Why HRC Amsterdam? Well, I was a bit of a nomad – the globe trotter of the family. I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and I didn’t want to go home to Chicago yet. I wasn’t ready to hear the “I told you so”‘s I was sure to get from my father, or the coddling I was certain I would be showered with by my mother. I loved my parents dearly, but at times it was suffocating to be around them. So my aunt Tanya had graciously offered to let me stay with her for however long I wanted. She lived in Amsterdam, where she had settled after years of traveling. She was an ex-pat, much like me. It was partly why we got along as well as we did.
Since it was quiet for the time being, I went and helped Irina out for a little longer, bussing tables, going back and forth with dirty dishes, making sure she had clean glasses – all the mundane shit that needed to be done. Apparently the server that was supposed to be working with her had called in sick, and the next server was not due to start for another half hour.
In the month that I had been here, I had noticed that I’d gotten in better shape – and it was showing. Not that I had been overweight or anything, but I had always been…slender, but not well-defined. Having to constantly go up and down a couple of flights of stairs every day, oftentimes while carrying a heavy load of dishes…well, it certainly helped build some muscletone. Bella commented on it during another short moment where there weren’t any customers coming in, and I actually blushed at the compliment she paid me. I knew she liked me, and she was very sweet and quite pretty…but she would never be for me.
Before I knew it, Kate was walking through the door, right as I was hurrying back upstairs from the bar. Her squeal alerted me first to her presence, and about two seconds later I was hugged so tightly I thought my ribs might actually crack. I hugged her back just as fiercely, though – she was my favorite cousin and even though we hadn’t seen each other in a long time, it was as if no time at all had passed.
She had to go clock in, but we snuck in the odd moment to catch up whenever we could. She was gushing about Athens, telling me all about the city, the history, how the opening of the new HRC had gone, as well as about the people she had met and worked with. It hadn’t just been people from the Amsterdam Café that had gone, but there had been people from London, Berlin, and several others, too.
When Irina walked into the server station where Kate and I were hiding out during one of our chats, she and Kate started to talk excitedly about Jasper, who – as it turned out – had been to Athens with Kate and would be starting work again that night. Kate gave me an odd, calculating look that I didn’t understand, but before I could question her, I got called back by Bella.
We were busy for a while, and several of the people who had been to Athens had started their shifts over the course of the day. Every single one of them was greeted back with enthusiasm, and it was interesting to meet so many new people after I had gotten to know everyone else already. It almost felt as if it was my first day at work all over again, though I was more comfortable now, by far.
There seemed to be a buzz among the crew the closer it grew to the time when the closing shift crew were supposed to start. I tried to find out what was going on, but the only thing I kept hearing was excitement from various people about Jasper being there soon. I couldn’t figure out just who Jasper was supposed to be – other than another server that worked there – and why people were so excited to have him back. All anyone would tell me was “You’ll love him, you’ll see!” So I just shrugged it off and kept doing my job.
Apparently the mystery that was Jasper had arrived while I had been busy seating a large group of people and wrestling with a couple of baby seats. The buzz I’d been hearing all day seemed to intensify, but it wasn’t until ten minutes later that I saw him. Well, I assumed it was him, since I didn’t recognize the guy in the black server’s uniform, and I had already met everyone else that was working that day.
He was standing on the other end of the restaurant – in the non-smoker’s section – and was talking animatedly to the very group of people I had been busy seating earlier. Everyone was laughing as the kids kept pointing at the various pins I could just see adorning his shirt.
Apparently he collects pins, too. Seems like no one can escape getting into that once they start here.
I chuckled softly as I headed downstairs again. Bella was handing the waiting list to Alice, who was taking over Bella’s shift while I still had a couple of hours to go. After going over the list again and making sure there were tables, I spent the next good while either seating people or cleaning tables.
Every time I was upstairs, I’d sneak a peek at Jasper, since I hadn’t had the chance to actually meet him. I had also not had a good look at his face yet. All I had really been able to tell was that he was tall and slender, had curly, honey blond hair, and he seemed to smile a lot. The smile I had noticed, even from halfway across the room, because it seemed to spread over his entire face and light up the room.
I wanted a closer look.
I wanted to see the color of his eyes, to see if the smile that seemed to form so easily on his lips made it to his eyes as well.
I wanted to hear his voice because the sound of his laughter was warm, and it sounded so sincere – I needed to find out if the voice matched.
I wanted to find out why everyone around me seemed to suddenly be in such high spirits ever since he showed up for his shift.
What is it about him? He seems to just…draw people in.
About half an hour before my shift was supposed to end, things finally died down enough for everyone to take a breather. Kate took advantage of the fact that her section was empty save for one table and called me upstairs. I promised Alice to bring her back something to drink and went upstairs in search of my cousin. I found her in the non-smoker’s server station, talking to Jasper, and I had to stifle a gasp when I caught sight of him.
He was gorgeous. Kate stood with her back to the entrance, which allowed me to finally get a good look at his face. His eyes were a stunningly bright blue, though the outer edges of his irises were tinged a light green. I had never seen anything like it. His smile up close was breathtaking, though it morphed into a mischievous smirk when he saw me staring just a little longer than was socially acceptable.
Kate half-turned to look over her shoulder and smiled when she saw me, her eyes darting quickly between Jasper and me before she said, “Edward, there you are! I’d like you to meet Jasper.”
She moved to the side, allowing Jasper to hold out his hand to me. I shook it and was pleased to receive a firm handshake. Everything about Jasper seemed to ooze confidence, and he seemed to put you at ease just by being. When he spoke, though, I had to grab hold of the counter with my free hand – the other was still being held by Jasper – as my knees tried to buckle at the sound of his voice. It was low, melodic in a way, and for some reason it made me think of whiskey and smokes. His slight drawl sent me back to Houston, Texas, where I had worked for a while during my travels.
“Hey there, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Edward. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
He let go of my hand, and instantly I felt the loss of his warmth, the need to touch him again so strong that I had to force myself to stay put. I tilted my head, looking quizzically from him to Kate, who had the good grace to blush a little even as she said, “Uhm, I think I had better go check on my table…if you’ll excuse me.”
I frowned and hissed a low, “Kate…” as she passed me, but she just waved her hand at me, indicating I should continue to talk to Jasper. I shook my head slightly and sighed, wondering what my dear cousin had up her sleeve this time. When I turned to look back at Jasper, it was to find him smiling at me with a bemused expression. I cleared my throat, running my fingers through my hair as I tried to think of something to say.
Remembering his words, I felt my eyebrows raise slightly as I asked him what he had meant with having heard a lot about me. This time, he was the one who blushed as he explained that Kate had told him about me. Apparently she had heard from her mom that I had started working here and had been very excited about it. He looked as if there was more to it, but he refused to give out any further explanation.
We didn’t have a chance to talk much more than that, as Bree stuck her head in the entrance, letting Jasper know his table was asking for him. He gave me an apologetic smile and put his hand on my shoulder as he walked by me, pausing briefly to look at me. “It really is nice to meet you, Edward. I’m looking forward to getting to know you.”
My eyes widened a little as I felt his fingers squeeze lightly before he let go and walked off. I just managed a weak, “It was nice to meet you, too,” before he was out of earshot. Bree’s soft chuckle made me realize that I had been watching Jasper as he walked to his table – more than watching him, I had been staring at his ass. I felt the heat rise on my cheeks as I hurried back to the foyer, having to double back again to get the drink I had promised Alice, which only caused Bree to laugh out loud as I beat a hasty retreat.
The rest of my shift went by quickly, and I was never so pleased to clock out as I was that night. I just wanted to get out of there, because every time Bree walked past me, or I her, she would start to giggle, and I’d be blushing all over again.
I didn’t see him again for four days, as I had two days off and then he had his days off right after that. When I came face to face with him on the fifth day, I had all but forgotten about the embarrassment of having checked him out, and I was able to greet him with a genuine smile. His own smile lit up as soon as he saw me, and I entertained the thought briefly that it was because of me – not just because it was an automatic reaction on his part. That hope was dashed, though, when Irina walked up the stairs from the bar area, and he gave her a warm smile, too.
I went about my work, and Jasper came down just before I opened the doors to start the day to let me know what the sections were going to look like for the first part of the shift. He was on the floor today, so to speak, so if there were any issues he said to just call on him. The day went by without any problems and the shift passed quickly, being neither too busy nor too quiet. We had time to be silly – Marcus, who was at the bar again, was belting out “Hotel California”, while Jasper took Irina for an impromptu spin across the foyer as he was heading downstairs and she upstairs. That was part of why I loved working here. It was cool to just let loose and go nuts every now and again.
Just before the end of my shift, we got slammed. We went from no waiting list to a half-hour wait or more within a matter of minutes. None of us knew where the sudden rush had come from, and we were all scrambling to get everything straightened out and make shift change as easy as possible. Aro – the manager of the day – came up to me and asked if I could stay another hour or more. I didn’t have to think twice and said yes, excusing myself immediately to go bus tables. I didn’t have time to listen to thanks; there was too much work to do.
As it turned out, Jasper had also agreed to stay longer and help, and he grinned knowingly as he asked me what I wanted to eat. I gave him a confused look, straightening up as I paused what I was doing.
“Aro told me that everyone that’s staying longer to help out gets a free meal, so what’ll it be? I’ll put the order in for you.”
My eyebrows raised in surprise. “Oh…he didn’t have to…”
Jasper interrupted with a chuckle, holding up his hand to stop me. “He didn’t, really. It’s normal for management to comp a meal in situations like this.”
I grinned. “Ah, okay. Well, in that case…blackened chicken penne pasta?”
I had no idea why it had come out as a question, but it seemed to amuse Jasper, so I just shrugged and thanked him for taking care of it for me.
Jasper called me upstairs about half an hour later, holding out a jacket to me. Things had finally calmed down enough that we could clock out and eat. I took the jacket with a puzzled look, and he smirked.
“You can sit at this table, but since we aren’t supposed to sit out here in our uniforms, as long as you cover up, you’ll be good. Hence the jacket. Now what do you want to drink, before I clock out as well and join you?” He paused, blushing slightly before adding, “If you don’t mind, that is…”
I gave him a crooked grin of my own. “Dr Pepper, please, light on the ice. And no, I don’t mind at all.”
I pulled the jacket on – the smell of leather and something I couldn’t place filling my senses – and sat down on the bench, leaving the chair for Jasper. The food looked and smelled amazing, and my mouth watered – my stomach growling as it reminded me that I hadn’t had anything to eat in far longer than it was used to.
I looked up sharply when I heard Jasper give a soft laugh as he sat two cups of soda in the middle of the table. He took a seat, and I had to bite my lip to stop the gasp that threatened to come out at the sight of Jasper in a tight, white t-shirt. Apparently, he had taken his black server-shirt off as a way of getting around the uniform rule. The shirt allowed a nice display of his muscles as he moved, as well as hinting at some ink that seemed to cover his right upper arm, shoulder, and pec.
My mouth was watering again, but this time it wasn’t because of the smell of the food. A soft clearing of a throat snapped me back to the moment, and I was met with a raised eyebrow from Jasper.
I felt the blush spread, and I quickly looked down at my plate. I mumbled a “Thank you” and began to pick at my food, suddenly not very hungry anymore. It wasn’t until I felt a gentle tap against my foot that I looked up at him through my eyelashes, not quite able to meet his gaze.
He leaned forward a little, smiling shyly at me. His voice was soft as he spoke, his hand reaching out and resting on my forearm. “I was…” He paused for a moment, his eyes flickering between mine as if trying to gauge my reaction. “I was wondering if you wanted to go out for a drink?”
I raised my eyes to fully meet his, slack-jawed. He couldn’t possibly mean… I looked down at his hand that was still on my arm and then back up at him again. I had trouble finding my voice and was only able to manage a whisper. “As in a…a date?”
He ran his free hand through his hair with a soft sigh before nodding. “Yeah, I guess so…unless you don’t want…” He gave a slight frown. “I thought Kate said that…”
I interrupted him quickly, quietly. “I am. It’s just…”
I wasn’t even sure what it was. Before I could finish my thought, Jasper said, “I’d really like to get to know you, Edward. From what Kate’s told me, you’re a good guy, and from what I’ve seen and heard about you since I’ve been back…”
He lowered his eyes to his plate, and I could tell he was blushing from the way the tips of his ears turned red. It was cute, really. I put my hand over his, running my thumb soothingly over the back of it.
“I think I’d like to get to know you better, too, Jazz.”
He quirked a brow, his lips twitching at the nickname. This time, I had to look away, blushing as I mumbled, “Don’t ask me where that came from…I have no clue.”
He chuckled, turning his hand over so he could hold mine. “I don’t know either, but I kinda like it.”
I nodded again. “Yeah, Bella’s taken me there after work a few times. It’s pretty cool; the guys there seem like a nice bunch.”
He grinned. “Yeah, they’re cool. As for when…I was hoping you’d want to go after dinner?”
I hurriedly chewed the mouthful of penne so I could answer him. “Sure, I didn’t have any plans, obviously, or I wouldn’t have stayed late tonight.”
I thought I heard him say something that sounded like, “Well I’m sure glad about that…” but I wasn’t positive as he had resumed eating again.
We were almost done eating when Aro stopped by to thank us once again for helping out. We both brushed it off, thanking him in turn for dinner. He clapped each of us on the shoulder as he wished us a nice night and went off to check on the servers, presumably to make sure they had everything under control.
We ended up staying at the café until closing – in truth even a little after, since the guys were nice enough to let us hang out while they went about cleaning up. We had spent the evening talking about everything – our families, our travels, our dreams. It turned out that we had quite a bit in common, and the more we talked, the harder it became to have to part ways.
The guys finally evicted us from the premises, stating they wanted to get home already. Jasper and I sauntered across the square past the giant chess board to the tram stop; even though they had long since stopped running for the night, taxi‘s stopped close by, and we figured I could hail one from there since I didn’t live near work.
As we stood at the stop, we both were scuffing our feet against the cobblestones, neither of us looking at the other as we tried to figure out something to say. The silence was the most awkward we had had all night.
Finally, Jasper cut through the hush in a quiet voice. “Would you like to come to my place? I live just a few blocks from here.”
I looked up to find him watching me with a wary, but hopeful look. He hurried on, “I’m just not ready for tonight to end…and I don’t like the idea of you having to go across town this late…” He sighed, averting his eyes as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Never mind, I’m being stupid…”
I bit my lip as I wondered if he could possibly feel the same pull to me that I did to him. We hadn’t really touched beyond holding hands back before dinner – at least if you didn’t count the fact that our knees were always touching no matter where we had sat after we made it to the café next door.
I muttered under my breath, “Ah, to hell with it,” and stepped closer to him, reaching my hand up and placing it just under his jaw, my fingers wrapping around the back of his neck as I closed the distance between us and brushed my lips against his.
His whispered “Oh God…” was swallowed by my mouth as he kissed me back, one of his hands going to my hair, his fingers threading lightly through the strands, while his other moved to my lower back, pulling me closer to him. I left my hand in place, letting my other slip around him to grip his shoulder.
The feel of his soft lips against mine, the slight sting of his stubble, his scent, his hard body pressed so close to mine – all of it made my head spin and my jeans tighten. I was vaguely aware of a couple of cat-calls – and some commentary I didn’t understand – coming from the few stragglers that passed us, but I ignored them all. Every fiber of my being was focused on Jasper, trying to memorize every noise he made, every move.
A stray thought went through my brain, a comment many times repeated by the people we worked with, and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Jasper pulled away with a confused look in his eyes, and I just shook my head as I tried to gain enough control over myself to be able to speak.
“It’s nothing. It’s just…the day you came back to work after Athens, everybody kept saying, ‘You’re going to love him, you’ll see’. I’m beginning to think there’s a good chance that those words may hold more truth than they meant.”
I knew the words were true the moment they had left my mouth, but I still couldn’t help the fierce blush that crept on my face. We had known each other for a very short time, and only really talked tonight, and we had just shared our first kiss…and here I was talking about loving him?
I bit my lip, the right corner of it disappearing between my teeth as my eyes anxiously searched his, worried for his reaction.
He grinned. “Is that right?”
In spite of myself, I just rolled my eyes at him. There wasn’t much I could say to that. He placed his palm on my cheek, his thumb brushing tenderly along my cheekbone as he leaned closer, his lips just barely touching mine as he whispered before kissing me, “I think there’s every chance I’m going to love you right back.”
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed this little one-shot.
Be sure to leave the fantabulous Whitlock’s Girl some love today.