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And The Envelope Please
"Well, here we are. I hope you all have at least made some new friends. This is how it is going to go down now. I need all of the ladies to meet Angela at the bar. She will tell you how things will be going for your group. Men, if you could come over and grab a seat at tables one, two, and eight. Thank you."
Bella then turned to me one more time and smiled before she turned back around and hugged Carlisle and walked away with Esme. I watched her as she walked towards the bar to join the other ladies. I had been so wrapped up in my own little world that I didn't even notice Emmett and Jasper come over to my table. Carlisle had taken Bella's recently vacated seat and was filling out his last scorecard.
"Wow, stare any harder and you might just turn her into Swiss cheese." Emmett joked as he sat at the table also. I sat back down and got to work on my scorecard.
"Well, how did everyone do?" Carlisle asked when he finished.
"There were a couple I wouldn't mind spending the evening with." Emmett said with a big goofy grin. "Then again, there were a couple that make me realize once again why Edward here tends to spend his nights alone. Some of those chicks were just plain scary. Even for me."
I had to laugh at that. Just the thought that Emmett could ever be afraid of a girl, that was laughable. Then I remembered Alice.
Ben then cleared his throat to get our attention once again. "Once again I would like to thank you all for coming. The way this will go is as follows: you will give me your scorecards and I will be going over them with Angie. You are welcome to sit at the bar as it should not take long. We will then call each of you in and tell you who felt as compatible with you as you did with them." I was quite glad that they were taking the girls views into consideration here. I shutter to think of the outcome of James or Mike's top picks. I was highly relieved that the girl had to be as into you as you were into her. I suddenly wondered if that meant doom for someone like Mike. Surely there was someone here that wouldn't mind him.
I really didn't care though as long as he had no intentions of leaving with Bella or any of her friends. Maybe he could get lucky with Jessica or Lauren. I took a quick second to make sure that all of my scorecards were filled out and that Bella's had glowing reviews. I put hers on the top of my pile as I handed it to Ben when he came by the table to collect them.
"So what do you want to do now?" Emmett asked
Before anyone could answer Ben started to speak again. "Remember, don't go too far. We will be calling you each in in the order you were just sitting. So I hope none of you forgot your number." He chuckled lightly and went on. "The bar will be half price for the rest of the night so have fun and good luck to you all."
"I say we go and chat with the ladies at the bar." Emmett said staring hard at Rosalie's back.
"What were you just saying about Swiss Cheese?" I laughed at him. Jasper and Carlisle joined in and we all got up to walk over to the large group of women at the far end of the bar.
"So, dad, did you have a nice night?" Alice asked as we approached. I saw him give Esme a quick glance as he smiled broadly.
"As a matter of fact my dear, I did." He said as he hugged her. "Bella, how was the night? Will Alice's little stunt here be causing any restless nights?" He said with a chuckle.
Bella blushed a lovely shade of red and looked quickly at me. "No I would say that she is safe for the moment actually." She gave me a quick wink.
"So people," Jasper said getting all of our attention. "What is the plan?"
"Well, I don't know about any of you," Bella said with a slight blush. "But I already have plans for the rest of the evening."
"Bella, you have to admit. This was fun. You are not allowed to go back to the apartment and finish The Host for the tenth time." Alice said exasperatedly
"Who said anything about going back to the apartment and reading?" Bella asked defensively. Her pink tinge was turning red.
"Fine you are not allowed to go back to the apartment and listen to your stupid collection of classical music either. And if that wasn't your plan either you are most assuredly not allowed to listen to Linkin Park tonight either." Well it seemed like Alice completely knew her character. I rather liked her down time activities. It further proved that she was everything she said she was. Not that I in any way believed that she was lying to me. But it was nice to have it all conformed so quickly. I really wouldn't mind inspecting her music and book collection myself though. It sounded like a collection that might even sync with my own.
"Alice, for your information. I don't really care what Ben and Angela tell anyone tonight. I already know who I am leaving here with." Bella said with a very smug smile.
Alice's jaw hit the floor. That was clearly not what she was expecting to hear from Bella's mouth. It was nice to know that I was not the only one she took off guard. Everyone started to laugh at Alice's expression and Carlisle gave me a very knowing look. Rosalie was also staring dumbfounded at Bella.
"So, who's the lucky guy?" Jasper asked since it was definite that Alice would not be capable of any speech for at least another minute.
"Actually, he is closer than any of you might think." She said as another sly smile graced her lips.
I really do not know why I was being so secretive about it. I guess I just wanted it to sink into my head for a little while longer. Why Edward Masen was willing to go out with me was a mystery to me. But he seemed as jazzed about it as I was. I was not going to jinx it. I was also hoping that he wasn't thinking now that I was keeping the fact that we were leaving here together a secret for any reason. I was just enjoying playing with Alice's head. She was not easy to make silent. This was a once in a blue moon ordeal that I was taking full advantage of.
I was actually quite proud of myself. I had thought of it only as the question came out of Jasper's mouth. At first I was going to say nothing. Because as much as Edward said and looked like he wanted to leave with me, he could have just been being nice. Or it really could have just been a way to plot revenge on our friends. But something about the way he kept looking at me since that last buzzer went off told me that I was just doing my 'self sabotage' thing. I had a really bad habit of ruining anything that I felt was too good for me. But I was not going to let that aspect of my personality take over this time. I was going to enjoy this new friendship for all it was worth.
It really is so crazy. I have never felt so safe with a guy one on one before. Well Charlie and Carlisle of course. But they were my fathers. They wouldn't let anything happen to me if it was in their power to stop it. But that doesn't apply to the rest of the male population of the world. I never truly thought I was going to find that safe and complete feeling in anyone other than my family, my sisters. But I am feeling it begin to happen when I am with Edward. Even when I was with Emmett and Jasper I felt safe and calm. I was able to be a bit more me than with the rest of the guys here. I really hoped that this was the beginning of a great long lasting friendship between us all.
Carlisle did not escape my attention either. I was happy to see that he seemed to really like his conversation with Esme. They were certainly throwing each other a lot of side glances. Maybe Alice will get her wish and Carlisle will find that something extra here tonight too. There really wouldn't be anyone better than Esme either. We have known her for years. She is a wonderful woman. We all love her very much. It would be great for them to get together. Then they would have that houseful of children they have both always wanted.
That is if any of us actually hooked up in that manner.
"Wouldn't you like to know, Jasper?" I said coyly "So, Jasper, did you find anyone you want to leave with tonight?" I asked biting my lip. I saw Edward swallow as he watched me.
"Well, actually …" Jasper said as his eyes slid from my face to Alice's and back quickly. It was so cute. Like he was afraid to give it away since he had no idea if she felt the same way.
"He's leaving with me!" Alice stated quite plainly. "Why don't you stop avoiding the question and answer what Jazz asked you?" Alice stated firmly.
It was my turn for a dumbfounded blink. Since when was she calling him Jazz? Was this truly the first time they had met each other? I knew the little pixie had feelings that told her that certain things were going to happen; but was this one of them? Did she already know that Jasper would be 'The One'? For that fact, was there a chance that she saw Edward being 'The One' for me?
She kept looking at me expectantly but I couldn't speak. I was still taken aback by the way she called him by a nickname already. Just then Emmett's booming laughter filled the entire bar. Everyone turned to look at us and I turned red again. I hated being the center of attention in this little group of new and old friends. I didn't want everyone in the place paying attention to me. Especially some of these people. Rosalie promptly smacked Emmett on the back of the head and yelled at him.
"Good going, now she is never going to tell us. I have half a mind to take back what I said before."
"Please Rose," Well that had me even more speechless. No one called her Rose. That is something that her parents used to call her. Ever since they died she never let anyone call her that. It was always too painful. All she did was give him a playful glare.
"You had better apologize. NOW!" Rosalie said
"I am very sorry Bella." Emmett said immediately. "I was just happy that somebody got you back since I wasn't able to get you back earlier for flustering me."
"You're forgiven Emmett."
"Don't feel bad man." Jasper said "She got me too." Emmett and Edward both looked at Jasper then back at me.
"What!?" I asked
"Nothing really," Edward said "It just isn't really easy to fluster Jasper.
"How about you man?" Emmett asked Edward
"Nope, we had other things to discuss." I said cryptically "I didn't have time to try to make him sputter like the two of you." Everyone started to laugh.
Just then Demitri came up and got our attention. "Hey big guy you were number five right?"
"Yes?" Emmett said questioningly
"Ben and Angela want to talk to you now. They are in that room just off the other end of the bar."
"Thanks man." Emmett said as Demitri turned to leave again.
"Well, let's see if I was as liked as I liked." Emmett said as he turned to go to the room.
We got kind of quiet after he left. I don't think we meant to. There was just something ominous about the outcome now. I was nervous and I was sure I wasn't the one he wanted to leave with. Rosalie slammed back the rest of her La Crema Chardonnay. She all of the sudden looked really nervous. I could not see why she would be nervous. Any man would be stupid to turn away from her if she was giving them a chance. I could tell that they had hit it off well. I could also tell that Emmett wanted to hit it off with her since I pointed her out to him.
There was a slight chance that he was one of those guys that just saw her great body. But it was a given that it did not stay like that for long. When I was telling Emmett about Rosalie he was drinking in every detail. If he only wanted her body he would never have paid attention to any of that other stuff. I think they were perfect for one another. Mostly because they were both completely the opposite of what you would think of them at first glance.
Emmett was back and sending Jasper into the room within five minutes. Once Jasper was gone he walked right up to Rosalie and kissed her full on the mouth. I once again was rendered speechless. I was sure that she was going to pull back and smack him right across the face. It didn't matter how well they hit it off earlier. That was not the way Rosalie did things. I almost fainted when her arms slowly caressed up his arms to stop at his neck.
It was a lucky thing that Edward wasn't far from me. He caught me as I started to fall.
"Bella, are you okay?" He asked with a worried expression on his face as he stared deep into my eyes. It was almost like he thought he could get the answer there without me having to actually speak it.
"Yes, thank you." I said softly. The intensity of his gaze made me even weaker. I have no clue how long I was in his arms. But I do know that he did not let go of me until he was tapped on the shoulder by Jasper.
"It's your turn Edward." Jasper said with a chuckle. "You are going to have to let her go."
Edward then righted me and kissed my cheek. "I will be right back." He said
I placed my hand on my cheek, where his lips had just been, it burned and I could feel a tingle starting to throb.
I have no idea what happened. But out of the corner of my eye I saw Bella's knees give out. I quickly grabbed for her. I couldn't let her get hurt. She had said earlier that she was incredibly accident prone. I would have to do everything in my power to make sure that that was a thing of the past. I was trapped in the deep pools of dark chocolate brown that were her eyes. They were beautiful, just like the rest of her. I truly cannot see how anyone so beautiful can fail to see themselves as such. That is another thing I would have to change in her life.
I was ripped from my blissful contemplations when someone tapped me on the shoulder.
"It's your turn Edward. You are going to have to let her go." Jasper said with a chuckle.
This was unendurable torture. I did not want to let her go. I made sure that she was standing strong before I took my arms from around her small waist. I bent down and kissed her cheek lightly. "I will be right back." I said softly to her before I turned to leave.
I stared straight forward. I knew that if I was to turn now I would not make it into that room. To hell with anything Ben and Angela had to say. I was leaving with Bella. We both already knew that. I walked into the room to see that it was a really large office. There was a large desk in one corner and two very large couches facing each other in the center of the room. I had a brief thought of pictures I had seen of 'The Oval Office'. There was a coffee table set between the couches and Ben and Angela were sitting on one of them.
"Edward, please have a seat." Angela said with a large smile on her face as she motioned to the couch across from her.
I took my seat and waited for them to say something. Ben started to riffle through my scorecards and then he placed them on the table keeping one in his hand.
"So Edward, what did you think about this experience?" He asked.
"It was definitely interesting. I had never thought of doing something like this before. But it wasn't all together a bad experience."
"I am glad to hear that." Ben said with a smile curving his mouth. "I must say, you have really good taste in women." At this I looked at Angela. What must she be thinking about that comment? "The women that you tended to like the most happen to be really good friends of ours. Even though you yourself were not a friend of ours before tonight, I hope that will not be so in the future. As for the lady that is most likely to be compatible with you …" He paused there. My heart was thumping quite loudly in my chest. Could he possibly say someone other than Bella? There was no way. And it wouldn't matter anyway. I was leaving here with Bella tonight. It didn't matter whose name was on the card in his hand.
"The lady that also had the most glowing reviews about you is quite special to us. She has been a very good friend. She is really more like a sister to everyone she knows. I find myself in the unique position of being her matchmaker. Not something I take lightly. I hope you know that there are those out there that like to use people like her. I can only hope that you are not that kind of person. I see a realness about you. I hope that you are as true as you seem. If so, all will be good. However, know this. If you hurt her I happen to know some not so nice people. I am not proud to say it as I myself would not like to meet them in a back alley late at night. However, they are my acquaintances and I will use that to my advantage if you do anything to hurt Bella."
I was truly so astounded by the speech that Ben had just made that it took me a moment to realize whose name he had just said. I was actually quite happy once it sunk in that I was not the only one who saw how much protection she actually needed. It was very obvious to see that she was a very independent woman. But as long as we banded together to keep her safe, without her knowing, she wouldn't think about it. A very huge smile spread across my face when I realized that I was officially leaving with Bella tonight. I jumped up and grabbed Angela and hugged her. She was laughing as she smacked my shoulder playfully. Ben then shook my hand and I tore from the room.
I saw Bella sitting at the bar with her head resting on her arms on the bar top. I raced over to her and spun her around. Her big doe eyes were made even larger by my sudden surprise. I grabbed her face and kissed her just as Emmett had done to Rosalie. And like Rosalie her hands had ended up in my hair to secure me to her. I vaguely heard Carlisle from behind me.
"I take it it's my turn. Why don't you let the girl breathe Edward. I think she has enough fainting problems without you adding to them." Everyone laughed and I backed away from her. She had a lovely blush that was actually going down her neck and into her shirt. I wonder if she is actually capable of blushing over her entire body. That is something that I will find out later. For now I just needed to get to know more about this beautiful woman. And we still needed to plan that revenge. Not that I was feeling very vengeful any longer.
I watched Edward walk away to the room where he would be talking to Ben and Angela. I was so nervous. What if they said that someone else liked him more than I did. Not that I blame anyone for liking him. The man was a god. And it was amazing that someone that looked as good as him could be even more amazing behind said face. He was truly a God.
I watched as Jasper went over to Alice and put his arm around her shoulders. "So it looks like you are stuck with me then." He said with a big goofy grin on his face.
I was truly dying here. I did not know what I would do if he came out of that room and walked to any other lady. It was becoming too much. I was about to start crying again. I could not have that. I didn't want to make this into something it wasn't. I knew I had minor self-esteem issues but this was ridiculous. I walked the two steps over to the bar and sat on one of the chairs. No one seemed to notice. They were all in conversation with Emmett and Jasper trying to find out what happened in the room.
I tried to pay attention. I really did but I couldn't get my mind past the fear that my newfound feelings were premature. I didn't want to think that he wasn't as into me as he seemed to be. I also didn't want to think that he would actually drop our plans for when we left here. I was working myself up for no reason. I needed to calm down. I put my head down and started to count. I was just going to keep counting. I didn't care how high I got I had no set time limit to count.
All of the sudden I felt a hand on my shoulder and someone bent down to whisper into my ear. "I may not know you very well. But I can see what is happening here. I think you need to relax. There is no way that he is leaving here with anyone other than you." I looked up to see Jasper smiling down at me. "I mean it. I have known him for so long that I can honestly tell you that he has never acted this way with another woman. When Ben asked us to come tonight I thought it was a good chance for him to at least meet someone new. I never thought we would all find what is sure to be something great." He gave me another smile as he squeezed my shoulder. Then he went back over to Alice who was talking with Carlisle and Esme.
I put my head back down. I didn't see a reason for Jasper to lie to me. If there was a chance that what he was saying wasn't true I don't see him as the kind of person to even say it. I decided that it was at least comfortable to sit here with my head down. This way no matter what I wouldn't have to see him walk out of that room.
I didn't have my head down for much longer. It was probably another minute before I was turned quickly. My eyes went wide at the sudden movement. My brain didn't know what to do. I knew deep down that I was surrounded by friends and family and that nothing bad could be happening. But the suddenness of it took me by surprise. Then, before I could really settle myself as to what was happening Edward was kissing me. It didn't take long to register that fact. Strictly of their own accord my arms started to rise up his and my hands found their way to his gloriously soft hair.
The kiss lasted for so long that I was out of breath when he finally pulled away. Yet I still felt like he did so too soon. I know I heard Carlisle say something before Edward backed away from me. It really didn't take long to figure out that it must have had something to do with Edward's kiss. Everyone was laughing and I could feel myself turning red once again. I looked over to see Carlisle walking towards the room Edward had just come from.
We stayed there just looking into each other's eyes for a moment. Then I heard Emmett clear his throat.
"So, Edward, what did they say?"
I looked at him instantly wondering the same thing. What could they have possibly said to make him react like that. Not that I would be complaining any time soon.
Edward looked me in the eyes again and said very soft and smoothly. "Nothing much, just that you are very loved. They also told me in no uncertain terms that if I was to hurt you that they would have no problem finding someone to take care of me."
Everyone started to laugh again as my most recent blush turned darker. We all sat at the bar then and waited for Carlisle to come back. As soon as he did he walked over to Esme and grabbed her hand.
"I hear that the girls have plans to go out for drinks when they leave here. Would you like to accompany me with them?" He asked her.
Esme's smile was so beautiful that I thought she would light the entire room. "I would love to." She said confidently. Then she turned to Alice. "You don't mind if we join you all do you?"
"How could I ever think of leaving you out. Welcome to the family." Esme then bushed, not quite as bad as me, but it was nice to see it on someone else for a change.
We then all walked out of the club. All of the guys had their arms around our waists as they led us to the small pub down the street. I suddenly did not really care for that revenge anymore. As a matter of fact, I think I would have to thank that Pixie and her little helper. Who would have thought that such a wonderful thing could happen in only an hour.