A/N: I don't own anything. My first fic so be kind. I'm reposting the un-beta'd chapters (including this one). Thank you to my faithful beta.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
A soft groan escaped from my lips as I picked up my cell phone. "Cullen," I answered, annoyed as I always am every morning.
"Good morning, sir. This is your wake up call," my assistant's voice flooded over me and pricked at my nerves more than usual.
I ended the call without another word spoken. Without further hesitation, I laid one foot on the floor and then the other slowly. Standing up, I stumbled over to the wall and flipped the switch. Light poured into my studio apartment as the curtains drew away from each other. Then, faint music began playing as I started my day just like every day.
After a quick shower, I walked all around my perfectly organized closet while contemplating which suit to wear.
Hmm… Gucci… Armani… Valentino… Calvin Klein…
After deciding on a black Armani, I moved around to pick out the right color button down.
White… blue… green… purple…
Grabbing a blue button down, I picked up a gold silk tie. "Can't take no more her tears like diamonds on the floor, and her diamonds bring me down cuz I can't help her now," I sang softly to myself as I put on my clothes.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Cullen." My phone always rang twice every morning. First, my assistant to tell me to get up, and next was always the doorman in the lobby of my apartment building to say that my car had arrived to take me to the office.
"Good morning, Mr. Cullen. Your car has just arrived." I can never remember his name.
Like it matters.
"Thank you." Throwing my phone aside on the bed, I put on my Ralph Lauren loafers and walked into my home office to grab my briefcase.
"Good morning, sir," the attendant on the elevator greeted me with a wide smile, another name that had slipped my mind.
I scoffed out a 'hello' while checking my emails on my Blackberry as I stepped into the elevator. I hummed quietly to myself Rob Thomas' "Her Diamonds" that had cemented itself into my mind since I woke up. The elevator came to an abrupt halt as the rich widow who lived six floors below my apartment climbed inside. She was dressed in all of her most luxurious furs and diamonds with her surgically enhanced face decked out in full makeup. She gave me a wide smile as she stood as close to me as possible.
"Good morning, Mr. Cullen. You're looking very dashing today."
"As are you, Ms. Gallagher." Hers was a name that I could remember, but only because she never let me forget her. I took a slight step to the left. The closer she got, the closer her perfume scorched my nostrils.
"I haven't seen you around the building much lately. Been working late nights?"
I didn't like a lot of questions no matter who asked them. To me, my business was my business. Even though her question was just a friendly one, I was immediately annoyed by her.
"Yes." My answer was trite, but I would never give out much detail of my life to anyone especially her.
"You're too young to be working so much, Mr. Cullen." I let out a sigh of relief whenever the elevator reached the lobby, and the doors pulled open.
"Have a nice day, Ms. Gallagher," I replied softly before I walked briskly through the elevator doors and over to the entrance of the building.
"Good morning, Mr. Cullen. It's a beautiful day," the doorman greeted me as he held the door open.
"Yes it is." I forced out a smile to reflect his own as I got into the limo parked outside the building. And it was beautiful day. If I wasn't such an obsessive workaholic then I might have enjoyed a day off. Maybe to go golfing or go see my parents whom I haven't seen in over a year; however, I am me, and I never take a day off. Never.
I kept checking my emails on my Blackberry as my driver drove me through the streets of Los Angeles. I had an email from my boss saying there would be an early meeting this morning. There were also several emails from the DA's office, and one from my assistant to remind me to be in court at two this afternoon. I sighed and put my phone back in my pocket, deciding to reply to all of them whenever I got to my desk at my office.
About twenty minutes later, we arrived at the entrance of the largest law firm in Los Angeles. I waited as my driver got out of the limo and walked around to open my door. I slipped my briefcase strap around my head so that the strap lay across my chest and over my shoulder.
I went through the lobby and up the elevator to the twentieth floor. I sighed when I entered my office. My assistant was waiting with my usual tall cappuccino. He greeted me with a smile as he handed the coffee to me. I ignored his friendly salutation and walked past him into the glass doors of my office.
He rambled on and on about the day's upcoming events. All of which I already knew about and remembered, but I guess I do pay him to remind me so I never forget. I listened to him as he recited all my messages that clients had left for me this morning.
My day at work was like any other day. I always threw myself into my work and never thought of anything else. My assistant reminded me several times during the day to call my mom. She always called every morning at the same time. Sometimes I talked to her, but most of the time I was too busy and made my assistant tell her that I would call her back.
Which I never did.
About three or four times a week, my brothers Jasper and Emmett would call. Just like when my mom would call, I would sometimes talk to them, but most of the time I was too busy. My assistant would make excuses, and again I would never call them back.
Yes, I was alone. Extremely alone. My family had all become strangers to me which was so strange because we were all so close growing up. Most of them I hadn't seen in over a year. And if I did see them, it was usually because they would come see me. I never made the effort to go visit.
My work consumed me. It consumed my thoughts, my actions, my life. Everything. Practicing law was what I had always wanted to do with my life. Even though my dad was a doctor and both of my brothers decided to go that route with their lives also, I knew that I was different. Law school was a hard choice because medicine was what my parents had always expected me to do. But I had different plans. And because of that decision, I moved to LA to be a part of something bigger. I knew that I wanted to work for this firm. It was a goal of mine while I was in college, and as the rest of my life has shown, I always achieved my goals. Always.
The loneliness never bothered me. I guess I have gotten used to it. I decided to attend Berkley instead of the University of Washington like the rest of my family. So I had been alone since college. I was definitely used to it.
As far as romantic relationships go, well, relationships never seemed to work mostly because I didn't have the time and effort to keep them.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
The ringing of my phone broke my gaze from my computer. Emmett's name appeared on the screen, and I thought for a considerable amount of time on whether or not to ignore his call. After fighting with myself, I sighed and answered it.
"Cullen." It just seemed natural to answer the phone like that. Business calls were mostly the only calls that I received during the day, so to answer in a more personable way just seemed uncomfortable even if it was my own brother calling.
"You answered? I can't believe it! I am almost disappointed. I have come to have a very intimate relationship with your voicemail," Emmett's voice was always a voice of comfort. So familiar and full of old memories, that it was hard not to smile to myself whenever I talked to him.
"I'm sorry. Should I hang up and have you call again? I won't answer next time," I joked. Wow, a joke. That was rare.
"Funny. What are you up to, man? Working, I'm sure."
"Of course. But I have a minute before I have to be in court. What's up?" Lately, Emmett called less and less. I'm sure he did not appreciate being ignored.
"Well, I was wondering if you would want to meet Jasper, Alice, Rosalie and me for dinner tonight. Jasper and I have been promising the girls a weekend in California for a while now, and we thought this weekend would be a great. We'd love to see you. And the girls really want to meet you," Emmett said. His voice was pleading. He knew what my answer was going to be before he even called.
Jasper and Emmett had both gotten engaged in the last month. I still hadn't met Alice or Rosalie. I had seen pictures that my mom would email me. They were very beautiful girls and seemed to make my brothers happy. I had almost been jealous of Emmett and Jasper for finding love. Almost.
"Oh, Em. Thank you for asking, but -"
"But you can't. You wish you could, but you're swamped at work," Emmett seemed to be reciting a line that I used often. More often than I thought.
"It's the truth. It really is. I miss you and Jazz, but I'm in the middle of an important case. I probably won't even leave the office until late tonight."
"That's fine. Meet us for a drink later on."
I searched and searched my brain for excuses. I really wasn't that deep in cases. This time of year was always slow at work. I guess there was less crime during the summer, and for some reason I was always the busiest around Christmas. Go figure.
"Em, I don't know. I just-"
"I haven't seen you in so long, Edward. I am really beginning to miss your ugly, self-centered ass," Emmett laughed.
I paused for what seemed like minutes. I contemplated and fought with myself for a long time before I finally sighed and agreed to meet them all later but only for a quick drink. Emmett was ecstatic. He gave me the directions to the hotel they were staying at. Apparently there was a popular bar in the lobby of the hotel. I wouldn't know. Like I said, I don't get out that much.
The rest of the day/night at work went by slowly. More slowly than usual. I believe I was beginning to look forward to seeing my brothers. Just speaking with Emmett for the short amount of time over the phone made me realize just how much I missed him and Jazz.
It was such a painful experience for me whenever I decided to go to Berkley rather than follow the path of the rest of my family and go to UW. My life would have been so different if I would have decided to go there. It was hard to think about. I probably would have lived with my two brothers, gone into medicine or something (probably anything) besides law, and I would have been just as happy.
Am I happy? I suppose I am. I wake up. Go to work. Go home. I don't really ever speak to anyone outside of work or my apartment building. I haven't really had a girlfriend since I graduated college. Women at work would flirt with me shamelessly every now and then, but my mind was never programmed that way to want to pursue them any further. I only wanted to be left alone. Anything outside of my world was just unwanted.
But happy? I never really thought about it. My life wasn't a happy life, but there were things in it that made me happy. Playing the piano alone at home always made me happy, but I didn't play much at all. Driving my Mercedes made me happy, but I always had a driver to take me wherever I needed to go.
So, am I happy?
At half past ten, I went to the bathroom attached to my office where I took a shower and freshened up. I had a bathroom installed in my office a few months back due to late night cases and pulling all-nighters night after night.
I scrubbed off the residue that a full day at the office and in court had left on my body. I sighed as I looked in the medicine cabinet for my usual hair products and deodorant. After applying everything, I put on my Armani slacks and grabbed a new grey button down from the closet inside the bathroom.
While walking out the door of my office, I called my driver and had him meet me around the front of the firm's entrance.
I gave him the directions to the hotel where Emmett had told me. Within twenty minutes, I was parked outside. I fought with myself internally as I looked at the hotel's rotating doors.
"Sir?" My driver questioned me as I was lost in my own thoughts.
"Give me just a minute, Arthur." I sighed heavily and ran my hand through my hair wearily. I hadn't had a truly stimulating conversation with anyone outside of work in a long time, and I knew that seeing my brothers would bring back a lot of memories and a lot of things to discuss.
Be happy, Edward. They are your family. You love them.
Without further hesitation, I opened the limo door. "You can go home, Arthur. I will catch a cab home."
"Are you sure, sir?"
"Yes. Good night."
"Good night, sir." I shut the door and watched as the limo drove away. I put one foot in front of the other hesitatingly as I approached the hotel lobby. It was a lovely hotel. And even though I had been in LA for a few years now, I had still never seen it before.
"Edward!" I spun to my right after hearing my name being yelled by none other than my blonde, blue eyed brother, Jasper. I instantly smiled. Just seeing his familiar face brought back all of the love that I had for him.
"Jazz-," was all I could say before he had me wrapped in a hug. I was caught off guard by the contact. When was the last time someone hugged me?
I returned his hug with a few pats on his back. "Oh man, I've missed you. You look good." Jasper stepped back and looked me up and down. "You look damn good. I don't know if you should meet Alice or not. She may never be satisfied by me again." His eyebrows wiggled up and down incessantly.
I laughed as I clasped my hand firmly on his shoulder. "Well, let me meet her so she can choose," I joked. He laughed and directed me over to the bar.
"Edward, this is my fiancé Alice," said Jasper, as he touched the shoulder of a very small and petite brunette that sat at the bar with a drink in her hand. She turned and smiled broadly at me. She was attractive. I would consider her to be cute but not exactly sexy. She had a petite figure and short spiky brown hair that didn't come past her shoulders. Her eyes were a beautiful light blue, and I knew right then that her and Jazz would have beautiful blue eyed children.
"It is so nice to meet you, Edward. Oh, Jasper and Emmett talk about you all the time. They always talk about what it was like growing up with you. Three boys around the same age… I'm sure it was an interesting childhood. I'm so sorry that we haven't traveled here sooner so that we could meet. Jasper is just always so busy seeing patients, and he is always saying how busy you are. But it is so nice to meet you finally," she finally took a breath. It was then that I knew she was perfect Jasper. Jasper never says much, and he is always so calm. I'm sure they made a nice, balanced pair.
I smiled at her as she took my hand and shook it softly. Her skin was very pale and creamy. "It is so nice to meet you too, Alice. I'm really glad that you're going to be a part of the family soon."
Alice beamed and offered me a seat next to her at the bar.
"So where are you from, Alice? And how did you meet my brother?" I asked her after I ordered myself a beer.
"Seattle. Jasper and I met in college. Rosalie, me, and my other friend lived together in the same apartment building as Emmett and Jazz. We hung out just as friends all four years at UW, but it wasn't until Jazz's residency that he finally got up the nerve to tell me his real feelings for me," she leaned over and gazed at Jasper lovingly after a moment before she continued on. "I told him that I had always had a thing for him, too, and now here we are engaged and getting married next summer. I can't believe it."
I smiled as I watched them interact with one another. They were truly happy and in love. I felt a slight twinge of jealousy, but I was mostly happy for Jazz.
"Oh my god! He actually showed up!" I cringed as soon as I heard Emmett's voice calling from behind me.
I turned around in my chair to see Emmett waving at me from a table across the room. Sitting next to him was a beautiful blonde who was smiling as big as Emmett was.
I grinned back at them as I sat at the table with them. Jasper and Alice followed close behind me. "It's good to see you, Em." Emmett stood up and grasped me into a close bear hug. He gave me two pats on the back before he pulled away and reached out for the blonde.
"Edward, this is Rosalie. Rose, this is Edward."
I reached out and shook her hand. She smiled up at me as she batted her thick, black lashes at me. She was beautiful. I wouldn't expect anything less because I knew Emmett. He never dated anyone who wasn't blonde and fully stacked.
"Very nice to meet you," I said as I let go of her hand and sat down in between Emmett and Jasper.
"Nice to meet you too," Rosalie replied as she sipped on her drink.
"Glad you could make it. I was worried you would forget or stand us up." Emmett's words would have been hurtful if they weren't true.
I took a long gulp of my beer.
"Yeah, well. I knew I had to meet both of your future wives before you actually tied the knot. I have to approve." I caught the attention of the waitress and asked for another beer.
"And?" Emmett gave me a sideways grin which was one of his signature looks growing up. No one could ever say no to him. He always got what he wanted.
I glanced at Alice and then at Rosalie. Alice was dressed in a pencil skirt to her knees with a frilly, trendy blue top that was tucked into the top of her skirt. She seemed like she would be very short if it wasn't for her tall, skinny stilettos. But Rosalie was obviously taller. She was blonde and leggy and also insanely gorgeous, but my type wasn't leggy blondes. But it was certainly Emmett's. She wore a tight red strapless top with long black pants and black pumps.
I took another swig of beer and replied with a smile, "Jury's still out."
They all laughed, and we continued talking, more relaxed.
"Still a lonely bastard?" Emmett was always curious about my love life or lack thereof.
"Emmett." Rosalie playfully hit Emmett on his broad shoulder while scolding him for his first blunt question of the night. I expect there will be many more.
I laughed and shook my head. "No, it's ok." I looked Emmett straight in his eyes. "I guess I'm just still looking."
"Oh, come on. You're never 'looking'." Emmett did air quotes over the word "looking". In other words, he didn't believe me.
"Maybe I'm picky."
"Maybe you're too picky."
"Maybe, dear brother, you should mind your own business." I smiled at him jokingly. Emmett shook with silent laughter as he took a swig of his beer.
"So, Edward, you're a lawyer?" Alice questioned.
I took a sip of my beer and nodded my head. "Yes. I work at Smith and Layton."
"I hear that you've been very successful."
Even though I had just met Alice, I was easily relaxed when talking to her. She seemed completely sincere and real. I smiled again and nodded. "I guess you can say that."
Jasper leaned forward and chuckled. "Don't be so humble, E. You are one of the most successful defense attorneys in LA."
"And the one with the least flossed dick," Emmett cut in curtly. Jasper let out a quick giggle before catching himself and grasping his mouth with his hand. Rosalie swatted at Emmett again as Alice stifled a laugh.
"Ha ha," I said sarcastically.
While all of us laughed together, it grew silent as Alice's phone rang. She rifled through her purse before grabbing her phone. She whispered, "Excuse me," before answering it.
"Hello?" It was complete silence among the rest of us. It was as if the others wanted to hear exactly what Alice was saying. Were they expecting Alice's phone call? They all stared intently at her as she spoke. "Ok… that sounds good…. Yeah, we're sitting here at a table in the bar… it's to the left of the lobby. I'll be looking for you." There was a long pause in the conversation, and Alice looked down at herself then back up. "Well, I'm not that dressed up, but it's ok. Rose is kinda-… Bella-… no, it's fine. Just come…. Ok. Love you. Bye." She hung up, shaking her head and laughing.
"Is she coming?" Rosalie asked.
"Yeah. She's just worried that she's too dressed up. She didn't have time to go home and change after the banquet."
Wait, am I missing something?
"I'm sure she looks fine. She always does," Rosalie replied.
Ok, I am definitely confused.
Emmett picked up on my questioning looks. "Our friend Bella is going to stop by for a drink. She's here for the weekend, too."
I nodded, gulping down another beer. I felt myself start to feel the alcohol. The feeling in my fingertips was being to fade, and I knew the queasy feeling would start next. "She lives in LA?"
Alice laughed and shook her head. "No, she's our roommate in Seattle, but her mom and step dad live here."
"You'd like her, E. She's beautiful," Jasper said, winking at me. I groaned.
This cannot be a set up.
"Please tell me this is not a blind date or some shit? You do realize that I can easily object during both of your weddings?"
Rosalie laughed, "No. It's really not. She has no idea about you. She just thinks it's us here."
That was when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was completely unaware of my brothers and their friends and their fiancés and their fiancé's friends. I really didn't know anything about them anymore.
"I really missed you guys," I said sincerely looking at Emmett then back at Jasper.
"We missed you, too. Nobody ever believes that we have another brother," Emmett laughed.
I nodded. That's probably true.
"I really wish that we lived closer together."
"Edward, you are the one that decided to move away," Jasper reminded me.
"You can always move back to Seattle. There's really nothing keeping you here besides your job. I'm sure you can find a job in Seattle, though. No problem." Jasper was just torturing me, which was making me feel horrible for moving away in the first place.
"You know I can't."
Rosalie sat up and propped her head in her hand. "Why not?"
"My life's here," I said matter-of-factly back to her.
"Not much of a life, E. Just your job," Jasper wasn't trying to be rude, and I knew that so I didn't get upset at his remark.
I hung my head, finishing off another beer. "Aw, let's stop all this and not ruin the night. Let's drink!" Emmett said happily lifting his beer mug up in the air. Motioning towards the waitress, Emmett yelled, "Hey! Another round?"
"Hey, wait on me!" We all turned to see where the voice was coming from. Entering into the bar was the most beautiful sight that I had ever seen. A girl, no, a woman with long smooth dark hair that hung past her breasts was walking towards us in a long, shiny black dress that was to the floor. She had some of it gathered in her hands as she walked swiftly so as not to step on it. Her dress was form fitting and strapless. I know she must have had some one help her zip the dress because it was so tight, but it flowed nicely to the floor. It also had a slit down the side that was high on her long legs.
Because she was holding her dress up some, I looked down and noticed her stiletto high heels that clicked the floor below her. Her long hair was curled slightly at the ends which bounced as she walked and framed her face nicely. Oh, her face. Her face was just as beautiful as her body. She had soft, delicate features. She had a tiny nose, but maybe it was just tiny compared to her big beautiful blue eyes that seemed to glow. I couldn't take my eyes off of her.
She smiled brightly as she made her way closer and closer to our table. Her smile was just as beautiful as she was. And her eyes mirrored her smile. She had big blue eyes that sparkled against her light colored smooth, creamy skin. She let out a long sigh as she kissed Alice on the cheek then Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper and then stopped in front of me.
"Bella, this is mine and Jazz's brother, Edward," Emmett said motioning towards me.
I don't know why, but I stood up to greet her. She smiled at my movement and held out her hand. "Hi. I'm Bella. I'm sorry, but I didn't even know there was another Cullen brother until today." Her voice was like a rose. Soft and sweet. Our eyes were locked, and I don't think I could have looked away even if a siren started going off.
I smiled a toothy smile and laughed softly. "I don't come out of hiding much." I held out my hand as she slowing looked down at it then took it into her own. She gripped my hand slightly. Her skin was also soft like her voice. "It's nice to meet you, Bella."
"You, too, Other Cullen." I laughed and shook my head. She looked away from my eyes and glanced down at everyone at our table. "Thanks for saving me a seat, guys. What the hell? I know you're probably all embarrassed by the way I look, but you could at least act like you're my friends."
"Bella! You look amazing! Shut up about the way you look!" Alice was obviously irritated with Bella's worries. We all looked her up and down one last time, taking in the beauty in the long, black dress.
"Where the hell have you been?" Emmett asked as the waitress brought our beers.
Bella ordered a Tequila Sunrise from the waitress before she replied to him. "I've been at the stupid Dodgers' players' awards banquet."
"What?" Jasper, Emmett and I all said in unison.
She smiled another beautiful, wide smile and looked at all of us. "Yeah, Phil asked if Renee and I wanted to go. I really didn't care about going, but Renee really wanted me to come with them."
"You went to the Dodgers' awards banquet?" My mouth was hanging open in disbelief as I asked her again.
She smiled at me, and I began to wonder if she always smiled this much. "Yeah. My step dad plays for the Dodgers."
"I can't believe you got to go! Did you not need a date or something? Why didn't you ask me?" Jasper asked with a smile. He glanced at Alice who was smiling back at him.
"No, she would have taken me over you! Phil likes me better!" Emmett replied forcefully.
"Boys, boys, boys. Please stop fighting over me." Bella giggled.
Emmett and Jasper continued to argue as I watched her, still standing closely next to her beside the table.
The waitress walked up with her tequila sunrise and handed it her. Bella took it carefully in her hands and thanked the waitress offering her another beautiful smile. She sipped the orangey drink through a tiny straw. I was automatically mesmerized by her. She noticed me staring at her, and looked up at me from under her thick, dark lashes.
"Tequila?" I smiled with my eyebrows raised.
She laughed and nodded her head after taking one long sip. "You just met me, Cullen. You obviously don't know about my love for tequila yet. It's my weakness."
No one was paying attention to us as we continued to talk.
"Well, in college, I tried lots of different liquors. Actually, all liquors…." I laughed to myself as she continued. "And I have come to find that tequila is my favorite above all the rest. Yes, it might sting your throat when doing shots, but it goes down smoother and tastes better than anything else." I nodded and took a swig of my beer. "Plus, it doesn't give you that awful 'next day vodka breath'. Blah." She shook her shoulders and shuddered at the thought of 'next day vodka breath'.
She is beautiful.
"So just tequila? You never drink anything else?"
"I never said that, Cullen. I actually have one drink that I usually order anywhere that knows how to make it. And it doesn't have tequila."
"Oh really? What's that?"
"A Grateful Dead."
I laughed and took another sip of my beer before replying. "What exactly is a Grateful Dead?"
She looked up at me from under her long lashes making me wonder if she looks at everyone like that. It was driving me wild. She gave me a smirk then waved at the waitress to come over. The waitress walked over to us. "Can we have two Grateful Dead's?"
The waitress nodded and walked off. She smiled, looking back up at me. "It's on me, Other Cullen."
I smiled and nodded back at her. I looked around and saw a small table with two chairs that was empty next to the table where we were all sitting. "Would you like to sit? I know you can't be comfortable standing in those heels."
She looked down at her feet, and I guess that was when she realized that she was still holding the bottom of her dress up from when she first walked in. She instinctively let go as the dress dropped down to the floor. She looked at the empty table and nodded her head. "Actually, yes. That would be great. My feet are throbbing."
I smiled and pulled her seat out for her then went around and sat on the other side. I saw out of the corner of my eye as Emmett watched us.
"Hey! I thought you were here to see us, E? Not Bella!" Emmett yelled towards us. Our table was only about two feet from theirs, but he still felt the need to yell.
"Well, you call yourselves her friends, but none of you saved her a seat! I don't want her sitting by herself." I could see Bella looking at me with a smile still permanently attached to her full lips. I began to feel my cheeks getting hot.
Am I blushing?
A wide smile slowly made its way across Emmett's lips as he nodded his head and said softly, "Ok."
"Thank you," her soft voice brought me back around as I looked back at her.
"No problem at all." The waitress dropped off the two drinks that Bella had ordered. Bella gave the waitress her empty glass and took one drink then handed the other one to me.
She looked at me and smiled proudly. "I think you're going to like it."
"I don't know. I don't really enjoy new things."
"Oh, live a little. It's good." She gave the glass a nudge towards me. "Don't knock it till you try it, Cullen."
I picked up the glass and inspected it carefully. It was purple. I wrinkled my forehead saying out loud what I was thinking. "It's purple."
"It's good," she corrected me.
"What's in it?"
"It's like a Long Island except it has Razz Ma Tazz instead of coke."
My forehead wrinkled again. "What's Razz Tazz?"
She giggled. "Razz Ma Tazz. Just try it."
I lifted the glass and took in the smell. It smelled pretty good like raspberries. Maybe that's because of the Razz Ma Tazz stuff. I put the glass to my lips and took a small sip. She watched me intently waiting for my response. It was sour, and I was right about the raspberries. But it was very good. It wasn't all fruity like most "girly" drinks, which made me think that it wasn't a normal "girly" drink.
"It's good." She smiled proudly and took a sip of her own drink. "Actually, it's really good."
She nodded her head. "Told ya. Don't tell anyone, though, or everyone will start getting them."
I laughed and took another sip except this one was less apprehensive so it was more of a gulp than a sip.
It grew somewhat quiet between us as we just stared at one another. Words just didn't seem to matter at the moment. It was like we were having a silent conversation using just our eyes. Alice's voice brought us out of our intent stares.
"Hey, Bella! How long are you staying in LA?"
Bella broke her stare away from me to look at Alice. "I guess just the weekend. Renee and I are going to go shopping tomorrow, but I'll go back to Seattle Sunday."
"I wanna go shopping, too!" Alice exclaimed.
"Me, too!" Rosalie spoke up.
"Ok. I'll pick both of you up here at the hotel tomorrow around noon."
Alice smiled and turned back to her conversation with Rosalie. Mine and Bella's eyes met once again, and we smiled at each other broadly.
"So, you're from Forks, right?" she asked me.
"Yeah. Em, Jazz and I grew up there."
She nodded as she sipped her drink. "Yeah, I've met your parents and stayed at your house."
She nodded again with a smile. "Esme and Carlisle are wonderful. You're very lucky."
"Yeah, but Carlisle is no catcher for the Dodgers," I joked.
"Yeah, but Phil is no surgeon." I laughed and agreed with her.
"I don't get to visit them as often as I should. I'm always so busy at work."
Her eyes softened, and she gave me a questioning stare. "When I first heard that Emmett and Jasper had another brother, I was wondering why I had never even heard about you. Rosalie and Alice have been dating them so long that I thought I knew everything there is to know about those two."
"Yeah, my work keeps me pretty busy."
She set her drink down and leaned forward on the table, crossing her arms and laying her elbows on the table top. She leaned forward and kept getting closer and closer to me. I had to remember to keep staring directly into her deep blue eyes or I knew I would find myself looking down the front of her tight dress.
"Tell me about yourself, Other Cullen," she smiled a sexy grin.
I cleared my throat and kept my gaze focused into her eyes. "Well, I'm a defense attorney…."
"No, no, no," she interrupted me directly. "Something about yourself outside of work."
"Um, ok." I thought as quickly as I could to find something interesting about myself.
Maybe I should just make something up.
But then again, I couldn't just make something up. I don't know what it was about her, but I couldn't lie to her.
"Well, I play the piano, guitar and drums. So, I love music. I try to compose when I can, but because of work, I don't usually find much time to do that. I love my family even though I barely get to see them. I love baseball, actually, and I'm a huge Dodgers fan." She smiled a huge toothy smile as I continued. "I live in LA. I moved here after college. I like it on most days, then on others I think it's too hot. It makes me miss Washington."
She kept her eyes locked on mine, listening intently to what I was saying. It was as if she wanted to remember everything about me. So, I continued. "Actually, I miss Washington a lot, even the rain. I miss Emmett and Jasper. I miss Esme and Carlisle. I just miss the familiarity of Seattle and Forks. I miss having a home."
Her look softened. I couldn't believe that I was telling her these things. Especially since these things were not even thoughts that had come to my mind until now.
"Why don't you move back?"
I said without hesitation, very simply, "Work."
She frowned. "You can be a lawyer anywhere. You're obviously successful enough." The look on her face after she said those words seemed to look like she regretted saying them.
I smiled. "Why do you think I'm successful?"
For the first time tonight, she lowered her head and didn't make eye contact with me as she spoke. "I mean… I… I just thought so. You have on nice clothes, and your hair's fixed nice. And… and… and your shoes."
I looked down at my shoes quickly to try to remember which ones I was wearing.
I laughed, "What about my shoes?"
"I don't know." She shrugged her shoulders, then stared back up at me through her eye lashes. "They're beautiful."
"So are you." As soon as the words came out I knew that it was wrong. She wasn't saying that I was beautiful. But what I had just said was definitely implying that she was beautiful.
And she is.
She pulled her head up quickly and gazed at me as a huge smile spread across her face. I immediately felt my cheeks get hot again, and it was now my turn to look away.
I've never blushed so much in my life.
"I mean… your shoes… uh," my voice faded. I glanced up at her, and she was still smiling at me.
"Thank you." I felt more at ease and not quite as embarrassed as I watched her keep smiling at me. She sighed and shook her head trying to forget the 'oops' moment that just occurred. "Anyway, keep going…." she said indicating she wanted to know more.
"No. It's your turn."
She looked up at the ceiling for a moment to think of what to say. "Well, ok. Let's see…." she thought for a minute more before going on. "I am originally from Phoenix, but my senior year of high school, Phil got signed to the Dodgers so my mom and Phil moved here. But I decided to go to college in Washington because my dad actually lives in Seattle. My freshman year, I met Alice who introduced me to Rosalie, Jasper and Emmett. We all became neighbors, and the rest is history." She smiled proudly at me.
"So that's how you got roped into meeting all of the Cullen's?" I joked with a smile.
She nodded, finishing off her drink. "Yep."
"So what else? Tell me something interesting."
"Ok." She looked up again as she continued to think. "Well, I am an RN. I work with Emmett in the maternity wing of the hospital. I don't really like children, which is weird because I see them being born every day. Um… I like to run. I run every morning by myself. None of them ever want to go with me," she motioned towards everyone at the table beside us. They weren't paying any attention to us. "I love movies. I quote movies all the time. It's actually annoying to most people."
"What's your favorite movie?"
"Oh gosh… um…." she stared intently down at the table trying to think. "My Cousin Vinny, probably."
"Yeah, why?" she laughed.
"I don't know. You just don't… I don't know… seem the type that would like a movie like that."
She raised her eyebrow. "Oh really?"
She sat up straight and cleared her throat before she began to speak. "Imagine you're a deer. You're prancing along. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put your little deer lips down to the cool, clear water - BAM. A fuckin' bullet rips off part of your head. Your brains are lying on the ground in little bloody pieces. Now I ask ya, would you give a fuck what kind of pants the son-of-a-bitch who shot you was wearing?" She said the line in a perfect New York accent that sounded just like Mona Lisa Vito.
My mouth spread into a wide smile, and I fell into hysterical laughter. I don't think I had laughed so hard in a long time. Hell, I don't know if I had ever laughed so hard in my life. She was laughing equally as hard. Her laugh was perfect. It was like a silent laugh where her face was scrunched up, her nose wrinkled and her eyes shut. After taking a breath, she would let out a few giggles then continue with silent hysterics. It was beautiful to watch and still so funny at the same time. She was perfect.
Tears were beginning to emerge from the corners of her eyes, and my side was starting to throb before Emmett piped up behind us.
"Hey! What's so going on over there?"
Bella and I continued to stare at one another and slowly our laughter diminished. There was nothing left to say in that moment, so we just ignored Emmett knowing that neither one of us knew what exactly was "going on" over here either.
We continued to order drinks and talk the rest of the night into the early morning. It never even entered my mind that I had barely spent much time talking to my brothers who had come all this way to see me.
Oh well. I can spend time with them tomorrow.
While in the middle of conversation about Bella's experiences working with Emmett at the hospital, she took a long yawn. I glanced down at my silver Rolex and sighed.
"It's getting late. Well, actually it's getting early."
She sighed and looked out one of the windows at the bar. "What time is it exactly?"
"Four in the morning. Must be a 24 hour bar," I laughed.
She smiled and picked up her black leather clutch purse from the table. "I need to be going anyway."
My heart dropped.
"Can I give you a ride home?"
She looked up at me from under her lashes and grinned. "You drove?"
Shit. I let Arthur go home.
"Er, no. But we can share a cab."
She shrugged her shoulders and began to stand up. "Ok. Let's go, Cullen. I'm tired."
"You know, you can start calling me Edward anytime you want," I joked as I stood up and made my way towards the bar, closing out my tab and leaving a generous tip.
She followed closely behind me, hearing her high heels click in unison with my own steps. "Why would I do that, Cullen?"
I smiled broadly still gazing forward, knowing she wouldn't be able to see me. I laughed quietly and asked the attendee to let me pay Bella's tab, too.
She walked forward and protested. "Please don't, Edward. I mean it. I can pay my own."
I raised my eyebrows and grinned at her. "Oh, I'm suddenly Edward now?"
She smiled and looked at the attendee with a pleading stare. I immediately handed him my credit card and waited. "Let me take care of you," I said simply.
Just the way the one sentence sounded as it left my mouth made me want to take it back. I was being too forward and saying things and doing things that I wouldn't normally say or do.
'Let me take care of you.' What an idiot.
To my surprise, she smiled sweetly up at me and grabbed at the ends of my coat that was resting gently on her bare shoulders from when she had gotten cold earlier. She turned on her heel and walked out into the lobby.
I waited a few more minutes for my credit card to be returned, but all the while I couldn't stop watching her.
I greeted her in the lobby as she waited for me. She smiled up at me and glanced around the room. "I guess we just stayed up too late for them."
Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie had gone up to their rooms in the hotel several hours ago, obviously giving up on making anymore conversation with Bella and me. We were too enthralled with each other to care about what any of them had to say.
I smiled and nodded.
We climbed in the back of a cab, and Bella gave the driver the address to her mom's house. The ride was quiet. In fact, the only interaction that we had were quick glances at one another and smiles that were being exchanged.
When we arrived at their home, I asked the driver to wait on me. I walked around to Bella's side of the cab and opened her door. I offered her my hand as she accepted it and stepped gracefully out of the car.
We walked up to the front of the house to the front steps while never letting go of each other's hands. When reached the door, we stopped and turned towards each other. She was beaming.
"Here's your jacket. Thank you," she said as she let go of my hand and shrugged off my coat and handed it to me.
"No problem. Thank you for your company tonight. It was fun." I shifted my weight from one side to the other and looked down. "I don't think I've laughed like that in a long time."
She chuckled and pushed back a strand of her hair and tucked it behind her ear. "I know what you mean."
There was a long silence, and for the first time all night, I was at a loss of words to say to her. It was suddenly awkward as she gazed longingly into my eyes. I was beginning to get lost in her baby blues.
I took a step towards her. Her smell was overwhelming. She smelt of soap and something sweet.
It just struck me that I was closer to her now than I had been all night long. I knew her body was only but a few inches away from mine.
Suddenly, she took a small step towards me, mimicking my movements. The space between our bodies was gone, and now we were pressed up against each other. Warm body to warm body.
Definitely cotton candy.
I smiled down at her which in turn made her smile. "You smell like cotton candy."
She let out a soft laugh and slowly nodded her head. "Yes. It's my perfume. I like candy."
I took in a long breath and let the aroma wash over me. "Mmm… me too." I gazed down at her and knew that it was now or never. I had to kiss her. I had to touch her. I had to hold her in my arms and squeeze her. My body began to ache as I fought with myself internally.
Oh my god. I have to know what she is thinking.
My breath caught in my throat as she gently put her arm around my waist and hugged me. She softly rested her head in my chest and took a long breath.
Did she just smell me?
She held her position on my chest with her arms circled around my waist. I leaned down some and rested my hands on her waist. We stood like this for what seemed like an eternity, but it was still not long enough.
She sighed one last time as she smelled me again and stepped away. "It was nice to meet you, Cullen. Maybe I will see you again."
"It's Edward, and you will. Trust me."
She smiled at me one last time and stepped inside the door of the house.
Thanks for reading. Please continue on. It gets much better.