A/N - This was my entry for the 'From the Boardroom to the Bedroom' hosted by UNF4Rob and iAMurPoison, and I had a blast writing it and participating in the contest. Go check out the other entries and leave the other authors some love: http:/ /www . fanfiction . net/u/2608837/.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The elevator dings and the mirrored doors in front of me part, quietly inviting me into the next phase of my life. I step out and walk faux-confidently to Reception where I am greeted by a chipper young blonde.

"First day?" she asks, hanging up the phone she has just used to call my new boss, Ms. Hale.

"Yes," I reply, trying to keep the nerves inside and retain the appearance of confidence. I'm sure I could muster up some conversation, but I'm afraid if I open my mouth I might lose my breakfast.

Fortunately I'm not forced to make small talk with the receptionist, whose name I don't know, as a tall, statuesque woman pushes open the glass doors behind Reception and beckons me forth.

"Edward, it's good to see you again. I'm so glad you decided to accept my offer." She seems sincere, and it helps me to relax a little.

S | S

My first week goes by smoothly. I manage to not make an ass of myself, I even remember a few people's names, and I almost make it the whole week without anyone realizing that I'm related to someone else at the firm, despite our matching surnames. I'm not against people knowing that Emmett is my brother, I just don't want everyone to think that he is the reason I got the job. I figure if I have time to prove myself before they all find out, and no one will give it a second thought.

S | S

I don't meet the VP of our division until the middle of my second week. Rosalie hadn't wanted to interrupt him, but apparently Emmett has no such reservations. When I mention to my brother that I haven't met the boss, he practically drags me to Whitlock's office when we get back from lunch.

I hear him introduce me to Mr. Jasper Whitlock as his little brother and Rose's newest intern, and I somehow manage to raise my arm for an introductory handshake, but I completely tune Emmett out after that. Whitlock is fucking gorgeous.

His dirty blonde hair is longer than normal for professional standards, but it suits him perfectly. His eyes are somewhere between steely gray and sky blue, and I think they might change color depending on the lighting or maybe his moods. His lips are pink and full, and I'm paralyzed when his tongue darts out to moisten them.

I'm vaguely aware that I'm being asked a question, and I hope that some part of my brain is functioning because I feel my mouth moving, but I have no idea what I'm saying. It's a good thing that Emmett's arm is around my shoulders because if it wasn't, I would probably launch myself at Mr. Whitlock to get a taste of those lips.

Somehow Emmett gets us out of Whitlock's office, and I really hope that I haven't ruined all chance of success in this company because of my blatant display of idiocy.

S | S

After our introduction, I see Whitlock everywhere. I'm hyper-aware of his comings and goings and just him in general. I feel it when he walks onto the floor, even though I don't sit in view of Reception. We now seem to be on the same lunch schedule and even manage to run into each other when we eat somewhere other than the building's cafeteria.

He only catches me watching him a couple of times, but each time he does, I swear there's a glint in his eye like he knows I've been watching for a while. Other times it feels like I'm being watched, and when I turn, he's there, but he's never looking at me. I feel like I've just missed him every time, and I so wish that just one time I could catch him looking at me. I won't act on it, but I don't want the attraction I feel for him to be one-sided.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rosalie and I walk together to the conference room for the first team meeting since I started working at Newton-Call Communications. She's giving me the run down on what to expect in the meeting, who will be there, and what Whitlock expects to see in the meeting minutes that I'm responsible for taking. I reach the door first and push it open.

I hold the door open for Rose, my arm on the handle and body in the doorway, and as soon as she walks by I realize Whitlock must have been walking right behind us. How I missed this I have no idea, but he's right there now, and I can't move. I'm frozen under his gaze and holding my breath. He pauses for barely the length of a heartbeat before moving to enter the room. He turns to his side, facing me, in order to squeeze by. I can feel the heat of his body from my chest down to my knees.

I hear his breathing hitch and he pauses, his eyes meet mine and bore into me. There is a fire behind those eyes, an unbridled passion. His eyes flicker to my mouth, and mine reflexively do the same, getting the joy of watching his tongue slide out to moisten his perfect pink lips. God, I want to kiss him. Whitlock closes his eyes and shakes his head minutely as if to clear his mind of whatever he is thinking, then takes a deep breath and moves into the room. The exchange probably takes less than a second and goes unnoticed by everyone in the room, but it leaves me breathless.

Whitlock takes his usual seat, and I manage to regain my breath, steady myself and take the only remaining seat, right next to him. At some point during the meeting, he adjusts his position and his leg touches mine under the table. The heat of it warms me all over, though it is only our knees that are touching. His leg doesn't move until the end of the meeting, a full twenty-seven minutes later.

S | S

The morning after the leg touch, I am particularly jumpy. I dreamt last night that Whitlock asked me to stay after the meeting, laid me on the board room table and touched me all over to see if I felt the heat everywhere. What followed was the most explicit sex dream I've ever had, and I woke up with sticky shorts like a damn thirteen-year-old. I'm certain that something of this dream shows on my face and everyone will know that I dreamt naughty things about Whitlock. My only hope is that I don't see him today.

I run into Rosalie at the throng of people waiting for the elevator and she immediately distracts me from memories of the dream. The elevator doors open and we join the masses in entering. I'm paying attention to Rosalie and not where I'm walking, so when I'm forced to back up because too many people want to get in, I trip over someone's foot and start to fall backwards.

There isn't much room to fall, so my back is immediately pressed up against the firm chest of the person behind me. Strong hands grip my hips and prevent me from falling.

"I've got you," he whispers in my ear, and I feel his breath against the side of my face, and then I smell his minty fresh breath, and I feel my body react.

My ass is pressed right up against his crotch, and fuck…I can feel him there.

This feels like a very dangerous game, but I can't bring myself to care. Physically I know I am capable of breaking his hold, I only need to take half a step forward and I would be free. But I'm enjoying his hands on me all too much, and I fucking love the feeling of his junk pressed against my ass.

Twenty floors later, the doors part and enough people exit that it would be obvious if we were to remain this close.

"Careful now," he whispers, and his hands tighten at my waist as if he doesn't want to let go. Half a second later, my sides are cold from the loss of contact as I step away to a normal distance.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Edward, I hate to ask you to do this, but Mr. Whitlock's secretary called out sick today. Can you manage her desk for the day?"

Normally such a request would bother the crap out of me, but I won't turn down the chance to be near Whitlock for an entire day.

He is behind closed doors on a conference call for most of the morning, so I don't see him until he opens his door at 11:30. He looks surprised to see me, but then I explain that Lauren called in sick.

"I have another call in fifteen minutes, and then a meeting with the other VPs this afternoon. Can you please grab me some lunch?"

He's back in his office before I can respond, but it's honestly fine because I've seen him get lunch so frequently I have no problem getting his favorite from the little café down the street. Thirty minutes later, I quietly let myself into his office with his grilled cheese on Texas toast with bacon and tomato, and a cup of tomato soup. Whitlock motions me in, and then gives me a shrewd, appraising look when he sees what I've brought him for lunch, though he says nothing.

That afternoon, I accompany him to the meeting with the other VPs. The leg touch from the last meeting is repeated, and this time accompanied by elbow contact. My knees and elbows are easily my least erogenous zones, but when he touches me there it sets my entire body on fire. At one point, Whitlock reaches over and puts his hand on my forearm to get my attention and then whispers in my ear. I have no fucking clue what he says, because his warm breath is washing across my neck and sending shivers down my spine.

I feel myself blush, and I pray he isn't expecting a response because I have no idea what to say. He sits back, but his hand remains on my arm for another few beats. I finally chance looking up at him when he removes his arm, but he is already focused back on the meeting.

I hope the sexy smirk turning up the corner of his mouth is for me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Two weeks ago, just after my one-day stint as Whitlock's secretary, I volunteered to research, put together a presentation, and then create a portfolio of informational data for Whitlock to take with him on a visit to Masen Pharmaceuticals, a potential client.

However, since I'm just an intern, I don't actually get to give the presentation. That honor falls instead to Mike Newton. Mike is a moron but has the job because his dad is the "N" in "NC Communications."

Newton is not five minutes into my presentation before he is fucking things up. He calls it "Matthews Pharmaceuticals" and misrepresents findings that are written down in front of him in black and white. To my left, Rosalie is both furious and mortified.

"Fix this," she mouths, motioning her eyes forward to Newton who is butchering another series of facts, this time about the products that the client has on the market. I'm about to tell her that I can't possibly give this presentation. I'm too intimidated by "Mr. GQ-cover-model-perfect, wet-dream Whitlock" across the table from me. But when the words "Frankly, it doesn't really matter what they produce" actually escape Newton's stupid mouth, I'm out of my chair, striding to the front of the room before I realize I've made the decision to take the reins from Mike's clearly-incapable hands.

"Mike, if I could just interrupt for a minute here, I'd like to make a few clarifications."

If the room was quiet before, it's fucking crickets-chirping-dead-of-night silent now. I'm pretty sure no one is breathing. They're all staring at me wide-eyed, in complete shock that an intern would dare step up and interrupt a presentation being given to Mr. Whitlock.

Whitlock doesn't say anything or stop me though, so I take his non-anger as tacit approval to continue and motion for Newton to go ahead and have a seat. I then correct all the things Newton got wrong before proceeding to outline everything about Masen Pharmaceuticals. I know this shit like the back of my hand, so I'm confident and engaging, and it's obvious from the team's faces that I am impressing the shit out of them. The only reaction I can't read, and the only one that matters, is Whitlock's.

S | S

I jump when Whitlock's secretary buzzes me over the intercom later that afternoon.

"Mr. Whitlock would like to see you in his office before you leave for the day," Lauren tells me, just loud enough for those within a 50 foot radius to hear. I feel my face heat up as a dozen heads turn in my direction, their expressions colored with anxiety and pity. Mostly pity. Apparently everyone thinks I'm about to get my ass handed to me, and I'm not sure they're wrong.

Whitlock dismisses Lauren immediately after she ushers me into his office.

He walks around to the front of the desk and leans back against it, crossing his legs and steepling his fingers in front of his face. I'm standing in between two uncomfortable-looking chairs, a mere three feet in front of him. We are silent for a few minutes and I don't know if I should speak first or if I should wait for him.

I'm more than a little terrified that I'm about to get fired, but I don't think that I deserve it. Despite my fear, I can't help but take in his delicious appearance. His suit jacket is unbuttoned and I am mesmerized by the rhythm of his breathing. I want to rip his shirt off and watch the muscles of his chest and abdomen as they expand and contract.

"Are you firing me?" I blurt.

"No," he answers with a light chuckle.

Thank Christ.

"Okay."

That seems to have broken the ice sufficiently, because he proceeds to grill me about Masen Pharma, the presentation, and what I think of Michael Newton, Founder's Only Son.

Then there's another extended pause during which time I become acutely aware that the literal man of my dreams is a mere arms reach away from me, we are alone in his office after hours, unlikely to be interrupted. The air is thick between us. His blue-grey eyes are more blue today and there's a sudden fire in his gaze that wasn't there a moment ago.

"God, I want you." I hear the words but they don't make sense. It doesn't matter though because in the next second his mouth is on mine, and then his tongue is lapping at my lip, and who am I to stop the tongue that I've dreamt about from entering my mouth?

Our hands are everywhere – pushing, pulling, tugging, teasing. I hear a button pop off and hit the floor but I have no idea whose shirt it belongs to, nor do I care. His body is hot and hard against mine, and it's better than the thousands of times I've fantasized about this very thing.

I'm unaware that I'm moving until Whitlock pushes me against and then onto the desk. His hands are undoing my belt and zipper, and then his strong, incredibly-warm hand is wrapped around my cock. My head falls back, and I can't contain the moan that builds from the pit of my stomach and consumes me from the inside out.

"I need to have you," he breathes into my mouth. "Please let me have you."

"God, yes," is all I can say. There is a buzz of activity, and my mind is so far gone that all I hear is swishing cloth, unzipping, the tearing of foil, and then his moist fingers are at my entrance, and thank God, because I think I might die if he doesn't fuck me soon.

Whitlock moves me so that he's holding up one knee with his elbow, and my other leg is wrapped around him, and then he leans forward to plunge his tongue into my mouth as he enters me. I relish the slow, burning stretch as he takes his time, making sure I'm ready. As soon as he feels me relax, he's pounding into me. It's a harsh, relentless rhythm, but it's absolutely fucking perfect.

Our hands move and touch and tease of their own accord. He pinches my nipple as I reach for his ass to pull him farther and harder into me.

All too soon I feel myself coming undone embarrassingly quickly, but I know it has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with just how thoroughly I'm being fucked. I don't want this to be over, but I can't help it, and when he wraps his hand around me and cries, "Come for me, Edward," I'm completely lost, coming for all I'm worth and clenching around him.

As soon as I'm spent, he collapses on top of me, hips barely moving, but I can feel his entire body tense and relax repeatedly as he releases inside of me, and I never want to leave. I don't want to leave this moment, or this desk, or this office.

Too soon he is pulling out and I am suddenly winded as I realize what I've just done.

I've just fucked my boss's boss in his office.

Fuck. I'm so screwed.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The sun is bright behind my eyelids and I am more comfortable than I can remember being in a long while. But Jesus it's hot…where the fuck am I?

I am eventually able to coax my eyes open and realize I'm so hot because half of my body is covered by Jasper. His face is turned to me, only a few inches away.

I feel him stir and watch as his peaceful face morphs from sleepy to confused to smiling as he opens his eyes and sees me in his bed. Last night Jasper cooked us dinner, we spent an incredible hour in his hot tub, performed our usual sexual calisthenics and then, for the very first time, he invited me to spend the night.

"I could get used to this," I whisper, my normal filter too slow and tired to catch the words before they exit my mouth.

He stiffens minutely and I see the alarm on his face, but then he is rolling away and getting up, muttering that he'll be right back.

I don't have time to contemplate what just happened before he's back in bed, sadly now with pants on. The mood has clearly changed.

Sunday, December 20, 2008

I close my eyes before takeoff and think about how I got here. I can still taste Jasper on my lips and feel him wrapped around me. I run my fingers through my damp hair, wishing they were his and that we were still in his huge sunken shower.

The first week after our tryst in Jasper's office was full of sexual tension, and we didn't make it through a second week before it happened again. That time, he took me from behind over the arm of the couch in his office. Almost being caught by Lauren when she came back from lunch was enough to make us realize we couldn't continue whatever we had going on in the office.

The evenings-and-weekends Jasper I've grown to know over the past few months is very different from the Mr. Whitlock I met in the office. Mr. Whitlock is a hard-ass who has high standards of excellence and doesn't suffer fools (Newton aside). Jasper, on the other hand, is easygoing and outgoing, quick to tease and to laugh. He asks my opinion and gives his freely. Outside of the office, Jasper seems younger than his 33 years.

It feels odd to know I won't see him for over two weeks and even more odd to realize how much I'll miss him. I realize I'm thinking of this trip home as leaving Jasper, not leaving Seattle.

Christmas and New Years pass uneventfully, and I enjoy winter break with my family. Though I miss Jasper more than I expected to, I don't call or text him. It feels as though contacting him when there's no chance of getting together breaks some unspoken rule between us.

I don't hear from him either.

Monday, January 5, 2009

For the first time I can remember, I'm not looking forward to classes. I want to go to the office first thing in the morning, and I'd be lying if I said it was for the work.

My phone vibrates regularly with the texts from friends who are just getting back into town and want to catch up, but they're not who I want to hear from. I could text him but something holds me back. I'm slightly unsure of myself and where things stand between us after our two week separation.

I feel my phone buzz again while my professor is droning on with his back to the class. I stealthily pull my phone out of my pocket and immediately sit up straighter, feeling the smile spread across my face when I see who it's from.

Can you come over tonight? 7:30?

Absolutely. 7:30.

My day has significantly improved, though my ability to concentrate has not.

S | S

I arrive at Jasper's slightly before 7:30 to find him waiting for me.

I do love Jasper in a suit, but the more casual Jasper who greets me at the door is just as hot. He is wearing jeans perfectly suited for his body and a white waffle-knit shirt that hugs his torso deliciously.

The second the door shuts behind me, one of Jasper's hands snakes up behind my neck and pulls me to him. His lips meet mine in a hard kiss, and then our clothes are flying. His every move is tinged with desperation and need, and I have never felt this wanted before. We barely make it to the kitchen before he is wrapped and lubed.

With a grunted "Fuck… need you…" he's inside of me. This coupling is needy and wanting and desperate and reconnects us in a way that I didn't know we were disconnected, but it feels right. Not just right, fucking incredible.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I am fully aware of exactly what day today is. I might not be able to call Jasper my "significant other," but part of me was still hoping that we might spend time together today. I suppose this should help put our non-relationship relationship into perspective, but mostly it makes me wish for more.

I spend most of the day working on an essay, occasionally checking my silent phone to see if I've missed any messages. I feel a little lost. I want to talk to Jasper, to see him but don't feel like I can contact him. I find myself constantly thinking of him… wishing that we were doing something together, anything together. Some time over the last eight months this thing between us changed, and whatever we're doing isn't just physical for me anymore.

A knock at the door breaks me from my reverie. I answer, shocked to find Jasper on the other side, take-out in one hand and a six-pack in the other. I'm caught so off guard that I just stand there with my jaw hanging wide open until Jasper asks if he can come in.

"Of course, sorry. Of course you can come in," I stammer. I'm thrilled to see him, especially given my thoughts earlier in the day, but I can't believe he's actually here.

I usher him into my apartment, acutely aware that this is the first time he has been to my apartment, that he is here unannounced, and that it's Valentine's Day. After briefly showing him around the place, we sit at the kitchen table and tuck into the food he brought over. Conversation is always easy with Jasper but tonight the mood is somehow different – heavier, more than it usually is.

"So seriously, what brought you over tonight?" I ask.

Jasper pauses, his fork hovering over his plate for just a moment. Anyone else might not have noticed, but I do. I notice everything about him.

"I realized that I've never been to your place before," he responds with a shrug, and my heart sinks a little. It doesn't matter if he knows that it's Valentine's Day or not if he's not going to talk about it. It's a very clear indication of the state of our relationship.

S | S

The next morning I wake up to Jasper's warmth wrapped completely around me. I'm on my side and his naked chest is flush against my back, his arm is around my waist and his leg is tucked between mine, pulling me back towards him. It feels possessive but caring and absolutely wonderful. Before I can stop it, I feel the words I have wanted to say since he showed up at my door yesterday bubbling up out of my chest.

"I'm really glad you came," I whisper. "I missed you."

"I'm glad you were here," he says, and I think I feel him mouth the word "alone" against my back.

My eyes are still closed and that plus the fact that he's behind me makes me bolder.

"Where else would I be on Valentine's Day?" I'm still whispering, but I feel him relax, so I know he heard me. "Anyway, I'm not seeing anyone else."

He is quiet for a long time and I wonder if I've gone too far. This is the first time we've had anything resembling a conversation about our relationship.

He squeezes me a little tighter for a second, but then he's rolling away from me and getting up out of bed mumbling, "It's late. I should go."

I stay in bed with my back to him as he gets dressed. I can't let him see my face and how close I am to tears. I put myself out there and he didn't even respond. We never said we were exclusive and have made no promises to one another, but I know I feel more for him. For a moment, I thought he did too.

When I hear Jasper washing up in the bathroom, I get up and pull on some sweatpants. I'm in the kitchen cleaning up the remnants of last night's dinner when I hear him enter. I don't turn, still unwilling to trust that I've masked the pain etched on my face.

His arms encircle my waist, but he doesn't try to turn me around.

"I'm not seeing anyone else either, Edward," he says with his lips pressed to my shoulder, before placing a light kiss there. "I'll see you at work."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm in a shitty mood because I'm stuck at a corporate Fourth of July party that isn't serving booze and I just want to be alone with Jasper. I catch Rose motioning me to the side of the party where she and Whitlock are having what looks to be an important discussion.

Rose and I have talked extensively about increasing my workload and responsibilities, so when she says that Whitlock has an assignment for me, my ears immediately perk up.

"I would like to take your work a step farther than we have in the past. Once you've completed your initial company analysis, I'd like you to visit the potential client and see how that part of the business is conducted." There is a definite glint in Whitlock's eye. "Is this something you would be interested in?"

"Yes, absolutely. That sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Thank you!"

"Great, thank you Rosalie. Edward, we can talk more on Monday. Enjoy the party," he addresses the last to us both, but I feel the heat of his gaze before he walks away.

Thursday, July 29, 2009

The meetings with Ateara Realty go well, and NCC officially lands a new account. But what means more to me than the success with Ateara is how free Jasper is here. We meet with the client's reps, but Jasper begs off dinner saying that we have to discuss some things before meeting with them again on Friday.

We go to a romantic dinner that night at a little restaurant that can't have more than ten tables. Despite the purpose of our trip to Phoenix and Jasper's excuses earlier, we don't speak one word about work at dinner. Jasper even holds my hand as we stroll back to the hotel afterwards.

That night in bed, I feel something shift. I accepted several months ago that our relationship means more to me than it does to Jasper, though I never stop hoping it might mean more to him someday. Consequently, I pour my heart and soul into our every coupling, needing him to know how I feel despite the fact that I can't say it. Tonight it feels like Jasper is doing the same. With every kiss, every caress, I feel like I'm getting more from him than I ever have before.

After everything is finished with Ateara, I get Jasper to myself for the rest of the weekend.

We sight-see, shop, and spend hours by the hotel pool. My room is merely for show – not even my suitcase stayed in there after Jasper welcomed me through the adjoining doors – and every night we spend in each other's arms.

All too soon we are on our way back to the airport and back to Seattle. Jasper takes my hand in his once we're seated on the plane and intertwines our fingers. Comfortable with how close we have become over the last few days, I rest my head on his shoulder. My heart simultaneously soars and plummets when he kisses my hair before resting his own head on top of mine.

The last few days have been wonderful. Jasper has been more affectionate and open than ever, and it gives me hope that maybe he feels more for me than he lets on. But in the back of my mind I know this freedom and affection will end as soon as we step off the plane in Seattle.

I'm his secret in Seattle, so he has to be mine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Alice is pestering me about why I've been moping for the past two weeks. I lean forward, resting my elbows on my thighs, and bury my face in my hands. What is the point in fighting her on this? I know she'll force it out of me eventually, she always does. The truth is that I'm dying to talk to someone about Jasper. I want to sit and analyze his every move, his every word, but I can't because it's a secret.

She rests her hand on my shoulder and says my name quietly, and apparently that's all it takes for the floodgates to open. The longer I talk, the more excitable I get. I'm vacillating between out-of-control happy and on the verge of tears, and I realize that deep down I've been like this about Jasper for over a year now.

"You love him, don't you?"

The voice from the entryway to the living room startles both Alice and me. It's Rose. She came to Chicago with Emmett to meet our parents, but I didn't realize she was in the house.

Fuck.

But for the first time I let myself consider the idea. Immediately I know she's right. I think I've known that I love Jasper for a long time, but knowing that he didn't feel the same made me hold back, even from myself.

I can only nod in response.

Alice rubs my back soothingly while Rose continues.

"You don't have to tell me, but is it Whitlock?"

My head whips up and I'm sure my eyes are like saucers, and any hope I had of keeping his identity a secret from Rose is shot. There's no point in denying it now, that reaction was enough of a giveaway.

The three of us talk for a long time after that. It's actually really helpful having Rose there for the discussion since she knows Whitlock better than Alice. Of course, she doesn't know Jasper, but her insights are invaluable nonetheless.

In the end, they help me realize that I need to be wholly honest with Jasper and tell him how I feel. If I'm not honest with him about how I feel, then I can't expect him to be honest with me. It's the only way we have a chance of moving forward together.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I've never been to Jasper's place unannounced.

Now I'm here, unannounced and about to pledge my love.

Christ, I'm nervous.

S | S

"How about a dip in the hot tub?"

Normally I would be all over that, but if we go out to the hot tub, we'll get naked and do things to each other and we won't talk. Jasper senses my hesitation.

"What's wrong, Edward?"

"Nothing, it's just, I was hoping we could talk tonight?"

Fuck, where is my confidence?

"Of course," he agrees.

We move to the living room and sit down on the comfy, plush couch. I take a minute to run through all of the things I want to say to him, and once I'm confident I won't forget anything I turn to face him. We are virtual mirror images of each other, one leg up on the couch, the other on the floor, hands in our laps.

"Jasper…" the words I've been practicing for days get caught in my throat.

Jasper places his hand on top of mine, stilling them, and I feel that ever-present heat the two of us seem to generate together. It's enough to loosen my tongue.

"I love you."

The words come out before I realize I'm going to say them. I meant to work up to that point, to tell him I think he's amazing and I have an incredible time with him whenever we're together, and after my big speech tell him how I feel. Now it's too late, and it's out there, and he's frozen in place.

"I didn't mean to just blurt it out like that, sorry. It's just… well, I do. Love you, I mean. I'm never happier than when we're together, and I wish we were together more often, and everything about you is incredible. The way you speak, the way you think, the way you make me feel, it's all amazing. I didn't expect to fall for you like this, but I couldn't stop it from happening, and now I wouldn't change a thing."

I feel lighter than I have in months now that I've gotten this off my chest. Alice and Rose were right; I needed to tell him how I feel.

Belatedly, I realize that his hand is no longer in mine and his body has gone rigid. There's a look of disbelief bordering on panic on his face. Then he starts to shake his head.

"That's not right, Edward. You don't love me. Don't say that."

I feel my brow furrowing in confusion. "I don't expect you to say it back, but I do love you. Why is that wrong?"

He stands and starts to pace in front of the couch. He's angry, but I don't understand why.

"You can't possibly mean that, Edward. You're only 21 years old. You don't even know what love is."

"What does my age have to do with this all of a sudden?"

"You're too young. You haven't lived enough, seen enough, done enough to know if what you feel is love."

"I'm too young?" He stops his pacing and faces me, but says nothing.

I stand to look him in the eye. I'm more than angry. I'm fucking furious. I can't even believe the implications of what he is saying to me.

"I'm old enough to vote and drink and join the military, but not old enough to be able to know my own emotions? I'm smart enough to work for your company while pursuing a double degree, but I'm not smart enough to know how I feel?"

He doesn't even have the decency to look chagrined; he just stands there stoically.

"That's not what I mean, Edward."

"What else could you possibly mean?"

"I mean that you're confused. You don't know me well enough to love me, and at 21 you can't possibly know yourself enough to know if you love someone. It's just infatuation."

"Well, you're right about one thing. I am confused. I thought that you saw me as an equal."

"I do," he insists. I scoff. "Despite the fact that you haven't graduated and you are just an intern, I have never once treated you any differently than any of my other employees. You are intelligent and mature, but that's not enough to understand a complex emotion like love."

"I certainly hope you treat me differently than your other employees. Or are you fucking them too?"

"Don't be ridiculous. You know what I mean."

"I'm just trying to make sure I understand. I'm your equal at the office, where, by default, no one can know about us, but outside of the office I'm not your equal. And the reason I'm not your equal is because apparently I'm too young and stupid to know how I feel. Is that really why we can't be a real couple? Because I'm too young?"

I can't even believe the turn this conversation has taken. It hurts my head and my heart to learn that this is how he sees me.

He reaches for my hand, but I pull it away.

"Don't touch me," I practically spit the words. "Let me see if I understand this. I'm old enough for you to fuck, but not old enough to have an actual relationship with."

I don't stick around to hear his reply. I'm too angry and nothing good could possibly come of this night anymore. Grabbing my bag from the foyer, I yank his Christmas present out and leave it on the table.

"Merry fucking Christmas," I mutter before slamming the door behind me.

S | S

The week after my fight with Jasper is awful. I talk to Rosalie who guesses what happened, and lets me take some time off that week. I'm not ready to face him. When I do get back to work, things are not as awkward as I expect but only because Whitlock and I don't regularly work together. He catches me alone one afternoon and asks if we can talk, but I'm not ready. It still hurts to even look at him knowing what he apparently thinks of me, and I'm definitely not ready for one-on-one time where he might insult me again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I should be doing homework or reading for class. Emmett would tell me that I should be out partying. Instead I'm sitting on my couch mindlessly flipping channels, checking the clock for the eight-hundredth time for a non-pathetic time to go to bed on a Friday night. I'm just about to turn in when there's a knock on my door.

We've barely spoken over the last three weeks, so I'm surprised to find Jasper on the other side.

"I realize you probably don't want to talk to me, but can I come in?"

I take a step back, clearing the doorway for him to enter, and he does so with a deep sigh.

"Edward, I have so much to apologize for. I was rude and thoughtless and incredibly uncaring. I shouldn't have reacted the way I did – you're more mature than 90% of the people your age. Hell, you're more mature than I was at your age, and you were right to be insulted by what I said. Do you think you can forgive me?"

We talk for a long time after that. I believe his apology, and I believe that he does care for me, even if he isn't willing to call it love.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I can't help the moan of satisfaction that comes out of me as I put the last bite of this incredible meal in my mouth. Jasper smiles, pleased that his home-cooked meal has been a success.

His hand reaches for mine and he intertwines our fingers on the table.

"I'm glad you agreed to stay with me this week."

I'm still surprised that Jasper asked me to stay with him over my spring break, but I wasn't about to question it.

"Edward, I-" he starts before stopping himself, taking a deep breath, and trying again. "I dated a guy when I was in college. We met towards the end of freshman year and hit it off immediately. Peter was outgoing and funny and loved the outdoors. We were together for three amazing years." He has a wistful smile on his face at the memory, but I don't understand how it pertains to us.

"I loved Peter. I thought that we'd be able to move in together after graduation and build a life together."

"What happened?" I ask quietly after a lengthy pause.

"I found him fucking my best friend the night before graduation. He later told me that I was putting too much pressure on him, and he couldn't be expected to be in a long-term, committed relationship at his age."

"Oh, Jas-"

"No, it's fine. It was a long time ago. I just want you to have an idea of where I'm coming from. I found it very hard to trust people after Peter. When I got a job after graduation, I wasn't exactly afraid to come out to my coworkers, though being gay was much less acceptable then. I just never brought up my sexuality or my relationship status around people with whom I work. People just naturally assumed I was straight, and I never found the need to correct them.

"For a long time I convinced myself it didn't matter anyway. I wasn't looking for another relationship, and I refused to let what happened with Peter happen again. I told myself that when I found the right man, the man with whom I could have a long-term, committed relationship, I would happily be out."

His hand is no longer in mine, but fisting his hair in anxiety or frustration, and he's not looking at me anymore, but looking off into the distance. I want to ask, need to ask, if he thinks I might be the right man, but before I can he adds one more thing that finally helps me understand.

"I was stupid to think that anyone my age could really find lasting love."

Then his eyes are back on me and he's asking me without words if I understand.

What followed was the sweetest, most tender love-making I have ever experienced. And I know, in spite of his hesitance or protests, that Jasper loves me. After that realization, I fall into a peaceful sleep, enclosed in the arms of the man I love.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's Jasper's birthday today and I've decided to once again tell him that I love him and see if his feelings or hesitations have changed since we first had this conversation. I know he loves me. I feel it every second we are together, I have for a while, but it's been stronger over the two weeks since spring break. Maybe now he's ready.

S | S

As anticipated, dinner is fantastic. The waiter keeps the drinks flowing, and the food is delicious. Jasper isn't in the best mood, but given the grumbles and mutterings I've heard from him all week, he just feels like he's getting old. Apparently turning 35 makes him feel like an old geezer. I've been told that I'm not helping him feel any younger since I'm only 21. Reminding him that I'll be 22 in two months does not help.

When the waiter brings our fourth round of beers, I decide that I've had enough liquid courage, and Jasper has had enough alcohol to sufficiently relax him. I'm ready.

He's already holding my hand on the table, so I just have to give it a little squeeze to get his attention.

"Jas, I had a great time spending spring break with you."

He smiles and squeezes my hand in response. "Me too, Edward."

"I love you, Jasper, and well, I was hoping that maybe… well, maybe you had more time to think about us, and that maybe things had changed for you since Christmas?" I hate the needy tone of my voice.

"Edward," he starts and pulls his hand away. "I care for you a great deal, you know that."

He's not looking at me but at the table in front of him, one hand around his drink, the other in his lap. I know what's coming.

"You're still 21 Edward; nothing has changed. Why does it need to?"

Stupidly, I didn't prepare for this option. So sure that he would return the sentiment, so fucking sure that I was reading the signs right and that he does love me, so sure that if I told him again how I feel that he would be able to reciprocate.

"Because I need it to," I say quietly.

His face quickly rises and his eyes meet mine.

"What are you saying?"

"Do you think you'll ever change your mind?"

His silence speaks volumes.

"What can I do? How can I change to make you change your mind? I know you love me, Jas, please. Just tell me what I can do!"

I hate that I'm begging, but more than that I hate that I feel the need to. I hate that I feel like I've failed in some way and that I have to change who I am in order to get him to admit that he loves me. I hate that I'm willing, fucking happy, to change if it means I get to keep him.

"It's nothing you've done, nothing you can do, Edward. I-"

"Then what am I doing here? If you don't love me, and I can't do anything to change that, then I'm wasting my time." The words are coming out much stronger than I feel, but I don't expect this calm façade to last much longer. "Jas, I need to be with someone who needs to be with me. I want that to be you, but if you don't want it, if you don't need me like that, then I have to leave."

Silence.

Fucking silence.

His steely gray eyes are looking at my face, as if he's seeing me for the first time, but he's not making eye contact. He hasn't moved in what feels like hours. I can only wait so long before I feel my calm slipping. I have to get out of here.

"Happy Birthday Jasper. I love you," I whisper and walk out the door.

S | S

The first few weeks after I break things off with Jasper are fucking awful. I don't sleep well and have trouble eating. The only thing keeping me motivated with my studies is that I graduate in June. Work is… I can't even describe how painful and uncomfortable it is to see him there every day and know that he is no longer mine. Though I suppose now I know that he was never really mine to begin with.

The pain is always with me. Every time I see him it just causes another tear in the already jagged edges of the hole in my chest.

I soon realize there is no way I can go on working at NCC with Jasper.

S | S

Due to Newton-Call Communications' stellar reputation and a few well-chosen references, I quickly have a job offer at another prestigious PR firm in the city and give my two-weeks notice. Thank fuck I'm still "just an intern" and don't have to go through a formal resignation and exit interview process and instead can just tell Rose.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"You're leaving?"

Internally I cringe at the voice that used to make me soar.

"Yes sir. Denali, Inc. made me an offer. Friday is my last day."

"Friday?" His eyes are like saucers, he looks completely shocked, though I don't know why it would matter to him as we haven't even spoken in six weeks.

"Yes sir."

Suddenly he seems to realize that we are right out in the open and this conversation is in no way private.

"May I speak with you in my office, Edward?"

"I'm in the middle of something right now, sir."

"Edward, please." Now it's Jasper asking me, and not Mr. Whitlock. I see the shift in his demeanor, and hear the plea in his voice, but I can't do it.

"I'm sorry." The words don't even come out as a whisper; I think I'm just mouthing them, but the message is clear.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I wake with a start from a dream that is already hazy. Sitting up, my eyes naturally fall to the calendar on my wall. As they do every morning, my thoughts turn to Jasper.

Today should be an anniversary of sorts for us. A year ago we were in the middle of a trip together. Sure it was for business. But outside of the client's office, we were a couple. We were happy. Two years ago… no, I can't think about it. I have to stop thinking about him.

I need to not think of today as an anniversary but as a time for a fresh start. I love my new job, my new boss, the whole company. I'm officially a college graduate, and a full time professional – I even have an office now. Yes, it's time to move on.

"God, if only it were that easy," I say to myself as I finally roll out of bed.

S | S

It takes until mid-September before I am actually ready and able to go on a date again. Deep down I still love Jasper, but as he isn't knocking down my door, I have to move on. I think that on some level I'm holding on to him because I don't want to prove him right. I don't want to be the clichéd kid who fell in love with an older man, only to realize it was infatuation all along. Alice and I have had this conversation countless times, and she assures me that this isn't the case, but I still doubt myself.

My early college boyfriend Riley set me up with a friend of his. I recognize Jake the second he walks into the coffee shop from the photo Riley gave me, although it did not do him justice.

Jake has perfectly smooth, olive skin, short black hair, and a ripped body. His smile is dazzling when he sees me, and I can't help but smile in return. His whole demeanor exudes warmth and happiness.

S | S

Jake and I hit it off immediately and quickly begin spending a lot of time together. I don't think I ever see a frown on his face. He always looks for the silver lining, and focuses on the positive, and his way of thinking rubs off on me. I'm happier than I have been in weeks.

When Jake's not around, I still feel the hole in my chest that is Jasper's absence. It's less intense to be sure, but it's still there. What's more, I already know that with Jake there's something missing. We don't have the chemistry or the fire that was always burning under the surface with Jasper.

What I do get with Jake though is an equal. Someone who is happy and proud to be with me in public, hold my hand, go on occasional dates, or even kiss in public. Someone who introduces me to his friends. Someone who wants to be with me. Despite this, I still keep Jake at arms length.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jake and I are attending a banquet that closes out a week-long trade conference that most of the people in my office have been attending. Jake agreed to come as my date so I don't have to be alone. NCC has representatives who will be attending as well. "My ex is going to be there tonight," I tell Jake in the car on the way to the banquet. "It'll be the first time I've seen him since I left my last job."

"You worked together?"

"Uhh… yeah, he was kind of my boss's boss. We were together for almost two years, but no one knew – mostly because the whole employer-employee relationship thing is generally frowned upon." I don't want to go into the real reason he kept things quiet.

"Sure, sure. So is that why you guys broke up?"

"Not really, though it probably played a bigger part than I want to admit. I told him…" I trail off because I feel the emotions welling up and I don't want to be like this with Jake. He doesn't deserve my sadness when he has been nothing but light.

Fortunately he doesn't press for more information.

S | S

After the cocktail hour and once everyone is seated, I see Jasper. He is only two tables from ours, seated with other NCC folks, including two other VPs, Rosalie and Emmett. He is in my direct line of sight. I see him and tense, and then he looks up and our eyes lock.

Jake's hand is on the small of my back, so he feels my tension immediately. His arm moves around my shoulders and he gives me a light squeeze before whispering "It's okay." And this small gesture makes all the difference in the world because Jake doesn't even think twice about being in public with me.

"Edward."

I close my eyes momentarily and steel myself before standing and turning around.

"Mr. Whitlock, I'd like you to meet my date, Jacob. Jake, this is my old boss at NCC, Jasper Whitlock."

Only after I have completed the unnecessarily-formal introduction do I look Jasper in the eye. He looks tired, but there is a spark behind his gaze. God, I've missed that spark.

Fuck, I can't do this.

"I need a minute," I say to Jake, before practically sprinting out of the banquet hall.

"Edward. Wait!"

I don't.

"Edward!"

A hand wraps around my bicep and spins me around. Those eyes and their spark nearly paralyze me, and suddenly I don't have the energy to fight this.

"What Jasper?" I hear the defeated tone in my own voice.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing, I'm just… nothing. What do you need?"

"You."

"Excuse me?"

His hand moves from my bicep to my hand, and then he's holding my one hand in both of his up against his chest. I feel the heat that I have missed so much, and my heart no longer hurts. The hole in my chest is gone.

"You told me that you needed to be with someone who needed you. I'm so sorry I didn't or couldn't realize it at the time, but I do need you. I need you, Edward, and I miss you so much. I don't blame you for leaving; I treated you horribly. I kept expecting you to change your mind or want to be with someone your own age that I didn't let myself appreciate you or let myself acknowledge what I felt."

"What are you saying?"

"I want you back in my life, Edward. I need you. The fact that you knew I loved you shocked me. I just didn't know how to handle it because I hadn't acknowledged it myself."

"I- I can't do this," I shake my head and pull my hand away from his. "I can't be your secret again. Jake wants me in the day, and in front of other people. I can't go back to being your nights and weekends secret. I just…I can't."

Walking back into the banquet hall, I grab Jake and practically drag him over to the NCC table. I quickly introduce him to Rose and Emmett, then turn to leave. But when we do, Jasper is right there, inches away, a determined look on his face. He glances over my shoulder at the full table behind me, but doesn't hesitate.

"Edward, please. You didn't give me enough time to explain. I don't just want you on nights and weekends. I want you all the time. Everywhere. Do you remember what I said over spring break? I said that I was waiting for the right man. I was so blinded by age that I didn't realize it soon enough, but you are the right man.

"I was a fucking fool to let you leave, for not telling you how I felt. How I still feel. I love you Edward. I can't tell you how sorry I am that it took your leaving me to figure it out. And I understand it if you don't love me anymore, but you deserved to know you were right all along. It was always me that I didn't trust, not you. I didn't trust my own judgment and I pushed that onto you."

I don't know what to focus on… the fact that he's apologizing, the fact that he says he loves me, or, as I've suddenly realized, the fact that he's said all of this in front of Emmett, Rosalie, and two NCC VPs and their wives.

"Do you really mean it?"

"Every word, Edward. Truly."

"Say it again."

He smiles. Oh how I have missed that smile!

"I love you."

"Do you still…" he trails off and his smile falters.

"I do. Of course, I do. I couldn't just change my mind about that."

The smile is back and then my face is in his beautiful hands, and he's kissing me. God, I missed this. The feel of his lips on mine. His tongue. His taste. I could get lost in him.

A confused "Can someone please tell me what is going on here?" makes us break apart. Jasper's smile is radiant, and I'm sure mine matches. I hear Rose tell Emmett she'll fill him in later.

Suddenly I remember Jake.

"Shit, Jake!" I turn and he's still right beside me. "I'm so sorry!"

He shakes his head and holds up a hand. "Don't apologize, Ed. You have to be with him. Anyone can see that." And then he hugs me, whispering "Call me if you need a friend," before pulling away. His thousand-watt smile lets me know that he is okay.

Jasper takes my hand again and then turns to the table. "Please excuse us for interrupting your dessert, and have a lovely evening. Edward and I are going home now."

One last glance at the table shows Rosalie beaming, surrounded by five people who could not possibly look more confused.

Waiting for the valet outside, Jasper wraps his arms around me, pulling me against his chest and resting his chin on my shoulder, his face pressed against my own.

"I love you, Edward. I really do."

I know we still have a lot to talk about and important issues to deal with, but right now none of it matters. Right now, I'm exactly where I need to be.