Sorry for the wait on this one, guys! Between real life, our other stories and Comic Con, this took longer than we'd anticipated. Thanks for sticking it out with us.

As always, thanks to the gorgeous girls who bought us in last year's FGB auction, and to ElleCC who had her work cut out for her betaing this chapter.

Stephenie Meyer owns the characters, Lynyrd Skynyrd owns the name... but Lawsper owns us.


BPOV

I woke to the warm and wet weight of lips on my back. Roughened fingertips trailed the length of my spine, leaving goosebumps and trembling nerves in their wake. I shivered and felt his lips curve into a smile against my skin.

"Good morning, beautiful," he murmured against me.

"Morning," I tried to reply, but my mouth never worked correctly until I'd consumed approximately twelve cups of coffee, so it came out sounding more like, "muhng."

He chuckled, the vibrations skittering along my skin and I sighed. I slowly opened my eyes, noting the silvery hue of the room, signaling the early hour. "Whatimesit?"

"Still early, but we have to be at the courthouse at eight."

I groaned and rolled onto my stomach, not at all ready to wake up and start the day. Jasper and I had been together every night since we'd finally allowed ourselves to give in to one another. It was nothing short of blissful to fall asleep tangled together and wake wrapped in his warmth and salty-sweet scent, but it wasn't exactly conducive to a full night's sleep. We were insatiable, starving for every little piece of the other. I wanted to know every inch of his body, which spot made him moan, which made him tremble and which made him scream.

And he gave as good as he got.

With a sigh, I stretched my arms out in front of me, trying to wake myself up. Suddenly, I felt him settle against me, pressing me into the bed. He grabbed my hands, wrapping them around the bed posts.

I shivered when his stubbled cheeked graze my own, his breath fanning my neck. "Why don't you just hold on tight for a minute, sugar?" he murmured against my ear, the raspy notes of that fire and honey voice sliding right into me and settling in the pit of my stomach. "We have a few minutes yet, and I intend to use them. And you."

I moaned, arching back against him and trying to raise up on my hands and knees to give him better access. Who needed foreplay when you woke to that sweet and slow southern in your ear? Not me, that was for damn sure.

"Don't move, baby," he murmured against my neck. "I like you just fine like this." His mouth moved from my neck to my shoulders. Wet warmth spanning across my back, making me shiver.

His hands drifted up and down my sides, barely brushing against my breasts, but causing them to tighten just the same. Everywhere he touched came alive, every inch of skin that had yet to feel the brush of those calloused fingertips throbbed with need.

"Jasper," I whimpered. His only response was a low hum against my spine, and I swear my very bones shuddered under its weight. I felt his body lift from mine, the air in the room cool on my heated skin. His hands settled at my hips, tracing the shape of my curves over and over again.

"So beautiful, Bella," he murmured, and I felt my skin flush with heat. He chuckled, one fingertips tracing the blush down my spine. I shivered as goosebumps prickled my flesh, I moaned when the finger continued its path down, down, down until it reached where I was aching for him. Warm and sure hands gripped my thighs, pressing them apart so his fingers could continue to explore.

"And so wet," he murmured, the very tip of his finger slipping inside of me. I trembled and tried to push back against him, but he held me in place. "Tell me, Bella... who made you so wet?"

His finger slipped all the way inside of me, curling and twisting. "You," I managed to gasp.

"Yes, that's right. Me," he said, punctuating the statement with a nip at the center of my back. He added another finger, stroking in and out at a steady pace. The room filling with my muffled moans and the increasingly wet sounds of his fingers. "So wet and smooth and hot. I bet you're sweet, too. Sweeter than sugar." I could hear the smile in his voice, could picture so perfectly the way his mouth would bow up into a crooked smirk. I wanted to feel that mouth on me.

"Taste me, Jasper," I moaned.

"Hmmm," he considered, even as his fingers continued to swirl deliciously inside of me. "No, I don't think I will. I'd much rather you taste yourself." He drew his fingers from me, reaching up his hand to rub them against my bottom lip. The movement caused him to shift, pressing against me and I could feel how hard he was. Heavy and hot against my ass. "Taste what I do to you, Bella."

I moaned, opening my mouth and sucking his fingers inside. I swirled my tongue around them, lapping at the flavor, wishing it was his cock coated with me.

"See how sweet you are, Bella?"

"Yes," I gasped. I was on fire. Everywhere burned with need for him.

"Who does that to you, sugar? Who makes you so wet and sweet?"

He pressed against me, the very tip of his cock nudging against my entrance and I thought I'd scream if I didn't have him inside of me at that very second. "You, just you Jasper. Please," I whimpered.

"Please what, Bella?"

"Please, I need you," I gasped.

He leaned down, pressing his lips to my neck and his cock further against my pussy. "But I'm right here, baby."

"You know what I mean," I whined.

"Yeah," he chuckled. "I guess I do. But maybe I just want to hear you say. Say it, Bella."

"Fuck me," I whispered. "Please, Jasper. Right now."

He slammed into me. "God!" I moaned.

His hands were biting into my hips, holding me down when I wanted to arch against him. He pulled all the way out, pushing back into me with such force that I knew, had he not been holding me, I would have been thrown against the headboard.

"Is this what you wanted?"

"Yes! Fuck... yes..." I gasped.

"Yeah, it is," he hissed. "You remember that, Bella." He punctuated each word with a deep thrust. "You remember this." He fell on top of me, his weight completely pinning me to the bed. His heat surrounded me, his scent was everywhere. I could feel him throbbing inside of me. His hands gripping my hips, his teeth scraping against my shoulder. I couldn't breathe. I was completely consumed.

"No one else will make you feel like this. No one else."

When I came apart around him seconds later, I knew he was right.

And it terrified the ever loving fuck out of me.

oOo

We both seemed to need some distance after the intensity of the morning. We went our separate ways after showering and sharing a quiet breakfast. Things weren't tense or strained between us, it was just as though we were both too full of words to speak.

I knew I needed to sort myself out before we really spoke again. I knew our time was running thin and each word carried so much more meaning now. I needed to know, definitively, what I wanted to do. I needed to figure out what I wanted my life to look like moving forward. And whether or not it could include Jasper.

The undeniable truth was that I wanted him in my life. I felt him inside of me, a phantom throb beside my heart. I knew I'd never be able to shed the connection we shared. I knew I'd never feel for another the way I felt for him.

But was it enough?

Could I derail my entire life for the sake of a man?

This sweet, southern, simple man?

I didn't know.

oOo

"Hey, Sam," I said, giving him a quick hug when he ushered me inside his apartment. "You ready for this?"

He shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck. "As ready as anyone ever is for this type of thing."

We sat down at his rickety kitchen table and went through the agreed upon settlement line by line, making sure everything he was aware and on board with everything set forth in the divorce papers.

He sat back against his chair, scrubbing his hands over his face. "I can't believe I'm doing this."

I sighed, lying my hand over his. "I know. I'm sorry, Sam. This is never easy, but I truly believe, after all of this is said and done, you'll both be a lot happier. We just need to get through this one last thing and then you can both start living your lives again."

"I've hurt her so badly, Bella," he whispered brokenly. "What kind of person does this to his wife and the mother of his children?"

"Sam... you know me, I'm not going to sugarcoat it for you. What you did was really shitty. There are a million things you could have and probably should have done differently... but sometimes... sometimes I think everything happens for a reason."

He just looked at me skeptically and I blushed, knowing that I sounded corny as hell. "Look, neither of you was happy. If this hadn't happened, if Emily hadn't come along... you guys would be in the same boat, just going through the motions. At least now you both have a chance to really live." I shrugged. "Leah has the opportunity to get out there and find something that's going to make her happy and fulfilled. And you have Emily. I just...I think it's the best for both of you. And I'm happy for you."

He squeezed my hand. "Thanks, Bella. It means a lot to me, coming from you. From someone who's been a part of our lives from the beginning. I'm so glad you understand. I hope someday Leah will see it that way too. That she'll find someone who makes her as happy as Emily's made me."

"I think she will. I hope she will. I'll kick her ass if she doesn't," I said, laughing.

"I know you will," Sam said with a smile. He sat back in his chair once again, his expression lighter, his eyes appraising me. "You seem different."

I dropped my eyes, suddenly uncomfortable with his scrutiny. "Yeah?"

"Yeah. More... I don't know. Relaxed, maybe."

I raised my brow. "You mean I'm not quite such a ball busting goody two shoes?"

"No, I wouldn't go that far." He laughed, holding up his hands. "Just that you're a little more... hell, I don't know. Point is, you seem happier. I like it."

"Yeah, well... me too."

"This wouldn't have anything to do with a Mr. Jasper Whitlock, would it?" he asked with a sly grin.

My face immediately colored. "That is none of your goddamn business, Sam Uley."

"Mmmhmmm." He smirked. "You cosying up to opposing council, Miss Swan? Trying to sway the other team a little for me? I'm touched that you'd take one for the team like that. I really am."

"Shut the fuck up, Sam. Oh my god," I moaned, covering my face in mortification. Was it that obvious? Christ, I was such a fuckup. This could ruin my entire reputation.

"Oh, stop it, I'm just teasing you," he said, standing up and crossing over to me. He pulled my hands from my face, yanking me to my feet and into his arms. "I'm happy for you, Bells. You deserve it, whatever's going on to make you so happy. I just hope he's good enough for you. "

"He might be too good," I murmured before pulling away.

"No such thing, Bells," he said, squeezing me tighter.

I stepped away, clearing my throat, not wanting the doubts and indecision to take hold once again. I had a job to do. "Okay, enough with this crap. We need to go. Get your game face on, Uley."

"Aye aye captain," he laughed, holding the door open for me.

oOo

The final meeting between Leah and Sam went smoothly. Much more smoothly than any of us could have ever anticipated, given the tension between them at the beginning of the process. We clipped through the details of the settlement agreement, pausing at each point to get Sam's and Leah's approval before moving on.

The entire process took about forty-five minutes, which was kind of surreal considering I'd uprooted my entire life for the sixty-something days it had taken to get us to this point.

We only had one last hurdle through which to jump, and it was only a matter of formality. We'd have to go before the judge and sign the official papers the following morning. Then we'd be done. Sam and Leah would be officially divorced, free to go their separate ways.

And so would I.

I just didn't know what that meant.

Jasper and I watched Sam and Leah walk out of the office together, making plans to meet up at the house later to have dinner with their kids. When the door closed, Jasper's arm snaked around my waist, pulling me to him. I lay my head on his chest, listening to the slow and steady beat of his heart.

"Come home with me?" he asked quietly.

"Not tonight," I whispered, though it hurt me. "I need... some time."

He swallowed hard, but nodded, bending to kiss me gently. "I'll be here whenever you're ready, Bella."

And I knew he would. I just didn't know if I would ever be ready.

JPOV

I returned home and sat in my living room, my eyes focused on the empty space between my ceiling fan and the coffee table. My heart was whirring at what seemed like three hundred beats per minute, nearly painful in its intensity, and I was filled with anxiety I couldn't shake.

"Not tonight. I need some time."

"I'll be here whenever you're ready, Bella," I'd said.

It was too much.

I was too much.

I'd freaked her out, pushed her away this morning.

My house was silent, my head filled with a million thoughts as they flew haphazardly through my mind, and as I began to clench and unclench my fists rhythmically, I knew I needed to do something. To focus on something else.

But I couldn't.

This was make or break time, and I wondered if Bella wholly understood that if she denied me this, if she denied us this, I wasn't sure how I could cope.

I loved her, and I knew that, in some way, she loved me. I just knew she did. And when I woke up with her bare form warm and inviting and so close to mine, I just... had to show her. I had to remind her that what we have is important, that it was my truth. My desperation to prove this to her, once and for all, was only made more powerful by the knowledge that our time was limited. The case was coming to a close, and I had no idea what her plans were, not really.

I had to show her.

My mind kept replaying it and, in hindsight, what we'd shared this morning had been incredible and intense.

But had it been too much?

I sighed and stood up, walked to my room and then to my bathroom and began to strip. Suddenly, I felt as though what I needed was a hot shower, something to cleanse me, at least outwardly.

There was no changing my innermost feelings, after all. Bella resided at the forefront of every one.

I dropped my clothes at my feet and stepped into the nearly scalding flow of water, moaning lowly as the heat made its way through my skin. It felt good and relaxing. I focused on the mundane tasks of my shower: washcloth, soap, skin, shampoo, rinse. Once I was done, I stood there, the water flowing down my back, and pressed my hands into my forehead, allowing my paranoia to cover me again. It wrapped around me like a winter coat, heavy and unyielding, and I exhaled loudly as I stepped out of the tub.

Like I had a few weeks ago, I stood in front of my mirror and stared at myself through the fog there.

I had to resign myself to the fact that whatever happened would happen. I wanted-no, needed- Bella. I thought she needed me, as well. Since Leah had given up her fight, it seemed my sweet Bella had, too, and the vulnerability she'd allowed me to see had only made me love her more.

But yet, I waited, rife with uncertainty.

"No one else will make you feel like this," I'd said. "No one else."

I wondered if she knew the same logic applied to me regarding her.

oOo

I managed to find enough to keep me busy for the remainder of my afternoon and evening. File organization took up a large portion of the time, and then I made dinner for myself.

At 8:06, my cell phone rang.

"Bella," I breathed into the line.

"Jasper," she returned, her voice barely a whisper. "Can I come over?"

There wasn't a second of thought involved in my response. "Of course, Bella. I'm here."

"Okay, then. I'll be there in a few," she said, her voice still soft.

"I'll be waiting."

As I hung up, I realized that, in our small conversation, we had encompassed our relationship, as a whole. I waited. She was uncertain. But we wanted some semblance of closeness; that much was undeniable.

I stood at my kitchen window, remembering her legs around my waist just a few mornings prior. My fingers were running along the edge of the counter when it started raining. It wasn't a slow storm; it had come from nowhere, and water was pounding at my window, its rhythmic beating interrupted randomly by a clap of thunder.

I moved then, walking across my house to the guest bathroom. I didn't have an umbrella so a towel would have to work.

I stepped outside a few moments later, the rain making the evening seem darker somehow, though not necessarily foreboding. I felt a strange sense of quiet overwhelm me, and realized that tonight was it. I'd known that all day, but as Bella's rental car turned onto my street, the idea settled into my chest.

She parked and I rushed out to the side of her car, the heavy rain instantly mating my hair to my forehead, and held the towel over her as she got out, slammed the door, and rushed with me to my porch.

"I won't melt, Jasper, I promise. That was unnecessary, but thank you." Her smile was soft as she continued, "I should have expected it though, Southern gentleman that you are."

I smirked at her, my eyes slipping past her to stare into my yard for a second. "Not all the time, Bella."

"Enough of it to count, then," she replied.

I shrugged and my smirk turned into a smile. "Let's get inside," I said, and began to run the towel over my face and shoulders. She took her shoes off, and I led her into my living room and she took a seat before grabbing the remote to turn the stereo on. "I'll be back," I advised, and slipped away to my bedroom to grab a dry shirt. I yanked the wet one off and went back to the living room. "Can I get you anything?" I asked, pulling the shirt over my head.

I could feel her eyes on me, burning tracks into my skin as she stared at me, and when I was dressed again and took a real look at her, I realized she was nervous. Tense. Bella was scratching at the back of her neck with regularity, and when she didn't think I noticed, she was biting at her lip lightly.

"A coke?" she asked.

I brought her a drink and took a seat next to her on my couch.

The room was silent, and I was annoyed.

There was no need for this awkwardness. We were adults, damn it. We knew what we were getting into, and I wanted to scream, to allow the thoughts that were swimming around within me-connecting my mind and heart to fly-but something kept me from it.

Bella shook her head and sighed loudly before placing her can on my coffee table. She drummed her first three fingers there for a moment before turning to me and pulling herself up so that she was sitting on one of her feet.

Her coffee-colored irises focused on mine and I swallowed hard.

This was it.

This was it.

I had no idea what to expect, but I shoved away the anxiety that was threatening to wrap around me again. I needed to be fully here, in this moment, regardless of what happened.

She cleared her throat and clasped her hands in her lap.

I wanted her to touch me. I wanted to reach out and take her hand.

But I didn't.

"I've...been doing some research," she began. I nodded. "Jasper, I... fuck. Goddamn it."

I furrowed my brow and opened my mouth to speak, but she covered her face with her hands, growled, and then shushed me. "No. This isn't hard. I just need to stop being a fucking pussy and do it."

"Bella? I don't..."

"Shh. Hold on, okay?" I watched as she pursed her lips and then moved toward me, finally sitting in my lap so that she was straddling me. Bella wrapped her arms around me and sighed, her breath ghosting over my throat as she brushed her lips along my jaw.

"Bella?" My chest was tight, and my breathing was coming in shallow gasps. I wanted to reach for her, to graze my fingertips along her thigh, to touch her in any capacity, but I was frozen. I couldn't make myself move; my uncertainty washed over me repeatedly, reminding me that she could crush me in one word.

"Shhh," she said again, and pressed her finger to my lips.

A moment passed before she changed my world completely.

"I love you, Jasper Whitlock," she whispered.

And then the floodgates opened.

"Oh, god. Bella. Bella, I love you. I love you." I turned my face to hers and capturing her lips with mine. My relief was so intense, I was overwhelmed. It felt as though I was out of control, unable to focus on one thing. I just needed her, needed to touch her, to feel her. She kissed me, her hands knotted gently in my wet hair, and I felt her smile.

"I know you do," she said. "I think I've always known."

I tightened my embrace, pulling her slender frame against mine, holding her firmly to me. Words were insufficient and all of the unknowns didn't matter. She loved me. I loved her. We could figure this out.

I heard her inhale loudly as she pushed against my chest, sitting up straight.

"I've been doing some research," she said. "How do you feel about Austin?"

I felt a smile pull one side of my lips upward.

"Well, shug, am I lucky enough that Austin has you?"

Her returning smile was gorgeous, ear-to-ear, and she nodded. "Conceivably, yes."

"Then I am pro-Austin, baby," I replied.

She kissed me again, and I couldn't help myself. A laugh welled up in my chest, and when we parted, I let it go, let the worries go, let the stress I'd been feeling about what would happen with us fully dissipate.

"Can I stay?" she asked softly.

"You never have to ask that, Bella." She stood up, and I stretched my legs out, contouring them along the back of my couch, and she quickly extended her body next to mine, snuggling up against my chest.

We talked and kissed for the rest of the night. She revealed that she'd spent the entire afternoon and early part of the evening figuring out exactly what it was that she wanted. She had to really think about James and what had happened with him, and in finally making herself analyze that situation, she realized that her feelings for me were stronger and more real than they'd ever been for him. She told me she wanted to move to be with me, but that living in Blessing was too different from everything she was used to; she wanted to live in a city that more closely resembled home. Bella told me that if we were going to make it, she needed to be honest with me. "I want you to work somewhere that will allow your talent to grow, a place where you can push yourself to be better, Jasper," she said. She'd spoken vaguely of that when we'd had dinner before our kiss at her door, but for her to be that honest with me made my chest tighten. She had really, truly considered our future. I let her know that I understood that, wholly, but that if we moved, I would still want to be reasonably close to my grandparents. She smiled. "I had a feeling you'd say that," she said, and then told me that when she began poking around online, she looked up Austin, and thought it would be a good compromise. It only put me about three hours from my grandparents and was much more metropolitan than Blessing. Getting a license to practice permanently in Texas would be easy enough.

"You've thought of everything, it seems," I said softly.

She shrugged against me and gently placed her fingers on my chin, pressing her thumb against my bottom lip as she turned me to face her. "I just want you, Jasper. You."

"I love you," I softly replied, and then her lips were on mine again.

We kissed and held each other until we passed out, finally allowing the rain's rhythm to lull us to sleep.


Just the epi left now, guys!

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