Sun beats against the back of the Roman shades hanging on my windows, but a few rays break through at the sides, landing on my face. My arms are securely wrapped around Alice, and my nose is in her hair as my head rests on a shared pillow. Her breathing is even and slow, telling me she's still asleep. I take stock of the fact that neither of us have moved, wondering if I'd ever slept so soundly.

Reality dawns, and I remember everything that happened. A cacophony of questions batter themselves against the inside of my skull, making my head hurt. Or maybe that's the tequila. I wasn't significantly drunk last night, but sometimes your body doesn't care and decides to punish you anyway. That doesn't stop my train of thought, however.

I can't believe I rushed her. Did I rush her? Didn't she want it as much as I did? She'd seemed ready and sure. Why the fuck didn't I ask her if she'd had sex before? I hadn't stopped long enough to think about it. I don't remember her being in any sort of relationship with anyone, but that's not necessarily a precursor to sex. Obviously.

I am such an asshole.

There were signs of an apprehensiveness on her part, but then they would disappear, leaving me to wonder if I imagined it. Of course, in the midst of everything, I was not terribly inclined to get analytical. I was focused on her smile, they way she flirted with me, the feel of her skin beneath my hands. By the time I got her naked, every pass of her lips on mine was a threat to cumming before I even got the condom on.

But now, in the quiet alongside her, I see what I should have seen. I can recall every time she hesitated, every time her body tensed.

I know I wouldn't have taken her upstairs if she hadn't requested it. That didn't give me a right to expect sex, and I didn't. Not exactly. I just mean that as difficult as that may have been, I would have stopped. But when it came down to it, she didn't say no. She said yes. She kissed yes. Moved yes. Touched and breathed yes. From the moment her hand slid behind my neck, asking me to meet her halfway for our first kiss, I was hers. Completely.

The feeling wasn't all that new to me.

I'd always known who she was. I just ... didn't realize I wanted to know so much more until recently. A couple of months ago, I was down in the art wing at school to pick up some signs for the senior rally. The main gallery was set up for a benefit auction that night, filled with student pieces that would be auctioned off. I didn't pay much attention until my eyes caught on a black and white photo: a self-portrait of Alice titled, "Kismet."

All the air left my lungs in a whoosh, and my heart seemed to beat unevenly. I sucked in a fast breath, the air burning as it hit my lungs.

It was like I was seeing her for the first time.

Her lips were slightly parted and her brow was slightly furrowed in concentration. Beams of sunlight crowned her, casting a shadow over her face, though a reflection gave her skin a luminescent glow, making her appear like the moon in a solar eclipse. Her arms extended forward, her hands reaching out of frame; for a split-second, I almost held out my hand. My fingers were twitching when Mrs. Cope cleared her throat behind me.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asked, innocently. "It was actually an accidental shot, Miss Cullen told me. She thought the timer wasn't working and the camera went off. Then, she decided it was meant to happen that way. Hence, 'Kismet.'"

I nodded and shrugged, trying to shake off the foreign feeling that cemented my feet to the floor. Mrs. Cope smiled knowingly, and I kind of wanted to punch her, even though I knew she was just seeing me for what I was: lovestruck.

Sheepishly, I headed past her and down to the work room where the posters were drying. After I'd delivered them to the student council room, I went back to the art wing and gave Mrs. Cope the thirty-seven dollars and eighteen cents in my wallet to buy me that picture at the auction. I promised to pay her back if the bidding went higher. She didn't say a thing aside from, "Sure thing, Mr. Whitlock."

Apparently, Alice didn't notice it hanging on the wall above my desk next to the bed. By the time we got to my room, I guess we were both too distracted to notice the details of our surroundings.

I don't know why I hadn't tried to approach her before last night. I think the intensity of what I was feeling freaked me out a little bit. I'd never felt anything like it for Maria, so it was a little overwhelming. It wasn't anything like I'd ever expected.

When I saw her dancing by herself last night, I was entranced. I knew that was it. I had to do something. Then she surprised me at every turn, and I just fell deeper, if that's possible.

But now, watching her sleep, I can't shake the guilt. I know I screwed up, and I'm desperate to fix it, to apologize for hurting her.

I gingerly drag my lips lightly along the skin of her shoulder until I reach the juncture of her neck, pressing a kiss there. She stirs, emitting a tiny whine in protest of waking up. She bunches her shoulders and straightens her legs, feeling out her body before freezing.

"Not a dream," she murmurs.

I can't help but chuckle. She quickly turns around to face me, holding the sheet at her chest.

"Um ... I should, uh ... I should go," she says, her voice small and awkward. Her eyes will not meet mine.

My stomach flips as I lift her face with my hand. "Not yet," I tell her. "Please don't go yet."

Her eyes frame the fear and doubt obviously swimming around in her head. "But I ... I don't ..."

I avoid trying to imagine what she's thinking and kiss her lips. "Why didn't you say something, Alice?" I ask, resting my forehead against hers.

She closes her eyes. "I didn't want to miss the opportunity."

"The opp— ..." I blink several times, unable to figure out what she means. I can feel her pulling away from me, ashamed and embarrassed all over again. A sharp jolt of pain courses through me as it occurs to me that she might not want what I want. My heart tries to leap out of my chest and find a cliff to jump from. "So ... what? Did you just want to get your first time over with?"

I immediately regret the harsh and accusatory tone as I push back to get a better look at her face.

Her eyes go wide, her head shaking back and forth frantically. Offense and fear squeaks from her voice. "NO! How can you—? I wanted you, Jasper. I just—"

She cut herself off, looking away again. Before I can question her again, she unleashes a stream of confessions. "I've been in love with you so long, I thought this might be my last chance to have any part of you, and I know you wouldn't want anything serious, since you're going to New York or Texas or someplace far away from here—and me—and all I wanted for my birthday was to give myself to you, because I didn't want anyone else but you to be first, even though I don't know that I'll ever want anyone else and—"

"You're in lo—wait, what? Your birthday? It was yesterday?"


Edward mentioned something about getting his dad's old Volvo for his birthday, but like a total dimwit, I didn't connect that it was her birthday, too.

"Jesus Christ, Alice ..." I pinch my eyes shut and shake my head. When I open them, she's sitting up, nodding with a deep-set frown.

"I know, I'm sorry. I'll go." I hear a sniffle as she darts away to get out of the bed.

Panic pits itself in my gut and my chest tightens as I realize I've fucked up yet again. I try to react to everything at once, and end up saying nothing productive at all.

I reach for her, my grip missing her by a fraction of an inch. She's clutching the sheet as she pulls it off the bed, exposing me as she wraps it around herself. It doesn't matter much, as she's looking for her clothes. I slide off the mattress, grabbing my jeans and slipping into them and fastening a couple of the buttons. When she gets around to my side of the bed, she spots her dress on the floor just in front of my desk. Grabbing it quickly, she stands up straight, her eyes brushing over the desk. She stills, staring at the wall. I know she sees her photo.

"How ...? That's my ..." Her face is pure confusion, sprinkled with disbelief as she points at her photograph. "Why do you have it?"

I sigh, looking at the picture. "Because it's beautiful. It's so ... you, and I wanted it. I wanted you, however I could get you." I huff, irritated that my explanation sounds ridiculous. I run my fingers through my hair, but they get stuck in my snarled curls. I hoped it would be a sweeter moment, but the truth came rushing out anyway. "Because ... it was what made me realize I was in love with you."

She stares at me for almost a full minute before I finally break, stepping forward to grab her hands. She drops the dress and follows me. I sit down on the bed and pull her toward me so she's standing between my legs. My arms slide around her waist, anchoring her to me. The tightness in my chest eases.

"I love you, Alice Brandon Cullen," I confess again, looking into her eyes. "Even if you have a boy's middle name, I love you."

She snorts, which tells me I'm absolutely whipped, because I find it so remarkably adorable, it's beyond sexy.

"It's my mother's maiden name, jerk," she chides me, fighting a smirk.

I tip a smile, my hands drifting up her back so I can keep her close. "I'm so, so sorry I messed this up, Alice. I didn't mean to rush you, and most of all, I hate that I hurt you—"

"Jasper," she says, her tone admonishing but soft. "How could you think you messed up? You didn't rush me. I came here with the exact intention of seducing you, somehow."

"Somehow?" I interject with a laugh. "It's pretty easy to seduce the willing, baby."

A blush rises in her cheeks at the endearment. "And you didn't hurt me—not on purpose. I mean, I knew it was going to hurt. I just thought I could handle it without you knowing, but the pain was a bit different than I expected. I was embarrassed."

"Why would you be embarrassed?"

She sighs, murmuring, "I love you, Jasper. I felt ridiculously self-conscious and," she pauses, fidgeting in my grasp, "humiliated."

"You did nothing wrong, Alice." My stomach twists at the idea of her feeling humiliated because of this. "I should have asked."

"No," she snaps before casting her eyes down. "You were perfect. I should have told you, but I didn't want you to change your mind."

Cupping her face with my palm, I wait until she looks at me before speaking. "I don't think I could ever change my mind about you."

"I thought if I wasn't experienced or really confident, you'd think I wasn't worth your time."

I frown. "Did you really think so little of me?"

She looks sad for a moment. "No," she whispers, shaking her head. "I guess that I thought that little of me."

"Why, baby?"

She blushes again. "You meant—you mean," she corrects herself, "that much to me."

Staring into her eyes, I see a woman and a little girl, and I know how easily I could hurt her. A rope tightens around my heart, and I have a hard timing breathing. I want so much to make her understand, but I struggle to find the right words. "You are the most amazing woman I've ever met. You're so fucking talented and creative, I'll be damned if you don't take over the world with your photography or sculptures or ... whatever the fuck you choose to do it with. You're smart, genuine, honest, loyal ... not to mention you're the most gorgeous girl on the planet. Darlin', I want you to see that."

"I promise I'll try." A smile sneaks across her face, and she covers it with her hand. "Can I ...? Can I brush my teeth?"

I laugh and cover my own mouth, muffling my words. "Is it that bad?"

She shakes her head, giggling, and backs away slightly. "No, no—mine. My mouth tastes so nasty."

"I didn't notice anything."


I chuckle, standing. I pick my shirt up off the floor and slip it around her shoulders. She slides her arms into the sleeves, dropping the sheet. I work my fingers down the buttons to close the shirt, trying to ignore my, uh, rising desire to leave it open—or more preferably, off. I feel her eyes on my face the entire time.

My pants would go up in flames if I said I didn't want to have sex right now. I'm working on not being an asshole, though.

After getting some buttons fastened so it covers enough (too much), I look up to find her eyes. The corners crinkle when she smiles, and I can't help it when my fingers seek her face, smoothing along her chin. I have the strongest urge to kiss her, so I do, relishing the feel of her soft lips. She hums, her hands wrapping around my wrists. I stifle a groan, but it rumbles in my chest, at which point, she places a palm above my heart. I suddenly remember her doing that last night, her hand just there. I put a hand over hers, holding them both there.

Reluctantly, I watch her to pull back; she's smiling and bouncing on her toes. Slipping my hand down her arm, I loosely clutch her hand as I lead her into the bathroom. I don't let go as I open the medicine cabinet and grab an extra toothbrush. Handing it to her, I take my own from the cup on the sink.

We wordlessly go through an amusingly "old married couple" routine of brushing our teeth side by side. I can't help but to imagine us in fifty years, taking out our dentures to soak overnight. I grin madly at her, trying not to choke as I stifle a laugh at the thought. She giggles, and the toothpaste bubbles overflow down her chin. Bending forward, she spits into the sink.

"Dammit," she mutters before trying to lick at her chin.

I lose the battle and laugh, spitting foam all over the mirror. She stands up, looks at the splatter, and cracks up.

"It's hot, right?" I joke, after rinsing my mouth and wiping my face with a towel. Playfully, I cover her face with the towel, wiping her chin.

She pulls the towel away, a huge grin on her face. "You have no idea."

I don't even have time to contemplate the fact that I'm semi-hard again just from the tone of her voice. She jumps and wraps herself around me, locking her ankles at my back.

"Now I can kiss you. Really kiss you," she breathes before planting an open-mouthed kiss on me.

I grip her by the ass, trying to be careful not to dig my fingers in too hard. Her tongue licks along my upper lip before diving in to dance with mine. My equilibrium is jarred, my body overwhelmed by her, so I stumble back to lean against the sink. I'm about to carry us back to the bed for some serious makeout time, but she regrettably disengages.

"Holy hell, I have to pee," she announces, breathing heavily.

I realize suddenly that I really need to do the same. "I'll leave you to it. I'ma head downstairs and survey the wreckage while I'm at it. Why don't you meet me down there, and I'll make us some breakfast."

"I'm not hungry for food yet," she says, cinching her legs tighter around my waist.

"Liar," I tell her.

"Jasper," she whines. "I want to make it up to you ..."

"For what?" My voice gets a little loud. "You owe me nothing."

"I owe you an orgasm," she whispers in my ear.

Fuck me...

"Alice," I start, trying to assuage her guilt, "don't take responsibility for me not getting off. It's not—"

"It would make me feel better," she interjects, before starting to giggle again. "I think it'd make me feel pretty awesome, actually."

I shake my head as she rubs the tip of her nose along my cheek. "You are a little bit evil, you know that?" I feel her nod.

"We could, um, take a shower?" she suggests, hopefully.

I try to push away the feeling that she thinks of last night as a failure and she's aiming to fix it. "Alice," I begin, sighing, and I see a light in her eyes extinguish. "You're not trying to erase last night, are you, baby?"

She pulls back, looking at me. She's still for a moment as she ponders the question. "No. No, I wouldn't say that," she says carefully. "I don't want it to end there, that's all. I want ... more."

Peering through her eyelashes, she looks up at me, and I realize quickly it's not going to take much for her to wear me down, unfortunately. Or, let's be honest, fortunately. "Uh ..."

She moves in closer to kiss behind my ear and move along my jaw. Her tongue darts out and licks my earlobe before she nibbles on it. Her breath is hot on my neck. "Please?"

Shit. "Alice, we don't have to do this now." It's not that I'm unaffected—far from it, but I'm determined to make sure she's not doing this to prove something to me, or herself. "We've got plenty of time—"

"Jasper," she whispers, looking down. I notice her breaths are now shallow and quick, though she's trying not to sound dejected. "Do you want me? Or are you trying to let me down easy?"

I tip her face with my hand, and look at her incredulously. "Why on earth would you say that?"

"You're trying really hard to turn down sex," she says with a quirked brow.

"I'm trying to not be an asshole, here," I snap, a little defensively. I lower my hackles and soften my tone. "And I'm not turning you down ... I'm just—"

"Making sure?" she asks, kissing the corner of my mouth. I shiver. Jesus, Whitlock, who's the girl here?

Nodding, I ask my last questions. "Are you sore at all? How do you feel?"

Instead of answering me, she kisses me softly and slowly. She knows she's got me. Well, that and the erection might be a dead giveaway, too.

"My parents' bathroom has a huge jacuzzi tub in it. I could—"

"Go fill it up," she says quickly, jumping down and pushing me out of the bathroom.

I stare at the closed door for a moment, feeling a little dazed. I don't waste too much time, rushing down the hall and starting the bath. Drizzling some of the lavender bath oil under the tap—I figure being a girly-girl, Alice would like that shit—I remember that I haven't taken a bath since grade school.

But then again, I remind myself. You never had a hot, naked girl to share a bath with. Touché.

I take care of business just in time for Alice to find me, and the tub is nearly full. She walks over to me, almost timidly, and I wonder if she's changing her mind.

"You are far too dressed," she tells me, a smirk carving a dimple in her cheek.

Sitting on the edge of the tub, I feel a Joker-smile plaster itself across my face. "You're not so naked, yourself, beautiful."

She stands between my legs and reaches for the topmost fastened button. Without breaking eye contact, I reach back and turn off the faucet. The shirt falls open inviting my hands to slide around her waist, dropping lower to cup her bottom. I squeeze a little and run my hands up and over the cheeks a few times. She snickers.

"Have I told you how fantastic your ass is?" It is. Really. I love her ass.

"HA!" Her laugh echoes off the tile before she slaps a hand over her mouth. She takes a breath, cocking her head to one side. "You like my ass, huh?"

I pull her forward so my lips can reach hers. Before connecting them, I say softly, "Yes."

I feel her hand at my waist, grazing the still-unfastened top button, and it occurs to me that she's not trying to prove a thing. She's not forcing herself past any fears, but she is emboldened now that we've gotten everything we needed to say out in the open. We've declared ourselves, possibly like idiots, and possibly in the reverse order that it should've been, but there are no more roadblocks. We can discover what it means to be us.

I feel a cool thrill zip through me at the thought and immediately hear Emmett in my head: Dude, you are such a fucking girl. I'ma dress you up like a pretty, pretty princess and call you Jasmine.

It's amazing I call that prick one of my best friends.

Shoving Emmett out of my mind is easy; my fuckhot girlfriend has her hand in my jeans and is wrapping her fingers around me.

"Wow," she breathes. Yeah, nothing sounds better to a guy than when his girl makes a comment like that in reference to his dick. And yeah, I'm smiling like a motherfucking moron.

My head drops forward and I make some sort of grunting sound as she slowly slides her hand up and down. Sucking in a breath, I have to stop her before I cum right then and there. "Alice," I pant, "if I cum in these jeans, I'm going to have to do laundry. And I don't want to do laundry."

She throws her head back and laughs. "Momma not here to wash your delicates?"

I stand up, pulling her hand away, and scrambling out of my jeans. She's looking me over and smiling. I turn and get in the tub, glad that it's not too hot, because I really don't want to scald my dick. Leaning back against the end, I raise an eyebrow at her. "You gonna join me or what?"

Dropping her shoulders back, my shirt slips off and hits the floor soundlessly. I can't help it; I stare. I ogle. I'm eyefucking the shit out of her. She catches my eyes and drops a wink on me. "Goddamn," I mutter in appreciation of this gorgeous girl.

I hold my hand up to give her leverage as she steps in. She leans back as she sits on the opposite end. Grinning, I lean forward and crawl through the sweet-smelling water toward her, her eyes widening as she holds my gaze. She's easily getting as worked up as I am, the air is thick with the best kind of tension—as it's been since she walked in here.

My hands anchor on the outside of each hip, supporting me as I hover over her. She rests her head on the lip of the tub. Shifting my weight onto my right hand, I lift my left and trail it lightly up her hip, past her waist, and over her breast. She gasps, capping it with a small, "Oh!"

My hand continues up her chest and neck until I have her chin resting in my palm. Holding her face, I close my eyes as our lips connect. Kissing her hasn't lost its appeal in the least, but I try to focus as I press the button to the jets. Bubbles begin to swirl and whirr, and she jumps, biting my lip.

"Oh, sorry!" she exclaims, looking a little guilty. Her fingers trace my lip, looking for blood.

I would respond, but she's sucking on my bottom lip in penance. Both hands back in the water, balancing my weight, I feel the water move, her legs parting as she pushes her body toward me. I realize suddenly I didn't grab a condom.

"Fuck!" I hiss.

"What?" She sounds startled, and shrinks back a bit.

I peck her lips quickly. "I didn't grab a condom, though I don't know how well they do in water. I think it'd be okay, but I'm not going to ask you to—"

"We don't need it," she says, planting a soft kiss on my chin. "I started birth control when I was fifteen."

I pull back to examine her face. "Why so—"

She huffs, irritated, and maybe a little embarrassed, if the red cheeks means anything. "I had really bad cramps and it helped, okay? You wanna talk periods now?"

I feel like a jerk, but I smile anyway, shaking my head. "I'm sorry, I just—"

"Shut up, Jasper," she orders, her smile returning.

I nod, focusing on her face and press my mouth to hers, probing her with my tongue. We rapidly pick up where we'd paused. I scoop my arm beneath her ass as I sit back. Her skin feels like silk in the water as I float her toward me and position her over me, coaxing her into a straddling position. Her whimpers and pants incite me, and I pull her down against me.

Kissing down her neck, I feel her arms slip around me, gripping me as best she can with wet hands. Hips start to rock, and I'm not sure if it's hers or mine. There's movement and friction, but it's slippery and not nearly satisfying enough. After a few minutes, the kissing has stolen our breath, and we rest foreheads together and breathe into each others' mouths as the rest of our bodies keep moving, building the need.

I want to ask her again. The words are rolling forward on my tongue, but her hand ghosts down my chest and her knees press harder into the porcelain. I don't need to ask. She doesn't want me to ask.

Lifting her hips, I help her forward and bring us into alignment. I look up to find her eyes; they're soft but locked on me. Holding her hips firmly, I pull her down infinitesimally so that I can feel myself touch her right where I need to be.

The power is hers now.

I watch her eyes close, drinking her in until her face is softly resting against my cheek, her breath hushed and pleading by my ear. My arms find a secure embrace as she sinks down and envelopes me, deliberately and completely. It feels so fucking good, but her wince doesn't go unnoticed. I remain still, waiting for her to adjust, to lead me.

"You okay?" My voice is low, rumbling in my chest, and I hope I can last long enough to get her off before me. I'm determined to make her feel good, to let her know how much she means to me, and if I have anything to say about it, one hell of an orgasm.

She whimpers, but it's actually more of a whine, like a wordless request to move my ass. Literally. Her hips thrust forward a little, and she gasps, like the sensation wasn't exactly what she was expecting.

Pulling out gradually, I begin to move somewhat lazily, carefully thrusting forward again. I direct her hips with my hands so she can find the angle that feels best. Once she gets a rhythm going, we rock together in earnest, the pace unhurried at first. As it starts to speed up a bit, her fingers thread around my ears, holding my face as she kisses me hard, sucking on my lips like candy. Hums and groans, moans and breaths, we pitch and sway together, and it's everything sex never was before.

My body is alight, every nerve-ending awake and on fire, and it's never felt so good to be burned.

I thought I'd loved Maria, but when I ended it last year, I saw how fucking deluded I was, how disconnected I was. While I was certainly physically attracted to her, sex left a lot to be desired, even though I didn't realize it at the time.

Right now, I knew exactly what I was missing. Real love.

Emmett is sloppily supergluing rhinestones and ruffles on my princess costume right now.

I smile and let the fleeting, ridiculous thought go as all the muscles in my body contract and release in a tightening loop. I'm getting really fucking close, and though her breath is fast, her moans uneven, I'm not sure she's even near the edge.

She starts to grind a little, pushing her hips down harder. "Oh ... oh, my God ... Jasper, I ... I think ..." She gasps and drops her head forward on my shoulder. A low, throaty moan tumbles out, and she attaches her lips to my neck. The suction gets tighter, and I wonder if she's purposefully trying to mark me.

We're both thrusting harder, and faster, and now that I know she's close, I'm held back by one tiny, fraying thread. I hold her close to me with a hand on her lower back as I wriggle my other hand between us, my thumb swirling and coaxing her manually. It takes less than thirty seconds before she releases her hickey-tactic and bites down. Hard.

I never thought that would necessarily appeal to me, but when I cum almost immediately? I realize I might just like it. At least, a little bit. Then again, maybe it's just her. She does crazy things to me. Literally, I guess. And I love it.

I love her.

When I return to my body, I feel her tongue and lips soothing the spot where she bit. I also realize she's humming happily.

"Holy shit, Alice," I say, my breathing still slowing. "That was ... fucking incredible."

Lifting her head, she simply kisses me. "I love you," she murmurs against my lips.

"I love you, baby."

"I gave you a hickey," she tells me. "And I—"

"Left a bite mark? Yeah, I figured," I said, a laugh in my voice. "Did you bite an 'AC' in there? To brand me?"

She's overtaken by giggles, a little bit drunk on the afterglow. And for the record? I thought afterglow was bullshit, but I'm looking at her and ... well, I see a light around her. Maybe I just need more oxygen, I can't be sure.

"No," she says finally. "You felt so good and you smelled so good and tasted ... sorry, I'm babbling."

I smile, feeling it radiate the warmth and relaxation through my entire body. Kissing and caressing, we spend a few minutes of quiet, turning the jets off to listen to the our lips and breath mingle with the echo of water slapping lightly against the edge of the tub.

The feeling of hunger strikes me, and I'm sure she's got to be starving. I lift her up and move to get out of the water. We step out one at a time and wrap each other with towels. Her smile is gargantuan as she rests her cheek on my chest.

"Hungry, darlin'?" I ask. "I can make us some breakfast."

"Lunch," she snarks, pointing to the clock that is ticking past 12:48 PM.

"It's Saturday, baby," I tell her. "That is breakfast time."

She rolls her eyes, but she still looks incandescent.

"Whatever," I concede. "FOOD."

She nods, and I drop the towel and yank my jeans back on. She picks up the shirt and flits off to my room.

I head downstairs, stopping at the bathroom at the foot of the stairs, noting the door's nearly shut. When I peer inside, Eric Yorkie is curled around the toilet. I send up a silent prayer of thanks that the room isn't painted in puke. Laughing to myself, I kick him in the ass.

"Yorkie! The fuck out my house, dude. Party ended, like, last week," I tease. "Your mom called. She said all your shit's on the front lawn."

His eyes roll around in their sockets as he pushes himself up against the wall. "Jesus, Whitlock. That party was OFF THE HOOK, man."

I hold out a hand and help him up. "Yeah, no one says that anymore, Eric, but uh, thanks. Don't trip over the Stanleys' pavers walking home this time, yeah?"

He nods and throws me a made-up gang sign. "Word."

Continuing further into the house, I find a few people strewn about the living room amidst the debris of plastic cups and a couple of overturned chip bowls. I rustle them awake, and they quickly gather themselves to leave, tossing me thanks as they stumble out.

Overall, the mess is not bad at all, surprisingly enough, though I haven't checked the deck yet. People like to barf out there.

I round into the front room and stop dead in my tracks. Edward and Bella are tucked into each other, sleeping on the couch. A shit-eating grin curls across my face. Apparently, it went well after I shoved Edward in her direction last night. I thoroughly enjoy it when I smack Edward in the face to wake him up. He startles and gasps, shocking Bella awake. The two sit up together, looking hilariously disoriented.

"Morning, kids!" I exclaim. "Or, afternoon, technically."

Bella looks at her watch and groans. "Oh, shit. I am so fucking grounded!"

Edward's eyes go wide. "Fuck! I'm sorry, Bella. I didn't mean to fall asleep..."

I snort, walking past them into the kitchen. "Good luck with that one, guys," I say over my shoulder. They go back and forth for a few minutes: Edward offers to go to her house with her to explain to Chief Swan, Bella reminds him how he likes to clean his guns on the weekend.

Digging into the refrigerator, I pull out some eggs and bacon, decidedly hungry. I hear a soft "Oh!" announce Alice's presence downstairs. She must have come face to face with her best friend and twin.

"Well hey, Twinward," she chirps happily, and I can't help but to smile at the joy in her voice. "Get a last-minute birthday present?"

"Alice!" Bella hisses. "Nothing happened! Guess I can't say the same about you, though."

I freeze, waiting to hear Alice's response.

"Nope!" she proclaims, no hint of defense or shame in her tone. I let out a shuddering breath of relief. "Hi."

I spin to see Alice hovering in the doorway of the kitchen. Involuntarily, I scan her head to toe; she's still wearing my button-up, having fastened a few more buttons and rolled up the sleeves. It's quite long on her, so it covers her to almost mid-thigh. I can't help but to grin. "Hi."

Setting the ingredients on the counter, I walk over to pick her up, walk back, and set her on the granite next to the food. She squeaks at the cold on her legs, but it dissolves as I run my hands up her thighs, my fingers sliding underneath the hem of the shirt. I groan as I realize she didn't put her panties back on. "Fuck, Alice," I hiss. "Why would you do that to me? Did you not just get laid?"

She teasingly rubs her nose along mine, smiling as if holding back a giggle. I mirror her, but move in the rest of the way, brushing the warmth of her lips with my own. Shoving forward and resting her arms on my shoulders, she energetically throws herself into the kiss until we hear a throat clear behind us.

Stilling, we turn only our faces toward the noise to see Edward and Bella staring at us.

"Uh, I was gonna ask if Alice wanted a ride home," Edward says.

"I'll take her home after we eat," I offer quickly.

Bella leans against Edward's shoulder as she chimes in. "Alice, um, I don't mean to drag you away or anything, but it actually might help if you come with and tell Charlie we just fell asleep here or something. I really don't want him to kill Edward, because if you don't come with me, he will," Bella pleads, jerking a thumb at Edward, "and you know my dad might just go apeshit."

I turn to look at Alice, who's smile has turned upside down. "You should probably go, beautiful," I tell her quietly. "If Bella gets busted, it may boomerang and bite you in the ass."

The crease in her forehead deepens. "I ..." Her eyes dart to Edward and Bella, her words obviously getting caught in her throat.

"Give us a minute?" I ask, looking at our witnesses. They look at each other with knowing looks and turn.

"Ali, I'll be outside, 'kay?" Bella calls as they head to the door.

"Later, J," Edward says.

I focus on Alice once they're gone. "What, baby?" I ask softly.

"I thought ... I was hoping we ..." She keeps stopping, and I'm wondering what got her so shy.

"You can say anything to me," I remind her.

She chews on her lip for a second longer before blurting it out. "I wanted to spend a little more time in bed with you," she whispers from beneath a massive blush.

I chuckle, kissing her because I can't stand a second longer without doing so. "God, I'd like that. A lot. 'Cause I'm pretty sure after breakfast, I'm gonna pass out again and having you next to me would be—"

She interrupts me with a loud hum. I kiss her again, deepening it to try to express how much I want her. Again. And again. And—well, yeah, you get the picture. She moans into my mouth and it wakes me up a bit. "Oookay." I heave in a breath. "You better get, before I have you on the counter, threat of witnesses be damned."

This makes her laugh and bounce a little. I lift her off the counter and set her on her feet. She takes off running up the stairs, and I follow slowly behind, waiting at the bottom for her to return. She trots down, redressed in her strapless yellow thing, picking the scarf off the railing. She's barefoot, though, and I look around for those tall wedgie things she had on. She finds them first, shoving her feet into them and then walking over to me, as I stand by the sofa.

"I love you," I remind her as she enters my embrace. She presses her body against me, her cheek on my chest.

"I love you," she replies. She looks up and raises her eyebrows. "Call me?"

I nod before kissing her, allowing my lips to linger. "Tonight."

She smiles and runs to the door.

"Alice?" I call after her. She stops, spinning in the open doorway to face me. "Happy Birthday, baby."

Her face lights up with the joy that is pure Alice.

After I watch the cars leave, I turn to look at the mess that seemed like "no problem" twenty minutes ago. Scowling, I see it a hell of a lot differently now.


I decide to inspect the deck because I'm worried that's gonna be a nightmare. Even with my post-coital bliss haze, I'm sure I'm not gonna like it. Before I get to the door, I look down, so I don't immediately see whatever it is I'm going to see once I open the sliding door.

I push at the handle and listen to the rumble of the heavy door in the groove. There's a distinct smell; I cringe. Opening my eyes, I see Emmett in the lounge recliner, a mopping bucket on his stomach. It's ... not empty.

"You're fucking kidding me, McCarty," I groan, really fucking loud, hoping he has a massive headache. "You're flushing that shit. And rinsing out the bucket."

He peeks an eye at me, a shit-eating grin spreading over his face. "'Sup, Jasmine?"

I take an opportunity to look around, pleasantly surprised to find the deck in otherwise good condition. "You stick around to help me clean up, asswipe?"

Shifting the bucket so he can stand without spilling, he shrugs. "Sure, I can do that."

I watch him and feel an inordinate amount of smugness rolling off him. "What?" I ask, knowing he's just waiting for his moment.

He turns and eyes me, scoping me head to toe. "Have a nice bath this morning, Princess?"

My eyes go wide, and I glare at him. "The ... what?" I don't know what to say, as I know he heard us.

"That was one hell of a beautiful echo."

For some reason, as much as I feel a little overexposed for a moment, I can't be mad. I start grinning like a Cheshire cat and jump my eyebrows. "You have no idea."

A/N: Thanks all for reading! I hope you enjoyed. :) Now my brain can unlock, and I can get back to Maelström and Grim FaerieTale...

Mal and MTK, thanks for your prereaderfication and encouragement.