Beautiful Bellies Contest

Title: Dandelions & Rainbow Laces

Penname: PrincessxoAmber

Beta: A Jasper For Me

Prompt/Picture used: Picture number 9 and "breaking the news"

Pairing: Jasper and Bella

Genre: Romance, Family

Word Count: 4,749

Rating: Mature

Summary: Jasper and Bella meet in a crazy sort of way. Their relationship is about to change and only one of them knows it. Jasper's off far away and things are changing. When the news reaches him, will he be home in time to enjoy it?

Dandelions & Rainbow Laces

Bella POV:

I walked by the pond I fell so deeply in love with all those months ago and sat down with my notebook and pen. I observed the dandelions spread all around the water's edge and picked a spot to sit down. With my pen and paper ready, I took a deep breath and did something I should have done weeks ago.

Dear Jasper,

I don't know how else to tell you this, except to just come right out with it.

Right before you left, I found out some really great news.

We are going to have a baby…

I pulled away from the piece of paper and just stared at the words. No matter how many times I said them, wrote them, or heard them, the words seemed surreal. I wasn't showing yet, but I knew at any moment I would pop. The baby made with so much love would be visible to everyone around me. I smiled and doodled on the side of Jasper's letter as I remembered the first time I met him.

I made my way from Washington to South Carolina to work for my former college roommate, Charlotte. She and I had clicked from the start. It didn't bother her that she was two years older than me and I was a lowly freshman. We liked the same books and music. Her long time boyfriend took to me faster than he ever had any of her other friends. Peter Whitlock was a ham, he loved to show it up for the ladies, but his eyes never strayed from Charlotte. They were soul mates.

I graduated from the University of Washington with my Literature degree and was still working on my first novel. The only problem was, I don't get paid to think of an idea, so I had to find a job and a place to live. I called Charlotte to rant about a guy at the coffee shop I was working at when she suggested I come to the east coast to work in her bar; I jumped at the opportunity, maybe a change of scenery was just what I needed to spur my creativity. Add the bonus of my best friend and I didn't think I could lose.

Charlotte had a degree in psychology but didn't want to keep going to school. She felt like she gave better advice in a bar and had more fun doing it, so it was no surprise when she opened the bar. Right after graduation she and Peter got married and he joined the army. We didn't understand why he'd waited so long, but he said his brother needed him. I decided it was one of those guy things that I would never understand. I never met the brother he spoke of; he was stationed in Afghanistan at the time and couldn't make it.

I drove my beat up pick up truck from Washington to the bar outside of Fort Bragg. As soon as I walked through the door, Charlotte was hooting and hollering about me finally making it home. I didn't even get to her place to unpack or take a shower before she was shoving me behind the bar. Twenty minutes later, the bar was filled with all kinds of military personnel, and I understood how much an extra pair of hands was needed around here.

As I started delivering drinks to tables a large burly man caught me around the waist and yelled out to his buddies, "Well look-y here fella's, we got us some fresh meat."

"Emmett man, I don't think your wife would like you man handling Char's new help. Plus, I think Char would kill you for hurting this one." A gorgeous blond man called from the other side of the table. "That's Bella, man."

As soon as the words came out of his mouth, the burly man, Emmett, dropped me. I landed on my butt on the floor and was instantly greeted with a hand in my face. "Nice laces." The gorgeous blond man pointed at my rainbow laces.

I shrugged, "I like them. Thanks for helping me up." I stood and dusted the dirt from the floor off my butt. "How did you know who I am?" I asked.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm Jasper, Jasper Whitlock," he offered me his hand again, only this time it was for me to shake.

"Peter's brother?" I asked curiously. Before he could respond, Charlotte called my name and I made my way back behind the bar.

Jasper followed me and removed one of the men sitting at the bar. "So, it's nice to finally meet you." He kept talking.

"What are you doing? I'm working." I tried to sound annoyed, but I was slightly amused. My lips tugged into a small smile and he burst out laughing. I adored the sound, it seemed to warm me from the inside like a rich scotch.

"Jasper!" Charlotte called, "Leave Bella alone, it's only her first night."

He took her advice and backed off for a little while, but when it slowed down again, he took back his position in front of me at the bar. "So you're from Washington?" he asked.

"You already knew that." I gave him a look as I wiped down the bar.

"Do you want to dance?" He tried again.

"Are you trying to pick me up?" I giggled as his face fell.

"Um, well, you see…" He trailed off and my giggles turned into cackles. "It's not that funny. Pete just thought we'd be a good match, and I thought you were hot and…"

"I'd like a dance." Jasper's face brightened up immediately.

The moment he touched me I felt like I was on fire. His hands wrapped around my waist caused butterflies to fill my stomach and I ached to have him closer. The chemistry we had was something I'd never felt before.

That night he went home with me. Luckily, Charlotte had found me a small apartment close to the bar, and it was ready for me to move into. When we made it to my apartment words were forgotten and actions ensued.

It was harder to get him out of his uniform than it was to get me out of my jeans. The kisses were frequent and anywhere we could reach. We were constantly touching, feeling, drinking each other in. The feelings I was having were scary, and unwelcomed, but very enjoyable.

When Jasper thrust into me that first time, I thought I would die. I felt so complete and so full. The noises we made, the words we screamed, egged us on further. When we both reached the release we were fighting for and laid in my bed after, I looked up at him with a sad face and said, "I don't usually do this."

"Me either," he replied, rubbing a hand down my arm as we laid facing each other, our eyes locked.

"Is this just for tonight?" I asked.

"Maybe," he replied, kissing my nose, then softly on my lips.

"Yeah, maybe." I nudged him with my hand so he was on his back and straddled his lap. I felt him harden underneath me and slip inside of me once again.

I was going to drink in as much of him as I could if it was only going to last one night. We spent the rest of the night lost in the feeling of each other. When the morning light came in, Jasper sighed. "I have to go, they check to make sure we're all there in the morning. Roll call."

"Okay, well you know where I'll be if you want to find me," I said in a blasé attitude.

"Bella, don't do this. I'll see you again…and soon." He kissed me one last time before running out the door. I just laughed and cuddled the pillow he laid with, savoring the smell of him

I stared at the letter as well as the picture I was holding in my hand. There wasn't much to see, but I knew it was there. Our baby. In the corner it already had my name and the date on it, so I enclosed it in my letter as I finished writing it.

I left the pond andmade my way back to the bar. Charlotte was waiting for me with a gallon of ice cream. "How's your letter, Sugar?"

"It was fine. Do you think he'll get it?" I asked, still not understanding how all this worked. I couldn't seem to wrap my head around how all this communication while deployed worked, because it didn't seem like a good system. I knew he was in some deep secret mission, but that didn't mean he should be cut off from his home, right?

"I don't know, Bella. Jazz is pretty special around here, no one will really say much about his assignment." She looked at me apologetically.

"Do you think he'll hate me?" I asked, picking up the ice cream and taking a bite.

"No Bella, he loves you. More than anything, he loves you. Remember that." She patted my hand and made her way behind the bar as I took up occupancy of one of the tables.

We didn't say much after that. Before I knew it, three months had passed and the doctors were ready to tell me the sex of the baby. I refused their offer, telling them when Jasper could know was when I would find out. She eyed me suspiciously, probably questioning my mental health, but it made sense to me.

I wrote Jasper at least twice a week, and I always went out to the pond as if it somehow brought me closer to him. I didn't know what to say, so I'd tell him how much I loved him and how I couldn't wait for him to be home, the usual stuff. Then sometimes I'd write about how sad I was without him and how I was angry with him for leaving. I sometimes hoped he didn't get those letters because I didn't want him to be hurting.

Each time I went back to the pond I was sure to have my rainbow laced converses on, and sat in the same spot every time, the more pregnant I became, the more I was sure I was going to leave a dent in the ground. I took my pen and paper out once again and started to write.

Dear Jasper,

I find myself out by this pond every time I write you.

I always wear these converses, you know those

one's from the first night? I'll wear them as long as they fit.

Anyway, I catch myself wondering if you even get these letters

or if you are out there all alone in the desert. I saw the baby today…..

Jasper didn't show up at the bar for almost a week after that first night. I'd watch the door every time I worked, and with each ring of the bells hanging there, my heart would break a little when I realized it wasn't Jasper coming through the door. Each night the soldiers kept coming in and the money rolled in. I went home after my shift and worked on my book, but I didn't do much of anything else. Charlotte eyed me curiously, but I would just shake my head in her direction and she'd back off.

The night Jasper finally came back, he sat in front of me the whole night trying to talk to me. I ignored his advances for almost three hours and thought he given up and left. Unfortunately, when I went to leave, he was leaning against my truck.

"I have to talk to you, Bella." He pushed off of my truck and stood in front of me.

I didn't know what to say, so I just stared at him. No words came out, no part of my body moved. I just waited to see what else he had to say.

"Look, there are things I can't tell you right now. Things that go along with my job are secret. Do you understand?" He spoke softly and brushed a piece of hair behind my ear.

I just nodded, but still didn't speak.

"I wanted to see you. God, did I want to see you. I wanted to call you, anything to hear your voice. Please, will you give me another chance?" His voice dripped with desperation.

Again I didn't answer him, I moved around him and climbed into my truck. Jasper's face fell and he nodded his head stepping away from my truck.

My voice came back and I called out into the night, "Do you want to come home with me?"

Jasper jumped and ran around to the passenger side of my truck, climbed in and grabbed my face, planting a soft kiss on my lips. "Thank you."

We went home that night and we didn't make love, we talked. He told me all the things he could about his job, which wasn't much. He asked every possible question about my life he could think of.

The next night, Jasper asked me to go somewhere special with him. I agreed without hesitation and I wondered idly what this man was doing to me. Jasper drove my truck to a small field full of dandelions and a pond in the middle of it.

Jasper had packed a picnic and we sat around the lake. After we ate, he grabbed some of the dandelions from the ground and hand one to me. "Make a wish, Bella."

I giggled at him and said, "Jazz, these aren't the flowers you blow for a wish."

"Humor me." He brought his mouth closer to mine and brought the flower near my lips.

"I wish you would kiss me," I breathed out.

Our lips met in a heated dance. My hands reached up, wishing he had more hair for me to play with. His hands laced into my curls and he pulled me flush against his body. We spent the rest of the afternoon lost in the feel of each other, never pushing past what was appropriate for being in public.

The drive home was spent in an awkward silence. I wanted to know what he was thinking. He just kept staring at me. I drove us to the bar, since I had to work. He was going to hang out with Peter, still nothing was said.

I thought for sure I had blown any chance I had with him, but as the hours passed, I found Jasper in that same spot in front of me at the bar.

"I was thinking we could go to the fair next weekend." Jasper spoke up finally, a touch of nervousness I hadn't seen out of him before.

My head shot up from the drink I was making and I nearly dropped the glass. My eyes must have been the size of saucers because Jasper had a small smirk on his face. "Together?" I asked.

"That's what 'we' means, right?" He asked.

"I'd like that," I replied.

We went to the fair that weekend and Jasper tried to win me a prize at each and every game possible. I swear he spent almost a hundred dollars just to win me something to remind me of him. We shared funnel cake, rode the Ferris wheel, and Jasper insisted we go through the tunnel of love. It was the perfect date and I knew that night I had fallen in love with him.

Jasper was busy, but we spent a good amount of time together. Some nights we would never leave the bed and others we would settle in front of the television watching funny movies. We joined in on family nights at the Whitlock house on Sundays and it seemed like everything was going fine. Things were the picture of perfection; until that night he came back to my house with a look of terror on his face.

Just like that, three more months passed and I was almost seven months pregnant. I still hadn't heard from Jasper and it drove me nuts. I wanted him to know what was going on with me, with us.

On the anniversary of the day we met, I went to the bar and checked in. Peter looked me over and said things were going to be fine, just like he always did when he saw me. Charlotte just made me a small sandwich and said to make sure I ate. She knew what this day was doing to me, so she was sympathetic.

I waddled through the field and sat near the pond in my usual spot. I pulled out the pen and paper I always carried with me in case I thought of something I needed to tell Jasper. Many letters have been sent with to do lists for things I needed him to do when he got home. Some were stupid, like hang up a picture on my wall or clear the bathroom of spiders. Others were more detailed; things I wanted him to do to my body when he got home, and when I got back to my normal self.

I twirled the rings on my finger and began to write….

Dear Jasper,

Remember that fight we had about getting married?

You said we needed to be because you didn't want anyone

else to deliver the news if something happened to you. I thought

it was stupid to get married. We'd only known each other for

three months, but when you said you were being deployed, that all changed.

Today is the anniversary of the day we met, and I'd give anything to have you

here with me, holding me, kissing me….

"I'm sorry, Bella," his voice cracked as he spoke.

"What is it, Jazz?" I walked toward him and wrapped my arms around his waist. I could hear his heart pounding through his chest, going a million miles an hour.

"Marry me, Bella, please?" He announced like it was the most rational decision ever.

"Jazz?" I questioned, "What's going on?"

"I just, I don't want you to have to wait and find out if something happens to me. I want you to be the first one to know. Even before Peter." The conviction in his eyes proved just how serious he was about this whole mess.

"Jasper, I'm not marrying you because you are a soldier and you might get hurt," I tried to keep going but he cut me off.

"Killed, Bella. I could get killed, and you wouldn't ever know. Do you want that?" He angrily withdrew his body from me and I was positive something else was going on.

"Jazz, tell me what's going on, please?" I asked, regaining my position of holding him to me so he couldn't leave.

"I'm being deployed Bella, in less than a week." His head dropped to my shoulder and he sobbed. I'd never seen him cry, let alone sob, and it scared me how upset he was.

"Yes," I whispered.

Jasper's head snapped up and he looked me in the eyes observing them. "Yes?"

"Yes, I'll marry you. Today, tomorrow, yesterday," I admitted.

I was swooped up and spun around, suddenly the nausea was overwhelming. We made love that night and went first thing in the morning to get married. Peter and Charlotte were the only ones in attendance; we didn't need a big show.

Charlotte wanted to be sure I was doing this because I was in love with him, and not only because he was being deployed. I assured her I was fully in love with Jasper and I don't think any other man could ever compare to him. If I was honest with myself, I fell in love with Jasper that first night. I was scared to see him leave. Afraid he would never come back to me, or share my bed with me.

I wore a white summer dress and Jasper wore his uniform as we became husband and wife. I clung to him for the next five days. I'd wait for him to come home from whatever it was he did on base. I would cook him his favorite meals, because I knew it would be a while until he got a home cooked meal again. I was crazy about making sure he had everything he needed to take with him.

The morning before he left was when I realized my period was late. I ran to Charlotte and took five of those at home pregnancy tests. Each came back positive, but I couldn't say the words out loud.

I wanted to tell Jasper more than anything. I wanted him to know when he came home we would have a family that included a little baby. On the other hand, I didn't want his mind focused on us instead of taking care of himself and have him end up getting hurt.

When he left, I finally said the words to his retreating form. They were too quiet to be heard by anyone, but still they were said. I didn't even make it to the car when I was swooped up into Peter's arms. He was discharged because of an injury only two weeks before. He held me as close as he could with his shoulder still in the sling. He took me to his and Charlotte's house. I couldn't go home to my apartment, and smell Jasper there and not see him walk through the door for months.

Peter made me spill everything to him and he suggested I start writing the letters.

I finished up what I had deemed my anniversary letter. It told of how much I missed him and how much I loved him. I begged him not to leave me all alone in this world with a son or daughter he didn't even know existed. The letter was covered with tear stains and I knew I should have just rewritten it because as soon as Jasper saw it, it was going to break his heart.

I made my way home, by-passing the bar. I didn't want to be there tonight. Too many memories and too many tears would flow through me if I was there. I went home, started some dinner and went to take a shower. When I reemerged from the shower, I grabbed one of Jasper's t-shirts like I always did and threw it on. The length he needed for his longer torso, covered my expanding belly and I was happy to feel closer to him.

I watched some reruns of some cop and lawyer show, not really even getting what was going on. When I thought it was an acceptable time for a twenty something year old woman to go to bed, I practically ran there. I snuggled against my pillows getting into the only position I was ever comfortable in, and willed myself to sleep trying to convince myself the pillows I was snuggled into were the arms of my love.

I woke up to find a pair of familiar hands wrapped around my belly. "Jasper?" I whispered into the morning hoping it wasn't a dream.

"Hey there, Mrs. Whitlock seems you've been keeping secrets." Jasper rubbed my belly again and I rolled over as fast as a very pregnant woman could.

"You're here and real?" I poked his face to make sure he truly was in bed with me.

"As real as that bump you're sporting," he chuckled.

"I wanted to tell you," I swore with tears rolling down my face.

"I know, Sweetheart." He wiped the tears with the heels of his hands and kissed my nose sweetly.

"Do you hate me?" I needed to know.

"No, I think I love you even more, if that's possible." He looked down at my bump and spoke again. "So are we expecting a son or a daughter?"

"I don't know yet. I wanted to wait and find out when you could. It didn't seem fair to know when you couldn't." I eyed him curiously and asked, "Didn't you get any of my letters?"

"No, Bella. I'm sure I'll get them when I check in on base tomorrow." He held me as close as he could with our baby in between us.

"Back to base? Oh, okay." I sighed and grabbed the dog tags from the inside of his shirt. I traced over his name on them.

"When's your next appointment?" He asked, attempting to distract me from him having to leave me for however long.

"In two days, why?" How long are you staying?" I asked excitedly, hoping that he could be here at least until the baby was born.

"For a while, Sweetheart, a good while," he spoke softly and then moved down to my belly. "Hey baby, I'm your daddy."

We spent the rest of the day in bed. We talked about the names we liked for the baby and decided on one for a boy and one for a girl. Peter called in the afternoon saying he had to make sure there weren't any holes anywhere in his brother. Of course, I started to cry when he said it, because I hadn't even thought of that, but Jasper assured me he was fine.

We went to my appointment together. Jasper was as giddy as a kid on Christmas and I couldn't blame him. He'd felt the baby move, and spoken to him or her throughout the night when he couldn't sleep. He thought I didn't hear him, but he was always whispering his love for the both of us and promising the many things he wanted to do with us.

The doctor set up the ultrasound machine and looked at me, smiled, and said, "I take it you want to know the sex now?"

Jasper's face lit up and nodded his head quickly, while I whispered a quiet 'yes'. She moved around, taking measurements and checking to make sure everything was okay first. Jasper's grip on my hand got tighter and tighter the more she looked. She finally got to where she could see the baby's sex and announced, "It's a boy."

I felt the tears hit my cheeks and I saw Jasper smile widely, "A son Bella, you're giving me a son." Then he leaned down over my belly and whispered, "Jaxen Peter, I can't wait to meet you."

There was a big celebration at the bar. It was kind of a welcome home, baby shower, and wedding reception all rolled into one. Jasper's friends and fellow soldiers were all in attendance. He bragged to anyone who would listen about his son. He explained how a private named Adam Jackson had saved him while he was in Iraq. Adam died in a blast, so he thought it would be special to name his son after someone who saved his life. I whole heartily agreed, but decided to change the spelling. Peter was an easy pick, after Jasper's brother, and it rolled off the tongue well with Jaxen.

Peter was honored, as were Jasper's soldier buddies. They'd seen what happened and thought it was a good way to remember the private. Jasper ended up totally smashed at the party and had to be carried home by Peter. I couldn't even be angry, he needed to unwind all that energy he had rolling around in him.

The next day he went to base and retrieved all of his letters from me. He also yelled at the people there, who I assumed were not his superiors, for hiding such pertinent information from him. He said he spoke to someone from base once a month and he knew someone had to have known, but they didn't share the information.

Emmett ended up coming into the room to drag Jasper out. I'd never seen Jasper so angry, but I could agree with his feelings. Emmett let him go and told him to cool off for a few days before coming to check in again. We went out to the pond and he read the letters. He smiled at me, clasped our hands together over the baby and opened the first one to read out loud,

Dear Jasper,

I don't know how else to tell you this, except to just come right out with it.

Right before you left, I found out some really great news.

We are going to have a baby….