Good God, when did I turn into such a girl?
I raked my fingers through my hair in frustration. I stood by my bed, contemplating several clothing options. I was starting to feel a little queasy; I was so nervous.
“Oh, for crying out loud!” I yelled into the room as I grabbed my blue shirt, black jeans, some socks, and a pair of boxer briefs. I walked to the bathroom and placed everything neatly by the sink, along with a towel, and turned on the shower as hot as I could stand it.
I saw my reflection in the mirror and sighed. Pull yourself together, man. It’s just dinner with Edward. I stepped under the scalding water, letting the heat soak my body, before turning the temperature down slightly. I took my time, hoping to still my nerves. It helped a little.
I was not sure I could do this – going forward with Edward and trying to see if we could be more than friends. I wanted to know if there was more to us than our past. I just didn’t exactly have a whole lot of experience, and the feeling of being out of my depth was a little scary. I would do as Rosalie said, though; I’d try and follow my heart. Edward seemed interested enough in giving it a shot. I just hoped he would be okay with taking things slow.
I still hadn’t figured everything out yet – like how to tell Mom and Dad. Thinking about them had my stomach doing flip flops all over again.
The water started to run cold, so I quickly turned it off and stepped out of the shower. I toweled off, trying not to think about questions I couldn’t answer right now. Instead, I wondered how I was going to get to Pike’s Place. I could take my bike, but I didn’t like the idea of leaving it there for any length of time.
Just as I finished getting dressed, Rosalie walked into my room. Perfect!
“Good timing, sis!”
She shot me a glare and frowned.
“What do you want from me, brother mine? People who start off sentences with ‘good timing’ always want something.”
I chuckled. Ahh, you know me too well, Rosie.
“You’re right. I do want something from you. I was hoping you’d give me a ride to Pike’s Place? I’m meeting Edward.” I lowered my voice a little, blushing, “…for a date.”
I watched her reaction, feeling a little anxious despite our earlier conversation. I needn’t have worried, though.
Her eyebrows shot up in surprise, and she smirked, folding her arms across her chest. “Jasper, I didn’t think you had it in you. Well, not this quickly, anyway. Sure, anything to help a brother in love.”
She chuckled and winked. I smiled at her words. In love..? Could I..? I thought for a moment. Yeah, I guess I could… With that, the butterflies made themselves known again. Gah!
“Too bad I don’t have my new car yet. That’s what I came to tell you about. I found the perfect one.”
Then, she launched into how she’d tried several places without any luck, how she’d come home and surfed the net for an hour, before finally finding the car for her – a Tesla: a hybrid sports vehicle. She’d printed out a picture of the one she liked, and I had to admit that the fire engine red suited her to a T. Unfortunately there were no sellers in Washington state yet, so she had placed an order with one in California. Her reasoning was that she could fly down, spend a few days in California to shop, and then drive the new car home, making a road trip out of it.
That’s my Rosie!
After she was done with her car talk, she asked about Edward. I told her a little about the IM’ing we’d been doing earlier in the day. She chuckled at the fact that his dad had caught him at work. She wanted to meet him, but I wasn’t quite ready for that just yet. I promised I’d introduce her soon, though, or I would never have heard the end of it.
About forty-five minutes later, she dropped me off at Pike’s Place. I was standing there waiting for Edward at the information board, checking out places to eat. Suddenly, I heard someone clear their throat behind me, and I spun around. The sight that met my eyes was truly something to behold.
He was wearing a dark gray suit with a white button down shirt; the two top buttons were undone, and his tie was hanging loosely around his neck. His hair was its usual disheveled self, but somehow that made him look even hotter. Thoughts of grabbing him by the tie and pulling him to me while kissing him hungrily chased through my mind briefly. I gulped a little, trying to regain a measure of composure and settle down the butterflies currently frolicking in my stomach.
“Fancy meeting you here.” He smirked and winked at me, chuckling.
“Yes, fancy that. Total surprise.” I smirked back and rolled my eyes a little. Smart ass….
“So, any preference as to where we eat? I’m starving!”
I shook my head, and he turned his attention to the board for a moment. I didn’t think I’d be able to say anything more without making a complete ass of myself. I was still a little fazed by him.
“Kells okay with you? The food’s pretty good.” He looked at me questioningly.
“Sure.” I think I’d go to the end of the world with you, looking like that… Okay, Jazz, simmer down! Sheesh!
We walked to the pub in silence and found a nice table in the corner. The waitress came and took our order, a pint of Guinness off the tap each and an Irish cheese plate to share.
I looked around for a while, taking in the surroundings, but was drawn back to Edward as I heard him groan softly and caught him trying to adjust himself. He was trying to be inconspicuous about it, and I raised a brow in question.
“Nothing.” He mumbled, and I saw his face turn red.
Well, not too hard to guess where his mind was at. That blush speaks volumes.
I didn’t say anything, but I felt a smile tug at my lips as I looked at him. Just then, the waitress came back with our beers and the cheese plate. He took a long pull off his drink before starting on the food. I shook my head for a moment before following suit.
He seems as nervous as I am about this. The realization had a soothing effect on my own nerves.
“So how was the rest of your day? Anything exciting happen after I logged off?” He grinned at me.
I decided to have some fun with him.
“Oh yes, tons. Reading about the Civil War always gets me excited.”
I snickered and winked at him. He blinked and frowned slightly for a moment before grinning.
“It does, huh? And why would that be, exactly?”
We continued on the subject of the Civil War and my classes up until dinner came. We ate in comfortable silence. It felt good to just be together. It felt right, somehow. It definitely helped calm my nerves, as well as giving me some resolve.
He smiled as I pushed my plate away. “Good?”
“Yeah, I’m glad you suggested the place. Definitely worth coming back to.” I smirked at him. Hopefully with you…..
He cleared his throat and nodded in agreement. Just then the waitress came with our bill. He tried to grab it, but I beat him to it this time. “My turn!” I growled at him. I hadn’t forgotten what he had said last night.
He raised his hands in defeat, smirking. As we waited for the waitress to bring my change, we talked about the rest of the evening. Neither of us really wanted it to end so soon.
He offered me a ride after I mentioned that I had Rose drop me off at the Market earlier. I was happy he wanted the extra time alone. When we got to his car, I stopped a few feet away, confused and stunned by what I saw.
“Something wrong, Jasper?” he asked with a blank expression on his face.
I was shocked! Did he do this for me? I don’t remember him saying he owned a bike. He can’t seriously have put it on just because of me… What does that mean?
My eyes turned back to his. “You… put a bike rack on your car… for me?” I was slack-jawed. He simply nodded. “Edward…I don’t know what to say…”
I ran a hand through my hair. No one has ever done something like this for me before.
“It’s okay. Come on; let’s get you home.”
The whole ride home, I sat staring at him. I wouldn’t have been able to talk if I’d wanted to because my mind was going a mile a minute. My thoughts were completely scattered.
Why would he do something like that? Does he care about me? Could he love me? How can I show him how much it means to me? I want to… what do I want?
Do I want to kiss him?
I had to give him directions to my place, and we got there much faster than I would’ve liked. He stopped the car far enough away that no one would be able to see us from the house, a gesture I very much appreciated. I smiled shyly at him as he turned in his seat. I was both wishing and fearing that he would lean over and just kiss me like he had at camp, taking the decision out of my hands, because I was too scared to make that first move. Though at this point, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what, exactly, I feared any more.
He lifted his hand to my cheek, brushing his fingers against it softly. The butterflies made an immediate return, and my heart started beating faster. Is he going to kiss me?
“I had a nice time tonight, Jasper. Thank you,” he whispered.
“I did, too. I still can’t believe you got a bike rack on your car.” I chuckled softly and placed my hand over his, holding it to my cheek. It felt good to touch him; the current between us spread through me like a gentle wave. I craved more.
“Anything for you, Jazz.”
I believed him. I wanted so badly to reach out and touch him, kiss him, hold him close. Instead, I took his hand and squeezed it lightly. He squeezed back with a soft sigh.
“I suppose you’d better go. See you at training tomorrow?”
“Yeah….” I frowned.
I don’t want to go. Ask me to stay longer. Ask me to come home with you.
When the silence stretched on, I couldn’t take it anymore. I cleared my throat and said, “See you at training then.”
I reluctantly let go of his hand and got out of the car. I ran up to the house, needing to get to the safety of my room and try to rein in my feelings. Being this close to him, even for such a short time, seemed to magnify everything, and it frightened the crap out of me. I didn’t look back to see if he left. I went straight to my room and checked my e-mail as usual, and then went to bed. I lay awake for hours, thinking about what had happened. And what hadn’t happened. Thinking about Edward.
The rest of the week went by in similar fashion. I spent time on my class work; we IM’ed every chance we got. We talked about anything and everything: his work, my classes, camp, family – just getting to know each other again. It felt good to reconnect with him. The tie between us just seemed to be getting stronger. I grew more and more comfortable with the idea of ‘us’.
Being at the swimming club was definitely interesting. Edward was trying really hard to respect my need for privacy and was hardly ever in the showers at the same time as me. Though I appreciated this a lot, a part of me did not mind seeing him there. It wasn’t like I hadn’t seen him naked before. It was kind of difficult not to, considering we spent so much time at the swimming club, but it felt different now.
We were wrapping up the last training session before Saturday’s game when Edward asked me to help him put the goal back in its place. I walked up, helped him pull it out of the water, and put it against the wall. After we were done, I noticed Emmett watching us. Odd, wonder what’s up with him… I shook off the question as we all went in to shower and change.
Edward was giving me a ride home and was putting my bike on the rack. He was securing it when Emmett walked up to him, wearing a shit eating grin on his face. I heard Edward groan as he glanced at me.
What’s going on?
“So!” Emmett said, rubbing his hands together as his eyes shifted between us and the rack. He wiggled his eyebrows at Edward, who leaned against the side of the car.
“Spit it out, Emmett. I know you want to,” he said as he kept his eyes on me, probably worried about my reaction.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I just didn’t realize that the doohickey I put on your car was to score points with your boyfriend is all. Nice touch.” He winked at Edward, who stifled another groan. I knew my face was turning all shades of red, and I was stunned into silence, my eyes wide as saucers.
How…He knows? Boyfriend? Am I his boyfriend? Does he want me to be? Is that what I want him to be?
I heard him hiss, “Thanks, Emmett…..”
Emmett just chuckled and punched me in the arm. “It’s cool, bro.”
He leaned in to whisper loudly in my ear, “You could do a lot worse than Copper Top over there.” He stood back and winked at me. Then turned around to smirk at Edward and walked off without another word.
I just stood there, still numb with shock at what had just happened.
I heard him sigh as he rubbed his face a few times and walked up to me. He placed a hand on my cheek, his eyes on mine. I blinked, coming out of the daze I’d been in.
“I’m sorry, Jazz. Emmett can be… a bit much at times. He means well, though. Are you alright?” he whispered, his thumb gently stroking my cheekbone.
I shivered at his touch and nodded. I took a deep breath and smiled shyly. “Yeah.”
I just feel like I’ve been hit in the solar plexus, but I’m just fine… Emmett knows… He seemed fine with it, though. Maybe….
The ride home was spent in silence. After he dropped me off, I went straight to my computer. I was mulling over how I felt about what had happened with Emmett. It surprised me a little to find that the thought of Edward as my boyfriend gave me a sense of peace. I liked the thought of it. I saw him log on, and my heart raced. We chatted for about an hour. He had seemed a bit on edge after Emmett’s comment, but he was worried about how I felt. I decided to tell him now, hoping he would be okay with it.
I blushed fiercely as I typed.
Jazzman: Don’t be too mad at Emmett. Now that I’ve had some time to process things… I kinda liked that he thought I was your boyfriend…*blush*
It was game day. Rosalie was coming with me for moral support. This was my first game on this team, and she usually came to watch me play. It was also a good time for me to introduce her to Edward. I was already dressed and ready to go, but she was taking her sweet time. As usual!
I grumbled as I knocked on her door. “Come on, Rose! Hurry up! I’m going to be late if we don’t leave soon!”
Luckily the game was at our club, so I didn’t have to worry about traveling too far in that respect.
“Hold your horses! I’m coming; I’m coming.”
She opened her door and put her hands on her hips, her head tilted to the side. She was wearing form-fitting, faded blue jeans with a red gypsy top, which fell off the shoulders. Her golden blond hair was pinned up by the sides, allowing it to fall down her back while keeping it out of her face. She could have been a runway model considering the way she carried herself and the pride she took in her appearance. Oddly enough, as much as she cared about that, her heart lay with cars. Anything with an engine, she loved.
I let out a low whistle as I took her in. “Damn, sis…you do know this is just a water polo game, right?” I winked at her and grinned. I grabbed her by the hand as she rolled her eyes at me. “Come on! We’re late. I still need to change and stuff when I get there.”
She was driving, so I should have known better than to worry about being late. We made it to the swimming hall with time to spare. I shook my head at her and headed in. I had told her to just find a seat in the stands, which were by the side of the pool, and I’d meet her there as soon as I was showered and changed.
Emmett, Tyler, and Edward were already in the locker room and in their swimming trunks. I hurried and followed after them as they walked into the swimming hall. Emmett stopped dead in his tracks, which was unfortunate for me, as I was walking right behind him. I ran hard into him.
“Ow! What the fuck, Emmett?” I side-stepped him and followed his gaze to where Rosalie sat. I chuckled as I turned my attention back at him and slapped a hand on his shoulder. “I see you’ve noticed my sister.”
He nodded, still stunned, but cleared his throat and looked down at me. “Shit, bro. That is your sister?”
“The one and only Rosalie Hale.” I chuckled.
Edward rolled his eyes at Emmett and shoved him forward. “C’mon, man, we have to get the nail check over with, and it’s time to start. You can fawn over his sister after we’ve played the game.”
I couldn’t stop chuckling as I noticed that Rose had spotted us, her eyes fixed on Emmett.
Oh, this should be good!
I winked at Edward and tilted my head to Rose. He grinned back as he saw her intent gaze still on Emmett. He leaned in to me and whispered quietly, his breath sending shivers down my spine as it hit my ear, “Looks like this could be interesting. Are you going to introduce them?”
I whispered back, “I don’t think I’ll have much choice in that matter, if I know my sister. I’m kinda partial to keeping everything intact, if you know what I mean.”
I smirked at him, enjoying the slight blush that crept up his cheeks at my words. I heard him clear his throat before he turned his attention to the referee that was checking everyone’s nails. Both feet and hands were inspected – no one wanted to get scratched.
Once the check was over, we put on our caps. We had blue this time; the opposing team had chosen white. Emmett, being the goalie, had the cap with red ear covers so the referees would be able to distinguish him.
I looked over the team and smiled. To others, it might seem a haphazard bunch, but we all worked well together. Emmett, Edward, Bella, Alice, and I were the core group. With the exception of me, they’d been together the longest. Tyler, Ben, Angela, Vicky, Eric, Kirk, Demetri, and Felix made up the rest of the team – none of them had played as long, but they were all good and loved the game.
Soon, everyone was ready. I was excited for this game, as I knew we stood a good chance of winning against this team. I’d played against them before – albeit when I was on another team – and I knew they weren’t nearly as good as we were.
I glanced at Edward and grinned at the look of concentration on his face. As we were about to enter the pool, I quickly waved to Rose. I saw her wave back right as I jumped in the water. Half the team was on the sideline, since we were only allowed seven in the water at a time, including the goalie. The other team didn’t have as many replacements, which would work in our favor. They’d tire more easily as they couldn’t swap players out as often.
We gathered at the center of the pool as Edward, Alice, and I set up for the swim-off; Alice, being the fish she was, got to the ball first and played it back to me.
Everyone got a turn to be in the water. Emmett got his chance to show off his goalie skills several times. One of those times, I’d been on the side, and I checked Rose’s reaction as he caught the ball. I smirked at her as she caught my eye. She actually blushed. Yep, looks like she definitely likes the look of him. Felix was out for the rest of the game after one of the other team’s players kicked him in the face as he was trying to get away from him. Whether it was accidental or not, no one knew, but it had been called as a foul, which ended with a goal on our side from the free throw.
I was on the side a second time, this time to allow Angela some playtime, and I watched as Edward pump-faked the ball once before throwing it. Their goalie fell for the tactic and lunged to the left, letting Edward’s throw land smack in the middle of the goal. The game ended with that point, and I whooped and hollered with the rest of the team at the final score. We had won, with four points up. Everyone got out of the water, and we all shook hands with the opposing team members. It felt great. I watched Edward as he congratulated everyone for a game well-played. The look of pride and exultation was apparent, and his smile was wide and genuine. He looked beautiful, and I felt a little weak at the knees.
“Congratulations, brother mine! You guys did good.”
I turned around and made as if to hug Rosalie, who had walked up to us. She glared at me as she stepped back with a hiss. “Don’t you dare, Jazz!”
I chuckled, holding my hands up in surrender. I glanced at Emmett, who stood frozen next to me, his eyes fixed on Rose. She was trying to not look at him, putting up her usual nonchalant front like she did whenever she met people. I wish she would stop keeping people out.
“Rosalie, I’d like you to meet the team.”
I pointed everyone out to her, and she nodded at each in turn, for all the world appearing cool and collected. When I got to Edward, her eyes flashed to me, her brow raised. I nodded back, confirming that this was indeed the Edward. She surprised me by actually holding out her hand to him. “Edward, pleased to meet you. I’m Rosalie, Jazzie’s big sister.”
I cringed at the use of the nickname.
“Rose..!” I whined softly.
She gave me a pointed look, letting me know to just take it and be glad. I sighed and shrugged.
Edward shook her hand and smiled at her. “Nice to meet you, as well. I’ve heard a great deal about you.”
Well, this is a start. At least they’re not at each other’s throats. Yet. I knew my sister could be a piece of work when she chose to be. I sighed in relief and turned to Emmett, curious to see this play out.
“And this is Emmett.”
He quickly held his hand out to her, and I smirked as she took it. He surprised us all by bringing it to his lips and kissing it, rather than shaking it. Rose and I looked at each other with matching raised brows. I heard Edward snickering next to me, so I lightly elbowed him in the side. Please don’t piss her off. He stopped at once, clearing his throat. Neither Emmett nor Rose had uttered a word yet.
“Right. Well. Rose, we need to go take a shower and get dressed and stuff. See you in the hall?”
“Umm. What? Oh! Yes, of course. I’ll see you in a few, Jasper.”
I just shook my head as I walked to the locker room with Edward right behind me, snickering softly again.