"Ugh, I hate this thing."
"It's a black tie wedding, Edward. You have to wear the bow tie." Alice's retort had a little too much glee in it. She was enjoying my discomfort too much, the little sadist.
"Whose idea was a formal wedding anyway?" I whined.
"Mine. Now hush, chère," Jasper chided, as Alice finished tying the tie.
Jasper appraised me head to toe. "Fuck you look good." He leaned in and kissed me, then pulled me closer to him.
Alice swatted us both and pulled us apart. "Oh no. No, no, no. I'm not letting you two get all messed up. Save the face sucking for later. There's a wedding to have first. Get out there, Jasper. You aren't supposed to be in here! Get out there," she pointed to the chapel. "Go!"
It was hard to argue with Alice when she was being a bossy terror, so Jasper shot me a rueful look and mouthed later, before going to take his place at the end of the aisle.
I grinned. "Shall we?" I took Alice's hand and tucked it into my elbow. "You look beautiful, Alice."
"Mom and Dad would—"
"I think they would. They—"
"Shh," she interrupted. "I know. Don't make me cry and ruin my make up."
"Fine. Let's do this."
The music began and we walked out. The chapel was full of people. I could see our friends and extended family, and couldn't help smiling when I saw Rose and Emmett, her swelling stomach just starting to show. They hadn't wasted any time after getting married the year before.
I looked toward the end of the aisle, where Jasper stood and my breath caught. He looked gorgeous and so very happy. But it was Alistair, standing next to him, who lit up when he saw his bride and me making our way down the aisle.
Jasper and Alistair had met through their mutual agent, Demetri. Alistair was reserved, almost reclusive at times, and it was strange enough that he and Jasper hit it off so well as friends. When Jasper introduced him to Alice, however, none of us understood the instant attraction between them. Still, they worked somehow—Alice's energy and optimism was a perfect counterpoint to Alistair's subdued introspection.
They were a study in contrasts, and yet utterly complimentary, and he was so besotted with her, that I had no trouble giving him my blessing when he told me he wanted to marry her. Still, I couldn't help the you break her heart, I break your face look that I gave him as I walked my sister toward her groom. Jasper, standing as Alistair's best man tried his best not to laugh at me.
Jasper and I had come a long way in the four years since we'd met, and if you'd told me that first night that together we would be participating together in my sister's wedding, I probably would have laughed at you. Life has a funny way of turning what you think you know on its head.
Despite my willingness to give our relationship another try, things were not always easy for us in the beginning. Jasper had never lied to me, and although he said all the right things the night we got back together—all the things I needed to hear—it took a long time for me to trust him, to trust his feelings for me and his commitment to our relationship. Likewise, Jasper had to find a new balance as well, between his need to be his own person, his desire to be with me, and to navigate my moodiness when I felt insecure about us.
In between all of that, we also had to find a way to reconcile our friends to our new relationship. Most of Jasper's friends and former lovers were happy for him, and easily accepted that he was now solely a platonic friend to them. One or two, kept trying to get in his pants, which led to a couple of epic fights between us, but we worked it out. Those friends did not get to stick around.
Maria and Peter were, of course, our strongest supporters and whenever things got messy, Peter would come take me for a drink. He was a good listener and always managed to help me put things in perspective. Maria would usually harangue Jasper, sometimes in Spanish, until he "stopped being an idiot," as she liked to say. I worried at first that their relationship with him would complicate things, but they easily moved from being Jasper's lovers to something that was more like family. In any event, a few years later they met Collin. He moved in with them just before Alice's wedding. It seemed to be pretty permanent.
Riley and Jake weren't too thrilled that I'd gotten back together with Jasper at first, but eventually they were won over by his sincerity, and by how happy he made me. Of course, it helped when Jake and Chelsea wound up getting together. He was, as she put it, "arse over tits" in love with her, but the feeling seemed to be pretty mutual. As a result, Alec was back in my life again. At first it was awkward, but eventually things settled, especially after he met Laurent on one of his trips to London. It didn't take long for Alec to introduce Laurent to his parents.
Jasper's parents accepted me into their family with open arms and hearts, and his mom even taught me the head slap—Maria laughed for a full day the first time she saw it. Of course, her son being partnered with another man didn't stop Jasper's mom from bugging him about grandbabies either. I didn't even know Jasper could blush until she lectured us on surrogates and turkey basters, and we were both relieved when Rose and Emmett announced they were having a baby.
So, over time our lives and friends and families meshed. Together, Jasper and I inspired each other to bigger and better projects and were both succeeding professionally in a way we'd only dreamed of. We were happy.
As I watched my little sister get married, I looked at all the friends—the family we'd created—gathered to celebrate and thought about how lucky we were to have them all. I watched as Alice and Alistair danced, and as Emmett leaned over and kissed Rosalie's stomach, then turned to whisper something to the baby. I couldn't help but smile when I saw Tanya dancing with Jasper, the two of them getting on as thick as thieves. Even better was the happy look on Riley's face as Jared pulled him on to the dance floor and placed possessive hands on his hips. Jared was a relative newcomer to our Jerry Springer style family, but from the look of things, it seemed like he was going to be sticking around for quite a while.
I was saying goodnight to one of the guests, when I felt Jasper's arms slide around me. I leaned back in to him as I watched the couple walk away.
"Guess what, chère?"
Even after all this time, that term of endearment never failed to send a shiver through me, especially when he whispered it in my ear.
I tilted my head to the side a little, encouraging him to kiss my neck. "What?"
"See that door over there?" he pointed.
"Mmmm," I replied as he nipped my earlobe.
I couldn't help the grin that spread over my face, or...
[EDITED] SEE NOTE IN CHAPTER 1
I felt his smile against my neck. "Well, it could be. I want to paint you. Feel like providing a little inspiration?"
A snort of laughter escaped me. "With a come on like that, how can I refuse?" I turned and was still smiling against his lips as he kissed me.
Jasper tugged on my bow tie. "C'mon, chère, let's go mess you up a little."
"Yeah, that sounds good," I whispered just as Jasper gripped the bow tie a little tighter and...
[EDITED] SEE NOTE IN CHAPTER 1
...Alice rolled her eyes.
"Jesus, you two!"
I shrugged at her helplessly, and Jasper just laughed.
"It's all your fault, anyway," Jasper reminded her.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Where's my 'thank you?'"
"Thank you, Alice," we recited in unison.
Alistair came over and pulled her away for another dance, and Jasper and I sat and watched them.
"I can honestly say I'm so happy my sister tried to set me up with yours," I told him.
He threaded his fingers through mine. "Me too."
He shook his head. "Not one, chère. Not one."
"Yeah, me too."
And after the limousine taking my baby sister and her new husband away left, and after the last guests drove off, Jasper and I got in our car and drove home. We walked up the stairs, past our bedroom and into his studio. I undressed in silence, the faint smell of linseed oil and mineral spirits surrounding me, at once comfortable and arousing.
"You ready?" he asked.
My yes was quiet and nearly cut off, as Jasper's fingers began to move across my skin.
"Copper . . . Forest . . . Vanilla . . ."
Who ever said that finger painting is for kids?
a/n: There you have it. I will now mark this story complete, and pray that you don't have too many cavities from the ending. My love and gratitude to chicklette_ for being my friend first, beta second, and without whom this story would not be getting marked "complete" today. Thank you all for the support and love you've shown me and this story, and for putting up with unbearably long breaks between postings. You are the most amazing readers.