Thanks to my wonderful beta thebeckert over at LiveJournal.
Disclaimer: I must thank Stephenie Meyer for letting me borrow and play with her characters. Not that she ever gave any of us any permission, but I must thank her anyway. Eugene and Helga are original and belong to me. Too damn bad I can't make any money off of them.
Story Description: A chance encounter throws Edward and Bella together for a brief moment in time. Will they ever find each other again?
SERENDIPITOUS: A Chance Encounter (1/?)
Serendipitous: come upon or found by accident, fortuitous; good; beneficial; favorable
And on a random Saturday, sometime in March…
And I close my eyes
And I kiss that frog
Each time finding the more boys I meet
The more I love my dog
Why can't they be like the ones that mean everything to me
Warm and loyal, open and friendly?
It's not like I'm not trying
Cause I'll give anyone a shot once...
Bella sang along to the chorus once more before shutting off the motor and quickly made her way out of the bus. Watching for traffic, she carefully crossed the street and stepped inside the deli. The ride out to the park for her first drop off had taken longer than she had anticipated. Now she had less time to eat breakfast before she had to go back to work. She had been wise enough to call her order in ahead of time.
"Good morning, Bella!" Glancing toward the counter she saw Eugene in his usual place behind the register. "It'll be just a few minutes."
Bella didn't want to keep the riders that were expecting to go to the Farmer's Market waiting for too long. It seemed like it was an unwritten rule in life that when you hit the age of sixty you lost all patience. Even though Bella constantly told the riders that she'd picked them up any time after eight fifteen in the morning, there was always a cranky one complaining that they had been waiting almost an hour for her.
It's not that Bella disliked her part time job at the Senior Center. She actually enjoyed it for various reasons. Her brother Emmett, Director of the Forks Park and Recreation Department, had put in good word for her. The money she made was quite good for a twenty-two year old college student. It was way better than being a waitress where she'd worry about spilling food and tripping over her feet. No, this way, she only had to worry about hitting innocent pedestrians.
She enjoyed her bi-weekly ego trip when she picked up Mr. Gardner. He always got on the bus and would greet her with a warm "Hi, Beautiful!" and a cheery smile. Mr. Wilks was always complimenting her and trying to get her to go to dinner with him. Mrs. Regan told her that she had a wonderful disposition. And in those rare times when Bella was able to work in the afternoon, she would receive tips after helping the riders in with their groceries. All in all, not a bad way for a college student to earn some money.
"Thanks Eugene! I'm starving and I'm running late."
Eugene snickered behind the counter. "Tell me something new, honey. Like you've found a nice man to sink your claws into." He winked and a smile spread across his face.
Bella sighed at his question. At least Eugene wasn't hinting at when she going to give him a grandchild, like Renee had recently started doing. Her mother seriously confused her at times. As a child Renee complained constantly about having to give up her life to rear a child when she became pregnant at eighteen. When Bella had confessed to her mother that she had gotten her period for the first time, Renee ran at the mouth about precautions against teen pregnancy. What twelve-year old wants to hear that? Now, during every phone call from her mother Bella had to tell Renee that she hadn't found 'the one' and she wasn't somehow pregnant. She wouldn't be either unless Immaculate Conception came back into fashion. At this point, she wasn't even sure if she wanted to have any kids.
"I'm thinking about buying a dog. They're more loyal, you know."
"And equally as hard to paper train." Eugene rang up another customer and turned back to Bella.
"Ja! I hear that!" Helga yelled from the griddle. "Eugene, you leave Bella alone about meeting a nice boy. When the one comes along, you'll know it. And when you do, make sure you hog tie him so he doesn't get away!"
Eugene laughed at his wife. "She taped my mouth shut so I couldn't gnaw my way out of the ropes."
"Damn right I did!" Helga proclaimed loudly and it was Bella's turn to laugh. Eugene and Helga were quite the pair. He was originally from China and she from Holland. An odd combination if she ever saw one. But they worked. They clicked. Bella wondered if she'd ever find anyone to click with.
"Sit down and get some coffee, I'll bring your breakfast over to you." Eugene instructed, shooing her away from the counter.
Bella made her way over to the coffee, poured herself a cup and plopped down on a chair. Reaching into her back pocket, Bella withdrew a few dollar bills. She knew exactly how much her breakfast would cost this morning. Eugene placed her meal in front of her and she handed him the money.
"So I can just run out when I'm done," she explained before cutting into her eggs. Her mind wandered back to the conversation with Eugene and Helga. There were times that she had craved someone to click with. It just wasn't happening with anyone in Forks. In High School she had dated some boys but most of the experiences ended bad and left her slightly bitter. One year she had dated Mike and Tyler, both rivals for her affections. The following year Mike and Tyler were caught in the boys' locker room in a compromising position. Last year she attended their commitment ceremony as their Best Woman. They had thanked Bella countless times for bringing them together.
I don't attract men, I turn them gay.
As she poured some syrup on her French toast she realized someone was trying to speak to her.
"Excuse me?" A smooth, deep male voice interrupted her mindless thoughts. How long had he been standing there, trying to talk to her? "Is this seat taken?"
"No." Bella mumbled through a mouthful of home fries. She knew the seat across from her was the only one available. There were only three small tables and the other two were full. Without looking away from her food, she sipped her coffee before speaking again. "Feel free."
Bella heard the chair scrape against the floor but continued to keep her gaze on her breakfast. She continued to quickly gulp down the rest of the food in front of her. Bella never looked up to see who was sitting across from her. She didn't care. It didn't matter. Bella's right leg bounced up and down in a nervous manner as she tried to think of other things.
"Can you pass the pepper, please?" Bella grabbed the pepper which was on the side of her container of food. Most men she knew would have just reached across the table for it, interrupting her personal space. At least someone around here was a gentleman.
She picked up the pepper shaker and almost knocked over her coffee before handing it over to him. Bella looked up from her food as their fingers brushed. Her eyes shifted toward his face, her leg stopped bouncing nervously and her entire body froze.
It was rude to stare, she knew that. She just couldn't help it. The fluorescent lights of the deli illuminated his hair in such a way she didn't know possible. Who in the world had bronze hair? It wasn't just brown. Not like her boring, flat haystack of a mess that to be constantly held in place with a pony tail. No, it was bronze. A tousled bronze mess of hair that looked like someone had ran their fingers through it during an early morning sex session. Bronze sex hair.
It must be a dye job.
His unusually pale complexion seemed even too pale for the cloudy weather in Forks. Then there were his eyes. The piercing emerald orbs were searching her soul. Holy crap… he was beautiful.
Snap out of it!
He shook the pepper over the contents of his plate and then set it back on the table. "Are you okay, Miss?"
I'm just kind of lonely.
He quickly closed the book that had been cracked open on the table. The handsome stranger continued to stare at her. Bella's eyes went to the book he had been reading. Piano Composing for Dummies. He didn't look dumb, but what did she know? She gazed at his hands, splayed flat against the cover of the book.
You can play me anytime. Like a fiddle, a violin, piano, guitar… whatever instrument you know. Play me!
His voice was so sexy and she couldn't squeak out a word. Bella continued to stare, searching his face for flaws but she found none. His jaw was strong and perfect. His lips formed a wickedly cute crooked smile.
Oh God, his lips!
"Are you okay?" He repeated.
His eyes narrowed and he leaned in towards her. "Are you having a stroke?"
He thinks you're having a stroke! Form a complete, intelligent sentence and get your ass out of here! Stop embarrassing yourself.
That wasn't even remotely a complete sentence. And it sure as hell wasn't intelligent.
Bella dropped her fork into her container and noticed she was done with her meal. She checked her watch and was shocked to learn she was now running later than she thought. "I have to go."
The handsome stranger tried to say something but Bella didn't hear his words. He stared at the table for a moment before his eyes searched for her. She hurried to the garbage can to dispose of her trash and then toward the front door.
"Bye Eugene, I'll see you next Saturday!" Bella yelled toward the register while she was half way out the door.
Eugene didn't have time to answer as Bella continued through the door. She never heard the chair scrape against the floor and the rushed foot steps following slightly behind her. Bella ran to the bus and jumped inside. As she drove away Bella could have sworn she saw a flash of bronze somewhere behind her.