It was actually intended as a one-shot for the Cullens Incarcerated contest, but the author decided she couldn't wait three months to be able to post it. Of this I'm quite glad, I'll admit. She has now built upon the original O/S and it has become a series of vignettes focusing on both the future and pasts of both main characters.
The story begins with a broken, very numb Bella, who has lost Edward, the love of her life and her true soul mate. In an attempt to find some reason to continue existing, and in the absence of any hope for her own happiness, Bella decides to do some volunteer work. The charity work she decides on involves offering companionship and a home-cooked meal to inmates in a local prison. Given the manner in which she lost Edward, the irony of this kind of work is not lost on her, but it's her selflessness, her numbness, and possibily a tiny amount of morbid curiosity that allows her to justify her choice. Of course, as she waits to meet the prisoner that's been assigned to her, she wonders how she'll react to the situation:
Enter Jasper Whitlock, Inmate 6261121.
Jasper is just as broken and just as numb as Bella is. While he is nothing like the man who took Edward from Bella, he's been sentenced to prison for, technically, a similar crime. However, as Bella disovers when Jasper tells her his story, few could truly fault him for what he did or the choices he made. The way in which he lost Alice, his love, his soul mate, was gruesome and terrifying and left him not only alone, but filled with regret, shame and anger.
After an awkward first meeting, we get to witness a deep bond form between Jasper and Bella as they discover that though their lives are vastly different, emotionally they have much in common. Soon, Bella finds that Jasper has given her something to live for. In addition to the fulfillment she begins to feel as a result of their relationship, Bella is determined to help Jasper get out of prison - and now that Jasper has Bella, he actually wants to.
What I loved about this story was how quickly it moved, while still conveying the slow build of Bella and Jasper's relationship. It wasn't excruciatingly long, and yet Jasper and Bella's characters, and the story itself, were developed so fully in just the first installment. From there, LyricalKris has added four more chapters which are glimpses into Bella and Jasper's life - as well as their pasts - with one chapter focusing on Bella and Edward's relationship and another, which is forthcoming, that will focus on Alice and Jasper's.
As I mentioned before, it's the kind of story I think even a canon shipper could appreciate and in fact, the author herself claims to be a canon girl through and through. LyricalKris shows great respect for Edward and Alice, and Bella and Jasper's relationships with them, and though she does an amazing job with the Bella/Jasper pairing, her loyalty to canon couplings does show clearly throughout the entire fic. Edward and Alice remain a huge part of both of Bella and Jasper's lives, and while LyricalKris never makes it appear as though Bella and Jasper are each other's "second best" or "consolation prize", she also maintains the dignity of their previous relationships. Bella and Jasper share a love for each other that is as deep and meaningful as their love for their departed soul mates, but it's a different kind of love than the one they had experienced prior.
Ultimately this is a story of hope, love, and life after loss. While overall it's pretty sad and angsty, there are some beautiful moments in each of the chapters that may have you shedding some happy tears as well. I very much look forward to reading whatever LyricalKris has in store for her wonderful characters and I thank her for doing such amazing justice to the Bella/Jasper pairing.
LaViePastiche writes Son of A Preacher Man> by herself, and The First Breath with ElleCC. She loves Jasper and hates writing blurbs about herself.