Happy Birthday to my very favorite lap panda Zigster who I love and adore more than you know, thank you for everything you do for me...you are an amazing and wonderful girl.

A/N: Thanks to OnTheTurningAway for helping me fix this for my girl.


Why couldn't I learn to say no?

That was the question that kept flowing through my mind as I took in my surroundings. The ballroom was darkened, the only light coming from a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling and candles on the tables. The domed ceiling was adorned with paneled glass that allowed the light from the moon to reflect into the room. Couples gathered on the dance floor, dressed in intricate attire and detailed masks. Men and women waltzed in tempo to the string quartet that was playing. The alcohol was flowing freely, making inhibitions move to the wayside and the dancing less innocent.

Tonight was the zoo's annual Midnight Masquerade Ball. My parents were major benefactors and on the team that made sure the wine and champagne were flowing in an effort to ensure that wallets and pocketbooks opened wide when it came time to pledge donations. The pandas, in desperate need of a new habitat, were this year's recipient of all funds raised tonight. My parents were required to attend and I joined them because I apparently couldn't say no.

I stood against the wall, watching everyone and sipping my drink. It really was amazing to see how free these patrons acted when their faces were hidden behind their masks. You could feel the adrenaline in the air, sizzling as it flowed from person to person, and I was anxious to feel it myself. The problem was, there wasn't a female out there who could hold my attention and there was a time and place for everything. This event was not the time to draw attention to myself or my parents by seeking out a male companion for the night. My fuck buddy, Seth, would definitely be getting a call later on.

Being a classical musician by trade, the notes playing seemed to touch every nerve in my body, caressing and forcing my eyes to close as my hips swayed gently. The room was dark, no one could see me in my corner and I let my body move to the rhythm of the sounds. My body craved the touch of another against it as I allowed myself to be overcome by the music. It was getting hot, so hot I could feel my imaginary lover behind me, his breath searing my neck.

"Are you here alone?" I heard a smooth, sexy voice ask, lips right against my ear.

A sharp gasp escaped my mouth as I turned my head to see the stranger. His hand against my face stopped me.

"No, not yet," he whispered against my neck.

"Answer me," he demanded, his hand gripping my hip firmly and pulling my body back against his.

"Oh, fuck," I rasped.

"I didn't ask if you wanted to fuck, love...I want to know if any man here has a claim on you," he growled into the darkness.

"No," I said, my voice wavering at the hands of this stranger. He was making me come undone and I hadn't even seen his face.

"Thank god for that," he said as he turned me quickly, pushed me against the wall and peered into my eyes through the black mask covering half of his face.

His eyes, oh god his eyes...bright blue with fiery passion brewing in the depths. His skin was smooth and tan along his jaw line and I wanted to lick it to see if it tasted as sweet as it looked. His perfect, full red lips parted and his tongue peeked out as it wet the bottom one. My skin was scorching where his hands held me in place. Neither one of us said a word, but our breathing became more and more erratic as the seconds ticked by.

Ever so slowly, he broke our gaze as his eyes fell shut and he leaned forward until his lips were nearly touching mine.

"Please," I whimpered.

He took a slight breath before closing the distance and placing his mouth on mine. My body was frozen in place as it was assailed with lust and need from all angles. Only once in my life had it ever felt like this when someone had kissed me. Never again did I think it would ever feel like that and bittersweet memories flooded my mind as I tried desperately not to think about him. It always hurt too much.

When I felt his silky, wet tongue against my lips, I immediately responded by pulling him to me and threading my fingers through his hair.

"Oh, fuck," he moaned into my mouth before sliding his tongue in and moving it furiously against mine. Our lips crashed together hard, almost bruising as we tried to get our mouths closer. I wanted to taste all of him, I needed to, it wasn't a choice anymore. We kissed over and over again in that dark corner and when it became too much, he finally pulled back and looked at me.

"Come with me, please," he said. His voice was trembling and laced with apprehension.

"Do you think I could say no?" I asked, giving in to this stranger in front of me. Even though I knew it wasn't right, I didn't even know his name, I had to follow him.

He leaned in for one more quick kiss before grabbing my hand and pulling me behind him.

"I have a room," he told me as we walked toward the elevators of the hotel.

In the light, I could see just how truly stunning the man was. His dark blonde locks were long and fell in waves around his face, still covered by the black mask. He was tall and lean and I couldn't wait to see what he looked like underneath his tux. The thought was making it more and more uncomfortable for me to walk. His presence was making it hard for me to breathe. I needed to touch him.

Our hands remained tightly clasped as we rode up to his room in silence. The elevator door opened and he walked out, pulling me behind him. I followed without question, instinctively trusting him with my body and possibly my heart. It had been so long since it had truly beat in excitement at the thought of another putting his hands on me. My sex life consisted of just that, sex for the sake of having it and nothing else. It was quick, used solely to satisfy my physical needs, with no awkwardness afterwards. Seth and I had an agreement.

The stranger stopped in front of a door, slid the card in the slot and turned to look at me.

"Now's the time to tell me if you don't want this, because when this door closes, you are mine," he said, his voice husky and raw.

My heart started to beat even faster and my pants were getting tighter.

Did I want to follow this man?

Fuck yes I did!

"I want this," I whispered.

"Fuck," he groaned before pulling me into the room. He closed the door and slammed me back while grinding his arousal into mine. His eyes were locked onto mine and my blood was boiling white hot.

"Take off your mask," I told him, reaching up to remove it. He grabbed my hand in his, pulling it away.

"Not yet," he whispered as his lips came crashing into mine. His kiss was powerful and erotic and I wanted to keep tasting him forever. He was intoxicating and I wanted to be surrounded by him always and that terrified me.

Pulling back from the kiss, I asked, "What's your name?"

He looked at my eyes, then down at my lips before he answered, "Hale."

"Hale," I whispered. "Perfect."

He reached up to the back of my head and untied my mask. My heart was palpitating with fear, hoping that once he saw me, he wouldn't run the other way.

My eyes dropped to my shoes, focusing on a speck of dust. His hand reached out and grasped my chin, pulling it up. He was breathing heavily, lips open and eyes hooded.

"Beautiful," he said as his hands reached up and wound through my hair. "Just like I...oh god..." Then his lips were on mine, tongue pushing into my mouth and we both moaned when our lips touched. His fingers were wreaking havoc in my hair while he held my face close to his, tasting and licking me over and over again. My hands went up once again to remove the mask. I needed to see his face.

"Stop," he whispered. "You want it off? Let me do something first."

I nodded at him and watched as he stepped back, pulling a long piece of red, silk fabric from his pocket. I swallowed hard as he walked around behind me. I saw him raise his arms in my peripheral vision before I felt him pulling the soft, cool fabric over my eyes, securing it in a knot at the back of my head.

"What?" I gasped.

"Shhhh," he whispered. "Take it off now, love. I want you to feel me."

Understanding dawned on me as I reached back and pulled him around to stand in front of me. My hands extended forward until I felt his chest. His heart was beating wildly underneath my fingers, a sure sign I wasn't the only one affected in this room. I pushed his jacket off of his shoulders and took a step closer to his warmth. The sound of it falling to the floor was music to my ears...I was one step closer to getting this man naked.

Laying my head on his shoulder, I inhaled the skin on his neck and my mind flashed back to a scent that was familiar. A painful scent...summer, sun and ocean. Once again trying to forget, I placed my mouth on his throat and kissed him before laying my head against his chest. My hands went around the back and undid the cummerbund, slowly pulling it around his waist and dropping it at my feet.

"Oh...fuck," he moaned as my hands went up to his bow tie. I pulled it loose, then started undoing the buttons on the shirt one at a time. I could feel the exquisite heat of his skin radiating through his undershirt on the back of my fingers. It was so erotic, undressing this sensual stranger without being able to see, imagining what he looked like just from feeling him with my fingertips. His breath hit my face and although blindfolded, I still closed my eyes to savor the feeling.

I felt his breath, closer and closer and then his mouth was on my neck, biting gently before he kissed me. His tongue gently traced the line from my throat up to my ear and I groaned.

"Can I kiss you, love?" he whispered. "Really kiss you?"

Time stood still while he waited for me to answer.

Really kiss me? What was that before? I wanted to know...he had to feel it too.

"Yes," I hissed, bracing myself for the kiss.

"God, baby," he said softly. "So beautiful..." His hands were in my hair, pulling my face towards his and I parted my lips.

"Edward," he whispered. "I want you to see me."

I froze...how did he know my name? His hands reached up to untie the knot at the back of my head and the fabric fell to the floor. He was standing in front of me, disheveled from my attempt to undress him, but face still covered. He brought his lower lip into his mouth and bit down gently with his teeth and my heart dropped. I knew that look. There was no way!

He went to remove his mask, but I stopped him. I wanted to do it, I had to see for myself. The tears stung the corners of my eyes as I slowly removed the material from his face. It was still semi-dark in the room, but I would have recognized that face anywhere, even if it was ten years later. His lip was trembling as I reached my thumb out to caress it.

"Jasper," I gasped, closing my eyes and feeling the tear escape down my cheek.

"What...how...god..." There was no way to form a coherent sentence, a million thoughts were flying through my head.

How was he standing in front of me?

"Edward," he said, placing his hands on either side of my face. "Breathe my love. I'm here now and I am never leaving you again."

Looking into his eyes, I saw that familiar gaze that had haunted me for all these years. His love for me was shining back at me through his stormy blue eyes and it was too much, all of it, and my head fell onto his chest as the silent tears flowed down my cheeks. His strong arms circled around me and held on tight. It had been so long since I had felt his body against mine and the last ten years were immediately erased. Although I had many questions for him, I wanted nothing more than to make him mine forever.

"I asked you a question, Edward. Can I kiss you, for real?" he said against the skin of my neck.

Unable to answer, I nodded. He pulled back looked at me, reaching out to wipe the tears away from my face. His thumbs caressed the line of my jaw before he leaned forward and gently placed his lips on mine. He kissed me once, twice and then his tongue gently licked at my lips until they opened up for him and he let out a breath into my mouth. I knew why I remembered that taste,the feel, his smell...it was him all along.

Our tongues slid against one another, slowly and sensuously, reacquainting themselves with one another. My whole body was a live wire, exuding sexual energy through every pore. Years of burying these feelings were forgotten as he made me his once again. His hands were all over my body and everywhere he touched was searing. My body remembered his touch and responded like it did when we were sixteen, innocent, passionate and in love.

We kissed for what seemed like hours until it was no longer his taste and my taste, it was our taste and that was my favorite flavor in the world.

"I missed you," he said against my lips. "More than you will know and I need you, to touch you and taste you. Can I please?"

He pushed his hips into mine when he said that, letting me feel how much he wanted me. Running my hand down his side, I brought it around to the front and ghosted over his hardness before undoing the button and zipper.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Yes, Jasper Hale Whitlock, I have waited forever for you too."

Dropping to the ground in front of him, I removed his shoes and socks before standing up again. His eyes were on me the entire time, watching me as I undressed him. I took his shirt and undershirt off and stood there, admiring his golden skin and tight muscles. The skinny body of our youth was gone and replaced by a long, lean and fit frame. He was magnificent. I watched a trail of goose bumps follow the finger I traced along his torso, ending at his waistline. My hand wanted to move underneath his open zipper, but I stopped myself, not quite ready to breach that barrier yet.

Jasper took my hand away from his pants and lifted it to his mouth, kissing it.

"It took me a long time to make it back to you, baby...but now that I'm here, I am never letting go. Is that okay?" he asked. His eyes were pleading with me to say yes, that I would be his forever. I still remember saying goodbye to him and the promise we made to each other.

"Edward, I know it seems awful right now, but I will come back and find you. No matter how long it takes me, nothing will keep us apart."

He held me tight as the tears ran down my face and sobs wracked my body. His family was being transferred to Japan for his dad's job and I was devastated. We had only said I love you to one another three months ago. It took us a long time to say that and now he was being ripped away from me.

"Why?" I asked. "Please don't go."

"I have to, Edward. I don't have a choice," he cried into my hair. "Do you think I would leave you if I could help it? I will come back for you Edward, I will. Please...remember that. No matter how long it takes me to get back here, I will find you and when I do, I won't let you go."

We clung to one another for hours that night, crying and kissing and touching, not wanting to part. When it was getting close to dusk, I knew what I wanted from him and I needed it before he left me forever.

"Make love to me, Jasper," I whispered against his sweaty neck. He shuddered in my arms, taking a deep breath.

"No, baby, no," he said. "When I make love to you, I want it to be when we are going to be together forever, not because I am leaving. I will come back baby, I will, and when I do, I will make love to you for the rest of your life."

Crying harder, I held him close to me and we fell asleep like that, exhausted from all the emotions and despair eating us alive.

After a few years of not hearing from him, I finally gave up and moved on, but never loving anyone else. I just went from man to man, fucking out my frustration until I met Seth and we came to a mutual agreement. We didn't want a relationship or a disease, so we slept with each other when we felt the need and were friends all the rest of the time. Jasper was never far from my thoughts and the fact that he was there with me in the hotel was surreal to me, but I never forgot my promise and I still meant it.

Looking into his bright, blue eyes I said, "Yes, it's okay. Please, Jasper, don't ever let me go again. I was so lost without you." My lip was quivering, trying to contain my tears and my mind was still in a state of disbelief.

He pulled me into his arms and groaned my name before he kissed me with ten years worth of built-up passion. It took my breath away and in no time at all he had removed every bit of clothing I was wearing until I was standing in front of him, naked and hard.

"Oh fuck, Edward," he hissed. "You are so goddamn perfect and I want to lick and bite and suck every inch of your body."

My erection strained even harder, and Jasper's eyes took notice as it twitched in the dim light the moon was streaming into the room. As teenagers we had never gone further than making out and fumbling hand jobs and this was brand new territory for us together. I had given and received many blow jobs over the years, but I felt like I had never done it before as I saw him looking at me and licking his lips.

He brought his eyes back up to mine, and whispered, "I need you."

Jasper slowly pushed his pants and boxers down his hips and let them fall to the floor until every inch of his glorious, honey-hued skin was on display for me. His body was beautiful and trim. I wanted to feel him against me, to wrap my body in the warmth of his but my baby had other plans.

Jasper walked up to me and placed his hands on my shoulders, walking me back until I was against the wall. The coolness made me flinch slightly, but that problem disappeared quickly as Jasper dropped to his knees in front of me and grabbed onto my hips. He pulled my hips ever so slightly, bringing my pelvis closer to his face and I felt him run his nose on the underside of my cock.

"Oh, fuck, Jasper," I moaned into the darkened room. His tongue slowly traced the same path his nose took and I was dying. It was mind-blowing and felt so fucking good. It took all my self-control not to grab his head and slam myself into his mouth. There was no stopping the loud cry that escaped my mouth when he wrapped his lips all the way around me and moved his head down to the base. When he looked up with all of me in his mouth and I was gone. My fingers grasped his hair and I pulled him back once before bringing him right back down over and over again.

Jasper held onto me tightly, moaning and humming around me as he sped up his motions. I loved him so fucking much and it had been so long since I had felt his touch that in no time I was screaming his name and emptying myself into his hot, wet mouth. It was the best fucking feeling in the world, especially knowing that he felt the same, he had to. When I was finally spent, Jasper pulled his mouth away and ran his hands up and down my legs before placing a kiss on each hip bone and standing up in front of me.

He took my face in his hands and kissed me gently on the lips.

"I can't wait to tell you anymore, Edward. You need to know," he told me, never taking his eyes off of me.

"I love you, I always have, I never stopped." His voice broke on the last word, his eyes shiny and bright with emotion.

For the first time in ten years, my heart was full. It was going to burst forth with love for this man who I loved as a boy and was now a man. I had never stopped loving him, just pushed all the feelings to the back of my mind. All the random fucks were nothing to me. Never once in my life since Jasper left did I feel anything close to what I had felt for him in that room. He reawakened all the feelings and I was ready to tell him too.

"Jasper, I tried. I really tried to get over you, tried to move on, but I couldn't. I used faceless man after faceless man to try and get you out of my head. I didn't think you were ever coming back and it killed me. It never worked, you were always there. No one was ever good enough, no one ever felt the same, no one made me really feel. It has always only been you."

I took his hand in mine and kissed it before telling him, "I love you Jasper Whitlock. I always have and I always will."

Closing the distance between our bodies, I softly moaned at the feel of his naked skin against mine.

"Forever and always, I will never let you go again," I said, enfolding him in my arms and kissing him passionately. Never again would I be without the taste of him, I would need it for the rest of my life.

Jasper held me tight, skin against skin, mouth against mouth but most importantly, heart against heart beating for one another in a cadence that would forever be our own. He lifted me up and I wrapped my legs around his waist. He walked us over to the bed and laid me on the covers, then he climbed in next to me. Never once had I ever fallen asleep next to another person and I couldn't wait to spend the night in his arms. Tomorrow we would have to talk and all questions would be answered but tonight? Tonight was ours. It was a night to remember the love we shared and to be excited for what was to come.

"I love you, Jasper." I whispered against his skin, tasting the salty dampness on my lips

"I love you too, Edward...thank god I found you, I was so lost without you too...so lost," he said, kissing me.

"Never again, love," I said. "Never again, you are mine...forever."

We fell asleep in each other's arms, limbs intertwined and wrapped up in our love, never to be parted again.

A/N: The outtake for PSMW is almost done and will be posted very soon, then the second half of the honeymoon and then PSMW Ch 16. Thanks for all your kind words and patience, it means the world to me and I hope you enjoyed this little endeavor for Zigster.

Please go look at the banner Missie Summers made for this: It is so HOT!!! : http://img697(DOT)imageshack(DOT)us/img697/5305/98337943(DOT)jpg