A Slip of the Tongue

The Awkward Turtle Contest

PenName: SueBee0619

Rating: M

Word Count: 9,029

Pairing: Bella/Edward

Summary: A chance meeting on an airplane and a slip of the tongue. Who knew saying something so wrong could make everything so right?

Disclaimer: SMeyer owns the characters and I own the rest. Besides, I highly doubt she's ever said what comes out of Bella's mouth. Unfortunately, I have. *facepalm*

It was days like this that I really hated the amount of travel my job required. My flight was running extremely late and I was at serious risk of missing my connection home to New York City. Ah, home. I hadn't been there in two months – the longest I had been away at one time. I was exhausted – mentally, physically, and emotionally – and couldn't wait to sleep in my own bed. Well, at least my connecting flight was at the gate next to where this one was going to land.

We finally touch down at DTW, and I looked out at the tarmac as we taxied our way to our gate. By my estimate, I would have about 15 minutes to board the next flight. No problem, I smugly thought to myself. Until I noticed we were passing the C terminal and were moving towards the main part of the airport –Terminal A. Just then, the pilot came over the PA system. "Good afternoon, folks. As you can see, due to our delay, our gate was reassigned. We will now be arriving at gate A72. We should be parked shortly – sorry for any inconvenience."

Sorry for any inconvenience? FUCK! Fuck, fuck, double fuck! I scrambled for the in-flight magazine to see where the gate was located. I flipped the pages until I found the terminal map, praying silently that the gate was at least near the underground passageway connecting the terminals so I could make a run for it. I looked down and groaned. Of course it had to be the furthest possible gate from the one I had to get to. I would have to run through the entire terminal and then through the underground tunnel to make it to my connecting gate and I had little faith that I would make the flight in time. As the plane parked, I thought to myself "Well, here goes nothing." Luckily, since I was an elite flyer (aka I flew too damn much), I was seated in the front of the plane, making for an easy exit. I only had my backpack to grab from under my seat, so I didn't have to mess with any of the overhead compartments.

As soon as the seatbelt sign dinged, I was up and at the cabin door. When I was able to deplane, I started running – knowing that I didn't even have time to take the monorail since, in a quick glance towards the sky, I could see how far away it was. I'm not at all athletic, so I was huffing and puffing before I even made it to the underground passage. Shouting, "Excuse me, pardon me, so sorry!" I dodged and weaved my way around my fellow travelers, who evidently were in no rush to get anywhere and seemed to make it their mission to get in my direct path. Finally, I burst through the underground passage and, although I thought making the flight was a lost cause, kept running. Down at the gate, I could see the gate agent standing by the door and, miracle upon miracles, it was still open. She got a huge grin on her face and started gesturing excitedly towards me. I finally made it to the gate where she scanned my ticket saying, "We held the plane for you, Ms. Swan."

"You did?" I was shocked that they were waiting for me. Just me.

"Of course, ma'am. We knew your connecting flight was late and got routed to another gate, so our Director of Elite Services wanted to make sure we could get you home." I looked at her face and saw that she was honestly thrilled to have been able to help me.

And I thought getting occasional first class upgrades was a perk! "Ummm… thanks?" I stuttered, still shocked that they held the plane for me. I boarded the plane and remembered I was only able to get a middle seat on this flight and that it would be packed. And, of course, here I was all sweaty and agitated from my sprint through the airport. I finally got to my row and said to the woman sitting on the aisle, "Excuse me ma'am, I think that's me," pointing to the seat next to her.

"Looks like you just made it! Go ahead, dear," she said, without getting up.

Ugh, I hate climbing over other passengers. I don't understand how someone can be so lazy to not bother to get up to let you into your seat! "Um, do you mind getting up so I can sit down? I would hate to step on your toes." I thought that sounded like a plausible excuse and managed to keep the bitchy tone out of my voice.

The woman chuckled quietly, "Sweetie, its ok. I don't have any."

Completely confused, I looked down and gasped. In my rush and irritation, I neglected to notice that she was a double amputee. Double. Fucking. Amputee. God, I am such a bitch. "Err, um, sorry," I quietly muttered as I clambered over her trying not to hit her with my backpack.

The woman started laughing quietly, which quickly turned into an all out guffaw by the time I got myself seated and belted in. Her sparkling green eyes turned to me and she said, "Honestly? It was fantastic to have someone not notice that as the first thing about me for once!"

I took in the twinkle in her eyes and started to giggle along with her, the awkwardness of the moment immediately dissipating.

I quickly learned that my seat mate's name was Esme and that she lived in New York as well. Over the course of the flight, I talked about my job as an engagement manager for large touring shows. Essentially, my job was to be the show's contact for everything when they played a city my office oversaw, so they wouldn't have to deal with the local theatre on any big issues. Instead, everything flowed through me. It was a great job and I was good at it, but the travel was really getting to me. Especially this last trip. One of my shows was playing a new city and the local contact had no idea what they were doing – they had never had a show of this magnitude before. Of course, the tour's Production Manager noticed this immediately, and requested that I stay on site the entire time they were in town for pre-production – three frigging weeks. Usually I just flew in for the first week of performances and was available by phone for anything else that cropped up. And, since I was going to be with them for that time anyway, he decided it would be a good opportunity to take advance trips to five other cities the following week. Immediately following that little excursion, I had been called by another one of my shows to come deal with issues with their local presenter. Things just kept piling up, eventually leading to being away for two months instead of the three weeks I had been planning on.

She seemed very interested in my job and I finally found out why. It turns out her entire family worked in theatre in some capacity. They had all been in tech and previews for the past couple of weeks, so she had flown out to visit her sister rather than sit home, bored out of her mind. Her words, not mine. I'm sure if I hadn't been so crazed for the past few months, I would know the show she was talking about. But honestly, I was lucky to know who the president was at the moment. I hadn't been able to watch the news in weeks, let alone keep up with the New York Times theatre section.

Suddenly, she took a long look into my eyes and softly said, "I'm sure it can't be easy on you to be away from home so much. You must miss your boyfriend a lot? Or, I'm sorry, I shouldn't assume. Girlfriend?"

It was something I never really talked about, but I found myself trusting her implicitly and the words started tumbling out of my mouth. "I love my job, Esme, and I love the people I get to work with, but the travel is starting to get to me. No, I don't have a boyfriend. Hell, right now, I barely have any friends in the city after not being around much in the past year. I mean, I'm friends with the guys who work the shows I fly out to, but most of them are older and, while they respect me for my work, they also tend to be pretty protective of me. I've always said that when I'm working backstage, the guys see me in one of two ways. Either as their daughter/little sister to take care of or as someone they'd like to fuck. And the women just assume that I am sleeping with all of the guys, which makes it even less appealing. I just can't see how I'm going to meet anybody, you know? Between what I do for a living and the constant traveling… and forget about actors. They're either gay or self indulgent manwhores who need constant stroking of their self esteem."

I found myself tearing up by the end of my rant. Embarrassed, I ducked my head down in the pretense of searching my backpack for something. I felt a gentle hand rest over top of mine. "Bella," Esme looked at me with soft eyes, "It will happen, I know it. As for friends, I know my kids would love you. They're about your age and work in the business so they completely understand the scheduling nightmares as well as all of the personality types involved. Would it be ok if I had my daughter, Alice, call you? Her schedule will clear up as soon as the show opens on Thursday and I'm sure she'd love to grab lunch with you. I've loved talking with you and I know you have friends out on the road, but I have a feeling you could use someone your own age to talk to here in the city."

I was surprised that I didn't feel any kind of pity in her gaze. If anything, she exuded complete and utter understanding of my predicament as well as a small amount of motherly concern. I was amazed to hear myself exhale a breath I didn't realize I had been holding and say, "Oh, Esme. That would actually be really wonderful."

"Fantastic! Consider it done! Do you have a card that I can give her?"

I fished one out of my bag and handed it off, still feeling a little sheepish at my total word vomit. Esme seemed to sense my discomfort and quickly steered the conversation on to safer topics.

When we landed, I patiently waited while the ground crew brought Esme her wheelchair so we could deplane together. I walked alongside of her on the way to baggage claim and discovered that she hadn't told her family she was flying home a couple of days early. She knew from various phone calls that the week had been rough on all of them and that they were exhausted. Since it was Monday, she didn't want to bother any of them on their day off to come pick her up from the airport. She thought she'd just call a car service and surprise her husband at home. Since my company already sprang for a car to take me home from my trips, I insisted that I drop her off on my way home. There didn't seem to be much of a point in taking two cars.

She gave me a warm, comforting hug before the doorman for her building helped her out of the car and into her wheelchair. Dropped off at my apartment in Hells Kitchen, I turned the key in the lock and felt the small pang of loneliness that returned whenever I arrived "home". My apartment was small, but convenient to my office in Times Square. It was still a blank slate – white walls, no posters or artwork, and no knick knacks lying around. I hadn't had time to do anything with it thanks to my travel schedule. Hell, I still had boxes that hadn't been opened from when I moved in a year ago.

The next morning I returned to the office, and sat in my cubicle catching up on some of the paper that had landed on my desk in my absence. Nothing urgent – most of what needed to be dealt with had been while I was on the road. Mike Newton sauntered up to my desk with a cocky grin and said "Wait, who are you again? I think this desk is taken…"

"Yeah, yeah. Hey there, Mike. What's up?" I know he only meant to tease, but his words just reinforced the pang I was feeling about how much I was gone and how few people I was connected to in the city now. Hell, the receptionist didn't even know who I was when I walked in this morning. Apparently the previous one left at some point in the last two months.

Mike prattled on and I blocked him out, not really paying attention to what he was saying. My phone rang and I picked up, hoping that Mike would take the hint and walk away. "Hello, this is Bella."

"Bella, its Esme. How are you, dear? I found that I have an extra ticket to opening night on Thursday and I was wondering if you'd like to come with me and my family. It would give you a chance to meet all of them and to see the show. Are you interested?"

"That would be fantastic! Are you sure, though? I know tickets for openings can be hard to come by and I'm sure there are plenty of other people you could invite."

"Oh no, sweetheart, I insist. I'll leave the ticket and party pass at the box office under your name. Curtain is at 6:45, which we both know means schmoozing in the aisles until at least 7. I swear, I've never seen an opening start earlier than 7:05. I have to run, but I will see you then!"

"Great! See you on Thursday!"

I hung up and was surprised to see Mike still standing there with his eyes bugging out of his head. "What is it, Mike?"

"Wait, what did you just get a ticket for? Was it Breaking Don?"

"Yes, a friend had an extra and offered it to me. Why?"

"Jeez, Bella, that's the toughest ticket on Broadway for a regular performance and you just got handed one for opening night? Who did you have to fuck to get that?"

"Nice, Mike. Real nice. Stay classy," I sneered, and turned back to my computer, effectively ending the conversation. Later that afternoon, I was finally able to take a brief look online to get more information about the show. Apparently it was a two character play starring two young Hollywood actors for a limited run. No wonder it was such a hot ticket. The press photos were stunning – both of the men were gorgeous, but I couldn't seem to take my eyes off of the taller, more slender one. His eyes were piercing in their intensity and his copper hair was in total disarray. I had seen Edward Masen in a movie and was moderately impressed by his talent, but the stage was absolutely unforgiving and I was curious about how he would do on Thursday.

Over the next day and a half, I found my mind wandering back to those eyes and that hair and desperately forced those thoughts out of my head. Get a grip, Swan. First, he's an actor, so he's probably a conceited, high maintenance ass. Second, he's gorgeous and probably has a girlfriend. And third, HE'S A FUCKING ACTOR. AND YOU HATE ACTORS! I climbed into bed Wednesday night after laying out my dress and shoes for the opening on Thursday. After tossing and turning and not being able to get Edward Masen out of my head, I gave up and finally reached in the bedside table drawer for my ever trusty rabbit. Well, hello there Bunneh...long time, no see. That's right; I didn't take my rabbit with me on the road. My paranoid ass only traveled with well disguised vibrators after one mysteriously disappeared from my luggage. Like I could really report that to the TSA.

I laid the vibrator next to me on the bed and lightly ran my hands down my body, tingling at the feeling of my fingertips brushing across my skin. I cupped my breasts, kneading them and pinching my nipples, reveling in the jolt of pleasure each pinch brought. I could feel my pussy swell and get wet as I pictured Edward Masen's body above mine, the sinewy muscles in his arms and back rippling as he put his hands and mouth on my breasts. I ran one of my hands down my stomach and lazily circled my clit while imagining him slowly kissing and licking down my body, teasing me and building my anticipation of what was to come. I could practically see his copper colored hair finally dip between my legs, nipping and lapping at me, green eyes gazing up at me as that delicious tension kept increasing. I turned the rabbit on and touched the tip to my clit, intensifying the tightening I could feel beginning between my legs. I slipped the shaft inside of me, groaning at the feeling of it filling me – of Edward filling me. Once it was all the way in, I could feel the ring of pearls on the base teasing my entrance and the ears fluttering against my clit, hinting at the beginnings of my release. I reveled in the sensation for a moment and then slowly began rocking the toy so that it alternated pressure between my g-spot and my clit, the tingling sensation quickly transforming into something more intense. My hips slowly moved off of the mattress as my breathing became heavier and soft gasps came out of my mouth each time I felt a surge of pleasure – each one more intense than the last. I was balanced on the edge of my orgasm and a couple of thrusts and pinches of my nipple later I shattered, moaning, "Edward," and coming harder than I ever had before. I smiled lazily and rolled over, finally sated and able to sleep. Whaddya know? Actors are good for something.

I ducked out of work a little early on Thursday and rushed home to change into my dress for opening. It was my absolute favorite to wear – a beautiful blue wrap dress with a plunging neckline that emphasized my curves - and could be dressed up or down depending on the type of opening. I realized that, with the type of show this was, it was probably a black tie affair. Which was a great excuse to break out the gorgeous custom made shoes I was able to get from a friend of mine who worked as a dresser. Apparently they got cut from a show, but couldn't be returned, so she gave them to me. Throw in a fabulous silver necklace with a delicate pendent that nestled right at the top of my cleavage and I felt gorgeous.

I grabbed my clutch and walked over to the theatre – another bonus of living in the area. I stopped at the box office to pick up my ticket and handed it to the usher at the door without glancing at it. Best case scenario, I figured I might get a seat in the mezzanine, but balcony would be just fine for an opening like this. The orchestra section is always for the biggies and not the peons like me. Which is why I stood in shocked silence when the usher informed me to go to aisle 3. Not up the stairs. Aisle 3. Center fucking orchestra. I grabbed my ticket back from her and stared down at it to see where I was sitting. Center orchestra, row G. Who the hell was Esme and how the hell did she get these seats? I realized I never got her last name on the plane ride or on the phone as I maneuvered my way down the aisle. As I got closer to the stage, I saw Esme speaking with a man whose back was to me. Her eyes flicked to me and a huge smile lit up her face.

"Bella! Sweetheart, I'm so glad you could make it! Come here and meet my family!" The man she was speaking with turned around suddenly and I gasped. It was Carlisle Cullen, one of the biggest directors on Broadway. The man was a genius at casting the perfect actors in his shows and shaping scripts into amazing pieces of theatre. I don't think I had ever read a bad review of his work.

"So this is the infamous Bella! So nice to meet you – Esme has told me so much about you. Thank you for getting my stubborn wife home from the airport!" His wife? Esme is married to Carlisle Cullen and I was sitting with the Cullen family for the opening night of one of his shows? I surreptitiously pinched myself and discovered that no, I was not dreaming, and yes, I would have a lovely little bruise on my thigh by morning.

Before I had the chance to respond, a short, slender woman with dark hair rushed down the aisle with a large dark haired man and a gorgeous blonde in tow. "Perfect timing!" Esme exclaimed. "Bella, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Alice Whitlock, my son, Emmett and my daughter in law, Rosalie. You'll meet my youngest later. Alice designed the costumes and her husband, Jasper, is the production stage manager. Emmett and Rosalie own and run Eclipse Technical Services, which is…"

"Which is one of the best tech supervision offices! You guys did all of the engineering for some of my favorite shows! You do amazing work and I love how you use technology in such innovative ways! The idea to have shows tour with their own fly rig truss so they don't have to spend time on a pre-hang in each city? Genius!" I interrupted.

Emmett and Rosalie got huge smiles on their faces and Emmett turned to Esme. "Hey Mom, I like her! Can we keep her? Huh, can we?"

Just then the house lights went to half and the audience began to settle into their seats. I found myself seated next to Alice. She turned to me and said, "You know? My mom said we'd like you and it looks like she was right. I can't wait to get to know you better. We definitely have to go out for drinks sometime. Ooooh! Maybe my younger brother can join us!"

"Everyone keeps mentioning this other brother, Alice. Where is he tonight? I would have thought he would be here celebrating with all of you."

"Oh you'll meet him soon enough," Alice said cryptically as the house went fully dark and the opening sound cue began.

I sat in rapt attention for the next ninety minutes, completely enthralled by what was happening onstage. Edward Masen far exceeded my expectations. He was utterly captivating as he prowled the stage, and, after the first two minutes, I completely forgot who he was. He inhabited his character so completely; Edward Masen simply ceased to exist. I found myself in tears by his final monologue; completely wrapped up in his character's pain. The stage went dark and I realized I just witnessed something extremely special happen on that stage. The lights came back up and he and his co-star stepped forward for their curtain call. There was a moment of silence – the audience in utter shock at the amazing talent they just witnessed – followed by a roar of applause and a complete standing ovation. A boyish grin broke out on Edward's face, all tension from the play immediately leaving his body, and I was stunned at the obvious difference between the man and the character. It made me respect his talent even more. I was still in tears, but these were now tears of awe and respect. Tears of joy for him and in appreciation of all his hard work that I knew went into him getting to this level of performance. It was a moment that reminded me why I work in theatre and made a much lower salary than I could out in the world of corporate events. With one performance, he managed to give me my love of theatre back.

His gaze suddenly locked on mine and his eyes intensified as he cocked his head to the side. It was as if he was trying to understand what I was thinking and feeling – me, this strange girl in the audience, crying during a triumphant curtain call. His smile faltered slightly, and I felt the need to reassure him. I mouthed "Thank you" to him, even though I knew he would have no idea why I was thanking him. It didn't matter; I just needed him to know that he had done something special for me. A blinding smile broke out across his face as though he had been waiting for my approval and that somehow it was important to him. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Alice turning her head back and forth looking at Edward, then at me, and then back at Edward.

When the curtain call finally ended and the actors returned backstage, Alice turned to me checking to make sure I was going to the opening night party. She asked if I wanted to head backstage with the rest of the family, but I was simply too embarrassed by my emotional display to meet Edward Masen. I told her that I'd meet them at the party – I definitely needed to touch up my make-up and get a grip after all of that.

After a quick trip to the ladies room, I walked over to the Edison Ballroom for the party. So many opening night parties ended up in cramped locations or far away from the theatre district. I was not only thrilled with the space and that it was within walking distance from the theatre, but also the fact that the room was an art deco masterpiece. The black, grey, and silver décor and classic deco architectural details made it easy to envision when it was first created as a supper club with couples dancing to the best swing bands of the thirties.

I gave my ticket to the poor, flustered intern working the door – she was having a hard time with all of the party crashers who wanted in - and immediately headed for the bar. I grabbed a glass of wine and headed to a corner where I could take a look around the room and see if I knew anyone. All of a sudden, I heard a squeal and felt someone practically tackle me from behind. I turned around, ready to bitch someone out, but was thrilled to see my friend Nik, or as I called him, Sweetcheeks. He got that nickname from me after I saw him in his costume as a Cagelle in La Cage for the first time. It turned out his partner, Eleazar, was Carlisle's Assistant Director for the show. They dragged me up the stairs to the balcony area reserved for the actors and other people directly involved with the production. Thank goodness, because hanging out with overweight, balding investors is not my idea of a fun night.

I saw a couple of banquettes reserved for the Cullens, but I didn't want to make any assumptions that I would be sitting with them. It was their night to celebrate and, when it came down to it, I was an interloper. I sighed, but quickly snapped myself out of my moment of self-loathing. I was going to have a good time if it killed me, and forcing any negative thoughts out of my head was a good way to start. Two glasses of wine later and I was giggling with Sweetcheeks and Eli over some recent backstage gossip they were catching me up on. As we like to say "Theatre: The Drama Isn't Just Onstage".

As we were being our usually catty selves – and enjoying ourselves immensely, I should add – I heard applause from the main floor, below. Ah, the Cullens and the rest of the show personnel had arrived it seemed. I caught a glimpse of some copper hair make its way into the room and get surrounded by investors and their swooning wives. Carlisle and Esme were making the rounds, taking care of the social niceties required at these things. I saw Alice, a blond man who I assumed was Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett head up the stairs obviously ready to relax and enjoy the success of the night.

I heard my name called from across the room and saw Alice barreling towards me. "Bella! I'm so glad you came! You have to come sit with us, you can't be comfortable standing around in those shoes, no matter how fabulous they are. And I should know, I designed them myself! I was so bummed when that scene was cut, but I'm so happy to see them being put to such good use! They are fantastic on you!"

Before I could begin to gush about her talent, I heard a slight throat clearing from behind her. "Ooops, how rude of me. Bella, this is my husband, Jasper! He's the PSM on the show."

"Bella, so nice to meet you. My wife hasn't stopped talking about you on our walk over from the theatre." His demeanor was calm and he was aware of everything going on around us - both the hallmarks of an excellent stage manager.

We wandered over to the reserved banquettes and I found myself deep in conversation with Rosalie and Emmett about my job – what I loved and what I despised about it. A small glance passed between the two of them and they both smiled at me. "Ummm, guys? What is it?" I asked, feeling a little self-conscious.

Emmett nodded at Rosalie to take the lead on whatever they were about to tell me. "Bella, I know this probably isn't the place, but we've been looking to expand our staff a bit. We've been getting more and more high profile projects and have started branching out into consulting on some theatres that are being built. We really need someone to oversee the business as Em and I are getting overwhelmed. We've been having a difficult time finding someone with technical knowledge, management experience, and the ability to juggle different personalities. From talking to you, we think you have all of that and might be exactly who we've been looking for. Is this something you would be interested in? We'd understand if it's not and we'd still want to hang out with you, so don't worry that you're going to offend us or anything. We just felt like we should put it out there."

"Interested? Hell yes, I'm interested!" I couldn't believe this was happening. They were talking to me about what sounded like my dream job! They were talking to me about my dream job… while I was completely buzzed on the wine I'd been guzzling since walking into the party. I realized I was not exactly in the right state of mind to talk any kind of business. "Although maybe we should talk about this when I don't have quite so much wine in me. Shit, I don't have any of my cards. Um, Esme has all of my info if you want to give me a call." Wow, way to be smooth in front of your potential new bosses.

"Esme has what information?" I heard from behind me.

I turned in my seat to see who was approaching. "Esme!" I cried, perhaps a little too exuberantly. "Rose and Emmett might offer me a job! And then I don't have to travel as much or worry about stepping on non-existent feet!" I started giggling at the memory of meeting Esme on the plane.

"Oh sweetie, that's wonder-"

Esme was interrupted by that gorgeous man with the copper hair and green eyes, who now seemed irritated by something. "What did you just say?" Edward Masen asked me a question. Oh my God. Edward Masen was talking to me. Wait, what did he ask me? Oh, right.

"Um, that Rose and Emmett might offer me a job?" I was more than a little confused about his interest in the subject and the tension he was holding in his jaw.

"No, not that, the next part." He ground out. Everyone was looking at him in surprise.

I started giggling again. "Stepping on non-existent feet? You know, 'cause of Esme and how we m-"

"You think it's funny? You think it's fucking hilarious that my mom is a double amputee? What the fuck is wrong with you? You sit there, with my fucking family, laughing at my mom? Jesus, and to think I was looking forward to meeting you after all I heard from Alice backstage."

Wait, he's Esme's son? Edward Masen was Esme's son? Once I got past that fact, I realized Edward Masen was yelling at me. In front of a party filled with people in a very small industry. I realized how bad this could turn out for me on so many different levels. And then I got mad.

"No, I don't think it's "fucking hilarious" as you put it. Maybe if you let me finish what I was saying, you'd understand the fucking ridiculous way I met your mom and how she made me feel ok about my foot in mouth disease. About how your family, or your "fucking family" to use your words, have been nothing but nice and welcoming towards me. Maybe that's because they know the whole fucking story and aren't assuming anything based on one comment they overheard. Even if they didn't know, I would bet that none of them would be yelling at someone in the middle of an opening night party. Proud of yourself?" I sneered.

"You're going to lecture me about how to behave at my opening night party?"

"Your opening night party? You actors are all alike! This just in, asshole, this isn't all about you and it's not just your opening night party. Over fifty fucking people made you look good on that stage and this is their opening night just as much as yours. They're the ones who were at the theatre hours before your pretty ass showed up, making sure everything was ready for you to waltz in, take the stage, and get all of the credit. And they certainly don't make what you do. Do you even know the PA's name who was taking tickets at the door? My guess is that she makes $100 a week, is working at her opening night party, and has to be at work tomorrow morning, bright and early, while you'll still be asleep at your luxury apartment. Esme, thank you so much for inviting me, I apologize for my behavior just now. I really did have a lovely time meeting most of your family. I'll understand, Alice, if you no longer want to grab a drink, and Rose and Emmett, if you aren't interested in me for that job. I hope you all have a lovely evening, even after this mess."

I grabbed my purse and stalked away before they could see my traitorous tears. I could have sworn I heard a whisper of "Gianna, her name is Gianna," as I walked by, but I'm sure I was hearing things. I ran down the steps and out on to the street.

As I began to walk home, I realized my little altercation had sobered me up and that now was not the time for me to be alone and wallow. I changed direction and headed to the bar I liked to hang out at. It was quiet and low key and tourists hardly ever found their way in. I took a seat at the bar and saw that Jake was working, which meant free drinks. He was a good friend, about twenty years older than me, and easy to talk to. He took one look at me, grabbed the bottle of Jack, poured two shots, and brought them over. "Rough night? If it makes you feel any better, you look absolutely gorgeous, kiddo."

"Thanks, Jake." I proceeded to tell him everything that happened, complete with the epic embarrassment at the end. Although, as I described my encounter with Edward Masen, I realized that people had looked at me with pride and not pity when I had stumbled my way out of the party. Huh.

I glanced down at my phone to check the time and noticed I had two text messages from numbers I didn't recognize – I must have left my phone on silent from when I was in the theatre. Curious, I opened my phone to read them.

Of course we're still getting drinks even though my brother is an ass. Now I KNOW without a doubt we're going to get along fantastically! Alice

B - Job is yours if you want it after that display of awesomeness! You've got a set of brass balls, girl! We'll call you tomorrow to discuss. Em & R

Looks like I didn't burn as many bridges as I thought.

Feeling slightly better about the whole evening, I decided to head home and deal with whatever fallout there was tomorrow. I just wanted to take my shoes off, put on my pj's and curl up with some Ben and Jerry's. As I wandered down my street, I could see someone sitting on the front stoop of my building. Ah, it was probably my neighbor, Tyler.

"Hey, Tyler! Lock yourself out again, babe?" I called.

I heard a gentle, male voice answer me, "Um, no…" and much quieter, "Who the fuck is Tyler? I thought mom said she was single."

Oh shit. I recognized that voice.

I slowly walked up to my building and found Edward Masen sitting there in a rumpled tuxedo, looking up at me sheepishly.

"Errrr… hi?" I said. "Did you come to my building to yell at me some more? Because I'm tired and haven't had nearly enough to drink to go for round 2 right now."

"Actually, no. I, um, wanted to apologize. For being an asshole. For behaving like a typical actor, as you said. My mom told me the whole story and I know I behaved like a total douche. I'm just very protective of her. Not that she needs it or anything, but I just can't help it. And, for the record, the intern's name is Gianna and she's a grad student at Brooklyn College. The guy who runs the flies is named Marcus and his wife is named Didyme. The house prop guy is…"

"I get it, I get it. You know who the people are on your show." I chuckled at his eagerness to prove he wasn't an asshole, but then I got serious again. "I shouldn't have assumed anything either, so I guess I owe you an apology too."

We looked each other in the eye and, slowly, the intensity began to build between us. Oh shit, was I having a moment with Edward Masen? I mean, I knew we had one during the curtain call, but this was different. Hungrier. I felt overwhelmed all of a sudden and looked away.

I heard him exhale slowly. "Um, since I've apologized and it is my opening night, do you think we could go grab a drink? I could really use one at the moment."

I gazed back at him and was surprised to see him blushing slightly, an unsure look on his face. "Wait, how long have you been here? Didn't you stay at the party to celebrate? And how did you know how to find me anyway? That's a little creepy now that I think of it. Do you do this often? Do you stalk all the women you date? Not that you're dating me, or anything. I mean, you probably have a girlfriend or five. FUCK, I'm an idiot." Oh God, save me from my word vomit.

A small smile formed on his face as I was spewing nonsense at him and soon turned into the same guffaw I heard from Esme when I first met her. "Wow, my mom said you were fantastic, and she wasn't kidding. To answer your questions, I left the party as soon as my mom explained because I wanted to apologize, so I've been sitting here for about an hour or so. I didn't feel much like celebrating once I realized what an ass I was. Your friend Nik told me where you lived and I wasn't trying to be creepy, I swear. I've never stalked anyone and I don't have any girlfriends. Oh, and I've never dated more than one girl at a time, that's not really my thing. I don't really date much, to be honest. Don't tell anyone, because that would totally ruin my image with the gossip rags," he said, rolling his eyes at the last part. "Did I get everything?"

I blushed and smiled up at him, "Yeah. Yeah, I think you did."

All of a sudden, he looked unsure and nervous again. "Now can I ask you something? Um, I probably should have checked with you before asking you to go get a drink with me. Would Tyler have a problem with you going out to celebrate with me? It's ok if you can't, I totally understand…"

"Why would Tyler care whether I grabbed a drink with you? Other then to be completely jealous." I suddenly put his question together with the quiet comment I heard him make when I was walking up to the stoop. "Wait, you think I'm with Tyler? Really?" I couldn't help but start to giggle. "Um, you're more his type than I am, if you catch my drift. He's a little ditzy and is always locking himself out, so I have a spare key to his apartment."

The look of utter relief on his face was adorable and he slowly smiled at me. "You can't believe how happy I am to hear that."

He brushed his hand down my cheek and looked at me tenderly. "Did you want to get that drink? I'd really like to get to know you better without my asshole tendencies getting in the way. Um, I'm not really sure where to go where we won't be interrupted by anyone though."

"Well, I do have a bar I go to, but considering I just spent the last hour ranting about you to the bartender there, that's probably not the best choice. Oooh, wait here for a second." I ran up the stairs, down the hall and into my apartment, quickly kicking off my shoes. Grabbing two beers from my fridge, I ran back out the door and down the stairs, where Edward was waiting, a slightly confused look on his face. When he saw what I had in my hands, he smirked at me.

"Now, that's my kind of woman!"

He laid his jacket next to where he was sitting on the stairs and gestured for me to sit down. "Oh! You don't have to do that. I don't want to get your jacket dirty."

"It's just a jacket. Besides, I would rather my jacket get dirty than your dress. I'm rather partial to it and am looking forward to seeing you in it again."

I gaped at him for a minute and then sat down next to him, a little thrill going through me when he pulled me against him and tucked me into his side. I handed him one of the beers and he clinked it against mine. "To opening night stoop parties," he toasted.

We sat there, sipping our beers and getting to know each other, a steady prickle of electricity between us the whole time. We both finished our beers and he plucked the empty out of my hand and put it with his on the step behind us. He looked down at me and cupped my face in his palms, whispering, "Bella, this might be the best opening night party I've ever been to." He ducked his head down and gently brushed his lips against mine. It was lovely and gentle and full of promises, but I needed more. I surprised myself – and him, I think – and twined my fingers in his hair, pulling him towards me, and kissing him passionately. After a moment of shock, he returned my kiss, his passion and desperation matching mine as our tongues met and twisted together, our bodies pressed up against each other. He moved down my neck, kissing and nipping at the skin as he moved down to the dip in my collarbone, staying there when I moaned loudly. I shivered as he licked and sucked and he suddenly pulled away. I whimpered in disappointment and he chuckled softly in my ear. "Don't worry, sweet girl. I think you're getting cold and it's time to get you inside. If I have my way, we'll continue this another time and not on a set of concrete stairs with you shivering."

I looked into his eyes and saw lust present that was equal to mine. That realization made me brave enough to huskily say, "And if I have my way, we'll continue this inside right now." His eyes widened as he realized what I was saying.

"Are you sure, Bella? I don't want this to be a one night thing, and I know that if I go in with you, I won't be able to stop myself."

"Oh, I'm sure. Are you?"

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, he yanked me up on my feet, grabbed his jacket, and pulled me to him. He kissed me urgently and said against my lips, "Does it feel like I'm sure, Bella?" He grabbed my hips and pulled me to him until our bodies were pressed against each other. I could feel how sure he was up against my stomach and we both let out a low groan at the contact.

We ran up the steps and down my hall hand in hand, stopping for a few anticipation laden kisses in the hallway. We got to my door and he pushed me up against it, grinding his body into mine. He finally let me turn around so that I could open the door, but didn't stop with the constant contact, his hard dick grinding against my ass, his tongue and teeth on the nape of my neck, his hands wandering up my ribs, cupping and fondling my breasts, pinching my nipples through the fabric. The jolt of pleasure I felt made me close my eyes and moan as I dropped my head back onto his shoulder. "Door, Bella," he whispered.

"Right. Door." I finally opened the door and we stumbled into my modest studio apartment. He kicked the door closed behind us and spun me around, pressing me up against the wall. He lifted my knee to curl my leg around his hip, bending his knees slightly so that his hardness could rub against where I needed friction. "Oh dear God," I moaned and frantically began undoing the buttons of his shirt.

He growled and tugged on the tie at my hip, opening my dress and slipping it down my shoulders so I was standing in front of him in only a bra. "You weren't wearing underwear this whole time? It's probably a good thing I didn't know that."

I mumbled "Panty lines," but lost my train of thought as soon as I felt his hands snake behind my back and undo my bra. He peppered light kisses down my throat and quickly made his way down to my breasts, not wasting any time teasing me, and pulling on my nipples with his teeth. I finally had his shirt off, and got to work on his pants, nearly ripping the clasp in my rush to feel all of him. As I teased the skin along the top of his boxers, he groaned in anticipation. I finally slid his pants and boxers down his legs and he stepped out of them, kicking them to the side. I ran my fingertips gently up his leg and up the bottom of his rock hard cock as he inhaled sharply at the contact. As I took him in my hand and started pumping, I felt his fingers glide up my thigh, lightly teasing me with feather light touches over my clit. Finally, he pressed his fingers up against it, making slow circles that were driving me insane. I felt the tingling in the bottom of my stomach already and moaned, "Oh my God. So good. So close, Edward. Edward!" He started using his thumb against my clit and slipped two fingers inside of me, curling them slightly. That was all I needed, the pleasure ripped through me, making me moan his name over and over, my muscles shaking with release. When I finally came down from my high, he was holding me up, gazing at me with a mix of reverence and absolute lust.

"Bed, sweet girl. I don't want our first time to be up against the wall. We'll have plenty of chances for that later." I stood against the wall on still unsteady legs wondering how I was going to walk to the bed when I could barely stand up. He chuckled and picked me up by my waist while I wrapped my legs around him, kissing him hard on the mouth as he navigated us over to my bed. He laid me down gently, and crawled on top of me, kissing up my neck, before gazing into my eyes. The mood had changed between us from one of fiery passion to one of tender adoration. "Are you sure, Bella? I want you so much, but if you want me to stop, I will. I want you in my life and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize that, so if that means stopping, I'll stop. Just say the word."

"Edward? Shhhh… I'm not going anywhere. I want you in my life too, and I wouldn't do this if I didn't, ok? I want you inside of me; I want to feel you, all of you. And it's not something I'm going to regret in the morning. "

"Oh, thank God," he blurted out and his eyes widened as he realized he said that out loud. I giggled quietly, and then kissed him softly, letting him know I felt the same way. I wrapped my legs around his hips, giving him the permission he sought. He slid into me and we both groaned at the intimacy and pure pleasure of that moment. He kissed me gently and whispered tenderly in my ear as he slowly started moving in and out of me, my hips coming up to meet his thrusts. The sensation of Edward moving inside of me was like nothing I felt before – the combination of passion, tenderness, and utter completion was almost overwhelming. Our breathing sped up and soon the air was filled with the sound of our groans and of skin hitting skin. I could feel myself start to tighten around him and he moaned loudly in response. "Oh God, that feels amazing. I've never… it's never… oh Bella… I'm so close. Are you close, baby? Can you come for me again? Nothing is more beautiful than the look on your face when you come." I nodded at him in response, unable to form the words, and he slipped his hand between us, circling my clit. That was all it took for me to explode again, my orgasm intensified by the feeling of him inside me, moving erratically now as he found his release. He laid on top of me for a moment pressing his forehead to mine, before rolling over and tucking me into his side, his arms holding me close, my legs entangled in his and my head on his chest. We lay there, silently, basking in the afterglow, content to hold each other while we caught our breath. He spoke first. "That was, um, wow." he said with a goofy smile on his face.

I knew my expression had to match his. "Wow is definitely a word for that." I agreed, gazing up at him.

He pulled me up to his lips, kissing me gently. We lay there, quietly kissing and just enjoying our newfound bond. Our kisses soon became more urgent, the fiery passion from up against the wall reigniting between us.

He flipped me over on my back and pinned my hands down above my head. My hips started to move on their own, trying to find some friction against him. "I can promise you this, my sweet girl. You may be my sweet girl, but there isn't going to be anything sweet about what I'm going to do to you next."

As he kissed me roughly, thrusting his tongue into my mouth, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the most awkward moment of my life. Without it, I wouldn't be here, in my bed, with Edward grinding up against me, preparing to fuck me senseless. And, as his lips left mine and started moving down my body, all thoughts of that moment on the plane began to drift away as I gave myself over to the sensation of his lips on my skin.

A/N I'm usually a beta/pre-reader and this is my first attempt at writing fic. I've learned everything I know about writing from the lovely women I usually read for – Nikki, Annie, Jo, Anne, Amber, Sarah, and Ginnie – your beautiful words have inspired me and your creative minds know no bounds. I love you all.

And huge thanks and love to my amazing beta, Dandie Goose, and lovely, gorgeous pre-readers Nikita2009, SweetPoeticJustice, and Olivia Masen for their honesty and encouragement and for not laughing at my attempts of the citrus kind. I never would have attempted this if it wasn't for you sexy cheerleaders, so I am forever in your debt for making me push beyond my comfort zone and for talking me off of the ledge when I was freaking out. I'm honored to call you all my friends.

I have no idea who the very nice woman was on my flight from DTW to New York, but a huge thanks to her for being so kind and understanding to a very flustered and mortified me.