Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009
"Okay, Ms. Swan. Here are the papers. Take a few minutes to look them over before you sign. Once you've signed them, just knock on the glass to get my attention, and I'll come back in to give you the keys and make copies of the papers." Victoria, the realtor, smiled happily at me and then walked out of the conference room to give me the privacy I needed.
I started reading, but soon, my mind began to wonder to the previous Tuesday, thinking of the business I was about to sign for and buy.
Angela and I had been walking around downtown Port Angeles for an hour when I saw it. THE place. It was small, but not too tiny, fronted with bricks that looked beautifully aged, and had huge glass windows. The trim needed a paint job, and I would definitely want to change the awning, but... "Ang, this is it! Look at how much space is inside! There are tons of books already, so I won't have to do much stocking before opening. I'd wanna rearrange the shelves, but ohhh, hardwood floors and everything!" I was really wishing the store was open so I could go in and look around.
I knew my voice had gotten high and loud when Angela laughed and covered her ears. "It looks great, Bella! The realtor's name and number are right here. Why don't you call and see if you can have someone come now to let us in so we can look around? I have a couple of hours still before I have to meet Ben for lunch, so I'm good until then."
I nodded even as I was pulling my cell out of my pocket. After dialing the number, I put the phone to my ear.
"Hello, this is Victoria. How may I help you?" She sounded as beautiful on the phone as she looked on the poster in the window, with an almost svelte quality to her voice.
"Hi. My name is Bella Swan. I'm calling about the bookstore for sale on Main Street. I'm wondering if there's any way I can get you or someone to meet me over here as soon as possible to look inside and ask some questions." I was so nervous that it felt like my stomach was doing somersaults, and I fervently hoped I sounded more confident than I felt.
"Actually, right now would be perfect, Ms. Swan. I don't have another appointment until after lunch, and it's right near there. I'll meet you there in about ten minutes, if that's all right?"
I nodded to Angela and said, "That would be great, Victoria. Thank you. See you in a bit."
I hung up and squealed. "She'll be here in ten. Wanna sit on the bench over there?" I pointed to a pretty, green metal bench sitting between "my" building and the one next to it, a few feet in front of a set of stairs leading up to a large landing connecting the two buildings.
Angela nodded, and we made our way over, sitting down to chat while we waited.
I shook myself out of my thoughts, quickly read over the rest of the papers, and then signed my name and initials on the dotted lines. Turning, I knocked on the window softly to get Victoria's attention. She smiled and began walking toward the conference room, so I turned back to the table.
"Get them all signed?" Victoria's red hair hung loosely around her shoulders in soft curls, and she smiled as she reached for the papers and the cashier's check I'd laid out on the table.
I smiled in return. "I did. The check for the remainder is there as well, minus the down payment that I gave you last week."
"Excellent." She grabbed a pen, signed a few pages, and then said, "Let me go make some copies for you, and then you're all set." She turned to leave the room and then quickly turned back. "Oh! I can go ahead and give you these." Pulling a set of keys out of her pocket, she placed them on the table in front of me before leaving the room.
I picked them up and grinned, getting lost in my thoughts again.
Angela and I had been talking about her job and boyfriend Ben for just under ten minutes when a dark green SUV pulled up to the curb and parked. One of the most gorgeous women I'd ever seen got out, carrying a briefcase. The red hair and beautiful features were clearly the woman from the poster. She also looked a little...dangerous wasn't the right word, but definitely like someone you didn't want to cross. I'd met plenty of women like her in college, but from the phone call a few minutes ago, she'd sounded friendly enough, so I wasn't too worried.
"Hi, I'm Victoria, obviously," she said, laughing and pointing at the poster in the window of the store. "Which one of you is Ms. Swan?"
I smiled and reached out a hand. "That would be me," I confessed. "Please, call me Bella. This is my friend Angela."
Victoria shook our hands and then walked over to the door, with us following behind her. As she unlocked the door and led us inside, she said, "The owner is an elderly man who's moving to California to live near his children since his wife died not long ago. He's anxious to sell, so he's selling this as is. Are you thinking of keeping it a bookstore or changing it to something else?"
I was already looking around when I answered. "Definitely keeping it as a bookstore. I thought I was gonna have to find an empty property and start from the ground up, but this is wonderful!"
"Follow me," Victoria said. "There are a few other things you should see." She led us to a door marked "Private" at the back of the store. "This is the storage room. There are no windows in here, so it gets a little stuffy, but there are outlets so you can plug in a fan if you're back here doing inventory or whatever."
We took a quick glance around at the decently sized storage room with multiple sets of shelves—about half full of books—and then followed her back out.
"Now for the best parts," she said, smiling.
She led us behind the counter and through another door also marked "Private." We walked into a rather large office. There was a desk and file cabinet, but nothing else in the room. A small window was up a bit high on one wall, big enough to let in light, but high enough for privacy.
"The window does open, allowing you to get some air."
She twisted a thin plastic rod, and the window creaked open a bit. It looked like one of those tacky-looking things that came with window blinds, but it was a lot better than having to use a ladder every time you wanted to open or close the window, I supposed.
"This is a huge office space, Bells," Angela said, smiling at me.
I nodded, imagining everything I could put into this room.
"If you'll notice, there's another door here. It leads up to a living space above the store. You might have noticed outside that this building and the next share a staircase that leads up to a balcony. There's a door there that leads straight into the living room of the apartment."
I immediately perked up. I'd been staying with Angela and Ben until I found something of my own, but this would be perfect.
When Victoria walked back into the conference room, I was once again pulled from my thoughts.
"Here you go, Bella. Your copies of everything. The store is officially yours. Congratulations, and good luck!"
I grinned. "Thank you so much for all your help, Victoria. Come by and see me once I reopen and get a book on the house."
She smiled and nodded as I grabbed my new keys and the papers, calling goodbye as I left the office.
I calmly walked to my car—a fully-loaded, beautiful blue brand new Volvo C30, which I'd bought a few weeks before moving from Seattle to Port Angeles. Climbing inside, I shut the door, tossed the papers and keys into the passenger seat, and giggled. Two minutes later, the giggle had turned into a screaming fit of excitement, complete with flailing limbs, shaking head, and bouncing body. I finally had what I'd been dreaming about since I was six years old and started playing bookstore, making my mom come and "buy" my books.
I picked up the phone and dialed a number I knew by heart.
"Hello?" My dad's gruff voice made me miss him instantly.
"Hi, Dad. Guess what?" I bounced in my seat a little again, unable to contain my excitement.
"Hey, kid! I have no idea. What?"
"I closed on the store today. I have the papers and keys with me now." I couldn't stop the grin that I knew reached from ear to ear.
"That's terrific, Bells! Hey, Sue! Bella got the store!" My dad had finally remarried just before I turned twenty, after having been divorced from my mom for almost eighteen years. "Sue says congratulations, and if you need help, just let her know. That goes for both of us." He paused, and when he started speaking again, his voice was softer and a little bit more gravelly than before. "Sweetie, your mom would be so proud of you. Phil, too, I'm sure. We're all proud of you."
I felt my eyes fill with tears and swiped at them before replying. "Thanks, Dad. I gotta go tell Angela and Ben and start shopping for what I need. I'll let you know, but if you could keep this Saturday free, we could probably use your help moving some furniture in."
"Sure thing, Bella. Call me. And uh, I love you."
I smiled again. Those words weren't easy for him to say, so they meant a lot. "Love you, too. Talk to you again soon." I hung up and took a deep breath to clear my head.
I plugged the phone in, put on my Bluetooth ear piece, and then dialed Angela's cell phone, knowing she was still at work. As it rang, I started the car and drove out of the parking lot toward my new store.
"Hey, Bella, what's up? Did you get it?" Angela sounded almost as nervous and excited as I'd felt while waiting to sign the papers.
"I did! It's all mine. You and I will need to go shopping this week for office and apartment furniture, and then the three of us plus my dad can move it all in this weekend. By this time next week, you and Ben will have your apartment back!"
"Sweetie, that's terrific! But you know Ben and I have loved having you around."
I knew it, but it was nice to hear anyway.
"Are you headed there now?"
"Yeah, I just pulled up, actually. I'm just gonna take the realtor's poster out of the window and sit there making a list of things I need to buy, but I should be home in time to make dinner before you guys get home."
"Okay, have fun. I'll pick up some wine on the way home so we can celebrate tonight. See you later!"
I turned off the car. "Bye, Ang," I said before clicking the phone off and stuffing it into my pocket.
I grabbed the keys and paperwork and then opened the trunk to grab the folding chair, notepad, and pen I'd brought with me, since there was a desk but no chair in the office. I also grabbed the roll of blank newspaper, tape, and marker I planned to use to cover the windows with until I reopened. Carrying my load of stuff, I walked toward the store and tripped over the curb. Luckily, I caught my balance before I could actually fall. Looking around with embarrassment, I was glad when I didn't see anyone around to notice the latest appearance of Klutzy Bella. I didn't trip very often anymore—I'd grown out of that stage when I hit puberty—but when I did, I tended to do it spectacularly.
I unlocked the door, grinned, and giggled again as I stepped over the threshold. I locked the door behind me and then grabbed the poster from the window before setting everything down on the counter and floor.
The first thing I did was unroll enough of the paper to cover the windows and write a note in big letters in the center. Then I taped it up all across the windows, using the chair to stand on to tape it at the top.
I then headed into the office to start making my list. Once I was finished in the office, I ran upstairs to take another look at the apartment. There were already appliances, but I would need all the bedroom and living room furniture, as well as a small kitchen table and chairs for the eat-in kitchen. There were hookups for a washer and dryer, but I'd have to get both of those, too. Linens, curtains, and other decor made their way onto the list that suddenly looked incredibly long. I absolutely hated shopping, but I had a feeling that this trip wouldn't make me nearly as unhappy or bored as I normally got when friends tried to lure me to the mall.
I looked at my watch and realized that if I wanted dinner to be ready by the time Ang and Ben got home, I'd have to hustle. I flipped off all the lights, grabbed the list, the paperwork from the realtor, and the keys, and then locked the door and headed home.
Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
"Dude, what's hangin' in the land of music, bro?"
I swore I could've heard Emmett's booming voice a few miles away. From behind the counter, it sounded incredibly loud, not to mention annoying.
I rolled my eyes. "You're just lucky I don't have any customers at the moment, man. You'd scare 'em all away!" I loved my brother, but he was huge, with a voice to match. To a stranger, he might look a little worrisome.
"Yeah, yeah. Sorry!" He turned it down a couple of notches—not quite far enough for my taste, but I'd take what I could get. "Here's your lunch, Eddie. I ran to pick Rosie up something since she's in the middle of taking apart an engine and figured you wouldn't wanna close up over lunch to go grab something."
"Thanks, Em. Don't call me Eddie." I glared at him during the last statement, but as usual, it flew right over his head. "How is my beautiful sister-in-law?" I grabbed the bag and pulled out the fries and hamburger, noticing it was pretty rare, just the way I liked it.
He grinned. "She's great. I never get tired of seeing her covered in sweat and grease, her tight ass as she bends over to look under the hood. Just makes me wanna grab on and—"
I interrupted him. "Please, for my sanity, I do not need those images in my head!" I shuddered, wishing I could scrub the thoughts of my brother and his still fairly new bride from my mind.
"Whatever, dude. You need a girl; then you wouldn't be so uptight about it all." He pulled out his phone and started dialing.
I thought about that while he started talking to his wife on the phone. Sure, it'd been a while since I'd dated. My last girlfriend, Tanya, and I had been pretty serious in college, but we'd broken up our junior year when I found out she'd been cheating on me with multiple guys for at least a year. I'd dreaded going in to get tested, but thankfully, all my blood work and other tests were clean. I hadn't felt like just dating random girls after that. I was waiting for that one special girl that would capture my heart from the beginning. I had my doubts that she was out there, but my little sister swore she is and that I'll meet her one day soon.
I felt a blow to my shoulder and looked up to find Emmett's grinning face. "What the fuck?" I asked, rubbing the spot that was now throbbing a bit.
"Dude, I've been calling your name for like a minute. You were so spaced out that I doubt you'd have noticed if a pack of wolves had been breathing down your neck."
I chuckled. "Sorry, I was thinking about something."
"Obviously. Come over here to the window and check out the cuties sitting out on the bench. They were looking at the building next door, and now they're just talking, but they keep looking up and down the street, like they're waiting for someone."
Walking over to stand by Emmett in the corner, I had a decent view of the little bench outside my store. He was right. They were obviously friends, as they looked completely relaxed and at ease with each other. I couldn't take my eyes off one of the women.
"She's beautiful," I whispered, whether to Emmett or myself, I wasn't sure.
Her long, brown hair fell in soft waves around her shoulders, her skin was a pale cream, and I could just picture her looking up from under her lashes with those beautiful brown doe eyes. But what got me the most was her perfect mouth. She wasn't wearing any makeup that I could tell. Her lips were just the right shade of reddish-pink, and when she smiled, I felt my heart stop.
As we watched, an SUV pulled up to the curb and a woman got out. "Hey, isn't she that realtor who has the poster up next door?" Emmett hadn't moved from beside me, and his voice startled me out of my trance.
"Uh, yeah, I think so," I said, not taking my eyes off the beautiful young woman. She'd stood up to greet the new arrival, offering her hand to shake before they turned and walked toward the bookstore next door and out of my view.
"Okay, bro. I gotta go take Rosie her food before she goes all vampire on me and eats all our employees for lunch. Good luck on getting a hot new neighbor!" He chuckled as I shook my head and grinned, and then he headed out the back, where he'd parked his jeep.
"See ya, Em. Tell Rose I said hi and to be sure to keep you in line." I knew if anyone could, it would be his wife. She may have looked like a supermodel—tall, beautiful, with a pretty white smile—but she had a nasty right hook and a fierce temper that we'd all been on the receiving end of at one point or another.
He flipped me off just before the door closed behind him.
My mind soon became diverted as customers wanting pianos, guitars, sheet music, and more came in for the next few hours. By the time I finally had a break, the store next door was empty again. Ah well. She was way too good for me anyway.
I sat down at the piano and let my fingers trail lightly over the keys. A melody was beginning to form in my head, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to question why. Instead, I began to play, stopping every now and then to jot some notes down on the composition notebook I kept with me. By the time my next customer came in, I'd written almost an entire piece.
After flipping Edward the bird, I walked to the jeep and drove back to the shop. Rose came into the office and washed her hands at the sink, kissing the top of my head as she went by. "Hey, Rosie. Guess who has a new crush?"
She flicked a few drops of water in my direction. "They get a hot, new drive-through girl at McDonald's that I need to worry about hunting down to kick her ass?"
"Nah, you know me. I'm a one-woman man, babe. Little Eddie has a crush on a new chick that was looking at the bookstore next to his building." I grabbed my burger and started eating, nearly biting my tongue when she smacked me on the back of the head. "Ow! What was that for?"
She leveled me with a look while pulling out the burger I'd gotten for her. "How many times have I said we're women, ladies—or hell, even girls—and not baby chickens?"
I grimaced. "Right, sorry." She winked, and I knew I was out of the doghouse. "So anyway, this, uh, young woman and her friend met the realtor to look at the bookstore next to Eddie, and he's got a major crush already. He didn't have to tell me or anything. I could tell by the way he looked at her. She was cute. Not my type, but I could tell he was definitely interested."
"Hmm, will be fun to see how he handles it if she ends up buying the place," Rose mused before taking a bite of her lunch.
"You think our little Eddie will finally get a girlfriend?" I asked her, grinning.
"I have to admit that it would be nice," she said, smiling. "I know he's been feeling out of place sometimes when we all get together. He feels like a fifth wheel, even though we've all tried hard not to make him feel like that."
I nodded, frowning. He'd been a bit of a reclusive ever since that skank in college. Maybe Brown Eyes would be just what he needed.
We finished our lunch and then went back into the garage. Rose started back to work on the Mustang she'd been tinkering with all morning, and I went out to pull a car into place. It needed some work done on the engine, so thoughts of Edward and his possible new girl left my head as I got to work.