ENTRY FOR THE HIGH TIMES CONTEST
Story Name: Password Protected: Only 98 Percent Effective
Genre: Workplace Romantic Comedy
Pairing: Edward x Bella
Total Word Count: 13,448
Summary: Dorky and slightly awkward intern, Edward, has a secret crush on the mysterious and aloof office tech girl, Bella. After an accidental encounter, a new routine evolves and soon Edward is opened to a world of stimulating possibilities…
Summer internship, week two. Yesterday was my twenty-first birthday. I spent it in my small sublet, drinking Heineken and watching a Daily Show marathon. This is what happens when you take an incredible opportunity to further your career instead of staying in Massachusetts where you're from—where all your friends are—the summer before your senior year of college. I can't complain too much. The internship is going to look spectacular on my resume. Working as a full-time paid intern in the legal department for one of the top lobbying firms in DC? And Dad definitely pulled some strings to get me here. No, I really can't really complain. But I'm going to. I know I'm not the friendliest guy, and I know my dad sent me to this firm in the hopes that I'd make some friends, but it's just not happening. I didn't even tell anyone it was my big birthday yesterday. No wonder I celebrated by myself. Maybe it's because I don't want to know anyone but her. Today, I'm going to find out her name. No, really. I know I said that yesterday, but today's the day. Wish me luck.
I sigh and open my Excel sheet, pretending to do my work, but really just keeping an eye on the front door across the room. I'm pathetic in my affections for this girl. No, not girl…woman. I know this, but it doesn't stop me from tracking her every move. And I don't really have that much work to do, so I have ample opportunities to do so.
I mostly sit on my computer and blog. It's an internal document on my Gmail account that I have to send to my internship advisor at school, just to make sure I'm actually doing stuff. Over the past week, though, it's become mostly about her. She's fascinating to me—a total enigma.
She'll come through those doors at 10:45, wearing her signature black jeans and graphic tee, even though everyone else has been in the office since eight o'clock, wearing their best "business casual." She only gets away with it, though, because her office is tiny and in the back. It's her bat cave, filled with impressive gadgets and high-tech tools. Or at least, that's how I imagine it. I've never actually had the guts to walk by and check it out. Even though I want to. Desperately.
Today is the day. I even marked it on my iCal and synced it with my phone, so I wouldn't be able to forget. Today is the day I introduce myself. Because in all honesty, all this creeping is starting to even weird me out.
At 10:45 on the dot, the front doors swing open, and I watch her stroll past the line of cubicles. She never spares anyone a glance, me included…unfortunately. My body tenses as she passes by and disappears into her cave, leaving only the sweet smell of perfume in her wake. Well, that and an average-to-medium-sized problem in my pants.
For the following hour, I calm myself down and go over my spreadsheet data, preparing graphs for my boss to use in his presentation tomorrow. He probably won't actually use them, but I think it makes him feel better if he gives actual assignments for me to do. This way, he doesn't have to put up with me hovering over his shoulder like an inexperienced shadow.
At 11:45, she emerges from her cave and exits through the front doors. I know from my observations that she'll be gone for the next fifteen minutes and will re-enter the office with a bag of some heinously unhealthy but delicious smelling fast food before disappearing into her office for the rest of the day. I don't know how she stays so skinny eating such unhealthy food every day.
Just before noon, pretty much everyone in the office exits for lunch. Friendless me, however, doesn't get invited along. Instead, I remove my container of Healthy Choice chicken tortilla soup from my desk drawer and make my way to the break room. It's deserted, as it always is, so I don't have to wait in line for the microwave. I put the soup in and hit the timer for two minutes before stepping back to wait.
For some reason, when waiting for the microwave, two minutes seems like an eternity. I cross my arms and tap my foot impatiently, but it only seems to make the seconds last longer.
As I wait, I'm startled by the sound of someone walking by and the intensely sweet smell of perfume. This means one thing—it's time. As if on cue, my iPhone buzzes annoyingly in my pocket. The microwave says I have one minute, thirty four seconds and counting until my soup is ready. I think that's the perfect amount of time to go introduce myself.
I make my way out of the break room and stop myself a few feet in front of her door. My stomach is in knots. I don't know if I can do this. She looks so cool, and I'm so…not. Hesitantly, I take a small step forward. I can see inside her office now. It's just as I imagined.
She sits in a low rolling chair, spinning between taking big bites of a messy cheeseburger and typing quickly on three different keyboards, all hooked up to futuristic-looking monitors. I feel like I just entered the matrix. I'm Neo and she's my Trinity.
I hope we make it to the second movie because that sex scene was hot.
Images of us sweaty and naked are interrupted by the loud ding of the microwave. Oh joy, my soup is ready. I'm about to turn and retrieve it when the unthinkable happens. The hot tech girl turns around and looks at me. I'm directly in her line of vision, frozen with fear.
I am the worst stalker ever.
"Hey there." Her voice is rough and low, and it makes me stupid. All the words I've been planning are gone. My thoroughly rehearsed, epic introduction is completely foiled. So instead of being a normal person and responding, I flee.
My heart is pounding so hard I can feel it in my hands, which happen to be shaking slightly. Once I'm back in the break room, I remove the container of soup from the microwave and nearly spill it all over me as my fingers fumble around the burning plastic.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," I mutter to myself. I posses less game than I thought was possible. I'm pretty sure that was the least smooth introduction ever. It's official, I'll never learn her name now.
Sulking, I pop the lid off my soup and place it down on the corner table. It's steaming and smells like chemicals, but it's all I have. No greasy burger for me. My body sinks into the closest chair, admitting defeat. I dip my plastic spoon into the murky liquid and lift it to my lips. My lips purse as I blow gently, trying to cool the bite, but I'm thwarted again. Such is my life.
"Hey, did you need something?" she asks from behind me.
Instead of blowing out the air as I intended, I gasp and inhale. The hot soup makes its way down the wrong pipe, burning my lungs as I cough and wheeze and sputter. I'm sure I look really attractive. Red-faced, I turn around, one hand up in protest.
"No, so-orry," I rasp, the last remnants of the soup in my chest making me sound winded.
She quirks her eyebrow at me, and by this point, all I really want is for her to go away so I can eat my soup in embarrassed solitude. I never get what I want though.
"Are you sure?"
I nod and pray that'll be the end of the conversation. But of course it's not. She continues and steps forward. "What are you doing in here?"
"Lunch." I motion to my soup.
I shrug because it's obvious I'm eating alone, and I'm a little irritated that she'd point it out.
"Do you want to eat with me?" she asks, and I'm stunned.
"Come on." She reaches over me and steals my soup up off the table. I've never been this close to her before, and I inhale as deeply and discretely as I can. Her scent is incredible. I want to ask her what perfume she wears, but I don't think we've reached that level of creeperdom yet. She smiles lazily and places her warm hand on my shoulder before heading back down the hall.
I have no choice but to follow her. She has my lunch.
Inside her office, she places my soup next to her pile of junk food and turns back to her monitors. I've waited forever to be in this close proximity to her, and I can feel tension sink into my back and shoulders. She, on the other hand, is relaxed and carefree, typing and clicking and chuckling at her computers, all between bites of her burger. I love watching her in action. I'm content to eat my soup in silence and just observe. My boner makes its second appearance of the day as her fingers glide over the keys with purpose, typing in complicated code on one hand while reading an extensive document with the other. She's like Lara Croft meets Jean Grey meets Hermione Granger. But hotter.
"What are you doing?" I ask as she scrolls down another long document.
"Hacking into the work email server." She doesn't even look over her shoulder as she answers, too engrossed in whatever she's reading.
"What?" I can hear my voice rise in pitch.
"Oh yeah," she laughs, as if she isn't violating people's personal rights. "You have no idea what kind of personal shit people put on their work emails. I get all my best gossip this way."
Then I have a frightening thought. "You haven't looked through my email, have you?" I squeak.
She pauses her reading and turns to me with a thoughtful stare. "I don't know, actually. Maybe. Tell me your name, and I'll tell you."
"Edward Cullen," I whisper nervously. If she's read through my blog, I don't know what I'm going to do. I may just have to chock it up to today being the worst day ever and never look at her again.
"No," she says slowly, dragging out the word, and my stomach unfurls with relief. "You don't have a work email yet, do you?"
I sigh. "No. I'm only a summer intern, so they didn't bother. I just use my Gmail account." Curious, I lean forward to see whose email she is reading. It's a particularly sordid account of Jessica Stanley's relationship with my very married boss, Tyler Crowley. "Wow," I mutter.
"I know. It's good shit, right?" She scrolls down, highlighting some of the juicier bits with her mouse. A few of them make me blush. I didn't know girls talked like that. "I don't think they realize how public email actually is."
"You do this every day?" I ask, and she nods. "Aren't you afraid you're going to get caught?"
She sits back and relaxes into her rolling chair before pushing it forward, closer towards me.
"Listen, Edward," she begins as she leans forward onto her elbows. I try in vain not to stare down her v-neck tee and instead focus on her words. "You seem like a nice guy, so I'm just going to tell you straight." Her breath washes over my face, and it's sweet, just like her perfume. "It's my job to keep the servers up and running. I need to make sure no one's sending content that's too big, so it doesn't clog up the system. Do I have a little fun and read through their emails? Yeah, sure. But I'm not calling up Mrs. Crowley to tattle on anyone. And honestly, it's their lack of judgment to talk about their personal life on work email anyway."
It's the most I've ever heard her say, and I want it to keep going on forever. She has this easy way about her that I can't put my finger on, and I admire it.
"So, what do you say, Edward? Same thing tomorrow?"
I look at the clock and notice that it's already one and my soup is cold. How did that happen?
"Promise you won't read mine?" I ask nervously.
She nods, and I smile. My pulse quickens. I can't believe I spent the past hour with this beautiful girl. I also can't believe she wants to talk to me again.
I float through the rest of the afternoon, manning the phones and finishing my visual aids simultaneously. Mr. Crowley congratulates me for a job well done, and I can't help but snicker when he calls Jessica into his office to "discuss her progress on the new campaign." I don't think he'd be so cavalier in his affections if he knew what Jessica was telling her co-workers. Secretly, I look forward to the next installment of gossip. Lunchtime might be my new favorite time of the day, as long as I get so spend it with the same incredible company.
It's not until I hear her low, "Goodbye, Edward," at the end of the day that I realize I still don't know her name.
"Bella," she says with a small wave.
Grinning, I open up my Gmail and add a single line to my document from the day.
Her name is Bella.
The next few weeks continue in a similar pattern. Each day at 11:45, Bella goes out and gets her lunch, and I heat up whatever microwaveable meal I've brought before waiting for her in her office. She returns with a big smile and greasy food, and we take turns eating and reading the emails out loud to one another.
The Jessica/Tyler saga gets most of our attention, and Bella gets some sort of perverse pleasure making me recite the most sordid parts of the email. I think she just likes making me blush, which I can't help but do as Jessica explains some of the more lewd positions and locations of their rendezvous. I stammer through it, though, because I love seeing the wide smile spread across her face as she watches me. Then, we speculate as to what we think we're going to find the next day, kind of like those promos at the end of soap operas. We haven't gotten anything right so far, but I figure we have lots more time for that.
Sometimes she shares her fries with me, but I usually resist. I'm pretty sure if I ate like her, I'd blow up to be the size of a balloon. I tell her this each time she offers, but she never stops. And she still talks to me every day, so I don't complain. Half the time, I can't tell if she actually likes me or if she's just making fun of me, but I'll take whatever I can get.
The other day she told me I need to loosen up, so I come in wearing a polo and khakis instead of my suit. She tugs on the collar of the polo and laughs before telling me that I wouldn't know "loose" if it sat on my face. I can feel my face prickle with heat at her insinuation. No one has ever sat on my face ever. Well, that's not entirely true. Charlie Baker sat on my face in the third grade at recess, but I don't think Bella means it that way. I tell her I'll make a more valiant effort, that maybe I can manage to wear my dark jeans, but only on a Friday. She snorts, and it's not dorky at all; it's adorable.
Each day after our lunch date—which is what I call them, because friends can have those—I blog. I've started a new gdoc just about her and am incredibly careful not to mix it up with my daily blog that I email to my professor. In this document, I don't hold back. I write about our conversations, how she's twenty-three, and she loves chocolate ice cream, and Heineken is also her favorite beer, how she is fluent in French, even though it's a totally useless language in the US, how she can't sleep unless she has her head sandwiched between two pillows, and how she believes in science, not in God. I write an extensive entry the day she wears her hair up and I catch a glimpse of the black marking just behind her ear. I recognize the tattoo as the symbol for pi immediately and ask her what it means. This is the first time I ever see Bella blush, saying it was something she got with her ex, that it was supposed to represent their love—irrational and infinite—but she broke things off before the summer when she got offered the job in DC. So much for symbolism, hm? I make sure to underline that important sentence.
Bella is single.
My obsession has cleared new heights, rising with each new thing I discover about her. She's a friend. My only friend here. But she's really just an office friend. We don't talk outside the confines of her bat cave, and as much fun as we have, I'm starting to want more. Okay, who am I kidding? I've wanted more since I first laid eyes on her, but now I think I'm going to do something about it. We're approaching the weekend, and I don't know if I can wait until Monday to talk to her again, so, I've made it my new goal to get her number. It's a lofty goal, but I've always been an overachiever.
A small hand smacks down on the top of my computer, catching my waning attention. Surprising the hell out of me, Bella's there, her usual smile contorted into a worried frown.
"Hey," I respond, nervous. My eyes dart to the clock. It's 11:35, and Bella looks uncomfortable. My stomach clenches with a terrible thought; she's going to cancel our lunch date. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, I was just thinking it's a really beautiful day out."
I look out the window at the perfect summer day. It does look good. "Mhm," I agree. "It is."
She bites her lip, and I'm distracted as I watch her tooth bite down on the skin there. "I was thinking about eating lunch outside."
Yup. She's canceling our lunch date. "Oh," I reply and hope I don't sound too pathetically disappointed. I probably do though, because it looks like my plans for getting her number are completely dashed, and now I won't be talking to her for three days. Great.
"Do you want to come with?"
"Do you want to come with?" she repeats.
I'm overjoyed. Elated, even. On the inside I'm squealing like a teenage girl, but I try and keep my cool as I reply with a nonchalant, "Sure."
I stand up and grab my wallet, shoving it into my back pocket. I'm about to step forward when I notice Bella hasn't moved. She's staring at me intently, and I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing.
"You're tall," she comments. "I don't think I've ever stood next to you when you're standing. And look at you. What happened? You're wearing jeans," she says with a grin, even though I'm not sure why she's rambling.
I shift nervously as I take inventory of my button down shirt and jeans. I've been self-conscious in it all day. "Well, it is a Friday."
Bella smiles again and links her arm through mine. I gulp reflexively and try to control my breathing. She rests her head against my bicep, and it just feels good. Her hand squeezes it gently as she leads us out the front doors. Instead of heading towards the elevator like I assumed, she leads us to the back stairwell. I've never been back here because I was told there are a few dead ends that never got fixed when the building was renovated, but I follow anyway. Her path is direct, like she definitely knows where she's going, and I trust her.
After a few minutes, she pushes on the wall, which actually turns out to be a door that's been painted over from the inside. I'm even more surprised when she leads me to a small, grassy courtyard, enclosed with trees and a tall stone wall. The sun filters through the leaves, leaving a shadowy pattern on half of the small garden floor. It's beautiful.
Not as beautiful as Bella, though. She sprawls out in the grass and stretches her arms overhead to reveal a small sliver of her stomach. In the sunlight, I see that Bella's dark hair has red highlights, which I'd failed to notice in the darkness of her bat cave. She props herself up on her elbows and nods to where I'm still standing in the corner.
"Are you going to join me any time soon?"
"What is this place?" I ask as I amble towards her.
"This—" She motions to the place around her "—is my secret spot. I thought it was about time I shared it with you."
She pats the grass next to her, and I take a seat, crossing my legs Indian style. I tug at the collar of my shirt as it sticks to the back of my neck, which is starting to dampen with sweat in the DC summer humidity.
She laughs and sits on her knees, leaning forward to unbutton the top button. "What are you wearing underneath that, Edward? Why don't you take it off and relax for a little while."
For her to say "take it off" and "relax" in the same sentence is completely counter-intuitive, but I do it anyway, revealing the short-sleeved white tee I use as my undershirt.
She leans back and sighs. "That's more like it." She winks, and my hourly boner makes its first appearance.
Enjoying her forwardness, I cast my dress shirt aside and lean back on my hands, face outstretched to the sun. My eyes are closed when I hear the faint click and hiss of a lighter. I only recognize it because my freshman roommate was a chain smoker, and I had to deal with him constantly lighting up.
Is Bella a smoker? I never would have pegged her for one. Although, now that I think about it, her perfume does have a smoky musk to it.
I lean forward and watch as she pulls a small white cigarette from her pocket. She wets her bottom lip, letting her tongue peek out briefly, before bringing the cig to her mouth. She flicks the lighter on again and leans forward, and the tip of her cigarette flares and burns as it meets the flame. Her thumb releases the lighter, and her eyes close as she inhales deeply. I don't know why, but every inch of me tightens as I watch her smoke. It's somehow intimate, like she's making love to her cigarette.
What an awkward and disturbing thought.
She takes another small puff before exhaling slowly. The smoke curls into the air and washes over my face, encircling me in what I previously thought had been her perfume. The sweet scent makes my mouth water and my head feel a little lighter. What I thought was some bizarre pheromone or hormonal reaction is actually something else all together. And when it clicks, I feel kind of like an idiot.
"You want a hit?" she asks, offering the joint—yes, joint not cigarette—in my general direction.
I stare at it, debating whether or not I should take her up on her offer. I've never smoked pot before. But Bella is…a stoner. That much is obvious. Her fifteen-minute absence from the office each day is spent in this particular spot, enjoying this particular drug. It's not like I never wanted to try it. I've just never had the opportunity. I think I'm excited about it, though. Marijuana is known to have many different effects—most prevalent of which is relaxation. Bella's always telling me to relax, and I think this might just be my Godsend.
I must stare at it for too long because Bella retracts her hand and shakes her head with a small smile. "This isn't an after school special, Edward. I'm not peer pressuring you to smoke. I just though I'd be polite and offer."
"No! I know," I interject. "It's cool. I want to." I almost go as far as to add, "I love pot," but I think that'll be overkill, so I refrain and try and look like I smoke all the time. I don't necessarily know what that looks like, but I think I'm pulling it off.
Bella shrugs, and I think I've convinced her. She runs a hand through her hair, flipping it mostly to one side and then doing that cute little tuck behind her ear thing that most girls do, and then hands me the joint, if somewhat reluctantly.
Trying not to show any worry, even though I'm about to pee my pants with nerves, I bring the joint to my lips. The tip is a little damp, and it hits me that my mouth is now where Bella's has just been. The thought excites me and calms me as I lean forward.
Bella's back on her knees in front of me as she waves the lighter in front of my face. Our faces have never been this close before. From here, I can see the small flecks of gold around her pupils and can count the smattering of light freckles covering her nose. She's gorgeous, but I don't think she knows at all.
Feeling more confident, I imitate her actions from earlier, suddenly glad that I'm such an attentive stalker. I inhale slowly, tilting my head back and trying to look like a practiced smoker. My eyes drift shut as smoke fills my lungs, and I try not to cough up the foreign substance too soon. Even though I've never smoked before, Bella doesn't know that, and I'm thinking losing it like that's probably pretty un-cool.
As I hold the smoke in, I realize it's not that bad. I actually think I kind of like it, even. It doesn't taste spectacular, but it's not horrible either; I think that's probably due to the faint traces of Bella lingering on my tongue. I feel a cough coming on and exhale slowly, trying to avoid an embarrassing outburst. The feeling increases, but I try and resist even more. It's fruitless. My eyes water with restraint, until I finally give up and just cough up the rest. Really smooth.
"Not bad," Bella says slowly as she takes back the joint, "for your first time."
"I…" I want to deny it, but I can't. "Thanks. It was okay."
"You probably won't get high your first time," she explains, and I nod like I understand. Does this mean we'll be doing it again? Because I think I really want to do that. She runs her hand through my hair, and it's the most contact we've ever had. It feels amazing. "Your hair is soft."
"Th-thanks," I stutter. She's so beautiful when she's this relaxed. "Can I try again?"
"On Monday," she says, standing back up. Her hands grasp mine, and I follow her lead, disappointed. "For now we have lunch to eat and emails to read."
She turns towards the wall but doesn't let go of my hand, and I notice the only windows that look down onto the courtyard are from the bathroom; it's the perfect hidden place. With hands intertwined, she leads us to another secret door, which leads us out to the street behind the building and to a nearby Taco Bell.
I balk at her selection, but she swears I'll be begging for bites of her cheesy gordita crunch and Mountain Dew next week, just wait. I ignore her and select a slightly healthier option—a tostada and two chicken soft tacos. My hand slides to my wallet, and I put down a ten-dollar bill before she even knows what hit her.
"Hey," she says with a small but feisty punch to my bicep.
"What?" I ask innocently. "You shared before, and now I'm taking you out to lunch."
The way I phrase the sentence makes this sound like a date, even though I know it's not. I do, however, feel like this whole new world of Bella has been opened to me. One where she shows me her secrets and is comfortable with me. One where I really know who she is. I'm glad she wants to share it with me, even just as a friend. Like I said, I'll take it.
The day goes so well that I actually find the courage to ask for her number. She looks somewhat surprised that I'm asking, and I try not to be hurt. Is it really so shocking that I would ask? I guess so.
"You don't have it?" she asks, and I'm confused.
"Well, I have yours," she counters, and I'm even more confused. It must show in my face because she continues, explaining, as if her having my number is no big deal—which by the way it really is. "All our cell numbers are listed in the roster they sent out last week. Didn't you read it?"
"Uh, no…" I don't know what it is about this girl, but she always manages to make me sound like a complete moron. I'm not stupid. Really. I'm actually pretty smart. I got into Williams of my own volition and everything.
She rolls her eyes and slides backwards in her rolling chair to pull an iPhone out of her purse. Good lord, she has an iPhone. We are phone soulmates. She presses a few buttons, and my phone starts vibrating in my pocket.
"There." She sighs and tosses the phone back into her purse. It doesn't quite make it, but she doesn't care. "I can't believe you didn't read the roster."
I can't believe she did. But more than that, I can't believe she read the roster and added my number to her phone. With the prospect of contacting Bella, my weekend suddenly looks brighter.
I don't hear from her all weekend, and I'm too chicken shit to text first, but I feel better, knowing that I could potentially reach her if I wanted. Monday morning comes quickly, and Bella and I find our rhythm in a new pattern. It's an unspoken agreement that I'll join her now on her fifteen minute trip outside. In our garden—which is what I now refer to it as—she pulls a lighter and a joint from her front pants pocket and lights up quickly. I try not to drool as I watch her enjoy the joint, pulling the smoke from it in short, staccato breaths and then exhaling as slowly as possible.
She passes the still-lit joint to me with that same lazy smile, and I inhale, almost breathing her in. It still burns a little as it goes down, but not nearly as much as the last time. I only cough twice as I release the smoke, letting it drift out of my mouth in a large billowy cloud. We repeat this pattern two more times before I start to feel it. My muscles relax as a slow tingle spreads throughout them. It's almost as if I've almost got pins and needles—like the very beginnings of that intriguing sensation—but it's everywhere.
Bella bites her lip, chewing on the skin as she often does before sitting on her knees in front of me. She examines my face closely, taking inventory almost, running her index fingers and thumbs down my temples and cheeks to meet at my chin.
"How are you?" she asks, and I think she might be concerned.
"Great," I reply, or I will be as long as she keeps touching me and breathing on me.
"What do you want for lunch?" she asks, pulling us both to our feet. I don't know how she does it because she's so miniature and I'm kind of a lanky giant, but I do feel light and floaty, so maybe that has to do with it.
"A bacon cheeseburger…and curly fries…and a chocolate milkshake." The more things I list, the hungrier I become.
She laughs and slips her arm around my waist. "Excellent choices, Edward. There's a Hardees right down the street that has the greatest criss-cut fries. They'll change your life." I focus on the feeling of her thumb as it shifts up and down against my shirt with our steps. It feels incredible. I bet it'd feel more incredible if we were both naked, but I keep that thought to myself…and then write it in my gdoc that afternoon.
The rest of the week follows the same pattern, and I'm ecstatic to find out my productivity level actually rises. Mr. Crowley is so impressed with my work, in fact, that he contacts my school, and I receive a glowing email from my intern advisor, telling me we're halfway through the summer and to keep up the good work.
As I smoke, my Bella document becomes more abstract. I write things about the slight nuances of Bella's freckles, how they're like stars, or how much I want to taste the skin below her ear, how soft it looks. I wax poetic about the way her hair curls and how I want to rest my head in the curve of her hip. It's fairly pitiable, but I can't stop the words from flowing no matter how hard I try.
In other news, the email saga has taken another intriguing twist this week. Mike Newton, Mr. Crowley's co-partner, has now joined the drama. Apparently, he's held a serious candle for Jessica for months, and when he discovered she and Tyler had been engaging in some frottage (his word, not mine), he spoke up. Today, Mike pleads with Jessica, begging her to choose him, just to give him a chance. This is where we leave off before the weekend, and I can't wait until Monday to hear what Jessica decides.
That weekend, Bella texts me as I'm picking up a new charger for my iPhone, and I almost drop it onto the ground in surprise at what she's said.
What are you wearing?
I'm not particularly experienced, but I know what it means when a guy texts that to a girl. I wonder if it's the same thing the other way around. Unsure of how to answer, I decide to go with honesty. It is the best policy, after all.
Khaki shorts and a navy polo.
I shake my head, knowing my outfit is probably the least sexy thing ever. But what was I going to say? I'm so out of my element when it comes to her. Lost in my thoughts, I nearly shriek when I feel someone tug on my arm.
"Ha!" Bella says proudly, "I thought that was you!"
"Yeah…it's me," I reply awkwardly, angling my body to face hers in line for the cashier.
When I finally take her in, I'm sure my heart is about to explode out of my chest. Bella is wearing a dress. A short navy tank dress. She's never worn a dress to the office before, and seeing her knees and shoulders exposed genuinely turns me on. I feel like some debauched old man from the fifties, turned on by seeing a girl's calves and ankles beneath her poodle skirt, or something ridiculous like that. She never really wears color, either, and although navy is a subtle change, it suits her skin and hair.
"We match," is the only think I can think of to say, and I feel like an idiot yet again.
We match? Really?
"We do." Pink colors her cheeks, and I think she might be blushing. Then again, it could just be the summer heat.
I awkwardly shift back and forth on my feet, unsure of what to say now. Luckily, the next cashier is free, and I can ignore the tumble dry low cycle that's started in my stomach. I pay for my highly overpriced phone charger before turning to see if Bella's still there.
She is, and she's waiting patiently for me with a bright smile on her face.
"What—" We start at the same time. "You first," I stammer.
Bella's cheeks darken further, the light pink hue becoming almost what my mom refers to as a dusty rose—it's the color of her linens.
"Oh, I was just wondering what you were up to tonight?" she asks, and I'm hesitant to give her my answer.
"Uh, not too much. Probably ordering takeout and watching bad reruns on TBS."
"How exciting," she says with sarcasm.
I cross my arms in front of my chest, knowing how lame my weekend has been. "Why? What's on your slab?"
"Well, my roommate's boyfriend is in town for the weekend. He's pretty cool, but I really hate that point in the evening when they both get 'tired,' you know?" She laughs as she uses her hand to mimic the quotes, and then it's my turn to blush.
"Yeah, I bet…" I remember the pain of being sexiled from my own room, and I think it's probably not so great to have to listen to it through the wall either.
"So, would you want to join me?" she asks, and I'm surprised. I am honestly not expecting that. "We were going to order takeout anyway, and I'm sure we can put on TBS if it's that important to you."
I know it's not a date, but it kind of feels like one, so I say, "Yes!" with great enthusiasm. The walk to her building is short, only about ten minutes. We head up to the third floor and then down the hall to her apartment. The room is already halfway opened, and I can hear horrible off-key singing and raucous laughter filter into the hallway.
Bella juts her hip out to nudge the door open further and steps through. I hear a disappointed, "Aw, you're not Chinese!" before crossing the threshold myself. The same voice continues, coming from a small black-haired girl who is lying across the couch with her legs thrown over the arm. She sits up more, and her eyes narrow in on me before flashing over to Bella. "I didn't know you were bringing company, B. We would have ordered more food."
"Sorry, Alice. I ran into Edward at the Apple store, and he had no plans, so I thought I'd be a hospitable co-worker and invite him over. Is that okay?" Her tone is challenging, and I can't help but notice that she introduced me as her co-worker, not even her friend. That's a little cold.
"Don't be silly, Al," her boyfriend speaks up from behind her, or at least I assume he's her boyfriend, anyway. "We ordered enough food for days of leftovers. Hey man," he says with a wave towards me, "I'm Jasper."
"Edward," I reply, unsure of why Alice is looking at me with such disdain. "And, um, I don't have to eat if there's not enough. Really, it's not a problem."
"We ordered Mr. Chen's," Jasper says, like that's supposed to mean something to me. "You can't not eat it."
"Maybe he doesn't like it, and he's being polite," Alice suggests. I'm not, but okay.
"Alice," Bella says, and even I can hear the warning in her voice. I wonder if these two even get along because Alice seems like a heinous bitch.
Luckily, the Chinese food arrives, interrupting whatever possible blowout is on the horizon, and by the five bags that arrive, it's evident that there's enough for me.
I'm not sure where I'm supposed to go or what to do, but I know I don't want to be next to Alice. So, instead of taking the spot next to her on the couch, I pull up a spot on the floor. I hear Bella sigh as Jasper smiles and roots through the bags, naming out dishes and asking what everyone wants, before putting the rest in the refrigerator "for later."
Soon, an array of cold sesame noodles, egg rolls, pork fried rice, general tsos chicken, beef with broccoli, and steamed dumplings litter the floor, the little plastic boxes and chopsticks just begging to be opened and used.
"I'm going to go change really quickly if that's okay," Bella says, heading towards an open room. "Somehow I don't think eating on the floor wearing a dress is a good idea, unless you all want a show."
She laughs and goes into her room, closing the door behind her, while I'm left with an awkward boner and the world's most mismatched couple. No really, I don't get them. She's frigid and he's warm. She's nearly midget-sized with black hair and blue eyes, and he's taller than me with shaggy blond hair and brown eyes. It's confusing, and I feel like he could do a lot better than someone who treats people like that. Maybe she's really good in bed. Or has no gag reflex. Or likes it up the ass. Or both.
"So, Edward," Alice says, drawing out my name. "You work with our Bella?"
I really don't like the way she says "our Bella," but I grit my teeth and answer her question. "Yeah, kind of. I'm an intern there this summer."
"Only for the summer? So, when do you go back to Williams?" she asks, her pale blue eyes staring straight into mine.
"Not until September," I answer. Then I realize what she's said. "Hey, how did you know I go to W—"
I never get a chance to finish my sentence, though, because Bella comes out of her room wearing only a white wife beater and grey cut off sweatpants, her hair back in a ponytail, and I lose all train of thought. I can see her bra through her shirt. Words, begone.
"Please tell me those are my dumplings," she nearly moans, plopping onto the floor next to me and reaching into the carton with her fingers. The small noise does nothing to deter my awkward boner, so instead I focus on filling up my own plate with sesame noodles.
Jasper chuckles softly and wraps his arm around Alice's shoulders as she scrunches up her nose and begins to pick at the food.
After we're sufficiently stuffed, Jasper retreats to Alice's room and comes back out with an interesting tie-dyed looking ceramic that I know has something to do with smoking pot.
"You brought Fiona?" Alice claps, and her blue eyes warm for the first time since I stepped into their apartment. "Oh, I've missed her so."
"I know, baby," Jasper says with a wink. "She's missed you, too." Then, he turns to me and holds up a small bag of green, which I can smell from my spot across the room. "You game, Edward?"
Sure, I'll smoke really good weed with you and your bitchy girlfriend, as long as I'm sitting to Bella's left. I know stoner rules. I may have Googled them. Maybe.
Bella turns on the television as Jasper "packs the bowl." I'm learning all sorts of terms tonight. It's pretty exciting, and I laugh when I see that Bella's turned the channel to TBS, alerting her that I see what she's done with a friendly jab of my elbow.
Jasper and Alice move to the floor, completing our little circle, and I watch in awe as Jasper lights up the bowl. It flames as he inhales, the little bowl glowing red as he takes his first hit. Alice gets it next, and I'm surprised at how long she can inhale for such a small person. I must have been right about the no gag reflex thing. She passes to Bella, and her eyes light up as she sniffs at the bowl.
"Where the hell did you find Kush, Jazz?" Bella asks before grabbing the lighter and taking her own lengthy hit.
"I work with football players, B," he answers slowly, his eyelids drooping ever so slightly. "They hook me up with the best."
Bella groans in obvious pleasure, letting her eyes close as the smoke trails out from her mouth. I have to bite my lip to stop a whimper from escaping as I discretely eye fuck the shit out of her. "Instant gratification, baby," she whispers hoarsely before passing the pipe to me.
I lick my lips and hold it up, realizing that the flame has already flickered out. Bella notices just as I do, and she flicks the lighter back on and leans forward. Now I can really see down her shirt, catching glimpses of light blue lace that make me want to jizz in my khaki shorts. I don't, though, because that'd be awkward. Instead, I let her light the bowl as I take my own hit. Our eyes lock as I breathe in, and soon I'm not sure what's making me so lightheaded—the pot or her dark stare. Whatever it is, it feels incredible, so I don't complain.
The bowl makes it around our small circle three times before Jasper declares it "cashed," as he wipes something that made his face scrunch up with distaste from the tip of his tongue.
"Ash," Bella explains, leaning closer. I nod, but all I can think of is the feel of heat from her palm against my bare knee. I knew wearing shorts today was a good idea.
As Jasper cleans out and repacks the bowl, Alice puts Eurotrip in the DVD player, which is apparently where Fiona got her name. I tell Alice she looks like the actress who plays Fiona, and she laughs.
"Yeah, and Jasper likes to put his mouth on and suck both of us."
Jasper smirks and kneels in front of her on the floor, taking a hit before turning back to Alice and kissing her. Except, he's not really kissing her. As I look closer, it becomes clear that Jasper has exhaled into Alice's mouth. It's definitely intimate, and I try not to blush and squirm as I watch. Alice does the same back to Jasper and passes the pipe in Bella's general direction before climbing onto Jasper's lap.
Bella rolls her eyes as they mumble something about being tired and retreat quickly into Alice's room, closing the door with a loud bang.
It feels like it should be awkward, knowing what's going on just down the hall, but the tingling buzz rolls throughout my body, making me laugh softly at their less than subtle actions. Soon, Bella's joining in on my laughter and leaning against my side. We watch the movie like that, Bella's head leaning on my shoulder and my arm wrapped around hers, making small circles there and enjoying the feel of her soft skin under the pads of my fingers.
Around the time the group in the movie arrives in Eastern Europe, I start to lose feeling in my ass. I shift around slightly, trying to make it better, but all it does it alert Bella to my discomfort. She shakes her head slowly and helps me up from the ground—I still don't know how she does that—suggesting we sit on the couch instead.
As two characters start drunkenly making out at a club, I'm reminded of Jasper and Alice's make out session. Curious, I turn to Bella, only to find her looking at me already.
"What?" she asks, surprised.
"I…I didn't say anything," I stammer.
"Oh." Her body relaxes back into the cushions and her head turns towards the television. The whole moment is weird and uncomfortable, although I don't really know why.
"Um," I start again, and she shifts back in my direction. "I was going to ask, um, about Alice and Jasper? What was that thing they did with the kiss? I mean, I know they were kissing. I'm not that sexually retarded, I promise, but it looked like she took a hit from his mouth? Is that what she did?" I ask it as a question, hoping I don't sound too dumb, even though I know I do.
"The shotgun?" she asks, eyebrows raised.
"Uh…sure." I'm angry with myself for not looking up stoner lingo on Google along with stoner rules.
"Did you want to try it?"
Her voice gets really quiet and her eyes shift back and forth between the still packed bowl on the floor and me. I don't know if this is a serious offer, but the word "Yes," flies out of my mouth before I can rationally stop myself.
Bella lights up the bowl again and takes a long, slow hit. And nearly in slow motion, she leans in towards me. Finally, her lips press against mine softly, and my lips part on instinct. She exhales, and warm, sweet smoke fills my mouth. I gulp it down before any of it can escape, savoring the moment for all its worth. My lips close as I swallow, and I realize that Bella hasn't moved away yet. It's possibly the single best moment of my entire life so far, feeling her smooth lips press against mine. I let my eyes flutter closed, enjoying this moment, the quasi-almost-kiss. Soon, my breath runs short, and I pull away to exhale.
"So…?" Bella rasps, her voice still thick with smoke.
"That was, uh…interesting." I chuckle. Understatement of the century. More like fuckawesome, best moment of my existence.
I run my hand through my hair and try to steady my breathing, but it's hard. Everything's hard.
Har har, Edward.
I shift back in my seat, trying to adjust my erection without bringing Bella's attention to the discomfort in my shorts. Just as I've managed to barely get it under control, Bella leans over again, this time not stopping until her head is resting on the top of my thigh. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to abuse myself at least three times to get this boner to subside, but it's so worth it.
I run my fingers through her hair, and she sighs contentedly. "That feels nice," she whispers and grabs my hand from her head to rest on her side, interlocking our fingers loosely. It's the last thing I remember hearing before falling into a hazy slumber.
I wake the next morning in the same position with a huge fucking crick in my neck, but I can't bring myself to care. I slept with Bella.
She rises sleepily and asks if I want to "wake and bake," but I decide against it. I should really get home, and my body still feels heavy with the effects of last night's fun. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm still stoned thanks to Jasper's magical weed. Not wanting to go quite yet, I join her out on her back deck and observe as she finishes the remainder of the bowl we didn't get to the night before. I am reluctant to leave her. I feel like this weekend was some huge turning point in our friendship, and I'm afraid to end it. I really don't want this to have been a fluke. Exhaustion seeps through my bones, however, and I know I need to sleep in a real bed, soon.
She hugs me goodbye, and I love the ease with which she's able to casually touch me now. With a heavy sigh and an uncomfortable wave to Alice and Jasper, who look on from the window upstairs, I turn and leave.
I spend the rest of the afternoon watching The Office reruns on TBS and checking my phone every two minutes, wishing a text from Bella would miraculously appear. It doesn't, so instead I open my laptop and write an epic entry about our night together. I write how I can't believe a month ago I didn't even know her name, and now I can't imagine my life without her in it. I don't remember what I used to spend all my time thinking about before Bella, but she's a distraction of the best kind. I talk about how amazing her lips felt, and how all I want to do is feel them again and again…and maybe her tongue, too. Mmm, her tongue.
Thoroughly exhausted, I get into bed earlier than I thought possible and fall asleep within seconds. I wake the next morning feeling like I just got hit by a truck. My body aches everywhere, from my head to my toes, and my nose is completely clogged. During my sleep, I've cocooned myself, trying to keep warm, but I notice my hands and forehead are damp with sweat.
This is not good.
I've never had to call in sick anywhere before, and I really hope Mr. Crowley is in a good mood. He is, thank god. I speculate briefly as to whether Jessica chose him over Mike before hanging up the phone and pouting. I'm glad I got to see Bella this weekend because I hate the notion that I'm not going to be seeing her today. And maybe tomorrow too, depending on how quickly I recover.
I soon discover that being alone and sick sucks majorly. I call my mom to whine, but she just tells me to stop being a big baby and to rest up. Thanks, Mom. Feeling like crap, I move to my couch and turn on the television, settling in to watch a full day of bad daytime TV. I find Ghostbusters just starting up and decide it'll do. I must doze off somewhere in the middle, though, because the next thing I know, it's 11:47 and my phone is ringing.
I grope at the blankets and find my iPhone before picking up the call without even looking at the caller ID. I can't be bothered to really open my eyes; I'm still feeling like shit.
"Hello?" I croak.
"Oh shit, you sound terrible," Bella says, and I can't help but laugh.
"Yeah, I'm not feeling too good." As if on cue, my laugh turns into a cough, and I nearly hack up a lung as the wet sounds vibrate from my chest.
"I guess you're really sick, huh? Do you need anything?" she asks, and I shake my head. "Edward…are you still there?"
"Yeah, I'm here…just…tired…"
I'm pretty sure I say a quick goodbye before passing out again, succumbing to my overwhelming fatigue. A ringing wakes me up hours later, and I'm completely disoriented. I wake up in my bed, although I have no idea how I got there. I wish I had a thermometer because I think I may have a fever. Is it possible that I caught the flu? Who gets the flu during the summer?
As I come to, I notice the ringing is still going on, and I think it's my buzzer. No one's ever used it before, but I'm fairly certain that's what it is. Hesitantly, I press the button, and give a small, "Hello?"
"Buzz us up," a little voice says through the receiver, and it sounds vaguely familiar. I press the other button on my little keypad and unlock my door before heading to the bathroom to relieve myself. By the time I return to the couch, I see a little black blob and a lanky brown one have invaded my apartment with bags of stuff.
"Alice?" I squint my eyes, as if that'll help her come into more focus, but it's no use. I collapse onto the couch and huddle under my blanket, suddenly freezing again.
"Wow, Bella wasn't kidding when she said you were out of it," the voice rambles. "Have you even eaten anything today? Had any water? Meds? We brought you your chicken soup and throat coat tea and strawberry ice cream. Although, who likes strawberry ice cream? I can't believe you have a 3.84 GPA and can't even take care of yourself when you're sick."
I tune Alice out because I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming. That's the only way she'd know my exact GPA, right? I nod to myself sleepily and let dream Alice take care of me. I'm not really sure why my subconscious has brought Alice and not Bella, though. I'll have to have a very serious discussion with it when I become conscious again.
"Al," Jasper's low voice drawls, "he's running at 102.7…"
That's my favorite radio station. It plays all the best indie bands, and I've missed it this summer. Washington DC has crappy radio stations, filled with too many politicians and not enough music.
The dream morphs into a blur of good music, and the next thing I know, Bella is there. It's about time, subconscious. She pets my hair and tells me that she missed me, that my words are beautiful and so am I. My subconscious clearly needed an ego boost. I let her feed me the chicken soup and tea, warning her that she'll now have to help me to the bathroom because I'm going to have to pee every hour. She insists she doesn't mind and holds my hand the entire way.
I wake up late the next morning as the sun filters through my blinds and into my eyes. I feel a lot better, and I roll my neck, enjoying the popping sounds it makes as I stretch out my cramped joints. My stomach grumbles, and I sigh, having no idea when the last time I ate was. Possibly Sunday afternoon before my early bedtime. I walk to the kitchen and open the refrigerator and am genuinely surprised at the amount of food in there. There's a half-empty container of soup and the rest of our Chinese leftovers.
I spin around and see an electric thermometer on my kitchen table, holding down a note. I pick it up and read it quickly.
Don't worry about coming into work today. I called Tyler for you again, since you were still pretty sick last night. I hope you're feeling much better today, though. Your coughing calmed down around 3AM, and I think your fever may have broken around then, too. Sorry I couldn't hang out and take care of you today. I've asked Alice and Jasper to stop in again, and you can call them if you need anything. But please take care of yourself. Work isn't as fun without you. Sending you very healthy thoughts.
My heart nearly stops as I realize what I'm reading. How much of my dream was a dream, and how much of it was reality? I have no idea, but I don't really want to ask. Somehow, I think asking Bella if she thinks I'm beautiful is a bad plan. I take out my phone and see it's almost ten thirty, so I call Bella, wanting to thank her for taking care of me.
"Hey, sleepyhead," she answers.
"Hey…so, uh…thanks for taking care of me yesterday?"
"No problem. You were pretty out of it." She chuckles softly, and I wish I could see her face, although that probably wouldn't help anyway. "You sound a lot better, though."
"Yeah, I feel a lot better," I answer and pick up the electric thermometer, sticking it in my ear. It reads 99.1, which barely counts as a fever in my book.
"Well, enjoy the day off. I can swing by later again if you want?"
"That sounds good."
She sighs, and I can practically hear her smile through the line. "Great. Feel better, Edward."
We hang up and I sit on the edge of the couch, pondering what I'm going to do with the rest of my day. I don't want to wait until later to see Bella, and I impulsively decide that I'm not going to. After a steamy shower to get rid of the remaining sickness on me, I get dressed and head towards the office. I don't see the point of wasting an entire day at home alone when I could be with Bella.
By the time I arrive, it's just after 11:45, so I expect Bella to be outside on her smoke break. Since I just recovered from whatever heinous virus that just was, I decide to wait in her office for her—like the old times—instead of joining her. So, I'm thoroughly surprised to see her perched at her monitor, giggling softly, when I arrive. She has her little white ear buds in, and I can hear the bass line of whatever she's listening to through it. Wanting to surprise her, I sneak up behind her chair quietly.
I'm about to tap her shoulder and hopefully give her a really good surprise when a few words on the screen jump out at me. It's in that second that I figure out what she's reading and start to panic. There, displayed on her massive monitor are my words. My words about her. And she's giggling at them, laughing at me. I knew this friendship was too good to be true. A nauseous feeling spreads throughout my stomach, and I turn to leave. She'll be none the wiser. However, luck is never on my side, and my foot gets tangled up in the strap of her purse as I try to make my stealthy escape. I make enough noise to startle her, and she stands up immediately as she sees me.
"Edward? What are you doing here?" Her smile is wide, but I can't return it. I'm not good at pretending like she is.
"What are you doing with that?" I ask angrily.
She turns behind her to look, as if she didn't know what she was just reading, and then turns back to me with wide eyes. That's the deer in headlights look I've been waiting for. She's been found out, caught, and I'm devastated. That might sound overly dramatic. I mean, we've only been "friends" for a month, but it doesn't stop it from hurting any less.
"I…um…" she sputters, averting her eyes, and it confirms everything I've been thinking. She takes a step towards me, but I take a step back to counter it. "Edward, it's…"
"You promised me you'd never look," I whisper. "I can't believe you."
"Edward, can you just—"
There's no chance she can talk her way out of this. She hacked into my private email account and was reading a very personal document. This isn't about following petty work gossip. This is about her invading my privacy and mocking me for it. I'm sure her ego got a huge boost and she got a good laugh out of it.
I stop her. "No, Bella. I don't want to hear your justification. I can't believe you'd invade my privacy like that. It's not okay, and I really don't want to talk to you right now."
She shuts her mouth and nods, lowering herself back into her chair.
Suddenly, I'm not feeling so well again. Since I'm already excused for the day, I decide I can head home to wallow. I run into Mr. Crowley on my way out and make up a flimsy story about picking up a file to work on at home before heading back out. He says he's very impressed by my initiative and tells me he'll see me the next morning, bright and early, with my visual aids.
I'm cranky for the rest of the day, and it makes me wish I had some weed so I could chill out. Only, I'm no longer on speaking terms with my hook up, so that's not happening. Instead, I pick up a double cheeseburger at Five Guys and watch a Die Hard marathon on FX as I eat and work on Mr. Crowley's spreadsheets.
My phone vibrates so frequently that I finally just put it on silent and don't bother to look at it until right before bed. I have two missed calls, one from Bella and one from a private number, and four text messages—all from Bella.
Edward, I know that looked really bad, but I promise I can explain.
I scoff. Sure you can.
Okay, so you're not answering your phone. Call me when you get a chance.
And then another one from four hours later.
I guess you still don't want to talk. And I know you don't want to hear this, but…I'm sorry, Edward.
The last one is from ten minutes ago, and I want to throw my phone across the room when I read the three simple words that make my heart constrict and frustration boil in my stomach.
I miss you.
For the rest of the week, I avoid Bella. It's much easier than I thought it'd be, actually. It might have to do with the fact that we have a huge campaign to gear up for, and I actually have real work to do. She still comes in at 10:45 and leaves at 11:45 for her fifteen minute smoke break. I keep my head lowered and my eyes on my computer screen as she walks by, and she hasn't attempted talking to me since I ignored her "Hello," the morning after.
The remainder of the week is painful, and it takes serious dedication not to break down and run into her bat cave. I want to know what happened with Mike Newton and if Jessica is giving him a chance or not. I want to know why Bella was reading my document and how long she's known that I liked her. It could have been since before I introduced myself to her. Maybe that's why she took pity on me in the first place. Yes, these are things I want to know, but I stay strong and refuse to break. I try and tell myself it's no big loss, but my heart knows it is. And it sucks.
That Friday, Mr. Crowley asks me to act as his shadow for the first time. I stay with him as he explains his newest plans and changes, and I listen with rapt attention. Although we're inside a conference room, there's a large clock on the wall, and I keep my eye out for her. I'm surprised when Bella doesn't come through the doors at 10:45. She doesn't come through the doors at 11:45, either. And by noon, all I want to do is ask where she is, but I don't know if she has any other friends in the office, and I know I certainly don't have any. I think it might be inappropriate to ask Mr. Crowley, so instead, I just stick it out until lunch.
Reverting to my old routine, I grab my container of soup and head to the break room, ready to eat it in miserable peace. I'm surprised, however, to discover that there are three people in the break room, and they all know my name, greeting me politely as I shove the soup into the microwave.
"Edward, have you seen Bella today?" a plumper bald man asks.
I shrug, confused as to why he's talking to me and secondly, why he thinks I'd know about Bella's whereabouts.
"Uh, nope," I respond.
"She's an interesting girl, wouldn't you say, Edward?" he continues, and I'm truly perplexed as to why he's still talking to me.
"I guess…" I step closer to the microwave, thinking that maybe they'll leave me alone if I act disinterested. It doesn't work, though.
"Yes," a much elderly lady, who I think goes by Jane, adds. "She definitely has an interesting way of going about things."
"Sure does," the last one says, chuckling softly.
The timer on the microwave goes off, and I decide to take my soup away from the randoms in the break room. I'm super confused by this bizarre conversation. It's the first real interaction I've had with anyone at work all summer, and I've been here for six whole weeks already.
I take my seat back at my desk with a sigh, relieved to be out of their sight and away from their odd questions. I open up my soup and take a slow sip of the too-hot liquid before opening up my email, which I haven't had the opportunity to check all day because Mr. Crowley has kept me so busy.
Soup nearly gets inhaled into my lungs as I scroll through my email, seeing that IMSwan (at) dmsgroup (dot) com has shared two documents with me through gdocs. I debate deleting them without opening them, but my curiosity prevents it. The first document is private, shared only between the two of us. It's a copy of my private Bella document, only there are colorful comments sprinkled all over it. As I read through her comments, a slow feeling of warmth starts to spread across my cheeks. I'm blushing. Bella's first comments are from last week on, and they highlight her favorite moments in my text. She comments on my writing style and inserts anecdotes of our days together. My favorite comment is from the day we first smoked together. In bold font it says, He's equally beautiful, if not more, and also has no idea.
I can't believe this. I don't know what to make of it. My mind is racing too fast, trying to absorb all her comments. In an effort to calm down, I minimize the document and open the second one she's shared with me, curious as to what that could possibly be. I look at the privacy settings and am shocked to see that whatever she's written, she's shared it with over a hundred people. I click on the icon, and a list of everyone's work emails pops up.
My stomach clenches as I begin reading.
Wednesday, June 15. I saw the most beautiful boy yesterday. He's the new intern, and I want to know him. He doesn't talk to anyone, and no one talks to him because they're intimidated of how gorgeous he is. Well, at least, that's why I haven't had the balls to introduce myself yet. I looked him up with Alice last night, so I know he'll graduate from Williams next year and currently maintains a 3.84 GPA. He's majoring in Economics, so I'm not really sure why he's here, but I'm just the stupid IT girl so what do I know, right? His birthday is on the 20th, and he'll be turning 21. I'm turning 23 in September, so that's not so bad of an age difference is it? I mean, it's not like he's 18 or something. Haha, listen to me, as if I'd ever have a chance with this guy. Oh well. Goal for the week: introduce myself and possibly celebrate his birthday with him. Or maybe I could just leave a bottle of booze on his desk. That'd be weird though, wouldn't it? I wonder if he likes Heineken…
My mouth drops as I continue reading. Bella started her own document about me…weeks before I started mine about her. Not only that, but she sent it out to the entire office. No wonder those people in the break room were asking about her. I try to control my breathing as I continue reading the document. I think Bella likes me. Like…she likes me, likes me. I have no idea what to do now.
Never in all my pining did I ever consider this to be an option, and I sort of feel like a floundering fish out of water. By the end of the afternoon, I've read through both documents at least three times and still don't know what happens now. Do I email her back? Do I wait for her to come find me? What is the protocol in this kind of situation?
When 4:47 rolls up, I decide I'm going to leave a note for her in the bat cave, so she can find it Monday morning. It's a total chicken shit move, but I don't have the balls to call her, or even text. This at least buys me two days to figure out if I've forgiven her or not.
Okay, that's not entirely true. I've forgiven her. As far as grand gestures go, this one definitely takes the cake. I write a quick note, thanking her and telling her to come find me before heading down the hall to her lair.
The room is empty, and I take a deep breath before crossing the threshold. I place the note so it's sticking up between the numbers and function keys on her keyboard and turn to leave. I nearly jump out of my skin as I see Bella standing in the doorway, blocking my exit.
Oh well. There goes that plan.
"Hi," she starts off nervously. I don't blame her. The last time she said that word to me, I turned the other way and ignored her completely. That's obviously not happening now though. As if I could ignore her. She looks incredible. Her dark hair hangs in lose spirals in front of her shoulders, and she's dressed far too nicely for the office—in a fitted blue dress with a black blazer and heels. Makeup adorns her face, and I think I smell a hint of perfume that has nothing to do with the one of smoke that usually surrounds her.
"Hi…you look, uh…wow." I pause as a small smile appears, hindered by her front tooth biting on her bottom lip. I notice she looks nervous, and so naturally I am, too. "I mean, where have you been all day?"
She crosses her arms over her chest, as if she's suddenly self-conscious about what she's wearing, although she definitely shouldn't be. "I had a job interview," she answers. "I just figured I probably wouldn't want to work here if you continued to ignore me. And every company needs an IT person, so it wasn't that hard to find somewhere to—"
I cut her off. "You're leaving?"
"Are we speaking again?" she asks quietly, and her eyes drop to the floor, anticipating my answer. I'm at a loss for words, as I often am around her, and she mistakes it for anger. Her eyes flash with apology as they connect with mine, and I gulp reflexively. "I'm sorry, Edward. You have no idea how sorry I am. That wasn't the way I wanted to tell you." She pauses and then starts pacing, walking back and forth in the small office like a caged animal. "I originally stumbled upon that document as an accident," she explains exasperatedly. "I know that sounds like a lie, but I swear it's not. After all the shit we found on Jessica and Tyler and Mike, I wanted to see if anyone on the work servers was gossiping about me, so I did a search for my name, and when it pulled up something of yours, I couldn't believe it. And then I opened it and read it, and I still couldn't believe it because I really didn't think you saw me like that. I kept trying to flirt with you, and I even asked you out, but you're so god damned slow!"
Her tiny hands push at my chest, and I almost can't believe what I'm hearing, but somehow I know it's true. My hands find their way around her waist, and before I know what I'm doing, I pull her closer, her body flush against mine.
The frustration in her eyes dies, changing to a darker look that I used to mistake for hunger. I now realize it's more than that; it's lust, desire. Going with my instincts, I lean down and kiss her. It's intentional, slow and thought out. Her hands fist the front of my shirt, keeping me close, as her lips move against mine. It's perfect. I can feel her body tense and then relax against me, and I'm astounded at the power I hold. Who knew?
When her lips part and her tongue brushes against my lips, though, I lose all sense of rationale. She tastes like cinnamon and pastry with a faint hint of smoke, and it's delicious. I breathe harder and clutch her tighter as our tongues meet. It's the perfect amount of tongue, too. Not overbearing, like two swords dueling, or too little like a weak hug that you barely feel. No, this just works. And although I've been kissed a few times, nothing has ever felt like this.
We break apart, both of us grinning and out of breath.
"Just for clarification's sake," she pants, "I really like you, Edward, and I want to go out on a real date with you. Do you want to do that?"
I feel like such a cheese ball, but I can't help the, "Thank you, God," that escapes my lips. "Should we go celebrate?" I ask in what I hope is a seductive manner and slide my arms back around her waist.
Her returning giggle is more than enough to get me to lean down and try to kiss her again, but she holds up a finger to stop me. With her free hand, she reaches into her dress, digs into her bra, and pulls out a joint. It might be the hottest thing I've ever seen.
"Shall we?" she asks with a grin.
Summer internship, week seven. Well, I did it. I kissed her, the girl of my dreams. And guess what? She kissed me back, and she liked it. In fact, she wanted it. She's wanted me for weeks and never said a thing. Okay, that's kind of a lie. I think I'm a little slow and ignored some telling signs. IMS writes: Uhhh, yeah, you think so? A little slow my ass. Lethargic or comatose is more like it.
Bella, what did I say about spying on my documents while I'm typing? IMS writes: That I have to wait until you're finished to put in my comments?
Thank you. I mean, it's really awesome to have a hot stoner girlfriend who is so technologically savvy that she can hack into my locked documents, but give a guy some room to fawn, okay? IMS writes: Party pooper. And did you just call me your girlfriend?
Too soon? Ah, shit. I knew I was going to fuck this up before it went anywhere. IMS writes: You didn't fuck up anything, boyfriend. And we're definitely going somewhere…secret garden in T minus two minutes? I may have borrowed Fiona this morning while Jasper wasn't looking.
FIONNNNAAAA! I looooove Fiona. IMS writes: ::shakes head:: I think you love Fiona more than you love me.
Nah, I love you more. Just by a little, though. And also, that was a cheap way for you to get me to tell you I love you, cheater. IMS writes: It was, and I love you too. Now, close up your computer because we have a bowl of purple haze to kill. See you in a second.
I can't keep the stupid grin off my face as I reread our bizarre conversation. Just as I close the computer, I feel Bella's lips on my cheek. Everyone in the office is now acutely aware of our relationship, and all eyes go straight to us, like we're some weird celebrity couple or something. I don't mind because Bella's hand slips into mine after she greets me with a happy, "Hello, handsome."
I eye her purse, extremely excited about exploring the contents of it. Soon, we're sitting and passing Fiona back and forth between us, enjoying the sunshine and the haze that spreads through our bodies as we smoke and chat. Bella smiles and steals small kisses of gratitude from me between hits, although I'd give them to her willingly. All she has to do is ask. Neither of us wants to waste another moment.
It's funny. Only two months ago, I came to Washington DC, unexcited, unmotivated, and a bit of a social retard. Now, I'm dating a bona fide hottie, who loves me despite my social misgivings, and she makes me more productive in a job that I truly enjoy coming to every day. That might have something to do with my new affinity for weed, though. Maybe.
Picspiration 1: http:/www . popcrunch . com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/kristenweed1 . jpg
Picspiration 2: http: / weheartit . com/entry/6032438