A/N - So, I swear, I'm going to try and make my updates of this story much more regular. I put myself to shame when I realized that my other story that I'm working on at the minute, Enthralled, had five updates in a week, and this one had, well, one in a month. I know. Unacceptable.
On the bright side, I've finally remembered where I'm headed with this story, so hopefully I can kiss goodbye to the writer's block *frantically knocks on wood* but yeah, anyway, here it is - March's first diary entry. (And, spoiler alert, shit is going to go down in March, let me tell ya!)
Please don't judge me for signing off an AN like this, but seeing as it is a GG based story...
You know you love me,
So, I haven't spoken to Seth in a week. Not one word. I don't much care, to be honest. He was completely out of line with what he said to me. I'm going to let him stew for a while longer before I extend the hand of forgiveness.
Since I officially became Jasper's girlfriend, I seem to have acquired a new celebrity status at school. It's weird, but kind of fun. Definitely beats people muttering about me being a freak. With Jasper holding my hand in the corridors between classes, I actually feel like I'm strong enough to bear the stares.
Today was no different in that respect, but something interesting happened. Really interesting. I'll get to that later, though. First, I've got to set the scene.
Things started to pick up around lunchtime.
Rose, Bella and I were all sitting at our usual table, munching our way through half of the school salad bar. We were waiting for the guys to show up – Jasper and Edward now ate lunch with us, rather than their brethren – and the topic of conversation had gravitated, as it often did, these days, onto the subject of someone's love life.
Today, it was Rosalie's.
"You know," Bella began, crunching down on a piece of carrot. "You really should think about dating."
Rose surveyed her with an amused look over a forkful of rocket. "Who died and made you cupid all of a sudden?"
Bella, true to form, blushed. "I'm just saying, maybe you should think about it."
"I swear, the shy girl gets a boyfriend – even a total dork like Edward – and all of a sudden, it's like she works for ." Rose swigged at her water, glaring daggers at our doe-eyed friend. I grinned to myself, letting out the barest hint of a laugh.
It was enough of a noise that Rose picked up on it.
Violet eyes narrowed, she rounded on me. "Are you going to weigh in on this, too?"
I held up my hands in the universal sign for 'I surrender'. "I'm not saying a thing. Except… well, you really need to man up and tell Emmett how you feel."
I don't think she could've been more surprised if I'd just jumped up on the table and started performing a fan dance with a lettuce leaf. "What?"
"You heard me." I smirked, and suddenly reminded myself of Jasper. Was that old adage true, then, about couples starting to act alike? "You're completely in love with him. A Cyclops with a pencil stuck in his eye could see that."
Rosalie was incoherent. "I… no… that's not… I mean… shut up!"
Bella gaped at her, and I could see the light bulb flashing on over her head. It occurred to me then that she'd been as oblivious to Rosalie's feelings as Emmett was. Huh. Maybe it wasn't everyone else being obtuse. Maybe I was just weirdly intuitive about that sort of thing.
"You and Emmett?" She clapped her hands together. "That would be amazing! You have to tell him."
"I don't have to tell him anything," Rose grumbled. "You people aren't the boss of me."
We both laughed at her discomfort. "Come on, Rose. He'd be cray-cray if he didn't feel the same way."
"Which, incidentally, he does," I put in. Rosalie's head snapped up at that.
"Trust me on this one."
Our conversation was interrupted before she could grill me any further by the arrival of Edward and Jasper. They slid onto the bench beside Bella and I respectively, and Jasper leaned forwards to steal a tomato off my plate. I shot him a reproachful look.
"Hey. Get your own."
He poked his tongue out at me playfully, and proceeded to ruffle my hair. I ducked out from under his hand, laughing.
That's when things got weird.
"Rosalie?" Some freshman guy with really terrible skin had just approached her. She turned with her usual winning smile.
"Is it true that you had an abortion last year?"
We all inhaled sharply. Jasper's fist – the one that was resting on my knee – clenched so hard that his whole hand turned white. Bella caught my eye, looking alarmed.
Rose, meanwhile, acted as though the question was perfectly reasonable. "No, it's not."
"Oh. Okay." The boy turned to go, but I called him back.
"Wait! Who did you hear that from?"
He looked a little embarrassed, shuffling from one foot to the other. "Uh, well… James King said that Rosalie got knocked up by his brother, and that's why she left Constance. He said that he thought she had an abortion, but maybe she went to one of those clinic places where you can stay until you have the kid and give it up for adoption."
"Right." My voice was cold. Beside me, Jasper was shaking with rage. "That's total bullshit, you know."
"Okay." He dithered. "Can I go now?"
"Sure." The freshman scuttled off, and I turned back to my shell-shocked group. "Why would James make up something that's so obviously untrue?"
"Beats me," Edward shrugged. I noticed then that he was wearing his reading glasses, and that Bella alternating between sneaking concerned glances at Rose and watching her boyfriend with the most adorably sappy expression on her face. "James is an ass. I suppose that's all the explanation you need."
"Let's not even acknowledge his gossip with speculating about it," Bella suggested, and there was a low murmur of agreement from the others. I barely noticed, though. I was too busy watching Rose. She'd gone white as a sheet, and was trying to peel the label off her water bottle with trembling fingers, not meeting any of our eyes.
I can't help but wonder, Diary, if maybe there was more truth to that story than anyone was letting on.
Lunch ended without further incident, and the rest of school carried on in much the same way. Maria and her cronies tried unsuccessfully to get me into detention in AP History, but I ignored them. Who knew I would become so magnanimous now that I was dating Jasper? Certainly not me, that's for sure.
I sat on one of the tables and waited for Jasper in the quad when the bell rang – he and I were planning on catching a movie after school – and used that time to chew over Rosalie's reaction to that rumor. It was odd, definitely, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. I decided to put it out of my mind. People were entitled to keep their own secrets.
"Hey," Jasper greeted me, emerging from the boys' corridor with his bag slung over one shoulder and his green scarf tucked under the lapels of his jacket. He bent to brush a kiss against my temple, and when he straightened up, there was a glimmer of something excitable in his indigo eyes. "I've got a cool surprise."
"Ooh." I slid from the table and linked my hand with his as we began to walk. "I like surprises."
"You'll definitely like this one. Remember last Monday, when I told you about that art show?"
"You mean the one in the Hamptons over spring break?" I checked. He nodded. "What about it?"
"Well, I got us tickets."
I tugged him to a stop. We were halfway out of the school gate, and people grumbled at our sudden lack of movement as they quickly darted out of the way to avoid bumping into us. It struck me, then, that nobody was giving the pair of us any sidelong glances anymore. Sometime in the last week, we'd become an officially accepted couple in the eyes of the student populace. Constance is funny like that – the rumor mill eventually churns itself out.
Anyway, back to the conversation. "You what?"
"I thought we could go up there for spring break. Edward and Bella, too. Rosalie, too, as long as she doesn't mind hanging out with couples."
"Bring Emmett," I suggested immediately. Then, what he'd said actually began to sink in. "Wait, so you want me to go away to the Hamptons with you for all of spring break, and just hang out and go to art shows on yachts?"
"Is that a problem?" Jasper looked amused.
"Are you crazy? It's a dream come true!" I stood on tiptoe to kiss him, and he lifted me off my feet.
"I'm glad you like the idea. It's only five weeks away."
I thought about that for a moment. Five weeks until I would be sitting on the beach in the Hamptons, sipping drinks and admiring high class art. Being with Jasper was opening up doors for me that I'd always imagined would stay closed.
We both turned at the sound of a trembling, feminine voice. It took us a second to pinpoint where the noise was coming from. A limousine was parked outside the school with the back window rolled down, and, looking out of it with red-rimmed eyes, was Jasper's mother.
I'd never seen her look less than perfectly put together, so the sight of her makeup-less face and watery eyes was something of a shock. Her hair was limp, like she hadn't used any product on it in days. In short, she looked like hell.
"Mom?" Jasper set me back down on the sidewalk, but didn't let go of me, a show of unity which I appreciated. "What's the matter?"
"Please, get in the car, Jasper. It- it's your father."
"What about him?" His voice was casual, but I felt his grip on my waist tighten slightly, an indication of his nerves.
"I'd rather talk about it in the car."
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying with Alice."
She sighed, closing her eyes like she was trying to gather patience. "Fine. Alice, you come as well."
"I'm sorry?" I was shocked.
"Quickly, before I change my mind."
After exchanging an uneasy glance, Jasper and I piled into the car. We moved across the back to sink into the seat opposite his mother. His fingers threaded themselves through mine, and I could feel them trembling. I ran my thumb across his knuckles in a wordless attempt to soothe him.
"What's going on, Mom?" He managed to keep his voice deceptively calm.
"It… well, it's complicated." She sniffed, shooting me an uneasy glance. Despite the fact that she'd invited me along, I knew that she wasn't at all comfortable discussing any of this in front of me. "I've… let Maggie go."
"What?" Jasper rocketed forwards in his seat, and I tightened my grip on his hand, suddenly worried that he'd launch himself at his mother. "Why would you do that? Maggie's the closest thing I've got to a real mom!"
Charlotte flinched at his words, and I couldn't help but feel a little bad for her. Despite her general unpleasantness towards me, I knew she loved Jasper. It was kind of impossible not to. "Maggie is pregnant."
"Yeah, I know," Jasper said belligerently. "And there's something in her contract that forbids that, is there?"
"Not exactly," Charlotte replied stiffly. She took a sip of the scotch that I hadn't realized she'd been holding, and I frowned as a sense of ominous foreboding stole over me. The bad feeling had little to do with the fact that Jasper's mom was drinking at three in the afternoon, and more to do with what I suspected was the cause of her behavior.
"Wait, I thought you said this had something to do with Dad?" Jasper frowned.
The pieces clicked together in my head, just then, and from the look on Jasper's face, the same seemed to be true of him. He blinked at his mother incredulously.
"It has everything to do with your father."
"Mom? What are you actually saying here?"
"I'm saying that Maggie's pregnancy is a result of one of your father's… indiscretions."
Holy shit. And I thought my family was screwed up. It was a total cliché – the mogul screwing the maid. Except Maggie was so, so much more than that to Jasper. She was his honorary big sister, his closest ally at home, his sometimes-mom and his always-confidant.
"You're saying that Maggie's baby is… my sibling?" he echoed. "Dad got Maggie pregnant."
Without warning, he started to laugh. It wasn't the kind of laugh that people usually use when they think something is funny. It was the kind of I-don't-believe-this-is-happening laugh of a guy going into severe shock.
"Jazz?" I murmured, brushing my thumb over his knuckles again. It seemed to jerk him back to reality, because his eyes met mine and he gave me a tight smile. More of a grimace, really.
"What are you gonna do, Mom?"
"Well, we're giving Maggie a generous severance package. She can move away and start a new life somewhere else. Somewhere where she won't disrupt our family."
"Somewhere where you guys can hide her away, you mean." A shiver shot through me at the anger in Jasper's voice. "I meant, what are you going to do about Dad?"
"Your father has seen the error of his ways."
"That's utter bullshit. Dad has been screwing around on you for years, Mom. When are you going to say enough is enough? Why won't you just cut him loose? Surely all the money in the world isn't worth you losing your dignity and self-respect?" His nostrils flared. "Oh, no, wait, what am I saying? Of course it is. Once a gold-digging whore, always a gold-digging whore, right?"
Charlotte gasped at Jasper's words, and she wasn't the only one. I was staring at him with my mouth hanging open, unable to believe he'd just said something so vicious to his own mother.
"Jasper…" Her lip trembled. He threw her a contemptuous look.
"Let's get one thing clear, Mom. You are not shipping Maggie off to another state, or country, or whatever. She's the only family I care about. Her and Rosie and the baby. The rest of you can go to hell." He paused, seeming to appraise her for a long moment. "You know, I really thought you'd call it quits if something like this ever happened. But I guess I was wrong."
Without a backwards glance, he kicked open the door to the limousine and stepped back out onto the street. I dithered for a second, torn between wanting to comfort the distraught Charlotte and wanting to follow Jasper. The latter instinct won out, though, and I left the car, shutting the door behind me.
Jasper was already halfway down the street, fists clenched as he barreled forwards. I had to flat out run in order to catch him up, and when I did, it took three attempts to tug him to a stop under the awning of a nearby jewelers.
"What?" he said heavily, when he clocked the less-than-impressed look I was giving him.
"Don't 'what' me, Whitlock. You know what."
"You think I was too harsh back there."
"I think you were brutal. Couldn't you tell how crushed she already was? How would you feel if you found out that your significant other was expecting someone else's kid?" Propping my hands on my hips, I glared at him. "Have a little compassion, for Christ's sake!"
"Compassion?" He looked at me disbelievingly. "Alice, you're talking about the woman who tried to toss you out of a public brunch on your ass because your bank balance doesn't exceed a couple million. I can't believe you're lecturing me about being compassionate towards someone like that."
"I can't believe I need to lecture you in the first place! She's your mom, Jasper, and she's hurting! What you said was cruel."
"Yeah, well, maybe I'm cruel! Maybe I'm not the guy you thought I was!"
"I don't believe that for one second," I retorted. "I think you're angry, and upset, and that you lashed out at your mom when you really want to yell at your dad. I think that you're angry at Maggie, too, and you don't know how to deal with that, because it's unprecedented. And I think that you're trying to push me away because you're desperately trying to make everyone around you hurt as much as you do. But I'm not going anywhere, so don't bother trying."
With my arms crossed emphatically over my chest, I eyed him. Slowly, the fight seemed to drain right out of his body, until he gripped his unruly golden hair in both hands and buried his face in his palms with an agonized groan.
"Ali," he mumbled. "How the hell did everything get so monumentally fucked up?"
That, I had no answer for. I simply slid my arms around his narrow hips, nuzzling my face into his shirt. His hands left his hair in favor of my waist, thumbs brushing my sides as he took deep, calming breaths.
"It's going to be okay, Jazz. I promise." I tried to make my voice as gentle as possible. "We can go and see Maggie. Talk to her. I'm sure she'll tell you the whole story, and you'll feel a bit better. Or maybe you won't, but at least you'll know the truth. And I'll be there with you, for as long as you need me."
"Why?" he whispered. "Why would you stay with me, knowing you have to sit through my family soap opera?"
"Because I know that you're worth it," I told him, and I meant every word. I pulled back, then, and met his bright indigo gaze. His fingers brushed the pink streak in my hair, and his eyes grew incredibly tender.
"I don't know what I did to deserve you," he murmured. "But it must've been something pretty good."
"Did you save orphans from burning buildings in a past life?" I teased. Jasper chuckled.
"Probably. I might've rescued puppies from abusive owners in my free time, too." He tucked my hair behind my ear and cupped my face, and the expression on his face almost knocked the knees out from under me.
He was looking at me like… like…
Like he loved me.
"Yeah?" I could barely breathe. He was going to say it. Holy shit, he was going to say it.
"D'you… d'you think I should go and apologize to my mom?"
Oh. I was almost disappointed, but I recovered quickly. It was nearly as good as those three little words, because he was scared and he was vulnerable and he was leaning on me, asking my opinion. And, if I'm honest, still looking at me like I knew the real answer to life, the universe and everything.
I glanced back in the direction we'd come, to where I could just about make out the limousine still kissing the curb. My arms wound around his waist again, and I leaned my forehead against his nervously pounding heart.
"Yeah," I whispered. "I think you should."
He squeezed me tightly and tilted my chin up so that he could give me a soft kiss on the lips. As always, I melted as quickly as the Wicked Witch of the West when confronted with a bucket of water.
"Thank you," he murmured against my lips. "For putting up with me."
I smiled, and he withdrew. I watched him walk a few steps down the road, hands in his pockets and shoulders hunched, before turning back towards the crosswalk. I pushed the button, and waited for the light to change.
Twisting round, I saw that Jasper had paused, and was facing in my direction again. His eyes were shining as he looked at me, and they were impossibly blue.
"Yeah?" I called.
"I love you!"
It took me exactly three seconds for those words to sink in. He said it! He goddamn said it! Better still, he yelled it down the street at me! Most people would probably gripe about the lack of romance involved in hollering the L word after someone, but I was not one of those people.
Fuck intimate romantic settings.
He just declared his love for me to the whole of New York City.
I grinned. He grinned. He swiveled on one foot and began to walk away again.
And I couldn't hold it in any longer.
He turned. "Yeah?"
"I love you, too!"
The smile he gave me then was brighter and more blinding than the sun.
When I got home, I was still grinning like the lovesick fool that I am. I think I might even have been humming happily to myself. I know for sure that I was skipping every third step.
Seriously, if the emo, arty, angsty Alice of a couple months ago could see me now…
Actually, she'd probably give me a high-five.
It was weird. Comparatively, my life was a veritable shit-storm of drama now, but I was weirdly Zen about the whole thing. Maybe I was turning over a new leaf. Maybe today would mark the emergence of arty, floaty, hippy Alice.
Yeah, I doubt it. But stranger things have happened.
Like the fact that, when finally managed to stop hugging myself in glee for long enough to get my key in the lock, I walked into an empty loft.
Well, not totally empty. There was still furniture and stuff. I sighed in disappointment. I'd hoped I'd be able to gush about Jasper to Cynthia for a couple hours before Dad got home. Maybe even vent to her a little about his mom drama.
Speaking of… I dug into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone. Quickly tapping on the keys, I sent Jasper a short text.
Hope everything went okay with your mom. Love you, Whitlock. Xoxo
The response was immediate. We're okay. Just waiting for Dad to come home. Call you later. Love you, Brandon. Xxx
I smiled, delighted, and flipped on the light.
And that's when I realized that my loft wasn't quite as empty as I'd originally thought.
There was someone sitting on my couch.
Someone with near-black hair and hazel eyes and an expression like she'd just seen a ghost.
As far as drama went, it was out of the frying pan and straight into the fucking fire for me today.
Cause the person sitting there staring at me, Diary?
It was my mom.
BTW - You may or may not be interested to know that I've already written some of the Hamptons chapter (I know it's not til April, but I couldn't resist writing some fluff, seeing as the next couple are gonna be pretty heavy!)