Hey folks – all human, some OOC, lemons and bad language!
All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. I jut enjoy playing around with them a little bit!
Chapter 1: Interview
I pushed my hands down over the fabric of my black wool skirt for the millionth time, praying for the material to magically extend down my knees an extra inch or so.
"For God's sake, Bella, will you stop fidgeting? You're driving me crazy!" Angela's words were stern but said with a small smile that made the corners of her eyes crinkle.
I laughed without humour. "I'm sorry, I'm just…" I paused pulling my skirt down again from one side to the other, lifting off the car seat. "I'm sure it was longer when I put it on this morning."
When I could feel the skirt start to groan in protest, I huffed and slammed my now sweaty palms against my still visible horrendously knobbly, white knees, my nails scratching against my skin in agitation.
Angela laughed then, shaking her head, her dark hair catching the bottom of her black framed glasses.
"Seriously, Bells, I've never see you so on edge. It's just a job interview; nothing more, nothing less." She turned to me briefly, giving a playful wink.
I knew she was right. I'd been to hundreds of interviews in my life, if not thousands. Well, maybe not 1000's, but a lot and I'd always been fairly cool and calm, today however I just couldn't seem to settle. My palms and back were sweaty and all of my clothes, including my damn skirt, were feeling at least a size too small.
I discreetly pulled at the hem of my skirt one more time.
Angela caught this from the corner of her eye. "Bella, you look great; you're going to do fine, honestly. Forget what that stupid bitch said and go in there with your head held high!" She punched her fist dramatically against the steering wheel as she said the last three words. I couldn't help but laugh at her and I felt myself relax the tiniest bit.
The bitch in question was my boss and all-round pain in the ass, Jessica Stanley. When she'd heard about this particular job she had tried to keep it quiet from anyone that she considered 'under-qualified' or 'not up to the task,' two of her favourite euphemisms for 'Bella, darling, resign yourself to the fact that you will never amount to anything more than a glorified receptionist.'
Yeah, well, bite me, bitch!
It was only through an intense and covert operation of mine and Angela's planning with some serious stomach churning flirting with Jessica's personal helper and lap dog, Eric, that we had discovered the job had become available.
I grimaced as I remembered the long and somewhat heated discussion that had taken place in Jessica's office a week ago.
"I hear on the grapevine that you've shown interest in the Cullen job?"
Grapevine my ass!
I knew she'd been watching my every move around the office all week; even my forced, shiver-inducing dalliances with Eric had been monitored intently through her office door with a cynical and narrow eye.
"Yes, that's right." Why lie? I thought.
"Well, I'm sure you're aware that the position on offer requires someone with a bit more experience…" Wait for it… "You're a good worker, but I just think you're too under-qualified, Bella."
Oh, there it is!
Seriously, I could have happily stapled her entire rolodex to her head at that point. I clenched my hands, sighed and smiled sweetly.
"Well, I'm sure it seems that way to you, Jessica." Another sugary sweet smile. "But I really feel that I would be good for the job."
Now that was definitely the truth! As well as the part about my being a good worker. I was. I was a damned good worker!
I'd worked for Forks Assistance Inc. for 5 years. The company recruited people out of college to then essentially 'pimp' them out as personal assistants, or PAs, to company directors, CEOs and any other big cheeses to help make their lives a little easier. This included taking on some of the more mundane tasks of organizing their schedules, appointments and phone calls, correspondence and even travel details for any trips if they were needed. It was tough, the hours were long and it was, for the most part, thankless, but I loved it.
She stared at me as though I had just spat in her coffee, which in all honesty I would have loved to do. I swallowed hard on the off chance the temptation became too much.
"Bella, you've only had two positions since joining us and neither one had a tenth of the pressure or requirements that this one does. We have much more experienced workers here who've also shown an interest. I think the competition would just be too strong." She leaned back in her grey faux leather chair, her hands folded under her chin, waiting for me to reply.
It was true I had only held two positions. The first was as an operations co-ordinator for a corporate training company where I was in charge of an entire office whilst the boss, Paul, flew all over the world doing his business deals. Two years after I'd started, his wife fell pregnant and he decided to stay closer to home, leaving me without a job. Selfish ass!
The second was my favourite. I was PA to the creative director of the city museum for three years. Although I had all the usual PA's duties I was able to spend my free time, however rare that was, in the museum itself. I found it fascinating, learning about the history of people, the country and the world, frequently taking the tours to all the different sections of the museum.
In three years I was still finding out new things about the area and world I lived in. As well as it keeping my brain awake, I often found it humbling. I lost my position when my boss retired and was replaced by a young new whipper-snapper with an equally young and determined assistant.
I brought my head up and took a deep breath. "Jessica, I really think you should let me have a go at getting this position." She rolled her eyes at me. "At least put my name forward. They can always ignore my résumé, and if they do..." I exhaled loudly, "then I'll never pester you again about any job."
I didn't know if the last part was a lie or not but it was worth a shot.
After a few deep breaths and loud clicks of her tongue, Jessica threw the job specification at me. I grabbed it and literally ran out the office door, waving it in Eric's face as I did.
I was disturbed from my reverie by Angela coughing loudly. "Earth to Bella? Are you ready?"
We were parked in the underground lot of the Hilton Hotel, LA. I turned to face Angela after removing my seatbelt. We'd been friends since school, done college together and now lived together. She was my best friend and I knew that if I'd asked her she would have held my hand all the way to the top floor.
She laughed quietly as if reading my thoughts. "Go get 'em, tiger!" She raised her hand into a claw shape and snarled.
I smiled. "Wish me luck." I got out of the car, straightened my skirt, shirt and jacket and made my way to the hotel entrance.
The hotel was stunning and I felt my clothes shrink another size down. What the hell?
After receiving my security pass and having my bag searched, I was directed to the presidential suite by a young blonde in the foyer who eyed my skirt knowingly.
Yeah, I thought, shrinking skirts. Who knew?!
The ride up in the elevator allowed me, brief as it was, some calming down time. I breathed in deeply and slowly, over and over, straightening then re-straightening my skirt, shirt and jacket. It had started to dawn on me as I had entered the lush palace that was the Hilton foyer that I was maybe just slightly out of my league and, God help me, Jessica may have been right.
You see, this wasn't just any PA position.
In my eyes it was THE PA position.
The job everyone wanted, whether they admitted it or not.
I was about to be interviewed for the position of PA to Edward Cullen.
Edward Cullen was an up-and-coming film star who, at the present time in Hollywood, was 'hot stuff' and I mean that in every sense of the word. He had starred in three box office-smashing films in the last year alone, had received an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe and numerous MTV and Nickelodeon hottest male lead awards, the latter two voted for by the teenage girls that fawned over and screamed at him at every one of his film premieres, home and abroad.
He was talented, gorgeous, rich and, as rumour had it, a complete bastard.
As many a young Hollywood starlet had found themselves, he was at the centre of a media circus, desired by girls and women, envied by men. He was apparently rude and arrogant and didn't take kindly to people who didn't treat him with the respect he felt he deserved.
I'd Googled him a couple of times in the week leading up to the interview (research, of course) and found it hard to believe that the fresh-faced, handsome man I saw could be like what people said.
Arrogant? He was very pretty.
Rude? Well, it can't be easy having people grabbing and screaming at you all the time.
Maybe people were being a little hard on him. He was only a year older than me after all, and I knew how I reacted to any type of intense attention or scrutiny, even from my own mother.
The elevator doors opened and I was greeted by a tall blonde with legs that began at her armpits. I couldn't help but think that if there really was such a thing as a shrinking skirt, she could easily be the woman to advertise it. She strolled over to me as I glanced nervously around the room. Oh yes, the presidential suite had its own foyer!
Shit! What am I doing here?
"Hi, I'm Heidi. You must be Miss Swan." It wasn't a question; she knew who I was from the picture attached to my résumé that she held in her perfectly manicured hand. Before I could answer she turned from me walking towards two large white double doors at the far end of the room. She turned and looked at me with an expression that made me quickly realise that I should follow her. She sighed impatiently as I made my way over to her, her hand on the handle.
"You'll wait in here until you are called through. Do you have any questions?" Her face made it clear that any questions I did have would be met with curt and crabby answers. I shook my head averting my eyes from her intimidating glare. She opened the door and I walked through.
Well great, I thought as I took my seat alongside three other girls, not only am I wearing clothes that are now just about stopping the circulation in my entire body, but I'd just been made to feel like a naughty child who'd missed curfew, by Heidi the blonde-leg queen!
Maybe if I called down to Angela she would come up and hold my hand, or at the very least sort Blonde Leg Lady out with a swift right hook?
No Bella stop being such a wuss! You can do this; you can do this you can…
"Miss Swan?" A soft voice called from the opposite side of the room.
Oh shit I can't do this, I can't do this…
I wiped my hands subtlety down my skirt again and raised my head. "Yes?"
"This way please." A dark haired man motioned with his hand through to another part of the suite.
Worst case scenario is, I thought, if I run now I'll probably get lost in the maze of corridors and rooms and not be found until days later with nothing more than a small piece of my shrinking skirt covering my unmentionables.
I shuddered at the thought.
I slid my way passed the dark haired man into a smaller room. I breathed a small sigh of relief as I realised that this room was a lot less intimidating than all the others. Dark blue paint, with an enormous silver framed mirror on the wall, soft lighting and cream curtains made the room feel relaxed. I suddenly felt a little more optimistic.
I walked towards a chair that had been placed in front of a mahogany table. Behind the table the same dark haired man sat down next to a small, elfin looking woman whose blue eyes were piercing. She nodded for me to take my seat. Her blonde hair was almost the same shade and texture as Leggy Heidi and my brunette hair started to feel a little out of place, recoiling slightly at the sight of more fair-haired perfection.
That's all I need, a receding hair line to match my receding skirt.
I fingered my hair in comfort.
There, there it'll all be over soon.
The woman was the first to speak. "Well, Miss Swan, your résumé came highly recommended." I blinked like an idiot, my mouth opening with a little popping sound loud enough for them to look up at me. "Is something wrong?"
Breathe Bella, speak, the woman asked you a question. "Um, no, nothing." I smiled as best I could.
Great, now they think I'm a complete tit too!
Highly recommended? What the hell? Jessica had fought with me on this every step of the way.
Who would…? Angela!
"So, Miss Swan -..." That was going to get old fast. "You understand that the pressures of this particular position will be very different to those of your previous posts." I nodded in agreement. "What do you think you'll be able to bring to this job?"
I hated this particular question. It required a lot of gloating and self-promotion on my part, two things that I didn't find easy at all.
I took a deep breath. "Well, although my two previous jobs were fairly short-term I found that I was able to utilise all my talents into making the lives of my bosses easier…" I was shocked to find myself listing all the responsibilities that I'd had over the last five years throughout my two PA jobs, using words and vocabulary that wouldn't look out of place in a Brontë novel.
I never stuttered, dribbled or paused.
I actually sounded like a professional.
Go Team Swan! Angela would be proud!
I finished my boastful rant and watched as they both made notes on the pieces of paper on the table in front of them.
"So tell me what you know about Mr. Cullen." The dark-haired man gestured towards me with his pen.
I knew the Googling would come in handy. God bless the internet!
I started rhyming off what I had learnt about him from surfing the web. He was an orphan from the age of five; any details as to what happened were fairly sketchy and he was adopted by the award-winning director Carlisle Cullen and his actress wife Esme. Growing up around such stars was bound to rub off on him at some point, I guess.
He'd worked as a model briefly. I skipped over the part where Angela and I, over a bottle of vodka, had fawned for two hours over images of his modelling days. He'd moved into television for a while before getting his big break at the age of 21 playing the love interest in a teenage rom-com; he was adorable in it. I again thought it inappropriate to mention that Angela and I had watched said movie constantly over the previous week, including special features and deleted scenes – with and without commentary.
Again, the two of them wrote furiously as I finished my once again word perfect answer. I was starting to feel a little giddy at the thought of doing so well and the look on Jessica's face if I did happen to get the job.
Ha! Stupid hag!
But I had to remain calm; I knew that realistically I had about as much chance of getting the job as I would have being able to wear stilettos and climb a flight of stairs without breaking my ankle. Believe me, me in high heels is not a pretty sight!
The questions continued. Why did I want to work for Mr. Cullen? Wow would I deal with this situation? That situation? Why? I began to lose a little of my momentum as they fired one after the other at me but I kept hitting them back as best I could, trying to keep as positive and word perfect as possible.
"Well Miss Swan, that seems to be all." The dark haired man collected his papers and tapped them against the desk and I breathed a small sigh of relief. I felt fairly drained and was ready to go back home and open a bottle of wine. I'm sure Angela would be up for that…
"Actually, I have one more question," the blonde woman interrupted, placing a hand on his arm before glancing surreptitiously at the mirror above my head. I considered for one moment turning round but thought better of it as her eyes met mine.
I smiled at her slowly, waiting for her to ask what seemed, from the look on the dark-haired man's face, like an unexpected and unplanned question.
She looked at me, her blue eyes piercing mine and she slowly clasped her hands on the table.
"What is your opinion of Mr. Cullen?" She never smiled or blinked; instead, she remained motionless, her eyes never leaving mine. I laughed quietly with no humour, raising my eyebrows in hesitation.
Now this was dangerous ground. I really wasn't sure whether it was a trick question or not. I could tell her what she would want to hear but I had a sneaky feeling she'd see right through me.
"Well..." I coughed nervously. "…he's obviously a talented individual with…,"
"No, Miss Swan," she interrupted me but still didn't blink, "what is your opinion of him in terms of his…," She paused, looking again at the silver-framed mirror on the wall behind before looking back at me, "…reputation?"
Shit, shit, shit!
I felt my hands start to sweat slightly and I had to swallow three times in quick succession before I could speak.
"Well I understand that Mr. Cullen is considered by some as having a…" Think Bella, think fast. "…difficult side…" Well done, very diplomatic. "…But I'm also aware that rumours are exactly that. Rumours." Good, it's going well. "And I believe I have the common sense and open-mindedness to be able to form my own opinion on the matter, if the time ever arises."
The room was silent for a beat, until the two of them seemed to relax and began once again arranging their papers. I began to stand as they did, straightening my skirt out one more time..
The dark-haired man put out his hand for me to shake, which I did eagerly, lucky I'd wiped my sweaty hands before! I took the hand of the blue-eyed blonde, surprised at the coldness of her skin. I smiled meekly at her and noticed the sides of her mouth twitching, "You'll hear from us soon, Miss Swan." She released my hand and motioned towards the exit.
I walked out of the doors shaking my head gently, completely astounded at how I had survived the entire episode. I had been calm, cool and collected, for the most part. I hadn't mumbled or embarrassed myself with my answers and was feeling quietly confident that I had made a good impression.
I held onto that thought as I walked into the suite foyer, grinning sweetly at Heidi Legs-A-Lot before catching my heel on the raised edge of the Chinese rug, landing hands and knees first with my ass stuck up in the air.
Shit – classy, Swan, very classy!
"Hey, you ok?" a soft voice asked.
"Yeah, well aside from the fact that I'm a complete dick, who's incapable of walking over a flat surface without…" I brushed my hair back and looked up suddenly feeling very sick. The voice in question belonged to Edward Cullen who was standing above me in all his glory with a very surprised look on his gorgeous face.
Oh my fucking Jesus!
"Um…I mean…I'm…," I stuttered as I attempted to get up, "…I just…" I wobbled again as I put one foot back on the floor. I suddenly felt my elbow being grabbed by a strong hand and was lifted gently to my feet. I looked down to my elbow as he let me go. His face remained surprised. One of his eyebrows rose over his striking green eyes and his mouth pressed in a hard line, no doubt suppressing the laugh that was bursting to get out of him. I rubbed my hands down my skirt feeling the carpet burns already beginning to sting.
Seriously Swan, this is going down in the all-time most mortifying moments ever!
I couldn't help but stare at him. His pictures on the internet didn't do him justice at all. Honestly, he was beautiful. His bronze hair stuck gloriously in a thousand different directions and he was slighter than I'd have thought but solid in his build, wearing black jeans and a grey t-shirt that was adorably creased and crumpled.
I cleared my throat nervously and pushed back the hair that was still hanging over my face. "Thanks." I smiled weakly, feeling myself blush crimson from my neck all the way to my scalp. His mouth twitched slightly as he quickly glanced to my feet and back to my face. I wondered for a split second if he knew I'd noticed.
"No problem," he shrugged, handing me my purse. I watched as he walked around me towards the door I'd just come from, never looking back. I looked down at my guilty feet and exhaled loudly.
Well, there goes the job, you flaming imbecile!
I turned to see Heidi grinning like a Cheshire cat, clearly loving my carpet gymnastics and obviously thinking exactly the same as me – better luck next time, loser!
I pursed my lips and swallowed hard, knowing that her cup of coffee was definitely within spitting distance. I fixed my skirt and my shirt and placed my purse on my shoulder. I flicked my hair dramatically behind my shoulders and made my way back to the elevator, silently chanting Angela's wise words – head held high, Bella, head held high!
Well let me know what you think with your reviews as to whether you like this or not – really appreciate all feedback.
TTFN x x