Disclaimer – Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight –
I just like to get weird with her characters.
Much love and thanks to my beta love, Carrie ZM, and my wonderful pre-readers,
Planetblue and Robsmyyummy Cabanaboy for all the time you've put into this fic.
Writing with you girls is always a blast!
"Knock, knock." I look up to see my office nemesis, Jessica, darkening my cubicle entry. Unsurprisingly she doesn't knock, nor does she wait for confirmation to enter before barging in, but she is carrying a cupcake, so I'll allow it. "I didn't see you at the stand-up meeting." She makes a pouty face and offers up said cupcake. "So I just wanted to bring you this and tell you goodbye."
"Aww, thanks so much," I say, trying to conceal my joy that she'll no longer be working here after today. "I'm so sorry I missed it. I've just been swamped." I quickly minimize the Buzzfeed quiz on my screen, though I'm dying to know which Real Housewife I am. "So you're heading out?"
"Yeah," she sighs and plops down in the chair across from me. Her eyes wander over my cube, silently judging my space with a cocked brow. "I'm going to miss it here, but I just couldn't pass up this opportunity."
And here we go. "I'll bet." I slowly pull the wrapper from the cupcake and wait for her to launch into all the perks of working at a real publication.
"I mean, this job was so fulfilling. I've learned so much and I feel like I've really made a difference."
I nod emphatically, totally in agreement that she actually thinks she's advanced womankind and revolutionized cocksucking with her Blowjob Boot Camp articles. Surely Millennials everywhere are rejoicing in their newfound knowledge that humming the song from Star Wars while giving head will make them exponentially more datable according to her extensive research.
"But as much as I love it here, I need a change."
When she says 'a change', I suspect she really means 'a benefits package' which she quickly confirms by the casual mention of her 401(k) savings plan and flexible spending account. I shove the cupcake in my mouth to stop myself from saying something shitty like 'have fun working for the man'. The sweet frosting of the cupcake only adds to my bitterness when I realize it's from a legit bakery and not made by the office smoker whose baked goods typically come with a hint of ash and a coating of cat hair.
"There's just so much opportunity for growth. I had to go for it."
"Of course you did," I say, hoping that my words don't sound as condescending as I intend them.
"I knew you'd get it."
We sit in awkward silence for a moment before she stands and throws her arms out like she wants a hug. "Well, I guess this is goodbye."
More like good riddance. I stand and go in for my typical three pat hug. The one, two, three and release, but no, she's a rocker. She gets me in her kung-fu grip and refuses to let go until we look like we're slow dancing. Thankfully my phone rings, and I swear I've never been happier to take a call in my life.
"I need to take this." I sound positively giddy, maneuvering out of her hold. "Good luck!"
"Let's do lunch!"
Never gonna happen. "We should, that'd be fun."
She holds her fingers up to her ear and mouths the words 'call me' when I pick up the receiver.
I give her the OK sign in lieu of the finger and wave as she trots out of the cubicle.
"This is Bella."
"You're welcome," says a familiar deep male voice.
He laughs as I stand on my tiptoes to look over the sea of cubicles trying to locate my roommate. "Conference room."
Whipping around, I see him sitting at the glass-enclosed room across from my cube with an amused smirk on his face before hanging up and making his way over.
"To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" He places a cup of coffee and a small bag in front of me which makes me instantly suspicious. "And with gifts?"
Sitting down, he leans back into the chair and drums his fingers on the arm rests. "Can't I bring my best friend a latte and a scone just because?"
After five years of friendship, three of which spent as his roommate, I know all of his tells and if his inability to sit still and too cool exterior is any indication, I'd say Emmett's nervous. "I suppose," I say cautiously, wrapping my hands around the coffee cup, "since I've barely seen you the past few weeks."
He rubs his hand across the back of his neck, wincing a bit. "I know. Figured I should show my face before you put me on the back of a milk carton."
"Nah." I wave my hand and give him a wink. "The toilet seat was up and you left your dishes in the sink. I knew you were still alive."
"So listen," he says with an enthusiastic clap before resting his elbows on his knees. "How about we go out tonight?"
I shake my head. "Can't. I'm busy."
"Doing what, trawling Tumblr for Outlander porn?"
"That hardly qualifies as busy. C'mon, we'll grab some dinner, hit up a party."
"Pass. I'm not really interested in watching you and your friends doing burpee competitions all night."
"It's not that kind of party; it's more like a soirée."
"A soirée." My words come out with a bit of a chuckle. "Since when do you do soirées?"
"I don't," he starts, rubbing his hands together and stilling his bouncing knee. "I mean, I didn't, but …" The biggest grin breaks out over his face and he looks up at me just beaming. "I've met someone."
"And I want you to meet her."
"Emmett," I sigh, leaning back in my chair and remembering all of the issues and mishaps we've had over the years with his girlfriends. "Isn't it a bit early for her to meet me? I mean, didn't we agree after the kiss-cam debacle with Maggie that we should wait like a minimum of three months before your girlfriends meet me?"
Nodding his head, he laughs. "We did, but this one's different."
"I doubt it. You, my friend, have a type."
"No I don't."
"Lemme guess, she wears full makeup to workout, takes gym selfies and posts them on Instagram with hashtags like thigh gap and skinny girl problems." He chuckles at my apt description of every girl he's dated in the past two years because he knows it's true. "I mean it's totally fine that chicks that look like Skeletor do it for you."
"She doesn't look like Skeletor," he mutters, crossing his ankle over his knee.
"Oooh." My grin widens as I steeple my hands and waggle my fingers together with unrestrained glee. "Is she a big booty Judy?"
"Rose," he corrects unable to hide his smile.
"A big booty Rose. I see."
"Just Rose and she doesn't have … well, I mean she does have a great ass, but she's a—" he stutters over the last part of the sentence. "She's great." He looks up at me, eyes pleading. "And she's important."
That word hangs there for a moment as I don't recall Em ever using that word to describe a girl he's dated before. "I've been interested in her for months, but I thought she'd be creeped out by her trainer hitting on her. We did the friend thing for a while and a few weeks ago she asked me out, so … yeah."
"So what I'm hearing is that she has a great ass and bigger balls than you."
We laugh and he relaxes into his seat. "Probably. She's just, I don't know, different. She's fun and weird and crazy smart."
"What does she do?"
"She's like a pharmacist or some shit."
"Well she sounds great."
"So you'll come to the party tonight to meet her?"
He gives me a look and shakes his head. "I didn't want to have to do this, but …" Leaning across the desk he points to a small scar just above his eyebrow. "Remember this?"
"How could I forget you getting your ass kicked by two chicks in a parking lot?"
"I was defending your honor."
"Uh, the way I remember it, you were defending yourself."
"Wrong. Let the record show, I was the only dude at that chick fest."
"It was a Justin Timberlake concert, but go on."
"I was just trying to be nice when I asked that guy how much he squats."
"Yes well, she didn't take it as a compliment."
"How was I to know? She was wearing a flannel and had bigger lats than me."
"You called her dude."
"I call you dude all the time. Listen," he pauses and places his hand over his heart like he's about to drop some inspirational shit on me. "Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge feminist. I even have a t-shirt."
"It says 'I like women on top.'"
"Exactly," he gestures towards me, "and you're welcome. But let's get down to brass tacks here. When her girlfriend started swinging her purse, did I or did I not jump in front of you and take the purse buckle to the brow?"
"You did and I love how you make it sound like it was a bullet."
"However." I hold up a finger. "You've used the scar to guilt me several times already. I'm afraid it's no longer valid."
His brows furrow in confusion. "What? When?"
"Uh, let's see. Two years ago when you guilted me into shaving your back before spring break and every vacation since. Last month, when you had me go buy you hemorrhoid cream. Tuesday morn—"
"Fine. I got it. I just thought saving that gorgeous face of yours would earn me a little more leeway." He winks and for a split-second, his flattery almost works.
"I've saved you quite a few times too, buddy."
"Remember when you were going to get the word reckless tattooed across your back in Cabo?"
"Not this again. You're like the only person on earth who knows that reckless isn't spelled with a 'w' for Christ's sake."
"No," I drag the word out, "but I was the only person in that tattoo parlor who knew the correct spelling."
"Whatever." We're quiet for a moment before he claps his hands again. "So you'll come with me tonight?"
"Come on, B! It's on a rooftop; there'll be appetizers and music."
I shake my head. "No thanks."
"And there'll be booooooze," he sings the last word and follows it up with the clincher. "Open bar, all night long."
I pretend to mull it over. "Fine, what time and what do I wear?"
"Yes!" He pumps his fist. "Wear all black and we'll head over around eight."
"Sounds good." I open the bakery bag, excited to see my favorite lemon scone. "And for future reference, maybe next time, lead off with the open bar, it'll save you the verbal sparring."
"Good to know."
"Thanks for the pastry by the way, it was a nice touch." I rip off a piece of the scone and pop it into my mouth before tearing off another. "I'm like starving over here."
Confusion colors his features again. "Dude, I just saw you eat a cupca—" I silence him with a look. "I mean, you're welcome."
"Keep the change," Em tells the cabbie and holds the door open for me.
As I slide out of the car, I notice we're in one of the new up and coming neighborhoods where old factories are being renovated into open office work spaces and luxury lofts. "Where's the party?"
The cab pulls away as Emmett jerks his chin across the street. "Over there, where Rose works."
The building looks similar to the others with its brick front and industrial style windows. The only difference is that the first floor windows are completely frosted apart from the small green leaves etched into the glass of the French doors. Now the large letters THC hovering over the entrance make perfect sense.
"What the fuck," I mutter under my breath and turn on Emmett, pinching him hard above his elbow. "You brought me to a pot shop?"
"I thought you said she was a pharmacist."
"I said she was like a pharmacist. Big difference."
"You lured me here under false pretenses."
"I lured you here with booze, which is right up there," he points to the rooftop then offers his arm, "and it's still free I might add."
"This so isn't my scene," I say, linking my arm with his as we cross the street.
"Quit clutching your pearls, Prudence." He gives me a wink. "Live a little."
We head around to the back of the building where an impeccably dressed man ushers us in and directs us to take the freight elevator to the fifth floor, then take the roof access stairs on the right. Emmett barely has the elevator cage shut before I start in.
"For the record, there was no pearl clutching. I'll have you know I've dabbled recreationally." I cross my arms over my chest. "Once."
"Fine, no pearl clutching."
"Thank you." I nod, albeit a bit smugly, reveling in my vindication.
He holds his thumb and forefinger an inch apart. "But your Charlie Swan is showing a little bit."
"Whatever. You know I can't help it." My lips twist to the side because I know he's right. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to conceal the paranoid cop kid inside of me. I notice he's fidgeting again, straightening his clothes and blowing out a deep breath. "Nervous?"
"Why? It's just me. I mean, I know I can be mean and stuff, but deep down—"
"You're mean and stuff."
"Ass." I go for another pinch but he dodges me.
"Kidding, but I really want you to like her."
"I'm sure I will." Hopefully. "As long as she doesn't start peddling her handmade hemp necklaces and cannabis scented soaps to me."
Huffing out a laugh, he shakes his head. "She's nothing like that. Trust me, you'll love her. And this place," he gestures at the walls, "this is where she works. It's just a job." I nod. "It's what she does, not who she is, you know?"
All his lecturing and vagueness has my head spinning as we climb the stairs to the roof. I'm picturing a faceless Rose wearing a floor-length tie-dye skirt with an armful of old festival wristbands and tufts of hair under her armpits. What I'm not expecting is the statuesque blonde making her way across the rooftop, beaming at my best friend.
"Wow," I breathe.
"I know. Swanky, right?" Em asks, looking up at the grid of hanging lights against the sky. "You'd never expect that all this was up here."
"I meant your girlfriend. She's like—"
"I know." He takes a few steps towards her, holding his hand out. "Hey beautiful." Pulling her close, he pecks her on the cheek and whispers something against her skin before looking at me. "Bells, this is Rose."
"Hi," she extends her hand, smiling brightly with her eyes twinkling beneath her flawless Adele eyeliner, "it's so good to finally meet you!"
Her grip is strong, but not in a menacing way like his girlfriends before. Those chicks were sending a message, this one not so much. "It's great to meet you, too."
"Why don't you two go find a seat and I'll grab some drinks," Emmett offers, motioning to the bar.
"Ooh, good call." She presses a hand to her chest. "I'll have a vodka tonic. Bella?"
"Two vodka tonics—got it." He turns to leave when Rose speaks again.
"Ya know, better double up on that, I don't want you running to the bar all night. Bella?"
I smile at Em, thinking this one may be all right after all. "Same."
For the next thirty minutes, Rose and I gab nonstop. Emmett's right; this girl is nothing like the others. She's smart and sweet and she eats carbs which pretty much makes her Mary Poppins in my book. Practically perfect in every way, except for the whole running for fun thing. Apparently that's how she and Emmett got to know each other, training together to run a 10K. I make a mental note to find her on Instagram to see if they take those gym couple pics where they kiss above the chin-up bar and use questionable hashtags like fit couple or beauty and the beast mode.
"So we're thinking of doing a mud run in a few weeks," she mentions casually between sips of her drink. "You want to do it with us?"
"Bella doesn't run," Em chimes in, "she shuffles."
"I can run," I counter indignantly to which Rose smiles weakly, looking relatively unconvinced so I add, "I even have a treadmill."
"That she hangs her clothes on."
I'm about to give him the finger when the clinking of glasses rings out from across the rooftop. "They're here," Rose whispers, tapping Em's knee and pointing to the bar area. Em and I both look over to see a crowd forming, surrounding a striking blond man with a slender woman at his side. "That's Carlisle and Esme, the owners."
Polished and pressed from head to toe, the blond seems like he's a suit trying not to look like a suit with his casual stance and top button undone while the woman beside him appears a little less stiff with her flowing dress and wavy hair.
"Huh," Emmett blurts, studying the couple with a furrowed brow, "I expected them to be hippies."
"Pfft. No way," Rose scoffs. "Esme is a bit of a free spirit, but not Carlisle. Before this he was a hedge fund manager. He's actually a –"
I tune her out, focusing my attention on the younger, taller version of the Wolf of Wall Street sidling up to the couple. It's clear the men are related with their similar facial features and uncanny ability to work a suit. But for every likeness, they're vastly different. I can't quite put my finger on it.
"Who's that?" I ask just above a whisper, not really meaning to say it aloud.
Rose follows my gaze and smirks when she sees who I'm asking about. "That's Carlisle's brother, Edward." She lowers her voice. "But everyone calls him E.C."
The clinking stops altogether as Carlisle steps forward and the partygoers quiet down to hear him speak.
"This is an exciting time in the cannabis industry, my friends. The green rush is upon us and I am … confident," he pauses, letting that word hang there for a moment, "that The Healing Collective will soon be at the forefront of this movement." He slips his hand into his pants pocket and rocks back on his heels. "When I approached each of you, asking you to consider investing in this vision, I promised you that THC would have an edge." Shifting, he faces the other side of the rooftop. "I … assured you that our establishment would be the premier dispensary for medicinal and recreational cannabis in the state. Did I not?"
I notice several of the guests nodding to which he smiles wolfishly. "Exclusivity, my friends, it has its merits." Lowering his head, he takes a few steps and places his hand on his brother's shoulder before looking out to the crowd again. "And thanks to this young man right here, not only will THC breed, grow, and sell the most potent strains on the market today; we will also be the sole distributor of his future Cannabis Cup winning strain."
"Ladies and gentlemen, please raise your glasses," he continues, stepping forward and holding his beer bottle high above his head. "To all the green on the horizon." There are some hoots and hollers and laughter from the crowd. "The green that'll line our pockets and the green that will put us on the map, THC's very own hybrid marijuana strain … E.C. Kush."
A/N: *Lay and Carrie ZM wave frantically* Hi all! It's been a while, but we're back with a quickie. Updates will be every Thursday night until complete.
Huge love and thanks to my fellow Admins at The Lemonade Stand for teasing Kush on their Sneak Peek feature. I appreciate it, pals!
Lots of great fics out there right now, but here's a couple we're loving. Time to let it WIP!
Dark Thing Make a Myth of Yourself by bicyclesarecool - *swoons* Check this one out peeps – you'll love this starry-eyed Edward so, so much.
Island Nights by Compass54 - *twirls* A bad boy gone good and done right by our fandom love from down unda', Compass54. Don't miss it, pals!
We're always looking for new fics to read - make sure to let us know which WIP is owning you these days.
Thanks for reading!