A/N: Well, my friends, here we go.
How funny that one chapter of their lives ended exactly where they began: in New York City.
As he hadn't seen Bella in about a month at that point, Jasper was somewhat miffed to find the fancy dinner party Senators Cullen and Clearwater had invited him to eons ago coincided with his finally getting his act together. As a result, Jasper had packed up all his things and put them on a truck to a storage unit in California while he jumped on a plane to New York City.
Instead of being greeted at the airport by his girlfriend, whom he was hoping to have a minute to kiss or... whatever before the gala that night, he was met by Edward and Benjamin. Rather than getting any downtime, he was whisked away to try on suits.
Out of his depth, Jasper let the two other men cluck over him. He bristled a bit, hating this whole culture of dressing things up. But he remembered once how a young girl had given him twenty dollars so she could fit into his bohemian world if only for the afternoon.
He could wear a ridiculous suit for the evening.
Bella had made it clear he was under no obligation to attend this event, but it was something he wanted to do. Benjamin had explained it would do wonders for the Senators' cause to have him and Bella show up in obvious support.
It was a good cause, and Jasper didn't blame the senators for the fact he'd suffered.
Now, though, he was rethinking his decision as Benjamin felt the need to outline what type of behavior was acceptable amongst the blue bloods that would be in attendance that night.
"He's not a total heathen," Edward chided his boyfriend lightly.
"Sorry, darling." Benjamin patted Jasper's arm. "No offense meant."
"Bossing people around is what he does best." Edward leaned behind Jasper to give Benjamin a kiss.
"Hey now," Jasper groused playfully. "We work before we play."
Benjamin chuckled, holding up a pair of ties against the stark white, too-stiff dress shirt Jasper wore. "I like you," he informed him.
Jasper had been at the gala for almost an hour.
He seemed to be a popular commodity, though that frankly wasn't surprising. He was charming. He knew it.
Because Bella was stuck at some pre-function event, Edward stayed with Jasper most of the time, fending off uncomfortable questions with practiced ease. He really would do anything for Bella, Jasper realized, including keeping him safe.
It was obvious which of the society wives and daughters believed some of the tabloid lies. They cast a suspicious look at Jasper, seeming confused to see Edward acting so obviously brotherly toward the man. It couldn't have been an accident that when Edward and Benjamin had a brief, relatively chaste PDA moment, it was always in front of these people. The looks on their faces then were priceless.
By that time, though, Jasper had his hand in his pocket, wrapped around his phone, waiting for the vibration that would signal a new text from Bella. He'd even pulled it out a few times to make sure he hadn't somehow missed it.
His phone was irritatingly silent.
But just as he was beset by an overly flirtatious pair of twins around his age, perhaps a little younger, he felt a hand at his arm.
"Excuse me, Tanya, Katrina," Bella said smoothly as she wound her fingers through his. "If you don't mind, I need to borrow my boyfriend for just a few minutes." Her voice was saccharine, but the way she held his hand and leaned on the word "my" had intent behind it.
Jasper smiled widely at the challenge in her voice. "If you'll excuse me, ladies," he said politely, tilting his head in their direction before he turned toward Bella. He leaned in for a small kiss - needing any little bit he could get after being without her for so long - but Bella dodged away.
"Patience. Just be patient for thirty more seconds," she murmured discreetly, nodding a quick hello to someone or another. She squeezed his hand.
"Try not to to make it obvious," Edwards said, kissing her cheek.
Jasper wondered what he meant until Bella pulled him along, down one hallway and then around the corner of another before pushing him into an empty room. Getting the idea quickly, he wrapped his arms around her, pressing her up against the closed door, and kissed her greedily. Her hands slipped beneath the jacket of his suit, warm at his sides, squeezing him closer.
It was nearly a full minute before she pulled away, her eyes raking him as she tried to catch her breath. "Holy crow, Jasper." She leaned back in for another couple of pecks. "You look so... fucking...hot."
He grumbled, cupping her cheeks and bringing her back to him. He was not even remotely close to done kissing her. Now that his urgency had been well and thoroughly communicated, he could take his time. He kissed her slowly now, lingering, savoring. He let his tongue sweep over her lip and press into her mouth.
He kissed her like he was making love to her, leaning his body against hers, letting his tongue stroke languidly, thrusting in and pulling back. He twined their fingers together, pressing them up by her head against the door. Better that way, he thought, or he was definitely going to muss her elegant updo.
When it got to the point they had to stop or go overboard, Jasper pulled back. He closed his eyes, resting his forehead against hers as he tried to remind himself where they were, and that they had to be good.
Finally in control of himself, he pressed a light kiss to the tip of her nose and stepped arms length away from her, taking her in. She was utterly gorgeous. Over the years, he'd seen her dolled up for this event or that, but pictures didn't do her justice at all. "Wow," he rumbled, feeling a feral sort of pride. This woman was his. They would go home together.
He never had to let her go.
"You really look like a princess now."
She smirked. "You know I hate dressing up like this."
"Yeah, well. You know I hate this g'damn monkey suit." He flashed her a grin. "But at least you gotta admit we're the hottest couple here."
She laughed, rolled her eyes, and kissed him again sweetly. "Well, we will be, if we can get out of here."
"How did you know about this place, anyway? I didn't see any quiet little rooms."
Bella quirked an eyebrow at him. "Do you know how many politicians are here? Where do you think scandals take place? Quiet little rooms at big, obnoxious parties."
"And again, how do you know about this place, Miss Swan?" He gave her a stern look.
Shaking her head, Bella ignored him, moving her hands to straighten his tie. "We should get back out there."
"Now that you're here, I am seriously regretting agreeing to this," he protested, wiping away a bit of smudged lipstick from the corner of her mouth with the pad of his thumb. Carefully, he wound his arms back around her. "I can't think of anything else I want to do right now but get you home."
With his hands against her back, he felt her shiver. "Well, maybe I have a consolation for you." Her voice was a hum near his ear.
"Great. I can handle a quicky," he said deviously, snaking his hand down to the curve of her ass.
Laughing, Bella shimmied away from him. "So handsy." Her smile gentled as she wrapped her fingers around his and opened the door. "Follow me."
"Anywhere," he promised.
The flush on her cheeks made him smile, and he let her lead him back out to the main party. He stopped short when he saw who was at the table she was walking toward.
"Carlisle got them in and took care of their clothes so they could see you," Bella explained.
Jasper swallowed hard.
For the last few weeks, he and his former friend, Peter, had been in contact. Lonely in Texas and aching for the friendships he'd left behind in New York, Jasper had seen Peter online one night and had taken a chance. Though his wife, Charlotte, had been positive Jasper was responsible for hurting Alice so badly, Peter had always seemed torn.
They'd exchanged pleasantries, both ignoring the elephant in the room to talk about safe topics: weather, job, sports teams, musicians.
When he'd mentioned it, oh so casually, to Bella, she'd been exasperated by his unwillingness to actually talk to Peter.
"Boys!" she'd grumbled. "This is the irritating part when almost all of your friends are boys. You won't talk anything through."
Well, apparently, Alice had gotten wind of this and had decided both Peter and Charlotte could be trusted with the truth. So there they were, Charlotte looking contrite - she'd said some horrible things to him - and Peter just looking out of his depth, tugging on his tie.
Jasper gave a nervous laugh. "I know, right? It's like the second time in my life I've ever worn a tie."
That broke the tension and the three smiled at each other.
Charlotte stepped forward then, throwing her arms around Jasper's neck. "I'm so sorry, Jay."
"You thought you were protecting Alice," Jasper said in her ear. "I can't ever be mad at you for that."
Once Charlotte had released him, he and Peter did that guy thing where they wanted to hug but didn't know if it was acceptable. "Bro," Peter finally said, the word a little raw with emotion. "Dude. You've had a fucked up year."
Jasper's lips tugged up, then down, up, then down, as he tried to decide how to react. Finally, he burst out laughing, pulling Peter forward into a quick, tight hug. "I know, right?"
"How are you? Really?" Peter asked, stepping back though he kept his upper body inclined toward Jasper. He dropped his voice as he continued. "You're hanging out with some pretty shady company. I don't know about these senator mother fuckers. They always seem to be involved in scandals."
Grinning, Jasper shook his head and stepped to Bella's side, wrapping his arm around her and tugging her close. "Oh, I don't know. My girl protects me from the real shady ones."
Smiling shyly, Bella tilted her head up in an invitation Jasper gladly took. He kissed her sweetly before they all sat to talk.
His hands were everywhere. How could they be so many places at once?
Oh, she was a little drunk. That could have had something to do with it. Maybe. There had to be some explanation for her heightened senses.
She giggled, listening to Jasper's running commentary as he tried to get her out of her clothes.
"Whoever thought dressing this way was a good idea should be caught and shot now," he muttered, his fingers fumbling as he tried to get her strappy heels off her feet. "Too fucking much of it, for one thing." His fingers skimmed up her leg, following the seam of her hosiery. "Jeans and a t-shirt. That's all you should need. Or a skirt. Baby!" He looked up, his eyes intense even in the near darkness of the room. "You should wear skirts. All the time. With nothing underneath." Grinning, he clambered over her, pushing her back on the bed and pressing sloppy kisses against her collarbone. "Easy access. Then we can get right down to business."
Her giggle-snort turned into a moan as he bit down lightly on her neck, sucking. "Such a romantic you are, Jasper Whitlock. You know it's winter, right? I'd freeze my ass off if I wore skirts, and without panties?"
He knelt on the edge of the bed and pulled her up with him, his hands going to her back, trying to find the zipper of her dress. "But we live in California."
A thrill went through her at his use of the word "we."
"There's no winter in California. There's only nice," he continued, finally managing to get the zipper of her dress down. "Jesus fucking Christ on a cracker. Sugar, this dress.. you looked so fucking fantastic. But it needs to be on the floor. Now."
Taking pity on him - and frankly ready to move this along - Bella stood up on the bed. She swayed, and he caught her around the waist before she fell, steadying her. Giggling, Bella shimmied out of the dress, letting it slip down her body, and undid the clasp of her bra.
His head was tilted up, watching her with hungry eyes. He tugged her panties down before he swept her legs out from under her, sending her sprawling on her back on the bed.
Before she could get another word in edgewise he'd climbed down off the bed into a kneeling position. He pulled her over so her ass rested on the edge of the bed and draped first one, then the other of her legs over his shoulders.
"I fucking missed you, Bella. So much," he rumbled.
Bella threw her head back, gasping as he entered her in one swift stroke. "Oh, God." He was inside her so deep, deeper than before.
"I dreamed about seeing you just like this." The pace he set was fast. Hard. His hands were all over again, teasing her nipple, cupping her face, tracing the line of her neck. When he cupped her breasts, she arched up to meet him. She gripped the edge of the bed, twisting her fingers in the blankets.
"Love you," she groaned, the only words she could manage. "Oh, fuck." Her words devolved into senseless moans, whines, mewls of pure pressure.
"So fucking beautiful. Love you."
Bella was surprised when she felt the first stirrings of orgasm begin to twist, the tension building toward release. To date, she had not been able to orgasm from sex. It wasn't something she felt bad about - Jasper was amazing with his hands and his mouth - but...
Jasper's finger was on her clit, and Bella was gone. "Come for me, baby. I want to see you come while I'm inside you. I want to feel you. Come for me."
She did. She was utterly helpless not to. She came with a wild cry, and as she clenched tight around him, he moaned out his own orgasm.
When he fell forward, his head rested just below her breasts, his damp hair tickling her sensitive nipples. His breath came in hot pants she felt against her slick skin. She unclenched her hands, realizing only then how tightly she'd been gripping the blankets. Her knuckles ached.
It seemed to take Jasper some effort to lift his head. Bella slid out from underneath him, moving to lay more traditionally on the bed while he climbed up with a groan. He looked tired, adorably sleepy. Completely enamored of this beautiful man, Bella helped him pull back the covers and climbed underneath, quickly cuddling up to him as he pulled her close.
"Bella." He was pressing open mouthed kisses against her lips, so the word was mumbled.
"Hmmm?" she hummed, returning his quasi-kisses with equal precision. They were both close to sleep.
"I don't have to fly away from you this time." He nuzzled her cheek with his nose.
She opened her eyes, a slow smile blooming and her heart giving an utterly painless twist. He looked back at her, the happiness in his eyes a mirror of what she felt. "This time we fly away together."
They settled into a life together as easy as if it had been what they were always meant to do, like the last five and a half years of their lives had been a prologue to what they were meant to be.
Maybe it was fate that after she turned away from him on that New York City street when she was sixteen and he was eighteen, Bella had only ever found one other soul she could connect with, could have shared a life with under other circumstances.
Maybe it was fate that though Jasper had found a profound connection with another, that other was barred to him.
Maybe it was fate that a shared experience finally bound them together permanently. The bond they'd forged when they were each others' only refuge those long weeks of captivity could not be broken or ever duplicated.
Maybe they had Edward's innate orientation, Jasper's father's philandering ways, and Aro's psychotic reasoning to thank for the beautiful life they may never otherwise have grasped.
Or maybe life simply happened, and they'd merely been lucky that they'd weathered the storm together.
Jasper and Bella didn't try to plan most of their lives, knowing better than others how quickly it could all go to hell. As much as they could, they simply lived their lives, doing their best not to take for granted when things were good.
And things were very, very good.
Bella worked hard at school, and Jasper found steady work at an antique store. They were happy and in love. Their lives stretched out in front of them with the promise of good and bad yet to come.
But whatever life handed them, they were determined to face each challenge together.
A/N: Well, we have come to the end of our tale. I know I said there would be an epi, but in writing this, I realized I didn't have one. Sorry to anyone disappointed.
Thank you so much to barburella, jfka06, and jessypt for all their help. Special thanks to JessyPT or I never would have finished this story. Haha.
And thanks to all of you for sticking around, reading, and commenting. MWAH.