Disclaimer: S. Myer owns all, but what I wouldn't give for a Jasper of my very own-sigh.
A/N- This collab with Domward's Mistress was an entry for the "All You Need is Love" contest, and placed third, thank you to everyone that read and reviewed, and voted, on the contest profile.
Huge thanks to C Me Smile for her beta work!
I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
I stood in front of the full-length mirror, fumbling with my tie as I tried to calm my breathing and slow my heart beat.
I was nervous.
Of course, I was nervous. It was my wedding day, I was supposed to be nervous.
Closing my eyes, I took a few deep breaths and concentrated, resorting to my favorite calming method.
The first time I had seen my Bella a year before.
I had been sitting in the courtyard of the University, going over my assignments for anatomy and physiology when my world changed. Leaning against the trunk of a tree, I had my legs stretched out in front of me when she tripped over them, scattering her books everywhere on the ground around me.
She spoke but I hadn't heard her.
I only saw her.
Long brown hair fell in thick waves over her shoulder with overgrown wisps in her eyes, and I watched in awe as her small hand came up to push the strands behind her ear. Full lips shiny with gloss had moved and smiled, and I continued to stare as she ran her tongue along her bottom lip. Delicate features and sculpted bones under pale skin formed the most beautiful face I had ever seen.
Even as the apologies spewed from her mouth, my eyes never left hers. Large, brown, dark and honest. Immediately, they had transfixed me, hypnotizing me in a way that was new and foreign and incredible. As my heart raced in my chest, skipping an occasional beat, I attempted in vain to focus my brain and actually hear the words that she spoke.
Finally, clarity struck as I heard the one word that I had unknowingly waited my life to hear.
"Ed…Ed…Edward," I finally managed to stammer out like a fool.
She held out her hand, it was even smaller and daintier than I had first thought. Reaching out, I had grabbed it and I was gone…just gone.
Warmth spread throughout me, not a cell went untouched by her, each one coated with a bliss and comfort I had never experienced. As we stood there, our hands still clasped, I vaguely recalled asking where she was going, and she answered American literature. Brightly, she smiled up at me, and I returned it with equal force and wonder.
We never made it to our classes that day.
Instead, we spent it sitting in the local coffee shop talking about everything from our childhood heroes to our career aspirations. She wanted to be a writer and I was following in my father's medical footsteps. Not one moment of silence passed between us, the gaps filled in with laughs, sighs and condolences of sympathy over the embarrassing stories. Not a moment in our lives went unmentioned and it was then that I realized that she was my future.
After many hours, we finally parted, our numbers programmed into each others phones with a promise to call later that night. As she walked away from me, her bag slung over her shoulder, she stopped and looked back, waving one last time and smiling before turning around. The further she got, the more fearful I grew that she had been a mirage of sorts, and once out of my view, she would be forever gone.
With a scared sigh, I turned to head back to my dorm and felt my phone vibrate, in my pocket. When I saw the text message from her, I smiled.
Are you busy Saturday?
She hadn't been a mirage after all.
I immediately called my roommate, my best friend, and asked him to meet me at the pub. When I walked in twenty minutes later, he was at our table, his wavy blond messy mop of hair falling around his face even though he constantly shook his head in a weak effort to control it. Piercing blue eyes were focused on the book in front of him as they scanned whatever subject he was studying. Tossing my bag onto an empty chair, I plopped down across from him, a Cheshire grin permanently plastered to my face.
"Who fed you the canary?"
Somehow, he always knew. There was nothing that happened in my life that he wasn't privy too, from my first erection freshman year in high school during biology to my acceptance to college. By my side, he had been there for it all. He was the one that had picked up the pieces after my first love broke my heart. He was the one that had pushed me to apply to med school. He was the one that had laughed when I got drunk for the first time even though he had warned me not to mix the liquors.
He was the one that knew everything about me, no detail in my life went unnoticed by him.
"Tell me, Jasper, what are you doing a year from now?"
He was stressed and not in the mood for kidding around. I could tell by the way his thick brows knitted together, creating creases in his forehead, the way his mouth formed a tight line, the way his eyes were clouded with doubt.
"How the hell am I supposed to know what I'm doing a year from now? Probably the same thing I'm doing now, studying my ass off until I get frantic call from my best friend insisting I meet him at the pub."
Even his pissed-off mood couldn't get me down. Normally his emotions were my emotions and vice versa. It was an odd sensation actually, but one I had grown accustomed too. I knew friends were supposed to be in tune with each other, but with Jasper it was…different. It was like we shared emotions, and it was something I had grown dependant on over the years. Without words we could communicate, our souls reaching out and speaking for us, comforting one another, bringing the other back to where they needed to be.
It was rare that our moods went unaffected by the other. Sitting at the pub that day was one of those rare times.
"I'm getting married and I want you to be my best man," I told him, leaning forward on the table to make sure he took me seriously.
"What the fuck are you talking about, Edward?" He finally looked up from his book. I proceeded to tell him about Bella and all the wonderful things she had done to me. He listened, of course, with concentration and thoughtful glances.
"I don't know how to explain it, Jasper," I finally began to finish. "It was magic, overwhelming magic. I have never felt this kind of pull before."
He muttered something to himself, rubbing his face with his hands before offering me an encouraging smile. "That's great, Edward. And of course, if you ever marry…."
"When I marry…."
"When you marry…."
"Yes, Bella. I will be your best man."
Six months later, I sat against the very tree where we had met, my hands wringing in my lap as I constantly turned the small, blue velvet box over and over again. Inside sat a thin band of gold with a small diamond solitaire.
I felt her before I saw her. My heart clenched and I knew she was approaching. Looking up, I spotted her in the distance walking with some friends before saying goodbye and heading toward me, practically skipping as she neared. With a smile, she sat down next to me, saying hello before giving me a quick peck on my lips.
When she pulled back, she saw the nervousness on my face, my worried eyes, the biting of my lip.
"Edward, what's wrong? Is everything okay? Is Jasper alright?" Her eyes widened with fear before I thought to calm her.
"Yes, love, everything is perfect. Well, almost perfect. I asked you to meet me here because I need to talk to you."
"Okay," she was hesitant, and rightfully so. Everyone always fears those five words.
I took a deep breath and reached for her hands, grasping them in mine, I looked into her eyes.
They held my life. My eternal happiness lay in the depths of various shades of brown.
"Bella, you tripped over me six months ago, and I fell for you about thirty seconds later. Since that day, my life has been fuller than I could have ever imagined. I knew then that you were my forever. That day that you found me, I found my soulmate, my lover, and I hope…my wife."
Her gasp was immediate, and she sucked her bottom lip between her teeth as she wiped the tears that had already begun to fall.
"Will you make my life complete, Bella? Will you marry me?" With shaky fingers, I opened the box and offered the ring to her. With equally shaky fingers, she pulled it from its box and looked up at me.
In those very long seconds, a collage of my life flashed before me.
Jasper and I playing tag in his backyard.
Jasper and I riding our bikes to the movie theater to sneak in to our first rated "R" movie.
Jasper and I getting our licenses and driving alone for the first time.
Jasper and I dressing up in our tuxedos for the Prom.
Jasper and I walking down the isle at graduation together.
Bella walking down the isle toward me.
One word and my life had changed. My own cheeks dampened as I slid the ring onto her finger before bringing it up to kiss. She leaned in and brushed her lips against mine, murmuring words of love and happiness. As my eyes drifted closed, a movement in the distance caught my eye, but it was Bella that held my attention.
Slamming the door open, I bounded into our room. Jasper sat at his desk, typing furiously on his laptop, his thin framed glasses perched on his nose.
"She said yes!"
I felt it. It was only a brief twinge before he quickly covered it up, but I had felt the overwhelming sadness that had gripped him. It had been a long six months for us. With each day that Bella and I grew closer, Jasper and I had grown further apart. He was still a daily part of my life, but it was…different. He had taken to spending more time alone. At first, I had thought it was him wanting to give me space to get to know Bella, but I slowly realized that he voluntarily kept his distance not for me, but for him.
He felt he was losing his best friend.
But I had enough room in my life for both him and Bella, didn't I? Or did I?
I had been late to his birthday party because Bella's car had broken down.
I had missed his call when he aced his final in his hardest class because my phone had been on silent while Bella and I had made love.
I had forgotten to hug him on the anniversary of his mama's death because Bella and I were planning for the holidays.
I had forgotten to pick him from the airport after spring break because Bella had invited me to meet her parents.
It had been so gradual, I hadn't even noticed.
But he had.
Although he had never said a word. He wouldn't. I hadn't even bothered to try to make it up to him, he deserved much better than false pretenses of pretending that there was any way to make things right. Instead, we went on, trudging through our daily routine, each refusing to let go of the other.
It was dull and flat and emotionless.
It was not Jasper.
The door swinging open brought me from my thoughts and I spun around to find Jasper just stepping inside.
"Oh, sorry, man. I didn't know anyone was in here," he said quickly before turning around to leave.
"No, please...please stay," I begged.
It was selfish, but I needed him with me in that moment.
Flashing me a small smile, he stepped back in the room, quietly shutting the door behind him before strolling towards me. Turning back to the mirror, I continued to work on my tie, failing miserably as my hands were trembling so badly I couldn't grasp the silk.
Standing behind me, our eyes met in the mirror, his dimpled grin forming on his face when he saw my struggle.
"Let me," he offered.
I dropped my hands, sighing in frustration as he grabbed my shoulders, spinning me around to face him. As his hands moved to my tie, his long fingers brushed the skin of my neck and my heart raced even more at his slight touch.
"Edward, breathe," he whispered, letting go of my tie to slide his hands down my arms, calming me the only way he knew how. "You're doing the right thing."
"Am I?" I asked frantically, searching his deep blue eyes for my answer, needing his reassurance more than anything. "Are you sure?"
Sighing heavily, I could smell the liquor on his breath mixed with the mint of his toothpaste as his walls crumbled before me. The facade that he put on, the one only I noticed. He closed his eyes, avoiding my gaze as he held my hands in his. He was silent for a moment, his brow creasing in concentration, a look I knew so well, letting me know that his was mind was racing.
Finally, he opened his eyes, the soft smile on his face disagreeing with the anguish in his blue orbs. "Of course you are, Edward. She is where you belong."
Before I could reply, his hands were back at my neck, swiftly correcting the jumbled mess of silk I had created, his walls firmly in place once again.
Patting my chest lightly, he grinned. "Ready to go get hitched?"
Wringing my hands, I took a deep breath and nodded, trying to ignore the pain in my chest.
Even though it was a new pain, it was intense and relentless, a piece of my heart aching constantly as the rest of me prepared for the utmost happiness with my soon-to-be wife. That pain that I welcomed and deserved served as a reminder of the wrong I had done. The unforgivable mistake I had made only a few nights prior.
I knew she would never find out, no one would, but I knew and that was enough.
I would spend the rest of my life repenting for my mistake, even if she had no idea.
Squaring my shoulders, I walked towards the door, gripping the door knob tightly as I looked back over my shoulder, surprised to see Jasper still hadn't moved.
Running a hand through his hair, he spoke quietly, "You go ahead, I'll be there before the music starts."
Looking back at me, I saw the struggle he was having with keeping up his well constructed facade, the walls threatening to fall once again.
The pain in my chest got stronger.
Opening the door, I studied his form one last time before walking out, swallowing the lump in my throat as I walked toward my new life.
Standing at the alter, I looked out at the audience, taking in my closest friend's and family's emotions. My father, beamed with pride and love while my mother was crying and smiling at the same time. Everyone I loved and cared for was there for Bella and me, all of them accepting and welcoming our marriage.
Except for one. The one who wouldn't, who couldn't, was the one that mattered most.
I felt his hand on my shoulder then, squeezing gently and I turned around, elated and relieved to see my Jasper standing behind me, standing for me. No walls, no facade, just him. A genuine dimpled grin on his lips, a halo of golden hair cradling his face, his blue eyes shining with caring and forgiveness.
My best friend.
The man I loved.
The beginnings of the all-too-familiar song began and I turned my attention back to the front. Walking down the aisle, her simple, white dress hugged her slim figure perfectly, barely brushing the tops of her jeweled ballet slippers. Smiling the brightest smile I had ever seen grace her features, a blush crept over her cheeks as a single happy tear slid down her face.
She was stunning.
And in that moment, I knew.
No matter how much I loved him in my life, I loved her more.
The door closed with a definite click and I all but collapsed onto the small chair in the room. With my elbows on my knees, I laid my face in my hands, letting the tears finally fall.
For years I had held them in. Years of missed chances, missed moments to tell Edward how I felt about him finally came out in those few minutes of privacy. How many times had I wanted to express my feelings for him, I had lost count.
Since I had first seen him peddling his bike down our street after his family had moved in a few houses up, his life had seeped into mine - his laugh, his smile, his breath - slowly weaved itself around every part of my being.
Quickly, he had become a daily part of my life and slowly he had become a part of my heart. Not just a fleeting friend, or even best friend, but my forever love.
Exactly what he had found in Bella.
I remember being in our dorm that cloudy day when I got a call from him. He had been so excited I could barely make out his words except 'meet me at the pub in twenty minutes'.
Of course, I did. I did everything he asked.
Sitting there at our table, I waited for him by continuing the studying he had interrupted. When I heard the bell on the door ring, I looked up and saw him.
He looked…different. Not that Edward wasn't a happy guy, but there was a light in his eyes, a bounce to his step that I had never witnessed before, and it made my heart sink.
It was over as I knew it.
And as he proceeded to tell me about Bella with a beaming smile and nervous gestures, my heart broke, little pieces gouged out with every word he spoke. Yet, I promised I would be there for him if he married her. There was nothing I wouldn't do to keep him well. I had to be near him. It didn't matter in what capacity, I just needed him in my life, even if it meant sharing him with another.
He proposed six months later. From a safe distance, I had watched as he sat there waiting for her, turning the ring box over in his hands. Deep in my heart, I had wished he was having second thoughts, realizing it wasn't her that he wanted but…me. Instead, she walked up and he looked up at her with a gaze of pure love and devotion. She sat next to him, and he took her hands in his and spoke.
I was too far away to hear the words, but in my head I imagined them. Their promises of love and forever.
While their forever was growing together, mine was alone.
When she leaned in to kiss him, I couldn't take it anymore and turned away.
She had said yes.
One word and my life had changed.
And I had just told him he belonged with her when all I wanted to do was take his beautiful face in my hands and scream at him, "Look what you've done to me, look at my broken soul that only you can fix. Please fix me with your caress, your words…your love."
For it was only his love that could repair me.
I had only felt it once but it was so strong, so potent that the mere remembrance of it healed a few of the cracks in my shattered heart. I needed this time alone to remember it, to remember him as my Edward before I watched him become hers forever.
That memory, along with my trusty flask of whiskey, were the only things that would get me through the ceremony without breaking down.
After his bachelor party had ended, we sat in the cab and he turned to me and asked to come over to my place, not wanting to go home quite yet in fear of meeting Bella's disapproving looks when he arrived home too drunk. Course, as soon as we stumbled into my apartment, he plopped on my couch and asked for a beer. I went to the kitchen, grabbed two beers and joined him on the couch.
He took a sip and then placed it on my table.
"Thanks for tonight, Jasper…for everything," he mumbled, leaning against the back of my couch, he lolled his head toward me and gave me a lazy grin.
"What are best men for?" I chuckled. Suddenly, he sat up and leaned toward me with his arms open. Our arms wrapped around each other awkwardly, our bodies shifting slightly towards one another as his chin rested on my shoulder. Turning my head slightly, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, inhaling the scent that had always made my stomach tighten and my cock harden.
Earthy, musky, rugged and all Edward.
Before I could stop my intoxicated body, I turned my head and kissed the corner of his jaw, enjoying the way the defined angle and light stubble felt on my lips. He sucked in a sharp breath and I panicked, expecting him to push me away or hit me, or yell at me, or do something.
He didn't move.
With heavy breathing, our chests rose and fell, mine from fear and excitement, but I didn't dare make a sound, not wanting to end the most blissful and terrifying moment in my life.
Dragging my cheek across his, I moved slowly, relishing the feeling while trying not to spook him, placing another soft kiss in the middle of his jaw. His breathing went from hard to ragged as I moved closer to my ultimate goal, his mouth, desperately needing his lips on mine at least once before I lost him forever. As I reached the corner of his mouth, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears and felt it thrumming through my entire body, mixing with the delicious electricity that always sparked inside me whenever I was near him.
Agonizingly slow, I pressed my lips to the corner of his mouth, pouting my lips slightly before sliding them flush with his, keeping my eyes tightly shut, afraid of what I'd see if I opened them.
Disgust, revulsion, fear.
I couldn't handle the heartbreak if I saw his eyes looking at me with any of those emotions.
He still hadn't moved, the only change in his entire posture was that his chest was moving quicker, his breaths coming out in pants. Pouting my lips further, I kissed him directly on his full lips, hoping and praying and needing some sort of reaction from him.
He didn't give any.
"Please." It came out barely above a pleading whisper, my voice shaky and broken. I knew I was begging but I didn't care because his lips were finally on mine, an opportunity I was sure would never come again.
I felt him release a shuddering breath against my mouth before his lips moved with mine, tentatively at first, testing the waters for a moment and then more insistently when he heard my needy groan.
My mind blurred as my hands traveled through his silky hair, to the nape of his neck keeping him fused to me. When I felt his hands on my chest pushing me back on the couch, I gasped but let him guide me beneath him so that his body lay flush on top of mine.
His movements were hurried and frantic, as if he thought I would stop him. Every part of me wanted to slow him down, even though I knew he was drunk, I wanted to feel each precious second. Quickly, he unbuttoned my pants and moved to his own, clumsily pushing at his button and pulling down his zipper, his ragged breaths coming faster as his hips began grinding against me, hot and heavy and I could have wept from how good it felt.
So many nights, so many fantasies, so many fucking years and none of it had prepared me for what I felt in that moment; his plush lips on mine, his perfect fingers locked in my hair, his cock pushing hard into mine.
It was perfect and right and everything I had ever wanted.
He whimpered above me, his beautiful face screwed up in frustration as he pushed harder, our remaining clothes blocking the release he craved.
Grasping his hips, I slowed his movements, waiting until he opened his eyes before I asked the question I had wanted to ask for years. "Can I touch you, Edward?"
"Please," he replied in a desperate whisper. "Touch me."
Gingerly, I pushed his jeans down around his ass, my fingertips ghosting over the soft skin before I moved one hand between us to grab his cock.
Hard, thick, and seeping precum, it twitched in my hand as I stroked.
"Oh, fuck," his head fell to my shoulder, his panting breaths dampening my shirt. Clutching my hair in his hands, he wantonly fucked my hand, his hips bucking and grinding into my grip.
Turning my head, I placed a kiss below his ear before taking his lobe into my mouth and whispering. "Do you like that?"
"Fuck yeah," he groaned as he tilted his head. My lips left his ear and moved down his neck, fighting the battle of wanting to take his skin onto my mouth and leave some evidence of our tryst.
Evidence for her to see.
His hips pressed down onto my hand, squeezing it between us so tightly I could barely move enough to stroke him.
"Edward…" I wanted to tell him…anything....and everything. I wanted to strip him of his clothes and fuck his brains out. I wanted to tell him I loved him with everything I was. I wanted to spend my life being the one that he came home to every night. "Move, baby," I instructed as I lifted his hips off mine. He held them there just long enough for me to slide my pants and briefs down to my knees. Once he felt my hands back on his ass, he fell back onto me and we both groaned in unison as our cocks had their first touch.
Slick with lust, they slid along each other, pulsing and throbbing with every buck of our hips.
With one hand on his ass, guiding his movements into me, my other went up to his hair, constantly weaving through the thick bronze locks as I murmured to him over and over again, "Feels so fucking good, baby, so fucking good, so fucking good." Tears gathered in my eyes, and I closed them tightly in hopes of preventing them from escaping.
When his lips found my neck, I arched my back and moaned loudly as I felt my skin between his teeth, tight and sucking and marking.
I was his.
Losing their rhythm, his thrusts became more urgent and I felt his entire body tense as he grunted into my neck.
"I love you, Jasper," he cried out as he came hard, his fluid jettisoning from his cock as his orgasm hit him forcefully. I held him tightly to me, tears streaming down my face even as my own climax began to spread through my body until my cock erupted between us, coating our bodies in milky cum.
When he went to pull away, I let him. I let him see the tears on my face, the sadness in my eyes. Expecting him to get up and leave in shame and guilt, I was shocked when I saw neither as he climbed off me and got a towel. Gently, he cleaned me before wiping off his own cock and doing up his pants. After he tossed the towel on the floor, he looked down at me and held out his hand. I took it, reveling in the feeling of his skin against mine. He helped me up, and taking my face in his, he kissed my lips, parting them with his tongue, exploring my mouth before pulling away with a sigh and leaning his forehead to mine.
"Stay with me?" I pleaded.
Nodding, he took my hand and led me to my bedroom. We lay on our sides, his arm around my waist, his leg slung over mine. He never spoke another word.
I struggled to keep my eyes open as I held his face in my hands staring at his beautiful features. For I knew when I opened them again, he would be gone. I attempted to seek comfort in the rise and fall of his chest, his sleepy drunk breath washing over my face as his intoxicated slumber hit him.
As the break of dawn crept into my room, I opened my eyes and realized I had been right.
He was gone.
Shaking my head to clear the thoughts, I shifted my hips, the memory of our one and only time together arousing me even through my anguish. I should have felt bad for doing what we had done, I should have felt some sort of remorse for aiding him in adultery…but I didn't. She was going to have him for the rest of her life, why should I have felt bad for my one night?
I hadn't begged him to stay with me, I hadn't reminded him of how good I had made him feel with just the simple touch of my hand, I hadn't told him how much I loved him and that her love could never compare.
I had done what I was supposed to do. I had sent him out the door on his way to his family and friends…and bride.
No, I would not feel bad for my one night with the man I loved above all else.
Taking a deep breath, I stood up and dried my face with my hands before reaching into my jacket and pulling out the flask of whiskey. Two long sips later, I opened the door and headed for the alter to give away the man I loved.
He looked fucking beautiful in his black tuxedo, perfectly cut to his body. The nape of his neck hidden the by his messy copper hair that only a few days earlier I had run my fingers through. His profile exposed the flush to his cheek, his long nose and pouty lips.
Lips I had finally known.
I walked up behind him, knowing he hadn't heard me yet, as his attentions were on the crowd, and the woman walking down the isle on her father's arm. It wasn't until I gripped his shoulder as the pain gripped my heart and threatened to bring me to my knees that he knew I was behind him.
I stood tall.
I stood proudly.
I stood in agony.
Because it was for him and I would have happily walked through the seventh circle of hell if it meant seeing him smile again.
And he did smile. Stopping before Edward, she kissed her father before turning to Edward as he took her hands into his.
Vaguely, I recalled the minister beginning the service.
"We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Edward and Bella…."
I winced at the vice-like tightening around my heart.
"If there is anyone that opposes this union, please speak now or forever hold you peace…."
No one saw him flinch but me. The slight tensing of his jaw, the slight shift of his shoulders, the hint of doubt in his eyes. Biting my lip, I kept the words from escaping me even as they clawed their way up my throat begging for release. It would do no use to object. It would accomplish nothing but hurt, and in time, he would still marry her.
"Edward, do you take Bella to be your wedded wife, to live together in marriage. Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her…."
Love me, comfort me, honor and keep me.
"For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health and forsaking all others, be faithful to only her as long as you both shall live?"
"I do," he vowed in a shaky voice.
Even though my chest was hidden by the cloth of the tux I wore, I swore if I looked down, I would see the white of my shirt stained red with my blood as it wept from the gaping hole in my chest.
The minister continued and my eyes closed and fished my hands at my sides as I willed myself to resist the urge to turn and run from the building. When I felt his gaze on me, I opened them.
"The ring," he mouthed. Quickly, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the wedding band they had chosen together as the symbol of their neverending love for one another.
When he took it from my hand, I felt his fingers brush my palm in an attempt to soothe my fraying soul. To everyone it looked like I was handing him the ring, but I knew.
He was sorry.
Then he turned back to his bride, and then brushed her hand with his fingers as he slid the gold ring down her finger.
Minutes later, they were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cullen.
"You may kiss your bride."
I swallowed the bile that had risen in my throat. It should be my lips, not hers, that he kissed. With one last glance to me, he took her hand and together they walked down the aisle to claps and murmurs of congratulations. Outside I stood against the brick of the church as they ran laughing and smiling under a spray of birdseed to their limousine.. I watched my life drive away wrapped in the arms of another.
The reception was the last place I wanted to go, but months ago I had promised Edward I would be there for him and I no matter how much agony I was in, I would not go back on my word. I arrived to sea of pale pink and gray balloons, and guests mingling around the tables and bar. Cheers exploded when the happy couple arrived, arms around each other, kisses given easily and quickly. The photographer positioned the wedding party in a variety of poses.
I tried my best to smile.
I failed miserably.
Dinner was served and remained on my plate untouched as I ignored the concerned glances from Edward. Spontaneous clanking of forks on glasses encouraged the couple to kiss.
In front of me.
Next to me.
I excused myself, barely making it to the bathroom before I was emptying the nonexistent contents of my stomach into the cool porcelain toilet. Standing in front of the mirror, I stared at my bloodshot eyes and sallow skin. Just as I swallowed a large sip of my whiskey, the door swung open.
"Hey man, you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, just too much celebrating," I explained to his brother Emmett with a smile. I returned to the table, taking my seat next to my love, relishing in the last moments of his nearness.
"I'd like to make a toast," Bella's father stood, holding up his wine. He spoke of meeting Edward for the first time, how he knew his little girl had found the one and knew their love was one of forever.
Then I realized it was my turn.
Standing on unstable legs, I looked around the room at the expectant faces waiting for me to speak.
I wanted to look at him. I wanted to fucking look at him and tell him I loved him with all my heart, my soul, my life. I wanted him to see the life I could offer him.
But I couldn't.
My eyes focused on some random spot on the floor as I took a deep breath and began.
"Edward, there are places you remember, some have changed, some remained the same. You've had family, friends and lovers, some are dead, some are living, and in your life, you have loved them all. But of them all, none compare to Bella. While you will never lose affection for those memories, and you will often stop and think about them, you will always love her more."
With much effort, I finally brought my eyes to his. He wasn't touching Bella, but instead looking up at me with eyes full of grief. Grief for a passion that had been all too brief. My fingers twitched with the need to cup his cheek and wipe the tear that fell from the corner of his eye, brush my thumb along the bottom lip that he bit. When I saw his lip quiver, I gave him a soft smile.
"No matter what our futures hold, Edward, you will forever be a part of my life," I lied. "To Bella," I paused. "You are the best thing that has ever happened to Edward," I pulled my eyes from him to implore her. "Please take care of my best friend."
"You hold his heart in your hands." And he holds mine in his. I finished, emptying my glass of champagne with one drink. Rounds of cheers came from everyone and glasses clinked. As soon as I sat back down, I felt it.
His hand on my thigh.
Hidden under the white linen table cloth, he ran it up and down in a comforting gesture. The warmth from it quickly spread throughout my entire body. I put my hand on his, my fingers grazing his wedding band before weaving with his for a second and pulling his hand off my leg and back onto his. His sorrowful eyes met mine, and I shook my head.
"I'm sorry, Edward, I just…can't have you touch me right now. Please…" I wanted him to look away, but he held my stare. "Please understand…."
Nodding, he finally looked away, down to his empty hand in his lap.
For the next hour, I suffered while their life began around me, guests greeting them, already asking about their plans for children, the old men giving Edward advice for a happy honeymoon. In silence, I witnessed her French manicured hands feed him a slice of their cake, he smiled as his tongue darted out to lick the remaining frosting off the corner of his mouth before sharing the taste of it on his lips with her.
"Can I please have Edward and Bella to the dance floor," the DJ announced before starting their wedding song.
I leaned against the bar with my flask in my hands watching as he led her to the dance floor for their first dance as husband and wife. Turning on his heel to take her in his arms, his eyes caught mine.
There was flash of unidentifiable emotion in them. Regret, fear, love….
I wanted to be the man that could support him, smile and wish him the best.
Instead, I exhaled a shaky breath and looked away before I embarrassed myself with the tears that threatened to spill. When I dared to look up again, I tried to look everywhere but at them…at him. It was a like watching a train wreck, my eyes couldn't resist the magnetic pull to him no matter the anguish it caused.
He held her in his tight embrace, their foreheads touching, her cheeks still glistening from leftover happy tears as she wrapped her thin arms around his neck. With his hands low on her back, his thumbs constantly rubbing the silky material of her white gown, his eyes drifted closed, he leaned down and let his lips brush across hers in a tender kiss full of promise.
Hoping fresh air would ease my nausea, I pushed the double doors open and sat on the grass, leaning against the side of the building. I don't know how long I was there trying to numb the ache. All too soon, I heard the doors slam open and guests spilled out around me and I stood.
Crowds of well wishers slapped Edward's back and kissed Bella's cheek as they made their way to the waiting limo. Even with my height, I could barely make out Edward in the large group. I had hoped to have one last look before he was gone, but that hope died when I heard the car door close. I pulled the flask from my jacket, ready to head home and spend the night drinking my sorrow. Turning and heading toward my car, I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Instinctively, I knew it was him.
"I thought you had left," I said as I turned to him. He didn't answer, but immediately pulled me into his warm embrace.
"Goodbye, Jasper," he whispered into my ear, his cheek against mine, and I swear I felt a tear run down his face.
It was time. Time to tell him how I felt, it was my last chance to let him know that for me, it wasn't a thing of lust or desire, but of love.
"I could love you so much better than her," I choked out, burying my face into his neck, inhaling his scent one final time, committing his musky essence to memory and hiding my sobs. I heard his gasp, his release of a shuddering breath before I felt his head nod against mine and a mumbled 'I know' in my ear.
Years ago Edward had once told me that goodbye didn't mean forever.
He was wrong.
This goodbye was forever.
Thanks for reading~