I sighed as I followed Mike through the crowded bar. Olive's, at happy hour, how cliché. I should have known he would pick the most pretentious bar in the city to have a drink after work. Although I was a lawyer, I didn't like socializing with my colleagues one bit and Olive's was the spot for lawyers, attorneys, esquires or whatever title was preferred. Asshole was probably the most fitting title for the majority of the egomaniacs in the room. Mostly male attorneys hung out at Olive's. Hence the reason Mike is always so eager to drop in. He's an openly gay man and my only ally at Stein, Cooper & Volturi. But when we come to Olive's he turns down the flames a little to see if he can find any prospects who might be a little shy. In other words, he's trolling for closet gay men who are looking to come out.
"I don't know why you like this place so much," I complained once I caught up with him. He had snagged us a table in the corner of the bar.
He raised an eyebrow and smiled.
"Okay, so I know why you like this place so much but I don't understand why you have to drag me along with you!" I pouted.
He laughed and signaled the waitress. "You need a drink," he assessed.
I watched Mike as he ordered our drinks, a dirty martini for himself and a cranberry cosmopolitan for me. If you hadn't guessed, Olive's is a martini bar. Anyway, I was watching Mike and the waitress who shamelessly flirted with him not only having no idea of his orientation but also not even considering whether or not the two of us were an item.
Mike was one of those gay men who could easily fool you. Especially if you believed all the crazy gay stereotypes that painted gay men as being flamboyant, show tune loving drama queens. He was tall around six feet. Lean and muscular, well dressed but not obsessively so and he was very handsome. His pale blonde hair was cropped low, he had a perpetual tan, and bright sky blue eyes framed by long eyelashes. He was like a Ken doll come to life. He also had a deep, authoritative voice and he was a sports fanatic. But Mike was a devout gay man. He didn't straddle the fence and he didn't pretend, which had saved a bunch of women from broken hearts, I'm sure.
After the waitress left I looked at him and laughed.
"What?" he asked innocently.
"Nothing," I laughed.
"What do you want me to do, start wearing a shirt that says, 'I'm gay'? I can't help if I'm hot," he teased.
I poked him in the shoulder and made a sizzling sound.
"Anyway, so tell me golden girl, how is life treating you these days?" Mike asked. His tone started out mocking as he used the name the other attorneys at my firm called me behind my back.
The Golden Girl. It appeared I was suddenly one of Marcus Volturi's favorite associates after a streak of winning cases that other attorneys thought to be impossible victories. But the case that put me over the top and into golden girl status was a case that resulted in a deadlocked jury. It was an assault case and the district attorney had brought up charges against our client. I faced off with the latest hot shot associate at the D.A.'s office and after three grueling months of research, arguments, and testimony the jury was deadlocked, which meant out client was released from prison. Immediately following the verdict Mr. Hot Shot himself, Edward Cullen, met me across the aisle. He wore a smirk on that sexy mug of his and extended his hand.
"Good job counselor. Too bad it will be short lived, we've already filed an appeal. One last chance to accept a plea bargain," he said. His tone and demeanor was total arrogance.
"Not sure what court room you were sitting in but our firm has scored what we consider a victory for our client and our firm. If you are granted an appeal, I will see you in court and next time I guarantee you, my client will walk," I said frowning at his still extended hand as I walked away. I could have sworn I heard the asshole laugh behind me.
"Hello, Earth to Bella," Mike called bringing me from my daydream.
"Our drinks are here, are you okay? You zoned out there for a moment," he said concerning dripping from his voice. He gently rubbed the spot between my eyebrows.
"Do you want crows feet and frown lines," he teased.
"Whatever, no when you called me golden girl I had a flashback of my last day in court and that arrogant asshole approaching me afterwards," I said taking a sip of my drink. Gah! I forgot how strong the drinks were at Olive's. I nearly choked.
Mike patted me on my back. "Good grief, you're not getting laid and you can't hold your liquor. What vices do you have?" Mike asked exasperated.
I stared at him wide-eyed. "Ass," I remarked after I regained some control.
"Not much in this place this evening," he teased. "Uh-oh, hottie at two o'clock, I think he's coming to say hello. . .to you," Mike said with a hint of disappointment.
I laughed. "What? Who?" I asked spinning around on my stool and locking gazes with two beautiful emerald eyes that belonged to the man who had been the bane of my existence for the past five months.
"Mr. Cullen." The words from her lips were like music to my ears. But I couldn't read the expression on her face. There was a flash of surprise, shock, happiness and then annoyance. Yep, she was definitely annoyed.
"Miss Swan," I replied as a greeting. "I saw you having a problem breathing from across the bar and thought I would come over and offer some assistance. I am CPR certified," I smiled.
A small smile formed across her lips before her drinking partner spoke up.
"So am I," he replied dryly.
We both turned and raised an eyebrow. That's when I realized they definitely were not together. I saw them when they entered the bar and I admit my heart sank a little at the thought that she might be taken. But I had been watching them for a while and there was never any intimate contact and he didn't look at her as if he desired her but when she said something and he began rubbing the space between her eyebrows with a concerned look on his face, I propelled myself from my seat leaving my colleagues behind. Then she started coughing and I quickened my pace in their direction. I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. It was if there was a magnetic force pulling me towards her and I couldn't stop myself.
I should have tried harder to stop especially since I knew first hand that she hated me. We were adversaries on a case that was on its way to a higher court; we had been meeting and tossing plea-bargains back and forth for almost two months before it was decided the case would go to trial. The first time we met, at my office, I was blown away by her beauty and grace. She was one of those classic beauties who was totally unaware of her effect on the opposite sex. She was also very focused. I admit I tried flirting with her on more than one occasion and either she was oblivious or just totally uninterested. But then there were moments where I would catch her staring at me or she would blush for no reason. And the last meeting we had prior to going to court left me not only confused but also longing to have more time with her away from the case and away from court.
She came to my office late one afternoon to personally deliver the news that they were rejecting any offers and filed a petition with the court.
"I just thought I'd stop by in person to deliver the news," she said. I was confused about why she felt the need to come in person especially since we weren't on the same team. But I was happy as hell to see her.
"Um, well thanks," I replied. Not that smooth, I know. I cleared my throat. "So, is there anything else you wanted to say?" I asked hopeful that maybe she felt some sort of connection with me too and wanted to act on it.
"Um, well, I wish- I wish this would have worked out differently. I'm sorry we couldn't come to an agreement," she said nervously. I was more than certain we were not talking about the case.
I rose from my chair and walked around to the front of my desk where she was standing. I heard her breath hitch as I approached her. I stood about a foot from her and stared into her eyes.
"Well, I'm glad you stopped by to deliver the news in person and I wish things were different too," I said taking a deep breath.
We stood like that for what seemed like hours but in reality it was probably only a few seconds. I noticed her staring at my mouth and I leaned in towards her. She hesitated for a minute and then cleared her throat.
"I- I-I've got to go. I'll see you in court," she said obviously flustered as she literally ran from my office.
Over the three months we faced off in court, I saw a side of her I'd never seen before. She was ruthless in the courtroom. Almost as brash and confident as me. It was such a turn on. I found myself even more intrigued by her. Every so often I would give her a nod of appreciation after a cross-examination but it seemed to infuriate her. I asked her about it after a day of arguments was done and she accused me of patronizing her. Not only was she mysterious, contradictory, and ruthless but I added a little nutty into the mix as well. But none of that seem to weaken the pull I felt every time I was near her.
I cut my reminiscing short and sized up her friend before I responded to his earlier claim about CPR, "That's convenient," I smirked as I turned my attention back to her.
"So counselor, how have you been? I'm surprised to see you here. It doesn't seem like your type of crowd," I teased. Her beautiful brown eyes twinkled full of challenge.
"What would you know about the type of crowd I associate with?" she asked pointedly. I opened my mouth to respond but she beat me to the punch. "But you're right, not really my scene too much pretense and arrogance," she said as she looked me over from head to toe. She gave me a bright smile and turned away from me to take a sip from her drink. Her friend actually giggled at her remark. Giggled like a fucking schoolgirl. He was so gay. I didn't let her remark deter me. She hadn't officially dismissed me so I took it as a sign of encouragement.
"I'm hurt," I pouted and moved around the table so I could see her face.
"What?" She asked. She seemed shocked that I was still standing there.
"You left out obnoxious. I'm pretentious, arrogant and obnoxious. Or so I've been told," I smiled. And I saw that look in her eyes again; she was definitely staring at my mouth. I licked my lips purposefully and watched her lips part ever so slightly.
"Miss Swan?" I called.
Her eyes flew to mine and she frowned as her face betrayed her with a deep blush. "You're interrupting our, um-, our meeting," she said gesturing between her and the schoolgirl.
"Really?" I laughed. I traded glances with her friend and he was trying not to laugh at her.
"Forgive me for intruding. I don't think we've officially met, I'm Edward Cullen. I took it easy on Miss Swan during our last court appearance. You would think she would have appreciated my chivalry," I teased.
"Mike Newton," he replied. He looked at her eagerly awaiting her response.
"I guess we can also add delusional to your profile," she replied coolly.
I stared at her for a moment causing her to shift uncomfortably in her seat. Her friend cleared his throat helping to cut through some of the tension that was suddenly in the air. He made small talk and I bought two rounds of drinks before the schoolgirl decided he'd had enough and was ready to go.
"I've got a busy morning tomorrow," he announced putting on his jacket that he'd removed after the third round of drinks. "Bella, are you ready?" He asked raising an eyebrow.
I looked at her begging her with my eyes not to leave just yet. I desperately wanted to spend some one on one time with her. She looked away and contemplated for a minute.
"Um, I think I'm gonna have one more. I can get a cab, thanks Mike," she smiled.
"Are you sure?" he said looking at me. I smiled brightly not trying to mask my excitement.
"Positive, Dad," she teased.
"Okay, well, perhaps you should get some coffee instead of another drink?" he suggested. She rolled her eyes and extended an arm to hug him. "Call me as soon as you get home," he said loudly.
"It was nice meeting you Edward. Please take care of my friend, she is very precious,"
"I have nothing but honorable intentions, sir," I said in my most serious voice.
"Whatever, Lucy and Desi. Goodnight," he said leaving us alone. Finally.
"So-," she breathed deeply.
"So, indeed. How have you been? Really?" I asked.
She gave me a small smile. "Okay,"
"Really, I would think after that victory the golden girl would be on cloud nine," I teased.
Her eyes widened. "Oh, no, so they know about that at the D.A.'s office?" She buried her face in her hands.
"Not much gets past that place,"
"Well, if we're talking about my professional life- it's all peaches and cream," she raised her head and smiled but it didn't reach her eyes. Such beautiful chocolate brown pools that lit up her entire face when she laughed.
"And if we're not talking about your professional life?" I asked and I knew I was pushing my luck.
"Then it will be an extremely short conversation," she sighed.
I hesitated but reached over and brushed and errant strand of hair away from her face and pushed it behind her ear. Her eyes briefly met mine before closing. I brushed my fingertips across her cheek willing her to open her eyes. She sighed deeply again and leaned into my touch.
When she opened her eyes and looked at me I was shocked to see such blatant desire in her eyes.
"You've been on my mind a lot," I admitted.
She cleared her throat and turned away. I let my hand fall to the table.
"Tell me I'm imagining things and that you have absolutely no interest in me and I'll walk away right now," I promised.
She stared at me confused.
"Because if you don't, I'm going to lean over and kiss you right now," I realized my tone was somewhat threatening. Her eyes widened in surprise and she stared at my mouth again.
"Do you want me to kiss you?" I asked.
She looked around. "Not here," she said suddenly. "Too many eyes and ears," Her paranoid eyes darted around the room.
"When and where?" I teased not willing to let the progress we'd made evaporate. Then she said something that almost made me spontaneously combust.
"How far do you live from here?"