A/N: I have no idea what I'm doing. I once wrote one fic when I was 14 and that was the end of my writing career, but I couldn't resist trying this. It'll be angst-free and mostly ridiculous. Please let me know what you think, because as I said, I have no idea what I'm doing.
"Fuck. Nononononono! STOP!" The oranges I had just bought were currently leaving the grocery bag and falling down the stairs that led up to my apartment and they would not listen to my pleas to stay put. Perfect. Because today hadn't been quite craptastic enough yet.
My fruit was currently finding its way to the sidewalk and I would have to run and pick the damn oranges up in the pouring rain before they'd end up smashed or in traffic. I was definitely never going to buy any kind of ball-shaped food ever again. And I was late, so late, and Jake was waiting, and I was looking forward to talking to him almost as much as I was enjoying running after the freaking oranges.
Five minutes later, I had managed to save all but one of the damned fruit, having run after the damn things like a hunger crazed hobo. Still, five of my slightly-bruised oranges were now safely back in my possession, so I figured I could count that as a small personal victory. Hurray, I had made it. I am so awesome. I rule.
I am also twenty minutes late. Unpacking groceries, showering and putting on warm, dry clothes would have to wait. I turned on my laptop, quickly sought out Skype, and placed the call to Sydney, Australia.
"Babe! What the hell? Why are you so late… and wet…?"
I sighed at the handsome face of my far away lover. "Hey Jake. Bad day. Don't ask. How are you?"
He grinned his toothpaste-commercial-smile. "Just peachy, darling." I waited for more, but he said nothing else. The fact that he wasn't asking any follow-up questions meant that he was already high as a kite. He started grabbing some things that were off screen, but I already knew what it would be, and wasn't surprised as a joint appeared in his hand.
"How many of those have you had today?" I couldn't help but ask.
He lit the joint and took a drag before answering. "Uh, I dunno babe. Three? It's already like the middle of the day here, you know. Gotta get through college somehow!" He cackled, apparently thinking this was a hilarious thing to say, and that constantly being high was a perfectly legitimate way to spend your day. "Why do you ask anyway? You're not joining me?"
I had pretty much had enough of the whole stoner act months ago. When I came to Australia a year ago, I had been a curious twenty-year-old who had never done anything illegal or even a little bit naughty. Can't really break the law if your dad's Chief of Police, really. So once I arrived in Australia and met Jake and his merry band of crazy friends, I tried all sorts of things. Pot was nice and made me stress less, but I quickly got caught up in Jake's way of life, which basically meant being high most of the day. That was fun while it lasted, but as soon as I left the University of Sydney at the end of my semester's exchange period, I had figured out that I don't necessarily become a very interesting person when high. There was a lot of sleeping, mumbling, eating fast food, and lazing about. Watching Harold and Kumar on repeat, because we were all too lazy to get up and turn off the TV. Scarfing down weird Australian candy because we had the munchies. Did I mention the lazing about? Yeah, it did not bring out the most exciting part of me. So, back at UW, I'd left all of the Australian life behind me. Except for Jake. We said we were going to make the really really really long distance relationship work, and we'd both been optimistic at the beginning. Now, sobered up and back in Seattle, I was starting to have my doubts.
Jake the scatterbrained pothead didn't actually wait for an answer to his question and continued. "So what have you been up to today?"
"Uhm." I had nothing. I had literally done nothing of interest since we'd talked last. "Jake, we talked before you went to bed last night. That was 7 am for me. It's 6 pm now and all I've done is eat and study. I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about my day except that it rained and I dropped my groceries." This is the problem with Skyping so many times. There comes a point where so much of my life is spent on Skype that I don't actually have a life left to live outside of it. "I'm broke and am going to need to find another job. Probably something in the evenings."
"Ah but babe! We always chat in the evenings. Well, your evenings. My uhm… afternoons. And my middle of the nights. And holy crap this time zone thing is confusing."
Yeah, maybe you should stop smoking so much pot so you can actually use your brain properly, I thought. Once you can remember that Seattle and Sydney are 19 hours apart it's really not that hard to figure out the times.
I started steering towards the goodbye part of the phone call once I noticed Jake was more interested in satisfying his munchies than actually having a conversation. He didn't even notice me rolling my eyes at his incomprehensible mumbling and stuffing his face with cookies. "Right. I'm going out to look for a job. Bye, Jake. Love you."
"Bye, Bells! I love ya!"
Well, at least he wasn't distracted enough by his weed to say that. Small victories.
I wandered aimlessly around a part of town I wasn't too familiar yet, but there were lots of shops and restaurants that I was hoping would hire me. I already worked as a tutor and in a commercial call center, but college is really expensive and my noodles and fruit diet was starting to annoy the shit out of me. I needed a steady part-time job.
I passed a restaurant called The Rose that looked promising and figured I'd give it a try.
"Hi there! Welcome to The Rose. How can I help you?" a bubbly fake blonde girl asked me immediately after I stepped inside.
"Hi!" I tried to match her bubbly sound, hoping she'd mistake my lousy acting for enthusiasm. "I was wondering if you have any vacancies for waitresses? I'm looking for a job."
"Oh, that is totally awesome! I'm Jessica, by the way. I'll go get the manager for you, don't go anywhere!" And she hopped away. I'm not even exaggerating; she didn't really walk away, it was more like she was trying to impersonate a bunny.
"Hi, I'm Mike. I'm the manager," a blonde guy with a beer gut said in the direction of my cleavage.
"Hi, I'm Bella. I'm looking for a job, do you have any openings for waitresses?"
"Do you have any experience with waiting tables, Bella?" he asked my boobs.
"Well, no. But I learn pretty fast and I thought it would be good to build some experience in customer ser-"
"Right, right, that's all fine, Bella, you don't need the experience, I'm sure you'll learn!" he interrupted me with a wave of his hand. He still hadn't looked me in the eyes, but I figured if my boobs were going to get me a job this easily, it wouldn't be quite as amoral as sleeping my way up to the top, so I wasn't going to complain. I can handle pervy bosses as long as they look but don't touch, and let's be honest – my boobs are amazing.
Beer belly Mike suddenly looked away from said boobs to give my entire body a thorough pervy once-over and I tried not to shudder. Everything about this guy made me want to cringe. His beer belly was tucked into black pants with an outrageously flashy belt, with a buckle that I was pretty sure said "STUD" in diamonds – but I wasn't going to double check that by looking in the direction of his crotch. His black button-down shirt looked expensive but was probably bought when he weighed thirty pounds less; the buttons were straining against his chest and I was afraid the one trying desperately to spare the world a view of the biggest part of his stomach would snap any second. His blond hair was gelled back so much it looked overly shiny and greasy, and I wondered if he was trying to look like he was ten years younger than he really was.
"Well, alright, we can definitely use you around here. Would you like a tour?" He had already turned in the direction of Jessica, who was pouring drinks.
Considering this was pretty much the easiest way to get a job ever, I shrugged and followed him to the bar.
"This is my star worker, Jessica," Mike said while leering at her, and the way he said 'star worker' made me feel like he was trying to act like a pimp, talking about his most skilled prostitute. Jessica didn't seem to mind and beamed in Mike's direction. Okay then. I guess not everyone is as repulsed by Mike the Manager as I am. "Over there by table six – don't worry, you'll learn the table numbers soon enough – is Lauren. We have about fifteen different waitresses right now, and most of them are part-time so you won't meet all of them, except for Lauren, Jess and Tanya, who's not working today. They'll show you the ropes. Listen to them, they are VERY important people and they're going to teach you Very. Important. Things."
I didn't want to talk down the profession of waiting tables, because I wasn't sure at all that I'd be any good at it, but the stern way Mike finished his statement made me feel like he treated his work as if he was personally guarding Fort Knox, which seemed a little excessive. I managed to stay silent and nod, as we continued to the back, where the kitchen was.
"That's Tyler the sous chef, and Edward, the head chef." Mike pointed at the backs of two skinny guys who were far too busy yelling orders at each other and stirring things in pans and generally multi-tasking in a way I knew I would never manage to pull off in my own kitchen. The noise of the stove, the oven, the clanking of kitchenware and their mutual yelled-out orders almost drowned out Mike's introduction.
"Huh, I thought chefs were supposed to be really fat people!" I blurted out over the noise. Loudly.
That, of course, they heard, and both of them turned around, as my blush covered my cheeks. Spectacular, Bella. Awesome first impression. I looked at Tyler, a twenty-something African American guy, whose amusement was clearly showing in his face as he nodded at me and smiled. I grimaced as I tried to find the courage to look at the head chef in order to introduce myself properly. Biting my lip, I turned my head and found myself looking at the most amazing green eyed supermodel specimen of a man. He was clearly older than me – early thirties, perhaps? – and he looked at me with a swoon-worthy crooked grin and I swear his eyes sparkled, clearly enjoying my utter humiliation. But holy crap he was pretty.
"Hi, I'm Edward."
"Uhm. Hi. I mean, I'm uh… Isabella. Bella. I mean Bella. Call me Bella please." Because clearly, even introducing myself to this guy proved impossible.
It's a good thing I was still in love with my Jake, because this guy was so many things I shouldn't think about. At least ten years older than me, a successful chef to my lousy poor college student, probably married to some equally attractive supermodel, probably has a house filled with supermodel babies. Worst match on paper ever and why am I even thinking the word 'match'? Stop, Isabella. Think of Jake. Not this guy. Good thing I have Jake. Right.