After a busy but very enjoyable weekend with Edward, I needed to knuckle down and get some work done, especially as the following weekend would be taken up with visiting his parents. I tried not to think about that encounter because every time I did I'd get butterflies fluttering in my stomach. I worried they wouldn't like me and think I wasn't right for their son, or that I would clam up when they spoke to me and I make a right fool of myself in front of them.
My schedule had changed this week to accommodate an additional session on Friday afternoon. I had an assignment I needed to complete to be handed in at the end of the class. Edward and I agreed not to see each other in the evenings so we could both catch up on unfinished work and possibly get ahead with our studying. It was going to be a tough week because we'd spent so much time in each other's company recently. I was relieved we thought the same about this. I didn't want him to think I was trying to avoid him.
We agreed to meet up at college each day for lunch or for coffee when we were both free and made the most of any time we spent together. We held hands and sat closely as we talked, and we always kissed each other when we parted. I was glad we were out and proud now in college and that people around us seemed to accept we were together.
On Thursday, I'd just left Edward's side and was walking to meet Emmett so we could go to our final class together, when I saw a large group of students huddled around four guys in some sort of confrontation. It didn't take me long to realize it was Riley who was in the center of it all. His eyes were wide and his teeth were bared in anger. Whatever was going on, he was on the defensive and not about to back down. Some of the onlookers were egging the aggressors on, while others were calling out for the guys to leave him alone but not really doing anything else to help him. Furious, I pushed into the crowd and stood next to Riley.
"What's going on?" I said to him first before gritting my teeth and shooting a look at the three guys facing us.
"He's a faggot." The largest guy, and obvious ringleader, sneered at Riley. "I saw him kissing another dude the other day.
I glanced at Riley, who was practically growling now. "Well, if you're going to beat him up, you'll have me to deal with as well because I have a boyfriend whom I kiss and fuck!" I roared, stepping closer to Riley in an attempt to show my solidarity with him.
"For God's sake, not another queer!" one of the other guys said. "They're crawling out of the woodwork now."
Several people in the crowd protested at this obnoxious remark. Riley took another step forward, and just as I thought a brawl was about to begin, Emmett lunged through the crowd to stand as a barrier in front of us. The sight of his muscled body and the fact that we were now three against three rattled the would-be attackers. The leader grimaced, and muttering obscenities at us, he walked away with his two lackeys in tow.
Emmett put an arm around Riley. "You okay?" he asked, concern etched on his face.
Riley nodded and seemed to melt into Emmett's side. "Come on, we need to get to class. Tell me about it as we walk over there."
"Show's over," I barked at the crowd, who were still gaping at us as we moved away.
After class, the three of us went to the college café. I received a genuine smile from Riley as he passed me the coffee and donut he'd bought me as a thank you. In fact, he appeared a totally different guy. The almost permanent scowl he seemed to wear when I was around had softened and he looked the happiest I'd seen him in a long time. He and Emmett sat close together, the earlier homophobic attack not quelling their PDA in the slightest. "Get a room," I teased when they kissed for more than a few seconds.
"Oops, sorry." Riley smirked at me and then pecked Emmett again on the lips.
"No, you're not," Emmett and I said together.
When Emmett went to the bathroom, Riley turned towards me, seriously now. "Thanks for standing with me earlier, Jas." He smiled a little nervously. "Don't know what would have happened if you weren't there to back me up."
I shuddered. If I'd gone to class via a different route, I could be sitting by his hospital bed right now, with Emmett possibly going after these three guys for revenge, perhaps with Edward to back him up. I conjured up dreadful scenarios and what ifs. Life for a gay guy would never be easy when ignorant bullies like that still existed.
Feeling a firm hand on my shoulder, I tensed.
"Hey, babe," Edward said and kissed me on the top of my head. I looked at my beautiful boyfriend and smiled back at him. "You two look a little cozy here together. Where's Emmett?" he asked.
Just as he finished speaking, Emmett returned and sat down next to Riley again. "Hey, bro," he said, giving Edward a high five.
Edward placed himself by my side, taking my hand, and Emmett proceeded to tell him all about our confrontation earlier. He looked concerned, not just for me, but for all three of us. "It's a good job we're here to support each other," Edward said when Emmett had finished speaking. "I hope you reported this." Riley said he had while Emmett and I were in class and the matter was being dealt with.
When I said I needed to leave to complete my assignment for the following day, Edward was reluctant to let go of my hand. "We'll be together all weekend," I reminded him quietly.
Emmett and Riley suddenly became engrossed in each other as I said goodbye to Edward.
He kissed me gently on the lips and stroked my cheek when I pulled away. "I'll be waiting in the parking lot so we can leave immediately after your class tomorrow."
I kissed him again. "Text me later, Ed."
"Don't doubt it, sweetie." He winked at me and smiled, making my knees weaken and my resolve to study crumble.
"Bye, Jay," Emmett and Riley called as I headed towards the door with a rapidly growing bulge in my jeans. God damn it. Being with Edward meant an almost permanent erection.
"Bye, all. See you tomorrow."
Despite having to jerk off before settling down to complete my assignment, I finally finished it around eleven o'clock, just as Edward sent me a text.
All done for the night. Have you finished yet?
I quickly replied. Yep! At last!
Missing you. Can't wait until the weekend.
Looking forward to it.
Me too. Sleep well, babe xx
Night. Love you xxx
I was itching to call Edward to speak to him, but we'd agreed to keep it to a short text each night, otherwise we'd end up chatting for hours and lose our much-needed sleep.
Five o'clock on Friday afternoon couldn't come quickly enough for me. The day and classes dragged on, making the week stretch out endlessly. I was nervous about meeting Edward's parents, but couldn't wait to spend time alone with him. I'd missed him despite the distraction of having my nose stuck in a book at any given opportunity. I'd have skipped the last class if I didn't have to hand in my assignment. The lecturer personally took the paper from us and ticked off our names on a list as we did so. I couldn't even have given it to Emmett to hand in on my behalf.
By the time I was walking across the parking lot heading towards Edward's Volvo, I was itching to throw my arms around him and hold him tightly. I wanted to do a lot more than that, but we were in a public place. I spotted Sam first standing by the car waiting with Edward. As I approached them, Edward skipped forward, and scooping me under the armpits, he spun me around, giggling. Sam tutted when we kissed, and then gave an exaggerated cough before we got the hint and pulled apart.
"We'd better go now," Edward whispered in my ear. "I'll say hello properly later."
The three of us climbed into the car, with Sam taking the back seat. He was sharing the journey with us, as he was spending the weekend with Embry, who lived close to Edward's parents.
We all chatted about our week for the first half an hour before Sam eased in his earplugs to his ipod and let his head fall back on the seat. I'm certain he was tactfully giving the two of us time to talk privately.
By the time we arrived, it was dark and Sam was softly snoring in the back. The car pulling to a halt outside Embry's house woke him up. After thanking us and bidding us goodnight, we agreed to join him at the gig Embry and his band were playing at the following evening.
Embry came rushing out of his house before Edward had the chance to pull away. He practically threw himself into Sam's arms, and we coughed and tutted then laughed while they kissed each other in greeting. I loved seeing them together like this. It confirmed once again that I didn't have to fear Sam was still pining for Edward. This is where his heart lay for sure.
"Thanks, guys. See you tomorrow?" Embry asked, bending down to peer at us.
I was already looking forward to it. "Can't wait to hear you sing and play on stage."
As we drove to Edward's house, my hands became clammy and my pulse increased, so by the time we pulled into his driveway, my heart was thumping in my chest. I ran my fingers through my hair, checking I looked okay in the vanity mirror.
"You look fine, honey," Edward assured me, taking hold of my hand. "Just be yourself. They will love you."
We hadn't even made it to the front door before it opened and there stood two figures silhouetted by the light shining behind them from the hallway. I could see in the periphery of my vision that the house was more like a modern mansion, made of timber and huge panes of glass. It screamed money at me. Quickly, my focus returned to the two humans as they stepped forward to greet us.
"Darling," his mother said as she hugged her son. She released him and hugged me just as enthusiastically. "Jasper, so pleased to meet you," she said after she had kissed my cheeks several times.
"This is my mother," Edward said a little belatedly, "and my father. This is Jasper, my boyfriend." As if we didn't know. Deep down, I thought he was nervous as well.
"Esme and Carlisle, if you will," his father said and offered me his hand to shake. "Pleased to meet you, Jasper."
We were ushered into the house and directed towards a magnificent kitchen that could have been a set in a designer magazine. "Wow! This is truly wonderful," I declared, taking in the size and quality of workmanship of this massive room. Grabbing me by the hand, Edward pulled me to a cozier seated area overlooking the floodlit garden. There was already a tray on the coffee table holding glass tumblers and a jug of iced soda, along with a plate of covered sandwiches. Esme poured us all a drink while Carlisle passed the sandwich platter around. I nervously tucked in and knocked back my drink, while Edward and his parents talked about Emmett.
Carlisle and Esme seemed to go out of their way to make we feel welcome and put me at ease. There were no obtrusive questions, the conversation flowing delightfully from the outset. Before long, both Edward and I had relaxed enough for Edward to drape his arm across my shoulder and I played absent-mindedly with his fingers. His parents didn't even flinch.
Later, when we made our way upstairs at bedtime, I wondered if I'd be put in some opulent suite at the other end of the house to Edward.
"This is my room," Edward said as we stood in the doorway of the biggest bedroom I'd ever seen.
"Very nice," was all I said as my eyes darted around the room.
I expected him to show me to my room next, but instead Edward walked in and dropped his bag on the bed. "Which side would you like to sleep?" he said with a grin.
"What?" I whispered. "I don't want to upset your parents."
Edward laughed heartily as he unzipped his bag and started taking out his clothes. "They know you'll be sleeping in here with me and they're perfectly okay with it. So don't worry your little cotton socks, sweetie."
I wanted to object, especially as I'd have to face them at breakfast the following morning. Sure, they probably already knew we were having sex at college, but still, them knowing we were together in their house had me more than a little embarrassed.
All thoughts of objecting vanished, however, as Edward pulled me onto the bed and slid down my body, unzipping my pants before I could even attempt to offer any resistance. And by the time my cock was in his mouth, I really didn't mind where I would be sleeping. The idea of spending two nights in this massive bed with Edward doing wonderful things to me and making me forget my own name, had me coming in no time at all.
Breakfast the following morning with Esme and Carlisle was nowhere near as awkward as I had imagined it would be. Edward and I were ravenous after making love into the early hours of the morning, albeit very quietly. Even though his parents' bedroom was some way from his, Edward had taken me slowly, trying to avoid making the bed squeak and whispering lovingly into my ear as he came. We'd held each other and talked before making love again, finally falling asleep when we were well and truly sated. We woke early, still in each other's arms, only to start all over again. We'd endured four nights of abstinence, and being in Edward's family home did little to quell our ardor.
Stepping out of the wet room shower, my cheeks were still flushed with color as I caught sight of myself in the mirror, and I didn't think it had anything to do with the hot water. My cheeks reddened again when Esme asked if I'd slept well. I nodded and thanked her without looking her in the eye. Thankfully, Edward and Carlisle quickly moved the conversation on. "So, how are all your housemates then, Edward? Are they keeping the place tidy?"
Edward grumbled about their slovenly ways, but his parents knew he was a perfectionist, so took it all in good heart. "At least you have the gardener and cleaner dropping by weekly. I think that was a wise decision to protect our investment."
I gave Edward a puzzled look. Edward filled in the details of something I didn't know. "We bought the house as a family investment. When we finish college, we will continue to rent it to students, and when we sell it in about twenty or thirty years time, we'll hopefully have made a handsome profit."
I'd wondered how a group of students could afford such a luxurious place. I might have known his parents had funded it for them all. Edward and I had hardly talked about our finances, perhaps that was something we needed to do. I didn't want him to think I was with him for his money, although he probably knew that already.
Edward and I offered to clear away the breakfast things, but Esme shooed us out of the kitchen, saying it wouldn't take her long and we were to enjoy ourselves.
Edward took me on a full tour of his house. I was sure I looked dazed for most of it. This family had some serious wealth behind them. It wasn't until I saw the indoor swimming pool that my jaw finally dropped.
We spent the morning swimming in the large pool, popping in and out of the hot tub and sauna, or sitting on the loungers by the poolside to cool off. By lunchtime, I was well and truly relaxed and ravenous. We ate a sumptuous meal in the kitchen with Esme and Carlisle after we had showered again. She really was an excellent cook. I could see where Edward got his talent from.
"I was thinking of taking Jasper down to the beach for breakfast tomorrow morning, if that's okay?" Edward asked Esme. "If you could pack us up with a basket of food and flasks of coffee and orange juice, that would be good."
"Of course, my dear." Esme smiled at her son. "It's really beautiful around the cove early in the morning, Jasper. You'll love it," she said, looking at me sweetly. She was going to make an awesome mother-in-law one day. In fact, both of Edward's parents were amazing. I loved them already.
"So, Jasper, what do you intend to do once you graduate?" Carlisle asked.
I hoped he was being polite, rather than checking out the potential career of his son's would-be husband. "I haven't decided for sure yet, but history is my passion, so I'd like to pursue that as a career, perhaps branching out into archaeology. I'd like to do something active rather than being stuck in a classroom teaching the subject. I'm certain that would kill it for me."
Edward took my hand and brought it to his lips. "My very own Indiana Jones." Affection oozed from him as he spoke and I wondered what he was picturing in his mind.
"Why don't you take Jasper up to the old settlement at Hansbury. I'm sure he'd be fascinated with its history," Carlisle suggested, looking at his son. "You'll be fine, Edward."
I was a little baffled by Carlisle's last remark, but Edward nodded and smiled at his father. "Yes, I was thinking of showing him my meadow. I need to go back there, and being with Jasper will help. I forgot about the historical connection."
Recalling Edward mentioning his special meadow before, I was eager to see this place for myself.
As we drove along the track leading through an avenue of old oak trees and into a wooded area, Edward reminded me this was the place where he had been attacked several years ago.
We parked up by a small café and made our way along a narrow dirt path. The few other people we saw headed towards the wider trails that led in a different direction. We steadily climbed the shady track, stepping over fallen branches and pushing aside overgrown shrubs until we finally stepped out into a wide, open space. The late autumn sunlight dazzled us at first. The sprinkling of tiny white flowers within the grass gave the appearance of a light covering of snow. It truly was a special place.
"Oh, this is magical." I gasped at the awesome view before me.
Edward's fingers slipped into mine. "My meadow," he said quietly, his eyes glistening with moisture.
"Oh, babe," I said as I took him in my arms and held him tightly. "I'm here and I promise I won't ever let you go."
"I know, I know," he said, rocking me and squeezing me so hard the air in my lungs left in a loud puff. "I'm with you and those beasts aren't going to ruin the rest of my life. It's time to move on."
When we pulled apart, we continued to wander hand in hand through the meadow making a circuit, ending back where we started. Taking off his jacket, Edward sat down and pulled me with him. He swallowed hard. "This was once a settlement many years ago. Where that ring of trees is used to be a wooden fence to protect the villagers. Can you imagine groups of wooden huts here?"
I pictured what Edward described as he told me more of the history of the area and how Sam, Seth and Jake were descendants of these people. It was fascinating and left me wondering if I could research the history further in the future.
He talked candidly about his boyhood before the attack and the happy times he used to spend here. "One day soon, I want us to come here and for you to make love to me, Jasper." His eyes gleamed as he spoke. "I want to forget them."
"Whenever you feel ready," I said. "There's no rush." I pulled him closer to me and we sat in the sunshine sharing his magical place.
"You don't know how happy you've made me, Jas. I love you so much," he said eventually.
I kissed him after telling him how much he meant to me.
Deciding to return to Edward's car via a different route, we took a path down the other side of the natural mound.
At the bottom of the hill, there was a wide gulley to collect excess rainwater with a wooden bridge crossing over it. It looked new, being made of strong planks and crossbars. Feeling adventurous all of a sudden, I jumped up and balanced on one of the wide, wooden handrails as if I were a gymnast on a beam. Edward, with a flourish, joined me. Recollecting a similar moment from Dirty Dancing, we started singing and dancing, teasing each other as we twisted and balanced precariously. Showing off, I jumped and landed as if I had just performed an Olympic somersault. Edward actually did a backward flip and made me squeal with fear and excitement. Laughing, we jumped back up again and spent the next twenty minutes gaining in confidence until I managed to somersault off the beam to cheers and praise from Edward. We had a fun time, clapping and jumping for joy after each successful move, Edward's brutal attack not being mentioned again all afternoon.
Feeling exhilarated from our afternoon's exertions, we flopped on Edward's bed when we got back. The aroma of something spicy and delicious cooking in the oven made me feel hungry. Esme and Carlisle had popped out to visit nearby friends, so we were alone in the house for now. We spent time kissing and rubbing against each other, but feeling weary, we ended up cuddling and falling asleep in each other's arms for half an hour.
When we awoke, we showered and changed for our evening out at the pub. Edward, as always, looked fabulous. "Casual but expensive," he joked, but I now realized that was probably true. Dark, dusky pink jeans topped with a plain white, tight-fitting t-shirt seemed a little understated compared to some of his other outfits, but he looked sexy as hell, and oh, so desirable. Luckily, Esme called us down for our evening meal otherwise I would have pounced on him again.
"You look nice, Jasper dear," she said as we entered the dining room. It was kind of Esme to say so, but we all knew Edward was the looker here.
"You really do, Jasper." Edward confirmed with a kiss and pulled at my top. "I'll have to borrow this t-shirt some time. I love it." And he winked at me, making my knees weaken and my balls tighten.
I sat for most of the meal trying to ignore my throbbing erection and glad I'd worn slightly looser fitting jeans. It was going to be a long night if this was the effect Edward was having on me already. I wondered how long my lust and passion would continue for him, not believing for one moment it would ever fade or die.
Sam and Embry drove by to pick us up on the way to the local pub. Edward had told me earlier it wasn't a gay bar and that there was usually a mix of people in age as well as sexual orientation, all friendly and welcoming. Music was blaring out of the open door and windows as we pulled up. It seemed a popular place, the parking lot already full. Sam managed to grab the last space, beating another driver to it by seconds.
"What time are you guys playing?" Edward asked Embry.
"We've got the nine o'clock slot. We've been booked for two hours, with a fifteen-minute break in the middle."
Pushing through the throng of people, we made it to the bar and ordered our drinks. We stood talking, or rather shouting at each other, over the noise of the band already on stage. I hoped Embry's band would play more my sort of music. I looked around me. Edward was right. The place was filled with a mix of young and old, male and female. It was quite dark and rustic inside, with large solid tables and benches dotted around a small dance floor, and a slightly elevated stage behind it.
A young guy baring a grimace on his face approached Embry and tapped him roughly on the shoulder. Embry greeted him with a worried look, which worsened after the guy shouted something in his ear.
"Fuck it," Embry spat and Sam stepped closer to him.
"Brett, our keyboard player, has gone down with some sort of stomach bug. He's not coming tonight." Embry looked disappointed as well as anxious. "What the hell are we going to do now?"
Sam and Embry gaped at the other guy as they discussed their options. "We'll just have to cancel," he said finally.
"Edward can play the keyboard," I blurted out before I could think. "He'd be able to back you, I'm sure."
All three guys looked hopefully at him.
"We've never played together," Edward objected, but I could tell by the gleam in his eyes that he'd love to help them out.
"If we explain, the audience will understand, Edward," Sam encouraged him.
Embry nodded and spent the next few minutes persuading Edward it would be fine. "You're a better keyboard player than Brett anyhow," he said, beaming with enthusiasm now.
Once Edward agreed, they spent time talking over the routine and songs Edward could play. They didn't have any sheet music, but we all knew Edward wouldn't need it. He was talented enough and would certainly be able to play most things.
By the time they had set up on stage, I was settled on a stool at the far end of the well-lit bar. I had a good view across the heads of the people seated around the tables. Before the band started to play, I was approached by two girls, who had been standing by the bar giving me flirty glances every now and then. They asked my name and where I was from.
When Edward took his place behind the keyboard, he scanned the room looking for me. He found me and smiled. When he saw the two girls hovering next to me, he shook his head slightly and laughed. I laughed back and the girls followed my eyes, looking toward Edward. "Do you know him?" the blonde one asked.
"Yes, he's my boyfriend," I said, trying to keep a straight face. Without even glancing back at them, I knew their jaws had dropped, and within seconds, they had moved on to their next target.
On hearing the word boyfriend, one of the barmen began to take more of an interest. He chatted casually, but from his body signals he was coming on to me. Fortunately, people were still buying drinks, so he didn't get too much time to engage me in conversation. I was too engrossed in watching Edward anyway. His playing was superb and he even backed with vocals. It really sounded great. The audience loved the band and the songs they'd chosen, so much so, that many of them got up and danced in front of the stage. Before the break, Embry announced they'd be doing a few slower numbers and encouraged all the lovebirds to dance along to them.
"Great band," a dark-haired guy now seated next to me commented.
"Yep, fabulous," I agreed.
Unfortunately, he took my response as a come-on and moved his stool nearer to mine. I couldn't believe I'd attracted someone else so quickly.
"Haven't seen you round these parts before." His eyes roamed my body, dwelling far too long on my crotch for my liking. He stank of alcohol and cheap aftershave. Trying my best to ignore him, I focused on Edward as he played and sang. His eyes flitted from mine to the lecherous individual, whose body was gradually getting closer to my side.
When the lights came on to signal the halfway break, Edward's eyes widened and he stormed off the stage. He marched with determination towards me. Even with his hips swaying, Edward looked a force to be reckoned with. I'd come to love jealous, possessive Edward, but didn't really fear for the lecherous guy's safety. He was focused on me rather than that guy.
Without even looking at the would-be interloper, Edward stood between my thighs as I sat on the stool. Wrapping his arms around my shoulders, he kissed me long and hard.
"Mmm… that was thirsty work, babe," he said loudly. I wasn't sure if he was referring to the singing or our kiss. Whatever, he made it perfectly clear that I was his and he was mine. He took a swig of my soda and finally looked at the guy next to us before returning to kiss me again.
Our stance reminded me of our very first kiss in the coffee house. Edward had been standing between my thighs that night, shielding me from James. He pretended we were together to ward him off, just as he was doing tonight. Except this wasn't a pretend kiss. And truth be told, that first kiss wasn't a pretense either.
"You're doing a great job, Edward," I said rather breathlessly, my arms still wrapped around his waist, when he released my lips. "The audience absolutely loved it. You sound amazing together."
Edward beamed. "Embry's asked me to sing a solo in the second half," he said proudly.
"Really?" I was so excited for him. He was in his element.
By the time Edward took his place on the stage again, creepy guy had gone, and the barman and everyone else in the pub had got the message loud and clear. I was with Edward. I doubted if I would be bothered by anyone else for the rest of the evening.
After a couple more popular songs and thanking Edward for helping them out tonight, Embry introduced Edward's solo performance.
There was a hushed quiet as Edward spoke. "I wrote this song a few weeks ago while thinking about the most amazing person in my life." He looked over at me. "We had only just met, but I knew then he was going to be important to me. He means the world to mean now and he always will. I would like to dedicate this song to him."
Even before he started to play, I knew which song it would be. I hadn't heard the completed version yet, but remembered he'd been adding more words to it recently.
"This is our song, Jasper."
Edward's eyes remained focused on me for the entire time. He played the now familiar introduction to the song he had written for me, and as he sang the lyrics, I found it hard to hold back my tears. His words echoed the love he professed for me. They were beautiful, full of genuine emotion and depth. Not that I doubted his feelings, but this song confirmed in my heart that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
When he glanced down to look at the keys, I swiftly wiped away the moisture from my cheeks. When our eyes connected again, he offered me the sweetest smile. His eyes sparkled with happiness as he finished and the crowed clapped and cheered. I don't think there was a dry eye in the whole place. Edward stood to take a dramatic bow and then his right arm extended towards me as if I should receive applause too.
"I love you," he mouthed to me and then blew me a kiss.
I sent my kiss back to him. "I love you too. Always."
Well, that's just about it for my lovely boys, although I've still got the epilogue to write. Thank you for taking the journey with me. Hope it's been a good one.