The Poor Writer's Travel Diary
Summary: "Travel the world with me, Bella. Let me show you what it has to offer." Some search for love. Some search for a story. Some search for a love story.
Fiddling with a plastic hotel card, heavy in my hand, I wonder how on earth I have gotten to this point in my life: 23, single, four novels out, no bestsellers (though I must admit, two of them have acquired quite a cult following), and victim of the writer's block to end all writer's blocks.
I sink back into the plush sofa chair in the middle of the lobby of the Savelli. Even in the morning, it's busy with rich business men and women. A quick glance around me at my lavish surroundings makes me hum in contentment.
I can't focus on that, though. I haven't written a word in the past month.
No, that's a lie.
I've written a lot of words, but they've all been deleted, erased, scratched out, or otherwise disposed of. Most of them are on crumpled-up pieces of paper lying around my bed back home, and getting out of bed without a nasty paper-cut is like an early morning game of hopscotch.
And when writing is your career and the only thing that funds your shoe obsession, words can't wait a month to be written.
…which is why I'd decided that a vacation from sunny, peaceful Pasadena was exactly what I needed. I'd considered a lot of places in looking for inspiration - Chicago, Seattle, Austin…
All I'd known was that I needed a big city (my pitiful attempt at getting inspired). I thought that the fast-pace life of the people around me would push me to get my ass into gear and start writing.
When one of my best friends and old college roommates suggested that I come visit her in New York City after New Years, I figured…why not?
Alice had moved out here a year ago to pursue her realtor dreams and was now pretty successful, knocking down 'For Sale' signs for penthouses left and right. She now lives in a penthouse herself, along with her fiancé of two years.
I sigh heavily and glance at my watch which reads 11:47. Alice is late.
Deciding to wait for her at the restaurant, I grab my bag and get up, running straight into someone in my hurry.
New York is already rubbing off on me.
"Shit," I hiss as I stumble, nearly tumbling to the ground. My bag falls heavily to the ground, my phone slipping out of it and onto the marble floor.
Hands grab my hips and steady me by holding me close to a hard chest. "Are you alright?"
The voice is smooth and low, and has me looking up curiously. Deep green eyes meet my gaze. They're set against defined cheekbones and a sharp jaw, surrounded by a mane of perfectly coiffed dark brown hair. Broad shoulders draped in a crisp suit taper into long arms and large hands which are still burning holes through my jacket and jeans into my skin.
I take a deep breath and step back. "Yes." I hold my voice firm. "I'm sorry about that."
One corner of his lips quirk upwards in a half smile. "No worries." He cocks his head slightly to the right and studies me. His gaze is…burning. It's sort of like staring straight into the sun.
Suddenly he breaks contact with me and reaches down to grab my bag and phone. His fingers linger on my hand as he hands them both over to me and I fight the sudden urge to shiver.
"Thanks." I smile briefly, turning my phone over in my hands.
"It's not broken, is it?"
A glance up at him finds him nodding at my phone. "Oh, no, it's fine. It's nothing this phone hasn't been through before." I chuckle wryly.
His lips pull up in a half-smile and his eyes take me in quickly from top to bottom. "Well take care. I wouldn't want you…or your phone getting hurt."
He steps aside to let me pass.
For a moment I simply stare at him, a little stunned that he would make a statement like that to a stranger. It's pretty obvious to me that he's flirting, but it throws me off guard to hear him do it so casually. I wonder vaguely how arrogant one has to be to do something like that.
His half-smile widens into a smirk when I keep staring at him, and it's just as good-looking as the rest of him.
I shake my head at his blatant arrogance and chuckle before striding past him.
Readjusting my bag on my shoulder, I walk away from him as confidently as possible towards the hotel restaurant at the other end of the lobby. I slow as I near the host's booth, furrowing my brows.
I glance back at where we'd just been standing, but the man is nowhere to be seen. I can't lie, I'm attracted to him. He interests me.
"Bella, over here! On your right! Bella!"
Heads turn to look at the woman screaming my name. Wearing a chic trench coat and a wide grin, Alice squeals and envelopes me in a big hug when I walk over to her. I smile into her shoulder and hug her back tightly. She can embarrass the hell out of me, but she's like a sister.
Her eyes are bright when she lets me go. "Let's go get our table and you can tell me all about how you need a writer's block to come and visit your best friend."
"Tell me again why you never use your real name for your books." Alice dabs at her lips with her napkin.
"Novels," I correct pretentiously. "And I want them to be successful on their own. I don't want my name to influence how they do."
She rolls her eyes. "You really think that anyone's going to tie you to your mom?"
I grimace. "I'm not taking that chance. I don't care that she's an heiress. I do care that she's an awful parent who ran out on her family at the first chance she got."
"Fair enough." Alice knows better than to push me on that subject. "Another drink before dessert?"
I hesitate. "I shouldn't. It's not even two." I have no idea where this responsibility came from all of a sudden.
She just shushes me and waves a waiter over. "Two more glasses, please." She lightly taps her glass of chardonnay as an indication.
I stare at her, walking a thin line between amusement and exasperation.
Her blue eyes widen in innocence and she tucks a lock of pitch black hair behind her ear. "What? Don't act like you don't want it. Besides, we have to celebrate you finally being in New York."
I groan as she picks up her newly-topped glass and motions for me to do the same.
"To your first time in the east coast and a much needed break from the constant stress you put on yourself."
We clink and drink deeply.
Our desserts arrive a minute later and we're both momentarily distracted.
"You do realize that this isn't a vacation for me, right? I mean, I'm doing this to get myself inspired to write. I can't be here just to have fun." I pluck up my dessert spoon.
"Oh calm down, Debbie Downer, it's not all that bad. At least you're doing it, you know? You're really writing. A writer is all you ever wanted to be and, well…here you are."
I hum around a spoon of panna cotta and shrug. "I guess. Something about it doesn't feel right, though, like I've just completely missed the ball."
Alice studies me. "What's that supposed to mean?"
I sigh. "Well, I'm writing, but…I'm not. I'm not writing about anything significant. It's just page after page of what my editor thinks will sell."
"I hate your editor," she groans. "James is such an asshole and he never lets you write what you want. Not to mention, he's kind of a perv."
I snort, not disagreeing. My spoon circles the edges of my cup, making sure to gather the last of the vanilla goodness. "What about you? Last I heard, you were selling houses to the stars."
"Now you know I can't mention any names." Her grin is wicked.
"Oh come on, I'm your best friend!" I laugh.
"Well, let's just say that he isn't an officer, but I have proof that he is a gentleman."
She just smirks.
The waiter comes over with the bill and I quickly pay it before she can protest. We make our way back to the lobby, where Alice pauses and reaches into her bag.
"Now, don't get mad, but…I bought you a late Christmas present."
"Oh, calm down. It's not even that big." She hands me a beautifully-wrapped rectangular box.
I take it and shoot her a grateful, curious smile. "What is it?" I shake it lightly.
"Telling you what it is would defeat the purpose of wrapping it, wouldn't it?" She rolled her eyes playfully. "Open it back in your room."
I grin and place it carefully in my bag. She grabs me and pulls me into another warm hug.
"I'm really happy that you're here, Bella. I know that you're here to get a job done, but don't forget to have fun." She pulls back to look at me. "Remember that short story you wrote for me when we got drunk right before finals in freshman year?"
I snort. "How could I forget?"
"You edited it the next morning and it was the first story you ever really wrote." She shoots me a meaningful look. "Do you see what I'm saying?"
"I think I do."
"You want me to get drunk and pump out a New York Times bestseller."
"Ha." She grins at me and shakes her head. "You're such a dork."
"But I love 'ya. Which is why we're going out for drinks tomorrow night. No excuses." She interrupts the protests at the tip of my tongue. "So take it easy today and get prettied up for that."
She waves and before I know it she's strutting off towards the doors.
"Bye." I pause. "Wait - you think I need a day and a half to get pretty?"
She just blows me a kiss and hands the valet her ticket.
The room I'd picked was just a standard single, but it feels like a suite. The bed is large and lying down on it makes me feel like I'm sinking into a cloud. The bathroom is luxurious, with a large bath and a shower room - just the way I like it. Not to mention the warm lighting throughout the room makes me want to just lie back with a glass of rosé and a good book.
No time for that though.
I set up my laptop on the desk with a blank word document.
"Let's do this," I mutter, rubbing my hands together as I sit down. I take a deep breath and rest my hands on the keyboard.
Inspire me, New York.
Ten minutes later, I sit back and stare woefully at the blinking cursor - the only sign of life on the page. Meanwhile, my phone has been going crazy with beeps and rings from WhatsApp and Facebook (probably from friends back home wanting to know how New York has been so far) on the other side of the desk.
My fingers itch for it.
"Oh, screw it."
I snatch up the phone and after a few minutes of reassuring people that I'm still alive, and pretending to have more fun than I actually am, I set the phone done. My gaze returns to my computer screen and that damn blinking cursor.
A few more minutes of zero progress finds me rummaging through the minibar searching for those little mini bottles of Jack Daniels. I pop the cap and take a large gulp, grimacing slightly.
I've always been more of a wine girl.
I walk back to my desk, with every intention of writing, when something shiny sticking out from my bag lying on the bed catches my eye. Reaching in, I pull out Alice's present. I set my bottle down on the desk and rip off the wrapping paper to reveal a beautiful brown leather journal. On the front cover, engraved in gold lettering are the words: Bella's Thoughts.
With a big smile I flip the page, a note falling out. I quickly catch it and notice Alice's neat penmanship.
If you can't write, no one can. - XO, Alice.
I take another swig of Jack Daniels as I sit and uncap a hotel pen. I gently bend the spine of the book to break it in and begin to write.
Date: January 2nd
Location: New York City
Motivation to Write: Nonexistent
Eight hours, one mini bottle of Jack Daniels, a shower, a room service club sandwich, and one infuriatingly blank word document later, I decide to call time of death on writing for the night. I do this by closing my laptop and flipping the TV on to the TLC channel.
I don't sit down, though.
Sometime in my fifth hour of procrastination, I'd flipped through a hotel book lying on the desk that advertised the bar downstairs and had decided that drinking in public was less sad than drinking alone in my room. If only to people-watch and get inspired, I have to get out of my room.
I get dressed, grab my bag, my new journal, and make my way out of my room before my Jack Daniels buzz wears off.
As I get out of the elevator in the lobby, my phone rings. Glancing at the caller ID, I sigh and answer.
"Yeah, 'hi'. You couldn't call your own brother to tell him you landed?"
My boots clack on the marble floor all the way to the bar. "Ah, I don't know what to tell you, Em, I was a little preoccupied. This writer's block is completely screwing with my life."
"I think it's the best thing that's ever happened to you."
"You heard me. When have you ever made a spontaneous cross-country trip before? I like this new girl. I think this is good for you."
I scowl. "Easy for you to say. Have you ever tried to force creativity? It's about as fun as a root canal."
"Okay, Debbie Downer."
"Why is everyone calling me that?" I resist the urge to stomp my feet like a five-year-old as I enter the lounge and make a beeline towards the bar. "Have you been talking to Alice?"
"If she's been saying it too, maybe you should listen. Let your hair down, cut loose and all that."
This conversation needs to end. "Okay, Emmett. I'm getting into an elevator, I'll talk to you later." I end the call before he can protest and plop myself down on a bar stool, hanging my bag on the rod in front of me.
"Welcome to the Savelli bar and lounge, Miss. Can I get you anything?"
I smile widely at the tall, dark-haired bartender. I won't lie - he's good looking."Yes. Please. I'll have a martini, dry."
"Right away." He smiles and retreats to make my drink.
I take the opportunity to look around. The lounge is busy, but not overly crowded. Few people sit at the bar like I do, most seeming to prefer the large plush looking couches and tables at the other end of the room.
"Here you are, Miss." The bartender places a tall glass in front of me and shoots me a grin.
"Thanks." I smile back. I think it's flirtatious, but it's been so long since I tried, that for all I know he could just think I have a bad twitch.
He leaves to tend to another customer and I reach into my bag and pull out my journal and a pen. I glance around a little at the people sitting at the tables before uncapping my pen.
Still waiting for inspiration to strike. New York is beautiful, of course, but I need a story and I don't think I'm going to find it in a hotel bar.
I pause and glance up at my drink. I take a long sip. I grab my pen.
…but it's worth a shot.
I cap my pen and unceremoniously plop both it and my journal down on the bar, swapping them for my drink and my phone.
The last of my drink trickles down my throat. I wiggle around in my seat a little, acknowledging the nice buzz that I have going. I look around for the bartender, but he's nowhere to be seen. In his place is a young woman, but she seems to be focused on two guys sitting at the opposite end of the bar.
I drum my fingers on the bar a little impatiently.
A man suddenly moves into my view behind the bar. He reaches for a bottle and a couple of glasses.
"Oh, hey - hi! Sorry, could I get another martini please?" I wave my hand to get his attention.
He turns and slightly startled, unforgettable emerald green eyes meet mine.
I drop my hand. "You."
His brows furrow slightly and the same crooked smile from this morning returns to his face. "You."
His smile widens and he takes a few steps towards me. "Hi." His voice is low and silky smooth and I'm a little grateful for the bar in between us.
Voices like that are responsible for bad decisions. And I don't need any help making bad decisions.
"You're a bartender here?" At his confused look I nod towards the bottle in his hand.
His eyes follow my gaze and he seems to understand. "Oh, that's not-," He pauses and glances up at me. I raise my brows expectantly. "I mean, yeah. Yes. I'm a bartender."
"Okay," I say slowly. He doesn't move, he just stares at me with that half smile. I wonder vaguely what he's doing as a bartender; with a face and body like that, he could model. "Well, were you taking those to someone?" I gesture to the bottle and glasses in his hands.
"They can wait." He sets them down on the counter behind him and turns to me with a grin. "Did you say you wanted a martini?"
I nod dumbly as he grabs my glass and sets about making me my drink. He never wanders too far away from me and my eyes follow his precise movements. He's shed the suit jacket from this morning. He has on a charcoal grey button-up, sleeves rolled up to reveal strong-looking forearms. His perfect hair is now slightly windblown, but I personally think it looks better this way.
"There you are." He places my drink in front of me with a grin, and rests his hands on the bar. "On the house."
I look up startled. "You don't have to do that."
"I want to."
Under his slightly intimidating gaze, I cave. "Okay. Thanks." I take a sip, enjoying the smooth feel.
"How do you like your drink, Bella?"
I nearly choke on my drink. I cough, trying to clear my throat, and he waits patiently with an amused smile on his face. "How do you know my name?"
He points to my journal next to me. "'Bella's Thoughts'," he reads aloud. "That's your journal, right? I just assumed."
"Oh, yeah." I clear my throat. "And my drink's great, thanks."
He chuckles. "Am I making you uncomfortable?"
He doesn't seemed troubled by the thought in the least.
"A little bit, yeah." I decide to go for blunt. I glance up at his stunning eyes and flawless smile and determine that his ego wouldn't bruise if I hit it repeatedly with a blunt axe.
"Why's that? You're the one who ran in to me this morning, and you're the one who asked me for a drink right now."
Casanova's got a point.
I set my drink down and look up at him, my confidence returning a little now that the initial shock of seeing him again has worn off. "To be fair, neither was on purpose."
"That's a shame." He smirks at my silence and sticks a hand out. "I'm Edward."
I place my hand in his and am slightly surprised to feel calluses poke into my skin. How many New York City bartenders have hands that reflect years of manual labor?
I am thankful that he doesn't try that cliché kiss on the back of the hand, though. A quick glance at his soft-looking lips makes me reconsider.
"What are you doing here in New York, Bella?" He folds his arms on to the bar counter and leans in on his elbows. He doesn't seem to care that the bar is getting a bit more crowded and people could use his help.
"Visiting a friend." I take another sip of my martini and his eyes follow my lips. I shoot him a knowing look when his gaze returns to my eyes.
His responding grin is unapologetic. "And what do you do?"
"You're a writer?" He leans forward in seemingly genuine interest. His eyes flicker to my journal.
I smile wryly. "I'm trying to be."
"So you're not published yet."
"I have four novels out." His brows furrow in confusion. I bite my lip and fiddle with the stem of my glass, reluctant to go into this with anyone, let alone a stranger. "I don't like what I'm writing, so I don't count them."
He frowns. "Why are you writing things that you don't like?"
I meet his gaze. "I wish I knew."
He studies my face carefully and leans forward. "Is that why you're in New York - to figure it out?"
"I guess so. I'm a little lost." I laugh humorlessly.
He smiles and reaches out to push a lock of hair behind my ear. His touch is gentle and it doesn't even feel like a come-on. It's hesitant but purposeful, like one stranger comforting another.
I think I stop breathing.
"Being lost isn't such a bad place to be." He tells me softly. "Don't pity yourself so much. Pity the poor bastards that have their lives figured out; they have nowhere to go."
My brows furrow and for some reason, what he says makes sense to me. I feel like I'm in a trance as he leans in even further, his hand still on my cheek. His breath washes over me, minty and cool. My heart should be beating a mile a minute, but it's surprisingly calm. Throwing caution to the wind, I lean in.
"Edward, where are our drinks? We've been waiting for ages; Seth's chewing on ice." A feminine voice shoves me out of my trance.
I immediately pull away and his hand falls from my face. The smooth jazz from speakers in the bar floods my ears again and I remember where I am.
"Sorry, Jess, I got distracted." I hear Edward say.
I glance to my right to see a beautiful brunette leaning on the bar. She's taller than me, with olive skin and stunning hazel eyes. She looks over at me when Edward gestures in my direction.
She smiles tightly, but not unkindly. "Sorry to interrupt."
"Um, no. Not at all." I grab my bag and shove my journal into it. "I actually have to get going."
"Have a nice evening."
I hop off my barstool and walk as fast as my boots and tipsy ass will allow me. As soon as I'm out of the lounge, I nearly sprint over to the elevators and jam the call button repeatedly.
"Bella, hang on a second!"
I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose before turning around to see Edward jog over towards me. He slows down and stares at me with a slightly confused expression.
"Why did you run out of there?"
I frown. "Why should I have stayed?"
He raises an eyebrow. "Because we were talking?"
"Oh, is that what we were doing?" I sigh when he crosses his arms and narrows his eyes at me. "Look, I'm not really myself right now. Like I said, I'm lost and I'm in a city that I've only seen in movies…not to mention, I've been drinking since one in the afternoon."
He chuckles a little at that.
I plow on. "You need to know that I don't usually kiss people on the same day that I meet them. I really need to focus right now and I don't think you're good for that. So thank you for the drink and for the advice, but I think we should just say goodbye."
In perfect timing, the elevator behind me dings to announce its arrival.
While I was speaking, Edward had shoved his hands in his pockets and had begun studying me with an amused smile. At the end of my rant, he takes a few slow, calculated steps towards me.
He fixes me with the same penetrating gaze that gave me chills this morning. "You really are something, aren'tya." He chuckles and shakes his head. He gives me one last once over.
Then he turns on his heel and walks off.
A/N: Canon, HEA, and no cheating. This story will be updated weekly until it reaches the end of Part 1; after a small break, the chapters of Part 2 will be updated similarly.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!