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Thanks to vbfb1 for pre-reading and abbymickey24 for her beta skills.
This story contains mature themes. Violence, language and sexuality, and is not suitable for anyone under eighteen.
In the beginning and a few following chapters, we follow Jasper as a human and get to know him before his inevitable fate is dealt.
On with the show…
"Jasper, John, Breakfast is ready, Get on in here!"
It never gets old to hear mama shouting for Pa and me to leave the field and head on in for some much needed food. We've been up since the crack of dawn plowing and planting. Farming is our way of life. The main crop we grow is cotton, but we also have wheat, corn and oats. Pa supplies the General Store that he and Ma run. My little sisters Rebecca and Emma work with Ma mostly – selling the dresses they sew. They are on their way towards becoming seamstresses in their own right. We all have a job to do in this family. My life is spent in the field on our farm, reaping and sowing. I am the most comfortable out there than I'll ever be anywhere else. I don't spend as much time in town as the rest of my family.
We have five slaves that work on the farm along with Pa and me, but as harsh as the times are for these colored folk, we don't treat them in the same manner as the other owners. Ma says they are as much from God as we are, and should be treated as such. Our family has never made it known that we treat our slaves differently. This is not done and is frowned upon. Business would not be as good, and we could lose everything.
Rebecca and Emma may be young– especially Emma at the age of thirteen, and Rebecca two years older, but they make some of the best damn dresses I have ever seen. On occasions, I've been bless to see Bella in the girls' dresses, I just stand and admire her while she twirls in front of the mirror in the back of the store. I don't claim to be an expert or anything, I just know that their designs look mighty fine on Bella. Dressing like a girl may not be Bella's favorite thing in the world to do, but she looks beautiful in them. I know her mother will never allow her to wear one of my sisters' creations as according to Lady Swan, they are for common people.
Bella, however, thinks differently but cannot go against her mother – even though she wants to. Our chaperoned visits by her older brother and my best friend, Peter, are mostly spent at times with me begging her not to speak out of turn with Lady Swan. We need to stay on her good side so she doesn't further object to Bella and I marrying.
That's right. Isabella Swan will be my wife.
Isabella Sarah Ann Swan was born on September 13, 1845. We always tease one another on being born on the same date – seeing that my birthday is on February 13, 1843. Bella, as she likes to be called, is unlike any other girl. She isn't interested in being all prim and proper. She says that the best days for her are days she gets to spend with me and Peter or ones when visits and stays with me on the farm. Sometimes she attempts to help me on the farm. It is nice having her out there – despite how many times I've had to dive to the ground when she decides to pick up as much as a shovel. Bella isn't the best at coordination at times, but it's not stopping her from trying things.
"Well, here ya are, I thought that you two are gonna stay out there all morning," Ma says as Pa and I walk in the kitchen.
"Jasper, please get some darn breakfast before Peter eats it all." I look at my best friend seated in my spot at the table about to scrape half of my food onto his own damn plate.
I stare in disbelief before Ma smacks him over the head as she walks by to set down Pa's plate in front of him.
"Put it back," she scolds.
"What? It isn't like he wants it. He's just standing there looking at me like I'm some pretty girl," Peter says batting his eyelashes at me as I take a seat and reach for my plate.
"He ain't never full, mama," Rebecca says as she and Emma take their seats at the table.
"Becca, when you're my wife, I'll have you make me as much sausage and biscuits that a man can eat," Peter says which earned him an eye roll from Becky and laughter from everyone else in the room.
"Peter Matthew Swan, if you don't close that mouth full of food and get to chewing, I swear, I'm a put you cross my knee and give your behind a fine whupping." You can never tell which of us between Peter and I is mama's son. The way they argue, a stranger would swear that she had us both. Peter has been in my life for as long as I can remember and has been a world of trouble for just as long.
"Sorry, ma'am," he mumbles with his mouth full.
After breakfast, we all make our way from the table to do whatever the day brings. Peter has come to collect me to follow him to town to get about some business that needs to be done.
"Would you get a damn move on Whitlock!" Peter shouts.
"Peter! Don't make come out there boy," Ma shouts back as I make my way outside.
Peter is already on his horse and waiting me to mount Mystery. Mystery is an American Quarter Horse given to me by Mr. Swan as a birthday present on my fifteenth birthday. I named him myself as I thought he and I shared a kindred spirit.
Mr. Swan and Pa are as much friends as me and Peter. They have known each other all their lives just like us. Bella completes the bond we all share. It's a link that I hope will only be strengthened when she and I are married.
I can still remember clear as day when I was eight years old and Bella was five, how she walked right up to me telling me that I would be her husband. I was shocked, while she looked on awaiting her answer. I had no choice but to accept the lady's request.
"You'll see her soon enough," Peter says as we trot along on our horses before we pick up to a gallop.
"You'll see Bella soon enough, Whitlock," he says. "And as much as it makes my stomach turn to say, I'm sure she misses you too."
"Golly, Swan, you think so?"
"Shut Up!" he shouts, picking up speed and riding off leaving me behind in my laughter.
I push Mystery to go faster passing Peter and his horse as we make our way to town. He is right about one thing, I do miss Bella.
Days that go by without us seeing one another are the hardest. Ma says these are days where I realize how much I love Bella. The pain in my heart is unbearable without her near. I never share this with Ma or my sisters, or even Pa, but they all say that they can just tell by my actions. I guess I don't hide it as well as I thought.
Bella is special though, and worth the pain.
Ma loves that I am this way with Bella. She doesn't have to say it – and she doesn't, but I feel it. It's strange, but I've always been able to tell what those closest to me are experiencing. Sometimes it's the expression on their faces, and other times it's just the feeling. Ma is the only one I've share this with, and she confess that she's the same way.
I told Peter about it one time, and he just joked and said that I was becoming a woman. Hanging around Peter as I said before can get you in a lot of trouble, and that indeed was what happened most the times we were together. Bella, even as a little girl, wasn't that much different from her brother. She was always tagging along with Peter and me. She was as comfortable climbing a tree and rolling around in the mud as we were. Her slight clumsiness never calmed her appetite for adventures. Our shenanigans were the worse, and Bella was the best at it. It may have helped that she has her Pa soft when it came to her as our punishment would have been a helluva lot worse than they were.
I treated Bella like my friend and nothing more than the annoying little girl who's always running after Peter wanting to play or go hunting with us. The more she came along, the more I grew to like her. She wasn't like other girls. She was fun, crazy and would kick my ass if I allowed it. She hardly cried when she fell, instead she got up and did it again.
My opinion of Bella began to change even more as she got older. Bella was a pretty girl, but by the time she hit thirteen years old, she was beautiful. When she was close, I had to look away to keep my manners before I let my mind wonder to anything inappropriate. This was not the way I was raised, and my mama would chastise me for the way I was thinking about Bella. My dreams began to change, and I only found peace after I wrapped my hand around my length and found release. The first time the dreams starred Bella I knew things would never be the same. They continued to star her and I went along with it. Ma would kill if she knew the things I was thinking about Mr. Swan's daughter.
I can't tell you exactly when Bella and mine's relationship changed, but I can tell how it felt on that day. It felt like I was finally whole. It was as if I was missing something and the day Bella and I kissed, I found it.
Peter and I were fifteen years old. We had just unfortunately become the targets of the Stanley sisters, Lauren and Jessica. Peter was all for it, but I never fancied Jessica that much. Bella became distant and started to stay away from me and I didn't know why. She avoided me like I had the plague. For as long as the Jessica thing lasted so did Bella's avoidance of me. She wouldn't remain where I was, if we we're alone, or with Jessica. She would only greet me with a smile in the presence of our parents, but afterward, she would go silent and not speak until her brother spoke to her.
This continued on until one night about a month after her fourteenth birthday when the town was having a celebration – about something I can't recall. I spotted Bella in the crowd standing away from me. Jessica was hovering around me, even though I had already ended things with her two weeks before. Peter was too wrapped up with his new girl – after leaving Lauren in a haste complaining of her watchfulness, to notice his sister by herself, but I did. I walked away from Jessica without any apologies and right up to Bella and asked why she was avoiding me to which she only replied that I should return to my date before storming off. I followed her to woods on the edge of town and stopped her there. We got into an argument and while I stood watching her face change colors due to her anger, I became mesmerized. I grabbed her arm as she made to walk away again and crushed her lips to mine. I received a slap in response before she pulled me back to her lips once more.
The kiss was everything. It was soft, it was sweet, and it was heated yet passionate. It stirred things inside me. When we finally stopped, I realized I had her pinned to a tree, our bodies entwined, my knee between her legs and if we hadn't stop, we would be heading for something neither one of us yet understood.
Peter and I get to town a little while later. We separate as he is going to the bank and I decide to check on the store for Ma and Pa. I spend a few minutes before leaving to meet Peter. I find him outside the saloon working the girls over with his charm. Peter has a healthy appetite for women and at our combined age of seventeen, he has already been successful with quite a few. He throws it in my face that I choose to wait for his sister and then makes gagging sounds and threatens to break me in two if I ever break her heart.
Finally, as evening steady approaches, Peter and I make our way to his home. I will not be staying, of course, as Mr. Swan is away on business and Lady Swan has the run of the house. She is not as hospitable as her husband toward me. However, I cannot return home without even a glimpse at my beautiful Bella.
We arrive at their estate and dismount our horses before they're taken to the stables. I enter the foyer behind Peter. Lady Swan, or Renee, as her son makes me call her in private is nowhere in sight. I can visit their home a thousand times and I can't get over the vast luxury of it.
Renee prizes herself whenever she is my presence to snidely remind her daughter of how illiterate she thinks I am. However, a fact she doesn't know is how well read I actually am thanks to her children and husband. I'm very good at English, Arithmetic and Literature, but my favorites are History and Geography. This, of course, is a secret between my family, Mr. Swan, Peter and Bella. My favorite room of them all in this house is the library. I remember Bella and I holed up in there just reading at our heart's content while Renee battled the flu.
I sometimes worry that I might not be able to give Bella the life her mama wishes for her to have. It is my greatest fear. Bella is born to certain privileges and even though, my family isn't in poverty, the Swans still have far more. On our property, Pa and I have already begun to work on the house that will become Bella's and mine. I have shared my fear with Bella and she has abolished it.
"You are all I will ever want, Jasper Nathaniel Whitlock. Whatever life I will have, will be with you, and only you," she had said.
I'm jolted from my thoughts by the beautiful girl swiftly walking toward me. Her arms pull me close, her nose in my neck as she always does, breathing me in. When we part, I notice the look of mischief that crosses her face before I am pushed toward the library.
I vaguely hear Peter's warning to behave before Bella's lips is attached to my own as soon as the door is close. Our tongues battle for dominance and it still surprises me how in command she can seem when we're alone. I allow her to win as her tongue move languidly along mine. I grip her hips as her hands take up purpose in my hair. The sinful way her hips are colliding with mine, has the lower region of my body begging for release from my trousers.
"Be…Be…Bella…mmm, Bella have to stop," I groan out as she nips and sucks on my neck.
"I miss you so much at times, Jasper," she says softly, catching her breath. I am forced to look away from her heaving bosom to gather my thoughts and rein in my desire.
"I know, as do I darlin'," I tell her. I take the moment to adjust myself which only brought her to giggles.
I was about to reach out and take her by the waist when suddenly we hear Renee calling out for the housemaid. Judging from the loudness of her voice we assume she is close to the library and I make quick haste to hide as the doorknob begins to turn.
Peter is the one who enters the room, and calls me from my hiding place beneath Mr. Swan's desk. Bella quickly exits to meet her mother as Peter and I make our way out before Lady Swan can spot me. It angers me sometimes that Lady Swan reacts the way she does toward me, but I can understand her wanting the best for her child. I am sure that I will be the same when Bella and I have our own.
Peter retrieves our horses and we quickly make our way off his property. We part ways after a good ride away from his house as he is heading over to his latest conquest's home. I get home not long after and say a quick "hello" to Pa on my way in.
When I arrive in my room, I feel exhaustion kicking in. I can't believe I am this drained. I decide to a take a bath and have a nap. I draw the water for my bath myself – not bothering to call upon our housemaid, Liza to do it for me. Liza has been with our family since I was a small boy. She has cared for me and my sisters all these years and still continues to. She is strong colored woman with a rounded figure and hazel eyes. Liza makes up for the five slaves that we have. Ma says there is no need for more as she handles most of the chores, and Liza just assists her. Ma also urges us to do our own chores and not depend on the help.
I lock the door and slowly remove my clothing before lowering myself in the bathtub. Being up at the crack of dawn, plowing the land, riding, and even my girl slamming my back against a door has all taken a toll on me. After a long needed washing, I get out, dry off and put on my long-johns and head for bed. Ma will wake me when dinner is ready, but for now all I need is slumber.
Up next: Bella's birthday and we meet Jasper's competition for Bella's affections.