A/N: Hi everyone! This is a rewrite of my first fic. I hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter One: The Tavern
It was only about 6:00 when I arrived at The Tavern, but I noticed my friends had already gotten a head start.
The Tavern was our local hangout. It was a small dive bar, and all the staff knew us by name. It smelled of stale beer, but I was used to it, almost comforted by it, in fact. We almost always started off here when we went out and ended up going out somewhere else after a few drinks.
I grabbed a beer at the bar and walked over to the table where Alice and Jasper were sitting.
"Hey Bella, glad you could finally make it," Alice said.
"Finally? It's only 6:00. You guys must have been dying to get out of work," I replied, appreciating their infectious enthusiasm for happy hour. They could always be counted on to meet up for a drink.
"You know how it's been at work lately," Jasper said, taking a swig of his beer. "Banner's been on a tirade this week, and the last thing I wanted was to be his designated asshole for the day. I couldn't leave there fast enough."
"Yeah, sadly, I got stuck in a meeting with him this afternoon. Apparently, I was the designated asshole. Otherwise, I'd totally have joined you earlier. What was with him this week? I mean, who calls a meeting so late on Friday?" I asked, sliding into the barstool.
"I felt so bad for you. I saw you in the conference room with Banner and knew you were being tortured. I'm so glad I dodged that bullet. Anyway, it's great you could make it," Jasper replied, holding up his glass to toast me.
"Thanks. I wish you could have saved me. He was droning on and on." I rolled my eyes and made hand gestures for effect. "How'd you pull that off, anyway?"
"A very strategically timed trip to Accounting. They're my saviors on Friday afternoons. I can hide out of Banner's sight and still have some pretense of working."
"Well, you might have company next week."
He laughed knowingly.
"Hey, is Jake coming?" he asked, his voice attempting to hide his contempt. Jake wasn't very popular amongst my friends, and they were pretty obvious about it.
"Try not to act so excited. And no, he's got something else going on."
"Something else? That's guy hangs on you like flies on shit. I'm surprised he was willing to let you out of his sight for the night. Especially if he knew Cullen would be out."
"Eww, he's not that clingy, is he?"
Both Alice and Jasper gave me a look like I was an idiot.
"Okay, maybe he is a little clingy. It didn't start out like that, but he keeps telling me he wants to 'take our relationship to the next level'…" I rolled my eyes as I made air quotes. "…which apparently to him means being together nonstop. Yeah, not gonna happen. I swear, what happened to all the good guys? Why do I always get stuck with the lame ones?"
I sounded like I was throwing my own pity party.
"I thought you liked him?" asked Alice.
"Ugh, I do, I guess. I mean, he's a nice guy. I just can't see it progressing beyond what it already is, and he keeps bugging me about it. I feel bad, but he annoys me at times. Plus, he's not the brightest bunny in the forest, and it's hard to be around, but I guess it's better than having no one to hang out with at all."
"Wow, now who's acting excited? You actually made me feel sorry for the guy," Jasper teased.
"I know. I shouldn't be so harsh. It's just that I've been on WAY too many first dates lately and that gets really old. I was hoping Jake had potential, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. What's with guys now? Are they all losers? I could tell you stories that would make your head spin," I confessed sadly.
"This sounds interesting. I love a good story. How come you haven't mentioned them before?" Jasper asked curiously, taking a sip of his beer as he motioned to the waitress to bring another pitcher. "Have they really been that bad?"
"You have no idea. And I never mentioned them because they're embarrassing." I hid my face in my hands in mock shame.
"I love embarrassing. Especially when it's you." Jasper flashed his winning smile, and I knew there was no way I was going to get out of telling my horror stories.
"Let's see, there was the guy who wanted to show me the view from his place, and when I went to the bathroom, he stripped down naked and stood on the deck waiting for me."
"Shut the hell up," Jasper said, his loud voice drawing attention from several tables. "He just dropped trou?"
"You actually had a date do that?" Alice added, shocked.
"Oh yes, I did. He was a real prize. It was hilarious, actually. Well, at least now it is. At the time, I was horrified. I just walked into the room, having no idea that he was naked on the balcony, and WHAM! The date had been going fairly well up to that point, or at least I thought it had. When I saw him, I burst into hysterical laughter. He didn't even seem that embarrassed. He just muttered something about how he knew it might not work. Who does that?" I shuddered at the memory.
"It might not work?" Jasper asked, cracking up. "That's a fucking understatement. Did he even know you at all? What was he doing? Playing the odds that you'd be so excited you'd jump into the sack with him?"
"I guess. What possible response was he hoping for? Did he think I was going to be like 'Oh honey, thank God you didn't waste any time? Let's go!'?"
"Hey, apparently it's a numbers game. Even if one out of ten girls falls for it, he's still getting laid one time, which is more than a lot of guys can say."
"Oh God, please don't remind me." I was thankful the waitress had just arrived with our pitcher, so I could drown the horrible memories from my brain.
"You don't have to settle for jerks like that, Bella. You could have anyone you wanted if you would just give guys a chance," chimed in Alice.
"Um, I believe I was giving him a chance." I raised my eyebrows and chuckled. "I'm nice to guys, but there just aren't that many decent ones out there. You're lucky you have Jasper. You have no idea what it's like. The dating scene is dismal."
Alice just shook her head. It was as close as I was getting to a ceasefire for the night.
Alice was my roommate and my best girl friend. Usually, I was better friends with guys, but she was the exception. Whereas I was a very mellow and private person, she was boisterous and outgoing. I kept her grounded and rational, and she helped me be more outgoing and fun. She'd known me since college and always knew how to cheer me up, and she definitely wouldn't let me indulge in self-pity.
She'd been dating Jasper for two years now. Jasper and I worked together for a pharmaceutical company and became fast friends. When I introduced them, I felt like I did a good deed getting them together because they'd been inseparable ever since. He was more in touch with his emotional side than most guys were, which made him a great confidante. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many times he'd had to be a shoulder for me to cry upon. He was funny, sarcastic and real and like a brother to me. I was so happy he'd found someone who deserved him.
Just then, Emmett and Edward walked in with a girl who looked as if she'd just stepped right out of a bathing suit modeling gig. She was tall with long, blonde hair and was absolutely gorgeous. After grabbing a couple of drinks, they joined us. Emmett introduced the girl as Rosalie, whom he had met at the gym. She smiled and shook all of our hands. She seemed nice enough. I hoped for Emmett's sake that she wasn't a bimbo and would treat him right. He was a great guy and hadn't had the best luck with dating recently. Out of all my guy friends, he was the one who most wanted a girlfriend. Yet, the girls he'd dated recently all had issues. I could definitely identify with his plight. I admit I was a little protective of my friends, so I was skeptical of Rosalie. It was probably an unfair reaction since I didn't know her at all, but experience told me to expect the worst.
Emmett and Edward were brothers and Jasper's childhood friends. They all moved to Seattle from a small town called Forks to attend college. Edward just finished his final year of medical school, and Emmett worked as a high school football coach. It was the perfect job for Emmett. Most people's first impression of him was that he was intimidating, but he was a total teddy bear. He was just confident, and not everyone knew how to deal with it. He played college football but had to quit when he blew out his knee. It nearly killed him because he was so passionate about playing. I was so glad he still got to be involved with the sport. He was great with the kids, too, and they all loved him. If Emmett was in the room, it was impossible to ignore him. He constantly made me laugh, as he was the embodiment of "what you see is what you get."
Edward and I had been great friends since I met him. He was tall and had a thick mane of bronze hair that always had that 'just been fucked' look. If I was being completely honest, he was totally hot. He will make some girl VERY happy one day. With us, it was always just so easy; we just clicked. I didn't have to deal with all of the bullshit that usually came with girl friends. There was nothing petty about Edward and me. We said what we felt, and we accepted each other unconditionally.
I could call Edward up on a moment's notice, and he'd be there for me. He was like a chameleon, always knowing just what I needed at any particular time. He was a fun guy when I needed fun, and he could be serious when I needed to be serious. On multiple occasions, he let me babble and cry in front of him and never judged me for it. I could tell him anything, and he'd never tell a soul. He was my rock, and it was really comforting to have a friend like that.
His only obvious flaw was that he was a total womanizer, which bothered me a little. I tried to separate the Edward I knew with the one I saw with girls, but it wasn't always easy. It was like I knew a completely different Edward than everyone else did.
He seemed to have no interest in a long-term relationship. The girls he was with all looked at him like they wanted him to be the future father of their children, which was unfortunate for them. I think, in some ways, it helped him to have a female friend so he could get the girl's perspective on things; not that it changed how he behaved. Occasionally, I actually felt bad for the girls he brought around, but it wasn't often. They weren't the discriminating types. "You get what you pay for," I'd always told him.
Thank God I didn't have to date him, though; I knew all his secrets – ugly or otherwise.
"I'll be back," Edward mumbled as his eyes fixed intently on a cute girl at the bar.
Oh, here we go.
We all watched in amusement as Edward hit on – more liked swooped in on - some poor, unsuspecting girl. She had no idea who she was dealing with and probably thought he was actually interested. He had girls eating out of his hands with very little effort. I sometimes felt sorry for the girls because they had no idea how little interest he really had, but they usually were the types who only based their opinions on a pretty face, and that Edward had.
"I see Edward didn't waste any time," I chuckled to everyone at the table.
"Ew, and look at her," Alice said, feigning disgust. "I hope he doesn't expect us to entertain her all night like he did last time."
"The dude's a machine," Jasper said, still staring over his shoulder.
"Yeah, he's money, and she's just like a little bunny rabbit waiting for him to pounce on her," Emmett said, channeling his inner Vince Vaughn for his best Swingers impersonation.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Alice asked, confused.
"Haven't you ever seen Swingers?"
"No. Why? Should I have?" Alice still didn't get it.
"It's only the greatest Vince Vaughn role ever. You've got to watch it," Emmett said, seemingly amazed she hadn't seen the movie.
"You really should see it, Alice. It's funny and definitely worth watching," I agreed.
As I looked over to where Edward and the random girl were standing, I had to comment on the sight. "I wonder what he actually says to them to get them to be so ga-ga over him? I mean, look at her. She's eating up whatever he's saying."
"Does he have to say anything at all? He could be reciting the phone book, and girls would still fall all over him," Alice added.
Everyone nodded. It was a generally accepted truth.
"That's true, he is gorgeous. But, Alice, would you ever fall for some cheesy pick up line? Have you heard his shtick?" I scrunched up my face and winced. "It's pretty bad. I think I'd have to laugh in the guy's face."
"Maybe he should just drop trou; I hear that works pretty well." Jasper laughed, and I had to admit he was funny.
"Doesn't look like he needs to. He can keep his dignity intact…well somewhat."
Alice, still pondering my question, finally responded. "No I wouldn't fall for one of his lines, but whatever he says, it works on the girls he hits on. He never gets turned down. I mean, check them out. What's it been? Like five minutes? They're already making out."
We all glanced over to see Edward and the aforementioned bimbo kissing at the bar.
"Wow, he's good. Like I said - machine," Jasper said reverently, earning him a pinch from Alice.
I shrugged and chuckled into my beer. The last thing I wanted to see was Edward making out with some random chick, but I had to hand it to him, Edward was nothing if not consistent.
We decided to take the party to Edward and Emmett's place once happy hour was over. The drinks were cheaper, and we could actually hear each other talk, which couldn't be said about The Tavern after dark. On our way out, we motioned to Edward, and he promptly disposed of the bimbo and joined us.
"Wow, that was quick," I said, elbowing him in the side. "You dropped her like a bad habit."
He shrugged. "It was just a kiss."
"So let me guess, Edward, she's a rocket scientist? Your conversation looked very deep and intellectual," I chided.
"Oh yeah, she's a real intellectual," he said with a smile.
"Did you even get her name?"
"Actually I did. It's Lauren, if you must know. I think she said she was a teacher or something. I wasn't really listening. Anyway, it doesn't matter, though since I'll never see her again," he answered.
"Nice, Edward. Really nice. You know, one day karma's going to bite you in the ass."
"Let me guess, I'll be haunted by three ghosts?"
"Funny. I'm just saying payback's a bitch. I'm glad I'm not your roommate. I wouldn't want to have my house burned to the ground by a scorned former hookup of yours."
"Hey, I don't force anyone to do anything. They all come willingly."
"You're disgusting. Truly," Alice said with a smirk.
"Yeah, but you love me anyway," he responded as he elbowed her lightly.
"Yes, we do love you, but gross," Alice said, faking a shiver as she pretended to wipe off his germs.
I hooked my arm in his. "I do have to give credit where credit is due. You're obviously great in the sack because the girls just line up to take a beating from you. It's like they're all glutton for punishment."
"It's all about the attitude, Bella darling. All about the attitude. Besides, I don't see any of them complaining about their beatings."
"True. They're too busy relaxing in their post-coital bliss to even notice. Actually, I'm kind of jealous. I could use a little post-coital bliss, myself," I lamented and sighed as I recalled how much I missed being intimate with someone special.
"What, isn't poor Jakey living up to your standards?" Emmett squeezed my shoulder.
"Blech, don't go there. Suffice it to say I'm still looking for that rock-my-world experience, and it hasn't been with Jake."
"Sorry to hear that, Bella. You know, maybe I could help you out." Edward's voice was filled with innuendo and sarcasm.
"No, I'd rather not add contracting an STD to my list of accomplishments this year."
"Ouch. For the record, I'm always safe. And it's my opinion that you need to get laid. Badly."
"Can we just drop it please? As fun as I know it is talking about my sex life, or complete lack thereof, it's totally depressing me."
Thankfully, Edward just threw his arm over my shoulder and let it go as we walked to our cars. I really didn't want to think about my pathetic dating situation any longer than absolutely necessary.
Once we were at Edward's place, Emmett made us all a round of margaritas, which went down easily, as they just happened to be my favorite drink. It seemed as if everything was going really well with Emmett and Rosalie, too. My earlier impression of her was misguided. She fit right into our group and made plenty of sarcastic comments, which we all loved. We could be a tough group to get to know because we're all complete smart asses, but Rosalie held her own. I winked at Emmett to let him know I approved, not that he needed my stamp of approval. He smiled sheepishly back at me, and I could tell he was happy she was fitting in.
After a few hours, we were all happily buzzed off our margaritas when the doorbell rang, and Edward hopped up to grab the door.
Late Night Tanya. Who else?
"Oh great, Late Night Tanya is here," I rolled my eyes and tried not to hurl my margaritas. That would be a waste.
"Who's Late Night Tanya?" Rosalie asked, leaning over to me in an attempt to be discreet.
"She's Edward's booty call." I made little attempt to keep my voice low. "She never makes an appearance before midnight, thus the nickname. I can't believe she doesn't get the hint that he wants nothing to do with her during the daylight. Poor thing has no idea he was just making out with another girl a few hours ago. Actually, now that I think about it, she probably doesn't even care as long as she gets hers."
"Sounds like a real catch." Rosalie glanced toward the front door to catch a glimpse.
"Oh yeah. She's a treat."
Late Night Tanya walked in and gave Edward a hug as she glared at all of us. None of us said anything to her other than give her a fake smile and nod. She was used to this treatment, though, so we didn't bother putting on appearances. She was only there for one reason, and apparently, she was cool with that.
I wasn't blind. Tanya was tall and blonde, with a body that would make most supermodels envious. When I first met her, I wondered why she would resort to cheapening herself like she did. But as time went on, I realized she's just nasty. I mean, N.A.S.T.Y. I really didn't know what Edward saw in her, other than the free and convenient sex. It was strange, though, because he could do so much better than that. She was like his puppet. She never questioned him or denied him anything. He acted like a complete dick to her, using her and spitting her out, and she just kept coming back for more. I couldn't pretend to understand the allure, but then there were a lot of things about Edward I didn't understand when it came to girls. It was like Edward had a double life – the one I knew and this cheap, sleazy one. Was that really what guys wanted? Was that really what he wanted?
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this. This is based on my experiences in my twenties. We were a crazy bunch. Our group of friends had Late Night Susan instead of Tanya– yuck!
I'm going to be updating this quickly – probably multiple updates per week.
Thanks to my beta, Viola Cornuta and my pre-readers, Sunfeathers, ellierk, and Dana1779.
Leave me some love!