Just want to say a massive thank you to Mambomama, my beautiful beta. She's been nothing but fun and supportive, especially when trying to work out my 'Britisms' lol. Love ya bb! :D
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight and it's characters, we all know that. However, Jasper can run away with me whenever he likes... ;)
That is the only way to describe my average working day. Every day at Newton & Crowley is the same. With every week that passes me by in this job, my cubicle seems to get smaller and smaller. It's just so boring. Everything in the office is either grey or beige. And I mean everything. From the staplers to the chairs. From the carpets to the computers and copiers.
We had been allowed to personalise our spaces when I first started working here, but about three months later, there'd been some sort of company shake up and the new boss (who had clearly attended one too many 'Productivity in the Workplace' seminars) decided that such items distracted us from our jobs and therefore must go. If it wasn't for the fact that I needed the money, I'd have cashed it in months ago. Sadly, the money really is good, which is why none of us ever leave.
So, here I am, in a swelteringly hot office, sipping my sixth coffee of the morning while listening to some woman on the phone complaining. I have no idea what she's prattling on about to be honest, but I hum and agree in the right places and she seems to think I'm paying attention.
Just as I am attempting to get her off the phone, a piece of folded paper flies at me from the next cubicle, hits the bridge of my nose and lands on the keyboard of my computer. As soon as I hang up the phone, I unfold the note and smile.
Maguire's after work. Everyone's in.
Thank God its Friday indeed! Actually, while we're thanking God for stuff, I thank him for Alice all the time. I'd surely have gone insane, or possibly homicidal, if not for her.
That little pixie is the best thing about this place. Aside from the fact that she's one of my best friends, she's also my roommate. We'd clicked right away when I started working here four years ago, bonding instantly over our possibly unhealthy intake of coffee and the lack of eye candy in this place. Especially after the string of bad dates I'd been on prior to joining the company.
Perhaps I should rephrase that earlier comment, what I meant was a lack of available eye candy. There are a few truly gorgeous men here, but they are all spoken for. Luckily, even though they were hot, I wasn't interested in any of them as they made up the male portion of my little group of friends.
'The Crew,' as Emmett insisted we be called, seemed to spring out of nowhere, but within weeks, we were all so close, you'd think we'd grown up together. We were a family, if a somewhat unconventional and slightly crazy one!
Emmett is Alice's big brother and Rosalie's husband. Theirs was a true whirlwind romance, going on their first date and marrying in only eighteen months. Peter is engaged to Charlotte, and though he winds her up constantly with all his wise cracks and general jackassery, they are as much in love as Rose and Emmett. Ben and Angela have only been dating for two months, but though they are definitely more reserved than the other two couples, we can all tell they're smitten.
Then there's me.
No, I'm not single, but to be honest I wouldn't really mind if I was. Jake is nice enough, but that's just it. Nice. There's no spark, no chemistry, no throw-down.
He's a lovely guy, dependable and safe. My friends all like him well enough, but he's the only one out of our little group that doesn't work with us, so he's sort of out of the loop when we go out. I have to explain every little inside joke or funny incident, and I have to constantly remind him who we're talking about. It sounds awful, but it gets really frustrating.
Not just for me either, he doesn't like the amount of time I spend with them all. I can sort of see where he's coming from, he does have to share me more often than not, but that's just how we are as a group and have always been since we met. It's rare that I don't see at least one or two of them on any given day.
Though I don't know why he gets so annoyed about Alice, I live with her for fuck's sake, how am I supposed to not see her so much?
Ok, I'm a terrible person, I know. I probably should just end it, but believe it or not, I really don't want to hurt him. Having said that, I suppose that staying with him when my heart's not in it is perhaps worse. I may be a coward, but I recently decided that until I got a reason, a clear cut sign that I should leave him, I would stay. I do care about him, I just don't think it's enough.
You read my mind pixie.
First shots are on me.
I peek over the divide to make sure she was alone in her cubicle before throwing the note back.
"Not a chance, Emmett!" I cringe as the big bear jiggled a shot of Goldschlager under my nose. God, but that shit is disgusting.
"She's right, baby. Don't you remember the Christmas party?" Rose shudders, clearly having a flashback of the eight of us and our enthusiastic, if mostly out of tune, rendition of 'The Fairytale of New York'. We definitely murdered a classic that night. The singing we could cope with. The hangover that shit caused the morning after, we could not. Damn Goldschlager!
By 6.00, we are all out of the office and settled round our usual table, with two empty shot glasses already sitting in front of each of us. It just goes to show how eager we all were to get out of there. We finish at 5pm, we all work on the 25th floor, and the bar is a fifteen minute walk away. It seems we're all in the mood to start the weekend as soon as possible.
Maguire's is definitely the place to do it.
This bar is to us, what Central Perk was to the characters in Friends. Don't get me wrong, we're not a bunch of raging alcoholics! But, when the owner of such a fine establishment is the brother of two of our own, well, it was inevitable that we would be here a lot.
Edward is Alice and Emmett's brother, and this bar is his baby. On the rare occasions he gets a night away from the place, he and his wife Tanya will come and party with us, but those nights are rare. Mostly, it's just the eight of us. Wait, I forgot Jake. Shit, it's usually the nine of us.
See? I even forget when he comes out with us. Oh...that is soooo not good.
"So, Moms and Pops are inviting us all over to the house next weekend." Alice announces as she and Char come back from the bar with our next round. "Edward said they called this afternoon and asked if he'd pass the message on when he saw us tonight."
I am about to ask how they knew we'd be in tonight, but the question died in my throat before I asked it. It's a dumb question. We're here every Friday.
"Well, we're free for some Ma and Pa Cullen hospitality. Esme loves me." Peter grins as Char rolls her eyes.
"Count us in too, guys. We're free aren't we, Angie?" Aw, they are so cute.
"Yeah, sounds great. I haven't seen your folks in so long!" She smiles.
We all love Carlisle and Esme, then again, who doesn't? They're the dictionary definition of the perfect couple. Wealthy – but in no way stuck up – beautiful and successful.
"What about you, B?" Alice knows I would never pass up an opportunity to spend time with her at the family house. It's so calm and soothing there. I've never been able to adequately describe why, but I always feel so safe there. After my father passed away, Carlisle and Esme seemed to fill the void of parental comfort that I had lost. I've never told Alice that, but I'm sure she sees it.
"Oh, I am so there, Ali." She looks at me, a little confused. "What?"
"Don't you mean 'we' hon?" She asks, softly.
Fuck, I just did it again didn't I?
I can tell she is trying to be discreet about my complete and apparent case of boyfriend amnesia, but it's always the things you don't want to discuss in public that will grab the attention of the whole group. Of course, Peter is the first to pick up on it.
"Think she means your man-child there, Shug."
"Peter!" Char scolds him as she clips him round the back of his head.
"Oh right, Jake." Can't believe I forgot him. Again. Fuck, I'm a bitch aren't I?
"Bella, is everything ok between you and Jake?" Rose must be concerned, it's usually 'Biatch'. I can't remember that last time she's called me 'Bella' outside of work.
All eyes are on me now. Fantastic.
"Yeah, everything's, um, fine." Oh, I really don't want to get into this here.
"Fine? Bells, I'm sorry, but getting a latte when you ordered a cappuccino is 'fine'. There's obviously something going on." Peter said incredulously.
"Yeah, Bells, you seem more excited about that drink in your hand than you do about your boyfriend." Emmett agreed. I have to give them credit, those two are really a lot more understanding than most of people give them credit for.
Naturally, I make a joke out of the situation to try and avoid revealing what a horrible person I am.
"Well, of course I'm excited about this drink, it is Jack after all."
No one is fooled.
"Be serious, Bella." Again with my real name, Rose? "What's going on?"
I'm going to have to tell them. Truthfully, I need their advice.
"I feel like such a shit, you guys. I don't think I want to be with Jake anymore, but I'm too chicken to finish it. I know he's a great guy, and I should be over the moon. But there's no spark, you know?"
They were all nodding knowingly, except for Ben, who was looking slightly confused.
"I don't get it." He whispered to Angela, though it was Peter who explained it to him.
"She means she doesn't want to fuck him, dude." Thanks, Peter...
"Oh, I see." Ben squirmed in his seat a little and cleared his throat.
"We've only been together for a few months, you guys. He may be a hulk of a man, but he's a year or so younger than me. He's already seeing a wedding and kids in the near future. And he deserves it all. But it's too soon. I mean, jeez, I don't even think I can see myself living with him, never mind any of that!"
"Is that it, then? You think you're just scared?" Alice asked, kindly.
"No, I just don't get excited by him. I should be sitting here wishing he was here right now, but I'm not. I should be head over heels for him, but I'm just . . . not."
"No, just from thin air." Emmett guffawed, loudly.
"Yeah thanks, Em. She's clumsy as fuck, we all know that." Rose chided.
I just chuckled. I should know I'd never be able to have a completely serious conversation with all of them like this, but I knew they'd understand. They'd support me whatever I do.
'Sky rockets in flight, Afternoon delight...'
"Biatch, I can't believe you still have that ringtone!" There she was, the Rose I knew and loved is back.
"You say that every time you hear it, Rose." I chuckled as I fished the phone out of my bag and stood up to go outside to answer it.
"Is it the man-child, Bells?" Peter called after me. Flipping him off, I opened the door to the smoking terrace.
"Hi Bella. Where are you? Are you home?"
"No, Jake, it's Friday. We're all in the bar."
"Right. Of course, I don't know why I'm even remotely surprised."
Well, what crawled up his ass today?
"What does that mean?"
"It means, Isabella," Oh, he did not just call me that. I hadn't been 'Isabella' since my father died, and I legally changed it. "...that it is our sixth month anniversary, and you've obviously forgotten. Or you just don't give a shit."
Oh, god. That's today? Crap!
"Sorry, Jake. You're right, I did forget. Why don't you come to the bar and have a drink with us?"
"No thanks. Much as I enjoy feeling like a spare part, I think I'll pass."
"For god's sake, I forgot, okay? I said I was sorry. Why are you so bent out of shape over this? We can just do something tomorrow, spend the whole day together. Just come and have a drink with us. The live music starts in an hour or so."
"If I wanted to have a relationship with another seven people, Bella, I'd be a fucking polygamist."
"Jesus, Jake. We're on that again? So I have friends, what's the big deal? I don't care if you hang out with your friends from the Res, do I? So why is it such a big deal that I hang out with mine so much?"
"That's just my point. You don't care."
"Oh, that's horseshit, Jake. Stop twisting my words. You know that I care about you."
"Well, good for me. You care about me. I fucking love you, Isabella. But I guess that doesn't mean much to you does it."
I could tell he was seriously pissed, but I was seriously getting sick of this. He never spoke to me this way. In fact, I don't think he even swore at all unless he was watching a game with the guys. I knew I might not have been the best girlfriend in the world the last few months, but he knows how I feel about that shit.
"Don't you fucking dare start with this shit again, Jacob."
"This shit. Right. So, me saying that I love you is 'shit' then is it?"
Arrrrrrrgh! I couldn't talk to him if he was going to be like this.
"That's not what I meant and you know it. Look, just come and have a drink."
"Ok, then. I'll tell them I've got to go, and I'll come meet you."
"No. Don't trouble yourself, Bella."
"Forget it. I'm done. See you around, Bella."
WHAT THE FUCK?
"So that's it? I forget one stupid fucking non-anniversary, and we're over?"
I could understand if it were our one year anniversary, but six months? Come on! Granted, it's something Alice would have celebrated, but I'm just not like that.
"No, that's not 'it'. But it just proves my point that you don't care. This 'stupid fucking anniversary' actually means something to me. So it is a big fucking deal."
Shit. I really was a bitch. I'm not saying I appreciated the way he was talking to me, but I really should have tried to understand.
"Good bye, Isabella." With that, the line went dead.
I just stared at my phone.
I guess I should have called him back.
I should have been calling him back.
No, I should have wanted to call him back.
There's that 'should' word again. If I really wanted to be with him, shouldn't I have remembered the stupid sixth month anniversary? He couldn't just have been mad about that. It must be the fact that I hadn't said those three little words yet.
He'd told me that he loved me, and I hadn't said it back.
The fact was though, that it wouldn't have been true if I had. Those words actually mean something to me. I could say it to my friends, because I truly do love them. I told Dad everyday that I loved him, because I did, with all my heart.
Saying it to a boyfriend was something entirely different though, and I flat out refused to be rushed into saying it.
He knew this.
I knew it has to be hard for him to not have me say it back, but would he rather I lied to him?
With a sigh, I shoved my phone in my pocket, and proceeded to jump the height of myself when I turned around. Edward was standing there with a drink in his hand and a worried look on his face.
"Jeebus, Edward! Scare a girl to death why don't you?" I laughed clutching my chest, trying to regain my composure.
He smiled, "Just thought you could use a drink, B. You ok?" Aw, what a sweetheart.
"You heard all that, huh?" He nodded with a shrug. "God, I'm sorry."
"Hey, it's no big deal." I cringed at the choice of phrase, and it didn't go unnoticed. "Wait, what did I say? Oh, shit. You and Jake broke up."
It wasn't a question. I often thought he must be some sort of mind reader. Though, if he'd heard enough of what was said from behind the bar, it must have been fairly obvious what happened.
I took a sip from the tumbler he had handed to me. Ah, sweet Gentleman Jack.
"You're too good to me, Edward. Thanks."
His trademark crooked grin spread across his face, "You're more than welcome, honey. Are you going to be ok?"
"Yeah, I will be. To be honest, I'd been waiting for a sign that I should end it between the two of us. Him dumping my sorry ass is a pretty big one, don't you think?" A humourless chuckle escaped my lips, causing him to frown slightly. "I guess I'm just more shocked at the way he spoke to me."
A true frown formed on his face and I quickly explained that Jake was shouting at me because he was angry and upset, but that he didn't say anything offensive.
Edward and Emmett had grown rather protective of me over the years, and truthfully, I loved it. I never had any siblings, so I loved that they cared for me like a sister. Luckily, his wife Tanya understood.
Because really, who needed that drama?
"I'll be fine, Edward. I promise. You know you're sister has my back."
"We all do, B." He whispered in my ear as he stooped down to hug me. With a kiss to the top of my head, and a quick squeeze, he released me and went back inside.
I silently cursed myself for not bringing my smokes outside with me. I really didn't want to face the Spanish Inquisition that I knew would be waiting for me back at the table. So I stood there for a while longer, sipping the delicious amber liquid, savouring the way it warmed me as it slid down my throat.
I really couldn't put it off any longer.
As I drained my glass and headed for the door, I realized that I hadn't shed a tear. Not one single tear for the end of my relationship.
I guess that said it all.
So that's chapter one guys, I'll be posting more soon so please click that little button and tell me what you think so far. Red.x