A/N: This is it folks! The last chapter. The end. The grand finale. Songs were very instrumental in the making of this last chapter, so I wanted to tell you what I was playing when I wrote this chapter. For Bella's POV: True Colors by Cindi Lauper. For the first several paragraphs of Jasper's POV: For Someone by Jake Walden and after that, Book of Love by Peter Gabriel. It was very hard to end this story and I hope I did it justice. Listen to these songs if you get a chance.
The balcony of the hotel room the Cullen's had rented creaked as I leaned against the railing, straining my eyes for any sight of Jasper. My emotions were still raw as I tried to process what had occurred just a couple of hours before between Jasper and I. In truth, I was scared for the entire family. We still had not heard back from them yet and while I had a tremendous amount of faith in them, a small seed of doubt about our plan was beginning to appear. What if we had made the wrong decision? Correction, what if I had made the wrong decision? What if one of them got killed? What if Jasper got kill-… No, I wouldn't even let myself complete that line of thought.
I was so engrossed in my own musings that I nearly jumped out of my skin when Rosalie placed her hand on my shoulder.
Rosalie rolled her eyes when I had startled. "Bella for the love of God! Calm down. I just received a call from Esme who is on her way back right now. Everyone is fine. Emmett has taken Jasper for an extensive hunt. They will return when Jasper has had enough to be around you safely. Carlisle and Edward are wrapping up some things at Maria's."
I released a breath I was not aware I had been holding. "Everyone is okay?"
Rosalie smirked. "Well, except for Maria. Jasper killed her."
I dropped to my knees. It was over. Her reign of terror was done with. I let my tears flow softly down my cheeks as my relief took me over. Rosalie stood there awkwardly, somewhere in between a gesture of reassurance and mild annoyance at my response.
Esme walked through the door a few minutes later, reaching directly over to her two remaining daughters and embraced us tightly. We both melted into our adopted mother's touch as she filled us in on what had occurred after Rosalie had taken off with me.
Esme's story had provided me with a much needed distraction as I waited for Jasper's return. From her telling of it, the fight had not been pretty. It also did not surprise me to learn that Jasper made an ally while he was in captivity. He was resourceful and smart and others naturally gravitated to that. I was proud of him. Several hours later, I was recounting my brief time in captivity with Jasper, when both vampires paused. I looked at them curiously as they looked at me with a knowing glance and stepped out of the way.
There, at the edge of the room stood Jasper. Time just stopped as his eyes captured mine. Those orbs, that had held the darkest black possible only a day ago now shone with their normal golden hue. His hair was still in disarray, but somewhere along the hunt, Emmett must have convinced him to take a shower and change. He looked much more put together then when I saw him last. I honestly did not care if he had; all I cared about was seeing that he was okay and well.
I ran towards him, my arms flying up as he met me halfway. I did not bother me that Esme, Rosalie, and Emmett were actively staring at us. I wrapped my body securely around his, never wanting to let it go. Jasper hugged back, and I was overcome as the relief and love that he had doubled my own.
I pulled away slightly, my hands cupping his face, staring up into his eyes, marveling at how beautiful a creature he truly was. He leaned down and our lips met in a passionate embrace, both of us trying to tell the other how much we loved the other with that one kiss. After a minute we pulled away, giving each other small kisses, before ultimately my head rested comfortably on his chest.
"I missed you." He whispered.
"I was beginning to think I would never see you again."
"You will never lose me. Never. It was only a matter of time till I had gotten out of there on my own. Don't you know, Bella? I would fight from the depths of hell itself to see you again."
I smiled up at him. "I do now."
He kissed me again. I was completely lost in his touch and we did not pull away until Esme gently began to cough, bringing us back to reality.
Jasper looked up, looking slightly sheepish. "I'm sorry, Esme." He took a little step away from me then, his hand firmly placed in mine as looked at the rest of them.
Esme smiled. "We are just going to go and leave you two alone for now. I should meet up with Carlisle and Edward at the compound, and I am sure that Emmett and Rosalie have things to do. Jasper, if you wouldn't mind giving us a call later dear."
He nodded as I smiled at her, grateful for their hasty retreat. The door closed behind them softly. No sooner did we hear the gentle click, did Jasper reach out and pull my body forcefully to his. His fingers wrapped around mine squeezing till it almost hurt. It seemed like forever till his lips met mine. I kissed him back eagerly. I wanted his touch, I needed his touch. I grabbed onto his body wildly, eager to convince myself that he was really here. Jasper was just as keen as I was.
I was ready to pull him into the bedroom when I began to feel him pull away slightly, not only physically, but emotionally.
I cocked my head slightly. "What's wrong? Is everything alright Jasper?"
He leaned back against the wall, his head hitting with a light thud. "I was just thinking…"
"Bella, I almost killed you in that room."Jasper's voice was pained and he hung his head in shame. I stood there, knowing that there was more he wanted to say. "Before you arrived, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to let the monster win. I was going to give in."
His brow furrowed and he looked angry at himself. "I was going to revert back to the vampire I was before. I was willing to kill an innocent person, all to sate my hunger. What does that make me? It makes me no better than Maria or her lackeys."
I pursed my lips, trying to think of the right thing to say. Jasper, more so than the rest of the Cullens, always had a difficult time resolving his inner battle between his demon and his humanity. He always believed that because of his past, he was somehow less than them. What he did not see was the strength that it took for him to change his ways so radically.
My index finger tilted up his chin. "But you didn't. You were strong enough to resist for me. Even after four weeks of not having a single drop. You were amazing. I know how incredibly difficult that must have been. I don't even know if Carlisle could have had that restraint. Just because you struggled, does not make that feat any less impressive."
I looked into his eyes to bring home the point. "You are not a monster."
He hugged me then, his chin resting on the top of my head, and I rested against him, deeply inhaling Jasper's scent. We stayed in that position for a long time, neither of us moving, both of taking solace in the other. I had missed this more than anything else. I thought of the endless quiet hours we spent together just reading or relaxing as we held the others hand, or my back lying against his chest. In those moments, I knew without a doubt that he was the person I was meant to be with the rest of my existence, and that was what made it so special. It was that feeling of being completely and utterly loved by him.
And it could have all been gone.
If Emmett had never found Maria's trail, if Maria had decided to kill me instead of bring me to Jasper, if she had decided to kill Jasper. If. If. If.
It would have all been gone.
It wasn't until later I realized that it was now I sobbing into Jasper's chest. He pulled me into him tighter. "It will be alright. I'm safe. You are safe."
No matter how much I wanted to continue just sitting in his arms drinking him in, the tears would not stop flowing. "I'm… sorry. This month has just been so incredibly difficult. I love you so much. I just can't stop imagining everything you were put through." I used the back of my hand up to wipe my tears. "Ugh… this is so frustrating! I am sorry that I can't keep my emotions in check."
His words were barely a whisper. "Don't ever apologize for that. You emotions are one of the things I love most about you."
Jasper pulled away from me, motioning for us to sit down on the couch. I followed him to the green sofa in the sitting room. "Bella, I know that you've been through hell as well this past month. Emmett filled me in on what happened while I was away."
"What did he tell you?"
"He filled me in on everything. Your reaction, how you have been trying to make amends with Edward, but mostly he told me how strong you were." He rubbed my palm.
"I don't feel strong." I admitted.
Jasper looked at me incredulously. "You went into the lion's den at a severe disadvantage all to save me. If that is not strength, I don't know what is. But what I do know is that I love you more than I ever could possibly imagine."
My eyes glistened with tears again. "What would I have done if I had lost you?"
He smiled tenderly. "I am not going anywhere. I promise. I will be here till the end of time."
We paused. There was so much we needed to say to each other, so much we needed let the other know. But we could have sat here for hours talking without conveying how we truly felt. Without saying a word, Jasper took my hand, leading us to the door of the bedroom, both of us ready to show how much we loved the other.
There were times, when I was in Maria's captivity, that I thought about what it might be like if I never saw Bella again. The very idea terrified me. I had made a vow during my imprisonment that it would never occur. I had taken stalk of what was really important in my life. It was no surprise that I found that Bella was now the very top of that list.
It made me appreciate the struggle that Edward, and Jacob to a slightly lesser extent, had to go through all that much more. Bella had managed not only to capture my heart, but had captured theirs as well. Each of us loved her in a way that others would never comprehend; each of us understood what made Bella so special, so completely wonderful. If fate had twisted even in just the slightest, she could have easily had been standing up at the Alter with either of them. Bella had three hearts who would have willingly married her if destiny had meant for it to be so.
It was the reason that I asked Edward and Jacob only to stand by my side as we married. It seemed fitting for them to be up there, her first and second love each giving their consent of our marriage, acknowledging our love. At first I was not sure if Edward would even want to go to the wedding, much less accept to be in the wedding party. But when I explained to him how important it was and the reason I wanted him to be the best man, he agreed, his emotions mixed, but I could feel that he still felt honored to be asked. I was beginning to have hope that Edward may someday be happy again.
So now, here I stand, up by a white arch in the backyard of the Cullen Fork's home, in a tux with the two other men who would always hold a place in Bella's heart.
My thoughts turned away from past lovers and fell solely on the person who was now my reason for being on this earth.
A quiet cover of a song called The Book of Love began to play. The small group of family and friends we had invited to witness the wedding stood as they awaited the Bride walking down the aisle with her father.
Bella turned the corner and began to walk under the white canopy we had to shield us from the sun that was threatening to peak out. My breath caught. She really was a vision in white. Her dress was sophisticated but still simple. Her hair was pulled up in ringlets, with a sapphire barrette holding it in place. I smiled, instantly recognizing it as a gift from Alice. It was also purely Bella.
She had chosen her bouquet to be almost an exact replica of the flowers I first bought her when she moved into her apartment. The magnolia's were fragrant and my mind thought of the first time I saw her in her apartment. I would have never imagined that day that less than a year later, Bella would be walking down an aisle ready to marry me, of all people. She looked down at first as she walked, clearly uncomfortable being the center of attention. My bride then looked up.
I could have sworn in that moment, my heart beat just one lone single heartbeat. She really was mine and no one else's. My eyes never left hers as she glided down the aisle. As her father placed her hands into mine, he turned to me, his voice cracking slightly.
"Love her the way she deserves to be loved, son."
"I will, sir."
He nodded and walked to his seat, sitting down next to Bella's mother, Renee.
I gave her hand a quick squeeze then, the world quickly melting away around us. This was now just Bella and I. This was the beginning of forever. When I had asked her to marry me all those months ago, I never pictured a moment as perfect as this. She mouthed the words- "I love you."
To which I returned, "I don't deserve you."
She then responded with, "Yes, you do. You always have."
We waited for the song to end, before we both turned to Carlisle, who had agreed to officiate the wedding.
Carlisle smiled reassuringly at the both of us. "Today we are gathered to join in the hands of marriage Isabella Marie Swan and Jasper Whitlock. Two souls that were meant to find one another despite any obstacles that may have come their way."
Carlisle began to talk to the guests about the power of Love, but I do not think that Bella or I truly heard a word of it. It was until Carlisle uttered the words- "Bella and Jasper have written their own vows that they wish to share with you all at this time. Bella, if you would."
Bella acknowledged Carlisle briefly before turning back to me, her eyes shining with love.
"Jasper, from the very first time I met you all those years ago, I knew you were special. Your ability to make people at ease when they are around you is remarkable. But it took a second meeting years later, to realize how special you were to me. You are an incredible man. You have not only become my very best friend, but you have shown me how to love again, and how to open myself up to love again. You believe in me, and in turn I believe more in myself. I promise to love you for eternity, respecting you, honoring you, being faithful to you, and sharing my everything with you and only you."
She was amazing. Carlisle nodded to me indicating it was my turn. I turned back to my love.
"Bella, you have always been able to see beyond what lay before you. From the first time I met you, I knew you were special. You were so unselfish and your capacity for understanding and love was beyond anything I have ever known. When I saw you years later from the last time I saw you, although you were changed, more confident, more graceful, if possible even more beautiful, that capacity you had to love never waned. I found what started off as friendship had blossomed into something so much more than I could have ever hoped for. You are my partner now in this existence, for better or for worse. I will spend the rest of my eternity respecting you, honoring you, being faithful to you, and sharing my everything with you and only you."
Carlisle then handed Bella the wedding ring we had chosen for me. Bella's hand shook slightly as she took my hand in hers. "With this ring, I thee wed."
She slid the ring on easily and Carlisle handed me a ring, while much smaller, was identical to mine. I grinned as I slid the ring on her finger and repeated the words, "With this ring, I thee wed."
With those rings now on our fingers, we were bound, as friends, as lovers, as husband and wife. If it was even possible, I loved her more. My hands clasped in hers and we turned to Carlisle.
He smiled broadly. "It is my pleasure, and my honor, to pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock. You may now kiss the bride."
I swept Bella up in my arms, kissing the woman that fate had destined me to be with.
It was months after our wedding. Life had settled into a comfortable pattern. After our honeymoon, we had spent most of the time in Forks, visiting with Bella's family, which consisted of Charlie, Jacob, and Audrey. Life was comfortable there. Charlie and I found that we got along very well, and Charlie was thrilled at the opportunity to spend time with his daughter.
Jacob and Audrey spent a large amount of time with us as well, causing some strife within his werewolf community. Jacob ended up separating from his main pack, with his friend Seth and his sister Leah joining him. Despite the drama on the reservation, the two of them were happy. Audrey was already pregnant with their first child, a girl they were naming after Bella who was due to be born in early January.
When we had not been in Forks, we had taken weekend trips up to British Columbia to see our family. Life continued as before there, Carlisle enjoying his practice, while Esme continued to expand her design firm. Rosalie and Emmett had taken off on an extended vacation, to Australia this time around. They were planning on returning in the next few weeks and Emmett had advised us that we better be coming back around upon their return.
Edward had enrolled in the local high school as a junior, beginning the hell of secondary education yet again to be close to the family. Esme was thrilled of course; the school was smaller, but the girls enthusiastic towards Edward as usual which he detested. The tentative friendship that Bella and Edward had begun during the situation with Maria became stronger. Every once in a while I would feel longing coming from Edward while looking at her, but he understood the reality of the situation and really did keep his emotions under lock and key for the most part. He seemed more comfortable then a few months ago.
We had finally decided to return to Maine, where the fall foliage was in full effect. As much as it was great to be around our loved ones, we both agreed that it was nice to be home. Maine was where we had become so close and it felt right to be here. We had just returned from a bike ride through the mountains, taking the Ducati out for a much needed spin and enjoying just being in only each others company again, after months of friends and family surrounding us.
It was a warm autumn day. Bella and I were sitting on the porch swing, enjoying the sun as its last rays filtered through the trees, making the orange and red leaves brilliantly bright.
Bella snuggled into my chest. It was these quiet moments I enjoyed more than anything with her. I breathed in the scent of her hair, enjoying the warmth of her small body against me. I sighed in contentment, kissing the top of her head.
"What a perfect day." She sighed.
"It really was."
Bella squeezed my body. We sat there quietly for a few minutes when she spoke again. "Jasper?"
I froze slightly. She did not need to be more specific. I knew what she was referring to. "Are you sure?"
I felt her nod against my chest. "I've said my goodbyes."
I pulled her away from my body, looking into those chocolate brown eyes. "I loved you before and I will love you after."
Her heart beat steadily. She really was ready. There was no hesitation at all. "For eternity."
I kissed her warm lips one last time before moving down to her jugular, listening to the blood that flowed directly beneath before swiftly biting down. This was not a goodbye, but a hello.
We were now united; forever.
Ending Author's Note:
Wow. That is it folks. THE END. I really hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this story. Now, I have a favor to ask all of you. I don't really ask for reviews often, but I am here. I have over six hundred people that marked this story as a favorite, and over eight hundred people on Alert. If you have read my story and enjoyed it (or even if not), please take the time and answer the following question, even if it is just one line:
Why did you keep reading this story? What kept you interested?
I have a lot of people I want to thank and I know I am going to leave people out and that is not my intention at all so I am just going to mention a couple, but know that you all rock and your comments are so sweet and rewarding to me.
First Off, NavyGirl14 was the first person to favorite this story and has reviewed almost every chapter since. She has stuck with me from day one. Seriously, the fact that you saw potential in my story right from the get go meant a lot to me!
MissMaj, Bamababe, trampvamp, sparagus, and Clurabella: Thank you for your reviews and your awesome stories. When I couldn't write anything, your stories have provided much needed entertainment as I am sure they will in the future.
Some of you wrote extremely touching reviews and you do not know how on some days, that gave me the encouragement to continue with my novel even though there are days when I think my writing is complete and utter rubbish.
Maybe some day I will get motivation to write a sequel to this story or will write another long story like this one with Jasper and Bella… but for now, I am going focus on my novel (that and maybe some small revisions to this story down the road). Thank you all so much for sticking with me and reading this story… the fan-fiction community rocks and I am glad I found it!