A/N: OMG… it's a chapter! *gasps* I am so sorry for the delay, guys! To be honest, I've actually had a large portion of this chapter written for quite a while *cough* several months *cough*, but I hit a writing block that left me stagnant for even longer. No worries, this story will be completed. With this chapter, we're about ½ done, as I envision this story to be 13-15 chapters…

Special thanks to Lezlee for stepping in as beta on this one.

Disclaimer: Twilight and all of its characters, dialog, situations, etc. belong to Stephenie Meyer. I've just plucked them from their protected little world and plopped them down in the middle of a bit more… worldly setting. Here they get to play (and curse) a bit more. Heehee.

Chapter 7 Playlist: Days Go By (Dirty Vegas), Sadeness Part I (Enigma), Burn (Sister Machine Gun), My Memory is Back (Jamnesia)


* * * * * Random Encounters * * * * *

You are still a whisper on my lips
A feeling at my fingertips
That's pulling at my skin
You leave me when I'm at my worst
Feeling as if I've been cursed
Bitter cold within

Days go by and still I think of you…

-Days Go By, Dirty Vegas


Edward

Saturday, June 13, 2009

9am

Sitting at my desk, I found myself staring at the same fucking piece of paper that I had been staring at for the past hour. It was an important document concerning our newest club, Dawn, but I was unable to focus on it, or the legal matter to which it pertained. Unfortunately, that seemed to be a recurring problem lately; I had been unable to focus on anything.

Except Bella.

I'd never been fixated on anyone the way that I'd obsessed over Bella for the past five weeks, and I didn't really know what my deal was. Hell… Maybe it was the fact that I had no fucking clue who she was. Or possibly the fact that she had made no effort to contact me at all, a situation I was completely unfamiliar with—in the past, most of the women I'd gone home with had made an effort to turn an evening of sex into something more, which was really fucking annoying.

But now, on the other side of it… Well, I really wished that she would call.

Fuck.

I slammed my fist against my desk in frustration and shook my head in irritated disgust.

What the hell is wrong with me?

My work was suffering. I'd never had problems focusing before—my work was my life—but now I was completely scatterbrained. Or maybe I was mind-fucked. Fuck, I don't know. Either way, it wasn't good.

My lack of focus was likely related to the fact that I couldn't sleep. What little sleep I did manage to get was interrupted by restless dreams that were focused on one thing, and one thing only: sex with Bella. Instead of fading over time, the memories preserved in those dreams had only intensified; I awoke each morning with a raging hard-on and blue balls that required immediate attention. Over the last month, I'd spent more time stroking the one-eyed snake than I ever had before.

Shaking my head, I realized I was still staring at the same fucking piece of paper. But instead of words, I saw silky mahogany hair, pale ivory skin and molten chocolate-colored eyes. That hair was fanned across my pillow, the ivory limbs were tangled in my sheets, and the eyes were half-closed and rolled back in a moment of ecstasy.

I actually groaned when the phone rang, pulling me out of my reverie. I didn't know if I was thankful for or irritated by the distraction. But I was the only one here, so I needed to answer.

"Twilight," I snapped into the receiver. Then I softened my tone. "This is Edward. How can I help you."

"Hey, Edward, this is Marcus." Marcus was the manager of one of our other clubs, New Moon.

"Is Emmett around?"

"Not today," I replied. "Something I can help you with?"

"Actually, yeah. I should probably talk to you about this anyway. Look... Alistair just called in sick. He won't be able to play tonight. And Liam already has a gig scheduled at another club."

Alistair and Liam were two of our pianists. The back-up pianists. Alistair was scheduled to play tonight because Randall, one of our regular players, was out of town.

"What you want to do?" Marcus asked. "You gonna play?"

I pinched the bridge of my nose and sighed heavily. I was the last-resort, back-up player. However, I was scouting bands with Tanya tonight. But even if I didn't have plans, I had no desire to play.

"I'm not sure I can tonight."

"What should I do, then?"

I sighed again as I dropped my hand and tilted my head up to the ceiling. "Don't worry, Marcus. I'll figure something out."

I huffed as I hung up the phone. For a moment, I was lost for thought. I was irritated as fuck because I'd had plans to scout this particular band for over a month. Not to mention, I wasn't fucking kidding when I mentioned earlier that I really didn't want to play. I hated being the center of attention.

Ironic, isn't it?

I smiled when the answer finally came to me: we had recently hired a new bartender who claimed to have piano experience.

Walking over to the filing cabinet that contained all our personnel files, I pulled the folder in question. Jasper Whitlock was new to L.A., an Iraqi war vet who hailed from Texas. He'd been hired at Eclipse, our live music venue because he had listed experience with music—both piano and guitar. He tended bar, but he also participated in the open-mic night that occurred every Wednesday night at that particular club. I hadn't heard him play yet, but feedback over the past month had been very positive.

I picked up the phone and dialed the contact number listed on the application.

An hour later, the anxiety I'd experienced when Marcus had first called was put to rest, and I'd found something other than Bella upon which to concentrate. I was sitting at the bar at New Moon, listening to Jasper play, and he was good. Really good. He played any request I threw at him, and he played it fucking brilliantly. When I asked him to sing, I knew that I'd found a goldmine.

The talent scout in me knew that we likely wouldn't hold onto him for long. Millions of people poured into L.A. each year in pursuit of their Hollywood dreams, whether they be music or movies. Ninety-nine point nine percent of those dreamers didn't make it, didn't have what it takes.

Jasper did.

I'd have to see how he did in front of an audience, not to mention playing with someone else, but the club manager in me was already eager to ask him to join our piano rotation.

The agent in me was trying to figure out for what genre of music I could package him and which record label would be the best fit.

When the impromptu try-out was over, I asked Jasper to be here at ten so that he and Garrett would be able to meet and possibly practice for a bit before the set started at ten-thirty. We shook hands and departed the club.

~/~

Shortly after ten o'clock that evening, Tanya and I exited the small, underground club where we had gone to listen to a few obscure bands. We were dressed overly-casual in order to avoid recognition; I was wearing jeans and a plain, gray T-shirt, a baseball cap and an over-sized pair of Ray Ban's. The fact that we escaped without anyone attempting to talk to us made me believe that we had succeeded in our covert mission.

She'd been quiet all night, which wasn't normal for Tanya. Usually, she was over-exuberant and flirty—even with me—always pushing the limits. But tonight, she had been withdrawn and looked worried. In an attempt to draw her out, I asked her about the bands. I'd already made my decision, but I was interested in determining if we were on the same page, professionally.

"So… What'd you think?"

"Well, I know that they have a loyal local following, but that first band sucked. And the name? Spank Your Monkey? Please! Who'd want to spank their monkey to that shit?" She rolled her eyes, and I chuckled in response. "But the second one wasn't bad. Their music was solid. With a little repackaging, and a new songwriter, we could probably market them as an Indie rock group."

The second band was the one I had gone to hear. I nodded at her assessment; it mirrored my own. However, she took it one step further—I hadn't thought about a new writer, but once she suggested it, I knew it was the element I'd been missing. I flung my arm around her shoulder as we strolled down the street, giving her a reassuring hug. Tanya really was proving to have a knack for the music business, and I was really fucking glad that her obvious ear for talent would eliminate the accusations of nepotism when I brought her onboard full-time after her internship was complete.

We'd just hailed a cab when my stomach growled loudly. I hadn't taken the time to eat prior to meeting her earlier, and my body was letting me know that I was fucking starved.

"You hungry?" she asked with a laugh.

"I could eat," I replied with a small chuckle. "Wanna grab a bite?"

"What you got in mind?"

"Somewhere close to New Moon—I really need to head over there later, see how the new guy is doing. I'd like to get your opinion on him, as well. There's an Italian place just around the corner; I've been there once or twice. It's pretty good."

"Sounds good," she replied. But the sad look was back in her eye, and it worried me a bit.

Ten minutes later, the cab stopped in front of the restaurant. It was an upscale place, and at first, I worried that we might be underdressed in our casual attire. But as soon as we arrived at the hostess stand, we were immediately attended to—I had removed my glasses, and in the well-lit lobby, it only took a moment for recognition to flash on her face.

"Welcome to Il Palio, Mr. Cullen. Will you need a table for two tonight?" she asked as her eyes flicked between Tanya and me.

"Yes, please. Somewhere out of the way, if possible…"

I slipped her bill, and she flushed when our hands brushed. Then she nodded.

"Let me see what I can do…"

In no time we were seated at a table for two in a quiet corner of the restaurant. It was the perfect setting for a quiet conversation.

"So, T… Want to tell me what's going on?"

"What?" she asked, her head snapping up and her eyes meeting my own.

"You're quiet tonight. That's not normal. So, what's bugging you?"

"Uh…" she hedged, her gaze falling to her hands, which were twisted together on the table. I continued to stare at her, and eventually, she huffed. "Damn… you know me too well."

I chuckled. "You're family, T. Of course I know you. In fact, I probably know more than you realize…"

Her eyes rose once more to mine. She looked agonized at my admission.

"Fuck," she whispered. "Emmett told you, didn't he?"

I reached out to squeeze her fingers gently and nodded. "He's family, too…"

"Oh, Edward… I like him so much. I know I said no strings, and I meant it at the time, but I can't help what I feel… And after that night, I feel so much more than I ever thought I would."

She wrapped her fingers around mine tightly and looked at me with tremulous eyes. Then she spilled her soul. After listening patiently for several minutes, I shook my head ruefully at Tanya's depressed ramblings. Jesus… were all women this fucking neurotic and crazy? She herself admitted that Emmett had spelled everything out prior to fucking her, told her explicitly that he was not looking for a relationship. Yet she was still hoping that he would change his mind?

Women… who the fuck understood anything they did?

Thankfully my conversation with Tanya was interrupted when our waitress arrived at our table.

"Hi guys, my name is Bella, and I'll be—"

I turned away from my cousin and found myself staring into the brown eyes of the enigma for whom I had spent the last five weeks searching. If I hadn't already been sitting, I would have needed to, because all of a sudden it felt as if the world had dropped out from beneath my fucking feet. I wasn't alone in my shock; her mouth was moving, but no words were coming out. Her eyes shifted restlessly, and the corners pinched into a frown when she looked down at the table.

Following her angry gaze, I looked down to find my fingers wrapped around Tanya's. Realizing immediately what she must be thinking, I snatched my hands away, but it was too fucking late; the damage had obviously been done. I needed to explain, but I still wasn't past the shock of running into her like this.

"Bella?" I asked.

My voice sounded strangely hesitant to my own ears, which bothered me. I was never uncertain when it came to women.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

Before I registered what was happening, she was backing away from the table. Her head shook in denial and her face was deathly pale—all color had drained from her cheeks at our first eye-contact. With each backwards step that she took, my brain became even more confused about what I should do. But I knew I couldn't lose her.

Not again.

I choked her name out once more, my tone begging her to stay. "Bella!"

Her response was not the one I was looking for.

"I can't do this…" she whispered agitatedly.

Without conscious thought, I rose to my feet and reached toward—for—her. A look of unrestrained longing washed across her face as she gazed back at me for a moment. Then her eyes slid to the side and a look of utter disappointment displaced the hopeful expression on her face. Before I could say or do a fucking thing, she whirled around and ran from the table like a bat out of hell.

She might not want to do this, but it was all I had been longing for over the past five weeks. She was all that I had thought about. To be this close…

Kicking myself back into action, I shoved my chair back so that I could move from the table. Unfortunately, I used a little too much force, and it fell over, clattering loudly to the floor. Ignoring the scene that I was creating, I made to follow her. But Tanya's shocked voice stopped me.

"Edward? What the hell are you doing?"

I halted and turned to look at her with what I feared were haunted eyes.

"Wait… Do you know her?" she asked, incredulously.

I didn't answer, but I guess I didn't need to. My expression must have said it all, because her eyes widened in surprise, and a smile tugged at the corner of her lips. She cocked her head to the side, a knowing look settling on her features.

"Yes, you do," she stated. She grinned eagerly, evilly, templing her fingers in front of her face. She cocked her eyebrows. "The question is, how well do you know her?"

I didn't want to answer that question. I fucking wanted to follow Bella, but I knew that I had missed my opportunity. So, instead, I leaned down and righted the chair that I had knocked over. As soon as I sat down, the attention from nearby tables—which had been trained on me—receded as patrons returned to their meals, realizing the show was over. Within seconds, everything was as it had been prior to Bella's arrival at our table. Well, not everything… There was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I'd never before experienced—an uncomfortable hollowness that left me feeling unsettled. I didn't like it. Not one fucking bit.

I huffed out an irritated breath and shoved a hand into my hair, tugging on it roughly. Tanya's chuckle snapped me back into reality.

"Holy shit, Edward! Do you know know her? Like in the biblical sense of the word?"

I did know her. In the exact fucking sense that Tanya was implying. And hearing her say it like that sent me right back to that night, right back to our final encounter of that night—the encounter that had been haunting me for weeks. The one that I refused to fucking think about. But seeing Bella tonight had triggered something deep within me, and this time I couldn't prevent the memories from rushing in…

~/~

I awoke slowly, for a moment simultaneously comforted and confused by the warmth that surrounded me. My nose twitched, and I opened my eyes to find my head buried in her hair. I took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of strawberries and… sex—the scents I would forever associate with Bella. When I squeezed my arms slightly, she sighed and pushed back more snugly against my chest. My fingers traced absent designs on her arms, my touch light enough to draw chills and cause her to shiver in response.

Suddenly, she pulled away from me. For a moment, I felt absolutely fucking bereft—my empty arms actually ached. But then she flipped to face me, scooting closer so that our thighs and chests touched. She raised her hands to my face and brushed her thumb against my stubbled cheek.

We didn't talk. Hell, at that point, we didn't have to. Every emotion was evident on her overly-expressive face and in her eyes—her hopes and fears, her desire, all laid out for me to see. I knew that my expressions were similar, that I was feeling everything she was. But, shit. This was so more than just a desire to be with her... It was a deep-seated need.

I needed to possess her. Mind and body. No holds barred.

I wasn't the only one with a need. Her fingers burned as they touched me—ghosting up my side, across my chest, over my shoulder. It was like a flame was ignited wherever she touched me, scorching my skin and causing me to ache with anticipation. Sucking in a strangled breath, my eyes slid shut just as her fingers slipped into my hair.

She tugged. Hard. I couldn't control the groan that rumbled through my chest at the sensations that crashed through my body as her fingers scratched my scalp.

Unable to remain an inactive participant any longer, I dropped a hand to her hip, stroking softly. With unsteady fingers, I worshipped her perfect body, my hand sweeping from waist to chest to neck, finally cupping her cheek and pulling her face to mine.

The kiss was gentle and reverent, yet at the same time explosive and tumultuous; it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. She moaned softly and pressed herself against me, shoving her tongue into my mouth, searching for more. Electric awareness shot straight from my lips to my groin, and in seconds, my rock-hard cock was poking her hip. My fingers dug into the soft flesh of her hip in an attempt to haul her even closer to me.

Instead, she rolled onto her back. I followed, wanting nothing more than to be with her. To be in her. Unable to control myself, I rubbed my cock against her hot, wet pussy. She whimpered and bucked her hips against me, causing me to hiss at the pleasurable sensation of my tip sliding in. I wanted nothing more than to plunge forward and lose myself in her completely, but I needed to draw it out just a little while longer. So I pulled back and slid my length between her slick lips, rocking gently. She gasped against my mouth, and I breathed that strangled sound in, savoring it on my tongue.

Sliding my hands down her arms, I clasped her fingers and guided her arms above her head. Only when she was stretched out fully beneath me, when I could feel every inch of our skin touching, and when the head of my cock was once again poised against the entryway to heaven, did I spear her with my desperate stare. Almost immediately, her head dipped in acknowledgement of my silent question. Her body shifted slightly beneath me, opening, making herself ready. Tightening my hands around hers and never looking away from her awe-struck gaze, I pushed forward, filling her.

"Yes."

"Oh, God, yes…"

She was hot and tight and… home. Pumping slowly, I filled her again and again. Her hips met each one of my eager thrusts, her body instinctively drawing mine in further each time. It was too much, but not enough, and soon, we were engaged in a battle of wills and bodies as we raced towards the finish line together, yet desperately attempted to hold onto each and every sensation and make it last. I needed release, but wasn't ready for the experience to be over. Not ready for the connection to be severed.

The climax, when it came, was explosive and enveloped my entire body. My fingers tingled where they held hers captive. The hot, slick, sweat-covered skin of my chest and stomach burned where it made contact with her. Anticipation pooled in my fucking gut and crept down into my balls, signifying my imminent release. I held on until she uttered a soft cry, and her body clenched around mine, hugging me close, pulling me deeper. With a groan, and one final thrust, I lost myself in her, once again giving her everything that I had, everything that I was.

~/~

The sound of Tanya's over-exuberant laugh tore me from my recollection. I was breathing hard, there and there was an incriminating and throbbing tightness in my pants.

Shit. I did not need this.

"Just wait 'til Esme gets a whiff of this…"

My mother was the epitome of high-class snobbery gone wrong. Raised with all the privileges that only old money can bring, she looked down on anyone who was not privileged like she had been. My father wasn't much better. Although he had fled the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, he had done so in order to attend a prestigious—and pretentious—medical school. Their marriage had been the union of two very fucking rich families.

Neither would look very favorably on my interest in a girl—woman—with a bourgeois background. I could imagine it now… the scorn, the suspicion, the accusations of her being a 'gold digger', which might have held some sway had Bella known who I was prior to our evening together or had she made a nuisance of herself following our encounter. But neither of those scenarios were the case here. In fact, despite all my attempts to do so, I had been unable to track her down. Not that my parents would believe that. They were too cynical.

"…Edward, the golden child, hooking up with a waitress."

She snorted in derision, and my scowl deepened. The way she emphasized the last word caused anger to burn in the pit of my stomach. It quickly reached out, fingers of flame encompassing my entire being. Unable to contain the emotion that had suddenly claimed my rationality, I exploded.

"Shut the fuck up, Tanya," I snarled.

Her head snapped up, and her mouth dropped open in a small 'o' of surprise. I had never spoken to my cousin like this before.

"It wasn't just a hook up," I insisted.

She cocked her head, and it looked as if she was going to speak, but was interrupted when another waitress arrived at our table.

"Hi! I'm Victoria, and I'll be taking care of you tonight."

My head snapped to the girl standing at the table, my brow furrowing in a confused frown, my hand falling listlessly to my lap.

"What happened to Be—the other waitress?"

I didn't know why I couldn't say her name, but for some reason, my throat just closed up when I tried to speak. The new waitress eyed me speculatively.

"Oh, something came up and she had to leave." She quickly changed the subject. "So… Can I get you guys something? Drinks? An appetizer?"

What I wanted was for her to tell me what the fuck had happened to Bella. But with the way she was watching me intently, I didn't think that would be a smart choice. I didn't want to give her any ideas, not when I didn't know what the fuck it was that I wanted… So I just sighed and asked for some Jack, straight up.

The waitress—who wasn't Bella—left. Once again, Tanya pulled me out of my reverie by continuing our conversation as if we had never been interrupted.

"Really… not just a hookup?"

I huffed in frustration and just shook my head slightly. Her frown returned.

"But you were obviously surprised to see her. Didn't you know she worked here?"

She was eyeing me in a way similar to what the waitress had done just a few moments before. I just shook my head 'no'. Embarrassed heat seeped beneath my collar at her continued stare. But even when I looked away, she didn't stop staring.

The waitress returned with our drinks. I knocked the whisky back in a single swallow and requested another before picking up the menu. I have no clue what the fuck I ordered. Even when the waitress left, I could still feel Tanya's inquisitive stare. I turned to her with a scowl.

"What?" I snapped.

She just looked at me, silently questioning. Searching Tanya's eyes, I saw curiosity and compassion, as well as the desire to help. I sighed. In all honesty, I could probably use another perspective on this thing. A female perspective. The only person I had talked to thus far was Emmett, but he wasn't really the most objective person in the world. Besides, Tanya had spilled her guts to me earlier…

So I told her.

Not all of the intimate details, but the general gist of the story. How Bella and I had met. The instant… awareness… I'd experienced. The intense connection I'd felt. How I'd been searching for her for the past month, to no avail. Sometime while I was talking, our food arrived. I couldn't recall eating any of it. All I could focus on were my recollections of Bella. Before I knew it, the plates were cleared away and I was presented with the check. A quick glance at my watch revealed that an hour had passed; it was now after eleven-thirty. Tanya excused herself to the restroom while I settled the bill.

Ten minutes later, when we were walking down the street towards New Moon, Tanya turned to me.

"It's Swan."

"Huh?" I asked, confused.

She rolled her eyes. "Bella's last name is Swan."

My feet came to a stumbling halt, and I grabbed Tanya's arm, swiveling her around so that she was looking at me.

"What?"

"And she only works at the restaurant part time while she's finishing grad school. She's starting a full-time teaching position in the fall."

I must have had a dumbstruck look on my face, because Tanya had the smuggest fucking smile I had ever seen.

"When the fuck did you find that out?"

Her smile widened, but she didn't answer. I looked at her pointedly. My scowl deepened and she laughed.

"When I went to the restroom, I might have made a stop by the hostess stand." She shrugged. "Told her that one of the waitresses looked familiar, asked if someone named Bella worked there. Of course, she asked if I meant Bella Swan, which I assured her I did. Then she spilled about grad school and the teaching post."

She shrugged again, and by the look on her face, I suspected that I still looked mind-fucked.

"I might have pushed it a little too far when I asked for her phone number, so I'm afraid you'll have to figure that one out yourself. But at least you have something to go on now."

Yes. Yes, I did.

Bella Swan.

Lost in my thoughts it took me a moment to register that Tanya had turned and resumed the trek towards the club.

"You're welcome," she tossed over her shoulder.

I hurried to catch up, sweeping her into a hug right before we reached the door.

"Thank you," I whispered fervently into her hair.

Her arms circled my waist and gave a friendly hug. "Least I could do after you listened to my bitch-fest concerning Emmett," she replied with a chuckle.

Releasing her, I pushed open the door and ushered her through. It was immediately apparent that there was a good crowd this evening; all the tables were full and it was standing-room only. We pushed our way to the main bar, where I spent a few moments chatting with the bartender, Alec.

Eventually, we made our way to the back of the building, where the pianos were situated. Jasper was dueling away with Garrett, and I had to admit that it was a great show—the two played off each other as if they had been performing together for years, Jasper's shy style and sultry southern drawl the perfect foil for Garrett's brash East Coast attitude and sharp tongue. The crowd was obviously into the concert, hooting and hollering along with the suggestive routine and lyrics.

We stood in the back of the room until the set came to a close. Garrett announced a fifteen minute break—they'd been playing for almost an hour and a half without one—and the crowd booed good-naturedly. Popular music piped into the room and the crowd settled.

Jasper and Garrett climbed down from the platform and walked together to the bar to get a drink, Jasper looking around with a frown on their trek across the room. I walked over to greet them with a handshake.

"Great show, guys. Sounds fantastic!"

"Thanks, man," Garrett replied with a grin. He turned to Jasper with a playful fist to the shoulder. "This guy has real talent. The crowd loves him. Don't mean to insult you, Ed, but he might be even better than you…"

Garrett slapped him on the back and turned to the bar to order a drink. Jasper frowned some more, and he looked a bit uncomfortable when he realized that Garrett was telling the truth; the crowd—well, the women at least—were checking him out. Then he looked to me with an even deeper frown. I wondered if he was worried about how I would interpret that last statement, and I couldn't help but laugh at the thought.

"That's just because I hate entertaining," I deflected.

I'd only played the pianos here a few times, and only then because there was no one else to fill in. And while I had to admit that it was good for business—the women poured into the club on nights that I played—I really did hate being the center of attention. I was more than happy to find another performer. I turned to Jasper.

"You do sound great," I assured. "How'd you like to play more often?"

He finally relaxed and smiled. "Really?"

"Yeah. We need another person in the rotation. Besides, anything that keeps me from having to get up there…" I nodded towards the stage.

I stretched my hand out towards him, and he shook it enthusiastically.

"I'll be sure to get you scheduled."

"Thanks!"

But his smile quickly turned back to a contemplative frown as he scanned the room. He pulled out his phone and hit a button before placing it to his ear. After about thirty seconds, his frown deepened.

"You okay, man?" I asked.

"Yeah… I just can't find my cousin. She was here with a few friends, but they disappeared about twenty minutes ago." He typed a quick text message, then continued. "One of the girls she was with looked pretty trashed. I hope they're okay."

His phone beeped, indicating an incoming message, and he glanced at the screen. "Ah… bathroom."

A few moments later, a woman appeared at his side. All I could do was stare. Logically, I knew that she was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. Long, blonde hair fell over her shoulders. She had movie-star good looks and a great rack—hey, I'm a guy, and we notice shit like that. But I didn't feel anything for her beyond appreciation of her exquisite physical beauty. That bothered me. In the past, this would have been the exact kind of girl I would have gone for. Today? All I could see were the million fucking ways that she wasn't Bella.

"Edward, this is my cousin, Rosalie Hale. Rose, this is Edward Cullen."

She turned to me as Jasper made introductions and her eyes widened in surprise. It was a reaction I was used to so I slapped on a polite smile. But when I reached out to shake her hand, her eyes narrowed into angry slits and she fucking bristled at my presence. That was a reaction I wasn't used to.

"I know who he is," she spat, refusing to take my hand.

"Nice to meet you, Rosalie," I stated, even though it was a blatant falsehood.

She scowled at me, confirming my assessment. Baffled by her obviously hostile response, I dropped my hand and quickly shifted my gaze to Tanya in order to introduce her. Since Jasper had introduced Rosalie as his cousin, I opted to do the same.

"My cousin, Tanya Denali."

The angry look disappeared from Rosalie's face, a confused frown taking its place. Unlike my offering, she accepted Tanya's outstretched hand, although the handshake was very brief and a look of discomfort crossed her face. After saying 'hello' she turned back to her cousin.

"I'm sorry Jas, but we're gonna have to go. B— uh… Alice's roommate isn't feeling well; too much to drink."

I swore that she shot me another dirty look before she left.

As soon as she departed, Tanya turned to Jasper. "You really do sound great. Do you have a band? Are you looking for an agent?"

I chuckled at Tanya's questions. She'd obviously been thinking along the same lines as I had. Jasper looked from her to me in confusion.

"She works at the agency," I told him, and Jasper nodded in understanding.

What I didn't tell him was that Tanya had one of the best ears for musical talent that I'd ever encountered. I turned to her.

"So… What do you think, cuz?"

She turned to Jasper with a smile. "Trust me, Jasper. You'll make it. Talent like yours… well, I know music—what people like—and you're it. When you decide you're ready to go public, give me a call."

She pulled out a business card and handed it to him. Jasper took it with a small frown and turned to me. I smiled and shrugged. Pocketing her card, he thanked Tanya, and taking that as a cue, she launched into a spiel about the agency and how representation worked. I chuckled at her single mindedness. Until Alec indicated that it was time for the pianos to resume.

"Speaking of the talent, let's not keep him, T," I drawled, and she flushed.

Jasper and Garrett walked back to the raised dais and I leaned back against the bar in order to take in the show. The guys soon had the crowd all riled up—singing and dancing along with them—but my attention wandered from the spectacle on the stage. Although I managed to look interested and clap at all the right places, I didn't see or hear a thing that was going on in that room. Instead, I was thinking of Bella and replaying our night together. All I saw was brown hair, brown eyes and butterfly tattoos. All I heard was the music of her moans. My fists clenched at my sides in frustration and anticipation.

I vowed that I wouldn't sleep until I tracked her down, because thoughts of Bella were driving me fucking crazy. Literally, not just metaphorically.

Fuck! I had to find her.

Otherwise, she was going to be the fucking death of me.


A/N: Next chapter will be Alice POV. We'll learn a little bit about what happened to her in New York, see some of her first interactions with Jasper, and get some more insight to Edward and Bella.

This has been a fun little story. Originally, I started this as an erotic exercise, with each chapter being a 'lemon-shot' of sorts. However, it's turned into a little bit more of an actual story than I originally envisioned, so we may not be quite so lemony over the next few chapters. Don't worry though… I will be returning to lemon-centric chapters for the last 4-5 installments.

In the meantime, if you want some lemon action, go check out my entry for the Cherry Exchange contest: Everything She Does is Magic. Witchy Bella casts a love spell on Edward, and the results cause her to question everything she's ever believed about life and love. It's a supernatural story.

www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net / s / 6442396 / 1 /

Thank you so much for sticking with me!

KL