A/N: No... your eyes aren't deceiving you... I really just posted something... please try not to die from the shock alone. I hope everyone is holding up as well as you can during this crazy time. I am out of work for the foreseeable future due to this global pandemic... the good news is I've actually had some time to write. Special thanks to Ashley (Pandora's Box Is Heavy) for kicking my ass in gear... my new friend Monica (monica03) for her help with the editing... and always... my literal left hand Deb (Midnight Cougar) thank you for jumping right back in like we just left off and holding my hand like you've been doing for the last decade. I appreciate you. I hope you all enjoy this... it's pre-written and going to be posted in 5 small parts. Let me know what you think and please put me on alert because I have another story coming soon.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters... I just make them do what I want... Please don't sue.
Summary: Bella is the hassled yet eerily efficient assistant to Edward Cullen, who, let's face it, has every right to be that smug.
"Bella, I need you to run down to the café. Get me another Jamaican roast and make sure they brew a fresh pot. The last one you bought was foul."
Rosalie smiles at Bella sympathetically as she clicks the intercom.
"No problem, Mr. Cullen. I'll have it for you in a few minutes."
"Good. I need it before my conference call in fifteen minutes. No one is to disturb me after that."
"Leaving now, sir."
Bella jumps up and grabs her coat and gloves, unwilling to go without either on a Chicago winter day.
"Just leave them," Rosalie calls over, probably glad he's not sending her outside. "You'll have to run to make it in time."
"He's not worth frostbite, you know."
"Whatever," Rosalie drones, turning back to her work. "Just means I'll get your job when he fires you."
"You say that every day."
"Someday it'll happen." Rosalie doesn't look up as Bella walks out of the office.
Bella's used to Rosalie's taunts and teases by now. She's fierce, Bella knows, and would be more than happy to get the benefits of Bella's position. Higher pay, better desk, and more respect—from everyone except their boss, of course—all sounded appealing. But she'd caught relief in Rosalie's eyes more than once as he sent Bella on errand after errand. The blonde bombshell has quite a temper, not to mention a high opinion of her value. It isn't necessarily unwarranted, though. She'd hate the subordination Bella puts up with, having to bite back her sarcasm all the time.
Bella is grateful when she catches the elevator quickly. Stairs are not her thing. Not from the tenth floor, anyway. Dashing out of the building, Bella jaunts to their favorite café, barely worried about her time constraint. The baristas know her well and can guess what she will be ordering this time of day. The handsome guy behind the counter gives a wave before turning to make a new pot of coffee. She's lucky Garrett's working; a little harmless flirting now and then and her unspoken order immediately becomes a priority.
If Edward Cullen only knew all the things she does for him.
She makes it back to the office with a few minutes to spare, despite grabbing double shots for Rosalie and herself, courtesy of Cullen Investing. They'll both need the caffeine to counter the unavoidable two o'clock slump. As long as he has his coffee, Mr. Cullen won't care. He'll probably approve if it means his assistants aren't taking naps at their desks all afternoon.
Bella's boss doesn't thank her for the piping hot Jamaican roast when she delivers it, but simply nods in acknowledgement. Bella's not expecting anything beyond that. She knows Edward Cullen's habits inside and out, more than she should. Walking out of the lavish office, she can hear the man picking up his phone.
She stops in the doorway, a smoky, smooth voice halting her, and turns to find green eyes fixed on her.
"This coffee is better, thank you." The words and the sentiment are commonplace, but normal has always sounded anything but coming from Edward Cullen.
"Hopefully, it keeps me awake for the teleconference with McCarty's office."
Bella's not uncomfortable, but she's worked for Cullen long enough to anticipate most of what's thrown at her. This, though—this is weird. Edward Cullen doesn't do small talk. Well, certainly not in the office.
"Was there anything else you needed, Mr. Cullen?" Bella starts mentally kicking herself, because really, was that the best she could think of?
She's glad to hear her boss left out the "thank you." Hearing it twice in one conversation could only mean possession or psychosis.
"But tell Miss Hale I looked over this month's expense reports and remind her I won't compensate for her manicures. Nervous habits are her compulsion, not a consequence of work stress."
The man says it all with a straight face, but there's something just there in the corner of his eye that Bella catches. Holy shit. If she doesn't swear to know her boss cold, she'd say Cullen is trying to be funny. Bella wants to joke back, see what would happen, but she can't. Hell, the sky may fall if she tries.
"I'll pass it on," she says lamely, and shuts the heavy oak door behind her.
Bella feels Rosalie staring at her as she sits.
"What's with the deer-in-headlights look? Did he finally fire you?"
That brings her out of her sudden daze caused by Cullen's surprise display of personality. Because there's no way in hell she'd ever get fired. Rosalie doesn't know that, though, and it's hilarious to keep her hopes up.
"Sorry to disappoint, but I still have my job," Bella pops the tab on her double shot. "But you might want to stop charging your spa days to the company."
"Those were legitimate expenses!"
"You can take it up with Mr. Cullen, if you want." Bella doesn't look over, checking her agenda for the rest of the afternoon instead. "Or just buy some hand lotion and stop biting your nails." She knows Rosalie flips her off without seeing it.
Her afternoon's wide open, thankfully, only a few memos to send out and a handful of calls to make before the day ends. And there, highlighted in blue on her Outlook agenda, the date she added yesterday morning and hasn't been able to get out of her head.
Dinner. Meritage. 7:30.
"It's not fair," Rosalie's muttering interrupts Bella's thoughts. "A lot of your expenses are comped."
"They're actually related to business," Bella responds flatly, eyes on the blue box. "And I get approval first." She mouths, "Whatever," as she hears Rosalie say it. So predictable.