Once again, doesn't belong to me. Thanks to my lovely beta. I may not be good at HTML, but um… I'm good at dirty talk?
Chapter four should be up in the next few days.
I made it to the library in record time; needing the silence and comfort that being alone with my thoughts brought me. I walked through the doors, across the foyer and down the stairs to a quiet alcove where there was an empty table with two chairs. I sat myself down and proceeded to spread my mess across the table. I didn't have time to muse as I felt a warm hand on my shoulder.
"Edward! You startled me! What are you doing here?"
He sat down next to me, close enough to touch, but nowhere near enough to be inappropriate. But that was always the case with Edward – he would never be close enough to touch, he'd never want me the way I wanted him to at any rate.
"I went by your place to see if you wanted to go over the English lit paper together, but you'd already gone by then. It's nice to see your brother still hates me."
"Edward, he doesn't hate you, he just doesn't know you. He'd love you if he knew you, everybody does."
I blushed to the roots of my hair, realising what I had said. The smirk on his face was evidence enough that Edward had caught on to my unintended double meaning. He reached across the table and grabbed my hand, lackadaisically rubbing his thumb across my palm. He kept making a figure eight, repeating it over and over again, the heat from his thumb spreading from my palm, up my arm and settling somewhere behind my heart. When it was just the two of us, it was always like this with Edward, I could feel the electricity between us, and he could too – no matter how much he ignored me when we were in the company of others. He turned his head downward toward the book he'd taken out for research, breaking our eye contact. I tried to concentrate on my work, but I had read the same sentence over and over again, and even then I couldn't tell you what it said. Edward's long fingers were now caressing my wrist, and my breathing had become shallow.
Edward flinched as if my wrist had burned him. Jasper looked from Edward to myself, and back again.
"Was I interrupting something?"
Edward raised his eyebrows in challenge.
"No, Bella and I were just studying. What's it to you, Whitlock?"
You could light kindling with the heat radiating from my face. I took a shuddering breath and looked up at Jasper.
"Jazz, nothing was going on. You know we're just friends. Don't make something out of nothing. We don't need to upset Tanya with unnecessary rumours"
Tanya wouldn't believe it anyway, but I didn't want to cause her the slightest bit of worry. Even though she was my true love's true love, I had come to think of Tanya as a close friend and the feeling, as far as I could tell, was mutual. That seemed to mollify Jasper, who grabbed a spare seat from nearby and sat in between Edward and I, and promptly placing his hand on top of mine. Edward's face darkened immediately.
"Why are you here, Jasper? You aren't in English Lit with Bella and I."
"I came by to see my Bells, Rose told me she was here."
Jasper's voice had a hard edge to it that I'd never heard before. Without thinking, I raised my free hand and cupped Jasper's face. Edward took a sharp breath as Jasper turned his head and kissed my palm.
"I can't wait until Friday."
The look on his face left no doubt that he was earnest. My eyes slid over to Edward who sat rigidly with a sneer on his face.
"What's happening on Friday?"
"I asked Bella to be my date for the law ball on Friday, and she said yes. You're going as Tanya's date, right?"
Jasper's smile lit up his face and I couldn't help but smile back at him. His hand squeezed mine and I sighed happily. Our moment was interrupted by the loud bang of Edward's fist on the table.
"When you two are done playing high school crush, come and find me Bella."
He stood up and stormed out. I watched him go as Jasper played with our interwoven fingers, looking as if I'd ripped his heart out when mine had followed Edward out the door.
My study session didn't last too much longer after that. Jasper left to leave me to study, and when I finally found Edward he treated me with cold silence. It was better to study on my own, then to sit with someone who clearly didn't want my company.
The sun was setting as I left the library, and I had almost reached my truck when I heard the happy giggle of Tanya Denali coming from my left. I didn't want to look in their direction, but it seemed as if I subconsciously wanted to cause myself pain. Edward was sitting on the brick wall that surrounded a small garden, Tanya was sitting on his lap, her head burrowed in his neck as he leaned down and said something in her ear, making her giggle more. It always amazed me how their displays of affections stabbed my heart, opening the wound that was never fully healed. I turned my head quickly as he captured her lips with his own. I had turned and was walking in the other direction when I heard Tanya call out to me.
"Bella! Bella! Come here lady, I've missed you!"
Tanya jogged over to me, looking like she stepped off the set of Baywatch. She smelled of expensive perfume as she hugged me.
"Bella, Edward was telling me that you're coming to the ball with Jasper. It's about time! I'm so excited! We can go get our hair done together!"
"Thanks Tan, but I think Rose is going to help me get ready, and I'm not one for hairdressers anyway."
I turned to greet Edward, who had made his way over to join us. His jaw clenched as he looked at me.
"Whitlock not here, then?"
"No, Jazz went home after…"
I trailed off, not wanting to alert Tanya to Edward's temper tantrum. She eyed us both warily as she smiled a smile that didn't reach her eyes.
"Did you want to join us for dinner, Bella? We're heading down to that Thai place down the road."
"No thanks. I've got to head home. Rose and Emmett will be wondering where I am."
Tanya hugged me again. "I'll see you Friday Bella. It's going to be so great… the four of us. It'll be just like a double date."
I just nodded, the lump in my throat making speech incapable. I nodded to Edward, and smiled a half-hearted smile to Tanya and cried all the way home.
Friday rolled around quickly. I hadn't seen Edward, except in my lecture where he sat as far from me as he possibly could or Tanya since my breakdown outside the library. I was annoyed that I had let my old habits resurface – I hadn't cried after seeing Tanya and Edward together in months, I didn't understand why I had relapsed. Jasper had also been giving me space, but he would call every day, letting me know how much he was looking forward to Friday, and how he was counting down the days.
I came home on Wednesday afternoon to find a stunning dark green gown hanging from my door. It was floor length and one shouldered, with a strap that crossed my back, and it was all Rose. She hugged me around the shoulders and put her chin on my head.
"Do you like it? I saw it and I knew it would make Jasper cream his pants, and I made Em buy it for you."
The tears welled up again. I was sick of crying.
"Rose, you didn't have to, but thank you. It's beautiful."
"Just make sure you make the most of it. Friday night is going to be special," she placed her hands on her stomach, "we can feel it."
Friday was a lazy day. I painted my nails, washed my hair and did a thorough hair removal. Rose had offered to do my hair, and Emmett had promised not to ruin it.
"Sit still Bella, before I hit you with this hairbrush." Rose was frustrated at my fidgeting.
"If you threaten my niece or nephew like that, I'll have no reason but to sue you for custody."
She smacked me with the brush and pulled a chunk of my hair up to sit high on my head.
"You're lucky it was a brush and not the curling iron."
I closed my eyes and let Rose do her thing. I sat through pulling, curling, pinning and hairspray. Finally, it stopped and I could feel Rose hovering behind me.
"Open your eyes and tell me you like it. I have a curling iron and I'm not afraid to use it."
My hair was beautiful. It was pulled back off my face, with long curls cascading down my back – it reminded me of something Angelina Jolie would have on the red carpet.
"Rose I love it. It's beautiful."
"I know. Don't cry, it'll ruin your make up."
Ten minutes later I was dressed and on my way down to greet Jasper at the door. He looked amazing in a chocolate brown suit, an ivory vest and a brown cravat at his neck. He took my breath away.
I heard his breath catch and looked up at him through my eyelashes. He walked over and pecked my lips. He pulled away and looked at me for permission when we heard Emmett bound into the room.
"Whitlock, watch where you put your hands. My father is the Chief of Police in Forks. I could kill you and he wouldn't bat an eyelid. Rosie wants to take pictures. Come on."
I rolled my eyes, and grabbed Jasper's hand, dragging him behind me as we followed Emmett into the living room. Rosalie was perched on the arm of the couch with her camera in hand and a smile on her face. She quickly bossed us into position as she took photos. She was scrolling through her photos with a smile on her face, when she smirked in Jasper's direction.
"My, my Jasper, don't we clean up well? What do you think of Bella's dress? Is it enough for the ball?"
It felt as if my heart would jump out of my chest when Jasper looked down at me, his blue eyes shone with adoration.
Emmett came bounding into the room at that very moment. It was as if he had an inbuilt detector for this sort of moment. His grin was large and his eyes were watery.
"Em, are you okay?"
"Yeah. Look, Bells, I want to give you something to wear tonight. It was mom's…"
"I don't want to wear anything she owned."
"Bella, she never wore it. Dad got it for her for birthday, the winter before she left. Dad and I walked around Port Angeles all day, and then we saw this and dad bought it straight away. I think he thought she would appreciate the cost and, I don't know, love him again or something. When she left, dad found it in the bottom of her closet. It wasn't even unwrapped…"
Emmett looked distraught at the memory. I was only five years old when my mother, Renee, walked out on us, but Emmett was thirteen and he could understand our father's devastation much better than I could. Charlie was broken and quiet for years, until he met his new wife Victoria.
"Anyway, Dad and I kept this for you. Sort of waiting until the right moment – we thought your wedding day, but tonight… well, tonight your life is going to go in a whole new direction."
He looked then at Jasper, who nodded once to acknowledge Emmett's unspoken message in the words. He was giving Jasper his blessing. He grabbed my hand and placed the delicate diamond tennis bracelet around my wrist. The simple beauty of it took my breath away.
"Em… I don't know what to say…"
"Don't say anything, just go and have fun. Listen to your heart for once Bells, and not your head."
He walked us to the door and as Jasper walked towards the car, Emmett gave me a fierce hug.
"I love you, Chunky Potato." he said reverting to my childhood nickname.
"I love you too, Em. You and Rosalie. Thank you."
I turned away before Emmett saw the tears in my eyes and walked towards Jasper.
We reached the hotel ballroom where the ball was being held faster than I had realised. The drive had been quiet, Jasper humming quietly to the best of Eric Clapton CD he had in his car the only sound as I sat looking out the window, lost in thought.
The ballroom was huge, and a band was setting up on a stage that over looked the dance floor. The space was dimly lit, with the candles that were flickering adding to the mood, rather than brightening the room. Jasper had spotted some friends, and one of his law professors and I told him I was going to the bathroom to freshen up. In reality, I was hiding a behind a potted tree like a little girl playing hide and seek with her friends. Well, it wasn't too far of a stretch, as I was hiding from the only three people on my Christmas card list. Just then I saw Edward come to stand near my hiding spot. He looked resplendent in a black dinner and matching black bowtie. His reddish-brown hair was slicked back and he was freshly shaved. My heart beat faster as I took in his beauty, and it only calmed once I realised Tanya was by his side. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a severe bun, and her strapless black dress fell to the floor. They looked like they had stepped off a runway from Fashion Week in Paris, and decided to drop by for the night. I decided to shrink further into the shadows.
"Edward!" Tanya hissed through clenched teeth, "What's wrong with you? Can you calm down, please?"
"Nothing is wrong, Tanya. Keep your voice down! People are looking."
"I don't care if they are looking, Edward, these are my colleagues, not yours. I should be the one caring what they think. Not you. What is wrong? Talk to me, please. Is it Jasper and –"
Edward looked angry and turned away, but Tanya wasn't backing down. She took a step towards him and grabbed his bicep.
"Edward, please talk to me… I love you."
Edward turned back, grabbed Tanya's face and leant in and kissed her lips. My heart couldn't take it anymore and I walked away, over to find Jasper. I spotted his blonde hair from across the room and strode over to him, placing my arms around his waist from behind and pressing my cheek into his back. He grabbed my hand and kissed my knuckles one by one as he walked us over to our table, still joined by my arms around him. When we reached our destination, he spun me around to face him.
"Stay here, I'm going to go get us some champagne. I'll be right back."
He pressed a kiss to my hair and strode off towards a waiter with a tray of drinks. I surveyed the room for Edward and Tanya but they were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps their fight led to an uncontrollable bout of passion and they had to go home to bed immediately? My heart hurt at the mere thought. I could feel someone behind me, and I turned to face what I assumed would be Jasper.
"About time I was getting thirsty –"
"Excuse me miss, is this table 34 –"
Edward and I had spoken at the same time, and I smiled up at him. I could tell from the look on his face he didn't immediately recognise me.
"Yes, Edward, you are sitting next to me and Tanya is next to you. I checked the seating arrangements on my way in."
His mouth dropped open, and his eyes perused my body, stopping only when they met my own.
"Bella? You look so beautiful."
"Can't believe it's plain old me, hey Edward? I mean, I don't usually appear on your radar, so it's no surprise you didn't notice me now."
"I always notice you Bella, even when I don't want to, even when I shouldn't…"
Jasper and Tanya appeared then – Jasper looking upset and Tanya looking suspiciously between Edward and I. Edward reached out and pulled her to his side, his arm sitting upon her hip possessively. She noticeably moved away from him, and touched my hand.
"You look amazing, Bella."
Her eyes held unshed tears. I tried to diffuse the uncomfortable atmosphere.
"Oh, it's all Rose, not me."
"Bella, all she did was add to the gorgeous woman that is you and made you sparkle a bit more. Isn't that right Edward?"
Edward opened his mouth but it was Jasper who answered, "She's the most beautiful woman in the world."
I smiled at him and cupped his cheek. As he leaned into the warmth of my palm, Edward made a spectacle of sitting at his appointed seat. Half way through dinner, Jasper placed his hand on my thigh and I jumped at the unexpected contact, pushing my other leg against Edward's. He eyed Jasper wearily and I moved my leg away from his, muttering an apology as I did so. After a minute wherein I felt the loss of contact, he moved his thigh back beside mine, ever so gently. If Edward meant anything by it, he didn't show it – in fact he looked calm and in control. Perhaps, I was reading too much into it, it wouldn't be the first time.
Dinner and speeches passed without incident, Edward's thigh still pressed against mine. The band started up and Jasper grabbed my hand.
"My lady, can I have this dance?"
He guided me to the middle of the floor, and we were followed by Tanya and Edward, who took up the spot next to us. Jasper tugged me closer to him; until I was almost standing on his toes, as the band started playing You Don't Know Me, I laid my head on Jasper's chest, gently nuzzling my cheek against it, and looked over at Edward, who was now in a heated argument with Tanya. She pushed away from him and ran towards the bathroom. Edward followed in the same direction but stood on the outskirts on the dance floor, his eyes locked on me.
You give your hand to me
And then you say hello
I can hardly speak
My heart is beating so
And anyone can tell
You think you know me well
But you don't know me
I looked over at Edward and wrapped my arms around Jasper a little bit tighter. Edward's eyes narrowed, but he didn't look away.
Oh you don't know the one
That thinks of you at night
Who longs to kiss your lips
And yearns to squeeze you tight
No I'm just a friend
That's all I've ever been
You just don't know me
I never knew the art of making love
Though my heart aches with
love for you
Afraid and shy, I let my chance go by
The chance that you
might love me too
I closed my eyes and looked up at Jasper, who was looking at Edward like he would give his right arm to walk over there and beat him to death. I ran my hand through the hair at the back of his neck.
"Jazz, don't worry about him. Let's just dance. Let's just be us."
Jasper placed three gentle kisses on my lips and rubbed his nose along my own. It was the single most romantic thing that had ever happened to me. I took my hands from his shoulders and wrapped them around his waist again, looking back at Edward, who was now following an angry Tanya towards the entrance to the ballroom. He stopped and looked back at me, before he exited and took a bit of my heart with him.
You give your hand to me
And then you say
I watch you walk away
Beside the lucky guy
You'll never, never
The one who loves you so
You just don't know me
I never knew
the art of making love
Though my heart aches with love for you
shy, I let my chance go by
The chance that you might love me too
give your hand to me
And then you say goodbye
I watch you walk
Beside the lucky guy
Who'll never, never know
The one who loves
You just don't know me
You'll never, ever know
you just don't know me
Jasper pulled away from me, as the band started playing Bryan Adams' I'm Ready.
"Bella, I know I'm not Edward. I never will be, and I never want to be. But I love you, Bella. I love you so much, that when I look at you, you're everything I want for my future. The first day I saw you in Forks, I followed you around the grocery store like a stalker, just wanting to look at you. I've never seen anything so beautiful…"
like to see ya thought I'd let you know
I wanna be with you everyday
Cause I got a feelin' that's beginning to grow
And there's only one thing I can say
He kissed me then, and I felt myself respond.
"I want to be with you, Bella. I know you feel something for me… not as strong, but I'm willing to wait. I'd wait forever for you, Bells."
To love you
To hold you
To love you
To hold you
I'm ready as I'm gonna be
I was never going to be happy with the way things were now; constantly pining over someone I could never have and who didn't want me in return. With Jasper though, I could have some semblance of happiness. So with that thought, I firmly locked the piece of my heart that belonged to Edward away, never to open it again, and I kissed Jasper. We both deserved to be happy and I was willing to try for the both of us.