bPenname/b: averysubtlegift

bOriginal or Derivative (fanfiction)/b: derivative

bRating/Warning(s)/Note(s)/b: M, Alice/Jasper

bDisclaimer/b: All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization.

bPrompt/b: Roots

AN: This file will simply be my writings for the Fictionista January 2010 WitFit Challenge. Feel free to read and comment if you choose.

I stood looking out the window as I replayed the message on the machine one more time.

"Alice, please call me back. I know you're hurt. I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I've left a bunch of messages on your cell, I've even tried you at work. I need to talk to you. We need to work this out. I love you. You know I do."

Jasper's voice. Alluring, even on the crappy twenty dollar answering machine that we bought when we got our first apartment. Hearing his voice cut me deeply. The desire to keep playing the message back so that I could hear him again bordered on masochism, yet I pushed the rewind button and listened again.

I stood near the window and looked out. It didn't seem possible that life could just go on like normal out there. Everything looked exactly the same. Everyone was still scurrying about their daily chores, oblivious to the pain inside of me. Oblivious to the fact that life as I knew it ended exactly 13 days ago.

It all started innocently enough. I woke next to Jasper, my handsome husband, the man I adored. The college that he taught at was closed today, in observance of something or other. He was looking forward to a "day for being lazy", as he put it. I still had to head into my office, but I had changed my schedule so that I could spend some of the morning with Jasper. It was the best kind of morning, starting with torrid sex and ending with hot coffee and the newspaper in bed. It was our favorite way to spend a morning, and we didn't often get the chance on a weekday.

I had kissed him goodbye before I left. Life was good. I was married to the man I adored, and he adored me. We had a wonderful house and our third anniversary was only a month away. We both had great careers and good friends. You would have been hard pressed to find a more content soul than me that morning.

Work was busy. I'm the senior editor of the fashion section for X! magazine. It is a national publication, dedicated to keeping women ahead of the next big trend - be it in music, fashion, books or technology. It was a job I loved. We were busier than usual this week, getting our spread ready for the best looks of the New Year, fashion was getting double pages and I wanted to be sure the layout was exquisite.

I didn't usually join my staff for lunch, but, for once we were ahead of schedule. The mood was light and everyone had been working so hard. We all decided to head to the new bistro down the block, my treat for all their hard work. Lunch was a happy affair. The food had been great and we shared so many laughs that I didn't really want to head back to work.

I left the restaurant, eager for the workday to be over, eager to get home to Jasper. That was the last happy thought that went through my mind before I saw Jasper's car. I was walking back to work and happened to glance down a side street. There on the side of the road, parked between a grey Lexus and a white Toyota was Jasper's dark blue Audi.

I actually started walking toward his car. I intended to surprise him, thrilled that I would get the chance to see him before my lunch hour was over.

Instead, I was stopped dead in my tracks at the sight unfolding before my eyes. There was a little "boutique" on this street. A place I avoided like the plague because of all the pseudo-designer crap they sold. Any fashion writer worth their salt wouldn't be caught dead in a place like that. Yet, lo and behold, my husband, Jasper Whitlock was exiting the store with a blonde on one arm and shopping bags on the other.

I actually took my hands and rubbed my eyes. I actually did. I was so sure what I was seeing was some sort of mistake, a trick of the light, a mirage. When I looked again, they were still there. He was smiling at her and she was looking up at him with the hungriest fuck me eyes I had ever seen.

I should have done something. I should have yelled, or approached them, or walked away - anything. What I did was stand there and watch. I was either too far away for them to notice, or they were too preoccupied to care, because they didn't spare a glance in my direction. When they reached the car, Jasper unlocked the door and opened it for her. He was always a gentleman. A gust of wind blew, and her long hair swirled around her face. Jasper brushed it back when the wind died out, leaving his hand at the side of her face, caressing. Then he leaned in and kissed her. Their embrace was full of passion and yet the motions were so smooth, there was a familiarity between them that spoke volumes. As she sat down in the car, Jasper gave her my smile. My smile. The smile that always told me that I was the only one in the world for him.

He got in the car and they pulled away. I didn't know where they were going but my mind ran wild with all the things they would do when they got there. I made it four steps before vomiting my lunch onto the sidewalk.

I didn't go back to work that day. I actually called from my car making up some lame excuse about food poisoning. I 'm not sure how I made it home, it was nearly impossible to see through the tears.

In our bedroom, I could smell Jasper everywhere. It made it all that much worse. Part of me felt grateful that I didn't come home to find them in our bed, another part of me pondered where they might be. Was she a co-ed from one of his classes? How old was she? She'd looked young.

She'd also had long blonde hair and been tall and curvy. Appearance wise she was everything that I was not. I fingered my short black hair as I looked in the mirror, wondering what was wrong with the picture reflecting back at me.

It seemed utterly ridiculous. I was always the person who knew things. My friends always joked that I was psychic. That wasn't really the case, but I did tend to be really good at reading people.

This, however, was something I never saw coming. We never fought. We had sex, a lot. We communicated. We were a happy couple. I never had any idea.

I thought back to something my friend Rose had told me at my bachelorette party. Rose and I had known each other forever. Her boyfriend Emmett had been the best man at our wedding. He'd known Jasper all his life. After many shots of tequila Rose had confided that Emmett couldn't believe Jasper was marrying me. He had told Rose that Jasper was always the one who had the most difficulty with self-control. I'd laughed her off. We'd dated for years, and there hadn't been any problems. Why would that change? I had told Rose that there was something special about my relationship with Jasper - that it felt like destiny. She'd laughed it off and said something about Emmett being an idiot.

I guess the joke was on me. How many times had he had difficulty with his "self-control" that I knew nothing about? Was this the first time, or just one of many?

How could it have all felt so perfect? What did I do to make this happen?

Jasper hadn't set foot in the house since. I hadn't spoken to him. He called and left messages and waited at the curb. I couldn't look at him without seeing her.

I listened to the message one last time. He still loved me. He didn't mean to hurt me. Those were his words. I could no longer believe his words. He broke the trust I put in him just as surely as he broke my heart. I wanted to be able to talk to him. I wanted to have some answers. I wanted him back, as weak and sad and pathetic as it sounded, I did want him back.

But my heart was filled with resentment. I couldn't see him without feeling betrayed and violated. These were emotions with roots. Their tendrils were seeded in my soul, and I couldn't just shake them out after a week of heartache.

I took a deep breath and deleted the message on the machine. I poured a glass of wine and tried not to cry.