This is my first attempt at fan fiction, please be kind.
Before we start, this will be set in England, with English characters. Sorry it is all I know.
Right down to business…
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, it belongs to S. Meyer
I do own a musical Hong Kong Phooey pyjama case, I wonder if she has one of those?
This storyline is mine though, so please no playing with it without my permission.
Chapter 1 The Rude Awakening of Sleeping Beauty
I knew today was going to be a bad day.
Do you ever get one of those feelings? When you wake up and think "I should just stay in bed?"
Well as soon as my alarm went off - and I swore at it and knocked it on the floor together with the rest of the contents of my bedside table - I just knew it was going to be bad. Monday. I hate Mondays. Doesn't everyone? And this Monday is due to be even worse than usual. It's the day I agreed to do something I know I am only going to regret…big time.
I have this friend, Jasper Hale. We met at University. Jasper was in his final year of a business degree and in one of my lectures. We bonded over our mutual dislike of the lecturer and have been great friends ever since.
I agreed to do him a favour today. Jasper has his own firm and he's quite successful. I've been helping him out for a while from home and I go in once a month to help with the payroll. But this week he's short staffed and in dire need of some extra office help, which is where I come in. You see, numbers are my thing. I prepare accounts and tax returns for people. It's easy. I can do it mostly from home and I don't have to get involved with office politics. And working from home leaves me more time to indulge another passion of mine, my horses.
So, on this grim Monday morning I'm facing a whole "day at the office." Yuck. I'm sure you are all wondering what all the fuss is about, and to a normal person it wouldn't be a big deal but this is me. Bella Swan. Painfully shy, blushes whenever someone so much as says "hello" to me. Which is why I'm happy in my safe little cocoon: my cottage, the stables and the occasional trip to the pub. Ok maybe more than occasional, but whatever, they know me in there.
After my spat with the alarm clock, I haul myself out of bed, and go in search of sustenance. I hate dragging myself out of my lovely warm bed but when you have horses in your life, early starts come with the territory. After tea and toast I throw on my casual gear and head over to the yard.
It looks as though the morning staff have everything under control. I would hate to have to be up at dawn, mucking out every morning. I've been there, done that thank you very much. Luckily for me my horses are done for me most mornings, in return for the other work I do around here.
I quickly check on my two, all is well. I have a quick chat with the stable girls, then pop over to the farmhouse to say hi to Rose, my landlady, and all round best friend. She also happens to be Jasper's twin sister, which is how we met.
Procrastinator, thy name is Bella.
Of course Rose calls me out on it the minute I wander into the kitchen.
"Shouldn't you be getting ready?" She shouts, over the din of the television and her kids having breakfast. Rose is a powerhouse. At five feet ten tall, she has the figure of a supermodel, piercing blue eyes and long blonde hair that's always immaculate. She's a great friend, incredibly loyal and to be honest, a little bit scary.
"Nah it's okay, I have plenty of time," I say, and helping myself to another cup of tea, plonk myself down at the kitchen table. Rose's ex husband, Royce, left her for his secretary. I know, it sounds like a cliché and is hard to believe. She managed to wangle a fat divorce settlement though, enough to buy this place, do it up, and now the stables run as a thriving business.
We have spent many a long evening sitting around the kitchen table, putting the world to rights with the aid of a few bottles of wine. I was so lucky when she took me under her wing and let me move from my shared flat into the cottage in the grounds. I am slowly doing it up. It's my little haven, and I hate leaving it, despite Rose's constant nagging to get myself out there. No thanks. Not again.
When I can't put things off any longer, I head home and try to make myself look smart. Rummaging through my meagre wardrobe, I manage to find a suitable office outfit of black trousers and plain fitted top. I am not supermodel skinny but I have an okay figure, I suppose. I am tallish at five foot six, with a pretty good boobs and a "horse rider's bum" that puts J-Lo to shame. However I tend to live in comfortable clothes – jeans, my riding gear or track bottoms. But today I am trying to look reasonably presentable. I put my long dark hair up in a messy twist, at least it seems to be behaving today, and put on a little makeup. I don't usually wear much, I'm lucky that my pale complexion is pretty clear, I can get away with a little eyeliner around my brown eyes and some clear lip gloss.
I head to my car, and get ready to do battle with the traffic. Ugh! I hate commuting, another reason to work from home. But I love my car. It's an old red Ford, that looks like nothing on earth, but it runs great, and it's mine. Plus I rarely have passengers so there's no one to complain if it's a bit messy on the inside.
I make it to the office in a reasonable time, and I even manage to find a parking space. Hmm nothing awful has happened so far.. I walk in to the office and sign in, trying not to roll my eyes at Jessica, the receptionist, who is making eyes at the visitors who are currently signing in. She is all sickly sweet friendliness when she has an audience.
"Hi Bella. What brings you to the coalface? Surely it's not time for you to pay us again?" In other words "what are you doing here?" To put it bluntly, Jessica not only likes to dress in revealing outfits, and flirt with every male that crosses her path, she is also incredibly nosy and the source of all the office gossip. I usually avoid her as much as possible.
I grit my teeth and plaster a fake smile on my face. "I'm here to help out, Jasper mentioned you were short handed this week." Instantly she is picking up the phone to Lauren, her partner in crime, aka Jasper's PA, who could have helped out but claimed to be far too busy. Hmm, busy doing what I wonder? Every time I see her she seems to be filing her nails. I must have zoned out a little as Jessica is waving her hand in front of my face.
"Hellooo, earth to Bella? Lauren says you can go on up now." I thank her politely, blushing profusely as usual, and make my way upstairs to start the day.
Hopefully I can make my way to the quiet corner office I usually use un-detected. No such luck. Lauren is waiting for me, insisting on going through Jasper's instructions even though they are perfectly straightforward. Finally, she wanders off to annoy someone else. I sink into my chair, relieved to have made it this far, relatively unscathed bar one minor run in.
I read through Jasper's instructions, because, to be honest Lauren's nasal voice was so annoying I couldn't really concentrate. Looks like it's mostly processing paperwork and running reports. Phew I can manage those. Maybe I can keep my head down and get through today with minimal interactions. Maybe I thought wrong! Within half an hour there's a knock on the door ...
"Hiding away already I see?" Jasper pops his head around the door. He's such a good-looking guy, six feet plus tall, with messy blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, and the cheekiest grin I have ever seen. Such a shame he's not my type, we'd make a great team. Well if I was in the market for a boyfriend that is. "Really Bella, you don't have to be such a hermit. We don't bite here, well not all of us," he winks.
"Oh you know me," I reply. "Yes I do," he remarks, "but you're not hiding in here all day. Come over to my office later. I'm going to be out most of the day but I'll be back later this afternoon. Please come and see me before you go home, so we can catch up?"
I agree and get back to work. The morning passes quickly as I knuckle down. I want to get through this as quickly as possible so I can slope off home to my sanctuary. A while later, I venture to the kitchen in search of caffeine therapy. I chat briefly with Angela, who runs HR. She's good company, even if she is constantly trying to encourage me to socialize. I grab my coffee and head back to my hidey hole.
I eat my lunch at my desk and plough on. By three o'clock I am mostly done and decide to go see Jasper for a bit. It means encountering his harpy PA but I don't mind. However when I get to his office, all is quiet. Even Lauren's desk is empty. Hmm, maybe Jasper isn't back yet so she's probably off gossiping somewhere. I decide to leave Jasper a little note and head back, so I can finish my work and go home.
I step into his office and write a note on a Post-it to explain how I've finished my work and gone home and will be back in tomorrow. As I turn, I notice movement in my peripheral vision. My heart starts to pound, surely I am imagining things? I turn around slowly and nearly faint with shock, for there is someone else in the room! How on earth did I not notice?
Asleep on the sofa in Jasper's office is a man, a good-looking specimen of a man. He looks tall, his feet are hanging off the edge of the sofa. He's dressed casually in jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket and scruffy trainers. His hair is the most peculiar colour, not red, not brown, but somewhere in between. His jaw has a light covering of red-gold scruff.
And then I realize that I am standing, gawping, when he could wake at any moment. Shit! I need to get out of here before he wakes up and catches me standing over him like some deranged stalker. I finish my note and turn round and prepare to escape. Then it all goes wrong. I manage to trip over the edge of the desk and stub my toe. Forgetting where I am, I let loose a string of expletives.
"Crapshitbollocks! Ow ow ow!" I am hopping on one foot, so consumed with the pain in my toe, that I don't notice the rustling behind me until I hear a velvety, although slightly croaky voice.
"Well that's what you call a rude awakening!" Then I hear his quiet chuckles. My face is burning with mortification as I slowly turn around. I want to disappear, as I look at the rudely-awakened gorgeous stranger in front of me.
Hang on, did I say gorgeous? I don't use words like that, what's wrong with me? I take a deep breath and prepare to explain, hopefully without making an even bigger arse of myself.
"IwasjustdroppingoffanoteforJasper, didntmeantodisturbyousorry," I gush out, while staring at my feet. I bravely raise my head, hoping to sidle past him and make my escape.
Sleeping Beauty rubs his eyes and takes a long look at me. I am blushing so much I feel like my cheeks are on fire. And I make the mistake of looking at his eyes. His deep green long lashed eyes. It's so unfair how guys get these lovely long thick lashes, I think to myself. Then I realise he hasn't said anything back to me, he is just staring. And staring. I start to worry that there is something on my face. I have to get out of here. He seems to snap out of some sort of trance.
"I said I'm sorry to disturb you. I just dropped in to leave Jasper a note. I should be getting back."
I don't give him a chance to respond, I quickly march out of the office and scuttle away as fast as my legs can carry me.
Once back in my office, I finish my work, clear my desk and prepare to go home. I'm just signing out of the computer and waiting for it to shut down when there's another knock on the door. It opens and someone clears their throat.
I look round and see Jasper leaning against the doorframe. And then I see he's not alone.
Damn damn damn.
Sleeping Beauty is standing next to him.
"I hear you had a bit of a fright earlier. Edward here wanted to apologize for frightening you, although he says you gave him quite a shock with your colourful swear words."
Jasper is grinning his head off. Bastard.
"Sorry, I hurt my toe." I mumble, suddenly finding the pattern on the office carpet very interesting. "I didn't mean to disturb you. I didn't know you were there."
Sleeping Beauty aka Edward extends his hand to me, smiling.
"Nothing to apologize for, we were only teasing. Jasper and I go way back. Sorry I haven't introduced myself, I'm Edward Cullen. Jasper tells me your name is Bella?"
"Umm, yes." I take his hand. When I feel his warm, firm handshake I suddenly get a tingle shooting through my fingertips and up my arm like an electric shock. We both recoil, startled.
"Sorry, must be static." I mumble. This is beyond mortification. Edward seems to have recovered, and is again watching me, with a crooked smirk on his face.
"Edward's been travelling." Jasper explains. "He only flew in this morning. That's why he was catching up on some sleep earlier. We're going out for drinks later, fancy joining us?"
"Umm, I'd love to but I really have to get back." I mumble, gathering up my things. I really need to get out of here, my heart is racing and I can feel a cold sweat coming on.
"Next time Swan." Jasper folds his arms and gives me his mock-stern look. "We will drag you out if we have to."
"Okay, okay." I hold up my hands in mock defeat. I smile at Jasper and say my goodbyes. He reminds me that he still needs me tomorrow and I head for the door. I walk briskly, mercifully making it past reception without being spotted by Jessica.
Once in my car, I take a deep breath and try to calm down. What the hell was that? I can't remember the last time a man affected me like that. Bar the occasional drunken fumble on a rare night out, I've successfully avoided any potential romantic interludes. Not without good reason, the breakup with He Who Must Not Be Spoken Of was too horrible and painful for words. I calm myself, put some loud music on the stereo, and head for home.
All goes well on the trip home and I'm soon in the sanctuary of my cottage. Off with the office clothes and into my riding gear. It's still light, which means I have time to put in some work on one of my horses. I dash over to the yard to get started.
I'm lucky enough to have two competition horses. One is called Charlie's Darling, we call him Charlie for short. My father thinks it's hilarious that he shares his name with a horse! Charlie is an older, established eventer that was handed down by a friend to help me get started. Unfortunately he's having tendon trouble so is confined to box rest. I check on him, and despite being a bit bored he seems in good spirits.
Then it's off to the paddock to catch my youngster. I bought him as a foal, so had the joy of naming him myself. So I chose Just Fork It, after the little village of Forks where my Dad still lives. As it's a bit of a mouthful we just call him Freddie at home. He's very keen but really headstrong and an hour or so of working with him is just what I need, I can try to push the embarrassing encounter earlier from my mind. There isn't enough daylight left to be able to go out for a long ride so we head to one of the paddocks for some schooling.
An hour or so later, I'm sweaty, tired and very much in need of a drink. So I head to Rose's kitchen. We often share a bottle of wine once her kids are in bed, which they should be fairly soon. I give my usual tap on the door and call out as I enter ...
"Hey Rose, I really need a drink. You won't believe the day I've had..." I freeze in my tracks.
Standing in the kitchen, nursing cups of tea are Jasper, and, because the universe clearly hates me, Edward. Immediately I realise I'm sweaty, red faced and probably smelling more than a little of horse. I wonder if it's really possible to die of embarrassment?
I knew today was going to be a bad day...
Some important messages:
Thank you to everyone who supported and encouraged me to post this story.
Big thanks to my prereaders annetteinoz, sscana and afoolishmortal. Also thanks to cosmogirl7481 and quietruby for giving me a kick up the arse to start writing.
Even bigger thanks to EMCxo, beta and hand-holder of awesomeness.
This should update weekly, but I do have two small children so sometimes RL will get in the way.
See you next week…I hope