Playlist: For the First Time by The Script; Never Gonna Leave this Bed by Maroon 5
I knew that I wasn't going to be able to live a normal life until I had Bella back. No matter how hard I tried, everything felt empty. When I got word that the SWAT team in New York City had found Bella, I split from Em's. I jumped in to my GTO and took off. I didn't know if Charlie would release my name or if the cops would come gunning for me. I needed to get my new identity in order before I could make contact with her.
Plus, I had to make sure they weren't watching her. After being in the hands of a high level drug dealer, her dad getting locked up for his association with James, and the raid and deaths of all those guys that day, Bella was well known to the cops on both coasts. Until I was sure that they weren't watching her mail or tapping her calls, I had to stay low key and out of the picture. I kept track of Charlie's case and felt bad when he got sentenced. No matter what her relationship was with her dad, Bella had to have been hurting from that loss. It was just another thing to add to the already enormous list of things that she had to deal with.
When I hadn't heard my name mention with James' or Charlie's in reports and on the news, I knew that Bella's dad didn't rat me out in the process of his conviction. I called Emmett about four months into my self-inflicted isolation to make sure the coast was clear. He'd told me everything he knew.
Bella told the cops that she'd been with James the whole time she was gone, since there wasn't a person alive that could deny that claim, the cops took her word. To them, there was no reason for her to lie. I had covered my tracks well enough that if the cops knew my name, I would just look like a lower level thug, a nobody in the bigger picture.
I lifted the Budweiser to my lips and tilted it back, keeping my eyes on the baseball game playing over the bar. My life was a cycle of working in a lumber yard in Fairbanks, drinking at the local bar near my house, and waiting for Bella to come. I'd sent the first letter after I called Emmett, since he gave me her address in Florida. It was a drunken moment that I wanted to take back. It wasn't fair that I'd sent it with no way for her to respond. The package was an entirely different thing, purposeful and full of hope.
I pulled the small ring from my pocket and looked at the diamonds sparkle in the dim bar lighting. The band was the same design as her bracelet, except the circle of the band was interrupted by a single square stone surrounded in smaller diamonds. The loops of the infinity symbol created the band. I would love her forever, if given the opportunity.
It took a big chunk out of the money that I had planned on investing. The money that I had, essentially, embezzled from James. Between the house, shipping my car, plane ticket into Fairbanks, the ring, the bracelet, and the things I needed to fill the house, I had spent quite a bit of money. Luckily, there was plenty left to invest. A nest egg for mine and Bella's future. The only thing that was left to tie up all the loose ends was the woman.
"Have a good night," I said, sliding my empty bottle to the edge of the bar. Bill, the old man that ran the bar nodded his head as I was leaving. I walked home, breathing in the damp, cool night air. The quiet was calming but did nothing to take the thoughts out of my head that Bella may never use that ticket. I might never see her again.
I woke the next day in a haze, slightly hung over. I took a shower, hoping it would help, but all it made me was a better smelling ball of tension. As I pulled my jeans on, I heard a car door shut outside my house. I looked to see a yellow cab pulling away from the curb. Bella was standing at the edge of the yard, looking at the house with fear and doubt in her eyes. I pulled my shirt on as fast as I could and walked to the front door, taking a deep breath as I turned the handle.
I was in a haze by the time my butt hit the smelly seat of the cab. I told the driver the address and we headed away from the airport in Fairbanks. The ride caused my stomach to twist into a knot so tight I wasn't sure it would ever unravel. When I saw the signs saying that North Pole was near, I almost threw up. No matter how much I loved Jasper, the thought that I was making a huge mistake was plaguing my mind.
The cab started to slow, and I look over to see that he'd stopped in front of a large house. The outside looked like a cabin, but the sheer size suggested that it wasn't the size of the cabin we'd stayed in while in Michigan. It was covered in dark wood with a lush green lawn. The air was warm but still had some coolness to it as I stepped out of the car. I was sure Alaska was known for their mild summers but, to be honest, I was expecting snow, even in the summer. It was beautiful. The mid-morning sun was bright in the sky. Taking the overnight flight helped, since I was able to sleep some on the way, but my body felt like I hadn't slept in days.
The cab driver helped with my bags, and I paid the man for the twenty minute drive from Fairbanks. I stood at the end of the walkway as he pulled away, looking at the house that was soon going to be ours, not just his. As I took one step forward, the front door opened. Jasper pulled the heavy wooden door inward, stopped, and leaned on the door frame.
My chest ached at the sight of him, my legs tingling for me to run into his arms. He was in loose jeans and a black t-shirt. His hair was still wet from a shower, I was sure. He looked tired but beautiful. We both took tentative steps towards each other, as if the other person was some sort of hallucination. When we were just a few feet from each other, we stopped.
"Take these," I said, holding the handles of my bags out to him. Without a word, he took the bags, freeing my hands. The pulling back of my arm, the opening of my hand, and the friction of his scruffy face against my palm was all I could feel. My surroundings were completely gone as I hauled off and slapped the man I loved. The stinging sensation of my palm across his cheek felt so good that I couldn't hold back the smirk. His head whipped to the side and he grimaced. I knew that it hurt because the throbbing in my hand was just getting worse. I punched him in the center of his chest - not hard - but enough to let him know that I was pissed at him.
Meeting my eyes, after recovering from the smack, he finally spoke, "I deserved that, but are you done yet?" he asked, a cocky smile appearing on his face. I nodded my head and he dropped the bags. In one long stride, his arms were around my waist and his lips were pressed to mine. I wanted to pull away, I wanted to crawl inside his skin, I wanted to hit him again, but, most of all, I wanted to kiss him long enough to make up for the nine months of missing him. There was passion in his lips and need in his tongue as it swept against mine. His hands gripped my hips, pulling me so that every part of our fronts were pressed against each other's.
I pulled away, worried that we would end up giving the few neighbors a show on the front lawn. I picked up one of my bags as he took the other two in one hand. With our fingers locked together, we walked into the house.
He closed the door tentatively.
I turned to look at him and everything fell away. I didn't care about the house, the location, the separation, the heartache. I only cared that I was here now, seeing him, smelling him, wanting to touch him. I closed the distance and pressed him against the door. My hand ran up from the hem of his shirt, over the ripples of his taunt stomach. I pushed the shirt over his head, and he grabbed mine to do the same. Our skin pressed together, creating the most beautiful warmth I had ever felt.
He pressed back and started to lead me down halls I didn't know. I stumbled a little, and he grabbed my butt and lifted me to settle around his waist. My wrapped legs kept me tight against his bulge so I could feel his hardness through his jeans.
"I missed you so much," he sighed against my face. Our foreheads were together, our eyes locked. I could feel the tears start to fall, relief that I was finally in his arms again taking over.
"Me too. I love you…so, so much," I said back. He closed his eyes as he laid me down on the large bed in the sparsely decorated room. I closed my eyes too, relishing in the feeling of his weight on me.
"We have so much to talk about. There's so much to catch up on," he said, trying to pull away. I gripped him tighter.
"We have the rest of our lives to talk. I just want to feel you, know that this is real…please." The last word came out more breathy than I have normally talked. It was almost a moan, because the idea of not touching him right then was terrifying.
Our clothes were lost, our hands and lips never stopping the caressing of each other's skin. As he pushed into me, my head lulled back, a deep, loud moan escaping my mouth. The movements, the pressure, the kisses conveyed everything that wasn't said. Our hot breaths in each other's mouths were I love yous, my nails down his back were I need you, and when his hips pressed into mine, I knew that we couldn't live without the other.
Sweat cover our bodies in a fine sheen as we both came, moaning into each other's mouths as our pleasure seemed to fill the room. When he slipped out of me, my body was Jell-O, exhaustion setting in fast. He pulled me up to his side, and we lay like that for hours.
We talked about what we'd been doing for the last nine months in between small naps. He calmed my worries about the time apart, assuring me that it was just to keep himself out of jail and me safe. I told him about my job, and he had said something about an opening at the Wells Fargo in Fairbanks. I laughed when I learned that he worked at Lowe's, stocking lumber and working the forklifts and stuff. It was a regular person job, very blue collar work, and Jasper just didn't seem the type. Maybe it was possible that we could live like a normal couple, not one marred by tragedy and crime.
"So, if you have a new identity, what do I call you in public?" I asked, running my fingers over the lines of his stomach. I avoided looking at the tattoo on his chest, thinking someday he needed to get treatment to remove it. Pull the Trigger was no longer a mantra that he needed to be reminded of. I also thought of getting ethereal, white angel wings on my back to balance the wings of a fallen angel that he had on his.
He was playing with the bracelet that he'd gotten me, which was hooked firmly to my left wrist.
"You can still call me Jasper, but it's now my middle name. And if we married, you'll be Hale, not Whitlock. I hope that's okay." I nodded my head, snuggling in deeper.
"I'm Jackson Jasper Hale. Jasper Monroe Whitlock isn't me anymore. He was a killer, a drug dealer, and a bad person. J.J. Hale is a normal guy, with a normal job, who likes beer at the local pub and has a hot ass girlfriend." He laughed when I rolled my eyes.
"Isabella Marie Hale," I said to myself. "I like it." He reached over to the night stand and pulled something out, breaking the connection of our skin for just a second. I closed my eyes and giggled, thinking that we'd just had sex without a condom, so why wear one now? His fingers moved from my bracelet, to my fingers, and I felt something slide of my skin. I opened my eyes and saw that I had a ring on my left hand, the fourth finger. It matched the bracelet that was just inches down from it.
There were no words needed as I looked into his deep blue eyes because I was already his. But just to make sure he knew for sure, I whispered the yes against his lips as I rolled onto him and my lips pressed to his.