Welcome to my new fic! I am so excited to be finally writing this one. This first chapter came to me back in August of 2020, but I was so busy, I sketched it out, then left it alone. It's been simmering in the back of my mind since!

Thank you so much to my amazing team: Fran S. Sunflower for her sharp beta work on this chapter, DaniDarlingxx and brierlynn03 for pre-reading this chapter. Finally, extra thank you to DaniDarlingxx for the stunning banner for this story!

Without further ado... Enjoy!

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Chapter 1: Edward

My fingers flew across my keyboard, the constant clicking of the keys a hectic thrumming pulse. Next to me on my desk, my phone buzzed with another email, and I ignored it, finishing the email I was writing.

I read back what I'd written, making sure I'd gotten my point across, before sending it off. I looked at my inbox, saw the email was from my brother and not about my current bid, and ignored it. I had an hour left to get the final numbers of this bid in; Emmett could fucking wait.

My phone buzzed again, and this time I saw it was a call from a subcontractor. I tapped my Air Pods, answering the call.

"Mike," I called in greeting. "Hey man, tell me you have some good news."

On the phone, Mike chuckled. "Yeah, man. It kicked our asses, but I'm sending it to you right now."

My eyes drifted to my email, and I refreshed it, feeling impatient. "How's it looking?"

Mike grunted. "Like you've got us over a desk. We're giving you a hell of a cut, Ed."

I hummed, seeing the email. I pulled it open, my eyes flying over the numbers. "We'll be able to make some of it up," I murmured, trying to read quickly. "We'll make sure you stay covered," I continued. Mike sighed.

"Let's hope so. The boss barely signed off on this. We're counting on you to cover our ass."

I shook my head. That's all I ever fucking did, it seemed.

"I've got you guys," I said confidently. "Any conditions I should be aware of?"

Mike took me into the details of their bid, explaining a few points to me as I scrolled through it on my screen. I kept about a hundred mental notes and nodded as Mike spoke.

"This looks great, man. I've gotta pull the rest of the bid together. I'll call you later."

Mike let out a breath. "Sure thing, man. Good luck."

I hung up, my hands moving to my keyboard as I inserted Mike's bid into my spreadsheet. I'd been working for two weeks nonstop on this fucking bid, and like all bids, it was coming down to the last few minutes.

I glanced up at the clock, seeing I had thirty-two minutes left. "Fuck," I breathed, shaking my head. I reached out to my desktop, grabbing the handset and dialing marketing's extension.

"Yeah?" Chelsea answered on the first ring.

"I'm ready. Please tell me you are good to go."

Chelsea laughed. "We've been ready for days. Send it over; I'll have it back to you in five minutes."

This bid was huge and crucial for our company. It had taken a hell of a lot of negotiation to even get us on the bid list, but now that we were on it, I wasn't going to blow the opportunity.

I'd been trying to get in with Amazon for three years. I knew enough low-level people there I'd been hoping would be able to get me in the door, but nothing had panned out so far. It had taken an amazing stroke of luck and some serious chance meetings for me to finally find the right person.

Compared to Amazon, we were a small-time construction company, but we had big-name clients like Boeing and Microsoft that gave us some clout. Amazon was undergoing crazy growth right now, and to get in with them was almost guaranteed work for the foreseeable future.

I shot the emails off to Chelsea, hoping she'd be able to quickly do her magic and incorporate the sub bids into our bid package. It wasn't enough to send in a spreadsheet with numbers these days. Companies wanted to be dazzled by a sleek proposal, and I'd had our marketing team putting something together from the jump.

With the emails off to Chelsea, I took a minute to breathe before opening the spreadsheet and going over it again. I was obsessed, and I knew every line item by heart, but I needed to make absolutely sure everything was right.

Five minutes later, I got an email from Chelsea with the final bid package. I opened it up, impressed with the crisp photos and clean layout she'd pulled together. I shot it off to Marcus, looking for final approval. Nothing ever left this office without the boss' sign-off.

While I waited for Marcus, I read through the bid package, ensuring she'd gotten the right documents inserted.

By the time I was done reviewing, I had Marcus' approval and seven minutes left to submit. I shook my head, pulling together an email and embedding a link to the file. The bid package was too big to attach, and I knew it would go over more smoothly if they were able to follow a link to an online server, instead.

I composed the email to the owner, my mind racing over the balance of niceties and professionalism. When I was done, I read the email once more, checked the link, and sent it off.

I glanced at the clock—one minute to spare.

I let out a long breath, stepping back from my desk and reaching up to rub my eyes. The pure adrenaline rush of submitting a bid took a lot out of me, but fuck, it was also so worth it, especially when the stakes were this high.

"Hey, Ed." I looked behind me, nodding to Marcus as he headed to my desk. "Get that bid in?"

I nodded. "Yeah, one minute to spare."

Marcus smiled and leaned against my desk. "It looked good; I think your bidding strategy will work for us. I talked to a buddy of mine who has done work with Amazon; he said there is almost always owner change orders where they can make up some of the profit they lost in the bid."

It was a risky move to bid so low, but I felt confident that we'd be able to make it up somewhere on a twenty-million-dollar job.

"Let's hope so," I agreed.

Marcus clapped a hand on my shoulder. "It was great work, kid. It looked sharp and presented very well. Amazon will be impressed."

I smiled, feeling tension seep out of my shoulders. "Thanks."

Marcus nodded. "I'm heading out. I'll see you this weekend?" he asked. I nodded. My mom's birthday was this weekend, and we were having the whole family over, including her brother Marcus and his family.

"Yeah, I'll see you then," I called to him as he tapped my desk twice before turning back to his office. It hadn't really been my plan to follow Marcus into construction. When I was in high school, I'd had a lot of varying interests. I'd even considered following my dad into medicine. But in college, I'd started getting into engineering, and though I was far from being an actual engineer, I'd found I actually liked construction. I'd started in the field with Emmett, and we'd both worked our way up the food chain. I'd been a project manager for a few years now, and I still loved the job.

I turned my attention back to my laptop, checking my email now that I wasn't hyper-focused on the bid. I read through Emmett's email, shaking my head and glad I hadn't bothered when I was in a time crunch. It was a forward of an article, something I could easily read at home.

When I was sure there were no fires in my inbox, I took a deep breath and started to pack up for the night.

My phone buzzed on my desk, and I tapped my Air Pods when I saw it was Emmett. "Hey," I greeted, packing up my laptop.

"Man, I need a drink. You up for it?"

I grunted and nodded, though he couldn't see me. "Yeah. Finnegans?"

Emmett agreed, and we hung up. I packed my stuff, making sure I had both phones and everything I might need to work over the weekend, should something come arise. When I was sure my desk was clear, I started making my way out of the office. Chelsea was the only one left lingering around the office, and I stopped by her desk.

"Hey, Chelsea. It looked awesome. Thank you again."

She looked up at me and smiled. "Thanks, I'm glad it went off without a hitch."

I shrugged. I'd been working nonstop to make sure it did, and I was relieved it had paid off. "Thank the girls; you guys did awesome work."

Chelsea nodded. "It was our pleasure. Have a good weekend."

I nodded and waved to her as I turned and headed out the front door. Making my way to my truck, I slid all my crap into the backseat before heading around and climbing upfront. I made sure I had the plans for the new project starting Monday before starting my truck and pulling out of the lot.

I had a few calls from subs on my drive, but thankfully, they all went well, and I was able to joke with them about the bid.

I pulled up to Finnegans and parked, lingering in my truck to finish my call. When I finally hung up, I climbed out and headed to the patio where I could see my brother sitting. It was fucking cold outside, but I knew inside was about to get rowdy with the Friday evening crowd, so I pulled my jacket tighter around me and made my way to his table.

It wasn't raining, but Finnegans had a nice overhang to protect the patio, even if it was. It was in a great little area, right next to a few shops and restaurants I sometimes frequented.

Em saw me coming and tossed his phone down on the table, nodding to me as I slid into the seat next to him. "Hey," he greeted. "How'd it go?"

I smiled as I told him about the bid. Em was also a project manager, though he didn't love estimating and bidding as much as I did. We had an estimating team that Em leaned on more, but I always liked to be hands-on as much as possible. I was too much of a control freak to let anyone else take the reins.

I told Em about my bid, and then he caught me up on his own project drama. He was working on a small job out at a local high school, and though it was supposed to be straightforward, it had been a pain in the ass for him since the start.

I sat back, amused as he ranted about the job; the subs who didn't show up, and then the wrong products being ordered, delaying the project even more. It shouldn't have been such a nightmare, and I knew my brother was damn good at his job, so for this shit to be happening was flat-out weird.

Em took a breath, shaking his head when he finished telling me about the latest shit he'd had to deal with. "This job is cursed, man."

I shrugged. "Sounds like."

He eyed me before sighing. "I need more beer. Want another?" he asked, pointing to the now empty glass in front of me. I nodded, and he stood, heading inside.

On the table, my phone buzzed, and I glanced at it. It was my sister, Alice, pestering me again about setting me up on a blind date with her friend. She'd been trying to do this with one friend or another all year. She either didn't realize or didn't care I wasn't all that interested in a relationship right now. I was single, and my life was work. I had flings when I felt like I needed something, but otherwise, I was completely unattached, and it worked well for me.

I read through her text, shaking my head. I'd figure out how to respond to her later.

There was a small shuffling sound to my left, and I looked up, startled to see a little girl with large brown eyes staring at me. Her brown hair was pulled into two long pigtails, and everything on her was sparkling, even down to her yellow sneakers. "Are you a prince?"

I blinked. "Am I a what?"

She took a breath, her little brow creasing. "A prince, like in a fairy tale," she prompted, clearly exasperated that I wasn't keeping up with her.

"Where are your parents?" I asked, glancing up and scanning the area. There were small shops and restaurants nearby, so it wasn't that unusual to see a kid in the area, but this was a patio for a bar. I was sure no one had brought her here. The little girl stepped closer to me, reaching out to my left hand. "You don't have a ring, so I don't think you can be a king yet," she muttered. I looked down at her, baffled.

Before I could say anything else, a woman with the same brown hair was running over. "Gracie! What did I say about wandering off!" she scolded, reaching out to the girl. The girl went to her mother, looking at me.

"Look, Mama, I found a prince!"

The woman looked up at me, bemused. I shrugged, taking a minute to check her out. Her brown hair was swept up off her long neck, and even in Seattle in November, she was lightly tanned and had the biggest brown eyes I'd ever seen. She looked athletic, though it was hard to really tell under her jeans and coat. She was fucking gorgeous, though, and if it hadn't been for the kid, I knew she was exactly the sort of woman I'd approach.

"Sweetheart, leave this poor man alone," the woman said, looking back at her daughter. The little girl looked at me.

"If you kissed my mama, would that make her a princess?"

The woman let out a strangled laugh, and I smirked, looking at her. Was it too inappropriate to suggest giving it a try in front of the kid?

"Gracie, that's not how it works," her mother said, running a hand over the little girl's hair.

The little girl looked up at her, and a stubborn look crossed her face. "But you told me that Belle became a princess when she and the beast kissed," she said, stomping her little foot. She looked back at me. "Do you turn into a beast at night?"

I barked out a laugh, and the woman's face flamed red. She clapped a hand over her daughter's mouth, a look between mortification and exasperation on her face. "Okay, missy, that's enough from you. Apologize for interrupting this man's afternoon, and then we're going to leave."

The little girl looked up at her mother, wiggling until the hand moved away from her mouth. "But Mama, he's the most handsome man I've ever seen! He has to be a prince."

The woman looked up at me, shaking her head. I smiled, leaning forward toward her daughter as the little girl turned to me.

"I'm not a prince," I said, smiling. "But I appreciate you thinking I am one." I held my hand out for her to shake. "My name is Edward."

She reached out to shake my hand, fearless. "I'm Grace, but Mama calls me Gracie or sometimes Gigi." She looked up at her mother. "You have to be polite, Mama," she whispered. The woman looked at me and reached out to shake my hand.

"Bella," she said, shaking her head as she glanced at her daughter. "Thank you for your patience."

I nodded and looked at the little girl as she looked back at me. "Do you know any princes?" she asked. I laughed and shook my head. Bella reached down to take her daughter's hand.

"Okay, that's enough. Say goodbye to Mr. Edward."

Gracie looked at me and let out a little sigh that had me grinning. "Goodbye, Mr. Edward."

"Goodbye, Gracie. It was very nice to meet you." I looked up at her mother. "You too, Bella."

Bella's eyes darkened a little, and I fought back a smile. Had she been alone, I had a feeling we wouldn't be saying goodbye so quickly.

"Nice to meet you, Edward." She licked her lips, and I watched the movement sharply. She shook her head, looking down at her daughter. "Come on, sweetie. Grandpa and Grandma are waiting for us."

They started to leave when I leaned forward again.

"By the way, Gracie, you're the most beautiful lady I've ever seen," I called. Gracie turned to me, beaming. Bella looked back at me, and the smile she offered me was a little softer. Gracie waved as they left the bar patio, and I sat back, laughing to myself.

Emmett came back out a moment later, frowning when he saw the smile on my face. "What's up?"

I looked at him. "I just met the funniest kid."

Emmett's face morphed, and he winced, shaking his head. "Kid?"

Emmett was two years older than me, and he'd been dodging the marriage and kids questions my Mom had been throwing at him left and right. I don't think he was opposed to it all; he just wasn't ready.

A sentiment I fully understood.

"She was cute; she thought I was a prince."

Emmett snorted into his beer, and I grinned, reaching for my own glass. "Poor kid was delusional," Em muttered. I laughed and shook my head. I hadn't spent much time around kids, but I couldn't imagine they were all as funny as Gracie had been.

"Was she alone?"

I looked at Em and shook my head. "No, with her mom." I paused, thinking about the woman, Bella. She was gorgeous, and I wish I'd tried to talk to her more. I doubted Gracie would go around asking strange men to kiss her mother if she was married.

Em shook his head, again sipping his beer. "Man, steer clear of chicks with kids—there is nothing casual in that; it's signing up for an insta-family." He pretended to shudder, and I snorted. He wasn't wrong, and the last thing I wanted or needed in my life was more commitments. It was for the best I hadn't tried to talk to Bella.

...

That Gracie!

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and now...

Please excuse me while I take a moment to shamelessly promote a brand new fic that I can't get enough of: Honeybee, a collaboration between Jgaff and DaniDarlingxx.

Em/E/B. AH. Citrus. So much citrus.

Summary:

Emmett and Edward have been inseparable since age five. Why should that change when a drop dead gorgeous sex therapist struts into their lives? Bella, sweet as honey with a sting like a bee, wants to be exactly there: right between the two men who may just show her the benefits of her career path.

This one is hot, hot, hot! Make sure to find them under the user name DaniGaff so you don't miss any of this deliciousness!

See you dears next week!