I woke up the next morning with an incredible sense of purpose. This evening, I planned on simply going to get into Jasper's apartment, packing all my things quickly and then getting out without any confrontation with my ex.
Work was quite the experience for me, I was so hyped up I got about twice the work done I normally would before noon. By the time lunch rolled around, I made a trip to the local Office Depot and loaded up on boxes for moving my belongings. While I paid for my items, Edward called me to go over the evacuation plan one more time.
"OK, we'll be by your office at five, and then we take you over to the asshole's place, get in, get out and get on with our lives," he recited to me.
"That's it exactly."
"Did he say whether or not he'd be there?"
"He didn't say much yesterday, actually," I replied. "He was far too drunk."
Edward laughed humorlessly. "Why doesn't that surprise me? Oh, and we're bringing our friend Jacob with us. You remember him, the tall Indian dude."
"Yeah, I remember," I said as I began walking back to work, my arms loaded down with boxes. "See you in a few hours."
The last four hours of work didn't fly by like the first half of my day had; probably because the gravity of the situation was finally settling upon me. I had to face my demons head-on and put them to rest once and for all. I tried to run every scenario over in my head—what if Jasper got violent? What if he looked like he did when I had broken up with him the first time? Would I have the strength to walk away from him when I knew he was so vulnerable? I shook all of these thoughts from my mind and decided to just hope for the best—in other words, I was hoping he wouldn't even be there at all.
At five o'clock on the dot, my brothers pulled up in Emmett's Jeep with Jacob bringing up the rear in a huge pickup. They each took a stack of boxes and started setting them up so we wouldn't have to go through that time-consuming process at Jasper's apartment.
"Thanks for helping, Jake," I told him as we took the boxes out of their plastic wrappers and set them up, placing them in the back of the jeep for the time being.
"No problem," he replied with a sweet smile. "When your brothers said we needed to get you out of this place in a hurry, I didn't hesitate."
I returned his smile as I finished setting up my boxes. The ride over to Jasper's only took about five minutes from work, but my nervousness made it seem like a much longer drive.
"Your car's still at the complex, right?" Emmett asked, trying to distract me as I bounced my knee uncontrollably.
"Yeah, the keys should be on their hook in the apartment."
"Good," he said, sounding conversational, "That way if we run out of room, we have your car to pack stuff in, as well."
I nodded distractedly. He sighed and continued to steer us down the streets of Boulder. When we got to the right building, I took a deep breath and shoved the car door open. We all grabbed two boxes each and headed up the stairs. Unfortunately, the complex didn't provide elevators. Edward knocked on the door. "Jasper, it's Edward. We're here to get Alice's stuff."
We waited for a full two minutes—no response. I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief as I reached under the mat to find the spare key still sitting there. I unlocked the door and we immediately went to work. Edward and Emmett went into my closet as Jacob and I started packing my kitchenware.
I jumped when I heard the sound of a glass being broken just outside on the balcony. Turns out the reason Jasper couldn't hear us when we knocked was because he was outside drinking himself stupid. He stumbled into the apartment with a freshly opened Corona in his hand and a sloppy, dazed look on his face. Jacob stood in front of me as Jasper realized we were there and tried to approach me.
"Alice," Jasper slurred, "Why are you doing this to me?"
Good, I was hoping he would try and make this about him. That just gave me further incentive to ignore his drunken rambling and continue packing. I got all my pots and pans into one box and took them down to the car while Jacob held Jasper at bay.
"Get your fuckin' hands off me, man!" I heard Jasper shout at Jacob. If Jake responded, I didn't hear it as I sprinted down the stairwell to put the box in the Jeep and grab two empty ones. When I got back into the apartment, my brothers were confronting Jasper.
"Do you know how lucky you are that we don't just end you right here, asshole?" Emmett shouted in Jasper's face.
"Em, leave him alone and let's just get this done," I pleaded as I went to finish the packing my brothers had started in the closet. I saw that they had already packed all of my shoes away, so I started on my clothes. I grabbed the whole stack of my jeans from their shelf and tucked them neatly into the box. Next went all of my dress pants—thank god I'm not going to have to borrow pants from Rosalie ever again.
The pants were all that would fit in that box, so I started packing my shirts and blouses in the next box I had with me. As I pulled blouses off the hangers and laid them into the box, I heard a rustle behind me. I turned and gasped in surprise, but it was only Edward.
"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you," he said as he set some empty boxes down and began helping me with the rest of my clothes. I could hear Emmett in the bathroom gathering my toiletries and mumbling something about women needing "so many useless products." Edward and I exchanged smirks as we got every last piece of clothing packed and followed Emmett down to the cars. As we put the rest of my belongings away, Emmett looked up at me suddenly.
"Don't you have some stuff in storage here?" He asked.
"Yeah, but Jasper has the key," I said.
"I'll go get it," Edward said, heading back to the stairs, "You stay here with Emmett."
I climbed up on top of the hood of the Jeep and watched my middle brother walk back to my old apartment. No, I wasn't going to think of it that way. The apartment, much like its owner, no longer had any place in my life. I wasn't even going to remember it as a part of my past—not even a blip on my radar. I leaned back against the windshield and gazed up at the sky until I heard Emmett say, "Oh fuck no! Do not let him come down here!"
It seemed Jasper had gotten away from Jacob and was running down the stairs to try and see me. Jacob chased him, but wasn't fast enough to catch Jasper—he is far too wiry. I jumped off the hood of the Jeep and quickly got inside while Emmett tried to help Jacob wrangle Jasper. I locked all the doors quickly as Jasper led the two, gigantic guys on a wild goose chase around the parking lot. I couldn't see what was happening once they got a fair distance away, but I hoped Emmett and Jacob had either chased Jasper off or caught him and were about to take him back upstairs.
No such luck on either fronts, as it turned out. Jasper gave them the slip somehow and found his way back to the Jeep. He knocked on the window, scaring the hell out of me in the process.
"Alice," he began, his voice muffled by the window between us, "please talk to me. Just open the door and let's talk about this."
"No!" I shouted back at him. "There's nothing to talk about! I don't ever want to see you again after tonight. So, you'd better just get back up to your rat hole before Emmett and Jacob find you."
His eyes narrowed and his expression turned severe. "If you leave me, I'll kill myself, Alice."
That statement gave me pause for thought – I hadn't expected that. He seemed like he was desperate enough to commit suicide at this point, but he was also a master manipulator. Could I believe his threat?
"I'll do it, Alice. If you drive away tonight, you and your dipshit brothers will be the last people to see me alive. I can't live without you, Alice." He pounded his hands against the window to emphasize his point. "I've told you that so many times. I won't live without you. I mean it."
His eyes took on this wild, depraved quality I had seen only once in my life before—that day James was on a rampage to kill me. Jasper was serious; he'd end it all without me.
And then it hit me, this was just another way for him to control me. If he really couldn't live without me, if he would rather take his life than not have me under his thumb, I'd have to call his bluff. It was my life or his. And, I could no longer be concerned with what he did with his life. I turned away from him without another word just as Emmett found us again and grabbed Jasper by the collar of his shirt and the waistband of his pants. My brother hurled Jasper towards the sidewalk and then continued to manhandle and harass him until they were both back upstairs.
That was it, the last time I would ever see Jasper. Anything he did now was out of my control, and I knew I couldn't hold myself responsible for any action he took against himself. Jacob came back to the Jeep to keep watch over me while Emmett and Edward got my little couch and bed out of storage and brought them down to the truck. Surprisingly, both fit with the help of some big straps to secure everything down.
Once everything was packed and ready to go, I handed my keys to Edward. He got in my car and joined the caravan that trekked to Emmett's place. As we rounded the corner that took us out of the complex, I was able to see the balcony to Jasper's apartment. Then the light suddenly turned off in the place, and I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wondered briefly what he might be doing in there. But, then I shook that feeling off and focused on the fact that my life was finally mine again. I was going to take a break from the whole dating scene; I needed to be a whole individual on my own for a while before I could get back into anything even resembling a relationship.
The next day was somewhat strange. I was still getting used to being absolutely, 100 percent free from all emotional and mental constraints. It was liberating and scary all at the same time. But, as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, I grew stronger than I had ever felt in years. I moved into my own apartment just outside of Boulder, though Rosalie and Emmett insisted I could take as much time as I needed in finding a new place to live.
"You don't have to leave, Alice," Emmett told me after I had announced my move over dinner. "You're not a burden on us or anything."
"I know," I said. "But, I've taken long enough to recover from that...difficult situation. It's been six months since I moved out of...his place, and I'm ready to take this next step."
Though I had refused to even mention his name out loud anymore, I did check the papers for weeks after I had left him, just hoping I wouldn't see any stories about a young man in Boulder taking his own life. Luckily, the story never came. As I should have known all along not only was Jasper a manipulator, he was also a coward. I called his bluff, and he did exactly what I thought he would do—nothing.
As if to drive this point home to me, I got an e-mail from Jasper on the nine-month anniversary of my escape. He told me how sorry he was and how hard his life had been since I left. It was so difficult in fact that he moved back to Houston. Good, let Maria take care of him.
It had been a year since I was free of Jasper, and I decided to celebrate my 365 days of freedom by staying in, watching movies and giving myself a pedicure. I was walking to my apartment from the parking lot, just imaging how good it would feel to soak my feet for a while, when I was approached by a young man with messy blond hair. He gave me a smile and stuck out his hand for me to shake.
"Hi, I'm Mike," he said as I accepted his hand.
"I'm Alice," I replied.
"It's nice to finally meet you, Alice. I don't want to sound weird or anything, but I moved in about three months ago, and I've seen you around from time to time. I just wanted you to know I think you're very pretty, and if you'd like to have dinner with me sometime, that'd be awesome." I hesitated ever so slightly, and his hopeful expression dropped. "Or, you know, we could pretend this never happened and just go on with our lives."
He started to walk away when I called him back.
"Look, it's not that I don't like you or think you're cute," I told him. "It's just that I don't know if I'm ready to date yet. But, if you want to come over and hang out sometime, I'd be cool with that."
"Sure," he said, his bright smile returning. "I'd really like that."
And, surprisingly, I think I'd like that, too.
OK, so I know I may get some hate mail on how this ended – whether you wanted Jasper to reform, or you thought perhaps the ending should have been more drawn out. But, it had to end here; like I said, I wasn't writing a happily-ever-after on this one – it was supposed to be more true to life.
But, regardless I appreciate those of you who have followed this whole story and responded to it – particularly considering the little hiatus I took.