AN: This will be un-beta'd until further notice. I write for fun, and if any and all grammatical errors deter my readers, then I will look into getting assistance. Maybe. Also, the chapters will be fluctuating in length. I stop when it feels right, not when I see a 6000 word count.
Warnings: Will contain mature language and graphic sexual situations. Adult readers only.
Stephenie Meyers owns all characters.
Title, One Beat, borrowed from a Sleater-Kinney song of same name.
I do not own One Beat or Percussion Gun.
Chapter 1: Discovering Swan
I wasn't sure if I would make it. I got up two hours early so I could get ready comfortably; eat a healthy breakfast of grapefruit, toast and 2 cups of coffee-plus three cigarettes—and still leave me with an hour to drive the freeway to Burbank. My Tom-Tom said it was a thirty-five minute drive. I gave myself an hour. Math is not my fucking forte, but Jesus H. Christ, this equation is mighty rudimentary.
I moved to Los Angeles by way of Las Vegas by way of Reno, Nevada. Born and raised in the Biggest Little City, I was offered a scholarship to UNLV, and even though my plan all along was to stay local and attend UNR, I decided last minute to make a change. My dad up in Washington tried hard to persuade me into U-Dub, but I respectfully declined. Living in the Pacific Northwest just wasn't appealing to me. Living near my estranged father wasn't too bright a prospect either. So Las Vegas it was. I got my B.A. in Journalism with a focus in public relations, and moved to L.A. the day after I collected my diploma.
And then I started job hunting.
Now, most people plan ahead when deciding to move to another state. Arrange their ducks in a neat little row, so to speak. Especially before relocating to a booming metropolis with a cost of living that makes anyone want to gouge their eyes out, much less a recent graduate-without honors-in this mother fucking economy. Not me. Nope, not fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants Bella Swan. She arranged zero ducks. She was absolutely row-less.
Yeah, I'm an idiot. Or one could say I'm spontaneous. A free spirit with a cup half-full mentality—one could say. But I don't hear anyone talking.
An idiot it is.
An idiot with poor time management skills, apparently.
Fuck. Eleven minutes left.
The interview was for an assistant at Ground Zero Media. They organize parties, grand openings for nightclubs, and all sorts of VIP type soirées. The bottom line is—I start at the bottom. I work my way up. And hopefully, maybe, someday, I'll have my very own bottom dweller to boss around. But in the meantime, I crossed my fingers and prayed to sweet baby jeebus that I would not only find the damn place on time, but also get the damn job.
I mean, living at the Cloud Nine Motel is great and all, but I'm afraid of the toilet there, and the desk guy, Raphael, is always making these horrific licking gestures at me. Like he envisions me as an envelope he just has to get sealed, or maybe one of those spicy Mexican lollipops…
Yeah, pretty fucking creepy, but I digress.
If I get the job, I can start looking for a shit-hole to call my own. And I really can't wait to have my very own L.A. shit-hole to decorate, and love, and hose down with bleach (pre-decorating of course.)
"Turn left in 1.2 miles. Beck Avenue. Destination reached."
L.A. Woman started on the stereo. I cranked it up and relaxed knowing I was on the right track.
Oh Tom-Tom, you're the greatest.
I found the building, parked my car, and exhaled long and hard in pure, unadulterated relief. With five minutes to spare, I reapplied my lip gloss in the rearview mirror, shoved my smokes and my phone in my purse and headed to the front entrance of Ground Zero.
My pencil skirt and blouse combo was classic. Sexy and professional. I checked the buttons on the blouse to make sure they remained intact, and smoothed out the skirt as I tried my damndest to reconcile my nerves and channel the confident girl that lies just beneath the surface.
I am pretty. I know this about myself. I'm not vain, or ego-centric in any way, but I'm positive that I am an attractive woman. However-
I am curvy. Voluptuous. Pleasantly plump. What have you. The gist is; I'm not what society would deem ideal. But I am healthy. My skin is smooth, my complexion is fresh. My dark hair lay shiny and long. My lips full and well matched to the rest of my figure. Full, plump, healthy. Always been this way, never skinny, never fat- just in-between. I could care less. I like food. I love beer. And to counteract it, I run a mile a day. I'll lose a few pounds, gain a few back, but in the end, I can't let my weight define me. Marilyn Monroe was a size ten or twelve. And so am I. I'm healthy and young and feminine and all that was just fine and dandy until I moved to L.A. and saw just how mother-fucking gorgeous every single woman is here. I swear, there must be normal human beings in this city, I just wonder if they all come out at night. Or maybe they hide in poorly lit corridors… or something.
Never have I ever been more self conscious than when I stepped into this city. Luckily, I've been broke-thus living on coffee and nicotine—and well, grapefruits. So maybe, there is a plus to being so free-spirited and spontaneous. Read: Idiotic. I'm dieting due to economic conditions. Good thing too, because so far I haven't found a safe place to take my runs.
The face at the personnel desk is stunning… and vapid. I can almost see the breeze from the fancy ceiling fan above blowing in one ear, and out the other. She eyes me behind red Chanel reading glasses, strategically placed upon her five thousand dollar nose. Meant to make her appear studious, I suppose. To me, she looks like Career Day Barbie.
"Can I help you, Miss?" The Mattel throwback asked condescendingly. Ew.
I plastered on my most winning smile.
"Hello, my name is Bella Swan, I'm interviewing for the executive assistant position." She peers over the lenses of her hideous attempt at looking intelligent, and scoffed under her breath. I could have sworn she said, "cow". Hmm.
"Mr. Black will be with you in a moment, please help yourself to coffee or water, and there are some pastries as well. I'm sure you'll love the doughnuts." With that remark she picked up a phone, whispered into the receiver and went back to looking at her cuticles. And no, I didn't miss her implication with the pastry comment.
I did, however, choose to ignore it. I'd hate to drop to her level. That kind of fall may hurt.
As I was waiting with my cone shaped cup of water, the door opened, and in charged a petite whirlwind in a Prada peacoat and Jimmi Choos. Her hair was short and wispy. She reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and was dressed even better.
"Lauren, can you please explain to me why the hell Jacob Black hasn't returned my call? Is he asking to lose our account? Because that's exactly what's going to happen if we don't get to confirm the final list of invites. I have a goddamned fashion show to get finalized, like yesterday, and he can't take two precious minutes to CALL ME BACK!" All of this seemed to have been said in one breath. Because the woman panted out of a furious mouth. Scary little thing. I was kind of awestruck, and a bit stoked that she put the fear of God into Career Day Bar- I mean Lauren.
"Oh, um… Miss Brandon, yes, well uh…"
"For the love of God, Lauren, Spit. It. Out!" Snarled Miss Brandon, with a hint of amusement behind her fury. I was pretty amused myself.
"Yes, of course Miss Brandon, I'll call him immediately." Lauren seemed to have begun sweating, and her hands were shaking. "He has an interview any minute with Miss Swan, here, so I'm sure he'll take a moment to speak with you beforehand." Once again she picked up the phone. "Yes, Mr. Black, Miss Bella Swan is here about the Exec Assistant position and, uh, Miss Brandon is hoping for a few moments of your time as well, sir." She nodded like he could see her and hung up the phone. "He'll be right with you both, ladies." Lauren sniffled, and resumed her nail bed observations. It was then I decided to peek at Miss Brandon. She looked none too pleased with Lauren, but must have finally noticed there was another human being in the lobby, because suddenly, and with the grace of a seasoned ballerina, she spun around to face me. What sounded like a whoosh of air came from her perfectly painted lips, and her ochre eyes scanned me from top to bottom, then back to my face. I felt uneasy under her apparent scrutiny. Was she checking me out?
"You," She began, her voice now calm and sedate in comparison to her recent growling session with Lauren.
"You. Are. Exquisite." Her voice was little too breathy for my comfort level.
"Um, excuse me?" I asked, and looked around like an idiot, knowing damn well we were the only people in the lobby. "What?" I repeated as she continued to eye molest me. What the hell? Are all Lesbians this blatant? I mean I'm flattered and all but…
"You are gorgeous. Stunning. My god, I feel like I've been looking for you my whole life," she just stared. I'm sure I was catching flies with how wide my mouth hung open.
She shook her head and held out her hand. "Alice Brandon. Eclipse Modeling Company." She handed me a card that confirmed her claims.
"Bella Swan. And I'm pretty sure I'm straight, so while I'm beyond flattered, I mean you're beautiful, and there was this time in college-" I rambled like an idiot.
"Oh no, Miss Swan," she laughed, and I swear, all the woodland animals would come about just from hearing that laugh. Just like Snow White, I silently mused. "I'm not hitting on you. I'm a modeling scout, as well as head fashion coordinator, but that's besides the point. You've blown me away with your look, and that hasn't happened in years, and what I really want is to talk to you about a contract." She looked slightly manic now, as if her entire world hinged on my response.
"A contract? I'm sorry I'm not sure I follow." I looked down, confused and suddenly a bit shy.
"Yes. A modeling contract. A fucking big one. I want to make you a supermodel Miss Swan."
Jesus ,Mary and Joseph, maybe I should roll a joint and take her behind the building to help her out with her cataracts. I mean, a model? She must be fucking joking. Hardy harr. Hilarious.
Just as I opened my mouth to offer her some medication, either for the vision impairment, or mental instability, a booming voice called from behind me.
"Alice, Isabella, thank you for your patience. Isabella, I hope you won't be too put off if I ask that you give me just a few moments to speak to Miss Brandon? It won't be long I assure you." His voice was deep and lilting. It resonated in my bones, and I swore I fucking swooned a little. Jacob Black was a study in masculinity. Angular, towering, dark, devastating. I smiled and nodded in assurance. I was stunned silent anyway…
Alice looked torn. She didn't know whether to stay or go. I could almost hear Cheap Trick droning in the background. Should I stay or should I go nowww…
"Please use that, Isabella." She pleaded lowly, pointing to the card still clutched in my hand. "We have much yet to discuss."
And with that she followed behind Mr. Black. But not before shooting one last begging look over her shoulder. And not before Mr. Jacob Black had time to mask the very obvious appraisal he was giving my body.
The pencil skirt and blouse combo. Classic.
L.A. Women, look the fuck out. Bella Swan's in town, and garnering all sorts of attention.
Lauren looked like she wanted to claw out my hair and give me cat scratch fever simultaneously.
I looked down at the card and felt my brow furrow. Alice Brandon. Contract. Modeling? That couldn't be right. Maybe she meant like a hair model or something. My hair is pretty awesome.
I decided to call after my interview. Hopefully I would be so excited about my new job, that I could put up with whatever loony shit she was spouting about. Supermodel, my ass. I snorted internally. Super-sized model maybe. Stop that Bella. I scolded internally. Self deprecation was so last season. This time, I think I snorted out loud.
I sat down, took a sip of my cone-cup water, and crossed my legs and my fingers. Hopefully the pre-interview confidence boost will help me land this fucking gig.
L.A. Woman indeed.
A.N. Well, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!