Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, it's all Stephenie Meyer's, but her characters are fun to play with :) I also don't own The Holiday, though a lot of the events in the story will be different than in the movie, and I do own those :)
ALSO, A thank you to my wonderful beta, lovingangels07. Her story, Risky Business, is incredible. CHECK IT OUT!!
I was sitting outside of my boss' office when I got the feeling. You know the feeling I'm talking about; it's the one you get right before something happens and it changes your life forever. It was like fate telling you that a major life event was just around the corner and you should probably hold on and enjoy the ride because, baby, this was it. This was your chance to achieve what you've been dreaming of since you were a little girl dancing around in your mother's pumps and pearls.
I only had the feeling one other time in my life. Not surprisingly, it was the first time my mother took me to Paris. It just so happened our trip to the City of Lights coincided with the same time of the year fashion designers and stylists from every corner of the globe swarmed the streets for one of the most important weeks of the year: fashion week. I instantly fell in love with the fabrics, sequins, and the overall atmosphere. After hours of begging Esme to take me to one show, any show, she finally gave in, and we were able to miraculously land a ticket to the Dior show.
Our seats were in the last row but I didn't care; I was enraptured by the styles I saw being pranced down the runway and I knew in that moment, I would be one of those fabulously dressed women sitting in the front row furiously jotting down the pieces they wanted to claim for their clients. I wanted to be a stylist. The fact that the feeling made its home in the pit of my stomach excited me. 'Could this be it', I wondered to myself, 'Could this be the big promotion that I'd been vying for since my first day as a style intern for Jane Luke?'
I wasn't allowed the pleasure of daydreaming any further about what the future might hold because suddenly, my ice queen of a boss herself, emerged from her glass-walled office with an impatient look on her face.
"Alice?" she asked and I looked up with wide eyes hoping they reflected kindness. The woman might be a bit of a slave driver, but she was also one of the most respected in the business. Celebrities and socialites from around the world have used our style agency to help them reach incomparable levels of perfection.
As she motioned for me to follow her, I allowed myself one deep breath to steady my nerves, I was all-business.
"Have a seat," she instructed me once we were inside her office and the door had been closed.
I followed her orders and patiently folded my hands across my lap while I watched her pick up a large manila folder from her desk.
"Here," she said, handing it to me, "I believe you've earned this."
I'm fairly certain that my eyes widened so far that my eyeballs were in danger of dropping out of my head. With shaking hands I took the envelope from her and practically ripped it open in my excitement.
I quickly searched; scanning the pages for any indication what my reward was. What I found was even more than I expected. I ignored the minute details, focusing instead on the words and dates that jumped out: December 5, 2009-January 5, 2010. Los Angeles, California, Rosalie Hale for third movie in franchise.
Jane began speaking but I barely heard her. She recited a speech about how I'd "earned this responsibility" and that I had "better represent the agency well." If I succeeded, a promotion to executive assistant would be in order, upon my return to London.
"So you will accept, yes?" she asked at the end of her short monologue.
I nodded and answered without hesitation, "Of course!"
It wasn't until later, however, that I realized my trip abroad would fall during my favorite family time of the year: Christmas.
Martinis in ten? -B
I slammed my phone shut and didn't bother to wait for an answer. I knew Rosalie was home because I saw her car in the driveway as I roared up the street in my fit of fury. After searching for my sunglasses and slamming them onto my face, I stomped across the street with the note in my hand. If it were possible, steam would have been coming out of my ears I was so angry. By the time I reached Rose's driveway, the gate was already opened for me and I could see her standing in the doorway with a martini glasses in each hand.
After more stomping, this time up the small flight of stairs to the front stoop, (an action which, in hindsight, probably made me look like a five-year-old) I wordlessly reached for the gin-based drink and downed it in one swallow before I allowed myself to exhale.
I took in Rose's snarky grin and grudgingly allowed a small smile slip over my frown.
"That bad?" Rose asked while nonchalantly swapping my empty glass for a full one.
Nodding, I glanced past her and into the house. "Is Emmett here?" I asked to make sure I wasn't interrupting anything.
"Nope," Rose said, popping the 'p' for emphasis. "Wanna come inside?" she asked before turning and walking towards the back patio without waiting for an answer. I quietly followed, saving the information I had to share for until we were settled by the pool.
Once we'd reached the comfort of the chaise lounges occupying the pool deck, I looked at Rose and could tell she was patiently waiting for me to spill the beans about my most recent break-up. Gin and story-time by the pool were two of our most time-honored traditions following a break-up or other eventful occasion that required debriefing.
"He broke up with me through a note," I explained after giving myself a few minutes to gather my thoughts and take a few sips of my drink.
Rose's eyes burned red in anger, "A note? That ass, do you have it here?" she asked. I could hear the venom seep into her words.
I handed her the now-crumpled sheet of paper that had been occupying my left hand. As she read Jake's ridiculous reasons for ending our relationship, I watched her face for any sign of emotion. Surprisingly, it was completely blank. "I always kind of hated him, you know," Rose explained after handing me back the sheet.
"I know." It wasn't like she ever made an effort to hide her feelings.
"Are you okay with it, though?"
"I think so," I said truthfully. "I just...nevermind, it's silly."
Rose sat up and turned to face me. "You just, what?"
I paused before answering. "I was really looking forward to having someone to spend the holidays with. I mean, you have Emmett and Jasper, well, Jasper has his music I suppose. For once, I thought this might be my first Christmas to not be alone."
"You won't be alone, Bella, you'll have all of us," Rose said in an attempt to cheer me up.
I smiled meekly at her. "You know what I mean."
She nodded in agreement before saying softly, "I do," and falling back against her chair.
A few minutes later, she spoke again. "You could always, I don't know, go on a vacation or something. Spend some time getting to know yourself again, have a fling or two. Just take your work with you for the holidays."
There is no way I am going somewhere for Christmas by myself, I thought, staring into the crystal clear blue of the pool letting the gentle ripples of the water relax me slightly. I couldn't imagine sitting alone on a foreign beach with a manuscript and sunscreen to keep me company and a fling, well, a fling was out of the question.
"No," I said, shooting down her suggestion before launching into an explanation of how lame I thought people alone at resorts were.
Rose considered this for a moment before sitting up with excitement etched into her beautiful features. "I know," she began in a flurry, "you can do that home exchange thing. My friend Elise did it and said it was fabulous."
"Yes, home exchange. All you do is put some pictures of your house on a website then pick where you want to go and trade with someone there."
"And it's legitimate?"
Another nod came my way, "completely. Elise loved it...she said she got the vacation she wanted without the nuisance of couples in love and families with children just down the hall. Come on, let's go check it out."
Before I had a chance to protest, she grabbed my hand and pulled me out my chair, dragging me up the stairs and into her office. After ordering me to sit in the chair opposite her desk, she began furiously typing. Though I didn't really pay attention, I heard her muttering things under her breath before she announced for me to come and "check it out."
"England?" I asked incredulously.
Rose scoffed. "Yes, England. This quaint, country cottage is just a half hour from London."
"There's snow there," I said, stating the obvious.
Laughter danced out of Rosalie's lips. "Correct. There are also hot British men roaming the Queen's land ripe for the plucking."
"No, no hot British men," I said in disagreement. "There will be no more "ripe plucking" for a while."
"That's what they all say," Rose muttered, clicking something on the screen and typing again. "I'm going to chat with the owner. You can sit again."
Knowing how pointless it was to argue, I obeyed her orders and retreated to my assigned seat. It was clear Rose had it made up in her mind that I would be spending the holidays on the other side of the world, so I figured I might as well begin to come to terms with it.
Second only to fashion week, the Christmas holidays were my favorite, so as soon as I returned to my office after meeting with Jane, I began to form a strategy. There was no way that I could be sane and pass up the opportunity that had been presented to me. Opportunities like this don't come around often, so they had to be snatched up. Certain aspects, however, could probably be rearranged to make the experience a bit more comfortable.
I skimmed my packet of information again until I found the section I was looking for: hotel and accommodations. Currently, it was listed that I would be staying in the Beverly Hills Hotel, a five star hotel and celebrity favorite. I knew that I shouldn't complain because comfort would be the least of my worries at the plush hotel, but I wanted something a little more...homier. Perhaps if I could find alternate accommodations that were a bit less extravagant but still magnificent then I could convince Jane to let me alter my plans.
After a thorough internet search, the option I found most intriguing was home exchange. According to the website, all I had to do was provide some personal information to ensure that I was neither a thief or a serial killer, upload photographs and a description of my home, fill in the dates I'm willing to switch, and hope that someone elses plans matched up with mine. I had to leave for LA on a flight the next day so I hoped someone was just as desperate as me.
Once the prerequisite information was complete, I decided to do a little research on Rosalie Hale as I waited. Unfortunately, I didn't have much research time as my computer made a dinging sound before I could fully type in the word 'google.'
Message from: BellaLA
It was from the home exchange website. I couldn't believe the response was so sudden. I eagerly clicked to open the message.
BellaLA says: I must say, your home looks...delightful.
I held back a squeal; of course my home looked delightful...it is!
MAliceC says: Thank you. I'm Alice Cullen, by the way.
BellaLA says : Nice to meet you, Alice. I'm Bella.
MAliceC says: It's nice to meet you, too, Bella. Are you in Los Angeles?
BellaLA says: Yes, well Beverly Hills to be more specific. Are you still interested in doing a home exchange for the dates listed?
As Bella typed her response, I quickly found the photographs of her home on the website. I could tell that it was a bit smaller than mine, but that it would certainly be a better place to spend the holidays than a hotel. It didn't hurt matters that it was in Beverly Hills.
MAliceC says: Of course, Bella! I looked at your home, it is lovely.
BellaLA says: Thanks, I think it's a bit smaller than yours, though. Are you sure you want to downsize?
MAliceC says: I promise it is exactly what I'm looking for; anything but a hotel for a month.
BellaLA says: I'm in if you are.
MAliceC says: Ditto. How soon can you switch?
I crossed my fingers and waited for Bella's answer. Please, please let her agree, I thought to myself.
BellaLA says: Tomorrow too soon?
MAliceC says: Tomorrow is perfect!
"You're all set," Rose said when her typing finally stopped.
I looked up at her with wide eyes. "All set for what?"
"For England, silly," My mouth gaped and I tried really hard to come up with a reason as to why I just sat there and let her make plans for me. Usually I'm not such a pushover.
My eyes narrowed in her direction. "You didn't."
"I did," she stood and pointed at me, "Come on, we need to find you some warm clothes from my last shoot to take with you to the big, scary, snowy place."
I sighed dramatically and threw my hands into the air, knowing that the battle was lost. "When do I leave?" I called down the hallway as I stood to follow Rose towards the bedroom she had recently converted into a closet.
"Tomorrow," she yelled back in my direction. I used the sound of her voice as a locating device. Lucky for me, I found her amidst the jungle of designer clothes.
"Tomorrow?" I'm pretty sure I had screeched. "As in December 3rd tomorrow?"
Rosalie bobbed her head, her perfectly colored locks flouncing around her shoulders, as she combed through racks of jackets, pulling one every now and then she deemed was a necessity on my trip.
"British Airways flight 970 from LAX at noon," she added as if it would soften my shock.
Instead of helping, I crossed my arms over my chest, sat on one of the several cushioned stools she had scattered around the closet, and pouted. Though I knew that there was no way I was getting out of this trip, I wanted to at least make Rose think I was upset with her when, in reality, I might have been a little bit excited...as long as there were no British men waiting to sweep me off my feet.
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Chapter One should be back up and even better than before within a day or so, so be on the lookout for it :)