Title: Learning to Surf and Other Valuable Lessons
Pairing: Jasper/Edward
Word Count: 8,485
Rating: M
Summary: Jasper only signed up for surf lessons. But when he met Edward Cullen, he discovered just how much he had to learn.

I watch him as he comes out of the surf, rivulets of water running down his chest, six-pack abs flexing and turning as he shakes the burning salt water from his eyes. He's like Ursula Andress in "Dr. No", only in male form—ridiculously sexy and fuckable. His wet hair is a little long, and when he runs his fingers through it, it stands up on end. His biceps flex as he tucks his board under his arm, and heads up the sand. I find myself staring unabashedly at this man. I'm aroused, and irritated at myself for being this aroused because shit, he should be turned on by me. I'm the one who gets to pick and choose which guy to fuck, and I like being in the position of power, but this guy, he doesn't even look my way, so now I'm pissed off.

I realize there's a voice nattering in my ear, and then I remember my instructor. I turn and look at the tiny sprite next to me as she's explaining to me how I'm going to stand up on this piece of wood and ride a wave. She's cute in that way petite girls are. Like one of the wee people of Irish myth. She keeps talking, and I'm trying to listen, but I keep picturing Mr. Six Pack and wishing I could lick the water off his abs. A half hour later she has me in the water, and I'm paddling and wondering why the fuck I'm here. Then I remember that Newton dared me to learn how to surf, and since when did I ever turn down a dare?

One hour later, and several attempts at standing up on a fucking piece of wood in the ocean, I'm lying on a towel, with the elf fluttering about me. I wonder why I ever thought it was a good idea to stand on a fucking piece of wood in the ocean as she presses another towel to my forehead, trying to staunch the blood that's been streaming into my eyes. The next thing I know, she's got my hand in hers and she's dragging me up the beach. The little thing's quite strong actually. I'm impressed. She's yammering on in her superfast way, and I swear she could give high-speed internet a run for its money.

I finally pull back on her hand hard enough to make her stop for a second.

"Where exactly are we going?"

"Oh! To my uncle's house, he's a doctor and he lives right up here. I'm staying with him for the summer. His kid went to stay with his mom for summer, so I get to stay here. Yay!" Then she keeps chattering about how cool it is to be living on the beach, because she lives in the Valley, but loves to surf and this makes her life so much easier. And on, and on, and on. Doesn't she ever take a fucking breath? Still, she's endearing. Like a Smurf, a girl Smurf. So I dub her, Smurfette, and I let her drag me behind her until we come up to the most amazing house.

The beach-facing side of the three story house is almost all windows. The rest is made of natural wood and has the warm feel of earthiness, not the cold, austere modernism of most of the homes on that stretch of beach.

"Fuck me," I whisper.

"I know." She says, "It's incredible isn't it?"

I whistle my agreement.

She natters on some more about sustainability and eco-friendly design and she drags me through the door. "Hello!" She shouts. "Hello?"

I hear a door open and footsteps, and then a shock of bronze colored head appears at the top of the stairs, and I realize I'm looking at fucking Ursula Andress's male counterpart.

"Alice, please stop shouting." His gaze flicks over me casually, and he turns back to her, "Another stray?"

I'm about to tell the guy to fuck off. Who does he think he is? Smurfette launches into an explanation about how she knocked me in the head with my own surfboard. Don't ask. I'm still trying to figure it out the logistics of what she did myself.

Ursula, or whatever the fuck his name is, makes his way down the stairs and walks over to us. He removes the towel I've got pressed against my forehead, and Smurfette pipes up again.

"See Uncle Edward? I think he needs stitches or something. Anyway, I've got another lesson, so I'll see you later." And she runs out the door.

The bronze haired god in front of me chuckles lightly and says, "She's something else isn't she?"

I can't help myself and I say, "Smurfette? Yeah. She makes a Chihuahua on speed look mellow."

He looks at me for a second, not saying anything, and then his face breaks out into the most amazing smile and he laughs, but one of those real, deep laughs, and he's so fucking sexy. So I smile back and it's just about all I can do to keep from attacking him. I lick my lips, and I see his eyes following my tongue. Oh really? Still, I need to be sure. Smurfette did mention a kid and a mom.

"So Doc," I say, letting my drawl out just a little, "are you gonna fix me up?"

His eyes snap back up to mine, and I know that look. The drawl works every time.




He grins at me. "Sure. Let me get my bag."

He walks away, and I watch his tight, denim covered ass saunter to the other room, and I'm pretty fucking sure that as he bends over in the doorway to grab his bag, he knows exactly what he's doing to me. Now I'm harder than the surfboard that smacked my head.

He comes back into the room, leads me to the table, and pushes me back against it until I scoot up and sit on the edge. Then he stands in between my legs, dabbing at the cut with some gauze and some cool liquid from his bag that stings like a mother fucker. He smells good. Like really fucking good. Clean. Like Ivory soap. He leans in a little, and his hip grazes my dick, making it twitch. I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure he's smirking, as he presses the butterfly bandage to the cut on my forehead.

"There you go. No stitches needed." He smoothes my hair away from the bandage, letting his fingers linger for a moment longer than necessary, before gathering up his supplies and going back to his bag to put things away. "So what's your name?" he asks as he straightens up and turns back to me.

For a moment I don't say anything, because he's staring at me with his bottle green eyes and I feel like they're seeing right through me. And I can't, I won't use the name I've been using at the clubs.

"Jasper," I tell him. "Jasper Whitlock." And it's out there. The real me. The one no one here in Los Angeles knows, because out in the city, in the clubs, I'm Jake, just Jake. I don't even need a last name; none of the tricks at the club do. But here, in this house, with him, I want to be me.

"Well, Jasper, Jasper Whitlock," he says with a smile. "I'm—"

"Edward." I smirk at him. "Smurfette called you, Uncle Edward."

He chuckles ruefully and rubs the back of his neck. "Alice is . . . well, yeah she's Alice," he says with a shrug of his shoulders. "Anyway, it's Cullen. Edward Cullen."

I extend my hand. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Edward."

His hand clasps mine and it's warm, the skin soft against mine, and I wonder what it would feel like wrapped around my cock. I hold on a moment or two longer than necessary, hoping I convey my interest. It doesn't go unnoticed.

With a smile Edward asks, "Can I get you something to drink, Jasper? Coke? Beer? Something else?"

"Yes. No. Yes. Maybe," I answer with a grin.

He laughs, and it's easy, comfortable. He isn't nervous and his confidence is sexy as hell. "C'mon," he says with a tilt of his head as he walks out of the room.

I follow him into a kitchen that looks like it's out of the pages of one of those design magazines. Marble counters, gleaming appliances, clean, white cabinets, and more windows with views of the water. The sunlight is filtering through the partially drawn bamboo blinds and the breeze drifting in through the open windows carries the salty tang of the ocean; fresh despite the overlay of brine, clean despite the sand and kelp.

Edward grabs two bottles and opens them. He hands me one and tilts the neck toward mine, tapping the two together. "To," he glances at my forehead, "unexpected accidents."

"And hyper surf instructors," I counter.

We drink our beers and the conversation flows easily. Before I know it we're ordering Chinese food and talking and talking, and it's so, so easy. I feel like we've known each other for weeks, not hours.

We sit around the fire pit outside, containers of food passed back and forth between us, the "snick snick" of chopsticks echoing in the quiet as we dig in, hungry. He fishes a piece of Kung Pao chicken out of the container and I watch as he wraps his lips around it, suppressing the soft moan that threatens to escape my throat as I imagine them wrapped around my dick.

"Smurfette said you had a kid," I say.

He smiles. "Riley." He takes another bite and I try to concentrate.

"He's with his mom?"

"Yeah. He lives here with me most of the time, but stays with her for part of the summer, some holidays. She's got Christmas this year."

"That's unusual," I say.

"What is?"

"Well, usually it's the mom that has primary custody."

"Well, Kate, my ex, had a great job offer, but it meant moving to London. Even if I had agreed, Riley wanted to stay here, with his friends."

"Ex," I mutter as I stab at a shrimp, annoyed. An ex means a relationship, not just an "arrangement" for having a child. "What happened?"

He grins over the bottle of his beer. "I realized I like cock better."

I choke on my shrimp and reach for my beer, swallowing it down in large gulps, relieved to know that my instincts weren't off base.

"So, Jasper, why history?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, there are a lot of other 'sexier' subjects out there," he says using air quotes. "What draws you to history?"

I laugh. "You don't think history is sexy?"

His eyes go wide. "Shit, Jasper. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to off—"

I have to save him from himself. "Stop! Seriously, Edward, you should see your face right now! I'm just teasin' ya. I know history isn't considered 'sexy,'" I say, emulating his finger quotes. "But I've always been drawn to it. It's the basis for everything we know today. I know they say we're doomed to repeat history, but I like to think that sometimes, just sometimes, we learn from it, and don't repeat our mistakes," I finish with a shrug. "Plus, maybe with someone like me in the classroom, people will start to think it's sexy," I say with a smirk.

"Got that right," he mumbles around a mouthful of rice. Then his eyes shoot up to mine and he blushes, and fuck me if that isn't sweet. He hides it behind a large swallow of beer.

"Think I'm sexy, Edward?" I ask. My voice is lower now, husky.

His eyes flicker back and forth from mine to my mouth, then he leans forward and says, "I think," and his breath is soft and warm against my face, "that you have something on your chin." He rubs a thumb along my jaw, while his lips form a smile.

My heart starts to race a little. And he starts to pull away.

Oh hell no! I grab him by his hips, and pull him to me as I lean back and lie down on the chaise lounge I'm sitting on. I feel the weight of him on me, and my dick which has been in a torturous limbo of semi-hardness all day jumps to attention.

"Goin' somewhere, Doc?" This time I let the full Texas twang out, and I feel him shudder against me. I run my nose along his throat, taking in his scent, until I reach his jaw and nip lightly. His answering moan says it all, and I grab him by the back of the neck and pull him down, covering his lips with mine. Once . . . twice . . . I pass across them softly, until I feel them part slightly, and my tongue darts in to taste him.

He's spicy red chili and beer and Edward, and he's delicious. When he moans, I swallow it, my mouth open to his and we're sharing more than lips and tongue, it's also taste and texture and breath.

His hands find my hips, and pull me closer. I grind against him shamelessly. I want this man. Man not a boy. Not another trick at another club, but this gorgeous man, and he's just as wanton, just as into this as me. His grip is tight and his hips move in rhythm with mine and if I don't slow down I'm going to come in my pants like a fourteen year old during his first kiss. But now his hand is gripping the back of my neck, and he is cradled in between my legs, and his lips and tongue are hot on my neck and across my jaw and I'm nothing but sensation and want.

"Fuck, Jasper." Edward's voice in my ear is low and gravelly. His fingers are tugging at the hem of my t-shirt and we break apart long enough for him to yank it over my head and toss it across the deck. He leans back a bit and just looks at me, running his fingers from my collar bone, down the center of my chest and across my stomach. I watch them trail over my skin, seeing my muscles contract and tense under his touch, and for a moment I'm convinced I'm going to see a burn mark.

"So beautiful," he whispers. Then his mouth is making its way down my stomach. My eyes close as I give in to the feeling. His fingers are deft and agile, and in moments my swim trunks are somewhere down around my knees and his fingers are tight around my cock as he strokes it.

"Beautiful," I hear him say again and I open my eyes expecting to find him looking at my dick in his hand, but no, he's watching me, eyes intent, and I force myself to release my lip from between my teeth.

I hear the desperate, needy sounds coming from my mouth, but I can't make them stop, and I'm not sure I want to. My hips are moving in time to his strokes and the coil in my stomach tightens. I have to stop him or I'm going to embarrass myself. In a quick move, I sit up and take his mouth with mine, growling, "my turn."

My hands move to push his shirt off his shoulders, although I don't even remember unbuttoning it, and then they're touching his skin. He's warm, so, so very warm, and when I scrape a fingernail against his nipple, he arches so pretty for me. "Mmmm, that's nice," I tell him before flicking my tongue against it and sucking it into my mouth.

Now the keening sounds I hear are coming from him, he's straddling my lap and grinding on me while I take my time exploring his neck, chest, and his mouth. He's responsive and breathless, and I love that I'm the one making him like this.

I still his hips with my hands and slide out from under him. "I want to taste all of you darlin," I murmur in his ear, and even I can hear the hunger in my voice.

"Fuck yes," he groans and in less than a minute he's standing naked in front of me. The cool, damp, evening air is raising gooseflesh on his arms, but the heat of the firepit keeps him warm enough. His cock is beautiful, like the rest of him, long and thick and so very, very hard. I lean forward and flick my tongue over the head, moaning my approval of his flavor, before running it along the underside from base to tip.

He whimpers and his legs suddenly seem a little unsteady. I grip one hip and wrap my other hand around the base of his cock before sucking just the head into my mouth and twirling my tongue over it and around the ridge.

"Shit!" he cries out when I pull back and then plunge forward again, taking the length of him into my mouth until he hits the back of my throat. I'm working up and down, enjoying the feel of his hardness and the soft silk of his skin in my mouth. I slide off the chaise and onto my knees, holding his cock while I lightly nudge his sac before sucking his balls into my mouth one at a time, taking exploratory, teasing licks just behind them.

I work my way back up and start to suck him in earnest. I want to feel him come undone, to feel him fill my mouth, and hear him cry out. His hands are tangled in my hair and his hips are pumping, so I let him lead, let him fuck my face, until he tries to pull out with a warning, "Jasper, I'm gonna come."

I grab his ass and pull him back in, too hard perhaps since I gag myself a little on his cock, but it's all worth it when I hear him grunt and feel him tense and then, "oh fuck . . . oh fuck . . . yeah, yeah, yeah," he cries as he spills into my mouth, his dick pulsing and throbbing against my tongue. I suck gently until he's done, and a little bit more as he pulls out, hearing him hiss as my lips slide over his sensitive tip.

I smile up at him. "You taste so fucking good," I tell him, and I mean it. I've never enjoyed giving a blow job so much in my life. He pulls me up to him and kisses me. I open my mouth and his tongue is tasting me, tasting us.

He runs his nose along my jaw and up my neck, and then I feel his breath fan across my ear as he whispers, "I want to take you upstairs and fuck you, Jasper. I want to ride you. I want to feel you inside me, filling me with that gorgeous cock of yours." And now I'm the one shamelessly whimpering and rubbing against him again.

"Yes. Yes, please," I groan against him.

He takes my hand and leads me through his house and up the stairs. At the top of the landing we turn right and head into a bedroom that's bigger than my whole apartment. In the morning I'll stop to appreciate the views and the décor, the little touches of Edward that inhabit the room, but right now my attention is wholly on the man in front of me.

He pushes me down on the bed and reaches into his nightstand, grabbing a condom and bottle of lube. He opens the cap and pours a generous amount into his hand, which he then wraps around my cock, stroking me, teasing me, before moving his hand behind him. I realize he's preparing himself and my dick starts to twitch and jerk of its own accord, first at the thought and then at the sounds Edward starts to make. I grab the condom and in moments I'm sheathed and pouring more lube over the latex.

"You ready for me?" he asks.

I pump my cock a couple of times, tilt my head to the side and say, "Climb on up here, beautiful."

He crawls up over me, leans down and kisses me once, long and slow, then sits up and grabs hold of my cock, placing it at his entrance before slowly sinking down until our bodies are flush. He is so fucking hot and tight, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to last. For a long minute he doesn't move, just stares at me with those unnaturally green eyes as he adjusts to the feel of me.

Then he moves and oh fuck, fuck, fuck does he move. He lifts up almost all the way and then slams down again, up and down, up and down he's riding me, he's circling his hips and taking me deep and, Jesus fucking Christ, he may be bottoming but he is completely in control of this dance.

"Feel so good inside me, Jasper."

"Oh fuck," I whimper in reply, unable to formulate anything more.

Edward changes angles, and somehow he feels tighter. He leans forward and kisses me again, whispering against my mouth, "so good, so deep, oh yeah." I want to flip him over and take control. I want to pound into him until we're both senseless, but as if he knows it he moves his feet forward and pulls me by the neck until I'm sitting up and he's astride me, and he slows it down, rocking back and forth against me as I make small thrusts up into him.

His head falls back with a soft moan and I lean forward and take a nipple in my mouth, biting just enough to make him buck against me, make his head snap forward and look at me again. His cock is pressed between us, sliding up and against our stomachs. He wraps his arms around my neck and begins to move faster. "Gonna make me come," he tells me. "Gonna make me come so hard. Come with me baby. I want to feel you come, wanna feel you—"

And with those words I'm done. "Oh shit!" I cry out. "Oh sweet Christ . . . oh fuck, fuck," I chant as I grip his hips and come inside him, feeling him tighten all around me.

"Fuck yeah, that's it. Yeah, yeah, yeah." I hear him say and then I feel warm wetness, and I open my eyes and watch his face as he comes all over us. He's beautiful in ecstasy. His face is flushed and his lips are red and swollen and shiny. His eyes are closed and his lashes lay long against his cheeks and pleasure is written all over him.

We slide apart and fall back on the bed, side by side, panting.

"That was—" he says.

"I know," I reply. Because it was . . . it was . . . transcendent. Because I've never experienced sex like that. Because the one offs in the back rooms and the blow jobs behind the clubs never feel like this. Because I've never let anyone come back to my place and if I go to theirs, I'm dressed and gone minutes after coming. Because my entire body is buzzing like I've taken a hit off a popper. Not that I do that shit anymore. Not after . . . well, I just don't.

I feel amazing, but I have to get up and clean up before the condom dries and sticks to me, and that's some shit I don't even want to contemplate. I'm finally standing after two tries, and Edward is laughing on the bed behind me. "Shut up," I mutter, and then ask, "bathroom?"

"Over there," he points while trying to stifle his laughter.

I make my way on unsteady legs and find the bathroom, just thrilled it's not the closet because then I know Edward wouldn't stop laughing. Looking in the mirror I have to smile at myself. I look thoroughly well fucked, even with the bandage on my forehead. It's a damn good look for me, I decide, and I want to have it more often.

I clean myself up, and then, because I don't want to be a dick, I wet a washcloth and bring it out to Edward. I've never done this before. Never been around for the "after" part, and I'm starting to freak out a little. I climb back on the bed.

"Ummm, I brought this," I start to say, but before I can try to clean him up, he grabs it.

"Oh hey, thanks!" he says. He cleans up quickly and tosses the washcloth into the corner, then catches me staring at him. "What?"

"Nothing." I'm not bothered that he didn't let me do it. I'm not. Really. I'm still sitting on my knees and I realize that I have no idea if he wants me to stay or not.

I have no fucking clue what to do.

"Hey," he says and I see his brows knit together. He sits up. "What's wrong?"

I pull it together. "Nothing. Yeah, nothing," I say and I slide off the bed. I start to look for my clothes and then realize they're still outside. "Fuck," I mutter under my breath, because it makes a quick and easy goodbye anything but.

I feel him behind me before I even hear him. "Are you leaving?" he asks. And his voice sounds . . . hurt?

I take a deep breath and turn around. His face is guarded and I have no clue what he's thinking, but I say, "I uh, I didn't want to assume anything, you know?" I drop my eyes to the floor, embarrassed at exposing myself even this much.

There's a finger under my chin, tilting my face up. I look at him and those all seeing fucking eyes of his are staring at me, but he's smiling a soft smile and says, "I'd really like it if you stayed the night with me."

"You want me to stay?" I ask, and there's no masking the surprise in my voice.

"Of course I do." Then, comprehension dawns on his face. "Jesus, Jasper. What kind of guys have you been with?" He raises his hand. "Never mind. You don't have to tell me that. I'm sorry." He pinches the bridge of his nose with his fingers and sighs. "Jesus, I'm fucking this all up, aren't I?"

I can't help but laugh. "You think you're fucking it up?"

We look at each other, then we're both laughing, and it's easy again. We go downstairs and clean up dinner, putting away the food that didn't get knocked over and spilled on the ground, throwing away what did. I pick up my clothes, but Edward just grabs them from my hands and throws them in the door.

"I want to keep looking at you," he says.

"Yeah?" I turn and shake my ass at him.

And he slaps it. Hard.

I turn and gape at him. He smirks at me and takes off. It takes me a few seconds, but then I'm running after him, following his laughter, until I find him sitting in the Jacuzzi and he's biting his lip trying not to laugh more.

I step right in, trying not to hiss from the heat, walk over to him and splash him right in the face. When he's done sputtering, he looks at me. "I can't believe you just did that!"

I grin. "Oh, so you can dish it out, but you can't take it?" I tease.

We banter effortlessly and soon the water makes me feel languid and soft, and I pull myself up on the ledge before I pass out. But then Edward has his mouth on me, and I'm not soft anymore, no definitely not soft. When I come, I think I do pass out; at least for a couple of minutes the world seems to have left me behind, and when I come to Edward is next to me on the deck, looking down with the most self-satisfied smirk I've ever seen.

"Welcome back," he says.

I grin up at him. I'm too satisfied, too drowsy for banter. "Thanks."

He kisses me, and we just lay there, kissing, touching, until he says, "c'mon." He tugs on my hand and leads me back inside, back to his room and we fall into his bed.

The next thing I know it's morning, I think. Sunlight is streaming into the room, so I know it's daytime at least. I stretch, feeling like a spoiled cat. Edward's side of the bed is empty and I frown, but when I look at the clock I'm not really surprised. It's eleven in the morning and I can't believe I slept so late.

I get up, use the bathroom and shake my head at my reflection. I dig through Edward's bathroom until I find an unused toothbrush, and I'm so fucking grateful because it tastes like something died in my mouth. My clothes are still downstairs, so I grab the robe on the back of the bathroom door and make my way down. As I'm walking down the stairs I smell coffee and bacon and my stomach starts to rumble.

Heading into the kitchen, I stop outside the door when I hear voices, but when I realize it's just Edward and Smurfette, I walk in.

Alice stops with her fork halfway to her mouth, stunned. I guess Edward didn't mention I was still here.

"Hey Smurfette," I say.

"J . . . Jasper?"

I hear Edward snort, and I laugh. "Last time I checked."

"Coffee?" Edward asks.

"Thanks." I grab the mug he offers and take a sip, sighing as the rich, slightly bitter liquid slides down my throat.

The look on her face is priceless. I glance at Edward. "You didn't tell her?"

"I didn't have a chance to. She walked in, grabbed the fork and started eating your omelet."

Alice swallows and gapes at us. "You . . . you . . . you've been here since I left?" She turns and looks at Edward, stunned. "But you never—"

"Alice!" Edward admonishes in a tone that definitely says "shut the fuck up." And now my interest is definitely piqued, but I'm not going to call him on it just yet.

Smurfette closes her mouth and I can see that she's thinking, hard. Then she looks at me and I see a sly smile on her face. "So, Jasper—"

"Alice, don't you have someone to drown or something?" Edward asks.

She sticks her tongue out at him, but slides off the stool. "Bye Uncle Edward," she says as she kisses his cheek.

"Jasper," she says with a nod in my direction, and I can see the curiosity is killing her and it makes me want to laugh, but I bite my lip and say nothing as she walks out.

I lean against the counter watching Edward watch her leave.

"You have a sadistic streak," I tell him.

"You wound me," he says, clutching the spatula to his heart before turning back to the frying pan.

A minute later I'm staring at a plate with an omelet, bacon and strawberries. I look up at him. "You really made this for me?" And I'm ready to cry because no one has made me breakfast since I was a kid.

He leans forward and kisses me. "Actually, I made that for you," he points to Alice's plate, "but she stole it. You're eating mine," he says with a laugh.

I stop eating and kiss him back. "Thank you," I tell him. "Thank you."

We share the breakfast; me feeding him bites of omelet, him feeding me strawberries with his fingers. After two bites I'm sucking the juices off of those long fingers, and then I'm on my knees, sucking his cock while he grabs the edge of the counter and cries out when he comes.

Best breakfast ever.

Somehow, half the day passes and we're still all over each other and it's still so fucking easy between us. This is new territory for me, but I think . . . I think I like it, until . . .

We're splayed across the sofa, showered and dressed for a change. Edward is playing with my foot, trying to figure out where I'm ticklish. He doesn't believe me when I tell him I'm not.

"Let's go out to dinner," he says.

"Out?" I ask.

"Yeah, out. You know? Like a date? I mean I know this is all backwards, but I'd really like to take you out, Jasper."

He's earnest now, his stare penetrating, and I can't look him in the eyes.

I pull my foot back. "Out?" I ask. "You want to go out? On a date?"

"Yeah, out," he says, and his voice reflects his frustration at my lack of enthusiasm.

I've been too complacent. It's been too easy. I should have known. Jesus, I should have known. I'm wracking my brain, trying to figure out a way around this, a way to keep it simple and easy like it is. But Edward? He's too smart. He knows.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing," I say. "Nothing, I . . . I . . ." I'm fucking ridiculous.

"Then what's the problem, Jasper?" He sits up and looks at me.

I make another attempt. Sliding my fingers into his hair I pull my mouth to his ear and whisper, "I just thought maybe we could stay in and cook dinner together . . . naked."

His eyes close and he leans into my touch. Relief starts to flood through me, only then he says, "But I wanted to take you out. I want people to see us together, for the other boys around here to see us together." He opens his eyes, and even though he's blushing, he looks right into mine. "I think there's something here, Jasper, between us. I'd like to think this is more than a one night fling. That maybe this is the start of something more."

His words knock the breath out of me. "I think I'd like it to be something more too, Edward. I . . . I don't know what I'm doing though. Relationships . . ." I trail off looking for the right words. "Well, let's just say they've never been my thing before. But you, you make me want to rethink that," I tell him and kiss him on his mouth, hoping to divert the conversation.

We kiss for a minute and then he says, "and that's why we're going out, because that's how relationships start, it's what people in relationships do, they dine, they talk, they show each other off to the world and say, 'look at how fucking lucky I am to be out with him.'"

I run my tongue along his neck. "But we can dine and talk here, away from other people," I moan into his ear. "We can do a lot of other things too."

He pulls back and looks at me, a smile on his face at first. But then he searches my face for something and I guess he finds it. "Oh," he says, surprised. "Oh." And now it sounds so, so sad.

"You're not out are you?" he asks gently. Gentle, but sad.

"No," I whisper. And I tell him. I tell him about "Jake" and the anonymity of the clubs. I tell him about growing up in a small town in Texas where cowboys rode horses, not each other. I tell him about parents who go to church every Sunday and a grandfather who is a preacher. I tell him about Jacob Black and Saturdays out in the meadow. I tell him about Jacob's funeral.

Small town Texas isn't Los Angeles. It may be safe to be out here, but I won't risk anyone slipping up and telling my family. I can't risk it.

And he tells me about Kate. He tells me about trying to be someone he wasn't. He tells me about Peter and secrets and hiding, about hurt, heartache, and betrayal. He tells me about friends and family who surprised him, and those who turned him away. He tells me about the kind of man he wants to be for his son.

He leans forward and kisses me on my mouth. "I know how hard it is, Jasper, and I would never, ever ask someone to do this for me. I would never ask you to do this for me. Coming out is a personal thing. It's different for every one of us."

I breathe a sigh of relief. He gets it. Edward gets it. I smile.

"But I also can't be with someone who isn't out, Jasper. I can't, I won't be someone's dirty secret. Not again. Not even for someone as lovely as you."

The smile slides from my face.

"You're a beautiful man, Jasper, inside and out, and I hope you find what you're looking for. But I can't take this journey with you. I've already paid the price once. I can't do it again."

He gets up from the couch, kisses me on top of my head and leaves the room. There's nothing left for us to say. I get up, find my keys and bag from the day before still sitting by his front door, and I let myself out.

Weeks later I'm finally out at a club. I hadn't even left my apartment, except to start classes again and buy food. My friends ask me what's wrong and I tell them lies. I tell them I have the flu. I tell them I'm working on a special research project. I tell them I'm going out of town for a week.

But now, finally, I've decided to stop wallowing. I force myself to stop thinking of all the ways I could have tried to change Edward's mind. I convince myself that it never would have worked. I tell myself that I read too much into one night. I tell myself it was just sex—great sex, but still just sex. I tell myself that I was just riding that high.

I tell myself all sorts of things.

I lean against the bar, drink in hand and survey the room full of dancing boys. Before long I'm leaning against a wall in the back of the club and there is a pretty, black haired boy on his knees in front of me. He's sucking my cock, and his technique is perfect. He swallows it all, then uses his tongue while he works his way back up, slow, fast, shallow, deep, alternating rhythms, fingers playing with my balls and tracing lines from my nuts to my ass, teasing and tickling. But I'm not getting off. It just feels . . . wrong. I look down at him and watch my slick cock slide in and out of his wet mouth. I watch his shiny, red lips wrap around it, his pink tongue dart out to swipe over the tip. I like to watch and it usually gets me off fast. But, fuck it's not working.

My head falls back against the wall with a soft thump and I close my eyes. I picture a perfect body, wet from the ocean, abs rippling with the effort of sucking my cock. I picture toned arms gripping my hips as I thrust into a hot, wet mouth. I picture green eyes looking up at me and my hands tangled in bronze hair. That's what finally does it, and I start coming hard into the boy's mouth.

"Fuck," I mutter as the boy releases me.

"That can be arranged too," he says with a willing smile.

I leave him disappointed.

Two more months go by, during which time I convince myself that I can fuck Edward out of my system. For weeks at a time I hit the clubs nightly, ignoring my school friends, barely managing my course load and T.A. duties. But instead of exorcising Edward from my head, he's become more and more entrenched. I can't even come without closing my eyes and picturing him. Twice I've even called out his name while with other boys.

I've just finished a quickie in the alley next to the club. Another boy, another fantasy Edward. I'd tried that too for a while, tried finding auburn haired, green eyed boys. It didn't help either. This boy wasn't one of those, but he was pretty and young and lithe, and he was still zipping up his pants as we walked back out to the front.

I looked up from my own fly to find Alice staring at me.

I may not have been finding the solace I was looking for. I may have been lying to myself and everyone about who and what I was. But for the first time in my life, I felt shame.

"Jasper," she says.

"Smurfette," I reply, trying for some levity. It falls flat. "How's—"

"He's miserable, but he denies it."

"I was going to ask 'how's it going?'" I try to cover.

"No you weren't," she counters.

I look down. "No, I wasn't." I agree.

"I'd ask how you're doing, but I guess I have my answer."

I say nothing. Her friends are by the door and yelling for her to join them. She holds up the "just a second finger" and turns back to me. "You look like hell. And I don't think that twink made you feel any better. Stop making yourself miserable, Jasper. You both deserve better." And she walks away.

I stop going to the clubs.

Three weeks later, I'm finally out with my friends. We're at some sports bar near campus. I think we're there to play some pool and get drunk, but my friends, they have other ideas. They grab us a table, order a pitcher and Eric starts.

"Dude, who is she?"

"What? Who?" I ask, thoroughly confused.

"Whoever the chick is that has you so twisted up."


"I don't know what you're talking about."

Mike snorts. "Jasper, you're a terrible liar."

That's what you think.

"We're your friends, Jasper. It's obvious something's going on," Colin adds.

"Is it Tanya? Did you guys break up or something?"

Tanya. My "girlfriend" back home.

I take a sip of my beer.

"When Jess left me," Garret says, "I was a wreck for months. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I almost got kicked out of Professor Clearwater's program. You didn't know me yet, but these guys were there for me."

"Yeah, you should have seen him," Mike teases. "He looked like shit. Well, shittier than usual."

Garret punches him in the arm. "Asshole."

"What we're trying to say," Eric says with a stern look at Mike, "is that we're here for you. Whatever it is."

I look at the faces of my friends, earnest, well-meaning, honest, and I suddenly feel like the biggest piece of shit in the world because I've been lying to them for so long. They don't even know who I am. But the truth is that I don't know who I am anymore. I don't like who I've become, and I know, just know that Jacob would hate the man I am now.

"I don't care what people think, Jasper. If I'm not true to myself, who am I?"

I always wondered if he cared what people thought the day they beat him to death.

Then I hear Edward. "I can't, I won't be someone's dirty secret. Not again." I realize I'm tired of being my own dirty secret, but unlike Jacob, I do wonder what my friends will think. Maybe that makes me a coward, I don't know. I wonder and I'm afraid. Afraid of what they think, what they'll say.

But there's only one way to find out. So I tell them.

For a long minute there's nothing but silence, and then I hear Colin, "Pay up, Newton."

My eyes snap to his as I hear Mike grumbling and handing a twenty over to Colin.

"You knew?"

"I suspected, but I'll give you credit man, you were really careful. But a girlfriend back home? One that never visits? Kinda cliché."

"And you don't care?"

"Why the fuck would we care?" Eric asks. "I'm just kinda pissed you'd think we would."

And they're all mumbling in agreement around the table.

"Thanks guys," I say in a voice choked with emotion. "I . . . just thanks." I take a sip of my beer. "And I'm sorry. I'm sorry I assumed you wouldn't be cool with it. It's just, where I'm from . . ." I trail off, 'cause they know where I'm from.

Then the questions start, and I try to be honest, because after everything they deserve that. I tell them about the clubs, not in detail of course, but about the alias and the secrecy. I tell them about back home and Jacob, and I see Garret discretely wipe a tear from his eye.

Then I tell them about learning to surf and about Edward, and they're quiet again.

"You really feel something for this guy?" Mike asks.

I nod.

"Then man up and do what you gotta do," he tells me. "That sorta shit, that connection? It doesn't happen often, Jasper."

"Who are you and what did you do with Mike?" I ask.

Colin snorts, and Eric and Garret laugh out loud.

"Shut up," he mutters, but I smile at him, because he's right.

It's Christmas and one of the rare rainy ones in Los Angeles. The surf is high and the water is gray and choppy. The flight back from Texas yesterday was rough thanks to the storm, but I was just glad that I was able to get on a flight at all. One night in the airport was enough for me.

To say my announcement didn't go over well would be an epic understatement. I'm just glad that I insisted on renting a car, instead of having my parents pick me up from the airport. It made for a quick getaway. Garret picked me up from the airport.

I'm probably doing this all wrong. I don't even know if Edward is home, although I know Riley is supposed to be with his mom. I hesitate as I walk up to the door, looking like a drowned rat. He's probably with his family, with Alice and her parents, or with friends.

"Man up and do what you gotta do."

I knock on the door.

Edward answers and he looks even better than I remembered. He's freshly showered and wearing a pair of black slacks and a white dress shirt.



He's staring at me in shock. I think. I hope it's just shock.

"Jasper!" His hand reaches out and touches the bruise on my cheek, his thumb rubbing gently over it. "Oh god, Jasper, what happened?" His eyes are roving over my face, taking in the split lip and the cut above my eye, ironically right by the one he bandaged over the summer.

I put my hand over his and close my eyes. For the first time in months something feels right.

"Come inside," he says, drawing me across the threshold.

I shake my head. "You probably have plans. I just . . ." I don't know what to say. I didn't plan this out. I just needed to see him.

"Shhh, it's okay," he says and pulls me to living room.

We sit on the couch and I can't stop looking at him. I'm so lucky he didn't just slam the door in my face. I look at his mouth, at the way his tongue glides across the lower lip, slicking it, making it shiny, and I can't stop thinking about how badly I want to kiss him.

"What happened, Jasper?"

I tell him about my friends, and I tell him about going home for Christmas and my parents' reaction. I tell him about my dad's fists and my mom's tears. I tell him about a frenzied twenty-four hours in the airport trying to get back to Los Angeles and Garret picking me up from LAX, then taking me straight to the emergency room on Christmas Eve to be looked at. I tell him I missed him.

"You said you hoped I'd find what I was looking for, but I already did. It's you Edward. It's you."

"Oh, Jasper," he whispers.

He cups my face in his hands, so, so gently, and kisses me. He kisses my cuts and bruises. He kisses my mouth, and I'd forgotten how wonderful his lips feel, how good he tastes. He slides his hands down, over my shoulders and circles my waist, but I whimper and tense.

He sees me wince and lifts my shirt to see the rest. His eyes get shiny and he murmurs, "Oh baby, I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I never wanted . . . I didn't mean . . ." he pauses for a moment, then swallows hard, "I didn't want you hurt, not for me."

I hold his hands and look him in the eyes. "It wasn't for you, Edward. I did this for me. I couldn't be that man anymore. I didn't like that man anymore. Sure, I hope it means something for us, but don't take this on you, Edward."

Now we're sitting in front of the fireplace. Edward's back is against the sofa, and I'm between his legs, leaning back against his chest. The remains of our Chinese takeout lay off to the side. Edward called his sister Esme, despite my protest, and told her he wasn't going to make it for Christmas, but that he'd be by in the morning and would explain everything.

Edward's arms are wrapped gently around me, and the snap and crackle of the logs make a pleasant counterpoint to the soft holiday music playing on the stereo. I sigh, content for the first time in months, maybe for the first time in my adult life.

I know we still have a lot to talk about. I know we still have things to work out. I still have a lot to learn, about relationships, about myself. But I think we've made a good start.

I tilt my head up and kiss his neck. "Merry Christmas, Edward."

"It is now, baby," he says as he leans in for a kiss. "It is now."