Tattward & Inkella One-Shot Contest

Title: Work Appropriate

Your pen name: thewasofshall

Characters: Bella/Edward with some Alice/Jasper

C2 Page: fanfiction. net/community/Tattward_and_Inkella_Contest/71624/

A/N: The following one-shot is a complete work of fiction; all character names and personality traits have been modified from those created by, and copy to, Stephenie Meyer.

My phonetic spelling of a Texas drawl is probably atrocious, and I can't speak French.

"Bella!" I glanced up and grinned.

"Can I stick my finger in your ear?" Alice stopped short and glared at me, her hazel eyes folded into slits. The smile I'd had voicing my question quickly flitted across my face and left me gaping at the petite cyclist looming over my receptionist's desk.

"No, but I know somewhere else you can stick your finger," she answered back, her threat low and hushed. I immediately gulped in response, lowering my eyes until a clipboard slid across my desk. "Here, please," Alice drawled, her dirty fingernail pointing out a blank box. I signed the space and waited, only looking up when a folder, mail tube, or package failed to appear in front of me.

"I'm sorry, Alice I–" her cheeky smirk stopped me from blurting out what I now knew to be an unneeded apology.

"You're so tense, Boo-Boo. I was only kidding," Alice chided, rolling her eyes as a swift blush crept up my neck.

"I know, it's just–"

"Nothing," she interrupted. "I like you, okay? It's going to take a lot more for me to get mad at you than some inane," I looked up and she raised her eyebrows, causing me to blush again, "question you ask me every time I come in." She paused and I smiled, suddenly relived I wouldn't have an unnaturally strong five-foot woman chasing after me with her bike raised over her head. "Even if my new plugs are fabulous and I like to stick my fingers in them too!" She laughed on her way toward the elevators, her high-pitched giggle reverberating throughout the almost empty foyer.

"You're insane, Brandon!" I yelled, laughing quietly to myself when Alice threw me an exaggerated wink over her shoulder just as the doors closed. That is, until–

"Ms. Swan." The voice was gruff and clipped but my body immediately placed it even as my mind kept pace at a two-second lag. I turned in my chair and felt a cold sweat break out across my overheated skin, my eyelids drooping imperceptibly so the voice's owner appeared a bit cloudy in my breathy, lust-induced haze.

"Mr. Cullen," I choked out. "This just arrived for you," the statement punctuated by a shaking folder held stagnant in the air between us.

"I know you're new, Ms. Swan, but do try and keep your voice at an appropriate, professional level." He abruptly turned around and stalked back towards his office at the back of the floor. The phone rang and I let myself calm down for three rings before answering.

"A.M. Enterprises, how may I direct your call?"

I slumped in my chair and watched my computer's second hand tick its way towards six o'clock. I was recently employed as the fifteenth floor's receptionist, but that didn't mean I made mistakes on all my assignments or that I ever really 'worked' past five thirty. Working in a library throughout most of my undergraduate career certainly acquainted me with stressed-out individuals and the inevitable irony of a malfunctioning hard drive, printer, or copier all at the same time and right before finals. So many technical failures (somehow, a new basketball court was always more important) taught me that I knew how to work my way around technology, could definitely brew a strong, palpable pot of coffee, and didn't dissolve under pressure. But, I had graduated as with a liberal arts major from a fairly large university, and, three years later, I still didn't know what to sell myself as.

Cue my current place of employment: A.M. Enterprises, as a receptionist.

Brainchild of Edward Anthony Masen in 1910 – then a single thirty-two-year-old – the firm was touted as the first individually owned business devoted entirely to architectural design within the state of Oregon. In 1927, his foxy young wife Abigail (twenty-four and breathlessly gorgeous) became his first partner when, after his houses were built, she decorated the inside. They had six children of which two – Cassandra and Michael – took over the business, first in 1948 and then in 1965, respectively. (Cassandra was twenty when it was rumored she coaxed a begrudgingly hostile seventy-year-old Edward out of his reign as founder and president; both she and Abigail deny such accusations as Edward almost immediately took to his wife's suggestion they leave the country and build a bungalow on some island off the coast of Hawaii.)

Michael, just twenty-two and fresh out of Columbia, expanded his father's business to include private contractors and contacts within industrial design, and it was his nephew, Maxwell, that became president in 1990, at twenty-five, and who then promoted his cousin's – Esme, a brilliant interior designer in her own right, plucked from new-motherhood in 1979 at twenty-eight – valedictorian son Edward Anthony Masen Cullen to the vice-presidential position when he was twenty-four, almost six years ago.

All my lonely nights spent browsing Google and Wikipedia consistently drew two conclusions: Edward was an in-bred and I already felt like a failure.

"I don't see nothin' wrongggg… with a little bump and gri-hi-hind; I don't see–"

"Yeah," I breathed into the phone, immediately keeping it in place between my ear and shoulder.

"Ms. Swan, I regret to inform you–"

"Jacob, I know it's you," I deadpanned, blowing bangs out of my eyes as I tried to chop vegetables without cutting off a digit.

"What!" he sputtered. "I could have been anyone!" He sounded flabbergasted and I smiled. Leave it to Jacob to try and pull a prank when he calls me from his own damn cell-phone.

"All cell-phones made in the last year have caller id. And, as I'm sure you're aware, you gave me the phone I'm currently using as a goodbye gift four months ago and pre-programmed 'Bump 'n Grind' as your default ringtone!" I knew I shouldn't be angry over Jacob's lame attempts at humor, but having to suddenly sustain our seven-year friendship over the phone only stressed how irritated, lonely, and romantically depressed I felt coming home to my Portland apartment and not seeing him there.

"Jeez, Belly Bear, I was only kidding." He might have been joking but I could hear his sadness peaking out.

"I know Ranger Black; I'm just a little stressed out." My chopping stopped and I thought about how close I'd come in the past couple of weeks to forcing Edward into the copy room and having my way with him – and how all of said daydreams vanished every time Edward spoke to me the way he'd had earlier in the afternoon.

"Oooh! Pray tell, Ms. Swan. Dirty secretarial thoughts invading your vanilla attempts at seducing a certain Mr. Cullen?" I heard him snicker and the knife in my hand clattered to the cutting board.

"How?" I gritted through my teeth, one hand clamped to the phone shoved into my ear while the other was poised in front of my mouth.

"Oh, Belly Bear," he sighed. I knew it was a stalling technique just like I knew he was smirking. "Perhaps Ms. Brandon and I have kept up our correspondences–"

"Alice told you what?" I interrupted, my voice almost hysterical as I screeched into the phone.

"Oh, dear," Jacob yawned dramatically, "look at the time. I really must be going."

"Jacob, wait. Don't–"

"'Bye, Belly."

"God dammit!" I huffed, smacking the counter when I couldn't bring myself to throw my iPhone down in frustration. I gripped the edge of the Formica and drew deep breaths, trying to remember what I'd learned in the few yoga classes I'd taken in college, but my clear head only made me want to throttle Alice even more. "No good short arrogant prick of a friend with giant holes in her ears," I swore under my breath, shaking as I tried to fumble through the touch screen and dial Alice's number. She didn't pick up and I immediately suspected she and Jacob were up to something.

"Alice! You better fucking call me back! I know you five weeks and you're already shacking up with my best friend! I can't believe you would say something that, that… I can't even think up a word to describe the slander you're spreading about my non-crush on Mr. Cullen!" I hung up the phone and clenched my fists, pacing through my small kitchen and trying to calm myself down. I didn't know why I was getting so worked up over what she had told him. I thought their trans-city friendship was cute and it made me feel more at home 175 miles away from the closest person I knew. But them talking about me without me knowing (and about something so personal and confidential that I hardly even liked talking about it to a new friend like Alice)… it made me aggravated that my behavior toward Edward was possibly more obvious than I originally thought… and then disappointed when I suddenly realized Edward probably knew of my crush and was only trying to thwart my advances by ignoring them.

Dinner forgotten, I slumped onto the couch and felt my forehead. Two minutes later my phone beeped.

Don't get your panties in a twist, Boo-Boo. Texas at noon?

I pursed my lips at the message, my suspicions that Alice had obviously spoken with Jacob, if not orchestrated our whole conversation, confirmed. But, then again, she only suggested we meet at Jasper's when she told me something important – or something I wouldn't necessarily agree to otherwise (I'd subtlety noticed, in the short time we'd been friends, Jasper always had snacks and I would always feel annoyingly guilty if I disagreed with him) – and it made me curious.

Only if he buys those cupcakes I like.


I glowered at the phone. Alice's mantra when caught in a lie or proven wrong was 'deny until the conversation can be avoided,' and her lack of an argument only further proved my suspicions.

Oh- say hi to Jacob for me! ;)

Two words: La Perla.

I looked at her message and promptly locked my phone before tossing it on my coffee table. There was no use fighting a losing battle.

I woke up at eight the next morning – ugh, fucking work habit – and crawled around until I found the cleanest pair of spandex I owned. I'd always hated the way my body developed – first one half and then the other – but it was only in college that I was hit on by a drunk Jacob and became privy to the male mind. His roommate Paul thought I was gorgeous, like, baseball-hotshot Paul thought I, clumsy nerdy Bella Swan, was beautiful and worth getting to know. If Paul had been anything short of a gentlemen (who just happened to be trapped in the body of a twenty-year-old male in peak physical condition… sigh), Jacob would have never encouraged our subsequent relationship (he knew I was inexperienced and was always looking out for me, even going so far as to assume I would lose my virginity to him if I hit twenty with my v-card intact).

I was nineteen and nervous and Paul showed me that small breasts and feminine hips could be empowering – that I could hang out with the guys and still feel like a girl. Although I was just awful at anything involving hand-eye coordination, I reluctantly ran with him when we first started dating and baseball was in the off-season. And, once I worked up stamina, I realized I wasn't tripping over everything in my path anymore (also, Pilates: god send!). Even though we broke up – amicably; Jacob, to this day, holds a grudge against me for it ('if you break up I can't accidently walk in your bedroom when he's naked anymore!') – I still ran a couple of times per week and stayed slim with my weekly Pilates class, of which I was going to be late for if I didn't find a bra and leave within the next ten minutes.

My class was at the closest YMCA to my apartment because I found it ridiculous to participate in the Pilates class A.M. Enterprises ran at six o'clock Wednesday mornings. (There was a free gym in the lobby for all employees but I was embarrassed to run there for fear I'd see a shirtless, sweaty Edward and be so enthralled that I tripped, fell down, and then flew into a wall while my treadmill continued to run.) It wasn't necessary to pay the nominal fee, lest I simply buy a Pilates DVD or download something from the internet, but every Saturday morning class I went to put some structure into my week and made me feel tremendously accomplished to know that I had at least made something of myself now that I was truly living on my own – even if that something was a quiet girl whose only contribution was an hour spent stretching and posing with strangers.

The two or so hours it took me to walk to and from the Y, complete the class, and then shower meant it was still too early to head downtown to Texas. I decided to sit in front of my computer and google Edward for an hour, revisiting gossip blogs dated years prior just to see pictures of him in extremely expensive and well-tailored tuxes as he flitted around high profile cities, attending film premieres and gala events with Tanya, his ex-fiancée of almost a year (her acting career exploded after three years together and then, unexpectedly, they 'amicably split' after eight years and an-almost marriage). I felt guilty about such an invasion of privacy, like I had broken into his house and raided his private photo collection, but the more times I visited the websites and scrutinized his frozen behavior, the more I realized Edward had lost something with his break-up and the harder I fell for him.

"Hey, darlin'," Jasper sighed, "cupcakes are behin' the counter." Alice was straddling the plastic chair, topless, while Jasper filled in the small patches of skin she had yet to color.

"I thought you had to make appointments for this kind of shit," I asked, mouth full of devil's chocolate and sticky fingers paging through Jasper's pathetic excuse for a date book.

"You do," Jasper said. "And quit movin'. You're gonna mess this up." Alice's small frame shook as she covered her mouth to hide her laughter.

"I just take my shirt off and he does what I ask!" she quipped, pouting when she looked over and saw me roll my eyes.

"Why am I here anyway?" I asked, licking my fingers and eyeing a half-eaten red velvet with cream cheese frosting.

"I want to buy you a bike, for your birthday." Jasper's hand slowed before he eventually had to turn off the needle and set it in its tray.

"Babe, you shoulda told me. I woulda got more than jus' cupcakes." He paused, critiquing his work. "I should clean you up anyhow; someone's coming in at half past twelve." Alice sat still while Jasper worked around her, employing the full Brandon charm before I simply huffed and slid off the counter.

"Fine you can buy me a bike for my birthday," she started clapping and I continued, "on two conditions: one, I get to pick it out and two, you will not take me in the street until I'm ready." I crossed my arms and jutted out my hip, trying to make Alice understand that getting on a bike was a huge deal for me. (At six, I rode a two-wheeler for the first time and, not understanding the brake system and swerving to get out of the way of a car, I had jumped to plant my feet on the ground and ended up slamming my cervix into the cross-bar; I'm positive it still hates me.)

"Oh, Bella! You're gonna love it! Riding is, like, the best feeling in the world!" Jasper stopped moving and stared at her, which only caused Alice to roll her eyes. "One of the best feelings in the world and there's this great shop called Compound that will set you up with everything that you'll need." She paused to put her shirt back on and then jumped up to hug me. "Ooooh! I'm just so excited!"

"Alice, please, ribs."

"Right," she responded, awkwardly patting me on the shoulders and slowly backing away. "Jazz, you want anything from the deli?"

"No," he hollered. "Wait, maybe a turkey club. On rye. With extra bacon. And a milkshake. Can you ask for it mixed? And fries, a double?" He poked his head out from the back room to sheepishly smile. "Thanks, doll!"

"Jesus!" Alice huffed once we were outside the building. "That man is gonna get a fucking heart attack the way he eats." I was walking behind her, watching random guys stare at her hips before she passed them and they immediately grimaced and turned away. She was beautiful in both face and build, the only clue to her 'lifestyle' when people saw her head-on being two small tattoos – one on her inner left wrist and the other to the left of her heart – and her plugs (7/8" and, as of right now, hollow – from the right angle, I could see clear through them and actually make something out). She complained that those three things turned men on, especially when her long hair was up and she worn tattered shirts with barely a back and no bra, but then these same men would walk past her, see her almost-full back piece, and look disgusted.

I thought her tattoos were stunning as well as entirely romantic, considering Jasper did every piece on her himself and had a complimentary back piece that blended flawlessly with hers whenever I got to see them together. (She told me, the first time I met him, that they had seen each other when she was seventeen and on spring break in Mexico and had been together ever since, eventually getting an apartment when Jasper moved to Portland from Austin three years ago).

I broke from my daze and scowled at the man's turned back before I caught up to her.

"He does bike you know." Alice looked sideways and scoffed.

"Sure, Bella, but that doesn't make his cupcake fetish any less incriminating," she said, shaking her head with the thought. "I see his gut! Don't think he can hide that forever!" She was cute when she was angry and I smiled at her personification of the relationship I had always wished to experience.

I stepped out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel and scowled at my paltry wardrobe staring back. Moving from Seattle meant I could indulge in more daring heels and slightly shorter skirts (Alice insisted I surreptitiously shorten the length of my skirt by a fraction of an inch every couple of weeks just to throw Edward off), but I hadn't done the laundry in at least ten days and I was getting down to my 'I'm only wearing this because I have nothing left in my closet' clothes. And, believe me, most of the pieces were either ugly and unflattering or definitely not work appropriate.

I looked backwards at the clock, letting out a short huff when I realized it was almost 7:15 and I had little more than twenty minutes before I needed to be locking my door and walking to the bus stop. Silent stares between my second favorite little black dress and my most despised work pants sealed the deal in less than three looks: LBD it was.

The dress wasn't as fitted as my first favorite but even with the buttoned sweater and belt I had buckled around my waist, I still felt severely exposed walking into such a professional environment just before eight o'clock on a Monday morning. Everything was bathed in muted grays from the shut fluorescents and open shades, but the lack of employees amplified the noises coming down the hall from Edward's office. He had always been present when I arrived but I was too afraid to come any earlier for fear I'd arouse suspicion.

I simply sat down at my desk and flipped on the row of light switches, softly humming as the empty space around me grew brighter one bulb at a time. I turned my computer on and sat back to wait when the phone rang.

"A.M. Enterprises, how may I direct your call?"

"Bella! What are you doing here before eight?"

"You pay me to, Mrs. Cullen." I heard her slight giggle as I continued speaking. "Although, I could hang up and let you call again and I promise I won't pick up."

"That won't be necessary, Bella," her smile evident even over the phone. "Could you let Edward know I'll be in the office around ten? I have that Baker appointment at eight and I'm sure he's forgotten by now."

"Sure, Mrs. Cullen."

"And, Bella?"


"Please call me Esme." I chewed on my lip in slight embarrassment.

"Of course! It's just a habit, I guess."

"Right, well, break it," she laughed, hanging up. I sat in my chair, twirling myself as I moved my feet in circles, and shot glances over my shoulder, debating whether I should call Edward to give him Esme's message or simply walk down the hall. I fingered the end of my garter belt and smiled to myself; a field trip was in order.

An incessant tapping was audible through Edward's closed door and it caused me to falter in my attempt at knocking. I had no real idea what he did as vice president and had no desire to interrupt him if he was engaged in an important task. When there was a three-second gap between the sounds, I swiftly knocked and wrung my hands together.

"Come in," he projected, keeping his gaze locked on the papers in front of him, his right hand quickly flicking a pen against the shiny wood of his desk.

"Sir, your mother called." His head shot up and his tapping immediately stopped. I felt my cheeks flush and then chastised myself for not calling when I could feel the intensity of his stare even from fifteen feet away. "She'll be out of the office until ten this morning."

"Why?" he snapped, leaning back in his chair and bringing his hands together, shifting his hips a bit but not glancing away.

"The Baker appointment, sir." He stared at me without acknowledgment and I found myself taking a step closer, my hands moving wildly around my face. "Emmett McCarty was the contractor on the build almost six years ago and Mr. Baker and his fiancée bought the property in February and hired Esme to do a full renovation. Something about the modern furnishings being too 'harsh' for their unborn child." I thought I caught Edward quickly smile before he cleared his throat and went back to the desk, his posture stiff and unwelcoming.

"How do you know all this?"

"I've been reading up on all our projects, sir." I pulled my lip into my teeth and leaned against the doorframe, trying to look anywhere but at Edward's forearms as he drummed his fingers and the muscles flexed.

"No one reads those files, Ms. Swan."

"I find them interesting, Mr. Cullen." His eyes snapped upwards and locked with my own. My tongue felt heavy in my mouth but I couldn't look away. I didn't even know how long we stayed like that, oblivious to anything but each other, until I heard a soft thump and turned to find Angela at her desk. She threw me a bright smile and I looked back towards Edward, only to find his head bowed and his fingers back to tapping his pen.

"Please close the door on your way out, Ms. Swan." I hesitated for a moment and then softly clicked the door shut, laughing as Angela rolled her eyes at Edward's abrupt dismissal. I got back to my desk and spent the rest of the day with one ear tuned in his direction.

I did laundry when I got home, right after I took off my dress and shoved it into the back of my closet. I'd only proved two glaringly obvious things by wearing it: one, it made me feel sexy and two, that sexiness was bound to get me in trouble. I didn't want to get over Edward (the feelings he evoked were certainly exquisite) but looking at the dress would only remind me how much he didn't feel the same way and that was a revelation I wanted to put off for as long as possible.

Cleaner clothes made the rest of the week paltry in comparison. I didn't put myself in close quarters with Edward, afraid my attraction to him was growing too large for it's own good, but he still seemed to be ignoring me and, when we were forced to talk, speaking in a stern, gruff voice that carried his intentions with no room for error. I found myself in a four-day slump by Friday, re-visiting the more reputable blog sites as I sat glumly in front of my computer, squeezing Tanya out of pictures while I shoved spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream into my mouth. My phone started blaring Spice Girls and I groaned when I went to answer and realized it was already 9:30.

"Not tonight, Alice," I moaned, pushing the ice cream away and closing my laptop.

"Nice to hear from you too, Boo-Boo." I imagined her pouting while I sprawled on the couch.

"I just– I don't want to go out tonight, Alice. I'll make it up to you but I just can't find the will to move right now."

"I was calling to tell you we're going to Compound tomorrow around 1:30, silly. Although…"

"No!" I interrupted. "I can't make up for something you weren't even going to ask!"

"Oh, really, Belly Bear?" She was already giggling and I groaned loudly for effect. "Fine," she huffed, "but Jasper and I are taking you out on Sunday and you can't pay no matter how much you whine. And I'm coming over to dress you beforehand."

"Okay, Alice. I will meet you at Compound tomorrow at 1:30." I was about to hang up when I heard her screeching even though the earpiece was almost two feet away from its intended target.

"And wear something cute!"


"There might be someone attractive… you never know."

"And you do?" I questioned back, my previous complacency wearing thin.

"I just might," she sang through the phone. "Goodnight, Belly Bear."

"What–" I sputtered, groaning and angrily pushing 'end' when I heard the dial tone. "No good friends being nosy and cryptic…." I hauled myself off the coach to throw the practically empty ice cream carton away and returned with a glass of ice, quickly flipping through the channels before settling on a John Hughes movie-marathon TBS was hosting. The sound of ice breaking was the only interruption to the one fantasy I couldn't shake: myself and Edward as Samantha Baker and Jake Ryan, leaning over a birthday cake and kissing for the very first time.

I sat on my Pilates mat and tried not to groan, the pint of ice cream I'd digested the previous evening bloating up my belly and causing minor discomfort as I focused on my body and stretched my abs.

Coming out of the shower after I got home from class, I immediately slipped into cotton panties and an old bra. Alice said cute – not sexy – which meant I might meet someone but that didn't mean I was obliged to take them home and sleep with them. Settling on almost daisy-dukes (I reasoned I was going to try out my new bike and needed the leg movement) and one of Paul's old athletic t-shirts (if this mystery 'he' was there, he should have to work for it), catching the bus to Compound just as I walked up to the bus stop.

Alice was outside, conspiratorially whispering into her phone before she saw me, hastily said goodbye, and hung up. It was odd but still expected and I decided not to say anything.

Compound, Alice had told me the first time I visited, was run by this guy named Joey who was over fifty and practically knew every bike messenger in the city. His shop was a hand-me-down from his father and cheekily named after a common bike injury, the compound fracture. Although it wasn't the biggest bike shop in Portland, it was the one everyone who mattered went to – because Joey would take care of you, give you a great deal, and then call you in a month and ask how you liked your bike. That was my kind of customer service and I wasn't surprised Alice had chosen the store to purchase my present from.

"Alice!" We both turned towards the voice and Alice shooed me away to the models before running into Joey's arms and being pulled up into a swinging hug. I faintly smiled at their camaraderie before stroking my fingers over the sculpted metal, trying to look like I knew what I was doing. I stopped in front of a bright pink Schwinn and stared, a smile breaking out when I thought of Alice's face after I told her this was the one I wanted. A man close behind cleared his throat and I started, drawn out of my ogling.

"See anything you like?" the voice asked, freezing me to the spot. It was only then – when I let the timbre of the words sink in – that I realized my skin had broken out in goose bumps and my throat felt dry. I swallowed and slowly turned around.

"Yes," I croaked. "I like that one," I said, pointing to the pink bike as I stared at Edward's smirk. My eyes followed his torso as he passed in front of me and reached up for the frame. My tongue darted out to moisten my lips and I swallowed, salivating and feeling a heat grow in the pit of my stomach as Edward's back and arm muscles rippled with his exerted effort. He unhooked the bike from its place on the wall and then turned, settling it between us. My eyes traveled down to the neckline of his cut-off shirt and I noticed dark splotches of ink sticking out. And then I let my eyes focus on his biceps and I cocked my head, memorizing the colorful designs that dotted both arms and wanting to trace the invisible line that drew their boundaries.

"Would you like to try it out?" My eyes snapped back to his face and his smile was wider, as if he were daring me to question our sudden – and very unprofessional – meeting.

"Yes," I nodded, too incapacitated to form much more of a verbal response.

"Here," he gestured. "Straddle the cross-bar and stand over the seat with your feet shoulder width apart." I grabbled the curved handlebars for support, shifting my body so I was slightly leaning forward, the cool metal feeling nice whenever it touched my overheated legs. Edward left and returned half a minute later with a wrench.

"I'm just going to lower the seat a bit," he said. I nodded and closed my eyes, feeling Edward's body move behind me, his knuckles repeatedly brushing against the skin peaking out the hem of my shorts. "Does that feel okay?" he asked, his voice almost husky in its dropped octave. I twisted my head as I sat down, staring at Edward a foot away from me. I nodded and he moved closer, wrapping his arms around mine and bringing his hands so we were both gripping the handlebars. "These are the brakes," he told me, covering my hands so we could squeeze them together. He was talking to the air in front of us but all I could concentrate on was his unshaven face lightly scratching my cheek, the searing warmth he burned into my back and sides, the rush of pheromones I was greedily sucking up. "Most riders prefer to drop their forearms here," he gestured, moving us lower, "to rest their hands while brakes aren't needed." I felt him turn his head to look at me but I couldn't open my eyes because I knew I would see his pouty lips and feel the need to grab his face and devour him. "But it's entirely up to you how you decide to ride."

We stayed like that for moments, the seconds dragging out while I felt the air whooshing through my ears and tried to stay conscious as Edward's presence overtook me.

"Do you want to test it out?"

"No," I choked. "I'll take it." I felt him nod and then we weren't touching anymore.

"Hey, Joey!" Edward yelled. I peaked and saw Edward motion to the bike, followed by Joey's nod and Alice's reach for her wallet. The air suddenly felt thick with uncomfortable tension and I blurted out the only thing on my mind.

"I didn't know you had tattoos." Edward smiled again when he turned towards me and I felt myself blush.

"They're hardly work appropriate, Ms. Swan." His face was stern as he said my name but I could tell he wanted to smile and let me in on this new joke. "You should know that by now."

"Yes, I–"

"Hey, Edward!" Edward turned towards Joey and then glanced back at me.

"Have a good afternoon, Ms. Swan," he nodded curtly and turned away, passing Alice as she walked towards me, a helmet, reflective lights, and lock gripped in her hands.

"Pink, huh?" I glared at her and was met with a wink in response.

My bike – Veronica – sat against the wall of my hallway. I stroked her seat and promised to ride her later while slightly wincing at the memory of pain she'd already caused.

Today was Tuesday and it was my twenty-sixth birthday.

As much as I huffed and pleaded, Alice firmly stressed the outfit I was to wear to work: my little black dress and my sexiest kitten heels. I was to wear her approved outfit (with a sweater because I demanded coverage) or she would tell Edward I had the hots for him – and I didn't doubt, not for a second, that she would follow through with her end of the bargain – so I quickly conceded. As I rolled on my favorite thigh highs (they had that extra seam down the back and I felt like a sex kitten), zipped up my dress, and buttoned up a pale blue sweater to hide my pushed-up cleavage, I briefly wondered how the day would progress. I seriously hoped that Alice's plan to start 'the party' at exactly six pm wouldn't be my only highlight just as I prayed Edward wouldn't come near me. The encounter at the bike shop had left my nerves frazzled and I felt extra horny wearing what I was.

"Hey, Alice," I fluttered, chewing my nail as I left her a message, "it's about 4:30 and one of our design proposals just got bumped up and someone's hard drive crashed and I might have to stay a little late tonight. I swear we'll get drunk another night, okay? Just call me when you get this."

I set my phone on vibrate and repeatedly checked it until 6:15 when a single message came:

I'll expect details tomorrow. ;)

I quickly glanced around to see if anyone had noticed my blush, but the floor was slowly emptying and I sighed, putting my phone back in my purse before I got up to make a strong pot of coffee. I'd fixed James' hard drive but was still the only person he trusted to be on-call while he triple-checked his designs and proposal.

By 7:30 – and an entire hour spent surfing Wikipedia – James drifted down the hall and sat on my desk.

"Bella, dear, I owe you my life, okay?" I looked around my monitor and saw him pouting.

"Sure, James." I was tired and cranky but it wasn't James' fault his computer decided to crash. He blew me an air kiss and, once he'd entered the elevator, I logged off the system and went to shut off the lights. A peak around the corner confirmed my suspicions – Edward's light was still on which meant James hadn't told him he'd finished. I decided to be nice and let him know he could go home.

I knocked quietly, suddenly nervous at my outfit and our apparent position as the only two people on the floor.

"Come in," Edward answered.

"Sir?" I stepped in, "James is finished for the night." Edward slowly turned and then walked towards me. I felt my breath hitch the closer he came and then suddenly he stopped, reaching behind me to softly click the door shut. The sound of Portland traffic was distant through the floor to ceiling windows and my breaths were heavy as Edward's scent overwhelmed me and made it hard to breathe.

"Thank you, Ms. Swan." His eyes bore through me and I blushed, lowering my head so I could think.

"Of course." My body turned and I reached out for the doorknob, expecting cool metal and feeling hot skin instead. I watched Edward's fingers grip my wrist and pull my arm so we were facing each other again. The blood pounded in my ears and he dropped my wrist, moving to trace the line of my jaw faster than I could stop him.

"I heard it was your birthday today," his irises darkening the more I looked at them. His hand left my face and he dropped it, letting it hang loose between our bodies. "May I give you your present?" The question startled me – Edward was giving me a present? – but I merely nodded and looked down again, expecting him to move backwards and away from the cloud of tension we'd created.

His body was close and my eyes fluttered close at the memory of only three days prior; I felt like I was dreaming, as if I would blink and wake up. Edward began to stroke my cheek with his thumb and I leaned into the gesture, my awareness of his body language immediately alerting me to the hand possessively gripping my hip. I didn't feel pain but I knew it was there to keep me still and explain what he could not.

"Happy Birthday, Bella," he breathed into my mouth, the shock of his closeness causing my lips to slightly part. Edward only moved closer, pressing his top lip into the gap I'd created, deftly sliding his tongue out so he could take more of me with him as he moved. After repeatedly chastising myself for such a fantasy the past two months – and then getting a taste of such contact at Compound – I was suddenly delirious and felt every doubt I'd ever had about Edward release and float way. My hands wound up into his hair and gripped tightly, pulling him towards my backward steps so that I was placated between drywall and an expanding erection.

I must have moaned or groaned or sighed because then Edward ground into my hips and released my lips, peppering my neck with kisses as he swore into the flesh.

"You walk in here every damn day in those fuck-me skirts and then I see you flirt with every man on this floor and all I can think about is ripping off your clothes and fucking you on my desk where everyone can hear us." I dug my nails into his shoulder blades and started rubbing the leg he'd put between mine; I'd made Edward Cullen swear and break out and lose control and it was the most erotic turn-on I could remember.

"Yes, Edward," I moaned, "yes I want that too." His kissing stopped and then he pulled back to face me. I opened my eyes and breathed heavily, relishing in the spreading wet spot I could feel between my thighs. My lips hungered for him and, because I couldn't wait for him to make a decision, quickly grabbed his face and pulled us towards each other so I could softly bite his lower lip. I was busy with the kiss – content even – when Edward scooped down to grab my thighs underneath my dress. I felt him groan into me when he rubbed the skin above the end of my hosiery but it only made me kiss harder as my legs wrapped around his hips and his blunt fingernails clawed into my ass.

"I want you, Bella," he breathed out in the crook of my neck, licking and sucking the skin. I moaned in response to his admission, relishing in the uncomplicated gesture his stance and ministrations provided. Edward wanted me at such a base physical level that I understood neither of us was thinking anymore, no longer concerned with the romantic politics or social rules we were quickly shredding apart.

"I'm yours," I panted, letting my head fall against the wall as I closed my eyes and tapped into each individual pinprick of pleasure. Edward shifted us – bringing me closer to his body while one hand supported my ass and the other wrapped tighter around my shoulder – and then walked us to his leather desk chair. The moment he made contact with the seat, I slammed my hips into his, attacking him with my lips and fingers, exploring his mouth while my wayward hands massaged his scalp.

Although I felt caught up in a frenzy and unable to stop or even slow down, Edward's hands slowly slid up my thighs, nimbly pushing my dress upwards until it bunched up around my waist. I broke for air and we stared at one another for one long, drawn-out second, our heavy-lidded glances a mirror image of each other's. I straightened up to my knees, making quick work of my sweater's buttons while Edward unbuckled and unzipped his pants, lifting up his hips for the slight pause it took to push them down. My legs slipped through the space beneath the arm rest and, with Edward's hands on my hips, we went back to furiously kissing, my fingers tightening in his hair when he pulled the front of my dress down and started to tease my nipples. His erection, now freed, was even larger than I expected and it felt hot against me as I repeatedly moved my hips to create some sort of friction with his skin and my now soaked-through silk panties.

"Oh God," I moaned, "Edward," my syllables sounding strangled and breathless. He took his mouth off one breast to quickly switch and I subconsciously arched my back while pushing the back of his head, needing to feel as close as possible in whatever capacity. "I need you, Edward," I breathed out, feeling my head fall forward as I gave myself completely to the new feelings raging around inside of me. I leaned close to his ear and whispered, "I need you inside of me." My nipple left his mouth with a soft pop and he licked his way towards my ear, gripping my hips tighter while his thumb ghosted across my clit and hooked the front of my underwear.

"Be careful what you wish for," he responded, lifting me up in one swift moment and then guiding me down. My arousal – which had started this morning and, against my conscious wishes, had only expanded as the workday hours dragged on – had produced an ample amount of lubrication and only enhanced gravity's desire. I slid all the way down his length, the both of us letting out grunts of pleasure at the minute adjustments my body immediately made to accommodate him. I'd been on top before but never in this much of an upright position and the added presence of Edward only served to enhance my need to move around him while still retaining some semblance of coherent thought. "Shit, Bella," he gritted through his teeth, the statement adding warmth to my neck, "you're so fucking tight." Both of us started to move then – Edward flicking his hips up as I pushed mine down – and I almost felt delirious with the sensation.

"I think you quite like it," I whispered back, gently nibbling on his earlobe as I tried to keep my focus.

"You're such, fuck, a tease, Bella," Edward's grunts of pleasure punctuating his statement.

"And– oh, you, God, aren't?" I moaned back, the speed of our thrusts quickening. I slid my hips forward and let out a sharp moan when the head of Edward's cock began thrusting into my g-spot. "God, fuck, right there," I panted.

"There?" Edward grunted a short, low hum audible with his inward thrust, "You like it when I fuck–"

"Yes, please," I cut him off, squeezing my eyes tightly as I felt Edward come inside of me.

"Fuck," he hissed, slowing his movements into a slow and languid thrust. As his orgasm subsided, I drew back and we stared at one another, everything blurring until all I could see was Edward, his mouth parted as quick bursts of air were breathed out. He extended his free thumb to rub my clit and I leaned back further, grabbed his shoulders for support, and felt time slow down to a crawl. I didn't know how long it took before a numb sensation crawled up my thighs and into the pit of my stomach, but suddenly that's all I could concentrate on. I gave into it, biting my lip as my walls started to convulse slightly until the wave crested and everything came back to me: the way Edward's rough thumb sent sparks through my body as he slowly massaged my clit, how I felt my breathing repeatedly stall as one of my more intense orgasms rippled through me, the feel of blood as it loudly thumped through my ear drums and muted the sound of our ragged breathing.

We stayed like that – silent and subconsciously moving – for minutes until my eyelids fluttered open and my grip on Edward's shoulder loosened. He lifted my hips and waited until I had untangled my legs before gently placing me on the floor. My legs felt shaky and I quickly felt behind me until I could comfortably stand by gripping the edge of his desk for added support. Edward stood up, not saying anything as he pulled his boxers and pants up and then tucked in his shirt. My heartbeat was slowing down as we comfortably watched each other; I knew I still had the 'just been thoroughly fucked' look about me – what with my dressed pushed up around my waist and my tits hanging out – but I didn't know what would happen once we left this room and it made me hesitant to end what we'd started if it wasn't going to happen again. Edward moved forward and my breathing hitched. I closed my eyes and felt him press himself against me and settle into my hips.

His kissed me softly, gently cupping my face in both of his palms. I moved my hands to his biceps, resting them there as we explored what it felt like to kiss without tongue and a furious need to devour. He broke away and I sighed, letting my fingers move with him as he straightened my bra and tucked me back into my dress, placing two soft kisses on each breast before dropping to his knees. Hands on my hips, Edward gave a quick peck to my clit through my underwear and then stopped moving. It took me a second to realize why, my thoughts only confirmed when the left side of my underwear was pulled aside and Edward trailed the tip of his finger over the skin beneath my hipbone.

"Je suis beau," he softly muttered. I glanced down and saw him concentrating, tracing the words as he said them. "Je suis beau." He pulled down my dress and stood up, lightly gripping my hips and moving his head closer. "Tu es belle," he whispered, placing a kiss on my collarbone, "exquis," and then my neck. "Tu mets mon coeur en mouvement," he whispered against my pulse point, "inspirer," before moving to my lips. "Je veux te consommer," he ended, trailing his fingers to my waist and moving so close our lips were touching, "à jamais."

Our kiss was as soft as the one before it, but there was something else lingering in Edward's touch, something not even present in the first feel of his lips when he'd told me 'happy birthday'. My French was rusty and I didn't completely understand what he'd told me, but I knew it was something I'd like to hear – would want to hear – if it meant we could continue what we'd started in haste and slowly learn each other's bodies the way I'd always desired.

Edward held my hand as we exited his office, rode the elevator, and walked out the building's front doors. He stopped me at the bike rack and I grinned, a sudden image of Edward riding his bike to and from work in a suit forming itself in my brain.

He softly stroked my cheek and I looked up, leaning into his hand and trying to remember its warmth. "I'll see you tomorrow?" I couldn't say anything – didn't want my choked up voice to ruin the moment – and chose to nod my head in response. He nodded back and then kissed me, our lips lingering against the other's as we both breathed in the mingling scent and fast-approaching goodbye.

He quickly unlocked his bike and I watched him ride away.

"Spill," Alice squealed.

"What?" I grumbled, rolling over and groaning when I realized Alice had called me at six in the morning.

"I know he's not there and I want details."

"What are you talking about?" I asked, my voice losing some of its sleep as I rolled over and suffocated myself with a pillow.

"Jeez, Boo-Boo! You'd think you'd remember the fantastic sex you had with your boss last night," my mouth popped open and I sat upright in bed, "and then want to tell your best friend all the juicy details!"

"Alice," my voice taking on a strained edge, "how did you know that?" Her giggles only served to frustrate me more.

"I knew it!" she cried. I flopped back on the bed and covered my eyes with my arm. Well if I didn't just walk right into that one…

I went into work feeling nauseously excited, the nervous jitters of anticipating sex for the first time meshed with my knowledge of just who I'd be seeing. I'd gotten up after providing Alice with a detailed play-by-play and then deliberated what to wear for thirty minutes. Do I go purely professional or dress like a tease? Fuck-me heels or flats? Do I pretend nothing happen or make up excuses to see him? My whole deliberation – from the time I'd woken up to the time I'd stepped out of the elevators – only magnified as the day wore on and Edward never walked by my desk or called me for errands.

I called Angela to let her know I was going elsewhere for lunch (I was still too nervous to actually eat but needed a break from the tension I'd singlehandedly created) and then left, sucking down a fruit smoothie and taking a granola bar to go. The phone started ringing as soon as I'd sat down again and, when I saw 'Cullen, Ed' on the caller id, my breath hitched and I breathed into the phone.

"Bella Swan."

"My family is having an end of summer party on Saturday; I would like bring you as my date." The statement was brusque and formal and it took me a second to fully understand the entirely non-professional meaning.

"When?" I squeaked, holding my breath as he responded.

"I will pick you up at noon."

"Okay," I sighed, "I would love to." I heard the weight of my breath escape into the mouthpiece and I wondered if this was hard for him too.

"And please wear blue more often; it looks beautiful against your skin tone." I heard the dial tone before I could respond and gently placed the receiver in its cradle, slowly lowering my head to the edge of the desk to concentrate on slowing my erratic heartbeat.

I wore a light cotton sundress and my blue sweater for Edward. I saw him pull up at exactly twelve, staring longer than necessary when he stepped out of the car in low-slung jeans and a white cotton undershirt. His sunglasses were clipped to the shirt's neckline and he grinned when he caught me in the window, leaning against the passenger door before I turned away and grabbed my purse.

"Hi," I breathed, holding onto his hips and standing on my tiptoes to kiss him. His hands were softly holding me just above my ass and a wave of euphoria settled between us. The greeting was innocent but still sexually charged, and I felt vaguely possessive as my fingernails raked over his chest and he smiled, almost like we had already gotten to the place where such a greeting was expected instead of wished for.

"Ready?" he asked, opening my door while I slid into the car and buckled my seat belt. I waited until he was belted in and had started the car before answering – a simple grab of his hand for a quick squeeze – and he leaned over and kissed me behind the ear. "They'll love you, okay? And my cousin just won't shut up about you. I'm sorry if she decides you're best friends before the night's over." I grinned as he weaved into traffic and, once we'd escaped downtown Portland, I moved his hand from the gearshift and placed it in my lap, softly stroking the skin with my thumb. He didn't turn away from the road, but I saw a smile linger.

Edward drove for about thirty minutes before he pulled onto a dirt driveway and then pulled up to a large house enclosed by trees. It was beautifully designed and Edward caught me staring up at its three floors and massive façade.

"This is my parents house," he muttered. "My uncle designed and built it as a wedding present for my mother." I looked over and he was staring off in the distance, rubbing the back of his neck. I grabbed his hand to stop the anxious behavior and squeezed it in reassurance.

"It's beautiful," I whispered, earning a slow smile before he wrapped his arm around my shoulders and led us around the house and into the backyard.

Esme said 'hello' first and then, after a warm greeting from Edward's father Carlisle, I was steered through the crowd, being introduced to everybody as 'this is Bella; she came with Edward.' Whomever we were speaking with stared at me and then smiled wide, throwing a knowing glance at Esme before the process repeated itself. I didn't feel comfortable – not quite, anyway; Edward always caught my eye from across the yard but did nothing to stop Esme's introductions – but I didn't want to leave either. A strange feeling was settling into the pit of my stomach, warming me up as I made my way back to Edward and realized he already felt like home whenever he touched me.

"Hi!" she exclaimed, grabbing my waist and causing me to almost drop my drink. Edward, privy to the stranger, was laughing and then, when I turned around, my mouth snapped open and all I could do was stare.

"You having a good time, Boo-Boo?" Alice smirked, arching her brow over my shoulder.

"What are you doing here?" I practically yelled, gripping her by the arm and beginning to drag her away.

"It's okay, Bella," Edward offered, pulling me into his body and forcing me to let go of Alice. I stared as Jasper came up behind her and extended his hand for Edward to shake.

"Hey man," he drawled out. "You seen Emmett? I'm suppose to kick his ass later; jus' wanted to let him know."

"Yeah," Edward nodded behind him, "he's gorging himself on food. Something about keeping up with Rose." Jasper snorted and then gave a quick peck to Alice's neck before winking at me and sauntering off. I watched him say 'hello' to everyone he passed and then slowly turned my head back to Alice. "Bella, I would like to formally introduce you to my cousin Alice," Edward said over my shoulder, my gaze flicking up to his face and scowling when I saw that both he and Alice were smirking.

"You knew?" I squeaked out, my eyes narrowing as the full weight of his statement registered. "You knew all along and you both never said anything?" Edward laughed and kissed me before wisely leaving (I think he knew I was saving his interrogation for later), leaving Alice grinning from ear to ear.

"Oh, Belly Bear. You're just so easy to tease!" She pinched my cheek and then leaned in when my gaze turned hard and cruel. "There are cupcakes in the car," she sang, winking before flitting away towards Edward, Jasper, and Emmett who were all surrounding the food table.

"I'm so glad you're here, Bella," Esme said behind me. I turned and she pulled me in for a hug. "If Edward's smart, he'll do everything to let you know that." She let go and then glanced in Edward's direction, softly smiling when we found him blowing raspberries against the belly of Emmett's oldest daughter. "And if not," she continued, playfully elbowing me in the ribs, "I know where he lives." She kissed me on the cheek and then walked away, turning around once to wink back.

I couldn't help but laugh, realizing that the mother of my almost-boyfriend had just threatened her own son and that I'd never been winked at more in my life. I quickly pulled my face into a scowl when I noticed Edward look over and – for fuck's sake – wink back.

It took three hours and forty-six minutes before a cupcake from Jasper, repeated sexual promises from Edward, and much pouting from Alice allowed me to forgive all of them.

I merely realized I was easy to tease.

"I wish I could see your tattoo all the time," Edward whispered, pulling me against his body until we were flush against one another. "I would kiss it and lick it and then tell everyone who didn't believe it to fuck off." I rolled onto my back and played with the hair at the nape of his neck, running my other hand over the ink etched around his shoulders and causing him to drop down and kiss my naked chest. I drew patterns over the ones already present before he kept his lips pressed against my skin and looked up at me.

"I'll have you know, Mr. Cullen," my tone light and teasing, "that most of your subordinates would probably enjoy the view such a lack of clothing offered." He groaned and slid over me, peppering me with kisses while he settled more comfortably in between my legs. "But I am more than positive such body modification – no matter how pleasing to the vice president – is not work appropriate." He stopped kissing and glanced up, his eyes darkening in the low light as a grin spread across my face.

"Oh now you're just asking for it!" he chided, moving down my torso and blowing raspberries against the skin, tickling my sides until I cried 'uncle' and he decided the best course of punishment to be multiple orgasms. I tried my hardest to appear dissatisfied.

A/N2: (I received wonderful help from some ladies over at lion_lamb on LiveJournal with this): "Je suis beau, Je suis beau. Tu es belle, exquis. Tu mets mon coeur en mouvement, inspirer. Je veux te consommer à jamais." translates to "I am beautiful. I am beautiful. You are beautiful, exquisite. You set my heart in motion, inspire. I want to consume you forever."