Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight, including the characters I'm lucky enough to play with.
Note: This is my first AH. Maybe it's been done before, but thank you for giving this a chance!
The hung on the white wall behind my head ticked on softly as I tapped my foot anxiously against the plush carpet. I glanced up at it, reassuring myself that I had indeed arrived ten minutes early and was now sitting here, twenty minutes later, still waiting. The clock was ornate, with curling leaves of wrought iron wrapping around its curves. I glanced once more at the elaborate detailing along the edges of the receptionist's desk, back down at the thick, lush carpet, and wondered why the waiting room felt so grand.
"Ms. Swan?" The receptionist said my name softly, probably because, despite the grandness of the room, it was quite small and I was only feet away. I jumped to my feet anyway, startled at the sound of her voice breaking the silence.
"Yes?" I flattened my palms against the front of my skirt, smoothing out the cheap material as best I could.
The receptionist, Rosalie, was gorgeous. She had blonde hair that curled over her shoulders and bounced with every minute movement of her head. Her smile revealed perfect rows of brilliantly white, straight teeth, framed by deep red lips. I felt intimidated standing before her in my JCPenny's dress skirt and blouse, and found myself wondering if she could see right through me.
She tilted her head towards the door to her right. "You can go in now," she said, the intimidating grin turning to one of smug satisfaction.
Yes, she could see right through me. I never felt smaller or cheaper than as I walked towards the door and pulled on the handle with a shaky hand.
As I stepped inside the long office, I found it difficult to breathe. The heavy door groaned shut behind me and I paused. Another elaborate desk sat at the far side of the office, with brilliant sunlight filtering in through the windows behind it. The sun stretched the length of room and shadowed the person sitting in the straight-backed chair behind the desk.
"You may come in."
My feet moved slowly across the office as I stepped further into the sunlight. It was not what I was expecting, at all. Instead of the deep, rich voice I had imagined of his, it was higher, sweet voice.
It wasn't Edward Cullen sitting in this chair, I realized, frowning as I came to a stop before the desk. A tiny woman sat in the large chair, her short black hair swept to the side by a shining clip and a suit that looked just as expensive as the clock in the waiting room.
"Isabella?" she asked, glancing up from the sheaf of papers she had been shuffling.
"Bella," I corrected, speaking for the first time since arriving at the Cullen office.
She smiled then, a smile much kinder than the receptionist's, and I felt warm enough to smile back. "I know I'm not what you were expecting," she said. She motioned for me to sit in the leather seat before the desk.
I slid into it and folded my hands into my lap, holding onto them and hoping she wouldn't notice how badly they were shaking. "No," I answered honestly. "Not really."
"I'm Alice Cullen," she said, pushing her papers aside and focusing her attention on me. "Edward is my brother," she explained. I nodded but did not speak, opting to chew on my lower lip instead of saying something possibly ridiculous. "I act as his literary agent," she continued when I did not speak. She gestured around at the office and the papers before her. "A lot comes along with being a New York Times bestselling author. Acquisitions, propositions, Hollywood," she said, grinning as she spoke. I could practically feel the pride beaming from her and I felt the heat rising in my cheeks. "There's a lot to keep track of."
I nodded again, not sure where I came in. It was only last week that I had received a call from this office. It had been Rosalie who had called, asking me if I would come in for an interview with Mr. Cullen as he was in need of an assistant. I hadn't thought to ask how they knew I was recently unemployed. I had been working as an office manager at my father's police station up until hours before their call, but I had done one too many misfilings for Charlie's allowance.
With no other options or direction, I accepted the interview. Well, that and the fact that I owned every single book Edward Cullen had ever written. And that I had probably read each of them five or six times.
Sitting in the office now, listening to Alice explain all that was involved with Mr. Cullen, I felt my palms begin to sweat. I was not nearly qualified or presentable enough to be his assistant.
Alice, sensing my nerves perhaps, smiled at me again. "I'm going to be honest with you Bella," she said, leaning forward and folding her tiny hands on top of the desk. "My brother has never had need of a personal assistant before. I've always managed to take care of business side of things and he," she paused, sighing. "He was always good at managing the creative part of it. But he's… well he's encountering a bit of a block."
I found myself nodding again and Alice stared at me. I realized I should probably say something before she came to the conclusion that I was a complete head case. I cleared my throat slightly, embarrassed by the heavy noises I made as I went to speak. "It has been a while since his last book," I said, trying to remember the last book of his I purchased.
Alice nodded, a grim smile of acknowledgement on her face. "Three years," she said sorely. "He claims he's been busy, writing the next novel, but… three years is too long for me not to worry anymore."
"I don't understand how having me as his personal assistant will help," I said unsurely. What possible help could I provide a writer struggling with writer's block? I considered myself to be a writer, unpublished of course, but a writer nonetheless.
"He just needs organization Bella. Some prodding, some inspiration perhaps," Alice explained. I felt the heat in my cheeks again and stared down at my hands folded in my lap. What kind of inspiration could I ever provide? If Mr. Cullen sought inspiration, perhaps Alice should send him Rosalie.
"I truly appreciate you calling me in for an interview…"
"Alice," she said, a satisfied smile back on her face.
"Alice," I said. "But I really don't think I'm the right one for the job. I've never been a personal assistant before-"
"But you have excellent experience and references Bella. Please," she asked, her eyes taking on a darker quality which contrasted highly against the sun behind her. "Please, give him one week. I promise it will be well worth your time," she said, glancing down at my stringy blouse.
I should have felt insulted, or at the very least uncomfortable with her appraisal. But I knew she was right. I sighed, mentally running through my other options for income and found myself coming up with none. Alice waited patiently, the smile still on her face but the plea still apparent in her eyes.
I shifted awkwardly and met her gaze. "I guess I can try it, for a week."
Alice was already grabbing a folder from the side of her desk and sliding it across to me. "I'm glad to hear that," she said. I reached over and pulled the smooth leather folder off the desk and held it in my hands. It felt heavy despite its thinness and I gave Alice a look. She was already sliding a piece of paper across at me, a contract by the looks of the tiny print. "I'll need to have you sign this confidentiality agreement first," she said, handing a silver pen to me.
I took it cautiously, eyeing the several lines of tiny print, wondering if I wasn't signing my life away to something unknown cause. She laughed as I took the pen, pressing the tip hesitantly to the page.
"It's a typical agreement," she said as I signed my name. "Between all public figures and their assistants, I promise you."
I felt no less relieved as I set the pen down and Alice slid the contract into case on her desk and locked it shut.
She nodded at my folder. "His address is listed on the front page. That folder contains everything you should need to know to assist him," she explained. She waved her hands as she covered the bases. "Likes, dislikes, preferences… on everything." She gave me a stern look. "Edward is very particular. Please understand that," she pressed.
"I worked for my father for four years," I said with a knowing smile. "I think I can understand particularity."
Alice's expression showed that she didn't quite believe me but I didn't press it. I would show her, I thought.
"Excellent then," she said. "It's settled. You'll meet him at 9am on Monday morning then."
I nodded again and she stared, again. I realized this was my cue to leave. "Thank you," I said to Alice. She didn't say anything else as I walked back down the long office and pulled on the heavy door towards the waiting room.
As I cradled the leather folder to pull open the door back to reality, I heard Rosalie sniff slightly from her desk. Not a tissue-sniff, or even a sniff of sadness, but of arrogance. "Good luck honey," she muttered as I stepped out of the office.