Entry #57 - AH

Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest

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Title: Sweet Darlin'

Picture Prompt Number: 31

Pairing: Jasper/Bella

Rating: T

Word Count: 8,537

Summary: In an effort to put the past behind her, Bella moves to California with her sisters. Will her past keep her from finding happiness? AH

Warnings and Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, SM does.

I lay in my bed, legs crossed and staring at the ceiling. Shelby was laying with me, as always. I looked down at her and prayed to the heavens for my muse to start back up.

"Bella Marie Swan, what are you wearing? Those jeans are horrible." I looked to the entrance of my room and saw Alice poke her head in.

"Didn't you read in your fancy fashion magazines that acid wash jeans are like totes retro." I smiled slightly to let her know I was joking.

"You think your so funny don't you." She narrowed her eyes.

"I have my moments." I shrug and go back to staring at the taupe ceiling. The whole room was a light taupe with white accents. I didn't change it when we moved here. I found the color to be very soothing.

"Do you need help unpacking?" She nodded towards the unopened boxes, as she sat on the edge of my bed.

"No, Shelby and I were just trying to write a new song. Doesn't look like that's happening, so I'll get started on the boxes soon."

"You have an unhealthy obsession with that guitar of yours." She laughed and left the room, skipping. I'm glad she didn't notice my chipped toe nail polish. She would have thrown a fit.

My sisters and I had just moved into a house in the city of Pasadena. That's the advantage of being trustfund babies. Our absent parents have allowed us the luxury of moving away from home with the condition that we all live together, and in a safe neighborhood.

Charlie was a great dad when he was around but when you're a head honcho for the FBI, it's hard to be there for your kids. My mother was out gallivanting with her new husband. Phil was a professional baseball player for god knows what team. I don't really care, to be honest. He was part of the reason why my parents split and why my relationship with my mother is non-existant.

I was the oldest of three and the most resentful of my mother. I made sure that Rose and Alice knew the bare minimum of Renee's adultery, but as they grew older I couldn't hide the truth from them. They were only nine, being fraternal twins, while I was fourteen.

I was the one who discovered Phil and Renee and I was never the same after that. My mother moved in with Phil-and out of our lives- promptly after. We were raised in Virginia so Charlie could go to work. I went to Brown while Rose and Alice finished high school. That's part of the reason why we're out here. Rosalie, the whiz kid that she is, got accepted to Caltech and Alice was accepted to FIDM. It made sense for them to move out together. My father entrusted me with their safety and the change of scenery was welcoming to me.

I unpacked most of my belongings while I was lost in thought. I filled my bookshelves, my closet, my drawers. I didn't have much, just my necessities and a few knick knacks that I've saved over the years. I was using the move as a fresh start, to forget everything before now.

I sighed as I finished tacking my favorite poster on my wall.

"Audrey, what would you do?" Audrey Hepburn stared back at me, but I knew she was only really looking at the best diamonds TIffany's had to offer. I turned and walked out of my room towards Rosalie's.

"How's it going in here?" I asked when I pushed the door open. Rosalie huffed as she crawled out from under her computer desk. All the boxes labeled clothes were still packed but all her tech stuff was unpacked. In fact, her computer was completely set up.

"Great. I just finished installing everything. I can't wait until we get some internet in here."

"You and me both. I'm going to check on Alice. You guys want to go out for some dinner? We could check out Old Town Pasadena."

"Sounds good to me. I'll just dig something out really quick." Rosalie walked over to one of the boxes labeled 'clothes' and pulled out the first thing she saw before she called for the shower. I laughed and walked out to find Alice.

"How's it going Ali?" I asked as I sat on her already made bed.

"Great. I'm finished color coordinating my closet. I'm pretty set now. Why? What's going on?"

"Nothing, we're going out for dinner. I wanted to see what there is to do around here. Are you okay with that?"

"Absolutely. I'm going to start getting ready."

"Rose is already in the shower." I yelled so she could hear me from her walk-in.

An hour had passed and we were ready to go. The drive to old town was quick and easy using google maps. It wasn't far from our house, but we took a car because we weren't sure where we were going for dinner.

"I think we should lay down some ground rules. I know that you guys probably think that since we're in a different state Dad is just miraculously going to not be intrusive. I can promise you that he has our phones tapped, so no phone sex."

"Ugh, Bella!" They both exclaimed, while I laughed.

"All joking aside, Dad will know our every move and we need some rules to make sure we don't get into any kind of trouble. Rule number one: no drinking." Their groans filled the car but I didn't care.

"Bella, that's not fair. You got to drink when you went to college." Alice whined.

"Yeah, I went to fraternity parties that had alcohol. If you're school has that, then you drink responsibly. Call me if you need a designated driver but I will not buy you guys alcohol."

"That still isn't fair. Our schools don't have frats like yours did."

"Tough. Actually that's really the only rule the other is more of a guideline. If you guys are going to have relations with people, I want you to be safe. I know you're with Riley, Alice, so this is mostly for Rose," I said when I saw the incredulous look on her face, "I'll have condoms in the bathroom and even though you guys are on the pill, it's better to be safe than sorry. The only thing I ask of you, is to please wait until you meet someone you really care for, or even love. Can you guys do that for me?"

"You act like we don't already know this Bella." Rosalie scoffed.

"I know you know, but it's easy to get swept off your feet by a guy who's making promises he isn't going to keep. I'm just asking you to make rational decisions when it comes to something as important as this."

"Don't worry, Bella, we know." Alice gave me a sad smile before glancing at her phone. I sighed and parked in the first available spot.

Old Town seemed to be buzzing with activity. There were shops, restaurants, and bars lit up along the entire boulevard. I opted to go to a quiet place but the girls wouldn't hear any of it. Instead, they chose Barney's Beanery, which was odd considering it was a sports bar.

"I need to see some ID. It's twenty-one and over." The bouncer at the door asked.

"Oh. I'm sor-" I started, but was interrupted by the girls.

"No problem." Both Alice and Rosalie pulled out their ID's and were allowed in. I stood there gaping after them. I pulled out my ID when the bouncer asked and quickly followed. They chose to sit downstairs, but I paid little attention. I waited until we sat before deciding to unleash part of my fury.

"Where the hell did you guys get fake ID's?"

"I kind of did that." Rose admitted sheepishly.

"How could you...when did you...ugh," I was rendered speechless but settled on, "Dad is going to kill me."

"No, Bells, you can't tell him." Alice pleaded with me. She gave me her infamous puppy dog look.

"Fine," I caved, "but if he finds out, I knew nothing about this. As punishment for not telling me, no alcoholic drinks tonight." They groaned while I narrowed my eyes at them before going back to look at my menu.

"Welcome ladies. My name is Jasper and I'll be your server tonight. Can I start you off with some drinks?" The voice had a southern twang to it that let me know he was definitely not from around here. It was rough but reminded me of honey at the same time. I was both anxious and afraid of the face that went with the voice.

I looked up and was immediately entranced by a stunning pair of blue eyes. Although, it wasn't fair to label them as just one color. Around the pupil, in the right lighting, there seemed to be a hint of green but the blue was so pale it looked almost grey. I wanted to drown in them.

I heard a cough and turned to see Rosalie hiding her laughter behind her hand. Alice had a pointed look on her face. I blushed and looked down quickly, only just realizing that I had been staring at a complete stranger.

"I'll have a cherry coke, please." Alice ordered and Rose asked for the same. It seems it was my turn.

"Can I get a New Castle and an order of hot wings please?" I asked the table. I was too embarassed to even think about lifting my head. I heard footsteps fading and released the breath I didn't realize I was holding in.

"Nicely done, Bella."

"Don't patronize me, Alice. And who are you texting?"

"Well, it's not a total lost cause, he seemed to be ogling you just as you were him. And Riley of course." She shrugged and continued texting.

"Don't worry, Bells. It could have been worse." Rose said encouragingly and smiled at me. I laughed at myself.

"Thanks Rose."

I made sure that I didn't make a fool of myself for the rest of the night. Of course that meant little to no contact with Jasper. But it didn't mean that I couldn't watch him while he was with other customers.

He had wavy blond hair that just reached his ears. I noticed a strand of hair that always fell from behind his ear, then he would huff and push it back. He winked, a lot. He had the most sincere and gorgeous smile I'd ever seen. He was charming and charismatic with everyone, especially his co-workers. I was just psyching myself up to ask Jasper for the check when an announcement was made.

"Alright, everyone. It's time for karaoke. And to start us off is our very own Jasper Whitlock!"

The crowd's cheers were defeaning as they shoved Jasper to the mic. He laughed good-naturedly and told the girl manning the station what song he'd like. As lyrics appeared on the screen, I knew what song it was immediately. My stomach flipped at the thought of hearing his voice singing this.

Oh! Darling, please believe me

I'll never do you no harm

Believe me when I tell you

I'll never do you no harm

Oh! Darling, if you leave me

I'll never make it alone

Believe me when I beg you

Don't ever leave me alone

When you told me you didn't need me anymore

Well you know I nearly broke down and cried

When you told me you didn't need me anymore

Well you know I nearly fell down and died

I didn't wait for Jasper to finish the song to ask for the check, not after hearing his beautiful voice. I asked the girls if they were ready, and as they gathered their belongings I walked to the bar and paid our bill. The last line of the song had been sung and the cheers started again. The girls were walking up the stairs, while I trailed behind them. I turned to look just once more and was again mesmerized by his pale blue eyes. His eyes seem to look straight through me. I had only felt like this once before and it was the reason why I left Rhode Island. I couldn't let myself get close to anyone, not again.

Darling. Darlin'. Darling. Darlin'

I couldn't get that word out of my head. Not since I had heard Jasper sing it. In fact, I couldn't get Jasper out of my head. It's been a week since Barney's and the kicker is that he doesn't even know my name. I've become obsessed with someone who I knew nothing about. There was definitely something wrong with me. I grabbed a pillow and screamed into it.

"Hey Bells, how are you?" Rose asked tentatively.

"Oh, I'm just dandy." I said without picking my head up from the pillow.

"What's going on?"

"Nothing. I just can't stop thinking about Jasper, and then I feel like I'm a total creep for thinking of him in the first place."

I heard Rose laughing, and I picked up my head to look at her. I groaned as I saw her holding in even more laughter, and buried my head under my pillow.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Okay..I'm failing to see a problem. He was totally checking you out. You guys were so adorable, too. You would look at him and then look away and then he would look up at you and then back down. It was hilarious."

"What?"

"Yeah, didn't you notice?"

"No." This was a lot to take in. Did I want this? Did I want to be in a relationship again? Could I be in a relationship so soon? I couldn't afford to get hurt again but I couldn't bring myself to care. I wanted to be with Jasper. I just wasn't sure if I was ready. I think first I need to see if Jasper really did notice. Gosh, I'm acting as if I'm going to see him again. We could very well never run into each other.

"I'll leave you to think." Rose said as she slid out of the room, but I called her name before she shut the door.

"Just one thing, well two things actually. First; was he really looking at me? And we need groceries really bad. Can you make a list?"

"Yes to both. You're such a dork." She rolled her eyes, while I squealed into my pillow.

The drive was quick from the house to the grocery store. I was trying to figure out what Rose had written next on the list when someone crashed into my cart.

"Oh, I'm sorry." I knew that voice. It's haunted me for the past week. Shit. Shit. Shit. What the hell do I do?

"Hey, Bella."

"How do you know my name?" I seriously wanted to facepalm. I could have said anything, and I went with that.

"Oh, um, it was...I overheard your friends calling you that." He stuttered.

"Yeah. Oh, right. Those were actually my sisters. We just moved here." Was that too much infromation to share? I think so.

"I know what that's like. I moved here for college and haven't left since." He said, sympathetically.

"Where are you from?"

"Houston. Texas. Where are you from?" His ears were a bright pink. My curiosity was piqued as to why.

"Middleburg, Virginia."

"That kind of makes sense. You have a bit of an accent."

"What?" I gasped and covered my mouth with my hand. He laughed at my antics.

"Hey," I swatted his arm, "don't laugh. You have one too."

"I am well aware of my southern twang but your reaction was amusing."

"Go ahead and laugh at me. I'll get my revenge though."

"Oooh, I'm shaking in my boots." He acted as if he were scared while I glared at him.

"Excuse me. May I get by?" A woman asked as she tried to get by to the next aisle. I moved aside and, suffice to say, our playful banter turned into an awkward silence.

"Listen, I was-"

"I should probably-"

We both started talking. I stopped as soon as I heard him and he stopped when he heard me. It was awkward again.

"Go ahead, what were you saying?" I asked after a few seconds.

"Well, I was going to see if you wanted to get some coffee, only if you were finished with your shopping, though."

"Yeah, I'm done," I wasn't, "coffee sounds great." I smiled shyly at him, as he put his hand on the small of my back to guide me to the check out counter. I was nowhere near finished with the grocery list but take out for one more night wouldn't hurt any of us.

There was a Starbucks practically next door. It was close to empty so seating was easy to find and our drinks were ready in seconds.

"So Bella, what brings you to Cali?"

"My sisters, actually."

"You didn't want to move out here?"

"I did. It wasn't my goal to move out here when I was done with school. The opportunity just presented itself. That's pretty vague isn't it?" His smile was comforting as he nodded.

"My sisters were both accepted to schools out here and my father asked me if I wanted to join them in moving. So, I did."

"I'm a little confused. Your Dad didn't want your 21 year-old sisters living by themselves." Oh Shit! I forgot about their fake ID's.

"They're not 21. They're actually 18. Which is why my Dad asked me to take care of them." I admitted, sheepishly.

"But they were at the bar last week."

"I know, those little liars had fake ID's that they didn't tell me about. i confiscated them when we got home." I smiled at the memory of their temper tantrum.

"That explains why they're out here, but not why you're here." I gaped at him. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. It was too personal."

"No, it's okay. I just, don't know where to start." Could I bare my soul to this relative stranger?

"The beginning is usually best." He flashed me that comforting smile again. There was something about him that made me want to tell him everything; every secret and fear in me.

"The beginning," I sighed, "would be the end of my parents' marriage. I was fourteen when I found my mother cheating on my Dad. When she left, I became my sisters' mother figure. I loved them and I didn't want them to feel neglected. My high school experience was limited to doing homework and taking care of my sisters. I was accepted into Brown my senior year and if I'm being honest, I wasn't going to go. Alice and Rose were the ones that convinced me to accept, though. I left for college and it was amazing. I didn't have to worry about doing laundry for four people, the dishes, and having dinner ready by a certain time. I was able to go out and have fun. It was liberating.

At the beginning of my senior year, I met Edward Cullen. He was the golden boy. He had the perfect GPA, perfect wealthy family, president of his fraternity, he was envied by guys and lusted after by girls. And for some reason he wanted me." I paused to try and keep myself together.

"Bella, you don't have to continue if you don't want to." Jasper said as he touched my hand in a comforting gesture. I grasped his hand and continued.

"You would think, after seeing my parents' marriage fail I would be more careful when it came to love. But I wasn't and that's what happened, I fell in love with him. We were together for a year and I gave him everything. He would often say how when he would become a doctor I would be a stay at home book editor so that I could look after our kids. He promised me marriage, a future after graduation and I stupidly believed him. My father was going to come to Rhode Island for graduation but his work held him back. I opted to not walk for graduation and instead I decided to fly home early to see my sisters and my Dad. I went to Edward's apartment to tell him I was leaving and found him in bed with someone else. So I ran away, all the way to California. That's what brings me here."

"He's an idiot for doing that to you and letting you walk out of his life. Did he have anything to say for himself?"

"I didn't let him. I left Brown and moved back home. He called, a lot. I never answered and eventually the calls stopped."

"I'm so sorry you had to go through that, darlin'." I looked through glassy eyes. The tears hadn't fallen, which I was grateful for. To me, it meant that talking about him didn't make me hurt as much as it used to.

"Thank you Jasper, for listening."

"You remembered my name?" He asked with a smirk.

"What do you mean?" I asked, confused while trying to blink away the tears.

"I mean that I didn't re-introduce myself earlier."

"Oh, I.." I blushed. He had figured it out. I covered my face with my hands in an attempt to cover my blush.

"Don't hide from me." He whispered and I knew, with him I would never have to.

We never returned to the topic of Edward again, instead he asked me about anything and everything else. I told him how I studied English in Brown and he confessed that he had a degree in psychology but assured me that he wasn't psycho analyzing me while I talked. I narrowed my eyes at him playfully for it. I then confessed that I like to write songs on my guitar. He asked me if I had written anything recently and I told him that I was currently in a rut when it came to my music. I told him how Rose and Alice used to be my inspiration, mostly because I would make up songs to get them to do chores.

"How much age difference is there between you and your sisters?"

"We're five years apart."

"So that makes you..."

"You asked for the age difference, not my age. Besides haven't you ever heard, it's rude to ask a lady what her age is?"

"Once or twice," he smirked, "however, I remember you telling me that Rose and Alice are eighteen-wait, are they twins?" His face was scrunched up in disbelief and confusion so adorably that I laughed.

"I know it's hard to believe, but yes. Fraternal, to be exact."

"Then how is it that Rosalie is blond and Alice has dark hair. Even fraternal twins aren't that different."

"Alice's natural hair color is blond but she's had it dark since high school. They have my mother's hair and I have my father's. A lot of times people don't even know that we're sisters." My phone signaled I had a text message. It was from Rose asking if I'd gotten lost since I've been gone for four hours. I quickly sent her a message that I'd be home soon and not to worry.

"I'm sorry but I have to go. My sisters need me." I told Jasper reluctantly.

"Oh, yeah, no problem." He stood and threw out our trash. The walk back was a lot quicker than I remembered or maybe I was hoping for a little more time with him.

"Thank you, again, for everything Jasper." I said as I stood next to my car.

"There's nothing to thank me for. I would really like to see you again, if that's okay with you."

"I would really like that." I smiled at him and the smile he gave was blinding.

"Here, give me your phone." I handed him my phone. His phone started to ring but he silenced it and handed mine back.

"There, now you have my number and vice versa." He was fidgeting slightly until finally he pulled me into his arms. I sighed and melted into his embrace. He smelled like a man, it was phenomenal and I never wanted to let go.

Please Jasper, hold me just a little bit longer.

I made it home in a daze. I ignored the strange looks from the girls as I set down the small amount of groceries I had gotten. Thankfully, none were perishable. I walked into my room and closed the door. I lay in my bed the same way I had just a few hours ago, only this time it was to soak in all the wonderful things that happened today.

How I wish he hadn't broken that hug and had leaned down to press his wonderful lips to mine. Suddenly, there were notes floating around in my head that needed to be played. I picked up Shelby from her stand and began to chords were basic and the progression was in between fast and slow, perfectly so. It was soft and sweet and as soon as the chords came together so did the words.

I sighed when I had everything written down. I sat stunned that I had written a song. I haven't been able to write anything in months, not since Edward. A couple hours with Jasper and it's as if I had never lost my muse.

The next day I woke up early to pick up the groceries that I didn't get before I went out with Jasper. Ah, jasper. My mind constantly wandered back to the great time I had with him. I had to focus though. I enlisted the girls' help to unpack all the boxes and make our house look like a home. Around noon, we were putting the finishing touches to the living room when my phone started to ring. I squealed when I saw Jasper's name on the front and took a deep breath before answering the phone.

"Hello?"

Hey Bella, It's Jasper.

"I know." I giggled.

Right, caller ID. Listen, I know I'm supposed to wait two days before calling you, but I couldn't do it. I really want to see you again.

"I really want to see you again, too. And that rule is so stupid. Who decided on waiting two days?"

An idiot, apparently. I have Friday afternoon off. How does dinner at 8 sound?

"Sounds perfect."

Alright, I'll see you then. I have to go now, but I'll text you.

"Bye."

Bye.

I hung up and squealed.

"What has you so happy?" I gasped and I stopped my squealing when I heard Alice.

"Oh, not much. Except, Jasper and I are going out on Friday." I said as nonchalantly as possible.

"What?" They screamed at the same time.

"I didn't know you guys exchanged phone numbers. You didn't even talk at the restaurant." Alice pointed out.

"I ran into him yesterday while I was shopping and we went out for coffee. I guess I forgot to tell you."

"No wonder you took forever. How was it?" Rose asked, excitedly.

"He's amazing. He's sweet, and a completely gentleman."

"I'm so glad, Bells. I hope you have fun. Do you know where you're going?" Alice asked.

"No, he just said dinner."

"Then how do you know what to wear?" Alice asked bewildered.

"I'm not worried about that, I'm more worried about the fact that I'm having these super intense felings for him already."

"I know it's hard after what happened with Edward, but Jasper is not Edward. He seems like a great guy. Would you rather cut and run now because you might get hurt or think years from now 'what if I had given Jasper a chance' and regret the fact that you didn't?"

"You're right, Rose. I know Jasper is great and when we were talking yesterday, I felt so comfortable. More comfortable than I ever felt with Edward."

"Then it's settled. You're going to put Edward behind you and give Jasper the chance he deserves." Alice exclaimed. I laughed at her excitement.

"Now, come on. We are going to have a girls' night, so we can talk some more about how awesome Jasper is." Rose teased.

We spent the rest of the night watching rom coms and talking about boys. Apparently, Rose was smitten with a boy she saw at registration but hasn't seen him since. She's determined to ask him out the next time she sees him. Alice and Riley were still going strong, even though they lived on opposite ends of the country. They talk everyday and text every minute. I was happy that both Rose and Alice were going after what they wanted, and that my past relationship didn't affect them.

It felt like an eternity for Friday to arrive. Jasper and I had been texting all week. He told me that he would pick me up for our date. I had been ready to go for the past twenty minutes, anxiously waiting for the clock to strike eight. The doorbell rang and I started toward the door. I stopped right in front of it, took a deep breath and opened it.

There stood Jasper looking as handsome as ever. He had on a pair of grey slacks and a black button up. His hair was neat, but that stubborn lock of hair was in his face again. I bit my lip as my fingers tentatively pushed the lock behind his ear, like I had seen him do before.

"Hi." He whispered. "You look beautiful. I got you some flowers. I hope you like them." He handed me the bouquet of daisies. They're my favorite, I can't believe he remembered.

"Thanks, they're perfect," I said just as softly, "Do you want to come in for a minute while I put these in water?"

"Yeah. You know, your house is really impressive." He said as he took in his surroundings. The house was a bit excessive but it's the one Dad picked.

"Trust me. If I had a choice we'd be living in a much smaller place, but my Dad had final say. 'There's no way my baby girls are living in some run down house.'" I say loudly enough to be heard from the kitchen as I put the flowers in water. I left them on the counter as I went back to the living room.

"Smart guy, but this must have cost a fortune," he smiled sheepishly, "I'm sorry. That was inappropriate. How is it that I always manage to say the wrong things in front of you?" He asked, rhetorically, as he took my hand in his. I lay my hand on top of the one holding mine, in a comforting gesture.

"Don't worry about it. It is a lot but try convincing my Dad to let us stay somewhere else."

"I do worry, Bella. One of these days, I'll say something out of line and you won't ever want to see me again." He cupped my face and looked into my eyes, hoping I would understand what he was saying.

"I don't think that's possible, Jasper," And I hoped he believed me when I said it, "Come on, let's not ruin tonight with such serious conversations." I said trying to lighten the mood.

"You're right. Come on, I've got a surprise with your name on it."

On our way to our date, I got a few hints as to what we were doing. All I knew was that we were going to be eating and I woud love it. The drive was quick and fun as I criticized Jasper for having so much country music in his Ipod. He feigned being hurt and teased me about not having good taste in music. Before I knew it, we were parked and walking across the street.

We stopped in front of a door on the corner of Green and Raymond, one block down from Old Town. I eyed the restaurant dubiously as Jasper reached to open the door for me. The restaurant was dimly lit, but I was entranced by the smooth Jazz that was emitting from the band.

Jasper walked up to the hostess and spoke with her briefly. We were the led to a private corner and given our menus.

"This place is amazing." I was in awe. The restaurant was small but was classy and refined. It was casual elegant attire and I couldn't have been happier to be wearing my little black dress. Alice said it would be great for where ever we went. I trusted her and it seemed she was right.

"I'm glad you like it. Maybe this will help educate you on what good music is." Jasper teased.

"As long as they don't play any country, I'll be fine." He tickled my side when I made fun of him.

"Do you know what you're going to order? It's on me after all." He asked as he looked at his menu. In taking in my surroundings, I hadn't decided what to have. As I looked over the menu, I also noticed the prices, and they weren't very affordable. It was too much, I didn't want him to spend a fortune to impress me; I was already taken with him.

"Jasper, we don't have to eat here. The food seems a little expensive, don't you think?" By the hurt look on his face, I knew I had just offended him.

"It's just that, I don't like it when people spend a lot on me. It makes me really uncomfortable." I blushed as I tried to explain myself.

"Bella, it's fine. I want to do this for you." he said softly. "Please, don't worry about it."

"We seem to be saying that a lot tonight, aren't we?"

"I think we worry too much for our own good. Please, let me try to woo you."

"Woo me? I didn't know people still used that word." I smiled.

"Only on rare occasion." He smiled back and held my hand as we both went back to looking at our menus. I didn't continue to dwell on the prices, isnstead I focused on Jasper.

I caught myself picking up on a lot of his ticks. He would get a crease in between his eyebrows when he was concentrating on something. And when he listened to the jazz playing he closed his eyes, as if to really focus on the tone behind it. I watched how animated he became when he would talk about something he was passionate about. He used hand gestures to explain himself, and his eyes grew wide as he talked.

Before I knew it, it was eleven and we had spent another three hours talking. Instead of getting dessert at the restaurant, we opted to walking around Old Town. We walked slowly, still talking and grabbed some gelato to go. It was a beautiful night, slightly crowded by the late night partiers, but beautiful.

Jasper walked me to my front door, and I was reluctant to end the night. Our hands swung between us as we approached the porch.

"I had a lot of fun tonight." I said as I stared at our intertwined hands.

"Me too." He broke our hands to wrap his arms around my waist and leaned in for a hug. I wrapped mine around his neck and squeezed. I had hoped he would kiss me. I wanted him to kiss me so badly.

Please, jasper, kiss me. His grip weakened, but he didn't release me completely.

"Bella," I looked to see his face centimeters from mine, "May I kiss you?" I breathed out a yes, as my prayers were answered, and closed the space between us. His lips were soft as they molded to mine and slightly parted to take my bottom lip between his. I buried my hands in his soft blond hair and tightened my grip when he swiped his tongue along my bottom lip. I gasped and moaned when his tongue met mine. His hands were on my neck tilting my head slightly. His kisses became slow, kissing me chastely a few times.

"I really want to see you again, Bella." He whispered against my lips.

"That's good." I whispered.

"Is it?" He laughed slightly, while he asked. I only nodded and pulled him down for another kiss. He pressed me against the door as I met his tongue with mine again. The porch light flickering on and off confused me. I could hear distinct giggling from the other side of the door, signaling that the girls were monitoring us.

"I think that's your cue to go in."

"Sometimes I forget that they're eighteen and can be immature."

"I would love to have siblings like yours. It just wasn't in the cards for me."

"You can have mine if you'd like."

"You're funny."

"I have my moments." I shrugged as I stepped out of his embrace.

"I'll call you tomorrow." He said as he stepped down towards the driveway.

"I'll talk to you soon." I waved and stepped inside the house. I was immediately ambushed by Alice and Rose.

"How was the date?" Alice asked.

"Where did he take you?"Rose asked, promptly after.

"It was great and this awesome restaurant in Old Town. That's all your getting. I'm tired and it's close to one in the morning. We all need to go to sleep."

"Aw Bells, you're no fun." Rose whined.

"I'm not letting this go." Alice warned as she went upstairs to her room, with Rose following soon after.

I had just laid in bed when I received a text message.

Sweet Dreams, Darlin'. -J

Good night, Jasper. -B

I lay back down and thought about how easy it would be to fall for Jasper.

School started for the girls and they were soon swamped with homework and projects. They loved it though. Each day I would see how their eyes lit up when they talked about what happened that day in class. It was impossible to not be proud of them.

It had been six months since I ran from Rhode Island and three since I met Jasper. He became a permanent fixture in our lives. He was constantly over helping me make dinner or just to hang out. We went out on dates, he wined and dined me and I was completely in love with him. It scared me to no end, because the last time I fell this hard this fast, it hadn't ended well. I hadn't told Jasper yet because I was trying to gauge what kind of reaction he would have to my confession.

Right now, I was at home. I had been looking for a job in editing for sometime but there weren't many options out here. I became a freelance editor, instead. I didn't need much. Dad was taking care of housing so we only needed my income for groceries and my freelancing covered more than enough for that.

I heard a knock at the door. I stood up to answer hoping it was Jasper on the other side. I hadn't heard from him today but he did say he was coming over with a surprise for me when we spoke yesterday.

I rushed to the door hoping to see my surprise. I was surprised alright, because Edward Cullen was standing in front of me.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I asked, angrily.

"It's a long story, may I come in?" He made a move to step inside but I blocked him.

"No."

"Please Bella. All I'm asking for is just a few minutes. Please?" I sighed because, as much as I hated him, I needed the closure. I wanted to tell Jasper that I loved him without Edward Cullen hanging over my head.

"Fine, but you only get five minutes." I moved so he could come inside.

"This is a great house. How's California treating you?" He asked awkwardly. He sat on the couch as I took the chair across the coffee table.

"Is this really how you want to spend your five minutes? With idle chit chat."

"You're right. I want to tell you that I never stopped looking for you." I scoffed. "I know you don't believe me, but you can ask your father. I went to your house after graduation. He's the one who told me you moved. I came here because I meant everything I said. I want you as my wife, I want us to live in a house full of our children. Please Bella, tell me I'm not too late."

"I can't tell you that. I've made a life here. I met someone who cares about me and I know he would never do what you did." I knew it was a cheap shot but I didn't care.

"I don't believe that. What we had isn't something so easily forgotten. I know you're angry at me for what I did, but we can work through it. Just come back home and we'll work on us." He pleaded.

"No, we can't Edward. I love my boyfriend. I am home; this is my home now." I told him adamantly, "Why did you even come here? After all this time?"

"I thought if I gave you some time you would come back, or call me but you never did. It may be hard to believe but I swear I only cheated on you once. When you saw me, that was the only time. It didn't mean anything and I haven't been with anyone since you left. I know what I want and that's for you to marry me, Bella." He knelt down on one knee in front of me and pulled out a diamond ring. My eyes grew wide and I gasped. He couldn't be serious.

"Bella, whose car is that in the-" I turned and saw Jasper at the entryway to the living room taking in the scene before him. You have got to be kidding me? How could fate screw me over like this?

"Jasper! Wait!" I called as he turned and left. I ran after him and grabbed his arm as he reached the bottom of the driveway.

"Jasper, please, let me explain." I pleaded.

"I think it's self explanatory. Your first love has come back and asked you to marry him."

"Yes, what you saw is self explanatory but you don't know everything."

"It doesn't matter Bella. I can't compete with him. He's going to be a doctor and I'm a waiter with no prospects. He's your first love; he will always mean something to you. The only reason that you're here is because you thought he didn't care about you, but now he's back telling you the opposite. You can't tell me that you didn't want to say yes."

"Don't pretend you know, because you don't."

"I know you well enough to guess." I felt as if I'd been slapped.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means he can give you things that I can't."

"Do you think that matters to me, do you?" I asked, shoving him back when he didn't answer. He looked back at me and I recoiled from him. His eyes were cold and distant. He had never looked at me that way before. Tears started to fall and I turned to walk back to the house. His silence was answer enough for me.

"No, Bella, I'm sorry. That was-"

"Just go, Jasper." I whispered from the door. I went back into the living room, curled up into a ball on my chair and let the tears run down my face.

"I guess I am too late." I looked up and saw Edward kneeling in front of me. I only nodded. "I'm sorry. I can't seem to do anything right, can I? I love you, Bella, but I want your happiness above everything." He paused, "Does he make you happy?"

"More than I ever thought I could be." I whispered, wiping at my tears.

"Then he deserves you. I know I had my chance and blew it, but can I hold you one last time?" I nodded in agreement knowing that that chapter of my life was officially over. He kissed the top of my head before whispering good-bye.

I stayed silently crying until the girls came home and found me. They let me cry until I was able to tell them everything. Their reactions were very much like mine. They were surprised Edward came and looked for me. They were even more surprised by Jasper's words.

Jasper had never told me about the insecurities he had about his job. I hate that he kept it from me. I hate that he couldn't rely on me like I relied on him. I told the girls I was going up to my room to sleep, but that was the last thing I did. My brain wouldn't stop thinking over everything.

I couldn't stop thinking about how when I was nervous, Jasper would sing in my ear to calm me down. I couldn't stop thinking about how when we went to the movies, he would always get a large popcorn, even when I declined wanting any, because he knew I would eat most of it. Or when we stayed home he would cook for me. He took care of me, when he didn't have to. He was wonderful and I loved every last part of him.

I sat up and shoved the covers off angrily, not caring that it was close to three in the morning and wearing pajamas. I grabbed Shelby and ran to the car. I text Alice and Rose telling them where I was in case they woke up and I wasn't back. Jasper had to know how I felt about him and he had to hear what I had to say. I wasn't going to run this time.

We had exchanged keys a while ago, for emergencies. I think this can be considered an emergency. I let myself in the apartment building but knocked on his apartment door.

He opened the door soon after I knocked and he looked far worse than me.

"Bella!" His surprise evident in his tone. I smiled slightly and asked if I could go in. He nodded and stepped aside. I took a seat in the living room and set Shelby next to me, leaning against the couch.

"Bella, I'm sorry about-" I held up a hand signaling him to stop. I patted the seat next to me, silently asking him to sit down as well. He nodded and once he sat down I began.

"Please, let me say what I have to and then if you still don't want anything to do with me then..." I trailed off and he began to speak but I quietted him again.

"Jasper, I love you. I love everything about you and I think I have since the moment I met you. Today, Edward came and told me that he wasn't lying when he said he wanted a future with me and that it was only once that he had an indiscretion. Whether or not he was telling the truth, I didn't care. I don't want him. He has never made me feel as safe, loved, and happy as you do. Every time we were together, I felt like I was never good enough for him. With you, I feel like myself. Like I could truly be who I am and you won't think less of me for it. There's no competition Jasper." I sighed and picked up Shelby.

"Remember when I told you that I couldn't write songs anymore?" He nodded. "I wrote this after our very first coffee date."

When I was a little bit younger

The strain I was under could make me cry

Now I'm a little bit older, a little bit bolder

But ever so shy

Sweet darlin', come hold me

Just a little bit longer now

Sweet darlin', come hold me

Just a little bit longer now

When things were a little bit clearer,

When we got nearer I shrugged from your touch

Now that I know what I want, see

I think that it haunts me,

I want you too much

Sweet darlin', come hold me

Just a little bit longer now

I closed my eyes as I sang the last note. I tightened my grip on Shelby; she was keeping me from running.

"I just needed you to know." With my eyes still closed, I whispered.

"Don't hide from me." He whispered as he held my face in his hands and rubbed small circles with his thumbs on my cheeks.

"I am so sorry. What I said was out of line. I shouldn't have thought that you would take him back or that you were only with him for his money to begin with. I know you better than that and I know it doesn't matter to you. It was a defense mechanism. I wanted to believe that that was the reason so it would hurt less when you left me."

"Why didn't you tell me that you felt that way? Did I do something to make you think that?"

"No! No, you didn't do anything. That was all me. I, I wanted to be someone who could take care of you in every way. I love you, Bella. I just want to make you happy."

"I am happy with you, Jasper. I love you."

"I can't tell you what I feel when I hear you say that, darlin'." He gave me a chaste kiss and took shelby to set her down so that he could wrap his hands around my waist. I kissed my way down his jaw and neck whispering 'I love you' in between kisses.

"Make love to me, Jasper." I whispered as I nibbled on his ear. He groaned and wrapped his hands around my waist and hoisted me up. My legs automatically wrapped around his waist and my arms tightened around his neck. He carried me towards his bedroom and lay me down on his bed.

He removed my clothing and treated each piece of exposed skin with reverence. He spent hours worshipping my body, whispering his love for me every possible second, and taking care of me like no one had before. I felt everything he did; it was as if we were one.

I knew in my mind that I made the right decision. There was never a choice to make but I knew Jasper was it for me. He must have felt the same because he asked me to marry him six months later.

Now, walking down towards the man of my dreams with my father leading me, seeing my sisters smiling with tears in their eyes, and as I wore a beautiful white dress, I knew I would never love or trust anyone as much as I did him.

A/N: Thank you for reading. Make sure to check out the other awesome one-shots for this contest and vote for your favorite.

Songs used:

Oh! Darling by The Beatles

Sweet Darlin' by She and Him