“Jasper Whitlock Hale, you get back here right now!”
Jasper squeezes his eyes shut and takes a deep breath before setting his book down on the table. From in front of the TV, Emmett chortles. “Busted.”
With quick movement, Jasper pushes his brother’s head to the floor, then darts up the stairs, dodging Emmett’s retaliatory shove with a full second to spare.
Feeling Alice’s frustration, Jasper puts on what he hopes is a charming smile and hurries up the stairs to their room. “Yes, my love?”
Alice rolls her eyes at her husband’s faked innocence. “You said you were just getting a book.”
The edges of Jasper’s lips twitch. “And I did.”
“You’ve been gone forty-five minutes!”
Jasper rubs the back of his neck with a scarred hand, sheepish. “Well, then I settled down with the book and it got really good, so—”
Alice skips forward and jumps to place a kiss on his nose. “The book will still be here when we’re done.”
Jasper sighs, wanting to put up just a little more of a fight, even though he knows he’s already lost. “The closet will still be here when the book’s done, so…” He trails off under his wife’s death glare.
“You promised we would do this last April. It’s now January first. You know how the humans say—‘new year, new me’, well I say, ‘new year, new clothes’, and new clothes need space so we have to get rid of old clothes. Now sit.” With a measure of strength incongruent for her size, Alice shoves Jasper onto the bed, where he obedient sits with a resigned chuckle. It’s true. He had been putting this off for over nine months. He just hates going through their entire wardrobe—an achingly tedious task that takes hours due to his wife’s love for fashion. Back in the mid-1900s, they only had to do this once every five years or so—clothes weren’t produced as quickly, then, so it really slowed Alice down. Now, she has no limits, and it definitely shows in the size of a walk-in-closet that’s bigger than their actual bedroom, and three storage units scattered across the United States’ northern boarder. So now, Jasper’s least favorite chore occurs at least every eighteen months.
Alice disappears in the closet and returns within a millisecond, clutching a thick grey button up from Jasper’s section, holding it up for him to see.
Alice scoffs and quirks an eyebrow, raising the button-up into the light as if that would help Jasper see it through her eyes. “It’s six years old, Jazz.”
Jasper bites back a smile. The shirt is in excellent condition, but the disdain emanating from Alice when she declared the shirt’s age means it clearly has to go. Jasper shrugs, unaffected by parting with the shirt. “Donate, then.”
His wife smiles approvingly, tosses it into a pile, and returns with a nearly identical shirt in deep blue. Though, since this one is only from November, he’s allowed to keep it.
They continue like this for hours, the ‘donate’ pile growing ever larger due to Alice’s strict criteria for keeping an item in their rotation. While Jasper doesn’t enjoy this task, he basks in the one-on-one time with Alice, and mentally chides himself for putting this off for so long. It’s nice, being in their shared space, acting as a husband and wife would. Cleaning out a closet feels very normal, almost human.
He notices Alice taking longer than usual to return with the next item of clothing, and pushes off the bed to investigate. Her emotions hint at amusement, and he’s definitely intrigued. She hears—and mentally sees—him coming, and quickly hides something behind her back, moving to toss it in to the depths of the closet. He’s faster than her though, and locks a hand around her wrist, halting her movement.
“What have you got there?”
Alice gives him his second death glare of the day, though the amusement hasn’t faded. “Nothing. It’s none of your business.”
Jasper raises an eyebrow, slowly snaking his other arm around her back to pull her against him, taking her other wrist in his free hand. He pauses momentarily to enjoy her sharp intake of breath, then continues in his scrutiny. “If it’s in my closet, I’m pretty sure it’s my business.”
“Well, this specific thing isn’t,” Alice shoots back, quite obviously fighting a smile.
He acts on instinct alone, not even giving her second-sight warning before he switches his grip of her wrists to one hand and squeezes lightly, forcing her to drop the object into his free—and waiting—hand. She lunges forward, intending to steal the object back and make a run for it, but Jasper uses his grip to keep her steady, holding the object high out of her reach for both of them to see.
And he dissolves into laughter.
Alice takes advantage of his distraction and extracts herself from his loosened grip, snatching the gaudy hat and holding it in her crossed arms.
“Wha-what is that thing,” Jasper sputters, reaching for the hat. Alice takes a step back, shaking her head resolutely. “No, c’mon, please,” he chortles, raising his hands in mock-surrender. “I’ll be nice, I promise.”
Despite her expression that clearly says she doesn’t believe him, Alice hands back the hat, biting her lip against embarrassed laughter of her own.
Jasper straightens, examining the hat with forced seriousness. “It’s interesting.”
“I got it in Milan,” Alice defends, despite knowing that it won’t help her case against Jasper. Rosalie, maybe, but not her fashion-safe husband. “It’s couture, actually.” At his stuttering laugh of disbelief, Alice nearly stamps her foot. “You just wouldn’t get it!”
“You’re right,” Jasper grins, radiating pure mischief. “I don’t get it. I think it might help if I could see it on.”
“Ohhhh no,” Alice warns, taking a step back. “I’m not giving you any more ammo.”
“Alice,” he coaxes, grinning wickedly. “I’m just a student of fashion trying to better understand the trends of the time. An expert such as yourself wouldn’t deprive me of that, right?”
She knows she won’t win if she’s trapped like this. He’s already got the plan worked out in his mind—back her into a corner and simply take the hat, putting it on her head. So, she tries for her only other option.
She makes a run for it.
Her visions allow her to dodge the arm he throws out in an attempt to stop her, and she makes it into the bedroom. But then he switches to acting on instinct, and it’s all over.
They end up tangled on the bed, laughing wildly as he wrestles the hat from her grip. All too soon he’s won, and he places a soft kiss on her lips before settling the hat firmly on her head, much to her obvious annoyance.
He fights hard to not laugh, but it’s a losing battle.
The hat is somehow as large as a five-tiered cake, which looks absolutely comical on Alice’s four-foot-eleven frame. The extra-wide brim extends way past Alice’s shoulders, plunging the majority of her face into darkness. The hat is a fierce lime green, with bells made of ribbon zig-zagging up to the very top of the hat, upon which, sits an intricate design reminiscent of a bird’s nest.
“You’re beautiful,” he tries, his voice wavering with barely-restrained laughter.
“Donate,” she says firmly, gritting her teeth.
Jasper shakes his head, grinning as he tilts the brim back to see Alice’s less-than amused expression. He fully loses it then, burying his head in the crook of her neck as he shakes with laughter. “Keep.”