Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns all characters. I secretly wish I owned Rob. My husband wishes neither of them existed.
This is my first fanfic. I needed some fluff after being a reader for a while, so I created some of my own. I hope I make some people laugh. This one's rated M, folks. Dirty words, situations, and whatever else I dream up.
ETA 24 June 2010: I'm going through and editing the formatting that FF deleted, and making little edits..so Hi, if you're rereading or anything!
Chapter 1: The Meat Sweats
"Angela, I really don't think this is a good idea," I stated, trying to be firm. I wasn't sure if it was working.
"Bella, we're really in a bind here. We're already short two Gauchos, and I don't have anyone to call in. There's no way I'm pulling Jessica from the hostess desk. I don't think she has enough brain cells to be handling a sharp knife," she reasoned.
Think fast, Bella, or you're not going to get out of this one. This is SO not good. "You know, sharp knives and my talent for tripping over air is not exactly the best combination. I'm not graceful or remotely coordinated. I'm sure that Jessica can manage –"
"But you serve drinks every night without any problems! I know you can do this," she insisted.
"I'm the bartender! I never have to come out from behind the bar. Remember the time you had to drive me to the ER after the lime incident?" I'd almost lost the tip of my middle finger last year in an unfortunate accident, while prepping limes for the caipirinhas - our house drink. Very tasty. However, lime juice and a sliced fingertip are not a good combination. "And who will cover the bar while I'm out there trying not to injure myself or anyone else?" I pleaded.
"Come on, it's just for tonight. I'll cover the bar for you. I promise you'll be the first one cut if it's a slow night."
That's exactly what I'm afraid of! Or worse yet, what if I accidentally skewer a customer?
"Angela," I whined, "I'm dangerous!"
"Don't make me pull rank on you, Bella. I am your boss…" Damn! I was hoping she wouldn't go there!
"All right, all right - I'll do it. But I'm going on the record here - I will not be held responsible any loss of life, limbs, ears, nose or eyebrows," I said, hoping that I sounded more firm than I had at the beginning of this conversation.
"Duly noted," she replied with a smirk.
"I hope you can keep smiling when we get sued for personal injury," I sniped. I just prayed that that wouldn't actually happen.
"You can do this. You will not accidentally slice off any fingers. You will not trip and skewer a diner."
Nice pep talk, Bella. Other girls would be primping before their shifts, but you, you're standing in front of the bathroom mirror...talking to yourself.
I'd been working at a Brazilian steakhouse in Seattle for about a year and a half now. For the last 6 months, I worked the bar. It's a pretty great job for a graduate student – the nights weren't extremely late and the tips were substantial. But I've never had to work as a Gaucho – usually it's only the hot guys who walk around with the giant cuts of meat that these places are famous for.
Have I mentioned the sharp knives used to cut said pieces of meat at every table?
I looked at my reflection in the mirror. My brown hair was twisted into a low bun at the nape of my neck, with a few chunks of long bangs framing my face. The hair didn't look so bad. My eyes, however, looked like I was about to walk naked into a prison cafeteria. Narrowing my eyes, I tried to give myself a reassuring look in the mirror. It didn't work.
"Here goes nothing," I muttered to myself.
To my unending surprise, I made it through the first two hours of dinner service without any major faux-pas, though I did manage to send a piece of sausage into an unfortunate woman's caipirinha. I also dropped a sliced piece of picanha in a rather annoyed gentleman's lap. All in all, I was doing rather well so far. After my latest skewer was empty, I made my way back to the kitchen to retrieve my next cut of meat.
"I'm telling you, there there is some PRIME meat out there at table twenty seven…three hot guys..." Great. Jessica was ogling the customers again. I tuned out the rest of her babbling.
"Hey, Bella, I've got some hot beef for you over here," Mike, one of the cooks, yelled. This comment was punctuated with an eyebrow wiggle that I'm sure he thought was sexy. To me it just looked like he was constipated.
I rolled my eyes and said, "Keep it up, Mike, and you're going to get a couple drops of Visine in your drink the next time you hit the bar after your shift." In fact, I thought about doing it anyway for the hell of it. I've heard one too many crude "hot meat" jokes from him in my eighteen months here. If I had to put up with his verbal diarrhea, then he should at least get some real diarrhea in return.
"Come on, you know you want it. Here, come and get my Brazilian sausage," he laughed.
Oh, yeah. He's definitely getting the Visine.
I gave him the stink eye, grabbed the skewer of sausages, and stalked off towards the dining room. Unfortunately, since I wasn't exactly paying attention to being careful, I neglected to check and see if there was anyone near the door before exiting to the dining area.
"Ouch!" someone yelped from the other side of the swinging door.
Uh-oh. Not good, hitting customers in the face with doors. Hey, at least I didn't stab him... I could tell it was a man that I had just introduced to the swinging door. It was sort of a nice sounding yelp, though, if there is such a thing.
I rounded the door, preparing my sweetest, most profuse apology. "Sir, I am so, so sorry, I didn't see you there…" my words dried up and I blushed even harder than I thought possible as I looked up – and up - into the bright green eyes of my victim. He was pinching the bridge of his nose, trying to alleviate the pain. His face was quite possibly the most perfect male face I've ever seen. That face was enough to make Zeus jealous! My ovaries perked up at the sight. Those perfect features and beautiful green eyes were topped by an unruly head of shiny bronze hair. Sex hair. Sex! My ovaries screamed. Yes, sex makes babies, and that's what we're going to do with this man! I mentally told my ovaries to shut it. Hitting a man in the face with a door is not exactly conducive to sexual attraction.
"… Maybe you can show me where the restroom is," he was saying. His voice was like hot chocolate fixed just how I liked it – with a dash of cayenne pepper and lots of whipped cream. It was smooth and velvety, with a hint of spice. Whipped cream, my ovaries squealed, yes, let's cover him in whipped cream and lick it off!
"Huh?" I said, snapping out of my mental dialogue.
"Can you show me where the restroom is?" He asked. He'd stopped rubbing his nose, and I noticed a sexy crooked smile tugging at the corner of his lips. I think he was enjoying my discomposure.
"Oh, yes," I forced out, pointing towards the restroom. "Again, let me apologize. I'll get my manager to see if there's any way I - uh, we can make it up to you," I said.
"No need," he said, rubbing the bridge of his nose again. "I think it was my pride injured more than anything else. No harm, no foul." He treated me to more of that crooked smirk. "Just be careful," he said, as he looked down at my name tag, "Bella. We wouldn't want you to really hurt someone with that meat filled weapon you have there." The smirk was a full fledged grin by this point. He walked past me to the restroom, while I just stood there. I'm sure my mouth was gaping open and I must have resembled a dying fish. My ovaries sighed with joy at the way my name sounded on those beautiful lips.
Eventually, I snapped out of it and began making my way through the restaurant, hawking my giant rack of sausage. The skewer was nearly gone as I approached table twenty-seven. There were five diners at this table, all laughing and ribbing each other.
"We've got to come here more often – like every week!" a loud voice boomed. "Seriously, this is heaven. I just turn over this disc, and people keep bringing me meat – all the meat in the world – and they can't kick me out! Sweet! It could only be better if the dudes bringing me the meat were actually chicks in bikinis..." This last comment earned him a smack upside the head from a gorgeous blonde that must have been his girlfriend. The rest of the party just laughed at his crass comments.
"Emmett, you can't keep eating all night. Remember when we brought you here for your birthday and you had to wear your 'Thanksgiving Pants' for three days? You kept complaining about having the 'meat sweats' and Rose swears your hair smelled like steak for a month afterward."
Meat Sweats? I tried not to laugh. Then I realized who was speaking.
It was the voice. The voice that belonged to the smirk. And the green eyes. And the sex hair.
"Screw the meat sweats, this is worth it," he retorted around a huge mouthful of steak. He was a bear-like specimen of a man with ice blue eyes and closely cropped dark hair.
I forced away my apprehension about seeing Sex Hair again and approached the table. In addition to the big guy and the blonde, I noticed a petite girl with a really cute black pixie cut and another man, a lanky blond. I assumed that they were a couple, based on the bedroom eyes they were giving each other.
"Ladies, would you like to try some Brazilian sausage?" I asked.
Before either of them could answer, the big guy, Emmett – Mr. Meat Sweats - said, "I'll take yours, Rose. You know you don't need any Brazilian sausage when can have mine anytime you want." This earned him another slap. I tried to stifle my laughter, noticing Sex Hair was looking at me with that crooked smirk again, which only made it worse.
"No, thank you," said the pixie. The blonde scowled at the big guy but still declined.
"Gentlemen, would you like to try some?" I asked.
Meat Sweats was the first to speak up again. "Those two don't want any. I, however, am very confident in my sexuality and have no problem eating gigantic amounts of sausage." He then grabbed the skewer out of my hand, slid the rest of the sausage onto his plate, and handed me the empty skewer. The rest of the table burst out laughing. I wasn't sure if it was due to the shocked look on my face or Emmett's actions.
"Well," I stammered, "Excuse me; enjoy the rest of your dinner."
"Wait! Miss –" It was Sex Hair again.
"Yes, what can I do t-for you?" Oh, crap that was close!
"Can I request more of the picanha? It was wonderful," he said. The smirk was bigger now. I don't think he missed my almost Freudian slip.
"Um, sure. I'll see what I can do about that," I managed. Wow, Bella – way to be articulate. I gave the table and Sex Hair a sheepish smile and turned toward the kitchen. He's so pretty, I thought dazedly. We want to touch the Sex Hair, my ovaries sang. Somehow, I made it to the kitchen mishap-free, which was surprising, considering that most of my wits were left back at the table with Sex Hair. Angela met me at the kitchen door.
"Bella – how is it going? I didn't hear any screams or giant crashes while I was at the bar," she teased. "Anyway, I have good news! The night's a little slow, so you can go back to manning the bar."
Oh, thank you, Lord!
But what about Sex Hair? whined my ovaries. We need to bring him more meat! If we don't see him again, how can we make babies?
Ignoring my pouting nether regions, I smiled at Angela. "I wouldn't say nothing happened. I did kind of, um, ," I rushed out, hoping she wouldn't be as mad if I just got it over with.
"What? When? Are they okay?" she asked.
"He's fine. I did warn you that I was dangerous." I hedged. "He said I injured his pride more than his nose, which is a really good thing, because it's a very nice nose... and eyes... and sex hair..." I trailed off. What the hell happened to my mental filter?
"So he was hot, huh?" Angela smirked. "So, which table is it, so I can go try to smooth things over?" she asked.
"Table twenty-seven," I replied. There was the damn blush again.
"Wow, look at those cheeks, Bella! He must be really hot!"
"Shut it, Angela," I growled, only half-kidding. "If you're done teasing me, I'll get back to my bar now. Oh, and Sex Hair's table requested that we bring by more picanha. You might want to send more than one skewer. I'm not sure if there will be enough for the rest of the table if the big guy gets it first."
"Will do, Bella. Why don't you make up a round of caipirinhas for the table? To make up for the damaged pride," she suggested.
I curled my lip at her and headed for the bar, but I did as she asked. It would be good to take out my frustration on some unsuspecting limes. I gathered the ingredients and began aggresively mashing limes and sugar in the bottom of a pitcher. After the mixture was sufficiently pulverized, I added the cachaca and a splash of soda. Angela came up to the bar as I was pouring the drinks into glasses. She had a very strange expression on her face.
"I've never seen someone eat so much meat in my entire life. Not even that time we had that Sumo wrestling team in here... I don't know whether to be amazed or repulsed," she laughed. "He looks like he's in pain, but he keeps asking for more meat! I think the rest of his party is planning an intervention."
"I told you that guy could eat," I replied as I placed the drinks on a tray and handed it to her. "Please tell him again how sorry I am for hitting him with the door," I said.
"Are you sure you don't want to deliver them to Mr. 'Sex Hair' yourself?" Angela asked. She had that damn teasing look again. I gave her a self-deprecating smile.
"No, I think I've used up my daily quota of coordination. I wouldn't want to tempt fate any more than I already have tonight by carrying that tray any amount of distance."
"All right, suit yourself, Bella...chicken," I heard her mutter as she walked away, shaking her head. So what if I was a chicken. Men that beautiful were either gay or wanted someone equally spectacular. I had a healthy amount of self esteem, but that man was off-the-charts on Bella's Scale of Man-Candy. Better than Smarties. Even better than the god of all candies, Russell Stover Pectin Jellybeans.
Shaking my head, I began to clean up the mess from the lime massacre and kept an eye on the television behind the bar, absently noting that the Mariners were losing again. I bet Charlie was mad. My dad was a rabid baseball fan, and he had a love-hate relationship with the Mariners. He loved the team, he just hated that most of the players seemed to suck. I was wiping down the shiny walnut bar when someone stepped up in front of me, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention.
"Hello," he said. He set his full drink on top of the bar. "I didn't get a chance to introduce myself earlier. My name is Edward Cullen." It was Sex Hair himself!
"Hi," I squeaked. Nice. You sound like you've been sucking on a helium balloon. "I'm Bella," I said, sticking out my hand. "I really am sorry about earlier... I know one little drink isn't much, but it was made with love." Crap. Cue the blush. Really, Bella? Made with love? Great. Apparently the peanut gallery included my bitchy inner self, and not just Angela. He smiled at me and took my hand in his. He didn't shake it, he simply held it for a long moment. My cheeks felt like they were on fire and my palm tingled where it made contact with his.
"I think we're way past the handshake, Bella," he said as he let go of my hand. My hand felt cold with the loss, and I curled my fingers into my palm. "When you've nearly smashed someone's nose into their brain, I'm pretty sure you can skip the formalities."
"What? I thought you said you were okay! I'm so, so sorry-" I panicked.
"No, no, I'm fine," he reassured me. There's that crooked smile again. "It's just so fun to tease you – I get such a nice reaction. I haven't been able to make my little sister blush like that since we were kids." He chuckled quietly, his beautiful eyes crinkling slightly at the corners. "And I certainly didn't enjoy it as much." He look down at his drink; his smile faded slightly and he visibly tensed. He took a deep breath and looked up again. "I just wanted to thank you for the drinks. My friends are really enjoying them. Although Emmett – that's the big eater – refuses to drink it because that would be taking stomach space away from the meat."
I giggled at his comment. Jeez. I haven't giggled since I was in high school. "You're very welcome. It's the least I could do, considering I almost broke your nose." I looked around the restaurant, noticing that the place was pretty much empty. I was silent for a few seconds. I knew he wouldn't have any more reason to stay there with me, so I made small talk. "So are you and your friends here celebrating anything special? If you'd like to embarrass one of them, I can get the Gauchos to sing," I said. He laughed and smiled that perfect smile. I needed something to do with my hands, so I busied myself by wiping down the bar again.
"Actually, we're here celebrating an engagement. Emmett, my brother, and Rosalie, the blonde. And nothing embarrasses Emmett. He'd probably join in, with his own very dirty lyrics," he joked. I noticed he was twisting a cocktail napkin in his long fingers. Was he nervous?
"That's probably not a very good idea then," I laughed. "Some of the Gauchos don't know English very well and would probably think it was just a new version they were supposed to sing." A server came up with a drink order. "Excuse me for a moment, Edward."
I prepared the server's drink request and carried it to the opposite end of the bar. As I turned back to Edward, I saw him watching me.
Was he looking at my ass?
Calm down, Bella. That must be your ovaries' wishful thinking.
I blushed anyway.
He sat at the bar, leaning forward on his elbows. One large hand propped up his chin. "So what do you do when you're not bar tending or smashing poor unsuspecting men with doors," he teased. I shot him a mock scowl.
"I'm a graduate student at U of W here in Seattle. I actually just took my last final today. My degree will be in English Literature. I want to be a writer, but most everyone I know seems to think that it might not pay the bills. So here I am, slaving away making drinks every night." I sighed dramatically and tried to look how I imagined a tortured artist would look. My efforts did not go unrewarded, and he laughed at me. "What about you? What do you do when you're not being assaulted by clumsy restaurant staff and watching your friends consume ungodly amounts of meat?"
"I just finished my residency at UW Medical Center. I'm specializing in blood disorders – Hematology/Oncology," he replied.
Well, that was it. Some people had it all – ridiculous good looks and brains? If I didn't feel inadequate before, I certainly did now.
"That must be a very hard job," I said, with not a little sympathy. "Lots of ups and downs."
"That's a different reaction. Most people tell me what a rewarding job I have." He looked uncomfortable. "It's overwhelming sometimes. But I try my best to make even the smallest difference." He sighed, and the tenseness was back. I wanted to put that crooked smile back on his face.
"Well I'm sure you do... for the female patients at least. And the men who play for Team Unicorn," I teased.
"Team Unicorn," he repeated, looking confused. "Oh, now I get it." He chuckled, looking a bit green. Then he brightened. "Why, Bella, are you trying to say you find me attractive? And to think, you almost maimed me today," he added, winking at me.
Wow. That's dangerous. The Panty-Land Security Threat Level just went up to Orange. Explosion may be imminent.
I didn't want him to know how he affected me – I needed some sarcasm, fast. "No, I'm saying your delirious, drugged and sick patients find you attractive," I shot back.
He winced and leaned back in his chair, pretending like he'd been injured. "You wound me," he groaned.
"Sorry, I call 'em like I see 'em. Someone with your looks needs to be taken down a peg every once and a while," I said. I was surprised at how easy it was to flirt with him. I was not usually this bold or talkative with men, but something was different about this guy. Despite his looks, he managed to make me feel at ease.
"Careful, Bella. Any more of those backhanded compliments and I might actually think you really do find me attractive."
I just smiled at him. I looked beyond his shoulder and saw his friends coming toward the bar.
"E, man, we gotta get going. I need my stretchy pants! Let's roll!" He stopped short when he saw me. "Hey, Gaucho Girl, whatcha doing behind the bar?"
"Actually, I'm the bartender here. I was just helping out because we were short a couple Gauchos tonight," I answered, laughing.
Edward stood up and ran his hand through his hair. I tried not to drool. "This is Bella, guys. Bella, I believe you'll recognize my brother Emmett, and this is his new fiancee, Rosalie." He gestured toward the other couple. "My sister, Alice, and her husband, Jasper."
"Nice to meet you all," I said.
"Nice to meet you too, Bella," they all answered in unison. I couldn't help but laugh, because they all spoke on cue.
"Thanks for those drinks, Bella." This was from Alice, the short chick. She wobbled slightly as she spoke. "Very tasty," she said with a grin.
"Yes, thanks for those drinks. It makes it that much easier for us to take advantage of our women," Emmett said.
"Just ignore him, that's what I do," Edward said, elbowing Emmett in the gut.
"Hey, watch it, there's precious cargo in there!" shouted Emmett. "I hate to pull you away from your precious moments here, but I've got to get on a plane early tomorrow morning. And you all know that Rosie ain't happy if she doesn't get some good lovin' before we go to bed." His comment was met with another slap to the back of his head by Rosalie.
"I need bleach for my ears," muttered Alice. "Why don't we meet you at the car, Edward? Come on, Emmett. It was very nice to meet you, Bella." They all waved goodbye and started for the exit. Edward turned to me and smiled again.
"It was nice running into you, Bella."
"Ha ha. It was nice to meet you, too. Maybe I'll see you here again sometime? " God, I hope so.
"I think you might," he said and grinned at me. "I guess I'd better get them home. They'll kill me if we're still in the car when Emmett starts digesting all that meat."
"Ugh. Thanks for that, Edward. I might have nightmares tonight."
"We wouldn't want that. Forget I said anything. You can remember smashing me in the face with that door if it helps."
"Oh, yes, that's much more pleasant," I responded.
"Sweet dreams, Bella. I'll see you around," he said, sliding his untouched drink towards me. He gave me that crooked smile one more time and walked to the door.
"Bye," I answered with what I'm sure was a very goofy smile.
I stood there basking in happiness for a few moments after he left, before my bubble burst. Why didn't I ask for his number? Why didn't he ask for mine? Maybe he was just wasting time until Emmett stopped eating. Deflated, I picked up his drink and emptied it in the sink. Strange, he didn't even touch it. Maybe he was the designated driver. I swiped the cocktail napkin off the bar and reached to throw it in the trash bin, but the writing on the corner caught my eye. I couldn't believe what it said.
Sex Hair - 702-555-7489
How did he know I called him that?