My donation to the T4T Compilation! Enjoy everyone!


December 17th, 2012

I looked up from my morning paper as Edward strode into the kitchen with a stack of freshly delivered mail. He'd taken off his coat and scarf, but his hair still held tiny flecks of snow from walking our dog out in the wintery weather.

Said dog came rushing through the door as well, jumping up and down his leg in anxious anticipation of his breakfast. I just sighed and shook my head, the little cretin would soon turn into a bloated sausage, the way Edward kept feeding him.

However Spike was getting no response from the love of my life, who was adorably sporting an annoyed pout on his flushed face, scanning through the mail.

"Christmas card, Christmas card, invitation to the hospital's annual Christmas dinner, Christmas card, oh hey, a happy Chanukah, they know they're a day late, right? The bloody thing is already over! And surprise surprise, another Christmas card!" Edward said snidely as he threw the stack on the counter. "You know this is all your fault, right? Last year people wouldn't even mention the bloody holidays to me, and now that I'm all settled and happy, the ruddy cards come to take over my house!"

I couldn't hold in the smile that was tugging at my mouth, but managed to keep it small and barely noticeable. "They are hardly taking over your house, love," I responded, turning a page and pretending to read about some new plans president Obama was considering on the other side of the world.

I could feel his eyes on me, glaring. My smile grew wider, completely inappropriately of course, which is why I was trying to hide it behind my cup of morning coffee.

"Stop smiling," he said in his driest possible tone. I couldn't help it, a tiny chuckle escaped my throat. "Stop it! This isn't funny!"

"You just can't appreciate the humor in it," I said smirking. "An entirely different thing."

Spike, still being ignored, started barking. Well, he would have started barking, if the sounds coming from his obnoxiously tiny body sounded anywhere near intimidating. I rubbed my forehead to keep the noise from bringing on a headache. "Ugh," I grunted. "We should've gotten a dog."

Edwards mouth opened into an insulted 'O'. "Spikey is a dog!"

I raised an eyebrow and looked down on what we so fittingly called a Jackuhuahua. The tiny cross between a Chihuahua and a Jack Russell was disgustingly cute and happy, as it kept on dancing around Edward's legs while keeping up its high pitched squealing. Its lungs were entirely disproportionate to its body and I was even wondering where the mongrel fit them.

There had to be some magic going on in there, some extension spell, like in Harry Potter. Maybe we should have called the little devil Tardis, bigger on the inside and all. That also worked for the vast amounts of food it devoured on a daily basis.

"Spike is a rat, and a noisy rat at that," I responded without looking at Edward.

The moment I said the name out loud, the dog stopped dancing and turned its huge dark shiny eyes towards me. The little tapping noise its tiny nails made against the floor tiles was all that could be heard for a few seconds, as Spike made his way towards me.

I glanced at Edward who stood staring at me with wide eyes, and I felt little paws press against my thigh, the Jackuhuahua stood on its hind legs and leaned against me.

"But he's the most adorable rat I've ever seen," I said and I picked up the second love of my life. "Yes, you are! Adorable little puppy," I cooed and let the dog lick all over my face.

"That's disgusting," Edward said. "I ain't kissing you now!"

"You weren't kissing me anyway," I retorted. "You are in grumpy Grinch mode. Isn't he Spike? Daddy's grumpy, yes he is, yes he is!"

"What are you, five?" Edward growled and turned to the coffee pot to pour himself a cup.

"Nah, that coffee is old, sit down and I'll make it fresh," I said, putting the dog down and standing up from the table. "Eggs, love?"

As I passed him, he swatted my ass and sat down on his side of the kitchen table. "You know exactly what I need," he said huskily. "My mother always told me I needed to marry a nice girl who could cook. Can't believe I'm at least somewhat following her advice."

My hands stilled on the carton of eggs. Marry, marriage... Fuck! Was he serious?

"But maybe there's some truth in that Ice queen's views after all," he went on. "I mean, I wouldn't be opposed to you cooking my meals for the rest of my life."

Jesus, he was, wasn't he? He was God damn stone cold serious.

"It wouldn't be completely one sided, of course," he followed. "You'ld have but to cough, and I'd be all over you with my amazing doctor skills, fix you back up to being healthy as a horse. You have to admit it's a..."

I heard him talking, but the words no longer came through. Marriage, fuck, would I ever want anything like that ever again? I'd been there and it didn't exactly turn out that well for me. I had never even imagined that someone like Edward, who was so vehemently against anniversaries and holidays, would ever want to get married. The possibility seriously never crossed my mind. What the fuck was I going to do?

"Jazz?" he said as his arms slid around my waist. "You okay? You kind of phased out there."

"Hmmm?" I responded. "Yeah, I'm fine. I'll just get the coffee started and fix you some eggs. Sunny side up?"

"I'm feeling adventurous today," he said with a grin. "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, scrambled. Yup, scrambled sounds just perfect!"

He clicked his ever present iPod in the stereo and put on some music while I measured the coffee and dumped it into the filter. Humming along with Air's 'La Femme D'argent' he pulled the paper towards him, completely oblivious to the feeling of panic raging through my body.

I took a frying pan from its hook on the ceiling and lit the burner underneath. While the pan heated up I quickly whisked some eggs in a bowl and chopped some mushrooms and tomatoes. Without really paying attention I shoved it all into the pan and started scrambling the baking eggs.

Fuck. Would he mind if I never wanted to get married again? I was just fine with our relationship the way it was. There's no need for actual vows and all that when you love each other, right? I mean, we could just get a contract or something, to make sure all our rights were covered. Domestic partnership, that didn't sound half as scary as getting married again. Would that be enough for him? Or would he really want to go through the marriage thing?

"Jasper! Where the hell is your mind at?" Edward yelled and I snapped out of my thoughts. The smell permeating the kitchen clearly told me I stopped scrambling the eggs a while ago, and they had been ready a while ago as well. Fuck!

"Sorry, I-," I said a bit dazed while Edward turned off the burner and took the pan from my hand. He took my spatula and placed it in the sink together with the pan.

I was still just staring a bit into nothing, realizing that I fucked up a batch of scrambled eggs, eggs! I was a bloody chef for fuck's sake! Eggs!

He took both my hands in his and placed a kiss on my palms. "Babe, what's wrong?" he asked me.

I looked up and just started drowning in his amazing green eyes, that bright, perfect tourmaline color that never failed to capture me. "I-I don't know, I don't feel so well," I answered.

"What is it? A headache? Dizzy?" he questioned, looking slightly more concerned than a second earlier. "Have you already had your breakfast? Any nausea?"

"It's nothing," I quickly said. "Probably just some 24 hour bug, you can fuss over me if I don't feel better tomorrow. Let me make you some new eggs."

He kissed the tip of my nose and turned away. "Can't," he said. "It's okay, I'll pick something up from the baker on the way, but I really got to go if I want to make it for the department meeting."

He rolled up the paper and turned back to face me. "You done with this?" he asked and I gave a noncommittal nod.

"Thanks," he said and kissed my lips. "Love you!"

"Love you," I whispered as the back door closed behind him. Spike was running along the floor-reaching windows that looked out into the garden, watching Edward take his bike from the shed and maneuver it through the gate.

"Breakfast?" I asked the dog that was already making his way back to me, eyes wide and begging.

"Yeah, thought so," I murmured while taking a can of dog food from the fridge. As I scooped the food into Spike's bowl, the phone rang.

"Hang on!" I uselessly yelled at the phone while struggling with the spoon, can and bowl, to quickly get rid of it and answer. The result was of course twice the amount of food the dog should have on the floor and an empty bowl.

"Fuck!" I cursed just before I picked up. "Yes?"

"Jasper, honey," my mother asked. "Is that you?"

"Hey mom," I said. "Yeah, it's me. Sorry, I just had an accident with Spike's breakfast."

"That's okay, sweetie," she said. "Have you asked Edward about Christmas?"

I inwardly groaned. My mother had been asking me about Christmas dinner, hoping me and Edward would join the table. However, knowing Edward, I hadn't even dared to ask.

"Yeah, I'm sorry, mum," I lied. "He's got to work, and I'm going to hang around the hospital to get as much time together at Christmas as I can with him."

I felt horrible telling my mother this fabricated story. In truth, Edward avoided the hospital like the plague around Christmas, he only had two more days of work before we'd both be free for two weeks. Every single inch of Edward's workplace was covered in Christmas stuff, and it would be overrun by families celebrating the holidays there with the loved ones who were too sick to go home.

However, my mother couldn't understand his reluctance to celebrate. We'd had a horrible falling out three months ago, when my birthday was coming up. I'd tried to explain that I wasn't celebrating it, but she insisted I came around their house for an impromptu birthday bash. I'd snuck out while Edward was at work, not even telling him it was my birthday. I wasn't going to jeopardise the best thing that ever happened to me. If I had to make some simple concessions to keep him happy, I would. Celebrations of annual events were just a few of them, no biggie.

"He works way too hard!" my mother said. "Well, even if you can't come for Christmas, do you have any idea what kind of present we could get him?"

"He doesn't really want anything, mum," I said, knowing I was falling on deaf ears.

"Well, I know you two just get anything you want with your combined salaries," she said cheerily. "But there's gotta be something he wants that you don't already have."

"It's not that, mum," I tried to explain. "You know Edward doesn't believe in holiday gifts. Please don't get him anything, it'll only make him uncomfortable."

"Nonsense," my mother said. "The boy just needs some positive holiday cheer!"

"Mum," I pleaded. "Please?"

I could practically hear her roll her eyes. "All right, you know what?" she said. "I'll just get you something you both could use."

"Fine," I said. "I'll come around a few days after Christmas, okay?"

"Sure, honey," she answered. "Give my love to Edward, and enjoy your Christmas together!"

"Love you, mum!" I answered and hung up with a sigh.

I turned the stereo to 'Sky Radio' and hummed along with the Christmas carols while I cleaned away the ruined breakfast. When the kitchen was spotless once again, I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee and scanned through the Christmas cards on the counter. Truthfully, I loved them, and secretly, I'd hung up a red ribbon in my kitchen pantry to hang them on. The only place in the house, where Edward never went.

.

December 20th, 2012

I slouched down on a barstool and hung my head in my hands. Great fucking day, and I couldn't even go home to Edward to complain about it. In exchange for him being free every Christmas, he had to pull more double and late shifts at the hospital the weeks prior. So instead of sitting on the couch with my man's arms around me, I was looking up hopefully at James while the bar's loud music attacked my wounded soul.

"What the on earth has dragged you through the fiery pits of hell?" James asked as he handed me a Jupiler.

"Aro," I answered, and luckily for me, that was all James needed to understand.

"Fucking asshole!" he spat and signaled for one of his employees to take over the bar. "You should just ignore the bastard."

I chuckled humorlessly. "I wish I could, James," I said. "But when he walks into L'Orangerie with one or two of his barely 18 year old twinks, there's not much I can do."

"You can stick to the kitchen and poison their food," James replied.

"You know he enjoys watching me squirm," I mumbled. "This is the third time since Edward punched him last October, that he came in. First he spends the night turning perfectly good food back to my kitchen, then he calls me over to the table to 'compliment the chef'. He just can't get over himself! The fucker had the audacity to talk about our sexlife in the middle of the fucking restaurant."

James's eyes flashed with fury and he opened his mouth to speak.

"Leave it, James," I said. "He was a manipulative sick fucker when we were married, I doubt there's anything you can do to make him stop now."

"I realize that," he said. "But I can't believe John wouldn't chuck him out of his restaurant."

I easily jumped to my boss's defence. "Aro spends a fortune there," I explained. "As long as he isn't sexually harassing me, I'm not going to complain. You know what the economic climate is like right now, John can use all the customers he can get."

"You mean you haven't even told him Aro's... Well, being Aro?" he asked me wide eyed.

"No," I replied and quickly added. "And you aren't going to either!"

"Alright," James promised. "But you know this isn't going to stop. He wants you back, and he's willing to do anything to make that happen."

"You're almost right," I said after a large swig from my bottle.

"Care to tell me where I'm wrong?" James replied, looking at me with one of those strong eyebrows way up to his hairline.

"Are doesn't want me back," I told him blandly. When he started to protest, I explained. "Aro is a possessive motherfucker, but he's also a proud one. He wouldn't touch me with a stick after I left him and humiliated him with a divorce, but he still sees me as his. And he doesn't like seeing what is his with another man."

"You think he's really that sick?" James asked with a horrified look on his face.

"He likes to fuck boys that either are, or look too young to have pubic hair. Are you seriously questioning how sick the man is?" I growled while shaking my head.

I still couldn't believe I ever fell for the man. Yeah, I'd been young and naive, actually I'd been very young and very naive, but still. I should've realized it wasn't healthy for a 30 year old to start a relationship with a boy just over half his age.

My parents were horrified when they heard about it, wanting to report him to the police straight away. Unfortunately that was one more difference between the Netherlands and the USA. No such thing as statutory rape. A kid can have sex when they turn 16, and it doesn't matter how old their partner is. I was 17, so as far as the law was concerned, nothing untoward was happening.

Still they pleaded for me to break it up. They grounded me, had me coming home straight after school, forbade me from going out at the weekends. They were furiously hoping that cutting our time together short would make Aro lose interest. But he just took it as a challenge, and I'd been too caught up in the attention and the gifts he'd showered me with, thinking myself in love. Love. I didn't think I would've ever known what love felt like if I hadn't met Edward.

He was my second chance, and I'd be damned if I let anything or anyone ruin what I had with him. Aro could just go to hell with his vindictive shit, he couldn't touch us. I'd make sure of that.

"Yeah, you're right," James said softly. "Still, you should tell John. I'm sure he'd rather lose the extra profit, than lose his chef."

"I'm sure he would," I answered. "Though he's not losing me. Aro annoys the hell out of me, but I'm not going to let him get to me."

"There's my Jasper," James chuckled. "Maybe he'll just lose interest when you don't respond to his taunts."

I answered his chuckle noncommittally. "Yeah, and maybe Edward will dress up as Santa and celebrate Christmas this year."

At that James choked up into a fit of laughter. "Point taken!" he said and returned to the bar. "Another beer?"

"Nah," I answered. "I'm dead on my feet, better head home before I pass out in the corner."

"Sure thing," he said while I put on my coat. "Give my love to Edward?"

"Will do," I called over my shoulder and walked back into the cold December night.

.

Once home, I crawled under the duvet straight away. Still I couldn't seem to catch any sleep. The bed was cold and empty without Edward, and nothing but his arms around me could truly calm me down from the panic that was building inside me. Everything was so fucking perfect. I had a man I loved, a house to call home, a cute little mongrel to call my baby, and a life ahead of me. Still, dark clouds were moving in, hellbent on destroying my happiness.

After tossing and turning for what felt like hours, I got back out of bed and put on a robe. Tiny nails clicking against stone tile betrayed the fact that Spike heard me coming down the stairs. I picked him up and carried him to the living room, where we curled up in an armchair together. Somehow he was a soothing balm to my worried heart.

"You know, Spike?" I whispered. "It doesn't matter if we made mistakes, or if we're not perfect. It'll all be alright in the end. Just you wait and see."

Spike looked up at me with his huge dark clueless eyes and stared at me for a second. Then his tiny tongue reached out and licked my face in a hurried frenzy. "Yeah, I love you too, you dolt."

.

A soft kiss on my brow pulled me from my sleep, warm breath dusting my eyelids, his soft voice calling my name. "Jasper, love," Edward whispered. "Wake up and come to bed."

"Hmmmm," I moaned, pulling Spike's snoring body closer to my chest. "S'good here."

Edward ran his nose over my forehead, down my temple to the soft spot underneath my ear and kissed the side of my neck. I shivered. "Are you sure?" he teased. "It will be awfully good if you come with me."

"Hmmmm," I moaned again. "M'kay."

He lifted Spike from my arms and pulled me from the chair. With a firm, but gentle grip, he led me through the dark room, up the stairs and into our bedroom. Only there did he put the dog down on the foot of the bed. The fucker. We'd had this discussion time and time again. Dogs don't belong on beds. I was just too tired to complain and let myself fall back against the mattress when Edward pulled back the duvet.

"Love you," I murmured when his warm body snuggled in behind me, spooning me from shoulders to toes.

He pressed a kiss between my shoulderblades and ran his hand through my hair. "I love you too, Jazz, more than anything."

December 23rd, 2012

"Fuck!" I cried out once I reached my kitchen. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

The dishwasher glanced at me with a worried expression, while my five line cooks kept their heads down and focussed on their dishes. I wasn't the worst boss in the business, but lately I felt tense and it was hard to not take it out on them.

I slammed my fists down on the work table simultaneously, once again crying out a frustrated 'Fuck!'.

That asshole. That fucking, possessive, stupid, inconceivably vile bastard. I'd had enough. I was so far past 'enough' that I couldn't even see that line. Of all the things he could do, all the harassment, the demeaning comments and showing up at my job, he'd gone too far this time.

I had to go, I had to see and explain to Edward that this was not what it looked like, or what Aro claimed it was. Only I couldn't, not for another hour or three. What if it reached him before I had a chance to talk to him? What if he actually believed it? What if he thought I'd cheated on him? I couldn't lose him, not like that, not ever!

My Sous was on vacation, the only reason why I was working tonight at all. Being the executive Chef of a restaurant like this meant I couldn't just walk out and let my Line Cooks fend for themselves. I was stuck. Stuck hoping that no one thought it a good idea to let Edward know what was currently circulating through the entire catering sector of Tilburg. Stuck hoping that if someone did, he'd at least trust me enough to not believe it.

"Fuck!" I shouted while kicking one of the work table's legs.

"Chef?" asked Carola, one of my Cooks. "Are you alright?"

I chuckled humorlessly. No, of course I wasn't fucking alright! Wasn't that blatantly obvious? "Just worry about your steaks, and I'll worry about myself," I snapped. She immediately turned back to her station, a blush clear on her cheeks. "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for, Carola," I called after her. She shrugged.

"No, I mean it. I owe all of you an apology. I haven't exactly been... pleasant. Everything's a little fucked up right now, but I shouldn't be taking it out on you guys." I said a little louder.

Bart, another of my Cooks turned to face me with a smirk. "Can't say I'm that bothered, Chef," he said. "Even with your recent personality switch, we're still damn lucky to be working with you."

Not knowing how to respond to the compliment, I waved it away and turned to hide the light blush I could feel spreading over my face. "Yes, well, flattery will get you nowhere," I muttered. "Are tables 5, 9 and 13 ready to be served?"

Carola tensed as Marijn shook his head in denial. "No? Then stop yapping and get moving!" I yelled playfully.

"Yes, Chef!" my Cooks cried out in sync.

I rubbed my forehead while steadying myself against the work table. I didn't have a clue how I was going to get through the next couple of hours. I could feel a headache starting to build behind my eyelids, a low thumping against my temples as I feared Edward's reaction.

.

I sighed in relief when kitchen closing came around. One of the busiest nights of the year, and Aro knew it. That was probably why he'd chosen today to make his move. A move that had the very potential to ruin everything I came to depend upon to keep my sanity in one go. My Cooks were laughing and joking together while they went about cleaning the kitchen.

"I have to go early," I said. "I want this kitchen as clean as a whistle. I don't need to tell you what happens if I come back here after the holidays and find it anything but spotless, do I?"

"No, Chef!" three of them called out, while Jan, the dishwasher came over and held out his hand.

"Happy Christmas, Chef," he said and winked. What the?

"Happy Christmas, Jan," I answered. "All of you, actually!"

"Happy Christmas, Chef," they all said and I left the kitchen in search of John.

"Jasper," he said when I walked into his office. "You off already?"

"Yeah," I answered. "I kind of have to head home as soon as possible."

He leaned back in his chair and stared, scrutinizing me. Picking up his phone he seemed to be hesitating over something.

"Might this have anything to do with it?" he asked, and I looked down at the tiny video playing on the screen of his phone. I felt sick to my stomach. I'd seen the same video on my own phone earlier, and I knew it had been sent to a lot of people, but this was bad. John had it. My boss had a video of me sucking off my ex. A video Aro made when I was still married to him, but one he claimed was only a month old.

"Please turn that off," I said in a broken voice. He did, but he kept staring at me.

"Look, Jasper," he started and I knew he was going to fire me. Stuff like that was bad for the restaurant. I might be a good Chef, a great Chef according to a lot of people, but a bad reputation was something that could ruin a place like this.

However, John surprised me when he continued. "I know he has been coming in here. Has he been bothering you?"

I looked away, not knowing how to answer.

"Has he?" John pushed and I nodded in response. "Why the hell didn't you tell me?"

I shrugged, what could I say?

"Jasper, you're like a son to me, you know that right?" he said quietly. "I'll tell the waiters to refuse him next time he comes in."

I threw up my hands. "No, John. This is your place, your living! You can't just refuse everyone who's an ass!"

"I can, and I will," he replied sharply. "You've been a mess for the past few weeks, everyone can see it!"

"I can handle it," I bit back.

"Great way of handling it," he replied. "Don't worry about it so much, I can do without a customer like that. Now go home to your Edward and enjoy the holidays."

"But-," I started.

"No buts," John cut me off. "Go. and don't forget this!"

He threw me a heavy enveloppe, heavier than I had thought it would be. I had to fight my curiosity to not look inside that very moment, after all, it wasn't very good manners to count your Christmas bonus with your boss in the room.

"Thanks, John," I said, attempting a smile. "Happy Christmas."

"Happy Christmas, Jasper," he said. "Now shoo!"

.

Edward was on the couch when I got home, his head turning when I closed the front door.

"Hey, Jazz," he said, struggling to keep Spike in his lap.

"Hey, babe," I replied and leaned in for a kiss. He was tense, I could feel it. Dread immediately filled me and I pulled back to look into his beautiful eyes.

"Busy night?" he asked in a weird tone, further worrying me.

"Yeah, it was," I answered, clueless as to what else to say.

"There's-," Edward said and stopped, taking a deep breath with closed eyes before looking back up at me. "Sit down, you're not going to like this."

My butt immediately dropped down to the coffee table, sweat covering my palms. My breath hitched when he took one of my hands between his and rubbed his thumbs over it. I didn't think he was trying to hurt me, but his grip was too tight and the rubbing too rough. I winced slightly and tried to pull back my hand, but he wouldn't let go.

"It's Aro, he-," he paused and took another breath. "He did something, sent something to a lot of people."

I worried my bottom lip between my teeth, knowing exactly what Edward was talking about, but not knowing where he was going with this.

"It's a video, I think he made it when you were still together, but he sent it to James and when he couldn't reach you on your phone, he called me," Edward said. I let out a relieved breath at the notion that Edward didn't think I cheated on him.

"I know," I whispered. "He sent it to me as well."

Edward squeezed my hand a little tighter, his eyebrows furrowing into an angry glare. "There's more," he said. "He showed up here, saying that you'd been cheating on me with him and I almost killed him."

"What?" I asked horrified. What did that mean, almost killed him? Did he beat the crap out of Aro? Please, God, no! I didn't give a fuck if Aro got hurt, but Edward could lose his job, his career, even his freedom if Aro pressed charges. And he would!

When Edward hit Aro back in October, it was my ex who had thrown the first punch. The fucker came up to us in the street and tried to put his hands on me. When Edward stopped him by pushing him back, Aro's fist connected with Edward's jaw and before I could even open my mouth to cry out, my man had hit him so hard that Aro went down. My ex had tried to get Edward arrested for assault, but he was equally if not more guilty.

"I didn't do anything," Edward said. "I just slammed the door in his face and locked it for good measure. Though I did kill some of your china, I'm sorry."

This had to stop. What else would Aro be willing do to get what he wanted?

I pulled back my hand and stood up. "This will end tonight! I'm done, completely truly done with his pathetic attempts to terrorize us."

Edward stood up as well, grabbing my arm as I stalked to the door. "What are you planning to do?" he asked, his eyes wide and worrisome.

"I'm going to tell him to fuck off!" I grunted under my breath, too angry to speak clearly.

Edward laughed defeatedly. "Like that's going to help," he said.

"It's one thing I've never tried," I answered. "While I was with him, I just rolled over and took it. Yeah, I asked for the divorce, but I did so through my lawyer. All I do now, is try and ignore him as much as I can, letting you and John stand up for me. But that's in the past now. I'm not going to act like a scared little boy any longer. I'm a grown fucking man, and he's got nothing on me. Nothing!"

"Fuck!" Edward groaned.

"What?" I snapped, looking him in the eyes and seeing the darkness taking over.

"You're fuck hot when you're angry like this," he said and leaned in to kiss me. I wanted him to, I truly did, but now was really not a good time. I gently pushed him back and shot him an evil smile.

"Don't distract me right now!" I said angrily, making Edward chuckle.

"I'll drive," he said and reached for the keys I'd already picked up.

.

Edward agreed to stay by the elevators when we reached the floor of the apartment I used to share with Aro. He did so reluctantly, but he understood that this was something I had to do by myself.

I pounded on the door more than knocked, but I couldn't really care less. It took but a minute for the man to open the door and look down at me. Shock covered his handsome features for a fraction of a second, before he quickly composed himself.

"Jasper," he said with a smirk. "What a pleasant surprise. Come in, come in!"

I grabbed his shirt with two hands and shoved him up against the doorframe. He took hold of my wrists, but couldn't get me to let go.

"I've had it with you, you fucking asshole!" I yelled. "Do not ever come near me again, you hear me? No phone calls, no coming to the restaurant, no fucking videos, nothing! I don't want you looking at me, touching me, or even thinking about me. Are we clear?"

"Now, now," he said, clearly shaken, but still controlled. "There's no need to be so dramatic."

"Aro?" a young voice called from inside, followed by a pretty face that belonged to a boy no older than I had been when me and Aro got together.

"If you're smart, you get the hell out of here and forget this asshole ever existed," I snapped at the boy who looked at us wide eyed.

"Robert, go back inside," Aro purred. "I'll be right in."

"I'm serious," I said, ignoring my ex's words. "I made the mistake of marrying this son of a bitch. Get away from him and find someone your own age, who will actually love you for you, instead of your tight ass."

The boy just stood there, not sure of what to do.

"Robert," Aro snarled. "I said 'get your fucking ass inside'!"

The boy's eyes widened and he disappeared back into the living room. I sighed, knowing that I couldn't save every young boy from this man. At least I tried.

Before I could open my mouth again to throw a last warning in Aro's direction, the boy appeared again, wearing a jacket. He looked up at my ex as he slid past us and murmured something unidentifiable before he crossed the hall to the stairs.

"You happy now?" Aro snapped. "You're fucking useless, nothing more than a piece of ass. I can't believe I actually married you!"

I let go of him a little, but pushed him right back once I noticed. "Likewise," I hissed. "Now stay the hell away from me and Edward! Forget I even exist, understood?"

"Gladly," he bit back.

I let go and walked away. I didn't know for sure if he would leave us in peace now, but I knew one thing. Aro liked preying on the weak, and I'd just shown him that I was no longer the spineless impressionable boy that I used to be. I felt good.

Yes, there was still the video, and I was horrified to think of all the people that would've seen it, but that would pass. People would forget about it eventually. What was important, was that Edward loved me, that I loved him, and that we were still together.

December 26th, 2012

I was dreaming, and it was a really good dream. I was dreaming that my sexy Edward kissed me, my mouth, my jaw, my neck, going further down. His teeth worried my nipples and I breathed out his name. He lingered there for a while, my arousal growing by the second. I was arching my back, grabbing his hair to pull him impossibly closer. God, I loved it when Edward kissed me like this.

His lithe fingers preceded his mouth down my stomach, his tongue dipping into my navel, making me squirm and breath out heavily. His touch was always like ice and fire on my skin at the same time. Arousing, flirting, teasing and giving me all that I needed.

He slid down my boxers, the only item of clothing I wore in bed and pulled them off. His hands caressing the skin of my thighs and legs as the fabric slid down, was both pleasurable as tantalizing. I was always so sensitive when aroused.

His breath ghosted over my hard cock and balls, so close, but not close enough. "Please," I moaned, my hips bucking up to feel his talented mouth on my needy erection. "Please," I repeated, and reached out to run my hands through his hair.

He never made me wait long. I gasped as his hot wet lips slid from the base of my cock to the head, his tongue coming out to play and drive me insane. Edward took my balls in his hand and gently tugged, making my breath hitch. He took that moment to take my shaft into his mouth, not closing his lips around it, his breath still teasing the hot skin.

Then, finally, did he close his lips around my cock, letting it slide in and out of his mouth in a sensually slow rhythm. It felt so good, so, so good. I don't know if it was my dream state, his skill or the love I felt for my man, but I honestly couldn't imagine a feeling that was better than this. Well, maybe the feeling of having him inside me, or being inside him. The feeling of knowing we belonged together while looking in each other eyes while one of us rode the other to climax.

The rhythm never sped up, as he let my cock go with a pop and slid back up my body. "Open your eyes, Jasper," he whispered into my ear, his hand languidly taking over the erotic slide of his mouth where I wanted it most.

"Wake up, babe," he breathed. "In a minute or two, I'm going to fuck you deeply, and I'd rather you be awake for that."

"Hmmmmm," I moaned in response, making him chuckle. I fluttered my eyelids, trying to open them, but the light that poured through the gap in the curtains was assaulting my eyes.

"So good," I said softly before moaning some more. "Edward!"

His hand let go of my cock and reached further down, between my thighs. His finger grazing my hole as I pulled up my legs to give him better access. It was wet with saliva, teasing the puckered skin before gently pushing inside. I never needed much preparation, and soon he shifted next to me, reaching out for the lube.

I groaned when his finger left me, but sighed in relief when he settled between my legs and pressed his now lubed and condom covered cock against my ass.

I didn't particularly love the first few seconds of penetration, though he knew exactly how to enter me after a year of amazing sex. Slowly, with gentle thrusts, he pushed his cock inside, giving me time to adjust to the full feeling.

I looked into his eyes and gave a nod when I was ready. He slowly started pulling out and pushing back in, a steady rhythm that had tingles shooting up and down my spine.

Sliding my fingers through his hair, I lifted my head and caught his mouth into a sensual kiss. I loved kissing him like this, his warm body pressing into mine, my cock rubbing between our stomachs. So, so good!

His hand held onto my thigh, while his other kept up his weight, to not entirely rest on me. My hands, however, were free to roam his skin. I lightly scratched his back exactly the way he liked it. It wasn't like he was into pain play, but he liked a little roughness. Whenever it was me fucking him, we'd be going at it like animals, though at times like this, we'd be taking our time. Deep and strong, but never wild.

He explained it to me once, that while I needed him to take care of me, he loved being used for both our pleasure. At the same time he needed to care for me, while I loved fucking him hard, feeling powerful and in control. He loved both my strong and vulnerable sides, as I loved his. Perfect synchrony.

I could see his need in his eyes, his thrusts becoming stronger and deeper. We were building towards the inevitable orgasm that I wanted to postpone as long as I could. Both our breathing heavy and laboured, our bodies sweaty, our heartbeats fast and pulsing.

"Jazz," he groaned, his voice deep and throaty. "God, I love you!"

I couldn't speak, instead I kissed him again, battling his tongue while he hit my prostate over and over. My cock was still rubbing deliciously between us, but it wasn't enough. "Please," I begged. He knew exactly what I was begging for.

He lifted himself us a little further and the hand on my thigh moved to my throbbing shaft. Stroking, squeezing, his thumb flicking over the the head that was now purple and oozing with need. My climax built within seconds and with another thrust deep inside me, I came all over his hand.

He duck down and licked my nipple while I rode it out, clenching around him still thrusting deep inside me. He stilled, thrusting one more time and let go with a grunt. I held onto him tightly while I could feel the pulse of his aftershock course through his cock.

"Love waking up like this," I whispered.

His body shook as he chuckled. "Love waking you up like this," he replied and kissed me again.

Life couldn't get any better than this, honestly.

.

After a shower and breakfast, we settled on the couch with our books, just quietly enjoying each other's company. My head lay in his lap, his hands running absentmindedly through my hair, while I was stroking Spike, who was curled up on my stomach. What a picture we would make, were someone to snap one now. I never once believed that I could enjoy something so homely. Well, I knew I would enjoy it, I just never thought I'd have it. Edward seemed to love it as well, for he always snuggled up against me, or pulled me to snuggle up against him. How something so perfect could be real, I might never find out, though I truly hoped it would last forever.

I was at danger of falling asleep when my phone rang, but before I could move, Edward had picked it up.

"Hey, Mrs Hale," he said and I froze. "No, you're not interrupting anything. We're just relaxing on the couch. Did you want to talk to Jasper?"

I tried to hear what my mother was saying, but I could just hear her voice, not the actual words.

"No, I've been free since Friday," he said, turning his head to look at me with furrowed eyebrows. "I'm always free this time of year."

The silence stretched on for a little longer. "Oh really?" he said surprised. "No, that's news to me."

I closed my eyes. Fuck! I knew there was a chance that I would get caught, but I really didn't think it would come out this soon, nor did I think that it would come out like this. There was no interference I could run to make it less obvious that I'd been hiding my parents' dinner invitation from my lover.

Christmas hadn't been what I had loved in the past, but it had been good anyway. On Christmas eve we'd made love in front of the fireplace, Spike carefully locked in the kitchen, and it was the perfect anniversary without calling it an actual anniversary.

Yesterday had been wonderful. We went to the park with Spike and made love again when we got home. The rest of the day and night was spent reading, cuddling and playing Mahjong, a game we both enjoyed.

Today had had all the probability to be perfect again, but my mother's phone call was sure to have ruined it. I reluctantly got up and put Spike on the floor. With a guilty look on my face, I made my way to the kitchen pantry. My pantry, the one place that was truly mine. I closed the door behind me and sat down on the steps that lead down to the dark and cool room. With my head in my hands I wondered how on earth I was going to apologize to my parents, and how I was going to explain this to Edward.

I could still just hear his voice, as the conversation went on and on. I didn't have a clue what they were talking about, but I could guess. They were probably raving about me being a lying bastard, and I was. Both my parents and Edward hated to be lied to, I knew that, and I did it anyway. I royally fucked it up this time, hadn't I?

I sat there for what felt like an hour before the door opened and light shone into my safe haven.

"Jasper?" he said softly, his hand coming down to rest on my head. "Would you care to explain to me why your mother thought we'd be at the hospital?"

"I'm sorry," I said in a small voice, doing all I could to stop myself from sobbing like a child. "I told them you had to work, I just didn't know how to-"

My voice broke and I stopped speaking. Edward squatted down behind me, just outside the pantry door, and ran his hand down my neck to the hollow between my shoulder blades.

"You didn't know how to bring up Christmas dinner at your parents' place," he said softly, sounding almost defeated. "I'm sorry, Jasper."

I snapped my head around so fast it hurt. "You're sorry?" I asked completely shocked. "What on earth are you sorry for?"

"I haven't exactly made it easy for you, have I?" he said while looking at the kitchen floor. "I haven't done anything but grunt at everything concerning the holidays, and I haven't once asked you how you wanted to spend it."

"Like this!" I cried out, turning the rest of my body to make it easier to face him. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere but here! I love you, Edward, and if being with you means not celebrating Christmas, then I don't want to celebrate Christmas!"

I was trying to make him feel better, but I was horribly failing, for every word seemed to slap him in the face.

"God!" he sighed. "I really fucked up, didn't I?" He ran his fingers through his thick hair and closed his eyes before snapping them open and looking straight at me.

"Jasper, I truly don't like Christmas, and I've been avoiding it for years now, but I should've realised you haven't," he said. "The first night I met you, you explicitly told me you liked it. I shouldn't have been so incredibly dense and selfish."

"It's okay," I said quickly. "It really is! I don't care! I love you, and I'd gladly give up Christmas for you!"

"Yeah, that's painfully clear," he replied, looking even more resigned. "The thing is, you shouldn't have to. My grumpy Grinch mode was fine when I was still single, but it isn't any more. A relationship is about giving as much as taking, and I've taken too much from you."

"You've given me a lot more!" I cried out, frantically searching for anything to ease his mind.

"You've given things up for me, Jasper. I've merely given you whatever didn't hurt to give. I'm not used to celebrations and important dates, because I never cared about them, but you do," he said. "What I'm trying to say is that I don't mind having Christmas dinner with your parents, and I don't mind taking you out on Valentine's day. I might not want to celebrate any holidays, however I do want to celebrate you. I... Fuck!"

He stood up and turned away from me, his hand once again in his hair, but this time pulling at it. "I forgot your birthday," he stated softly. "We've been together for a year, and I never even realized. God, I don't even know when your birthday is! I'm a selfish fucking bastard! How could you even put up with me like this?"

"I love you," I said and stood up myself. I turned him to face me and kissed him. "You're not selfish, and I really don't mind. I'd choose you over any freaking holiday, every time."

He threw up his hands in frustration. "You shouldn't have to choose!" he cried out before cupping my face in his hands. He stared into my eyes and his face turned serious. "I promise I'm going to make this up to you, love. You don't ever have to worry about asking me to celebrate anything with you. I might not have shown it very often, if ever, but I do know how to compromise."

"I don't want you to compromise on your beliefs," I said.

"What I hate about Christmas, is not the holiday itself," he said softly. "Even though I think the entire thing is bullshit, I wouldn't hate it so much if it was just that. What I hate about it, is that everyone is supposed to be happy and forgiving. It sometimes feels like it's the only time of year when people are nice to each other. People should always be nice to each other. You don't give someone a gift because it's Christmas, you give someone a gift because you saw something you thought would brighten up their day, because you care about them. A gift freely given is a thousand times better than a gift that was forced."

"Like the necklace," I said, touching the tourmaline and sodalite necklace I'd given him for his birthday a little over a year ago.

"Like the necklace," he replied. "And like the smile you give me each morning. That's the best gift there is, Jasper. The best gift anyone ever gave me."

"My smile?" I asked incredulously.

"Yeah," he answered. "My parents only ever gave me fake smiles. Smiles of content or smile that hid annoyance. Smiles that were forced on them in the spirit of Christmas."

"Oh," I breathed. It hit me then, right there, in that moment, why Edward hated Christmas.

"You're allowed to be sad or grumpy during Christmas at my parents' house," I said with a hesitant smile. "Though my mother will try her hardest to cheer you up, because she can't stand seeing anyone unhappy, no matter what time of year."

Edward chuckled. "I'm sure she would," he said. "She's a force to be reckoned with."

Running his fingers down my cheek he smiled down at me. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Jasper," he said and I froze. "That's not going to happen if we can't tell each other what we want or need."

"I don't want to get married!" I blurted out. Edward looked confused and raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"I wasn't asking right now," he replied.

"I know," I said. "But I don't want you to ask. I know you want to get married or something in the future, but it scares the shit out of me, to be honest."

"Babe," he said softly. "Whatever made you think I'm dead set on getting married?"

"You were talking about it last week, how your mother said you should marry a girl who could cook and that you were at least partially doing what she suggested," I explained, looking intently at the buttons of his shirt.

He lifted my chin and kissed my jaw before resting his forehead against mine. "I would get married to you, if that was what you wanted. I'd love to be married to you, but I want to be with you more than I want to be married. It's not that important to me," he said, reassuring me. "I would understand if you never wanted to do that again, love, I truly would. I do want to ask you to consider it again in the future. A few years down the line."

I nodded in reply, finally feeling like I could breathe again.

He kissed the top of my head and searched my eyes again. "Will you promise to just tell me whatever you want? I won't say you'll always have your way, but at least let me decide what concessions I'm willing to make. I won't leave you for wanting different things than me, Jasper, you do know that, right?"

"I do now," I said sheepishly. "And I promise."

January 4th, 2012.

"Marijn! Tables 4 and 10 are still waiting on their starters!" I shouted at my Line Cook. "They're not going to prepare themselves!"

"Yes, Chef!" she called back to me as I turned around to check on the three soufflés that were almost finished in the oven.

"Bart, Soufflés in two!" I called.

"Yes, Chef!" he called back. How I loved my job. To be in the middle of the Friday night dinner rush!

"Jasper!" my Sous Chef called. I turned around, surprised to see Jenny at all. She was supposed to be on vacation until next week.

"What the hell are you doing here?" I asked her while making my way around the work table.

"Your Edward called me to take over," she said. "He needs you at home for something."

"Oh, ehm, alright," I replied, getting a little worried. "I've got three tables up on starters, there's nine that are already on their main courses and there's another eight tables that should come through any second now."

"Go!" she said with a smile. "Carola can bring me up to speed."

With another look around the kitchen I removed my Chef jacket and got my coat out of the closet behind the dishwasher's station. "Well, see you on Tuesday, I guess."

They were all too busy to actually say anything back, and honestly, I just wanted to get home as soon as possible. I wasn't sure what Edward needed me for, but he'd never pulled me out of work before.

I got my car from the car park and rushed home, nearly running a couple of red lights. Once I parked in front of our house, I all but ran to the front door and fumbled with my key in a hurry to get inside.

"Edward?" I called, my voice more panicked than I wanted it to be. The house was completely dark, which was weird as we even left the lights on when we went out in the evening.

Suddenly I jumped as the lights went on and people came jumping from the kitchen and living room doors. "Surprise!" they all yelled. Victoria, James, Seth, Leah, my parents, James's parents, little Joëlle, a few of Edward's colleagues and some of the employees of Extase I knew. What were they all doing here?

"What's going on?" I stammered, pulling off my coat and putting my keys on the little side table next to the door.

Leah and Seth moved to let someone through and I couldn't believe my eyes.

Edward came into the hallway in a bright red Santa suit, complete with white beard and belly stuffing. In his hands was a huge cake with candles that had 'Happy Birthday Jasper' written on it in bright colors. A string was tied around his wrist, attached to a shiny red balloon in the shape of a heart hovering above his head.

He was sporting a huge grin as he walked towards me and kissed my lips. "Happy Valentine's day, happy Birthday and a very happy Christmas, my love." he said, holding out the cake for me to blow the candles.

"You're mental," I laughed before inhaling deeply and blowing all the candles at once. God, I loved this man.

"Yup!" he said. "But this was long due, babe. I'm sorry I didn't do this before, on the dates these celebrations are supposed to be celebrated."

"You're mental," I said again, and reached up for another kiss.