A/N: owns these characters. I have twisted them all for my own amusement, and hopefully yours.
Thanks to BamaBabe for beta-ing and to NCChris for talking this out with me, and to Kikikinz for putting the soap opera idea into my head.
For those of you who read this when it was a oneshot, I've divided it into chapters and am going to continue the story. You will have already read to chapter 5.
To Have and To Hold
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Forks, Washington; the kind of day that residents of the small, rainy town did not get to see often, so Jasper Whitlock decided to take advantage of it by taking his girlfriend, Bella Swan, on a picnic. It was a special day for a couple – the one year anniversary of their first date, and Jasper had every intention of making it a memorable one.
After calling Bella to let her know that he would pick her up within the hour, Jasper made sandwiches, cut up melon, and gathered some bottled water and chips, placing everything into his picnic basket. Once the food was ready, Jasper went upstairs to get his favorite plaid blanket from the bedroom closet, and, while he was there, picked up a small gift-wrapped box as well, placing it in the basket when he returned to the kitchen. He took one last glance in the hallway mirror, making sure that he looked alright, then carried the picnic supplies out to his car.
Pulling into Bella's driveway, Jasper found her standing on the front porch with a smile on her face, waiting for him. He put the car in park and hopped out, running up the front steps and wrapping his arms around her, then spun her around in a circle, peppering her face with kisses as she giggled gleefully. It was a sound that he loved, and it delighted him whenever he was the one to cause it.
Setting her back on the ground, Jasper kept his arms around her waist and grinned at her. "You all ready, Sugar?"
Bella smiled up at him, and he was sure it was the most beautiful sight in the world. "For a date with my guy? Absolutely!"
Jasper scooped her up in his arms and jumped from the porch rather than walking down the stairs, then ran to the car, both of them laughing as Bella bounced around in Jasper's arms. Arriving at the passenger door of his GMC Terrain, he let her legs slide down to the ground, then, after waiting for her to be steady on her feet, he gave her a quick smack on the ass, laughing at her squeal before running around to the other side of the car with a silly grin on his face.
Bella, once Jasper assumed his position in the driver's seat, scowled playfully at her boyfriend before reaching over and mussing his hair, an action he protested strongly.
"No! Bella, no! Not the hair," he groaned.
Bella just laughed in response; she always found it hilarious when he complained like that, especially since she knew full well that the extent of Jasper's morning routine was to run a brush through his shoulder-length blond hair.
The happy couple spent much of the afternoon in this same playful state, running around the grassy field where they were picnicking in a playful game of cat and mouse until they wore themselves out, then feeding each other bites of melon as they relaxed on the blanket.
Their playfulness became a bit more risque when Jasper leaned in to lick Bella from her chin to her lips in order to catch a falling drop of juice from the bite of melon she had just eaten. Her soft moan at the touch of his warm tongue spurred Jasper on, and the next thing Bella knew, she was laying on her back on the blanket with her boyfriend hovering over her, his parted lips capturing her own.
He started with soft kisses, which gradually grew deeper as Bella reached up and tangled a hand in his hair, something that he loved. He took one of his hands and traced the curve of her side all the way down until he reached her knee, then grasped it, hitching it up over his hip. The kiss was passionate and both Bella and Jasper forgot the world around them until they had to pull apart, gasping for breath. When Bella opened her eyes and realized where they were, she began to giggle and gently pushed Jasper away.
"Jas, baby, we're in the park!" she whispered through her laughter.
Jasper, a slight blush coloring his cheeks, chuckled and sat up, taking her hand and pulling her up with him. "Sorry, sugar. It's so easy to forget everything else when you're around."
Bella just shook her head, and began cleaning up the mess from their lunch. When she opened the picnic basket to put the leftovers inside, Bella saw the gift box and turned to look at Jasper with a raised brow. "What's this?" she asked, holding it up.
Jasper smirked. "Open it up and find out."
Doing as he asked, Bella removed the ribbon and paper, then lifted the lid off the box. Inside she found a single silver key. "What...?"
"It's a key to my house, Bella," Jasper replied with a soft smile, reaching out to take her hands. "Move in with me."
The overjoyed expression on her face was all the answer Jasper needed, and he pulled Bella into his lap and hugged her tightly. Jasper was sure that he'd never been happier.
Standing back in the shadows behind the trees near the edge of the field, however, was a man who did not feel the same way. As he watched the happy couple embrace, celebrating the step they were about to take together, the man glared at them, jealous and seething with anger that Jasper dared touch his girl that way.
The next afternoon, Bella, still riding a high from the day before, was sitting in a salon with her best friend, and Jasper's sister, Rosalie. The two met there weekly, at Rosalie's invitation, to get manicures and have a little bit of time for "girl talk" while Jasper and Rosalie's husband, Emmett, engaged in more masculine pursuits, like watching sports.
Bella had met Rosalie a few years prior, soon after she returned to Forks from Phoenix, where she had attended college, when Bella was working at the small coffee shop she had bought in the center of town. Rosalie had been a regular customer, and the two had gotten to know each other, bonding over their mutual enjoyment of chocolate cupcakes and open-mic nights. They'd been best friends ever since.
"So, Bella... What's new?" Rose asked, saying it in a way that implied that she already had an idea of what her friend's answer might be, as she chose a bright red nail polish bottle and handed it to the manicurist.
Bella couldn't stop the wide smile from appearing, nor the flush of pink that immediately colored her cheeks. "Jasper and I are moving in together!" she cried, not bothering with a preamble.
Rosalie clapped her hands and reached over to squeeze Bella's hand. "I'm so happy for you, Bells," she said. "This is such exciting news!"
Nodding her head, Bella agreed. "I can hardly believe it. I'm on cloud nine, Rose."
Rosalie slipped her fingertips back into the bowl of warm water as she smiled warmly at her friend. "I can see it in your eyes," she replied. "You and Jasper are so perfect together, Bells. I can't wait until the day that he makes you my sister for real."
Bella smiled, her eyes glistening with tears. "It's all thanks to you, Rose."
Her words were true in so many ways. When the girls first met, Bella was dating a young man named Edward Cullen. Edward was the son of one of the most highly-respected doctors in the state, Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Having been raised by very wealthy parents who had doted on their only son endlessly, Edward had developed a bit of a sense of entitlement. He was not used to being denied anything, and this had begun to be apparent in his relationship with Bella. Rosalie, having spent her college years in an abusive relationship, recognized the signs as she and Bella grew closer, and it was with her urging and support that Bella found the strength to leave Edward before his controlling behavior became dangerous.
"I'm just glad that my bad experience made me able to save you from yours," Rosalie said genuinely. It had taken her years of therapy and the gentle love of her now-husband, Emmett McCarty, but Rosalie had finally regained her strength.
"I wish you hadn't had to go through it," Bella said. She was such a empathetic girl that thinking of her friend's struggles still made her heart hurt.
Rosalie shook her head. "Don't be. It was terrible, yes, but it got me to where I am today. And don't forget to thank me for sharing my brother with you," she added with a teasing smile.
It was true; Bella had met Jasper after Rosalie convinced him to perform at open-mic night at Bella's coffee shop. Not knowing that he was her friend's brother, Bella sat down beside Rosalie in the audience and watched the handsome blonde man sing and play. Rosalie had laughed softly when she looked over and saw Bella's glazed-over eyes, knowing immediately that her friend had a crush on her brother. At the end of the night, Rosalie took Bella by the hand and dragged her across the shop to introduce the two.
Smiling at the memory, Bella kissed the air in Rosalie's direction. "Love at first sight," she said. "I can never thank you enough."
Rosalie pursed her lips and shook her head. "Just name your first born after me, then we'll be even," she said, winking.
The two women laughed, and then turned the subject to the newest movie that was out in theaters and the possibility of convincing their men to take them on a double date to see it.
A few days later, Bella and Jasper were hard at work unpacking the boxes that Bella had brought over from her old house. The two had worked out a compromise on the larger furniture items and kitchen appliances, choosing which of their things they liked best and calling the local battered woman's shelter to donate the rest.
As the two worked side by side in the kitchen, putting away glassware, they were disrupted by the ringing of the doorbell. They looked at each other and, deciding that now was as good a time as any for a break, both set down what they were holding and walked to the front door with Jasper's arm wrapped around Bella's waist.
Jasper opened the door to reveal a delivery man holding a large bouquet of blood-red roses. "I've got a delivery here for...Miss Bella Swan," he said, looking down at his delivery sheet.
Bella, who was rather shocked to see the beautiful flowers, looked at Jasper with an expression that was half loving and half scolding. "Why did you do this, Jasper? You know it's not necessary."
"I didn't," her boyfriend replied, holding his hands up in the air as Bella signed for the flowers. "But is there a card or something? Because I sure as hell would like to know who did."
Taking the flowers from the delivery man, Bella searched for, but did not find, a card. She shook her head at Jasper. "Nothing."
Furrowing his brow in confusion, Jasper asked the man, whose name tag he now saw read Eric, if he knew who had sent the flowers.
"Sorry man," Eric replied. "I just drive the truck. You could call the store, they might have a record of it." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. "Here, that's the number right down there."
Jasper thanked him and closed the door, then turned to Bella. "Who would send you roses, Sugar?" he asked. "Red ones, at that?"
Bella shrugged her shoulders. "There are very few people who even know that I live here now, Jas. I have no idea."
As Bella went into the kitchen to search for a vase amongst her boxes, Jasper called the florist, only to find out that the order had been placed anonymously. Feeling rather irritated, and maybe even a little bit suspicious, he returned to the kitchen to help Bella finish unpacking.
After a long weekend of moving his girlfriend into his house, Jasper returned to the office building where he worked as psychiatrist. He spent the morning with three of his regular patients, then he had an hour break for lunch. He would often walk the few blocks distance to Bella's coffee shop and eat with her, but he was starting a new therapy group the hour after lunch, and wanted to use his hour to prepare.
Jasper made notes in his pad in between bites of sandwich, and was just finishing up when his secretary, Jessica, brought in the mail. While most people in his position would leave the task of opening mail to the secretary, Jasper preferred to do it himself. It was one of the many small things that he did to make sure that his practice was run the way that he wanted it to be.
Flipping through the pile of envelopes, he separated them into three piles: bills, insurance payments, and personal mail. Checking the clock and determining that he had sufficient time to accomplish everything, he opened the bills and payments first, entering the information into his computer banking file, then setting them in a pile for Jessica to mail and deposit. Once that was finished, he looked at the two personal mail envelopes. The first was a wedding invitation from a patient who he had counseled through some difficult sexual issues. The invitation made him smile; it was something like a large sign that said "success" that he could hang in the woman's file, and he felt proud to have helped someone better their life.
The second piece of mail, however, did not make him feel good at all. When he pulled the paper out of the envelope, he found that the words on it were neither typed nor hand-written, but instead a variety of glued-on letters that had been cut out of magazines. Jasper looked at it, puzzled by the words that he read:
"Enjoy your time with her – it won't last."
After reading and re-reading the words several times, Jasper still felt very uneasy. He decided to do what he always did when he was unsure of the best course of action: he called his father.
Peter Whitlock was probably the best father a young man could ever have asked for, at least as far as Jasper was concerned. He was a kind-hearted man, but tough. He would go to the ends of the earth for his family, and they all knew it. He had made his career as an architect, but even after moving to Washington state from Texas, he and his wife Charlotte always kept a ranch where they raised horses. As a father, even if his words were often infuriatingly indirect, Peter had always been ready with advice. He had taught Jasper about horses and cars, about books and history and the meaning of family. He had taught him by example how to love and respect a woman. And even as a grown man himself, Jasper still idolized his father as much as he had when he was a child.
Peter answered on the third ring. "Jasper!" he exclaimed.
Jasper laughed, shaking his head. His father always knew who was calling, even without the use of caller ID. "Hey, Dad," Jasper replied. "I don't have a lot of time, I've got patients arriving in ten. But something weird is happening, and I wanted to know what you thought."
"Lay it on me, kid," Peter answered, sitting down on his porch and putting his boot-clad feet up on the railing, and listened as Jasper recalled the flowers and the odd letter. By the time he finished, Peter was sitting straight up in his chair. Peter was known to have very good intuition about things, and this didn't feel right to him at all.
"Jasper, hang up with me, and call Chief Swan directly. I don't like the way this feels at all. And you take care of our Bella, you hear me?"
Jasper, despite feeling rather nervous due to his father's reaction, smiled at Peter's words. It warmed Jasper's heart to see how much Bella was already a part of his family. One day, he would make it official.
"I'll call him right now, Dad. Thank you."
"Anytime, Jasper. I love you, son."
Jasper returned the sentiment, and asked his father to pass his love to his mother as well, then hung up the phone. Looking at the clock, he saw that he didn't have time to call the chief before his group session, but made a mental note to do it immediately thereafter.
The chief of police, Charlie Swan, was Bella's father, and when Jasper told him about his concerns, the chief promised to be at their house immediately following his shift. Charlie hung up the phone already feeling a nervous discomfort in his gut. Both his detective and fatherly instincts were on high alert. Bella may have been a grown woman, but she would always be his little girl, and he had seen her hurt too many times already. He swore to himself that he would not let it happen again.
Later that evening, over plates of spaghetti and meatballs – Charlie's favorite dish – Bella and Jasper gave him all of the details regarding the flowers and the magazine-clipped letter. Charlie asked the couple if there was anyone they could think of who might be behind this, but neither had any theories. Bella said that she had no new customers at the shop, or even old ones, for that matter, that had been overtly flirtatious, and the list of people who would know to send roses for Bella at Jasper's house rather than at her own was extremely small.
Just as the chief was putting away his pocket notepad, ready to say goodbye to his daughter and her boyfriend so that he could go home and spend the remainder of the evening with his wife, Renee, the doorbell rang.
All three looked toward the door with furrowed brows, wondering who might be on the other side. Jasper was the first to move, and he walked over to open the door, revealing a courier holding a small package.
"I've got a delivery for Bella Swan," he said, holding out the box to Jasper.
"Yeah," Jasper replied, accepting the package. "She's here. Thank you."
"No problem, man," the courier replied, turning to walk away.
"Hey, wait just a minute," Chief Swan called, jogging over to the door and holding up his badge. "Who sent this package?"
The young man shook his head. "I don't know, officer. I just deliver 'em, I don't take 'em in."
Frustrated, Charlie took down the contact information for the company that the young man worked for, planning to call them first thing in the morning, then walked back into the house and looked at Jasper. "Alright, let's see what's in here."
Jasper ripped the top of the packaging and reached inside, then pulled out a CD case with a homemade cover. He held it out to Bella. "Sugar, put this in the player, will ya?"
Bella took the case from Jasper and took it over to the entertainment center, pressing the button to open the player, then opened the case to take the disc out. A note fell out of the case and onto the floor, and Bella bent down to pick it up after she placed the disc into the player. As she unfolded the slip of paper, she turned in surprise at the sound of REO Speedwagon's In My Dreams coming through the speakers.
"I can't wait to dance with you," she read aloud. Bella looked up at her father and Jasper, her face a picture of confusion, and gestured toward the CD player. "What the hell is this?"
Jasper picked up the remote and began skipping through the songs, listening to each track just long enough to identify it. The songs ran the gamut of musical styles, but they were all rather sappy, slow-dance-worthy love songs. Jasper growled low in his chest, angered that someone was sending roses and love songs to his girl.
Hearing him, Charlie reached over and rested a hand on the young man's shoulder, hoping to calm him. Like any good father, Charlie had always been convinced that no man would ever be worthy of his little girl, but he had to admit, Jasper Whitlock was as close as any man could ever get.
"Take the disc out and give it to me, Bells," Charlie directed. "I'll take it down to the station. Hopefully we can pick up some prints," he said as he took the disc and case from his daughter. "Don't worry, baby girl, I won't let anyone hurt you."
Charlie kissed Bella on her forehead and walked toward the front door. He paused there, turning back toward Jasper. "You take care of my Bells while I work on this, okay?"
"Always," Jasper replied, slipping his arm around Bella and pulling her close.