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I felt her fingertips trace a path on my face, starting at my forehead and swiping over my eyebrows. She leaned closer and kissed my eyes, my nose, my mouth and then my chin. As if she was holding a magic wand, each spot she touched, each muscle underneath her fingers or lips, loosened and let go. I fluttered my eyelids open experimentally. Alice was almost nose to nose with me and it surprised me to see her so close. I had been so sure she was getting up to leave, but here she was, still with me.
“Bella, oh Bella. Edward isn't only my brother, honey, he's my best friend. Trust me when I tell you, he would never take Jasper away from you. Ever. I know he already sees how much you and Jasper care for each other and Edward and I are the same; he would never want you to come between our friendship and he would never do that to you. Besides, I think he knows that if he did anything to hurt you I would totally kick his ass,” she giggled and I couldn't help but smile.
Alice moved my hand so that it was wrapped around her body and then pressed herself against me. She fit like the part of me I never knew I was missing, her chin nestled right into the crook of my neck.
“I also know that if anyone can help put Jasper back together, it's Edward. The way you speak about Jasper, I am sure that they will be good for each other. Edward had a very challenging experience in Seattle, so he might be slow to trust Jasper, but he would absolutely never hurt him.”
“I really like Edward,” I said. “Of course, I love Jasper, but he doesn't have the best history with men. He has a few strange quirks, but he seems to want Edward to stay around, which is a first for him. I saw a glint of it in his eyes today, that letting go of me, and it made me both ecstatic and crushed. Do you really think Edward would help Jasper put himself back together? What if he's too broken to fix?” I trailed to a whisper towards the end of my sentence.
Alice pulled back slightly, her eyes meeting mine.
“Are you listening, Bella? I want you to hear me, to really hear everything I'm about to say.” I nodded. “No one is beyond repair, sweetheart. Not Jasper, and not you. I don't know your deep, dark history... yet. And you don't know mine. However, I know for a fact that Jasper is worthy of love, and he and Edward are cute together. And you? Baby, you are not only worthy of love,” she kissed my lips softly, carefully, “but you are worthy of so much more. Who says I'm worthy?”
“Well, would Edward say you're worthy?” I asked, and she laughed.
“Edward is my best friend, of course he would.”
I leaned down to capture her lips with mine again, a tear fell from my eye onto her cheek, causing us to pull apart.
“Alice, why did you come find me? You thought I was a horrible person, which I am... or was, who the fuck knows, everything is jumbled in my brain right now. Why would you want to come back to that? Come back to this?”
She looked me in the eyes again, “Why did you come for me, Bella?”
“I thought... I saw something in you. I thought, for the first time, maybe things could be different. Maybe it didn't have to be the way it always was for me. It scared me, scares me, but it also made me hopeful,” I said softly.
I stroked a finger along her cheek as I spoke, hoping she saw the sincerity and vulnerability in my eyes.
“I came to find you because I thought maybe you felt the same way about me. I felt a connection to you that night, and although it scared me, I saw something good in you. I wanted to stay so badly that night, to really get to know you and talk to you, but I was so fucking scared that you would just kick me out that I let that fear take over. I talked to Edward and he told me that I should give it a chance, give you a chance. That if we both had felt the connection, you would be there looking for me, too... and you were.”
Her eyes were shining with tears now and she tilted her head down, letting them fall on the sheet.
“Ali, baby, please don't cry. You have no idea how happy I was to see you there.” I lifted her chin with my fingers and looked at her as I spoke. “I don't know how we're going to work this out. I don't know how long it will last until I fuck things up, but I want you around. I want to get to know you, too. I want so badly to spend time with you. Does this mean you'll let me take you on that date?” I was hopeful.
Alice's crooked smile returned and my heart leapt.
“Well, I might say yes, if you asked me out. But I might also have an asking price,” she grinned.
“Oh?” I quirked an eyebrow at her. “What is this mystery price for a date with you?”
“Well, what was Jasper saying about your birthday coming up?”
I groaned. I hated my birthday. Hated.
“Alice, I don't celebrate my birthday, really. Jasper usually does something, only because I can't hold him back.”
“Well, that makes two of us,” she pouted. “I want to celebrate your birthday, Bella! Oh, please, let me do something nice for you. I could throw a little dinner party, we could have Jasper and Edward come over, and our other brother and you could invite your sister, and my mom and dad.. oh and your parents, do they live close?”
“Alice, slow down. My dad died a few years ago. My mom lives in Florida. I'm sure Jasper and Edward would love to have a dinner party, especially since it seems like we're all going to be spending time together. We can do something with your brother and my sister, invite everyone either to my place or yours, but your parents? I don't know. And for my birthday? Can't we just have a regular dinner party?”
She began to place soft, wet kisses on the places of my body she could reach from her position, which happened to be mostly on my neck and collarbone.
“mmm, Alice, are you trying to bribe me?” I ran my fingers through her hair, debating whether I wanted to pull her back off of me or press her further into me.
“I might be,” she laughed. “Is it working?”
“Nope. Ahhh, Ali, as much as I'm enjoying this moment, can we maybe pick this up after nap time?” I yawned.
She playfully nipped at my skin with her teeth before slinking back up to rest her head next to mine.
“Yes, we can talk about it after nap time, on one condition.”
“You are full of conditions and asking prices today! What do you want now?” I asked, slightly frustrated, slightly amused.
“Promise we can have naked bed talking time again?”
“Are you agreeing to a date?”
“Are you agreeing to a birthday party?”
“Hell no. Not yet, anyways.” I laughed.
“Don't think I'm giving up on that.”
“I don't. I'm looking forward to you working harder to convince me... after nap time. In fact, I have plans to drag you into the tub with me for some naked tub talking time, how does that sound?”
“Fan fucking tastic. It's a deal. Naked tub talking time and bribery for birthdate reveals, plus a real date... once we nap.”
“Looking forward to it,” I mumbled, already falling asleep. Alice pulled herself closer to me, weaving her arm underneath my own and slipping her leg between mine. She tucked her head underneath my chin, the edge of her lips pressed against the hollow of my throat and we fell asleep together.