Hello- thank you for joining me again! Let's answer all the questions - angsty? no/all written? yes/how many chapters? 15/HEA- always/How often is it updated? Every 5 days.
Preread by Liz, Trina and Pam. Beta'd by Midnight. I would be lost without them all. I thank them for their help and I thank you for reading.
Glancing at my watch, I swore under my breath as I raced toward the small event office located under the stadium. Tim Hortons had been extra busy today, but I knew there was no way I could show up without caffeine for all of us.
Not on game day.
I burst thought the door, panting. Alice glanced up from the file she had in her hand, grinning. "For God's sake, Bella. Five minutes. You're five minutes late. What do you expect—to be beheaded?"
I winked at her, offering her the tray. "Never sure what my evil boss has planned."
Laughing, she grabbed one of the huge cups and peeled back the tab, taking a long sip. "Bring this with you and I will always forgive tardiness."
I threw my bag under the desk, letting it pile up with the other knapsacks and gym bags. The office was small and cramped so every inch was used. "Everything set for the game?"
Alice nodded. "Ben and Quil are setting up the sponsor area; Angela is making sure the food is ready for the coaches and press. I already delivered the sandwiches for the staff to the lounge. Now we have to get the scanners from Mrs. Cope, make sure the ushers and ticket takers have their lists and then we can start helping the sponsors, if they need us, to set up."
I nodded as I sipped my coffee. Alice was always so organized. She bit her lip, her fingers drumming on the files on her desk. "There are a couple other things."
"Mrs. Cope had a little mishap last night and she's sporting a walking cast. She needs a runner and someone to oversee the box office. She asked for you since you worked for her before."
"Mike called in sick. He says he has the flu."
We both smirked and at the same time said, "The twenty-six ounce flu."
"So you're really short-staffed."
She tapped the pile of files on her desk. "I've divided up the sponsors, but I need you to help with them. I'm only giving you two."
"I can handle that."
She handed me the files, and I glanced at the first one and grinned. The Cupcake Lady. I liked her. She always gave us free cupcakes when the event was over.
My grin faded as I saw the second one, and I looked up at Alice. "Really? The Bull Rider pub?"
"They're both right by the box office, so it's easy for them to get to you or vice versa. They're both so slick at this, you'll hardly have to do anything, but make sure their booths have power and that the bull pit is properly padded." She paused for another sip of coffee. "Edward is such a professional; you'll hardly even see him."
I snorted. "A professional flirt."
Images of him flashed through my head. The man was tall, lean, with a head of wild, coppery bronze hair. He always wore a vest and chaps, doffing his cowboy hat and smirking at all the pretty university girls; coaxing them to come to his country bar with wide smiles and lewd winks. I'd seen him in action many times.
He had come onboard near the end of last year, added on to some winter sporting events, but came back fully for the football program. I knew Alice was helping to court him for a bigger package for next year.
Alice waved her hand. "He has to, Bella. It's his business. He's here to cultivate the university crowd. He needs them to frequent his bar rather than the Beaver and Bulldog down the street." Her fingers tapped the side of her cup. "He's a really nice guy. And his sponsorship of the team is one of the biggest we have now. We need to keep him happy. Play nice, smile and if he asks for something, get it for him. His contract is up after this season, and I want him back."
I smiled at her, wide and toothy. "Whatever you need, Mr. Cullen, sir."
She shook her head. "Keep practicing."
I made the rounds, checking first on The Cupcake Lady, who smiled and told me everything, as usual, was great. She pressed my favorite cupcake into my hand—vanilla with thick buttercream frosting—and I happily munched on it as I chatted with her. Then, steeling my nerves, I made my way over to The Bull Rider area. A mechanical bull was set up in an enclosed paddock, well-padded, and the cement covered with lots of thick tarps. Speakers were already set up, country music playing—I knew once the crowds started, the volume would rise, making it harder to hear the customers in the box office.
That had been my first run-in with Edward.
"Can you turn that down?" I yelled at the tall man leaning against the wall, watching the bull pen. His hair was blowing in the breeze, the wild bronze strands dancing around his head in riotous waves that he brushed off his forehead as he leisurely pushed off the wall.
His gaze turned my way, eyes so green they were like high quality, stained cut glass, slowly perusing me up and down. A teasing grin pulled on his lips, one corner edging up higher than the other as he cupped his ear, leaning close. "What did you say?"
"I said: turn the music down! The box office can't hear what the customers are saying with that racket!"
Another cocky grin was all I got. "That racket?" he quoted; enunciating each word.
I waved my hand. "The music," I repeated. I drew in a deep breath, remembering this was a sponsor. "Can you please turn it down a little?"
"Since you asked so nicely, of course." Leaning over, his fingers reached for the knob. Long, elegant fingers on a very large hand. For some reason, my throat got dry and I swallowed. "Thank you," I mumbled and began to walk away.
Those long fingers wrapped around my arm stopping me.
I looked up at him, suddenly nervous. "Edward," he said quietly.
"I'm Edward. You are?"
"Bella Isabella? That's a long name."
"No, my name is Isabella, but my friends call me Bella." I tossed my head, unsure why this man was making me so nervous. "You can call me Isabella."
His lips quirked again and he dipped his head, looking at me from under his eyelashes. "I look forward to the day I can change that...Isabella."
I gaped at him unsure how to respond.
Then he turned his head, a wide smile breaking out on his face. "Ladies! Welcome to The Bull Rider!"
Just like that I was dismissed. I turned away, the color hot on my cheeks.
"Not bloody likely," I muttered, stomping my way back to the box office.
What a jerk.
Not much had changed over the season. Lucky for me, I was always busy and rarely had to interact with him. Alice did most of the hand-holding. Still, every time I was running down the aisle to grab something or deliver an article someone needed, if I looked up he'd be staring. It unnerved me. I tried to ignore him, but it was as if my own gaze was drawn to the very place he stood every game.
And today, I had no choice but to talk to him.
I steeled myself and approached him. He was bent over, tying down the last of the sand bags, ensuring they were tight and secure. I tried hard not to admire his ass that was on display. Tight, rounded—it filled out his jeans in perfect form. Clearing my throat, I waited until his head lifted and our gazes met.
With a smirk, he straightened up, his gaze amused. "I've told you before, Mr. Cullen is my dad. It's just Edward."
I waved my hand, ignoring his comment. "We're short-staffed today and Alice asked me to make sure you have everything you want. I'll be by frequently to check on you, Mr. Cullen. If there's something you need, all you have to do is ask."
"Now that you mention it…"
I lifted my pen, ready to jot down my errand. It was usually water or an extra extension cord—something easy. Although with him, I had a feeling nothing would be easy.
"Anything I want?" He smirked at me. "That's got possibilities."
I felt the blush start on my cheeks. "Anything you require for today," I clarified. "For your area."
"Well, that's a damn shame," he muttered, almost to himself.
My blush deepened, although why I had no idea.
He leaned over and picked up his leather chaps, slowly putting them on. As the leather tightened around his crotch and thighs I had to look away, clearing my dry throat. He didn't answer until his vest was draped across his broad shoulders and his cowboy hat was placed firmly on his head. Watching him get ready was oddly intimate. I felt myself getting warmer and my hands clenching, while trying not to stare.
"I need two things—well, three actually."
"Sure," I rasped out, my voice sounding husky.
"I have a couple guests coming. Normally Mrs. Cope gets me the tickets, but Alice said you would help today."
"Can you get me a few extra game day programs?"
"I can do that, Mr. Cullen." Relaxing, I smiled at him—a real smile. He was being very professional.
He grinned. "Well, that's an added bonus."
"You have a beautiful smile."
I felt my cheeks redden again. "And, ah...the third?"
"I want you to stop this Mr. Cullen shit. My name is Edward." He stepped closer. "Say my name…Bella."
A felt a tremor run through me. Those long fingers slipped under my chin, lifting my face. "Say it, out loud."
His smile was bright and he ghosted his fingers down my neck before stepping back. "Was that so hard?"
"No," I breathed.
He clapped his hands, breaking the spell. "Will I follow you to the box office and give you the names for the tickets? I have something I want to add to the envelopes."
I nodded dumbly and turned around, walking toward the box office, unsure what just happened. I glanced over my shoulder to make sure he was behind me only to find him staring at my ass as I walked. I stopped short and he ran into me, jarring me with his sudden closeness. His arm wrapped around my waist, holding me tight. "Oops," he breathed in my ear. "Busted."
I drew in a ragged breath. I could feel him. Every hard inch of him, pressing into my back. Muscles rippled as he pulled me closer, his hand flat against my stomach. "What a view," he murmured, not at all ashamed at having being caught.
With a gasp, I stepped away and hurried toward the box office, not caring now if he was following. I heard his low chuckle behind me but I kept moving, needing as much distance between us as possible. Reaching the door, I yanked it open and stepped back, indicating he could go ahead of me. With a smirk he did, giving me another view of his ass as he climbed the high step into the trailer.
This time it was my turn to smirk.
Tit for tat.
Or, in this case, ass for ass.
The game was busy and I was on my feet the whole time. Homecoming was always crazy—the stands were full, the university crawling with alumni and families, the atmosphere electric. Every time I went past The Bull Rider area I averted my eyes, but I could feel Edward's gaze following me. I was professional; checking on his booth and The Cupcake Lady's a few times, but aside from requesting water and Edward's assurance all was fine, our interactions were minimal. As usual, every time I went over, he was surrounded by cute girls, hanging on his every word and gesture.
Near the end of the game, I was making my way up the tunnel, munching happily on another cupcake and not paying attention to where I was going. Rounding the corner, I ran smack into a hard object, almost falling backward, except a pair of strong arms caught me, dragging me up against a chest I had already met earlier that day with my back. Somehow my breasts pushed into Edward's hard muscles felt far more…enjoyable. I gazed up at him, blinking. Between us,my hand held the remains of a now squashed cupcake and I frowned at it—it was a damn good cupcake, and now it was wasted. One arm left my waist and I watched, fascinated, as his long, elegant finger slipped through the icing, bringing it to his mouth.
"Mmmm. Buttercream," he moaned, slipping it inside his lips. My breathing picked up as I watched his tongue swipe across his finger, and I felt a shudder run down my spine. "Delicious," he murmured. "But you know what would be more so?"
"No," I squeaked, seemingly having lost all common sense.
He crouched down, his face close to mine. "You have a little icing," he whispered, tapping my mouth, "right there. I want it."
His tongue traced along the edge of my lips, the warm wet so enticing, I groaned softly. Again, he lapped at the sweetness before drawing back, smiling. "A thousand times better."
I stared up at him, dumbfounded. That was probably the hottest thing anyone had ever done to me and yet…
A low sigh left my lips and before I knew what was happening, Edward had pivoted, and I was pressed up against the cold concrete of the wall, still staring up at him. His lips ran down my neck, drifting over to my ear. I knew I should push him away, yell at him for touching me without my permission, but somehow I couldn't find that little voice in my head anywhere.
His mouth ghosted over the soft spot just behind my ear, making me shiver.
"Tell me…Bella. You eat The Cupcake Lady's treats… Would you like to…ride my bull?"
I gasped and looked up at him, feeling as though I'd been doused in cold water.
Those were the exact words I had heard him use on every pretty girl that went by. Teasing, leering, beckoning them over. That was all this was: another sales pitch.
I pushed him away in panic.
Then I turned and ran away from him.
Next update on Friday. Thank you for reading.