MEET THE MATE CONTEST
STORY TITLE: DISGUISED INTENTIONS
SUMMARY: First date… Handsome guy, good food, conversation… Sounds perfect, doesn't it?
BETA: ANTON M.
PRE-READERS- Dazzled Eyes22 And Ipsita Chaudhuri
WORD COUNT: 3,680
My heels clanked sharply against the hardwood floor as I quickly made my way out of the elevator and into the restaurant. I wasn't late, per se. It was less than five minutes past the time we'd agreed upon but punctuality was something I took pride in. Still, I paused for a minute before I reached the hostess' desk. Taking a deep breath to calm my nerves, I spent another futile minute wondering why the hell this, dating that is, scared me to the point that I'd spent the whole of yesterday fretting over what would happen tonight after my brother dropped the bomb on me in the morning.
"C'mon, Bella. You can't spend the rest of your life married to your job. You're 26, for God's sake and you live like you're… I don't know, forty, fifty, whatever. Look, my point is, you've got to get out there and live a little," he scolded. Or rather, whined.
"I am living my life, Emmett. This is the way I want to live. Why can't you accept that? And you know exactly why my job matters to me more than anything else in the world and that is not going to change," I reminded him.
His eyes softened. "Bellie, listen to me. I know what you want to do, but in the past few months, you've become far too obsessed with it. To the point that it's not healthy anymore. Rose and I, we're both worried about you. I've never interfered in your life before, but enough is enough. I am your big brother and it's my job to take care of you, especially since you're not doing it yourself." He reached out to put an arm around my shoulders. "Dad's not here to knock some sense into you, so he would expect that of me, right?"
"Don't call me Bellie," I grumbled, pushing him away. "You don't play fair, bringing up Dad."
"Never said I did."
I rolled my eyes. "Whatever. So what do I have to do to get you off my back?"
"You have to go on a date."
I stared blankly, waiting for the punch line. When he didn't laugh or elaborate, I broke the awkward silence. "I'm sorry, what? You're kidding, right?"
He sighed. "I know, I know. I'm desperate." He shrugged. "I chased away boys that followed you in school and now, I'm setting you up, but, really, you've left me no choice. You can't spend all your life alone, Bella. And the way you're going, I can see that you have no plans of changing your current loner status. So, I'm intervening."
"You're crazy if you thi—" I broke off as Emmett's eyes tightened, his mouth flattening to a grim line. He was in his Cop mode, as I called it, since it was the same expression he wore while interrogating and negotiating with criminals that came into his police department. Cop mode meant serious business. My brother could be the goofiest of all in his personal life, but he was serious as hell when it came to his job.
He could lecture me all he wanted but I knew that the reason he became a cop was the very same which had driven me to obsession in my own line of work. He was right, I knew he was. I'd go crazy if I continued to get so deeply involved in my… mission, I suppose you could call it, that I was cut off from my personal life.
Emmett's deep, stern voice pulled me out of my reverie. "You are going on a date tomorrow evening. You will go out, have a good time and enjoy someone else's company besides your laptop and files. That is final, whether you like it or not. Is that clear, young lady?"
I sighed. "Crystal. Who is the guy, if I may be so bold to ask, Detective Swan?"
Elated by my agreement, Em relaxed instantly and smiled, his blue eyes twinkling. "He's a friend of mine. Edward Cullen."
"Edward Cullen," I repeated. "And what does this Mr. Cullen do?"
"Ah ah." The big oaf shook his head and pointed a finger at me for good measure. "I'm not telling you anything else. You can ask him all these questions tomorrow."
"Are you crazy, Em? You want me to go on a date with someone I know nothing about?" I glared, attempting my best bitch face.
I guess I needed to work on that expression more because Emmett was unfazed. "I know all the excuses you've given in the past. One of them was that you wouldn't have anything to talk about. So, there you go. You don't know anything about him, he doesn't know much about you. Break the ice with the little details and the conversation will flow right on." He looked so proud of himself that I couldn't help but giggle.
"Alright, fine. I'll do it if it makes you that happy."
"That's my girl!" He leaned in as if for a hug and pounded me on the back, hard enough to jolt me forward. He'd been doing that since we were kids and yet, he managed to take me by surprise almost every time. I narrowed my eyes and proceeded to tickle the shit out of him, our little routine never getting old.
I smiled slightly at my thoughts, a little more relaxed than I'd been before. Emmett and Rose were all I had in this world and I knew that whatever they did, it was out of pure love and concern for me.
"So suck it up," I mumbled to myself with a determined nod.
"Um, Miss? Can I help you?" the hostess asked me with a hesitant smile. Probably wondering if I'm crazy. Talking to myself and head bobbing… crazy.
"Hi, I'm Bella Swan," I said. "I'm here to see Mr. Edward Cullen."
"Oh yes, Ma'am. He's waiting for you." She smiled politely. "I'm Maggie, your hostess for tonight. Please follow me."
I fidgeted with the strap of my dress as we walked into the dining area. I'd pulled out this off-shoulder, plum cocktail dress from the back of my closet. It'd been so long since I'd worn a dress that the feel felt slightly foreign to me. I was more of a jeans and hoodie person, or a shirt at most when required at work.
Emmett was right, I needed to get a life.
Maggie led me to a table far back in the right corner of the room, right next to a huge glass window. The beautiful view of the twinkling lights of the Seattle skyline could not hold my attention for more than two seconds once my eyes landed on the handsome, no, breathtakingly handsome man waiting for me at the table.
He turned just as we reached the table and stood up to greet me.
Big bro did good was the first thought that passed through my head as I took in everything about my date for the evening.
He was dressed in dark jeans and a pale blue shirt, with a pinstripe jacket over it. His hair was a delicious mess of copper, his skin paler than mine, and when he looked at me, his lips turned up into a crooked smile and his eyes, dark green, liquid pools, roamed over my face and crinkled at the corners with his charming grin.
Trying to be as discreet as possible, I cleared my throat and placed my hand in his outstretched one. "Ye-yes. Hello, Edward. It's nice to meet you."
"The pleasure is mine. You look beautiful, Bella." His voice was pure, melted honey as it caressed my name, sending a shiver down my spine. "Shall we?"
He tugged at my hand gently, held out the chair for me, helping me settle, and took a seat across from me.
"I'm sorry if dinner at nine is a little late for you. I just couldn't get out of my shift before that."
"Oh no," I assured him. "It's perfectly fine. My job requires me to keep later hours too."
He smiled. That same crooked smile with the crinkly eyes. "Yes, I would imagine. Emmett said you're a journalist?"
"Yes, The Seattle Times. It's been four years now. What is it that you do, Edward?"
His brow furrowed, though his lips still held the hint of a smirk. "Emmett didn't tell you that?"
I sighed, rolling my eyes. "No, he didn't. When I asked, he replied that it'll give us something to talk about, you know, break the ice."
He laughed, a rich, hearty laugh that caused me to let out a little chuckle, too. "Somehow, I'm not surprised. With Emmett? Nope, not surprised."
"Hello." I was startled as a woman spoke from beside me. "I'm Jane, you server for tonight. Can I get you something to drink?"
Edward motioned for me to go first. I thought about checking out the wine list, but decided to go for a Coke. I needed a clear head for tonight. So far, Edward Cullen seemed like a charming man and I didn't want to lose my inhibitions and do something stupid in front of him.
Edward ordered the same and we were left alone once again.
"So, where were we? Oh yes. My profession. I'm a doctor, well, a trauma surgeon."
"Wow, that's impressive," I said genuinely.
He was going to kill me with those smiles.
"So how long have you known Emmett?"
"It's been a couple of years, I think. We met while he was working on a case. There was an accident involved and he needed my medical opinion. We've been friends ever since," he told me.
"Oh," I said, wondering why the hell Emmett or Rose had never mentioned him to me before.
Maybe because you've never been interested?
My inner rambling was interrupted when the waitress brought out our drinks and took our meal orders.
After she left, I took a sip of the delightfully chilled Coke and moaned out loud. It was only when I heard a deep, husky chuckle that I realized where I was and what I'd just done. My cheeks flushed and I had to summon up all my courage to look him in the eyes.
"No, no, carry on. Don't mind me. I've just… never seen anyone enjoy a glass of Coke so much." His voice was full of amusement.
I shrugged, trying to play it off and appear casual, when I was anything but. "It's my belief that Coke tastes best only when it's chilled perfectly. And just the Coke, no ice because that just dilutes the taste and that's no fun. This one is just the perfect temperature."
He nodded solemnly. "I will keep that in mind for future reference, my dear Coke connoisseur."
I looked away as I gulped down another sip, cursing myself for my embarrassing reaction. A few seconds passed in silence.
And why did I have to go ahead and share my… what did I say? "Belief"? Stupid!
"Hey," he said softly. "Look at me, Bella."
I couldn't ignore a request made in that earnest voice, so I nervously raised my eyes to his.
"I was just kidding, you know that, right? You don't need to be embarrassed at all. I liked that you told me a little bit about yourself. That's what we're going to do tonight, isn't it? Get to know each other." He gave me a soft smile and held out his glass. I hesitantly smiled back and clinked it with mine.
"There you go."
My smile grew as big as his and I eased back into the chair, getting comfortable.
"The awkward moment is diffused. So, what do we talk about now?" Edward asked.
His attention was focused solely on me and that unnerved me the slightest bit. "I, uh, I honestly have no idea." I took in a deep breath and decided to be honest with him. "You seem like a good guy, Edward, but you make me nervous. This-" I motioned between us. "makes me nervous. I- I haven't been on a date in a long time. Really long time. My job has been the sole focus of my life for years. I have no idea how to do this." At this point, I was getting agitated, regretting opening my mouth, but he saved me another potentially embarrassing moment by interrupting my verbal diarrhea.
"Okay, Bella. Listen to me. Trust me, I know what it's like. My job doesn't exactly leave me with a lot of time for extra-curricular activities either." He winked and the corners of my mouth twitched up in response. "I'm a simple guy, so why don't we go with the basics? Clichés are clichés for a reason, after all."
I frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"I mean, we could go for the usual topics. People have been getting to know each other this way for ages, so let's go for it." He shrugged. "Okay, Miss Swan, what are your hobbies?"
I had to smile at the serious tone of his voice. "Hmm. I love reading, listening to music."
"Good, good." He nodded with mock sternness and I struggled to hold back a chuckle. "Well?"
"You are supposed to ask me now." He shook his head at me, rolling his eyes for good measure and I let out a giggle.
"I'm so sorry. Dr. Cullen, what do you like to do in your free time?"
"I like watching movies, specifically, action movies. And of course, I like music too, so we have that in common. See, this is working out, isn't it?"
"It sure is."
Our food arrived and we dug in with gusto, but we continued bringing up the usual first date topics and shared our views on them. We were quite enthusiastic too, getting into debates with wild hand gestures to the point where our food went untouched for several minutes as we tried to get our point across to each other.
While the love of music was shared by both of us, Edward was adamant that Clair de Lune was Debussy's best work, whereas I was conflicted between Clair de Lune and Suite Bergamasque. Amongst the modern singers, I loved Enrique and levelled Edward with a death glare, daring him to contradict my choice.
I found out that he was pretty well read, including the classics. However, he was not a huge fan of Austen, and I gave him the same respect of leaving him to his choices.
It was very hard, though, to keep my mouth shut, to keep myself from spending an hour lecturing him about Austen's brilliance.
But I did it.
Because I liked the guy.
Like, really liked him.
When it was time for dessert, I decided to binge on a slice of chocolate pie while Edward asked for a vanilla trifle. I did notice the slight grimace that passed over his face when I ordered.
When the waitress was gone, I turned to him with a raised brow.
He bit his lip and shot me what could only be described as a sheepish grin. "I'm just not a fan of chocolate."
My eyes widened. "You don't like chocolate?" My voice had raised an octave, so I toned down the surprise and whispered, "How can anyone not like chocolate?"
"I don't know." He shrugged. "I can tolerate dark chocolate, but the sweet one is just…no."
"I might just have to reconsider everything about you, Dr. Cullen. In light of this new knowledge, I mean."
His mouth fell open in surprise. "Are you serious?"
I nodded gravely. "Yeah. What is the meaning of life without chocolate?"
"Oh, c'mon Bella. Don't cast me aside over my tastes." He pouted and his eyes took on such a sweet, pleading look that I couldn't hold it in any longer and giggled, shaking my head at him.
"Okay, fine. But seriously, how can you not like chocolate, Edward?"
He smirked. "This is the third time you've asked me that."
"Well, yes, because I can't get over it! What sane person doesn't love chocolate? Haven't you heard, nine out of ten people love chocolate and the tenth one is a liar?" I smiled, smug.
He shrugged again, still smirking. "I seem to be an exception, then. It's better to be different from the rest of the crowd, don't you think?"
His green eyes smoldered and I struggled to maintain my train of thought.
"You know what, I'll take on the challenge of converting you into a chocolate fan," I said decidedly. "You, mister, are going to be turned into such a fan that you're going to wish that there was a Chocoholics Anonymous."
He laughed and I joined in until our desserts arrived and my mind focused solely on the delicacy in front of me.
As I took a bite and the delicious, rich gooey taste exploded in my mouth, I moaned, this time, very softly, and licked my lips.
I looked up to see Edward, his hand with the spoon, raised mid-air while his gaze was fixed on my lips, his dessert long forgotten. I cleared my throat, smirking when he looked away quickly and continued with my precious, precious treat.
We sat there and chatted for over three hours and it was as if we'd created a little bubble of our own, unaware of the surroundings. It was only when the waitress approached to let us know that it was closing time that we broke apart, shaking our heads and smiling sheepishly.
Edward insisted on paying the bill and with one of the other guys I'd dated in the past, the feminist in me would probably have been incensed and would not have rested until I'd paid half. But one look at Edward's earnest face and the protest flew from my mind.
I'd insist on paying next time.
Next time? Presumptuous much?
Hell yeah! I want a next time with Edward Cullen.
As we walked out to the elevator, I felt a delightful prickle on my skin and looked down to see Edward's hand brush lightly against mine.
Bolstering my confidence, I reached out and took his hand in mine, reveling when he smiled and entwined our fingers together.
As we rode down the elevator, the air around us seemed charged with the same sparks that I felt flowing between us where our hands were connected. I gulped and breathed heavily, all the while wondering if he felt the same desire I did. To press my mouth against his and test if those lips of his were as soft as they looked.
Neither of us said anything, until Edward offered to walk me to my car once I told him that I'd parked a little further down the road in an alley.
By the time we reached there, still in silence, I was nervous.
Didn't he have a good time? Didn't he want to see me again?
All the breath left my lungs in a whoosh when I suddenly felt myself pinned against the wall, right next to my car. Edward's arms formed an inescapable cage around me and his warm breath washed over me as he leaned in to whisper in my ear.
"I had a great time, Bella. Thank you for spending the evening with me. And for teaching me about the right way to drink Coke." He chuckled, the rich, deep sound sending shivers down my spine and my heart sped as I raised my arms slowly, wrapping them around his neck.
"You're most welcome. And I had a wonderful time with you, too," I replied honestly.
"May I kiss you, Miss Swan?" It was a hypnotizing, seductive whisper and I couldn't have refused even if I'd wanted to.
And of course I didn't want to!
My voice cracked in anticipation.
He pulled back to look at me for a second and leaned in quickly. Before I knew it, his warm, soft lips were on mine, his fingers entangling in my hair and pulling me closer, pressing me against his hard, muscular form.
As if I was going anywhere.
All thoughts left my brain when he tilted his head slightly, opening his mouth and stroking my bottom lip with his sinful tongue. I gasped at the sensations he evoked in me, my lips parting and he took the opportunity to explore my mouth. I moaned when I met my tongue with his, stroking it languidly while his hands roamed over my back. He tasted like the sugary goodness we'd feasted on and I couldn't get enough of him.
We broke apart only when breathing became absolutely necessary, gasping and panting as he pressed his forehead to mine.
I opened my eyes to find his closed. I watched as his eyes squeezed shut for a few seconds, opened suddenly and gazed deeply into mine until I was lost in their emerald depths.
A strange expression overtook his face and he mouthed something to me. I couldn't understand what he'd said or why his demeanor had changed so suddenly.
I was about to verbalize my confusion when I felt a sharp sting at the side of my neck. My hand flew up instinctively and I caught his hand there. It held an object.
My eyes widened in abject terror as I looked up at his face. As a dull, sleepy wave slowly overtook my senses, I couldn't comprehend the emotion that his features held.
My head swam as I fought desperately to keep awake, but I knew in my heart that it was a futile effort and seconds later, I felt his arms around me again. This time, though, they were trying to hold me steady as my body swayed, totally out of my control.
That same undecipherable expression in his eyes was the last thing I saw before my world dissolved into darkness.
What the hell had Emmett gotten me into?
A/N- Thank you for every single review for my entry in the contest. I cherish all your thoughts, your threats, your requests, your compliments and your criticism.
YES, THIS STORY WILL DEFINITELY BE CONTINUED.
I have the outline all worked out, now it is a matter of writing the chapters. That said, my current WIP- Start Over- remains my first priority until it is completed. (It has about 6-7 chapters remaining)
After that, I will dive head on into this story.
I hope you will bear with me until then and stay tuned for more. Keep me on alerts if this chapter has intrigued you and made you want more.
Once again, thank you for your comments in the contest. My story didn't win, but participating has been worth it simply because I got to read so many people's opinion on my plot and characters.