Once again I apologise for taking a while to upload this. I'm trying to get them up as soon as I can. I have a feeling you'll all enjoy this chapter; it's extra long for a very good reason.
The next few weeks were bizarre, if only because nothing too bizarre actually happened.
Jasper moved his stuff into the library and the family kept functioning, despite two couples now breaking up, disrupting the usual household dynamics.
Jasper didn't really talk about it, but he was dealing with it in his own strange way. We'd often be together and I'd just get a hint of despair from him, or a few tears would escape me despite feeling perfectly content before. It was strange, but it seemed to be working; as the days went by he did it less and less.
The only noticeable change was Alice and Jasper didn't speak a lot, and when they did it was stiff and awkward. Not like Edward and me who had remarkably been able to coexist peacefully, talking and hanging out in family situations. I had inkling it was all Carlisle and Esme's doing, that they'd spoken to their other children, namely Rose and Emmett, about keeping everything civil. The really did love everyone too much to risk having their family split apart.
Alice apologised for snapping at me a few days later, "I'm sorry, Bella I just… it's not your fault."
I told her it was ok and we moved on. No need to create unnecessary drama.
Jasper and I also grew even closer, often just sitting together watching movies or reading.
I never admitted it to Jasper verbally, and had a hard enough time admitting it to myself, but I enjoyed it when he would place his arm around me because truth be told, I missed the icy touch of a male vampire.
It sounds strange, but it was true.
I loved when Jasper would hold me sometimes or play with my hair teasingly. It wasn't that it reminded me of Edward, but it was just nice to have some sort of physical connection with another person. No other Cullen would put their arm around me and let me lean on them, or rest their head on my shoulder as Jasper grew to do over the weeks post break up. Emmett would jokingly push me around, and one of the others might give me a hug on greeting, but there was something so much more intimate about it with Jasper.
He would often cock his eyebrow at me when he could feel my little rises in joy thanks to him, but he never said anything.
Sometimes it was embarrassing being friends with Jasper.
Like when we would watch lame scary movies such as 'House of Wax' for a laugh, and I'd genuinely get scared.
"Shut up, Jasper."
"I didn't say anything…"
"I know what you were going to say. I can't help it. It freaks me out."
Jasper just laughed and continued watching.
It was at a time like this that Edward would often say something along the lines of, "You're sitting next to a vampire and you're scared of the movie?"
But Jasper never did. At least not from what I'd observed. He rarely mentioned his vampirism in any conversations we had and if it would ever come up, it wasn't a huge deal. What came up most was his emotional ability, as it was what directly affected me the most.
"Why so sad, Bella?"
"Oh, it's nothing."
He raised his eyebrow at me. God, that was annoying… how had I not noticed he did that before?
"It's just… you're going to laugh."
"Do I ever laugh at you?"
"Fair enough, but I still want to know."
"Of course you do."
We were sitting in my truck, (something I'd been driving more often the past few weeks) outside of my house. We'd been hanging out at the house before I realised I needed to cook dinner for Charlie soon. Jasper offered to come with me having obviously noticed my melancholic mood.
"It's just the date."
"It's August 13th."
He sat there staring at me for a bit before the penny finally dropped.
"Oh, today was supposed to be your…"
"Yes, my wedding day."
I'd been surprised no one brought it up at the house, but all was ignored as if it were any other day.
"Why did you think I would laugh?"
"Well, it's just I was the one to call it off. I shouldn't be feeling sad. It's ridiculous."
He put his hand on my elbow, "Bella, it's perfectly fine to feel sad about you and Edward not being together."
"But, I'm not sad about Edward and me not getting married. It's just nostalgia I suppose."
"Nostalgia for what?"
"I don't know; a purpose?"
He looked at me thoughtfully and began stroking my elbow with his thumb. I shivered a little.
"I can see why that might be difficult for you. Not having a goal of sorts to aim toward."
"Hmm… it's not even that."
I took a deep breath, "Well, when I first called it off with Edward, I swore I was going to live life to the fullest and experience everything that was out there. And so far I've done nothing. Zip."
Jasper looked down at his lap and took his hand off my arm.
"I'm sorry, that's partly my fault. I've kind of been demanding all of your attention for the past few weeks, haven't I?"
"Oh no, Jasper! No, it's not your fault. I just haven't bothered, that's all. And besides, you needing me is a lot more important than chasing some stupid adrenaline ride."
This time it was my turn to hold his elbow, as I tried to re-establish eye contact with him.
He looked up at me slowly, "Bella, how do you know you did the right thing?"
"Breaking it off with Edward. Was there a sign or something, to tell you that you've made the right choice? Not being with him?"
It took me a little off guard, and Jasper felt it.
"I'm sorry, if you don't want to talk about it…"
"No, no it's fine. It just took me by surprise, that's all."
I sat there for a second and thought. Was there a sign? Any sort of reassurance that leaving Edward was the right path for me?
Yes, there was.
"Well, it was the day before I broke up with him actually. At least, I think it was; my memory's a little fuzzy. I had a dream."
"Mhm, I was flying. I don't really remember the details as such, but just that Edward didn't come over that night so I went to sleep and dreamt of flying. I woke up in a great mood even though Edward still hadn't arrived."
"You think it was your subconscious telling you that you needed to be free of Edward?"
"Something along those lines, yes. Why?"
He grabbed my hand that was on his elbow and held it up to his mouth, kissing my knuckles, "I need to know that Alice is right. That it's all for the best. I can't exactly rely on a dream to tell me like you, but I just want some reassurance."
"Jasper, everything is going to be fine, I promise."
"I'm kind of beginning to see that, I guess. I've certainly come further than I thought I would considering it's only been several weeks. I have you to thank for that, Bella. I think I'd still be a quivering mess if you weren't here to help."
I took my hand from his and swept the hair that had fallen in his eyes behind his ears, "You can count on me for anything."
He smiled genuinely at me and I could tell this sad moment had passed, "I know, and I'd like to repay the favour if that's alright."
"What do you mean?" I was instantly suspicious when I saw the smile be replaced with a grin.
"Please? I promise it's nothing materialistic. I just want to thank you for being there for me. Can I pick you up tomorrow at noon?"
"Uh…" I didn't know what to say.
"Oh come on, you can't be that disagreeable to gifts. You'll really regret it if you say no…"
"Fine," I sighed, "but nothing over the top, okay? No diamonds, no fast engines, got it?"
"Got it. I've got to go make a phone call. I'll see you tomorrow; wear something appropriate."
And with a flash he disappeared from the cab of my truck.
I woke up around 10 o'clock the next morning a little nervous and excited at the same time.
I decided to lose myself in the curiosity and practically skipped my way to the bathroom. I took my sweet time, washing my hair and body slowly. As I got out and started blow drying my hair I heard my mobile ring. It was just the message tone; I could get it later. Who would be texting me though? Jasper? Did he even have my number? I'd never given it to him, but I assumed the family would have at some point.
As I began applying the thin eyeliner and mascara that I'd been getting used to ever since my first hair cut, I suddenly realised I had no idea what I was going to wear.
Wear something appropriate.
What the hell did that mean!? I had no idea what we were even doing let alone how to dress for it. I left the bathroom wrapped up in my towel and decided to rifle through my closet for something that might be appropriate for an activity that I had no idea about.
As I walked past the bed I saw my phone still flashing.
Wear the sundress that I bought you a few months ago. The light yellow one with the white trim on the top and bottom. Love Al x
A sundress? Mustn't be too hard an activity then. That put my mind at ease knowing that whatever he had planned, Jasper wasn't going to make me scale a mountain or something.
I looked at my alarm clock and realised I was probably running a little behind. It was already a quarter to twelve. I threw on the dress that was stashed at the back of my closet and a pair of brown flats, grabbing whatever else I needed from my room as I ran down to the kitchen.
I put some toast in the toaster then sculled the last little bit of milk from the bottle.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you that's unsanitary?"
I jumped and spun around as my toast popped. Jasper was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, staring at me with his eyebrow raised again.
"What do you care? You don't drink it."
"I was only thinking of Charlie, of course."
I threw the now empty milk container in the garbage and grabbed the toast.
"So, you're wearing that are you?"
"What? Don't you like it?"
"On the contrary, I like it very much. I just thought you might have chosen something else."
"Well you didn't tell me what we were doing so how was I supposed to know? Besides, Alice told me to wear this; she was gracious enough to send me a text."
"Alice told you to wear that?" his eyebrows scrunched together a little, "Well, ok then… finish your toast and let's go. We've got to be there by two."
What should have been at least a three and a half hour car ride took less than two with Jasper. It was the first time I'd been in his truck and only the second time I'd ever seen it. The big, black one I'd seen him come out of the day Alice told him to leave all those weeks ago. It was as nice as expected; beige interior, fancy stereo system, delicious smell.
Jasper didn't seem overly impressed with it though, not mentioning anything about the car unless I brought it up.
"I just needed something to get around in when I couldn't run, or the others weren't driving."
He also didn't mention anything about what we were doing despite my nagging and whining the whole way there.
"No, Bella it's a surprise. You'll like it, ok? Relax."
He didn't actually drive into Seattle, but just on the outskirts of the beginning of the city. We drove down a gravel road that led off the highway and I caught my first glimpse of what was to come.
"Over The Rainbow Balloon Flights next left?" I read off the big colourful sign on the side of the road, "uh, Jasper? Explain."
"It's a hot air balloon ride," he grinned at me cheekily.
"I know that now! Do you know how high that is? Jasper, please…"
"Please what? I thought you wanted to try new things. Besides, this is the closest I could get to you flying without throwing you out of aeroplane."
"What do you mean flying?"
"Your dream," he shrugged, "I thought since you enjoyed the dream so much and the whole concept of being free, you might enjoy the balloon ride once you were forced to get on it. The views, the breeze; just like flying."
I sat there flabbergasted at his words. That was by far one of the sweetest things anyone had ever said to me. He wanted to make my dreams come true… I thought I was going to cry.
"Oh, Jasper that's incredible. You didn't have to do this though, truly you didn't."
"Like I told you yesterday, you've been amazing to me these past weeks. I'm only getting through it because of you. Now, are you going to do this? Or is all my bribery and coercion going to be completely wasted?"
"What?" I laughed as he pulled up next to a silver minivan in front of a huge, deflated hot air balloon.
He just flashed me another grin as we got out of the car and I followed him over to a tall, athletic looking man and a portly one with a moustache.
"It's about time," the athletic one said in a gruff, impatient tone, "here, sign and read these while we set up the balloon."
He thrust two pieces of paper and pens at us which Jasper took from him politely. We read through the waiver, signed it and waited for the men to finish setting up. It was fascinating to watch them blow the giant fan and light the fire. Truly a spectacle. In the fifteen minutes it took them my stomach was beginning to squirm. What if something went wrong? It's really high…
"Don't worry, Bella, I'll be there."
Then I felt the calm come over me that I knew was Jasper's influence and I was grateful for the intrusion. I had to do this.
"Right, we're done. Seriously, do you know how much trouble we'll be in if something goes wrong? You'd better know how to fly one of these things. You ain't supposed to go up there by yourself."
"I read a book on it last night," Jasper said dryly, although he probably wasn't kidding like the man thought he was.
The balloon now stood tall in the sky and was waiting for us to board the basket.
"Me and brad will be following you in our van so when you land we can you drive back 'ere, alright?"
Jasper nodded and thanked the tall man who went to stand by the massive ropes that were holding the balloon in place. The basket was hovering already and was almost higher than my head.
"Um, Jasper? I can't get up," my voice was a little shaky. Jasper had put a halt on the emotional manipulation apparently.
He just laughed and put his hands around my waste lifting me up a little, "Ok, hold the edge of the basket and I'm going to lift you the rest of the way. Then swing your leg over, got it?"
Jasper moved one hand off my waste and slid it down onto my thigh. Tingles shot through me when he touched my naked thighs and his other hand shifted to rest under my buttocks and pushed me up further like I was sitting on a seat. I hooked one leg over the edge of the basket and tried to follow with my other leg, losing my shoe in the process. My skirt blew up thanks to the wind and I prayed to God Jasper didn't get a glimpse of my underwear. I just sort of tumbled on the bottom of the basket and felt it shake a little under my movement. It wasn't graceful by any means and I cursed Alice for telling me to wear this sundress. Although I had to admit quietly while I waited for Jasper to climb in the basket, how good it felt to have his icy hands on my bare thighs.
I sat on the floor of the basket and waited, "Jasper?"
"Y-yeah, just a second."
His voice was shaky and breathy like he was nervous or had just run a long distance.
Finally he pushed himself up into the basket with me, not rocking it at all.
"Uh, here's your shoe."
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just had to wait for the guys to look away before I jumped up here."
"Oh…" I slid my shoe on and took Jasper's extended hand, helping me up.
I saw Jasper nod towards the guys who were standing near the massive ropes. They undid them and the balloon took off.
The engine thing above me was loud but it didn't bother me. I was totally mesmerised by the disappearing land. We were barely a few feet high before I was stunned, and climbing higher only increased my awe.
I moved toward the side and placed my hands on the edge of the basket starring out over Washington State.
"It's incredible," I breathed. It was barely a whisper.
The land had never looked so breathtaking. It was green and luscious and the patterns of the landscape looked like some weave of purposeful artwork.
Minutes passed and I just gazed as we reached the peak level. We were so high up but I wasn't scared in the slightest. Jasper was with me and I knew he would take care of me.
His hands slid on either side of mine on the edge of the basket and his head rested on my shoulder from behind. I could see his blonde hair in my peripherals.
"It never ceases to amaze me. This view."
"How many times have you done this?"
"Not many, just a few. It's my first time in Washington but the landscape certainly rivals that of country Europe."
We stayed like that for a while, just staring out over the scene. I could sometimes see the silver minivan trailing us, ready to meet us when we landed. Jasper would occasionally nuzzle his head lightly into my neck, or rub his thumbs on the backs of my hands. Each time he did I felt the tingles and the shivers. He must've known that.
I would've been embarrassed, but he clearly didn't have a problem with it. So I decided neither did I; he was just being affectionate. We didn't say much during the majestical balloon ride, passing over beauties such as Lake Washington and the Sammamish Valley. It was all too much to take in. And Jasper was right; it was like flying. The light breeze on my bare neck felt so pleasant in combination with his cool skin and the light material of my dress felt like it was barely there.
I did sometimes wonder what would happen if the sun came out and whether we'd have to float up here till nightfall. Not that I would have minded; it was magical.
We'd been floating around for a while when the wind really picked up, blowing right into me. I made to push myself off the edge of the basket and move to the other side but my back was met with the barrier of Jasper's front, now gently pressing into me. He must've felt me pushing against his hips with my backside, but he refused to budge and instead lightly pressed my own hips into the side of the basket. I heard myself draw in a deep breath to which Jasper responded by pressing his hips a little harder into my ass. I closed my eyes and let the wind whip my face, feeling Jasper nuzzle his head into my neck again. I wanted so badly for him to turn his head and kiss my neck deeply. I couldn't help myself; I was getting really worked up. Jasper knew it too, I was certain. Because we didn't change positions for the rest of the balloon ride and whenever I would finally get used to him being so close to me, he would push himself closer into my back, starting up the whole internal frenzy again.
I didn't know what else to do other than enjoy the attention. I wasn't sure whether I truly felt this good or Jasper was refusing to let me feel freaked out or guilty. I honestly didn't care though. All I cared about was that I could feel my underwear getting wet and that I wanted nothing more than for Jasper to find out just how wet they were.
I couldn't though. This, well… this was just innocent fun. Jasper was probably just trying to repay the favour again and thought this would be a good way to do it. If that's what he was doing, then he certainly wasn't wrong. I'd never had this kind of contact with any man before, not even Edward. It was so pleasurable to have someone else stimulating me, even as innocently as this slight hip grinding was.
My only disappointment was that I couldn't feel Jasper. I'd waited almost nineteen years to feel a man erect and it still didn't seem as if that would happen. I tried not to be greedy though, and just enjoy the feeling of Jasper being there, showing me this kind of affection that I'd been so foreign to before.
Our moment was interrupted by the sound of a walkie talkie voice, similar to that of the athletic man, announce that we needed to get down, and that our time was up.
Jasper lifted his head off my shoulder and pushed off the edge of the basket, "Sure thing…"
He then spoke into the walkie talkie about potential landing points and I tuned out to think.
That was amazing.
I didn't know that such small contact could do that to me, could feel so good. My heart was beating a little too fast and I breathed deep to slow it down. I also tried to slow down some of my other organs but my thighs rubbed together instead. That would take some time to slow down, I guessed.
I took the time to think rationally about the fact I had just been sexually aroused by Jasper, Alice's ex-husband, before I broke down into tears like I knew I would once Jasper and his ability went away.
It wasn't that I was surprised that I got turned on so easily by Jasper; he was funny, sweet and very attractive. I was surprised that he initiated it so casually and that I went along with it so willingly. What would Alice say? What had Alice seen? Has she seen this?
And what did Jasper think? Did he think I was a bad person for doing that to Alice? Was she even on his mind? I hoped she wasn't… that would've really bugged me.
I couldn't even enjoy the landing part of the balloon ride because my mind was thinking of so many things. Jasper, who I refused to look at as he fiddled around with things that moved us steadily lower, obviously had a good hold over my emotions as I still wasn't frantic or upset.
We got lower to the ground heading for a field that was apparently going to act as our landing strip. The walkie talkie voices still kept announcing instructions to Jasper, most of which he didn't respond to.
"Hold on, Bella."
I looked around to see he was smiling; not awkward, not worried, and not judgmental.
Just happy and free. The same look I should be wearing more often.
Screw it, I thought. I was entitled to have fun. I had the right to do whatever I wished with whoever I wished. It's not like I actually slept with Jasper; they were just feelings. Perfectly normal feelings that I hadn't even initiated. Besides, Alice was the one who called it off with Jasper. And she would have seen something like that and she didn't say anything. So, not my problem.
I heard Jasper laugh behind me as we headed faster toward the ground. He could probably feel my strange surge of conviction. Or maybe he was my strong sense of conviction? It was so hard to tell what feelings were truly mine around Jasper.
I savoured the last part of the view as it quickly disappeared; the tree tops, the patterns.
I gripped the edge of the basket as we landed as smoothly as I guess we could have, and I felt Jasper leap out of the basket from behind me. I whirled around to see where he'd gone, as I was still descending the last few meters in the basket alone. I felt a jolt as the basket hit the ground all too suddenly.
Jasper was holding the entire hot air balloon to the ground by himself.
"Jasper what are you doing? Those guys will see you!"
Jasper's head poked up over the edge of the basket, "Relax, Bella. I told them I'd be landing it myself."
"What? Jasper, then they'll know you're not human?"
"So? They aren't going to tell anybody what they saw. They aren't even meant to be renting the balloon without a full team to assist with the landing."
I stared at him astounded as I heard the van driving across the field we were situated in.
"Wow, you weren't kidding."
The men didn't even seem fazed by Jasper's inhuman strength.
"Please hurry and disassemble the balloon. My arms are getting tired…"
I giggled to myself as the men went about reattaching the same ropes as before.
"If you want to go and wait in the van while we take all this down, we'll drive you's back after we're done."
"Certainly," Jasper let go of the basket now that it was secured without his help, "coming, Bella?"
I sat on the edge of the basket and carefully hung both my legs over the edge. Jasper grabbed me by the waist and lifted me up, setting me on the ground in front of me.
When he let go of me I felt a sudden longing, wishing to feel his skin on mine again.
He took my hand as soon as I'd felt it and I smiled to myself, squeezing his huge palm.
We walked over to the van and he opened the back doors.
"After you," Jasper smiled at me as I stepped into the back of the van, taking a seat on the carpeted floor.
"You'd think these guys would bother installing a chair or something back here."
"This isn't their business van. This is the one they use for their not-so-official rental customers. So, did you enjoy the balloon ride?"
"Very much so. Some parts more than others…"
"And what parts might they be?"
I looked up at his face to see he had that stupid eyebrow raised again, as I'd expected.
I knew Jasper wanted me to say it. Say it out loud and make it widely known that I had indeed been turned on by him. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction though. That and I was just too scared to hear the words and what the repercussions might be if I did.
So I just leaned into his side and closed my eyes. Jasper put his arm around me like I knew he would and we just sat there, in the back of the dirty, silver van quietly. He rubbed my arm and we sat in a comfortable silence, just relishing the feeling of each other's touch. After a while I actually fell asleep there in the van, as we waited for the men to pack the balloon away.
I'd deal with my feelings later.
Hope you all enjoyed it. To see my inspiration for this chapter:
I'll try to get another chapter up soon.