Bella lives in New York recently fired from her well-paid job as a professional landscaper finds herself in absolute disarray. One of her best friends, David, is dying of AIDS, her mother is coming to visit her, she has an argument with her best friend who accuses her of stealing her boy friend and she finally finds work at a small (comparatively unknown) landscaping agency run by a mysterious and charming Edward Cullen. Bella suspects her boss of hiding a deadly secret from his employees and takes it upon herself to investigate the mystery further. Edward reveals his secret identity (no prizes for guesses on what it is, girls!) to Bella and also reveals his emotions to her. Bella is shocked when she is offered a proposal to give up her life and begin another, to take the uncertain road of eternity and live by her flawless prince in shining armour or to continue her journey as a human being?

(It may not be as obvious and cliché as it sounds!!)

Don't judge me too harshly, it's my first story and it's almost as muddled up as dearest Bella's life! Almost!!

Don't own the characters and the general imaginary theme of this fan-fiction story is all the property of the very creative Stephanie Meyer.


Chapter one: Étranger beau

(handsome stranger)

I walked slowly, against the tide of bustling busy New Yorkers. I looked down at my Calven & Karôl ballet flats which were studded with 24 carat diamonds that my mum bought me for my twenty sixth birthday, and sighed heavily, what an exhaustingly infuriating day.

Lauren fired me today for submitting my draft, yes my draft, late and Josephine wasn't speaking to me because Mike kissed me (and I kissed him back, apparently, but in my defence, I was drunk and it was like 2 a.m, neither of us recall it, only Lauren claims to have witnessed the pair of us 'thrashing about like a pair of restless eels' in the corner of Kaitlin's dimly lit lounge room), my Mum was coming to visit me from California and David was still in hospital, he was diagnosed with AIDS a few weeks ago.

I walked on, not quite knowing where my destination was, but I didn't quite care either. I walked past my old office, the tall lofty building where I worked as an outdoor landscaper; I wasone of the elite landscapers in New York.

I designed Diane Ferrara's rooftop getaway on Sussex Street, complete with a solar heated lap pool and a cabana. I also helped design Jennifer Harlen's rooftop, she said its main use would be for parties, so I used a lot of Jasmine and tropical flowers to create an exotic and sensual scent that would create a classy and almost trance-like ambiance, perfect for balmy summer nights. I used bright pink sparkle lights by Niccoló Designs to place among the Jasmine creepers and the Japanese "Sakura" tree which, when in full bloom, is full of delicate little pink flowers. There was also a nice, quiet water feature which ran through her garden which created a tranquil and romantic atmosphere. There was a hot tub, a treated bamboo stage (for live music) and when it was sunrise, my God, it was like a piece of heaven. I closed my eyes, reminiscing on my previous job; I am so

passionate about landscaping, designing dreams, creating places where people can lose themselves, forget about the mundane and stupid things that govern our restricted lives.

Now I didn't even have that. I walked, peering into the fashionable shops on Daleson Street, the delightful boutiques, full of exquisite garments, the patisserie, full of delicious bread and cakes, I walked on. I looked around, stealing glances at stranger's faces, trying to assess their lives and character through their clothing, their manner and expressions. I shook my head, I was clearly avoiding dealing with my troubles, jobless, almost friendless, lonely, mother coming to visit, close friend dying, and here I was fantasising about my old job, smelling expensive pastries and gazing at clothes I could have afforded once upon a time.

I shook my head once more and turned on the spot; I should return home and have a bubble bath or something. Not that I deserved it or anything, rather I needed it. As I turned abruptly on the sidewalk I collided with a tall man. I looked up to see the face of heaven smiling down upon me. I blinked rapidly, momentarily losing my composure as this man (can it be? For he is the epitome of perfection) gazed down at me, a soft smile on his face, his eyes glittering as I lost myself in his emerald green eyes. The exact colour of my favourite English green shrub, the very colour of the leaves of the Nancy box-cut tree, a cross specimen of a German...

"I am so sorry, I am really clumsy, as you may have noticed" I laughed nervously, he nodded quietly as his deep English green shrub/emerald eyes gazed into my light brown almond shaped eyes which mirrored nothing but paralysed astonishment at my sudden fortune of stumbling across a handsome stranger.

He smiled and looked at me in manner which suggested that he was fine.

"My name is Edward" he said, his melodious voice made everything around me seem like the cries of the banshee, his velvety voice etched itself into my memory.

"I'm Bella, Bella Swan" I stammered, one could hardly blame me; here I stood in front of the most handsome being one can visualize. I became acutely aware of Edward staring at my neck and hair.

I freed myself from his grasp and took a step back.

He gazed at me once again, as if trying to decipher my thoughts. I cocked my head to the side, watching him stare at me.

"What do you do Ms. Swan?" he asked, we began to walk in my direction together, he hardly took his eyes of mine, I could feel a strong attraction toward Edward and I was certain that it was mutual.

"I am a landscaper" I said, looking around, realizing that I did not know where I was going.

"Landscaper? That is undoubtedly interesting. So whereabouts do you work?" He asked, he looked at me earnestly, I could sense that his interest was sincere as his eyes lit up as soon as I uttered "landscaper".

"I worked for Roslyn Yves & co. Landscapers but I was fired this morning," I said in defeat, I sighed heavily, recalling my unceremonious dismissal.

Edward shook his head and he bit his lip, he looked as if he was fighting laughter. We continued to walk, slowly, both of us lost ourselves in the conversation, Edward told me that he ran a small, new landscaping agency in Rumsfeld and he was recruiting new talent.

"...and I told her that the she must plant the hedges to screen the cabana from the shed, she just looked at me and said that we'll have to plant the hedges on top of each other for them to screen the shed..." Edward said, telling me a story about his assistant Vanessa who could not understand that plants can grow. I laughed really hard as he told me about her follies.

We ate lunch together at the Mansfield Manor restaurant close to the Southbank. At the end of the day I had a new job and a great friend. Our personalities simply synched. He was laid back, calm and collected. I was always overflowing with energy, in a rush and excited, we seemed to effect each other's disposition when we were together. I could not help notice his inhuman beauty and though we went to the restaurant he declined to eat, he simply watched me eat and his green eyes seemed to change their shades as he laughed, as he watched me and as he remained silent.

His pale skin and the light purple rings under his eyes indicated that he hadn't slept in a while, his golden-brown hair which danced under the sunlight made me yearn to run my fingers through it.

"So, Miss Swan, I might see you soon, if you chose to accept my offer at Jardins Magique, I'm looking forward to hearing from you." Edward smiled; he looked at me professionally and nodded as he hailed a taxi.

It was so fast. I got fired today and a handsome stranger was tossed in my direction, offering me a new job. Not as well-paid as the last, but the company is very new to the market and it will grow, especially under the instruction of the alluring Edward Cullen.

It was twilight. I seriously needed a bubble bath to think about today's turn of events. I smiled to myself as I walked to catch my bus, my head filled with pleasant thoughts of Edward. The beautiful stranger. Le étranger beau.