Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.

A/N: This fic is dedicated to Little Miss Whitlock.

I started my day like any other, getting out of bed and walking down the hall toward the kitchen. I'd figured out early on that if I expected to have a decent cup of coffee in the morning, it was best to ready the machine the night before, as I was never awake enough to add the correct amount of grinds or water this early.

After grumbling in the general direction of the dishes that I'd left in the sink the night before, I remembered that I'd run out of grounds yesterday and had forgotten to go to the store after work. If this was any indication of how my day was going to go, I knew I was in trouble.

With an exasperated sigh, I ran my hands over my face before looking through the kitchen window out toward the sand dunes. When I noticed the seagulls circling the bright blue sky, I couldn't help but be happy that at least they were going to have a good day.

After a few moments of watching them soar along the winds that came off of the ocean, I felt a bit better about my morning. I walked back toward my room to get ready for the day, hoping that a warm shower would make up for my lack of caffeine. Well, at least it's Friday, I thought to myself.

The small clinic where I worked remained busy throughout the week, but things seemed to run at a much slower pace every Friday. Because it was a small practice in Port Aransas, the small island town on the outskirts of the city, we had patients that came in on a regular basis. I loved that Rita came in every Wednesday morning for her allergy shots and that Mrs. Brown would be coming in this afternoon for her weekly blood pressure check at three o'clock.

I was lucky, really, to have done so well for myself by the age of twenty-four. I'd graduated just last year from the nursing program at the Texas A&M extension campus in Corpus Christi, and I loved my job at the clinic. I was also lucky enough to have made several really good friends over the years that understood all of my silly quirks, including my love for eighties pop music. Tomorrow was the first official day of summer, and I couldn't wait to spend the entire day at the beach with them.

For now, though, it was just another Friday morning and I needed to head into work. Luckily, my commute was only about five minutes, so I stopped by the local bakery to pick up a croissant and latte for both myself and Angela, the receptionist. Even though Fridays were slow, my lack of caffeine was beginning to catch up with me.

When I arrived at the clinic at ten 'til eight, I greeted Dr. Mathis before I made my way to the front desk. "Morning," I called through Angela's open sliding glass window. She smiled up at me as I leaned down and set her latte and croissant before her on her desk.

"I could kiss you, Alice," she said, eyeing her coffee appreciatively.

"I take it you're happy that I went ahead and got us both an extra shot of espresso this morning?" I asked her. "I know I need the extra caffeine."

Her usual smile made way for an ear-to-ear grin, and I chuckled at her before looking over at the stack of patients' charts sitting next to her computer. "How many do we have for today?"

"Oh nothing major," she started, thumbing through the thick stack. "Just twenty or so, and just think – that's not including walk-ins!"

I grimaced at the thought as she said, "Go enjoy your coffee before all hell breaks loose."

So much for a nice, slow day to end my work-week.

I couldn't help but laugh at the sympathetic look she shot me before I walked back to my office. After flipping on the lights and unlocking the medicine cabinet, I sat down at my desk to go through some paperwork. My latte had perfumed the air around me, and I was just about to take my first sip when Angela's voice chimed in through my phone intercom. "Our first patient is here, Alice."

I took a hasty sip and swore under my breath because my caffeine boost was still rather hot. So it's gonna be one of those kinds of days, I thought as I grabbed the black stethoscope that was hooked on the back of my office door. Luckily, the day passed by quickly and without incident. Mrs. Brown must have been a bit late for her weekly blood pressure check because as I said my goodbyes to her, I was surprised to find that it was already four o'clock. We had only one patient left in an exam room, and the doctor was already speaking with him.

I walked up to the front office and found Angela filing charts. "Is Mr. Henderson the last patient for the afternoon?" I asked her.

"Yes, I believe so," she answered as she finished filing. "So hopefully we'll be out of here in ten minutes," she continued, sitting down at her desk and thumbing through the thick stack of charts for next Monday's patients.

"We'll see about that," I said, not wanting to jinx our chances of leaving early.

I returned to my desk to finish up the week's last bit of paperwork as Dr. Mathis came in to ask for a referral for Mr. Henderson. I smiled and began to fill out the request but stopped short as Angela poked her head around the corner and asked if Dr. Mathis would take a walk-in. Apparently a young man had received a fairly large cut and thought it might require stitches. When the doctor looked up at the clock perched above my desk, I let my gaze follow his. It was only a quarter after four, and I knew exactly what that meant.

"Sure thing, Angela," he said, and she walked back toward the front office to prepare the new chart after she caught my knowing gaze. Dr. Mathis returned his attention to me and said, "As soon as you give Mr. Henderson his referral, could you prepare a syringe with 20 ccs of Lidocaine for me?"

I hid my smile. I'd known he'd ask for Lidocaine – he always liked to be prepared just in case a patient required stitches. "Of course, Doctor," I answered. "Would you like me to set up a sterile tray as well?"

"Yes, please," he said with a kind smile. I followed him into the small suture room and watched as he retrieved a disposable suture kit, the last of a package of sterile four-by-four gauze squares, and a pair of size eight sterile gloves. After he placed a small bottle of iodine next to the other supplies, he turned to me and said, "That should be about it, I think. Thank you, Alice."

"You're welcome, sir. I'll prepare the tray and call you when I have the patient ready," I said, and Dr. Mathis nodded before going to his office.

When I returned to my office, I finished filling out the referral slip that I'd placed on my desk and walked to the exam room Mr. Henderson was waiting in. "If you'd like to follow me," I said, popping my head through the door. He rose from the exam table as I said, "I'll take you up to the front office so that Angela can schedule your follow-up appointment."

We walked up to the front office, and I handed Angela a copy of the referral form to fax over to the specialist's office. As soon as Mr. Henderson was all set, I returned to the suture room to prepare for our next patient. While setting various items on the tray, I recalled that we were using the last of the sterile four-by-fours, so I reached up to the supply cabinet, checking for more. It was empty, so I made a mental note to restock from the supply I kept in my office before heading home. Just as I closed the cabinet door, Angela called down the hall. "Alice, I have the new chart ready."

I arranged the items as Dr. Mathis preferred and placed a sterile pad across the top before I walked up to the front office. Angela handed me the new chart, and I leaned down and whispered, "Cross your fingers and hope that it's a small cut. I really want to get out of here."

She picked up her hand to show that her pointer and middle fingers were intertwined. I let out a small laugh before I walked around the corner toward the waiting area, looking through the demographic sheet on top of the new patient's chart.

When I opened the door to the waiting room, I had to look down once more to see what name I was about to call out – Jasper Whitlock. Hmm, that's an interesting name, I thought as I said it aloud. His name was still on the tip of my tongue, ringing in my ears. It sounded very old-fashioned, so I was surprised to read that he was only twenty-six years old.

I held the door open with my right arm as I continued to look over his information and felt him pass by me. As I let the door fall closed, I turned and walked toward the triage room. "Follow me please," I said as I absentmindedly thumbed through his chart.

The triage room was set up just down the hall from the waiting room and contained a small exam table. A long countertop that held a sink and an antibacterial soap dispenser sat along one wall, while a scale was placed by the door. After setting his chart down by the sink, I quickly washed my hands. While I retrieved the thermometer from the cabinet above it, I asked him to remove his shoes and step up onto the scale behind me.

The paper on the exam table rustled behind me, and I assumed he'd sat down to remove his shoes, but when I heard the unmistakable sound of two flip-flops hitting the floor, my curiosity got the better of me. As the scale shifted under his weight, I glanced over my shoulder to see what had caused the paper to slide along the table. I found a small black and white composition notebook set upon it, along with a set of keys and a small black cell phone.

Once I'd dried my hands and made sure that I had a pen to write down his vital signs, I turned to face my patient. "So, Mr. Whitlock," I began, looking up at his face for the first time. "What exactly are we…"

Oh.

Oh, I'm in trouble.

This man is gorgeous.

This was definitely a problem. I was supposed to be his nurse. I was supposed to act like a professional. I was supposed to stop staring at him.

When he looked at me with a curious expression upon his face and his head cocked to one side, I realized that I had stopped speaking mid-sentence. "Umm," I began again. "Uh, I meant to ask what it was that you were being seen for today, Mr. Whitlock."

His eyes were trained upon my own, and I saw that a small smile had formed on his full lips. I shook my head to break me from my apparent stupor and walked over to him. I began fiddling with the weights on the scale, sliding them back and forth to occupy my hands. When I was finally satisfied that I had an accurate reading, and when I could no longer delay looking back up at his perfect face, I took a few steps back. I realized that he'd been speaking to me and tried to focus on what he was saying, instead of simply focusing on his mouth.

"We were on a dive out at the Flower Gardens," he said, looking down at me.

I shook my head once again and asked, "Excuse me?"

He must have realized that I was a bit lost because he smiled and said, "The coral reef a few miles out from shore," to elaborate. I felt the heat rise to my cheeks as I realized that he'd caught on to the fact that I was not paying attention when he'd begun speaking. I nodded my head in an attempt to show him that I was definitely listening to him now.

"Anyway, I guess I got a bit too close and…" he continued, but I had trouble honing in on what it was that he said after that. I couldn't very well pay attention to his story when he lifted up one side of his t-shirt, revealing not only the angry red three-inch laceration just under his ribcage, but also his taut back, toned abs, and the deep V cut of the muscles peeking out just above his faded dark wash jeans.

I tried to inconspicuously clear my throat, but I must have gotten his attention, because he stepped down off of the scale, and I blindly gestured toward the exam table. I turned back to his chart to not only tear my eyes from him but to occupy my hands. As I wrote down his weight, I tried to clear my head before I had to continue assessing his vital signs.

I swallowed thickly as I turned around and made it a point to focus my gaze on the blood pressure cuff affixed to the wall instead of openly gaping at him. I slipped the cuff around his muscled arm and jammed the ear buds of my stethoscope in, keeping my eyes trained on the inner juncture of his elbow.

Pressing the diaphragm of my stethoscope to his skin with my left hand, I pumped the cuff with my right, tightening it around his arm. Once it was taut, I slowly began releasing the pressure and let my eyes travel up the length of his arm where they landed on the gauge attached to the wall just behind his shoulder. When I heard his strong pulse thump in my ears once again, I took the reading but swore that I'd heard him speaking to me.

I unscrewed the dial, releasing the pressure from the cuff around his arm, and removed my ear buds. "I'm sorry," I questioned. "I didn't catch what you said."

I zeroed in on his lips as he spoke. "I asked what the damage was," he said, gesturing towards the gauge on the wall.

"Oh, umm, it was one-twenty over eighty. You're perfect," I answered, and he smiled at my choice of words. "Uh, what I meant to say was that your blood pressure is perfectly normal."

I was mortified, and the blush rising through my cheeks was only making it worse. You're perfect? Had I really just said that aloud? I felt like an idiot – an unprofessional idiot at that.

Turning from him, I logged his blood pressure in his chart and reached for the thermometer I'd set down earlier. I slipped a protective cover around the bulb and turned back to Jasper. As I reached toward his mouth, I watched, transfixed, as he parted his lips for me ever so slowly. It was the longest thirty seconds of my life as I held the thermometer there, and his full, pursed lips were only making things worse. Finally, the blasted thing beeped, signaling that it had taken its reading, so I retrieved it.

After I threw the protective cover from the thermometer into the trash, I wrote down Jasper's temperature in his chart and noticed that the line labeled "pulse" was still blank. I closed my eyes and took a cleansing breath to regain my senses, hoping that I could remain as professional as possible when I turned back around. I exhaled slowly and said, "I just need to take your pulse before we can move to the exam room," as I turned toward him.

He nodded as I walked over to him, and I took his wrist between my thumb and pointer finger. His skin was soft and warm, and I felt his blood pulsing through his veins beneath my touch. I noticed how the sun had bleached the hair on his thick, muscled forearms. Then I realized that I should have been counting along with a secondhand the entire time I'd been holding his arm. As I raised my watch to my line of vision, I could have sworn I saw a small smirk grace his lips.

I released his wrist as soon as I had calmed down enough for at least a fifteen second count and simply multiplied by four to get a somewhat accurate estimate of his pulse. If I had to hold onto his skin for a full sixty seconds, I was sure to spontaneously combust.

Once I'd logged that his pulse was more or less eighty beats per minute, I closed the chart and held it to my chest. I walked to the doorway and said, "Follow me please," as I stepped out into the hallway. The paper on the exam table shifted once more as he hopped off and slipped his brown leather flip flops back on.

He walked out of the triage room, and I turned the corner to lead him down toward the suture room. When I opened the door, I motioned to the exam table with a wave of my hand. "Go ahead and take a seat," I said, pushing the sterile tray out of his way.

Jasper hopped up on the exam table and I said, "I have one last question," as he situated himself. "Do you have any known allergies to medication?"

With a slight accent, he looked into my eyes and said, "No, ma'am." I pressed his chart to my chest, trying to steady my accelerated breathing as I looked at him. His blonde hair had fallen into his eyes in the most alluring way, and when he reached up to push the stray lock from in front of his eyes, I bit my lip.

The chart I was holding slipped down a few inches from my grasp as I nodded in response to his answer. As I backed up toward the door and fumbled behind me for the doorknob, I felt the need to remind myself to remain courteous and professional, so I said, "The doctor will be with you shortly, Mr. Whitlock."

His eyes traveled from my own, and they lingered on my lips for a moment before settling on my chest. My lips parted and formed a small "o" of shock, and I wasn't sure what to say or do until I noticed that his gaze now rested on my own again. "Thank you… Alice," he said, drawing out my name with his Southern drawl.

For a moment, I was confused as to how he knew my name until I looked down and found the ridiculous ID badge pinned to the pocket on my scrubs. I heard him suppress a small laugh and realized that I was looking at my own chest. With a huff, I brought his chart up to cover myself again before I turned to walk out of the room, closing the door behind me.

What the world was that? I asked myself. I prided myself on being a consummate professional, and my behavior during the last ten minutes was anything but. I'd never had that sort of reaction toward a patient before, and if I was being completely honest with myself, I'd never had that reaction toward a man before either.

Looking down the hall toward Dr. Mathis' office, I saw the small clock hanging on the wall, and it seemed to break me out of whatever stupor I'd allowed myself to get lost in. I shook my head before I brought the chart to the doctor and handed him the syringe of Lidocaine I'd prepared before retreating back to my small office.

After waiting for the doctor to ask for my assistance for about twenty minutes, I began to get a bit anxious. I could hear not only Dr. Mathis' chuckle, but what must have been Jasper's laugh coming from the suture room. Finally, Dr. Mathis appeared in my doorway and asked for a few more sterile four-by-four gauze squares.

"Did I not put enough out on the tray?" I asked, cocking my head to one side.

"I was sure we'd have enough, but when I looked, there were only a few laid out. The Lidocaine should have taken effect by now, so why don't you grab a new package and meet me in the suture room when you're ready," he said.

"Yes, sir," I replied before he turned to leave.

I found a new package of four-by-fours in my small supply closet and grabbed them, even though I knew that I'd placed more than three out on the tray. I shuffled slowly toward the suture room, and when I reached the door I walked through, gauze in hand. Though I was nervous to be near Jasper again, I tried my best to not let my nerves get the better of me.

I avoided looking directly at him, choosing instead to walk over to the counter to set the gauze down. I could practically feel his eyes upon my back as I washed my hands and opened a pair of sterile gloves. After I slipped them on, I turned and felt my breath catch in my throat.

Jasper was lying back along the exam table, bare to the waist. His broad shoulders caught my eye first, and I was forced to grasp onto the counter for support as he lifted his right arm and placed it behind his head, preparing for his stitches. I let my eyes travel down his chest and found them drawn to the line of sun-bleached hair that disappeared beneath the waistband of his jeans.

Dr. Mathis wheeled forward on his stool, effectively blocking my view. He poked and prodded the skin just around the area of Jasper's wound and asked, "Can you feel it when I do this?"

I swallowed thickly and tore my eyes from his bare chest. Professional, I thought to myself. Be professional, Alice...

I looked back up to findJasper's eyes trained upon my own. It took him a moment, but when he realized that the doctor was awaiting his response, he turned to him and asked, "I'm sorry, what?"

"Right about here," Dr. Mathis said, poking along his laceration. "Can you feel anything here?" Jasper shook his head, and his lack of reaction seemed to satisfy the doctor.

Dr. Mathis turned to me expectantly and asked for the supplies he'd need to begin. I passed the iodine he requested along with the few four-by-fours that were readily available before I reached for the new package and added a generous amount to the tray.

While Dr. Mathis stitched up the wound, I focused on watching his steady hands, but I could feel Jasper's eyes trained on me. When the doctor completed his sixth and final stitch, he applied a large white bandage over the area.

I busied myself with the tray, disposing of the materials that were used in a biohazard container as Dr. Mathis gave instructions to keep the wound clean and dry. "I want to see you again in seven to ten days so we can remove these. Also, you're going to need to take a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Although, I suppose that we could give you an injection while you're here."

His last sentence made me stop dead in my tracks. The dose for that kind of an antibiotic was quite large and would need to be given in the largest muscle available. I didn't know how I would be able to stay upright if Jasper dropped his drawers and I had to give him an injection in the behind.

"Actually… I think it would be best if I went ahead and prescribed something a bit stronger that you could take orally," Dr. Mathis said with a thoughtful expression, putting an end to my impending panic. I turned, only to find that Jasper had grabbed his t-shirt and was now pulling it over his head and pushing his arms through the sleeves.

I bit my lip again. Since when did watching a man put his shirt on become sexy?

I swallowed the lump that was forming in the back of my throat and took the prescription Dr. Mathis handed me. He turned back toward Jasper and said, "Alice here will walk you up to the front where you can schedule your next appointment with Angela. Do you have any other questions for me?"

"No, I think I've got it. Thanks a lot, Doc," Jasper said, standing up and extending his hand to shake the doctor's.

"Alright, but just remember to try as hard as you can to not get the area wet, okay?" Dr. Mathis said as he shook his hand. Jasper nodded his head, and when the doctor left, he turned toward me. When his eyes found my own, I dropped my gaze to the floor and walked out into the hall, leading him to Angela's open window.

"Seven days?" Angela asked as I set Jasper's prescription down on the small ledge. I nodded and gave them both a weak smile before I turned on my heel and walked away. I felt like a coward for not asking if he had any questions for me, but he'd left me completely tongue-tied, and I feared what would come out of my mouth if I did speak.

I returned to my office, and after I locked up the medicine cabinet, I turned off the lights. Dr. Mathis met me in the hall as I was locking my door, so I turned toward him and asked if there was anything else he needed me to do before I left for the day.

"Oh no, not a thing, Alice," he answered with a smile. "Have a nice weekend."

We walked down the hallway toward the back door and I said, "You too, sir, and please tell Mrs. Mathis that I said hello."

"I will. Good night, Alice," he said as we parted ways in the parking lot.

As I walked out to where I'd parked my car, I thought about how my day had gone and how disappointed I was in myself. I felt like I'd been completely unprofessional around a patient, openly staring at him and fumbling around like a teenager. I reached my door and got into my car, and as I turned the key in the ignition, I was glad to find that the last CD I'd been listening to was a compilation of Wham's greatest hits. The catchy beats helped distract me from my thoughts as I drove to the grocery store.

By the time I arrived, I was feeling a bit better, but I didn't feel like being out in public for too long, so I shopped quickly. When I got home, I put away my groceries and made a quick batch of chicken salad for the beach trip tomorrow. After I put it in the refrigerator to set overnight, I quickly cleaned up then headed for bed; I simply couldn't wait to put an end to the day.

The next morning, instead of being awoken by my alarm clock, I heard someone pounding on my front door. I pried my eyes open one by one, and saw that is was already 9:45 in the morning. The loud knocking echoed throughout my apartment again, and I knew it only meant one thing – Emmett was here, and he was hungry.

I groaned as I got out of bed, feeling as though I hadn't moved a muscle all night. I plodded down the hall, and once I reached the entryway, I heard Emmett call out, "I know you're awake in there. You never sleep past eight-thirty in the morning!"

I smiled as I looked through the peephole because Emmett had his face pressed up against it, looking right back at me. "I see you," he said as his eyes widened.

I laughed and opened the door, hiding my body behind it. I was still in yesterday's scrubs, and I was completely embarrassed about it. Emmett barged in like he owned the place, and Rose followed in behind him. She and I had met during nursing school, and after she introduced me to her husband, the three of us had become fast friends.

I knew Em was headed straight for the kitchen, but I sensed that Rosalie stopped in the entryway just behind me. I had no choice but to shut the door and face her. She eyed my appearance before a scowl appeared on her face. "Mary Alice, did you sleep in your clothes?"

"Afraid so," I replied, reaching up and rubbing my left eye with the back of my hand. I slid it through my hair and could feel that it was matted to my head in some places and sticking straight up in others.

Emmett called out from the kitchen to ask if I was making my "famous" chicken salad for lunch. He unintentionally saved me from the lecture I knew his wife was cooking up about not only sleeping in my clothes but also for forgetting to wash my face before bed. I turned my attention back to Emmett, where he was looking at me through the large cutout between my living room and kitchen and said, "Yes, Em. It's in the fridge."

"Marry me?" he asked with a smile.

I laughed and shook my head. "Aren't you already sort of taken?"

Rose smirked and said, "You can have him, honey."

I smiled and told her that I'd be right back as I mimed the act of brushing my teeth. I skittered off to my bedroom and tugged my scrubs off to put on my black and white flowered bikini. After I dressed, I opened the bottom drawer of my dresser and pulled out an old pair of shorts. They were black with a small white stripe running down either side, and they matched my suit well enough for an afternoon of fun at the beach.

In the bathroom, I tried in vain to fix my hair, but gave up quickly on brushing it, instead opting to wet it down and swirl it around with a towel. After five minutes of struggling with it, I admitted defeat, brushed my teeth, and washed my face. Once I patted my face dry with a towel, I shoved a pair of sunglasses on top of my head, and looked into the mirror to appraise my appearance. Well, it could be better, I thought, but I really could not have cared less. Bella and Edward were joining us, but my best friends knew not to judge my appearance before I had my morning cup of coffee.

Bella was my oldest and dearest friend; we'd grown up together in a small town thirty minutes north of Corpus Christi. She and Edward had been together for as long as I could remember, and after the three of us graduated high school, we all decided to attend A&M in Corpus together. Edward and Bella had married just last fall, and they bought a small house just down the road from me.

When the doorbell rang pulling me from my thoughts, Rose called out, "I'll get it."

Not two minutes later, I heard hear Emmett's booming laughter quickly followed by Edward's. I figured I'd wasted enough time getting ready for the day, so I walked out into the living room carrying an armful of beach towels. I found all of my best friends joking around with each other and loved that we were able to spend the day together.

Rose and Bella got to work on packing up a small ice chest with food while I loaded the larger one with drinks. Edward and Emmett were busy dragging folding chairs and a large umbrella from my back porch storage unit through my apartment when Rose yelled, "Try not to get sand all over everything, boys." Emmett laughed at his wife and offered to trade jobs with her, but I knew that Rosalie didn't want to lug heavy objects out to their Jeep.

Once everything from my storage unit was loaded, Edward locked up as Emmett walked into the kitchen. He wrapped his arms around Rose's waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. "We'll meet you down there, baby," he whispered into her ear before he turned his head toward Bella and me. "Do you girls need anything?"

We both shook our heads, and Emmett refocused his attention on his wife. "Do you need anything, baby?"

"No," she said with a smile, turning her face to meet his. "We're all set." She gave him a small kiss before they grabbed the large drink cooler to load it into the Jeep. Edward stopped Rose at the door and took the cooler from her, and the boys left to drive the Jeep down to the beach.

Rose, Bella, and I finished packing up the food and walked down to the beach through the sand dunes. We quickly found that the boys had already arrived. Emmett was setting the umbrella in the sand, and Edward was putting a few of our low folding chairs along the water's edge. As soon as he spotted us, he jogged over and took the cooler from Bella and placed a small kiss on her nose. She crinkled it and bit her lip shyly as he pulled away, and he smiled and set our food down next to the drink cooler.

We sat down at the water's edge, letting the waves lazily lap at our feet as we soaked up the morning sun. The day turned hot and dry, and it was the perfect weather for playing in the surf, so we swam and splashed around for a few hours. As I lathered on more sunscreen in the late afternoon, Edward and Emmett tossed a Frisbee back and forth to each other.

When the sun began to set in the early evening, Edward and Bella went for a stroll up the beach, and I decided to call it a day. I began gathering trash and folding towels, and Emmett started taking down the umbrella.

As Edward and Bella returned and helped pack up, I saw a truck pull up next to our Jeep in my peripheral vision. The song playing through their open windows was a welcome break from the cawing of seagulls and the lack of conversation amongst my friends as we packed up. Even though the tune was familiar to me, I couldn't seem to place the song. However as soon as I heard the lyrics, I instantly recognized it.

"Careless Whisper" was one of my favorite ballads from the eighties, and I was shocked to find that I really liked this new version as well. I was just beginning to hum along when the music abruptly cut off, and the sound of laughter cut through the sudden silence.

When I turned to investigate its source, my breath caught in my throat. Jasper was standing in the bed of a tall black Toyota pickup wearing nothing but a pair of green board shorts that hung dangerously low on his hips. I couldn't help but notice how defined his arms were as he huffed and pushed an ice chest toward the end of the open tailgate. Once he had it positioned where he wanted it, he jumped off into the sand and laughed at his friends as they tossed a football back and forth to each other.

I bit my lip as he ran after the taller of the two and watched in wonder as he tackled him to the sand. His skin glistened with sweat under the late afternoon sun, and the toned muscles of his back flexed and strained as he wrestled his friend for the ball. I let my eyes roam his form freely but felt them narrow as they came to rest on a large, white bandage.

Before I even knew what I was doing, I set down the towel I'd been folding and walked straight for him. The man he'd tackled noticed me approaching, threw Jasper off of him, and stood.

Jasper peered up at me with his hand cupped over his brow with one eye closed, in an attempt to block out the sun. His two buddies looked at each other with questioning glances before they shrugged and headed off to the water, tossing the football between them as they walked.

"You're supposed to keep that clean," I said with an accusing tone once we were alone. "And dry." I pointed down at his bandage as I continued. "You could get an infection." I watched as he sat up and wiped the sand from his shins.

"Hello, Alice," he said with a small smile forming on his full lips. I noticed a small dimple in his left cheek and idly wondered how I had missed it yesterday.

I looked away from his cute smile when I processed what he'd just said and bit my lip, embarrassed that I'd barged over and started yelling at him without so much as a friendly "hello."

I took a few calming breaths, but I couldn't seem to keep my voice steady as I asked, "What are you doing at the beach? It's going to be hard to keep it dry in the ocean, you know."

"Well, I came to the beach to have fun. Isn't that why you're here, Alice? To have fun?" he asked, showing a hint of his dimple once more. I bit my tongue and looked down, shifting my weight from foot to foot and pinching the sand between my toes. "Alice," he said softly, making me meet his gaze again. "I promise that I'm not getting in the water."

I was just about to start muttering my apologies when Emmett walked up. "Is everything okay here?" he asked, putting his arm around my shoulder. I looked up at Em's face, nodding in response with a small smile.

I peered back at Jasper and swore that I saw his brow furrow and his eyes burn with anger. Before I could question it, however, his expression smoothed as his eyes met my own.

"You ready?" Emmett asked, squeezing my shoulder.

I looked into my friend's concerned face again. "Yes, I'm ready. Let's go."

The two men between me nodded to each other in a polite gesture, and I managed to say a meek, "Goodbye," to Jasper before Emmett turned me around and led me toward his Jeep. I looked over my shoulder as I walked and found Jasper's gaze focused upon me. For a split second, he balled his fists and flared his nostrils before he turned on his heel to join his friends down by the shore.

Emmett steered me to the passenger side of his Jeep, and when I climbed up on Rosalie's lap, I asked if Edward and Bella had walked back to my apartment. She said they had, and I could see the unspoken questions in her eyes. I shook my head as if to say, we'll talk about it later, and she nodded.

Emmett hopped up into the driver's seat, and when he turned the key in the ignition, the one hit wonder "Take On Me" by a-ha filled the silence that had settled between us. I smiled as he immediately started belting out the chorus of the song in a screeching, high pitched voice. "Take on me, take me on. I'll be gone…"

"Oh God, Emmett, please don't," Rose said in an exasperated voice.

"In a day or twoooooo…" he squealed, his voice cracking after a few seconds. By the time we arrived back to my apartment, I'd all but forgotten the look on Jasper's face as I left the beach.

The next morning, Bella called to invite me to go shopping with her for a few things she still needed for her kitchen. We had fun looking at all of the latest and greatest gadgets, coming up with alternate uses for each. After spending the afternoon together giggling, we weren't ready to part ways just yet, so we met up with Edward for an early dinner. We laughed throughout the meal as we tried in vain to explain to him our ideas for a cheese grater that we'd found absolutely fascinating at the store. As I headed home, I couldn't help but think about how blessed I was to have such wonderful friends in my life.

When I woke up Monday morning, I felt relaxed and rested. I was still disappointed in myself for acting like I had around Jasper, but I looked forward to putting the incident behind me. Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to shake everything that had happened between us at the clinic or at the beach from my mind that day – or for the remainder of the week, for that matter.

I'd made it a point to act polite and courteous with all of the patients during the week, and seeing Mrs. Brown again this afternoon would help tremendously. She brought in new pictures of her grandchildren every Friday for me to fawn over, and since Dr. Mathis had kept me on my toes for much of the afternoon, her kind, familiar face was a welcome addition to my day.

When I finished recording her blood pressure reading onto her chart, I walked Mrs. Brown up to the front office. After Angela and I commented on how big her grandkids were getting, Angela informed me that our last patient for the day was ready to be called back. I said my goodbyes to Mrs. Brown as I walked her out to the waiting room and glanced down at the name written across the top of the chart in my hands – Jasper Whitlock.

I'd completely forgotten that he was scheduled for a follow-up appointment this afternoon, and found myself already tense at the mere sight of his name. As I opened the door for Mrs. Brown to pass, I saw that he was sitting alone, and as I looked into his eyes, his small dimple made an appearance. I took a shaky breath before calling his name and held the door open for him. When he passed me, his arm grazed my shoulder, and my eyes fluttered shut for a brief moment.

I told myself to play it cool and remain professional, but I had to admit that I feared being alone with him in the triage room again. With a deep breath, I turned and led him there quietly, and though I tried to act like he was any other patient, taking his vitals felt much the same as it had a week ago. I was flustered and nervous as I took his temperature, and when I touched his skin to take his pulse, I realized just how tense I was.

I'd grasped his wrist so tightly in between my thumb and pointer finger that I could no longer feel the blood flowing through his veins. I released his skin instantly, letting my hand hover over his wrist. "I'm sorry," I stammered as I looked up at him.

His eyes traveled from my hand and up the length of my arm until they reached my face. His lips parted, but before he spoke I picked up his chart and walked to the door. "If you'll put your shoes on, I'll take you back to the exam room." I looked back at him as I said, "I'm sure you're anxious to get those stitches out."

I walked out into the hall to wait for him and catch my breath, and when he appeared a moment later, I led him down to the suture room. I opened the door, and once he was settled onto the exam table, I turned my eyes to his and said, "The doctor will be with you shortly."

His lips parted once more, but he remained silent. I turned and left the room, shutting the door behind me before I walked to Dr. Mathis' office. "Here you go, sir. He's ready for you," I said, handing him Jasper's chart.

As I walked to my office, I felt proud of how I'd handled being around him this time. I had known that I would be tense as I took his vital signs, and I still felt bad for all but cutting off the blood supply to his hand, but it had definitely gone better than our last meeting.

I sat at my desk and finished up the week's paperwork while I waited for Dr. Mathis to call for me to assist with the suture removal. After a few minutes, he appeared in my doorway and handed me Jasper's chart. "Have a nice weekend, Alice."

"Do you need my help with the patient, doctor?" I asked, confused.

"Oh no – he's already left. I'll see you on Monday," he said before leaving my office.

I smiled as I rose from my desk, feeling great about how my week was ending. After locking up the medicine cabinet, I grabbed my purse and hung my stethoscope on its hook before I locked up my office.

I called out my goodbyes to Angela and Dr. Mathis from the end of the hall, and I pushed on the heavy metal back door of the clinic. It groaned as it swung open, and as soon as I walked through and let go, it snapped shut with a heavy thud, startling me. My purse slipped off of my shoulder, falling to the ground. I lowered myself into a squatting position, picking up the few items that had scattered along the sidewalk.

I looked around to see that I'd retrieved all of my things and plucked my car keys from my purse as I stood. As I turned toward my car, I found a tall black Toyota pickup parked right next to it. Jasper leaned against the tailgate, his arms folded across his chest. I wasn't sure why he was in the back parking lot or why he seemed to be waiting for me. It was nerve-wracking to realize that just his gaze made me anxious but excited as well.

My thoughts raced at a mile a minute as I clutched my keys in my palm and walked toward my car. I acknowledged his presence with a nod of my head and a quick, "Good night," as I passed him. I punched the button on my car remote to unlock it, and when I opened my door, I heard the sound of his footsteps upon the pavement.

"Alice," he said just behind me, and I stood rooted to the ground. "I wanted to apologize."

I turned and was surprised to find him standing much closer than I'd originally anticipated. My breath caught in my throat as I felt the heat from his body.

After a moment, I processed what he'd said. "Apologize?" I asked. If anyone needed to apologize for anything, it was most definitely me. My behavior toward him during any one of our three meetings had been less than appropriate.

"Well for one," Jasper said, looking down at his hands as he spoke. "I didn't answer you in there," he said, gesturing back toward the clinic with a nod of his head.

"Oh," I said, fidgeting with my keys. "It's no big deal. Lots of people get nervous when they come in to get their stitches removed." I turned my upper body toward my car and tossed my purse across the passenger seat.

"No," he said, catching me off guard and making me turn back around. "That's not what I meant," he continued. "I, uh, really wanted to apologize for my behavior at the beach. I didn't mean to be so rude to you or your boyfriend."

"My boyfriend?" I asked, looking up into his eyes.

"Yeah," he said as he shoved his hand into his pocket. "Your boyfriend. You know – that big guy that all but dragged you away from me? I hope I didn't cause any… Well, I didn't mean any harm," he finished, looking down at his feet.

"Are you talking about Emmett?" I asked, and his eyes snapped back to my own. "He's my friend's husband," I explained. "He was just being… Emmett," I finished lamely, looking down at my feet.

"Oh," he replied quietly. "Then Alice," he said, and I couldn't help but look up at him when I heard the tone of his voice. "I wanted to apologize for one more thing…"

"For what?" I asked meekly as I noted the intensity of his gaze.

"For this," he said, leaning down as he placed his full, warm lips on mine.

My eyes widened in surprise, and as I watched him search my face, I realized that his eyes were the softest shade of green I'd ever seen before. He parted his lips, and when he pulled my bottom lip in between his, and I felt his tongue glide along its edge, my eyes fluttered shut.

I let myself get lost in the feeling of his lips upon my own as I returned his kiss. My hands ached to touch the well-formed muscles my eyes had feasted upon at the beach, and before I knew it, I felt myself pulling his body closer to mine. His nimble fingers raked through my hair as he devoured my mouth with his.

He broke our kiss to take a much-needed breath, only to tilt my head and part his lips against the sensitive skin just below my ear. I swayed on the spot, but Jasper snaked his arm around my waist and held me to his body. I clutched at his t-shirt, knotting the fabric in my hands.

"Do you want to continue this elsewhere?" he whispered before his tongue darted out to trace the shell of my ear.

I shivered as I leaned back to look at his face. "Where do you live?" I asked without hesitation.

"Close," he answered, before returning his lips to my skin again.

He pulled me closer to him and shut my car door behind me. It broke me from the haze I'd allowed myself to be wrapped up in, and I realized where we were. I caught sight of Jasper's dimple as he turned to open the passenger door of his truck and knew that my face was flushed from not only our impromptu make-out session, but from the embarrassment of knowing that we could have been caught at any moment.

I stepped forward and looked up into the cab of his pickup. Placing one foot up onto the tiny foothold, I grabbed onto the door and climbed in. He smiled up at me before he shut my door and walked around the back of his truck. From the side mirror, I watched as he approached his door, and when he pulled it open, my breath caught in my throat.

Jasper grasped the handle along the inner edge of his door with his left hand, and I watched in fascination as his bicep strained under the sleeve of his t-shirt as he hoisted himself up into his seat.

I must have looked like an idiot scrambling up into this monster, I thought to myself.

I swallowed thickly as he turned in his seat to face me. "Are these yours?" he asked, holding out my car keys.

Dear God, I thought. I must have dropped them, but who could blame me? My lips were still tingling.

I opened my mouth to say that they were indeed my keys, but I couldn't speak. It was as if my mind was focused only on the memory of his kiss, his touch. Jasper smiled and set my keys in the cup holder between us and scooted forward in his seat. He raised his hips by putting his weight on his feet to fish his keys from his jeans' pocket.

After he retrieved them, Jasper turned the keys in the ignition and started his truck with a roar. As he shifted into drive, I studied the sleek muscles of his forearms when they contracted. With a turn of the steering wheel, he pulled out of the clinic's parking lot, and I watched as his palms slid along the smooth leather.

What seemed like a moment later, we pulled up to a security gate in front of an apartment complex. I realized that I had absolutely no idea where we were because I'd been watching him so intently, and I continued to drink in the sight of him as he reached up to press a small white button on a remote clipped to his visor. He drove through the rusted retracting gate, and I reluctantly peeled my eyes from him to watch where we were going.

I found my eyes naturally being drawn back to him as he wound his way through the complex. As he drove to the very back toward the last building, he reached up once more to press the small black button on the remote. "This is me," he said as we pulled into an open garage.

He shifted into park before killing the engine, and before we had a chance to let the awkward silence overwhelm us, Jasper opened his door and got out. I took in my surroundings and saw a mountain bike suspended from a hook in the ceiling in the far left corner of the garage. An array of surfboards and boogie boards adorned the entire length of the wall just in front of me, and I caught sight of Jasper's dimple as he rounded the front of his truck on his way toward my door.

I looked down at my door in search for the handle to open it to no avail. I was flustered to say the least. What am I doing here? I asked myself.

Jasper appeared outside of my window and opened the door for me. He reached up for my trembling hand, and he enveloped it in his sure, steady one. All of my nervous thoughts left me, and I remembered exactly why I had come with him.

I hopped down from my seat and Jasper closed my door behind me. When I looked up at him, he leaned down and placed his soft lips against my own. Before I could lose myself in his kiss again, he grasped my hand and led me inside of his dark, quiet apartment. I followed blindly behind him, my hand clasped within his as we walked through a small kitchen.

He turned down a dark hallway and stopped suddenly at a closed door, making me stumble into him. While waiting for him to open the door and walk through, I was surprised to find myself ready to follow behind him. But instead of opening the door, Jasper dropped my hand and turned to face me in the dark. Stepping toward me, I could only see his outline in the dim space, and my whole body hummed with anticipation of being able to touch him again.

Jasper's hands found my hips as he guided my back toward the wall behind me. When the length of my spine was flush against it, he tilted my chin up to meet his gaze and I forgot how to move. I waited with bated breath as he lowered his lips to mine and quickly lost myself in his kiss.

I longed to touch his body, so I slowly trailed up his back with my fingers until my hands came to rest along his upper back. Jasper tightened his grip on my hips, and I felt his shoulder blades shift as his muscles contracted. When his tongue tentatively touched mine, I fisted my hands in his shirt and explored his mouth with my own.

Without breaking our connection, Jasper stepped in between my legs, pressing me further into the wall. His thumb ran the length of the hem of my shirt, and when I felt his fingers dip below the fabric and make contact with my bare skin, my legs quaked beneath me; I was grateful for the support the wall offered.

Jasper gathered the hem of my shirt in his hands, and as he pulled the fabric up over my stomach, he broke our kiss and his lips hovered near my ear. "Is this okay?" he asked in a hushed whisper.

I released his shirt as he pulled back, and when I crossed my arms in front of me, I took his hands and helped him pull my shirt up and away from me. The soft cotton tickled my skin as I raised my arms, and when it was finally free from my body, Jasper threw it to the ground.

I realized that when he lifted my shirt over my head, he stepped back and away from me. I missed the feel of his body being so close to mine, so I pushed off of the wall, seeking him out. I stepped into his embrace and as his arms encircled around my waist, his lips searched out the newly exposed skin at the hollow of my throat. He moved down to explore my collarbone with his mouth as his hands ghosted up and down the small curve of my hips. My skin felt incredibly smooth under his large, calloused hands.

When I felt the clasp of my bra open I was caught off guard, but I knew that this was what I wanted. Jasper's hands trailed down my arms as he guided the straps of my bra from my body, and when it fell to the floor, I stood rooted to the floor. I ached for him to touch my bared breasts, and my breathing increased when his lips left my skin and he stood up straight. His body suddenly felt so far from my own, and I felt terribly cold and empty without him.

The dim light reflected off of the glint in his eye, and when he stepped toward me, I couldn't help but take a step back. I backed up until my heels hit the wall behind me, and he stepped between my legs. His hands found my hips and pushed them back until they, too, were flush with the wall.

There was a certain tenderness in his touch, even though I knew he had me exactly where he wanted me. His lips, though urgent, were soft as they caressed my skin. His kiss was delicate. It was maddening.

When he cupped my right breast, it was completely unexpected. I arched into his palm, caught completely off guard at how right it felt for him to touch me this intimately. Though I was scared, I somehow felt safe with him. I knew that I was ready for this.

"Jasper," I said with a shaky voice. He pulled his lips away from my skin and looked up into my eyes. "Jasper," I said again, softer this time. "Take me to your bed."

I was unsure of his reaction. I wished that I could see the look on his face, but the dim light of the hallway made it impossible to see anything. I was almost glad for the darkness, though. I was sure my chest was heaving up and down with each ragged breath I drew in and that my face wore an uncertain expression.

"Say it again, Alice," he replied, standing up straight as he stepped back and away from me.

I knew it was bold of me to say it the first time and that I had probably caught him off guard. It was going to take all of my strength to say those five little words again. I drew in a deep breath and repeated, "Take me to your bed," in a shaky, wavering voice.

He shook his head and looked down. Stepping closer to me, he cupped my chin in his hand and pulled my gaze up to meet his. "No. Say my name, Alice. Say it again."

"Jasper," I whispered, and he leaned forward and kissed me again. His lips moved against my own so slowly and with so much passion that I lost all feeling in my legs. He must have known that I could no longer support myself because he lifted me up. I wrapped my legs around his waist, secure within his grasp as he opened the door to my right. Light filtered into the room from somewhere behind me, but I wasn't sure as to where it came from because I buried my face in Jasper's neck, laying kisses anywhere I could.

I sucked gently on the skin just below his jaw but stopped when I felt that he was no longer walking. I leaned back to look at his face, and Jasper pulled my mouth to his as he gently eased me down onto the soft mattress; my head came to rest upon several down pillows.

As he leaned over my body, I craved the feeling of his skin flush with mine, so I reached behind him and grasped the hem of his t-shirt to drag it up over his back. Jasper sat up on his knees and crossed his arms, drawing his shirt up and over his head.

He leaned down, placing small kisses on my stomach as his fingers found the drawstring of my scrub pants, quickly untying them. As I kicked off my tennis shoes and heard them hit the floor, interrupting the still silence, he moved to settle himself to my right side as I toed off my socks.

As Jasper pushed the soft cotton of my pants down over my hips, his skin felt incredibly warm as he ran his palms down the length of my legs. I bit my lip as I brought my knees up and kicked off my pants, letting them join my shoes on the floor.

Leaning over me, Jasper ran his hands over my right knee and then surprised me by placing a small kiss just above the waistband of my panties before pulling them down. After I was freed from my last article of clothing, he swung his legs over me until I rested between them.

Holding his weight off of my body, he brought his face down and kissed me deeply. I grasped his hips and pulled at his belt buckle. Once I had it open, I undid his button and pulled down the zipper of his jeans until they were loose. Hooking my thumbs under his boxers, I pushed them down over his hips along with his jeans, and he wriggled out of them one leg at a time.

With the dim light filtering in through the blinds just above us, Jasper looked down at me as he gently parted my legs with one of his. "You're so beautiful, Alice," he whispered.

My lips parted to tell him that he was mistaken, that he was the beautiful one as I looked at the smooth muscles of his arms and broad chest. I longed to touch him, but before I reached out to do so, Jasper leaned down and kissed me. His lips brushed against my chin and neck as he slowly moved south.

When Jasper captured my right breast in my mouth, my eyes involuntarily fluttered closed as he flicked his tongue over my hardened nipple. His left hand steadied my hip as his right came up to cup my left breast. While he ran his palm over my erect nipple, he teased my right one with his tongue and lips.

When he pulled back to look me in the eye, we were both panting. I felt as though he were asking me for permission for what we were about to do, so I bit my lower lip and gave a slight nod of my head. Jasper rose and leaned all of his weight onto his hand as he reached for the nightstand on my right.

I glanced over at it and found several black and white composition notebooks haphazardly stacked next to a small desk lamp, and when he pulled the lone drawer open, I saw several more inside. I'd wondered about the one that he had brought to the clinic on his first visit, and seeing the number of notebooks he had next to his bed only piqued my interest further.

However, when his leg rubbed up against mine, I shifted my focus back to him. Staring unabashedly at him, I found myself fascinated by how the muscles in his arm contracted as he fumbled around in the drawer. He pulled out several notebooks and set them on top of the ones already stacked on top of the nightstand until he found what he was looking for.

He closed the drawer and sat back on his knees, revealing the condom wrapper in his hand. "Sorry," he began as he pushed a stray lock of hair from his eyes. "I haven't uh… Well, it's been a while, so they were all the way in the back."

A shy smile spread across my lips. "That's okay, Jasper, I haven't, umm… It's been a while for me too. We can figure this out together," I said as he leaned back down, placing a soft kiss on my lips.

He pulled back and smiled as he shifted his weight and sat up on his knees again. He ripped the small package open, and as he rolled the condom on, we looked each other in the eye. I swallowed thickly as he gently parted my legs with his left knee, settling himself between them.

Jasper leaned down to kiss the valley between my breasts, placing his hands on either side of my hips to support his weight. He slightly shifted his lower body, holding himself away from me, and his leg grazed my left foot. I raised it up off of the bed and ran it down the length of his calf, and when my knee brushed up against his hip, Jasper's left hand settled upon my inner thigh.

Inch by inch, his rough palm glided up the smooth expanse of my skin. As I felt his heavy breath fall upon the sensitive skin below my ear, I turned to capture his lips in a heated kiss. I explored his luscious mouth, stroking his smooth tongue with my own as his fingers met their intended destination.

The pad of his thumb delicately brushed against my clit, and as he drew my bottom lip in between his, he slipped a finger inside. We breathed each other in as his hand rocked back and forth against my sensitive flesh.

The sensation pulled me under, and I couldn't seem to catch my breath. I was lost, wrapped up within him. Jasper pulled his lips from mine and lowered his face against my shoulder, and as I took a deep breath, I pulled in his mouthwatering scent.

His hot, moist breath spread out against the skin just below my right ear as he pulled his hand away from my body. I bit my lip in anticipation of once again feeling his touch, and when he thrust his finger back into me, I cried out and drove my body down against his palm. My head fell back against the soft down pillows as my body arched up into him.

My exposed neck fell prey to Jasper's kisses. He slowly withdrew his hand, grazing my clit once again as his mouth captured my left breast. I shivered in pleasure as he nudged my legs further apart, situating himself exactly where I wanted him to be.

The sound I made as I took in each ragged breath filled my ears as Jasper steadied his weight with his right hand, holding himself up above me. When his thumb grazed my upper thigh just before his palm closed around the curve of my hip, the steady rise and fall of my chest stilled.

I tensed and trembled beneath him as I looked up into his piercing eyes. I pressed my palms into his chest as our eyes met briefly until his gaze dropped below as he reached down to position himself. On instinct, my legs parted wider, wanting him deep inside of me.

And then he was.

I gasped in awe of how my body accepted his size so willingly. When I realized he had yet to move, I looked up to find Jasper's eyes locked on mine. His thumb once again ran along my hip in a soothing manner as he slowly pulled back out then pushed forward, filling me completely.

My hands found his back, and as he thrust forward with more force, I felt the muscles in his back tense and contract. I pushed down toward him, allowing him sink deeper inside of me, eliciting a low groan from Jasper.

I watched as his eyes rolled back into his head and his lips parted. His total abandon, coupled with the raw look of pleasure upon his face completely overwhelmed my senses.

He pumped into my accepting body over and over again, and I met each hard, welcome thrust. I was completely lost, wrapped up in how his body moved with my own and how completely freeing it was to give myself to him, to surrender to him.

My eyes fell closed as I took him in, so when his thumb grazed my clit, the sensation was completely unexpected. His small touch affected me instantly, and I tightened around him. I whimpered as he shifted his weight, causing him to penetrate at a different angle. He stroked my swollen clit over and over again as I pleaded, "Don't stop," for I knew I was on the brink of something intense.

His next thrust was impossibly deep, and I instantly clamped down around him and cried out with my release. He continued to pump into me, and I opened my eyes to look up at him as he moved in long, deep, thorough strokes.

"Alice," he whispered, lifting my hips to join his every thrust. I clutched wildly at his shoulders, and I could feel his strength. Everything about him was hard and distinctly masculine. I clamped down on him again, my body pulsing with pleasure like I'd never known before.

Jasper's head arched back and I was mesmerized by the blood rushing through his veins and how the thick tendons in his neck were pulled taut. He grasped my hips to pull me into him and his whole body tensed. With one last hard thrust, he came, shuddering above me.

The tension left his body as he placed his hands down on the bed and collapsed gently onto me a few seconds later. He kissed my neck and shoulders, sweeping his lips across every inch of skin he could reach. My arms remained locked around him, holding his body close to me. I reveled in the feeling of his warm, reassuring weight.

His lips continued to search out my skin, softer now, until he stopped moving them altogether to pull up and look into my eyes. He leaned down slowly, lowering his mouth to mine. I captured his kiss readily, letting myself drink him in. As one kiss turned into two, he parted his lips and gently pulled out of me. "I'll be right back," he whispered against my lips before kissing them again.

I bit my lip and nodded as he rocked back on his knees and pulled the sheets up over me. I couldn't seem to peel my eyes from him as he rose from the bed and walked toward the closed door I assumed led to his bathroom. He disappeared behind it for a moment, and I briefly heard running water until he reappeared in the doorway.

I bunched up the hem of the sheet covering my naked body as he walked toward me and climbed in. Jasper's warm body molded to mine under the thin cover of cotton he'd pulled up over us, and though I was unsure of the time, I knew I never wanted to leave his bed.

"Will you stay with me?" he asked, breaking the silence that had settled between us. As I turned to face him, I noticed that I could no longer see the sunlight streaming in through the blinds above his headboard.

Jasper's head lay in the crook of his elbow, and his fingers tiptoed across my stomach while he waited for my response. In the dim light, I caught his sly grin and couldn't stop the shy smile that formed on my lips in answer to his request.

"Are you comfortable?" he asked, angling his body closer to my own.

I bit my lip and nodded.

"I want you to be comfortable here, Alice. I… I want you here. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you since I first saw you," he said, draping his arm across my stomach.

"I've thought about you too, Jasper. I want to stay."

He nuzzled his face in the small space between my neck and shoulder, placing a small kiss just below my ear. "Your skin is so soft," he said softly. "When I saw you at the beach, all I could think about was how beautiful you are. I desperately wanted to touch you then, to kiss you. I couldn't take my eyes off of you," he whispered into my flesh.

I felt the blush rise through my cheeks at his words, but the way he held me – so close to his body – I could no longer be embarrassed. His touch was so tender and comforting that with each kiss he laid upon my skin, I grew confident that whatever was happening between us was not simply a fleeting thing.

I closed my eyes and thought about how all of the events in my life led me to this moment – to Jasper. After a few moments, I realized that his lips lay unmoving against my skin. I felt his hot, steady breath fan out over my neck, and I found the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest relaxing. I succumbed to sleep tucked under his arm, realizing just how exhausted I truly was.

xXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

I pried my eyes open one by one as the sunlight filtering in through the window above the bed reached my face. With a groan, I rolled to my side, burying my head among the pillows.

I couldn't help but smile when Jasper's mouthwatering scent permeated my senses. I laid there for a moment, simply breathing him in before I turned over. I relaxed into the soft, warm mattress and looked up, watching the dust dance through the air for a few moments.

The light grew increasingly brighter as I lay there, and I knew that it was unfortunately time to get up. I drew in one last breath of Jasper, loving how I could practically taste him on my tongue before I rose from the bed and stretched my arms up over my head, working the tightness out of my muscles.

A lingering yawn escaped my mouth as I plodded toward the bathroom, and I had to pause at the doorway when my vision clouded over. After it cleared, I yawned once more before walking over to the tub and pulled the shower curtain back. I reached down to start the flow of water and made sure to jump back so that I wasn't hit by the cold spray.

While waiting for the water to heat up, I rolled my head from side to side and rubbed the back of my neck. I'd slept well, but my body still seemed to crave more. I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror, so I stepped closer for a better look. My hair was impossible this morning, and I couldn't stop my laughter when I noticed how it stuck up at odd angles all over my head.

Fog began to spread around the upper edges of the mirror, so I walked back over to the tub, and when I pulled the curtain back, I found the temperature pleasantly warm. I stepped in, and after I pulled the curtain shut I faced the showerhead and let the water run over my face for a second. As soon as I felt that I'd woken up a bit, I turned and let the warm flow stream down my back to loosen the few knots that I'd acquired through the night.

I stepped forward to let the spray pelt my lower back and I closed my eyes at the sensation. I could feel the water bouncing off of my shoulders and beading as it flowed down my torso. I bit my lip as the water ran down my legs, because I could practically feel Jasper's rough palms gliding along my smooth skin in the stream's wake. I remembered his hands running the length of my body, his kiss upon my skin.

I couldn't stop the shiver than ran down my spine so I reached down to turn the dial a bit further to the right, heating the water even more. I took my time to lather and wash, but when the water began to pulsate around me, I had to step out. A few towels hung on a rack to my right, so I grabbed one and ran it through my hair until it stopped dripping and then wrapped it around my body.

Steam filled the small space, and it billowed out into the bedroom when I opened the door. Passing the bed, I walked out into the hallway, headed for the kitchen. It was still quite early, and I needed my morning pick-me-up in the form of copious amounts of caffeine.

As I walked up to the coffee maker, I couldn't help but smile at the thoughts that ran through my head in the shower – they were definitely a pick-me-up. My smug grin didn't last long once I saw that the bottle of ketchup was left out on the counter – again.

I grumbled as I put it away, but just then the rich aroma of my Costa Rican special blend saturated the air around me. I inhaled its piquant flavor while pouring myself a mug and took the opportunity to look out at the spectacular view just outside the kitchen window.

Though it was still early, I could see the intense heat from the Texas sun radiating off of the sand dunes. It would be a beautiful day, but summer had definitely arrived. As I brought my coffee mug up to my lips, two warm hands slid around my waist. One of them slid underneath my towel, tickling the sensitive skin just above my left hip bone.

"Good morning," Jasper said against my neck.

"Mmm," I said, tilting my head to the left. I placed my coffee mug on the counter and said, "Morning."

"How did you sleep?" he asked, nudging my earlobe with his nose.

I bit my lip and turned around to face him. He stood before me, clad only in a pair of blue jeans that sat low on his hips. "Well, if you must know," I said, my eyes sweeping up and down his bare chest, "I slept great. I was in your bed, after all."

He flashed me a devilish grin before lifting me up off of the ground and setting me down on the countertop. Stepping in between my legs, he said, "Correction. Our bed."

"That sounds nice," I said, running my finger lightly over the small scar just beneath his rib cage. I traced its half moon shape for a moment and then trailed my palm up over his abdomen until it came to rest on his bare chest. I looked up at his face, and when I caught sight of his dimple, I bit my lower lip to hide my smile.

"What are you thinking about?" he asked, that devilish grin still on his lips.

My smile broke through as I responded, "Oh, nothing really." I'd never admit that I was thinking about that first night together and how I couldn't wait to get him back into our bed.

"We're meeting everyone at the beach tomorrow, right?" he asked, breaking me out of my thoughts.

"They should be here around nine o'clock or so. Why, did you want to cancel?" I asked, biting my lip once more.

He smiled as he stepped closer to me. "Only if you do. But I was thinking, if Emmett is coming over, we'd better head to the store. We need a few things, don't you think?"

"If Emmett is coming over, we could buy out the whole store and still not have enough food," I said with a small laugh.

He let out a small laugh as well, his dimple still showing through his smile. I ran my palms up over his chest, and as they came to rest on his shoulders, the morning sun reflected off of my engagement ring and prisms of light bounced off of the kitchen walls.

Leaning forward until our faces were only an inch apart, I said, "As for needing a few things… The only thing that I need right now is you," in a low voice.

His gaze drifted from my eyes and came to rest upon my mouth. Jasper leaned forward, and when his lips touched my own, I let my eyes fall closed. He was the only thing I needed.

A/N's: To mah woman: Thanks for being mah woman. To Kim: I hope you're not all squicky about an A&J story… And last, but not least, my thanks go out to the BritishBitches for the idea of writing a summer one-shot. It was fun!

I hope you guys liked it! Drop me a line, alright? Thanks!