Bella:

I don't remember much about how I lost my virginity. I guess, in a way, that's the best way to do it; no memory, no anxiety, no worries. The whole awkward episode is over and you don't have to remember all the grimy little details of how you stumbled over the button of your jeans and knocked your head against the headboard. In fact, the only thing I remember with clarity is that my roommate dragged me to a club to celebrate the New Year, against my will, and dressed me in a shirt that could barely be classed as a bra, let alone decent outerwear. In a way, it is the best way to do it.

Well, that is as long as you wake up next to someone who isn't your ex-boyfriend's brother.

Too bad I wasn't so lucky.

Lazy light filtered in through the shutters and straight into my eyes. I tried to move, but I was tangled in a knot of cotton sheets and limbs, and ended up almost tumbling out of bed. The warm arm that was draped across my bare back slid off, but the heavy breathing beside me didn't change; still deep in slumber. The room was hot and humid. My body was stiff with ache and felt different. It hurt between my legs – tender and raw – and my throat felt like sandpaper. Some sort of acoustic set was playing in the background; melodious and bluesy; sweet and salty. I tried to get to my feet, but ended up stumbling over a floor carpeted in books and papers and sheet music, my feet catching the trailing bed sheet that I clutched to my bare body. My head pounded mercilessly, as if an iron rod had been jammed through it, and the amount of noise I made could have woken the dead. Terrified, I turned back to the bed to see the mop of blonde curls on the pillow next to mine start to stir.

I would have dived for the door, but I was surrounded by noise-makers and too frightened to move. All I could do was stand there and watch as Jasper rubbed crusted sleep from his eyes and turned in a daze to look at me.

It took him a while to realise who I was. The first thing that came out of his mouth when he did summed up the situation perfectly.

"Oh fuck."

Bingo.

I stood there awkwardly, my heart pounding like a jack hammer, feeling exposed and unable to reply. He was watching me with sleepy eyes. Dully I remembered those same electric blue eyes raking up and down my body as he pulled me to him, plunging into me, whispering my name as I moaned his, blonde curls brushing my breast, all of it hazy at the edges but still real.

I had to slam my eyes shut to push those pictures away. I busied myself with scraping together my clothes strewn across the room, trying to think of something – anything – to say. What do you say to the brother of your ex, who you just drunkenly fucked, after five years of no contact?

Nothing. That's what.

I could feel the tears bubbling in my chest as I located the pair of black lacy panties that Angela had forced me into. She was trying to be a good friend. She had been trying to help me relax and have fun and feel good about myself. At that moment, however, I didn't feel good about myself. I felt like shit and my whole body hurt.

The room was musty and dark; lazily lit. Beneath the rubble it was difficult to find anything. I crouched down to pick up the panties, biting back the lump in my throat and pushing through my aching body and throbbing head. Sex wasn't meant to feel that way. It was meant to feel good and right and pleasurable and fucking amazing.

It had felt like that, my mind told me as flashes of skin slick with sweat, rubbing against one-another, an electric current flowing between us, came back to me. It had. It had.

I almost choked at the thought, falling over and catching myself with my hand.

That was when I felt a body crouch down next to mine and a soft, rich, southern voice say my name.

"Bella."

The sound made me shudder; shooting chills up my spine.

"Bella, I'm sorry."

His voice was sincere; so sincere that it told me that he wasn't just talking about that night. The thought made me look up, my eyes meeting his.

I couldn't speak when I did.

Jasper had changed over the years; grown up. But he was still wearing those old blue jeans he loved so much – this time without a shirt, and the button undone, clearly just thrown on. He still had the same blue eyes, but his hair was shaggier; freer. His facial structure was stronger and his body had filled out. He wasn't that boy-man I once knew. He was a man; strong and independent and older.

But it was still Jasper. He still looked exhausted and torn and the same as he had when he was that black sheep back in Forks, Washington. Still the same, but totally different.

Still Edward's step brother.

Still part of Edward.

"So am I," I said abruptly.

My voice was crusted and ice cold. He didn't even flinch as he handed me my shirt. I took it tentatively, insuring that our skin didn't touch.

"I'll put some coffee on," he offered, standing up and stretching out his torso. Muscles rippled under tanned skin. Flashes of running my hands over his body, trailing salty kisses over his chest, licking up the tangy taste of lemon and sweat and man from him, crossed my mind, foggy and distant but still real. I averted my eyes quickly.

"Don't bother," I replied, standing up and clutching the fabric in my arms to my chest.

His eyes shot to mine, watching me carefully, intense as ever, as I stood there with flushed cheeks and a throbbing head and an aching body. I had to say something. Anything.

"You don't need to show me any hospitality," I elaborated. "We both know what this was."

Jasper craned his head to the side, looking at me with interest. I didn't like being under scrutiny.

"And what is that, exactly?" he asked, and for a moment his voice sounded pained.

I didn't want to say it.

"Jasper…" I scolded, warning him not to push it. He wasn't fazed.

"Bella," he copied, smirking arrogantly.

I frowned at him and walked forwards, pushing him aside and heading to the bathroom. I wasn't going to get into an argument with him while standing in the middle of his room wrapped in a sheet.

"Asshole," I muttered cruelly as I went, slamming the door in the face of his laughter. My rudeness was unnecessary, but it wasn't exactly an easy situation to be in. Lashing out was a way to cope with it all.

As soon as I got into the bathroom I threw the sheet down and looked into the mirror. I was a mess. I needed a long hot bath and a good night's sleep.

I wasn't going to get that there.

"Asshole?" Jasper laughed through the door. "Jeez, Bella, you've grown some balls in the last five years. I've never heard such language from you before."

I felt like smacking him. I didn't care that I felt like dirt and my head was about to explode. Jasper pissed me off. So, I threw my clothes on as quickly as possible and shoved open the door to tell him exactly how I felt.

"That would be because you didn't share more than three words with me five years ago, Jasper. And really, I don't want that to change now, so please, get out of my way and stay out of my life."

I forced my way past him in an attempt to get out of his room. Jasper wasn't having a bar of it.

"Stay out of your life?" he laughed as I walked away. "Fuck, Bella, I've never been in your life."

Anger shot through me. I spun around to face him, head on.

"What the hell do you call this then?" I challenged.

"Sex," he answered strongly. "Drunken sex because we were at the same club on New Year's night. It means shit. I'm not in your life. I'm a one-night stand. There's a difference."

"Good," I spat in reply. "I'm glad. I wrote your family out of my life a long time ago. The last thing I want is for you to re-join it."

"Ditto," Jasper growled. "I didn't have anything to do with you in high school and I don't want anything to do with you now."

"Then we are in agreement," I concluded, shooting daggers. Only then did I realise how close we had gotten; so heated in our argument that at the end of it we ended up right in each other's faces. Jasper's breath fogged my mind. I could smell him – sweat and lemon and salt and whiskey – all over me; so different from what his brother had been; from what I was used to. Memories of the darkness and the heat and his hard body hanging over mine; on top of me; deep in me; smelling his skin, all flashed before me; desperation and animal instincts and need and desire and –

Fuck.

I snapped out of the daze, telling myself that it was wrong and that Jasper was a bad guy for me and that I couldn't, when I noticed Jasper cracking a small smile.

I straightened my expression and took a step back.

"I saw that," he smirked, sliding his hands into his pockets.

"What?" I growled.

"Your eyes glaze over," he noted, running a hand through his shaggy curls. "Desire. Lust. Fervour. It was all there."

I gave him an angry look. "And what are you; a mind reader?"

Jasper smiled just a little. In the dull light I could see his eyes shine with some hidden secret. I felt exposed.

"No. I can just read people."

I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything.

He spoke eventually, his voice all enriched and fragmented and broken and different. "It was fun though, wasn't it? I mean, we were good."

His expression was all seductive and steamy. I felt like smacking it out of him. But, I also felt like pouncing on him and having him trail sweet kisses along my clavicle.

What the hell was wrong with me?

"I wouldn't know," I replied bitterly, trying to ignore the smell of him on my skin and the heat between my legs. "I don't remember much of it."

"I could jog your memory," he offered, and before I knew it, hard, calloused hands were sliding along my waist, rough and hot and applying just the right pressure, making me want to pull his body to mine and taste his tangy lips and –

Oh fuck.

"Jasper," I growled weakly, pushing his hands away from their southern goal. I remembered who he had been and what I was. I remembered how I couldn't; shouldn't. "This is wrong. You know that."

"Why?" he pressed, stilling his movements and locking his blue eyes on mine. "What's so wrong? It's just sex."

I didn't want to say it, but the words wouldn't stop.

"You're his brother."

Jasper froze, his eyes going cold. Suddenly, he shut them and shook his head.

"Step brother," he corrected. "And what does that even matter? It has been five years. You're not still hung up on him, are you?"

"No," I answered immediately.

Jasper smiled weakly. "See? So what does it matter? Forget about him. Hell, I haven't even seen him in over a year. He's not my brother, and he's not your boyfriend. Who gives a fuck?"

I did. It felt wrong. It hurt. It reminded me of so much. Jasper was so different than him, with rough hands and force and passion and heat.

But his hands felt so good. His thumbs started rubbing that sensitive spot on the small of my back. The heat soaked deep into my skin, shaking me to the core, making me want to cry out for more, harder, faster…

I bit my lip. Jasper smiled.

"It's just sex," he added. "It means shit. We don't even have to play host. It's just sex."

"Just sex," I repeated as his thumbs did their dance across my virgin skin, resisting the urge to buck my hips. "Just sex."

"No strings attached," he added.

Mindlessly, I nodded, lost in the feeling of his skin on mine and that electric current that shot up my spine every time he touched me in that way.

"No strings attached," I repeated. "I can deal with that."

:::

When I arrived home I should have been prepared for it. I mean, Angela no doubt saw something, and me being out all night wasn't exactly a common occurrence. In fact, it was a first. I should have known that she would pounce on me.

As soon as I walked in the door, she did.

"Bella!" she called, leaping up from the sofa and rushing towards me. "Bella, you're home! Oh gosh, I was worried."

Angela was my best friend and virtually the only person from high school that I kept in contact with. She was a quiet girl in high school, but had come into her own at college, growing in confidence and spirit. She had an on-again, off-again relationship with her high school sweetheart, Ben. At that moment, it was on.

"Sorry, Ang," I apologised quickly. "I got caught up."

My head was still throbbing and my body still ached. Not to mention the mental state I was in. I had just made a deal with my ex-boyfriend's brother to become fuck buddies right after having sex for the first time, drunk, in a room of smoke and heat and music. I wasn't in a good state.

"Oh, I know. And I need to talk to you about it," she agreed eagerly.

I would have argued, but I didn't have the energy. "Okay, that's fine," I agreed quickly, "but can we do this in the bathroom. I need a hot bath."

Angela nodded and started towards the bathroom, running the tap for me as I started stripping off last night's clothes. When I was done she picked them up and lobbed them into the hamper before knocking the toilet lid down and taking a seat. I went to the drawers and grabbed a facecloth and took two aspirin before getting into the bath. The hot water felt like heaven around my aching body. Relaxed and washing myself clean, the weird feeling started to subside. I was still the same person; a bit stiff, but still the same.

"So," Angela began, crossing her legs and locking eyes with me, "last night. That was pretty hectic, wasn't it?"

I shrugged nonchalantly. "Honestly, I don't remember much of it."

"But you had sex last night, right? I mean, that's where you've been, right?" she pressed, confused.

I nodded simply. "And now I have a killer hangover. Life's a bitch. I can't believe you made me go out."

"You did drink a truck load," she giggled.

"Yeah, thanks for stopping me," I teased.

Angela fell silent for a few moments; one of those awkward silences where you want to tell them to just spit it out.

So that's exactly what I did.

"Well…it's just…You didn't have sex with Jasper, did you?" she asked nervously. I almost choked on my own breath.

"W-what?"

Angela shrugged nervously. "Well, I mean, I saw you two getting pretty hot and heavy at the club, and the next thing I knew you were hailing a cab and telling me not to wait up. I just figured…well…you know…Did you?"

I couldn't lie to Angela. She knew me too well, and the guilt would eat at me afterwards. All I could do was nod in confirmation.

"Oh, Bella," she sighed. "You didn't…"

I shrugged nonchalantly. "What does it matter anyway?"

Angela stumbled over her reply. "Well…it's just…I mean…he's just…he's...I mean…it's just…"

"Spit it out, Ang," I sighed, rubbing the wet cloth over my face.

"He's Edward's brother," she blurted out. "And, I mean, I haven't seen you with anyone since Edward…and now…now you're dating his brother. Is that healthy? I mean…you and Edward didn't exactly end very well. I just…I just don't want you to get hurt again. Not to mention what Jasper was like back then. Do you really want to get involved in that?"

"I'm not," I answered simply. "I'm not getting involved in that, and we are not dating. It was just a one night thing. No harm, no foul. I'm never going to see him again. I want nothing to do with that family. I've learnt my lesson. I'm not that kind of person."

Angela looked at me with wide eyes. I just shrugged again. I felt bad for lying to her, but it was only a little lie, and it was partly true. If I told her about our agreement, she would freak. If I told her that Jasper took my virginity, it would kill her. No one could know. I couldn't do that to Angela. I just had to…lie. And it clearly worked, because a small smile started to appear on her face.

"Well, I'm glad," she praised. "It must have been a shock waking up to him this morning though, huh?"

"You have no idea," I agreed with a small guilty smile.

"And did he say anything? I mean, did he say anything about Edward or the others? Is he still dating Alice? Where are Rosalie and Emmett?"

I shrugged again, averting my eyes to the water lapping at my chest, drawing little whirlpools with my index finger.

"No, he didn't say anything. I didn't ask, either," I answered quietly. "I wouldn't care anyway. I don't want anything to do with that family."

"Well," Angela popped, smiling brightly at me, "happy New Year to that."

"Yeah," I muttered. "Happy New Year."


Should I continue?