My First, My Last, My Everything

Chapter Three

Jasper was about to turn around, when a flustered Emmett finally opened his front door. Jasper had been knocking and waiting impatiently for him to answer for at least five minutes. As his car was parked outside Jasper knew he was at home.

"Jasper! What's up, man?" he asked breathlessly. His hair was ruffled and Jasper noticed Emmett was wearing his t-shirt inside out.

"Sorry, have I interrupted … something?" Jasper apologised with sudden embarrassment.

"Oh, man. I've finally got this red hot chick into my bedroom. It's taken me days of sweet talking her," Emmett all but whispered to his friend.

Jasper offered him a smile. He should have called before turning up on his doorstep. "It's okay, Em. I'll catch you tomorrow," he said, turning to walk away.

Emmett showed signs of relenting. "Hey, Jasper. Are you okay? You don't look too good."

"I'm fine, Em," Jasper insisted, although Emmett could see he wasn't. "Have a good evening."

"I'll call you first thing so we can catch up," Emmett offered.

"Yeah, you can tell me all about-"

"Rosalie," Emmett beamed and, for the first time ever, Jasper thought one of his conquests might actually mean something to him.

"Damn," Jasper cursed to himself as he buckled up. As he weighed up his next move, he was tempted to call Edward to see how he was faring. He felt beyond guilty for leaving Edward so swiftly today, without any forewarning or time for him to adjust to their separation. He, at least, had been considering the prospect for a few weeks. Though if he hadn't left when he did, they would have continued in the same vein for who knows how long, Jasper reminded himself. Every time he closed his eyes, all Jasper could see were Edward's pleading eyes when he finally said goodbye to him. It pained him to think that Edward would be suffering on his own right now with no one to comfort him. As he started his car, he seriously considered going back to their apartment just to check on Edward. "No, give him time," Jasper instructed himself. "More bloody time," he said angrily.

Deciding to spend the next few nights in a cheap hotel instead, Jasper drove to the nearest one he could find. He registered with the receptionist, saying he would probably be requiring the room for three or four days. He hoped in that time he would sort out some temporary accommodation elsewhere as Emmett's place might not be the best option for him after all.

Within a matter of moments, Jasper had unpacked the few belongings he had shoved into his holdall and was soon sitting up against the headboard on the squeaky bed. He surveyed the bland room that lacked any feel of homeliness. He and Edward had spent the last year furnishing their apartment according to their shared tastes, but when it came down to it, Jasper thought very little of his possessions. Edward could keep everyone of them for all he cared. The thought of starting a new life without Edward had no appeal whatsoever, but if that was how Edward wanted it, he would damn well have to get used to it. Jasper thought he might be on his own for a fucking long time and he didn't like the idea one little bit. It had to happen sometime, he reminded himself. Better now than another four years further down the line.

He was angry with Edward, but he was angrier with himself. Jasper had been in a funk for a few weeks now brooding over a conversation they'd had over their arrangements for Christmas. Ever since they'd been together, they had spent the Christmas holidays separately, including last year, the first Christmas in their new apartment. They'd each returned home to their families for the best part of a week, and despite having been apart for longer at other times, Jasper felt Christmas was meant to be a time to share with loved ones. He had hoped this would be the year when they could stand side by side as partners and celebrate with friends and family in their apartment. When he broached the subject of Christmas, Edward, without batting an eyelid, said they would spend it with their families as they usually did. Even after Jasper explained his thinking, Edward shrugged off Jasper's suggestions as if it didn't matter to him. It was only for a few days, Edward had exclaimed and they would be together over New Year. This conversation hurt Jasper more than he let on, but over the following weeks the more he thought about it, the more he could see them spending every Christmas in the future apart. If Edward wasn't willing to come out this year, then Jasper doubted that he ever would. They had been together for over four years now and, as he considered it, he decided he didn't want to be spending Christmas and any other important celebration in his life on his own or at a distance from Edward.

After flicking through the television channels and finding nothing of interest, Jasper decided to visit the restaurant next to the hotel for his evening meal. He planned to have steak and fries and then head back to his room for the rest of the evening, but as the restaurant was crowded, he was seated at the bar to wait for a table to become available. He had knocked back a couple of Jack Daniels, when the guy sitting next to him offered to buy him another.

"Sorry, I'm not interested," Jasper said without even looking up at him.

"Just offering to buy you a drink," the man replied briskly. "Looks like you could do with one."

Jasper turned to look the guy straight in the eye to reinforce his statement. He thought about saying he was waiting for someone, but when he caught a glimpse of the hunk offering to buy him a drink, he hesitated. "I'm just waiting for a table," he lamely said instead.

Without a doubt, the man was good-looking, well-dressed and probably ten years older than Jasper. "Well, I'm just offering to listen to your troubles," he said smoothly and nodded to Jasper's glass. "Have another?" he offered.

If he couldn't unburden his woes upon Emmett, Jasper thought chatting to a stranger might work just as well. It would only be a few moments anyway before he would be called to his table. "Okay, thanks," Jasper said with a faint smile.

In the end, his companion bought them each two drinks while they waited, by which time Jasper had summarised his personal situation and was at pains to point out that he was not looking for anyone else to keep him company this evening or in the foreseeable future. The other guy accepted this graciously and introduced himself as Carlisle just before being called to the table he also had been waiting for. "Care to join me?" he asked casually and, as Jasper was decidedly hungry by this point, he agreed just as casually in return.

Jasper resisted the wine Carlisle ordered and ensured he drank a lot of water throughout the meal. He knew he had to keep a clear head for the rest of the evening and his wits about him. He would talk frankly to this guy, perhaps get some worldly advice from him and then never have to see him again.

By the time the two men were eating their main course, Jasper had relaxed considerably and was recalling some of his treasured memories of times with Edward. He focused on the more comic episodes and, before long, the two of them were laughing so much, it almost hurt.

"I'd forgotten all about the carton of orange juice so when I sat down on it, the damn thing burst and I had to sit in damp jeans for the rest of the flight," Jasper finished off one of the stories about himself that Edward never let him forget.

Carlisle chuckled as he drained his glass of wine. He poured Jasper a small glass and topped up his own. "Cheers! Here's to good times in the future," he toasted, and the two men clinked their glasses together. Jasper wasn't particularly optimistic about that, but he nodded anyway.

Carlisle didn't talk much about himself. He was happy to listen to Jasper's recounts, even if they were about another guy. As Jasper spoke to him, he maintained eye contact, enjoying the timbre of the other man's voice and his decidedly attractive mannerisms.

"The most embarrassing time was when Edward took me to a craft fair and we had a go at writing some calligraphy with an old-fashioned quill pen. Edward had written a beautiful script on some parchment, when I knocked the bottle of ink all over the table. I still cringe whenever I think about it and Edward loves to tease me about the incident. He says, he has never seen me blush so much as on that day."

"You're blushing now, Jasper," Carlisle was eager to point out, backing up his own pleasure with a cheeky smile.

As the evening wore on, Jasper relaxed in his companion's presence, but he couldn't bring himself to talk about tender or more personal moments with the stranger. He decided to leave that to his brooding thoughts later on when he was alone. For now, talking about the happier times seemed to ease the pain a little.

Eventually, Jasper moved on to share one of the happiest times of his life. It actually followed on from the orange juice incident. At the time, he'd thought it might be a prequel to a disastrous holiday for them. After graduation from college, but before moving into their apartment, the two lovers went on holiday to Mexico, and because they didn't know anyone there, Edward was demonstrative of his feelings in public. They held hands as they walked through the streets and the hotel complex, and even kissed tenderly on the beach. Jasper had hoped this was a sign of things to come for their new life together. He was saddened, however, when they arrived home and everything returned to how it used to be between them. Secretive and hidden and frustrating.

After a few more glasses of wine, Jasper was beginning to feel sorry for himself. "Being with Edward was perfect," he admitted to Carlisle. "When we were on our own he was at his happiest, too. He was not his usual buoyant self when we were with other people." Jasper fiddled with the menu as he told Carlisle about the time they had first decorated the living room together. "We had so much fun, chatting and laughing as we worked. By the end of the afternoon, we were covered in paint. Edward looked so sexy with paint in his hair and on his face. I had it up my arms and on my bare feet, but we were relaxed and so happy in each other's company, we didn't care. In fact, before we cleared up we got carried away." Much to Carlisle's delight, Jasper blushed again. "We started making out and by the time we had finished, the wall we had been pushed up against needed repainting and we definitely needed a shower," he recollected. "My mother turned up soon afterwards as we were clearing away and the difference in Edward was astounding. He was reserved and withdrawn, almost a totally different character. I just want everyone to see what I see in Edward."

Carlisle turned out to be an excellent listener, nodding and commenting sympathetically every now and then. He shared a few of his own stories, but not the one which had left him with a broken heart. He doubted that Jasper would benefit from hearing that one just yet. The one that made him wary about falling for another man. This evening was all about supporting Jasper. And it seemed to Carlisle that Jasper would need a while to get over the man who had obviously broken his heart. Carlisle was patient. He had been waiting for someone like Jasper and he was prepared to wait a little longer.

"He's everything to me and I've lost him," Jasper choked after recalling this afternoon's breakup once more. He made the utmost effort not to fall to pieces in public. He knew as soon as he was alone his tears would flow freely.

Reluctant to be on his own, he joined Carlisle for a few more drinks at the bar. The man had gained his trust and he could see the beginnings of a new friendship forming. They exchanged telephone numbers on the premise that Jasper would let Carlisle know how he was doing or in case he needed someone to talk to.

Despite the amount of alcohol consumed, Jasper was still in control of all his faculties. "By the way," he whispered into Carlisle's ear, "I'm not into one night stands."

Carlisle nodded in amusement at the sightly drunken wobbling Jasper before him. "I wouldn't be foolish enough to take anyone on the rebound," Carlisle confessed truthfully. He thought he would probably give Jasper a few weeks at least before he approached him again, and definitely make sure he didn't ply him with so much drink next time.

He acted the perfect gentleman, finally escorting a slightly worse-for-wear Jasper to his room just after midnight. With his arms wrapped around him, he supported Jasper's weight as they ambled along the corridor. Even though he was in the arms of another man, Jasper thought of the time he'd done the same for Edward when they were at college. It had been the first time he had made physical contact with Edward and the memory made Jasper long for the arms of the man he loved.

Jasper said goodnight to Carlisle at the door to his room, thanking him profusely for being there for him tonight. Carlisle waited until Jasper had stumbled into his room before making his way to his own room on the floor below. He thought about inviting Jasper to have breakfast with him, but as he had an early meeting the next day, he decided against it.

By the time Jasper had stripped himself of his clothes and flopped onto the rickety bed, he was ready to crash out for the night. He checked his phone to see if Edward had called or sent him a message that he had somehow missed. The emotional exhaustion of the day combined with the alcohol helped send him to sleep fairly swiftly. Even so, he had a restless night, waking frequently, each time with Edward at the forefront of his mind. "You're all I need," he muttered as he tossed and turned in the uncomfortable bed. "Miss you so much."

Jasper woke to the sound of his phone beeping on the bedside table. He shot up and scrambled to see if it was the anticipated message from Edward.

Thanks for your company last night. Perhaps we can do it again sometime. Hope you are okay this morning. C x

Jasper read the message several times, searching for any hidden meaning in the words from his new friend. He was frustrated that it wasn't from Edward. He badly wanted to know how he was feeling and if Edward was missing him, too.

He thought that if Edward ever saw this message on his phone, it might give him the wrong impression, and because Jasper still held out hope for their reconciliation, he decided to erase it.

Jasper read the message again, debating whether to reply before he removed it. As his finger was hovering over the delete button, an incoming call interrupted his decision.

o0o

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