A/N - Thank you for your continued reviews/alerts/favorites - although it's been awhile since I last posted. I noticed that this past week I've had an abundance of new readers -- where have you all come from?? Lol...now to the story -- oh yeah, I don't own Twilight.
Dinner continued in a blur after he made his plan known. I was lost in my thoughts, not tasting the fettuccine I ordered. Luckily, for my stomach there were no more food surprises. Conversation was minimal as my mind continued swirling with the idea that Edward's plan all along was to promote me to run a division. Edward must have sensed that I needed time to think, as he didn't press for conversation. As we stood to leave, after Edward insisted to pay the outrageous bill, he promised to call in a few days to schedule a time to discuss further details, once he got a few things in order. I had until next week to decide what I was going to do. What's the plan now, Bella?
My eyes pricked with moisture as I drove my BMW over the slick roads towards home. I didn't understand why I was starting to cry, except for the fact that I was currently a mess of emotions. I should've listened that day in his office. I should've waited and made an appointment to discuss everything rationally before I stormed out of there, making an ass of myself. Edward believed in my abilities this entire time and I stupidly thought he didn't appreciate me.
Part of me was jumping for joy at the thought of working alongside Edward in a new venture of Cullen Industries – It was everything I had hoped for and more in the past few years I've worked there. The other part was cringing with the thought of having to tell Alice that our new business venture was a no-go. Could I do that? Did I want to do that?
Alice was an unbelievable best friend, who supported me through all the bullshit I put her through. For fuck sakes, she quit when I walked out! How could I back out of the work we've done this week? I had unconsciously became attached to B.A.B.S. without even realizing it. Shit, we had our first job scheduled for tomorrow night. The idea of starting something with Alice was exhilarating and scary. The potential was insane and nothing was better than being your own boss. But then what if it failed? All my savings gone and I'd owe a shit load of money to the bank. Edward didn't bring up salary, but I'm sure it would allow me to live in a very comfortable lifestyle. Then there was the benefit of working closely with Edward to consider. I weighed the pros and cons on an invisible scale in my mind as I opened the door to my apartment, not remembering the drive home.
I shrugged out of my dress and tossed it on the floor in the bathroom. I stared at my pale face in the mirror, noticing the dark circles forming. I splashed my face with cold water and watched as the make-up I almost-expertly applied smudged and started running down my face – black streaks staining my cheeks. Would Alice understand if I decided not to proceed with the club? I stifled back a sob as I started the shower to rid myself of the mess I was in. There was too much to process and I needed to clear my head. I'll deal with it tomorrow…..tomorrow I will decide what the best plan is.
The sunlight streamed through my window and I opened one eye to glance at the clock beside me – 8:34am. I sat up groggily and pushed the duvet off of me. Memories of last night and the events that took place washed over my body like a tidal wave – suffocating. I dropped back onto my pillow and pulled the duvet over my head – hiding, wishing I could stay in this safe cocoon of blankets forever. I cursed myself for being a coward – knowing that I should be facing this decision head on, but couldn't seem to bring myself out of this warm, comforting haven I was lying in. My mind began reliving the last week of my life – quitting Cullen, finding Huron, having mind-blowing sex with Edward, shopping with Alice and Rose, applying for a business license, registering B.A.B.S., meeting with Billy and finally the conversation with Edward last night – what was next?
My phone buzzed on the nightstand beside me. I reached my hand out of the cocoon, keeping my head firmly underneath and grabbed the phone. I looked at the screen under my safe haven and sighed. It was Alice.
"Good morning Spitfire!" Alice squealed with much too much enthusiasm for the morning.
"Please don't call me that." I groaned into the phone.
"Jeez, a little touchy this morning?"
"Just tired, I didn't get much sleep." I pulled the covers down and sat up, squinting at the bright light streaming through the windows.
"Really?" Alice asked teasing.
"It's not what you're thinking."
"So you didn't play with colossal last night?"
"No colossal action Alice." I rolled my eyes at the casual use of the nickname.
"So what happened last night?"
"I met with Edward."
"And?" Alice prompted obviously irritated. I took a deep breath. Time to deal with this. I might as well be honest with her.
"He offered me a position." I began biting my lip. "He wants me to head an expansion."
"An expansion?" she whispered.
"What kind of expansion?"
I furrowed my brow. "I'm not sure, to be honest."
"I'm coming over." Alice said as she hung up. I stared at my phone, dumbfounded that Alice hung up on me. This can't be good.
I got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom to get cleaned up before Alice got here. I grabbed my robe and tightly wound it around myself. I was just pouring myself a coffee when there was a loud rap at the door.
I took the chain off the lock and just when it was slid across to release Alice shoved it open. I stumbled back just barely avoiding getting smacked by the edge of the door. Alice stomped in, hands on hip.
"You're taking it, aren't you?" Alice asked furious – tapping her foot to some unknown rhythm.
"I….I don't know." I stammered, shrinking away from her. I was walking backwards, but was stopped when my lower back hit the counter. I gripped the edge with my hands as the little pixie slithered towards me. I had a good six inches on her, but she looked downright terrifying right now. I braced myself for what was coming.
"Isabella Marie Swan! How could you even think of going back there? After all the planning?…..Huron…Esme….? We have a fucking job tonight!" Alice's tiny arms lifted above her head in exasperation. "BABS is fucking happening, Bella! I don't give a flying fuck what Edward wants! We're doing this! Do you fucking understand?"
I stood speechless, slowly nodding my head. "Okay." I squeaked.
"Good. I'm glad we're in agreement." Alice's anger evaporated completely. She walked over to the counter and stood beside me grabbing a cup from the cabinet and pouring herself a coffee. "So you excited about tonight?"
"Ummm…yes?" I answered, afraid of telling her the truth – that I was absolutely petrified of that damn bunny costume. I haven't seen irate Alice before and I didn't want a re-appearance.
"Relax, Bella! It'll be fun! I can't wait! I'm doing your make-up and Rose is doing your hair. We'll get ready together. She should be here about 3:30 or 4:00. We're going to look so hot!" Alice took a breath. That girl would give the energizer bunny a run for its money.
So I guess the decision was made – at least in Alice's mind. My mind was still weighing the pros and cons. There's no point in making a final decision until we knew if Huron was a go and I did want to find out what Cullen's expansion entailed. But for the time being we'd stick to our current plan - I would be opening the club with Alice. I cringed thinking we would be Edward's competition in our private party division. It was easier hating Edward – now I felt a dreadful guilt building in the pit of my stomach. I didn't want to be his competition – my need for revenge evaporated as quickly as Alice's bad mood.
"Alice," I started taking a deep breath. "How would you feel if we only focused on the nightclub? Not on private parties?" I braced myself for the wrath of Alice, but was happily surprised.
"Yeah, that's cool with me. I mean, I'm mostly looking forward to the theme nights I have planned….for BABS." I breathed a sigh of relief. At least now I wasn't challenging Cullen.
Alice spent majority of the morning going over different theme ideas she had for BABS. I was in awe of how talented she was at this. I was better suited for the promotion and planning of the event – Alice definitely had the handle on the creative end of things. We both agreed that we wouldn't have a theme for the opening night, that is if we got the building. We still had so much to do before we opened. Alice already starting researching everything that would be required – design, furniture, lighting equipment, sound, signage, bar supplies, insurance, food menu. The list went on and on and I finally kyboshed it when she starting talking glassware.
"Alice, we should seriously relax until we find out if we're even getting Huron."
"I know we are." She said confidently dismissing my warning. "I have a good feeling about it."
I shrugged knowing it was useless trying to argue with her. I'm sure I would hear from Billy soon. I was itching to call him and see where things stood, but I wanted to give him an opportunity to think about it thoroughly without me breathing down his neck.
Rose showed up early and joined us for lunch. I made my specialty – egg white omelets and chicken salad. We ate while Alice and Rose talked animatedly about the evening ahead. I said in silence dreading the prep time it would take to get ready and scared of what they had planned for me.
After clearing the table and loading the dishes in the dishwasher we made our way to my ensuite. Alice brought in a chair from my dining room and motioned for me to sit while Rose opened up a metal box full of make-up. I was certain she had every brand name known to man in there. She organized what colors would look good with my skin tone after Alice decided I was a winter. Alice started laying out our costumes on my bed. I took a deep breath as they swarmed me – twisting my hair around the hot iron and painting my terrified face.
"Is this really necessary?" I complained as Rose saturated my curls in a can of spray.
"Yes." They both answered smiling at each other.
"You don't realize the potential you have." Rose answered when I rolled my eyes. "You are going to be the hottest thing there – well besides me."
"I highly doubt that."
"Jeez, Bella. Haven't you realized the way men look at you already?" Alice asked incredulously. "For example, look at Edward….for all the time we've known him, we've never seen him even remotely interested in another woman."
"Edward is not interested in me." I remarked snarling "Besides I think he has a thing for Victoria."
"Wake up Bella! That guy has got it bad for you!" I raised an eyebrow at Alice doubtfully.
Rose piqued up. "I think he does too."
"What?!" I asked incredulously whipping my head around to look at her, burning my scalp in the process – damn curling iron. "You were the one who was shocked to find out I slept with him!"
"I know, but Alice told me about the flowers and dinner and the texts."
I turned back around and glared at Alice. She pretended not to hear us. I knew that damn pixie would spill my gossip to Rose. Besides what they said, I knew that Edward didn't have any interest in me further than professionally, well maybe sexually too.
"Well, I don't care what you guys think – Edward and I may have had sex a couple times, but I'm not going to be his booty call and besides, I'm not interested in him!" Both of them snickered to my last comment.
An hour and a half later, I was finally finished. I haven't seen myself in the mirror yet, as the two bitches wanted it to be a surprise at the end. I felt like I was on some reality show – waiting for the big reveal. My back was turned to the mirror, Alice and Rose on either side of me. They counted down from three before finally spinning me around. I stared at myself in astonishment. I was…hot. My hair was in a disarray of curls with pieces pinned sporadically giving the illusion of fullness….I finally had just-fucked hair and I loved it! My face was smooth as satin and had a dewy glow. My eyes were smoky with tones of charcoal and black with a touch of sparkle that complemented the mile long eyelashes. My pouty lips were painted deep red, a sharp contrast to the rest of the look.
"Not bad." I commented to them nonchalantly. I knew they were waiting for praise and I thought I should let them suffer for turning me into human Barbie for almost two hours. I looked at their expressions through the reflection, both were taken aback.
"Not bad? Not bad?!" Rose shrieked. "Bella, you look amazing! You should be kissing our feet for finally bringing out your potential! Fuck! A little appreciation would be nice."
I started giggling. "Calm down….I'm just kidding. You guys did an amazing job! I can't remember the last time I looked this good. Actually….I don't think I've ever looked this good!"
Alice jumped up and down at my obvious satisfaction. Now it was time for the costumes. I cringed when I walked into my bedroom and saw three ensembles perfected laid out. I sat at the edge of my bed and watched Rose and Alice perfect their hair and make-up in half the time it took for me. Once they were beautified we transformed into yes, you know it….bunnies.
I had to admit, we were a sight. We looked like a walking wet dream for the Easter Bunny – we could've definitely given the Playboy playmates a run for their money right now. Mr. Johnson would be extremely pleased.
We took off our bunny ear headbands and pulled on our trenches. Rose had brought a large duffel bag with her and we all stored away our tails and ears until we got there. We were all giggles and nervous excitement as we were leaving my apartment. I was still laughing at something Alice said as I swung the door open and slammed straight into a shocked Edward who was mid knock.
"Edward? What are you doing here?" I asked in panic – thankfully with our coats on he couldn't see our 'uniforms' for the evening.
His eyes were wide as he took the three of us in. He looked at Rose and Alice briefly before setting his gaze back to me. Edward's cheeks went red against his usual pale skin and I realized this is the first time I've ever noticed Edward blush. That's right…Edward Cullen blushed.
He was still staring at me with his open slightly open when he finally found his voice. "I..uh..I was wo..wondering if you wanted to talk…or something….but obviously you guys are going out…so I'll be on my way." He looked down towards his shoes but made no motion to leave. I took this opportunity to look over at Alice and Rose who were smirking with I-told-you-so smugness.
"Um," I began, realizing that everyone was waiting on me to respond. "We really do have plans this evening. But we can talk next week as planned." I suddenly felt sad that I had this party to tend to. I wouldn't mind another evening alone with Edward and colossal.
"That's okay, Bella." He shuffled from one foot to the other, his voice filled with disappointment. "I should've called first, but you've had so many problems with your phone lately, I thought I'd chance it." And with that Edward fled down the hall, quicker than I would've thought possible.
Alice and Rose burst into a fit of giggles when Edward turned the corner and I stood paralyzed and confused by the encounter that just took place. Why would Edward want to talk on a Saturday night? My heart sped up with the fantasy that Edward was interested in me past our professional relationship as Alice and Rose suggested, but my brain knew better. Edward was obviously going to be pulling out all the stops in order for me to accept his proposal – little did he know that Alice was also a force to be reckoned with.
"He wants you." Rose said sashaying down the hall.
"Fuck off." I muttered to her back, but silently hoping she was right.
Nothing else was said about the unexpected visit from Edward on our way to Mr. Johnson's and I was grateful. I needed to push my thoughts of Edward out while I focused on the task at hand – serving a bunch of men while dressed as the Easter Bunny's plaything. We pulled up to the brick red mansion and parked along the side of the estate. We made our way to the side entrance reserved for staff and knock tentatively. My stomach was full of butterflies as we waited in the blistering cold. A man in a stark white uniform greeted us and ushered us into the staff quarters. Rose and Alice did a little touch up on my make-up and secured my bunny ears to my head. I turned and slid my eyes over my completed look in the floor length mirror. A small giggle escaped as I realized I looked as though I was headed to an elaborate Halloween party or to the Playboy Mansion.
Alice, Rose and I slowly made our way to the kitchen area where we would get the run down of tonight's agenda. We were instructed to ensure that all guests had their drink of choice and that appetizers were never low. Easy enough. I'm sure my clumsiness had a little, or a lot to do with their jumping in and volunteering for drink duty. I was responsible for the apps. I took a deep breath and gathered the tray in my hands.
"Good luck" Alice squealed. "And when in doubt, smile big and wiggle your tail."
Here goes nothing. I turned the corner and immediately locked eyes with Mr. Johnson – that bald head was hard to miss.
"Bella!" He shouted from across the room motioning for me to join him. He was surrounded by a bunch of men in serious business suits. Remembering Alice's words of wisdom, I flashed a big smile and wiggled my way over.
"Rabbit tenderloin?" I asked in what I hoped was a sexy voice, holding my tray in front of my chest. I knew it was no accident that we were dressed as bunnies, while majority of the evening's food selections was in fact – bunnies.
"This is Bella, gentlemen…the finest bunny I've ever set my eyes on." He licked his lips slowly, while I suppressed my gag reflex.
The remainder of the evening went well, with Rose, Alice and I hardly conversing, except for the occasional run-in in the kitchen. Mr. Johnson and his friends seemed to enjoy themselves and get a kick out of the costumes. I was relieved when the last guest stood to leave. My feet were killing me and I knew that a good foot massage would be in order tomorrow….maybe if Edward's not busy……stop thinking that way Bella!
Rose dropped me off first and I clumsily made my way to the apartment – slightly limping. By the time I made it to the corridor, I gave up and carried both shoes in my hand. I fumbled for my keys and saw the interior of my purse flashing red. Confused, I dug deeper and found the source of the blinking – my blackberry – or crackberry as Alice often referred.
I let myself into the apartment and crashed on the couch, rubbing my sore feet while I unlocked my phone. Two messages, two missed calls and one voicemail. Jeez, when did I get popular?
My heart fluttered when the name Colossal flashed on the screen – I laughed wondering when Alice had the time to change Edward's name. I opened the message and read:
I apologize for showing up unannounced this evening. I hope you have a great night with your girlfriends. I will talk with you next week as originally planned. E
I closed the message and opened up the next one – again from Colossal (AKA Edward..Lol):
Bella, sorry again for intruding on your evening – if possible, can you please call me tomorrow? Anytime is fine. By the way – you looked absolutely breathtaking this evening. Be safe. E.
My heart rate picked up erratically at the random compliment. I wasn't used to receiving such a response for my physical appearance, but I'm not complaining.
I checked the missed call and saw that Billy called shortly after we left for the party. I quickly dialed my voicemail and listened to the message:
"Bella, it's Billy. I know it's Saturday night, and your probably partying the night away, but I wanted to touch base with you regarding the Huron building. If you can give me a call in the morning we can discuss going forward with your proposal – although I have a few items I want to run by you first. Look forward to speaking with you soon, Bella."
I pressed "9" to save the message. I could've sat there for ten minutes or two hours, who knows, but my mind was a mess. Billy was going to sell us the building….BILLY WAS GOING TO SELL US THE BUILDING! I smiled to myself knowing how excited Alice was going to be. Should I call her now? No, no I'll wait to talk to her in the morning. Things are actually falling into place. Except…..I still had this little issue, or colossal issue…..Edward.
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