AN: This story takes place during the present day, Chicago. AH, AU.

Special shout out to BellaWhitlock51 for being my Beta even when she was sick! Thank you!!

­Quarter Life Crisis

Chapter 1:

Bella's heels pounded into the pavement as she quickly darted off to the Clark and Fullerton 'L' stop. She could hear the train approaching and quickly waved her pass at the turn style. Breathlessly, she made a mad dash up the steps and slid into the closing doors of the brown line. She sat down in an empty chair to catch her breath. Bella always loved riding the L. It gave her a different perspective as she felt like she was at live museum watching the world go on around her. Snaking through the city to her destination: The Loop.

At each stop new people would crowd onto the 'L' tightening in the space around her, it started to get very crammed. She made a mental note to leave a bit earlier tomorrow to avoid the rush of the morning commute. Every possible space that could be occupied on the train was, by at least two or three people. Wondering how she was going to ever get off the train when she finally was approaching her stop. Bella stood to maneuver through the web of bodies and arms holding tightly to whatever they could reach. Bella ducked under the arm of an unsuspecting tall man reading the paper and stood next to the door as the train pulled up to her station; Washington and Wells. The door flew open and almost everyone poured out of the train immediately taking Bella with, like a herd of cattle.

"Hey, watch it!" said a strange man knocking into her as passengers rushed in and out to of the train car.

"Sorry," she muttered under her breath.

Dusting herself off, Bella threw her shoulders back confidently. This was the first day of her new job as a junior designer at the prestigious Architectural Design Firm, C. Designs, or "C" which it was commonly know as. The "C" of course stood for last name of world renowned Architect, Carlisle Cullen.

"You can do this." she thought to herself.

Bella pulled the heavy glass door of the main building lobby and drew in another breath of confidence. This was her dream job. Bella had graduated top of her class with a Bachelors in Interior Architecture. During school she managed to land several internships with very prominent firms. She had many job offers when she graduated and ended up staying on with one of the firms she had interned with. It was a great place to work, but she knew it was not the place she needed to be to really grow in her career. So, she applied on a whim to the most prestigious design firm in Chicago, perhaps even the world. She was shocked when she was called for an interview last month, and even more shocked when they offered her a position. Now, here she was, ready to start a brand new chapter in her life.

She approached the security desk, where an older man with big thick-rimmed glasses sat in a black office chair.

"Good morning sir, my name is Bella Swan, this is my first day at C. Designs so I don't have a security pass yet," she said politely.

"Alright, Let's see here," he slowly got up from his position and reached over to a clipboard and flipped over several sheets of paper. "No miss, I don't see your name here. Let me try and call up."

"Ok thanks." She replied waiting nervously for him while he called up. She tried not to let her anxiousness get to her.

You can do this, you can do this. This is your dream Bella Swan.

"Miss-" Bella spun on heel not realizing how caught up in her thoughts she had been. " You may go up, 22nd floor. "

"Thank you." she said and walked down to the second set of elevators that would take her up to the appropriate floor. For the first time she took a moment looked around the lobby as she waited for the elevator to arrive. It was exquisite, the detailing of the marble floor made a distinct lineal pattern that was congruent with the reveals in the stainless steel panels on the walls of the elevator core. The lighting was recessed, yet provided a dramatic effect. It was sleek, modern and sophisticated, definitely a design by 'C'. Her phone beeped with a new text message as she stepping into the elevator. Flipping open the phone, she saw a message from Alice:

"Break a leg 2day! You'll be brilliant! Celebrate after work?"

"Thanks! Definitely! Text you later with an update. -B." Bella punched into her phone. Alice was her oldest and best friend. They had known each other since grade school and although they ended up going to different high schools and colleges their friendship had lasted the test of time.

The doors of the elevator glided open as Bella reached the twenty-second floor.

You're good enough, your smart enough, and gosh-darn it, people like you. She laughed to herself repeating the mantra from "Stuart Smally" a classic SNL persona. She walked down the hall to the full height glass doors with stainless steel pulls. Wrapping her small fingers around the door pull, Bella anxiously pushed the door open and stepped into the reception area of C. Designs.

"Hi, I'm –"

"Bella Swan." the receptionist abruptly interrupted her. "Let me show you to your desk," She stood up, and quickly walked ahead of Bella not seeming to notice if she was following or not. "The weekly staff meeting in is 30 minutes in the conference room." she continued. "Do you want me to show you where the coffee is?"

They reached her new work area, an empty workstation with a computer, phone, and pencil holder with the basics.

"Thank you," Bella said as she sat down in her chair. "I'll think I'll be able to manage."

"Ok good, I should get back my desk, the phones must be going crazy," she replied. "Oh, and your login information is on that post-it."

Bella glanced down at her watch to check the time, she should have enough time to get settled in and grab a cup of coffee before her first staff meeting. She grabbed the post if off the computer screen and started up her computer. While she waited, Bella glanced around the office to take in the space around her. The office took up the entire twenty-second floor of the building and half of the twenty-third floor. Although she hadn't been up there, the twenty-third floor was where all the executives and head designers had offices. Ranked by A&D magazine as the fastest growing company last year, Bella estimated that there were probably five hundred or so total people on staff.

When her computer finally loaded up Bella logged on and set up her email and contacted the IT department about licensing computer aided drafting programs to her computer so that she would be ready to jump right into projects when she needed to. Glancing down at her watch again Bella got up to find the break room for a quick cup of coffee to bring to the weekly staff meeting.

Arriving a few minutes early, Bella was able to secure a seat a bit closer to the back of the conference room. Not wanting to draw attention to herself when it was unnecessary, she just wanted to sit quietly and observe her first meeting. Bella sipped at her coffee while her fellow employees began to file into the conference room all chatting in small groups about their previous weekend escapades.

"I like your blouse." said a girl with brown hair sitting next to Bella.

"Oh thank you, I got it on sale from H&M." she replied.

"I'm Jessica, I work in the environmental group. You must be new here I don't recognize you. C. Designs is a big firm, but it's like a big family, everyone here knows everyone and everything if you get my drift." She continued. "What group are you working for?"

"I believe I'm going to be working with some of the national corporate accounts. I'm not entirely sure, this is my first day." Said Bella.

"Oh wow, your first day? And your working the on the national accounts, huh… Well, let me know if you need anything, I'm the eyes and ears of this place." Jessica said with a smug look on her face.

"Definitely." said Bella, turning to look at the front of the conference where Carlisle Cullen was taking his position, as the meeting was about to begin. Carlisle was a tall, good looking, dignified man. He definitely did not look as old as he probably was. He had an air about him. He seemed secure, calm and was able to command the room's attention without a word.

"Good morning everyone. Let's dial in to the conference call to the other offices." Carlisle punched in the conference call number and passcode into the phone on the table. Leaning over he spoke into the phone.

"Good morning, Chicago office here. Who's on the line?" He asked.

"Phoenix here."

"LA here."

"London here, Good afternoon!"

"Mexico City here."

"New York."

"Howdy! Dallas here."

"Barcelona here."

"Seattle." They all replied in order. Bella knew that C. Designs was an international firm known for the work they did all over the world and that they had offices around the globe.

"Alright. Let's begin, as you know we have these monthly meetings when all the offices dial in for a conference call to get an update on the company. Chicago office, we will have our weekly meeting after the conference call." Began Carlisle. He updated the offices on several large projects that they had been awarded as well as projects they were chasing and clients that they were trying to get in with.

"So, that's what we are looking at people. One more thing, and I'll let you get back to work. As you all know, my son, Edward, was out in Seattle the last year helping get the new office up and running. Because of the new Olympic bid for Chicago we have asked him to come back here to manage the master planning and design of that project. This is going to the biggest job we have chased yet and could mean great things for this company. We are going to be forming a special group just for this project, so you will find out in the next few days if you are apart of that team. Okay then, that's all I got." Carlisle hung up the phone and turned to address the rest of the conference room.

"I was hoping that Edward would be here to introduce him to all of you. However, his flight was cancelled last night, and he had to catch a red eye so he won't be here until later. Alright, let's get updated on the project schedules then."

Carlisle listened as each of the project managers went around the room and updated the team on the weekly status of various projects, pursuits, and any issues that they might be having with difficult clients or consultants. Bella did her best to scribble down as many notes as she could, as she didn't know who she would be working with yet, she thought it might be best to take notes on everything, just in case.

Jessica looking bored leaned over Bella's shoulder and whispered. "I hear that Edward Cullen is just as delicious as Carlisle, and he's not married. He also is known to be really stuck up, apparently nobody is good enough for him to last more than a week."

Bella did her best to ignore Jessica's incessant gossip. She really did not care about the personal lives of people she didn't know. Especially someone who was her superior. She just replied with a "mm-hm" and tried to focus back on her notes when she heard her name.

"Miss Bella Swan?" asked Carlisle.

"Yes?" She asked, wondering what she has just missed due to Jessica's distraction.

"I was just saying how we were welcoming one more promising designer to our firm." He said with a smile in his eyes.

"Oh, thank you. I'm glad to be apart of the team." A rush of blood ran to Bella's cheek's as the CEO had called her out in a conference room full of people she did not know.

"You are going to be working with Emmett's group with some of the national accounts. I hear you have a background working with several prestigious banks, who were very please with the work you did for them." Carlisle continued.

Bella looked over to the man seated to the right of Carlisle who gave her a friendly wave. From the seated position Bella could see that Emmett was a man of large stature. His shoulders were thick, wide and very muscular from what she could tell beneath his dress shirt. He had a bright face and twinkling smile with a dimple on his left cheek. He gave Bella a quick wink.

"You and me are going to have some good times Bella." He laughed.

Bella gave him a nod, still blushing beet red.

"Well, that's all we have today. Thank you everyone for you time." concluded Carlisle. Immediately everyone stood and began to file out of the conference room. Bella gathered her things and straightened out her skirt with her hand as she stood. With her head down she tried to quickly get to her desk without anyone noticing her.

With a sigh Bella sat down at her desk. Trying to forget about being called out for not paying attention during her first meeting. Biting on her bottom lip, Bella finished unpacking her things and setting up her desk. She heard her phone vibrate on her desk, and flipped it open.

"Talked to Rosalie. Girl's night 2night! Meet us at Martini Park at 7! -Alice"

"Sounds good. See you then. Need a drink bad. Already managed to embarrass myself before noon. –B" Bella typed into her phone and set it down right as it buzzed again.

"What? Tell me! -Alice"

"Nvrmind. Tell you tonight. Got to get back to work -B"

"There's a strict no personal cell phone use policy while at work, Bella." Bella jumped in her seat and spun in her chair to see Emmett leaning against her desk, one arm perched on the wall of her workstation and his legs crossed at the ankle.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know. It was just my girlfriend checking up on me for my first day." Bella said nervously.

"Girlfriend huh?" Emmett asked arching his eyebrow; he took in Bella's desk, which was now displaying a few personal mementos and pictures of her and some friends.

"Ah, no. Wait, I meant my friend, who is a girl. We live together. I mean- she's my roommate. I mean-" Bella stumbled to find her words, "I'm not a lesbian!" She blurted out, quickly covering her mouth with her hand with the shock of what she just said.

"Ha ha, I'm just messing with you Swan. We don't care about phones or sexual orientation for that matter. Heck, we are designers. All we care about is if you get your work done and done well." he chuckled. "You ran off without me getting to talk to you about some of projects we will be working on."

"Oh, sorry."

"No worries. Well, it's going to take some time to get you fully integrated into all the accounts we have and what we have going on at the time. So let's set up a meeting to sit down and go over things some time this week. Check my calendar and send me an invite. In the meantime, I'm going to have you start doing some research for a design presentation we have next week. It's a big client and we really want to blow them out of the water." He told her.

"It's a new Internet company and they are going to be looking to lease about 100,000 square feet of office space in several of the buildings downtown. We need to get together some ideas for their space, and do some test fits in the different buildings to see where they are best suited. I'll email you the info on the company so you can get cracking." He said with a wide smile and a wink.

"Sounds great. I'll get right on it." Bella replied.

"Perfect. I know we're going to be a great team. I'll introduce you to the rest of the group later." Said Emmett as he glanced down at his blackberry and started to walk down the hallway. "I'll be back around noon to grab you for your first mentoring lunch. Got to run."

Bella turned back to her computer and began to work on the tasks assigned to her. She was excited to get cracking and was determined to do a great job on her first assignment.

*********

As soon as his plane hit the runway Edward was itching to turn on his phone. He waited until the flight attendant gave the word and started flipping through his emails. He had a lot of work to catch up on and was anxious to get to the office.

Edward straightened out his charcoal gray suit and raked his hands through his bronze hair to fix the messy disarrayed look he had perfected over years of working long hours. He glanced down at his Rolex to check the time; he would be able to make the kick off meeting this afternoon for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid meeting if he hurried. Luckily, he was seated in first class and only had a carry on.

The plane taxied into the gate and Edward gathered his things. Most of his personal belongings were already waiting for him at his apartment. Because he knew he would only be in Seattle for a short period of time, he had rented a fully furnished apartment and brought only clothes with him when he moved west. Edward had already fed-ex'd his clothes to back his apartment in the Gold Coast.

He rushed off the plane and through O'Hare airport to find his driver waiting for him. Hopping in the backseat, Edward continued the endless task for going through his inbox and replying to emails that needed immediate attention. It had been a long time since he was in Chicago, he thought to himself. Even though his family was here, he had hard time coming back after everything that had happened.

This time will be different. Edward thought to himself. Edward had decided that he was going to be completely focused on work and would do his father, the company, and the city of Chicago proud with this project.

The car slowed as it approached the office on Madison Avenue. Edward thanked his driver as he jumped out of the car and made his way to the building lobby. He flashed his security pass to the security guard at the front desk and nodded.

"Edward!" said the old man. "Good to have you back."

"Thanks Al. It's nice to be back in the windy city." He said as he headed down to the bank of elevators that would bring him up to his office. Glancing down at his watch he changed his mind and decided that he wouldn't have time to stop in his office before the meeting, so he hit the button for the twenty-second floor. Finally reaching his destination, he took long strides down the hall. Edward approached the reception area and yanked the door open.

"Mr. Cullen. You're back? Welcome back." Said the receptionist as she quickly straightened her back and fixed her hair.

"Thanks Denise." Replied Edward, not making eye contact with one of the girls he was hoping to avoid as much as possible.

He headed down the hall to the main conference room and turned the corner when something soft and small collided his chest and then something wet.

"Shit!" he cried. Looking down at his shirt, which was now covered in coffee. He then noticed a small brunette with large brown eyes was on the floor, also covered in coffee with empty cup in her hand. "You couldn't watch where you're going?" The girl got to her feet quickly, he noticed how her face was bright red and that her white blouse was now revealing more than it should with wet coffee across her chest.

"I'm so sorry, I should have watched where I was going. Let me grab a paper towel for you." Said the girl as she turned to head to the break room.

"No, just forget it. I'm already late." He said with a huff. Edward stepped around the girl leaving her in his wake and headed to the conference room with a coffee stained shirt and a bad attitude.

***

Thanks for reading this! I know it's a bit of a cliff hanger, but I promise the story will be worth sticking with :)

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