DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Twilight Saga characters, books or plot; they belong to the lovely Stephanie Meyers.
I own a laptop and a dirty mind. Sue me.
A/N This One-Shot is a slow burn. There are 3 Chapters, but I saved the best for last, enjoy. Endless thanks to M81170 for Pre-Reading, letting me pick her brain and bother her, but most all her friendship. If you haven't read her fic Daisy and Swirl, go and read it, it will left your heart and make you smile.
Chapter 1 Yankee Bitches and Transcendence
Standing on the sand overlooking the murky water and the gray sky, I couldn't believe we were here. This water was so different from the beach at La Push. The sand was like fine sugar and I couldn't help curling my toes as I looked down. There was hardly anyone on the beach and it was so peaceful. Biloxi, Mississippi had a definite allure to it, but I wanted to go home. I operated best in an environment I knew. I knew Forks, Washington, the people, the smell, the feel, it was home. Funny, looking back, it took a long time for Forks to feel like home; I actually grew up in Phoenix, Arizona with my mom. Looking around the empty beach, I had to smile, Mom would love it here, too bad I'm not the adventurer she is. I'm much more like my dad that way, Dad and I both appreciated the consistency that Forks offered.
Unfortunately for me, I'd promised Alice I'd come with her after we got the notice from the lawyer that her Grandmother passed away. Alice Brandon has been my best friend since I moved to Forks, my junior year of high school. We were both the outsiders and either because of it or in spite of it we latched on to each other and have been inseparable ever since.
I don't think I could have gotten through what Alice now refers to as "The Great Mike Newton Prom Fiasco of 2004 " without her and she could have never survived her break up with "Psycho James" in college without me, or my Police Chief father, Charlie. Alice is a part of my heart, more than a best friend - a soul sister.
So, it was never a question of where I'd be when she told me she had to fly out here. We were going to tackle this thing together, like we always do. That doesn't mean I'm not entitled to some introspective whining on the beach though. I really didn't like new things.
Alice, running from about a hundred feet away, called, "Bella, there you are! Can you believe it? Isn't this place great? I can't believe that we're here!" Neither can I, I thought.
"I was just thinking about how different Biloxi is from Forks," I said, not quite answering any of her questions. "When are we meeting the lawyer again?"
"We're meeting him at 4:00pm, so that leaves us two hours to shop!" she exclaimed all wide eyed.
"Yeah, I don't think so, I'm perfectly happy on the beach, plus I brought all that reading I want to do." I answered scrunching up my nose.
Alice tilted her head to the right, "Silly, Bella, did you really think I was really asking? If I waited for you to want to go shopping, I'd never get to go with you. How many boring bookstores have you dragged me to? Come on, I'll even let you pick the first couple of places. I don't want to have to remind you how you promised to be there for me in every way I needed you to be while we were here, do I? Because I not above that," she said looking up through her lashes smiling.
She had me, and we both knew it. We'd done this dance before on several occasions and when it came to Alice and shopping I never, ever, ever, won. Never. So I just smiled and put out my hand allowing her to lead the way.
We actually had a lot of fun shopping. Alice was dying to go to the Max Azaria and Ann Taylor Outlets right outside of town, but I had absolutely no interest in that and chose the historic Main Street district where the law office was located. I nosed around the antique shops, amazed at all the treasures I found, and Alice flitted in and out of all the little boutiques. I was surprised when the alarm on my Blackberry alerted us the appointment was in 15 minutes. So we hustled out the door and headed to the Law Offices of Hale & McCarty.
When we walked into the office, I knew we were underdressed. I was used to this, but Alice, who never seemed out of place, was clearly out of her element as well. Everything was formal, heavy, and dark, like I had pictured a library in one of my books to look like. The walls were painted a latte color with thick white crown molding, the carpet was a dark forest green and the leather high back chairs were a deep burgundy. Even the pictures on the walls, were very classic, a lot of ducks and hunting. In the middle of the mahogany coffee table in the foyer/reception area there was a single magnolia in the most exquisite shallow vase.
I grabbed Alice's hand and we walked up to the ornate reception desk in our shorts and flip flops and waited until the receptionist got off the phone.
Looking us over with a crinkled brow like we must be lost, "Can I help y'all?" she asked.
"Yes, Alice Brandon and Bella Swan to see, um… Mr. Hale or Mr. McCarty?" I attempted to say with authority until it occurred to me I didn't know who exactly we were meeting.
The little blonde in the teal suit did another once over and seemed to be contemplating something, when a huge man walked over and announced, "Jessica, I'm expecting a young girl with her friend, please show them to the conference room when they get here."
Jessica, looked over to us and the big man who couldn't be much older than either of us, followed her eyes, as he gave us the once over.
I was starting to get pissed. What is it with these people? Alice looked smaller than I had ever seen her and I was about to go all Momma Bear on their asses. I stood up and extended my hand, "I'm Isabella Swan and this is my friend, Alice Brandon," I said daring him with my eyes to do another once over.
"Hey, welcome to Biloxi ladies, right this way," he said as he looked to Jessica and extended his arm down the hallway.
As we sat around the conference table I couldn't help but stare at all the decorations. "I'm sorry it's such a mess, we just got done with Mardi Gras down here," the big man explained, as if it was obvious I should have come to that assumption on my own. The only thing I knew about Mardi Gras was an A&E show I watched with Charlie one night and all I remember was that they grease the street light poles with Crisco for some reason. I couldn't imagine why anyone would lug all this junk back from New Orleans.
"I'm sorry, where are my manners, I'm Emmett, Emmett Mc Carty," he said extending his hand again. Both Alice and I shook it. "Miss Alice, I can't tell you how sorry I am for your loss, ma'am."
"Please, just call me Alice, "Alice replied meekly as I looked over to her and reached to hold her hand.
"Yes ma'am," Emmett replied warmly. "I guess I also need to apologize for the delay, Mardi Gras kinda takes over our lives down here. Your Nana was a kind and generous woman, she did her family proud. I'm sure she'd be so happy to know y'all finally made it home".
"I wouldn't know Mr. McCarty," Alice said in a tone that made me look up. Alice squared her tiny frame so it was parallel to his. "My Grandparents had never seen fit to contact me until I received this," she held up the tattered registered letter out of her purse, "letter from your office. Maybe you can tell me what exactly I'm doing here?" Meek Alice has left the building!
"Excuse me ma'am?" Emmett spat out stunned, "Didn't you read it?"
"Yes, as a matter a fact I have, but apparently you know my Grandmother personally. Since she never chose to acknowledge me while she was alive, I beseech you, why am I'm currently sitting in a room that looks like the cheap version of the Pirates of Caribbean booty cave with all these piles of beads and plastic coins and boxes of Moon Pies. Mr. McCarty, why am I here?"
Emmett looked at me with wide eyes, thinking that I could save him somehow. I smiled and looked down, hoping he understood that he was on his own. If he thinks this is bad, he should try and tell her no to shopping.
After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, I looked up and was about to speak, when the most beautiful woman I had ever seen glided past us and sat in front of us.
"I'm so sorry I'm late y'all, I was on a conference call that would just not end!" she drawled as she extended her hand gracefully, "Hey, I'm Rosalie Hale-McCarty and you must be Alice! You are the spittin' image of your daddy, girl. You definitely have the Brandon genes darlin'. You probably don't know, but your daddy escorted my mama to the Neptune Ball eons ago. Our families go way back. I can't wait to introduce you to some people down here, everyone's just dyin' to meet ya."
What just happened? I wondered. That woman somehow made all the energy in the room gravitate to her as if she was the sun and we were all just planets in her universe. Damn.
The room went quiet and Mr. McCarty looked at this woman with a mix of awe and thanks before he continued, "I must apologize, Miss Alice, this meeting has not gotten off on the wrong foot. Your nana, Miss Kate, has left you half of her entire estate."
"I'm sorry, half?" Alice interrupted.
"Yes, ma'am, the other half is designated to your cousin Edward; he has already been notified and is in the process of liquidating the assets." Emmett responded dismissively.
"What?" Alice asked again, looking lost.
"What can I clarify for you, ma'am? Emmett asked, almost nervously.
"Really? Okay, um, what cousin? What assets? And if I get half, just how is it possible that he, this Edward, is liquidating anything without discussing it with me?" Alice practically yelled.
Emmett started shuffling papers nervously. "I'm sorry; we were under the impression that there would be no contention of the distribution. Edward, or Mr. Cullen, is your father's sister's son. He's your cousin and is the only other living relative. He has hired our firm to manage the distribution of assets."
"So you work for him," I interrupted. "Does Alice need to get her own lawyer?"
"You always have the right to hire your own representation darlin', but in this case, we work for the estate, not either one of y'all." Rosalie drawled in a tone, like honey dripping from a hive. "Edward hired us so there wouldn't be any… issues. I guess you could say that, we work for all y'all and none of y'all at the same time."
I raised one eye brow. "What?" I couldn't tell if she was talking down to us or not.
"Rose, you're not helping!" Emmett said, exasperated. "Look, it's getting late and we're getting nowhere. I knew your Nana Kate, she was a fine woman and I really want to do right by her last wishes. Can we continue this discussion outside the office so we can explain all this to y'all? We're heading to Marlin Murph's, to meet some friends. Please come."
I looked at Alice, who was a mixture of lost and pissed and knew it was time to leave. I just wasn't sure when we'd be able to meet back up with these two.
"What do I have to lose?" Alice replied wearily as I smiled at her proudly.
We got to Marlin Murph's and it was quite crowded and filled with the same purple, green and gold junk that was in the conference room at the Law Office, except here, it looked like Mardi Gras thrown up on the whole building. It was garish and loud… and well, perfect for this local bar.
We heard Emmett before we saw him, "…it was awful y'all. I know I looked like a bumblin' fool, and then Rose comes in and dazzles the poor Yankees in a way that woulda put her mama at a Junior League Meeting to shame. She was perfect, so I try to get back on track and then that Yankee girl got all belligerent askin' whether she needed to hire her own lawyer and Rosie got her bitch on and it went to hell and a handbag from there."
I heard another voice, "Holy Shit man, what a first day, raise your glasses boys, "To Yankee Bitches!"
We stood there frozen. WHAT THE FUCK! Who was he kidding with this shit?
"Hey y'all, glad you could make it!" Rosalie drawled as Emmett's table of friends turned to stare at us with their mouths gaping open and the color draining out of their faces.
I tried to grabbed Ali's hand, ready to walk out, but she was already determinately walking over to the man who made the Yankee bitch toast and said flatly, "Your hair is just like my dad's was in the pictures I have of him."
He nervously ran his fingers through it, "Um, yeah, it never does what I want it to do… um, excuse me I'm going to get another beer."
Emmett looked humiliated, and I still couldn't see straight from the overwhelming anger I felt for the jackass who just walked away. "What do you want to do Ali?" I whispered.
"I think I need to stay, you won't leave will you?" she asked.
"Nope, I'm all yours, but I'm gonna kick some southern fried ass if this night doesn't get any better," I said as she smiled.
"Thank you" she mouthed back.
"Hey, I'm so sorry for your loss ma'am, I knew your Nana Kate well. My name's Jasper Whitlock, how do you do," a blond man said to her as I walked to the bar.
I order a Corona with lime and took a sip wondering if beer was going to be strong enough for this fucked up day. Then the copper haired jackass muttered something under his breath.
"Excuse me, did you say something to me?" I asked pointedly.
"Um, no ma'am, it's just that we can always tell a Yankee round here from the kind of beer they order," he said smirking as he turned his head and looked up from his beer.
Oh no he didn't! I thought as I look around only to see at least five Corona's at various tables, including the one he just came from.
"I'm sorry, what are you drinking?" I ask.
"Black and Tan," he said before getting up and walking away. He did not just dismiss me!
I grabbed his shoulder and was startled to feel an electric shock race up my arm. "What exactly did I do to you? Shouldn't I be the one that's pissed? Yankee Bitch? Who says that about someone they haven't even met? You're Alice's cousin, Edward, right? Are you really that much of a jackass?" I asked angrily.
I gasped as he grabbed my wrist and pulled me within inches of his face and said in a gravelly low tone, "I'd love to answer all your questions, Yankee Girl, but I've got things to do."
I stood there frozen, watching him walk away, feeling the loss of his hand around my wrist. Damn it, I hate than man!
I walked over to Ali and she had not moved a muscle since I had left her. I sat down and listened to the conversations happening around me, letting the evening wear on. Apparently Jasper's family was from Pass Christian and he was Rosalie's cousin. Their Great-Great-Great-Grandfather was the first governor of Tennessee or something. Jasper had just gotten out of the Air Force, where he, like his father and his father before him, served proudly. Jasper was working on his degree in Psychology and was currently training dolphins right off the coast. I'd love to talk to him about that one day.
Emmett and Rosalie were a different story. They had graduated from Ole Miss Law School last spring and had just gotten married and opened up their own law firm. Apparently Alice's Grandmother's estate was their first case and tonight was their first day of celebration. "Isabella, I have to apologize for completely fuckin' up today. Let me get ya a drink" he slurred.
"It's Bella, and just take care of Ali and we're all square" I replied dismissively, having a hard time staying mad at this big sweet bear of a man.
"I wasn't kiddin' when I said I wanted to do right by Miss Kate and Edward's like a bro to me." I listened suddenly more interested in this conversation.
"How did you and Alice's cousin meet?" I hedged.
"Edward and I were frat brothers at Ole Miss. He was a legacy and I played football. God, I miss it, it was one of the best times of my life," he said louder than necessary as he spun his glass around to whoever would click it.
"Is that where you met your wife?" I asked.
"Rosie? Yeah my bro introduced us. It was junior year and she was president of her sorority, unfuckin' heard of for a junior, but that's my Rose. Anyway her family and Eddie's had been trying to play match maker with the two of them for years. She came over to visit the frat house to appease her mama and he introduced us. Love at fuckin' first site, I had never seen anyone so fuckin' beautiful and still haven't. And smart too. While all those bitches in her sorority were workin' on their motherfuckin' MRS degree, my Rosie was gettin' all A's and had a plan," he said as his words got sloppier and sloppier.
Just then Rosalie walked up from the girlfriends she had been sitting with. "Okay darlin', time to go," she said pulling him up off the stool, then turning to me. "It's always time to leave when there are more cuss words than normal ones," she said with a wink.
I looked around for Alice and couldn't find her. "Rosalie, have you seen Alice?"
"Sugar, she left with Jasper about 15 minutes ago, she told you she was goin', but you were talkin' to Em," she said in that same tone she used with us in the conference room.
I shook my head, wondering what was so interesting that I had tuned out my best friend… the jackass.
"Thanks Rosalie, congratulations on opening your office," I said, honestly happy for her.
"Well thanks sugar. Y'all came on a crazy day to be sure, but I'm lookin' forward to gettin' to know y'all better. I've never seen Jasper take to someone as quickly as he took to Miss Alice," she smiled, then added, "must be that Brandon charm, they all have, ya know? You need a ride back to your hotel?"
I shook my head no and offered my thanks and goodnight. I needed the fresh air.
I walked for about 20 minutes before realizing that I was a little lost, but wasn't really concerned about it. I knew our hotel was on Ocean Boulevard, so once I found it; I just enjoyed the store fronts and bars. Most of the bars were playing classic rock which I really enjoyed. I tried not to giggle when I heard Sweet Home Alabama for the third time. Is it an anthem down here? Could they be more stereotypical?
I gravitated towards this little bar where the most amazing jazz music was lofting out the door and seemed to be carried across the ocean. The sultry sounds drew me in like a moth to a flame. There weren't as many people as I expected, this kind of genius would have drawn a much bigger crowd back home.
I sat in the back corner, ordered a glass of red wine and allowed the music to envelope me. As the music continued I felt my body respond into that relaxed state I had only ever gotten after a massage or cathartic cry. I was entranced by the complex combinations that seemed to have no rhyme or reason, but flowed together perfectly. It was clear these musicians loved music.
I was surprised when the pianist announced it was the last song of the evening. The crowd seemed to know what to expect because they were shouting out titles of songs. The pianist kept his back to the crowd and asked the Saxophonist, Tyler, what he thought was the winner. Tyler said he couldn't tell, as the crowd got louder with their offerings. If it was Sweet Home Alabama, I was out of there.
The velvet voiced pianist quieted everyone down and said, "Alright y'all, tonight, it's my choice. I've had this song in my head all night long. Give me the first verse then y'all know what to do." The lights dimmed and the moist air crackled with electricity. A familiar melody began to play the introduction of the song as everyone settled in. Then the pianist began to sing,
"Hey where did we go,
Days when the rains came…"
I was mesmerized by his voice and cadence that seemed to be reaching out to my very soul. I found myself aroused in the most visceral way.
My breathing sped up and I was startled as the crowd began the next verse, but I remained quiet, until my favorite part came, and then I smiled and sang with the crowd,
"Do you remember when we used to sing,
Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da"
The pianist quieted the crowd, "Okay y'all, my part" as he serenaded the hushed crowd with the last verse
…You my brown eyed girl"
"Last time time y'all, make it good" he teased us and we all sung again.
"Do you remember when we used to sing
Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da."
"You hoo hoo, my brown eyed girl", he finished. "Good night y'all."
I walked up with a couple other people in the crowd to thank them for their wonderful performance. Eric was new to the group, as was the drummer, Tyler. The Saxophonist was apparently just filling in for someone at the last minute, but I told him how amazing I thought he was. The air crackled as I waited to say thank you to the pianist. I wanted to ask him where I could buy some of his music and was thrown completely off my game as I came face to face with, a surprise… Edward?
He smiled, and then said "Hello, Yankee Girl," in his velvet singing voice.
For a second my eyes widened in shock, before I quickly rearranged my features into a passive expression. "Oh, it's you," I said in as blasé a voice as I could manage.
He seemed to look surprised with my response. "Damn girl, you don't cut a boy a break do ya? Are all Yankees like that?" he teased as he smirked.
"Well, only Yankee bitches," I responded cocking an eyebrow back at him as the smirk slid off his face.
I let him stew for a minute then smiled. "All past indiscretions on your part aside, you were fantastic tonight from what I saw. I love jazz, but that was… transcendent."
"Transcendent, wow, kinda a big word for a Yankee isn't it?" he questioned.
Oh it's like that is it?
"Too big of a word for you - do you need to know what it means?" I tossed right back.
Edward scrunched up his forehead and bit his lower lip as he shook his head, apparently at a loss at how to respond.
I smiled, Bella 1, Edward 0, "Well, I did honestly tell you your music was transcendent - a word, that while I know the definition of, I haven't been able to properly use in context until I heard your music. You're the one who wondered if a Yankee brain could grasp it." I retorted, still smiling.
"Listen, I'm fixin' to clean up, but thanks for coming tonight." Edward said looking down.
It annoyed me that I actually felt disappointed to leave. Edward had proven earlier that night that he was a condescending jackass and here I was acting as if nothing had even happened. I put my nonchalant mask back on and said indifferently, "I guess I'll see you around. Bye Edward."
As I was turned to leave, I felt the air around me shift into that increasingly familiar electricity. Suddenly I felt his warm breath behind my ear "Yankee Girl, you can guarantee you'll see me around, I guess I owe you answers to all your burning questions," he breathed.
I closed my eyes. Holy shit! I tried to concentrate on walking out, when I realized my toes were curled. Was there a part of my body he didn't affect? Oh my goodness! Walk girl - left, right, left, right. When I got to the door I turned, not trusting myself to say one word and praying my legs didn't betray me and give out, I simply smiled and left.
A/N This was written for the Southern TwiNights Contest, it's a little over the top. I lived in Brandon, MS for 6 years and I LOVED it there. BUT I was once called "Beyond a Yankee" because I came from California and was routinely referred to as Yankee Girl by a co-worker as a term of endearment.