Summary: Bella has always joked about marrying Alice's much younger brother so she could be a part of her best friend's family, but now he's all grown up and got hot. Bella tries to control the burn for him, but it quickly becomes a raging fire. ExB AH
A/N: Welcome to a new story! This is E/B, don't worry. It will take a few chapters to get there, so that Bella won't get arrested.
Thanks to all my little elves: Daisy, Profmom, and Twike. This is my writing process – as I write I chat Daisy and ask – Is this funny? Then I send it to Profmom, and she tells me the parts that a little too ridiculous and makes suggestions – I call her my Jiminy Cricket, and then Twike does the final proofing.
Everwondering is my ever hero.
Characters are not mine.
Controlled Burn Chapter 1
We were in the middle of a heat storm. The Arabs called it a Humseen. Scorching dusty winds blew out of the west making everyone suffer. The air was hot and thick and the Jordanians hadn't caught on to the air conditioning craze yet. The storm would last until cooler winds blew down from the north sending the hot air south. I looked down on the sweat rings under my armpits and groaned. Not here. Not now. I was standing next to Jasper Hale - God's gift to women with that "please make out with me now" stupid Southern accent, and I was dripping sweat. He was sweating too, but his glistening skin and the blonde hair which stuck to his forehead made him look even more attractive. I, on the other hand, looked more like Richard Simmons with my shiny forehead and drops of yuck sliding down my skin. I quickly sniffed my armpit to see if there was an odor to go along with my wet shirt. I smelled like Shower Fresh Secret. It really was strong enough for a man.
"Bella, would you kindly stop smelling yourself and hand me that brush?" Jasper said with a cocky grin. I rolled my eyes and tried to play it off. I went to slam the brush in his hand, but it fell to the ground. We both bent over at the same time to get it.
"I'll get it…" I grabbed the dust brush and started to stand back up at the same time as Jasper. He angled his head just right so that his nose and forehead brushed my nasty shirt right where it was damp with sweat. I closed my eyes and tried to apparate Harry Potter style, but when I opened them a second later, Jasper was wiping off his face with a towel and looking mildly disgusted. I shrugged my shoulders and gave him my best sorry look. He chuckled, finished wiping the sweat from his brow, and threw the towel at me.
"You're crazy, Swan, not to mention sweating like a pig. Why don't you go shower while I finish cleaning up these last pottery shards?"
"Well, you're sweating like a really extra sweaty mother pig, but sure – I'll happily go shower." I winked at Jasper, grabbed my bag, and headed down the old stone stairs to catch a bus back to the dorms.
"Hey, Swan!" Jasper called after me.
"Meet you for dinner at six?"
"Of course," I answered with a smile. I was glad to have some fun to look forward to.
Dr. Cullen was at the bus stop waiting. She was my advisor for my study abroad program in Archeology at the University of Cairo. We were doing field work in Jordan this month and would be finishing the summer back in Egypt. I was getting dual degrees in Journalism and Middle Eastern Studies. I was lucky to be chosen for this program because it would fulfill several of my Middle Eastern Studies credits. My dream was to cover international news for a major newspaper. It was a hard niche to get into and field experience in the Middle East would look great on my resume. Traveling abroad like this was something I'd never done before; it was scary and exciting at the same time. I was literally digging up things that were thousands of years old. More than anything though the people I met were fascinating. Some of them were scary, but people like Dr. Cullen and Jasper made it all worthwhile. Jasper was getting his graduate degree in Anthropology and was here studying the origins of metallurgy.
"Hot enough for you?" Dr. Cullen asked as I sat next to her on the bench at the bus stop.
"Yes, if I wanted to die of heat exhaustion I would have gone to Houston for the summer." I fanned myself trying to cool down.
"There hasn't been a Humseen like this in a few years. At least it's not humid. Nothing worse than poofy hair," the old woman chuckled. I loved her. She was smart and as sweet as could be. I had enjoyed my time here immensely, mostly because I had a chance to be around Dr. Cullen and to learn from her. She was a genius when it came to history and the Middle East.
"Oh Bella, dear, I have a question for you. I was wondering if you I might ask you for a bit of a favor. It would mean a great deal to me."
"Of course, Dr. Cullen. Anything."
"My granddaughter, Alice, is flying in this week. I was hoping you could look after her?"
"You mean babysit?" I tried really hard to keep my expression neutral, but the thought of babysitting did not sound fun. Some little brat would probably bite me and give me rabies. She would eat all the Sour Patch Kids my mom had sent me and then throw up on me. She would make me never want to have kids and then the perfect life I'd always imagined would never happen! This kid was going to ruin my life! "Sure, I guess."
"Oh no, nothing like that. Alice is twenty. I was just hoping you could befriend her, maybe have some fun together. I'm afraid she'll be bored following around an old bat like me."
Whew. Hopefully this girl would already be past the biting stage. "Oh, of course. I'm going to be lonely after Jasper leaves on Saturday anyway. He's the only friend I've really made here. Everyone else is really, really weird." I leaned over and whispered the second half of the sentence to her.
Dr. Cullen's shoulders shook as she laughed. She was the cutest old lady in the world, but with her two Ph.D.s and many archeological discoveries, I think she would prefer to be called the female Indiana Jones than a cute old lady.
"Splendid. She'll be here on Thursday. I'll bring her with me to school on Friday."
"Okay, but if she's weird, the deal's off," I said.
"Oh, Bella, you're such a silly little dear."
We caught the bus and rode it back to the dormitory the university owned here. Dr. Cullen went to her suite and I went to my room I was sharing with Lauren, the rude girl from Germany who liked to growl at me if any of my things crossed the line she had taped down the middle of our room. I wasn't sure what I'd done to her, but she liked to bark orders at me and play loud techno music late at night.
I wasn't kidding when I told Dr. Cullen the people here were weird. Lauren was psycho. Jessica was a rebelling Amish kid from Pennsylvania who came here on a scholarship but treated the University of Cairo like it was a party school. Kate was an irritable little bookworm who loved to study almost as much as she loved Jasper. That is the one thing all these girls had in common – they all fawned over Jasper. I found it completely irritating. I'd kind of wanted to have a crush on him, but now it was out of the question. I refused to be some sort of lemming who jumped off the same love sick cliff as all the other girls. Instead I ended up becoming his only friend here and he mine. None of the girls would even look at me unless it was to glare. They saw me as the one thing keeping them apart from their one true love. Get. A. Frickin. Life.
Of course, in a way I understood them. Every time I talked to a male who was half way decent to me, I started imagining him as "the One." I would envision our destinies entwined and living happily ever after making sweet, sweet love. I was a complete cliché, a hopeless romantic who was always on the lookout for Prince Charming to come and sweep me off my feet. The best lovers often started out as the best of friends. A few times I let my mind wander. Maybe once we were back in the states, Jasper would confess his undying love and affection for me. We would move to Mexico where I would write and take care of the casa while he studied the native Mayans or Incas or whoever lived in Mexico these days. Hopefully they wore loin cloths there, and Jasper would want to really experience their culture as part of his work. I made a note to casually ask Jasper if he was interested in studying people who wear loin cloths.
Jasper took all the female attention in stride. I knew he was sometimes flattered and sometimes irritated by it. I think the reason he liked hanging out with me was that I didn't constantly drool all over him. After a few spats of sarcastic joking and discovering our shared love of card games, we quickly became close.
Jasper and I spent most of our evenings walking around the city or taking taxis to explore the tourist sites. Jasper had a knack for finding the best falafel, and he was nice enough to let me try to argue over the price with the taxi drivers who pretended not to speak English. He would finally laugh and pay whatever they were asking even though we were clearly being ripped off. I loved the fact that Jasper chose to hang out with me and completely ignored the other girls like Lauren, the big boobed freak show. Little victories like that made life worthwhile.
"Hi, I'm Alice. Granny tells me we are going to be the best of friends!" a cute little smiling thing practically attacked me as I got in from the field on Friday.
"Hi, Alice. It's nice to meet you. I'd love to be the best of friends with you," I laughed. This girl was obviously contagious. She made me want to go all girly and jump up and down hugging her while squealing. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out getting to know each other. By the time Dr. Cullen, aka Granny, sent us back to the dorms together, I already felt comfortable with Alice. We just clicked. I was almost sad when I had to leave her to have dinner with Jasper on his last night in town, but I wasn't sad enough to invite her along. I wanted to be alone with Jasper one last time, and there was a good chance Alice would annoy me by flirting with him or telling me she thought he was dreamy.
"Schmidt!" I mumbled when I heard Jasper knock on my door, before I had a chance to get rid of Alice. "Okay, Alice. That's Jasper picking me up for dinner, so I'll introduce you on my way out and see you in the morning." I knew it wouldn't be that easy. Once she saw Jasper, she would probably be stuck to us like glue so she could spend the rest of the night drooling over him. She would become just another member of Jasper's fan club, and my friendship with her would be tainted.
Alice followed me to the door. I opened it, and when I saw Jasper standing there in his University of Texas t-shirt and low hanging jeans covered with holes, I had to suppress a sigh. I didn't think about him like EVERY OTHER GIRL IN THE WORLD did. I didn't. Really.
I was impressed when instead of swooning, Alice simply reached out her hand. I made a mental note to keep Alice around. She had the possibility to be infinitely cooler than any one I'd ever met.
"Hi, Jasper. I'm Alice. I was just heading back to my Granny's apartment."
"Nice to meet you, Alice. You have a pretty awesome grandma."
"Thanks," Alice laughed. "I really do."
With that Alice headed one direction, while Jasper and I headed the other. I cried and cried after I told Jasper goodbye that night. I knew we would keep in touch, but I was really going to miss having him around. He had kept me sane over the past two months, and I was dreading being alone for the next few weeks. He was the only "normal" person here. Under other circumstances we might never have become close, but he had become an important person in my life. I wanted to keep in touch with him. I wanted him to be my friend always. I didn't want to be alone here.
I had nothing to worry about. My affections (friendly affections) for Jasper were soon forgotten and quickly replaced with my adoration (friendly adoration) for Alice. She was my true kindred spirit. I found everything she said and did hilarious. She would laugh at me even when I wasn't really funny. We had fun sifting through dirt and singing movie tunes at the top our lungs. We thought we were entertaining. Everyone else thought we were annoying. We didn't care.
Alice and I talked about everything. We talked about what life would be like when we grew up. We vowed to be in each other's weddings. Our babies would each call the other Auntie Alice and Auntie Bella. And we would make sure we lived in the same city. We would always be close.
"My older brother, Emmett, is like some psycho body building freak of nature. He's funny. He likes to joke about bodily functions a lot, and I think thing he's gross. You would probably adore him." Alice was describing her family to me while we were relaxing on my bed and thumbing through magazines she'd brought with her from home.
"He is married to Rosalie. She's like a cactus – prickly on the outside but soft on the inside. She's amazing when it comes to picking out clothes, doing hair and make-up, and putting up with my goof of a brother. Then there is my younger brother Edward. He is the brooding musician of the family. I'm the closest with him. Then there is Jake. He is my little annoying brother who drives us all nuts, but we still love him."
"Oh man. I want to have a big family. Being the only child sucks. I should marry into your family! We can really be sisters."
"I'm not sure it's going to work." Alice looked genuinely disappointed.
"Well my older brother is already married, and I mean married way out of his league. He'll never do anything to mess things up with Rose."
"Well what about your younger brother?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm pretty sure that's illegal," I sighed. "Oh well, you'll always be my sister, Alice."
"Pinky swear?" she held out her finger.
"Pinky swear." I agreed. "Alice?"
"We are ridiculously immature, aren't we?" I was about to graduate from college, and I was pinky swearing to be bff's with Alice like a twelve-year-old.
"Who cares… at least we're having fun. Want to play MASH?"
Two Years Later
"Hello," I answered my phone on the way out the door to work. I was running late as usual.
"Well, hello there stranger. Got time to chat with an old friend?"
"Jasper! I haven't talked to you in months! How are you?" I could barely contain my excitement.
"I'm great. Actually I'm hoping to come to the States for a bit to try and do some research on Native Americans. You wouldn't have any contacts in that field would you?"
"Yes, Jasper. Every journalist on the East Coast has tons of Indians in their Rolodex."
"Cut the sarcasm, Swan. Can you help an old friend or not?"
"You know, actually Dr. Cullen's son uh… Dr. Cullen lives in Washington State. He's an MD, and I think he works with an Indian reservation up there sometimes. You should give him a call."
"Have you kept in touch with Dr. Cullen?" Jasper asked.
"Yes, a little, but more so with her granddaughter, Alice. You met her briefly."
"Oh yeah, I vaguely remember her. If you could send me his number I would be forever in your debt."
"Of course, buddy. I have to go, but let's catch up soon."
"Alright then, bye Swan."
"Bye, Jasper." I walked into Starbucks with a huge smile on my face. It was great to hear from Jasper, and with him back in the states, maybe we could rekindle our friendship. Maybe even more.
A/N: So some of those one girls like Ellegna have educated me about writing a better Jasper. Edward's coming – don't worry. The next chapter will be up in about a week, and in the mean time if you would please review it could result in world peace. You want world peace, don't you?