"When he smiles it is like having a torch
Shine right at me
Lighting up all the dark corners,
And I cannot imagine why everyone
Is not in love with him."
- Sarah Crossan, The Weight of Water
It was Monday. Bella dreaded Monday's.
And not just any Monday…this Monday. Bella had the weekend, merely two days, to decide how to confess to Jessica about her and Jasper, assuming Jessica confronted her about it.
Knowing Jessica and her flair for the dramatics, Bella was positively, or shall we say negatively certain that Jessica would confront her the second she had her in her sights. Inwardly Bella was panicking, not because she was afraid of Jessica (psh, yeah right), but because Bella abhorred drama…even more than she abhorred Monday's.
And gym class.
Much to her dismay, Bella's first period of the day was gym and the person who she was most hoping to avoid just happened to be in her gym class.
If there was one thing Bella could never obtain in this life, it was luck. And so far today was the same as any other day - she had none of it.
Biting down nervously on her bottom lip Bella crept quietly into the girl's locker room, tip-toeing towards her locker which was conveniently in the corner, away from the others. The second she opened her door Bella heard Jessica's high, distinct voice ring loudly in the air and she jumped, startled.
"I mean can you believe her?"
Bella let out a quick breath in relief the second she realized Jessica wasn't right behind her but in the back of the locker room, most likely surrounded by a group of her snide, loyal minions. What about Angela? Bella wondered. Was she with Jessica as well? She stepped closer to the gossiping voices and listened intently, making sure to stay hidden behind the lockers.
"What does Jasper see in her? Seriously, I'm dying to know," Jessica said with an aggravated sigh. Bella pursed her lips in anticipation.
"Who knows?" answered one of Jessica's minions, snorting as she added, "She's not even all that pretty."
Bella rolled her eyes, thinking what a typical response. She cocked her head slightly as another voice piped up.
"Jasper probably just felt sorry for her when he asked her to the dance because she didn't have anyone else to go with. It's not like she has any friends here."
That's because I didn't want any, you idiot, Bella thought with a small shake of her head.
"Who would want to be friends with her, anyway? She dresses like a total weirdo. Y'know? She has, like, no fashion sense whatsoever. And she's so…awkward."
"Tell me about it," yet another one of Jessica's minions joined in and sneered, "I bet she's still a virgin."
Jessica's obnoxious laugh resonated loudly in the locker room. Bella grimaced, feeling like she had just been kicked in the stomach. So what if she was still a virgin? What was there to be ashamed of? She was only seventeen, and it wasn't like she was the only virgin to walk these halls, anyway. Bella narrowed her eyes, getting a little annoyed by their foolish babble.
"It's okay, Jess, at least you got to go with Mike, right? He's so cute and totally into you! Besides, he's way funnier than Jasper and dare I say more popular…"
"You're right," Jessica sniffed, and Bella imagined her carelessly flipping a lock of hair over her shoulder, "I'm over it. Jasper can date the biggest loser in the school for all I care. So what if he's hot? He is so not worth my time, let alone anyone else's."
Jessica's minions all voiced their agreement and Bella's hands clenched into fists. Insulting her, sure, that was something she could stand. But insinuating that Jasper wasn't even worth someone's time? Now that was something Bella would and could not tolerate.
Straightening herself up, Bella gained enough courage to step out from behind the lockers, this time allowing her anger and not her fear to govern her actions. She marched right up to Jessica and her clique and while ignoring the mortified look on Jessica's face, lifted her chin and administered a fierce glare to them all. A part of Bella felt relieved that Angela's face wasn't among the flushed, startled ones she saw staring back at her.
"All right, so you want to know the truth? I'll sure as hell give it you. Jasper and I are dating. Yes, dating. We are officially a couple. Do we care at all about what you or anyone else has to say about it? No, we really don't." Bella placed a hand firmly on one of her hips. "So yeah, I'm weird. Yeah, I'm awkward. And you're right, I have zero fashion sense. But guess what? Jasper chose to be with me despite all that…despite that yes, I am a virgin."
A couple of the girls expelled a shocked gasp, but Bella was far from being finished. This time, she directed her words towards Jessica.
"Jessica, I'm sorry from keeping this from you. I admit that was pretty lousy of me. But to be honest I wasn't even sure I wanted to be with him at the time, which was mainly why I kept our relationship under wraps. And yeah, maybe I was being a bit of a coward. But you know what's even worse? Shamefully degrading a decent guy behind his back solely because he's not into you, instead of sucking it up like a big girl and moving the hell on."
Jessica opened her mouth to respond but Bella snapped at her before she had the chance. "Don't even try to defend yourself, Jessica, because you can bet I won't listen. Thank you for being such a greatfriend. Oh, and one more thing…" Narrowing her eyes, Bella tossed a few strands of hair over her shoulder and started to turn away, shooting one last bold, cutting remark…
"You are so not worth any more of my time."
Once lunch time had come around Bella could hardly wait to see Jasper and tell him everything. As she walked towards the cafeteria she began to mentally list all the things she wanted to tell him…all of the things she knew he was waiting to hear.
Sprinting into the cafeteria, Bella scanned the hungry crowd of teenagers almost desperately, hoping to find the handsome wavy-haired cowboy who had so foolishly stolen her heart.
When she caught sight of him she wasn't surprised to find him already staring at her, a charming grin adorning his impeccable features. Butterflies immediately exploded inside her stomach, but surprisingly her heart was as steady as a drum. She smiled back and summoned him with an urgent wave of her hand.
Lifting an eyebrow, Jasper stood up and sauntered over towards her. When he finally approached the girl fidgeting impatiently by the door he asked, "Bella, what-"
"Shut up and follow me." Before he could protest she grabbed his hand and led him out of the cafeteria, down the hallway and around the corner. She opened the door to a janitor's closet and quickly shoved him inside, closing the door behind them.
"Bella, what the hell-"
She silenced him with a rough, demanding kiss, crushing her small body against his. Jasper stumbled backwards, his right foot landing in a mop bucket; the mop clattering to the floor and disrupting some of the other supplies. Completely oblivious to the commotion she had just caused, Bella tugged lightly at the ends of Jasper's hair and he grunted deeply in response. His one hand fell to her waist and the other lifted to cradle the side of her face, his thumb brushing her cheek in a soft, gentle caress.
Bella deepened the kiss with a greedy sigh, wanting him closer and closer still…
And that was when she realized…she wanted him, period.
Breaking away from the kiss, Bella urgently began tugging at the hem of his shirt. She managed to get it halfway over his chest before Jasper unexpectedly grabbed both of her hands and lowered them to her side.
"Bella, what are you doing?" Jasper said slowly in his low, sweet country drawl. He stared down at her in bewilderment, clearly seeking an explanation. He proceeded to grip her hands, refusing to let them go.
She glanced innocently up at him and teased, "What does it look like I'm doing?"
Jasper's expression hardened. "Bella…" he warned.
Blushing, Bella glanced down at their joined hands and bit down hard on her lip before mumbling, "I wanted to…to tell you something."
"Okay." Jasper nodded and gazed down at her expectantly. "What?"
"Uhm…" Bella lifted her head and cocked her head to the side, squinting as she attempted unintelligibly, "IthinkImightsortofmaybebeinlovewithyou."
Jasper blinked. "Come again?"
"I'd rather not."
"Maybe I'll say it in Spanish."
"How about Pig Latin?"
"Fine! Damnit. I love you. Okay? I fucking love you" Tears blurred Bella's vision and pretty soon she could no longer see the contours of Jasper's face. It didn't take very long until she could barely make out anything at all; tears streaming down her face and soaking her skin. She choked back a sob, confused as well as embarrassed by how ridiculous she was acting. Couldn't she just be normal for once? She was tired of being such a complicated wreck.
"Bella, look at me..." came Jasper's voice. "No, look at me."
For a few minutes he wiped away Bella's persistent tears until, finally, her eyes were clear. Once he had managed to capture her gaze he bent down and kissed her, quick and hard, before murmuring softly, "Bella Swan, you are the most difficult, maddening, perplexing…"
Bella lifted an eyebrow, wondering what exactly he was getting at and if she should leave before it got any worse.
"…fascinating, incredible and by far the most beautiful woman I have ever had the pleasure of loving."
Bella's blew out a soft sigh of relief and after a brief moment of silence grinned at him and joked, "'Bout time you finally admitted it."
Chuckling, Jasper kissed Bella passionately before wrapping his arms around her in a warm, sturdy embrace.
"So," he said, glancing down at her with a boyish smile, "Does this mean I can call you my girlfriend now?"
"You damned well better!" Bella exclaimed, poking his chest with her index finger.
Jasper smiled. "How about 'Pumpkin'?"
Her eyes widened. "No," she said very firmly and with distaste.
"You can stop now."
"If you say so, Cuddle Muffin."
Bella shot him a look and opened the door, stepping out into the hallway. "One more and I'll kill you."
"Sure thing." Jasper slung his arm around Bella's shoulder and as they headed back to the cafeteria, gazed down at her affectionately and added, "…Cowgirl."
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