The trees were vibrant—vivid oranges, bold yellows, and bright reds. New England in the fall was breathtaking, but nature's beauty paled in comparison to the figure lying beneath a huge maple tree. Jasper's eyes were closed. His hands were folded casually on his stomach. Through the branches above, the strong afternoon sun shone, casting a glimmering leafy pattern on his peaceful face. The combination of shadowy spots and crystal-like patches was mesmerizing as the wind shook the branches, and I sat there watching the sunlight dance across his skin for a long time.

It had been a week since I'd met him in Philadelphia. I felt I huge sense of accomplishment at having finally found him. For the first time in my thirty years as a vampire, I felt loved by another person. I couldn't contain my happiness. As nice as the love in my visions had been in those dark, dark days, the mental images didn't even come close to actually being wrapped in his arms.

Jasper's hands ran up my arms into my hair, fingertips rubbing my scalp, as we kissed passionately. My knees were on either side of his lap, pressing my body firmly into his. I kissed a trail down his neck, and his head fell back against the tree, his hands working at the buttons on the back of my dress.

Hmm. This was certainly not the first vision I'd had of Jasper and I in an intimate way, but the back drop of the vision was the very same clearing that we were currently lounging in. I was going to press him to that tree that he currently lay beneath.

I bit my lip and tried to will the vision to come back. How did we get started? Did I just clamber onto his prone form? The vision wouldn't come back.

"What are you so nervous about?" Jasper smiled, eyes still closed.

Of course he'd felt that vision hit me.

"Everything okay?" He sounded more amused than concerned, and I wondered what emotions I'd been giving off while I saw us together. I couldn't deny that it had left me rather flustered.

My dress lay in a pool of fabric on my thighs. Jasper's arms circled my waist, his fingers fumbling with the clasp of my bra.

I smiled at the image. The moment was going to be amazing if only I could figure out how to begin it. I couldn't let him know that I'd never done that before. Jasper was always uncomfortable doing things that he felt marred my innocence. Maybe I should just launch myself onto his lap. It would be bold, but would it just be more funny than sexy? I closed my eyes looking for the answer.

My fingers undid his shirt, one button at a time. I moved slowly, taking time with each new patch of skin to trace the scars that lay there. I drew over each of them, with my touch feather-light, making it clear to him that they didn't bother me. His face was guarded, as if he was worried that each new scar was going to be the one that scared me away.

An arm wrapped around my shoulders, as Jasper pulled my back to his chest. He kissed the top of my head asking, "What's troubling you?"

I shrugged, leaning back into his embrace.

His thumb grazed my collarbone. "You've got a very interesting mix of emotions going on right now."

"Yeah?" I asked, trying to sound casual.

He sat back against the maple tree, pulling me onto his lap. "Some of them," there was a smirk in his voice, "are rather nice…"

He toyed with my knee beneath the hem of my dress. I closed my eyes again, and sighed happily. I didn't need to be nervous about this. I could fake my way into it. Hopefully…

"What did that leaf do to you?" Jasper teased, grasping my hand in his.

I hadn't even realized that I was holding a leaf, but as he unfurled my fist, a mess of yellow pulp lay in my hand. "Oh." I wiped my hand against the tree, brow furrowed.

"What is it?" He cupped my cheek in his hand.

I spun to face him. "It's nothing." I bit my lip.

He ran his finger across it. "You're nervous about something. You bite your lip when you're nervous."

"I…I don't want to be." I looked up into his eyes. The red was starting to lighten. This made me smile.

I pushed myself up to kiss under his eyes. He tilted his head to capture my lips with his. I raked my fingers through his blond curls, pulling him closer. He groaned as I pressed tightly against him. Jasper's hands ran up my arms into my hair, fingertips rubbing my scalp, as we kissed passionately. My knees were on either side of his lap, pressing my body firmly into his. I kissed a trail down his neck, and his head fell back against the tree, his hands working at the buttons on the back of my dress.

He grasped the now separate sides, and paused, "Is this okay?" he asked, breathily nipping at my ear.

"Mmmhmm," I murmured into his neck, helping him free the fabric from my shoulders.

My dress lay in a pool of fabric on my thighs. Jasper's arms circled my waist, his fingers fumbling with the clasp of my bra.

"How?"

"Push the ends towards each other…"

"Uh.."

I reached my hands back and guided his to open the hook and eye closure. Gently, he slid the straps from my shoulders, letting the lacy garment fall between us. He stared down with a reverence I'd never experienced. I knelt up slowly, catching his lower lip between mine. I slid my hands down his chest, landing on the top button of his shirt. He tensed slightly.

"It's okay." I was the one reassuring him now.

My fingers undid his shirt, one button at a time. I moved slowly, taking time with each new patch of skin to trace the scars that lay there. I drew over each of them, with my touch feather-light, making it clear to him that they didn't bother me. His face was guarded, as if he was worried that each new scar was going to be the one that scared me away. I kissed a trail down his rock hard abs, my lips landing lightly on scar after scar. Jasper shrugged his shirt off as I toyed with the button of his jeans. My fingers slipped beneath the waistband, and his breath hitched.

"God, Alice…"

I smiled up at him. The way he was looking at me made me ache in anticipation. I ground my hips into his and we both groaned at the delicious pressure. The rest of our clothes were discarded with much less care, and I lay on my back amidst the fallen leaves. Jasper held himself up above me, pausing again to look me in the eye. I nodded for him to continue.

I closed my eyes and braced myself. This was supposed to hurt humans the first time. I had no idea how it was supposed to be for a vampire the first time, and I couldn't let him feel-- he entered me, and it felt incredible. I shouldn't have been surprised, nothing else ever hurt.

We moved together so naturally, it felt like we'd been doing this forever. The pressure built and built. Jasper shifted his angle slightly, and my world exploded. I dug my nails into his marble-like back as I screamed out his name. He followed after me with a guttural yell, collapsing on top of me, breathing hard. The euphoric haze lingered, and I wondered if it was always that way, or it was just because my love was an empath. Either way, I didn't care.

The sunlight danced across his back, as we came down from the rush. The sharp ridges of his scars stood highlighted in the glow, and I couldn't help but trace them. He shuddered a bit, but I persisted, and he relaxed, nuzzling against me.

After a moment, I lay my hand flat on his back, and kissed his forehead. He pushed himself off me and lay on his side looking at me with a soft smile. I slipped my knee between his, drawing myself closer.

He regarded me thoughtfully, "Before, was this what you were seeing?"

I smiled shyly and nodded.

He reached out and brushed a leaf out of my hair. "If you saw it happen, what were you so nervous about?"

I bit my lip, and he smiled.

"What?" he asked.

"My vision picked up in the middle. I didn't know how to…get it going."

He laughed, a beautiful, rare sound. I curled into his chest.

"You were really worried about that."

"It wall worked out," I murmured into his chest. "Instinct kicked in."

He kissed the top of my head, holding me close.

Jasper's brow furrowed. "Have you…was...was that?"

I sighed. "It was."

"Hmm?" he asked, startled.

"You were about to ask me—"

"Oh. I…why didn't you tell me?" He tensed, rolling onto his back, clenching his eyes shut.

"Jasper…" I sat up, and cupped his cheek in my palm. "This, this reaction, is why I didn't tell you."

He remained tense, closing his hands against the ground beneath him over and over.

"Now who's beating up the leaves?"

My attempt at levity failed to draw him out. I knelt up, kissing each clenched eye in succession. I rest my forehead against his. "Jasper, we just had amazing, amazing sex. Please don't close yourself off from me now."

A long moment passed.

"I don't deserve you." His voice was barely audible.

I leaned back and kissed his nose. "Whether you think you deserve me or not, you've got me."

His arms wrapped around my waist, and I lay my cheek down on his chest. He traced an arc with each thumb along my back.

"I don't want to hurt you," he told me softly.

I lifted my chin to look at him. "I know," I assured him, scooting up to kiss him reassuringly. "And you're not going to. Not as long as we're together."

"This is the state of man: today he puts forth the tender leaves of hopes; tomorrow blossoms"

-Henry VIII, 3.2