Story Title: The Perfect Girl
Summary: Bella Swan is a humble young girl determined to prove she's serious about making art. Edward Cullen is the pragmatic debonair foreigner, focused on his career and duties. On the surface, Bella and Edward may have nothing in common, until a chance encounter in a hotel hallway sparks a mysterious attraction and a deep need to keep the connection alive. Will true love prove strong enough to overcome the secrets and challenges that lay ahead? Or will they succumb to the pressure and expectations of the people that think they know best? Edward&Bella. All Human.
Beta: LaMomo | Pre-reader: Salanna
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. The plot is inspired by the manga 100% Perfect Girl by Wann.
~ CHAPTER ONE~
The Pragmatic Gentleman
On a beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in London, I walked past the woman of my dreams. To tell you the truth, she didn't stand out in any way… but still, I knew from fifty yards away that she was the perfect girl for me.
The moment I saw her, I felt a rumbling in my chest and my mouth went dry as a desert. My skin crawled with an electric thrill. I didn't dare to even blink; too afraid I'd miss a single moment. My fingers twitched to touch her and my arms trembled to embrace her.
I wish I could talk to her, just half an hour would be more than enough. Just to ask her about herself, her likes and dislikes, her life, her family, and her friends. And then I could tell her about myself, tell her how she had captivated me from the first look and how I couldn't imagine my life without her. I wish to explain to her the complexities of fate that led to our paths crossing on a side street in London this beautiful April morning—
The sound of the book slamming close startled some of the passengers on the plane, but they knew better than to acknowledge it, so they all went back to their activities without so much as a glance to the source.
Edward sat pinching the bridge of his nose, his right hand resting on the hard cover of the book he had been reading. He wondered why he thought that reading this particular book would be a good idea to pass the time, finding the subject utterly cliché and—
"—uninspiring," he sighed, his face a mask of boredom and annoyance. "This book is dull and uninspiring."
The young woman sitting across from him gasped at his comment.
"No, it isn't! How can you think that, Edward? It's moving, romantic and—"
"It's cheap sentimentalism, Alice," Edward interrupted her in the middle of what he was sure would be a long drawn-out rant. "Recognizing the perfect girl at first glance—it's so clichéd it makes my skin crawl! Why did you think I'd enjoy something like this?"
He pushed the book back to her across the sleek table surface and it landed on her lap.
"You were the one who snatched the book from me!" Alice rolled her eyes, taking the uninspiring book and putting it back inside her briefcase.
"Well, you were the one that insisted I read something non-work related," he shot back, trying to hold back his smirk.
Edward was known as a serious and hard-working man, at least to the people who didn't know him personally. But every now and then, you would catch a glimpse of the playful young boy he used to be—especially if the goal was to annoy his assistant Alice. Over the years, it had become one of Edward's favorite pastimes ever since he figured out she had a very short fuse.
"Ugh! You're just—" Alice stopped and bit her tongue when she noticed the twitch on Edward's lips. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and counted to ten (something her husband had taught her to do). Once calmed, she opened her eyes and raised one of her perfectly manicured eyebrows, looking straight at the man in front of her. "I know what you're trying to do and it's not happening, boss." She smirked, sitting back in her seat and enjoying the disgruntled look on his face.
Edward internally cursed and slumped back on his seat.
The way she could read his moods so well, and her uncanny ability to always tell exactly what he needed even before he knew it, exasperated Edward to no end, but it was certainly the reason why she was so good at her job.
Alice Brandon Whitlock had been working as his personal assistant since before his father passed away. Once Edward took charge of the family company and his father's former duties, the friendship that arose since the first job interview became closer. He now considered Alice as one of his closest and most loyal friends. She had proven to be quite an asset for the company, but she also knew when to stop and take a break. Edward valued Alice's company; he respected her immensely and valued her advice. He had never met anyone as smart as her, and they would often fall into long and interesting debates, but most of all she helped him build a life outside of his duties, and for that, Edward would always be grateful. He shuddered to think what would've become of him had it not been for Alice and her incessant need to always wind down when the opportunity arose. She always kept a very professional façade in front of others, but behind closed doors she acted more like a caring older sister, always available to help Edward in any capacity.
Alice was fiercely protective of her friends, but even more so of Edward. She had seen the best, the worst and the ugliest during her time working for the Cullen family. With the difficulties he'd had to face in the past, Alice knew he needed someone in his corner, willing to drop everything and just listen to him. His job wasn't easy, so it was Alice's unspoken duty to always bring a little lightness into any situation, which was what she had intended to do when she brought that book on board.
Though, now that she thought about it, maybe a thriller would have been a better choice.
No doubt, Edward would have turned into a workaholic if it wasn't for Alice, but things had changed during the last eight years. When he had first met Alice, she wasn't a dreamer who would read romance novels in her free time—she preferred historic tales and biographies like him—but it all changed when she met her now husband and Edward's personal bodyguard, Jasper Whitlock. Since that day, her views had shifted and she was now a firm believer in things like true love and destiny, something that really ticked Edward off since he harbored a cynical view onthe subject.
So, in the spirit of not starting the same argument he'd heard a thousand times before about romance and how he needed to find love, Edward decided to change the subject and switched his focus to more important things that required his immediate attention.
"Fine, you win this one, Alice. I apologize."
Alice narrowed her eyes and nodded, accepting his apology and settling back in her seat after stowing away her bag.
Edward smiled and cleared his throat. "Since I'm out of distractions, would you hand me the reports that were sent in this morning, please?" he asked her, extending his hand for the requested documents.
Alice sighed and shook her head. "Edward, we just left the ground…"
Instead of starting another argument, he simply gave her a 'just do your job' look and she relented.
"Fine," Alice sighed in defeat, handing him the first two reports. She knew Edward rarely took a break during these kinds of trips, so why she thought he would today, she had no idea. She had hoped he would, but here he was… proving her wrong, yet again.
Edward didn't understand the problem; what else could they do on a twelve-hour flight?
Sleep? Certainly not him. Edward only slept four hours a night, maybe even five if he was really tired, but that was it. Jasper often called him a machine and had no idea how Edward was able to function like that, but if he knew the kind of dreams Edward had, he would understand. In fact, Edward was sure Jasper would understand better than anyone.
Edward had known Jasper Whitlock ever since they were in secondary school. Jasper was the same age as his older sister Rosalie, and the three of them used to be pretty close growing up. Even after Jasper enlisted, their friendship had remained close. Jasper was a hardworking and intelligent man; he possessed a strategic mind that made him stand out and move through the ranks faster than any other. It was that strategic mind that procured him his position next to Edward's father at such a young age, and also one of the reasons why Edward trusted him implicitly. When Edward's father passed away Jasper became his personal bodyguard, and since then he had never gone anywhere without him.
Several reports and four hours later, Alice called for a small lunch break.
Jasper strode down the aisle to where Edward and Alice had been working, and once he reached them, he gave Edward a small smile and a nod before addressing him.
"The flight attendant is about to serve lunch. I was wondering if I could steal Alice for a few minutes."
Edward smirked and waved him off. "Steal her away."
Jasper grinned and then looked down to Alice. "Would you like a chicken salad sandwich?" Jasper asked his wife as he leaned down to kiss her cheek.
"Sure, baby, that sounds nice. Can you get me an iced tea, too?" Alice answered while batting her eyelashes to her husband.
Edward sighed in exasperation at their display. He couldn't understand how Alice and Jasper still acted like two lovesick fools after being married for five years.
Unfortunately, his sigh had been a bit too loud and was suddenly on the receiving end of one of Alice's scary-as-hell glares.
"What's your problem, Edward?" She crossed her arms across her chest, glaring at the man hard across the table.
"Honey..." Jasper tried to sooth his wife.
"No, Jasper," she snapped, "let me handle this." She then turned back to Edward. "Just because you don't believe in love and romance, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If I told you that there was a bag with one million euros somewhere, you would believe me without seeing it, right?"
Edward smirked. "The thing is, Alice, I have seen a bag with a million euros inside."
"You're impossible!" she huffed out, tossing her hands in the air.
"Alice, sweetie," Jasper interjected with his soothing voice, rubbing her shoulder. "Just let him be… eventually he'll fall hard in love, and then he'll finally have to listen to you."
"I'd rather eat dirt," Edward mumbled, his hand covering his mouth as he scratched a spot on his upper lip.
"What's that?" Alice asked, ready to pounce.
He put his hand down on his lap and smiled innocently. "I said: I'd rather eat lunch. Now, please?"
Jasper smirked and raised an eyebrow in Edward's direction, knowing what he'd really said.
Edward shrugged, not apologizing at all.
Jasper shook his head, kissed the top of his wife's head and turned around, walking briskly down the aisle towards the food cart.
Edward took advantage of the not-so-comfortable silence and went back to his previous business.
"While we wait for lunch, where is the evaluation of the German financial situation?"
Alice looked down, fidgeting in her seat. "Well, that isn't a pressing issue, and I thought you wouldn't have time to take care of it on this trip…"
"We still have a long way to go before we reach Seattle. I'm sure that you know very well that I can't afford to waste my time."
"Edward," she sighed.
"That's enough, Alice," he reproached her, his voice firm yet respectful. "You manage my time, you should know by now how my work is done. I took a break, just like you advised; now it's time to get back to work."
Alice let out a soft sigh and gave him a firm nod. "I'm sorry, Edward. I'll get them right away." She stood up and went to the back of the plane where the rest of the business team was gathered.
Alice had always understood that with Edward there was a time for play and a time to get down to business. His serious request told her that he now needed Alice the assistant, not the best friend. She had always admired Edward in that sense. She was proud to work for a man like him, someone destined for greatness.
Edward, at the age of twenty-five, had crushed every doubt and exceeded every expectation his colleagues had since his father left everything to him. He carried a great responsibility, but he lived for the challenge. He wanted to make an impact, leave his mark in history, and the only way to achieve this was through hard work. Besides his strive to prove everyone he was the right man for the job, also came a deep need to stay busy. Edward would rather focus on his work than let his thoughts wander. His mind wasn't a happy place most of the times, not since he was a pubescent boy.
Alice shook her head, trying to dispel the memories. It didn't do any good to dwell on the past.
Edward didn't like to reprimand Alice, but it was something he'd had to do more and more lately. The lines were getting blurred, and he needed her to remember that, in this kind of setting, he was her boss first and foremost; their friendship would always come in second. He sighed and took the files Alice had fetched for him, and then watched her as she silently sat down across the aisle to his left.
After a few more minutes of tense silence, Edward knew he had to say something to clear out the tension between them, but Alice beat him to it.
"You know, workaholism is a disorder," she commented, perusing one of the reports, her attitude nonchalant.
Edward kept his eyes trained to the papers in front of him.
"I mean, how can you put up with all the tension without relaxing once in a while? That's a recipe for disaster." She picked up another folder from the pile on her left. "No matter how much responsibility or work you have, you're still human. You need to catch a break every now and then."
Edward tilted his head to the side and looked at Alice from the corner of his eye.
Alice was smiling, but still reading the papers in her hands.
"It's good to drop everything and get away from time to time. No one would say anything; God knows you need it," she added, looking at him with a small smile on her lips.
Edward finally looked up at her with a little smile of his own.
Alice winked at him.
This was why Edward kept Alice close. She knew exactly what to say to make him relax when he thought he was being too harsh.
"Besides, this is your first time in Seattle. At least, look at the scenery through the window and try to be a little impressed," she added with a smile, gathering her stuff and preparing to meet Jasper in one of the back cabins for their lunch date.
"It's a city from a bird's eye view. Every place is the same, no matter where you are in the world," Edward answered, his voice coming out a little defeated.
Alice pursed her lips in disapproval, but didn't say anything, focusing instead on grabbing her purse and phone.
Edward suddenly winced, rubbing his chest.
It was strange, since this morning he kept having a feeling, a feeling…
"That something is going to happen."
"What's that?" Alice asked, just as she was leaving.
"Umm…" Did I say that aloud?
"Edward?" She furrowed her brows in confusion. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I asked where we're staying at." He gave her a little smile.
"The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, of course." Alice looked down to her phone. "We'll be landing in less than four hours."
Edward nodded and returned to his work, ignoring his lunch. He had lost his appetite and, besides, he would rather wait and have a better meal at the hotel. Ignoring Alice's scrutinizing stare, he picked up another report and proceeded to read through it, noticing immediately a few discrepancies he would have to address upon his return from the States.
Alice sighed frustrated, watching him submerge himself into his work. She wished there was something she could do, but she knew better by now. She wouldn't dare to distract him when he was like this. She could only hope that once they landed, he would try to enjoy the change of scenery a bit.
What none of them knew was how a supposed business trip would change their lives in so many different ways.
Hey everyone! Missed me? I know this chapter was short, but the rest of the chapters will be around 4k words. This one was more like an introductory chapter and I hope you guys liked it.
To the new readers, thank you for picking my story and I hope you will find it entertaining.
To the old readers, thank you so much for your patience. I can assure you that the re-write of this story was much needed and I'm very excited about it. Massive edits have been made, though plot-wise the story remains the same.
Big shout out to LaMomo and Salanna for kicking this chapter into gear. Their red pens sparkle and are oh-so-pretty. I flove them.
The blog has been updated, link is on my profile. Go there to check out the outfits, banner, characters pictures and teasers—though that last item won't be posted until a much later chapter, when we start with the new stuff.
I hope you enjoy this new version. I will be updating on Sundays, but in case something happens (real life likes to mess with me from time to time) I'll make sure to post a note on the blog and let you guys know, okay?
Thank you for reading and feel free to leave me a review, even a smiley will be fine!
Till next time,