Hello Everyone!

This is my first attempt at writing an all-human fanfic. I started writing this story soon after the release of Breaking Dawn back in the summer of 2008. I did it to remind myself how much I love the first three books.

Please don't get me wrong, I don't hate Breaking Dawn, it was just…unexpected.

The reason I hadn't posted this story until now, it's because it was incomplete, and still is. I suddenly stopped writing, I don't know why. I just did.

The good news is that I'm several chapters ahead, and will be posting regularly. I know where the story is heading— there won't be any writer's block here, and posting the story now, will push me to finish it. I'm sure. I hope

So, I decided to remove it from my saved files and share it with all of you. I hope you like it.

Many thanks to Marijee.

Here it is, my tribute to Twilight.

Enjoy,


Disclaimer: The Twilight Series and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Any other characters, settings etc. are property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.

Summary:

There are big changes going on in Bella' life. She's just moved to L.A, starting a challenging new job, and meeting new friends. What Bella is not prepared for are the fiery feelings she experiences upon meeting the mysterious Edward Cullen. All human. B/E


Chapter one:

I lay on bed, cranky and sleep-deprived as the first golden rays of light peeked through the window. I groaned loudly and closed my half-opened lids, determined to find some sleep. It had been a tough night; I tossed and turned restlessly, working my brain overtime, feeling confident I'd made the right decision one minute, unsure of making a mistake the next.

My thoughts took me back seven years ago, when I moved from Phoenix to Forks. Back then I was fine. Determined. It'd been a hard decision, but I never second-guessed myself — and I was only seventeen. Now at twenty-four I was unsure if coming to Southern California were the right thing to do.

Whoever said 'the older you get, the wiser you become' was absolutely wrong.

After a few minutes I gave up trying to sleep, lumbered out of bed, and took a much-needed shower; I lingered in the steamy water; allowing the wet heat to relax me. It was my first day at my new job and I wanted to project confidence, assurance, poise, fearlessness —all the things that were the opposite of how I was feeling.

After I was done showering, I wrapped myself on a towel, dried my hair and dressed in a slim black skirt, a white tailored shirt and slipped into comfortable shoes —the need to avoid accidents on my first day was essential. I chose to wear my hair down, with a light coating of mascara and some strawberry flavored lip-gloss.

Once ready, I looked in the full-length mirror and smiled satisfied. The look was formal enough for meeting my new boss, but not too dressy. I grabbed my laptop, my cell phone, the hotel room key, and headed out the door.

I walked toward the elevator and glanced at my watch. "So early," I murmured, still cranky due to the lack of sleep. Getting up earlier than I wanted did give me enough time to stop at a nearby coffee shop and get my caffeine fix before heading to work. I was starting to get anxious and nervous; I needed my coffee.

As I stepped onto the sidewalk, my mood switched due to the beautiful morning. It was typical Southern California weather; bright and sunshiny. The horns and noise from the street announcing the beginning of a new week. Everyone was frantically trying to get to work on time. I was thankful that I was not part of that mess. The hotel where I'd been staying for the last two days was only a few blocks away, within reasonable walking distance to the office. The fact that a coffee shop was conveniently located on my way there was just an added bonus.

When I opened the door to the coffee shop, the scent of rich coffee and warm muffins hit my senses and I relaxed instantly. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, savoring the aroma. I made my way toward the counter and ordered a large coffee and a blue berry muffin, and sat down at a table next to the window.

I sipped my coffee and I gazed out the shop window, watching mostly businessmen and women stroll by on their way to work. I imagined my friends, back in Washington, doing the same. I missed my friends.

I sighed forlornly and immediately shook my head. I couldn't allow myself to be homesick; this was my life, these were my dreams. My future was here.

I got this new job through a recommendation from my former boss Laurent, whom I had been working with for the last three years. I began working with Laurent soon after I graduated, Cum Laude, from the University of Washington. I had majored in English Literature, and by a stroke of luck, I got a job as an editor for a publishing company in Seattle. After a couple of months I became head editor in the teenage science fiction category. They thought that because of my youth, I could get the most out of each book and achieve the right result for each author. I think I accomplished that goal. I really enjoyed my job, but I was waiting for an opportunity to edit Literary Fiction, my favorite genre.

Fortunately for me, Laurent —who was a good friend of the company's president— found out that someone with my qualifications was needed here in L.A., and thought about me. When Laurent offered me a transfer to this branch, I didn't think twice about accepting.

Well, maybe I did think more than twice before making my decision.

So here I was, alone in a big city, with an important job and big responsibilities. Yep, nothing to worry about. I finished the remains of my breakfast and headed out to the office.

Twenty minutes later, I stood in front of the building, nervous and anxious. I took a big breath and blew it out slowly before marching in full of disguised confidence. I walked toward a desk situated in the middle of the huge lobby where a woman with bleached blond hair —and little too much make up— was busy; gathering documents that were spread in front of her. By the look on her face, she seemed to have lost something. I approached her. "Good morning. My name is Bella Swan. I have an appointment with Mr. James Hunt."

She looked up, gave me a-once-over, and then she frowned. Without answering me, she picked up the phone and dialed. The manicured fingers of her free hand tapped impatiently on the desk while she waited. "James, Bella Swan is here." She paused, listening to her boss, "Oh. Sure. I'll send her in."

She hung up the phone and with a rude tone said, "Tenth floor. Last door on your right." Not giving me another look, she went back to her paperwork search.

"Thank you," I said, shaking my head. What an extremely rude woman.

I stepped into the elevator —glad to find it empty, and as it crept upward I leaned against the rear wall of the car and took little breaths, forcing myself to relax. "You already have the job. This meeting is only for introductions," I repeated aloud.

I reached the tenth floor and followed the receptionist's instructions to the end of the empty hall. I stood in front of the double doors for a few seconds and then I knocked softly. "Come on in," a deep voice vibrated from the other side.

I opened the doors and stepped in, closing them behind me. I approached the man, sitting behind a huge mahogany desk in a leather chair. He was young, probably in his late twenties, early thirties, with short, light blond hair, and eyes intensely blue that were framed by surprisingly long lashes. He was a very handsome man. "Hi, I'm Bella Swan. It's very nice to finally meet you," I said as I stretched out my hand.

I was really surprised at his age. I was expecting a much older man, due to the importance of the position he held as president of one of the most prestigious publishing companies in the country.

"The pleasure is mine," he replied pleasantly, rising from his seat and shaking hands with me. James was tall and fitted; his broad shoulders clearly visible under the white crispy shirt. He must've played sports when he was younger. "My old friend Laurent, told me only great things about you. In his words, you are the best thing that ever happened to our company."

He gestured for me to sit on one of the two armchairs in front of his desk. I smiled nervously and sat down. "Laurent is very courteous. But don't believe everything he says. He tends to exaggerate from time to time," I said and immediately regretted my words. I've never been able to accept compliments. Great! Couldn't I just say 'Thank you'? I really hoped that he didn't take it as a sign of insecurity, which unfortunately is exactly what it was.

James Hunt walked around his desk and sat on it very close to me and chuckled. "No, he didn't exaggerate. Your work speaks for itself. You are very talented. That's the reason we hired you, and I'm very glad we did."

"I really appreciate it. You will not regret it," I said.

"Oh, I'm sure I won't," he said softly, his voice barely a whisper.

I cleared my throat nervously. "When can I start?"

James burst out laughing. "See? You're already eager to start. No wonder Laurent was reluctant to let you go."

We were interrupted by a hard knock. James looked up directing his gaze toward the door. "Come in."

A high soprano voice filled the room. "James, you have to do something about Lauren. She is the most incompetent person in the world. She can't find the Clark archive, and she was well aware that I needed it today…today, to start organizing his campaign." After a brief paused she continued her little rant. "It's unbelievable. I wonder if her résumé starts with the word ineptitude, or incapacity, or plain old dumb." She sighed dramatically. "Remind me again, why do you keep her in here?" Could this woman be talking about bleached blond from downstairs?

James clenched his jaw. "I'll see what I can do," he told her and then looked at me and smiled. "Bella, I'd like you to meet our director of marketing and publicity, Alice Cullen."

I stood up and turned to face the owner of the beautiful voice. Alice was as beautiful as her voice. She had short, inky hair, styled in spiky disarray around her delicate fairy face. She was tiny, but the confidence emanating from her was immense. I offered her my hand. "Bella Swan. It's nice to meet you, Alice."

She seemed perplexed to find a third person in the office but recovered quickly to shake my hand and smiled. "It's nice to meet you, Bella. And I'm very sorry for interrupting your meeting. I didn't mean to barge into the office like that."

"No problem." I said and she smiled widely. I liked Alice immediately.

"Bella worked at our Seattle office. She was transferred here to take the job as our head editor in the Literature Fiction department," James informed her.

Alice was not interested in my work history. "So, you're new in the city. Have you been to LA before?" she asked.

"Yes I have," I said. "When I was a little girl I used to visit my Grandma who lived here. A couple of times I came to vacation with my dad, but that was a long time ago," I admitted.

"Then, I need to show you around. Especially the malls," she said enthusiastically.

"Sure. We could plan something for this weekend," I replied, appreciating her friendliness.

"You don't know what you're getting into, Bella," James murmured.

Alice glanced up at him and rolled her eyes, and then smiled at me. "Don't listen to him, Bella. We'll have lots of fun."

I nodded in agreement.

Alice then looked up at James. "I'm very serious, James. You have to do something about your… pet. This is a respectable company, not a place to hire your sexual…"

"Alice!" James interrupted her, scowling her. "I already told you I'd see what I could do."

Alice glanced at me briefly and then looked at James defiantly, pursed her lips and shook her head softly. "I hope you know what you're doing," she told him, and headed toward the door. "I'll see you around, Bella."

Alice paused and before she was out, turned around to look at James. "Tell your p…Lauren to bring me those files as soon as possible. I'll be in my office." And she left closing the door behind her.

I was puzzled by the exchange. The ease and impertinent attitude that Alice used toward James was unusual, considering that he was her boss. Maybe there was something deeper between them. Definitely it was non-romantic, that I was certain of.

James seemed to guess what I was thinking. "She is very bossy. I've known her for years. And as much as I'd sometimes like to get rid of her, I can't. There's no one in the world better at her job. We are very lucky to have her, and she knows it," he explained shaking his head.

I listened to him in silence. I really, really liked this Alice Cullen. Maybe if I got close to her she could rub some of that confidence off on me. That would be a great thing.

"Do you want to see your office?" James asked, interrupting my thoughts.

"Sure."

We walked toward the elevator, and while we waited for it, we talked about fundamentals and expectations. We went down to the seventh floor. The doors opened and James guided me to the left, stopping at the third door and gallantly let me in first.

I walked around the small office where a desk had a computer and a telephone sitting on it. There were file cabinets at the north wall and a small leather couch against the opposite wall. A big window let the natural light fill the space. I liked it. "What do you think?" James asked.

"It's perfect!"

"You can use it as often as you want," he informed me.

I cocked my head to the side not understanding his statement. James smiled at me. "I have a policy about your work. As long as you meet the deadlines, you can work wherever you feel more comfortable. If that is your house, the beach, the park or this office, I don't care. Just meet the deadline. You will have to be here, every Monday and Friday, for our staff meetings. Other than that, you could work wherever you want."

I was happily surprise at the freedom he was offering me. If it was the air in Southern California or the water, I didn't care. I was happy at the prospect of working at my own pace in my chosen environment. I couldn't ask for more. "Thank you, Mr. Hunt," I said, smiling at him.

"Please, call me James. And you're welcome. I'm a strong believer of 'happy people make extraordinary work'," he explained.

I happily agreed with him.

"Let me introduce you to the people you'll be closely working with." He walked toward the desk and picked up the phone, instructing Lauren on whom to send to my office.

After he hung up, he turned to me, flashing what was supposed to be a friendly smile. Instead it was somehow intimidating. "So tell me, Bella. How do you like Los Angeles, so far?"

" I really haven't had time to see the sights yet, but at the first opportunity, I hope to do so."

"I'll be more than happy to show you the key places that make this city so special. I could be your tour guide if you'd like," he offered.

I didn't like where this conversation was heading. "You don't have to bother. Alice already offered to show me around. I'm already looking forward to it." I said.

James lifted one eyebrow. "Well, keep in mind my offer. If Alice drives you crazy, I'll gladly take her place as your guide." His smile turned into a full grin. "Besides, I wouldn't want you to think we are inhospitable people."

"Thank you. I'll keep it in mind," I lied.

A knock on the wide-opened door startled me. A blond guy with spiky hair stood at the entrance. "Come in, Mike," James said.

Mike stepped in, and behind him two more guys and two girls followed.

James spoke to them. "Guys, I want you to meet our new head editor, Ms. Bella Swan." And then he turned to me. "Bella, this is Mike, Eric, Ben, Jessica and Angela."

I walked toward the small group and shook hands with each one of them. "I'm looking forward to working with you."

They were all young —probably in the early twenties. I had a good feeling that we'd get along just fine.

We talked about basics for a few minutes, and then James glanced at his watch. "Okay. Meeting starts in five minutes. See you at the conference room," James informed them.

They smiled and left the office. James set his hand lightly behind my back to guide me to the right room. I moved away from him with no intention to hide my discomfort. "Sorry," he apologized, retracting his hand immediately.

"No problem," I replied but gave him a look telling him not to do it again.

He understood, giving me an apologetic nod, and we walked toward the conference room, keeping the distance between us.

After the meeting I spent the rest of the morning in my office with Angela. She informed me of the office procedures, which were not different from the ones I was accustomed to. The transition would be easier than I expected.

Angela was very nice. I liked her from the start. She invited me to have lunch with her and I accepted, happily. We went to a small restaurant not too far from the office and sat at a corner table. "How is it working with Mr. Hunt," I asked, curious to know what to expect from my new boss.

"He is great. But very strict," Angela said.

That surprised me a little. He seemed so easy-going.

Angela smiled at my surprised expression. "He is very smart, very incisive. He is a perfectionist who pursuits excellence and dedication, and, that's what makes him strict. He expects you to give your best," she explained.

If that's what strict meant, I'd get along with him. I was also a perfectionist with my work and my work only.

Angela continued describing him, "As a person, he is very cool, and very likable. We don't interact outside the office so I don't know much about his personal life."

"Oh, no. I'm not interested in his private life. I was just curious about his persona, business-wise, so I'd know what to expect," I told her quickly. I didn't want her to misinterpret my inquiry.

She smiled at me. "He is a good boss. We all like him, especially Ben and I."

I wanted to ask why, but maybe it was something personal. "Good," I said and let the subject drop.

The rest of our lunch went on serenely; we talked about books and places I should visit. Angela, like Alice and James, offered to show me around the city. I thanked her sincerely, promising to keep her invitation in mind.

Soon we were back at work, and without noticing, the day was over. After working most of the afternoon under Angela's guidance, I left my office very thankful of her assistance. She helped me get acquainted with a lot; it was my first day after all.

I was waiting for the elevator, when the door opened, and was pleasantly surprised to find Alice Cullen in it. "Bella! How was your first day?" she greeted me cheerfully.

"It was great! I really like it here."

"That's good," she said.

I briefly recounted my day as we descended. And soon we were at the lobby walking toward the exit. "I'll see you tomorrow, Alice."

"Where do you live?" she asked.

"Right now I'm staying at a hotel, very close to the office."

"A hotel?" Her eyes opened wide with surprise.

I smiled at her reaction. "Don't worry, it's only temporary. I already have a Realtor who's looking for an apartment in the Valley," I explained.

Alice looked at me with even wider eyes. "The Valley? No,no,no,no,No! The valley is for people who are looking for a place outside the city. And when I say people I mean parents with babies." She shook her head softly. "No. You need a place around here. If you move to the Valley, your commute will be horrible. It's not worth it." She narrowed her eyes. "Have you ever tried to get somewhere, anywhere, during rush hour, here in L.A?"

"No," I admitted. I hadn't thought about that. I'd heard that traffic in Los Angeles was a nightmare, but forgot to take it into consideration. I'd really like to avoid it if possible. Hpm The Realtor didn't remind me of that factor. I needed to rethink the whole thing again.

"I didn't think so," Alice said, interrupting my thoughts. " But don't worry, I have the right place for you."

"Really?"

"It's just perfect." Her eyes glowed with excitement. "Oh, so perfect!" she squealed clapping her hands together.

I didn't understand her attitude; it was odd how thrilled she seemed about my living arrangement. Then again, Alice did not act like an ordinary person, so I guess her behavior shouldn't be either. "Good. Where is it located?"

"Close to the ocean. You'll love it!"

Ah, the ocean. Maybe I would.


A/N: I know that James was described in the book with regular features—"nondescript". My James is handsome. He had to be if he were going to be Edward's rival and foe. I hope that little change doesn't bother you to much.