Your eyes are not deceiving you. I am reposting Business Class Girl from scratch, sprucing it up with the help of Alice's White Rabbit and Sunflower Fran.
The updated version will post weekly on Mondays and, the first 22 chapters are posted, they will be followed by new chapters until completion, since the story is now entirely pre-written.
Thank you to Sally and Fran for editing and beta'ing, to RobsmyyummyCabanaboy and Deh for being my plot coaches and shoulders to cry on.
Here is Business Class Girl, take two, hopefully new and improved.
Disclaimer: *checks notes* It still all belongs to Stephenie. I just like to play in the sandbox.
BUSINESS CLASS GIRL – CHAPTER ONE
[March] - Edward's POV
Another violent awakening, courtesy of a frantic call from my agent in the nick of time, which jars me awake from a dreamless, deep sleep. Angela is barking the usual orders over the phone.
"Edward! Get your British ass out of bed and in that minicab in ten. No excuses accepted."
The line clicks off without any further ado. No goodbyes, no polite pauses waiting for my answer. Angela is calling long distance, and whatever the time in Los Angeles, she has better things to do rather than haul me out of bed in time for my flight. I catch the drift of her matter-of-fact, distant words and get ready to go.
Another rush to Heathrow, courtesy of a pick-up service that arrives at the appointed time on the dot.
Another round through check-in and security, going through the motions as usual. Being somewhat famous doesn't spare me the formalities of travelling while I'm still on the ground.
Another business class flight. This, though, is where things start to change, both in a good and bad way. My business class ticket grants me access to the VIP lounge at the terminal. I'm surrounded by other members of this not-so-exclusive club, mainly professional men who are travelling for business and don't take any heed of me. I can freely slouch in my seat until one of my newly acquired security guys nods silently at me. It's time; new security detail insists that I board planes first and disembark them last. That way, my bodyguards can drag me far away from fellow travellers and any paparazzi waiting on the concourse.
Absentmindedly, I make my way through the gate and onto the plane. The flight attendant flashes me a blinding smile and assures me that she "will be right there, whatever I need." Gross, and hackneyed, like I haven't heard that one before.
I mumble a vaguely courteous reply and once again slouch in my seat. I'm planning to spend the next ten hours to LAX as I always do—being as inconspicuous as possible. The plane is filling up slowly, and from my vantage point, I can't resist indulging in one of my guilty pleasures—people-watching. I'm eagerly scanning the population of this flight. It's pretty much the same self-absorbed, BlackBerry-clutching crowd I spotted earlier in the VIP lounge, nothing worth my efforts.
At last, a whirlwind of long mahogany hair catches my eye. This luscious mane belongs to a petite but hyperactive girl a couple of seats away from me. My attention is instantly riveted.
Why? Not because of her looks, though the little I can see is stunning enough in my book. Not because of her style, though she is sheathed in a sleek power pantsuit that hugs her curves perfectly.
Her voice has me breathless while my eyes are unable to quit staring covertly at her. Her cheek's glued to her BlackBerry as she's launching a crossfire of information to whoever is at the other end of the line. Though she is speaking quickly, her voice is patiently sweet, but not patronising, and she never falters. She raps answer after answer at the speed of lightning. I can't help eavesdropping. I'm mesmerised by the sheer self-confidence and competence this girl is exuding. I suddenly feel extremely insignificant.
"You'll find the updated file on your desk, Jazz. It's in the far right corner, next to the paperweight."
I barely remember what I'm wearing at the moment, and possibly my middle name (Anthony?), and this munchkin of a girl not only remembers the exact file she's being asked for but also its exact location on this Jazz character's desk. I'm awed. But this is only the beginning. The phone call drags on and on, giving my stalking tendencies something to do until the plane takes off.
"Yes, I made the reservations yesterday, and it's all in good order. Kate has a copy of your calendar and knows who to call while I'm away. You have nothing to worry about. Let me do this, Jazz."
This girl definitely knows her shit; maybe I can pick up some of her tricks if I keep listening.
Keep telling yourself that, Cullen.
"The latest version of the contract came by email last night. The target's counsels made pretty heavy revisions. I left a printout of the compare version for you on top of the file. What? Deal breakers? Hell, no, I don't think so, but I'll leave that for you to decide …"
Compare version? Come again?
She's not only competent, she's also smart and sounds like she knows exactly what she's talking about. This Jazz character, though? Why is he firing questions at her at that speed? What does he want with her?
"Jazz, I'll have to cut this short. The flight attendants are glaring at me. Yup, Genius. Love you. Bye."
Love you? Love you? Damn. Wait, why am I saying damn? I don't even know her!
The flight attendant interrupts my musings to check on my seat belt and to ask, once again, whether there is "anything she can do for me". I wave her away, eager to return to my new favourite activity—stalking the brunette power munchkin a few seats away.
The plane is slowly advancing on the tarmac, and she's clutching her BlackBerry to her ear again, though more covertly this time. She's whispering, but I angle myself to make the most of my eavesdropping skills, which do not fail me.
"Yes, Jazz." She sounds vaguely annoyed this time. "I met them last week. They seemed interested, but I can't tell you for sure. You should meet them. They probably have a couple of big-ticket deals under their belt. We wouldn't want to miss those. How do I know? I know a fair amount of prominent investment bankers, Genius, that's how I know. Jazz, this is barely legal. Let me go before they force me off the plane. Yes, I will. Love you, Jazz,"
Again with that "Love" thing? Seriously? Is that her boyfriend? Can't he leave her alone? Why do I care?
The plane takes off, and power munchkin finally relaxes in her seat, throwing the offending device into a pocket of her briefcase.
Briefcase? I thought only CEOs had those. Holy hell.
The girl wearily rubs her eyes, and heaves a resigned sigh. My heart constricts, torn between awe at her outstanding skills and some unexplainable killer instinct towards this Jazz bloke who takes up all her time. She's tired; there's no beating about the bush. Still, she rummages through her briefcase and fishes out a copy of today's Financial Times.
Financial Times? Colour me ignorant.
After a while, I doze off, prisoner of my own lack of sleep, and unwillingly relent from my stalkerish tendencies.
A few hours later, the plane is airborne at some unknown point above the Atlantic. I feel a pang of discomfort and realise I don't know what the girl is up to. And I haven't been watching her for … the last two hours?
Still, I don't need to fabricate justifications for myself as my eyes drift towards her seat and find her sleeping, huddled in a plush business class blanket, clutching a book in her hand. Her mahogany hair surrounds her peaceful face like a silky halo, a few wayward tendrils partially hiding her alabaster skin from me. I frown because I'm denied the full view of her face and her eyes, when all I want to do is stare at her, my persistence tiptoeing the fine line between a creepy stalker and a love-struck fool.
Love-struck fool? Hello, Cullen! Newsflash, you don't even know her!
She isn't flashy, but like everything else about her, she exudes the kind of quiet beauty that stops your breath and ensnares your heart. A fleeting thought strikes me. I'm reaching new heights of pathetic obsession with every passing second.
Then, just as the girl begins to stir from sleep, the flight attendant is suddenly at her side, holding the in-flight satellite phone in her hand. Even I know this isn't a good sign. For all the times Angela wanted to kick my ass from the other end of the world, she never resorted to such means. The flight attendant cautiously nudges the girl to attract her attention. The girl, irrevocably Business Class Girl to me, still groggy, stares at the flight attendant as the blonde bimbo stage-whispers, loud enough for me to hear without any super-stalker powers.
"Miss, an urgent call from White, Devlin & Hale in London for you."
Business Class Girl is exasperated but nods patiently as she takes the call, of course.
"Jasper, what can I do for you from this godforsaken location some 48,000 feet above the Atlantic? I trust this is a world-class emergency as you're using in-flight satellite devices."
Jasper? Seriously, the Jazz bloke's Christian name is Jasper? How old is he, 93? And what does he want again with my Business Class Girl?
Wait! MY Business Class Girl? Since when, Cullen? Hush, Cullen, you need to listen.
"Jasper, please, you need to stop this. I can't do anything constructive here, now. You want to know who the investment banker on the deal was? Easy, his name is Kevin Maxwell. He used to work for UBS, but now I wouldn't know. Rosalie might. Oh, wait! Now I remember, he started his own private equity boutique. Office? Somewhere in Canary Wharf, I guess. Yes, Rosalie again. Ring her, not me. She's probably having lunch at St Martin's right now, not flying above the Atlantic. No, Jazz. I honestly don't know if I really like you that much right now. Yes, Jazz. When I land, not before. No, Jazz. Still don't know. Okay, probably not. I'll talk to you"—she checks her watch—"in about 5 hours. And I'll see you in a fortnight, praised be the Lord. Love you, Jazz. Behave."
At the end of this monumental conversation, my jaw is still slack from astonishment, and my brain is sorely attempting to process this shit-ton of new information about my Business Class Girl. I have to hand it to him; this Jazz man is indirectly helping me. If he didn't bother her so much, I wouldn't know shit about her. Thanks, Jazz, but stop harassing my girl. Leave her be; you'll have her back in a fortnight; I'll never see her again.
Wait … she said fortnight? She must be British! A lass after my own heart.
She works in London. Better still, she works in the city, and she gets airborne phone calls from White, Devlin & Hale. Even a clueless actor like me has heard the name before. Why, it's none other than one of the leading, if not THE leading, law firms in London. It helps that my dad has friends in high places and, as it happens, knows one Russell Devlin. Yes, the name partner. This might actually get me somewhere.
Note to self: ring Dad when you get off the goddamn plane. Butter him up and ask how Uncle Russell is doing.
Once again, possible first-hand information aside, I'm in awe of Business Class Girl. Even in a residual bout of sleep, and looking royally pissed off with "Jasper", she manages to deliver. No stuttering, no blundering, no faltering. I can only conclude that to achieve this, she must have perfect recall, get all the facts straight, and have a direct brain-to-mouth connection. She probably doesn't even need a brain filter. A girl like this doesn't put her foot in her mouth, ever. Again, I feel extremely underperforming and insignificant. Compared to her, I'm a clueless idiot.
With a blinding smile, she hands the satellite phone back to blonde bimbo and, with a resigned huff, retrieves the book she was reading. Before her face disappears behind the cover, I manage to get a good look at her. If I were mesmerised by her voice earlier on, now I'm floored by her eyes—deep, wide chocolate eyes, framed by a set of lashes that seem to go on for miles and feel like black silk, even from a distance. I want to get lost in those eyes. My own eyes, however, keep on the right track for another second, enough to catch a glimpse of the book she is reading.
French literature? In French? Holy hell.
I know that book. I know that one very well because I have a dog-eared copy of the same book in my own backpack. (No briefcases for me.) I have it because it's my next project—the next film I'll be shooting once I'm back in L.A. She's reading my story, well, not my story, but … the story I'll be interpreting. And she's reading it in French.
I wonder what it would be like to discuss my take on the book with her, but my wish is unfulfilled because time flies … and sooner rather than later, the captain proudly announces that we will be landing at LAX in less than an hour—ahead of schedule.
Damn—why isn't the plane late when I need it?
I'll have to leave Business Class Girl behind. I'll never see her again. I might as well cherish these last moments. Unseen, I keep staring at her, but she never looks my way. She stops the flight attendant once to ask for a cup of tea.
"Earl Grey, please. No milk, no lemon, no sugar. Would you not happen to have a mug? That would be great."
Business Class Girl is picky about her tea. A lass after my own heart, indeed.
When the plane lands at LAX, the crowd of business class passengers flashes out of the aircraft in a blur. I must linger on as the security detail wants me to leave the plane last so no-one sees me. Business Class Girl lingers as well. I covertly do a fist pump—this calls for a celebration. She beats me to the punch, though, and leaves the aircraft shortly before I do.
Once I'm filing through the hallways that lead to baggage claim, I scan the crowd to locate her. She takes the immigration lane reserved for US citizens. Does she have a US passport? Bummer. I thought she might be British.
I see no trace of her at baggage claim, but much to my dismay, I spot a small crowd of press people and paparazzi on the concourse. Someone must have prompted them of my arrival. My bodyguards are instantly at my side as the doors to the exits click open. Among the swarm of flashes and the incessant click of the cameras, I spot a petite brunette in a designer suit a few yards ahead of me. Relief washes over me briefly.
A giant of a bloke—built like a rugby player, dimpled cheeks, and short-cropped curly hair—shouts over the crowd.
"BeeBee! Over here!"
Business Class Girl literally runs to him, and he scoops her up in his arms, twirling her around in a vice-tight hug.
"Em! It's so good to see you!"
The rugby player—or linebacker, given the locale—doesn't release her as he answers. "BeeBee, I can't believe you're back here with me!"
Get your filthy paws off my girl, linebacker!
She smiles and laughs. Her laugh sounds like the music of silver chimes carried on the wind. Floored, yet again. I'm hopeless. I might actually need help. Does Angela know a good shrink? Of course, who doesn't know a shrink in L.A.?
Business Class Girl's laugh dies away quickly, though. Linebacker "Em" puts her back on her own two feet as she digs her BlackBerry out of her bag. She's on the line in a nanosecond and looks pissed. Again.
"Jazz, what the hell? Did you set an alarm or something? And to think we landed ahead of schedule despite the disturbances … Yes, you calling satellite can be defined as disturbance in my book. Tell you what. I'll capitalise that. Disturbance—you are a Disturbance."
Before she can go on, "Em" grabs the offending device from her hand.
"Jasper, it's me. Emmett—that's who! I know you're my prospective brother-in-law, but BeeBee is on holiday. Shouldn't you leave her the fuck alone?"
… One for the team, Emmett.
My respect for linebacker guy soars all of a sudden. Business Class Girl is relieved. On the downside, my befuddled brain registers only one ominous word—"brother-in-law".
Damn. Shit. Fuck. And here I thought we could be friends, linebacker. Now I know for sure we never will.
Linebacker notices the crowd of paparazzi and journalists around me while my bodyguards and I file past them on the concourse. From behind my shades, I turn imperceptibly and take one last good look at Business Class Girl just in time to overhear Linebacker ask her, "What's with all these gossip rag whores here today?"
Business Class Girl answers dismissively, winding an arm around this Emmett guy's waist. "Just some actor on my plane."
Reality sets in with a bitter pang. I'm just "some actor". She doesn't know me, and very likely, she never will. I can't help feeling abandoned, belittled, and pissed because I'll have to hide out in my flat, whoops, sorry, apartment, while she'll be hanging out with this beast of a guy. Who the hell is he, anyway? Boyfriend? Friend?
The very last sentence I eavesdrop on gives me an answer I wish I never got.
Emmett squeezes her shoulders and says, "BeeBee, what do you feel like doing?"
She bounces in her tracks and answers, "I'm itching for a rough ride …"
Please, tell me she didn't mean it that way. Please, God, I will be good from now on. Just tell me …
Emmett quips back with a boisterous laugh. "The Tiger is waiting for you to ride him, hot stuff."
Right. She did mean it that way. It's official. I'm dead. Here lies Edward Cullen.
Business Class Girl's POV
Emmett stares at me as I throw myself on the leather seat of his shiny red Dodge Viper. I let out another exasperated sigh. It seems to me I've been sighing non-stop since I got on the plane in London, what with Jasper's incessant phone calls and all the rest. I wait patiently. Emmett won't be silent forever.
Let the show begin in three, two, one …
"BeeBee, now that you're safely hidden by the tinted windows of my fuck-hot car, will you tell me what the hell is the matter?"
I frown. White lie or violent truth? Tertium datur … sometimes, and I flash a devious smile as I fondly remember the twisted version of my professor's Latin adage from my not-so-bygone Oxford days. Sometimes, there is a third way; you just have to be creative about it and know your onions well.
"Do I need a reason to visit my older brother?"
Emmett smiles widely at me, his dimples in full view.
"Of course, you don't, hot stuff. But you've been sighing and shaking non-stop since you landed in my arms, and I want to know why."
"Don't you Emmie me, hot stuff. Shit is going down with you, and I want to know. Now. Don't make me call Rose to find out. It's past midnight in London, and I don't want her to rip me a new one. Do me a solid and tell me. Now."
Right, I was wrong. Tertium non datur. Why did Professor Collins always have to be right? There is no third way. And Emmett doesn't take kindly to white lies. Violent truth it is. My lip starts to quiver. I'm through with being strong. I can be a weak, overwhelmed kid when big brother Emmie is with me.
"Oh, Emmett … I can't take any more. I really can't."
Now it's Emmett's turn to sigh.
"Bella … Come here, little sis. Whatever it is, we can work this out," he says reassuringly as he wraps me once again in his bear hug.
And I believe him. He's going to make this all right.
And off they go. For the first 22 chapters, almost nothing will change plot-wise. The story still takes place in 2012/2013. It's mainly a language/editing clean-up.
Talk to me, people.
See you next Monday!