her gaze to the carpeted floor. "It would, wouldn't it?"
Esme frowned at the sudden change in her daughter's mood. "Did I presume too much? Have you and Jasper already had a ceremony?"
"No." When she looked back up, Alice's hesitated. "We're not engaged." Her chin quivered ever so slightly. "He's never asked."
"Oh, I see." There was silence for a moment as Esme digested this news in relation to the eternally devoted couple who had so recently joined her family. "Well, perhaps that's only because he wanted to give you a home first. And now that you have one..." She smiled reassuringly. "I'll get to plan your dream wedding very soon."
Alice tried to return the smile, but couldn't quite make herself. "I wish I could see that." She looked back at her reflection. "All I see is this dress on a hanger in the back of a closet." Reaching for the row of tiny buttons in the back, Alice shook her head. "I can't let you buy it." She stopped, holding her hands still behind her back. "But..."
"But?" Esme prompted.
An impish smirk turned up the corners of Alice's lips. "I really, really love it."
"Then the decision to buy it has already been made," Esme said firmly. She grasped Alice's hands; it didn't take much effort to pry her fingers away from the buttons. "You should see that. Yes?"
"Yes," Alice admitted with a happy sigh. "We're going to buy it, no matter what."
Esme nodded, satisfied. "All right then." She smiled at their reflections. "Your first trip to New York and you find a Givenchy." Turning Alice around, Esme folded the girl up in a motherly embrace. "Oh, we're going to have such fun together, Alice!"
It was impossible to feel anything other than warmth and love when in the circle of Esme's arms. Glancing back at the mirror, though, Alice barely recognized herself. Who was the woman in the thousand dollar gown being hugged by her loving, adopted mother? Where was the girl with no memories and only a single, faded dress and a few pairs of denim pants to her name?
She wasn't sure, but she sensed her life was now another "after."
After she discovered how designer clothes could make everything seem perfect.
Esme and Alice left the shop empty handed, having arranged to have their many purchases sent straight to their rooms at the Plaza Hotel, and walked freely down Fifth Avenue, protected by a cold cover of winter clouds. Arms linked, wearing full-skirted dresses in navy and grey, their pale faces impossibly beautiful against a backdrop of skyscrapers, they received more than just a few stares, even amidst the bustle of the busiest city in the country.
But neither of them noticed a pair of dark red eyes watching their every move from a safe distance.
"It's not so much about overcoming the craving. The craving will always be there; it's simply a part of who we are." Sitting across from the newest member of his family, Carlisle spoke with all the wisdom of his three hundred years. "The key, Jasper, is in learning how to control it. So it doesn't control you."
Control. Looking down at his hands, Jasper stifled a bitter chuckle. If only it was as easy as Carlisle made it seem. Just control the craving. Don't think about how dry your mouth is...how your venom feels slick on your teeth...how good the humans smell...how their blood slides down your throat and...
"Hey." On the other side of the room, Edward sat up straight on the duvet he'd been sprawled out on as he watched the snow fall outside. "I'd rather not have to go to school tomorrow with that in my head, thank you."
"Edward," Carlisle gently chided his son. "I know you can't help it, but neither can he." He looked back at Jasper. "Sometimes it helps to share what you're thinking, to know that you're not alone."
"I think I've shared enough." As if he could escape the kid's intrusive power just by putting distance between them, Jasper stood up and walked to the large hearth. He wasn't sure who had lit a fire, but it seemed like a waste. It wasn't as if any of them needed the heat. "It's getting late," he said, looking at the clock on the mantle. "Weren't they supposed to be back by now?"
Carlisle glanced at his watch. "If they decided to wait out the storm in New York, they would have telephoned to let us know. I'm sure they'll be back soon."
"Unless the lines are down," Edward reminded them. For that, he received another chastising look from his father. "I'm only accounting for all variables."
"Perhaps all variables don't need to be accounted for," Carlisle retorted with more bite in his words than he ever normally displayed.
Jasper braced his hands on the intricately carved wooden mantle. No wonder Emmett and Rosalie had left that morning for a short vacation. Everyone in the house was on edge. Alice had only been gone for three days, but it was the longest they'd been apart since they'd met. In her absence, his anxiety had grown to the point where it was affecting others.
He wanted to apologize, but the words died on the tip of his tongue. If Edward didn't have to be sorry for listening to his thoughts, then he didn't have to feel bad for making them all feel bad.
Turning around, he caught Edward's eye, and it was clear from the look on the boy's face that he'd read that thought, too. Jasper shook his head. "I need some fresh air." Without any further explanation, he left the study and stormed out the front door.
Although the storm wasn't anywhere near a blizzard, it was still going strong, dumping foot after foot of snow all across the woods just outside of Bethel, Maine. Standing outside in just his shirt sleeves, Jasper felt no differently than he had in front of the crackling hearth. He was numb to cold or hot, ice or fire. Everything in the world seemed dull when Alice wasn't at his side to appreciate any of it.
The loud crack of a branch nearby instantly snapped Jasper out of his thoughts. With the senses of a well-trained soldier, he scanned the snowy forest, searching for the source. There was nothing, no movement except for the wind through the stark trees.
Still, in the very back of his mind, the instincts that had seen him through so many battles all screamed one thing.
He was being watched.
Jasper was just about to head into the woods when he saw headlights shining through the snow. The pressure that had been building in his chest since Alice had waved goodbye to him as she headed off with Esme suddenly drained away. She was home.
Esme parked the big black Cadillac just in front of the house, but even before the car came to a complete stop, Alice was already tumbling out the passenger side door. He met her halfway, lifting her off her feet without a word. With her arms wrapped around his neck, Alice buried her face in his shoulder. They remained just like that for a long time, long enough for Carlisle and Edward to emerge from the house.
While Esme and Carlisle embraced, Edward eyed the boxes and bags that took up the entire back seat of the car. "Are there any clothes left in New York?" he asked dryly.
"There's more in the trunk," Esme told her son. "And, yes, we'd love your help carrying them inside, thank you for asking."
"Did you miss me?" Alice whispered in Jasper's ear.
He closed his eyes and breathed in the sweet scent of her hair. "Every single second felt like a year."
Carlisle broke their moment. "Come on. Let's get everything inside. The storm's only going to get worse."
With great reluctance, Jasper set Alice back down, but smiled when she laced their fingers together for the short walk back into the house. Just before they crossed the threshold, Jasper gave the woods, and whoever...or whatever was in them, once last glance over his shoulder.
Their room was covered in layers of silk, wool, tulle and lace. The contents of the New York shopping spree had been unboxed and spread out; there were clothes draped over every stationary object. In fact, Jasper himself had only escaped serving as a temporary display by clearing off a tiny section of the bed where he planted himself to watch Alice's impromptu fashion show.
"This is Dior," she informed him, holding up a calf-length black skirt with dozens of skinny pleats and a cream-colored jacket with a peplum waist. "It's called a bar suit."
He nodded dutifully. "Bar suit. Dior. Got it."
"Balenciaga," Alice continued, this time showing him a tailored grey wool suit and matching skirt. "This I could probably wear to school."
Jasper said nothing. School was a sore subject. He was nowhere near ready to attend, and although he would never take the experience away from her, the long hours they spent apart while she was in class with Edward and Rosalie and Emmett were torture for him.
As if sensing that his mind was elsewhere, Alice set the Balenciaga aside. "You're probably thinking that I did all of this shopping and completely forgot to get something for you." Carefully making her way through the piles of clothes, Alice approached the bed, toying with the sash of her terrycloth robe. "I didn't."
The robe slipped off her shoulders and fell to the floor around her feet, revealing a practically-transparent white silk negligee that did little to conceal the soft swell of her breasts. He swallowed heavily.
"This one doesn't have a name," Alice murmured. "But when I saw it, I thought of you."
Jasper held out his hand to her and when she took it, he pulled her down onto his chest with one gentle tug. Rolling her onto a pile of skirts and blouses, he kissed her, savoring the feeling of her small, soft body beneath his.
Alice's hands delved into his hair, twisting bunches of it around her fingers as their mouths ground together. Breaking the kiss, she threw her head back on the pillow; Jasper's lips immediately found the sensitive spot just under her jaw.
"Jazz," she moaned. "The clothes..."
With all the patience of a man who'd been without his mate for three days, Jasper rose up on his knees and began tossing articles of clothing off the bed, not caring where they landed. When they were all gone, he dove back into Alice's embrace with a hunger he'd never known before her.
Starving for each other, they made love fast and hard, building up to a mutual explosion which left them both panting for breath that neither of them really needed. Still joined, Jasper looked down at the woman who, in only a few short years, had become his reason for existing.
"I love you, Alice," he said unnecessarily. Lowering his head, he brushed a kiss against her swollen lips. "Marry me?"
He felt her freeze, heard her breath catch in her throat. "Oh!" She pressed a hand to her mouth; her golden eyes looked back and forth between his as if searching for confirmation. "You didn't plan this," she said a moment later. "Are you sure it's what you want?"
"Yes." Jasper smiled, suddenly sure of himself. "I want to be your husband."
As he said the words out loud, Alice saw it all in her mind. Flashes of their wedding, the dress that now hung in Esme's closet...a warm spring evening...flowers...candles...and Jasper at the end of the aisle. Waiting for her.
The sound of his laughter filled the room as Alice flipped him onto his back and began kissing every single one of his scars. It was enough of an answer for him.
Soon, the laughter faded and the passion renewed. Their bodies entwined once again, this time meeting slowly and sweetly, drawing out every sensation, savoring each moment of pleasure.
Neither of them were aware that they had an audience on the other side of the frosty window. Oblivious to the freezing temperature, the figure stood in the snow, watching, until dawn began to lighten the dark sky.
To Be Continued
A/N: I'm taking some creative liberties in this. The House of Givenchy wasn't established until 1952. Oops. Forgive me?
For a picture of Alice's dress, go to http : / img . photobucket . com / albums / v510 / belismakr / alice dress 2 . jpg . And I'm sorry for all the spaces, but this was the only way this stupid thing would let me put it in.