Fandom Fights Tsunami contribution o/s.
Non-Canon Pairings: Jasper/Bella/AH
Summary: Bella's whole life revolved around one person and time, distance and differences kept them apart. What would it take for them both to realize that none of that mattered and love will always find a way?
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. All recognizable characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
A/N: Huge thanks and love to my beta, Kiva and my pre-readers, Cullen Sistah and AlaskaCindy.
Built My Life Around You
"Bella? Don't just stand there, honey," my mother said, nudging me forward. "Say hello."
Have you ever been able to look back on your life and actually pinpoint the moment that changed your life forever? I have. And not only have I recalled that moment once, but various times throughout my life. It seemed that, whenever my life took a wrong turn or was just too hard to bear, I'd think about how different my existence could have been. I'd fantasize with the possibilities of a life that was filled with absolute love and happiness, and in my imagination, I would create a whole different reality to ease the pain – a life by his side.
I stood, tears silently falling, staring into the empty room that still held the scents of spices and leather and I thought of him again. But this time it was different. This time, I wasn't imagining an illusory future by his side; I was letting myself remember. I wanted to feel the pain of our lost love. I wanted to find the mistakes I had made, along with his; to no longer see it through rose-colored glasses that shaded the reality of his humanity and my foolishness. I had put him on a pedestal for far too long; holding him up above the sea of sharks and predators that had eaten away at my life. I had created him in my mind as a superhero that would swoop down and take me away from the villains. But who could ever live up to those expectations? So I took a step forward into the still room until I reached the window and looked out towards the surrounding landscape and remembered.
I was just like any ordinary 12 year-old girl; I skipped about, thinking I was so mature when, in reality, I was a pubescent pre-teen, overly emotional and klutzy as hell. I had braces on my teeth, frizzy-hair, and I hadn't yet developed the thin waist or boobs that came along with becoming a woman. But I was happy and spent most of my time day-dreaming about Prince Charming, or at least Disney's version of the prince that rescued the princess so they could live happily ever after.
I was a pest to my older brother, Edward, and borderline obnoxious to all his friends that came to visit the house. I wanted to be a part of the gang but to them, I was just the meddlesome little sister.
"Mom!" Edward shouted. "Bella's in my room again!"
"Bella, honey," my mother called from somewhere in the house. "Leave your brother and his friends alone and go play in your room."
I'd always pout and feel left out, but who could blame a 17 year-old boy and his friends for wanting the little sister out of the way? They wanted to talk about girls while they played their video games and I was certainly not invited in to their conversation.
It was over Christmas break that my life changed, never to again return to the innocence of an un-touched heart. It took only one look for me to be altered and never recover. Because, the moment your heart feels the crushing weight of its first love, you will never be the same – that's why they call it a 'crush', after all.
My parents had invited their closest friends, a couple who lived in Texas, to come spend the holidays with us. Dr. Lyle Whitlock and his wife, Caroline, attended college with my parents and they had not seen each other since they moved away from Washington after their son, Jasper, was born.
Mom spoke fondly of Caroline and told stories of being pregnant at the same time as her friend. I didn't really understand what was so funny about them trying to walk into a room at the same time with their bellies in the way or about spending hours watching movies while eating from a tub of ice cream with their feet up, but I loved hearing my mother talk and I could never suppress my own amusement at watching her toss her hair as she threw her head back when a particular memory made her laugh.
My parents could not contain their excitement at having their friends staying with us. My mother made sure the house was impeccable and was meticulous with the decorations; every surface twinkled and sparkled with Christmas cheer. Their enthusiasm was infectious and I was practically vibrating by the time the Whitlock family knocked on our door.
Once all the hugs were done and the tears were wiped away, the adults stepped aside and I found myself staring wide-eyed at the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. He was tall - taller than Edward. Dark hair, which fell almost to his shoulders in soft waves, framed his gorgeous face. His eyes, as green as emeralds, shined in the light and his smile was surrounded by full lips that glistened as if he'd just licked them and were begging to be kissed.
The vibration of excitement that I felt before the door was opened had stilled and I was left motionless. The only sound I could hear was the pounding of my own heart, resonating in my ears. My breath had turned to panting as I stood with my mouth agape, gawking at the boy named Jasper.
"Bella? Don't just stand there, honey," my mother said, nudging me forward. "Say hello."
"Hi," I squeaked, lowering my gaze to stare at my feet.
"Oh, Esme," Caroline gushed, stepping forward to wrap her arms around me in an awkward hug since I held my arms at my side. "She is so big and beautiful."
My mother went on to describe my life in embarrassing detail; my good grades, my lack of coordination, the klutziness that ended my career in ballet and about all the little boys in school that 'liked' me. Her stories amused my father and he felt the need to interject with his joke about having to buy a shotgun to fend off the suitors, which he would greet in his underwear when I eventually reached the age to date.
To say I was mortified would be putting in mildly. I silently prayed for a gaping hole to suddenly appear at my feet and swallow me whole, but no such luck. I was, however, saved by my brother, who had finally decided to join the family after another one of his hour-long showers. I used to wonder what he could possibly being doing in there for so long until I walked in on him, a few years later, jerking off in the shower. Yes, I was scarred for life and for years I wished I could get my hands on some brain-bleach to rid myself of that memory.
After my brother was introduced, my parents shared their pride in Edward's accomplishments as the honor student that had promise in following my father's footsteps in the medical field. Edward smiled at the right times and served his purpose, but then turned to the boy who was looking bored. "Hey, Jasper," my brother greeted him with a handshake. "I'm Edward. Want to leave these old geezers and hangout in my room?"
And that's when I heard it – his accent. If I was smitten with the boy before, the sound of his voice had me love-struck and I knew then, that I would never recover. "Sure," he drawled. "That sounds great."
They walked away towards Edward's room and my feet, of their own accord, followed behind them. Edward opened his room door, ushering Jasper in with a wave of his hand and then turned to me. "Not this time, squirt," he said, blocking the door. "Go play with your dolls or something."
My dolls? I hadn't played with dolls since I was six. "Come on, Edward," I begged. "I have no one to be with." And I wanted to stare at Jasper, but I didn't add that detail.
Jasper came around Edward's side and, bending forward, placed one hand on his knee as he playfully ruffled my hair with the other. "We'll hang out later, Bella." He smirked and winked before turning back into the room, Edward closing the door behind him.
I turned and walked to my own room, sighing with a dreamy-far-away-look in my eyes and wrote J+B in little hearts all over my Trapper Keeper.
I was 17 when my family made the trip to Houston, Texas to spend the holidays with the Whitlocks - the same age Jasper had been when he first stepped into my life. I hadn't seen him since that time when I was 12, although I thought of him often. He had become a fantasy by then. For years I imagined him as my boyfriend and planned our wedding. I even went through a childhood phase, writing on countless school notebooks the name Mrs. Bella Marie Whitlock or Mrs. Jasper Whitlock andI was teased endlessly by the annoying Jessica Stanley about my imaginary boyfriend. I defended him 'til the end and lied, of course, about our long-distance relationship.
My parents and I arrived in Texas on December 23rd and Edward, who was attending college at Stanford, was due to fly in the next day. After the initial reunion, the hugs and the gushing over how tall and beautiful I had become, I found myself sitting in the family room of their beautiful ranch home, alone. Jasper was expected later that evening, after work, and my parents were being given the grand tour of the estate, including the grounds and the stables by Dr. & Mrs. Whitlock. I was invited to come along, but declined. I needed time alone to calm my nervous jitters and try not to spontaneously combust before I even laid eyes on Jasper again.
I hadn't been sitting there long before I heard a door open and close and the voice of a man call out, "Hello? Is anybody home?"
I stood, looking down to adjust my shirt and smooth out the wrinkles in my pants, not knowing who was there, but wanting to look presentable.
"Bella? Is that you?"
I looked up and the person before me was nothing like the skinny and lanky, teen boy that I remembered. He had been transformed into a tall, muscular man. No longer did his hair reach his shoulders but was cut shorter, still possessing its waviness. His mouth, that was a prominent feature on his face, had somehow found its rightful place and as a reward he was given fuller, more luscious lips. And what really had me were his eyes; they still shined but were unfathomably greener.
"Jasper." His name came out as a sigh that left me breathless.
He stepped forward and wrapped me in his arms, hugging me tightly. I gasped for breath as I returned the searing hug and turned my nose to his neck to breathe in his delicious scent.
"Well, look at you," he said, pulling away to hold me at arms length. "You're not a squirt anymore."
"And you?" I smirked. "You grew into your mouth."
"Touché," he replied giving me a smirk of his own before lifting my hand above my head to spin me around slowly. "Wow! You really have grown into a beautiful young lady."
"Thank you," I said shyly and I could feel the heat possess my cheeks with my signature blush.
"You're welcome." He released my hand and I immediately felt the loss of his touch. "Now why are you here alone?" He asked looking around the room. "Where are the folks?"
"You're parents are giving my parents the grand tour. I opted out of all the fun."
"I don't blame you," he chuckled. "How about I give you the five-cent-tour and then take you out to meet my horse, Landslide?"
I accepted his offer and walked with him as we moved out of the family room to see the rest of his home.
We toured the beautiful house, talking and laughing. It was wonderful. He would place his hand on my lower back to guide me into a room and I practically swooned every time he touched me.
We shared tidbits about our lives as we strolled leisurely towards the stables. He spoke about his job, his hopes for getting into veterinary school and other details about his life, while I told stories about my school, my friends and my desire to, one day, become an Ecologist.
Walking through the alley of the stable, Jasper draped his arm casually around my shoulders. For him, I imagined, it was just a friendly gesture, but for me? It left me dazed and I could have sworn my heart stopped beating. I knew he was talking, telling me something that was just for me to hear since he had leaned into me, pulling me closer to his side, but I heard nothing. I was frozen, being prodded forward by his movements and a prayer, which I silently repeated, that he would never let me go.
"Hey, Bella?" He moved in front me, his hand on my shoulder, tilting his head to look into my eyes. "Where did you go just now… did you hear what I said?"
"Um… no?" I phrased it as a question, not sure of what had just happened to me.
"I asked if you'd ever ridden a horse before and if you'd like to ride with me?"
"Oh… um… yes to both."
"Fantastic! I was thinking we'd ride bareback-"
It happened, as they say, in the blink of an eye. He took a step backward, towards the first stall, telling me his plans and I, still dazed, took a step forward which propelled me into his arms. I tripped over something or nothing – who knew? But when he caught me and held me to him, trying to keep me steady, I couldn't help my reaction. His face was so close to mine, our noses touching and I didn't think. I took advantage of the moment, leaned in and kissed him. My eyes fluttered closed, not wanting to see the surprise in his eyes. I was kissing Jasper and I couldn't take it back, so I was going to give it my all.
He wasn't moving or pushing me away as I thought he would and I feared he was just going to let me get it out of my system and not reciprocate, but I was wrong. As if he had made a conscious thought to give in, he sighed and melted into our embrace. One hand came up to cup my face as the other hand, still around my waist, held me closer to his body. His tongue caressed my lower lip and I parted my lips to allow him to kiss me fully. I moaned as his tongue invaded my mouth, and the sound seemed to have only encouraged him to deepen our kiss.
I had never been kissed that way before. Sure, I had been on a few dates and had the typical 'good-night kiss'. I even played Spin the Bottle at a party once, but with Jasper, it was entirely different. He was older, more experienced than the boys that had awkwardly kissed me before. I never wanted it to end. Then, somewhere in the moment, my clouded thoughts began to clear and I commenced to worry. It was, after all, Jasper, the boy – no, the man of my dreams. What did he feel for me? Did he feel anything at all other than shock? What would he think of me once the haze dissipated and he was faced with a girl that practically threw herself at him?
I suppose he sensed that I was loosing focus because he pulled away slowly. He looked deep into my eyes, searching for something, perhaps the answers to why I had kissed him in the first place. I started to look away, a blush rising to my cheeks as embarrassment gave way to all the other feelings. He placed two fingers on my chin, pulling my face back to look at him and I complied.
"Don't move," he ordered and I was more than willing to follow his request.
He let me go gradually, making sure I was steady on my feet before going into the stall. He greeted his horse and placed a bridle in his mouth as he purred soft words of encouragement, then led him out to the alley.
Without much fanfare he mounted the horse, holding the reins in one hand and holding out the other for me to take. "Ride with me."
I stared at his hand for a moment. Confusion had taken the place of my embarrassment and I was actually beginning to fear what would happen next. I looked up at him, searching for some reassurance, some sign that it would all be okay. He winked, and then gave me that smirk, the one I remembered and fawned over when I was a little girl. Without thinking twice, I took his out-stretched hand for him to pull me up onto his horse. He sat me in front of him. His arm came around my waist, his chest flush with my back and with a thrust of his hips, he scooted us forward before commanding Landslide to move.
Jasper led his horse in a slow gallop away from the stables and as we rode farther away from the house, my nerves were taking a hold of me. I wanted to say something – but what? 'Hey Jasper, that was one amazing kiss, was it good for you?' I rolled my eyes at the thought of using that as an opening for the conversation that I knew we needed to have.
At some point we passed our parents that were returning from their tour, riding in a golf-cart. They waved at us, smiles on their faces, probably happy to see that Jasper was with me and showing me a good time, but I couldn't get my body to react the way it should and return their polite gesture. "Smile and wave, Bella," Jasper whispered in my ear and I obeyed without thinking. "Don't be worried, darlin', I'm just taking us to the edge of the property to a spot so we can talk."
I breathed a sigh of relief. But that reprieve was short-lived as all the possibilities of the discussion we were about to have began to run through my mind.
Luckily we arrived at a small lake and I didn't get a chance to go into full panic mode. Jasper slowed us down, bringing the horse up to a large Live Oak tree. He lowered me to the ground and then hopped off, tying the reins to a low branch, allowing Landslide to graze on the grass. I walked towards the edge of the water, looking out and trying to muster up the courage to face the inevitable.
"We have about fifty acres of land." He broke the silence, coming to stand beside me. "But this is my favorite place to be. I always come here to get away, to think or just to enjoy the time alone."
I nodded, understanding the need to have a place to escape from reality and also seeing the beauty in the scenery. The water on the lake shimmered as the sun glistened off the surface, wild flowers grew everywhere and a gentle breeze blew through the trees, giving it a spiritual feel.
"You want to tell me what happened back there?" He inquired in a low voice and I wondered if he was trying not to spook me.
"I don't know where to start," I whispered, not sure if I was answering his question or my own.
"The beginning is usually good." He smiled sweetly and grabbed my hand leading me to the tree to sit in the shade.
I told him about falling for him the moment he walked into my house when I was 12, and how he made me feel throughout his stay; always giving me his attention, never letting me feel left out, even when Edward protested and called for my mother to take me away. I told him about crying for hours after he left and thinking I would never see him again. I blushed, looking away when I recalled dreaming about him for years and waking up smiling because he never left me, at least not in my heart. I admitted that I compared every boy that ever asked me out or tried to gain my attention to him and they paled in comparison. I relived the events that led up to our kiss, and although it was not planned, I did not regret it in the least.
"I don't regret it either." He proved his words by placing a chaste kiss upon my lips. "But, sweetheart, how can you compare me to others or feel the way you do, when you hardly know me? We met five years ago and spent a week together, with our families, over Christmas."
I shook my head, keeping my hands busy by pulling out blades of grass and twirling them around my fingers. "I can't expect you to understand how I feel. But it's real."
"I don't doubt that it's real." He placed his hand under my chin, lifting my face to look at him. "My only concern is that you've created a version of me in your mind that I may not be able to live up to."
"Then give me a chance to know the real you."
And he did.
We spent every moment we could together. We talked, shared our wants, our dreams, our views on life. He took me on long walks and horseback rides whenever we got the chance to be alone. We held hands and my head always found a comforting place on his shoulder. I thrived on our stolen kisses, and stolen they were. Jasper felt strongly about keeping his growing feelings and our connection a secret. He was sure Edward would kick his ass and our parents would be less than pleased that he was courting a minor.
I didn't share his views.
I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops. I wanted to let the world see us together, to explain why I couldn't wipe the smile from my face, and I wanted him to do the same thing. I didn't want to acknowledge that I was hurt by his choice, but I couldn't stop myself from thinking of it whenever I was away from him.
He also refused to talk about our future, or what would happen once our visit came to an end. I wanted a long-distance relationship and he would chuckle and remind me that those never worked.
The night before we were to go home, the two families sat together to share a fine dinner in the formal dinning room. The meal was wonderful, and everyone talked, laughed and re-told stories from the past as well as funny stories from the last week, but I couldn't bring myself to enjoy any of it. I nodded and smiled at the right places. I made an effort to speak when spoken to, but the whole time I was fighting back the tears and working at swallowing down the lump that had formed in my throat. I was just praying for the moment I could run and just cry.
Jasper would squeeze my knee under the table or give me a small smile from time to time, but it didn't do much good - my sadness was reflected in his soulful eyes. I wondered if the rest of our family was not privy to the hurt we were feeling or if they were choosing to ignore it.
I was finally able to excuse myself for the evening and find the solitude I had been yearning for in my room. I don't know how long I cried into my pillow before I fell asleep, but I wasn't allowed much rest. The dreams invaded my mind and they were relentless. I would be running towards Jasper, arms outstretched and although he was standing there waiting for me, I couldn't reach him. No matter how fast I ran, I could not get any closer to him than when I first started. I was yelling for him, begging him to come to me, but he wouldn't move.
"Japer!" I called for him. "I need you!"
"Shhh," he murmured. "I'm here."
I bolted into a sitting position, having been startled by his voice in my ear and his hand rubbing my back.
Once I realized he was really there, my arms wrapped around his neck and I sobbed with my face pressed against his shoulder. "I don't know how I'm going to survive this… I don't want to be away from you."
"Bella, sweetheart, I know you're hurtin' and so am I, but we have to be realistic about this," he said, scooting back against the headboard and pulling me to sit between his legs with my back against his chest and his arms around my waist. "We live over 2,000 miles apart. You have another year of high school. I'm working towards my Doctorate and, to add insult to injury, I am 22 years old and you are only 17."
"Why is our age difference such an important issue to you?" I whined, turning so that I could see him better. "I know I love you, and that wouldn't change if I was older or younger. And all those things you mentioned aren't going to convince my heart that what I feel is wrong or that I need to let you go."
"What we feel isn't wrong, darlin'," he agreed with a sigh. "But the time and place isn't ideal."
I opened my mouth, ready to argue when he stopped me by placing his hand on my cheek and rubbing his thumb along my quivering, lower lip. Our eyes met and so many unspoken words were conveyed. We shared our sadness along with the strength we each needed and it was all expressed with one look.
"We aren't going to solve anything tonight," he spoke softly. "So why don't I hold you until you fall asleep and just enjoy what time we have together?"
I nodded, resigned that there was nothing more to say and slid with him down on the bed, wrapping ourselves around each other. Our lips met in a long, tender kiss that communicated how we felt. It wasn't rushed or urgent; we were simply trying to savor each touch, each caress and brand it to memory. I couldn't fight the tears and his thumb would wipe them away, but we never ended our kiss to acknowledge that our hearts were breaking and I worried that I wouldn't endure the pain. I was being tossed into a future with so many unknowns, a future absent of him.
I finally felt exhausted. The endless crying, the ache in my heart, and the day that had been painfully hard to deal with had caught up with me. With my head on his chest and his fingers in my hair, I began to drift off to sleep, but before I completely lost consciousness, I heard him whisper. "I love you, Bella. Who knows what the future holds?"
My family and I returned home to Seattle and I went back to my routine. I went to school and tried to go back to my daily life with some semblance of who I was before Jasper and I fell in love over Christmas break. The days passed slowly and the nights were filled with sad dreams and a pillow soaked with my tears. I began to lose weight; food was just a means to an end. I continued to do well in school, but my social life lacked the enthusiasm it once had. I smiled, but it rarely reached my eyes and soon people began to notice, especially my parents.
"Bella, honey," my mother called from behind my closed bedroom door with a light knock. "Can I come in?"
"Sure," I replied from my bed where I sat with a notebook in my lap, doing homework.
"Bella, your father and I are worried about you," she said as she sat beside me on the bed. "You know you can talk to us; to me. I am always here for you and I will always listen and do anything I can to help."
I sat my notebook aside and took a long look into my mother's beautiful blue eyes; eyes that held her love for me, eyes that had always met mine with nothing but kindness and adoration and I broke down. I threw my arms around her.
"Oh Mom," I cried. "I can't do this alone."
"What is it, Bella?" she asked, her voice laced with worry. "What happened to you?"
I pulled away and with a sigh I whispered, "I fell in love."
I told her everything. I told her about my crush since the first time I met Jasper, and I told her about all the beautiful moments that we shared when we met again. I told her of his fear of reproach from our families if they knew about us and I told her of my fear that he couldn't get past our age difference.
She didn't speak, or interrupt. She simply listened and when I had said every last word that my heart felt, she hugged me tightly, murmuring her love and understanding for me until I wiped away the last tear.
"Bella, I cannot say that I don't agree in some way with Jasper," she began once I had pulled away. "Your age difference does matter now, but in a few years it won't make a difference. Are you willing to wait for him? Is he willing to wait for you?"
I sat silently, playing with a thread on the bedspread, unable to answer her questions. Jasper had treaded lightly around any talk of the future and I had followed his lead.
"I see," she sighed. "I think you and Jasper have much to discuss and I don't think that you letting life pass you by while you sit and sulk will bring you two any closer together. If you are meant to be, neither distance nor time will keep you apart. But you have to live. You have to grow up if you want to prove to him that you are his equal and that is best done by facing life head-on."
My mother's words became my mantra. I lived and I grew up.
Jasper and I talked on the phone and exchanged emails. He never wanted to make any commitment to our relationship, always stating the obvious; that the distance was against us and that our age was still a factor.
I realized when he started to let me go – it was gradual and, although it stung, I was prepared. He had begun to push me towards a life without him; to enjoy my senior year, to go to prom, to get ready for college, to enjoy the good times that would come and to leave 'us' to fate. Soon his calls grew less frequent, his studies being all-consuming. His emails became shorter and shorter until they stopped all together.
Time passes as it always does. Senior year flew by, and before I knew it, I was headed off to college. I made new friends, started dating, and although I was not promiscuous, I always had a boyfriend or a guy to spend time with. I went to clubs and danced all night. I went on trips and traveled whenever possible. In short, I lived.
Jasper held a special place in my heart. When I thought of him it was always followed with a sigh of regret and a touch of resentment, not to mention the lingering pain of having lost my 'first love'. But it did no good to wallow in self pity… so I moved on.
It was the holidays of the year I turned 20 when I made the biggest mistake of my life.
I had been dating Jacob for about a year. He was exciting, a bad boy; He loved to dance and drink and he introduced me to party drugs. He even took me to get my first tattoo. I loved him, but I was not in love him. He gave me a sense of freedom, of rebellion and it was exhilarating. He had given me a ride home for Christmas since his family lived in the same city. I invited him in and walked into my living room, searching for the rest of the family, but instead I found him.
Jasper stood and the smile fell from my lips. I didn't know what to do. I dropped Jacob's hand, which I'd been holding, and held my breath as I stared at a ghost.
"Jasper?" I narrowed my eyes and shook my head confused. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see you, to talk," he explained. "But I see you are not alone."
"Oh… um…," I stammered turning to look at the forgotten boy at my side. "This is Jacob."
"A pleasure to meet you, Jacob." Jasper stepped forward, extending his hand. "I'm Jasper Whitlock."
They shook hands and I could see the strain in their arms as they were locked in a 'pissing contest'; staring each other down and sizing each other up.
"Alright," I drawled. "Neutral corners."
Once the awkward silence became too much to bare, Jacob excused himself, stating he needed to get home to his waiting family. His departure was less than ideal as he found it necessary to mark his territory by pulling me roughly into his chest and planting a searing kiss on my lips. I could have sworn I heard Jasper growl but when I turned to look at him, after Jacob released me to walk away, he was standing with his head bowed, staring at the floor.
"What is this about, Jasper?" I asked, feeling deflated and already exhausted by the day's events.
He looked up and stared at me. "You look beautiful, Bella"
"Thank you," I replied, bemused. "But I doubt you came all this way to remark on my appearance."
"No," he admitted. "I came to take back what was mine."
"Yours?" I retorted. "How am I yours? We haven't spoken for over three years. You let me go without as much as a good-bye."
He motioned towards the couch. "Why don't we sit down?"
I nodded with a sigh and stepped around the coffee table to sit. He sat beside me and rubbed his face with his hand; a gesture I recognized from before – he was trying to get his thoughts together and I allowed him the time he needed.
"Bella," he said my name like a prayer and any hostility I was feeling simply melted away. "I only did what I thought was best for you. I wanted to allow you the chance to enjoy your life before you had to grow up and feel tied down by a relationship; a relationship that would not have been easy. We couldn't be with each other. We lived states apart and I didn't want you to suffer by us not being able to be together. You were so young and had so much life to experience. I never lost hope that we would be together again, if that was what fate had in store for us. I even tried to move on in the last few years, but after all this time, all I want is you. Marry me."
"Marry. Me." He punctuated each word, his eyes pleading.
"Jasper, have you lost your mind?" I stood up, walking into an open space, and began to pace the floor. "We haven't spoken in years."
He stood and came to me, stopping me from moving by placing his hands on my upper arms and I froze, staring at him bewildered. "I started my residency. I'm ready to start my life and I want to do that with you."
"I have a scholarship… I'm working towards my degree in Environmental Science at UW… I want to work on a grant for marine research… I have plans-."
"Do you love me?" He interrupted to ask.
"I-I don't know." I looked away, unable to look at him as the tears that had been threatening finally fell. "I've changed… I moved on."
"Jacob," he said his name not as a question but as the answer to my admission.
"No, no, no...no!" I needed him to understand Jacob wasn't the reason I wasn't saying yes. I couldn't just drop everything and be his wife. "Jacob isn't even relevant. Don't you see how crazy this is?"
"I made a mistake." He dropped his hands and took a step back.
In that moment my parents walked into the room, interrupting us before I was able to tell him that we needed to talk more, to find a middle ground, to take our time and reconnect. Then, if we were truly meant to be, he could ask me again, but I never got the chance.
"Jasper," my mother said, smiling. "Carlisle told me you were here. What a surprise."
"Hello, Esme… Carlisle," he greeted them with a nod, but his eyes were piercing into mine. "I was just leaving."
And just like that, my heart split in two as I watched him brush by my parents and walk out the door.
I tried to get a hold of Jasper; I called, I spoke to his parents, I emailed, but I never got a response in return. It was if he had fallen off the face of the Earth and I was left to mourn his absence once again.
I went back to living my life, but I couldn't get the 'what-ifs' or the 'what-could-of-beens' to relent. I thought of him constantly and especially when life was particularly hard on me, which was often.
I continued to date Jacob for a few more years, but his drinking and drug use became unbearable. In the end he was abusive, not physically, but his verbal abuse was enough to leave me doubting myself and feeling painfully misplaced.
During that time, when I thought I could change Jacob and get him the help he needed, when I was putting all my efforts to salvage what little we had – that was when I conjured up my alternate life; a life with Jasper.
I would talk to him, out loud, as I imagined him walking through the door and telling me he still loved me and that he would take me away from all the misery. I fantasized about him taking me in his arms and kissing me, making love to me and asking me again to be his wife.
But, like most fantasies… they remained un-fulfilled.
I tried dating again, but I only seemed to attract the wrong kind of man or just not the right kind of man for me, and those short relationships always left a bad taste in my mouth when they ended. So, I chose to put all of my efforts into my studies, eventually going off to graduate school where I was offered the grant I desired so much for marine research.
I was working off the coast of Florida when I received the dreaded call. My Mother informed me, through broken sobs that my father had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, and his health was declining fast. Edward, who was living in California, was already on his way back home and I immediately made the necessary arrangements to fly back to Washington to be with my family.
My father, who had been a strong, muscular man, had deteriorated into a thin shell of his former self. We tried to make his last few months as pleasant as possible. Edward had come home with his wife, Alice, and their three children. Their laughter and energy, that could not be contained, did my father good and we often found him smiling and trying to catch up with his grandchildren that were always running about.
But the cancer was unrelenting, and sooner than we had expected, the doctors gave him only weeks to live. My mother made the necessary calls to our family and closest friends, letting them know the time was near.
I had been keeping vigil over my father when my mother approached me at his bedside. "Bella, Honey, you've been awake for hours. Why don't you go to the cottage and get away for a bit? I'll call you if there is any change."
I gave her a sad smile and patted her hand on my shoulder. "Thanks, Mom. I think that will do me some good. Take a shower and maybe get some rest."
I kissed my father's cheek and quietly walked out of the room, leaving my mother at his side. On my way out through the family room, I found my brother sitting alone on the couch, his elbows on his bent knees and his face buried in hands. He, like the rest of us, was taking it hard. Our father had been more than just a parent; he had been a friend, a mentor and our greatest supporter. I kissed the top of his head and wordlessly continued on my way out to the cottage on our property. We had already spoken endlessly and cried on each other's shoulders countless times since we came home. There was nothing more to say. All that was left was to wait.
The cottage was small, but my mother had decorated it beautifully. Gauze curtains and pine wood furniture were artistically displayed in every room. My parents had it built for our out-of-town guests, allowing them their privacy and giving them the option of enjoying the comforts of home without having to stay in a hotel. I loved it. It was tranquil and peaceful and numerous times I found myself staying in it just to get away from it all and just breathe.
I plopped myself on the sofa with a loud huff, kicking off my shoes and hugging one of the over-stuffed pillows to my chest. I felt completely exhausted and deflated. I closed my eyes against the tears that silently fell. My mind, much like it always did when I was feeling sorry for myself, began to play out the scenes of my life with him. I saw that, like Edward, we would have a family and I wouldn't be alone. He would be with me, supporting me and holding my hand. He would take me in his arms and carry me to bed, murmuring in my ear how much he loved me.
A soft knock on the door tore me from my dreamy thoughts and, without considering who it might be, I tossed the pillow to the other end of the sofa, and pushed myself up to stand. Padding barefoot over to door, I wiped away the tears from my face roughly with the palm of my hand and took a cleansing breath before turning the knob and pulling it open. And there he stood, like a gift from the Heavens, the person I needed.
It seemed impossible, but he had become even more stunning with the passing of the years. In my mind I had always pictured him the way he looked when he had come to see me last. But I was pleasantly surprised with this older version of my first love. His hair was shorter, his shoulders were broader, his laugh lines gave him more distinction and he was all man.
We stood, gazing into each other's eyes, silently conveying all we felt just like we did when we first fell in love and were unable to speak them aloud. My eyes blurred with tears and I quickly blinked them away, not wanting to miss a single second of seeing his glorious face.
"Jasper…" My hand came up to cover my mouth as I choked on a sob.
"Shhh," he murmured, closing the distance between us in one long stride, taking me in his arms and holding me in a warm embrace. I sagged against him, sobbing with my face buried in his chest as the weight of the world I'd been holding for so long began to drift away in his arms.
Without breaking his hold around me, he pushed us further into the room, kicking the door closed with his foot. "I'm so sorry, Sweetheart. I would have been here sooner if I had known."
"It's not just my father, Jasper," I mumbled against his chest. "I'm crying for all my mistakes… for all the time lost… for so much regret."
He pulled away slightly, placing his fingers under my chin, lifting my face to look up at him. "No, Bella. The mistakes were mine."
I shook my head as best I could with my face in his hand. "The mistakes were ours."
He searched my eyes for a moment before he lowered his lips to mine. The kiss started soft and passionate but soon grew needy and desperate. Our hands roamed each other's bodies, our hold almost painful in our frantic need to feel connected.
"I can't seem to get close enough," he groaned as his lips roamed, kissed, and nibbled my neck after tearing away from our kiss to catch a much-needed breath.
"Bedroom," I panted, not sure that my legs could hold up much longer with my need for him.
He lifted me up in his arms, cradling me against his chest. My hands clenched his shirt while my face was buried in his neck, breathing in his scent as he carried me into the room.
Raising his knee onto the bed, he softly placed me in its center with my head against the pillows. He stood back to kick off his shoes and peel his socks off before climbing back on the bed. I reached out to wrap my arms around his neck, pulling him to me, wanting to have him as close as possible.
His arms were bent at the elbows to keep most of his weight off of me as he lay above me. The fingers of one hand were in my hair as the other brushed along my cheek. "Do you have any idea how long I've been dreaming of this moment? How much I've wanted you… needed you, Bella?" He gazed intently into my eyes. "And I don't mean just in this bed, but in my life."
I simply nodded as I tried to control the sobs that wanted to escape at his admission. I closed my eyes to exhale a quivering breath, a breath that I seemed to have been holding for so many years. I knew exactly how he felt. I had needed him for so long. My life had been empty without him; having to fill the void of his absence with fantasies and endless daydreams of a life with him at my side.
I opened my eyes again when he whispered my name. Our eyes met and a reassuring smile played on his gorgeous lips. It was meant to bring me back to the 'here and now', to tell me that we were finally coming together and that the past had no place in our future. I sighed with relief as he lowered his lips to mine. This kiss was no longer the frenzied need from before. It was adoring, almost reverent, and I felt that my heart would burst at the love that poured out between us.
Our caresses were soft touches that almost fluttered over each other's skin. When a garment was in the way, we removed it to touch, kiss the area that became exposed.
His hand on my face slowly moved down my neck until it cupped my breast, kneading it softly, running his thumb against my taut nipple and I moaned against his lips.
He began to kiss along the same trail where his hands had been. I arched my back as his tongue darted out to lick around my areola before sucking my nipple softy into his mouth. I gasped at the sensation, feeling almost insane with need for him as his slow, deliberate movements continued to worship every inch of my body.
He moved to the other breast, giving it the same attention, but his glorious hand continued their descent, along my ribs, across my stomach, then lower until he held my sex against the palm of his hand. When he slipped a finger to run gradually up between my folds, I gasped as his touch took my breath away.
He inserted two fingers into me, pumping in and out as his thumb rubbed my clit, but it was unhurried and teasing. He was not trying to bring me to release, only letting me feel what he could do to me.
"Jasper…" I breathed. "Oh…oh…"
I was squirming beneath him. With one hand, I was stroking along his length at the speed at which he was touching me, my thumb circling the head, gathering the moisture there before moving down to pump him up and down along his shaft. The other hand in his hair as he continued to lavish my breast with nibbles, licks, and kisses.
"I need… please…," I begged, unable to form a coherent sentence.
He looked up at me through his lashes, his hand still working me to desperation. "Tell me what you need, baby."
"You," I cried out. "I need you."
"Noooo," I groaned. "I need you inside me… I need more."
"I'll give you everything, Bella. Everything." He vowed as he moved up my body to kiss me. But I knew that what he meant with 'everything' was not just that he would give me what I needed at the moment but everything I had needed from him for so long; his support, his love, his presence.
He positioned himself at my entrance. "Look at me," he whispered against my lips and when I opened my eyes to look into his, he pushed into me and we both moaned, our eyes closing briefly as he filled me.
He began to rock against me, never breaking eye contact and our breathing turned into heavy panting as our overwhelming need for each other overtook us. I would breathe him in on his exhale and he would breathe me in on mine as if we needed each other to survive.
His hand came down to pull my knee up to wrap around his hip and the new position brought him deeper into me. He sped up his movements and my hips came up to meet his.
He held my head in his hands as his mouth covered mine, swallowing each other's moans. My hands ran down along his back, and up again, needing to feel every muscle, every ripple as he moved inside me.
I felt as though my chest would crack with the crushing emotions that were overtaking me. After all the time that had passed, he was really there, really making love to me and I didn't have to dream anymore because my dream had become my reality.
A tear ran down my face and he kissed it away. "I love you, Bella. I love you. I love you."
My eyes fluttered closed and I felt as though my world, which had been shattered before, had been miraculously put back together in his arms.
My orgasm began to take a hold of me and I trembled, trying to hold out longer, not wanting the feeling to end. "So close," I murmured against his lips. "Oh God… oh."
"Yes, baby," he breathed. "Come for me."
I gasped, arching my back as my climax roared through me.
"Oh, Bella… so beautiful," he purred in my ear. His movements became less controlled and more erratic as he followed me with his own orgasm, holding tightly onto me as he let go.
Jasper rolled onto his back, pulling me to lie on his chest with his arm wrapped around me, the other behind his head. We simply held each other as we caught our breaths and, when I looked up at him, I was so overwhelmed that I could not find my voice or even form a coherent thought.
I couldn't say how long we simply stared at each other's faces. I could feel Jasper's fingers caress my arm and rub my back, but I stayed just as I was, un-moving and entranced, afraid that if I changed one single thing I would awaken and it all would have been just a dream.
At some point, he began to trace the contours of my face with his fingers. Feather light touches, as if he were an artist with his brush, stroked my brows, my cheeks, my nose, my chin then my lips causing my eyes to close and the breath I had been holding to fan out across his hand.
"I love you, too, Jasper," I whispered against his fingers.
"She speaks," he chuckled softly, leaning in to press a kiss to my lips.
"I'm sorry," I smiled bashfully. "I've been overwhelmed and a bit scared that this is nothing more than a dream and that, at any moment, I will wake up and you will be gone."
"I'm not going anywhere."
Jasper kept his promise. During the day he was a constant at my side as we spent time with the family and stood vigil by my father. At night, we made love and spoke about our future together.
He wanted to close his practice and move to Washington once I completed my research. He wanted us to be together and never wanted us to be apart again, and I wanted that too.
On a quiet Sunday morning my father passed away peacefully in his sleep.
After the funeral, friends, family, former patients of my father's and his co-workers filled our living room to pay their final respects. The house was humming with noise and the clinking of silverware on dishes. I had hugged, smiled at, cried with and nodded at more people than I thought possible. I was exhausted and weighed down by all the niceties that were required and quietly made my way to my father's room.
I stood, tears silently falling, staring into the empty room that still held the scents of spices and leather. I would miss my father's scent. As I looked around the quiet room I realized how much my life had changed in only a few short weeks. The greatest change was Jasper. He had returned when I needed him most, just as I had imagined he would so many times before in my life. But this time it wasn't an illusory future at his side. He was real. He was there and he wanted me.
I took a step forward into the still room until I reached the window and looked out towards the surrounding landscape and thought back to everything that had lead up to that moment.
"Hey, Sweetheart,'" Jasper called to me from the door. "You doin' okay?
"Yea," I smiled turning my head slightly to look at him. "Just remembering."
He closed the distance between us to stand behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist. "Anything you want to share?" he asked as he kissed my neck.
I sighed. "Just realizing I built my life around you."
He turned me around, held my face between his hands and, gazing intently into my eyes, he said, "And we'll build a future around each other."
AN: Thank you to all that donated & to all the wonderful ladies that put this charity together.
A little bit of info about this o/s: This is based on my true story, but was tweaked to make for good fiction. It was very difficult to write and portray all the emotions that come with love lost & found. I hope I did a good job. Let me know. Oh & a little side note, VoOD will update soon. Hold tight! Cheers!