Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. Or Edward – Or Robert – Damn it.
A/N's: I've talked about expanding "Change of Underwear" into a full-fledged fic for ages and ages, but I most certainly didn't think it would take me this long to post it. Two very nice ladies were kind enough to bid on a continuation of this story in both the Support Stacie Author Auction, and in the Fandom Gives Back Auction, and I can't thank them enough for their contributions to two wonderful causes. My thanks go out to my good friend and beta, Little Miss Whitlock. Ami – I'm so sorry it took me so long, but here it is, baby!
Tuesday Night: Cocktails & Cougars
With shaky legs, I pushed myself up from my desk in somewhat of a daze and glanced over at the clock I'd been so interested in a while ago. It was a little after six, much later than I usually left the office. Then again, as I surveyed the papers scattered around my desk and took in the smudges along my once clean floor-to-ceiling windows, leaving later than I usually did was on the bottom of the list of things I didn't normally do while at my office. For instance: Edward Masen.
I closed my eyes and placed my hands upon the cool expanse of my desk, but instead of clearing my head as I'd intended, my mind was suddenly filled with the sounds, scents, and images of my most recent office activity. Shaking myself out of it, I opened my eyes only for them to land on a seemingly innocent pink post-it note that read: "Bring more underwear for tomorrow. Damn you, Edward Masen."
The small note suddenly seemed like the bane of my existence.
Taking a deep breath, I steeled my resolve and hoped that my legs weren't still made of Jell-o. Luckily, they still worked well enough to take me down to the parking garage. Though I lived about a mile and a half from the office, the traffic to and from downtown Austin wasn't conducive for walking the short distance; I'd broken down when I moved to town a year and a half ago and bought myself a small compact car.
Pulling out of the parking garage a few minutes later, I spotted a lime green VW bug with daisies and peace signs covering almost every available surface turning down Congress Avenue toward the Texas State Capitol building. The small bumper sticker adorning the left end of the rear bumper read: Keep Austin Weird; it was the non-official slogan of the city. Well, I could certainly handle a little weird.
I'd grown up nearly four hundred miles from here in Lubbock, Texas. Everything about Lubbock was flat and plain, including my childhood, so after I received my Masters in Accountancy from Texas Tech University eighteen months ago, I high-tailed it out of there. Austin's brand of weird had been exactly what the doctor ordered. Well, the move, and the job.
Forks, Inc. was the brainchild of Carlisle Cullen, my boss. He'd founded the company fifteen years ago, hoping that his small business could stay afloat while providing computer parts to the greater Austin area. Fortunately for him, business boomed, and his "local" office now served as headquarters for the entire company. The southeast division's main office was based out of Miami, the northwest division in Rochester, New York, and the northwest division was set in Seattle.
When I'd been given the opportunity to intern with the respected and distinguished company right after graduation, I'd jumped at the chance. I still remembered in vivid detail the afternoon I'd found out I'd been offered the position; Mike Newton, the charismatic and celebrated football player, and I had been inseparable for the latter part of my college education. I knew that Mike could just as easily find a job utilizing his Business degree in Austin as he could in Lubbock; so naturally, I'd asked him to make the move with me.
He'd surprised me with his answer. I'd accepted the possibility that he may not want to move to Austin with me right away, thinking that he would more than likely want to secure a job before moving blindly to a new city. What I'd not been figuring on was his flat-out refusal. He claimed that our relationship was moving too quickly and that I was looking for something way more serious than he was ready to deal with.
In an attempt to nurse my wounds, I'd turned to my long-time best friend, Alice Brandon. Her immediate response was an offer to move with me. "Hey," she began as I protested her decision, "I've just graduated as well, and in case you haven't noticed, there are about zero jobs for journalism majors in Lubbock. Besides, how could I not move with you to Austin? We've gone on nine kinds of adventures together before. What's one more?"
I had to be the luckiest girl on earth to have such a spunky, fun-loving roommate assigned to live with me my freshman year at Tech. Alice had made my entire college experience fun instead of something that needed to be completed before I started really living. I felt as though I'd be eternally in her debt for helping me through the two biggest things I'd gone through in my life to date: Number one, of course, was moving with me to a new city and helping me through the beginning stages of my career. The second thing she'd done for me was to provide a shoulder to cry on, helping me through my first major breakup. She was simply the best friend any girl could ask for.
So we'd moved here last year, and not knowing a soul save each other, we'd begun our new adventure. Six months later, my internship was officially over, and the company had offered me an entry-level position as an accountant that I'd been chomping at the bit for since I'd arrived. I'd somehow managed to move up the ranks at Forks, Inc. quickly, earning my current position as a CPA within the tax department.
Through a contact from Tech's journalism department, she had set up an interview with a local news station. It didn't surprise me in the least when she'd been hired on the spot, but Alice was shocked that she'd been able to land what she referred to as her "dream job." Since then, Alice had become quite the popular news correspondent, covering puff pieces on 6th street – the downtown hotspot for live, local music events – up and coming art galleries, and theaters.
She'd met Jasper Whitlock, a researcher and copy editor for KTBC Fox 7 News, about five seconds after she started working at the station. And of course, they began dating about five seconds after that. Although I was both proud and amazed that we'd both managed to accomplish so much in the short amount of time we'd lived here, I couldn't help but be jealous of Alice's happiness.
As I drove past Riverside and over the river leading away from Downtown into SoCo, the neighborhood on South Congress Avenue, my hands tightened around the steering wheel and I bit my lip; my thoughts were all over the place. I just couldn't seem to concentrate on anything other than Edward, whether it was his hands, his lips, or his words.
I could practically feel his breath upon my neck and his voice was as clear as a bell in my head as I recalled what he'd said to me earlier: "I hope you weren't waiting on me, Ms. Swan."
Shaking my head for the second time in the last thirty minutes, I realized that I'd nearly passed my own apartment. I pulled into the left hand turning lane and glanced over at shopping center that disguised the complex. A four story wall replica of a Tuscan villa, complete with faux-cracked stucco and wooden shutters loomed over the little boutiques and cafés that lined the block.
In reality, my apartment sat right above the Starbucks on the left end of the row; every morning I awoke to the heavenly aroma of French Roast permeating the living room. Pulling into my parking spot a minute later, I hoped that the smell of the rich brew met me as I entered the door. It was soothing, and I definitely needed to calm down after the activities I'd recently partaken in.
When I opened my front door, I took a deep breath and relaxed. Stepping out of my heels, I threw my keys and clutch onto the kitchen counter then slumped down onto the couch in a heap of exhaustion. I draped my arm over my eyes, simply enjoying the fact that I was home, when I heard Alice come around the corner of the hallway leading off to our bedrooms. She promptly announced that we were going out for the evening.
"Alice," I began, not bothering to move my arm and look up at her, "it's Tuesday. We both have to work tomorrow…" And I just got fucked six ways to Sunday, I added internally. "The only thing I want to do is soak in the tub tonight."
I felt the cushion next to me sink under her weight. After a minute, I realized that she hadn't answered, so I moved my arm and looked over at her, finding a small pout upon her lips. "You don't love me," she said, but she wasn't fooling anyone. I knew that pout. I knew it all too well.
"I don't know why you think that still works on me."
She jutted her lower lip out further, but it quickly turned up into a sly smile. "It still works on Jasper, but that's neither here nor there. We have to go out tonight."
Quirking a brow at her, I said, "Oh yeah? And why is that, exactly?"
"Well, my dear," she said, her smile deepening, "Guess who got assigned to cover the Austin Film Festival this year…"
"Holy shit," I exclaimed as a smile that rivaled hers lit up my face. "That's fucking awesome, Alice!"
"I know," she said, her jubilant expression replaced by one of awe. "The festival is a huge deal, Bella. I can't believe they picked me to cover it. I'm gonna have to bust my ass to get ready for it, but at least I have a few months until it's here. Jasper said he'd help out as much as he could," she said, her voice falling a bit.
"Don't worry about it," I said, nudging her shoulder with mine. "Like you said, you've got a few months, and with Jasper's help, I'll know you'll be ready when the time comes. You're gonna knock your boss on his ass. You know, I wouldn't be surprised if they offered you a more permanent segment after this."
"Jasper said that, too," she said with a sheepish look. Before I could make fun of her for getting all gooey over her boyfriend, she twisted her mouth and said, "We are going out to celebrate this momentous occasion."
I rolled my eyes, but I couldn't help but laugh at her. "Alright… where are you dragging me to?"
"First, we're going out to dinner, and then, we're going downtown."
"Ugh, Alice… downtown? Really? It's gonna be packed with college kids. Can't we go somewhere else?" I asked.
"Sure," she replied, trying to hide her smirk. I realized that she'd just gotten around the whole – I don't want to go out – loophole. Dang it…
"So where do you want to go instead?" she asked. I tried to huff in frustration, but my cheeks couldn't hide my smile. "Come on," Alice said, nudging my shoulder before rising off of the couch and pulling me up with her. "Let's go get something to eat."
"Alright," I agreed, "but only because I'm starving. Give me a sec to change," I continued, walking around the corner toward my bedroom. "No college bars, Alice," I warned.
I heard her trilling laughter as I shut my door behind me, and a minute later, she shouted out loud enough so that I could hear her from down the hall. "I'm gonna make you have a good time even if I have to pour it down your throat. This is my night, damn it."
After a quick shower, I pulled on a pair of jeans and a simple blue v-neck. Just as I was pulling on a pair of sandals, Alice burst through my door. "What on earth is taking so long?" she asked. I looked up at her from the edge of my bed to find that she was wearing a short black cocktail dress.
I suddenly felt underdressed. "Alice," I began. "Where are you taking us? I was thinking Chili's, and you look like you're dressed to go to the Driskill Grill. I wasn't aware that we were going to a five star restaurant to celebrate."
"Don't be ridiculous. I just threw this on," she said, a small smile trying to break through her carefully collected expression.
"'But you're, like, really pretty,'" I quoted, goading her.
"Thank you," she replied.
"'So you agree? You think you're really pretty?'" I asked, standing up from my bed.
"I thought we'd go to Café 909," she said, leaning over my dresser to look at her eye makeup and breaking our little game. Usually, we could quote Mean Girls back and forth to each other all night, but apparently she wasn't up for it.
I scrunched my nose. "That's one of those places that has one tiny piece of broccoli drizzled with some weird sauce. Come on Alice, let's get some real food. I'm freaking starving," I complained.
"Fine," she agreed, "but not Chili's. I hate that place."
What's so wrong with Chili's? I asked myself; I'd already drooled at the thought of getting their southwestern eggrolls. With a roll of my eyes, I agreed and asked where she wanted to go after dinner.
"Well, I thought that since Jasper and I are picking the restaurant, we'd take you out to The Tavern after."
"Really?" I asked. When she nodded, I smiled and said "Thanks, Alice." The Tavern was my favorite bar; it was quiet and relaxing. I knew that Alice only tolerated it for my benefit; she'd always preferred sports bars, claiming that there was "more to watch." In reality, I knew she just liked looking at the buffet of Levi's-clad rear ends. I'd never admit it, but I liked sports bars for the very same reason.
"Yeah, yeah… Now hurry up. Jasper is already here and we're both starving to death."
Wiggling my toes into the sandals I hadn't worn in a year, I nodded and followed Alice out into the living room. "Hey Jasper," I said, greeting him.
"Hi, Bella," he replied, rising from the couch. "You girls ready to go?"
Alice grabbed her purse and jacket. "Yeah, I think so. Ready, Bella?" I nodded as I gathered my keys and stuffed them into my clutch.
I let out a small whining groan as we pulled up to the small but crowded restaurant. It took longer than I'd prefer to be seated at our table, but I was pleasantly surprised to find real food on the menu. The annoyance I'd usually feel at having to wait an additional thirty minutes for our dinner to be served was squashed by the margaritas I was slurping like there was no tomorrow. At this point in my life, I figured I had to be thankful for small favors.
Alice and I finished up our margaritas then Jasper drove us over to The Tavern. We chose a table in the back where Alice and I could easily watch everyone and make fun of them. I loved the fact that Jasper joined in. In fact, he pointed out the first interesting prospect of the night. "Look what the cat – well, in this case – the cougar dragged in," he whispered, pointing toward the bar.
In the middle of a row of five or six empty barstools sat a woman who was more than likely in her fifties, though she was trying to pass for much, much younger. Unfortunately, her short black dress was a size too small, she was wearing pantyhose – something no woman wore after work – that sported a large run, and had a large, hot pink feather boa draped around her neck.
"Excuse me ma'am," I whispered to Alice. "Do you have this dress in the next size up?" I asked, referencing not only our favorite movie, but the fact that the Cougar's dress was much too small. From our viewpoint, you could easily see that she'd tried but failed to conceal her stomach with the ridiculous boa.
"'Sorry, we only carry sizes one, three, and five. You could try Sears,'" Alice quoted.
I couldn't stifle my giggle as a waitress strode toward our table, and Jasper rolled his eyes and muttered, "And so it begins," before we ordered a round. We sipped our drinks and laughed about the bar's patrons for about an hour before Alice announced that we'd better leave before she did something silly, like order a shot of Hot Damn.
"What?" I asked her. "You act like you don't like Hot Damn or something. Could I interest you in a cinnamon mint?" She wrinkled her nose in distaste; the last time Alice partook in a shot or two of Hot Damn, she hadn't handled them very well. She claimed she couldn't have cinnamon mints or candies anymore without remembering that miserable night. I laughed at her expression then said, "I'll go pay our tab."
"I've got it, Bella," Jasper said, starting to stand up.
"Afraid not," I said, pushing him back down into his seat. "You got dinner. This one is on me."
He looked up at me as though he was going to argue, but then realized that it was a moot point. I threw him a sly smile before making my way up to the bar and grabbing the attention of the cute waitress behind the bar. A wave of irrational jealously flared up as I looked her over. I was secure with my looks and all, but when a sliver of her stomach was bared as she poured a drink from a martini shaker, I couldn't help but note how every man's eyes were glued to her cute, low slung jeans and the deep line of cleavage that was on prominent display.
She's probably too stupid to work anywhere else.
When she came over and smiled at me as I paid our tab, I chided myself for not only the unwarranted jealousy, but for stereotyping her. Hell, for all I knew, she was a pediatrician by day and worked here for shits and giggles by night.
That's actually not a bad idea, I thought to myself as I slid the signed receipt and pen toward her. Before I turned back toward the booth Jasper and Alice sat at, I caught a glimpse of an unruly mop of hair heading toward the exit from the corner of my eye. My breath caught in my throat as he disappeared from my view. Though I knew that it was unlikely that the man whose long sleeves were pushed up around his elbows actually belonged to him, I couldn't help but swallow the lump that had formed in my throat.
Edward's phantom breath was on my neck again, and I could hear his voice as he whispered seductively in my ear: "Is this what you wanted?"
I blinked and shook myself from the memory, realizing that not only the barmaid but a few of the men around me were beginning to stare. I bit my lip and turned on my heel. "Ready?" I asked in a shaky voice as I walked up to Alice and Jasper. "I mean, we're all set with the tab, so if you guys are done…"
Alice frowned before slurping the contents of her glass. "Do we have to go? Things were just starting to get good. Did you see the way that cougar was flirting with every guy at the bar?" she asked, slurring her words.
"Okay," I said, hauling her up from the booth. "I think it's past your curfew, young lady." Jasper laughed and slid out of the booth to help me with his girlfriend.
Alice pouted then looked down at her watch. "It's only one o'clock," she complained.
"Yes, but you're not the one who has to be at work at seven-thirty tomorrow morning," I reminded her.
Her pout turned into a sly smile before she asked, "'Did you have an awesome time?'"
I couldn't help but laugh at her slurred joke, so as Jasper and I toted her out to the car, I said, "Yes, and so did you. I think you had a few too many 'awesome shooters,' though. I'm not sure about listening to any 'awesome music,' unless Jasper has something good in his CD player right now."
I climbed into the backseat after making sure Alice was settled in front. We were driving along the empty highway a few minutes later. I thought that the lull of the car had put Alice to sleep, but she surprised me when she murmured, "Are you spending the night?" to Jasper.
"Sure," he replied, laying his right arm along the middle console with his palm facing up. Alice slipped her small hand within his, and though I'd had a wonderful time tonight with the two of them, and despite the fact that I'd had sex less than eight hours earlier with the beautiful object of my desire, I felt a hollow ache spread out from the pit of my stomach.
Alice and Jasper were perfect for each other, and I couldn't be happier for the both of them. In the eight years since we'd been assigned to room together as freshman, I'd never seen my best friend happier in either her professional or personal life. I just wished I could say the say the same thing about my own.
We pulled into our apartment complex a few minutes later, and Jasper carried Alice up the stairs behind me. I opened the door for him, and after he had her settled in bed, I made my way to my room. I peeled my jeans off and threw my bra down onto the floor before sliding in between my cool sheets.
When I turned to set my alarm for the morning, the small red date displayed in the corner of screen caught my attention. It was Wednesday… Edward usually dropped off his biweekly reports on Tuesdays and Fridays, but his post-it note had clearly said not to wear underwear tomorrow… which was now today.
Before I could think about it to death, I slipped back down under the covers and let the darkness of my room consume me. When I woke up to the shrill sound of my alarm a mere five hours later, I trudged off to the shower to ease my sore muscles and headache. Unfortunately, it didn't help in either regard. Edward had been right after all: I most certainly wouldn't be tapping my foot at him today… The things he'd done to my body yesterday coupled with the lingering effect of last night's many margaritas wouldn't allow for it.
The delicious smell of French Roast lured me out into the living room and kitchen area, and I was surprised to find that the wonderful aroma originated from our coffee maker, not from the Starbucks located downstairs. Jasper stood next to the counter, mug in hand, waiting for the pot to brew.
He turned toward me as I walked in, and I said, "Thank you so much. I really didn't want to wait in line downstairs."
"I figured as much," he responded just as the light indicating the coffee was ready lit up.
"How is she?" I asked as he retrieved a travel mug from the cupboard in front of him.
He poured the freshly made brew into both mugs, and as he handed the travel mug to me, he said, "Oh, she's moaning and groaning, but she doesn't have to be in this early, so I put her back to bed."
I took my coffee from him and returned the small smile he probably wasn't even aware was lingering on his lips; he was so in love with her that you couldn't help but feel it with every word he spoke. Jasper took a sip, and I could tell he was still thinking about Alice as he set his mug down on the counter because his smile was still firmly in place, causing the ache I'd felt last night to resurface. Only this time, I felt it in my heart.
Maybe one day I'll have what they do, I thought to myself as I reached for the creamer sitting on the counter. A vision of Edward suddenly popped into my head, but that was wrong, I decided. Or was it?
It's wrong, I chided myself. What we had was just…
Just what? I prompted.