A/N: Long author's note at end.
I rolled over for the hundredth time. It was no use; I couldn't get to sleep. I was too keyed up about tomorrow. I smiled as I thought about it. I'm going home. Back to Los Angeles. And Edward is coming with me. I am finally well enough to return home. I know I lost my job, but I can find another. I'm sure Edward will love the fact that I'm home, but I already told him I need to work. He agreed then, saying he might take a job too. But that was two nights ago; he may have changed his mind.
I raised my head up and looked at the clock: 1:16. I collapsed back onto the pillow. Why can't I sleep? Huffing, I threw the covers off of me and headed to the bathroom. I brushed my hair and drank some cold water before returning to the bed.
The Cullens are keeping this bed in here. They said now that Edward has someone, he and I might want this when we visit. I blushed when that was brought up. I know that the Cullens are not shy about their sex lives, but I want to have some anonymity. It's one thing to discuss vibrators with a vampire; it's another to discuss how many times and how many positions. Alice wants to know everything, of course, along with Emmett. Luckily, Jasper and Rosalie are more discreet.
Jasper. I know he's on the mend now. Not only were he and Alice pretty loud the other night, but we were all hit with a lot of passion at once. It's not bad that he's an empath, not bad at all. But wow! That was powerful. I guess all the time he's been away was really rough on him. I did notice Alice was walking a little slower yesterday. And I swear the walls shook!
I smiled. I'm glad for that. He and Alice have been through so much recently; they needed to reconnect. I wonder what would have happened if Riley had gotten away with Alice. How far would she allow him to go? And what would have happened after that?
I shuddered. Thinking about Riley made me think about Victoria. And that made me think about everything that happened. Thank God it was over! I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for her clone to appear and start all over again. Jazz insists that she didn't create another one of her; the machine didn't have enough power for that. But it makes me wonder. Why didn't she just clone herself instead of Jazz? She would have been twice as powerful then.
There was a light knock at the door. "Come in," I said. I wondered briefly why someone was up this late at night and then mentally kicked myself. They don't sleep. The door opened and Jasper stuck his head in.
"I'm awake," I said. He smiled and walked all the way in, closing the door behind him and coming to sit on the bed next to me. I pulled my legs up to my chest to give him room and rested my chin on my knee.
"How are you?" he asked. He sat down, one leg tucked under him. He was actually glowing. Now that he's well enough for physical activity, he's been much happier.
"Fine," I replied, smiling at him. "How are you?"
"Good." He looked around the room. "Your last night here for awhile. Are you going to miss it?" he threw me a crooked smile.
I nodded. "Yes, actually. I love everyone here and a part of me doesn't want to leave. But I know I need to get home to LA. My life is there."
He laid his hands on the comforter. "You and Edward will visit though?"
"Edward already wants to come back in about a month. I told him to stay here so he's close to you guys but he wouldn't hear of it."
Jasper chuckled. "Of course not. He just got you back; he's not about to let you go again. I'm surprised he leaves your side at all right now."
"Just to hunt," I said and rolled my eyes. He laughed harder.
"He just does it because he loves you," he said with a smile.
My legs were cramping so I slowly extended them. I wanted Jasper to see what I was doing. I didn't want to make any sudden movements around a vampire, even one I trusted.
He placed a hand on my leg. "I wanted to talk to you, Bella."
I gulped. This is when he tells me he hates me. I tried to remain calm. "Yes?"
He looked directly into my eyes. "I know you think I blame you for what happened. I don't. That was not your fault. Yes, we all suffered at the hands of another, but that 'other' was Victoria. Had Edward fallen in love with someone else and killed James, she would have gone after her. Who her target was didn't matter. She just wanted revenge."
I nodded. I hated it when he said "had Edward fallen in love with someone else," but I understood what he meant. It wouldn't have mattered if it was me or, shudder, Jessica Stanley. If it was any human, she would have been in Victoria's crosshairs.
Jasper cocked his head. "You don't believe me?"
"I'm trying to. I've been feeling so guilty lately that it's hard to switch my brain off. I have to keep reminding myself that you don't hate me."
"I don't," he said quietly. "And I never will."
"Must be nice being cloned," I joked. "Only important vampires get that honor."
He laughed again, throwing his head back. I smiled; glad he was in such a good mood. "That does make me curious," he said after he finally got control. "How was it for you? Being around my clone that is? Were there any clues that it wasn't me?"
I nodded. "In retrospect I see it. I didn't then. But the clone had black eyes all the time, you don't." His eyes were gold at the moment. I continued. "I never saw him eat. He would disappear at times and I assumed he was hunting, but his eyes never changed. I guess that was when he was reporting in to Victoria."
Jasper nodded. "He didn't need to feed since he wasn't an actual vampire. Nor did he have my powers. That was your brain playing tricks on you. But he did have strength like a newborn. Riley helped with that."
My mind suddenly wandered to the time I spent with his clone. He was strong; I could still feel his hand gripping my neck. And I remembered how strong his lips were…and when his shirt was off, how chiseled his chest was and how toned.
I blushed about ten shades of red. Jasper noticed.
"Thinking about Edward?"
I shook my head. How do I get out of this? "Um, no." I looked down at my hands, feeling it growing hotter. "I was thinking about the clone, actually."
"The clone makes you blush?"
"Yes…no." I averted my eyes to the side. I really didn't want to go there. Jasper sighed and gently placed his cool finger under my chin. He pulled gently, raising my head and turning it to look at him.
"Bella, you can talk to me."
I decided to just blurt it out. "Well, the clone and I grew rather close. I thought everyone but you was dead and he was a companion. I needed someone around and he was there. Nothing happened. I mean, we kissed a few times, but I swear I thought Edward was dead and…"
A wave of calm hit me and I stopped mid-sentence. Jasper's eyes were kind. "We know all about it, Bella. Victoria sent doctored pictures of the two of you together. She talked in length to Riley about it as well. And it's perfectly natural to rebound and want someone there when you lose your love. You didn't in this case, but you were lied to. Edward knows and he understands."
"Alice didn't find anyone else as a rebound," I pointed out. His golden eyes darkened.
"Thank God for that," he said quietly.
I sighed. I felt better having that off my chest. And Jasper's calming influence helped. "Thank you, Jasper."
He continued looking at me. "What else is there, Bella?"
I looked away, determined that he wouldn't see my eyes this time. "It's just that…well…I liked the kisses. I mean, they weren't exceptional like Edward's, but still nice. Calming, you could say. Your clone was a good kisser, as I'm sure you are. I'm assuming that his lips are just like yours and if so, Alice is very lucky."
My face was officially about one hundred degrees hotter. I couldn't believe I had just said that. I sneaked a glance at him, worried about what I would find. He looked sheepish and I think that if he could blush, he would have.
"Thank you, Bella," he said quietly. I pulled my legs up to my chest in an attempt to salvage some dignity. "No thanks, necessary. You asked."
He chuckled. "Yes, I did. And I thank you for liking my kissing style, even if it wasn't me you were kissing."
I laughed as well and an image flashed through my head. It was Jasper, this Jasper, pressing his lips to mine in an attempt to satisfy curiosity. I shook the image out of my head and was hit with a wave of nervousness. Jasper wasn't looking at me, but at the wall behind me. His eyes flashed black for a moment and I got the feeling that he was on the same page as I was.
I took his hand and he jumped slightly, but didn't pull away. "Thank you, Jazz," I said. For everything."
He nodded. "I love you like a sister, Bella. You are one of the family; I would do anything for you. That applies to all of eternity."
I gulped. Edward had alluded to changing me, but we hadn't really talked about it lately. I think he wanted for us to be married first, so I at least had that experience as a human. I still have mixed feelings about it. Even though I know, without a doubt, that I love him and want him, the thought of the pain of dying scares the shit out of me. Not to mention the fear of eternity. We will have to talk again soon.
Jasper turned his head away. "Esme's calling me." He stood up and faced me. "Remember, Bella, I will never blame you for what Victoria did. I hope someday you stop blaming yourself."
I nodded but didn't say anything. He took a step forward and I froze. He bent down slowly and gently placed a kiss on my forehead. His nose rose up and he breathed in my scent. I saw his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed and I figured he was fighting his thirst.
He turned away quickly and walked out without a word. I saw his eyes as he turned and they were black, another sign that he was leaving before doing something he would regret. His scent still lingered and I pushed myself down on the mattress to get some sleep. I wondered about his change in demeanor; he had never been so intimate with me. I knew he loved Alice more than anything and he was making a brotherly gesture, but what caused it?
I felt arms encircle me a few hours later and Edward's scent enveloped me. I sighed and turned to him, burying my face in his chest.
"Welcome back," I said quietly. He held me tighter. "You have no idea how much I missed you," he said. He began stroking my hair. "The hunt was good, though. I needed the time off."
I nodded against his stone chest. "Jasper came to visit me."
I looked up at him. "You read his thoughts?" Maybe he can tell me why he was different at the end of our conversation.
I swallowed. "He kissed my forehead."
Edward didn't say anything. His golden eyes revealed nothing. "Why? He's never done that before."
His gaze didn't leave me. "Jasper loves you like a sister. He decided it was time for a brotherly gesture. It was hard for him because your scent was enticing, but he said the scent wasn't too bad. He's getting used to it."
"But why?" I needed to know.
He sighed. "It was his way of letting you know that he doesn't blame you for what happened. He told me that you feel guilt, guilt that is unnecessary and he was trying to calm you."
"Oh," I said simply. I pressed the side of my face against his chest again.
"Were you thinking something else? Like maybe it was a gesture of lust or something?"
I looked up at him quizzically. He continued. "It may have been, his thoughts were quiet on that. But he loves Alice more than anything and would never betray her. He may have been curious since you discussed his clone, but he would never act on it."
I smiled. "Good. I'd hate to think what would happen if he really did abduct me and run off to some foreign land. I don't think any force on Earth would stop you this time."
He laughed. "I'm glad you can joke about what happened. Carlisle was worried you might not recover. I told him not to underestimate the human and that you were a fighter."
I reached up and pressed my lips to his. "Thank you," I said softly. "Thank you for not giving up."
"I would never give up, Bella," he said against my lips. "I would fight forever."
"Thank you for finding me, for fighting so hard and for comforting me. Thank you for coming back into my life. I love you so much and I can't wait for us to start our lives together as husband and wife."
He pulled me back slightly and looked at me. "You're ready to set the date?"
I nodded. "As soon as possible," I told him. "I want to be Mrs. Edward Cullen and start my existence with you."
He smiled widely and flipped us over in one fluid motion. He pressed his lips to mine and slowly trailed down my chin and across my jaw line. He continued down to my neck and rested them over my pulse point.
I froze momentarily. I didn't want to change now, but wouldn't have much to say in the matter. He moved his head to nuzzle my neck and breathed in my scent.
"I can't do this, Bella. Maybe not ever. I know I can't live without you, but I don't know if I can bring myself to cause you excruciating pain."
I nodded against his lips. "It's okay. I was hoping you wouldn't do it now. I want to be human when I become your wife." I ran my hand down his chest and felt him calm. He pressed a kiss to the pulse point.
"I love you, Bella." He pulled back and looked into my eyes.
"I love you too." He reached across me and opened the drawer on the nightstand. He pulled my engagement ring out. "This was sent to us not long after you disappeared. Victoria wanted me to think you were breaking it off." He placed it on my finger and looked at me. "Isabella Swan, I ask you again. Will you marry me?"
"Yes," I replied immediately. He kissed my hand and then lay on the bed, pulling me against his chest again and looking at the ring. I smiled at the joy in his eyes and I knew, without a doubt, that he would never leave me again. We are soul mates and nothing, not human, nor vampire, would ever separate us again.
A/N: And there it is, the finale of My Heart's Desire. I hope you enjoyed it, I know I did. The support I received for this story was more than I could ever ask for. If you are interested, please check out the next one I'm working on, The Round Table Story. And Teardrops on My Guitar will be debuting in a few months. It is an Alice/Jasper story.
Speaking of Jasper, I wanted to explain my intention for using him. In Breaking Dawn, Bella becomes the strongest of all of them. While I agree with it in that story, in this one, the strongest is Jasper. He goes through so much to make sure his family is safe. He almost dies and then recovers, and then risks his life again to save his soon-to-be sister-in-law. Weakened, he fights for his wife and turns away from Heaven, which they all dream of, because he can't survive without her. It is love that pushes him forward and therefore makes him the strongest. There are not as many Jasper stories in the fan-fic world and I wanted to give him a starring role. I am more of a Jasper fan now then before and am proud to say Team Jasper, especially when Edward acts like an idiot. I hope that I have done him well and that Stephenie Meyer and Jackson Rathbone would be pleased.
Thank you so much for reading this story. As always, I appreciate reviews. And who knows? Maybe another sequel will develop in my head. But until then, see if you can figure out the secret Jasper is hiding in RTS. If you do, I will dedicate a chapter to you.