Alice sipped her wine and stared unseeing out the large window at the glimmering lights of the city while she waited for Jasper to come up. He had never seen her loft before and she was instantly regretful he would come over for the first time under these circumstances. It was supposed to be a fun, uncomplicated evening. It had all turned so sour before it even began. All because of that bastard, Edward Cullen. How was he even Jasper's brother? How could she not have known that? Then again if she had, would it have changed anything? It wouldn't change how she felt about Jasper but would've altered their relationship, still may alter it.
A swift knock on the door made her nearly jump before she realized who must be at the door. "Alice, it's me Jazz." Jasper's voice called out.
"It's open." She replied to him, her focus still on the city outside and the chaos inside her mind.
She heard the door open and close with the telltale click of the lock, heard Jasper's footsteps approach her as she tried to figure out what she was going to say, how she was going to explain her actions and the situation they both found themselves in. But she needed answers as well.
Jasper said nothing as he moved toward Alice. Her back was still to him and he could practically feel the tension radiating from her body. He stopped when he was a few feet from her and she could see his reflection in the window where he stood behind her.
"I suppose you want an explanation." She finally said with a sigh, taking another sip from her glass.
"It would be nice." Jasper said not wanting to aggravate her any further.
She sighed again, this time one of resignation and turned around to face him. Her eyes held a strange mix of sadness and anger.
"I want to know one thing first." She started. "When you said you were inviting your brother, Edward, I assumed you were inviting Edward Hale. How is it possible Edward Cullen is your brother?"
Out of all the things she wanted to know, that was the last thing he would have expected. He couldn't keep the expression of surprise off his face. "Really? You're asking me that? How is that of any importance in light of what happened at the restaurant?" He didn't mean to sound so angry but the question seemed ridiculous to him and his patience was waning.
"Please Jazz, just answer the question." She implored. She couldn't answer why it was so important. She just felt she was deceived somehow. Not intentionally, but deceived none the less.
Jasper shoved his fingers through his mane of blonde hair. It was a small request and not exactly a secret. If it meant she would answer his questions, he would comply.
"I told you I was adopted?" He asked, to which she nodded. "Well…my parents and The Cullens were the best of friends. We were always together. Some of my earliest memories are of Edward, Emmett and I making mud pies and playing cops and robbers." Jasper gave a small chuckle then his expression turned serious. "My parents were killed in a car accident when I was seven. A semi-truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and drifted into the oncoming traffic lane. My parents never had a chance to swerve out of the way." He paused and cleared his throat trying to erase the painful memory that came unbidden into his head. Alice moved closer and caressed his cheek, full of compassion and hurt at what he went through.
"You don't have to say anymore. I think I understand." She said softly to him.
Jasper shook his head. "No, you asked. I might as well finish the story" He said taking her hand in his and kissing her knuckles. "My parents had named Esme and Carlisle Cullen as my legal guardians should anything happen to them. Carlisle, being Carlisle, adopted me instead…wanting me to be an official member of his family. When I was 18, I changed my name back to Hale to honor my parents. But make no mistake" Jasper said fiercely, "The Cullens are still my family in every sense of the word…just not biologically."
Alice remained quiet after Jasper finished. It made sense now but how was she supposed to handle that fact that her boyfriend's brother destroyed her best friend and broke her heart.
"Now can you tell me how exactly you know my brother?" Jasper's voice broke into her thoughts.
Alice moved away, unsure how to continue. "I don't know him…not exactly." She confessed.
"I don't understand." Jasper asked confused. If Alice didn't know him, why the hell would she react to him the way she did?
Alice pictured in her mind the sheer devastation written all over Bella's face when Edward completely dismissed her. She thought of all the promises that Bella told her he made and subsequently broke, thereby breaking her.
"I don't have to know your brother, to understand what a heartbreaking pig he is." She said through gritted teeth, the image of Bella sobbing, filling her head. "He broke my best friend. She is nothing more than an empty shell now going through the motions because of him…your brother. He made her fall in love with him then he turned around and broke her heart."
It was Jasper's turn to get angry now. "Look, I don't know what kind of lies your friend has been feeding you or what kind of weird fixation she has on my brother but I can assure you, Edward has only been in love once in his life and…" He didn't get a chance to finish as Alice reeled angrily at him.
"Bella is not a liar nor is she what you call 'fixated'." Alice said heatedly daring him to contradict her.
"She must be…" Jasper stopped mid-sentence, his face paling as the realization of what Alice just said dawned on him. "Wait…did you say Bella?" Could it be true? Could Alice's Bella and Edward's Bella be one and the same. Had she been right within grasp this whole time? It was too coincidental not to be true.
"Yes, Bella, my best friend." Alice rolled her eyes as if it were the most obvious thing in the world "She is also my roommate but you already knew her name." She was puzzled by Jasper's odd reaction.
He shook his head. "No, strangely enough you never mentioned her name to me. My God…if only I would have known." The last part, he whispered mostly to himself. "Do you have a picture of her? I need to make sure." He asked, his tone sounding disturbingly manic to his own ears.
"Yeah, just a sec." She located the picture on her phone that she had the bartender take of the two of them on her birthday and showed it to Jasper.
"Here, this was taken last Saturday." She watched Jasper pale even more, his eyes widen in incredulity as he inspected the photo. "Jasper, you're worrying me. What's going on? Am I to take it that you believe me now?"
He glanced back up at her. "Yes, Alice, I believe you but not for the reasons you think. God, how do I explain this?...Did Bella ever tell you how she met Edward?"
"Of course." She said in an affronted tone. "She told me a lot of things, Jasper."
"Yeah, well you only know half the story." He said letting out a curt laugh.
"Look, if you are trying to insinuate that Bella is at fault…I don't want to hear it."
"No, that's not it at all. Edward was…well he was injured in Iraq. There was an explosion. Edward was far enough away that he wasn't killed but close enough that the impact threw him and caused a head injury."
Memories came flooding back to Alice. "I remember that. Bella went crazy trying to find him. No one gave her any information."
"Yes, well…the incident rendered him comatose for about a month…we didn't know if he was going to make it…but he did. Unfortunately, when he woke up, he had no memory of the event or of the entire month preceding it. The month where he met Bella."
"That's why he didn't know who she was last week when she went to meet him. But why was he there, if he didn't remember? It doesn't make any sense."
"I really don't have the answer for that. Edward said he was compelled to be there. Later that night he remembered everything. He has been trying to find Bella ever since."
It was too much to take in. Alice slowly sat down on the sofa in a state of shock. "So he really does love her then?" she asked looking up at him. She needed to make sure otherwise, Bella could never know he was ever here.
"More than anything. " Jasper confirmed. "He literally has been driving himself crazy trying to locate her. Bella is a hard person to track down."
"My God. This is incredible. She has been so despondent all week. When she finds out…" Alice's eyes went wide with shock. "Shit! She's going to be here any moment. Is Edward still outside?" She asked panicking. If Bella saw him and didn't know the full story, who knew what she would do?
Jasper was already on the phone.
"Edward" He said as soon as he picked up the phone. "Are you still outside?"
"Just finished my coffee. So what's the deal?"
"You need to come up here now. Alice will buzz you in."
"I'm allowed up now? That's progress." Edward said sarcastically. He had only been wasting 15 minutes out here getting suspicious looks from passersby as if he were casing the area for a robbery.
"Just come up." Jasper sighed into the phone and hit the "end" button. Alice had already hit the buzzer and was pouring herself another glass of wine. "Can you get me one of those?" He asked her.
"You need it too, huh?" She asked as she gave him a glass.
He only took a fortifying swallow as an answer. There was a soft knock on the door. Alice opened it to see Edward standing there, hands in his pockets. He looked just like Bella's picture of him except his face looked more drawn and his hair looked as if he ran his fingers through it too many times.
Edward looked at his brother's girlfriend as she stood in the doorway and was relieved to note that any signs of her earlier animosity had faded. It was now replaced with what he could only read as sympathy. This bewildered him. Why the sudden change? What exactly did she say to Jasper tell and what did Jasper tell her?
He decided to throw out an olive branch for his brother's sake. "Alice…I'm sorry if you think I have offended you in some way but I can assure you if I did, it was without any malicious intent."
She rolled her eyes and grabbed his sleeve pulling him into the apartment and shutting the door behind him. Surprised, he glanced at Jasper who just shrugged smiling like the cat who just swallowed the proverbial canary.
"Okay…not the greeting I expected."
"Edward, we have something to tell you." Jasper was serious now.
"You're getting married." Edward blurted out the first thing he could think of but it sounded wrong to him.
"What? No…at least not yet." Jasper fumbled over his words. Alice covered her mouth to prevent the nervous laughter from escaping.
"Edward, I want to apologize for my rude behavior earlier but once Jasper explains I think you will understand." Alice conveyed to him.
They were both being too cryptic to him and he didn't like it. He wished he knew what was being silently stated between the conspiring glances at each other.
"Perhaps you should sit down for this." Jasper said gently.
"I am damn well not sitting down!" Edward glowered in frustration. "Just say it, whatever it is."
Before Jasper could finish his sentence, a voice called out from behind the door as the lock in the door made a clicking sound.
"I hope you saved me some wine for me, Alice."
All three heads turned to the door. Two knew who to expect, one didn't.
I know that voice, Edward thought. It can't be! Maybe he should have taken Jasper's advice and sat down.
The door seemed to open in slow motion. There she was, bent over, picking up a plastic take out bag from the floor. Edward sucked in his breath, feeling the ground shift beneath him. He didn't question how, he didn't question why, his only focus was her. After days of fruitless searching, here she was right in front of him.
"Bella" he whispered huskily staring at her as if he had seen a ghost.
Startled at the voice, she straightened up and stared at the man that destroyed her dreams. Her mouth formed a silent "O" and the bag she just picked up fell from her now listless fingers.
In two quick strides he had his arms wrapped around her, holding her close, sobbing words of love and apologies. Something was wrong, he thought through the haze of joy that enveloped him the moment he saw her. Why wasn't she hugging him back? Why did she just sand there, immobile, her hands stiff at her sides?
Bella couldn't wrap her around the fact that Edward was here in her apartment let alone the fact that he was wrapping his arms around her. Why here? Why now? Why after his careless dismissal of her did he suddenly find his way to her door, invading the one space where she could actually have some semblance of peace no matter how fleeting? She didn't know what to think…how to respond. So she did nothing but breathe in his clean scent letting him embrace her as she stood stiffly before him.
Bella hesitated reciprocating the embrace although she wanted nothing more than to hold him as desperately as he was holding her. The electricity that had been between them from the start was still there. She could feel it coursing through them, threatening her resolve to keep an emotional distance. It would only hurt her more, if that were even possible, should he decide to leave her once again.
Edward pulled back from the embrace, searching her eyes for answers, a response; anything but she gave nothing away. Her expression was one of confusion and doubt.
"Ed…Edward?" She sounded so forlorn…so lost he wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms again and never let her go. Instead, she sidestepped away from him, wrapping her arms around herself as she walked further into her apartment.
"What are you doing here?" She asked turning around to face him once more when she felt she was at a safe distance.
"I thought that would be obvious, love." His voice was still the same smooth velvet it had always been. She realized then all her dreams and memories never quite captured the full richness of it as the sound sluiced through her.
"Don't." She said her eyes closing against the torment, her hands fisting at her sides. "Don't call me that. You have no right. Not after you made a fool of me." After the initial shock of seeing him again, she felt anger bubbling to the surface threatening to escape in torrential waves.
"Bella, please let him explain." Alice urged, seeing her friend was close to a breaking point.
Bella turned to Alice with a pained expression. "Do you know something about this?"
Alice shook her head. "Not until tonight, I swear."
"Bella, please…I can clarify everything…if you'll only let me." Edward pleaded with her, extending his hands out to her, willing her to come to him. There was too much distance between them, not only physically but he could feel her emotional distance as well and it was so painful it nearly brought him to his knees. There was no way he could let her go. He was confident once she knew the truth; things would be as they should be.
Bella suddenly felt cornered. They all looked at her, too afraid to say anything that might cause her to flee but expecting a response from her that she didn't know she could give. She needed to leave…to escape from this but her curiosity was starting getting the better of her.
Edward could sense her panic. She was getting ready to bolt and he couldn't have that. He looked at Jasper, his eyes pleading for help. Jasper nodded in understanding and he took Alice's hand in his.
"C'mon. Let's leave the two of them alone."
"But what if she needs me?" Alice protested.
"She won't." Jasper said hoping that he wasn't wrong. He gave a warning look to his brother as they headed out the door.
Bella watched the door shut. It was just her and Edward now and the walls that felt like they were closing in on her. Her hands shook as she poured herself a glass of the wine Alice had sitting out. Part of her wanted to listen to what he had to say. He looked so hurt, so sad that she wanted to run back into his arms but her anger held her back.
"So talk." Bella said trying to be flippant, wanting to let him know how his very presence affected her but it came out sounding angry and hurt.
Now that Edward was given a slight reprieve…a chance to explain, he found himself nearly at a loss for words. He studied her angered stance noting the fatigue and wariness around her eyes, the fading scar by her hairline from when she was trapped in the hotel explosion, the loss of weight that could be defined by the jutting of her collar bones through her skin and he was saddened by all the time that was wasted, time they could have been together if it hadn't been for his damn head injury.
Bella was still waiting for an explanation as she read the emotions play over Edward's face. "Well, I can see this is going nowhere fast." She said as she turned to walk away from him again.
He grabbed her around and turned her around to face him, his eyes pleading with her. "Don't walk away." He said, tracing her jaw line with his other hand. Her breath hitched at the touch. His mouth was so close to hers, if she leaned up just a few inches they would be kissing. He gave a half smile letting her know, he shared the same thought.
Bella cleared her throat diffusing the too intimate moment. She wasn't ready for this. He only backed away slightly giving the illusion of letting her have some personal space.
"I was in an explosion." He started, his eyes never leaving hers. "Ironically it was the day before I was supposed to leave for that mission I had told you about."
She let out a shocked gasp and tears rose to her eyes threatening to spill over. "I heard about that. I was searching for you everywhere, praying you weren't killed."
"I was lucky to be alive…if you could call it that at the time." He gave a short mocking laugh.
"You were hurt?" she asked him through trembling lips, now looking more closely at him for any sign of injury.
He nodded. "My head mostly. I was in a coma. When I woke up, the last thing I remember was getting dressed to meet my friends at the bar. That was the night I had met you, by the way. The doctors called it retrograde amnesia." He watched her expression, measuring her reaction to what he was telling her, hoping she understood.
"Amnesia." She repeated. "So, you forgot me." Maybe she was being vain but it cut deep that he could have forgotten her so easily as if she might not have meant anything at all.
Edward could see her hurt and wanted so badly to erase it. "I can see what you're thinking and it's not true. You mean everything to me." He said with true conviction, his hands coming up to rest on her shoulders. "The truth is I forgot everything about the month before the explosion…not just you. Please Bella, if you only knew how desperate I have been to find you since I got my memory back."
"When?" the question was vague but he knew what she was asking.
"Last Saturday night." He admitted.
"So you were at the observation deck on the exact date and time we were supposed to meet before your memory was restored?" Her tone suggested she didn't believe him.
"I know it sounds odd. I don't even know if I would believe me but I'm telling you the truth. All I can say is perhaps on some subconscious level part of me remembered and I was there without understanding why. Then you showed up. My mind may not have recognized you but my heart did…my soul did." He implored her with his eyes to believe him. "After you dropped the photo and left, all day I kept hearing snippets of conversations we had in my head. I thought I was going crazy. It wasn't until later that night I remembered everything. I went through the box of things that was sent home from the army and found this." He pulled the taped together photo from his wallet and showed it to her. "It was you, Bella. You were the catalyst that returned my memories to me."
Bella looked at the photo that was taken over a year ago and she broke. Sobs escaped her unchecked. Edward held her close in his arms as her hands gripped his shirt. He closed his eyes and buried his face in her hair, reveling in the fact that he could hold her once again.
"I have been trying to find you ever since." He whispered brokenly into her hair. "I tried Forks first but they told me your father had dies. I am so very, very sorry Bella that I wasn't there with you to help you through that."
Bella didn't trust herself to speak so she nodded in understanding as the tears still flowed. He did love her; he never stopped, not really.
"I called every publication you wrote an article for hoping someone would tell me how to get in touch with you. I fear I may have annoyed quite a few people." He chuckled briefly.
Bella pulled back suddenly wiping her eyes as the realization came to her. "It was you." she said. "You were the one that was on the phone with the receptionist at Time. I was standing right there when you spoke with here. All this time I thought it was Aro Volturi." She mused mostly to herself.
"Aro Volturi?" Now it was Edward's turn to be surprised.
She nodded. "I interviewed him on Monday. He kind of gave me the creeps. I thought he was trying to find me."
"My God, Emmett." He said as the thought struck home. At Bella's confused look, he explained. "You bumped into my brother…Emmett on the street. That's where you were coming from. I was supposed to go to that meeting. The odds. What are the odds? So many times this past week, you were so close…so damn close."
"Tell me this is real…that you're real…that this is not a dream that I'll wake up from." Bella said even though she could feel him right here in front of her. She needed to be sure.
"This is most definitely real, my love." He said just before his lips came crashing down on hers. His mouth begged for her to open for him and when she complied, he plundered. With a sob, he let loose a groan of pure ecstasy. This was home. Edward threaded his hands through her hair as his tongue delved. He could taste the salt from her tears on her lips, hear her sighs and knew she felt the same way.
Without any conscious thought, his hands unbuttoned her blouse and pushed it off her shoulders to reveal the lacy confection of her bra underneath. He held her bare shoulders as he kissed his way down her neck until he got to the top globes of her breasts that peaked out from beneath the lace. Bella tilted her head back and gripped him to steady herself when she felt his lips and tongue sucking her nipples through the satin. The sensation was so erotic she could help the moan that escaped her.
Needing to fell her lips to skin, he impatiently pulled her bra down to give him access to the cream skin beneath.
"God, how I missed you." He said before his mouth continued their delicious assault. He picked her up, her legs wrapping around him. She could feel his hard length throbbing through his jeans as he rubbed against her through her panties. She felt a surge of desire so hot, she almost exploded right then.
"Edward, please." She couldn't take it anymore. She had been so long without him; she just had to have him now.
"Bedroom." He whispered huskily. She nodded her head in the direction of her room and he carried her there swiftly. He was near his breaking point. He wanted to go slow but his body refused to comply. All he could think of was the fierce need to make her his again.
Without ceremony, he dropped her on the bed and nearly ripped off his shirt. He crawled to her like a predator going after his prey, his eyes glazed with lust and need. Bella felt her mouth go dry when he ripped her panties from her then shrugged of his own jeans. He was rock hard and ready for her as he settled himself in between her legs sliding himself back and forth, up and down over her clitoris making her ready for his entry. She was already so wet; she didn't need any more coaxing. She arched her back and wrapped her legs around him, telling him silently that she needed him. He needed no further coaxing. He gazed down at her, his eyes a molten green.
"Mine." He growled as he plunged. He buried his face in her neck, sucking her, kissing her as he thrust in and out. He tried to maintain a slow tempo but he was overwhelmed by his need and his love, his body mindlessly increased the pace.
Bella became a wild thing in his arms, thrashing her head, gripping his buttocks to pull him deeper in side. She met him thrust for thrust, squeezing her heat around him, sheathing him tight. He just wanted to crawl inside her and stay there forever. He felt her orgasm roll through her, covered her mouth with his own, swallowing her screams of pleasure.
Edward felt his own release upon him as he drove himself faster and deeper. With a final roar he felt his hot seed flow out of him and with it, his energy. He rolled over Bella gathering her into his arms so she could lay her head on his chest. They were both sweaty from their exertions but neither cared.
Bella looked up at him and wiped a tear from his cheek with her finger and brought it to her mouth. He tightened his hold on her.
"I love you." He said when he could find the energy to speak again.
"As I love you."
He grinned, his teeth gleaming white in the dark. "I realize that this may not be the most proper of settings but I did promise you I'd have a question for you when we saw each again."
"Mmm, always the gentleman" She sighed though the delicious things he had been doing to her body could never be classified as gentlemanly. Bella held her breath as she just realized what he just said. Surprised she leaned up on her elbow and looked at him, searching his eyes for answers.
Edward took her hand in his and looked up at her, gazing intently into her eyes. "Isabella Marie Swan, I promise to love you every moment of forever. Would you do me the exceptional honor of becoming my wife?"
Time for Bella stopped as her mouth gaped open. She wanted to be stuck in this moment forever.
Edward was getting worried. Bella wasn't saying anything as she just looked at him with a deer caught in the headlights expression on her face.
"I realize I'm not doing this with a ring…" Bella silenced him by placing a finger over his lips.
"Shh, don't ruin it. This is perfect." She said, her smile bright enough to light the darkest of caverns.
"Is that a 'yes'?" he asked afraid to believe that after all this time, Bella would finally be his in every sense of the word.
"Yes." She said.
Up next: Epilogue (unless you would like for me to continue)