Disclaimer: SM owns all recognizable characters. No copyright infringement is intended. The plot herein is mine. No plagiarism! Thnx to beanothercullen!
This story contains mature themes and is suitable for those eighteen and over.
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Edward's silence is killing me, and Jake looks as nervous as I feel as he takes Tanya's hand in reassurance while she steals glances at Edward.
Edward's hand is almost painfully rigid in mine and it makes me fear that today has been too much for him.
The questions and the uncertainty are thick in the air. Has Edward changed his mind? Does he still want to be with me or is this too much? Edward is so young; he's just twenty years old and everyone is pulling him in a million directions.
But I'm no better. I'm asking a lot of him too. I want him to love me and though he just told me that he did a couple minutes ago, is it enough to stop him from leaving this mess behind and making a run for it?
I can't let my doubt get the best of me. I have to trust Edward.
However, if he leaves, where he goes, I'll go. I'm not letting him leave me behind. I love him and I want to spend my life with him.
I'd walk to the ends of the Earth for Edward.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't give a fuck. I'm in love with a great guy and I don't care who doesn't agree with that. This is about me and Edward. And that's why we're here.
Edward squeezes my hand, and I squeeze back, lifting his hand to kiss the back of it. Jake sighs heavily and drops his fork, leaning back in his chair. "Okay, I'm an anxious fucker and I can't stand the silence. So, someone please say something."
"Fuck, I'm on an edge too," Tanya adds, throwing down her fork as well.
"Fine. Are we all ready?" Edward says, looking at all of us. We nod and he goes on, "Let's talk then."
With that decided, you'd think someone would start, but we all sat there, staring at each other in an awkward, nerve wracking silence. Who should go first? Our eyes say it in volumes. But no one will take the lead.
Again, Jake sighs and says, "Fuck this, I'll go first." He turns to Tanya, kissing the back of her hand. "I want you to know me. Jasper already knows me." He turns to Edward, smiling mischievously as he says, "Not like that, you don't have anything to worry about."
"I know," Edward chuckles. But the conviction in his voice isn't lost on me and I smile proudly, gripping his hand a little tighter. He loves me and he isn't afraid to show his jealousy over me.
"Good," Jake says, interrupting my joy to continue on with his mischief. "Because I've seen him naked, and you're just being cruel to yourself, Edward."
We all laughed before Jake grows serious and asks, "So, how do we do this?"
"What do you want us to know?" Edward asks.
"Basically, everything I already I know about him," I reply and Jake smiles.
"Alright," Jake says, taking the lead. "Let's see, before I begin, I want to say I agree with you guys. Jasper, Edward, your folks and mine are determined to make us into what they think we should be, but fuck 'em. We're adults, and we're not about to take that shit with having that shit so we're gonna fight."
"But we can't do that without knowing everything about each other that they think they can use against us," I say before adding, "It'll be a shock enough if they find out that Edward used to work as a hooker."
"And how you two met," Tanya adds.
"Exactly," I say to her.
"My parents will be digging, but…" Edward starts.
"What?" I ask, because all of a sudden, he looks so far away; deep in thought.
"Nothing," he shakes his head and says. He meets my eyes, giving me a crooked smile. "At least, not yet."
We turn to Jake and tell him to go ahead. But while my eyes are on my best friend as he begins to speak, my mind is on what Edward wanted to say a second ago.
"So, I'm a Black, and we love money," Jake says, making us chuckle. "Jasper knows most of my history because we've gone to the same schools and hung out in the same places since kindergarten."
"Wow," Tanya whispers.
"Yeah," Jake laughs and looks at me. From the nasty glint in his eye, I can tell a joke is coming at my expense. "Jasper wouldn't stop stalking me."
I shake my head and scoff at his silliness. But I love him for trying to lighten the mood.
However, Jake grows serious as he moves on, "I've known Jasper all my life. He's the best bud a guy could ask for, and I love the idiot because he keeps me sane. My dad and I aren't the best of friends and anything outside of business always ends with us in an argument."
We all look on as Jake continues, "Yeah, we've got a lot of money, but not a lot of love. I don't find my happiness with the Blacks, I find it with my best friend when I talk to him or we hang out." I smile at him. "Jasper gets me, he tolerates me, and he makes me feel human. Thanks, buddy," he says to me.
"You're welcome," I smile.
Jake nods and goes on, "So while I'm damn good at my job and I fuck or date beautiful women, I'm not happy. Do you want to know the last time I was happy?"
"When?" Tanya asks, gripping Jake's hand tight in support.
"Before my mom died," Jake's eyes gets glossy as he speaks of Mrs. Black. She was the light of his world. She meant everything to Jake. "You see where my dad and I didn't get along; my mom and I were best buds. She loved me and my sisters wholeheartedly. Everything we did, it never mattered if we won or not, she just cared that we were happy. She was so unlike my father."
"What happened to her?" Edward asks.
"She died from cancer, cervical cancer, and I got stuck with the old man." Jake chuckles darkly.
"I'm so sorry," Tanya says meekly, kissing the back of Jake's hand. He gives her a watery smile.
"Do you think your father may have missed your mom too?" Edward asks. "That's why he was or is the way he is?"
"You mean it's why he acts the way he does?" Jake questions.
"Yes," Edward answers.
"No," Jake replies. "My father was an asshole to my mom too. He constantly cheated on her. He even used to hit her. But she stayed for a while until she couldn't take it anymore and divorced his ass. When she left, she took us and it was the happiest years of me and my sisters' life."
"I'm sorry," Edward says softly.
"It's okay, man," Jake says. "You see, I'm in the family business, not because of my father, but because of my grandfather. When he died, he stated in his will that I inherited his shares, angering my father."
"So it's been a competition ever since," Tanya states.
"Yes," Jake says.
"You see, my dad does have a favorite child. My cousin, Sam Uley," Jake says. "Sam is my dad's little sister's kid and he loves Sam."
"But you're his son!" Tanya argues. "That's bullshit!"
"Yes, but Sam is more like my dad than I will ever be."
"Gimme an example," Tanya asks him.
"They are both very unkind to women." Tanya looks a little sad when he says that. But Jake goes on to explain, "Don't do that. Just because I've dated or slept with a good amount of women doesn't mean I don't care. I'm nothing like them. I'll never hurt a woman the way those two do. Sam is dangerous and I'd never leave him in a room with you. There is no telling what he'd do."
"He sounds horrible," Edward says.
"He is," Jake says and then sighs, "But I know my story can't compare to yours, nor can it be used against me. I wanted you guys to know that about me, because aside from the womanizing, I'm a great guy who would love to find a great girl one day, hopefully…" Jake looks straight at Tanya as he says this, "…I already have."
A tear falls from Tanya's eye and she quickly wipes it away. "I guess that's my cue."
"You don't have to," Edward whispers sympathetically as if he wants to save her from something. "I'm sorry to force this on you."
"You're not forcing me, hun," she says to him, taking his hand. You can see the care and love radiating in their eyes. "It's time, because…" She turns to Jake. "I really like you too, but I'm afraid you won't want me after this."
"Tanya…" Jake starts but Tanya cuts him off, sharing her story in a mundane voice like she's ripping off a band-aid. "I'm from Nashville. I don't know my dad and my mom died after giving birth to me, I was raised by my grandparents."
"I'm very sorry," I say, smiling at her.
She returns it. "It's okay, Jasper. Edward knows this, but I agree, these things can be twisted and used against you because you guys are related to some fucking idiots." We laugh at her description of our families.
Tanya sighs and goes on, "Life with my grandparents was awesome. They were so loving and kind and I was very happy. But it all changed one night. There was a fire, and my grandpa had gotten me out first and then went back inside for my grandmother. They never came out."
Tears roll down Tanya's eyes. "They were the best thing to have ever happened to me until I met Edward. I lost a piece of me in that fire, and I was only ten years old."
"It's alright, Tanya," Jake says. "You don't have to."
"I want to," she tells him. She wipes her tears away and starts again; this time, anger replaces her sadness. "Needless to say, my life dramatically changed when I went to live with my aunt and her husband. They were nothing like my grandparents. They had problems. They had bills. And I got blamed because they went through the insurance money like it was nothing. Luckily, my grandparents got a decent funeral before those two finished the cash." She chuckles darkly. "My aunt and uncle weren't fit to be parents or guardians for a dog much less, a child."
Tanya stops talking for a second, and we allow her the minute. When she starts again, her voice is lacking emotion when she voices the rest of her story, "I was ten when I went to them you guys, and I was fourteen when my uncle started to abuse me. The first time he touched me, I told my aunt, expecting some sort of action. Wanting her to protect me the way I knew my grandparents would have. But she didn't. She slapped me across the face and told me to shut up about it. She went as far as to say I was helping her out, and I should be a good girl and take it."
My world stops when Tanya says that. How can anyone be so cruel? What the hell kind of monster does that to a child?
Jake looks murderous as he tries to rein in his temper but I know he wants to explode. Fuck, I want to explode too.
But we maintain our calm, letting Tanya continue, "I can't tell you why I stayed, because I don't know. I was a child and I had nothing. The only thing I knew for certain was that my uncle would be hurting me at night. And then, he started to bring in his friends."
"No…" Jake hisses.
"I told you," she says to Jake. "You wouldn't want me when I'm done talking." Edward growls at her statement.
"I never said that," Jake says through clenched teeth. "Please go on."
Tanya looks uncertain. "Please, Tanya," I add. "We want to know."
She nods, and does what we want. "When I turned fifteen, I was through. I had to get away. I had a friend and she helped save up a little cash. And what we didn't save, we stole. Because I couldn't keep it to myself. I had to talk. I had to tell someone, but her parents were afraid of my uncle and his friends. So she had to help me in secret. And when I finally had enough, I went out my bedroom window one day after I got home from school. I ran and I didn't look back." She looks so triumphant when she says that part.
"What happened to you after that?" I'm curious to learn how she got to New York.
"Oh, that money got me food and a bus ticket and from then on, it was the more of the same thing," Tanya says. "I went drifted from place to place, keeping my head down and working odd jobs like washing dishes, until I caught a bus to New York and stayed here," she smiles. "Life was hard here and I got into stripping, and while the money was good, I needed a little more so I followed a fellow stripper and went into hooking. That made paid far more." She shrugs. "Since, it was all I knew, I only knew how to please men, why not, huh?"
"It wasn't what you knew," Edward says with vigor, his voice trembling with anger and Jake nods in agreement. "That knowledge was forced on you. You didn't ask for it and it shouldn't have happened."
"Those fucking bastards!" Jake exclaims, slamming his fist down on the table. "If they're still alive, I'll fucking kill them!"
"I'd help," I tell him and Tanya cries even harder. Jake pulls her into his arms and Edward leans his head on my shoulder; I can see a tear running down his face.
When Tanya is calm enough, I ask, "So how did you two meet?"
She smiles, sniffling as she turns to me from her place on Jake's shoulder. "I was taking a break, and I saw him. It wasn't the first time, but I didn't approach him the first night. I just watched him. It was great that I didn't have a pimp, because he would've been beating my ass to get back to work and not stand there and watch Edward. It was great that I only had to pay Embry a fee so that he and his goons could watch over me. Hell, if I want, he'd still do it."
"And that worked?" Jake asks.
"Yeah," she says. "I still have his number, and if I got anybody who's giving me a hard time, all I got to do is call him."
"Embry always watched out for us," Edward adds. "He's feared down there." Hearing Edward saying that, suddenly felt so weird to me, because I've been trying to forget what he used to do for a living. But that's wrong of me. If I don't face it, it'll hurt us in the long run. It's a part of Edward's past and I shouldn't be denying it.
"I'm glad he did," I tell them, loving the smile that lit up Edward's face.
"So I went to get myself a burger and some fries," Tanya recalls. "And I was heading back when I saw Edward again, by the trashcan, going through it."
"Wait, what?" It's my turn to feel angry as her statement hits me like a ton of bricks. Spinning to Edward, I'm in shock. "You were going through the trash for food?!"
My voice is a little higher than I intend it to be, but Edward remains cool and collected as he moves to responds. "I ran out of money and I didn't know what to do. Nights before Tanya helped me, I had to fight for my food or at least the scrapes I found."
"Your parents, if you want to call them that, are fucking bastards," Jake growls, kissing Tanya's head.
"I can't believe this!" I express, my anger racing through me. I want to hit something; smash something. All I feel is rage. "Edward, they've been to my family home, eaten at our table, and you've been going through trash for food?! Fuck!"
My boyfriend was starving on the streets. What if Tanya hadn't been watching him? What if she hadn't helped him?
I can't think about it. It's killing me to think about it.
"Do you want me to go on, Jasper? 'Cause I can stop," Tanya says, concerned that I may be losing it. But her question sobers me up. If I can't handle Tanya's story, how am I going to handle Edward's? I have to go on. And in order to do that, I need to calm the fuck down.
So I sigh, throwing myself back against my seat, playing with Edward's fingers. "I love you," I tell him; not wanting him to be afraid to share his tale with me.
Edward doesn't look like he utterly believes me and I lean forward, bringing his lips to mine for a brief kiss. "I can handle it, baby."
"If you're sure," he whispers against my mouth.
"Please, go on, Tanya."
She clears her throat and straightens up in her seat with a determined sigh as she looks at me long and hard, gauging my reaction before she goes on, "So, Edward didn't look successful in finding anything and I guess that night was the one I was supposed to talk to him."
Edward takes over with a chuckle, "So she waltzes up to me and offers me something to eat."
"You didn't want to take it," Tanya argues.
"I still had a bit of pride left."
"Yeah, until being hungry as fuck won over," Tanya laughs.
"Yeah," Edward chuckles and Jake and I join in. "After she gave me the burger, she told me to follow her and thought, this girl had no self preservation, she was inviting a homeless guy up to her place."
"Hey, fucker, I would've kicked your ass, if you tried anything." Tanya says with a grin.
"I know," Edward responds with a laugh. "And the rest is history."
When Edward stops, Tanya takes over. "I left a nightmare behind, I found great guy for a best friend whom I love more than anything, and who I'll kick anyone's ass for." She kisses Jake's cheek after saying that, making him blush. "I love Edward, and I love you guys too for helping us get out of there. It wasn't the life for us, we were just surviving and trying to make a way out."
We fall into a comfortable silence after that. From what we've learned about Tanya and Jake, it seems that they have both lacked a love they've been searching for since they lost the people who meant the most to them.
I'm glad they seem to be finding it with each other. I want Jake to be as happy as I feel.
Edward turns to me with a crooked grin that I just want to kiss of his handsome face and asks, "So, who are you, Jasper Whitlock?"
I look at him and smile; giving him a quick kiss before I started, "I'm the only son of John and Heidi Whitlock. And while I've always wanted a sibling, I wouldn't dare wish it because of how horrible my mother is," I tell them. "She's always been like that," I say to Tanya, making her laugh.
"Well, you've got me now and I'm more than happy to take her ass down a peg or two when she fucks with you," she says without hesitation.
"Thanks," I smile. "So I'm an only kid, and I love my grandpa. To me, he's my real parent."
"Grandpa is awesome, Edward," Jake tells him and Edward smiles.
"Yeah, I really want to meet him. I've heard that my dad is afraid of him and that you faced off with him over at Emmett's coffeehouse." Edward chuckles, letting me know that he knew about what went down between Grandpa, myself, and his dad over the space for Emmett's coffeehouse.
"Shit," I mutter. "Yeah, I did that, but Emmett wanted that spot and your father was being a dick."
"I'm glad you're not afraid of him," Edward says softly, growing sad and ducking his head.
I lift his chin, making him face me. "He'll never scare me away. I love you too damn much."
His wide grin makes me giddy with happiness. "I love you too. But why the closet?"
I knew what he meant. "At first, and I know this will sound stupid, but I thought if I made my parents happy, it would be a good thing. But I've come to realize that I wouldn't have had the chance to be this happy if I had stayed in that closet."
"How could you be with me?" Edward grins.
"Exactly," I laugh. "But I've known since my early teens that girls didn't do it for me. Jake was the first to know and I thought he wouldn't want to be my friend afterwards."
"You mean, when I asked you to let me think about it?" Jake asks.
"Yeah, it was the most nerve wracking two days of my life," I reply as Tanya punches Jake's shoulder.
"He's your best friend, what the fuck did you have to think about? You made him wait two fucking days?" Before Jake can answer, she punches his shoulder again, making me laugh.
"Damn! You can throw a punch," Jake hisses, rubbing his shoulder.
"And don't you forget it," Tanya threatens with a kind smile.
"So…" Edward urges, wanting me to continue.
"Mom fed me this speech about doing what was right for the family and their image. Also she told me that she feared other prominent business men wouldn't want to invest in our family's company because of the stigma I'd cause by being gay. So the best thing for all of us was for me to stay in the closet."
"But while hiding she brought in Alice, because she thought she could change your opinion," Edward concludes. "She doesn't respect you or your wishes, so why try to make her?"
"I honestly don't' know."
"She was destroying who you truly are, Jasper," Tanya says sympathetically. "You shouldn't have gone along with it. You should've told her to go stick herself in a closet and stay there. Bitch!"
We all laugh.
"I dated guys behind her back. She ruined it when she found out," I say, feeling a little sad about how things ended with those guys, but happy they did because I love Edward so much. "The only person that she couldn't get rid of was my best friend." Jake fist pumped and I laugh, looking at Edward. "The night I met you, I was so fucking lost. Literally. But when I saw you, it suddenly all made sense. I was so nervous when I asked Tanya about you, and I was shaking when you climbed into my car. But when you looked at me…God, darlin', it all made sense. And I hope, it'll stay like that for a very long time."
He doesn't answer. He kisses me.
When Edward moves away, staring straight ahead, his brows are knitted and his face is void of all emotion. His eyes are dead and all the light that was in them a moment ago has faded into nothingness.
"To me, my life began when I met Tanya," he says. "But way before that, I thought I had a life," he goes on in a mundane tone. "I was a straight 'A' student at Forks High. A nerd if you want to call me that. Everything I did, was for the love of my parents, and wanting them to be proud of me."
He looks at me, and I will him to go on. "It's okay. I want to know."
He nods and continues, "Yeah, some of my schoolwork helped take my mind of the pressure of trying to please my parents. They relaxed me."
"That's good," I say.
Edward smiles a little, but it doesn't reach his eyes. "Yeah, but the proud look on my father's face whenever I achieved another award was all that mattered. But I wasn't happy, because I was lying to them." He faces me. "You see, Jasper, like you, I knew I was gay in my early teens, and I wasn't sad or confused about it. I accepted it. I thought of it as just another thing that made me different. But I didn't know how to tell them. So I hid it."
He sighs as we all gear up for what comes next. His hands shake and I take one in mine. "I'm here."
"I know, and I'm glad you are," he tells me.
"Tell us the rest, Edward," Jake urges. "We can help if we know everything."
Edward nods. "I met Seth in my senior year of high school. And things changed. Suddenly, I wanted things. I wanted to be out. I wanted to show the world that we fell in love and wanted to be together. I'd met Seth because he wasn't good at Math. And one study session led to another and another until he kissed me and told me that I was all he could think about. And then we just fell into this…thing. And I was happy, Jasper. I was so happy. I thought he was everything."
He swallows hard, and I knew where we were. "It was graduation. Everything was working out like we planned. The both of us got into Dartmouth and we'd be together and happy, but there was one thing left…"
"Come out to your parents," I surmise, watching the tears cloud Edward's vision, and I wipe them away.
"Graduation night…" He starts and then mouths, "Sorry". I shake my head, dismissing his worry. I just wanted to know what happened. "We'd made love, but Seth was too tired to climb out of my bed and we fell asleep in each other's arms. The next morning, my parents caught us, and they were so furious, Jasper," Edward sobs. "Mom cried and Dad screamed, calling me all sorts of names. I couldn't believe that was my father. He went crazy and started to grab my things. He threw clothes at me and told me to put them on, so I did."
Jake is silent and Tanya has tears rolling down her face. While I'm trying to keep it together. I'm trying to rein in my temper. If I explode, Edward will clam up and I can't have that. "Go on."
He nods and stares at me. "He didn't want me. He told me he didn't want a faggot for a son. I begged. I pleaded. And he told me to forget the family; that I wasn't wanted. I reminded him of college and he told me to forget it. I was stupid, Jasper, I didn't know I could go without him. I had never worked a day in my life. I didn't know how things worked without money readily available. But I soon found out."
"He told me to say goodbye to my mother, but I begged her not to go along with my dad, and she turned her back on me," Edward recalls. "Dad dragged me to the airport. Bought me a ticket, and told me to pick a destination and get the hell out of his life."
The anger bubbling inside me almost choked me. I want to scream and destroy everything in my sight. "So you came to New York."
"Yes," Edward whispers. He sounds so innocent. He almost sounds like a child. "The money he gave me ran out quickly and then I didn't know what to do. I got hungry." He chuckles darkly at a memory and then continues, "The first time I ate food from a trash can, I laughed at myself and then cried. I couldn't believe I had gone from mountains of food at my disposal to eating food that didn't smell too bad, from the trash." He looks over at Tanya, who is being comforted by Jake. "When I met you, Tanya, I thought you were an angel. When you brought me up to your place, I thought you were crazy, but I loved you anyways. I was so thankful. You kept me safe. I had to help in return."
He turns back to face me. "You know, Tanya didn't want me working the streets like her. But, Jasper, I felt so worthless. I never felt a thing. From my first john, right up until I met you, emotionally, I never felt a thing. I was trash. I had to be, why else would my parents throw me away like I was nothing. So I thought it was fate, being a hooker was me being trash and nothing else."
His words burned me. They're like fire and I died a little more, as each new revelation fed yet another flicker of flame. My heart is breaking. They are tears in my eyes, but I have to make him understand.
"Edward, you're more than they will ever be. Do you hear me, baby? You survived. You did it on your own. I was just a lost fuck, living in a closet because I thought it was for the good of everyone who cared about me. But I didn't realize how bad it was for me, or how good it could be, until you came into my life, Edward."
"Jasper…." He sobs and I pull him into a kiss as tears ran down my own face. "Edward, you're everything to me and I'll do anything to make you see how beautiful you are. How you inspire me. How your love makes me the happiest man in the world. I want to spend forever with you. I'm done looking."
"You're it for me too. I love you so much." Edward says, pulling me to him and I lose myself in our embrace while our friends share their own moment.
It's been a hard day and our problems are not over, but at least, they're in the open. Whatever comes along now, we'll handle it…together.
Next: Jasper wants to find Aunt Esme.