Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer – not me.
As always, I need to thank MrsK81 and Megan my pre-readers. They are amazing and don't laugh at my silly mistakes.
Thank you to my beta's Marly580 and Mauigirl60: without them this story would be a grammatical mess.
Last thank you to Pattinlethr – who although can't help directly with the story, continues to be an amazing support.
To everyone who reads, reviews and has this story on alert – Thank you.
Tonight brought back the memories I've been trying to fight for the last two years.
All my insecurities from my past relationship had come flooding back. I was reliving the late nights without Lauren: no texts telling me where she was, crashing at her friends' houses at the last minute and more often than not, waking up in bed alone without any sort of explanation. To miss all the signs with Lauren was stupid, and looking back on it now, I probably knew something was happening all along, but I was too scared to admit it.
Before Bella walked through that front door, I was a total mess, believing all sorts of things. My imagination was in overdrive, and I kept thinking it was happening all over again. Instead of working, my eyes remained focused on my silent phone, which only beeped an hour ago to let me know that Bella was on her way home. The fact that she was finishing hours later than she originally said, and that it was a man driving her home, was more than I could bear.
Watching from my bedroom window as another man dropped off my girlfriend, something inside me fired up and I knew I wouldn't let this happen again.
My work was long forgotten, and my heart pounded as I thought of the ways I could discreetly bring it up without sounding like a complete ass. However, all sane thoughts went out of my head the second the door opened and I caught sight of her in my peripheral view.
Bella meant so much more to me than Lauren ever did. Just the thought of losing her, of having to let her go, caused me pain. I refused to let this relationship fail purely on my past mistakes.
I tried to be calm and collected about it, simply questioning why it wasn't Angela who had dropped her off, but Bella saw right through me. Instead of arguing with me as I expected her to, she actually comforted me. I tightened my arms around Bella, pulling her closer to me. Nothing was said—we just simply enjoyed the closeness and feel of each other.
The following morning, I drop Bella off at work and return to the apartment, with no plans for the rest of the day. Emmett surprises me by actually being out of bed by the time I get home and asks if I want to join him for a workout in the gym. We used to go together all the time, but had barely managed more than a few sessions with the opening of the new club.
I decline his offer, saying I have more important things to do today. He raises his eyebrows, smiling at me before walking out the door and leaving me in total silence.
We agree that I'll take Saturday night off so I can take Bella out for a romantic night and tell her how I feel about her.
My discussions with Emmett have really gotten me thinking over the last few weeks. He had been telling me to focus on my relationship with Bella, without overthinking it. For the first time in my life, my brother made sense; I just needed to feel. Normally, I ignore any advice he has, but I have witnessed how he and Rose are with each other—how easily they could just be—so I decided to take it.
It's my insecurities that keep me from admitting my true feelings for Bella. I was letting them feed into my current relationship— something that needed to stop. What Lauren had done was inexcusable, but I had to stop letting that dominate what I have with Bella. Last night was the eye-opener for me. Sooner or later, my insecurities are were going to cost me our relationship, and I refused to let that happen. I was scared of losing her, when in reality I was the one pushing her away.
It took me longer to fall asleep last night than it did Bella. Slumber took her easily, and she spent most of the night in my arms. As she dreamed sweet things, a small smile on her face, my thoughts were plagued by my overreaction earlier in the night. I had lost my previous girlfriend to another man—or men, really—all because she thought I wasn't enough for her. The betrayal almost crushed me. But now I knew that would be nothing compared to how I'd feel if Bella were to leave. In the few short months that we'd been together, she'd become everything to me.
Without even knowing, Bella had helped pushed those insecurities away. She breezed into my life, turning it upside down in the best possible way, reminding me that life was good. The second I had seen Bella sitting in the VIP section of my club, those walls began to crumble. Even from across the room, I could feel the pull toward her, and I just had to speak to her. As much as I tried to fight it, I fell in love with her.
As I imagine a date night, I can't wait to tell her. The words are bubbling on the surface, making my heart pound and my head spin. Nothing can wipe the smile from my face as I make the plans for a date night with my girl and the perfect way to tell her I love her.
It doesn't take me long to make my decision. I want to enjoy a night together: no work, no exes, and no stalker. I want to spoil her, devour her, and show her exactly how much she means to me.
Our relationship has never been normal. Ever since we got together, we were constantly fighting over something, and we never had the time to just be. Instead of getting to know each other we were thrown into turmoil and forced to focus on other things. This weekend, I want to change all of that.
I grin to myself, pick up the phone, and start planning our special night.
After kissing Edward goodbye, I jump out of the car and make my way to the office. There's less of a bounce in my step these days, owing to my disaster of a column and missing the meeting.
My heart pounds as I walk through the halls toward my desk. There's already a small cluster of people in, so I know I haven't missed another important meeting.
Of course, Angela's there, typing away on her computer.
"Morning." I place my bag down at my desk and turn the computer on.
She doesn't even look away from her computer screen, her fingers moving quickly over the keyboard. "Hey, Bella."
"What's the plan for today?" I notice the empty seat on the other side of her. "Is Victoria coming in?"
"Later. She has a doctor's appointment this morning, so we'll see her after lunch." She finishes whatever she's typing and spins in her chair for me. "We have to finish the work from yesterday and then we have some reviews to write up. We've also got a few interviews coming up in the next few weeks that we'll need to start researching."
She spins back toward her desk and picks up some paperwork before turning back to me. "Can you finish typing up the column with these notes that I've added onto it and then send it to Alec?"
I glance at the notes; we only started the base work of the column yesterday, meaning I now have a full day ahead of me, especially if I have research to start as well.
"You want me to just send this straight to Alec?"
"Yeah, I trust you. We've been working together for weeks now; you know what determines a good column. If you're struggling later, Victoria can help you." With that, she turns back to her computer, typing so fast it's like she never even stopped. The woman is a damn machine.
Deciding to give Edward a bit more notice this time, I send a text warning him that I might be late but I would keep him properly updated this time. As I throw my cell back into my bag, turning to start my work, I silently pray this doesn't become a regular occurrence. Edward works enough late hours for the both of us; I don't want to add to it.
Angela's phone barely rings once before she picks it up, launching into a long argument about something going to print. Her cheeks flush in what I assume is anger, her eyebrows furrowing when she disagrees with the caller, her fingers nervously twisting a lock of hair that's fallen from her messy ponytail. As much as I admire the journalist she is, I definitely do not want to become like her. The job has taken over her life; she works more hours than anyone else here—including Alec— and her personal relationships definitely pay the price for her successful career.
I turn to my work, vowing to not turn out like Angela. My relationship with Edward is just starting, and I refuse to settle—or worse, split up—purely because of conflicting work schedules.
My thoughts give me a newfound energy for work; I want to be out of here and home with my handsome boyfriend. I read through Angela's notes and quickly start working on my new column.
My morning doesn't go as planned. The phones never stop ringing; the photocopier breaks while I'm in the middle of using it, and then to top it all off, my computer freezes before I've had a chance to save my document.
"You've got to be kidding me!" I exclaim, while furiously clicking any button I can on my computer.
Angela appears behind me. "What's wrong?"
"It…It just froze! I can't do anything!" I continued pressing any button in the hope that something will magically awaken the computer. "Oh, God, I haven't saved this for about an hour. I can't lose all that work!"
"Bella, calm down!" Angela puts one hand on my shoulder while the other one moves my hands away from my computer. "That's why we have an IT department."
"Of course we do." I shake my head and let out a small relieved chuckle. "Sorry, I totally freaked there."
She laughs as she picks up the phone. "No worries. Hold on, let me see if any of the guys are free."
Luckily, they are. And as the IT department is only on the floor above, it doesn't take them long to arrive at my desk.
Angela introduces me to Liam, an older guy who has been with the company for years.
Good, if anyone can rescue my hard work, it's him.
With a cheery smile, he takes a seat at my desk and sets to work.
"Bella, maybe you should take your lunch now? These things can sometimes take a while." Angela smiles at me as she sits back at her desk.
"Did someone say lunch?"
We both turn to see Alec walking toward us, pulling his arms through his suit jacket.
"Oh. Hey, Alec. I was just telling Bella she should take her lunch hour now, since her computer's with IT."
"Sounds like perfect timing to me. Bella, I was just leaving for lunch, but I've been stood up." Alec smiles at me. "Do you want to accompany me? Nothing fancy, just the Italian café on the corner."
I look to Angela, who nods the okay. "You may as well, Bella. You won't be able to get onto your laptop for a while."
"Why don't you come with us?" I ask, putting my jacket on.
She scoffs. "No, I've got plenty I can be doing."
I don't argue with her; there's no point.
"C'mon, Bella. I hear their lasagna is legendary in these parts."
I grab my purse and follow him out of the office.
Lunch is amazing.
On Alec's suggestion, I try the legendary lasagna. After almost licking the plate clean, I confirm the legend to him. It's delicious and I make a mental note to bring Edward here one day.
All too soon, we're on our way back to the office. I can't help but drag my feet. I'd much rather be going home to curl up in bed and doze off into a nice food coma.
When I return to my desk, my laptop is fixed and waiting for me. I breathe a large sigh of relief as Angela tells me they managed to save my work and there isn't any damage to the computer. However, there are a few sly comments about how ancient it is, and I pick up on the subtle hint that if I'm serious about working here, I may need to invest in a newer model.
I thank Angela and sit at my desk, quickly falling back into the work I had started earlier in the day.
As busy as I am, work doesn't pass quickly. Angela can be a tyrant when she wants to be – and today is one of those days. She keeps me on my toes all day, seemingly desperate to make up for the time I spent away at lunch.
Thankfully, I'm only kept until six o'clock. I had texted Edward earlier in the day to let him know when I would be ready for him to come and get me, and my phone beeped just a few minutes ago with a text from him telling me he is outside.
"Thanks for today, Bella." Angela keeps her eyes on her keyboard as she speaks. Just because I'm finishing on time doesn't mean she is. "You did good." She looks up from her screen, flashes me a small smile, and turns back to her computer.
"Thanks, Ang." Her words mean a lot after recent events. I know I can do this job, and do it well, but my confidence has taken a hit. I question everything and have to constantly seek feedback just to make sure I'm doing everything properly. "I'll see you tomorrow."
She nods in reply as I put my bag over my shoulder, shaking my head. I definitely don't want to be one of those girls whose career comes first.
I nervously strum my fingers on the steering wheel as I wait for Bella. My afternoon was spent making reservations at one of the best restaurants in town. However, I was worried about seriously messing this up. It had been far too long since I had planned anything this serious, and I wanted to do it properly. I had thought about Emmett for his opinion, but when it came down to it, I knew there was only one person I knew could help me.
I called my mother.
Even through the telephone, her smile had been evident. She'd recommended a restaurant she had recently been to with my father that they'd both enjoyed. It was enough for me. My parents dined out frequently at some of the best places in town, so her word meant a lot to me.
She didn't keep me on the phone for long but did make me promise to bring Bella out for dinner one night. I quickly agreed before hanging up and phoning the restaurant.
I'm brought back to the present with the opening of the passenger door, as the object of my thoughts climbs into the car.
"Hi." She beams at me as she leans over the console, placing a soft kiss to my lips.
"Hi, yourself. Good day?"
She shrugs. "As good as ever, I suppose. Angela was in a hell of a mood, though."
"I have no idea, but she was breathing down my neck all day." She gestures to the building now behind us. "She's still there."
I shake my head; I can't understand how someone can spend so much time at their place of work. I know both Emmett and I had put in a lot of hours, but that was in the time leading up to the opening of the club. Now, with things running smoothly, we only spend what time we have to at the club, both of us always eager to return home to our girls. Bella's job pulls some long hours, but thankfully, she hasn't been called away too much.
"So," she asks, "What have you done today?"
I smirk. "Nothing too much, just enjoyed my day off, really."
"What's the smile for?"
"Mm-hmm…okay then." She smiles at me, knowing I'm hiding something, but doesn't say anything. Instead she turns up the volume of the radio and looks out the passenger side window, watching as the city passes her by.
It would be so easy to tell her now. To pull over on the side of the road, take her hands in mine and tell her how I feel. How she owns my heart and soul completely.
I bite my lip in an effort to remain silent. As much as I want to tell her now, I know patience is a virtue and it will definitely be worth the wait. She will be wined and dined and treated as she should be all the time.
As night falls and darkness fills the car, I smile to myself, eager for Saturday to come as quickly as possible.
A short time later, we arrive home. Noticing that Bella doesn't move as the car comes to a stop, I turn to find her asleep.
At some point during the journey, she has turned in her seat, her back against the passenger window so she's facing me. The soft glow from the streetlight creates a halo-type shape above her hair, which is fanned around her, perfectly framing her face. Whatever she is dreaming has her smiling, and I silently pray her dreams are of me. In this moment, she looks so perfect and I count my blessings she is mine.
As much as it pains me, I gently reach over the console and take hold of one of her hands, squeezing it softly in an attempt to wake her. She jumps slightly at the sudden contact, her eyes fluttering open as she slowly wakes.
"Are we home?" she asks.
"We've just pulled up. C'mon, let's get some dinner and have an early night." I squeeze her hand again before letting go and getting out the car.
"Oh my God, I've eaten too much food today. I don't think I could eat another thing," Bella moans, hands flat on her stomach as she falls back onto the bed.
I look at her, confused, she normally would eat a Snickers bar for lunch if she's lucky.
Sensing my confusion, she sits up and explains about her impromptu lunch date with her boss. It's innocent, I know it is, yet I still can't help the green-eyed monster from rearing his ugly head.
I sit next to her on the bed, taking her hand in mine which soothes my irrational jealousy. She is here with me, not with her boss. She wants me.
Now that I understand my feelings, I find it easier to manage the negativity that still tries to push its way forward from my past. Instead of being scared about the intense feelings I have for this girl, I embrace them. I don't run from them; I happily admit that I love her. And it's only a matter of time until I can tell her.
"Edward, are you even listening to me?" I flinch as Bella pokes me in my side.
"What was I just saying?"
"Okay, no I wasn't." I grin. "Sorry."
"Well, I was just saying that we should go there one night for dinner after I finish work. The food really was to die for." She flops back onto the bed. "And now I'm seriously paying for it." She moans, rubbing her stomach again.
After a few moments, I broach the subject of Saturday night. "Bella."
"Do you have plans for Saturday night?" I know she doesn't; I've checked with Rose and Alice, and I know she isn't working.
"No, why? Do you have something planned?" She understandably sounds amused and rightly so. We never have plans for a Saturday night.
"As a matter of fact, I do." I sit up slightly and lean on one arm as I turn to look down at her. "What would you say to a date with me?"
A huge smile crosses her face, and I feel a matching one on mine. "A date? Really?"
"We haven't done that in a while."
"Is that a yes?"
"Definitely. Where are we going?" She crawls up the bed, grabbing a pillow and laying back down, and I follow suit.
I wrap my arm around her shoulder and pull her close to me. She responds by snuggling against my body. The perfect fit.
"That bit's a surprise. But I can tell you something."
"Oh?" She lifts her head up to look at me.
"Yeah, and it isn't a jeans-and-sneakers sort of place. I believe Rose and Alice will be waiting for a phone call to arrange a shopping trip on Saturday."
"Sounds intriguing." She leans down, kissing me softly. "I can't wait."
I'm glad Edward gave me the good news about our upcoming date night, because the rest of the week goes downhill.
Since Tuesday was so busy, I ask Edward to take me to work early the following morning. As much as I hate the early starts, I always get more done because the office is so quiet. Of course Angela is already there, furiously typing away.
"Morning, Angela," I say as I approach our desk.
She turns in her seat quickly, looking surprised at my appearance. "Oh! Morning, Bella. You're here early." She quickly glances at her watch before continuing with her work.
"Yeah, less interruptions." I explain as I set up my computer.
"Well, remember you only have about fifteen minutes before we have the meeting with Alec."
"Yes, didn't you read the email?"
"Angela, I didn't get an email about a meeting. Are you sure I'm meant to be there?"
She stops typing and picks up her coffee and slides her chair over toward me. "Bella, the email was sent to everyone. It's the second part of the series of meetings that we've been told about. You know, the ones about how things will be changing here by the end of the year."
I sink back into my chair as my computer boots up. I'll check my emails again, but I've never received the message.
"When was it sent?"
"Late last Friday. It was probably the last email Alec sent before going home for the weekend."
I start up my emails and search through them, including the trash in case I deleted it by accident. "I don't see it. I never received it at all."
"Have you tried searching Alec's name?" She nudges me out of the way and types Alec's details before hitting enter.
Numerous emails from Alec appear on my screen, but not the one I'm looking for.
"Look, maybe you just need to check with Alec and make sure he definitely added you to the list of recipients? It might be that he's missed you by accident?" She shrugs and sits back in her seat.
"Yeah, maybe you're right. I just find it a bit weird, that's all." I give up searching and bring up the column that I had been working on yesterday.
Minutes before the meeting is due to start, Victoria arrives, looking pale.
"You okay?" I ask.
"Yeah, just trying to get used to this morning sickness. I need to remember to give myself more time in the mornings to get ready." She puts her bags down and picks up a note pad. "So, let's get this meeting over with."
Thankfully the meeting doesn't last long. It is definitely necessary, and the big bosses spend most of the time explaining the changes to the paper. Although it wouldn't be happening for a while, my department is most likely going to be affected. But of course, there would be another meeting to tell us all about it.
As the meeting room empties, I move forward to beat the crowd and get hold of Alec.
"Alec, you got a sec?" He continues walking at his normal fast pace but nods, encouraging me to continue.
"I didn't get the email about this meeting. Angela said you sent it to everyone again, and I checked all my folders, but I don't have it. Are you sure I'm definitely copied into your contacts? Or into the list?"
I stumble as he comes to an abrupt stop.
"I know how to compile an email list, Bella." His voice is smooth, but with a cool hint to it. He was pissed in the meeting and I knew I shouldn't have said anything "Are you insinuating I'm the one at fault? That I don't know how to send emails now?"
"Of course not, I just wanted to let you know that something is definitely up with either my email or yours, and maybe we should have IT look into it."
He huffs before stalking off again. "Well, have them look at yours first and then let me know. If the issue isn't with you, then they can have a look at mine." And with that, I'm left standing alone in the corridor.
I've heard the rumors about Alec and his bad moods, but I've never been on the receiving end of his crankiness.
"Oh, and Bella?" I look up and see Alec has turned to face me again. "Maybe have Angela keep you in the loop with meetings, since you seem unable to do that by yourself."
And for the second time this afternoon, I'm left standing speechless.
Following my run-in with the boss, I go straight back to my desk and try to finish my work in peace. Although the meeting didn't last long, it's still long enough to throw the rest of my day out of sync, meaning I end up working a little later.
Thankfully, I'm not the only one.
As I pull out my cell, I glance around the office and notice it's a bit busier than it normally is at this time of night. Although it makes me feel a little better, it still sucks; I know at least one other person who's going to be annoyed about it.
The phone only rings twice before he picks up. "Perfect timing, baby. I'm just packing up my stuff now."
"Umm, that's the reason I'm calling." I take a deep breath. "I'm not ready to leave now, I'm going to be at least…" I glance at my watch quickly. "…maybe another hour or so."
I'm met with silence for a few moments before he speaks up. "Oh, okay then. Just call me when you need me to come and pick you up, okay?"
"You don't need to; both Angela and Alec are here as well, so I'll get a lift from one of them when they leave."
"Uh, are you sure?"
"Of course, there's no need for you to drive across town again."
"Okay, if you're sure. Do you want me to keep some dinner for you?"
I smile at his thoughtfulness. "That would be great. Thanks, babe."
"Any time." I hear rustling and the jingling of keys in the background. "So, just let me know when you will be leaving, yeah?"
"Of course. I'll be home soon."
"I'll be waiting."
We say goodbye quickly and I focus on my work right away, intending on getting away from this place as soon as possible. Knowing that Edward is waiting at home for me is the only thing that keeps me going.
Two hours later, I'm ready to go. I've been re-reading the same sentence for at least thirty minutes, and I stand zero chance of getting anything productive done.
"Okay, I'm done." I push away from my desk and turn my chair to face Angela.
She glances at her watch. "Sorry, Bella, I'll be another hour, at least. You might want to chase Alec for a lift if he hasn't gone already."
I glance in the general direction of his office. I've successfully avoided him all afternoon, and the idea of approaching him about sharing a lift home doesn't really appeal to me.
I pack up my stuff slowly in the hopes that Angela will be finished early.
She's not. "I'll see you tomorrow, Bella."
Alec's assistant has finished for the day, which makes the walk to his office door that much more daunting. His door is closed, but there's a soft glow coming from the small window, confirming he's still here.
I take a deep breath and knock on the door, entering when I hear his muffled reply.
Alec's head pops up from under his desk as I enter his office. "Oh, Bella. Sorry, I dropped something. What can I do for you?"
He seems in a much better mood than this afternoon, so I chance my luck. "Well, I was just finishing up for the day and I was wondering if you were as well? I thought that maybe if you were, you wouldn't mind giving me a lift again."
He smiles. "You read my mind, Bella. Just let me pack up."
I take a seat and send a quick text to Edward, letting him know I'll be home soon. Alec is done within minutes and after what feels like the longest day ever, I'm on my way home.
In the car, Alec apologizes for his behavior earlier in the day. "I'm just a bit stressed and I took it out on you. I'm so sorry." He glances over at me before focusing back on the road ahead.
"It's okay." It really was. He was in the wrong, he apologized—end of story as far as I'm concerned.
"It's not, Bella. I let things get on top of me, and I took it out on you when I shouldn't have." He sighs. "I won't let it happen again. And leave this email thing to me— I'll have a word with the IT Department."
"Is it to do with this change at work? You seemed upset in the meeting."
"Partly, but some personal things as well. Like I said, I let it get to me and blew up at the wrong time."
"It happens to all of us. I understand, Alec."
The rest of the journey is spent listening to the radio in a slightly awkward silence. If it had been anyone other than my boss I would have asked if he wanted to talk, but he is my boss and that would be too weird for me.
A short time later, we pull up outside the apartment. "Thanks, Alec." I grab my stuff and walk quickly inside, glancing around me as I do. There hasn't been any sign of my stalker, but being outside in the dark still freaks me out. I feel like I'm constantly being watched.
I pull off my shoes and set my stuff down in the hallway as Jake comes bounding at me from the living room.
"Was that Alec again?"
I look up to see Edward learning against the doorframe.
"Yeah, Angela is working late again."
"Mm-hmm." He turns and goes back into the living room. "Your dinner's in the oven."
The rest of my week doesn't improve.
On Wednesday, the car won't start.
On Thursday, there is a pile-up, and I'm stuck in traffic for close to two hours.
On Friday, the alarm doesn't go off.
And, of course, I haven't finished on time at all this week.
The only thing that is getting me through these crappy days is knowing I have my date with Edward on Saturday.
So, there were some mixed emotions/theories after the last chapter. What do you all think now?
I'd love to know…