A/N: Ok, here it goes. This is my first attempt at Twi-Fic and to say I'm nervous would be an understatement. :) I have added links to outfits, as well as who I envision as my characters in my profile.
I want to thank Britpacksuccubus, who kicked my ass and told me to write something already and then helped me fix it up after I did. Without her, I would have NEVER taken a chance and tried my hand at any of this.
Stephenie Meyer owns everything Twilight.
I was a very realistic person. Always had been. People might mistake my obsession with my appearance for vanity – I never left the house without my hair and make-up done - but if they did, they would be wrong. I could look at myself in the mirror and see every flaw; even the ones no one else would notice. I was far from vain.
My chestnut colored hair was long with caramel highlights but was basically wavy and boring, nothing to get excited over. I always wished I had that beautiful shiny hair that barely required any maintenance but that just wasn't the way things worked for me. I would admit that I knew how to make it look good – but I had NEVER been the kind of girl who could wake up, run a brush through my hair and go. And God help me if I was ever going to let anyone see me looking less than my best - to me, that was just not acceptable.
I decided long ago that my desire to do the best with what I had been given was probably what had brought me to my career choice. I never really went to school dances in school, but I was always the person my friends came to for up-do's or make-up advice when they went to them. So, even though I was a straight A student in school and got an academic scholarship to Arizona State, it wasn't a shock to my family when I decided that I wanted to go to Cosmetology school instead. I can't say that they were happy about it, but my parents accepted it for what it was - Renee more so than Charlie. Charlie was not thrilled and let me know in no uncertain terms that if I decided one day that I wanted to go to college, I was on my own. I wasn't worried. I knew what I was doing.
I went to Cosmetology school right out of high school. That's where I met Alice. Mary Alice Brandon was a tiny little thing - she was shorter than me and at five foot four, that was rare - she had raven colored hair cut in a fashionable chin length style that was flipped out all over and her eyes were ice blue. Alice was feisty but classy and if she wasn't so friendly she would've been extremely intimidating, even in her small stature. I found out on my first day that she was studying to be a Nail Technician when she made herself comfortable next to me on the bench I was sitting on outside and chatted with me as I ate my lunch. She was hilarious and swore like a sailor, which caught me off guard at first because I didn't expect us to have that in common from the looks of her. However, I learned very fast that Alice didn't mince words - she was scary, small or not. She told me during that first lunch together that she had a feeling when she saw me that we were going to be fast friends. She was right and I came to find out she pretty much always was. Alice had a sixth sense and after years of being friends, I knew never to question it.
Alice had started the nail program a month before I enrolled for Cosmetology. I had to complete sixteen hundred hours of schooling to be a hairstylist but Alice only had to do six hundred so she graduated six months before me. We had only known each other for three months when she graduated, but we had become inseparable. I had spent more time at her house than I did at my own pretty much from the day I met her and her mother and step-father treated me like another daughter. She lived in Scottsdale and came from a very wealthy family so it didn't surprise me when they announced at Alice's graduation that they had decided to buy a salon for us which her step-sister, Rosalie was going to run.
Rosalie and Alice were polar opposites except for their eye color. Rosalie Hale was a tall, leggy blonde and was possibly one of the most beautiful women I had ever met. She exuded class but from the get go I knew Rosalie was very serious about the business and a lot more soft spoken than her younger sister. Even though their parents had bought the business and essentially handed it to the three of us, Rosalie was in no way going to take it for granted. Being the daughter of a cop, and coming from modest means, I admired that about her. Just like her father and Alice's mother, she was very good to me. Rosalie was three years older than Alice and I and treated me like a little sister – in such a short time, I had grown to love the Brandon-Hale's like family and it meant a whole lot to me that they felt the same way.
Together, we built up the business to a level of success beyond our wildest expectations. After two years in Scottsdale, the Hale's decided to expand Eclipse Salon and Day Spa and hire more stylists. Because Alice and I shared a gorgeous custom home in Chandler and Rosalie had just bought a new house in Tempe, Rosalie talked them into allowing us to move somewhere that was a little more convenient for the three of us. We were taking a chance that we would lose part of our clientele, but Rosalie had researched the location and knew it was a smart business move and effectively convinced her parents of that fact. It was during our move to Ahwatukee, an upscale community in the outskirts of Phoenix, that I met Jacob Black.
Jake was a painter and worked for the business Rosalie hired to help convert a house she had fallen in love with in Ahwatukee into our new salon. In the beginning, I was entranced by his beauty - he was tall and muscular with jet black hair and russet colored skin. But the more time I spent with him, I found myself charmed by how down to earth and kind he was. He made me feel special, unique and beautiful, something no one had ever made me feel before. Jake swept me off my feet and, in the beginning, we spent every free moment together.
Shortly after we started dating, Jake introduced me to his sister. Angela was two years younger than Jake and one year older than me. She had entertained the idea of going to beauty school but her husband, Ben, made more than enough to take care of them so she decided to apply for the receptionist job Rosalie had been interviewing for shortly after we opened the new salon. Two years later, she was Rosalie's right hand and none of us could imagine the salon without her there. She helped me double my clientele in less than a year, making me the highest paid and most sought after stylist in the Phoenix area.
Deep down I knew my success wasn't just because of Angela, though. Yes, she got the clients in my chair, but I kept them there. I was good at what I did and I had a passion for it that I didn't have in any other aspect of my life - not even my relationship.
Things with Jake had not progressed as I had hoped they would when we started dating. I loved my job and spent the majority of my time at the salon. And when I wasn't at the salon, chances were I was with Rose or Alice – or usually, both. I found the busier I got in my career, the less time I really had for Jake in my life. I loved spending time with him, but for me our relationship had become more like friends than lovers. The sex had been amazing in the beginning, but I found over time, it had become very mechanical and more like fucking out of habit rather than desire.
If I was being honest, I could never say that Jake and I had ever truly made love, though. Jake and I fucked like bunny rabbits in the beginning but never in two years had I felt love for the man. Well, not the kind of love that went beyond friends with benefits. Jake wanted more from me but I knew I couldn't give it to him, which had made the whole situation weird and uncomfortable. Jake treated me like a possession and had begun smothering me, making any kind of relationship with him virtually impossible. The longer I let it go on, the worse it got. And every time I thought I could end it with him, he'd sense it coming and manipulate me into feeling guilty for using him. It was a sickening cycle and more and more, I just wanted out.
We were out to dinner at Z Tejas one night when I got a call from my mom informing me that my older brother, Emmett, was moving back to Phoenix to work with my dad. Charlie was the Chief of the Phoenix PD and I knew they were hurting for bodies so I wasn't surprised to find out Emmett would be coming back to instruct at the police academy, helping to train rookies to Charlie's standards – which, by the way, were VERY high. Charlie had been exactly what Phoenix needed when he was appointed Chief. It had been a hard ten years, but he had made a lot of positive changes, crime was significantly down and people knew not to mess around with Chief Swan. It wasn't hard to imagine how happy he'd be that his son, who had followed in his footsteps but wanted to make his own path in life, would be back to work side by side with him.
Emmett had moved away to Chicago with his girlfriend after they graduated high school. He had always wanted to be a cop but refused to be the one who everyone thought only got where he was because he was the Chief's son. So, when Kate went away to school, he went with her. Charlie would never admit it, but he was devastated – he had been thrilled when Emmett told him he had decided to pursue a career in law enforcement, but didn't expect him to do it anywhere other than Phoenix. After a bad break-up with Kate and five years on the Naperville PD, which was a suburb of Chicago, Emmett was coming home – and I was freaking thrilled.
Jake, however, didn't share my enthusiasm. I hung up the phone with my mom and filled him in on the news when he immediately ruined my mood.
"Great. No, really Bella, that's GREAT." His sarcasm was undeniable and I was nothing less than shocked.
"Wow. Seriously, Jake? Now you're jealous of my brother? Unbelievable!" Jesus, here we go…
"Look," he said, feigning an apologetic tone, "all I'm saying is that you barely have time for me as it is. My sister sees more of you than I do these days. You're so wrapped up in your career, your friends and now, it'll be your brother. It's just one more thing to come between us." He looked at me with his big brown puppy dog eyes, which I assumed he thought would make me feel guilty or something. Too bad it didn't work.
I grabbed my napkin off of my lap, threw it onto my practically uneaten food and shoved my chair back noisily so I could leave. I refused to fight with him in public, that just wasn't my style. Then again, it was becoming more and more apparent to me that I just didn't care enough to waste the energy arguing with Jake…I'd rather walk away with my dignity. I grabbed my purse and phone and shot up out of my seat, stalking off before Jake could stop me.
On my way out the door, I scrolled through my contacts in my Blackberry and called the one person I knew would make me feel better. Three rings later, my brother's voice greeted me. "Hey, Stinkerbell! Mom called you, huh?"
"Oh my God, Em…get the Stinkerbell shit out of your system before you get here or I swear to baby Jesus I will shave your head in your sleep." He gave me a signature Emmett laugh that came all the way from his belly. He had been calling me Stinkerbell since we were kids and he knew how much I hated it but continued using it, anyway.
"I guess I won't ask if I can stay with you for awhile, then – I'm not taking any chances with this hair."
I stopped dead in my tracks as I reached the driver's side of my black Mercedes and squealed into the phone at my brother. "What?! Of course you can stay with me and Alice – we have plenty of room. Don't be an ass!"
"Cool, Bells, I appreciate it. I really didn't want to move back home with Mom and Dad – even if it'll only be for a little while. Something about that screams pathetic, creepy guy who plays video games and jerks off in his free time."
"TMI, Em. Seriously." I faked a gag as I got into my stifling hot car, blasted the a/c and pulled out of my parking spot to head home. The last thing I wanted to hear about was my brother doing anything to his dick. As far as I was concerned, he didn't have one.
I pulled onto I-10 as we chatted, getting more and more excited that my brother was really coming home – and that he was going to be living with me and Alice for awhile. Jake clicked in three times but I ignored him – he'd already pissed me off enough and made me miss out on my Wild Mushroom Enchiladas – which, by the way was unforgivable - I wasn't going to let him ruin the good mood talking to Emmett always put me in. And don't bother leaving a message, motherfucker.I will delete it.
By the time I got off the highway at Queen Creek Road, we had plans to meet up at our parent's house the following weekend. Emmett was leaving on Thursday and would be making the drive from Chicago by himself, guessing it would take him about three days. Since Alice and I would both be at work on Saturday, he decided to go home first and wait for me there. I was elated. He hadn't been home since my high school graduation and I couldn't wait to introduce him to all my friends and co-workers. Do I have to introduce him to Jake?Ugh.
I stopped on the way home and got Pei Wei for Alice and me. I knew she'd be up for it and I was fucking hungry since I hadn't eaten my dinner. As I pulled into the garage and parked next to Alice's eyesore of a yellow Porsche, my mind wandered back to Jake. I was so sick of his calculating game of playing the victim to my busy schedule and I knew I needed to do something about it. I had secretly hoped he would grow impatient and end things before I had to but it was becoming increasingly clear that wasn't going to happen. Time to put on your big girl pants and make a clean break, Bella…before things get even more complicated than they already are.
With his sister working at the salon, I was really afraid that was not going to be an easy task.
Saturday was the day we all wore jeans to work. We had all decided together that even though we loved to dress up, going casual one day a week would hurt no one. Truth be told, when Saturday came around, even though we wore jeans, none of us were able to really do the whole casual part very well. This particular Saturday was nothing different. I was wearing a pair of boot cut dark denim jeans with a champagne colored silk top that had a high neck but was sleeveless and sexy. I paired it with a pair of snakeskin Louboutin's, gold earrings and a tortoise bangle watch – we all wore our watches to work, it was the nature of the business – but we always wore a watch that looked like a bracelet so it was functional yet stylish.
I walked into the spacious kitchen of the house Alice and I shared and found her sitting at the breakfast bar with a cup of coffee and the most recent issue of US Magazine that she swiped from the salon the night before.
"Good morning my little Bellarina," Alice said in her sweet little sing song voice with a giggle not even lifting her head from her magazine. I groaned in response. I fucking hated that nickname about as much as I hated "Stinkerbell". Why did my parents have to give me a name that had so many annoying nickname possibilities?
I opened the fridge and stared at its contents, trying to decide what I was going to eat on the way into work. Alice was a morning person and it annoyed the hell out of me because it just was not normal to be that happy first thing in the morning.
"Jesus Christ, Alice. How is it that you're always so fucking chipper in the morning?" I grabbed a blueberry muffin and turned around to face her. I narrowed my eyes at her angrily, willing her to look up from her magazine so she could see me flipping her off.
I swear to God I didn't see that little bitch raise her eyes, but she must have because she grinned from ear to ear and said, "Nice nail."
I glared at her and made a mental note to stab her with my shears next time I was trimming her hair.
I looked at my nail and shook my head. I didn't even know the damn thing was broken but now that she pointed it out, it was going to piss me off till I got it fixed and Alice knew it.
"Don't worry, Bells," she said, reading my mind, "I'll fix it when we get to the salon. I know how you are and I'm not going to listen to you bitch about it all day."
She stuck her tongue out at me and I decided then and there that before I stabbed her, I was going to cut all her hair off. She had grown out the black flippy style she had in beauty school and it was now a mahogany color, down to the middle of her back with long layers. Alice had gorgeous hair – the kind I had prayed for when I was younger but God had never delivered to me. That's right, whore.I'll cut it all off.Just wait.
She clicked her tongue against her teeth and slowly lifted her gaze to look at me. "Oh yeah and Bella," she said again in her sugary sweet voice, "stop entertaining the idea of doing inappropriate things to me with your shears or I'll have Laurent cut my hair next time." How did she do that?!
I snickered and she winked at me. We both knew she wouldn't let anyone else do her hair, not even Laurent. Sure he was hot…and French…and gay…and probably one of the best hairstylists I had ever known personally. But he wasn't me. And that's all that mattered to Alice. She and Rosalie hadn't trusted their hair to anyone since we met – just like I wouldn't trust anyone else to do my nails.
Alice got up off her stool and put her coffee cup in the sink, rinsing it out. As usual, she was the picture of fashion in red skinny jeans and a black and white striped tunic type top with black Louboutin ankle boots. While I usually leaned towards gold, Alice was never without her platinum bangle watch and matching jewelry. And somehow, she had found the time to re-polish her nails with a bright red color that matched her pants and her lipstick.
Alice didn't have the classic beauty of her sister, Rosalie, but she was definitely gorgeous in a more exotic way. She had men hit on her left and right but in the entire time I'd known her, she'd never had a serious relationship. She always told me she was waiting for "the one" and until then, she was having fun being single. Whoever "the one" was, I prayed for him - I loved Alice, but she was a pain in the ass and her future husband better be at the top of his game if he was going to be able to keep up with her. No doubt about that.
"I'm booked solid so if you want me to fix your nail, we better get going."
I grumbled and rolled my eyes because she knew damn well I wanted it fixed. "Fine. But we're stopping at Starbuck's on the way - I need my fucking caffeine if I'm going to put up with your chipper ass. Not to mention Emmett's going to be here later. I need to prepare for months of you guys double teaming me with your morning joy." I never understood how anyone could be happy about waking up but fuck my life if my brother wasn't just as happy as Alice in the morning. Why did I agree to let him stay with us again?Oh yeah, something about video games and jerking off while living at home or something.Ew.Again, I need to bleach my brain.Emmett does not have a dick.Emmett does not have a dick.Emmett does not…
"Whatever, Bella. You and I both know you're looking forward to your brother being here and having one more excuse to keep you away from Jake. Lord knows, I don't blame you. Blech."
"Thanks, Alice, but don't remind me."
"You know, I hate to be the one to say I told you so…" Oh my God, she was such a lying bitch. She lived to tell me she told me so. "But, I fucking TOLD you so! 'He's so sweet. He's so great. He's too good to be true'." Bitch was mimicking me. Like it wasn't bad enough that she was right, as usual, but she had to fucking rub it in! And believe me, it did not feel good.
She didn't stop at that, though. She had to keep going, it was her nature. "I distinctly remember telling you that if he seemed too good to be true, that's probably because he is. But did you listen to me? No! And guess what? Come on, Bella, you can say it. I. Was. Right! Now you're stuck with a whiney mangina and we're all stuck having to listen to you bitch about him."
Her little tirade continued until we were halfway to the salon in her bright yellow monstrosity and by the time we got to Starbuck's I needed a double shot. This was going to be a long day.
I heard Rosalie's turquoise Manolo heels clicking down the stairs from her office as I was blow drying my client's hair. He tilted his eyes to look up at her and I noticed his mouth gape open slightly at her beauty. Even in black, bootcut, skinny jeans and a dark grey, rouched, jersey tunic with buttons down the side, she was still stunning. And damn it if she didn't make it look easy. She was carrying her purse which matched her shirt perfectly and she had on a pair of black oversized sunglasses. Thank you, God.She's going to get us lunch!
She tucked the left side of her long, layered blonde hair behind her ear, showing off her gold hoop earrings which matched the multiple chained necklace she wore and helped dress up her jeans, like always. "I'm going to pick up some pizza. I'll be back in a few." She turned and walked past the front desk, peeking at the appointment book on the computer screen and giving Angela a couple of things to do while she was gone. I watched my client's eyes follow her ass in the mirror until she was out the door. Yep. Rosalie was a hot chick, there was no doubt about that. If I was a guy, I'd do her. Shit, I'd do her before I'd ever do Jake again. Wow, Bella.Lesbianism is more attractive than Jake now?That's really saying something…
I was in the middle of a highlight when Rosalie came back about twenty minutes later and took the pizza up to the kitchen that was next to her office. One really nice thing about converting a house into a salon was that we had a full working kitchen so she could keep the pizza warm in the oven for us so we could take a break as our schedules allowed.
By the time I had my client's foils done, it was time to drop the back and rinse them. I was getting cranky because I was so fucking hungry but I couldn't just leave my client.
"Isabella, go eat," I heard from behind me as I was walking my client back to the shampoo bowls. Laurent always called me by my full name. He said it was too beautiful of a name to shorten. For some reason, when he said it, it sounded so good rolling off his tongue in his sexy French accent that it didn't bother me. At. All. Why were all the good ones gay or married? Or gay and married, which was the case with Laurent. At thirty seven, he had been with his life partner, Michel, for ten years and was as loyal and faithful as my parents were. Sure, he flirted with the ladies but he really only had eyes for Michel. I hoped someday I would find my "Laurent".
"I have to rinse the back of her foils, Laurent. I'll do it later."
"No, no ma cherie. You go now. I will take care of this lovely lady for you." He swooped in and reached his hand out to my client who was dumbstruck by his good looks and hesitated before absentmindedly putting her hand in his. In true Laurent fashion, rather than shaking her hand, he put it to his mouth and kissed it, looking her in the eyes the entire time.
"My name is Laurent and I will be your stand-in Isabella for awhile, if that is okay with you?" Before she could respond, he asked her name and she blushed and giggled before telling him. Smooth motherfucker.I better not lose my client to your panty dropping theatrics.
"Thanks, Laurent." I eyed him suspiciously and then averted my gaze to my client and smiled, placing a hand of reassurance on her shoulder. "I'll be right back, Jess. I'm just going to run upstairs and eat some lunch before I pass out. You're in very capable hands, I promise."
I heard Laurent chuckle as he started an animated conversation with Jessica. I had such a hard time walking away and leaving her with him. Even though I trusted Laurent, I rarely left him to tend to one of my clients. He was extremely good at what he did. And when I said what he did, I meant rendering women helpless with his stare and using his French voodoo – or whatever the fuck it was – to get them to think he was the best in the business. Who was I kidding? He was the best in the business. He was the only one I trusted to do my hair for fuck's sake. I knew I was a good stylist – damn good – but he was better than me. He had more experience and he used that to his advantage.
Still, I couldn't bring myself to care enough to pass up the chance to put something in my stomach. I hadn't had anything since my blueberry muffin on the way in to work and that was almost seven hours earlier. I told myself I'd eat fast and get back to Jessica before he had a chance to take her back to his chair and dry her hair. That way, she wouldn't have too much time to swoon at his bullshit. I looked at my watch and told myself that I would be twenty minutes, tops.
When I got up to the kitchen, Rose and Alice were sitting down chatting as Alice – who was just as busy as I was – was stuffing her face full of pepperoni pizza in a rush to get done before her next client arrived. I had no idea where she put it, but that girl could eat.
"You're finally eating, huh?" said Rosalie, looking up at me with a guilty smile. "I'm sorry; I think we overbooked you today." She squeezed her eyes shut waiting for my response and obviously not expecting a good one. Alice snorted and almost choked on her pizza. Rosalie was known for overbooking us – it was nothing new. And we always got a kick out of it when she acted like she was sorry. She loved us, but Rose always did what was best for the business and even though she worked us really hard, we were thankful she was as business savvy as she was – without her, we wouldn't have the careers that we both had.
Alice looked up at me with a sneer, waiting for my response. She and Rosalie had a love-hate relationship and she looked forward to any opportunity for me to help her taunt her sister. Unfortunately for her, I was too hungry and tired to make the effort.
"No worries, Rose. Laurent offered to rinse Jess's foils for me so I could get some pizza. I'm fucking starving."
Alice shook her head at me in disgust, grumbling something that distinctly sounded like "buzzkill" under her breath as she continued to inhale her food. I seriously wanted to know how she had such a good body when she could eat both me and Rosalie under the table. She almost ate as much as my brother who was practically twice her size. It just wasn't right. Slow your roll, Alice.I'm about to lose my fucking appetite. That's right, I am disgusted by you. Take that.
I grabbed a Diet Coke out of the fridge, pulled the pizza box out of the oven and set two pieces on a plate, turning the oven off since I was the last one to eat. I plopped down at the glass dining table next to Alice, slipping my shoes off and putting my feet up on the chair across from me. I leaned my head back in the comfy chair and closed my eyes, sighing. Rosalie had the salon decorated so that other than our work areas, it looked and felt like a home. She even had the extra room next to her office furnished with bedroom furniture. Alice and I had given her a hard time about it in the beginning, but she did it anyway. She went on and on about how it was good to have just in case any of us needed to crash or just get away. And, like Alice, she was always right…we had all used it at one time or another. I had to give it to Rosalie – she always thought and planned ahead.
The three of us sat in a comfortable silence, listening to the sounds of the busy salon below us. We would laugh here and there, listening to Laurent woo my client with his stories. I could just picture him crouching in front of her, his dark, soulful eyes looking up at her through is thick lashes as he told her about growing up in France and frolicking in the fucking wildflowers in the country or some shit like that as she became putty in his hands.
I started to get nervous and looked down at my watch. I knew leaving Jess with Laurent wasn't a good idea - I was fucking hungry, not stupid. Shit.I better get back down there before I lose her altogether.
As if on cue, I heard Angela's black flats as she ascended the stairs. I figured she was coming to tell Alice her next client was waiting and from the looks of it, Alice did, too. She shot up out of her chair as she swallowed the last drink of her soda and cleaned up her dishes, putting them in the stainless steel dishwasher and washing her hands.
Angela shuffled into the kitchen to tell Alice her back fill appointment had arrived and to let me know I had a walk-in. I looked at her like she was nuts and she hesitantly informed me that Laurent had talked Jessica into a haircut, which he was going to do, so I had free time to take someone else. Crap.
I looked at Rose, fuming at what Laurent had done and she shrugged her shoulders at me and apologized – this time it actually felt like she meant it. "Shit, Bella, I'm sorry. You'll still get paid for the highlight and I'll make sure I talk to him tonight before he leaves. I really don't think he does this stuff on purpose. He loves you."
"Mmhmm." I was pissed. But I really couldn't blame anyone but myself. I knew not to leave her with him, especially after I saw her practically have an orgasm while he was eyefucking her right in front of me.
I put my heels back on, stood up from the table and pushed in my chair. Rosalie stood with me and put out her hand for my dish "I'll get your dish, sweetie. Don't worry about it." Wow, now I knew she felt guilty...Rosalie was pretty much all business at work and never did anyone's dishes of her own volition. "I'll talk him. I promise."
She put her hand on my arm, sensing my anger and wanting to make sure I knew she was sincere. "I'm not mad at you, Rose. And don't worry about saying anything to him – that French fucker will probably give me a pixie cut or something next time he does my hair if you do. And there's no way in hell I'm letting Bree anywhere near my head with a pair of shears. Her work is craptastic and you know it."
She narrowed her eyes at me and glared. Bree had been a source of contention between us for quite some time. Rosalie hated when I pointed out what a shitty stylist Bree was - and believe me, I did it every time I had an opportunity. I didn't have anything against Bree personally but she was a terrible hair stylist and I kept telling Rose she needed more training. I had corrected so many of her mishaps – it wasn't good for business or our reputation. And there was no fucking way I would ever let her touch a hair on my head. Ever.
Alice snickered and grabbed me by the arm, yanking me with her towards the stairs leading down to the salon below before the discussion got heated. I giggled with her knowing if I didn't hurry, Rose would change her mind about cleaning up after me. We walked down the stairs with our arms linked as Alice whispered animatedly in my ear about nothing important. She must have been trying to distract me so I didn't look over and shoot daggers at Laurent and make Jessica uncomfortable – but she knew that wasn't my style. Jess was a client and I was nothing less than professional at work. Still, I welcomed and appreciated her effort at diversion.
When we got up to the reception desk, she stopped dead in her tracks so quickly that I almost bumped into her.
"What the…" I started to say, remembering where I was and stopping myself before I said something completely unprofessional.
I craned my neck around Alice's body and saw a man, the man Alice was blatantly staring at, sitting in the waiting area. He was dressed rather unseasonably in a long sleeved grey shirt, blue jeans and gray Chucks, with his head down reading last month's Sports Illustrated and humming to the song on the sound system Rose had wired into every room. Angela looked at me, cocking one of her perfectly arched eyebrows at me, as if she was waiting for some kind of reaction when Alice turned and looked at me expectantly, as well. I looked at them and narrowed my eyes in silent question. What the hell is wrong with the two of you? Alice ignored me and took her client back to her manicure room while Angela shrugged at me and shook her head with a hint of smirk pulling up on the corner of her mouth. What the fuck ever, Ang. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I shook my head back at her and groaned inwardly.
I leaned past her and looked at the computer screen until I saw his name. "Edward?" I asked.
He looked up from his magazine in response to his name and I found myself staring at what had to be the world's most beautiful green eyes. I realized then that he must have looked up when Alice walked into the reception area. That would explain why she almost tripped me – she had been mesmerized by him and his amazing eyes. "Yep, that's me," he said as he closed the magazine, tossed it on the glass coffee table and stood up with his hand stretched out to shake mine.
I shook his hand and fuck me if I didn't feel some kind of weird spark when our hands met. I gasped out loud like an idiot, dropping his hand and gesturing towards my chair. Normally I would have introduced myself or said something but my brain would not function after feeling the warmth of his hand in mine. I felt myself blush as I shot Angela a look, realizing she had been waiting for my reaction. He was beautiful.
He walked over to my station and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking at his ass as I followed behind him. I did. The entire time. Yes, he had a very nice ass. He sat down in my chair with a smile at me in the mirror as I searched in my head for words that I just couldn't find. Jesus, did you ride the short bus here today, Bella? Pull yourself together for crying out loud..
"Uh, hi, I'm Bella," I stuttered, trying to sound casual but failing miserably. I still had butterflies in my stomach from the handshake and the thought of running my fingers through his hair while effectively holding a conversation with him - without losing my shit - seemed virtually impossible. His eyes caught me in the mirror as I fastened the cape around his neck and again, I lost my train of thought. Fuck me. Please and thank you.
He spun his chair around to face me and said, "Hi, nice to meet you. I really appreciate you being able to work me in." He flashed his beautiful smile at me and I felt like my knees were going to collapse underneath me. I felt almost naked with him facing me, in such close quarters, so I spun his chair back around and talked to him while looking at him through the mirror. That was one of the worst no-no's in my book...a good stylist should always stand in front of the client when performing a consultation...but there was no way I would be able do that with Edward.
I had no idea what had come over me, but I was starting to freak out. In a matter of minutes, this man had my heart racing and I was a mess and that was just not like me. I was a strong woman - the daughter of a cop, independent, successful. I had come in contact with so many good looking men since starting in the industry and no one had ever affected me this way. What. The. Fuck.
I looked above Edward's reflection in the mirror and noticed Angela had turned around and was watering the plants in the reception area, trying to look busy. She had her back to us, but I knew she was listening. Bitch didn't fool me one bit. I turned my attention back to Edward, noticing him smirking, yet again, and waiting for me to respond. "Uh, yeah. No problem," I laughed awkwardly. I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks once again and started to feel like a little kid with a grade school crush – which made me blush even more. I hesitated before allowing myself to run my fingers through his silky hair and decided I should probably try and do my job, rather than continuing to drown in my embarrassment.
"So, what are we doing today?"
He ran his long, pale, fingers through his copper colored hair and explained how he wanted it cut. A little off the top, more off the sides and back. He wore it a little longer and messy on the top – the kind of messy that looked like he just rolled out of bed but yet too well placed to have just done so. It was obvious that he paid attention to his appearance, although with what he had to work with, I doubted it took much for him to look as good as he did.
We chatted casually as I shampooed and cut his hair. I found out he had recently moved to Phoenix from a small town in Washington called Forks. After going to college at Washington State and getting his degree in criminal justice, he attempted to get a job with the police department in his home town but openings were few and far between. And with the economic crisis, he found it virtually impossible find a job anywhere local. So, after almost a year of applying for local departments, he decided to throw caution to the wind and started applying for any police department that was hiring. I knew the Phoenix PD loved to score recruits that had a degree so it didn't surprise me that they had scooped Edward up before anyone else had. It was Saturday, he had only been in Phoenix for three days and the new class at the Police Academy started on Monday.
I laughed at the irony of the fact that my brother was instructing the new class of cadets and Edward was going to be in his class. He had no idea what he was in for – from what I had heard from our dad, Emmett was tough, but graduates from his classes in Naperville were the best officers on the force.
"What's so funny?" Edward asked as I was notching into the layers I had just put in the top of his hair, so as to give him his signature just rolled out of bed after a night of fuckhot sex look. Whoa, Bella.You have really lost it.Focus on the conversation you're having with the sex god and stop drooling, you ass.
"You're not going to believe this, but my father is Chief Swan and it just so happens my brother, Emmett, is your instructor. He just moved back from the Chicago area and is starting with Phoenix on Monday, with your class."
He cocked his head to the side to look up at me in the mirror and said in his very sexy voice, "I'm afraid to ask if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Considering the look on your face, I think it's safe to assume I'm going to be crying like a little girl and begging for mercy sometime in the near future."
I couldn't help but laugh again because Edward was right on the money. My dad made sure that each and every one of his officers that graduated from the police academy was fully prepared to do his or her job and do it well – and Emmett was determined to make our father proud. "Yeah, probably more than once," I confirmed, looking at him with a very serious look on my face.
He groaned and we both cracked up. It was amazing how comfortable I now felt with him considering how nervous he had initially made me. There was no doubt he was probably one of the most...no scratch that...the most attractive man I had ever met but he was also very down to earth and easy to talk to which made me want him even more. I didn't usually trust men so easily thanks to Emmett and Charlie, which made me question if my judgment was just impaired by his good looks. I had to admit that I didn't really care if it was. Something inside me felt important because this gorgeous man made me feel like he wanted to know me – and more importantly, he wanted me to really know him. I was suddenly glad at that moment that Laurent had stolen Jess from me.
I could hear Alice's voice in my head reminding me over and over of her infamous mantra, "Everything happens for a reason." Interesting.
I finished Edward's hair and walked him up to the reception desk, leaving him with Angela so she could cash him out and, hopefully, book him another appointment. I tried to look busy as Angela leaned in and spoke to Edward in a hushed voice. I never hovered when she was closing out the transaction with my clients, leaving it up to her to get them to rebook. That was her specialty. I saw her reflection in the mirror as she grabbed one of my business cards, wrote something on it and handed it to him as they chatted.
He looked at the card with a smile that looked almost grateful and put it in his wallet. His head snapped up as if he felt me watching him, catching me in mid drool. Shit. Smooth Bella, really smooth. I felt the heat flow over my cheeks for about the millionth time since our initial meeting and looked away as fast as I could, deciding to pay attention to the sweeping I had been pretending to do.
"So, Bella, tell me something," Edward said as he put his wallet back in his jeans and walked over to me.
"Hmm?" I responded absentmindedly.
He stopped right behind me, touching my arm so I'd stop sweeping. He leaned in and I felt his warm breath on my neck as he opened his mouth and said very quietly in my ear, "Do you think I'd win points with your brother if I told him how beautiful I think his sister is?"
Before I could even respond, he leaned forward placing a fifty dollar tip on my station, put on his black Raybans and turned, walking away without even a glance at me to gauge my reaction to both his words and his sickeningly generous tip. My heart was pounding erratically as I stood there with my mouth wide open like an idiot.
Man he was a cocky sonofabitch. Cocky and beautiful. Again, I was referring to Edward as beautiful. But God was he. And just the thought of him in a police uniform made my panties wet. I was fucked. No wait, scratch that. I wasn't fucked…yet. But if I had my way – and I usually did - I would be. By Edward Whateverthefuckhislastnamewas.
Shit. I groaned internally. I didn't even know his last name.I knew I could get it from the computer, but I felt like I was crossing a line by doing so and I really had no desire to look like a stalker. But what if he never came back? I was not going to Emmett. He would flip. He was still very overprotective of me – even though he had been gone for years. And, ethically speaking, it wasn't a good idea for an instructor to have any kind of personal involvement in a cadet's life in any way.
My Blackberry vibrated in my pocket, pulling me out of my desperate obsession over seeing Edward again. I looked at the screen and saw I had a text message and 3 missed calls. I looked at the missed call list and saw that two were from Jake – no plans to call him back – and one was from Emmett who must've called to let me know he made it to Charlie and Renee's. None of the calls were recent, so I knew the text must have been the vibration I felt just a few seconds before.
I looked at the text and almost didn't read it because I didn't recognize the number but, for some reason, I opened it anyway and when I did, a huge grin broke out across my face.
Angela gave me your #.Now you have mine.Use it.SOON.– Edward
Well, I'll be damned. Jake's sister was a sneaky little bitch.