Title: Tell Me True
Word Count: 11,555
Summary: Jasper Swan would do anything to help his sister Bella,
even if it means making nice with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, Edward Masen.
What would Edward be willing to do? AH JxE
We sat in the car looking out at the field that I had seen from Bella's window at Ranch Recovery. There is a low haze from the forest fires burning over a five hundred miles from here, obscuring the busy freeway beyond and making the distant pine trees seem ethereal. Edward pulls out a pack of smokes and slides two out. He wordlessly passes it to me and I use my lighter to light his and than mine. I missed Garrett's Canadian brand; Edward's Camel's always burn the back of my throat.
I hear Edward take a short inhale though his nose and he paused, like he was going to say something, and then exhaled his smoke like a sigh.
"She's got a better room this time," I say. Like that even matters, I think to myself. I didn't even know why I said that.
"Yeah." Edward leans forward and twists his key until the van rumbles to life. We back up and slowly make our way through the vast parking lot, jostling through the speed bumps like we were finally feeling the impact of her broken words.
We drive back in silence with the radio turned off. It's mostly freeway, and I find myself focussing on the cars with families in them, like I can make sense of what is happening to Bella by looking inside their little bubbles. One little girl meets my eyes, and she stares back unsmiling. I have to break away so I look over at Edward.
He is hunched forward, one hand on the faded burgundy wheel. He holds the cigarette to his lips with pinched fingers and takes a long drag, the cherry pulling almost to the filter. He rolls down the window and flicks it out. The wind makes his long bangs whip in his face but he doesn't seem to mind.
"You shouldn't do that. The grass is too dry."
Edward makes a short laugh as he exhales his smoke and winds up the window again. "I know how it feels," he rasps.
I take my last drag and stub it in the empty ashtray. "It's what started that Fish Creek fire last week. Too many people are flicking their smokes out and we haven't had rain for weeks.
"I know. I keep forgetting. Maria never let me and Bella smoke in the van, so I guess that's why I avoid using the ashtray. It's stupid. I know." Bella's mom sold the van to Esme, Edward's mom, but long before that, Edward was borrowing it to park with Bella instead of going to the movies.
I want to say something about Bella, but I don't know where to start. The words feel too light and I've got a pounding headache. After another long silence, Edward puts on the blinker and turns into the Liquor Barn. He parks badly but slams it into park and says, "I gotta get something for my mom. You want anything?"
"Sure." I grab my wallet and pass some bills to him. "Labatt's Blue."
I watch him get out and I see Mike staring at me from Newton's Outfitters front window. He must have seen the van pull in. I wave and his hand comes up, his smile is grim. His eyes dart to Edward as Edward walks toward the liquor store entrance. Mike's thoughts are plain on his face. He knows we just came from visiting Bella at the rehab centre because he picked up all my Sunday shifts for me so I could catch a ride with Edward on his day off. That we are now buying liquor is not lost on him and his eyes dart to mine and then look quickly away.
I sigh. I don't know why everyone thinks we have to stop because of Bella. She always said it was okay. I'll stop when her ex-dad stops being an asshole.
The van door creaks open and Edward passes me a bag of clinking bottles and then a flat of beer. He climbs in the van, and sees Mike watching him. He rolls down the window, spits and starts the van. Edward glares at Mike and Mike disappears. "You still hang around that guy?" His arm jerks as he rolls the window back up.
"Sometimes. We work together." I don't mention he got me the job or that we went to a movie a couple of days ago.
"Caius says he's-..."
"I know." I cut him off. "He's going out with Jessica Stanley."
Edward pulls out on to the road, but I see him look curiously over at me twice. "Jess-i-ca, huh?" Edward laughs. "Didn't you and her used to...?" His disbelief is evident; though it was common knowledge she was my 'go to' girl for a while.
"Not really," I shrug. Now that he knows, there's little point in offering him the usual bullshit innuendo that Jessica happily embellished for me. She gave me my first hand job, and it was better than my own hand, but the more we did, the less I liked it. Jessica, however, took my compliments at face value. It would appear that Mike remembers I told him about that, but they are much more of a couple than I ever attempted. I wonder if Mike is serious, or just hoping he can be.
"Oh you crazy players," Edward laughs but there is no humour now.
"Mike and I are just friends."
"Really?" Again with the disbelief.
I don't say anything but I feel myself blush at what he thinks Mike and I have done. It pisses me off because the more I deny it the worse it sounds.
"Are you blushing, Jasper?" Edward is laughing now, but he sounds as pissed off as I feel.
"Fuck off." I look over and we are pulling into his street. "Uh, what are you doing?"
"I thought we'd have some beers at my place."
I am not expecting this. I look over at him but he isn't looking at me. He pulls into the back alley and parks the van on the rutted gravel pad. I look over and Esme is in the garden, her hands moving quickly, pulling at something. She doesn't look up. Edward puts the car in park but leaves it running, like he's trying to remember something. He looks at his hand on the key and purses his lips and then turns the van off. It runs off for a bit and Edward raises his eyebrows and slaps his hands on his thighs.
"Pass me the bag," he says, still not looking at me.
I suddenly have a bad feeling about this. I just want to grab my beer and head for home. There's a game on tonight. Still, I find myself passing him the bag, and I peek inside and then look at him.
"Sherry?" I snort.
"It's for Esme. When her arthritis acts up it helps her fall asleep better."
He slams the van door and I get out and grab the flat off the floor. I turn to watch Edward walking over to his mom. She straightens up and takes off her large straw cowboy hat and scrubs her forehead with the wrist of her flowered and ragged glove. I can hear her voice raised up in happy greeting and concern. I close the door quietly and watch them, unsure of what to do. She looks over at me only briefly, so I stand there, adjusting the beer in my arms.
I can hear Edward in small snatches. I hear my name and Bella's. He doesn't talk long before I hear him say, "C'mere, Jasper."
I look up and he is smiling and Esme is shielding her eyes as she looks over.
I walk over and say, "Hello Mrs. Masen."
"Esme, please. Don't get all fancy on me or I'll have to pretend I care that the house is a mess."
I smile awkwardly. The Masen's house was always in some form of disaster whenever I came over. Sewing projects piled up next to boxes filled with heaped clothing. The kitchen operated as part garage and garden tool shed since there was no garage. For someone with not a lot of money, they sure had a lot of stuff.
"It's been a while since I've laid eyes on you, but I can recognize that Charlie Swan dimple anywhere. How old are you now?"
"His birthday's the same as mine," Edward adds.
"Oh, that's right. You sure don't look eighteen." Esme shakes her head and I try to pretend I'm not offended at the usual remark about my baby face when she says, "You always seemed older to me. Even when you were small."
I can't hide my surprise. I can't seem to find my tongue either.
Esme seems to sense my discomfort so she and turns to Edward. "He always had these big blue eyes staring as the biggest words came out of his little mouth," Esme sighs. "Still got those beautiful blond curls too."
I try to think when I was around her and what I would have said. I smile and jostle the beer and look around instead. "You have got quite the garden going on back here." It was true. There were curving paths lined with bricks and bark between raised up beds. Tall pyramids of sticks with vines were surrounded by boxes of leafy herbs and some sort of thick bushes in others. Not at all like the long straight lines you usually see.
"Well, thank you Jasper. Keeps the family fed and the body strong." Esme starts batting at her knees with her glove and puffs of dust rise up. By the looks of her overalls, it seems a pointless task. "If we'd ever get some rain, I'd be a lot happier."
"I can't wait for the big thunderstorm all this dry heat must be brewing up," I say. Esme nods but she's thinking about something else.
"We're going to hang out downstairs for a bit." Edward juts behind him with his thumb.
"The stew's hot on the back of the stove. Help yourselves." Esme reaches for a battered metal pail and Edward takes it from her.
"We got it. Thanks, Mom."
Esme makes a surprised but pleased sound as she releases the handle. "Let them sit in some water and ice before you shell them." I can see the bottom third of the enormous bucket is filled with pea pods.
"Got it," Edward says. He jerks his chin at me and walks toward the house. I smile and nod at Esme and follow. I had never noticed they had such a massive garden back here before. I knew Sam had an orchard out past De Winton but I guess he gets it from his mom.
"And don't eat them all. I want some for tomorrow's salad." She says behind us.
Edward pauses at the door, his hands full and I lean in and jerk it open. As he passes me, and murmurs; "Thanks," he gives me a nudge aside.
It's the sort of thing guys do to piss one another off, but it feels off with Edward. We used to push each other around, but that was in middle school. For one, he still hasn't really looked me in the eye. Not since that very intense conversation with Bella in the visiting room. He looked at me really long and hard then, and not so much since.
Still, I'm pretty sure he made a point of nudging me just then. Maybe it's his way of telling me that what I said about being gay was all right with him.
I hold the door as he toes off his runners, and I do the same and follow him up the short steps. Their dog creakily gets up and wags at Edward and huffs at me, his nose finding my crotch and I push his head away. Curry sneezes and wags. I turn the corner into the tiny kitchen and it smells amazing in here.
Edward puts the bottles in a skinny cupboard beside the sink and neatly flattens the bag and folds it in beside a stack of other paper bags. He slips off his leather jacket and reaches over beside me to hang it on a hook. "S'cuse me," he laughs and pushes me again. "Fuck you," I smile and feel a little more at ease. He picks up the bucket of peas and starts running water into in.
He stares out the kitchen window over the sink and the light makes his pupils shrink and the green irises glow. Stray hairs glow russet in the light and I almost can't think as I watch him like this. This is not the Edward Masen of two-fisted drinking and cold sneers from last year. I just don't know who I'm seeing right now either.
He looks down, watching the water fill and then he looks over at me and jerks his chin at the flat of beers. "Why don't you put those in the fridge downstairs? I'll bring us some bowls of stew and we can eat down there."
"Sure." I love how he doesn't even ask if I'm hungry. I am. In fact I'm suddenly starving. I guess since neither of us has eaten since driving out to see Bella a couple of hours ago, it must be obvious.
Curry seems to know what Edward has said since he precedes me heavily down the stairs. He turns and gets another nose full as I reach the bottom and I curse him and turn his nose away.
I look around and switch on the lights. It's been a quite while since I've been down here. Most of the time I was stoned and drunk and the basement was packed, so I don't really recognize the place. There's new carpet, and the kitchenette has been recently painted with fresh white paint. Something else is different, but I can't place it.
I tug open the fridge and it's empty except for a styrofoam container and some beers. I put ours in and take a cold one and crack it. There's a stack of empty cans beside the counter and I lean the cardboard flat against it for the next ones.
I take a long drink and it hits my empty belly with a rush. Curry sits and pants, his eyes looking over at me and away.
"Hey, Curry, you old bastard," I ruffle his head and he makes a sound in his belly like a wheezing grunt. He stands up and wags and I scratch his back and smile.
Edward's footsteps are on the stairs but I keep scratching Curry, who hits against my legs and spins slowly. "He's getting old," I say and look up.
Edward stands in his unbuttoned flannel, holding big white bowls balanced on one hand like a waiter, and the bucket of peas. He is looking down at the dog like he's confused. "He's sixteen now."
I want to say he looks a lot older, but I don't.
Edward points to the barstools lined behind the tall counter. "Grab a seat."
I hang my jean jacket on the back and sit down. I watch him, bemused, as he sets first the bucket on the ground and then with a flourish puts on the counter the steaming bowls. He takes unmatched cutlery out of his back pocket and clatters it down next to each bowl. He bends down and lifts another bowl nested inside a second bowl. I can see some lumpy biscuits and a chunk of butter sliding down the side of stainless steel bowl. The bowl is surprisingly hot as I take it from him and I nearly drop it.
"Butter fingers," Edward smiles and hefts himself onto the stool with a sigh and picks up his spoon.
I pick up mine when I remember to ask, "Want a beer?"
"Yeah," he slides a look a me for a moment. I hear the surprise in his voice and the want.
I grab it and pop the tab and hand it to him. He chugs it back. "Oh, that's good."
I sit down and watching Edward blow on his spoon before putting it in his mouth. I blow a bit and slide the spoon in. It's almost too hot, but the beef broth is rich and peppery and I 'hmm' in appreciation.
Edward grabs a biscuit and takes the knife, cuts it swiftly and gives both sides a quick swipe of butter. He passes me half. "I made these," he says.
I kind of don't believe him because he always fucks around with you like this. "When?" I say.
He gestures to the ancient freezer cabinet humming against the wall. "I make a huge batch put them on wax paper and freeze them. Then Mom just has to take a few out and bake them. They're sourdough."
"Wow," I look at it closely. "They're really good. Did you make the stew too?"
"Sort of. Mom did most of it, but it's from the freezer too. It's... ah... buffalo tail."
"That's what you call it?"
He laughs and shakes his head as he scoops some more. He's chewing so I wait. "No. We buy whole buffalos from a farm by Sam's place and this stew is from the tail. You know, like oxtail soup? The guy always throws a few extra in 'cause he knows we like them."
I frown and nod. I take another bite, blowing and then let it really linger in my mouth. Charlie was always bringing game meat home, but I only liked the sausage and jerky and the occasional roast. Most of it was just too 'gamey' for me like my mom always said. This meat was tender and flavorful.
"I've never had buffalo before. It's really good."
"It's the whiskey and sherry Esme dry roasts it in first. It takes almost two days to make, but we have a huge batch of it to last. She always takes a bunch of food over to Jake's and Sam's."
I look up and I can see he is watching me eat. "You help her make it?"
He smiles amused. "Yup." He takes a spoonful too fast and has to chug some beer to tame the heat.
"How come you're so scrawny and Jake and Sam are so huge. Don't you eat your own cooking?"
He thinks this is funny but not for the lame joke he's obviously heard before. Sam and Jake are bloody giants. Edward is tall too, but he's no heavy duty mechanic or ex-con now farmer. I think he appreciates I am trying to lighten up. It's been a tough afternoon for us. Bella seemed a little worse today.
We eat some more. I force myself not to rush through it and pace myself with Edward. He cuts and butters each bun before offering me half. Sometimes his knee bobs fast as he eats and a couple of times our elbows bump, but I'm not worried like I was before.
It's amazing how I went from ravenously hungry to achingly full after one bowl and a couple of biscuits. I groan my contentment and finish my beer with a sigh. Edward takes my empty from me and stacks it with the others. He takes the bowls and runs some water into them in the sink and tosses in the cutlery.
I stand up and stretch. "Man that was good," I hiss and rub my stomach.
I look over and Edward's eyes slide away as he reaches down and thumps the bucket on top the counter. He reaches in and pulls out another stainless steel bowl. He grabs a hand full of dripping pea pods and drops them in front of me. "Get to work," he says, yet there is a hint of humour in his eyes.
I look at them and shrug. "What am I supposed to do?"
He raises his eyebrows in mock patience. He takes one and holds it up it in his long fingers in an exaggerated display and I find myself watching his hands like I've never noticed them before. They are long and slender and callous free, except for his writer's knot on his left hand.
He pushes his thumbs together and the pod makes a wet pop. He slides his thumb down the seam and it pulls apart exposing the bright green peas. He digs his thumb into the pod and pushes down, the peas patter into the bowl with a surprisingly musical sound.
"I think I can handle that," I smile and grab one.
It's colder than I'm expecting. I press and it gives easily and the pop is satisfying. I am aware that Edward is watching my hands and I bite back a self conscious smile. I push too hard and a few peas bounce onto the counter.
Edward cups his hand down and gathers the peas. He pops one up and catches it with his mouth and winks at me. I take one and taste it. It's not like I've never had fresh peas before, but it's been a very long time. I recognize the taste and yet am surprised all over again at how sweet it is.
Edward's looking at my mouth. I look away and grab another pod and get to work. After a moment Edward reaches over to the pile in front of me, even though the bucket is closer. He grabs it, but instead of shelling, he sits and watches me. I try to be casual, but I feel graceless. Even though my hands aren't shaking, it feels like they should be.
"Aren't you going to help," I raise my eyebrows and try to look casually over at him but I find myself stilled by his stare. His eyes are full of something I can't name.
He breaks his eyes away, frowning and leans his head against his arm that he props on the counter. He seems to be concentrating really hard on the small pea he rolls lightly with his finger on the counter, his other hand gripping the pea pod.
"What?" I say and give him a look. He's obviously got something on his mind.
"I can't believe you would tell me that you and Mike are just friends. I thought you said today that you weren't going to be evasive about that stuff anymore."
This makes me straighten up. "As I recall, I was having that conversation with Bella."
It was just this afternoon, as I held Bella on the loveseat of the commons room. Edward sat across from us and from time to time as we spoke, Edward looked away and out the large picture window that held a fallow farmer's field. She was in a brand new robe Maria had bought for her, and the dark navy made her already paleness almost transparent. We talked like we always do, about the little things but today she grew increasingly distant and silent. I started to talk about one of our favourite stories about the time we put black motor oil all over the window bars at Demetri's window and how he got all over his clothes and bedding when he tried to sneak back in several nights later. It surprised me to watch as Bella as she grew openly angry.
"What is it?" I said but Bella just covered her eyes and shook her head. I looked up at Edward who was looking at her, with an understanding I didn't have. He looked at me and blew out with puffed cheeks. Leaning back, he pushed his hand through his hair and looked out the window.
"What?" I said again looking between them.
Bella took her hand away and glared at me. "You always do this." I swallowed and shook my head showing her I didn't understand. "I could sit here for hours and listen to you, Jasper. You always make me smile. You always make the time pass easily. You make even the most miserable memory into something else entirely. It almost makes me forget how Charlie found out that Demetri had tried to wash the ruined sheets and his only pair of jeans in the washing machine and it got coated in the stuff and Maria did a load of Charlie's good shirts after. You don't mention how Charlie freaked out and screamed and kicked a huge dent in the washer and then threw both Demetri and Felix out again. We don't talk about how it was our fault. We never said anything and Demetri never said one word to us but he must have known we had done it."
"We were just little kids, Bella. He knew that." We had put the oil on so Demetri wouldn't sneak out and leave us again, but I don't say that part either.
She looked at me and she must have seen my stricken face because she softens and sighs. I look down and shake my head. "I mean, why would I even bother with that part because you know every story ends with Charlie losing his shit." I clear my throat but the bitterness remains.
Bella looks down and pulls at her split ends. She takes a deep breath and says; "I think it's because we never talk about it that it makes everything seem like it's constantly circling around it. I don't want to leave those parts out because I feel like it's those parts that are sucking me in and killing me."
I look at her astonished. She's right. It's like we are trapped in the orbit of those days when the cops were always parked in front of our house for either Felix or Demetri, my half brothers from Charlie's first marriage. They were long gone now.
And then one day Maria came back and got Bella's stuff and Bella was gone. I hear from Caius the next day that Bella isn't Charlie's biological daughter but her new husband Carlisle's, so she isn't even my half sister anymore. And then came Demetri's name in the headlines and the evening news. We were all scared to breathe waiting for Charlie to explode. I think maybe we still are waiting.
I remember feeling Edward's eyes on me as I tilted up Bella's chin and spoke to her with my voice rough. "Okay. No more left out parts to our stories. You know all my secrets, Bella, even if I do a shit job when it comes to talking about them. If I have made you feel like you weren't the most important person to me in our family, hell, in my fucked up life, than I'm sorry." Bella tries to speak but a shake my head at her and hold up my finger. "Promise me. Any time you think I'm playing footsie with the truth, you call me out. You know I'm closer to you than anyone, it's just hard for me."
Bella had smiled with her eyes tearing up. "It's not your fault. I'm just as bad." She shakes her head but her eyes stay sad.
"We can change," I whispered as I held her and stroked her hair, surprised at its matted locks. I closed my eyes tight. "Things can change if we want it bad enough."
When I released her, I looked up and saw Edward look away from us to stare out the window. His hands were clasped and resting on his thighs and his knee bobbed. After a few moments he looked back, his eyes carefully averting mine and I watch Bella turn to look at him. "Same goes for you, buster." Bella smirked and choked a little.
Edward's eyes crinkled as he looked at her. "You already know my secrets too," he said softly. Bella leaned her head on my shoulder and sighed, her eyes never leaving Edward's.
After a while she started to talk, and this time I was ready to listen.
I pick up another pea pod and snap it. "I was talking to my sister," I repeat. She might be Bella Cullen now, but I don't give a fuck and neither does she. I just wish my dad, Charlie, hadn't been such a fucking asshole about the whole thing. I wish for a lot of things when it comes to Charlie Swan.
Edward frowns and looks at me but I keep my eyes on my task. The peas bounce their melody less in the slowly filling bowl. I toss aside the last pod and reach into the bucket. There are still ice cubes and I swirl my hand until I grab a fist full of only pods. I give it a good dropping shake before tumbling them onto the counter.
I sigh and pop another pod. I love the feeling of my thumb running down and the creaking of the split following behind my thumb. I pulled the waxy halves apart and ran the edge along my tongue and felt the peas pop against it. I crunched and as I did the second one I watched Edward watch me. He swallowed and took a slug of his beer.
"Besides," I said feeling more confident tossing the pod aside and grabbing another, "Why would I lie about Mike?"
Edward's finger stills from tracing the dated tile pattern on the formica. "Caius said you two were..." His voice is heavy with the unspoken.
I huff my impatience. "Caius? He knows nothing and hates more than anything to admit it. If he can't find out, than he feels no shame in making shit up to satisfy his own fucked up mind." I take a deep breath and then add for good measure that I'm not the only one he gossips about. "You should hear the fucked up shit he says about you and your family."
Edward straightens up. His face is still but there is a tone in his voice that betrays him. "Like what... exactly?"
"Nah-uh." I pick up a pod and pop it. "What did he say about me... and Mike?" I let my voice show him I know what he's getting at.
Edward runs his fingers through his hair and looks away. Curry is sleeping against the wall, his feet twitching. "Look. I don't care what people say. I'm not some ignorant red-neck. If you and Mike are together, like 'together-together' I don't care. I'm just saying I wish you wouldn't hide it from me." He picks up an empty pod and twirls it by its short stem, making the halves helicopter back and forth.
"I see," I continue to shell, letting the silence grow. "Well that's very generous of you, Edward," I let my voice lighten with sarcasm. "Mike and I do have a lot in common. We like the same movies and we have a lot of history and we share certain philosphical beliefs," I let my voice lead off, "but that does not mean I would, I mean, I don't fuck my friends just because they happen to be handy." I feel myself color a little at my sudden bluntness, but I keep my eyes on my task. Sometimes being bold is all it takes to get people off this unwelcome topic.
Edward rubs his hands over his face and I peek over and he is staring at the pod hanging from his finger tips, his bottom sucked in with his mouth slightly open. I find myself staring as his tongue slips out and runs over his bottom lip. He seems to make up his mind as turns to me and says, "Caius said you were... fucking your friend."
"Then Caius is a God damn liar."
"Look. I know he is. It's just..." He seems frustrated and his jaw clenches before he speaks. "I just want to know why Caius insists that you two never...," he throws the pod down and crosses his arms. He tilts his head as he looks at me, his voice is low as he says, "That you and he never ...when I know that you did." His knee bobs and then stills.
I am shocked into silence. I mean I'm glad Caius kept his promise to me to never speak of it to anyone. Otherwise, I will have to make good on my promise to him and this will upset Bella. I just don't get why Edward feels we have to talk about this. Caius said Edward was definitely not interested in him that way, and I believe him.
Edward puts his hand out and says, "I mean why do you guys all lie about it? You fuck Caius, Caius fucks Mike, you and Mike get it on... so what's the big deal? Why lie about it?"
"Did you say Mike and... Caius?" I put my fingers on the edge of the countertop and drum them for a couple of seconds, my thoughts racing. No way. Unbelievable. That fucking dog, Caius. So that's what Mike was getting at. Huh.
Edward closed his eyes and said, "Would you please stop with the big 'I didn't know' act? I told you I don't give a fuck."
He gets up off his stool opens the fridge stares into it moodily then slams it and goes upstairs. After a few minutes he comes back down. He's got a bottle of rye, two small juice glasses and a tray of ice. He doesn't look at me as he puts the ice in each glass and pours a healthy dollop into each. He slams the ice into the top of the freezer and pulls two beers off the rings.
He stands in front of me and holds out the beer. I take it from him silently. He stares at me, pops his beer and takes a big swig and then follows it with a big swallow of the rye. He grimaces as he wipes his mouth.
"There's something I want to ask you, Jasper," he rasps. "But I don't want to talk about it if you are going to keep lying. It's about you and something Caius told me. Well, warned me actually."
A small part in me dies with his last words. I think I actually believed he was getting me over here for that stupid ridiculous fantasy of mine that Edward Masen secretly wants me. He wants something from me all right, and I bet it has to do with getting to the bottom about something Caius has said.
That boy's mouth is always getting him in deep shit and anyone in Caius's radius is always getting the aftershocks of it. Edward's probably worried that Caius is telling people they got it on. Caius can be a real jackass, but I don't think he's stupid enough to piss off the Masen brothers with a bald-faced lie like that. Not even Daddy Cullen's money can protect him from the hounds of hell.
"Fine," I grind out. I lean back and put my hands loosely at my hips as I take him in. His lips are red from the cold of the rye. His eyes are shielded by his thick eyelashes as he swirls his glass and takes another drink. He pushes my glass over with curled fingers and retracts it without making eye contact.
After a moment, I begin with a big sigh. "It's true... a long time ago, Caius and I were..." I make a gesture with my hand and take a swallow of the rye. It burns the gall I feel rising in my chest to be talking about this with Edward, of all people. I put the glass down purposefully and I pull my lips back over my gritted teeth.
"Um. I left my smokes in my jacket upstairs." Edward rubs the back of his neck.
I reach behind my and rustle my smokes out of my jacket's breast pocket. I wordlessly hand him one and he inspects the light brand with raised eyebrows but says nothing. "Trying to quit," I mumble. I snap open my lighter and light mine but I close it and hand Edward the lighter. He looks at it before lighting his own smoke. "That's Demetri's lighter. I recognize the inscription."
I nod. "He gave it to me until he gets out."
"Better not lose it." Edward squints at smoke in his eye and coughs.
"I don't lose track of things like some people." I slide the lighter into my jeans pocket.
"All your jeans have that," Edward gestures with his smoke. I look down and you can see the faded outline on the front my jeans where I always keep the lighter.
"Yeah. Like I said, I'm good at keeping track of things, and believe me I would remember if I fucked Mike Newton or not. For that matter, he wouldn't forget it either. I'm also telling you, I don't know about Mike and Caius-," I make the gesture with my hand again, "but it has nothing to do with me."
Edward nods and pours some more rye into his glass, this time even higher. He tilts the bottle at mine and I hold it up and let him top up. He grabs an ashtray from a cupboard and we flick our ash in silently. With a shake of his head, Edward takes another drink and then another and with a tilt of his head, he finishes it off. He leans forward on his forearms, still standing and looks at his empty glass, his lips pursed. I take another sip and watch him.
"But you and Caius...," he says at last looking at me. It's not a question.
I shrug. "It was a long time ago, and I try not to think about it."
This surprises him. "Why?"
I tilt my head. "I was pretty young."
His brows come together. He breathes slowly through his nose. He fills his glass and takes another drink.
I exhale my smoke as I say; "You want to tell me how you know... about me and Caius?"
His eyes dart up to mine and then down again. He swallows back the last of his rye. "I saw you."
I watch his thumb run over the rim of the glass and then I look at his face and see the stain on his cheeks darken and it runs down his neck. Even his chest looks a little pink from what I can see of him leaning over the counter like that. I guess he must have seen a lot.
I take a drag and curse that they are light because I could walk a mile for the burn right now.
This is not what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be Bella, for sure, calling me out on me and Caius. Even though I had never said as much, I am sure she must have figured it out. Caius is not open about his sexuality, but he can't exactly hide it either, if you know what I mean. We were inseparable that one summer and then right after we vehemently hated each other. Still do, most of the time. Bella lives with Caius, so it's impossible to avoid him.
I sit up and reach over to grab my beer and Edward startles. I give him a long look and lean back again. I drink the beer and he looks over at the dog again.
I pick up some pods and start shelling. Edward fills and finishes another glass and then he drinks his beer down, still watching me. After a while I say, "Did you tell anyone?"
He looks over at me surprised. "No." He shakes his head with his voice serious and adamant and stubs out his smoke.
I blow out a big breath. 'Well, I guess that's something." I flick the waxy empty shell down and drop my smoke in his empty beer. We listen to the hiss and then he stands up and puts with the empties.
He steps back and remains standing. He looks at his hands as he rolls his silver ring on his thumb. Then he creases his brows and puts his hand in the bucket and pulls out more peas. He begins to shell. "Caius always tried to... with me. Even when I was back together with Bella that last time."
I smile despite myself. "Well, he's not shy." And I look at him meaningfully, "And he's got eyes in his head."
Edward snorts. "I like Caius, or I guess I used to, but never... I mean not that way." He says quickly, "That's not why we're not friends anymore."
I shrug. "Bella told me Caius had it bad for you but it was not reciprocated. That's why you don't hang out anymore."
Edward shakes his head and pulls his hand through his hair. "I don't even know why he told Bella that. It had nothing to do with that. Besides, the truth is... he still has it bad for you."
I stop and look at him.
"I guess he has eyes in his head." Edward thumbs the peas into the bowl and slides a look at me and looks away and makes a half smile.
I feel my brows gather in confusion. My voice is flat as I say; "Caius was a mistake."
We shell for a while, the peas make only the occasional 'ting' on the side of the bowl as it fills up.
"So you don't like him anymore?" Edward persists.
"Did he get you to ask me this?" Edward shakes his head no, surprised. I roll my eyes. "Shit. I don't know. I don't even think I liked him at the time very much you know? It was just... sex."
Edward makes a big sigh. He grabs another beer from the fridge points at mine and I shake my head no. He takes a drink and leans against the counter. After a minute he says quietly; "So I guess me and Caius used to keep company like you and Mike; friends, but no benefit plan."
I think about what he has just said and my movement of dropping the empty shell slows. I let it fall from my fingers and I watch as Edward's hand slips under mine. His hand touches lightly and then his thumb hooks over mine and holds it as his finger tips stroke my wrist. I look at his thumb ring and yet I can't process that it is his hand touching me like this. From my peripheral, I see him lower his chin down and his chest rise up with a deep breath he speaks.
"I thought if I could with Caius, then I was, too. But I just... couldn't. It felt wrong, so I thought, 'okay, I'm not that way'. I mean I'm still young and everyone is different. Whatever." He shrugs. I am still staring at our hands and I tilt my head and look at him as my brows furrow at him.
He looks at me and then closes his eyes and opens them, holding my eyes and I'm almost afraid of what he will say next. "But then I see you again. I can't describe what happens to me. It just doesn't make any sense to me. I mean..."
"We were friends and then one day you hated me." My voice sounds strange to my ears, but I can't say why. He grips my hand.
"I don't know what I felt. It freaked me out. Suddenly... I don't know...you were so different. And you would stare at me. And it's not just me. Everyone says you are like, fucking... intimidating."
I take a deep breath and try to pull my hand away but he resists and he pulls my hand back, defiant.
I grow angry. "Bella told me you didn't want me to come over anymore. She said I made you jealous. She may not be my biological sister but, jeez, we're not fucking hill-billies." He shakes his head but I'm more determined and I pull my hand away. "Fuck. I knew it was a lie when I heard it."
I stared at him hard as I tucked my hands under my crossed arms. I felt my lips tight as I spoke. "Bella told me about the phone call Rosalie recorded. Between you and Caius. You said I was I little faggot."
He closed his eyes. He swallowed. "Caius suspected I was... but he couldn't understand why... I wouldn't... with him. One night Bella was drunk, and she was trying to get into my pants, and I wouldn't and she was upset. We had broken up before because I told her I was feeling confused and one day she saw me watching you and she made me tell her. I should have known it would come up when she was drinking. She said some unfortunate things. When I left the bedroom, Caius was sitting here." He pointed to where I was. "The next day on the phone, I had to tell him that or Caius would have made my life miserable. Scratch that. More miserable."
I look down. Edward's hand is still resting where I released it, the palm open. He grips it into a fist and puts it on his forehead. "I know I was a total prick to you. Even when I was doing it I hated myself. I couldn't make sense of what I was doing. I wanted to see you and when I did... I felt such rage."
I looked down at the counter, unwilling to see the pain in his face. "I seem to have that effect on a lot of people."
I didn't blame Edward for not telling Caius. No way would I want him to know either, it just so happens he was my first and I was his. If I'm intimidating it's because I have to be. I had to hold my own with Demetri and Felix, let alone Charlie. I quickly learned it's the best way to keep people off my back and it certainly keeps Caius's big mouth shut.
"Dammit Jasper. Look at me."
I stare at him. No. I glare at his impossible green eyes.
He licks he lips and his voice breaks as he speaks. "You told Bella today that things can change. When you said that to her, I felt it right here." He presses on his chest, hard, with the fist that once held my hand. "You made my heart friggin' pound. I believed you."
I am still, but I feel like my lungs can't move to bring in enough air.
He says slowly. "I've done everything in my power to fuck up the one thing I ever felt remotely connected to. I don't understand why I feel this way about you, but I also know that there is something in you... that I can't seem to let go."
He raises his hands and covers his face and laughs to himself. "Fuck. I sound like a crazy person." He lowers his hands and says slowly, his head shaking. "Please... just tell me if you have any idea about what I'm talking about."
I place my elbows on the counter and lean forward, placing my clasped hands in front of my face and I close my eyes. There's something fluttering in my chest and I can't figure out if I'm going to laugh or cry. I startle when I feel his hand on my hair. I open my eyes and his face is closer than I expect. His eyes are pleading with me and I can't understand why I can't speak.
"Please... say something." His voice is low and he swallows thickly.
I take his wrist and push it away and lean back. His eyes flinch but he keeps his cool.
I find my voice calmer that I ever expected. "Edward. You've been with Bella, off and on, all these years. I don't think you are... I mean, you're just feeling confused because she's in rehab again and we've grown close trying to help her."
I have no idea why I'm saying this, but another part of my brain is calm and approving. Edward could easily be the one mistake I would never be able to hide. I never felt for Caius, even when things were good, the way Edward makes me feel just by walking past my house. He's broken Bella and I'm not about to be next. I growl at him; "You've just finished college for fuck's sake. Couldn't you have experimented on someone there?"
Edward pushes both his hands through his hair and drops them down. "You don't believe me." He shakes his head and his eyes look up into mine. "Every time I felt myself pulled towards you... I went running to her. When we broke up, I went to Caius. I think, in some fucked up way, I was still seeking out something that kept me connected to you."
"But… but you never wanted me around. There is a part of you, and obviously you don't know how dominant that part is, that doesn't want me." I say this last part with gritted teeth.
He looks at me and then he closes his eyes. "I guess I knew this would happen. You hate me. I knew you didn't want to come over. I just thought if you..." He shakes his head a laughs a small bitter laugh. "I'll drive you home."
I reach over the counter and grab his wrist to stop him from digging for his keys. "Maybe we should hold off on that. I think the whiskey's starting to kick in."
Edward freezes and looks down at where my forearm is reaching across his hip and holding his wrist. Edward slides his hand slowly out of his jeans pocket and twists it around so he is holding my wrist. I'm not expecting this and I start to pull back but he grips harder and as I turn to look at him he lets his head rest on my forehead.
"I'm not like Caius. I would never..." He squeezes his eyes shut and says brokenly; "I just want to try one thing."
I'm still stretched out across the counter. I think he's probably more drunk than I am, but I still feel a weightless spin as I close my eyes and hear myself say, very softly, "Okay."
I open my eyes and watch him, eyes closed, as he slowly lowers his lips. He pauses, waiting, his mouth parts and I smell cigarette and whiskey and I close my eyes and slowly tilt my chin up and, softly, so softly, our lips touch and then separate and then press together. I pull back. I open my eyes and watch as Edward opens his and his breath gusts out. His eyes are pained.
He tightens his mouth and with one hand pushes my shoulder so I am half off my chair and half on my back beneath him. He creases his brow as he looks down at my mouth and says almost to himself, "You let me."
I can't speak so I close my eyes again and tilt my head up towards him. He pauses only for a second more and then he kisses me, slowly, thoroughly, as he presses down on me.
I feel his hand tentatively rest on my chest, and then press and spread his fingers as he pushes it up towards my neck. He runs it down again and I make a small 'ah' to let him know it's okay and he shivers and bunches my shirt in his hand and pull it up. He runs his hand under my shirt and I am in heaven as he moves down to my stomach and then back to my chest. I can tell he has no idea what to do. This will probably end up a huge fucking mess but I let him. I just have to.
Just as I feel a small peek of his tongue, and my scalp and balls start to tingle from it, the back door slams. We jump apart.
I look to the stairs and hear Esme humming as she stomps and wipes her boots and then takes them off.
"You boys finish shucking?" She calls down.
I look at Edward and he looks dazed. "Just about," I say. This time my voice sounds strained and I feel myself blush as it sinks in what she's just said.
Edward looks at me with incredulity and then a half smile. His skin is flushed and his eyes are glazed as he looks over at me nervously. "Okay?" he whispers.
I pick up a pod and pop it. "Uh-huh." I go to sit down and I have to adjust myself. Edward covertly watches me as he does the same.
"Yeah." Edward says and swallows. He takes a drink of his beer. "I think this will be my last beer and then I can drive you."
I smile to myself at his unintended innuendo. "Why don't we just hang out? Have fun." I let my words fill the uncertain space between us. I think this is okay. It feels like it's okay.
The phone rings upstairs and I hear Esme answer. Edward clears his throat. "Esme has to take the van to work at six." He shrugs but his eyes are hopeful. "Nightshift."
"I can always walk myself home. I've done it enough from your place in much worse shape."
We work quickly now finishing up the peas. I am glad for something to do and I'm mindful of Esme's footsteps creaking on floorboards above us. At one point I flick the ice water at Edward and he comes around to my side of the counter again and stuffs ice down my shirt. He stills and tries to kiss me again. I won't let him and he gets all serious even though I'm kidding around.
Edward holds me and presses my head into his neck as he whispers. "I'm not like Caius. I won't... I want you but I can't..."
"Hey... hey." I push away and look at him perplexed.
"I never realized it until today when you said...you were young." His hands are on my shoulders. He says with a shake of his head; "He was nineteen... and you were what? Sixteen?"
"I know that." I push him off again, annoyed. "It's not like he forced me, Edward. In fact as soon as I figured out what he wanted I was chasing after him."
Edward looks down, his arm moves to rest on the back of my chair. His hand rests lightly between my shoulders. I smooth my eyebrow as I tell him; "I'm eighteen now, and I still know what I like. I may not want to be with Mike, but Caius isn't my only conquest. So what if you're older? You've only been with Bella." I nudge him and he looks up into my eyes. "So I need to be careful with you."
He looks taken aback. "You think I'm a virgin?"
"I guess in a way you are, right? Inexperience is not a sin, Edward. Not in our day and age."
"I may not have done this before," he says his hand travelling up my thigh, he grips my thigh just at the juncture of my crotch and I open my mouth in shock and look down. "I think I can manage to show you what I've been thinking about," Edward says, his voice husky.
"O-okay." I look up at him and he smiles and lets his hand stroke down my thigh and squeezes it.
He smiles and cocks his jaw and looks down at his travelling hand as it makes it way back up. He says, "I hope you will show me what you like." He wets his lips and he smoothes his hand down again. "I'd like to show you...," he pauses as he scratches his hand up the inside of my thigh and then just lightly over my balls. I jump. "...what I want."
I take a deep breath and let it out, nodding mutely.
This is interesting. Not shy. Wow. Not shy at all. The promise of this makes my heart skip a beat with anticipation. I can't believe it. After all this time, convincing myself it was my lust fuelled imagination; Edward Masen just copped a feel.
He points at the pile of empty pea pods. "Throw them in the water so I can take them out to the compost."
This is the old high-handed Edward I knew and once loved. I begin to scoop them up, and I am hardly thinking about what I am doing as my head wraps around what is to come. Edward takes the bucket and the bowl of peas and takes the stairs two at a time.
I slide off the stool and find the bathroom. I have to sit down and wait for my hard on to lessen so I can pee. I think of Esme singing in the shower above me and I calm down quickly.
I come out and Edward is washing up the dishes. I sit at the counter again and watch him. He's taken off his flannel and he is wearing a grey T-shirt that is loose but thin enough that when he moves I get a glimpse of his pecs. He is at ease and at one point his scratches his scruff with his soapy fingers and a small puff of soap is left behind. Such a small thing and I am entranced.
He finishes up quickly and I am almost sorry. Just watching him in this mundane activity as we wait for Esme to leave has filled me with a strange awe. I know he wants me, and yet I can't believe it. I'm grateful to have some time to just watch him, so I can make sense of this last hour.
He pulls the plug and tosses the wet dish cloth at me. I catch it and wordless begin to wipe down the countertop. He leans on his hip and takes a swig of beer and watches me. I look up and he meets my eye with a smile. He knows I was watching him and he knows why and he lets me know he is watching me.
I finish and walk the cloth over to the sink and rinse it out and hang it over the tap. Edward doesn't move but leans in and takes a deep inhale of my hair and rubs his nose on my ear. I chuckle but don't pull away. I stand with my hands resting on the counter's edge and close my eyes as he runs his hand up my back and I shiver. "Ah, tickles."
He bites his lip and smiles. His hand widens and pushes down my back and stops at the small of my back and rubs back and forth again and again. I arch my hips into the counter and sigh. I lean my arms on the counter and cross my one leg at the ankle as I bend slightly over. His hand slowly lowers over my jeans and grips my ass. I let my head hang and let my hair fall forward over my eyes.
He runs his fingers along the in-seam of my inner thigh to the apex and down the other side. Then he runs his fingers up the back of my thigh and runs it up between my cheeks and then slides his hand into the back of my jeans. I spread my legs a little more.
I feel his breath in my ear. "I love your fine ass, Jasper Whitlock Swan. The way it curves right here," he lets his finger trace, "and these dimple here." I smile but keep my eyes closed. His finger stops just at the top of my crack and then lightly runs down over my cheeks, his fingers splayed, until my jeans stop his hand. His hand is warm from washing the dishes and I feel it tremble slightly.
"Mmmmm," I say throatily.
"Okay Edward? I'm off." Esme calls from the top of the stairs. Edwards jumps a little but keeps his hand down my pants. His nails scrap up my right cheek.
"See you in the morning," he smirks like he is talking to me. I pull his hand out and walk over to the stairs. I lean around to look up the stairs so she doesn't see my hard on. "Thanks for supper, Esme, it was great. Best stew I ever had." The dog stands and nuzzles my hand, probably because my cock is pressed against the wall.
"C'mon Curry. I'll put you out." Esme pats her thigh and Curry labours up the stairs.
"I've never had buffalo before and it was fantastic." Esme's eyes look down surprised but pleased. She's wearing a flowery hospital uniform that looks like a jigsaw puzzle exploded. "You know Edward always helps me make it. I don't make it half as good unless he helps."
"I liked his biscuits too." I say, giving her my best smile.
Esme chortles. "All right then. Goodnight."
I wave. "Goodnight."
I turn around. Edward is still leaning against the sink. He's got an appraising look in his eye, and he tilts his head looking at my hips. I look down and shrug my shoulders and put my hand in my pockets and look away, letting him look.
The lock in the door turns and Edward is across the floor in two seconds, kissing me hard. It is not so much urgent as it is determined. I turn my head wanting to slow this down but he is persistent. He pushes me back against the wall and his hand clicks off the light switch. He kisses me again, his tongue licks over my lips and I push him away but he pushes back and gets his way. It takes me a second to figure out he is chuckling as he is gasping.
"What?' I pull away.
"You aren't going home tonight."
"That's funny to you?"
"I just imagined what I would do if you tried to leave."
"I can imagine." This makes my spine tingle but I also feel a bit of a caution too.
He takes in a shaky breathe and places his forehead on mine. "I don't think I'm in control with you."
I smile, "That's a good thing. That's the best way for us to find out what you like."
I think I can handle one night of Edward Masen before he runs back to Bella again and they continue making each other miserable. It's all I'm going to get so I might as well make the best of it. I think of Garrett briefly but I push my thoughts of him away.
"I just mean... If I go too far, or you're uncomfortable..." Edwards grips my biceps, his voice is earnest.
"You think I can't handle you?" I cock my eyebrow at him, taunting him. I turn my arms and break his grip and push him playfully away. His taller but I'm definitely more built.
His eyes darken and he grabs me and pushes me against the wall again. "I think I can't handle what I want to do with you," He closes his eyes and lays fully against me with a groan.
I run my nails up his back and into his thick hair. I roll my head back, giving him my neck. He tongues it and pushes his knee between my legs. I push my hips out and he meets me hard and urgent.
"Oh, fuck that feels good," I grunt. He makes a shaky sound of agreement.
Edward is panting in my ear and rolls his hips and his heavy and breathy sighs fill my ear. I begin to pump my hips and he shivers and grabs my ass and squeezes and jerks hard against me. He stiffens and I hear a cautious "Ohhh," and he starts to slow and I know he is getting off too fast and he is not sure.
I grab his jaw and let him see the desire in my eyes. "I'm close too, don't worry. I want to feel you let go. We got all night."
Edward's eyes are wide and then he closes them and he pushes against me and we hit our rhythm. It's not long before he is gulping air and he says a small 'Oh' and then he says it again and he shivers hard against me and then shivers even harder again. I feel warmth spread on the top of my jeans and he bucks again and he groans his regret in my ear; "Fuck me."
I hold him and he nuzzles my neck and I stroke his hair with one hand and his back with the other. "S'okay man. That was crazy hot. We got pretty worked up there before we even started."
He makes a sort of choking laugh. "I wasn't expecting that to happen... that way. Believe me when I say I imagined it differently."
I laugh silently. He pulls his head up and looks at me annoyed and amused. "Oh, so I'm funny now?"
"No," I say tenderly, my hand scratching at his scruff. My eyes flick to his and I say, chagrined; "Would you believe me when I tell you I've imagined it just like that?"
"Um. You didn't...?" He's not sure. So his hand goes down over my jeans and he finds me and I hiss as he squeezes.
"Ahhh... yes... right there." I moan in spite of myself. "Actually, this is how I imagine it but this was way hotter. I get off to thinking about you... getting off. It's definitely much hotter with you in person. I am kind of..." I trail off realizing too late I just confessed he starred in one of my favourite jack-off fantasies.
"What?" His hand strokes some more and I can't speak.
Uh... Ohhh. Jeezuz." I try to think about what I'm saying.
"Tell me," Edward chuckles and stills his hand.
"It turns me on because it's kind of flattering." I grimace and push my hip into his hand.
He snorts. Shakes his head and kisses me. "I want to give you something a little more than stroking your ego."
I smile. "Okay?"
He pulls at my jeans button and steps away. "Come with me."
I laugh and shake my head. "The things you say to me, I'll follow you anywhere."
Curry barks and Edward freezes. The back door creaks followed by several footsteps.
"Shit. Jane and Alec are back from Sam's a day early."
And everything I stopped myself from thinking about floods into me. I can't believe I was actually going to do this after visiting Bella. Garret is over at Sam's farm too. He's going to call me when he gets back as soon as the picking is done.
I step back. Hold up my hands. "No worries. I'll catch you another time." I reach for my jacket on the back of the stool but Edward is there, stilling my hand. "Stay here. I'm just going to change and go upstairs and see what's going on."
I nod and but as soon as his bedroom door closes, I'm buttoning up my jacket to hide the wet spot. I grab a six pack out of the fridge and then I'm sprinting silently up the stairs.
Jane comes down the short steps to the kitchen and smiles when she sees me. "Hey Jasper. How's Bella? I came back early because I want to go by and see her tomorrow."
I smile and then grimace, imagining Jane finding us and telling Bella. "She's been better."
"Of course, of course." She tucks her long golden hair behind her ear. She has gone from a moon-faced girl to quite a lovely one. She sees me looking and I wink at her and she blushes. I see her look over my shoulder and her smile fades.
I slip on my shoes quickly because I know who she sees behind me. As I turn to open the door Edward is at the bottom of the stairs glowering. I remain cool. "See ya later man, thanks for the ride and the beers and supper."
He gives me quick nod and says coldly, "See ya later." His voice is calm despite the look of betrayal his eyes dart at me. The back door shuts off Jane's farewell behind me and I make a wide circle around Curry and I'm heading down the back alley. I pause only to light my smoke before I'm making a beeline for home as fast as my long stride will carry me.
Fuck me. What was he going to tell me that Caius said about me? Who am I kidding? Nothing good I'm sure.
I am never going over there again. I'll catch a ride with Maria when I go to see Bella.