A/N: Updating early this time because I didn't want you guys to have to wait. And because I like to procrastinate on my school work. Enjoy. :)
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
"Jasper, I'm going to fall."
"No, you won't. I have you."
"These shoes are killing me."
"Then why did you wear them?"
"They match the dress, I had to wear them."
Jasper chuckled softly as he led Bella towards the entrance of the gym where the dance was being held. He felt her wobble slightly against him and immediately gripped her arm more firmly with his own.
"Remember, it's just a dance," he reminded her, glancing over at Bella with a gentle, reassuring smile. "It'll be over in just a couple hours."
"I wish it was over now," Bella mumbled under her breath, watching as a group of their fellow classmates filed into the gym, giggling obnoxiously.
"Bella, can't you at least smile? You look like you're about to attend a funeral," Jasper said, raising an eyebrow.
Bella sighed and faced him, turning the corners of her lips up into what she assumed was a wide grin but what actually appeared to be a pained grimace.
Jasper frowned and said, "Never mind. Don't smile."
As they walked into the gym Bella glanced around in surprise. The school's dance committee really outdid themselves it seemed; colorful streamers hung from the ceiling and countless of balloons floated in the air. A huge refreshment table was off to the side on the right and at the other end of the gym Bella could vaguely see a DJ bobbing his head to the pop music that blared for all ears to hear. There was no lighting except for the silver disco ball that was mounted high above everybody's heads, spinning slowly as it reflected beams of light through the entire gym.
The dance had started just ten minutes before and already the small gym was uncomfortably packed. Bella narrowed her eyes, forcing herself to not give a hiss of annoyance when a girl pushed past her and stepped right on her toes.
You can get through this, Bella. You can, she assured herself.
"All right, we're here. Now what?" she asked Jasper, turning to look at him.
"Would you like to dance?"
"Not really," Bella said honestly.
Jasper gave her a look and in turn Bella sighed and said, "Fine. Let's go."
"Whoa, settle down Bella. Your enthusiasm is too much," Jasper joked. He took her hand and began to lead her out onto the dance floor.
Bella rolled her eyes at him, brushing past a couple who apparently believed making out in public was much more fun than dancing. Gross, Bella thought and glanced quickly away.
Once they had found a spot in the middle of the dance floor the song ended and another one began to play, this one much slower than the last. It was a country song much to Bella's dismay, but what led her to inwardly panic were the words that filled her ears and vividly struck her heart.
Every time our eyes meet
This feeling inside me
Is almost more than I can take
As Jasper rested his hand on her hip and pulled her closer Bella felt her heart start to pound hard against her chest. It's only a song, Bella thought, placing her hands on Jasper's shoulders. She met his eyes with a small, tight smile. Just a stupid song…it doesn't mean anything.
Slowly they began to dance.
I've never been this close to anyone, or anything
I can hear you thoughts, I can see your dreams…
Jasper stared intently at her, his smile beginning to fade. The way he was looking at her caused her breath to hitch in her throat. Her cheeks flushed wildly with color.
Bella glanced away from his face, trying to ignore the song and simply focus on not stepping on his feet.
All of which came to no avail.
I don't know how you do what you do
I'm so in love with you, it just keeps getting better
I wanna spend the rest of my life with you by my side
Forever and ever
Bella felt her stomach erupt with butterflies. She closed her eyes and attempted to calm her racing heartbeat but the longer the song played the more her heart throbbed.
Halfway through the song Jasper murmured softly, "Bella?"
Bella opened her eyes and gazed at him, clearly in a daze. "Yes?" she breathed.
"There's something that I've been meaning to tell you…for a while, actually," Jasper began.
Your hair all around me
Baby, you surround me
You touch every place in my heart
And all of a sudden Bella knew exactly what he was about to tell her. Immediately breaking free from her stupor, Bella stopped dancing and pulled away from him, her mind overflowing with all kinds of crazy, unfathomable emotions; none of which comforted her in the very least.
"I-I have to go…to the bathroom," Bella stammered, looking rather stricken as she proceeded to move further away from him.
Jasper gazed after her in confusion but Bella didn't dare stick around. Pushing her way quickly through the crowd, she didn't realize someone was trying to get her attention until a hand unexpectedly clamped down on her shoulder.
"Bella! There you are."
It was Angela.
Bella glanced over at her and said impatiently, "I'm sorry but I can't really talk right now."
Angela nodded and said, "All right, but I just wanted to let you know that Jessica saw you and Jasper together. She's totally freaking out. I'm thinking you should probably avoid her for now…"
"Thanks for the warning," Bella replied carelessly before turning back around and heading out of the gym.
Once she was finally free from all the noise and mass of people Bella breathed in a deep sigh of relief. She had only been in there for about ten minutes but to her it had felt like an hour. Shaking her head she began walking down the hall, wincing as pain shot through her feet.
"That's it. I'm taking off these damn shoes."
Bending down, Bella slipped her shoes off one by one. Her eyelids lowered in pleasure the second her feet were bare.
How some girls wear high heels all day long I will never understand…I can't even last half an hour in them. Ridiculous.
The floor felt nice and cool under her feet as she continued to tread down the hall. Her thoughts soon trailed to Jasper and she bit down hard on her bottom lip, instantly piercing the skin. A spot of blood trickled down but she hardly noticed.
She knew Jasper loved her. He revealed it every time he stared into her eyes and particularly whenever he touched her. It was so painstakingly obvious to her but at the same time she didn't want to believe it. Her head wanted her to deny it but there was no way she could…not when her heart so clearly demanded her to face the truth.
When she first moved here she had vowed to not get close to anyone. Building an intimate relationship would only make it harder for her when it was time to leave, so why bring more pain and suffering into her life when she could so easily prevent it instead?
But the fact of the matter was – it hadn't been easy.
It had been hard as hell.
And now she was in love and the man whom she had fallen in love with undoubtedly loved her back.
Tears filled her eyes and with a loud sob Bella leaned against the wall, falling slowly to the floor. She crumpled over and wrapped her arms around her knees, curling her body into a tight ball.
I don't want this! Bella thought in the midst of all her tears, I don't fucking want this.
But she wanted Jasper.
She wanted him more than she had ever wanted anyone else.
But she wanted her dream too. She wanted it more than anything else.
Why the hell did she have to choose?
About ten minutes passed and Bella hadn't moved. She heard footsteps coming down the hallway but didn't care to lift her head. When the sound continued to get closer she knew who it was even before he sat down next to her and spoke.
She didn't lift her head right away, because she was afraid.
She was afraid that he would catch one glimpse of her face and distinguish every inadequate thought. Every paralyzing fear…
But that was impossible, right?
Bella slowly lifted her head and glanced carefully at his face. He was staring at her with a mix of concern, puzzlement, and frustration. But underneath all of that was the subtle gentleness that he always seemed to possess. It was one of the many things she had come to love about him.
"Please don't say it," Bella whispered, gazing pleadingly into his brilliant honey-hued eyes.
"Why not, Bella?" he murmured.
Her eyes pierced straight through his as she replied, "Because it'll change everything."
"Bella, things have already changed. My life changed the moment you walked into my life. It changed when we first kissed. It changed when I saw you smile, really smile, for the first time since your mother's death. And it changed most of all when I realized you're the only person who I want to spend the rest of my life with."
Bella smiled, a stream of tears trickling down her face. "Oh, Jasper…you don't know how much that means to me."
"Then show me," Jasper said urgently, taking her hand and kissing it softly. "Be with me, Bella."
"I…I don't know if I can," Bella whispered, gazing at him with wide, pain-filled eyes.
"Why?" Jasper demanded.
"Because this wasn't the plan. I didn't ask for this. All I wanted was this one year to get over my mom's death and then leave this place…I didn't want to get stuck here. But then of course you had to come along and ruin everything…."
"Bella," Jasper murmured, "life can't be planned. No matter what you do some things will happen that you'll never expect. I never expected to fall in love with you, but you know what? I'm damned happy I did."
Bella shook her head. "You don't understand. I don't want to stay here…and I can't ask you to come with me. This is your home…you love this place. I could never ask you to leave."
"Let's not worry about that now," Jasper said softly, "Right now I just want to be with you."
Jasper stood up and pulled Bella to her feet. Before she knew what was happening he had her in his arms and was kissing her lovingly. Wrapping her arms around his neck she kissed him back with a blazing passion, letting go of every fear, every doubt. It was only here in his arms that she allowed them to all disappear.
After a long moment Jasper broke away and cupped her cheek gently with his hand. "Let's go home. We're obviously not having any fun here."
Bella nodded and went over to pick up her shoes. "I'm never wearing these again," she announced, staring down at them in disgust.
Jasper chuckled and wrapped one of his arms around her waist as they headed out. "I think I prefer you in boots, anyway."
Bella laughed softly before she glanced over at him and said, "Hey, Jasper?"
"Do me a favor."
She smiled and leaned her head against his shoulder. "Don't ever change."
Jasper chuckled again and murmured warmly in her ear, "For you, darlin', I wouldn't dare."
A/N: Hopefully you guys aren't too disappointed that there wasn't a butt load of drama, but I wanted to concentrate more on Bella and Jasper's relationship in this chapter. Also, this is where I left off last time so the two final chapters (plus the epilogue) are going to be new to everyone. Woohoo! Unfortunately, I probably won't update again until the end of the week. I have a major paper to write and other assignments I've been putting off that I need to do, so...till next time! Reviews make me smile. And like Buddy the Elf, smiling is my favorite :)