We were both young when I first saw you. I close my eyes and flash back starts—I'm standing there on a balcony in summer air.
It was perhaps the biggest event of the year. Or, in my neck of the woods it was. My parents were hosting their annual "We Won't Fall" ball, to raise money for The American Cancer Society. It was always around mid-June, while the weather here was still pleasant.
Our mansion was in a tizzy, with all the preparing and cooking and cleaning going on. I chose to sit this one out; normally I'd help with flower arrangements, but today I just wanted to relax and contemplate life's mysteries.
Around six thirty, I found myself dressed, ready, and standing on the balcony that extended from my room on the second floor. It was one of my favorite places in my house, because I could observe things without being noticed myself. As guests started arriving, I took careful note of who everyone was, what they were wearing, and who they were tied to, so as to compliment them later. My mother taught me that this was the easiest way to make conversation.
The sky was slowly turning red as fashionably late guests arrived. I heard a maid call me inside from my room. I turned to go, but a white limo caught my attention. Out of it stepped a man and a woman, followed by another young man. He seemed about my age; his face was handsome and kind, quiet too. Almost like he could feel things no one else was aware of.
I don't know why I kept staring, other than that he was so…gorgeous. His blonde hair was lying just right on his pale face and his clear blue eyes were evident from even my distance. He followed slowly behind who I assumed to be his parents, as I now noticed he resembled them. They made their way to the house, but something made the boy stop.
He looked up at me.
Our eyes were locked in a powerful gaze that I couldn't comprehend. I didn't know what was holding me there, but it felt…right.
"Jasper!" a woman's voice called. His mother.
Jasper shook his head and with one last look at me, walked the rest of the way inside.
See the lights; see the party, the ball gowns. See you make your way through the crowd to say hello, but little did I know…
"There you are, Alice!" my mother crowed. I smiled at her softly; I was still thinking about the boy who had discovered me.
Mother held me at arms length, looking me over. "You look beautiful, as usual." She put a brunette curl back into place and kissed my forehead.
"Now, go mingle! Enjoy yourself. Just be back in time for your father's speech. You wouldn't want to miss that."
I laughed. "Of course not."
She winked and walked away.
I stood for a moment, fingering the gold trim on my white dress. I took a look around at all the decorations and guests. Where could I go to escape from all these people? It would be boring outside. I opted for the library, where no one would think to look for me. I wasn't big on reading.
A waiter bumped into me on accident. After muttering apologizes, I felt someone's gaze on me from across the room.
Jasper stood with his parents, oblivious to the conversation they were having with the governor. His eyes were fixed on me. I felt my cheeks go red, and I noticed his did too as I caught him staring. I turned to walk away, but before I got more than three steps I felt a hand on my shoulder.
"I didn't mean to scare you."
His voice was like the sound of waves crashing on a beach; rough but soothing. There was a slight Southern drawl to it, but it wasn't annoying. Cute, actually. I turned back to stare up into his crystal eyes. He had to have been at least ten inches taller than me. Of course, that isn't unusual, since I'm a whole five feet myself.
"It's alright," I whispered.
"I'm Jasper Hale," he said.
"Alice Brandon," I replied as he kissed my hand.
"Ahh, you're the famous Mary Alice Brandon."
"Just Alice, please."
"Of course. It's nice to meet you."
"And you as well." We stood silently for another moment, just staring at each other. I felt like he could see into my soul. It was kind of…awkward.
"Would you like to dance?" he whispered.
I nodded, and he led me towards the middle of the dance floor. Other couples swirled around us. We opted for casual conversation.
"I'm afraid I've never heard of you, Mr. Hale," I said.
Jasper chuckled slightly. "There's nothing really to hear."
I beg to differ, I thought. Out loud I said, "How did your family come by an invitation?"
"My father is new to the Society's board."
"Oh really? I didn't know there was an opening."
He asked me about my art, my family, and me. I thirsted to know more about him, but he had a way of always casting the spotlight somewhere else.
He was modest. How cute!
The song ended, and we found a waiter with champagne.
"I'm only allowed to drink on special occasions," I said. Jasper laughed and nodded. "I wish I could do it more though."
He laughed again and clinked our glasses together; a mini toast to our blossoming friendship.
Jasper was as eager to get away from the party as I was. We were both terribly uncomfortable; I jumped at the chance to leave when he commented on how loud it was getting. I showed him to a thankfully empty library. We took to the comfort of overstuffed armchairs and each other's company.
He loosened up quiet a bit when we were alone. I don't know whether it was the champagne or just that no one was around. He never got annoying; he was extremely easy to talk to, and I found myself liking him more and more. He was the exact reverse of me. While those who know me will tell you I'm outgoing, hardheaded, and spastic, I noticed Jasper liked to keep to himself and had an opinion, but he wasn't rude about it.
Never in my life have I found a man so mysterious so attractive.
That you were Romeo, you were throwing pebbles. And my daddy said stay away from Juliet. And I was crying on the staircase, begging you "Please don't go…" And I said,
Hours slipped by and the two of us talked and drank and laughed like we'd know each other forever.
He was showing me the proper way to hold a billiards stick and accurately hit the cue ball. He was standing so close; he smelled like cologne and champagne. His hands were on mine, positioning them where they needed to go. I leaned back onto his chest as we drew back our arms and hit the ball. It zoomed across the table and knocked another in a pocket.
"Good job," Jasper whispered in my ear. "You're a natural."
"Or maybe I just have a really good teacher." I turned around to face him, resting my hands behind me on the table. He was tall enough to where he could put his on either side of my waist and not be uncomfortably close. Not that I would have minded…
He must have been feeling the same way as me. His face came closer; I could feel his cool breath on my cheeks.
"Maybe…" I stretched up and closed the remaining distance with one, sweet kiss.
Someone banged on the library door. "Alice, are you in there?" My father barged in before Jasper and I had time to separate.
Daddy didn't look too pleased.
"What are you doing?" he spluttered. As if it wasn't completely obvious.
"Chilling," I replied. Daddy twittered his hands; Jasper pulled away from me more quickly than I liked. I began to pout. I crossed my arms and glowered at my father, bottom lip poking out.
"You always ruin everything!"
"Don't give me that, Mary Alice Brandon. This is inexcusable behavior."
I huffed and looked away. Jasper was smiling faintly behind Daddy's back, which made me feel a little better. Suddenly Daddy whipped around to Jasper. "Get to your parents. The presentation is about to begin." His voice was harsh, but not as ugly as it could be. Jasper nodded, and with a longing glance at me, excited the library.
Daddy turned back to me. "We don't have time to talk about this now, but believe me, we will be discussing your—"
"My what?" I interrupted. "Uncontrollable hormones? Love life? Please, Daddy; save yourself the embarrassment."
His cheeks turned pink. "I said later, Mary Alice."
I rolled my eyes as he linked his arm through mine; he always had me walk in with him like this. I put on my happy façade for all the oblivious guests, and my mother.
The "congregation," if you will, was standing as we entered. I felt like I was getting married. Out of the corner of my eye, I searched for Jasper; he was a few seats from the middle and the third row back. He smiled at me apologetically. I smiled too.
I seated myself next to my mother on the make-shift stage. Daddy took his position behind the podium to begin his speech, but I had no intention of paying attention. Instead, I focused on Jasper, my new…friend? I wasn't sure what we were. But we were definitely something.
I watched the way his eyes twinkled when he laughed at my dad's corny jokes. His chest rose and fell evenly with his deep breaths, almost like he was asleep. His pale skin glittered in the light from the chandelier. His hands were in his lap, but he was rubbing his fingernails together at different tempos, like he was playing a song on a made-up instrument.
"Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone. I'll be waiting; all there's left to do is run. You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess. It's a love story, baby, just say yes."
Occasionally, I would look back at my father so that people wouldn't wonder who I was staring at. It was a good five minutes before Jasper took note of me. He smiled slightly. I made an "I miss you" face. He blasted me with his electric eyes. I tilted my head slightly towards the side. I don't know how he understood that I meant "I need to be with you ASAP" but he gave me a tiny nod, and reached inside his coat pocket for a pen. He wrote something on the program everyone had received.
Daddy ended with a prayer. Everyone stood up for another hour or so of mingling and coffee. I saw Jasper give the program to a waiter. The waiter made his way over to me, and smoothly placed it in my hand along with a cup of coffee.
"Thanks, Emmett," I said. Emmett grinned.
"It's about time you hooked up with someone!"
I hit him with the paper, but all he did was laugh his booming laugh and walk away.
In neat, boyish handwriting, Jasper wrote: Can we meet in your garden around midnight?
I met his gaze with a grin.
So I sneak out to the garden to see you. We keep quiet, 'cause we're dead if they knew; so close your eyes. Escape this town for a little while.
At eleven thirty, I slipped on my newest pair of Oscar de la Renta jeans and a black jacket over my I Love NY t shirt. I stuffed several pillows under my comforter on my bed, just in case someone came and checked on me. I slipped through the house as quiet as a mouse and let myself outside. (That rhymed. ;D)
Jasper was waiting for me on a bench a little ways from my house. His entire face lit up when he saw me; like a little boy on Christmas. I couldn't help but smile.
"Hello, beautiful," he whispered, wrapping me in a tight hug.
My smile widened into his shoulder. Oh yes. We were something alright.
"I missed you," he said.
I beamed up at him. "I missed you too!" I squealed. Jasper quickly covered my mouth with his hand.
"Shhhh, silly. Lower your voice or they'll catch us."
"Oh yeah," I mumbled into his hand.
He chuckled and moved his hand to lace his fingers through mine. Our conversation picked right back up as if my dad had never interrupted us.
Being with Jasper made me forget about everything. It was like nothing else mattered except us. I could escape the world that I always felt either too caught up in, or never included in.
'Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter. And my daddy said stay away from Juliet. But you were everything to me; I was begging you "Please don't go…" And I said,
Right behind our property is a small lake, surrounded by trees. Jasper and I found ourselves approaching the shore.
"It's a nice night," he commented. I nodded in agreement.
"This must have been a wonderful place to group up in," he said. "I mean you have a beautiful and big house, an enormous garden with plenty of secret areas, and your own lake. It's like every kid's fairy tale home."
I nodded again. "Yeah; my friends and I were never bored when I had sleepovers. There was always something we hadn't discovered, or secrets we hadn't shared. And it seemed like this lake had a sort of magic that allowed us to really open up to each other. Like the water bound us together."
Jasper was quiet.
"That must've sounded totally insane."
He laughed. "No, I understand completely. A short distance from a public park near my house, there's a meadow that some buddies of mine discovered with me. We had all of our great adventures there too." There was a twinkle in his blue eyes.
I shivered. He wrapped his arms around me and held me tight. We stared out onto the shimmery surface of the water until I concocted a plan that I hoped would show me just how much I really meant to Jasper.
I looked up at him. "Can I show you something?"
He nodded. I took his hand and led him around to the other side of the pond. I stopped us at the edge of the tree line.
"I want to show you my two favorite trees in this park."
Jasper smiled and nodded. "Okay, why?"
I didn't answer as I pulled him a little way into the forest. My trees came into view and I dropped his hand.
"To me, these two trees are perfectly positioned. Both trunks slant outward, like they're leaning away from each other." I stood in between them, leaning against one of the trunks and wrapping my arms around behind it.
"My mother would take my Christmas pictures right here. It's a candid spot; I come here when I want to think about stuff."
He cocked his head to the side, smiling slightly. Then he walked towards me and did exactly what I had been hoping for; he wedged himself in between the opposite tree and me. The trunk behind me was wide enough to where he could put his hands on either side of my face.
I felt his breath on my face as he whispered, "Stuff like what?"
"Oh, you know," I mumbled. "Life and…"
His soft lips enveloped mine, and I forgot what it was we were talking about.
I was awakened the next day by a loud banging on my door; Emmett barged in carrying a tray of cinnamon rolls, grapes, and coffee. I had one eye open and I saw him place it on my bedside table. He sat down on the edge of my bed and began bouncing up and down.
"Up and at 'em, Party Girl. You may've had fun last night, but your papa's gonna give you hell for everything you did."
I groaned, rolling over. My fingers searched for a pillow to throw at his head. Emmett laughed and bounced more.
"Come on, Alice! I've got a date with Rosie and I can't leave until you're up and in his study."
Ugh. The study meant it was just going to be me and him, and I was probably going to end up with the short end of the stick. I showered, dressed, and threw my brown hair up into a sloppy bun. I had been meaning to schedule an appointment to get it cut.
I met Emmett on the landing outside my door and he escorted me to Daddy's study. He kissed me on the check and left as soon as I walked inside.
My father was sitting behind his desk, reading a report or something. His glasses were pushed down to the tip of his nose; he didn't look up as when I entered. All he said was "Sit."
I stared at my hands.
"I have to say I'm very disappointed in you Alice. I thought I had raised you better than to do something like that."
"Something like what?" I asked. "I wasn't doing anything wrong."
He glared up at me over his glasses. "You were taking advantage of our library space for improper activities."
"Improper activities?" I cried. "We had been talking, FYI. And it was a very proper conversation. Besides, we only kissed once. We may've done it more if you hadn't showed up, but so what? Am I not allowed to be a girl?"
His face turned red. Daddy stuttered a minute before saying, "Mary Alice Brandon, I forbid you from seeing Jasper Hale."
It was my turn to splutter. "What? Why?"
"I don't know anything about him, where he's from, or who his parents are."
"You know his name," I pointed out, trying to keep my voice polite. Daddy glared at me. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. "Daddy. His name is Jasper. His parents are Joseph and Georgina Hale. His father is new on the board. I thought you would've known that, since you're the head chairman."
"That's not what I meant, Alice," he said.
"Then what did you mean?" My voice pleaded.
"I don't know him, and neither do you."
"I do!" I cried. "We talked for such a long time. I feel like I've known him for such a long time. There was this crazy connection and—" Daddy cut me off.
"Enough, Mary Alice. You are not to talk to him, see him, or have anything to do with him until I give you permission. This conversation is over. You may leave."
Tears began to roll down my face as I stood and ran towards the door.
"I hate you!" I called over my shoulder. I continued running to the stairs and dashed up to my room to grab my phone. I was amazed I didn't fall; my tears obscured my vision as I made the familiar path past the garden, around the lake and to my tree.
"Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone. I'll be waiting; all there's left to do is run. You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess. It's a love story, baby, just say yes."
I waited five minutes for my sobs to calm before I found Jasper's number (which I got last night) in my address book. I hit "Call" and waited. I heard five rings before his voice mail picked up.
"Yo, this is Edward. Jasper can't come to the phone right now, or else you'd probably be talking to him, not me. So leave him a message and he'll call you back I bet. Peace out!"
I smiled; Jasper had told me about his best friend Edward Masen.
Beep! "Jasper, its Alice. I don't know where you are, but I need to talk to you super badly. My dad crapped a cow about everything that happened, because apparently he doesn't know you, and he's forbidden me to see and talk to you or something, which is just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard because he should know me well enough to know that I'm going to talk to you anyway. But whatever; I just really need you to call back so I can be a rule breaker. And I need to hear your voice. So, yeah…" I was out of breath after saying all of that. "Bye."
I closed my phone and sighed deeply. I leaned back against the bigger trunk and closed my eyes, remembering everything that happened last night…
When I woke up, I had five text messages and two missed calls. I checked my texts first. The first three were from my best friend Bella.
"Fwd: Roses are red, violets are blue. You may be sweet, but I'm sexier than you! Forward this to all your best friends and your true love will call you at 11:11. If not, you'll lose him forever."
I rolled my eyes and deleted it. I hated forwards. The next two said "Hey, how was the party?" and "Dude. Jacob and Leah are dating. Is that not the weirdest thing you've ever heard?!"
The fourth was from Emmett, asking how things went. And lastly, one from Jasper.
"Call me back! ):"
I smiled, and called my voicemail.
"Sorry I missed your call, babe. I was tutoring this guy named Mike in calculus. But I don't know why you didn't answer; I hope this doesn't turn into phone tag. Anyway, call me back! I need to know all the details. I don't want to stay away from you; I can't. We'll figure something out, I promise. Don't worry. Call me back right now. I mean it." He laughed. "Bye, Alice."
"God, babe, where are you? I'm freaking out because it's been like an hour since I called you back and I've heard nothing from you. I'm afraid your dad took your phone or something happened or…I don't know. But please Alice, call me or text me or do something to let me know you're okay. Alright. So…bye."
Aww! He was worrying about me!
I quickly hit redial, but once again I got his voicemail. "Jasper! I was asleep. I'm out here by my tree and I closed my eyes, and didn't wake up until now. I'm sorry. Now where are you? I guess we will be playing phone tag for a while. Anyway, my dad said that our behavior was 'inappropriate,' because we were taking advantage of the library. And also, he doesn't know every freaking detail about your past, present, and future. He's an idiot. So he banned me from seeing and talking to you. But it doesn't matter." I was silent for a moment. "We've got to get out of here. Let's run away! We can go somewhere far away, just the two of us. Who needs parents? Who needs school? Who needs stupid rules when we could just have each other?"
"Romeo, save me; they're trying to tell me how to feel. This love is difficult, but it's real. Don't be afraid, we'll make it out of this mess. It's a love story, baby, just say yes."
Months passed and I had to continue to talk to Jasper in secret. We met several times a week at my—our—tree, but it wasn't enough to satisfy my thirst to see him.
I sat at the kitchen table one morning, sipping hot chocolate and reading the latest Harry Potter book. My mother walked in and sat across from me, a worried look dancing on her face.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. I'm just wondering if…" her voice trailed of mysteriously. I gave her a look. She sighed. "Alice, we need to talk."
Uh oh. This wasn't going to be good. Not if Mother was involved.
I shut my book and took a sip of my drink. "About what?"
"Well…umm…" Mother's eyes searched the ceiling, as if that's where the words she was trying to say were hiding. "Your father thinks that…even though he's forbidden you from talking to this Hale boy, you should still…be allowed to be a teenaged girl, if you will. So…"
I looked at my mother expectantly. Has my punishment been lifted?
"He's set you up for a blind date with the governor's son; James Wilson. He seems to think that this will be an adequate apology for what he's done to you…" Mother searched my eyes for a response. I kept my face as blank as I could, when really, I wanted to storm to my father's study or where ever he was and tell him what I thought an "adequate apology" would be.
"James is very handsome, Alice," my mother said quickly. "I'm sure you'll find him very suitable."
I snorted, picked up my book, and tried to resume reading but my unshed tears kept blurring the words.
I got tired of waiting; wondering if you were ever coming around. My faith in you is fading…When I met you on the outskirts of town. And I said,
I went on that stupid blind date. And yes, James was very handsome. And suitable. But he wasn't…Jasper. James couldn't capture my attention like Jasper could. He wasn't as interesting or mysterious…and I definitely didn't like the way his hand rested on my thigh throughout all of dinner, or how low his hands were on my hips when we danced.
But I hadn't seen Jasper in almost three weeks. He was always busy; working, schooling, or tutoring. We talked every once in a while on the phone but it was never enough. I missed him more than anything in the world. I was hopelessly in love with him…but I couldn't get him to commit to me. And I was falling apart.
My father too, was avoiding me like the plague. I don't know why, but I wasn't complaining. I was royally pissed at him, and would be until he stopped being such an ass.
On one particularly sunny Saturday afternoon, I was drawing up ideas for my next project in the sunroom. There was a knock at the door. I looked up to see Emmett grinning at me, holding a silver platter and what looked like a glass of lemonade. "Come in, Emm."
Emmett opened the door and walked to the table I was working at. He placed the glass of lemonade next to a stack of blank paper.
"I thought you could use a refreshment," he said. I grinned in thanks. He then reached into the inside pocket of his butler's coat and pulled out a white envelope. He handed it to me and then bowed, low. "A letter arrived for you, Miss Alice."
I hit him on the back of the head with it. He laughed, straightening up. "Well go ahead! Open it! I recognized the handwriting, and I want to know what it says too."
I flipped the envelope over; my name was written in that same boyish script from so many nights ago. Jasper. I practically ripped the actual letter as I tore through the envelope, anxious to read it. Emmett read over my shoulder:
Alice, we need to talk. Meet me by the large fountain by the city gates at 7 o'clock tonight. Please. Love, Jasper.
I grabbed Emmett's wrist, after reading the note for the third time, to check the time. It was 3:30. That gave me three and a half hours to get ready for whatever it was that Jasper needed to talk to me about. I raced up to my room, Emmett closely following behind me, to pick out an outfit and worry, wonder, and worry.
At 6:30, I slipped outside without being stopped. My parents were in New York for a movie premiere or something. Our servants knew better than to try and keep me from doing what I wanted. I grabbed my car keys from a box they were kept in and admired my baby, my yellow Porsche, for a moment before hopping in and heading for the outskirts of town.
I could see Jasper's silhouette sitting on the stone edge of the fountain as I pulled up. When he saw me get out of my car, he stood and began walking towards me. I couldn't help it; I started running, silently thanking Emmett for suggesting I wear flats instead of heels. I saw Jasper's face break out into a grin before I ran into him, hugging him. He scooped me up and held me. I wrapped my arms and legs around him; I just needed to be close to him.
"Romeo, save me; I've been feeling so alone. I keep waiting for you but you never come. Is this in my head? I don't know what to think." He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said,
Somehow, our lips found each other's, and we made out as Jasper walked us back to the fountain. I bet we looked funny (and maybe gross) to passersby. We had to stop though, because we ran out of breath. So I sat in his lap and stroked his hair, staring into his eyes. Oh my god I had missed him so much.
Then I frowned. "Where the hell have you been? You like, never have time for me anymore it seems. You're either busy or asleep or at school or off in some other world. And I've felt so…alone and broken and miserable because I love you so much but it seems to me like you don't even care…" My voice trailed off and Jasper just looked at me, waiting for me to finish. "I guess maybe I'm being a little overdramatic, but I can't help it! Ugh!" I put my forehead in the crook of his neck. I felt him loosen the grip I had on him. He stood me up, my back to the fountain. I stared at him, extremely confused.
Jasper faced me, and then got on one knee. My hands flew to my mouth as he pulled a small black box out of one of his pants pockets.
"Marry me, Juliet; you'll never have to be alone. I love you and that's all I really know. I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress. It's a love story, baby, just say yes."
"I never meant to worry you, Alice. And I certainly wasn't trying to avoid you. But I have been busy. I've been talking to your father; trying to…" Jasper's voice got quieter, and he examined the box in his hands. Then he looked up at me, smiling. He opened the box and pulled out a ring with a reasonably sized diamond on it.
"Will you marry me, Mary Alice Brandon? I can't imagine my life without you. I love you in a way that I can't even understand myself. I want to be with you, forever. And your father has," he smirked, "given in. He gave me permission. Will you?"
I couldn't get any words out, so I nodded. Tears poured down my face as Jasper took my left hand in his, and slipped the ring on my finger. Then he kissed it, and all my other fingers, and finally my lips.
"I love you," he whispered against my lips. I smiled.
"I love you too."
We were both young when I first saw you.