Summary: Isabella Swan owns a bookstore. One fine evening, her eyes fall upon a magazine that sets her heart into overdrive and so does the person who bursts into her store… because you just know it when Edward Cullen enters a room.
Hey everyone! I hope you enjoy this story and have a great time reading it. It's a slightly different topic from what I was writing in my previous story and I hope you support me through this story as well. I was eagerly waiting to post this chapter and really can't wait for your thoughts about it! REVIEW and let me know.
THE OTHER WOMAN
DISCLAIMER: STEPHENIE MEYER OWNS IT ALL.
July 9, 2015
I am staring at him, watching him gradually make a move to roam over her body. The sun is scorching outside and my palms are getting sweaty watching him. I squirm in my seat as both are turning me on very much. I can hear the light murmurs of people around me but my attention is solely focused on him. I can smell the aroma of coffee wafting from some place as I sit on my chair but nothing is good enough to steal my attention.
It isn't porn. No.
It isn't some couple I'm watching.
It's this sexy highball glass, holding iced tea in it as a bead of precipitation is inching it's way closer to slide down. Who knew iced-tea was sexy? It looks too good to drink but the sweltering sun outside is making me restless to drink it. Just as I blink, the glass disappears. My eyes widen on their own accord. What just happened? I hear somebody snicker on my right and turn to glare at the familiar face. Holding my glass, he smirks at me.
"Were you even going to hump the glass later?"
"None of your business, Jake."
"Sure, is," He pulls a chair to sit next to me. "My sister is getting weird these days, I need to find out what's going on." I chuckle.
My dear little brother. Jacob is the best brother a girl can possibly ask for. Caring, understanding and attentive. A little immature sometimes and is always hungry. But doesn't matter, I guess.
Even though he is my brother, he looks nothing like me. Except for our brown eyes. I'm just 5'5 while Jacob on the other hand is six feet tall. I love cooking and he likes to eat, so the gravy trains never end. I love to read, he likes sports so the TV pretty much only contains sports channels. He is outdoorsy, very frank and incredibly blunt but I'm pretty much the curl-up-with-a-book-than-go-out-for-a-party kind of girl.
So typical. Right?
I can already imagine what my grave will read as I sit alone in my pathetic mess. Isabella Swan : Dating sense beyond crap.
"Is there something wrong with me?" I ask out loud and Jake chuckles.
"Here's some dating advice; don't be too conspicuous, men don't like that." I give him a big fake smile.
"Wow, that's a great advice," He grins. "You know what you should do?"
"You should go back to 1938 when the advice was last given." His expression turns soar and he stands up, keeping my iced tea back on my desk.
"Yeah, whatever. I've to go. I'll see you on Sunday?" Oh, god no.
"Um, actually, there is a new stock of―"
"No, Bells. I'm not listening to anything. You have to be there. Come on, everyone's going. Even Angela. Please?"
"What are we going to do? Just drink beer all day?" And watch the city get drunk.
"Pretty much." He winks. "I'll drag you from your apartment if that's what it takes. Now, I've to do a little shopping for suits." I frown and stand up too.
"Do you have enough cash or should I give you some?" I ask and my hand reaches for my purse. He is my responsibility. I should've handed him some beforehand.
"Bells, it's okay. I told you, I'm doing this on my own. You've already done so much. I have the money." He mumbles as he stares at his shoes and I know he's lying.
"How many suits can you buy from the money?"
"You'll be working there five times a week, how are you possibly going to survive on two suits?"
"A smile goes a long way."
"Not long enough." I grab my purse and pull out my only credit card. "Here, get whatever you want. You know what? Hang on," I look around and spot Paul flirting with some lady customer. Every time. "Paul?!" I call out and he quickly strides over to us.
"Hey, Jake. What's up, Bella?" He gives me a boyish smile. Yeah, he'll do.
"Do me a favor, Paul, you have a good taste in clothes, right?"
Paul scoffs. "Of course, Bella. What kind of question is that?" I roll my eyes.
"Silly me. Take Jake for some shopping. His internship starts tomorrow, he needs to look smart. Get a lot of shirts and ties, whatever guys wear to, you know, mix-and-match." I say awkwardly and Paul chukles.
"Don't worry, Bells. He's in good hands."
"Thank you." I smile at him grateful.
"Come on, Jake. Let's go, man."
Jake looks a tad reluctant as he stares at the card in his hand. I sigh. Why can't he just listen to me for once? He will need good clothes. He's going to be working at one of the top firms in the country. I am so proud of him.
"Jacob, go. Now." I point to the door and he gazes at me for a second.
"You've been saving this money for the past two years, I can't just use it on some clothes." How does he know this? Anyway.
"I'll be fine and I'd rather see my brother look dashing," He gives me a shy smile. "Get out."
"Listen to the boss, Jake." Paul adds, making me laugh.
"Okay, bye." Jake gives me a quick hug.
"I'll see you at dinner." I murmur and he nods.
I watch them both exit my store and let out a big sigh as I sit in my chair. I swivel the chair to turn and smile at the picture I stare at everyday. Her marble blue eyes glowing as the sunlight shines through her blonde locks. A carefree smile on her face, that looks just like Jacob's. Her memories have started to fade away, I'm pretty sure they'll be gone one day.
She was so beautiful. I feel a painful stab in my chest as I am reminded of my last memory of her. I can never recall the funeral. Grandma Swan said that I fell very sick knowing my mother would never be returning. I close my eyes and take a deep breath as bile rises up my throat.
I open my eyes and I'm four again, my memories have taken another flashback. I'm staring at my mother, who lies on the hospital bed, clutching her swollen belly with one hand, the other one holds my hand.
I tighten my grasp on my teddy, Lily, as I stare at my mother, who is gasping from pain. I lean on my tip toes and wipe away her tears, making her smile. She places a soft kiss on my hand, making me giggle because it feels a little tingly.
"Mommy, what happen now?" I ask and she strokes my face.
"Well, I'm going to get your little brother into this world." I give her a splitting grin.
"Really? He comes now?"
"Yes, then you'll have a brother."
"He knows me?"
"Of course he does, baby. You're his big sister. He remembers you." The door bursts open and doctors rush over to mom, checking her but she continues staring at me.
"Nana, we buy toys for my brother?"
I turn to stare at my nana, my most favorite person in the world. I see tears in her eyes and frown. Why is she crying? Is she having pain in her legs again? But she never cries. Nana is very strong.
"Of course. We'll buy him cars and trucks." I smile. Yes!
"Bella?" I turn to my mom. "Promise me something, honey." I nod. I should listen to mommy because she is in pain.
"Promise me, you'll take care of your little brother, help him, protect him and love him a lot." I will do that, because he's my brother. Silly, mom.
"I promise, mommy. Won't you be here with me?" I frown at her. Mom says a baby needs his mommy all the time.
"Renee, don't." I heard nana said quietly from behind me.
"Where are you going? I come with you?" Mom smiles through her tears.
"You can't, sweetie. You have to live a long, happy life. Fall in love, get married, have your own little babies." I wrinkle my nose.
"Boys are mean, mommy. I will not marry." She chuckles but winces when hurts.
"Okay. Now, promise me that you'll never forget me." I smile. Who can forget their own mommy?
"Mommy I never forget you, you'll be here with me, always."
"I'll miss you so much." Her voice sounded very different. That's not like my mom. My bottom lip quivers as I stare at her. She will go away now? Like daddy went to get groceries long ago and never got back.
"Mommy, don't go." I whimper and she wipes away my tears.
"Hey, silly girl. I'm not going anywhere," She places her hand on my heart. "I'll be here, always. I promise."
"I double promise. And don't be trouble for nana, okay?" I nod.
"We have to take her to the operating room, now." The man in the green clothes tell my nana, who starts to cry.
"Bye, Bella. I'll always love you. Take care of your brother for me." I nod and wave at her as she goes out of the room on the bed with wheels. I smile and stare down at Lily.
"Mommy is going to be fine and I'll get a little brother but I won't share him with you. You'll be mine every day." I kiss her and turn to nana.
"Nana, you hold Lily? I will go see mommy." I reach out to give my teddy and the memory fades away.
Just like that.
"Bella?" I turn when I hear Emily's voice.
"What are you opening? There are no drawers." I stare at my hands that have reached out for nothing. They were for my nana twenty three years ago. I place my hands on my lap and take a deep breath.
Enough. Enough for today.
I place a smile on my face and pivot the chair to where it was previously, facing the table. I look up at Emily who has a sympathetic smile on her face. I am not ready for anyone to give me pity looks!
"I know you don't like to talk about it. I understand." Is all she says and gives my shoulder a soft squeeze before walking away. I grabbed my cold glass of iced tea and take a swig. I sigh when the cool liquid runs down my deserted throat. Ah, that's good.
I study the store, there isn't much crowd today. Of course not. It's a Thursday. All I hear is the rustling of pages and clicking of heels from various corners. I open my desk drawer and grab the book I am currently reading.
I hear footsteps approaching me and I keep the book away. A woman in her early-forties is gazing at me with a kind smile. Her amber eyes are filled with recognition and familiarity. Why is she staring at me that way?
"Good afternoon, ma'am." I greet her as I take the three books from her hands.
"You own this store, don't you?" I smile and nod my head.
"Yes, ma'am." I make the bill quickly.
"Your grandmother used to talk about you all the time." My fingers freeze on the print button and I contemplate how the hell she knows my grandmother because I have never seen her.
"I'm sorry, do I know you?" She lets out a chuckle.
"No, I'm Chrissy. I used to come by here all the time when your grandmother owned it." I nod.
"Oh, she is used to be here all the time." I chuckle, as the past memories flood back.
"I know. I never thought you would keep the store the same way. That's why I stopped coming here. But it's still the same. I love it." I smile. I would change it if I had enough cash for that!
"Thank you very much. That'll be 68.50." I hand her back the change after she pays me.
"I'll see you again sometime. Thanks." I nod politely.
"Have a great day." I beam at her as she waves before leaving. She is a nice lady. Maybe I'll see her again at this store.
Sometimes strangers make us feel at home.
But, strangers are endearing because you don't know them yet.
I peer at the couple, two bookshelves away from me. The guy has his hand on her hips as they kiss feverishly. It's a book store for crying out loud! You can't kiss in here! Especially when I don't have a boyfriend and haven't had sex in four months!
I groan staring at them, to the point that I am almost fuming. This is not fair. I am not going to let someone make out this way because no one is allowed to. The only reason why I don't have cameras is that because it's not the place to kiss and even if somebody steals a book, they would get knowledge, Karma Sutra or not.
"Wow, that's so hot!" I hear Seth and Paul whispering as they ogle at the couple like I am, but for totally different intentions.
They are the only people here doesn't mean I'm just going to let them get away with this. No sense of privacy or responsibility. Plus, they were humping against the Toddlers isle, I'm not going to let them make one here.
I stomp over to Seth and Paul first but they are oblivious to me walking over. I clink their heads together and they groan softly. Both rub their heads and stare at me with an irritated expression.
"You shouldn't wear heels, it makes you tall like us." Seth murmurs and I pull hard at his ear. "Ow! Stop!"
"Keep the new stock in the store room and get the hell out of my store. Everybody has left, I'll escort the Humping Jacks out. Leave now. Both of you." Paul snorts as they make their way to the reception desk where the boxes lay. I check the clock hung on the wall to see it's almost six. I'll have to make dinner, because Jake will be starving as usual.
I stride over to the couple with a smile on my face. "Excuse me, lovers?" Both break off the kiss and stare at each other with wide eyes. "Over here." I make them look at me. "Yes, thank you for taking your tongues out of each other's mouths."
"It's none of your business." The girl, probably a high-schooler, mutters in my direction. I gape at her for a moment.
"It is my business because I own this store!" I yell and both wince a little. "Do you think this is some kind of library make-out spot? No. This is a book store. You can possibly buy a book about making babies, you don't make one here! Get out now!" I roar and both sprint away from my store.
Ugh. I can't get out my frustrations on strangers. Even though they can be shameless. I need to find myself a date. And soon. I am going crazy. My social life is like a sunny day in January. Not there.
I take a look around the CD and DVDs section as well as the magazine stack. I do a double-take in the magazine stack's direction and something catches my eyes. Oh my god. That's not possible. Is that for real? He looks like an angel. I walk closer to see it's the Forbes magazine and this handsome man is on the cover.
Copper hair in utter disarray and I wish I could just run my fingers through them. Emerald green eyes that are intensely staring at me, like they could see right through my soul. A perfectly angled nose, that could brush against mine if we ever kiss. That would be the best! High cheekbones and only if I could ever stroke them.
Holy shit, those lips.
The lips look so seductive, it made me sigh dreamily. They are so tempting and as is his jaw. So sharp and lickable. I bet he isn't for real! I reach out and touch the tips of my fingers over his lips on the cover.
He is wearing a crisp white shirt underneath his navy blue suit. Could he be more handsome? His smile though, stands out the most. Luscious lips curve into a smile that is slightly crooked and sexy enough to make my heart skip a beat. There was a quote next to his photo.
"Chicago should be the architecture capital of the United States".
Disappointment creeps into me. He is from Chicago. When the hell will I go to Chicago? But I can drag Jake with me just so I could see this hunk once in my life. Is he really that handsome or is it that I just have never gone with an attractive guy?
Pfft! It's the first one. Of course I have dated charming guys. Like Mike Newton and Eric Yorkie. They are cute but I haven't seen them since a long time. I turn away from the photo that is leaving me all hot.
My eyes widen and heart starts to pound when I hear heavy footsteps approaching. Fuck. My phone is at the reception desk. Was it like a looter or someone because I know the person is wearing shoes. Looters wear shoes, right?
"Excuse me? Is this store open?" I hear a male voice ask.
A soft, velvety male voice. I could just curl up to it. I snap out of my stupor. What if it is a bald, fat-bellied middle-aged man? If he is a looter, he wouldn't ask this now, would he? Of course he is asking, there is no one around. Maybe if I stay silent, he'll just walk out. I am not ready to deal with a customer. I just want to go home, have dinner and go to sleep. I can stay here late tomorrow because it's Friday. I should go back to staring at my imaginary boyfriend.
I turn on my heels and stumble right into the stack. I facepalm myself internally. How stupid can I possibly be? I think I have my answer now as I hear the guy exhale loudly and his footsteps get closer to me.
I grasp the stack and steady myself as my heart is in my mouth. I am too embarrassed to even go and have a conversation with that man. I just made a complete fool out of myself. He knows I'm here. Not me exactly but someone is here.
"Excuse me, ma'am? Can I expect you to possibly help me? I'm in a bit of a rush." Ah, that voice.
Time to face the music.
I turn and freeze right there. I'm an immobile statue of self-gratification. What goes around comes around. This can't be possible. He is not here. It's just my imagination. He's going to disappear now. I'm seeing this guy just because I was staring at his photo in the magazine.
I watch him run a hand through his copper hair and god do they look hot. His green eyes are regarding me weirdly. Of course they are, I am frozen in my stance. His mouth is set in an impatient grim line. Although his suit is different. His white shirt is tucked inside his gray fancy pants while the jacket is draped over his arm.
He works out. I know it. His shirt is rolled up until his elbows and I wish I could just jump into his arms. But, he is a stranger. Yes, he is. He is from Chicago, right?
"Um, miss? Are you okay?" I can hear a tinge of concern in his voice. He is worried about me!
No, I have to answer. But if I talk, he will disappear. That is what happens to my imaginary boyfriends.
"Why are you―no… Aren't you supposed to―not my busin―how, how may I help you?" I finally stammer out and am rewarded with a breath-taking grin. I know my heart is hyperventilating. I can practically hear the Feng Shui bells ringing in my ears.
"Excellent, so you work here. I thought I was angrily stomping towards some customer." He lets out a musical chuckle and I couldn't help smile. He is so adorable.
"I'm sensing you are here to buy books and are running late. So do you need some assistance?" His smile disappears and he nods seriously.
"Yes, of course. It's my mother's birthday, we have a party in forty five minutes. I forgot to get her a gift. This was the nearest store open and all I need is a good book."
"Um, okay. Any specific kind of book you're looking for, sir?"
"I don't think we have a book with that title." He chuckles, making my heart soar. "Right, Edward." What a gorgeous name. You know a guy is good when he laughs even when your joke is lame.
"I have no idea what to get her. She already has so many books, mostly novels." He really looks lost. I can help.
"Well, maybe you should gift her a book that can relate to her hobbies or something. Do she have any interests?" Edward peers at me as if he is thinking hard about the question I have asked.
"She likes cooking and gardening." I smile. I have just the right books.
"Great. I think I have something you can gift her then. Come on."
I walk past him and his intoxicating scent envelops me. God, he smells like heaven. Edward follows me as I lead him all the way across the store. I have the whole wall, crammed with books just for hobbies.
"Wow, that's an excellent collection." He murmurs and I do a little dance internally.
"Thank you," I murmur as I rummage through the second aisle of books, titled for Cooking. I pull a book out and hand it to him.
"The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook? Haven't heard of that." I chuckle.
"Well you can't possibly know every book."
"That's true." I walk over to the fourth isle and pull out the book that is right in front of my eyes.
"Here, Inspire: The Art of Living with Nature. There are tips for outdoors and home decor, pretty entertaining."
"Thank you so much…?" I cock my head to one side and stare at him. "This is the part where you tell me your name." I blush and my eyes grow wide.
"Bella," He beams at me. "Thank you."
We stare at each other for an immeasurable amount of time and I feel a slight buzz of electricity around us. Of all places in Seattle, he walked into my store. His captivating face is staring at me but I can see a little reluctance in his eyes.
I close my eyes and memorize Edward's face. His striking features, that smile, everything. I open my eyes and notice the lights have changed. The dull lights aren't there anymore, instead my bookstore is lightened up with a romantic glow everywhere.
"Bella." I hear a voice whisper behind me and I turn. Edward stands there, in all his glory, a warm smile on his face. I frown. He was standing in front of me moments ago. Is he a vampire or something?
"Hey." I grin and he walks over to me. His fingers stroke my cheek and I can feel the familiar blush rising.
"You're so beautiful," I blush scarlet and his green eyes pierce into mine. "The blush makes you look even more breathtaking." My lips are parted as I study his seductive face, his sultry voice and caring eyes.
"Kiss me." I murmur and he smiles, cradling my face in his hands. He leans in and brushes his lips against mine. I sigh and wrap my arms around his neck, pulling him closer to me with my eyes closed.
"Your lips are so soft." Edward mumbles and I let out a soft whimper when he grazes his teeth against my bottom lip. He pushes me against the shelf and his hands, roam over my body, resting on my waist, to tighten his hold.
He runs his tongue along my bottom lip and I open my mouth to let his tongue slide in. His sweet breath washes over me and I feel his hands hitching my dress higher to run along my thighs.
"Don't you have to leave for a party?" I whisper when his lips trail along my neck, placing soft kisses that are leaving me hot.
"You are much more interesting than some stupid party."
"I'm not. You need to go." Edward silences me when he presses his lips against mine. My lips mold against his and we set a slow, building tempo. He suddenly breaks our kiss to look at me.
"Bella." He breathes out my name and I smile.
I shake my head and realize I am standing in front of Edward when the fantasy dissolves and reality crashes down on me. I look up at the lights and notice they are the same boring ones. Edward is studying me carefully, trying to understand what just happened to me but all I'm trying to do is get my heart to beat at a normal rhythm.
"I'm sorry, I just zoned out." I mumble and blush rises in my cheeks. Edward just offers me a smile and a head nod.
"That's fine. I do that too, sometimes." He shrugs. Like he has enough time to do that.
"No you don't. You must be busy with work." I cross my arms over my chest. He leans against the shelf to stare at me with an amused expression.
"How do you know that?"
"Being on the cover of Forbes must mean you are a busy man. They just don't click some hot guy's picture to sell copies." I realize what I just said and look away embarrassed.
"Hot guy, huh?" He teases and I can see an impish glint in his eyes. I stare at my knotted fingers. Maybe I should have a mouth filter.
"Um, I didn't mean to… you know. I just meant that you must be… that your work is―" I pause mid-sentence when I hear him laughing. I look up to gaze at his face and hear his carefree laughter.
I can sense he doesn't laugh that often, but the sound is refreshing. Edward has a boyish charm about him but I can still imagine him to be hard working. He finally stops laughing and shakes his head.
"Well, I'll be reminded of you every time I zone out from now." Which won't be that often but it's still flattering.
"At least you'll have a nice laugh thinking about me." His lips curl into a rueful smile.
"And why do you think I don't laugh more often?" I shrug at his question.
"I just have this feeling," My eyes fall on the books in his hands. "Do you want me to gift wrap these?"
"You do that here?" Surprise is apparent on his face.
"Well, other than books, there aren't much services to be offered around here." I gingerly take the books from him, avoiding any kind of skin to skin contact because I don't want him to see me turn into a puddle of goo.
I walk over to the gift wrapping desk and go behind the counter. Edward takes a seat on the chair provided and lets out a sigh. I sit on my chair and open the drawer that has the medium sized wrapping papers. I already instructed Emily to have them cut so that one can wrap up the book quickly if the customer is in a hurry. Like mine is but he looks completely at ease.
"So, how long have you been working here for?" He tries to have a conversation. I place the wrapping paper side down and keep the book upside down on top of the paper, so that only a little triangle on the right bottom side is out.
"Well, four years now." I mumble and bring the bottom half of the paper over the bottom side of the longer book and fold it over the top.
"I thought gift wrapping was supposed to be a little different." I chuckle.
"It's um, Japanese Diagonal wrapping."
"That's impressive." Edward murmurs and I smile.
"I have a lot of spare time here. You learn stuff."
"Well, seems like you are the only one who works here," He leans closer. "Is the boss lazy or something?" I laugh and fold the paper flush onto the left side of the book while I feel his eyes gazing intently at my shaky fingers at work.
"Not really. She's not that bad."
"Shouldn't she stay back then instead of making you work alone?"
"Two of them left minutes before you walked in."
"Still." He mutters and stares at the paintings hung on the wall behind me.
"Why are you getting so over protective anyway?" I look into his green eyes.
"I don't know." Edward answers truthfully.
"Well, you don't have to worry about that." I nod, making him smile. I get the scotch tape out.
"The store is pretty amazing. It has a certain charm," He surveys the place and my heart jumps in my chest. Yes! He likes it. "Let your boss know that."
"It's been the same way for over two decades now. I just feel maybe, there could be a little changes made."
"Um, like have a cafe and a bookstore," I smile as I stare at my store and imagine what it would look like. "What better than coffee and books. Have couches and perhaps coffee vending machines for others. But then it won't give a cafe-like feeling, so I thought maybe, there should be like a separate room where people can just read and have the machines there, that sounds better, right?" I ask, lost into my own plans about the store.
"Yes." I hear him say but I look at my store as the thoughts bubbling inside me for so long just flow.
"I also, want to add another story to the store, maybe have a little pastry shop," I point to the middle of the store. "From there, so that people at the top are able to even take a look downstairs. Have something different, because I just don't want to limit the place to books, there can be so much done to this place."
"Sounds beautiful." I blush when I realize I told him the plans I haven't even shared with Jake yet. "No really, there is a lot of scope for improvement. You are more passionate about this place than your boss. Is it very special to you?"
My smile turns a little sad but I quickly recover my charade. "It was my grandmother's. I just don't want to not feel her presence anymore. It's the only piece I have left of her."
"It's your store?" He asks softly.
"I told you the boss wasn't that bad." Edward chuckles and nods his head.
"No, she's…" I look up to find him staring at me. He looks a little hesitant, as if wanting to say something but then lets out a sigh as he smiles. "No, she's not that bad."
It takes me another five minutes to wrap up his books and place a fancy ribbon on top. He takes the gift from me but doesn't make a move to stand so even I sit there. It's not like I don't want to talk to him. He is very interesting even though I haven't asked him a single question yet.
"You like books, I take it?"
"Maybe you should give a thought to your cafe idea." Why am I talking about this to a stranger I met thirty minutes ago?
"It doesn't hurt to think, but then there isn't enough finance to make it happen." I say and stand up to go over to the billing counter. I hear his phone ringing and he answers the call.
"Hello?" His voice sounds so grave for some reason but I don't turn to look at him but stop walking.
"No, I'll be there in fifteen, Emmett." It's a guy, well that's okay.
"What? You said forty five minutes."
"I don't care… no, wait!" I hear him say icily. "Give me ten minutes."
"Yeah, okay. Bye." I turn to see him typing something on his phone. Edward pressed the phone to his ear.
"Matt, get the car. I'm late already." He ends the call and looks at me. I can see urgency in his eyes.
"Bella, how much time will the billing take? I'm running really late, my brother just called." I see a shiny black car pull outside the store.
"Um, I have everything logged off, it might take five minutes." He looks so conflicted.
"Can I please, pay you tomorrow? There'll be traffic in the city and my mom is pissed off with me because I'm late." I shrug.
"That's okay, no problem." I give him a smile and he sighs with relief but then frowns.
"Or do you want me to pay you real quick?" Edward reaches for his wallet.
"Don't worry, Edward. That's okay. Pay me tomorrow."
"Thank you so much, Bella. Are you staying in or should I drop you on my way?" I chuckle.
"That's really okay. I have my car." I notice his shoulders relaxing and wonder what the deal is. "Good night. Have a great time at the party."
"Good night, Bella." He gives me a nod and rush outside to sit in the car where a man patiently stands, holding the door open for him. The driver shuts the door and gets in the driver's seat. Before I know it, the car disappears from my view.
At least I have something to look forward to tomorrow.
July 10, 2015
Shapes. I stare at them. I see water, trees, roads and an elliptical leaf-like shaped object diagonally at the bottom right corner. There is still something wrong with this. I walk over to my desk and grab my pencil.
Hmm. What could possibly be missing?
"It's um, Japanese Diagonal wrapping."
I chuckle when I remember my last night's conversation with the beautiful brunette. Diagonal wrapping. Diagonal. I continue studying my layout carefully, trying to forget about her and concentrate on my task.
An idea strikes in my brain and I quickly grab my eraser. I gently move the ballast of my parallelogram machine and rub off the ends of the leaf-shaped object. I set aside the eraser and use the french curve ruler to make the object diagonal to the park.
Perfect. Enough space for wind collection in the turbines and to shield away from the solar gain. Good job.
I stare at my tracing paper and my mind is plagued with the thoughts of her again. They come and go like every ten minutes.
"At least you'll have a nice laugh thinking about me."
I smile staring at the tracing paper, which is not as amusing as my smile is. It has been long since the last time I zoned out. Today I can't stop thinking about anything but her.
Possibly the most beautiful woman I have seen in my life. Her chestnut brown hair, those big chocolate brown eyes, cute little button nose, plum lips and her bottom lip was fuller than the upper one. Her soft, pale skin and that dress. God, that dress was sexy. It was a midnight blue color with little straps that showed off her smooth, neck and shoulders. Those heels made her legs go on for miles.
She is beautiful, kind, funny but there is still something about her that makes me ache. I could see the sadness in her brown eyes, they were so expressive, she felt alone for some reason. I know it.
What scares me the most is that she is in that bookstore all along during evenings. What if something happens? But, she did say she has a car, which is good. Her walking down the street the way she was dressed last night is trouble on heels.
I smile again thinking about her blush. That was the highlight of my day. I have met a lot of women but none of them has ever had a blush as alluring as hers. She gets embarrassed very easily, is what I've noticed, but I find it very endearing.
"It was my grandmother's. I just don't want to not feel her presence anymore. It's the only piece I have left of her."
I frown. She feels alone. I am right. What about her parents? Mom, dad? Or was it just her grandmother that she had? Does she have any siblings? Is she from Seattle originally?
I have so many questions to ask her which I'm sure she won't answer because I'm a total stranger. I still know some facts about her. That she is very passionate about her store, that she can use a Japanese diagonal paper wrapping technique, is very understanding, a little awkward, maybe but she has her moments of laughter too.
I snap out of my reverie and realize I have drawn a 'B' on the building layout. Fuck. I quickly get the eraser and wipe it off. I have to show this layout to my team. I hear the intercom buzz behind me on my desk and I walk over to answer it.
"Edward, Mr. Wallis wants to have a word with you." Victoria, my assistant replies.
"Yeah, okay. Send him in," I am suddenly reminded of something. "Hey, what time am I free for today?"
"At eleven." I grin.
"Excellent, thanks, tell Matt to have the car ready. I have some work in the city."
"I can do that if you want." Hell no.
"No, thank you. Send Mr. Wallis in."
The door opens and Benjamin Wallis walks in with a smile on his face. He is a man in his late-thirties, I'd say, with crinkles around his eyes and the ever-present phone in his hand. Mr. Wallis is around four inches shorter than me.
"Good morning, Mr. Wallis, please take a seat." We quickly settle and his eyes fall on the large mounting board near my desk.
"Morning Mr. Cullen. How's Maitso coming along?" I chuckle.
"Almost done. How can I help you?"
"Well, as you know we hire interns every year to work in our company," I nod and he continues. "This year out of the pool of fifty, we short-listed ten of the very best architects for the internship."
"Very well, how may I help?"
"Mr. Platt has already hired two of the them for the Urban Planning for his feature project this year, it would be a good learning experience for the interns if they get a chance to work under you." I laugh lightly.
"I'm not some old guy who can share wisdom, Mr. Wallis."
"But you are a good leader, you have had so many achievements at such an young age. The interns would be delighted to work with you." I let out a sigh.
I hate to have too many people hovering over my projects. When less people work together and put forth their thoughts it gets challenging and that's the beauty of architecture. If Alex already has taken two, that means he'll try to give me eight. Eight interns! I can't have so many, there are already fifteen people on the team.
"Get me four. I'll select one, that's it." He nods and stands up.
"Thank you for your time, Mr. Cullen."
"What time are they getting to my office?"
"Well, it might take up to an hour to debrief them about your project so around eleven." Fuck.
"Sure." I mumble half-heartedly and nod at him at he leaves. Ugh! I was to meet Bella. I hate this. Maybe I can go after I select an intern. I buzz Victoria's desk.
"What?" She snips with irritation. I smile. God, it's fun to annoy her, especially when I know she has an important call to attend at ten every day.
"That's not the way you are supposed to talk to your boss."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cullen how are you going to annoy me now?" I chuckle.
"I still wonder why I hired you."
"Because I'm good at my work. What do you want?" I smile fondly.
"You're so rude," I murmur. "Anyway, cancel the eleven o'clock break, I have interns coming in. Is there any possible way you can just squeeze in some free time."
"Let me check," I hear her clicking something. "Where do you have to go anyway?" She mutters to herself. "Nope, sorry. You are free at six, when you leave the office, if somebody important doesn't unexpectedly show up." I sigh.
"Thanks." Last evening, I went around six and the store was about to be closed. I sigh. I need to send Victoria for that now. "I need you to go down to this bookstore. Matt will take you."
"Weren't you going?"
"I can't, I'm out of time."
"Why don't you go now? You're free for an hour, right?" I grin when I realize that. She's right. I can go now. I grab my jacket and stand up.
"Yes, you're a genius. Thanks for that." I grab my wallet and watch.
"I'll see you in―no you can't go." Vic says confidently.
"What? Why?" I snap angrily. I'll send back whoever the fuck it is.
"You'll see." And the line goes dead.
The door bursts open and my dear sister walks in with a gigantic smile on her face. I couldn't help smile back at her. She skips over to me and I stand up. I give her a tight hug, lifting her little five foot form off the floor. She squeals and I set her down.
"I missed you, Edward."
"I missed you too, Alice. How was New York?"
Alice Cullen is probably my favorite person in the world. She knows everything about me. Being my twin sister helps her with the intuitions as well. Although we are twins, there is remotely no similarity between us. Like our… um, no. Nope. We are not similar in any way. Except for our face structure maybe.
"New York was so awesome!" Alice beams at me and I chuckle. She drags me to the couch by the floor to ceiling windows and stares outside as we sit. I have never seen her not ecstatic. I turn to take a look at the city as well.
I was to go meet Bella. I sigh.
"So, what's up with you?"
"Mom asking you to marry?"
"Every day." Alice lets out a trilling laughter.
"Maybe you should."
I glare at her. "I'm not going to marry. Especially her."
"Then why do you go out with her?"
"Because it makes mom and dad happy." Alice rolls her eyes.
"Edward, you should break up with her. What mom and dad don't see is that you're miserable."
"She isn't that bad. Maybe a little arrogant but then again, you can expect it from a girl with a family background like hers."
"You can't hide the fact that our family is much better in the financial aspects compared to them but we aren't such brats. Eleazar and Carmen will be a little mad, if you do break up with her though. Dad has been friends with them since college."
"That's what I'm afraid of. That it might affect the relationships. Their daughter means the world to them."
"Someday you're going to find a girl, who'll turn your world upside down and you won't even know that."
For some reason Bella comes into my mind. Her beautiful face as blush covers her cheeks every time she feels embarrassed. Or how she told me so much about her store and what changes could be made. I can do that. I sit here and I know I can give her the world if she wants but it's never going to happen.
"Yeah, someday, maybe." I murmur and run a hand through my hair.
But I can be her friend. I can do that. If she lets me be and if I meet her again.
"Hey, Alice, there's this great bookstore on 6th Avenue…"
We'll possibly never meet. So be it. I'll be stuck with my girlfriend.
I am already pissed off about the whole Bella fiasco and the four nervous-looking interns enter my office. I hold an unreadable expression on my face and stand up. I walk over to where I had just made a wrong layout section of the project on a tracing paper few minutes before they entered.
The magnet on the mounting board holds the paper on top of my original work. They keep on standing and I realize that I have to make them sit. Ugh. Bella is messing with my brains, plus I feel bad for the new guys because all look like they are going to pass out.
There is this one guy, dressed finely in a suit like the others, who looks very calm and something about him is so freakishly familiar but I can't put my finger on it. I look at the others and they seem to have side-tracked him to the corner for some reason, but the boy doesn't seem to care.
There is a knock on the door.
Mr. Wallis walks in holding a file in his hands as he nods at me and sits on the couch where Alice and I were sitting previously. I clear my throat, grabbing the interns' attention. I offer a smile. I can be kind when it needs to be.
"Good morning everyone, welcome to Cullen & Platt Architecture. We are running out of time and I just have an hour, so let's get over with this."
My tone turns serious as I explain the entire project wrong. Not the entire shit but just the main part of the residential apartment, so that I can find the person who is really capable of getting on the team this time.
"... and the shape of the building, like the team has decided is going to be facing the southeast, away from the Persian Gulf. Energy produced by the Maitso Residences will reduce carbon emissions by more than 18 metric tons, equivalent to planting about 300,000 trees or removing 340 cars off the road yearly." I explain and everyone nod their heads not clearly understanding what I'm trying say here.
"Our project is going to be specifically looking at the green strategies because a residential sight 49-story high is 90% of the time end up increasing energy usage and wastage, while we here, focus on the usage of renewable sources to decrease energy demand."
I wait for a second to let the information sink into their system. Let them think about what I was rambling about from the past twenty minutes and if they can see what mistake has been made.
The guy sitting closest to me, sits up straighter.
"How will the residency be accessible to people?" Ugh.
"The residency will be accessible by light rail, water taxi, bicycle lanes and bus. Does anybody have any questions that actually make sense to what I was talking?" I snap and the guy shrinks from my gaze.
"I think the project may not be a success at some crux of it." The Calm Guy says hesitantly, making everyone turn their heads in his direction.
"And why is that?"
"It's all wrong, whatever you said. No offence." I watch Mr. Wallis stand up out of my periphery.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Cullen. I'll escort him out."
"Sit." I say pointedly to him and he obliges. I turn to Calm Guy. "Why do you say that? How dare you, try to even point out the mistakes out of my work. I've been working on this for the past month!" I shout, trying to look hopping mad.
Okay, I'm a good liar. I made it in twenty minutes. I see other three of them, smiling to themselves with a smug expression. I internally rolled my eyes. Now Calm Guy looks nervous and I notice his hands are shaking.
He knows if he doesn't do this right, he might not get a permanent job here. If he does, his life is going to change. Good. I like that he is worried about his stand. This clearly means that he is already thinking about the project. It'll be good to have him on the team.
"May I?" He whispers, motioning to the mounting board. I nod and go to sit in my chair. He keeps the book he got away and takes his pencil along with him. He looks at me and I continue staring at him with a blank expression.
"Start. I don't have much time." I mutter and he nods, turning to it. God, I sound like an ass.
"I-I just think that the residential complex should be facing northeast, towards the Persian Gulf," Calm Guy draws an arc and I smile internally. "It might help reduce the impact of solar and wind forces, this might help with greater wind collection for turbines. The place will start heating up, if facing the way the team suggests and the green strategies might not help in this case." Calm Guy lets out a deep breath and turns to me.
I stand up and walk over to him, making him back away a little as I tower over him. I stare at the tracing paper and notice he made the exact replica of the original section that was there.
"What's your name?"
I walk over to my desk and buzz Victoria.
"Yes, Mr. Cullen?"
"Let Dave know, we have Jacob Swan on our team. He is one of the interns in our company. Take the details from Mr. Wallis."
Mr. Wallis walks over to me hastily.
"Give his details to Victoria," I tell Wallis and turn to Jacob, whose face is a mask of shock and disbelief. "It's a paid internship," I watch his brown eyes widen. "If he does well, we'll keep him here." I smile warmly and he grins back at me. Something yet again so familiar about that grin. Have I seen this guy somewhere?
"But you… I thought you were mad at him." Wallis says flabbergasted. I walk over and with a swift motion tear off the tracing paper to show him the original layout.
"That's the project. I wanted to see how actually uses logic and not just bookish brains. Let the others out, I want to have a word with Jacob."
It's five minutes later when the office is finally silent as I sit in my chair and Jacob across from me. Jacob still looked nervous.
"You can relax, you know." He tenses a little, making me chuckle. "Would you like to have something?"
"No, thank you."
"I'm not going to kill you. You came in with a calm demeanor, what happened?"
"Are you serious about the job thing?"
"Of course I am, why do you think I still have you in my office?" He shrugs. "How old are you?"
"Twenty-two." My eyebrows rise in surprise. Pretty smart brains for someone so young.
"Your parents should feel very proud that you are getting a long-term job at such young age." His smile turns a little dejected but he nods. Did I say something wrong?
"Yeah, they will be. My sister will be the happiest though." Oh.
"That's great. I know you'll do good." He gave me a shy smile.
"I, uh, really admired the New York Shakespeare Theater you designed few years ago. We had it for one of our research projects in college."
"Thank you. It was my first ever feature project."
"With Alex Platt." I nod.
"Alex and I were really nervous about it. Our grandfather had us working for small projects and suddenly gave this giant project in our hands. We did good though."
"Isn't Mr. Platt working on this project with us?" I sigh.
"No, we do individual projects but we do collaborate. I hear he selected two interns from the ten of you." Jacob laughs and nods.
"Mr. Platt just walked in and looked at all of us. He selected the only two girls there." I chuckle. So typical.
"Well, that's Alex, he's working on an Urban Development project, it's a Crystal Center in Abu Dhabi."
"Must be cool to travel those places." I laugh at his answer.
"Sometimes. Not always though. There is a lot of work to be done."
"Will you be traveling for the residential project we have?" I shrug.
"I even like to give my team a chance to travel and learn but I have to go. Have you ever been to Dubai?"
"I haven't travelled outside Washington state yet." He must definitely be financially unstable. It's a good thing he got a job here then.
"We'll make a deal then," He sits up straighter. "You give me the best inputs for our project, work really hard and you'll be one of the first people to go Dubai from the company. You have my word."
"Thank you. That means a lot." I smile, nodding my head.
"No problem. I know this must be really intimidating, so if you have any kind of problems, you can come talk to me. You don't have to feel embarrassed about anything." His brown eyes widen but he nods.
"Wow, thank you. I thought you would be really uptight." Jacob says bluntly and I chuckle.
"Oh, I'm not uptight but incredibly strict when it comes to work. You should know that." I look him square in the eye and he gulps, nodding his head.
"Yes, Mr. Cullen."
"I'll―" The intercom buzzes and I answer it.
"Mr. Cullen, Crunky is here." I groan internally. Why, god why?!
"I should fire you for calling her that."
"You like the nickname too. I know that." I roll my eyes but let out a chuckle.
"Tell her, I'm busy, I don't have time for her." Jacob stands up suddenly.
"Mr. Cullen, I can lea―" I motion him to sit.
"Okay. I will." Victoria answers and I turn to Jacob.
The door opens suddenly and she walks in. Tanya Denali. My girlfriend, whom my assistant has nicknamed 'Crunky' after some Japanese candy bar. God, I give Victoria a lot of freedom to talk. She tells me that she hates Tanya, but I never take offense for some reason.
It's not like Tanya is not pretty. Her strawberry blonde hair are curled to perfection, her marble blue eyes almost make every head turn to her, she has curves in the right places, but her personality is something that needs a lot of change. She is, uh… yeah! She's a brat.
"Edward, baby your assistant won't let me in!" Tanya whines and walks over to me.
Jacob and I both stand up and I try to smile at Tanya. Jacob shifts awkwardly and I look at him. He offers me a smile and his eyes fall on Tanya.
"Jacob, this is my girlfriend, Tanya. Tanya, this is Jacob Swan, he is on my team for an upcoming project."
"Hi, Jacob." She gives him a phony smile but Jacob doesn't realize that. Arrogant, little thing she is.
"Excuse me, Mr. Cullen." I nod at Jacob.
"I'll see you Monday." With that he walks out of my office, leaving me alone with this woman.
Tanya walks over to stare at my mounting board and I sit back on my chair. I just desperately hope that my intercom will buzz to tell me about some meeting, anything. I drum my fingers on the table as I wait and wait but Victoria doesn't call me. Ugh.
I stare at my watch and the time almost makes me cry. It's lunch time for Victoria. That means I'm free for forty-five minutes. Tanya finally stops staring at the tracing paper which probably didn't make any sense to her, I'm sure.
She settles herself on my lap and I sigh.
"Tanya, there is a chair, right across from me."
"But I want to sit here with you." I don't say anything. "Rose and I were to go shopping after lunch, there is new shop opening at the Pacific." I nod. She continues to ramble on about clothes, her money and some fashion advices. She stops at a topic which almost makes me puke.
"Rose's real estate agent suggested me some great condos we can live in after we get married." I push her off my lap, making her stand up.
"No, marriage. I'm not getting married anytime soon."
"You don't want to marry me?" She pouts her red lips. No.
"Not now." That's less hurtful.
"Esme and mom have been talking about it as well."
"Tanya, get lost. I don't want to talk about it. Why are you here, anyway?"
"I thought maybe we could grab a bite to eat."
"Nope. I'm not hungry."
Her attractive face falls and I notice her blue eyes sadden. Now, I feel bad for her. It's not her fault that I don't feel the connection. How am I supposed to not continue this relationship without hurting my parents or anybody's feelings?
"Edward, you should break up with her. What mom and dad don't see is that you're miserable."
Alice's words haunt me and I stand up. Tanya deserves better than a break-up for no reason. Maybe I am just overthinking and should give it a try. I just need to be gentler, maybe a tad more attentive. I can do that.
"I'm sorry, Ann. I didn't mean to sound so crass, I'm just wound up with my work right now." I say softly, in the vain hopes that she will understand.
"That's okay." She smiles at me and I notice that if she doesn't have makeup on, she'll do good. I stand up and whisper a 'thank you'.
"Maybe I can help you release some tension." There she goes and ruins my mood again.
"I've told you, no sex in my office." I hiss and she rolls her eyes.
"Oh, Edward. You're so boring." She has a smile on her face.
"You just get it out of me." I tease making her laugh.
I can kiss her, right? She's my girlfriend, for Christ's sake! Of course I can kiss her. I mean, it won't be that bad. I have never had to give so much thought to kiss somebody I've already kissed before. Oh dear god, just kiss her already.
My hands almost reluctantly wrap around her waist and I pull her closer to me. Her hands pull my face to hers urgently and she kisses me.
The scent of strawberries wafts around us, it's so familiar and fresh in my mind from yesterday. I forget everything around me and my mind stays on her. One of my hands, thread into her hair as I keep her face to mine.
Her tongue slides in my mouth and I tangle it with mine. I always wondered what it would be like to kiss her. My fingers stroke her soft hair that I remember how they flowed like a waterfall down her shoulders at the bookstore yesterday. Her soft mouth is pressed against mine and I kiss her with all the passion I can muster.
I couldn't stop thinking about her today. Everything she shared with me last night repeated in my head like some tape recorder. She has a lot of troubles in her life than she lets on. Just speaking to her for thirty minutes made me realize that there are other factors in life that can make you happy. It's not all about the money, always.
I smile against her lips when I realize I had zoned out and remember her. I decided to think about her when I told her about this. It doesn't matter because she has been on my mind all day.
But, is she thinking about me too? Maybe she isn't because I sent the money with my assistant. How pompous of me, although I did mention to Victoria to say 'Edward' and not my last name. That would've been more pompous of me. I should've gone to give it. At least she's kissing me now. My teeth graze against her bottom lip and her lips make it impossible for me to stop kissing her.
I suck on her lips making her moan. My lips pause and I pull back to look at her. It's not Bella. It's not Bella!
Who looks a little dazed, because I've never kissed her this way before.
"Wow. That was great." She wraps her arms around my neck to pull me closer but I place my hand on her shoulder to gently push her back.
The thought makes me angry. She's not Bella.
"That's enough for now." I mutter and sit back on my chair. I power up my laptop.
"Edward, what about lunch?" She whines again and I groan. Does she always have to whine!
All that thoughts about being civil towards Tanya, fly out of my mind. I can actually see them waving at me as flee from my office window. I wave back internally. All I'm left with is, thinking how she has no regards for other people's feelings and how boring she is.
"I said, I'm not hungry! Get lost!" I screech and she grabs her purse scrambles off from my office. I sigh and call Victoria.
"Hey, boss. What's up?"
"Get me some lunch on your way up. The regular."
"Got it. Did Crunky leave?" I chuckle.
"Yes." She left me but kept Bella's thoughts running in my head.
"Thank god. I'll see you in ten. Bye." I end the call.
I shut my laptop and bury my face in my hands. What am I going to do? Bella is my girlfriend. No! Tanya is my girlfriend. Bella is… hold on. Who is Bella?
She's a stranger who owns a bookstore you went in for thirty minutes but wanted to stay in there forever, just you and her. My mind answers. Thanks for that.
Bella is not a stranger. She's a woman who holds a special place in my heart for some reason. I need to find the reason.
What if she has a boyfriend?
No, she doesn't. If she did, she wouldn't be sitting alone in a bookstore, after hours. I sigh with relief at that. I'm crazy about her and had no idea about it until I started kissing Tanya, imagining her to be Bella.
Some interpretation magic I have.
I want Bella.
But I have a girlfriend that my family adores for some reason. They'll flip out if I break up with her.
Bella, what have you done to me?
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Paint the Walls.