While I could bore you to death with why it's taken me so long to post this, I'd rather offer up a sincere apology for the very long wait between chapters. I genuinely appreciate the time you take to read each chapter and I always love seeing your reviews, alerts, and favorites.
Disclaimer – I own nothing related to Twilight, it all belongs to Stephenie Meyer and Company. Which is fine, I'll just take the actor who plays Jasper.
Warning – mild sexual content.
Previously on Left Alone, to be Together –
"Of course I want to be with you, in that way." Tears fell from her eyes and she said the words I had wanted to scream for weeks. "I love you, Cowboy."
Oh, shit, did I say that? I… I think I just told Jasper I loved him. I hadn't meant to, really, but I couldn't help it. And he was just staring at me, looking at me as if I had told him all the secrets of the world. His mouth was open in shock, his eyes wide and scanning my face.
"Fuck, Bella, do you have any idea how long I've wanted to hear you say that?" he growled.
Before I had time to respond, or even really think about what he said, his lips were on mine again – those beautiful, powerful lips taking full possession of both my mind and my body. He prodded my lips apart with his and his tongue plundered my mouth with a passion that left me breathless. I tangled my fingers within his hair and I kissed him back with everything I had. He groaned as I fisted his hair, and I decided it was perhaps the sexiest sound in the world. All too soon, he pulled back again.
"I love you, Bella," he whispered.
My breath hitched in my throat and I thought I heard him wrong for a moment.
"I'm in love with you," he whispered again, kissing the corner of my mouth, and I still wasn't sure I had heard him right. "Stop doubting me, Isabella. I… love… you."
I laughed a little and put my forehead against his, closing my eyes, trying to catch my breath.
"I'm sorry," I said.
Jasper growled. "Why are you apologizing?"
I opened my eyes and leaned my head back, and I saw that his eyes were intently watching my face. "It's just… hard to believe, I guess."
"What is?" he asked, kissing the tip of my nose.
"That you love me," I whispered back, gently brushing my nose against his.
Even saying the words felt weird to me. Not that I didn't want to believe him, it was that I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that Jasper had me pinned against a wall and we were making out, let alone the fact that he reciprocated my feelings. I felt like I was going to wake up from whatever cruel dream this was any second.
He pulled back further and his eyes narrowed. "Why?"
"I don't know," I said with a sigh, and I saw his face soften. "It's just… I've felt like this for… awhile."
Jasper smiled that breathtaking, lopsided smile and my heart picked up in pace. "Bella," he whispered, closing his eyes and shaking his head, "I… I think I fell in love with you that first week I was back."
I felt my eyes widen. Jasper loving me alone was astonishing enough, but for him to have felt that way for longer than I had outright stunned me. I detached one hand from his hair and brought it to his face, gently stroking his cheek with my fingertips. I leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on his other cheek. He turned his head and I smiled before kissing his proffered lips. Oh, God, those lips. We kissed slowly, our lips molding together, and I felt like I was in my own personal heaven.
"Tell me again," he whispered.
I smiled and pulled back enough to look him directly in those speckled topaz eyes. "I'm in love with you, Jasper Monroe Whitlock."
And I was. I meant it with everything I had, with everything I was. I didn't realize the gravity of it until I had said it out loud and it was almost suffocating. That want, that need, for him was so overwhelming I felt like I was drowning, but when he smiled… when he touched me… when his lips were against mine, I could breathe again.
Jasper closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath before smiling and looking at me again. He brushed a strand of hair off my face and his fingertips lingered on my scalp, and I felt my eyes fluttering closed.
"Hey," he said, and I met his eyes again.
"Hi," I said, smiling.
We just stared at each other for awhile, his fingers gently skimming my hairline.
"Jazz?" I asked after a few long moments.
"Yes?" he said quietly.
"Tell me again."
Jasper's face lit with a wide smile and he kissed me gently before meeting my eyes again.
"Isabella Marie Swan, I am hopelessly and completely in love you."
I felt tears sting my eyes, so taken with his sweet words that I couldn't find it in me to ask how he knew my full name. I closed my eyes, letting his words sink in.
"Don't cry," he whispered, leaning in and kissing each of my eyelids.
I chuckled and put my forehead against his. "I'm sorry," I whispered. "I'm just not… used to feeling like this."
"Feeling like what?" he asked.
"Happy," I replied instantly. "Not just… happy, but… happy. I feel like nothing is better than this, Jasper, right now, here with you."
"I can't think of anything else either, darlin'," he replied quietly, and I could hear the smile in his voice. "This, to me, is perfection at its finest."
The honesty in his voice left me speechless. Instead of saying anything else, I wrapped my arms around his neck, drawing him closer. He pulled me from the wall and supported my weight as his arms went around my back, holding me tightly against him. I turned my head and rested it against his shoulder, my lips right by his neck. I couldn't resist – I peppered his chilled neck with slow, open-mouthed kisses, loving the low hums of approval coming from Jasper.
I was steeling myself, still trying to get my head to wrap around the fact that Jasper loved me back. That and when I asked him if he'd change me if we agreed upon it, he was more than willing. It surprised me, having been told 'no' so many times by Edward, having Jasper agree immediately showed me how much Jasper wanted me. And, if I was honest with myself, I wanted Jasper more than I had ever wanted anything in my life – Edward included, and I still wasn't completely used to that idea.
I hadn't actually meant to ask him that, it had just sort of popped out of my mouth. I had needed reassurance that it was going to be different with Jasper, that he wanted me at whatever the cost was, my soul be damned. It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps Jasper didn't think the same way as Edward had.
"Jasper?" I asked against his neck.
"Do you believe that you have a soul?"
I felt him chuckle. "I think so," he said thoughtfully. "If I didn't, would I be able to care enough about humanity to stop killing them even though the other option is not as good? If Carlisle didn't, would he be who he is? If Esme was soulless, would she have loved us the way she did? I think that, to a degree, the choices we make are indeed because our brain supplies us with what we know is right and wrong, good and evil. However, I firmly believe that it takes a person with a soul to be human, and, even though vampires do not have a pulse, we are at the very least humanlike. So, I suppose it's safe to say that I either have a soul or at least a soul-like… something. Why do you ask?"
I hesitated, but decided to be completely honest with him. "Edward always told me that he wouldn't change me because he would take away my soul."
I cringed slightly when Jasper growled lowly. "Bella," he said tightly, "that is the most idiotic thing I have heard in quite some time."
I stayed quiet, afraid I'd made him angry.
Jasper sighed. "Isabella," he said quietly, "in my opinion, it's not someone else's right to determine what would damage your soul. Personally, I believe that it would be saving your soul if it belongs to someone else."
"What?" I asked, confused.
"I firmly believe in soul mates; always have, always will," he said. "I believe that, in order to be completely connected, you have to be on the same level. For instance, a vampire and a human are on two different levels, and if you have a soul mate that you can bring to your level, it should be done. Does that make more sense?"
"Yes," I said.
I wanted to ask him if he thought Alice had been his soul mate at one point, but I was too afraid to. He must have sensed something change in my emotions, because he answered my unasked question.
"I believe that you can have more than one," Jasper explained. "Soul mate, I mean. If you find someone you view as a soul mate I think that means they're in your life at a certain point for a reason, and that can be for your entire life or just a short period of time. However, if you do plan on making something work between you and your soul mate, you really do need to be on the same level."
I couldn't help but ask. "Do you think that… that we…?"
Jasper cut me off as I continued to stutter. "I'd like to think so," he whispered, turning his head and lightly kissing my cheek. "Because, Bella, there is no one who makes me feel like you do. There's no one who makes me so ridiculously happy that I can barely believe that they're real. There's no one who I connect to like you, no one who understands my silly humor so fully, or who compliments me rather than insults me, even if the other people did so unintentionally. You know just what to say to make me feel better; you know when I need to be comforted without even saying a word. You just… constantly amaze me."
His words left me speechless, and, with tears in my eyes, I leaned in and kissed him again. He kissed me back slowly, letting his lips mold against mine before deepening it. My arms tightened around his neck and I clung to him, never wanting to let go. But when breathing became necessary I pulled away reluctantly. He kissed my forehead, my eyelids, my nose.
"Thank you," I said.
"For what?" he asked, pulling back to look me in the eyes.
"For loving me back," I said with a smile.
"It's my pleasure, darlin'," he said, kissing me lightly.
I felt a twinge of pain in my left thigh and I shifted a little, trying to get it to stop, but it only got worse.
"What's wrong?" Jasper asked, sounding concerned.
"Oh," I said dismissively, "just a little muscle twitch."
Jasper sighed and walked to the couch, sitting down before turning and laying down, his legs stretching the length of the sofa. I molded myself against him, sighing in relief as I stretched out my legs a little. His hand found my thigh and he massaged it gently, and I felt the tension leave my muscles immediately.
"I fell in love with you at the zoo," I said after a few moments of gathering my courage. "When we were looking at the zebras."
"Really?" he asked, resting his cheek against the top of my head, his hand still rubbing my thigh.
I nodded against his chest. "Well, it had been building for quite some time, I think. But there was something about the way you went from silly to serious was just endearing."
"Wait," Jasper said, sounding confused, "I didn't feel any of that coming from you. And believe me, I was looking for it, waiting for it. Why were you closing off your emotions to me?"
I sighed. "I didn't want you to know that I was attracted to you," I explained. "I didn't think you'd ever feel the same, and I didn't want to ruin anything between us because I loved being around you so much."
Jasper chuckled. "Well, it seems as though we both had the same ideas."
"I'm glad we didn't say anything until now, though."
"Why's that?" he asked.
"Because, I couldn't imagine a better way to have told you other than being shoved up against a wall and kissed senseless."
Jasper laughed and tightened his arm around me. "I can't say I don't agree."
"Jasper," I whispered, nuzzling my cheek against the soft material of his shirt.
"I know this won't be as pretty as your speech but…"
"You don't have to say anything," he said.
"I'd like to," I said. He didn't say anything else, so I continued. "What you were saying about soul mates…. I never really believed in them until you just said what you did. I feel differently, with you, than I have with anyone else. I have butterflies in my stomach when I look at you, but at the same time I feel so content and calm. I didn't realize how detached from myself I was until you came around, and I've never felt better than when I am with you. It's not like that obsessive need I had with Edward; it's better, because I know that I want you, do you know what I mean?"
"I think so," he said quietly.
"It's like… I feel good when I'm with you, not anxious like I was with Edward. I feel like I don't have to try and be someone else so I can meet unspoken standards, even if they were my own. I used to feel like I had to constantly be better; because I didn't feel like I lived up to the person he should have been with. I'm not saying that I think he's better than you, that he deserves more, because I think that's the furthest from the truth."
"Bella," he interrupted me, "you really don't have to explain that to me."
"I feel like I have to, Jasper," I said with a sigh. "You were worried, before, that you would remind me of Edward."
"That's true," he admitted.
"So," I said, "I'd like to reiterate that."
"Go ahead," he replied.
"Like I was saying, with Edward I couldn't be myself because I felt like I'd never be good enough. I've realized that, since being around you, I shouldn't have felt that way. I should have felt like this, like I was wanted and needed and able to be myself without worrying all the time what you'd think. I feel like I can do anything, say anything, and not have to be completely paranoid about your reaction. I can joke with you, be silly and weird and think nothing of it. The only reason I didn't tell you I loved you was because I didn't want to scare you away."
Jasper hummed and kissed my head. "It'll take a lot more than that to scare me away, Isabella."
I smiled and looked up at him. "But now," I said, shifting slightly, "I can kiss you as often as I'd like."
"Yes, ma'am, you can," he murmured and roughly covered my lips with his.
I kissed him back hard, sucking his full bottom lip into my mouth and biting down lightly before running my tongue over it. He groaned and his hand tightened on my thigh as our tongues met hurriedly. Without stopping to think, I moved, not letting my lips leave his as I pulled my knees up. I realized suddenly that I was straddling Jasper, my knees on either side of his hips. I raised myself up, using his shoulders as support.
"Bella," he panted against my lips, but I ignored him.
I kissed him harder, my fingers going to the first button of his shirt all by themselves. I made it about three buttons down before I felt his hands grasp my hips. For a second, I thought he was going to push me back, to reprimand me for taking it too far… I was beyond wrong. He pushed down on my hips, causing me to put most of my weight against his crotch. I groaned against his mouth and continued unbuttoning his shirt, Jasper's kisses becoming rougher and rougher.
"Shit," Jasper hissed as I parted his shirt and ran my fingertips over his cold, firm chest, my nails lightly raking along his marble skin.
I smiled but then moaned as Jasper took my mouth again, his tongue plunging between my teeth as his hands pulled my hips forward before pushing them back. We groaned loudly when he pushed and pulled my hips again, friction growing and turning into sheer lust. His hands came off my hips, which needed no more guidance, and he grabbed either side of my shirt and pulled.
"I'll buy you a new one," he growled, shoving the shirt off my shoulders and down my arms before throwing it to the side.
I only felt self-conscious for a moment, straddling Jasper in nothing but a pair of jeans and a black bra. But my worries were washed away when Jasper pulled me down, his lips connecting with my neck, leaving open-mouthed kisses down to my collarbone. He kissed my chest and his hands went to my ribs before trailing down to my hips again, pressing me down harder as I continued to slide back and forth along him. I felt him grow hard beneath me, and I went faster, my own desire spiking. I curled my fingers against his stony chest as he kissed my cleavage, his tongue making a circle on my skin.
"Jasper," I panted as his hands guided me faster, his breath ragged against my chest.
"Christ, Bella," he moaned back as I purposely rotated my hips. "You're so beautiful."
I groaned as he nudged aside my bra with his nose, his lips connecting with the bit of skin he uncovered. His hips rose off the couch, pressing him closer against my sex, which was sensitive and aching.
"J-Jasper," I moaned again. "We need to stop or you need to remove more clothing, this is too much."
Jasper groaned beneath me as I rotated my hips again, trying to tell him I was hoping for the latter option.
"Bella," Jasper moaned, his cold lips stilling against my heated skin, and I stilled my hips. "I want you so badly."
"I want you, too, Jasper," I panted. "But?"
"But this isn't right," he groaned, sounding frustrated.
"Why?" I asked, a sudden feeling of rejection running through me.
"No," he said instantly, pulling back to look into my eyes. His hand came up and brushed a strand of hair away from my face and he gently stroked my cheek. "Bella, I don't think you understand why I can't do this right now."
"No," I said, embarrassed.
"Bella," he growled, "don't you dare think it is anything other than my fault. You are so beautiful, so sexy. There is nothing more than I want right now than to do terribly naughty things to you."
"But?" I said again, feeling very reassured but still not understanding.
"But the problem is that I want nothing more than that," he said with a sigh. "When we do this, it needs to be slow, to be at a time where I can focus more on my control, and not one hundred percent on the easiest way to remove your clothing."
I chuckled and put my forehead to his. "I trust you, though."
"I know," he said, tilting his head and kissing me gently. "Please, Bella, do this for me. I don't know if I'll be able to stop without you being alright with that. I'm willing to give you everything and anything, and this is something I want to be sure of. I need to know that I'm in control of the part of me that will always want your blood, and I can't be sure of that if we go into having sex at a frantic pace."
Jasper was so blunt about it I was speechless for a moment. I suddenly realized that, although he was turning me down at the moment, it wouldn't always be that way. He wanted me, and I wanted him so badly I was ready to scream, but I knew I needed to do this for him.
"Alright, Cowboy," I whispered, and he shivered beneath me.
"Bella, do you have any idea what that nickname does to me?" he asked, his jaw clenching.
"I do now," I said with a chuckle, but then I sighed. "Jasper, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take it this far."
"Neither did I," he said, kissing me again. "Can't say I didn't enjoy it, though."
I laughed and shook my head. "Can I ask something? Just to be sure?"
"Ask away," he said.
"When you say 'not like this' does that mean that… that one day…."
Jasper cut me off. "Bella," he said with a chuckle. "I'm constantly worried about you, about accidently hurting you by squeezing you too tight or grabbing you too hard, but that part I think we could work around. It's just the fact that I need a clear head going into something that serious, and there's no way I'd have one right now. But, yes, it might not be today, but I would not be opposed to the idea of it once we're able to move past the franticness."
"I'm feeling less frantic right now," I said with a smile.
Jasper rolled his eyes. "Yes, but I'm not," he said, and I realized he was still very hard beneath my bottom. "Don't worry, Isabella, I'm sure I won't be able to hold out too long."
I laughed nervously, feeling a little awkward about talking to Jasper about sex so openly. "Jasper," I said quietly, "I want nothing more than for you to be completely comfortable with it. I can't promise not to get a little… overzealous sometimes, but I promise to not push you into something you aren't ready for."
"Thank you," he said, cupping my jaw and bringing me down for a tender kiss. "I'm sorry about your shirt."
I shrugged. "I don't mind," I said.
Jasper sighed and wrapped his arms around me, bringing me down so I lay completely on top of him. Both of us gasped at the feel of skin-on-skin, the coldness of his making mine seem so much warmer, but neither of us made a move to restart our previous activities.
"Would you like to stay here tonight?" he asked after a few minutes. "You can sleep in one of the bedrooms."
"Would you sleep with me?" I asked. I laughed when I realized just what I asked. "I mean, would you lay with me while I sleep?"
"Of course," he said. "That was kind of why I asked, actually. We'll have to find you a different shirt to sleep in."
"I'll just steal one of yours," I said with a smile.
"You can steal anything of mine you'd like," he replied with a chuckle.
We'd eventually move off the couch and I'd dress in one of his soft cotton shirts and we'd lay together for a while before I inevitably fell asleep. But, for the time being, I sighed and snuggled closer into Jasper's chest and closed my eyes, taking in his unique smell and relishing in the fact that I was wrapped in the arms of the man I loved… and who loved me back.
A/N – Once again, I apologize for the very delayed update. But please take just a moment out to review, they truly do mean so much. Thank you for reading!