“Jasper! Come help me bring in the boxes of flour!” Aubrey yells beside me as she finishes wiping the front counter and rushes out to meet the delivery man out the front of the bakery.
“I’m coming!” Jasper yells from somewhere in the far reaches of the bakery. It’s another day working at a bakery, but rather than at our family bakery, it’s at Glazed and Glorious. Our family bakery shut its doors last Tuesday and since then, we’ve worked peacefully alongside the Thompson’s at their bakery Glazed and Glorious and my father has not been seen since.
I follow Aubrey out to the front of the bakery where the delivery man is waiting with forms and two stacks of crates of flour that are taller than he is. Grasping the first crate, I heave it off the top of the stack, letting its momentum swing it around so that I can carry it inside. I take the first two crates into the kitchen and I’m carrying in the third when Aubrey pokes her head through the door of the bakery behind me and yells for Jasper again. What’s taking her so long?
“Jasper, if you don’t get in the front in two-”
“I’m coming, I’m coming!”
“Connor’s lonely without you!” She shouts and my face flushes a brilliant pink, despite the fact that there’s nobody around. I set the crate down atop the two I’ve already deposited and walk out to get the last crate, as Aubrey finishes signing the papers.
“Just take that crate to the kitchen, would you?”
“Of course Mrs Thompson.” On my way inside, Jasper rushes past me to the front and I quickly set down the last crate of flour and head back to the counter in time to see a flustered Jasper carrying a box of flour. Upon seeing the remnants of a blush and her ruffled appearance, I grin, Jasper’s just as cute as ever.
When she appears from the back of the bakery once more, I lean on the counter, grinning.
“Hey,” She avoids my gaze and goes to get another crate of flour.
“Oh! I hear the timer, I’ll leave you to it,” Aubrey says, not-so-subtly leaving Jasper and I alone in the front of the bakery. I follow Jasper out to the front to help with the remaining crates and we carry in the last crastes.
“So… how are you?” I ask after hauling the crates into their respective places.
“I’m, uh, good, thanks,” Jasper glances away, looking anywhere but me until her gaze comes to rest on the front door. Her eyes widen and she stares for a solid minute. Is the door really that attractive? I look up as the bell rings and I see a boy our age enter the bakery. Oh.
“Hey there, this is Glazed and Glorious, yeah? I’m Aidan-Elliot, a new employee…” Aidan-Elliot is tall, tanned and toned and I can see that Jasper’s straining to keep her eyes in their sockets. Geez.
“Hi, I’m Jasper!” She greets, overly cheerful and I stare at the back of her head as she approaches him. “You’ve come to the right place,”
“Thank goodness. Imagine if I went home and my mum asks me how it was, and I tell her I got lost, and never found it. It appears all’s well. When I go home I’ll tell her I met a cute girl,” Aidan-Idiot, Elliot whatever his name is, winks at Jasper. Man, this guy has some nerve.
“I’ll show you around,” Jasper offers. I step around the counter to join them.
“Uh, hi!” Aidan-Elliot says shocked, as if he didn’t notice I was there. Jerk.
“Connor,” I say, holding my hand out and Aidan-Elliot shakes my hand firmly before Jasper drags him away by the wrist.
“Stay at the counter, Connor.” Jasper demands, pulling Aidan-Elliot towards the door. I scowl. The new guy’s been here a total of five minutes and has already stolen the girl I love.
“Mum! The newbie’s here!”
“Oh, hello there!” Aubrey gushes, wiping her hands on her apron as she calls Jasper’s father, into the front of the bakery to meet the new employee.
“Aubrey Thompson, owner of Glazed and Glorious. This is my husband, Griffin. I’m glad you could make it, Aidan-Elliot, is it?” He nods, and Griffin gives Jasper a pointed look at her hand still clasped around Aidan-Elliot’s wrist. She lets go and clears her throat as if nothing happened.
“I introduced him to Connor, and I was thinking I’d show him around the place,” Her parents nod and an oven timer goes off in the back of the bakery.
“I’ve got it!” My mother yells.
“Okay, quickly show him around, Jas. That’s all you have to do today, Aidan-Elliot, familiarise yourself with the bakery,”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you,” Aidan-Elliot says quietly, and they depart without another word, leaving me at the counter.
Trudging up the stairs to what is now our shared living quarters above the bakery, I make my way down the corridor towards my room. A muffled response from Jasper, a squeal, or maybe laughter, comes from Jasper’s room, then Aubrey appears in the corridor, bidding me goodnight before disappearing into her bedroom. I don’t know why, but I knock on Jasper’s door.
“Mum, I get it,” I slip into her room and shock flickers across her face.
“Oh! Hey, sorry, I thought you were my… Wait- did you hear something before? If you did, I’m so sorry. My mum was going-” Jasper gushes.
“Hm? I didn’t hear anything, don’t worry,” But I heard something? I have no idea what, though. “Though… I think I heard something? I’m not sure,” She blinks. Wow, Connor, smooth.
“Oh, okay… Did you need something?” She asks, but I don’t know. Do I need anything? Why did I even come?
“Sorry, I’m just really… out of it. Is it okay if I sit here for a bit?”
“Uh, no, that’s totally fine! As long as our parents don’t find out,” I nod and lie down on her bed, letting my eyes close gently and she lies beside me, running her fingers through my hair.
“Wanna talk about it?”
“You know, I still love you, Jasper,” I murmur, without thinking.
“Mhm,” I reply, and I can feel the warmth of her smile with my eyes closed.
“You wanna stay here for the night?” She says, caressing her fingers gently across my forehead and through my hair.
“Yeah,” I open my eyes and look up to see her hazel eyes gazing down at me, our noses just touching.
“Do you still love me, Jasper?” I murmur, looking deep into her eyes.
“Yes, yes I do,” She whispers and I smile, everything will be okay. I lift my head a little and bring my lips to hers.
“And you still won’t date me?” I say jokingly, and she freezes above me. Ugh, I’m such an idiot. That was the wrong thing to say, she’ll-
“I… Connor, darling, look, you have to understand- I don’t know if I can do this.” I can’t hide the disappointment that flickers across my face.
“Hey,” She says, lifting my head, “I love you, Connor Henderson, and I would never change that for the world, I just don’t know if I can be in a relationship right now,”
“Yeah, I get it,” I mutter, but I know she can sense my disappointment. I thought that since she kissed me she might want to be with me again, but I guess I was wrong. “I just… I can’t be without you, Jasper. It sounds so… desperate and selfish, but I really can’t,”
“I know, darling, I know. And I’m sorry, I’m sorry I can’t give you what you want,”
“Please, don’t apologise, Jas,” I turn to face her, and she puts her hand under my chin and brings her lips to mine again.
“Jasper. Please, think about it,” I say desperately, even though I know I can’t change her mind.
“I think about it every second, Connor. Every thought I have is about you, every star I wish on, is about you, and I don’t… I can’t imagine a life without you,”
“So don’t,” I reply. Jasper pulls me up to sitting so that we’re sitting across from each other. I lean forward and press my lips against hers, her lips warm and soft against mine and it transports me back to a time when we would sneak out at night, going for walks around the park in the twilight and not have to worry about a thing in the world.
“Connor,” Jasper finally says, breaking away.
“Ask me again,”
“Ask you what?” I respond confused.
“I do?” She nods, smiling and she’s so dang cute it takes all my self control not to kiss her again.
“Will you stay, Jasper? Will you be my partner and crime? Will you be my girlfriend, again?” She laughs, and crawls over to me, resting her head in my lap.
“Yes, I will, again. Because you’ve always been my everything, Connor,” She says, answering her own question and my heart flutters a million beats a minute. Does this mean that she wants ‘us’ again?
“Aw, thanks,” I smile, looking down at her, her hazel eyes looking up to me and her caramel hair falling in cascading waves over her shoulders and this time I can’t hold back and I lean over to kiss her again. To kiss my girlfriend, gosh, how good it feels to call her my girlfriend once again. I missed her during our time apart. I shuffle around to lie beside her and hold her safely in my arms once again and I don’t want to ever let go.
The next morning I awake to the sun filtering in through the window and playing across my eyelids. I open my eyes and glance around the room to discover that Jasper and I fell asleep beside each other last night in her room, and she still remains sleeping peacefully in the crook of my arm. I shuffle over a little and bring my free hand up to her face and bring my hand to cup her jawline and kiss her lightly on the cheek. Her breathing becomes shallower and her eyelids flutter as she wakes. I run my finger down the bridge of her nose before ‘booping’ her on the nose and she opens her eyes. She stretches, yawning, then gracefully whacks me in the face.
“Sorry, wait- Connor! You stayed!” She says gleefully, I smile and bring a finger to my lips.
“Shh, our parents don’t know we’re together,” She nods, and her eyes glance down to my bare torso, and my shirt neatly folded at the end of the bed. She clears her throat and looks away. and looking away.
“Checking me out again, are you?”
“Nope,” She shakes her head defiantly, “Absolutely not.”
“Sure, sure,” I chuckle, because we both very well know that she was most definitely checking me out.
“I’m not fully awake, okay? Cut me some slack,”
“Not awake, huh?” I say, leaning over to kiss her, and I know that this is how it was meant to be, it's perfect.
“Okay. I’m awake now,” She says, breathing heavily.
“Good, let’s go to the park, I want to sneak out.” Jasper gives me this incredulous look.
“Right now? It’s…” She glances at her alarm clock, “6 am!”
“Sure, why not? We can just go to the park, we’ll leave a note,” She sits up, hugs me then skips off to her ensuite calling back to me over her shoulder.
“I’m going to get ready, and change into something decent. Meet you back in here in fifteen minutes?”
“It’s a date.” I say, grinning and slip quietly out of her room and into mine that’s just across the corridor.
Jasper’s hand is in mine, as we walk, without a destination. Everything is quiet, the city is still asleep. The morning is pristine and tranquil, the perfect morning with my perfect girlfriend.
“Connor, can we just walk wherever our legs take us?” I chuckle, nodding.
“It’s about time I had a little adventure with you,” I offer my hand to Jasper and we set off on our walk.
“Jasper!” Ugh, it’s that scumbag Aidan-Elliot.
“Oh, hey!” Jasper says, and my grip on her hand tightens.
“I saw you two walking, and I thought I would come over and say hi!”
“What are you doing up so early in the morning?” I ask sceptically, is this guy stalking Jasper or something?
“Oh, I’m just out on a morning walk.” Yeah right. Totally stalkerish.
“Is that so? Well, see you later,” I say, leading Jasper onwards.
“What if I joined you guys?” Who does he think he is? His ego is unbelievable. “Or… am I interrupting something?” He glances at our collapsed hands, and frowns.
“Yeah, you are, actually. Goodbye.” I pull Jasper away and we continue along the footpath.
“Connor,” Jasper says disapprovingly, when we’re out of Aidan-Elliot’s earshot. “That was a bit rude,”
“He was the one being rude,” I mumble and she squeezes my hand. It’s good to know that she’s here for me, even when she doesn't agree with my actions. I look up and discover we walked our way to the cliff, the same cliff from all those months ago.
“Our legs really decided to go here, of all places,”
“I guess it just felt natural.” I reply, and we stand there in silence for a bit. I come up behind her and kiss her gently on the temple, her nose then press my lips onto hers. We stay like that for a few minutes, until a distant car horn startles us, and our heads bang into each other. We both grin, despite the momentary pain.
“Shall we go home?”
When we reach the bakery, Jasper walks in ahead of me, the bell above the door tinkling as we walk in to find the two mums chatting behind the counter. As the bell above the door rings, both our mothers look up, noticing our hand-holding. Aubrey breaks first, jumping up and down, shaking my mother’s shoulders.
“I told you! I told you! They’re together again!” The two of them are laughing and I roll my eyes, fangirls.
Jasper and I turn to each other grinning, at least they’re happy for us. She motions rolling her eyes and pointing at the doorway towards the back of the bakery.
“We should leave them to it. Wanna go upstairs?” Jasper nods in confirmation and we chase each other up the stairs to the landing. I get there first and when she reaches the landing she runs into my arms and I lift and spin her around while we grin giddily at each other. Putting her down, she pecks my ear and runs off down the corridor giggling. “Hey, you! Come back here!” I say, running after her laughing.
After checking the last two rooms on the left of the corridor, where I saw her last, I come out of her room to hear giggling from across the corridor. Ah, so she hid in my room. I tiptoe quietly into my room and towards the sound of giggling coming from my closet. Suddenly, I pull open the door to see Jasper facing away, peeking over her shoulder at me. I wrap my arms around her from behind and carry her wriggling and laughing out of the closet.
“Gotcha.” She wriggles around and I put her down on the ground and she raises onto her toes and presses her lips to mine, my arms still wrapped around her, resting in the small of her back. “I love you Jas.”
“Love you too, Cons,” Jasper says, grabbing my hand and pulling me across the corridor into her considerably more spacious room and flopping down onto her bed, pulling me down with her. She grabs my hand, and we sit up to face each other.
After what feels like hours of laughing, talking, kissing and Jasper’s adorable giggling, I bring up the question I’ve been burning to ask all morning.
“So why’d you change your mind about me, Jas? Or has your heart always belonged to me?”
“I-” She trails off, “I loved you, and it felt like I’d been so empty for so long, without you... But when you kissed me…” She looks away.
“... When I kissed you?” I prompt, lifting my hand to her cheek, and turning her head to face me.
“When you kissed me it felt like a haven, a happy place, but most importantly it felt like home. That’s what changed my mind, the realisation that you are my heart, and that it’s always laid in you,”
“I’m not done.” She says, pressing a finger to my lips. “You’re always going to have a piece of my heart, Connor. You claimed that when you kissed me for the first time. I didn’t have anyone else when you distanced yourself, and I thought… I thought you had left me forever, and I hated that I missed you,” By now, Jasper and I are both biting back tears at the truth, forgiveness and relief in her confession. “I love you Connor Henderson.”
“I- I love you too Jasper Bailey Thompson. I am so dang lucky to have you in my life, you are my everything and I would never do anything to change that.” I bring my lips to hers, feeling the soft curves of her lips and the silkiness of her hair between my fingertips. The kiss is ravenous and full of passion, as if making up for the lost time, and our lips intermingle with the salty remnants of our tears. When we run out of breath, Jasper lays her head on my chest and whispers, “I love you Connor Henderson,” And nothing has ever felt more right.