A/N: I always loved the movie While You Were Sleeping. However, I had some issues with how realistic some of the situations were and the ending never seemed quite right to me. Marriage so soon? What about dating? Or even a conversation over coffee, just the two of them. I needed more. So as a fan of Twilight and the movie, it was natural for me to want to blend the two.
I updated the original story for the 2018 TFN Pick-A-Prompt contest with our Twilight favorites. It was never intentional at the start, as I worked from the prompt: "I'd travel the world with you." From there I immediately thought about our Bella lusting after business traveler, Emmett, only later to fall for his artist brother, Edward. I remembered a version of this story already existed from the original movie over twenty years ago. However, I couldn't help myself and wanted to create a modern day Twilight version.
Unfortunately, I quickly found the word limit reached for the contest while trying to stay true to the original story. It might have been a little too ambitious for this new writer, but it didn't stop me wanting more. Mr. Perfect is my first contest entry and only my second attempt at writing fanfiction. I'm glad so many of you recognized the original story and loved it like I do. I plan to extend Mr. Perfect to give it a more satisfying ending. Be sure to put me on alert so you won't miss the continued story when I begin posting it under the title: M. Parfait.
Major thank yous to the TFN contest team, and everyone that left a review or clicked those favorite or follow buttons for Mr. Perfect. Your support means so much. xx
I am so grateful to purpleC305 for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for beta-ing. You are both rockstars in my world. Thank you. xx
2018 TFN Pick-A-Prompt Contest
Title: Mr. Perfect
Summary: When an unexpected event strikes the object of Bella's every desire, a few little white lies help her find her one and only Mr. Perfect.
Pairing: Bella, Edward (Emmett)
DISCLAIMER: This story is based and inspired from the movie, While You Were Sleeping and crossed with characters from Twilight books and movies. All recognizable characters and places belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
Prompt Quote: "I'd travel the world with you."
Most people hate Monday mornings.
"Good morning, Seth."
"Bella," Seth grumbles.
However, I'm not one of those people. You see, Mondays are my favorite day of the week.
"Good morning, Angela."
"Hey, Bella," Angela manages to croak out, while still looking half-asleep.
Even though it's almost 5:00 a.m., I can't wait to get to work. I work the security checkpoint at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Most days, I like my job, but on Mondays, I love it. Why? It's the one day of the week I get to see him.
"Good morning, Jacob."
"Bella, that coffee better be for me."
"You know it. I brought your favorite."
"You are too good to me."
I hand over Jacob's coffee and sip my own hot cocoa. Jacob Black and I work together getting passengers through security during the early morning hours. We went through training together, and have a great brother-sister bond. I suspect he knows why I'm so chipper on Mondays or even the reason why I always volunteer for the pre-check passenger line on this day.
"Has it been busy this morning?" I ask, trying to mask my true interest.
"Not really. Just a few business travelers already on their way."
"Yes, but not the one you're looking for."
Uh-oh. He knows.
"I have no idea what you are talking about, Jacob," I say, attempting to throw him off.
"Sure you don't." Jacob continues helping passengers put their items in bins and readying them for scanning.
I tuck my cocoa into a secure spot at my station and settle into my seat, as I glance over the short line starting to form in the main area. I look past the line and out the windows as I do every week. My eyes trained to find his well-built, muscular form.
He travels every week for business, and always alone. I sometimes catch a few glimpses at his airline tickets. He usually heads to New York, but also makes trips to other major cities and even abroad.
For months, I have lusted after him from afar. I am always hoping this will be the week our eyes lock, and he realizes he can't live another day without me.
Unfortunately, this dance continues weekly. However, I manage to gain bits and pieces about this gorgeous hunk of man over time. Lucky for me he always goes through my pre-check line, so I am privy to his driver's license and passport information.
I know for a fact Emmett McCarty Cullen lives at 809 Olive Way in unit 2601, which is located in downtown Seattle. Thank you Google. He is six foot, five inches tall, and two hundred and twenty-five pounds with the most spectacular blue eyes. Emmett was born in Tennessee on March 15, 1985, which makes him only four years older than I am. Perfect.
I also know the things that government identification can't tell you. Like, for example, he has the most gorgeous dark brown, almost black hair that is neat and tidy on the sides and back, but still enough on top that makes you want to run your hands through its softness.
His grin reveals the most perfectly straight, white teeth. If only I could be the focus of his attention and the reason for his smiles, as well as his kisses. I can only imagine what that amazing mouth of his can do.
The way he wears a suit would make a tailor weep. His sleek suits always fit him like a glove, and combined with crisp, white shirts, conservative yet fashionable neckties, and perfectly polished shoes, he could be a model stepping from the pages of a business or fashion magazine.
Not much can beat how Emmett smells, which is divine. I have no idea what cologne he uses, probably something expensive, but if I could bottle and label it, I would call it Mr. Perfect. He's the total package.
I'm brought from my daydreaming by movement just outside the terminal. I can see from where I'm sitting, a black, four-door sedan pulling up next to the curb. The driver exits the vehicle and promptly removes a black bag from the trunk and sets it on the curb. He opens the back door, where I can see his passenger exit the vehicle with briefcase in hand. They shake hands and nod at one another, then the driver returns to his door, hops in the car, and speeds away.
Somehow, my memory never seems to do him justice, because there standing on the curb is the object of my every desire. He's gorgeous. I watch as he grabs the handle for his suitcase and wheels it toward the sliding doors of the terminal.
I do a quick check of my reflection in a nearby mirror that assures me there isn't anything embarrassing stuck in my teeth. My hair is still how I styled it early this morning, in a low ponytail taming my long, dark brown locks with only a few flyaways escaping the holder. My makeup is light and simple with just a bit of mascara and some lip gloss. I glance down and smooth my uniform, a pair of black pants and a deep sky blue blouse with all the required TSA patches. My badge, identification, and airport credentials are clipped securely to my blouse.
I look up and an easy smile stretches across my face as Emmett and several other passengers ahead of him make their way to my line. I check each boarding pass, then help everyone move efficiently through my security line. When my eyes land on Emmett, I can see he is a bit distracted and gives me only a quick glance.
"Good morning." I look over his boarding pass, trying to draw this out for as long as I can. "Where are you headed this morning?"
He looks back at me and sighs. "New York."
I give him my warmest, most welcoming smile. "It looks like you're all set. You can leave your shoes and belt on. No need to dig out any laptops or tablets. Just set your carry-on right on the conveyor for scanning."
He gives me the briefest of, "Thanks," then moves around me.
I turn back toward him and try to decide what to say before I lose this opportunity. Maybe I should say, "You're gorgeous." Or, "I'm in love with you." Or, "I'd travel the world with you." Or, "Will you marry me?" I can't seem to verbalize any of those, so I clear my throat and make one last attempt with an overeager smile. "Have a great day."
My words are met with silence as I watch him move away from my location and the security checkpoint. A little deflated, I turn back to help new passengers who have arrived to my line.
As I continue with my morning, I mentally go over our latest interaction and try to cheer myself up. There's always next week, I reassure myself. He seemed distracted this week, so maybe he's just focused on some big presentation he needs to give later. Maybe he isn't a morning person, or he didn't have his coffee this morning. These are all valid reasons for our less than stellar interaction.
When my shift ends for the day, I say my goodbyes to my fellow co-workers and head back to my little one bedroom apartment in the University District, where my calico cat, Tucker, greets me every day with great indifference.
However, despite today's events, I'm already looking forward to next Monday.
"Good morning, Seth. How was your weekend?"
"Bella." Seth shrugs and grumps. "Not long enough."
It's a brand new week. I feel excited and renewed.
"Good morning, Angela."
"Hey, Bella." Angela's voice sounds as though she could be getting a cold.
"Are you feeling okay? I hope you're not getting sick," I wonder with concern.
"No, I just think I'm allergic to mornings. And Mondays. And especially, Monday mornings."
I give her a wave as I continue to make my way down to the security checkpoint. Jacob is already there, busy with airline passengers. He looks up.
I hand him a coffee prepared just how he likes it, black with one cream, two sugars.
He happily takes it from me and starts sipping his cup.
"Finally," he says between sips. "You're a godsend. I really needed this today."
"Oh, Jacob. You sure know how to flatter a girl." I put on my most fake smile and bat my eyelashes like crazy.
"No. Really. I stayed up way too late last night talking to this girl online."
I'm surprised by this news.
"Jacob! A girl! I'm shocked."
"Don't be so surprised. I've got some smooth moves. I just haven't ever used them on you."
"Well, thank you for that," I tease.
"Well, at this rate, I might have a date for this weekend. But that's all I'm saying because I don't want to jinx it before we even get started."
"Got it. You can give me all the details when you actually have details to share." I rib him just a bit more.
Jacob is a handsome guy. He's no Emmett; that's for sure. Jacob is tall with dark hair and eyes. His skin is very tan, and he's always smiling. It's one of the things I most like about Jacob: his eternally happy mood. He's a kid at heart.
"You better get ready." Jacob points outside to a packed bus that just pulled up next to the terminal's curb. "It looks like we are about to be slammed."
I agree, make my way to my station, and take a deep breath as the large group approaches the security checkpoint.
We work quickly and efficiently getting everyone through the line. My line for pre-check is constant, and I start to worry and wonder why I haven't seen Emmett yet.
My attention is divided between passengers and watching the constant stream of cars letting people and their bags off at the curb right outside of the security checkpoint window.
Finally, I see the familiar black, four-door sedan pull into the area, but not next to the curb. It looks to be a different driver, but his actions are the same as Emmett's previous driver. He gets Emmett's black bag from the trunk and opens the door for him to exit the vehicle.
Emmett climbs out with his briefcase and nods toward the driver while reaching over to grab the handle of his bag. I watch as he turns and begins to roll his bag across the somewhat congested lanes of traffic.
"Enjoy your flight." I look over and tell the passenger who moves toward the scanner.
I look back out the window, my eyes searching for Emmett. It's at that moment I hear the screeching tires and watch as Emmett looks off to his right.
It all happens so fast. One second Emmett is upright wheeling his suitcase to the curb, and the next, he's lying on the ground having been hit by an airport taxi.
The driver jumps out of his taxi and immediately goes to Emmett.
"Jacob!" I yell. Our eyes meet. "It's Emmett!"
"Just go! I've got this."
I race from my station out the sliding doors and toward Emmett who is on the ground. He's not moving, and there's a crowd starting to gather around him.
I hear a siren approaching as I race to his side.
"Emmett!" I yell, but there is no response.
I keep repeating his name over and over as I squat down next to him. A small crowd gathers around us, and my hands brush back his hair.
I barely hear the man beside me.
I look up and his words faintly register.
"Ma'am, you need to move back so we can help your friend."
I nod and move away from touching Emmett but stay within reach. I watch as two emergency workers start their examination of him. Emmett is still unresponsive.
I look up and notice a police officer speaking with the driver of the taxi.
I can't focus on their conversation, so I turn back to see what's happening with Emmett.
An ambulance and two additional workers arrive with a backboard, and they secure Emmett to it.
I look over at the guy speaking to me.
"Do you know this guy?"
I nod my head frantically and try to speak.
"I'm… I'm…" I'm not sure what to say.
"We need to transport him. Are you related?"
I'm still stumbling for what to tell him. I don't want to leave Emmett, and I need to make sure he's okay.
"Yes. Can I go with him?" I manage to ask.
"Are you his girlfriend? Fiancée? Wife?"
I nod. "Fiancée." Already internally cringing at my little white lie.
"Then come with me. Is this his bag and briefcase?" he asks.
I'm almost certain they are, so I stutter out a simple, "Yes."
I watch as the workers lift Emmett onto a stretcher and push it toward the back of the ambulance. Emmett is moved inside with two workers.
"What's your name?"
I glance at the emergency worker.
"Isabella Swan. Everyone calls me Bella. I work airport security."
"Okay, Bella. You can ride in the back if you would like," the man tells me.
I climb up into the ambulance and whisper out a small, "Thanks."
I watch him load Emmett's bag and briefcase, and finally, he shuts the doors.
I hear the siren and feel the ambulance start to move.
It is relatively quiet in the back. The two workers monitoring Emmett are murmuring to each other, and I can hear a faint beeping.
I sit back against the side of the vehicle on a slightly cushioned plastic seat. I can feel the ambulance gaining speed, as we get farther away from the airport.
There are a few sharp turns, which force me to grab onto some handles to brace myself, and I focus back on Emmett.
"Is he going to be okay?" I ask.
"We are doing everything we can for him. Once we get to the hospital, I'm sure the doctors will want to do more tests and monitor him. They will let you know his prognosis once they do a proper assessment."
"No problem. Did you see what happened?"
"I was working my security line and looked up just as he was hit." I start to try and recall the details.
"Don't be surprised if a police officer finds you later to take down your statement."
Soon the ambulance is pulling into the emergency area of the hospital and the back doors are whipped open.
The emergency workers give the hospital staff all of the information they know about Emmett's current condition.
Someone grabs Emmett's things, then I am helped from the ambulance, as I watch them hurry Emmett into the building.
A lady puts her hand on my arm to get my attention.
"Ma'am. I need you to come and fill out some paperwork for us, then we will get you back to see your…"
She's waiting for me to supply the word and I do. "Fiancé." I wish I could take great pride in repeating this declaration, but it just sits sour on my tongue.
She smiles. "Your fiancé then as soon as possible. My name is Jessica by the way."
I follow her into the building and wait at the main desk as she gathers a clipboard full of papers.
"Just fill out everything you know, and we can work from that."
I take the clipboard and find a seat in the waiting area.
I have no idea about Emmett's job or insurance, let alone his medical history. However, I give everything I do know. I can only hope he's been here before and maybe they already have access to his medical history.
I finish the paperwork, which is really a joke, because anyone who could read his driver's license or passport would have the same information. I stand, walk back up to the desk, and hand it back to Jessica.
"Thanks, hun. Take a seat and I'll let you know when you can come back. The doctor is with him now running tests."
I return to my seat and take out my phone to see I have several missed calls and texts from Jacob.
I open our chat to read Jacob's texts.
I guess you went with him?
Hey, let me know everything is okay.
I told the Boss Man you wouldn't be back today. You should call him.
I send him a quick reply back.
I don't know anything yet. I'm at the hospital now. I'll call Sam.
His reply is immediate.
Okay. If you need a few days off, just tell Sam. I'm sure he will be okay with it. :)
I find Sam's contact information in my phone and press the button for his number. It rings, but ends up going to voicemail. I try to figure out what to say.
"Hey, this is Sam. You know what to do." Then I hear the beep.
"Hi Sam. It's Bella Swan. I want to let you know I've had an emergency today. So, I won't be back to work, as I'm at the hospital. I'm not sure when I will be back to work, but I will let you know as soon as I hear from the doctors. Thanks."
I end the call, hoping my message is enough to buy me some time with Emmett and figure out this situation. I pocket my phone and make a mental note: at some point I will need to go back to the airport and grab my stuff from my locker.
A woman appears at a door to the side of the main emergency room desk.
Jessica reappears at the desk and points in my direction.
I stand and walk toward the lady at the door.
"Emmett Cullen?" she repeats.
"Yes," I tell her.
Jessica pipes up. "She's his fiancée."
She smiles. "Follow me please."
I follow her down the makeshift hallway past patients in wheelchairs and hospital beds.
She pulls back a curtain to reveal Emmett in a hospital bed and points to the plastic seat next to his bed.
"You can wait here, and the doctor will be in shortly to update you on his condition."
She whips the curtain back around enclosing Emmett and me in this small space. Together. Alone for the first time.
I look around and see the machines monitoring Emmett's heart and breathing. All are beeping constantly letting me know he's alive, even if he isn't conscious yet.
I move closer and take my own inventory of him. I brush his hair from his face and find a bandage and a few scrapes on his forehead.
I look over the rest of his face—he appears to be a fallen angel. His features are so masculine and handsome. I sigh and take in the faint dimples that remain even if he isn't smiling.
He's wearing a hospital gown that shows his muscular arms and chest. From the waist down he is covered with a blanket.
I sit next to him and decide it's probably okay for me to hold his hand while we wait for the doctor.
I let my small hand slide into his larger one, careful not to hit any of the tubes coming out of the top of his hand. I look at his handsome face again; I'm in awe that I'm sitting here by Emmett's side.
The curtain whips open. "Hello, Mrs. Cullen."
I'm a bit startled, but refuse to release Emmett's hand. "Hi." I reach out and shake his offered hand with my other. "It's Bella. Bella Swan."
"Ah, so then you're engaged? Or did you just keep your maiden name?"
I may as well keep compounding the lie. "Yes, engaged."
"Well, good news. We ran all of our tests on Emmett and found the only thing wrong, besides a few scrapes and bruises, is the bump on his head. He might have some short-term memory issues, but that should only be temporary. We are going to keep him until he wakes up, which could be just a day or two, but most definitely overnight."
"You are welcome to stay with him until visiting hours are over. I think we are moving him to a room shortly. The nurse will let you know where to find him."
"Thank you, doctor."
"I'll check back on him later tonight and tomorrow morning. His regular doctor has been called and will take over Emmett's care. I will let him know the test results. Rest will be most important for Emmett, and he will wake up when he's ready. Do you have any questions for me?"
"Okay, have a good day and good luck with your engagement."
"Thank you," I tell him, but who am I kidding? I'm going to need every bit of luck I can get.
The emergency room doctor departs, then the nurse comes in to tell me they are moving Emmett upstairs, and gives me his new room number.
"Give us a little time to settle him." She smiles. "Maybe grab a cup of coffee in the cafeteria or a bite to eat?"
"Thanks, but I don't have any money on me. When Emmett got hit, I left and came to the hospital in the ambulance. I'll return to the airport later and grab my things."
"Okay, see you upstairs."
I lean over, give Emmett a kiss on the cheek and his hand a final squeeze, before leaving his curtained area. I make my way back to the waiting room to find a police officer waiting for me.
"Excuse me, ma'am?"
I stop. "Yes."
"I'm Officer Tanya Denali, and I would like to ask you a few questions. Do you have a minute? This won't take long."
"Sure." We step outside of the emergency room and sit on a bench near the entrance.
Officer Denali asks me questions about Emmett's accident, and I manage to tell her what I saw. She doesn't ask me a single question about my relationship with Emmett, but I refer to him as a friend when it seems appropriate. She seems satisfied with all of my answers and bids me a good day.
I decide to go back up and sit with Emmett until visiting hours are over. It doesn't take me long to find his room. I knock on the door and see Jessica with another nurse standing next to Emmett.
"There she is!" Jessica exclaims. "Sue, this is Emmett's fiancée, Bella."
Sue nods. "We will take great care of him."
"Thank you," I tell Sue, as she leaves the room to attend to other patients.
Jessica adds, "Sue will be Emmett's day nurse and Shelley will be back on later as his afternoon and night nurse. And here." She holds out a bag to me.
I look inside to find a sandwich, chips, apple, cookie, and a bottle of water.
Jessica smiles. "A little birdie told me you could use a lunch to keep up your strength." She pats my shoulder. "Let us know if you need anything. I'm working the desk up here until tomorrow morning."
"Thanks, Jessica. I really appreciate this."
She shrugs it off. "Don't mention it." And she heads out the door.
I move over to sit next to Emmett. He still looks to be peacefully resting. So, I decide to dig into the bag lunch. Apparently, I am hungrier than I thought, as I eat everything in no time at all.
I throw away my trash and settle in to sit with Emmett. I debate on whether I should go back to holding his hand or not. However, it isn't much of a debate, as I take every opportunity I can to touch him.
With my hand in his, I think maybe I should talk to him. I saw that once on a television show. So, I figure it can't hurt. I clear my throat and try to figure out what to say.
"Hi. Emmett. You are probably wondering what I'm doing here. Or even who I am. Maybe you've noticed me. I wish you would. I see you every week at the airport. I know you are busy and traveling for business. Your work must be very important to you. You are so driven and focused. I admire that.
"I look forward to seeing you. It's the highlight of my week. Maybe I should tell you about myself. Let's see. I'm twenty-three. I live with my cat, Tucker. I have a one-bedroom apartment over near the University. I used to go to school, but I don't anymore.
"I work at the airport in security. Sometimes I work the scanner for everyone's belongings. Other times I wand and pat down passengers. My favorite thing to do is work the pre-check on Mondays when I know you will be there.
"This hasn't been a great Monday. At least not for you. It looked like you didn't have your regular driver. I noticed he didn't pull up next to the curb, so you had to cross a couple lanes of traffic to get to the terminal. I saw you walking then you just weren't."
I gasp out a small sob I had been holding.
"I was so worried. I had to leave my line and make sure you were okay. I might have told a little white lie or two so I could be here with you. I don't have any regrets, though. About the lying. You need someone here with you, and I'm happy I could be your someone. I wish I could have the position permanently."
I pause, trying to think what else to say.
"I know I have my job and my cat, but sometimes the loneliness can be difficult."
I gently rub his hand.
"It's amazing how a little bit of human contact can make such a difference. I really like holding your hand. It's quite a bit larger than I thought it would be. Also, being here with you doesn't make me feel so lonely, even if it's only for a little while."
I sit in silence for a while and listen to the constant beeping and whirring of Emmett's machines. He's still unresponsive, but maybe on some level, he can feel my presence and know someone is here for him.
It's almost one o'clock when I hear a knock on the door.
"Knock, knock," a woman's voice calls. She enters the room, and I know immediately she isn't one of Emmett's nurses. She's older with familiar features. She isn't alone, though. An older, distinguished gentleman is with her.
"Oh, hello!" She walks farther into the room.
I let go of Emmett's hand and stand next to him.
There's another knock on the door as it opens. Moving into the room is a woman closer to my age. She's petite with short, dark hair and beautiful, blue eyes, and is followed by two men. The latter catches my eye. He is taller with coppery-colored hair and green eyes.
The first woman speaks. "I'm so sorry. I don't believe we've met, you are…"
I look around at the roomful of people waiting expectantly to hear my reply. "I'm Bella. Bella Swan."
The older woman reaches out to shake my hand. "I'm Esme, Emmett's mother."
She points to the older man standing next to her with dark brown hair. He looks so much like Emmett. "This is my husband and Emmett's father, Carlisle."
He nods. "Hello, Bella."
She continues. "This is our daughter, Alice."
Alice gives me a warm smile and a small wave. "Hello!"
Esme moves on to the remaining members of their group. "Next to Alice is her husband, Jasper."
"Hello, darlin'." Jasper is all smiles.
"And finally, our other son, Edward."
I look over at him to find him staring at me. It's a little nerve-racking.
"Hello," I offer; however, he doesn't respond.
If I'm being honest, he's sex personified. My eyes roam him from top to bottom: his disheveled coppery hair, those gorgeous green eyes, the full beard and lips that seem to form a permanent smirk. He's wearing a gray Henley with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows and jeans worn in all the right places with a pair of black boots. He's all muscle without the bulk like Emmett, but it's the brief glimpses of ink at his neck and arms that makes me wonder about the things I can't see.
I finally move my gaze back to Esme, hoping my perusal of Edward hasn't been too long or obvious.
Alice speaks up. "The hospital called and told us Emmett had been in an accident. We came as soon as we could. Were you there with him?"
"Yes, I saw him hit by a taxi at the airport. His driver let him out where he had to cross several lanes of traffic near the terminal."
Esme shakes her head. "Oh dear. That must have been awful."
The door to Emmett's room opens, and Jessica is standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips.
Apparently, this jars Edward from his staring at me, and he asks, "Who are you?"
Jessica doesn't miss a beat. "Why, she's his fiancée, of course."
Edward seems shocked by this information and points at me. "You… you're..." He pauses and points at Emmett. "His fiancée?"
It's Alice who reprimands Edward. "Edward! You are being extremely rude! I must apologize for my brother, Bella. He sometimes forgets his manners. It's so wonderful to finally meet you. Please forgive Edward."
Jessica breaks into the conversation again. "I realize you are all focused on Emmett's well-being." She eyes Edward sharply. "So, I'm going to let you all stay in here for a bit. However, there is a limit of three people at a time. Hospital policy. Don't make me come back in here again. And please keep your voices down. Emmett needs his rest."
I speak up. "Thank you, Jessica."
Everyone else murmurs their thanks, as she leaves the room and closes the door.
"Bella, what did the doctor say?" Carlisle is the first to ask. "Did that car knock any sense into him?"
I chuckle. "Um, the doctor said they are going to keep him overnight and pretty much until he wakes up. He might have some memory issues, but aside from the bump on his head and some scrapes and bruises, he should be okay."
"Oh, thank goodness." Esme is immediately relieved.
Alice heads in my direction with her arms out ready to give me a hug. "Bella, I'm so glad you were able to be there with him. Thank you so much."
I hug her back. "I'm glad I was there, too."
"Bella, from your uniform, it looks like you work at the airport?" Jasper asks.
"Yes, I work the security checkpoint." I'm starting to think this could turn into some type of inquisition. So, I think it may be time for me to make my departure.
"I think I'm going to leave all of you some time alone to sit with Emmett." I'm ready to leave the room as Edward has gone back to staring at me.
Esme speaks up. "No problem. We will be more than happy to sit with Emmett. You've been here with him since early this morning."
I smile thankfully at her. "Yes. I work the early shift at the airport. So, I've been up for a while. Plus, I need to go back over to the airport and pick up my stuff, as I rushed over here with Emmett in the ambulance."
"Of course, dear." Esme understands.
Alice makes a suggestion. "Maybe Edward could give you a ride back to the airport."
As Alice speaks, I notice Jasper jab Edward with his elbow. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind," he adds.
Edward finally speaks with something close to distaste in his voice. "Right. Sure. Anything for Emmett's fiancée."
"Look. If it's too much trouble, then I can just call a cab. No big deal." I'm trying to figure out how to get out of being in an enclosed space with someone who has such an immediate dislike of me.
Alice doesn't let him off the hook. "Oh, it's no trouble at all. Right, Edward?"
"Sure." He grits through his teeth.
"Okay then, it was lovely meeting all of you." I try to make my way to the door, but I can't escape more hugs from Esme and Alice on the way.
Carlisle gives me a grin. "Don't be a stranger, Bella."
Jasper gives me a light pat on the shoulder and can't stop the grin he aims in Edward's direction. "Behave," he tells Edward, to which Edward replies with a scoff.
I walk out of the room with Edward following closely behind.
Jessica is at the desk. "Hey, Bella. Would you like to take Emmett's things with you?" She holds up a box. "The box has all of his personal items. Then there is his briefcase and luggage." She goes back to a room behind the desk and comes out wheeling his luggage with his briefcase on top of it.
Edward interjects himself. "I've got it." He steps past me and removes the briefcase from the luggage, then repositions the box on Emmett's suitcase. He tops it off with the briefcase again and turns to me.
"After you." He points his hand toward the open hallway.
Jessica and I share a look.
I mean really? What's his problem? Why does he have this attitude with me?
"Thanks again, Jessica."
"Sure thing, Bella. I'll see you later."
We walk down the hallway toward the elevators with me leading the way. I press the button and it isn't long until it opens.
Edward and I enter standing together but off to the side of the others already in the elevator.
As we descend the floors of the hospital, I notice Edward is leaning closer to me, and I think he just sniffed my hair.
I turn my head in his direction to find him fascinated with watching the floor numbers click by.
We reach the main floor, and I'm not sure which direction to go at this point.
I feel Edward's hand lightly touch my lower back as he guides me in the right direction.
"I parked out this way," he offers.
We make our way down a long hallway, through a series of double doors, then finally, out in the typical cloudy afternoon mist.
Edward turns again, and now I'm following him as he makes his way to a pickup truck.
"This is me."
It's incredibly luxurious for a pickup truck. His truck has an extended cab with four doors and is the most beautiful deep blue color I have ever seen.
I whistle. "Wow. This is some truck." It's a Chevy Silverado. My dad's favorite.
Edward is busy loading Emmett's things in the cab of the truck, but addresses my comment.
"I know you are probably not used to riding in a truck. Emmett drives only the best imported, luxury vehicles." He finishes his comment with a huff.
If I've learned anything so far, it's that the brothers Cullen do not get along. Edward seems to have this grudge against Emmett. And for that matter me. However, he has absolutely no reason for hating me. So, I've got to figure out how to squash that.
I open the door and climb into the passenger seat as Edward finishes with Emmett's stuff.
We both fasten seatbelts with little conversation. Edward starts up the truck, guides it from the parking lot, and in no time, we are heading back in the direction of the airport.
Edward makes a couple rather heavy sighs, and I know he's got something he wants to say, but I can wait him out.
He finally breaks the silence.
"How did you and Emmett meet?"
"At the airport. Since he travels all the time, I see him quite frequently." See? This is easy. Not a lie.
Edward reaches over and picks up my left hand.
"Where's the ring? Because I know Emmett, and he would not miss the opportunity to buy a huge rock for your finger."
I pull my hand gently from his grasp and shrug. "It's getting sized." Okay, maybe a few more lies, but that's a little one.
He looks over at me. I can tell another question at the ready.
"Do you live with Emmett?"
This one is easy. "No, I have a place in the University District. The Mondrian Apartments."
All true things. Hopefully, I'm back on track and won't have to lie to him any longer.
"And you work at the airport?" He seems skeptical. "You're not some aspiring actress or model?"
The airport comes into view, and I'm relieved this line of questioning is almost over.
"Yes, I work at the airport in security. I was a student for a while, then I took a position at the airport. And for the record, I have no aspirations to be a model or actress."
"So, you're not a student any longer?"
I shake my head. "Not at the moment. Just drop me off anywhere along the departures area."
Edward chuckles to himself and says, "You certainly aren't Emmett's type."
Then he mutters something I can't understand, but it sure sounded like it included "his type."
However, now I'm steamed. What makes him so sure I'm not Emmett's type? Am I not good enough for Emmett? Well, screw you Edward. I can't get away from him fast enough.
Lucky for me, it's not long before Edward pulls his truck up next to the curb of the terminal. I have my seat belt unfastened and my hand on the door before he can say anything else.
I open the back door of the cab and reach over to pull out Emmett's things.
"Do you want me to help you with those?" he offers.
I have Emmett's luggage and briefcase out of the truck, and I'm grabbing his box of personal items.
"Nope. I've got it. Thanks for the ride, Edward."
I slam both doors shut before he can reply. I stride with confidence up the sidewalk and through the sliding doors before Edward moves from the curb.
I refuse to look back at Edward or his truck. With Emmett's stuff in tow, I wave at some regulars at the security checkpoint and make my way to the employee locker rooms.
I gather my few items for the day from my locker and head out to my car.
I drive a silver, two-door Honda Civic. It's perfect for me. It gets great gas mileage. So, it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to maintain. It's easy to handle, and I can park anywhere. The trunk can hold a ton of stuff, which is a bonus with all Emmett's items.
I drive back to my apartment, and leave Emmett's briefcase and black bag in the trunk. I carry his box of personal things up to my apartment. I manage to make it upstairs without running into my overly friendly neighbor.
I put my key in the lock and open my door.
Tucker is at his post watching out the window as the world passes by.
"Hey, Tucker. You wouldn't believe the day I had."
He barely lets out a simple, "Meow."
I set Emmett's box down and move to my bedroom. I can't wait to get out of my uniform. I change into something more comfortable: my favorite jeans and a cream, off the shoulder sweater.
I try again. "You're not going to believe the day I had with Emmett," I yell from the bedroom.
I make my way to the kitchen and pull out a can of cat food. I pop the top and suddenly, I have Tucker's complete attention.
"That's what I thought. You will listen now? Hmmm?"
He rubs my legs, weaving through them as I empty the can into his food bowl.
"Emmett was hit by a car this morning, and I spent the entire morning with him at the hospital. That is until his family showed up... oh, and a few little white lies were told."
Tucker pauses eating to give me a look.
"I know. I shouldn't have lied, but I so wish it was true. That I was Emmett's fiancée. It's nice to pretend to be wanted for a little while at least."
I leave Tucker to his meal and go sit on my favorite chair.
Actually, it's called a chair and a half. I think I could live in it if I needed to do so. It has the most amazing and forgiving brown leather that just gets softer with age. It's durable enough it can handle whatever Tucker dishes out.
My tiny little living room is this super cozy nook. Next to my chair, I have this fabulous original Venetian Tiffany lamp given to me by my Grandma Swan. It is one of my most prized possessions. In addition to my chair, I also have a couch and two walls of bookcases that hold my collection of favorites. I love curling up here for days with a good book.
Today, I'm going to go through Emmett's box. As I do, I find his wallet, phone, keys, and clothes he wore today. However, there is also a can of cat food.
Emmett has a cat? I had no idea.
He was leaving on a business trip. Surely, he would have made arrangements for someone to take care of his cat while he was gone.
I need to find his ticket.
I scramble through the box and locate his ticket. It's a ticket to Los Angeles for today only.
He would have been coming back tonight.
I need to go.
I grab his box and throw everything back into it, but not before finding his keys. I stick them in my pocket and grab my own keys, purse, and phone.
"Sorry, Tucker. I'll be back in a little while. I've got another cat to feed."
That finally gets a response.
"Meow." It's a strong one, before he turns and goes back to his perch at the window.
I lock up my apartment, but this time I'm not so lucky to get back down to my car without running into my neighbor.
I look up at Mike to find him wearing a stained undershirt and his belly overhanging his too tight black pants with slippers. His hair looks a little greasy or maybe he's sweaty. No, there's a weird smell, too. I can't quite place it.
"Oh, hey, Mike."
"How was your day at the office?"
"It was a long one."
I really don't want to get into my day with Mike, also known as Michael Newton Jr. His dad owns the building, and Mike is the superintendent. He really doesn't do anything. However, I can't help be kind to the guy.
I think he's lonely, like me. So, I understand.
"Maybe you would like to come over for dinner tonight then? I can make us up some pasta and we could share a bottle of wine."
"Aww, Mike. Thanks for the invite, but I can't tonight. I have other plans." I kiss him on the cheek and head down the stairs.
"Maybe another night?" he yells after me.
"Sounds good. See ya, Mike."
"Okay. See ya, Bella."
For the record, I could never be a bank robber. Getting into Emmett's apartment is like trying to break into Fort Knox.
The first trick is getting past the front desk, where I use every ounce of charm to convince building security I am only there to drop off Emmett's things and feed his cat. I explain Emmett is in the hospital and was hit by a taxi at the airport this morning.
I play show and tell with some of his things to sell my story, which they finally buy, even though they don't know me and I'm not on the list of allowed guests. I explain I'm a new friend and I just left his family at the hospital. I assure them Emmett will clear everything up in a few days when he is allowed to leave.
So, with some instructions from security and Emmett's keys in hand, I make my way to the elevator. After inserting the keycard, the elevator shoots up to the main floor and the doors open. I remove the keycard then insert a different key that actually looks like a key next to the button for Emmett's floor.
Nothing happens until I remember to turn the key and leave it in place until I get to the top floor. The elevator climbs the floors, eventually stopping on the correct one, and the doors open. I twist the key, and wheel all Emmett's belongings out of the elevator.
Next up is a different keycard that allows access to Emmett's apartment. I try it a couple times with no luck before I realize I'm putting it in the slot backward. After a quick correction, I insert the keycard and the lock releases. Pushing open the door, I make my way into the great unknown. I leave his suitcase, briefcase, and box just inside the front door, as it closes behind me, the lock reengaging.
For months, I have imagined what Emmett's apartment may look like, and this exceeds my expectations. I don't think the word luxurious is even close enough to describe it.
The breathtaking views of Seattle with the floor to ceiling windows are magnificent. I start to make my way around the penthouse and note the modern design. Everything is sleek and masculine. The main room is open and furnished with contemporary pieces of furniture and artwork. The space is filled with grays and blacks.
It's the complete opposite of my apartment, which is full of comfortable furnishings that are an eclectic mix of blues, reds, browns, and creams. Maybe I can hope for the theory opposites attract?
I make my way to the kitchen that looks like a chef's dream. I can only imagine cooking here. After looking more closely at the appliances, I doubt Emmett has ever actually cooked with them. Who knows? Maybe he has a chef on staff?
I open the fridge and find it stocked from top to bottom with those rectangular bottles of Fiji water. I open the freezer to find it filled with a variety of ice cubes all shapes and sizes. The upper half of the freezer is filled with rows and rows of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. All the same: Half Baked®.
I let out a laugh that sounds more like a snort. I cover my mouth, just as a doorbell rings.
I'm immediately frozen in place.
Who could it be? Was Emmett having guests over? What if it's his actual girlfriend or fiancée?
My palms start sweating as I creep over to the door and try not to make a sound.
Before I can look out the peephole, the knocking starts.
And then I hear it.
"I know you're here! Open up!"
It's Edward. I really don't want to deal with him again. However, he doesn't seem like he is going to leave without my opening the door.
I walk over to the door, push down on the handle, and pull back the door just a crack to find Edward standing there getting ready to start knocking again.
"Hey," I try casually.
"I have a delivery for you," he says abruptly.
He's so rude. Not even a proper greeting.
"We didn't order anything."
The corner of his mouth turns up slightly.
"Wedding present," is all he offers.
I step back and hold open the door as he wheels in a large rectangular box.
"Please, come in," I say to no one, because he is already in the main room.
I close the door and make my way there.
"Where do you want it?"
"What exactly is it?"
"It is a beauty," he replies, and begins slicing open a box on the middle of the floor.
"You said a wedding present?"
"Yes, from my parents. Did Emmett tell you about our family business?"
"Of course he didn't." Edward's anger with Emmett seems to flare once again.
"Well, Cullen & Son is a fifth generation stained glass company. We do installations in churches, colleges, businesses, and high-end homes."
He pauses and looks around.
"I guess, like this one."
He starts unwrapping the inner packing materials to reveal one of the most colorful stained glass windows I have ever seen.
I reach out to touch it, but instantly draw back my hand.
"You made this?" I look over at him and wait for an answer.
Edward hesitates for a moment. "Yes. We had a customer in New York, a church that had their window damaged by an errant soccer ball. So, in the process of repairing their window, we had to create a replica. This is the replica. Where do you want it?"
Edward is now waiting for my direction, and I have no idea what to tell him.
"Um, maybe just lean it over there up against the windows."
Even in today's cloudy conditions, it is a magnificent piece of artwork.
"Edward, it is just…"
"What?" he says harshly.
"It's amazing. I can't believe you created this. I'm not familiar with the depiction in the window. Can you explain it to me?" I ask.
He looks at me skeptically, then at the window.
"It's the Wedding in Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine. Or so the story goes."
"It seems fitting the two of you should have it. Emmett getting married and settling down is truly a miracle, and you are clearly a saint for putting up with him when no one else will."
"Edward, I don't understand why you are so angry with Emmett or with me…" I trail off and remember the reason for my visit. I head toward the front door and begin to dig through the stuff in Emmett's box. Edward is hot on my trail.
"Let me ask you something. Have you ever been here before this visit?"
"Where is it?" I mutter, and finally locate the can of cat food in the box. I make my way for the kitchen.
"Edward, my apartment is only fifteen minutes from here." I try to deflect his question and open a few cabinets, hoping to find a plate or dish.
Luck is on my side for once, and I find a small dish after opening my second cabinet door.
I set the can of cat food on the countertop with a small plate and look at Edward. We are on opposite sides of the center kitchen island. He's staring at my bare shoulder, but his eyes return to mine at being caught.
"What are you doing?" he asks, even though it's obvious.
I let out a slight laugh and wave my hands over the counter. "Clearly, I'm getting ready to feed Emmett's cat. His trip today was only a day trip, and with him in the hospital, I'm taking care of his cat."
"Ha! Emmett doesn't have a cat!" he tells me with a smug smirk. He folds his arms across his chest.
I look him in those beautiful green eyes and pop the top of the cat food. Within seconds, a white, short-haired feline appears from nowhere wiping the smirk completely off Edward's face.
I can't help a bit of my own smirk, as I empty the can's contents onto the plate.
"You were saying?" I give the cat a scratch behind the ears and check the cat's tags to find her name to be Luna.
Edward sighs and shakes his head. "I don't understand what you see in Emmett."
"Edward, you don't know me, but I'm tired of being alone. Is that really hard to believe? I want to love someone, and I want to be loved. I want to travel the world. Did you know I have a passport and work at an airport, and I've never traveled outside the state of Washington?" I sigh. "I want to experience the world. I want to be young and foolish. I want to live my life because what I've been doing is not living. I've just been existing."
His eyes lock with mine. "You don't need Emmett for those things."
I walk around to his side of the island. "Look, I understand. You don't think I'm good enough for your brother. I get it. I'm not pretty enough. I'm not his type. Could I ask you just one favor? Could you just maybe not hate me so much?" I can't help the tears I feel well up in my eyes.
Edward lets out a huff and moves closer to me where we are almost touching. "Hating you isn't the problem."
Before I can reply, Edward leans in and his lips make contact with mine in a slow, simple kiss. He's hesitant about my reaction. However, at this moment, I can only focus on him, and how good his soft lips feel touching mine.
My response causes Edward to repeat his movements with more confidence and passion. These kisses are full of heat and desire as his arms wrap around me, holding me tightly to his body. My hands move up his muscle-toned arms and my arms rest on his shoulders while my hands find their way into his soft hair. His hands roam my curves as his tongue seeks entry and soon dances with mine.
Edward moves me backward until I'm against the island. Moans escape both of our lips. However, it's the sound from behind us that causes us to pause.
Breathless and panting from Edward's kisses, I break away and look over at Luna, as she has finished her dinner, says her thanks, and jumps off the island heading to places unknown.
Edward steps back from me removing his hands from my body and looking down at his boots.
"I—" He starts and stops.
I put my hand over my swollen lips and wait for him to continue or at least make eye contact.
Edward turns and starts to gather up all the window packaging and stores it inside the box. He sets the box back on his transport cart and rolls it toward the front door.
Facing the door, he says, "Mom wanted me to ask if you would come to dinner tomorrow night. It's a family dinner. Alice and Jasper will be there, as well."
"Okay," I whisper.
"Okay…" He looks back and glances at my face.
I'm not sure what he finds there: lust, longing, guilt.
"I'll be there." I say it with all the confidence I can muster and hold open the front door for him as he moves his cart out into the hallway.
He turns to me. "Okay, I'll let her know. Do you need the address?"
He holds out his hand. "Here, give me your phone."
I pull my phone from my pocket and hand it to Edward. He calls his phone, and I hear it vibrating in his pocket.
"Now I have your number. I'll text you the address once I have the cart loaded back into the truck. Goodnight, Bella." Without another backward glance, he pushes the cart around the corner.
"Goodnight, Edward," I say, a little too late to the space he just left.
After Edward left Emmett's apartment last night, he texted me his parents' address. However, before I go over there this evening, I have plenty of things to take care of today, including visiting Emmett.
I call my boss, Sam, to let him know I'm taking off the next couple days due to a family emergency. He wishes me well and tells me he will see me later in the week. I feel really lucky to have his support while I figure out my situation.
I still have no idea what I'm doing.
I make my way to the hospital to check up on Emmett's condition, hoping I will be there when his doctor visits and maybe we will have some type of idea when he will be waking up.
I pass Jessica at the main desk. She swears she is leaving in the next ten minutes to go sleep the rest of the day away.
I give her a friendly wave and make my way to Emmett's door. I push open the door a crack to find Edward standing at the window of the room talking. Not wanting to intrude, but I can't help my curiosity, I keep the door slightly ajar.
I hear Edward talking to Emmett. "I don't know how you did it. I'm sure you've somehow manipulated or tricked her into believing you are something you're not. You and I both know you don't deserve her. She's too good for you."
Edward walks over and heavily sits in the chair and stares at Emmett.
"I never envied you. Not once. The money. The cars. The job. I never wanted anything you had. Ever. Until now." Edward sighs in resignation and stands from the chair.
I quickly step backward and out of sight, as Edward leaves Emmett's room and heads down the hall.
I enter Emmett's room and take my seat next to him. I decide to resume my hand-holding, as Sue, Emmett's day nurse, comes in to check on our favorite patient.
Emmett's family doctor stops by and introduces himself. He tells me he is up to date on Emmett's tests, and we are just waiting for any signs he may be waking up. So far, nothing. Not a flinch. Or even a twitch.
To fill my time with Emmett, I tell him all there is to know about Bella Swan. It's a very short story, but maybe, on some level, I hope simply hearing my voice will help in Emmett's recovery.
My mind wanders to strong, inked arms that hold me to his body tightly, and passionate kisses that leave me breathless and make me forget my name. While roaming hands discover the curves of my body, I imagine running my own fingers through soft, coppery locks. A persistent mouth moves down my neck and to my chest, as his beard tickles the tops of my breasts.
A nurse knocking on the door brings me back to the present and away from my fantasy Edward. While my image of him fades with my daydream, I start to feel guilty about the kiss I shared with Edward.
After all, Emmett is the reason why I'm here, not Edward. I'm a wash of guilt and confusion.
What am I doing here?
The hours pass with Emmett, and soon I'm on my way to dinner with the Cullens. They live in the Madrona area that overlooks Lake Washington. I find my way there without too much trouble, and instantly, love their charming neighborhood.
The Cullens' home, a storybook Tudor, is large without being too imposing. I park and make my way to the front door. A few deep breaths and I work up the nerve to ring the bell.
I can hear voices and movement behind the door as someone makes their way to answer it. The door swings open, and I find Edward standing before me.
He smiles widely, then carefully schools his features into one of indifference.
"Bella." He leans in and kisses me on the cheek.
It's shocking. Talk about mixed signals. "Edward," I manage to utter.
From behind Edward, I hear Esme. "Good heavens, Edward! Don't just stand there. Invite Bella inside."
Edward backs up a little and opens the door wider. "Come in."
Esme directs Edward again. "Edward, take Bella's coat for her. We are almost ready to eat. Come on in Bella and make yourself comfortable."
"Thank you, Esme."
I shrug off my coat, and Edward hangs it in the coat closet next to the front door.
"The dining room is right through there." Edward points toward the doorway Esme just went through, and I make my way in that direction.
As I turn the corner, I find Carlisle, Jasper, and Alice already sitting at the table.
"Bella, welcome!" Alice responds when she sees me. "Why don't you sit by me?"
I move around the table and take the seat next to Alice.
"Did you have any trouble finding us?" Carlisle asks.
"No. None at all," I answer, as Esme sets two last dishes on the table.
"Your home is very beautiful, Esme, and the views are just breathtaking."
"Oh, thank you, Bella. This home has been in my family for years, and I just can't imagine living anywhere else."
"I can certainly understand why."
"Now, I hope you don't have any food allergies?" Esme inquires.
"No. None for me."
"Okay, I made some of Emmett's favorites."
"He's not even here," Edward complains, as he is sitting across from me.
"Edward." Esme turns back to me. "I thought you might like the recipes for some of Emmett's favorites, and I would be more than happy to share those with you."
"That is very thoughtful, Esme. Thank you."
"Tonight I made pot roast, mashed potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts," Esme tells me proudly.
"This is ridiculous. Not only is he not here, but he never attends family dinners."
"While that might be true, Edward. Perhaps now Bella is in his life, we will see him more often." She gives me a hopeful smile.
"The only way you will ever get him to attend is if you offer a happy hour with champagne and caviar, where he can network with future colleagues," Edward states with disgust.
Esme admonishes. "Edward, be nice. Emmett chose to pursue a career in business and he's been very successful. You chose to pursue art design and work with your father. Not everyone has to like the same things."
"Bella, I bet you have some interesting stories from working security at the airport." Jasper tries to steer the conversation in a new direction.
"We have certainly found our share of interesting items in carry-on bags. Some items like cheese or sausage look indistinguishable from explosives going through the scanner. We usually end up with quite the haul of alcohol, guns, knives, and ammunition. However, one of the biggest problems is illegal pets. People try to smuggle lizards, snakes, turtles, and the like."
"Yikes. I would be so nervous finding those things," Alice admits.
Esme asks, as dishes are passed around the table, "Do you have any siblings, Bella?"
"No. I'm an only child." I take a sip of water. I should have known I was going to be in the hot seat.
She continues. "And your parents?"
I sigh heavily. "My father, Charlie, was Chief of Police in our little town called, Forks. It's where I grew up. He was killed in the line of duty last year when he was called for backup on a traffic stop. I was going to college at U-Dub at the time, but I had to drop out after his death, then I got the job at the airport."
"I'm so sorry, Bella. What about your mother?" Esme wonders.
"I really don't know her. She left shortly after I was born. My father was heartbroken. However, she didn't want the responsibility of motherhood or marriage." I shrug. "I've never tried to contact her, and I wouldn't have a clue how to find her or even start."
"Bella, what did you study in college?" Jasper asks, always ready to steer the conversation in another direction.
Edward asks, "Does that help with your job?"
"A little. My dad was known as the human lie detector around the station."
"I guess it was pretty tough to get much past him growing up?" Jasper suggests.
Before I can answer. Edward steps in.
"Or it might make one a good liar if need be."
I need to be careful, as Edward may be a better lie detector than Charlie.
"Edward! What is wrong with you this evening?" Esme directs her ire toward him.
"Do you think you might go back to school once you and Emmett are married?" Alice moves the conversation back on track.
I hear Edward groan.
"I have no idea at this point," I answer.
"Did you deliver our gift?" Carlisle asks Edward.
Edward gives me a smirk, as he answers his father.
"Oh, I did. However, I tried to deliver it to Bella's place first."
My stomach drops. He did? When was this? Yesterday?
Edward continues. "She wasn't home, but I did have the opportunity to meet Bella's boyfriend."
Edward gives me his best evil villain smile. If he had a mustache, I'm sure it would curl up at the ends.
"Boyfriend?" Esme wonders, eyes wide with confusion.
"Yes. One, Michael Newton Jr. He informed me that his Bella wasn't home."
I laugh and clarify. "Mike wishes he was my boyfriend. His father owns the building, and Mike lives there, as well. He knows I live alone and is very protective of me. So, I'm not surprised by your conversation. It's really no big deal. He's harmless."
"Well, it's always good to have someone looking out for you," Jasper adds.
Edward appears a bit deflated by my explanation. I suspect he was hoping to catch me in a lie.
"So, what did you do with the window?" Carlisle prompts Edward.
"I took it over to Emmett's and that's where I found Bella," Edward explains.
"Thank you so much for the gift, Carlisle. The craftsmanship is absolutely amazing. I love stained glass. I have an original Tiffany lamp given to me by my grandmother. It has a spot of honor in my apartment," I offer with a smile.
Carlisle waves off my compliment. "That's all Edward. I've taught him everything I know, and he's more than ready to take over the business."
Alice perks up. "Are you living with Emmett?"
"No. I like having my own apartment. It's the one I had while going to college. However, I should probably find something closer to SeaTac."
"Won't you be living with Emmett?" Esme inquires.
Edward lets loose another loud sigh. He's clearly not happy with this conversation.
"I'm not really sure what we are doing. We haven't discussed that." Like ever.
Carlisle's phone rings and he steps away from the table to take the call.
"Well, I'm sure the two of you will have plenty of time to make all sorts of decisions together." Esme pats my hand in assurance.
I give Esme—what I hope is—a sincere smile and excuse myself to the bathroom.
After finishing, I step outside of the bathroom to find Edward waiting. The hallway is narrow, so I go to step around Edward, but he has other ideas and quickly pins me against the wall.
"You shouldn't be with Emmett," he says, then his mouth is on mine.
I'm helpless to his advances. He makes me feel so wanted. Something, in its own twisted way, I've never felt with Emmett. I return Edward's kiss with just as much desire.
However, I don't want us to get caught, so I push back on his chest. "I... I think we should return to the table."
He's panting from our kisses, but nods his agreement.
Just as we step into the dining room, Carlisle comes back into the room. "That was the hospital. They think Emmett should be waking up soon, and they would like for us to be there."
At this news, everyone excitedly gets up and starts scrambling to clear the table and put away the remaining food.
I decide to make my departure and tell everyone I will meet them over there. I thank Esme for the dinner and share a hug with Alice.
"Bella, let me walk you out," Jasper offers.
He helps me with my coat, and we step out onto the Cullens' porch.
I don't have to wait long for Jasper to get to the point.
"Bella, I've known the Cullens for some time. They are good people. Hard-working people. I'm not sure what's going on with Edward, but I do know that Emmett can be quite the ass. And you, well, you aren't Emmett's typical type."
I get ready to defend Emmett, but Jasper holds up a hand to stop me.
"I don't know what's going on with you and Emmett. However, I just ask that you be careful. I care a lot about those people inside. They are growing quite attached to you. Don't hurt them." Jasper smiles and pats my arm. "We will see you over at the hospital." He turns and goes back inside.
Okay. Forget Edward. It is Jasper that's on to me. I think he knows. He knows I've lied about my relationship with Emmett.
What am I going to do?
I make my way to my car and head over to the hospital. I feel nothing but doom and despair. This is it. The big reveal of Liar Bella. I guess it's time to face the music. It's better to get this over with now than let the lie drag on for far too long.
I make my way up to Emmett's room, but this time, I'm hesitant to join him at his bedside. So, I stick to the window area as the rest of the family starts to trickle into the room. Esme takes the seat at Emmett's side, and holds his hand.
"I should have brought dessert!" Esme exclaims, and finally breaks the silence. "Emmett just loves banana pudding. I have this great recipe that uses those chessman cookies. Oh, Bella, you are going to love it."
"It sounds wonderful, Esme."
Jasper shoots me a grin, while Edward appears to be ignoring my existence. He's hot and cold.
"Mom, maybe she doesn't like bananas," Alice offers.
"How can you not like bananas?" Carlisle suggests.
"Some people don't like bananas," Edward interjects.
I look over at Emmett and notice a twitch in his lips. Maybe he can hear us, and he's trying to say something. My eyes stay focused on him, knowing the end for me is near.
"I always use regular bananas. Not those organic ones," Esme explains to me.
"It's just a scam anyway. That organic stuff," Carlisle complains with a huff.
"Dad, it's not a scam." Edward huffs.
"It is! I'll bet you twenty dollars you can't tell the difference in eating a regular banana versus an organic banana." Carlisle is now standing, pointing in Edward's direction.
"Carlisle, you're getting too loud." Esme tries to quiet him. "Shhh."
I notice Emmett's eyelids starting to crack open.
"Maybe we should dim lights a bit," I suggest.
At my suggestion, everyone stops and looks at Emmett.
His hands twitch, and Emmett moves his head.
"I'll go tell the nurse." Jasper slips out of the room.
"Emmett, honey. We're here. Your family," Esme says, smoothing back his hair.
His eyes crack open, and he tries to speak, but nothing comes out.
Alice jumps in. "How about some water?"
She pours some into a cup from the table at the end of his bed, then opens a straw for him. Alice moves to his side and places the straw in his open mouth.
"Here drink this," she offers.
Jasper slips back into the room. "The nurse will be in shortly."
Emmett takes a few gulps of water and nods he's had enough.
"Emmett, we are so glad you're awake." Esme rubs his arm.
He clears his throat, and a gravelly, "Mom," escapes his lips.
Esme beams with his recognition.
His eyes move from one person to the next around the bed. They land on me, but he moves on to the next person. Unfortunately, not for long.
Emmett comes back to me. "Who are you?" he croaks out.
There it is—the million-dollar question. I try to plaster on my most convincing smile.
Alice tells him. "That's Bella. She's your fiancée."
"My fiancée?" Emmett asks, confused.
"Yes. The doctor said you might have some memory issues. Do you remember what happened?" Carlisle asks.
"I'm in the hospital?" Emmett is starting to grasp the situation.
"Yes, you were hit by a taxi at the airport. Do you remember that at all?" Esme asks. "Bella came with you to the hospital, and she's been here by your bedside waiting for you to wake up."
"She has?" Emmett looks at me again.
I nod, but it's clear that Emmett has no clue who I am, which is heartbreaking. The reality of the situation is starting to hit me.
What was I thinking?
I don't think I can be in the room any longer. I need to leave. The jig is up. Deep breaths.
I try not to let my smile falter, but it is a near impossible task.
"I think I'm going to step out for a while and let all of you catch up with Emmett."
I see the concern and confusion on everyone's faces, as I quietly leave the room.
I'm really not sure where to go from here, but I think the stairs seem like a great starting point, since I'm going down already.
I hear steps racing behind me, as I quicken my descent.
Yes. This just keeps getting better.
I pause on the steps, as Edward catches up with me.
"Bella, I'm sure you're upset. Give him some time. He doesn't deserve you, but he does need a chance to remember."
I nod and turn to make my way down the steps again without Edward following me this time.
I go back to my apartment and curl up in my bed. Tucker knows something is wrong as my sleep is restless, and he flees my bed for the living room.
I wake feeling drained and empty. Dread seeps in my bones. Today, I plan to go to the hospital and explain everything to Emmett. It's my day to come clean. I will lose him and the Cullens.
I can't even stomach toast this morning. My stomach is a mess of nerves.
I dress slowly. I know I need to get going before the family shows up to visit Emmett. I don't want the chance of running into any of them.
Traffic is non-existent, as I drive over to the hospital. Lucky for me, I even find a parking spot close to the entrance.
The universe is making it easy for me to come clean. Just great.
As I make my way to Emmett's room, everyone I pass seems to be smiling and happy. My mood is the exact opposite, but I know I should at least try to fake my happiness for Emmett.
I push open his door to find him sitting up in his bed. His eyes find mine and he gives me a hesitant smile.
The knife in my heart twists. How long has it been? Me wishing he would acknowledge my existence.
I sigh and move into the room. I take the seat next to Emmett and stare at my hands trying to figure out what to say first.
I look up at Emmett, and his face is searching mine. I'm sure for some type of recognition. Something familiar.
I need to let him off the hook. There's nothing familiar about me.
"Emmett…" I start.
"Bella, I'm sorry."
"Emmett, you don't need to—"
"Let me finish, please. I do." He takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry I didn't recognize you yesterday. I'm sure that hurt, and I don't want to hurt you." He pauses, reaches for my hand and squeezes. "My fiancée."
His smile is heartbreaking, because I know the truth. I need to fix this, but he continues.
"Last night, my family let me know, in no uncertain terms, you were the best thing that has ever happened to me. And if you agreed to marry me prior to my accident, then I need to step up and do the right thing now. I know I can be difficult, even an ass sometimes. It's clear they all love you, and I trust them. So, if they love you, then I'm sure I do, too."
He clears his throat. "Bella, will you marry me?"
I'm stunned. Emmett just proposed to me, an airport security worker, who has never been on a single date with this man, Mr. Perfect. Or even shared a kiss. This conversation is the longest one we have ever had. I have no idea how to respond. I know deep down he doesn't love me. How could he? He doesn't even know me.
Every part of me wants to say, "Yes."
What happens when he finds out it was all a lie? Will he still claim to love me then?
I look back up into his gorgeous blue eyes and see the man I've lusted after for months. He's hopeful, and I want to give him everything.
I smile with a heavy heart and nod my agreement.
His smile is blinding. "We should get married today in the hospital chapel. I already asked Edward to be my best man."
"Wait, you asked Edward?"
"Yes. After talking with my family last night, they all knew I was going to ask you this morning. So, they are ready for a wedding. I think they will be by in a couple hours."
I wipe a few tears from the corners of my eyes. What if I just said yes to the wrong brother?
I try to shake off my doubts.
"If we are getting married, I need a dress." I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. "I'm going to go find one, and then I'll be back."
I start to gather my things. "Wait. Do you need a suit?"
"Alice volunteered to go by my apartment and pick one up. I'm covered."
Emmett reaches out and grabs my hand again.
"Thank you, Bella. You have made me the happiest man on earth."
He brings the back of my hand to his lips and leaves a kiss there.
A lump forms in my throat.
"I'll see you in a few hours," I tell him.
"See you then."
I walk out of Emmett's hospital room, wandering down the hallway. I can't believe how my world has changed once again.
"I'm going to be Emmett's wife," I say, even though no one pays me any attention. I should be delighted by this news, but I'm full of confusing thoughts and feelings.
I hurry to my car and head to a boutique in my neighborhood that specializes in vintage clothing. Hopefully, they will have something that will work.
Half an hour later, I purchase an ivory silk dress. It doesn't fit me perfectly, but it will work. I rush back to my apartment to get changed and find some shoes.
Oh great, Mike.
"Hi Mike, I don't have time to talk." I quickly unlock my apartment.
He stands in the doorway. "You have a date or something?"
I pause and smile at him. "I do." I chuckle at my inside joke. I'm going to be saying "I do" to Mr. Perfect in about an hour.
Tucker ignores me from his window perch.
"I really don't have time. I need to get ready," I try to explain, but he seems to be slow on the uptake.
"Oh. Do I know the guy?"
I give up and head to my bedroom.
"I don't think so," I yell.
"What's his name? I know a lot of people, Bella."
I come back to the living room. "His name is Emmett. Can you zip me up?" I turn around with my back to Mike and hold up my hair.
He does a quick intake of air as he slowly slides the zipper up and in place. "Is he coming by to pick you up? Maybe I can meet him."
"Thank you. No. He's in the hospital. So, I'm meeting him there."
"Oh. Well, if he turns out to be a problem, you let me know. I can take care of him for you."
I jam my feet into two ivory colored flats and throw on my beige overcoat. I twist and secure my hair into a messy bun, and grab my purse and keys.
I lean up to give Mike a kiss on the cheek. "Okay, Mike. I'll let you know. Now, I really have to go. Tucker, I'll be back later."
I herd Mike out of my apartment and lock the door before rushing back down the stairs.
"See ya, Bella."
"See ya, Mike."
I hurry out to my car and start to make my way back to the hospital. This time, the trip seems to take forever. There's an accident on the freeway, and they are detouring everyone to side roads.
When I finally make my way to the hospital, I can't find a parking place. I drive to the farthest spot away to find an open space.
As I'm getting out of my car, I slam my door shut catching my overcoat in the door. Once I'm finally free, I make my way to the main entrance.
I decide to stop and buy a bouquet of flowers to carry. I'm looking for a mix of something, but end up just buying a bouquet of red roses. Their credit card machine isn't working, so I hand over my last bit of cash to cover the flowers and make my way to the elevators.
I feel a bit frazzled. The elevators take forever. I ride up to Emmett's floor only to remember we are meeting at the chapel on the main level.
Once I'm back down on the main level, I get directions to the chapel and hope I'm not late.
When I arrive, I see all of the Cullens standing in attendance with the exception of Emmett. He's in a wheelchair wearing a suit with a dress shirt, but no tie. It looks as though he's worked on his hair a bit.
I shrug off my overcoat onto one of the back pews and stand at the center aisle while everyone takes their places.
The music starts, and I walk down the aisle knowing I should be thrilled this day is finally here. I find myself standing next to Emmett's wheelchair, and I look over at Edward.
He's actually smiling at me for once and winks.
My attention is pulled back to the ceremony, as the minister begins.
We barely get past the point of "We are gathered here today," when the door of the chapel slams wide open.
Standing there in the doorway is a gorgeous blonde woman in a skin-tight red dress, matching Stilettos, and a white fur coat. She starts down the aisle and yells, "Stop!"
She looks at Emmett, then at me, and points. "This woman is an imposter! I am Rosalie Hale and Emmett's actual fiancée."
She raises her left hand and shows everyone the biggest diamond I have ever seen.
"Tell them, Emmett," she instructs, while smirking at me.
I look at Emmett who looks extremely confused.
He turns to Edward who now looks as though he's won the lottery. "I thought Bella was my fiancée?"
Edward pats him on the shoulder and looks at me. "It looks like we were wrong."
Esme puts her hand on my arm. "Bella, is it true?"
I feel the tears start to leak from my eyes. "You are all so amazing. I'm sorry." I sniff back my tears. "I should go."
I walk back down the center aisle, leave the roses on the pew, grab my coat, and walk out of the chapel.
It's been a month since the day when I almost became Mrs. Emmett Cullen. I've tried to keep busy and not focus on it. After all, Emmett was never mine from the start. Sadly, neither was Edward.
I often find myself daydreaming about a particular pair of green eyes, tattoos, and stolen kisses.
I do miss the Cullens. Jasper was right. They are good people, and I've hurt them. I doubt they will ever forgive me.
I have no idea how to move on from here. I keep shuffling between work and home. I hold Tucker a little tighter and pet him a little longer than I know he deems necessary.
Jacob is now dating the girl he met online. Her name is Leah, but he tells me they are taking it slow.
I'm glad he's happy. People deserve to be happy, even when I feel like I'm dying inside.
Today, it's another Monday, and I've been on the scanner. It feels good to just get lost in the task at hand. However, it's almost time for my break. Angela is coming to relieve me of my duty, as Jacob and I have been working the line together since this morning.
"Oh, hey, Angela."
I stop the conveyor belt, as she takes my spot.
"Enjoy your break," she says cheerily.
"Hey, Bella. Can you help me out?" Jacob asks. "I need you to use the wand on this guy before you go."
"Sure, no problem." I notice the guy is facing away from me with his arms out to the side, so I grab the wand and start going over the back of his legs. I move up and go over his back and arms.
I step back. "Please turn around, sir."
He turns around, and I start at his feet and work my way up. The wand goes crazy near his front pocket.
"Sir, would you please remove whatever is in your front pocket?"
He makes no attempt to move and his arms are still held straight out.
"Sir—" I make eye contact... and find it to be Edward grinning from ear to ear.
I'm stunned. He's here. In my security line. My eyes search his face.
What is he doing here?
Jacob steps in. "Sir, would you please remove what's in your front pocket."
Edward reaches into his front pocket and pulls out a box. Not a ring box, but certainly a jewelry box of some type.
"Open it." He hands it to me.
I look over at Jacob who gives me an encouraging nod.
I open the top to find a necklace with a colorful, glass world attached to it. I look back up into Edward's eyes.
"Bella, since the first day I saw you in Emmett's hospital room, I was drawn to you. At the same time, it made me so angry to see you with Emmett, because I knew you should be with me. You're exactly my type, not Emmett's.
"This past month, without seeing you, has been torture. I wanted to give you time, but I can't wait any longer. I want us to go on dates. I want to learn everything there is to know about you.
"I made this necklace for you, because I want to give you the world." He pulls the necklace from the box and fastens it around my neck. "What do you say?"
Edward reaches into his back pocket, pulls out two plane ticket vouchers, and sets them in my hand. I read through the information to find my name and his on vouchers allowing us to travel within the next year to anywhere in the world.
"Well?" Edward awaits my answer.
A huge grin breaks across my face. "Where should we go? Because I'd travel the world with you."
I jump up in Edward's arms, and he squeezes me tightly to him, hugging me while spinning me around.
He pulls back slightly. "Bella, it's up to you. I'm ready when you are."
This time, it's me who leans in and plants a kiss on Edward right in the middle of the security checkpoint.
It's then I know, no more little white lies for me. Edward will always be my one and only Mr. Perfect.