A/N: I wanted to re-iterate that this is a canon pairing, B/E, J/A, Em/R story, however, I wanted to inject some realism. If you're married, you likely didn't marry the first person you dated. If you did, huzzah, but I suspect you're the lucky exception. Bella won't fall in love with Edward immediately. There won't be any smexin' between them the first time they meet. There is, however, some lemonade down here between Bella and someone else. Oh, and there probably will be in the following chapters as well. Bella's trying to figure out who she is; this isn't the right time for her to meet and fall in love with Prince Charming – she wouldn't appreciate him for what he is right now. Hang tight with me, I think it will be worth the little detours we take along the way.
Also, the outfits (hmm, and bedding hehe) mentioned should be on my blog.
All copyright and trademarked items mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. The remaining content is all mine. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
I couldn't wait to tell Alice and Rose about my day.
Once Jasper and I reached my door, he let go of my hand.
"Jasper, thanks so much for walking me back. I guess I was more shaken by Banner than I thought." Turning to look at him, I tried to break out of my old habit of looking at the floor when talking to a guy. He was smiling at me with kind eyes and I realized he was going to kiss me.
Instead of giving me a hot, heavy kiss as I expected, he slowly leaned in and placed a soft, warm kiss on my cheek.
"See you tomorrow night, Bella."
He turned and walked away before I could respond, but I'm sure he saw the look on my face before he left – the look of amazement that he'd been kind, respectful, and gentle. Some part of me expected potential romantic interests to behave exactly as Jacob had – always taking what he wanted or needed and considering me last.
Opening the door to my dorm, I was relieved to see Alice and Rose on the couch watching TV. I sat down next to them with a huff.
"You ladies are not going to believe the day I had!"
Groaning, I started telling them all about my day; I didn't get very far before Alice interrupted.
"That's it, Ben and Jerry's, now. This is going to be an ice cream conversation, I can feel it."
Sheesh, I hadn't even gotten to the good parts yet.
We all bundled up for the quick walk and set off. When we got there, Alice ordered a sundae with oatmeal cookie chunk ice cream and hot fudge, Rose got a scoop of half baked and I got a sundae with chubby hubby ice cream and hot fudge. We sat down and got a few bites in before Alice spoke.
"Okay, proceed." She waved her hands in a flourish, motioning for me to continue on with my story.
I told them all about my day – from Jasper bringing me a coffee at class to Mr. Banner asking me out. They both sat with gaping mouths when I was finished.
"Well, clearly, the new rule about dates is out the window," Rose said.
"I know, right?! Augh, what a pig. I can't believe you have all these hot guys around and Rose and I haven't even met one yet," Alice said, pouting.
I just shook my head, then was startled by a beep from my phone. Hardly anyone called or texted me these days, so I glanced quickly to make sure it wasn't important.
How was the first week, college girl? -J
Ugh. Jacob. When I looked up from my phone, I noticed Alice and Rose looking at me expectantly.
"Which one of your dates is that?" Rose teased.
"Oh, it's not. It's Jacob."
"Jacob?" they both asked.
"Yeah," I sighed. Even with everything I had told them, we had yet to discuss Jake.
"Okay, so back in Forks, I had a boyfriend. Hm, I'm not even sure if 'boyfriend' is the right word. We dated for awhile, then he gave me a promise ring. I gave it back to him just before I left, a few days after Charlie was killed, which was when I found him in bed with Mike," I said, pausing to take a deep breath. "He even had the balls to bring Mike to the funeral."
I could feel myself getting more angry at Jacob. Until that point, I'd mostly felt sadness about what had happened, but speaking the words out loud, confessing to other people what he'd done to me, I could feel the anger boiling beneath the surface.
"So, he brought this guy to the funeral, then came to my house and tried to get me back after graduation. Can you believe that shit?"
Alice and Rose looked at each other for a minute.
"Shit, Bella, your life hasn't been sunshine and roses, has it?"
"You could say that, but you know what? The last two years have brought me here, leading me to this point. I'm so grateful to have met you two, you're just what I need right now. You're both like a breath of fresh air. I've mentally left Old Bella behind in Forks and this is New Bella you see."
I couldn't believe I was confessing this to them. Feeling slightly foolish, I went on.
"In fact, the reason why I changed the topic the first time we met and were talking about the things we liked is that I just have no fucking clue. I've spent almost my entire life living for other people and I have no idea who I am. I have a feeling this will be an important year for me; I've dubbed it The Discovery of Bella Swan."
Alice got an excited look on her face. "Bella, I have the perfect idea for a surprise for you! Oh, you're going to love it!" She was literally bouncing in her seat, and I could see her brain going a thousand miles a minute.
"See, Alice – Old Bella hated surprises. New Bella? I'm going to sit back and enjoy whatever it is you decide to do for me, and I'll appreciate it instead of bitching about it."
We all shared a smile before we dumped our empty ice cream bowls into the trash and headed back to the dorm. Once we were in the warmth of the main room again, I decided to ask about our plans for the weekend.
"Well, I thought we could check out some of the boutiques down on Main Street," Alice said. I want to go to Boston, but I don't think we'll have time for that tomorrow with your date and such. Maybe next weekend. We also need to run up to Target; the closest one is about an hour away in Concord, so that will take some time. Oh, and there's a Victoria's Secret at the mall there, too, that I want to pop into. How about we agree to be ready and out the door by ten? That way you won't be too exhausted for your date later, but we should have enough time to squeeze everything in."
"Okay, sounds good to me. Do one of you have a car here or do we need to rent one?"
"Silly Bella, we both have cars. We'll flip to see who drives in the morning."
"Okay, see you girls in the AM, then. Good night!"
Giving them both a hug, I wandered off to my bedroom, ready to settle in for my bedtime routine. I flipped on my laptop and replied to an email from Jake. Since I hadn't responded to his text earlier, I figured email would be easier. I sent a surprisingly long email explaining my first week, leaving out some details. Giving him information about my class schedule, Rose and Alice and our dorm, I decided not to mention Jasper, Emmett, Tanya, or Banner.
When I was done, I picked up my list and added the bookstore. I knew I'd finish Wicked that night, so I needed to pick up a few more nighttime reading options.
Snuggling into my blankets, I replayed the week in my head before reading. I was cramming more social activity into the next two days than I had experienced over the last six months. I was equally excited about each date; they all had unique qualities that I liked and I was looking forward to getting to know them better.
Jasper seemed kind, sweet, caring and like a good listener. Emmett seemed hysterical, but I could sense he had a sweet side underneath that funny guy exterior. Tanya was like a magnet – I knew the least about her and had spent the least amount of time with her, but the draw was there.
Picking up my book, I tore through the last few pages. I cried at the end, finding myself surprised that I'd forgotten what was going to happen. Rolling onto my side to grab a tissue from my nightstand, I let the tears flow harder. It was nice to have a good excuse to let it out and cry. When I was done, I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, thinking about the things I needed to do before my date with Jasper.
Next thing I knew, my alarm was blaring in my ear and I was oh-so-grateful that I'd be replacing that bitch later that day.
I got up, showered, and got ready for my day of shopping with Alice and Rose. I was the first one ready, so I watched TV for a bit while waiting. Finally, Alice and Rose came into the room and did a twirl, indicating they were ready. I got out my quarter and Alice won the toss. I nearly peed my pants when they led us out to a yellow Porsche.
"Yeah, this is my everyday car," Alice said.
All I could do was laugh and get in the back seat. Alice drove like an insane woman and we made it up to the Target in forty-five minutes. We'd agreed to go to the farthest away places first, then coming back toward town.
I picked out a few pieces of clothing and jewelry, as well as my iHome. We also split the cost of some snacks and drinks to share in the room. Most of the time at Target, we were together helping each other, but Alice and Rose snuck off while I was in the electronics section and were being secretive about something.
Victoria's Secret was a blast. I'd never enjoyed frilly girlie things before, but I could see the attraction as I browsed. I got a few bra and panty sets as well as some pieces of lingerie and a few new pairs of pajamas.
We got lunch at Sbarro in the mall and spent some time in the book store before heading back to Hanover. No one really found anything thrilling at the boutiques in town, unfortunately.
It was so wonderful to have friends, and girl friends were a whole new level of fun. Back in Forks, my main friends were Jake's friends on the reservation – Sam, Embry, and Quil. Nothing against them, but it wasn't exactly an estrogen party.
By the time we got back, it was already five, and I wasn't sure what I was going to wear yet. It was a Saturday night date, a first date, but we were going someplace that seemed mostly casual. I ended up picking a comfortable stretchy grey dress and accenting it with jewelry, shoes, and a purse in shades of aqua. Leaving my long wavy hair loose, I used a few bobby pins to pull sections up around my face.
I felt a teeny bit overdressed for where we were going, but Rose and Alice assured me I looked great as they worked their magic on my makeup.
At 6:55PM, there was a knock at the door and I shooed the girls away. Not yet ready for them to meet Jasper, I opened the door and stepped out into the hallway with him.
I took a second to look at Jasper – he was wearing a plaid button up shirt, a navy sweater, and brown cords.
"You look stunning, Bella."
"Thanks, Jasper. You look pretty handsome yourself."
He held out his arm for me, and I happily slipped mine through his. We walked to the parking lot where he led me to a light green Toyota Prius. He opened the passenger side door for me and I slipped in, buckling my seat belt as he closed the door and walked to his side.
"Hungry?" he said with a smile, and I laughed.
"You have no idea!"
"Oh, good. I hate going on dates with girls where all they order is a salad and water."
"Young Jasper, you have so much to learn about me, but the first thing you'll learn tonight is that I'm not afraid of food. We're going to Indian, right? I love curries, I can't wait." In a not-so-subtle move, I licked my lips.
He cleared his throat and started the car, driving the short distance to the restaurant. I was grateful I didn't have to walk in my heels, and excited to see where Jasper lived when we went to his place for the movie after dinner. I had no clue if it was even on or off campus.
Jasper opened my door and took my hand, helping me out of the car once we arrived. The restaurant was warm and spicy smelling, and my mouth began to water. We were seated quickly and began easy conversation while waiting for our food to arrive, once we'd ordered.
"So, Jasper, where are you from?"
"Really? I never would have pegged you as a Texan, although I suppose that explains your charm."
"Yes ma'am, born and raised. My mama would be real proud of your complement, so thank you," he said with a panty-dropping drawl.
"Ahh, you can turn the accent on and off, I see. Cute."
"Well, it does tend to come out against my will at certain times, but I can usually keep it under control," he explained.
"Do you have any brothers or sisters?" I asked, taking a quick bite of our samosas which had shown up.
"Two sisters, one older and one younger. You?"
"You're right in the middle," I said with a smirk. "I'm an only child."
My eyes fell to the table and I was sure I was doing a poor job of hiding my pain. Each time I talked about Charlie and Renee, it was as if it was fresh in my mind. Granted, it hadn't been very long since Charlie had been killed, but I expected the feelings to lessen much faster than they did.
"Bella, you okay?"
"Yeah, Jasper, I'm fine. I don't know why I started this topic. It's hard to talk about my family."
"It's okay, Bella, you don't have to talk about anything you don't want to." He smiled at me with such a genuine smile I felt instantly back at ease. He reached out his right hand to touch my left, which had been resting on the table next to my water glass. I smiled back at him.
"It's okay, there's no grand family secret or anything, it's just that my parents are both dead. My mom died from breast cancer about a year ago. My parents were divorced, but my dad still took it pretty hard. I lived with him at the time. The day I found out I was accepted to Dartmouth, I was making his favorite dinner – lasagna. He was the police chief in our tiny town, by the way," I rambled. "So, I was making the salad when one of his co-workers came by and told me he was killed in the line of duty. For awhile, I wasn't sure what to do, where to go, what to think. I spent the summer road tripping my way out here, exploring new places, meeting random strangers, and trying to figure out what to do with myself and my life."
At this, he took my hand into his and rubbed circles on my palm with his thumb.
"Holy shit, Bella. I'm so sorry."
"Thanks. I know I'll be okay, but I still miss them both terribly. I was with Renee, my mom, until the day she died. She lived in Florida with her new husband. She wasn't always the world's best mom, but she was my best friend." Starting to feel the tears pooling in my eyes, I quickly closed them.
As if Jasper could read my mind, he changed the subject. "So, what made you chose Dartmouth?"
Opening my eyes, I smiled at him. I took a deep breath to try and compose myself again. "It was just about the farthest away from home as I could get."
He laughed. "Well, that's honest at least."
"So, art history? I still can't get over it. What made you settle on that?" I asked. As I raised an eyebrow in curiosity, he chuckled.
"Hmm. I chose art history because I'm in love with the past and there's something captured in artwork that you can't convey in any other medium, I think. I would love to be a museum curator someday, but realistically I'll probably end up teaching or getting an advanced degree in another field."
The waiter showed up and delivered our entrees. We ate mostly in silence, with a few comments back and forth about the food or the restaurant.
"You still up for that movie at my place?" Jasper had a playful look in his eyes as he spoke.
"Sure! Where do you live?"
"Oh, I live on campus. Actually, I'm surprised we haven't run into each other; I live in the Butterfield building," he explained, revealing that he lived in the building semi-attached to mine. "I'm in a single on the second floor."
"You do? How funny!"
"Yeah, small campus I guess."
Jasper put his jacket on, then helped me with mine. He paid the bill and we drove back to campus. After he parked, we walked to his building holding hands and he led me up to his room. His room was sparse, but the décor he did have was tasteful and not what I expected from a typical college guy – that is to say, there were no nude ladies or sports posters on the wall. His bedding was done in shades of brown, sky blue, and white.
"Jasper, your room is so clean and modern. You really do have two sisters!"
"Yes, and let's not downplay the influence of my mom, as long as we're being honest. I think she had a hand in most of this. You haven't even seen, or should I say felt, the best part yet," he winked.
"First, let's pick a movie."
"Okay, let's watch something funny," I suggested, needing a good laugh after our dinner conversation.
"Alright, I've got a ton of movies over there," he said, pointing to his TV armoire. "Why don't you pick something out while I change into my pajama pants and a t-shirt. Is that okay?"
"Sure, Jas, as long as you don't mind if I slip off my shoes and get comfy too."
"Done deal. See you in a second," he said with a smile.
Rummaging through his dresser, he picked out some clothes and walked out the door, I assumed down the hall to the bathroom to change.
While he was gone, I checked out his movies – he was right, he had a ton. I settled on Talladega Nights, because who doesn't love Will Ferrell?
I put the movie in and was taking my shoes off as Jasper re-appeared. He moved to the bed, the only real place to sit I finally noticed, and pulled the comforter back.
"Satin sheets? Oh, Jasper, you just might be my new favorite person," I purred. Who knew I had a thing for satin sheets?
Walking over to the bed slowly, I climbed in next to Jasper. I let out a soft moan at the feel of the sheets against my skin, briefly wondering what it would be like to be naked against them. Woah, slow down lady.
Jasper chuckled and grabbed the DVD remote form his nightstand, turning the movie on. I tried, really I did, to pay attention to the movie, but honestly – I was in a nicely kept bedroom with satin sheets on the bed, under the covers with a hot guy. I doubt anyone could have focused under those conditions.
About a third of the way through the movie, I scooted closer to Jasper and tucked myself in under his arm. He wrapped it around me, pulling me tight to his body and I smiled. I felt safe and comfortable in his arms.
A short time later, I could feel his fingertips brushing against my side where his hand had previously rested. Leaning into his body a little, I let my eyes flutter closed and my hand rest underneath the hem of his shirt, against his warm, smooth skin. I could still listen, right? I knew this movie so well, I could practically watch it with my eyes closed.
I could feel Jasper's breathing pick up and his other hand moved to the back of my thigh, pulling me to him. I was a little conflicted; I knew with certainty that I wasn't ready to sleep with Jasper, but I also knew that I was attracted to him, and I didn't see anything wrong with a little fun. New Bella knew honesty was the best course, instead of just pretending and going along.
Moved myself so that I was laying on top of Jasper, I brought my lips down to his, kissing him gently. I moved my lips across to his jawline and over to his ear.
"Jasper, I really like you, but I'm not ready to take things very far." I sucked his earlobe into my mouth, letting my teeth scrape against it as it came back out of my mouth.
"Okay. I'm just fine with where we're at right now."
He trailed his hands up my sides and I shivered as my reached the sides of my breasts.
"Cold?" he asked.
"Hell no, Jas. Hell no."
Burying my face in the crook of his neck, I tried desperately to suppress a moan.
Rolling to my side, I threw my leg over his hips to draw his body against mine again. I could feel his erection pressing against my thigh, but I took a sense of pride in that, instead of shame, like Old Bella might have. I did that to him.
I moved my mouth back to his, sucking his lower lip in. Swiping my tongue across it, I sucked gently. He moaned softly, pressing his body harder into mine.
"Jasper... Oh, Jasper, you're so fucking hot. I think I better go soon, before we both do something we might regret."
"Mmmph," was his only reply.
His tongue pressed against my lips, gently licking them side to side. I parted my mouth slightly to allow him entrance, but he just swiped his tongue back and forth a few more times before pulling his mouth away from mine. He kept his forehead pressed against mine as we both took deep breaths to try and regain our senses.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I don't want to push or pressure you."
"You didn't, Jasper. Not at all. I never felt pressured to do anything I didn't want to, please don't think that."
I ran my fingers through his hair and tugged slightly, forcing him to look into my eyes. Once we were looking at each other, I gave him a soft smile and gently kissed him again.
"Jasper, will you walk me back to my room?"
"Of course. You don't think I'd let you go alone do you?" he asked, grinning a bit.
There he goes with that southern charm again.
"Can we just lay here for a minute before we go?" I requested.
Closing my eyes, I wrapped my arms all the way around him as he did the same. With my ear pressed against his chest, I could hear his heart beating. He was so warm and soft, but hard and toned at the same time. He smelled warm, spicy, delicious. Pressing my nose right in the center of his chest, I inhaled, trying to memorize the scent for later.
Fuck. Caught in the act.
"Yeah?" I tried to feign ignorance.
"Did you just... sniff me?" he laughed as he questioned me.
"I might have. Is that okay?"
"Sure, as long as you don't mind a little reciprocity."
He moved his body lower and dragged the tip of his nose from my collarbone up my neck and finally resting behind my ear. Gently, he ran just the very edges of his lips against my skin at the same time, drawing in my scent along the entire way. Well, fuck me.
I sat up and shook my head, willing my senses to return... and quickly.
"Jasper, you're too good at that. Remind me to not let you do that again." I giggled and looked around for my shoes.
He was in his slippers and beside me, ready to walk me home, in less time than I would have imagined possible. Standing, I put a hand on his chest to steady me as I slipped my shoes on.
"Ready," I said.
He offered his hand to me and I smiled. We linked our hands and walked out his door on the way back to my room. I knew Rose and Alice were going out dancing, so I didn't expect them to be home. Not yet ready to invite Jasper inside, I gave him another kiss at the door.
"Thank you so much, Jasper. I had a great time tonight."
"Me too, Bella."
He looked me in the eyes and smiled, something I wasn't used to; it felt so honest and refreshing.
"Can I call you sometime?" he asked. He sounded almost nervous, as if he thought there was any chance I'd say no.
"Absolutely. Hand me your phone and I'll program my number in, okay?"
"Okay, let's swap," he suggested.
We did just that, and another peck later, I was sure he'd be turning around to leave.
"Bella, I know it's silly, but can you unlock the door before I go? I want to make sure you're safely inside before I leave you."
"Thanks for taking such good care of me tonight, Jas."
Giving him one last quick kiss, I turned to unlock the door and let myself in to the empty space. I rotated back to close the door and look at Jasper, giving him a smile before he walked off. After I closed and locked the door, I went to my room, changed my clothes, and laid down on a cloud of bliss.
How am I ever going to make it through three of these this weekend?