Story Name: Kind of a Big Deal
Penname: Envy5
Rating: M
Genre: Romance/Friendship
Pairing: B/E
Total Word Count: 10,307
Summary: Smart, sexy and sassy, Bella Swan has a good life, great job and awesome friends. What will she do when a new co-worker knocks her happily balanced world into a tailspin?

"I don't know how to put this, but I'm kind of a big deal." - Ron Burgundy, Anchorman

I think it's pretty safe to say that I am NOT a morning person.

I ran down the street as quickly as my wedged heels would take me, balancing my starbucks and my tote while trying to carry an umbrella through the lovely mist of an early morning Seattle rain. I was certain that my hair would look like hell by the time I reached my final destination but, for once, I was on time. I was actually even early. I would have to see if Rosalie had a minute to do something about this frizzy catastrophe before the shop opened.

Seattle had become my home after I moved out of my father's house in a small town not too far away. I would always be daddy's little girl, even though I didn't live under his roof anymore and aside from the fact that I had never been what you would consider 'little.' He was an awesome dad, doing a damn good job considering he had to raise me all on his own. My mom had left us soon after I was born, unable to handle the pressures of being both a young wife and new mother. He had done his absolute best to make me feel unique and special. He instilled a self assurance and independence within me that could not be measured as I went through the struggles of adolescence and during those difficult teenage years. After high school, the eclectic, alternative vibe that Seattle was known for called to me and my friends alike and we had set off to place our stamp on the world. It was unique, just like me, so I felt it was an appropriate starting point.

Somehow, I was able to get the heavy front door opened. I pushed my way through it and plopped my stuff down behind the receptionist desk. I leaned my elbows against it in relief, releasing a heavy breathe and clutching my cup of steamy, caffeinated goodness close to my chest like a lifeline.

"Well, good morning to you, my lovely," Alice chirped as she sat back in her chair, taking a moment to appraise my frazzled state.

"And top of the morning to you, Boss Lady," I sighed as I blew a stray strand of hair out of my face.

Wednesday was our Monday here at Ali's. I loved nothing more than working for one of my best and most loyal friends. She had worked her ass off and opened Ali's Salon and Spa with nothing but a dollar and a dream. Once we had finished cosmetology school, Rosalie and I joined Alice in her fledgling business venture as silent, limited partners, but more importantly, as full time stylists. We didn't want to take on any of the management or heavy duty financial responsibilities; we wanted to help a friend realize her dream while contributing through our talents. We all won.

After pulling together a full and reliable staff, we had turned this place into something spectacular. Our small investment was paying off nicely and we had both the reputation and clientele to prove it. You could come to our salon and leave looking and feeling like a brand new person. You could get anything you wanted waxed, plucked, flat ironed, painted and polished, and that was just for starters. We couldn't work magic, but you would swear that we had a little genie in a bottle somewhere on the premises that did.

It would have been easy for her to give me or Rosalie special treatment, but she treated us just as she did any of her other employees. She was an excellent manager and a born schmoozer. She was savvy with the books and she never forgot that she was once one of us, working the floor at someone else's salon while she finished school. She was fair and she expected us to do our very best because she would give us nothing less in return.

"I think I like this prompt version of you, Bella," Alice teased as she refilled her cup of tea. I had just finished shaking myself off like a wet, shaggy dog. That description wasn't too far from the truth.

"Yes, Alice, but at what price? Have you taken a look at my hair today? I'm gonna have to beg Rosalie to make it presentable before we open." I was whining and I knew it.

"That's no problem. If she doesn't have time, I'll do it, but it doesn't look as bad as you think it does."

"Please," I scoffed as I looked in the nearest mirror to try and tame what was left of my hair. "You wouldn't tell me if it did."

"Now, that's just not true. Not only would I not lie to one of my best friends, but a busted hairdo is just bad for business."

"Sure it is, Boss Lady, sure it is." I chuckled.

Rosalie and Carmen walked in, shaking out their umbrellas and chatting away.

"Hey girls! Beautiful day outside, huh?" Carmen joked as she made her way past us to her station.

"Oh yeah, Carmen, it's just sunshine and rainbows out there," Rosalie quipped. She turned toward us as she started to speak, but stopped dead in her tracks.

"Wow," she said simply as she did a circle around me, doing a once over of my current hair situation. "Would you look at that," she said as she blew out a long, low whistle. She took another trip around me for good measure.

"Alice!" I screeched. I may have stomped my foot a little.

"What? I think it has character," she giggled. Damn pixie.

"So do banana clips, Alice!"

"Now, now," Rosalie soothed as she wrapped an arm around my shoulders, pulling me towards her station. "Mama will take good care of you. Now, will it be curls or the flat iron?"

Alice rose from her chair and grabbed her cup of tea. "Ok, girls, the meeting starts in twenty. Don't be late, though I know you have your work cut out for you, Rosie."

I stuck my tongue out at her as she winked at me and turned the corner toward the spa rooms.

We had all gathered for our weekly staff meeting. I surveyed the room before taking a seat, giving greetings along the way. My coffee hadn't finished cycling through my system, but the atmosphere of this place always helped to get my juices flowing.

It was a fantastic place to work, so upbeat and full of energy. Most of my co-workers were awesome. The majority of them, anyway. We were a unisex, multi-cultural salon and our staff reflected the same kind of diversity that we wanted out of our clients. There were all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds represented in this room.

Being in a uniform highlighted that at times and it was always interesting to just stop and ponder how a simple baby tee and jeans could look so much different from one female to another. We all wore the customary black t-shirt with the Ali's logo placed prominently on the front with a pair of dark washed jeans and shoes and accessories of our choosing. Alice would never stifle personal taste and style anymore than she had to.

I scanned the room as more people entered and got settled in. I glanced over at my friends and noticed how tiny, spritely, adorable little Alice looked completely different in her uniform next to the statuesque, coke bottle frame that was Rosalie. Alice was elfin in her daintiness with a short cropped pixie cut to match. Rosalie, on the other hand, stood tall in her stilettos like a supermodel fresh off the runway and commanded attention anywhere we went. A slight turn in my swivel chair brought Kachiri into my line of sight. She was a perfect pear shape with a small waist and the kind of junk in her trunk that most women would kill for. Her rich ebony skin tone was both smooth and flawless framed against the canvas of her long, thick black tresses. She stood in between Tia and Maggie.

Maggie's curly red bob truly popped against her black tee. Her stocky, athletic frame and combat boots were a sharp contrast to her face full of delicate freckles. She was a contradiction to Tia's blue eyes and electric green razor cut. Paired with her tattoos and multiple piercings, her lean, slim form oozed both confidence and charisma. Very different women, equally beautiful.

I loved that I stood shoulder to shoulder with all of these breathtakingly gorgeous and distinctive females. You could say that I added a different dimension to our little group, or atleast I liked to think so. No, I wasn't a size 4, 6 or even an 8. I never had been and probably never would be. The funny thing about that is that I don't ever remember wanting to be. I had made my peace with that a long time ago.

While I usually hated shopping in general, I didn't mind that I had to shop a little bit further down the aisle on our excursions. What I hated were the lines and the waiting. I loved how my chocolate brown hair glowed against my ivory skin. I had the kind of complexion that was attractive with make up or without. I usually opted to go without and not many women can claim to have that option. While I considered myself to be low maintenance, I was comfortable in a nice high heel out on the town or in my trusty Converse while watching a Mariners baseball game. I always rocked the hell out of a tight pair of jeans and heels because they made my ass look delectable. Not quite like Kachiri, but I was certainly in the running for the title of Ms. Bootylicious. I had also learned early on that a little bit of cleavage went a long way, given the right situation, and I was primed and ready for whenever that situation were to arise. My curves added a femininity and boldness that I loved. They were one of my favorite and most treasured attributes.

Aside from how I looked on the outside, I was happy in my own skin and had always counted on that happiness to glow from within me. In my humble opinion, that was what made me beautiful. No, I wasn't an average size, but I had learned over the years that nothing about me was average.

I was shaken from my inner monologue when Jasper came in with the guys. They usually wore a standard black t-shirt as opposed to our form fitting baby tees. All except Peter and Liam, that is. They wore a sort of muscle shirt to show everybody they worked out.

Walking in behind Jasper was a cool drink of water that I had never seen before, making my swivel chair stop immediately. He was tall and lanky, but well defined, even in his regular cut shirt. His hair was crazy; a wild mix of coppers, reds and blondes. It was standing up like it had a mind of its own. And his eyes. They were the color of freshly rained on shamrocks that danced as he laughed at whatever Jasper was saying to him. Who in the hell is that?

Before I could ask my question out loud, our staff meeting was underway.

"Good morning, ladies and gentleman. Let's get this meeting started, shall we?" Alice asked as she stood from the table and perused her employees. "First on the agenda is Maggie with the action items gathered during last weeks' meeting. When you hear your item, please provide us with a progress update. Maggie, you have the floor."

As Maggie began, the door burst open and in flew Bree. Despite the fact that she was arriving late, she was still carrying on a conversation on her cell phone. Very typically Bree.

"That sounds fabulous! Listen, I'm just getting to work, so I'll call you back later this evening. Ok? Ok, Tanya. Smooches, Darling." She crooned as she hung up. "Good morning, everyone! Did I miss anything good?" She asked as she removed her Gucci sunglasses. Why in the world she needed them in this drizzly mess was beyond me.

"Bree, you are my very best manicurist, but I swear on everything that I love, I have given you enough shop duty for being late to staff meetings to last you into fiscal year 2014," Alice sighed as she tapped her ink pen irritatingly. I knew firsthand how much Alice hated to feel like the bad guy, but she was really going to have to put the hammer down if she ever wanted to put Bree in her place.

"I am so, so sorry, Alice, but it simply could not be helped," Bree stated, failing miserably at actually looking sorry for her tardiness.

"We will speak later, Bree. Maggie, please continue." Alice said, resigned to the fact that she had her work cut out for her.

Maggie went through her list and we were able to take a few of the action items off of our own lists. After going through a few more bullet points on the agenda, Jasper took the floor when we arrived at the portion reserved for new business.

"Good morning, guys. I wanted to take a moment to introduce you all to our newest barber. This is Edward Cullen and he comes to us from Chicago, Illinois," he clapped Edward on the back and beamed with pride like he had just introduced us to his newborn son. "He's also new to the city, so everybody be nice to him. Maybe even buy him a drink when we get to Coopers tonight."

Jasper took his seat and Edward gave a wave of his hand and smiled as he made eye contact with everyone around the table. You could tell that his presence had been well received by all of the women in attendance. Even shy little Angela had slid her glasses off to nibble on the end of the frames. I had to stifle a giggle. This guy was soon to be dog meat once Alice released the hounds from their staff meeting.

"Hello," he said softly, his voice as smooth as silk, melting over me like butter. "I'm Edward Cullen. It's nice to meet all of you and I look forward to making Seattle home."

A soft spoken, fuck hot man of few words. So sexy.

I hadn't realized that I was slouching over the table, leaning on my arm and wrapping myself in the warm seduction that was the sound of this man's voice. I sat up quickly and straightened my posture. I also checked my bottom lip on the sly for any drool that might have made its way out. All clear.

"We're very happy to have you on board, Edward. I'm sure everyone will make your acquaintance on an individual level soon enough," Alice said as she continued on with the agenda.

Forty five minutes later, we were done and getting ourselves situated for a busy day. We had about twenty minutes before our first appointments began arriving for their services, so I hopped up to get started on preparing my booth. Mrs. Cope would be coming in for her color treatment and I wanted to be ready for her.

Jasper stopped me before I made my way out the door. "Bella, hey, I wanted to give you a special introduction to Edward."

Edward looked at me with this goofy, lopsided grin that made him look completely edible and adorable. Thank God Rosalie ran that flat iron through my hair. I had a bone straight, mysteriously bad ass look going on that I was proud of. No banana clips needed. Oh yeah, Jasper. He was saying something…

"He's one of my good friends and I know he'll be hanging with us more socially as well as during work, so I wanted you guys to meet officially with you being one of Alice's best friends and all."

I couldn't do anything but nod. I didn't typically do bashful, but being this close put me a little out of my element. My mouth had run dry and I knew my hands were sweating. I could do friendly and calm. I could greet this beautiful man without becoming a spaz. Besides, he probably had women falling at his feet on a daily basis. I could do this.

"Hello, Edward. It's great to meet you. Any friend of Jaspers' is a friend of mine." I said coolly, even extending my hand for a shake. Well done!

"Bella? That's a very fitting name," he crooned. "Beautiful name for a beautiful woman. The pleasure is all mine." His smile was as bright as the summer sun, setting me on fire as he rubbed small circles on my hand with his thumb. He looked deep into my eyes and I was hypnotized by the intensity and depth of the emotion that I saw. I could have sworn he had pulled me just a bit closer to him with his mesmerizing stare. Everything around us fell away; all of the people and all of the sounds around us simply turned into a puff of smoke and disappeared. All that was left was he and I and the electrical current flowing between the two of us. It ebbed and flowed from the spot where we were joined. I felt like he was staring right into my soul and I was getting a small, silent glimpse into his.

He broke away from my gaze and seemed to do a covert sweep of my body, caressing me from the top of my head to my navy blue toe tips with just a look. The movement was so quick, I almost missed it. "I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of each other," he said as he grazed my knuckle with his lips.

With that, the spell was broken. He released my hand and took his leave, mingling with the rest of our team. What in the fucking hell was that? I must have looked as stunned as I felt; rubbing my hand that was still warm and tingly from his touch and gaping at nothing like a trout. I had never felt a connection like that with anyone, physically or otherwise. My interest was officially peaked.

Jasper waved his hand in my face to try and get my attention. "Bells, are you ok? You look pale."

There was a hint of a laugh lacing his tone and I didn't like it. I blinked a few times as I gathered my bearings. Vulnerable was not a good look for me; it was even worse than bashful, so I went to my usual, snarky place instead.

"Don't you have work to do?" I asked as I pushed him with a fist to the chest. Jasper was like a brother to me, in addition to being Alice's boyfriend, so our banter typically got physical, like pulling on pigtails and kicking little boys in the shin just for the sport of it.

"Of course I do," he answered, pushing me to the side slightly. "I just wanted to take care of the formalities before the day got started. You know it'll be a mad house in here as soon as the door opens."

We started walking down the hallway together. "That's true." I agreed. I shoved my hands in my pants pockets, trying to figure out the best way to ask my question without seeming too interested. Jasper could be a real son of a bitch when it came to teasing. Plus he could always read me like an open book. "So, is your friend always that suave and debonair or is he just a certified player with a lot of practice?"

Jaspers' ocean blue eyes sparkled with mischief as he looked at me, calculating my motivation for asking such a question. He surprised me by taking the easy, predictable way out. "Why? Does somebody have a crush on the new guy? Already, Bella? That has to be some kind of record, especially for you."

I punched him in the arm with a little more force behind it this time. "Fuck you, Jasper. I just asked a question."

He rubbed his bicep with a grimace. "Damn, girl. Relax; I was just messing with you. Geez…"

We walked in silence until we had reached his booth. Once we stopped, he went about cleaning his clippers and I was left standing there with my hands on my hips and a major attitude.

"What?" he said, he even had the nerve to look surprised. Douche bag.

"You know what! Are you gonna answer me or do I have to stand here all day?" I was getting flustered and I wasn't exactly sure why. "I'm not asking because I want to marry the guy. I just wondered if he was always that charming to women he doesn't know."

He thought for a minute and started to speak, but was interrupted by the cackling sound of laughter coming from around the corner. We both turned to see Bree making a spectacle of herself, as usual, while hanging onto Edward like a plaque on the wall. She was a notorious flirt, but Edward had no way to know that, or maybe he didn't care. Either way, he seemed to be all in.

Bree walked Edward to his station and headed toward the spa room after slowly removing her arm that had been conveniently tucked into his. She whispered something really close to his ear that made them both giggle. She shook her hips a little more than was necessary as she walked away from him. Edward looked on for a moment and then turned to put on his apron, getting on with his day.

I groaned loudly as I watched the whole thing play out. When my eyes locked with Jaspers', the overwhelming sensation of lead sitting in my stomach took a firm hold of me. My flustered state quickly morphed into one of simply being pissed off. I was pissed off for asking and even more pissed off for caring. I don't know what it was that had me thinking that maybe there was some substance to this new guy, that he might be somebody that I would want to get to know on a deeper level.

Whatever. I'm over it already.

"Never mind, Jazz. I think I've got my answer," I sighed as I waved at him and made my way towards my end of the salon. My disappointment was thick and unwarranted, but Mrs. Cope's color wasn't gonna mix itself.

"Bells, wait a minute," he called out as I passed Rosalie seating her first client, but I wasn't interested anymore.

The day flew by and I loved it. The place stayed packed once that neon sign on the window flashed the word open. There was no better way to keep your mind occupied than the distraction of a hard days' work and a pair of sore, tired feet.

"Well, my dogs are officially barking," Rose said. She eased into her chair and slowly lifted her feet onto a stack of hair magazines.

"You're singing to the choir on that one," I chuckled while I swept the hair from around my station. Bree had shop duty until God knew when, but she did a piss poor job of it if you asked me.

"So, what do you think of that new guy? Edward, that's his name right?" Rosalie asked, wiggling her eyebrows like a crazy person. "That's some eye candy if I've ever seen it."

"I'm sure if anyone has seen it, it would be you," I teased.

"Please, he's not my type, but I can admire an attractive man when I see one. I like a little more meat on the bones, you know? I need some muscle to hang onto. He's a little scrawny for my taste," she scrunched her nose to prove her point.

I hummed in agreement. If there was anything to know about Rosalie, it was that she was very particular. Being a woman of my size, I could appreciate the brawn that a larger, more muscular man could offer. There was nothing like being held up against a wall at just the right angle during a moment of passion. I sighed at the thought.

"But what about you, Miss Thing? You think you might want to make a play for him? The water cooler is all abuzz about who's gonna bag him, and that's just after one shift."

I looked over at her thoughtfully.

"I don't know, Rose," I said, leaning on the broom handle, tapping my chin. "I just don't think he's ready."

She quirked a perfectly arched eyebrow at me, her face colored with confusion.

"Ready? Ready for what?"

"I just don't think he's ready for this jelly, of course," I said with the most serious expression that I could muster as I ran my free hand along my form ala Vanna White.

She looked at me for a long moment until we were both howling with laughter.

"I know, right? It must be jelly because jam don't shake like that!" she squealed, hopping up and shaking her booty in the mirror. I joined her, bumping and grinding with my broom handle. She gave me a high five and sat back down, wiping the tears from her eyes.

I finished sweeping and sat down in my own chair next to her.

"Yea, I think I may just be a little more woman than he can handle right now. I wouldn't want to hurt the poor boy with all of this lusciousness."

"I hear you. Go easy on him before you back that ass up. Let him get through his first full day," she said in agreement, patting me on the knee.

I knew what the real situation was, but Rosalie didn't and that was just fine by me.

We'll see…

"You guys ready? I told Jasper and the boys that we'd meet them down at Coopers after we were done here."

Alice had to stay late while a repairman worked on one of the foot baths in the spa room. We stayed with her, just because.

"Yeah, let me change real quick and we can head out." I shouted, walking quickly to the ladies restroom to change.

I was fine in my jeans, but I wanted to jazz up my shoes and shirt, just a little. I had found the cutest white v neck top, covered in sparkles. It had a huge rainbow on it and read, 'I'm Kind of a Big Deal.' I had to buy it. A little gloss and eyeliner, a fluff here or there to my hair and I was good to go.

A few weeks had gone by since that fateful day and all was well at Ali's. I still felt this indescribable pull towards Edward, watching him get acclimated to the shop as well as to the city. We had been out a few times with our mutual friends and I had found that I actually liked him. He had a playful, casual spirit that I found easy to warm up to. He could also be really serious at times and showed all of the signs of being a classic over thinker. That was one of the things that we had in common and I found it to be refreshing to not feel weird about some of the trivial things that I thought long and hard about. At the same time, it was extremely disconcerting.

See, I wanted him to turn out to be a jerk. I wanted him to be a slob or be so crass and belligerent that I couldn't stand to be around him. I knew it was a pipe dream, but it was the only way that I could allow myself to be around him considering my current predicament. I figured that if I spent enough time with him to figure out his flaws, I could be done with whatever this haywire butterfly effect was that he unknowingly had on me.

I was proud of myself for keeping any lingering feelings that I may have had in check. I was the epitome of graciousness and self control whenever we interacted. I did not want to become one of those clingy, desperate chicks that threw a shit fit just because she didn't have the attentions of a man that she may have wanted at some point. He made it hard on me, though. He was always so friendly and welcoming, especially when I wanted him to be the exact opposite. He was constantly opening doors and giving compliments. He would ask me silly, simple questions about myself if we happened to catch each other during our rare breaks at the salon. I tried to resist, but he asked the types of questions that most people find inane. I found it endearing and I found myself asking the same types of things against my will in return.

If I could hate him, things would be so much easier. Truth be told, though, I was glad that I hadn't made a sour impression on him like I had planned. He could be a super flirt when he wanted to be, but I would just shut that shit down immediately by showing him my ornery disposition. For instance, I remember one night at Jaspers' house. We had all gotten together to watch a Seahawks game. During halftime, Alice pulled out a basket with questions for a game of 'Have You Ever' and I may have let it slip that I thought Edward had to have been Don Juan Demarco in a past life for some of the things that he had to take drinks for. I had ditched the game to get more nachos when I felt my cheeks begin to radiate with my blush and embarrassment.

"I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed in you."

"Why is that?" I asked, shocked that he had followed me into the kitchen.

"I wouldn't have thought that you were the type to judge a book by its cover." He almost looked hurt as he approached me and leaned against the island on the other side of me. He looked up with the saddest set of puppy dog eyes I had ever seen. "What exactly do you see when you look at me?"

That was a hell of a question there, but I played it cool. "I'm still figuring out what it is that I see."

I chuckled, biting into a nacho with all the trimmings to suppress my nervous laughter. I decided to play with him a little. "What do you see when you look at me?"

He laughed out loud at my obvious avoidance.

"You're not playing fair, as usual, but I'll take the bait this time because the answer is simple." He sipped his beer and leaned in closer, never breaking eye contact with me.

I could stare into this man's eyes for hours. Days. Weeks. Whichever.

"When I look at you, I see a curvaceous, self confident, sexy as fuck woman that I would love to get to know better."

I choked a little on my nacho and took a long swig of my beer to wash it down.

He didn't flinch, blink or laugh and honesty took precedence over any of the liquor that he had just tossed back.

Hell no. No, no, no, no. Nice try, Rico Suave.

"Now who isn't playing fair?"I asked as I walked backwards away from him. I grabbed my beer and the nachos that I had made and took them out to our friends like nothing had happened.

I was giddy after our little exchange that night, but I also wasn't equipped for the mind games that came along with letting my emotions ride on my sleeve. My falling for his flirtatious nature was a sure fire way to start playing that game. I just couldn't do that.

Watching him on a daily basis while I kept him at arm's length was murder, though, especially when he pulled out his player card. I seethed quietly whenever women came on to him, which was like clockwork. Whether it was with subtlety or just blatantly skanky, I was aware of it. It was like my 'spidey sense' tingled or something. I may have even died a little on the inside when I witnessed Bree sliding Edward her phone number on her way out to lunch one day. Poor Mrs. Cope damn near had a chunk cut out of her hair that day.

Jasper had done his best to try to convince me that Edward couldn't control the way women reacted to him. I told him to give it up. He explained how it happened so often, he generally tuned himself out to all of the attention and panty dropping. I'm sure he's gotten very good at it, Jazz. He told me time and again that if I were truly interested, then I should let him know because he was sometimes oblivious to matters of the heart. I told him to suck it. I had told him to turn it loose. I had even told him that trying to pimp out his friend made them both look like sorry ass losers.

Jasper wouldn't be deterred, but neither would I. I had come to the conclusion that if Edward and I were going to run in the same circle, we would need to keep things pleasant and I realized that anything that I might have felt in the past would only complicate that. Problem solved.

I did one more check in the mirror. My ass looked stupendous in my heels and Rose had put some spirals in my hair this morning. They had fallen just enough throughout the day and cascaded over my shoulders, putting my ample goodies on a tempting display. I fluffed once more, grabbed my short leather jacket and made my way out to the lobby.

"Ok, I'm ready."

The girls grabbed their things so we could leave, having added some pizzazz to their own outfits like I had.

"Well, well, aren't you all glamorous tonight?" Rosalie teased, bumping Alice in the side with her elbow.

I had to laugh at that. "You mean this? Not at all. I thought the t-shirt was cute and I thought I'd wear it out tonight. We're only going to Coopers, right?"

"Mmm, hmm. What about the make up?" Alice added. Little instigator.

"My lips were chapped." I deadpanned. Whatever they were getting at was ridiculous.

Rosalie just chuckled at us. "Happy hour is over soon. Let's hit it."

"You act like you've actually had to buy a drink of your own, Rose," I said as I set the alarm and locked the door behind us.

"I know, right?" Alice laughed.

We walked the few blocks over to Coopers, the local watering hole where we met for drinks atleast once during the week to unwind. This street had so many small shops and boutiques; it was a perfect spot for a business like ours. I waved at Mr. Nguyen in the antique shop and Mrs. Oakley as she walked to her car after locking up her small bakery. We walked into a packed Coopers and spotted our friends almost immediately. They had several places at the bar occupied as well as a few of the surrounding tables. Jasper scooped up Alice immediately and gave her a huge smooch right on the mouth.

"Eww, cooties!" I yelled.

He kissed me on the cheek and hugged Rose before turning his attentions back to Alice. Emmett, one of the massage therapists in the shop, walked by and handed us each a beer. He had to have six bottles in each hand. He was truly a bear of a man and made no secret of the crush he had on our Rosalie. She swore up and down that she didn't date guys that she worked with, but the little yelp she gave as he nuzzled her neck and pulled her away with him told a much different story.

"Hmm. I'll say."

I turned to see Edward staring directly at me from the bar, his focus a bit lower than my eyes or face. He looked scrumptious in a dark brown, long sleeved t-shirt, rust colored timberland boots and lightly faded jeans. Yummy.

"I'm sorry, what was that?"

"I was reading your shirt. 'You're kind of a big deal.' I'll toast to that one for sure."

As per usual, I was blown away by his attention but recovered quickly before I could give myself away.

"You've got that player card sitting in your back pocket tonight, huh?"

His sexy smirk was gradually replaced with a thin line. He sat his beer down and stared at it for a moment before turning his focus back to me.

"Bella, what exactly do you mean by that?"

I cringed. This is precisely the type of conversation that I had been hoping to avoid. I scanned the crowd looking for Rose or Alice or even Jasper to run interference, but I came up empty. A situation like this could cause me to lose my cool and that would mean trouble in the Force. There was a delicate balance that was essential to our little group remaining copasetic. I didn't want to be the reason for any tension among us.

I began to walk towards the back of the bar for this conversation. It wouldn't be quiet, but it would be a hell of a lot more private than where we were currently standing. He followed, but never changed his brooding expression.

I knew that I had to think and speak quickly. I didn't want to offend him, but I certainly wasn't going to lie to him either.

"Well," I stuttered slightly as I struggled to maintain eye contact once we stopped moving. I couldn't let him make me weak with those soul reaping eyes of his. "I don't really mean anything by it, nothing offensive anyway. You just seem to have a way with the fairer sex and you have all the right weaponry to be a player. I just figured that you were. Simple."

"I think I remember Jasper saying something about being a 'certified player.' Is that more like what you were thinking?"

I smiled to myself and could see the traces of a grin playing on his face, so I took that as a sign that he wasn't too pissed at me. Jasper and I, on the other hand, would need to have a little chat about the value of discretion. "I think I remember saying something of the sort. You don't deny it, so I must not have been too far off the mark."

"Bella, I am the furthest thing from that," he snickered. "Is that why you keep this distance between us?"

I was floored by the question and I may have shot some of my beer out of my nose.

"I'm sorry; you think I keep my distance from you?" He nodded in the affirmative. "Please, by all means, continue. I'm officially intrigued."

He took a breath, heavy and deep, releasing it slowly. You would've thought he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. I could probably help him make that happenStop it. I'd file that idea to be considered later, but now was not the time for such slut bag commentary from yours truly.

"Bella, I have been trying to figure out how to show you that I'm interested, I mean, really, really interested in you, but I keep coming up blank. It seems like anytime I get close enough to starting a conversation like that or if I get too close to you physically, you high tail it outta there. At this point, I'm all out of ideas."

I had no real words for what he just admitted to me. This walking Adonis; this dream worthy, thought provoking, sweat inducing, titillating bite of silly and sweet heaven had just declared himself to me. I mean, he beat out a fresh box of Crunch and Munch any day of the week and I thoroughly enjoyed my Crunch and Munch. I was dancing on the inside like a fan girl, but he couldn't be serious. Could he?

"Yeah, I'm sure you're right," I chuckled, choosing to use my tried and true method of making a joke about it to mask my feelings. "You have the words CHUBBY and CHASER written right across your forehead in all caps, right there." I reached up to tap his forehead for emphasis, but he surprised me by grabbing my wrist. Not painfully, but I could feel a touch of his irritation and strength behind it.

"There you go again with that mouth of yours," he huffed. "Damn, you can be such the smart ass. Why do you always do that?"

"Do what?" I asked him, clasping my throat in fake innocence, but he kept right on as he handed me my ass.

"Try and change the subject by being a wise ass, that's what. You always do that. You try to avert the attention away from yourself because you get all rattled and uncomfortable whenever I try to show you or tell you or, hell, send you a smoke signal about what I've been feeling."

He looked away from me but kept talking. "I am so into you, Bella, it scares me sometimes. There are times that I think you just might even be into me, too. When I can't take it anymore and I think that I should take a chance, you shut me down by making a joke of it. And it works every time because, for some reason, I keep coming back for more."

He shifted his gaze back to me. "I can't help this draw that I feel towards you and, frankly, it's driving me to distraction. I'm really trying to be serious here and honestly, you're pissing me off by using words like chubby." He paused for a moment to breathe, "And your lack of interest is really bruising my ego."

He was smirking again, but I could tell that he meant what he was saying. That and he hadn't let go of my hand yet…

Oh and My…

"Look, I didn't mean any harm in what I said. I was trying to be funny and it didn't come off so well. I apologize," I said, reaching up and turning his face towards me. His skin was prickly with stubble, but so soft underneath it.

"'Chubby' may not have been a word that you can appreciate and I'm sorry for that. But don't get me confused. I realize that I have a bit extra compared to the women that you probably go for, but you give me one situation where the word 'extra' isn't used in reference to a good thing and I'll call you a fucking liar."

His eyes sparkled and gleamed with his emotion as he searched my face for sincerity. I had nothing else to give to him at that moment.

He looked at me longingly, almost even hungrily. "What do you want me to do, Bella?"

My grin was wide and full of mischievous, dirty possibilities. "Now, there is a damn good question!" I cheered, raising my bottle in a toast. He still didn't see the humor.

"See, that's what I'm talking about," he said with a ton of annoyance as he turned to walk away from me. I surprised myself by grabbing him before he could get too far.

"No, I'm serious too. I can admit that my witty repartee and sarcasm can be an effective defense mechanism." Now it was my turn to breathe heavily while I gave up some truth that I hadn't planned to tonight. It was fair, but I didn't have to like it. "That may be true, but you set yourself up for that one, gimme a break. My mouth is a deal breaker, so you'll just have to learn to live with that."

"Will I? Will I have to learn to live with that, Bella?" he asked.

"We work together, Edward, of course you will." I responded, afraid to give anymore justification to his question.

"I guess you're right," he whispered, failing to hide the small bit of disappointment I detected in his voice. The silence between us grew more and more uncomfortable. He started pulling at the label on his bottle and I started digging through my pockets for my lip gloss.

"In answer to your statement earlier, I don't like fat girls, so I shouldn't have chubby chaser on my forehead. Just so you know."

I stopped rummaging around in my pockets once I realized what he had said. I'm sure my eyes were as big and round as saucers.

Ouch. I'm all for honesty and everything, but damn.

I sucked it up before I could indicate my heart fail at being reduced to my dress size and took the rude nature of his statement in stride. His fucking loss.

"Well, good. I'm glad that you can admit that to me in truth regardless of what…"

"I'm not done yet," he said, cutting me off.

"Ok," I said as I saddled up to the empty booth next to me. I was all set and ready for his ass with an arsenal of snappy comebacks for any type of comment he wanted to make. "Let's keep the truth coming then."

He rolled his eyes, but didn't lose his train of thought. "Like I said, I don't like fat girls. I also don't like skinny girls. I don't care for blondes and I'm not partial to brunettes, either," he said softly as he slid into the booth beside me. Not across from me, but right next to me. Surprisingly, I found myself sliding over to accommodate him.

"It's not even so much that I like tall girls over short ones. I like beautiful women, Bella," he said as he took my hand within his, sliding the tips of my fingers over his lips as they moved with his speech. "I love nothing more than a woman that is gorgeous on the inside as well as on the outside. I like a woman with confidence; a woman that knows who she is and what she wants. I enjoy a woman with a quick wit and a great sense of humor. I absolutely love a woman with a smart mouth that will constantly keep me on my toes." He finished by bringing my knuckles to his mouth and kissing them with feather light pressure, just like he had when we were first introduced.

I wish that I could say that I came up with some show stopping one liner to counter balance the heat and intensity of the conversation that we were having. I really want to say that I maintained my ability to wear my poker face in spite of the military grade persistence that was Edward Cullen. But I couldn't say any of that.

What I can say is that I was completely and utterly undone by this man. As soon as his soft, supple lips touched my hand, I was warm, buttery toast.

It's like a nuclear bomb went off inside of me and there was no turning back from it; no escape. I grabbed both sides of his face and pulled him to me for a kiss in the most unladylike way that I could. The kiss was fierce and passionate, set ablaze by everything that I had been holding back for him. My toes were curling and he hadn't even registered what was going on yet. Once realization hit him, he met my passion with some of his own, seeking entrance into my mouth as he sucked on my bottom lip, nipping at it lightly.

In the back of my mind, I knew we were in a public place, one that we both came to frequently, but I couldn't find it in me to care. There we were in our secluded little booth in the back of Coopers, licking and sucking on each other like our lives depended on it.

One of his fingers left a trail of both fire and ice as it traveled from my cheek to my neck, skimming along my collar bone. I could feel the play of muscles in his broad, artfully sculpted back. The absolute chill that he sent up my spine caused me to flex towards him as he explored as much of my body as he could get to in our limited amount of space. A single finger became two as he let them drift down towards the v of my shirt, toying with the luxuriant and bountiful cleavage that was available there.

"Bella," he breathed, hot and heavy into my ear. "You are so fucking sexy."

His two fingers became his tongue, following the same path from my neck to the rise of my chest. His palm was under my shirt, ghosting over my breast and applying delicious pressure to my nipple. I couldn't hold back my loud, breathy moan as I damn near soaked through my jeans.

"Edward, you have absolutely no idea."

One of my legs remained on the floor while the other was propped up in Edwards lap. Before I could think to ask how he had maneuvered us so quickly, he had made easy work of my zipper and had a hand down the back of my jeans, caressing and squeezing my plump, firm ass. I tried to hold back a gasp as I reached down into his pants and felt how truly gifted he was as I wrapped my hand around his prominent erection, smooth and solid and hard as a rock, for me.

"Shhh, you have to stay quiet, Love," he whispered, grinning and moaning against my lips simultaneously.

"I don't if we get the hell outta here," I said, all woozy and spent as I nibbled on his ear to keep the noises at bay.

My mind raced as I tried to figure out how we could both get out of here, past our friends and to my apartment before I spontaneously combusted. As Edward sucked on my neck, he mumbled, "Meet me at the shop?"

This boy was a fucking genius, too.

I nodded as he looked up at me, forest green eyes smoldering and dripping with lust through his thick, dark eyelashes. He kissed me as an affirmation, slow and deep, eyes wide open.

"I'll go first and get Jaspers' key," he said as he leapt from the seat at record speed.

I pulled myself together and high tailed it over to Rosalie, hoping like hell that I didn't look like I was just getting groped in the back of a damn bar. I whispered to her as she laughed with Emmett and Alice, letting her know that I had to leave for a minute and I'd text her later. She looked highly suspicious, but she didn't give me a hard time.

I ran the few blocks between the bar and the shop and pushed through the heavy doors like Wonder Woman. The lights were off and I was sure that Edward would have beaten me here. Maybe he changed his mind? Maybe this was all a test that he cooked up to see if I'd let down my guard and take the bait.

I tried to banish those thoughts away as I walked past the front booths and shampoo bowls. I found Edward, sitting lazily at his own station towards the back of the room. I dropped my bag and shimmied out of my jacket. Edward just licked his lips as he stood silently and moved towards me like he was stalking and I was his prey. I pulled my shirt off and thanked God that I had worn my purple lace panties and bra today. I watched as his eyes widened and his cock stiffened at the sight.

He grabbed me by the waist and lifted me onto his vanity like I was weightless. We moved frantically, channeling all of the sexual tension that we both must have felt over the last few weeks, months even. My hands shot to the hair on his head, tugging and guiding his mouth as he assaulted my neck, teasing the sensitive spot behind my ear. He pulled down the cups of my bra and laved both of my breasts with his wondrous tongue, grasping and kneading them with vigor. I pulled as much of his clothing off of him as I could while he worked on pulling my panties and jeans down my legs.

Once we were both freed, he let his hands roam free all over my form, making a path around my hips and down my thighs. He whispered my name like a chant as I ran my lips across his firm, toned chest, toying with his nipples and pulling on the light smattering of fine copper colored hair in the center. He removed my heels and tossed my clothing aside. My head lolled back and forth as he rubbed my feet gently before dropping one and kissing the instep of the other so very, very softly. I never would have guessed that my feet were one of my erogenous zones.

I bit my lip to stifle my giggles as he tickled his way up my ankle and picked up speed as he moved up my calf and behind my kneecap, alternating between open mouthed kisses and nibbles. He held my foot up even higher and laid it to rest on his shoulder as he lingered along my inner thigh, not stopping until he came face to face with my aching clit.

Our eyes met just before he allowed his to close on me, breaking our connection momentarily. I would have given anything to know what he was thinking right at that moment. Without a word, he kneeled down and took a long, slow swipe of me with his tongue, tasting me, and I almost came apart right then and there.

"I've dreamed of having you so many times, right here, in this very spot," his voice raspy and strained. He caressed my hips and ground himself into me as his grasp on my ass became tight and secure.

It would seem that Edward may be a bit of an ass man.

He reached down and pulled a condom out of his pants pocket and I rolled it down on him, slowly and surely. He moaned as I kissed the tip and released him, grabbing onto his shoulders in anticipation as he maintained his steady grip on me. He was poised and ready; right where I needed him to be when he stopped everything abruptly, taking the slightest step away from me. The alarm that I felt at his sudden discomfort was horrifying.

"Edward, what is it? What's on your mind?" I asked, sitting up and running my fingers through his messy head of hair. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to hear the answer, if I wanted to be made aware of his second thoughts.

"Bella, I don't do this. I'm not a hit it and quit it kind of guy and I need you to know that. I need you to understand that. If we do this, I need it to be because it's the beginning of something, not a quick fuck. I know what I want. I know that I want you."

He ran his hand through his hair; the amount of frustration in his eyes almost breaking my heart.

"God, I can't believe it's taken me this long to just man up and tell you these things, but I just don't think I have the strength to stay away from you any longer. So, fuck it. I know that I want to get to know you and argue and laugh and learn just how beautiful you truly are. I want to know the things that nobody else does. I want you to know who I am, so much. I want to let you in and I want you to do the same. I want you, Bella. Not just this once, not as my friend with occasional benefits. I want you."

He gave me another one of those deep, affirming kisses like the one he had given me back at the bar and I knew.

I knew that this was right and that I was fighting the inevitable. I knew that, if I were to ever let my heart lead me anywhere, it needed to be to this man standing in front of me. I knew that I had nothing to be afraid of aside from myself.

Had I not been stunned to the point of silence, I know I would have found a way to fuck up this moment by saying something stupid. I just couldn't do that to him, or to me. I deserved to hear and feel what he was saying just as much as he deserved to have everything that he wanted and so much more. But I knew that words would never be able to fully explain my reasons for behaving the way that I had, for keeping him only so close, for pushing him away all those times and ignoring the obvious. Words had been the foundation of the wall that I had built to keep us apart; they had been my crutch. Words just wouldn't do.

Without breaking our kiss, I lifted myself up by my forearms and lowered myself onto him, sheathing him fully, without any warning or notice. I should have been ashamed at how slick and aroused I was by him and his heartfelt confessions, making his entrance into me much easier than it should have been. Those emotions must have run deep for him because, and thank God for small miracles, he was still hard.

The sound that erupted out of him at the sensation of us finally coming together was simply awe-inspiring.

He pulled me close, inhaling as he nuzzled himself in between my breasts. I wrapped my arms around him and held him close to me in return. He was buried deep within me, but hadn't moved a single muscle since settling in. We stayed there as one, holding each other stock still aside from me occasionally running my feet up the back of his thighs. We were savoring the feeling. We were enjoying this first moment of us. It felt so good and so, so right.

He pulled his face from my chest and kissed me. I craved his kisses now that I knew what I had been missing. We kissed softly, sweetly and gently. A few more and we kissed more deeply, with more force and with purpose. A few more after that and he was thrusting with a wild abandon that had me clenching the countertop so tightly that my fingers were turning white.

I met him thrust for thrust, pound for pound, with my legs wrapped around his waist like a vice, pulling him in even more deeply. The urgency that we felt only added to the amazing feelings that we were pulling out of each other. We were being who we were with no pretense or judgments and it felt fantastic. With every stroke, he repeatedly hit that one excruciatingly pleasurable spot that uncurled my insides and tied them right back up into knots. His spectacular fingers found my clit and my body started to shake uncontrollably.

"Oh my god, Edward, ugh. Oh…my…I'm gonna….I'm..."

I didn't even get to finish the sentence before an orgasm unlike anything I've ever felt in this lifetime ripped its way through me like a Mac truck. He delivered a few more solid thrusts before he fell into the abyss with me. He wrapped his arms around me and settled himself back into my bosom as I leaned against the mirror and held him close. We calmed our breathing and came down from the high, together.

After a good, long while, we both went back to the spa room where we showered and put ourselves back together again. During my few quiet moments alone, I decided to do what I should have done to begin with. I found that I wanted to create more first moments, more moments in time for us, more moments in time with him.

I walked into the front of the salon and sat down at the receptionist desk, waiting for Edward to come out and replaying all of the things that he had said and done today. He walked out just a few moments later. I smiled, wide and bright. He smiled right back at me.

"Hey Edward, do you think you'd like to go out with me sometime?"

He looked shocked…and gorgeous.

"Why Bella, I had no idea you were even interested. I'd love to go out with you!"

We laughed and decided to go out to dinner, just the two of us this time, creating another first moment for us. I locked up the shop. He held his hand out. I took it. We walked to his car, grinning like two dodo birds.

I decided to send Rosie a text message so she wouldn't worry:

'Hey. Met up with Edward, going to dinner. TTYL.'

Her response was simple and immediate.

'Lucy's got some 'splainin to do.'