Author: spanglemaker9 PM
One-Shot: Bella has one purpose in life- to make partner at her law firm by 35. She has no time for silly holidays and certainly no time for love. A handsome stranger at the office Christmas party intends to change that.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Bella & Edward - Words: 7,539 - Reviews: 227 - Favs: 491 - Follows: 88 - Published: 12-17-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5588288
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The usual disclaimer, Twilight's not mine, the rest is, blah, blah, blah.
A note: There's a bunch of "twitter-speak" in this. Fanfiction doesn't allow any of the formatting that would have actually made it look like twitter-speak, so I did the best I could with the formatting allowed.
Send/ Receive. Send/Receive. I clicked one more time hoping the stupid deposition would finally show up in my inbox. If I could get the deposition tonight I could stay and close up the Hollowell file and leave it in a nice, tidy place before the Christmas holiday. And I liked leaving things in a nice, tidy place. I hated leaving Hollowell unresolved for four days. But no, the other attorney's office still hadn't sent it. I suspected the losers had left early for Christmas and I wouldn't get it until Monday now. Assholes.
"Bella, you're still not ready!" Jessica was standing by my desk, her mouth hanging open, astonished that I wasn't in my coat and at the ready.
"I don't think I'm going, Jess. I really need this deposition for Hollowell, so I'm going to hang out until it shows up and then finish up the file."
Jessica rolled her eyes. Her heavily made-up eyes. She'd clearly been in the ladies' room, tramping herself out for the firm's Christmas party. "Christ, Bella, if you haven't gotten it by now, then you won't until after Christmas. It's four p.m. on Christmas Eve! Nobody in the city is still working except you! Now come on!"
I was irritated that she was right, I was irritated at the shiftless lawyers at the other firm for messing with my schedule, I was irritated at Christmas for happening and getting in the way of my cases. I was really in no mood to go to the firm's Christmas party. It was worse this year because it wasn't happening at our offices. It was happening at a local bar, which everybody else was using as an excuse to get slutty and act bad, if Jessica's appearance was anything to go by.
Even worse, the party wasn't just for our firm. A merger was in the works, and the two firms had decided a joint party at a neutral location was a better way to go. All that a merger meant to me was more incentive to stay late and work harder. A merger meant that there were that many more young lawyers just like me, and it would make it that much harder to achieve my ultimate goal: Partner by 35. It was common knowledge that some lawyers would be laid off after the merger. After all, it was a lopsided merger. We were definitely the weaker firm, so our people would be the first to go. Only the strong would survive, and I had no intention of going anywhere.
"Is she coming or not?" Lauren's exasperated voice came from around the corner. She appeared at the entrance to my cube, even more heavily made up than Jessica and in a short skirt that was not at all work appropriate. I scowled at her. I didn't like either of them; they were lousy lawyers and even worse human beings. I didn't think they were particularly fond of me either because I always made them look bad by…I don't know…doing my job. Lauren rarely tried to hide her dislike, but Jessica stubbornly kept trying to draw me into their little girl-power cabal, no matter how hard I resisted or proved to be no fun to hang with. Tonight was no exception. She'd decided I was going with them to this stupid bar to celebrate Christmas with a bunch of shitfaced lawyers and she wasn't going to take no for an answer.
"She's coming!" Jessica snapped over her shoulder at Lauren, who shot me a glance that managed to be both bored and withering. The girl had skills. She smoothed one hand over her ruthlessly flat-ironed blonde hair while she tugged the hem of her skirt down with the other. I shook my head sadly. All that money on her almost-ivy law degree so that she could trick herself out like a pricey hooker in the hopes of snagging some guy on his way to partner.
"I didn't say I was coming," I protested again. I pulled out my Blackberry on the pretense of checking my calendar, but really I was just trying to distract her.
"Oh, yes you are, Bella. I swear, how do you ever expect to meet a man withering away in this cube farm?"
"I don't expect to meet a man," I snapped.
"Of course you do," she said calmly, as if she was talking to a child, or someone mentally impaired.
I rolled my eyes. They'd never understand me. I had decided long ago that a husband and a family were not in the cards for me and I was really, truly okay with that. I realized early on in law school that while my classmates were getting engaged and getting married, I was home alone in chenille socks, memorizing tort law and watching Boston Legal. At first I thought it was just a dry spell and embraced my alone time to plunge into my studies. It worked and I graduated at the top of my class. So who even cared that my dry spell had transformed into the Sahara desert? Clearly it was a sign that I was meant to spend my life focused on my career and not men. If I believed in signs—which I didn't.
"Bella," she snapped, holding up a hand to shut me up, "the partners from the new firm will be there tonight. It's a golden networking opportunity. I can assure you that Mike and Tyler are looking at it as one and they're going to take full advantage. Do you really want to surrender the field to those yahoos?"
I scowled. Damn it, every once in a while the girl was actually right about something.
"Alright," I sighed, switching off my computer and stuffing a large stack of files into my shoulder bag. "Let's go."
I looked down at myself. Tailored black jacket and matching pencil skirt from Calvin Klein, crisp white shirt from Thomas Pink, black pumps with a 2 and ¾ inch heel from Cole Haan, attractive, but stopping short of slutty. Everything just as it should be. "What's wrong with this?"
"It's…well, you're just so…"
"You look like a fucking lawyer," Lauren snapped. I rolled my eyes at her but made no move to alter my appearance in any way. Jessica flapped her hands desperately around me.
"At least take your hair down," she reached back and pulled the hair tie out of my hair, loosening the low ponytail I wore nearly every day. My long dark hair fell loose around my shoulders. "You really do have great hair if you'd just do something with it. Oh, and here…" She flipped open the top button of my blouse.
"What? It's Christmas!"
"Oh, well then, if it's for the Baby Jesus' birthday, of course I'll expose my cleavage!"
She rolled her eyes but only pulled me after her to the elevator. My overstuffed shoulder bag bumped against my hip hard and I noticed neither of them were carrying anything. I guess some of us had no intention of working over the holiday, I thought smugly.
As we waited for the elevator and Lauren fixed her lipstick, my Blackberry vibrated with a call. Alice.
"Bella! You're coming out for drinks tonight with us and I. Will. Not. Take. No. For. An. Answer! If you say you're staying to work, I swear Rose and I will come over there and haul you out bodily!"
Alice and Rose were my roommates at Columbia. We'd all stayed in New York after graduation and started our careers, but that's where the similarities in our lives ended. While I was single-mindedly pursing partner, they were living out Sex and the City. Alice was a junior editor at Marie Claire. Mostly that meant the senior editors sent her out for Starbucks and she had to schlep the heaviest garment bags. But she got loads of free clothes and entry into every hot club in town. Rose was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. She probably worked as hard as I did, but when I went home with case files and ate Chinese takeout over depositions, she went out and drank Cristal and bedded a string of ridiculously hot and wealthy men. They refused to give up on me, though, always attempting to drag me into their world of velvet ropes and VIP rooms.
"That's sweet, Alice, but the firm's Christmas party is tonight."
There was a long pause. "And you're going?" Alice asked, dumbfounded.
"Yes, I am!"
"Oh, well, then…." Alice seemed at a loss that I finally had plans that she didn't force me into and I was happy just for a second that I'd said I'd go with Jessica and Lauren. "Have fun! Text me or something and tell me how it's going!"
"What do you mean? It's an office Christmas party. How is it supposed to go?"
"You never know, maybe there will be some cute lawyer-y types! Tweet and tell us all about it!"
I rolled my eyes. "One track mind, Alice."
"Just promise you'll tweet me!"
"Fine! I promise! Bye!"
The elevator had spit us out into the lobby by this point, so Jessica, Lauren and I walked through the sharp December cold to the downtown bar where the party was being held. It was at Mace and Shipper's, a bar and restaurant that liked to claim that it dated back to "Olde New York". On ordinary days, it was wall to wall wood paneling and Old World ambiance. They even had authentic gaslight sconces lining the walls. As we stepped inside and handed off our coats at the coat check, I could see they'd gone all out for Christmas.
"It looks like Dickens threw up in here!" I groaned. Real evergreen boughs hung in swags around the room, festooned with red velvet ribbons and prolific sprigs of mistletoe. All the tables were draped in white tablecloths with white taper candles and holly centerpieces. In the midst of all this Hallmark card Christmas porn, nearly a hundred lawyers in suits in varying shades of gray milled around clutching highball glasses and trying desperately to enjoy themselves.
Jessica and Lauren were gone as soon as we hit the door, off on their hunt, so I took a minute to examine the room and see if I could identify any of the partners of the new firm. I fished out the Blackberry, so I wouldn't look too obvious in my perusal. Absently I opened Tweet Deck. Alice had just tweeted.
AlicesWonderland is getting hot to go drinking with RoseECheeks!
I smiled to myself and typed a status update.
BSwan is at the party
Honestly, I don't even know why I got on Twitter. Oh, right, Alice made me. I followed a handful of people I knew in college, almost no one followed me, I never posted anything. Alice tweeted again almost immediately
AlicesWonderland to BSwan- Don't do anything I wouldn't do! No, do *exactly* what I would do! :)
I rolled my eyes and slid my Blackberry into my jacket pocket.
"Do you need a drink?"
I spun to see who'd just said that, where that amazing voice had come from. The voice went with an equally astounding face. My God, he was perfect. Cheekbones…such pretty cheekbones. And his jaw made my mouth water. Hair…the perfect gray suit screamed fellow lawyer, but that hair was definitely not lawyer hair. That was heartthrob hair, long, artfully mussed and brown, but glinting amber and red. Or maybe that was just the gas lamps. Either way, he was so very pretty. And did he just speak to me?
I tried to speak, my mouth opened, but no sounds came out. He just kept on looking at me expectantly…with those eyes…they were green. Green is pretty… One corner of his beautiful lips curled up in a smile and he looked like he was trying not to laugh. At me. Because I'm standing here staring at him with my mouth open, not saying anything. Yes, I have an Ivy League education. Can't you tell?
I cleared my throat and tried again. "Excuse me?" Now we're talking! That was brilliant! I am so good with the talking thing.
"Um…a drink?" he repeated. Ummm…that voice. I wanted to grab a menu and make him read it to me just to hear him talk. "Do you need one?"
Was he really offering to get me a drink? Why? Then a horrifying thought occurred to me. Maybe he worked here. Sure he was wearing the lawyer uniform, but maybe he was just some astoundingly pretty corporate party planner and it was his job to make sure we all got liquored up as soon as we walked in.
"Uhh... sure. That would be nice." Okay, words are failing again. The stupid returns.
"What are you drinking?"
I had to think about that. I didn't go out. Pretty much ever. I didn't have a drink that I always ordered. I had no idea what kind of things people drank at events like these. I tried to think about the business dinners I'd been at with various clients and fellow lawyers. What did they drink? I'd just drink that.
"Scotch," I said firmly. His beautiful eyebrows pitched up in surprise.
He shook his head softly, but he was smiling. "Okay then. Wait here, alright?"
He turned and walked away to the bar leaving me a staring, slack-jawed fool behind him. What. Was. That? He was so…so…very…uhhhh. And he walked right over to me and asked if he could get me a drink, just like I was a regular girl. He must work here. It was the only explanation.
I didn't know what to do with myself while I waited. I was no good at doing casual, so I instinctively turned my Blackberry on. That was always a good thing to do when you were unsure of yourself. Tweetdeck was still open and Rose had just tweeted.
RoseECheeks to AlicesWonderland Meeting there, right?
Alice tweeted back.
AlicesWonderland to RoseECheeks Yes, bb!
I started typing before I knew what I was doing.
BSwan to RoseECheeks & AlicesWonderland There's a guy.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan WHAT? Tell!
BSwan to AlicesWonderland He's really hot. He's gone to get me a drink. What do I do?
AlicesWonderland to BSwan Stay calm. Talk! Flirt!
Flirt? What did she mean, flirt? I had no idea how to do that.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland Flirt? I don't know how!
AlicesWonderland to BSwan Well, take your cues from him.
This didn't make me feel any better. I could read somebody like a book on the stand, but in real life? Let's just say I was a little socially hobbled.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland Cues? What are those?
AlicesWonderland to BSwan *Facepalm* Just talk. Like a normal person. Which you are. Almost.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland Gotta go. He's coming.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan That's the idea!
"Ugh!" I groaned out loud as I rolled my eyes.
"Is there a problem?" The beautiful man was back in front of me, a drink in each hand.
"No," I shrugged and laughed awkwardly. "Just my crazy friend."
He smiled at me and held out a glass with an inch or so of amber liquid in it. That didn't look so bad. There was hardly even any in there. I tentatively took a sip and it felt like my throat caught fire. In seconds I was sputtering and gasping for air.
"Are you okay?" His whole face was creased with worry, one hand hovering tentatively over my back like he was afraid to touch me.
I gasped again and cleared my throat. "Yeah, just swallowed wrong."
"I'm sorry," he said, "We didn't get properly introduced. Edward Cullen, Volturi Associates."
Ah, from the new firm. Edward. Such a nice name. Oh, he didn't work here! That meant he wasn't being paid to talk to me!
"Um...Bella Swan, Banner, Cope and Webber."
He was holding his free hand out to me. Oh! Right…handshake. I could do this. I reached out and took it. I'd practiced my handshake, firm, but not too tight. Commanding, confident. I could do the handshake. But then Edward's palm met mine and I swear to God my knees went weak and my arm caught on fire and I blushed. I haven't blushed since I was in high school, but I could feel it, the rush of heat up my face. He made me blush! I wanted to die of embarrassment. It didn't help that my freaky physical reaction had just decimated my handshake. My hand just lay there in his like a dead fish. He didn't seem repulsed by me, though. He just smiled, slow and kind of crooked. Oh, my…the pretty just got bigger.
"There's a table open over there. Do you want to sit down?"
"Oh, um…sure," The genius was back. I needed Alice and Rose. I was helpless. I managed to turn and walk with him towards the empty table. His hand hovered right over the small of my back, not quite touching me, but I could feel the heat from him.
I slid into one side of the booth and he slid into the other.
"You know, I've visited Banner a few times with the merger team and I don't remember meeting you," he said.
"There are a lot of us," I mumbled, "Easy to miss a few." Stupid, stupid Bella. Do not point out the surplus of lawyers in your firm when they're looking to lay off people! I nervously took another gulp of my drink. Huge mistake. I was coughing and gasping again.
"Should I get something else for you to drink?" he asked, all concern and consideration.
"No, no! I'm good!" I took another sip to prove I was fine and managed not to choke this time.
"So, how long have you been at Banner?"
"Since I got out of law school three years ago. How about you? How long have you been with Volturi?"
He shrugged and glanced away. "Four years. Do you like Banner?"
I nodded eagerly. "Absolutely. They're a perfect fit for my professional goals."
He leaned forward on the table on his elbows and smiled that crooked smile at me again. "And what would those be?"
I lost my train of thought completely. What was he asking me? Oh! Professional goals! Right. I could answer this in my sleep. "I want to make partner by thirty five," I said firmly. He sat back and blinked at me.
I nodded. "Yes, really."
"Wow. That's…some goal. It must not leave you much time for anything else."
I cocked my head at him, "What else would I need?"
There was that crooked smile again, the one that made all my words run away. "Oh, I could think of a few things."
The words were gone and I was blushing again, so I just smiled and ducked my head, looking at my Blackberry in my lap. Alice had tweeted again.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan What's happening?
I have sent page-long emails during meetings without my fellow meeting attendees ever becoming aware that I even had anything in my hands. I am a genius at the surreptitious typing. I typed back to Alice.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland Just talking.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan You need to get to the touching, stat!
BSwan to AlicesWonderland It's just business, Alice.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan Suuuurree it is. Keep us posted!
I nervously ran a hand over my atypically loose hair and finally felt brave enough to look up at him again. He was staring at me with an intensity that sent a shiver down my spine.
"What?" I asked uneasily.
He shook his head and smiled softly. "Nothing. Just your…" He cleared his throat and for the first time all night he looked uncomfortable. "Your hair is nice."
"Um, thanks. So is yours." OH MY GOD! Did I just tell him he has nice hair? I wanted to die.
I glanced down at my lap and typed quickly with my stealth thumbs.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland I just told him he has nice hair! Stupid!
AlicesWonderland to BSwan STFU! Why?
BSwan to AlicesWonderland Well, he said it first.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan Wait, he said he likes your hair?
BSwan to AlicesWonderland Yes
AlicesWonderland to BSwan OMFG! He likes you!
I sat up quickly and shut my phone off. Edward didn't look as horrified as I'd expected. In fact, he looked happy, still smiling that crazy kryptonite crooked smile at me.
"Sorry if I made you uncomfortable," he said softly.
"What, me? No, I'm fine."
I'm so not fine. I'm totally out of my depth, I have no idea what to say to him and I'm terrified he's going to give up on me in disgust and go hit on Lauren or something. I twisted my fingers together, looking for a release for my anxiety.
"But you're blushing," he pressed.
I self-consciously raised a hand to my cheek. "It's just something I do…something I did, when I was younger. I thought I'd outgrown it, but it seems not. It's so ridiculous. Sorry."
He smiled gently. "Don't apologize. I like it. I really like it."
That, of course, only made me blush harder, which made him smile more. So there we sat, me turning six shades of red and him smiling at me like the Joker. Except he was way hotter than the Joker.
"So, are you spending tomorrow with family?" he finally asked, his voice back to normal.
"Christmas?" He was looking at me like I had two heads, because really, who forgets it's Christmas? Me. I forget.
"Oh, no. My dad lives in Washington, and it's such a long trip. So, no…" I never flew home for Christmas. The hours spent getting there never seemed to justify the couple of days I'd get to spend there. But now that I thought about it, that was kind of sad. And it meant my dad spent Christmas alone, too, which was really shitty. I resolved to fly home next year.
Edward's eyebrows shot up. "So you're alone on Christmas?"
"It's not that bad," I said, a tad defensively. "Besides, I'll get a ton of work done. It's a great day to work with no interruptions.
He stared at me and shook his head softly. "I'm sorry you're on your own tomorrow."
"Really, I'll be fine. It's not a big deal. What about you?" I asked, to change the subject.
"I usually fly home to see my parents, but they're in Europe this year so…"
I leaned forward and eyed him sharply. "Let me get this straight. You were just making me feel like the world's biggest loser for spending Christmas alone and you're going to be alone tomorrow, too?"
"I have some invites from friends," he said defensively, "if I want to go."
I snorted softly in laughter and sat back.
"I didn't mean to make you feel like a loser," he said. "It's just a shame that someone like…that you're going to be alone on the holiday."
There went my blush again. I dropped my eyes to my lap again and we were quiet for a few moments.
There was music playing on the overhead sound system and I realized that Edward was humming along softly. I wasn't too up with popular music these days, but I knew this song. I remember it playing on the radio during study sessions in law school. I looked up at him and he was watching me as he sang softly, a smile playing around the corners of his mouth. I dropped my eyes to my lap again, to my lifeline.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland & RoseECheeks I think he's singing to me.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan What do you mean?
BSwan to AlicesWonderland He's singing along to the radio, but he's looking at me.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan What song?
BSwan to AlicesWonderland That one by Lifehouse. I don't remember the name. I liked it, though.
AlicesWonderland to BSwan You and Me?
BSwan to AlicesWonderland That's it. He's singing along, but looking at me.
RoseECheeks to BSwan TJ! OMG, he WANTS you! Drag him into a dark corner and stick your tongue in his mouth now!
I shut my phone off. Enough. They were freaking me out and they seemed a whole lot more confident about what was happening here than I was. They did this all the time. For them it was easy. This…I was lost. And I was not at all confident that Edward was interested in anything more than getting to know a potential co-worker. Wait…
"You said you've been to Banner as part of the transitional team?"
He looked up warily. "Yeah. Why?"
"Why did they bring you?" I closed my eyes and shook my head. That didn't come out right. "What's your role on the transitional team?"
His eyes cut away from me and he looked nervous for the second time tonight. "Well, I'm helping plan the merging of the two firms."
I shot him an exasperated glare. "I got that much. That's sort of the definition of a merger. What do you do specifically?"
"I, um…" he looked down at his hands, which were turning his glass in circles. "I look for employee redundancy."
I sat back and stared at him. He was the axe man. He was the one who decided who would stay and who would go. For the first time since he started talking to me my head was clear. Now everything made sense, including the questions about my job, how I felt about the firm. He was trying to read me.
"I see," I finally said, my voice tight. At least I sounded in control of myself again. Bella the ass-kicking lawyer was back. This was my wheelhouse. "While I appreciate you getting me the drink, if you wanted to review my worth as an employee I'm sure we could have found time at the office to do that."
"Bella, no. Wait…" he sat up and reached a hand out across the table, closing it around my wrist. I ignored the flare of heat where he touched me, I just twisted my arm away and slid to the edge of the booth. I couldn't afford to get too angry to his face. He did still hold my job, my future, in his hands. His pretty, long-fingered hands…
I stood quickly. "If you'll excuse me, there are some people here I should say hello to."
I didn't wait to hear what he said, I just turned and slipped into the crowd. I didn't talk to anyone, I just headed straight to the back corner where I knew the bathrooms were. It was a crazy old New York building and both the ladies and the men's room opened off of a tiny dark little cupboard of a room, more of a closet really. Thankfully no one was waiting and I locked myself in the ladies' room. I pulled out my Blackberry and opened Tweetdeck.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland & RoseECheeks That was a total fail
AlicesWonderland to BSwan What happened?
BSwan to AlicesWonderland & RoseECheeks He's the axe man. He was just sussing me out for work. I'm such an idiot.
RoseECheeks to BSwan & AlicesWonderland No way. People don't SING to work contacts.
BSwan to AlicesWonderland & RoseECheeks I must have misinterpreted. Typical. I'm getting a cab and going home.
I shut my phone off again and looked at myself in the mirror. I didn't look right, with my hair all wild and loose and my blouse hanging half opened. I looked like I was trying too hard. Ridiculous. I wanted to pull my hair back, but my hair tie was at the office. No matter. All I had to do was get a cab and this night would be officially over. When I got home I could think about how to deal with seeing Edward at the office, but I wouldn't worry about it now.
I took a deep breath and left the ladies' room, running smack into someone waiting in the tiny vestibule space.
"Sorry," I muttered, not bothering to look.
Fuck. Edward. Was he following me or something? And now he wasn't moving, his large frame nearly blocking the opening of the vestibule, keeping me from squeezing past into the bar.
"I really want to go home now, so if you'll excuse me…"
"I didn't talk to you tonight because of the merger."
I snorted in disbelief and crossed my arms over my chest.
"I was about to leave myself when I saw you come in."
"And?" I prompted when he didn't continue. "If you didn't come over to talk to me about the merger, then why did you come talk to me?"
There was a long silence as he just stared down at me. It was dark here, so I couldn't see his face too clearly, but his expression looked stormy and intense.
"This is why," he finally muttered softly.
It happened so fast I didn't even have time to respond. One minute I was standing there glaring at him with my arms crossed and the next his lips were on mine, his tongue was in my mouth, his hands were gripping my head and I was about to pass out. Because this felt…he felt….so good. I couldn't breathe, but I didn't care. I would drop dead on the spot, just as long as he never stopped doing this. His tongue swept against mine just as his teeth scraped against my bottom lip and I moaned against his mouth.
The sound of my own voice, sounding desperate with lust almost snapped me out of it. What were we doing? This was the firm's Christmas party! And while we weren't making out on top of the bar, this wasn't much better. Anyone going to the bathroom would walk in on me and the axe man playing tonsil hockey in the vestibule. Oh God, who the hell am I?
"Edward…" I whispered against his lips.
He responded by sucking on my lower lip and I sighed, forgetting completely what I was going to say. Oh, right. Inappropriate makeout session at a work function with a complete stranger. Which is bad.
"Edward!" I hissed. He shifted off my mouth, dragging his lips across my cheek to my ear. When he spoke his breath tickled the tiny hairs there, making me shiver all over. And my panties may or may not have just gotten a little damp. It had been so long since that had happened to me that I almost forgot what it felt like.
"Yeah?" he finally whispered. Then he sucked on my earlobe and once again, the words ran away from me. I moaned again, my head falling back, offering up my neck to him. He took it, kissing and licking me all the way down to the collar of my shirt. "You were going to say something?" he growled against my collar bone.
Fuck! Right! Words.
"Um…this is probably a really bad idea."
I felt him stiffen, then he straightened up. The lips, his delicious lips, left my neck, making me feel aching and lonely. His hands, which had been fisting desperately into the back of my jacket, released me and slipped harmlessly to my hips.
"It is?" he asked softly, hesitantly.
"Well, yeah. Anybody could walk in here and find us making out in public at the firm's Christmas party! And then what?"
His face split into a wide grin then. "Oh, is that all?"
Without another word, he reached out to his right and pushed open the door to the men's room and walked me three steps backwards until we were inside. He slammed the door shut and flipped the lock with one hand.
"There. Now we're making out in the bathroom at the firm's Christmas party. Much better."
His lips were back on mine in an instant, his tongue, the magic tongue, was doing sinful things to mine while his strong hands were pulling me in, pushing me back against the edge of the sink, fisting into my clothes. He returned to that hot, amazing thing he'd been doing to my neck and I moaned and wiggled, trying to get closer to him. Then I felt him slow down. He stopped moving, then he growled against my throat in frustration. I must be doing this all wrong.
"What is it?" I asked. "What's wrong?"
He sighed heavily. "Look, Bella. I like you. A lot. And I don't want to screw this up. Any more than I already have, that is."
I took a deep breath. This is where he tells me this is a big mistake and completely unprofessional and we should stop and just be friends. He would be right, of course, but the odd thing was, I no longer cared.
"So," he continued, still holding me lightly, "in the interest of full disclosure, I did come over to you tonight to talk about work."
I blinked. "You did?"
"Yeah, I did. I might not have seen you before, but I knew who you were, Bella."
"I read your employee file. And I asked somebody to point you out to me as soon as you got here."
"Because I wanted to meet the strongest lawyer on Banner's staff."
"Yes! You're probably the biggest asset Banner's bringing to the table right now."
"Oh. So you wanted to meet me because I'm a good lawyer." My voice sounded pinched and unhappy. Edward reached up and ran a hand over the back of his neck awkwardly.
"Yes, that's why I came over there. But then you looked up at me and…"
He trailed off, his voice sounding uncertain and nervous.
"I could hardly remember my own name," he whispered. I could only stand there and blink at him, at his beautiful face looking so anxious and hopeful. This was so wrong and we were asking for trouble, but I didn't care anymore. All I wanted was this amazing man in front of me to keep kissing me, keep touching me, I'd figure out all the unpleasant ramifications later. Without a word, I launched myself at him and he caught me and we were kissing again. He pushed me back, propping me up on the edge of the sink while one hand slid down my hip, over my thigh, until his long graceful fingers were skimming the bare skin at the hem of my skirt. I shifted, cocking my knee, and my skirt rode up a little. Edward's fingers followed it and kept going, sliding up under the fabric, his hand warm and rough against my thigh. Oh, my…
"Bella?" he whispered against my ear as his wicked fingers continued their ascent.
"Do you want to keep going?"
"I said 'mmm-hmm.'"
He growled and pushed my skirt the rest of the way up until he'd reached my panties. Plain pale pink cotton ones. He skimmed a finger across the front of my underwear.
"If I had known I'd end up like this, I'd have worn something fancier," I whispered, "Well, except I don't own any fancy ones. I'd have to go buy them. But I would have."
"Shhh. These are so…" he trailed off as he curled his fingers around them and slowly slid them down over my hips. He knelt briefly to help me kick them off, then straightened, bringing my panties to his lips where he kissed them softly. Oh…yeah, that made me get all kinds of wet down there. "I'm keeping these," he muttered, stuffing them in his suit pocket before dipping his head to kiss me again.
Then his magic hands went to work and it was like he was everywhere at once. I swear he must have had more than two, because I felt them all over my body, gripping my hair, smoothing the side of my face, pulling my shirt up out of the waistband of my skirt, sliding up the bare skin of my back, cupping my breast over my shirt, cupping my breast under my shirt, and then finally finding their way back to my thighs, to my center, which he'd bared moments ago. By the time his fingers skimmed across my sex I was practically panting for him, breathless, my head thrown back and resting on the little mirror over the sink. He grasped the back of my thigh and lifted my leg, settling himself more firmly against me and I moaned, running my fingers up into his hair and pulling his head to me.
He kissed me again, long and deep, rocking against me a little as he did. Edward dropped his head then, breathing raggedly, kissing my neck and chest in little pecks. I twisted his hair around my fingers. It was so soft.
"So pretty," I murmured.
He chuckled against my neck. "Yes, you are."
"I was talking about you," I corrected.
"No. Well, yes, all of you is pretty. But I was talking about your hair."
"My hair is pretty?"
I nodded. "Really pretty. How do you get away with keeping it so long in corporate?"
Edward shook his head with his eyes closed as if to clear it. "Why are we talking about my pretty hair right now?"
"Sorry, I got distracted."
He grinned at me then, crooked and wicked. I felt his hand sliding up my thigh. "I'd like your full attention just at this moment, if that's alright with you."
Then his fingers finally touched me, stroked me, and he had no worries. There wasn't room in my head for another thought, just the overwhelming sensation of his fingers on me, in me.
He kept going until I was a sighing, whimpering mess and so, so close. Then his fingers slipped away and he was fumbling with his belt, with his wallet. Oh, right. There were practical considerations if we were going to do this. Were we going to do this? Then I glanced down and saw him, free of his pants and boxers. Oh, yes, we were. No doubt about it.
When Edward was ready, he leaned back in towards me and I felt him brushing against me, just about to enter.
"Bella," he rasped.
"This isn't…I don't want you to think…I mean, I want to see you again after this."
I opened my eyes and met his gaze as he held me tight against him, poised to enter me.
"Are you asking me on a date?"
Edward's eyes shifted to the side and he shrugged awkwardly. "Yeah, I guess I am."
"I just don't want you to think I do this all the time. I've never done this."
"Neither have I. Well, I've had sex, just not in a public bathroom. With a stranger."
Edward was shaking his head again and I was already starting to recognize this as his way of telling me to stop my insane rambling, so I shut up.
"It's just…this matters to me," he said softly.
"Me, too," I whispered. And with one small movement he slid inside of me. My eyes closed and my head fell back and I groaned. The sound mingled with the low rumble that erupted out of Edward's chest.
I was still half-propped on the edge of the sink, my skirt pushed up, Edward stood between my thighs with his pants around his thighs, holding me around the waist as he moved against me. It was awkward, precarious and a little uncomfortable, but it was also heaven. He braced one hand on the wall behind me to give himself some leverage as I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, hoisting myself up. The change in angle was just what I needed, he was brushing just the right spot with each thrust. The handful of clumsy fratboy fumblers from college had never come close to making me feel what Edward was making me feel. I was winding up, climbing higher, and then with one hard thrust he sent me off the edge.
I clung to his shoulders, whimpering, as he continued to move against me. Then with a grunt and a gasp, he fell off the edge after me. We stayed twined around each other for a few moments before he stepped back from me to clean himself up. By the time he turned back, I'd put myself more or less back together. Well, aside from the panties which were still in his suit pocket.
Edward took my face in his two hands and leaned in to kiss me, so gentle and chaste.
I slipped off the edge of the sink and wobbled slightly, grabbing onto his shoulders for support.
"Do you…um, want to stay at the party?" he asked, looking at me apprehensively.
"God, no! I didn't want to come here in the first place."
"I'm glad you did."
"Come on, I'll get you a cab."
He stepped back away from me and we slipped out of the bathroom, blending into the now-drunk crowd. No one paid us any notice. I felt oddly bereft and hollow. A cab. He was going to put me into a cab to go home. It was a nice gesture, very chivalrous. But it made me feel empty just the same. Because it meant I'd go back home to my little dark apartment alone, just like it was any other night, and after what had just happened, it felt like everything in the universe had changed. For me, anyway.
Edward retrieved our coats from the coat check and helped me into mine. I threw him a tight little smile over my shoulder. He took my elbow and steered us out onto the sidewalk. I stood huddled in my coat against the bitter cold wind as Edward stepped to the curb to flag a cab. It didn't take long and as it pulled up to the curb, Edward leaned down and said something quickly to the driver. Then he moved back across the sidewalk to me, stopping in front of me. He reached out and pulled one of my hands free of my pocket.
"Bella, can I say something?"
This sounded awful. I tried not to let the horror show on my face. I was expressionless as I nodded mutely.
"I don't want to let you go tonight."
I exhaled hard, my breath making a white cloud in front of me, before I smiled.
"I don't want you to let me go," I murmured,
He smiled too, still a little anxious and jumpy. Then he stepped forward and slid an arm around my waist, pulling me in against his body, into the little pocket of warmth in front of him. He leaned into my face and I closed my eyes, inhaling his breath.
"Can we spend Christmas together?" he whispered, his forehead touching mine.
"Yeah," I said, "I'd like that."
His grin grew wider, and even lovelier, before he tipped his head slightly to kiss the tip of my nose.
"Well, then, we'd better go get in bed before Santa gets here."
I laughed and hooked one arm around his neck, drawing him closer.
"Merry Christmas, Bella," he murmured.
"Merry Christmas, Edward," I sighed, just before his lips touched mine.
Thanks for reading!