This little bit of silliness was written for F4SAA. Thanks to coldplaywhore for holding my hand when the words wouldn't come and for not letting me give up.
Disclaimer: I don't own it, but I wish I did.
I was being pushed up against a wall, warm breath on my neck, one hand holding both of mine above my head and the other was tangled in my hair. My heart was racing, my body was exploding and if the fucking phone didn't get answered in the next second, I was going to have to shoot somebody. It was ringing and ringing and ringing but it was like I was the only one that could hear it. I looked at the bunch of kids over by the keg and was about to yell at them to do something about it but that would take effort and I was too noodly to want to move.
I didn't care about anything; all I wanted to do was focus on the extremely hard, extremely attentive body pressed up against mine. I didn't know his name, just that I needed him. He was nameless, faceless, and voiceless, but I couldn't have cared less as long as he kept doing what he was doing. I closed my eyes, allowing my remaining senses to take over.
And hearing...as the fucking phone kept ringing. "Bella, answer it. It won't go away and it is for you. I know it is. It only rings for you."
At the sound of his voice, I startled, hoping to finally get a glimpse of who he was, but it was too late. He pulled away from me, leaving me cold and wanting and very much awake. I'd had this dream before, in one form or another, never finding out who the mystery dude was, but one day I'd find out. Deep down in the pit of my stomach, I felt a twinge that maybe I did really know who it was, but then denial set in and I refused to acknowledge it.
There was absolutely no way I'd be dreaming of Edward Cullen. I wouldn't allow it.
The phone stopped again before I could get to it, so I flung a pillow or three over my head, determined to get back to the dream. Both to finish what had started and to prove that it wasn't who my subconscious was trying to tell me it was.
"Bells, phone for you." My dad knocked on the door and announced without opening it.
"I'm awake." Barely. So he opened the door and walked in. "Is something wrong with your phone? If there is, we need to get it fixed." Charlie always liked to have a way to reach me in the event of an emergency, and people wondered where I got my quirks from. "No, it's fine. I just was sleeping really hard apparently and didn't answer it in time. Sorry to bother you, Dad."
"It's fine Bella. Just checking. Make sure you bring the phone back downstairs when you're done." He smiled and walked out the door, closing it softly behind him.
"Hello?" My voice was gravelly, husky and sexy...not unlike the dream I was having. Well, the sexy part anyway. I shivered as I remembered where things were going, and then glared at the phone knowing I'd never get there. At least not now.
"Oh thank God you're home! When you didn't answer your phone, I was worried that Charlie wouldn't know where you were and I'd have to track you down." Holy over-reaction. I mean seriously, the idea of Charlie not knowing how or where to find me was completely unfathomable.
"You do realize that we are in Forks for the summer, not Seattle, right? How hard could it be to find me, there aren't that many places I can hide. Oh and good..." I looked at the clock on my bedside table, straightening it when I saw that it had been shoved to an angle in my haste to answer the phone. Yup, it was still morning. "...morning to you too, Angela."
Holding the phone between my ear and shoulder, I started stretching – right side first, as always. Willing my body to wake up, I was fighting the urge to accidentally on purpose hit the end button and mute the ringer, allowing me the chance to get back under the covers before they lost all warmth. Angela, apparently, had other ideas.
"So tell me what happened last night?" Her voice went almost supersonic in tone and I flinched in response. This was never a good sign, it meant that she had been thinking about something for a long time and had had the chance to get excited. Trying to rein in an overly-excited Angela was like dealing with a squirrel on crack and I was hoping to get through it unscathed.
"I have no idea what you are talking about," I replied calmly and evenly, both in an effort to calm her down and well because it was the truth. A bunch of us had met up at a party last night, and considering I didn't drink, it wasn't like I could get in much trouble. We were spending the summer in Forks for God's sake, not L.A. Plus, there was the whole my dad was a cop thing, and honestly, it wasn't worth it.
"Last night...at the party...the one we went to...remember? I saw what you were up to, you sneaky little girl, all flirty and coquettish. You absolutely looked like you were having a good time."
Coquettish? Who says that?
Huh? I thought back to last night, and while I had fun, the tone of her voice alluded to something a bit more 'interesting'. "Really? When? When I was making sure Jessica kept her shirt on or when I was sitting outside on the porch trying to ignore the fact that the landscaping wasn't symmetrical?"
"Seriously, Bella? The landscaping? Jessica can barely draw a straight line and you think she's going to worry about landscaping?"
"I was kidding." And I was, sort of. I couldn't help it. I liked order and symmetry and things to be the way they were supposed to be.
"At least you didn't go through their recycling again, like you did when..."
"Yeah, yeah, I remember. I was thirteen and we had just finished that whole section on environmental responsibility. Would you just let it go? Besides, Lauren's mom seemed very appreciative of my help. From what I understand, she's all Greenpeace and shit now. Can this be the last time you bring that story up, ever? You need new material."
"Fine, let's go back and revisit last night when you were standing in the corner talking to Edward."
"Good lord, Angela. Give it up already. We were most definitely not talking." Suddenly I was having trouble regulating my breathing.
"Passionate make-out session then?"
"Not even a little bit. You need to realize that it is never ever, not in a million years, going to happen. I know you have this crazy little notion that we'd be good together, but that would require me being able withstand being in his presence for more than two minutes. And I can't. So I'm going to say it one more time, and that will be the end of it, we weren't talking." And we weren't. Seriously, we weren't. "He was trying to get a beer; I was trying to hide from Mike. It was nothing, really. I've probably said three words max to him since graduation last year. He said 'hi', I said it back, he got his beer and that was that." I shrugged and I could literally hear Angela roll her eyes, mumbling something under her breath about UST or SOB or something.
"Yeah, Ben said Edward was home for the summer, interning for his dad at the hospital or something, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him. He seemed distracted and left not long after you did. I was hoping that something had happened..." She trailed off and I just sighed because she knew as well as I did that it would never happen. The difference between us was that she refused to give it up. "Anyway, since you have nothing good to tell me and even though I'm absolutely right in thinking you two have some sort of magnetic/opposites attract/cosmic destiny type of energy going on, I actually do have another reason for calling."
"Thank god." I grumbled. I reached over and grabbed the vitamins I had set out the night before, arranged by size from smallest to largest and took them. Then I straightened my clock that had shifted when Charlie bumped my bedside table. That, of course, made me realize that the pictures on my dresser were all misaligned. Obviously, I had my work cut out for me today.
"I'm ignoring that. Anyway, is there any way you can help me out and cover for me this afternoon. I'll finish all the grooming before you get here; all you'd have to do is stay until all the dogs are picked up." I could see her now, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, biting her lip, a habit she claims she picked up from me, but I denied because it really made her look weird, tugging on the end of the braid she wore in her hair while working to keep it out of her way.
"You realize today is your first day, right? I mean, how would that look to Emily?" My stretching now completed, I stood up and walked over to the window, turning the rod on the blinds three complete turns to the left, allowing just enough light in, but not enough where the afternoon sun would turn my bedroom into a sauna. Only on rainy days or sunny days after daylight savings time could I allow a fourth complete turn, but since it was still late May, three turns it was.
As my eyes adjusted to the sudden influx of sunlight, I couldn't help the grin that slowly spread across my face. I didn't even know why I was surprised that she had called. We had been friends since Kindergarten and I knew too well that Angela Weber had a flair for the dramatic. At least once a week she was called me with some sort of epic personal crisis that needed her absolute and immediate attention yesterday and could I please, please, please help her out, new job or not.
"Emily won't mind. And believe it or not, I asked her first before I called you. She said that as long as I cleared the calendar so that you'd only have to handle pickups and drop offs, and that there weren't any issues with rescheduling clients, I could do whatever I wanted. It may have helped that I reminded her that I busted her making special brownies for the party last night."
I giggled, remembering Angela's reenactment of that little confrontation. "Well played, Webber." I nodded my approval at her technique.
"I know, right? And I was hoping that since it wasn't like I was asking you to inventory canteens, you wouldn't mind..." And there you have it, the subtle reminder that she'd managed to snag us both jobs at the Pet Boarding/Grooming facility for the summer, which was way better than my back-up plan of working at Newton's. Again.
Since I was old enough to have a job, I had worked weekends and summers stocking shelves, ringing up purchases and fending off the seriously unwanted advances of Mike Newton. I swear I might never be able to go camping again thanks to Mike and his inability to keep his testosterone under control. He would sneak away for a nap after lunch every day and inevitably come out of the back room with a tent - and not the type I wanted anything to do with. I mean, ew. What made it even worse was that he totally didn't care that it was disgusting, repulsive or anything. In fact, he used to joke about it, saying that it should work for me since I was all about schedules and predictability and whatever. I may have had a reputation as being slightly OCD.
I preferred to think of it as being organized and structured. Ready for anything, but not what Mike was willing to give.
Besides, I also had serious issues with the fact he always had the tag sticking up out of the back of his Newton's Outfitters work shirt. How could he not notice? Didn't it bother him? Even now, my fingers twitched as I pictured him walking away from me with that little white square rubbing along the back of his neck. There were quite a few times that I found myself absent mindedly grabbing scissors when he'd corner me behind the register, and not only for self-defense purposes. It was all I could do to not fix it, but that would have involved touching him and there were some things that were just not worth doing.
"Anyway, could you please work this afternoon? You told me at the party last night that you didn't have anything going on this afternoon and it would really mean a lot." I could literally feel her puppy dog eyes boring through the phone and I sighed with exasperation. Apparently my pictures were going to have to wait.
"Fine, but look...do me a favor and email me the schedule so I can know what I'm getting myself involved in before I get there. You know how I like to..."
"Be prepared. Trust me, Bella. I know. I've already emailed you it as a document and also as a spreadsheet since I wasn't sure which one you preferred and I've included pictures of the dogs and pictures of their last cuts so you have a visual too. Oh my god, thank you so much! You are a lifesaver!"
I turned on my laptop and checked my email, verifying that I did have something from Angela before I hung up. I had lots of work to do if I was going to be able to help her out.
"Yes, I am. Tell Ben he owes me."
"How did you know it was about Ben?" My silence eventually made her laugh. "Okay, yeah, yeah whatever. Just be here a little before one. I'll make it up to you, I promise."
"Seriously, Angela...it's..." But she had hung up already. That same little something inside me was suddenly put back on alert and I didn't like it one bit.
Smoothing out the comforter on my bed for the third time, I took a last look around my room before grabbing my keys and heading down the fifteen steps to the living room, counting them in my head just as I have since I learned to count past ten.
In the thirty minutes I had been awake, I had tripped over a shoe, shut my hand in a cabinet and poured sour milk on my cereal. I guess I was adding a grocery run to my things to do today list. Awesome, today was just full of surprises. There was a reason I liked to be in control and why, more than anything, I was a planner. I didn't like surprises, at all.
"Bye dad!" I yelled into the breakfast room as I ran out the front door and into my beat up rusty truck. I loved that thing with the love of a thousand, well...loves. Who cared that it didn't go faster than 35 miles per hour, the speakers on the passenger side didn't work, and the horn sounded more like a dying cow than a horn - it worked. And that's what I liked about it. It was predictable, it was safe and it was expected.
Unlike a certain friend of mine that shall remain nameless, not that I was bitter or anything. Nope.
Since I never liked to start my drives in the middle of a song, I waited until the current song on the radio ended before putting my truck in reverse and backing slowly out of the driveway. I had Google mapped the address of the kennel and noted the most direct routes, but opting for the fourth on the list as it allowed me to purposely avoid turning down a certain street to avoid driving by a certain house. Planning my route ahead of time had its privileges after all and if I didn't want to drive by the Cullen's house ever again, I didn't have to.
My stomach fluttered again and I rolled my eyes, muttering to myself that there was absolutely no chance in hell I had been dreaming about Edward Cullen.
Edward Cullen was the thorn in my side. No matter what I did to avoid him, he was always there. Underfoot. In the way. I couldn't escape. All through high school, we had every class together and had been at each other's throats academically since freshman year. He was brilliant, but obnoxious, and I had hoped since we were attending different universities, I was finally free of him. Apparently I didn't take into account the fact that he might be back in Forks for the summer.
I slammed on my brakes as I realized I was about to run a stop sign, cursing Edward because it was obviously all his fault. Even now, he was getting under my skin. I could just picture his cocky grin and the way he always laughed when I got flustered. Stupid boy with his wonky hair and green eyes. Not to mention the fact that he was way too skinny.
Once I calmed down a bit and regained my focus, I looked around to see where I was groaning when I realized that I was at the intersection of the street that shall not be driven. Sitting up straight and giving myself a mental pep talk, I continued on my way and I absolutely did not watch as his house grew smaller and smaller in my rearview mirror. I absolutely did not.
Anyway, when I pulled up to Paws and Claws, the parking lot was full, I could hear barking over the static-laced music transmitting from my drivers-side only speakers and almost immediately, my heart started to race. It was all I could do to not turn around and go back home, calling Angela from the safety and sanctuary of my own room claiming some sort of sudden-onset twenty-four hour bug or flesh eating bacteria.
After checking my messages, since I always turned the ringer off on my phone when I was driving so I wouldn't be distracted, I took a couple of deep cleansing breaths, left the sanctuary of my truck and eventually found myself standing in the entrance of the brightly colored animal day spa, my jaw dropped down to my chest and my fingernails gouging the door frame.
Holy hell, I was not going to survive this.
Angela was running around like a Tasmanian Devil, never staying still for more than a few milliseconds before moving on to her next whatever it was she had on her list of things to do. She had about fourteen pencils stuck in her Rosanne Rosanna Danna hair and there were words all written up and down her arm. Messages, no doubt because there was no way she was going to find the appointment book or even a post-it note under the massive pile of brightly colored client folders splayed across the desk in the reception area.
Thank goodness I had arrived a couple of hours early. It was worse than I thought.
Angela's phone buzzed on the counter and I rolled my eyes as she reached under a pile of papers and grabbed it without even having to look for it. Her eyes lit up as she read the incoming message and she immediately responded, smiling so widely that it made my own cheeks hurt. She was oblivious to her surroundings and anybody could have walked in here and taken her by surprise. My own self-defense training kicked in...what if they had had a gun? So I coughed, letting her know I was there.
She looked up, eyes still bright but really, really wide, almost like she felt guilty. She squeaked and shoved her phone underneath a pile of files, making me cringe as the contents of several folders slid across the floor. My fingers twitched as I started to reach for the mess, but Angela literally sprang over the counter to keep me from getting any closer. I don't think I had ever seen her move that fast.
The girl was definitely up to something.
"I've got it. I've got it. Don't freak out. Do you need to sit down? You are way early, you know. I mean, I figured you'd show up before I was ready to leave, but hours Bella? Really?" She guided me over to one of the plastic chairs in the waiting area. The fact that it was the one in the farthest corner did not escape my notice and I narrowed my eyes in suspicion. "Angela, what is..."
The office phone rang and Angela took advantage of the distraction and answered it. "Paws and Claws, this is Angela." Nodding her head and scanning the desk for a pen, she frantically looking for some blank space on her arm, then her other arm, before finally propping a leg up on the counter and starting to write.
"I have Maggie scheduled for tomorrow morning. Just drop her off anytime between eight and nine and she'll be ready for you after lunch. See you tomorrow Mr. Banner." Angela's sugary sweet voice was a good cover up for all the eye rolling and finger gestures she was doing to the phone system. After giving Angela the first and only C of her academic career, our high school biology teacher Mr. Banner had quickly become one of her least favorite people in the whole world.
I tried, unsuccessfully, to mute my giggles at all her flailing around, but it wasn't enough and I barely dodged the cat toy that she threw at my head after she hung up. "I seriously loathe that man's existence. I swear, the last time he brings Maggie in before we leave for UW, I'm putting Nair in the doggie shampoo. Now seriously, why are you so freakin' early. What's the matter? Don't trust me to leave things the way you want them?"
Nope. And while I didn't say that out loud, I felt pretty sure that the expression on my face told her everything she needed to know.
Taking a deep breath, I took a look around at my surroundings, doing a mental inventory of everything I'd possibly need over the next few hours and thinking about what supplies I had in my bag. As soon as she left, I was totally getting on the computer in the office and formulating some sort of spreadsheet. Just thinking about that excited me to unbelievable levels. I mean, the inventory alone would take me hours. If I was going to survive this, everything was going to have to be neatly arranged and organized on the appropriate shelves. I'd need to make sure that there were plenty of towels, the dryers were working and the files were arranged by appointment and that contact information was written down on something other than a body part. I was so glad that I had laminated the pictures of the dogs as I put my hand down on something slimy on the counter. Gasping and starting to hyperventilate, Angela handed me a towel and Purell. Dear lord, tell me that wasn't dog shit...
"Hummus." She shrugged without looking up and I was not amused that she was laughing. I adored the girl, but sometimes I wondered how we were friends.
Her phone chimed from under the pile and her body jumped, but she refused to answer it, instead shoving it in her purse and pretending that it didn't just happen.
"What's going on Angela? Is everything okay? Do you need to get your phone?" She just deflected, going on and on about how it really wasn't as much of a disaster area as it looked and that she'd have it all arranged neatly before she left and that she just wasn't expecting me to be here yet. It didn't matter though...I'd still go back and fix it. "Are you sure you're going to be okay handling all of this by yourself?" Angela handed over the list of today's clients with an expression that was both ecstatic and skeptical all at the same time.
"Your confidence in me is overwhelming," I replied probably a little bit snarkier than she deserved and refusing her print out in favor of my own laminated copy, but really, I felt pretty sure that I could handle sitting around waiting for four dogs to be checked out. I'd worked on days busier than this when we helped out over Christmas, but then again, I was also not working alone and I was relegated to the reception area. Still, it wasn't anything I hadn't done before and really, how hard could it be. As long as I was organized, I knew that I could handle anything. I lived and died by my lists and when I saw Angela glance at the chart on the counter, I just picked it up and waved it in her face to show her just exactly how prepared and on top of shit I was.
"See. I have it all right here. If I can't pick out Mrs. Cope's Chihuahua from the rest of the bunch, Angela, I don't deserve to have this job.
Angela grinned and shook her head. "Oh my GOD - you color-coded it already? I don't know why I am surprised that you have highlighters in your bag. Only you. Seriously B...pot...look into it. You are too high-strung. I bet Emily still has some of those brownies..."
"I am not. I just like things to be organized when they can be. There isn't anything wrong with being prepared and efficient. What if there is an emergency? And you know that I can't do pot. That's totally illegal. Now, would you just go and do what or whoever it is that you have to do. Oh, and I'd like next Friday off, please." That's right...if I was covering for her, I was totally going to get something out of it. Besides, she said she owed me and I felt much better telling her what I wanted instead of letting her come up with some way to repay me.
She looked at me with a panicked expression. "Why Friday? What do you know?"
"Geez, Ang. I was just going to go to the beach or something, but if it's a big deal then I'm sure we can work something else out." What the hell was going on?
She started laughing nervously but shook her head. "No. No, Friday's fine. Sorry. I just thought that...you know, never mind. I was getting confused. Everything is okay." Angela sighed, patted me on the head, and walked into the back room to get a few things done before she had to leave, but not before yelling, "One day, I'm going to get you drunk."
"Hey, I had a beer after exams and you know it. In fact, I still say I got a little drunk. There was no way I would have agreed to reevaluate things with Jake when we get back to UW in the fall. By the way, make sure I get out of that," I countered, proud of my rebellion, but still looking over my shoulder to make sure that the Chief wasn't standing behind me.
I could totally be reckless, but I had more at stake. If Angela got busted, she'd get a ticket. If I got busted, not only do I get a ticket, but I have to live with the guy who wrote it. Besides, getting stupid drunk totally interfered with my need to be rational. It was all I could do not to roll my eyes as I remembered Edward drinking last night, standing in front of me just completely irritating with his jeans low on his hips and stupid t-shirt. The t-shirt that was just form fitting enough to flaunt the fact that he had been working out in front of my face, you know, to prove that he was well-rounded or maybe that he didn't have to spend all his free time studying. Ass.
"O'Douls are non-alcoholic and don't count, and stop trying to change the subject."
Damn. She knew me well.
"They're still considered a beer." At least I thought they were. "You have to be 21 to buy them and as far as I'm concerned, that's what matters." As soon as Angela left, I was absolutely getting on Google and finding out the alcohol content. I know I was at the very least buzzed.
She just shook her head and answered the phone, though I didn't remember hearing it ring, and, leaving me standing there with arms folded and feeling quite indignant. Just because I didn't sneak out of the house or go get drunk in the woods on the weekends didn't mean that I wasn't capable of having fun.
It was just that, to me, that type of fun wasn't worth the risk. Besides, I couldn't help the way I was. It was a result of living with my police chief slash single parent father. From the time I was able to communicate, he had me on a schedule with an itinerary and to-do list. Not because he was strict, but because his schedule was so hit or miss. I needed to know how to get him and he needed to always know where to find me in case he had an emergency come up. There was no room for miscommunication being a single parent in his line of work.
Schedules were like breathing for me. I needed them to survive, to function and to get through the day. I could handle a little chaos, but it had to be organized. I had some flexibility; I just liked knowing what I was getting in to before I got in too deep. You know, be prepared and all that shit.
I would have made one hell of a Boy Scout.
With Angela distracted with the phones and trying to get other clients rescheduled, I walked into the back room to see how bad things were. Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as I had feared and after a few minutes turning all the bottles label forward and arranging them alphabetically and then by volume, I felt really, really good about things. I took out my planner and starting writing down what I had to do while I was here and tried to figure out how much time each step would take. With every item added to my list, I felt a bit better, I felt like I was in control.
"Okay. I think I've got everybody that was scheduled for the afternoon moved to later in the week. All you have to deal with are people that I couldn't get a hold of this morning or have standing appointments. I know I said five... but there are really six." Angela smiled a nervous yet toothy smile in my direction and I started furiously erasing my list of steps. No wait. I was going to prove a point, so I just balled up the list and threw it in the trash, hoping to God that she couldn't see the death grip I had on the stainless steel counter.
"Not a problem at all. In fact, I hope there aresome walk-ins. I can handle this; you have absolutely nothing to worry about..." Of course, I knew that between appointments, I was going to totally turn out the lights in the lobby and put the 'closed' sign in the doorway, but she didn't have to know about that. I was going to be the only one here that didn't have four legs and unless Angela was fluent in bark, I knew that none of the clientele would rat me out. "I am totally at ease. Breezy even."
"Shut it. So that episode was on last night, that doesn't make me..." I looked around for a blue ball point pen so that the inks would match on my list, but I couldn't find one. I checked my bag and the stash of pens in Ang's hair. I even got on my hands knees to look under the desk. Who the hell doesn't have a blue pen?
"It's killing you to have to write in a red pen, isn't it."
"I hate you!" I yelled as she answered the phone, yet again. Time to change the subject and fast. Just as I was getting ready to head out to my car for a pen that I knew was in the glove compartment, I heard her telling the person on the phone that we weren't scheduling any baths this afternoon. Hold the phone...
Bella Swan was about to do something crazy.
I had just finished the initial set up of the inventory spreadsheet, when I heard the bell chime from over the door in the lobby. "I'll be right there," I yelled as I searched frantically for my list and headed towards the front desk. What I found waiting for me did not amuse me.
Edward Cullen was standing there with what could only be described as a cross between Bigfoot and Mr. Snuffleupagus. Holy hell that thing was massive. Thank God I let Angela fill up that last spot on the calendar because there was no way that thing was manageable alone. Almost like it could read my mind, Thing cocked his head at me and I swear it grinned. Immediately, I narrowed my eyes back, was it challenging me? Really? Of course, it was Edward's dog, so I wasn't surprised that it was cocky and insufferable.
"What do you want?" A little bit shocked at my attitude, though completely warranted, I glared at him. Wasn't it enough that he was everywhere during school, but he had to haunt me now too? Really?
Edward arched his eyebrow and I glared into his green, green, beautiful green eyes until I willed myself to break away. Gah, he still knew just how to get under my skin. Ass. Taking a few seconds to regain my composure and professional capacity, I looked for the calendar, knocking the pile of folders askew in the process. As much as it bothered me, I was going to have to let them wait, until Edward was gone, to fix them. Some things were worth the sacrifice.
"Sorry Edward, I'm working all alone today and we don't have any openings." I kept looking and poking around for the calendar because I knew Angela had it right here, when I finally found it under last month's copy of Cat Beautiful and a print out of crockpot recipes. Somebody had to get Angela some organizational skills. Flipping through a few pages, I finally found a three hour block of time that was open next week on a day that I wasn't scheduled. Perfect. Three hours surely would be enough. Then again, I looked at Thing and wondered if I should look for a block of four hours. Before I could turn the page though, I felt like somebody was right there and looked up to find Edward practically draped over the counter.
My heart stopped when I saw that he had straightened the folders.
"Hey." God he was just so smug, but I wasn't going to let him get to me, so I bumped the folders again. Those were mine to fix.
I stayed exactly where I was, not able to escape his boy mixed with soap scent, but I wasn't going to back down from his assault on my personal space. I looked up at his still crazy hair, some of it slightly darker and damp around the nape of his neck. He must have just showered...ugh, lazy ass it was almost one in the afternoon. At least he didn't smell like stale beer though.
I looked up, face to face with him, almost nose to nose, but I refused to move. Of course, he didn't either. "I can maybe squeeze you in on Friday, but I'll have to call and move some people around a bit. Maybe next time you can remember to call ahead? Honestly, Edward, I would have thought that maybe you might have grown up a little bit over the past year. I never pegged you as somebody to just make assumptions like that."
"Actually we have an appointment. I called and talked to Angela this morning." No way. She did not double book me. I scanned and double scanned and flipped over my list looking for something that said Cullen or beast or Chewbacca, but there was nothing.
"Sorry, Edward. All I have left on the calendar is the poodle that called this morning." He was nodding, grinning and straightening the folders. Please lord, tell me he was not nodding. No. No. No. No. No. No.
"That's me, or him, rather. Bella, meet Poodle." What the hell?
Then he turned and sort of leaned against the counter, straightening the folders once again before standing up straight with his arms folded and winked at me. Ugh, I was so mad. This could not be happening and I immediately picked up the phone to call Angela. Of course it went straight to her voice mail and so did Ben's.
"You know why they're not answering, don't you?" He waggled his eyebrows and smirked, and oh my god, it was hot in this office.
"That's not a poodle." I said, gesturing to the Sasquatch beside him. Duh. Hello obvious.
"I will never ever understand how your GPA was better than mine." Okay, so the attitude may have pissed me off a little.
"Look, Edward. I don't know what you're trying to prove, but here's the situation. Angela isn't here because she had something come up that couldn't be rescheduled." Something came up, see what I did there? And Angela said I'm too serious. Ha! I couldn't help the grin that tried to creep across my face as my internal monologue rambled, but somehow managed to pull myself together, only earning a cocked eyebrow from Mr. Bedhead.
I refused to acknowledge what we both knew Angela was doing...or who, in this case, because that meant we were both thinking about it and thinking about sex while standing in the same room with Edward was not a good idea. At all.
"I promised to fill in for her and I don't know what kind of twisted sense of humor you have or how you found out about it, but I don't have the time nor the patience to be a part of it. Now, if you'd like to make an appointment to get your bear groomed, then I'll be happy to get you on the calendar, but I don't have time to do it because we are booked solid this morning."
Wincing as I picked up the red pen because it was a totally inappropriate color to use on a calendar, I turned the pages until I found a relatively slow morning and looked at him with 'narrowed but non-threatening since he was a client after all' eyes. "Now like I mentioned, we have some time later in the week."
"Bella, I meant it. This is Poodle. It is his name, not his breed...obviously. We don't know what he is, but my mom fell in love with him at the animal shelter, and since she had originally had her heart set on getting a poodle, the name was sort of inevitable, and honestly, it sort of works for him. He thinks he's still lap-sized." Poodle detected the sarcasm in Edwards's voice and nudged him, causing Edward to stumble a bit in the process. "He needs a bath and a summer cut. I called this morning, I heard you tell Angela it was fine. In fact, I think your exact words were," he leaned closer to my ear, whispering, "I want it."
Oh my god, he was completely serious. I looked at the dog and Edward and the calendar. I remember Angela writing poodle on her arm and on the sheet grinning like she had just won the lottery, but when I looked at it, all the other clients were scheduled by name. Maggie... Blossom... Seamus... Poodle.
My suspicions were confirmed when I looked at Edward and saw that not only was he holding a blue ink pen, but he was holding my preferred brand. Yes, I had a preferred brand. Suck it.
Fuck me. They totally planned this.
Poodle was as big as I was and while he hardly looked vicious, I was honestly not sure I'd be able to handle him. If there was one thing I hated more than surprises, it was failing.
"I'm not... I don't know..." No. I would not cry. Grabbing the pen from his outstretched hand, I tried to focus on the calendar, going over some entries that were written in pink glitter. Hoping that fixing it, would make me feel better, I kept tracing and retracing the letters, knowing full well that if I wore a hole in the page, I was going to have to go buy a new calendar and rewrite the month. I didn't even care. I was so frustrated and overwhelmed by everything and I hated that tears were my response to everything... which was exactly why I didn't let myself get in this type of situation to begin with. I was all about self-preservation mode. I didn't like to be seen as weak and especially by Edward. It was bad enough that he flustered me all through high school; he was not going to do it today.
Sighing with resignation, Edward started walking towards the back with Poodle and I ran to catch up, grabbing his arm, ignoring the tingly feeling in my stomach that made me feel like I was walking on air. "What are you doing? You can't go back here. It's for employees only. We have rules in this office."
He grinned at my flustering and shrugged. "Look, like it or not, I have to get him cleaned. I told my mom I would do it and I'm already on her shit list for..." he trailed off and the tips of his ears got a little red. "Anyway, I have to get it done. And either you're going to do it, or I am...or we could do it..." he waggled his eyebrows...thud, "together."
"Are you afraid to get a little messy, Bella?" I opened and closed my mouth like a fucking trout and stood there helpless as every retort, snarkism, or witty comeback waved at me as they abandoned me in my time of need. "'Cause that's how I like it." He pulled forward, his arm moving from my grasp as my hand slid down his forearm, feeling the muscles beneath my fingers. Edward was definitely not scrawny anymore. When our hands touched, he closed his fingers around mine and pulled me with him.
All I could see was him.
Again, I found myself gripping the door frame, but it was for a completely different reason than panic. Well, maybe there was a little bit of panic since Edward was pulling his shirt over his head, but more like restraint. It would hardly be appropriate for me to fling myself into his arms and on top of the counter, right?
Appropriate or not, it was definitely not typical behavior on my part, but for the life of me I couldn't find it within me to care. Not even a little bit. I was enjoying the view as he turned and looked around the room shirtless before eyeing what he apparently was looking for. When he started to undo the buckle on his jeans though, I couldn't help the audible gasp that escaped my lips.
And of course, he grinned. "Look, if I'm going to do this, I'm not going to get all wet in the process, so I'm changing." He grabbed some scrubs on the shelf and looked at me expectantly. "Unless you want to watch, which I'm totally okay with by the way."
"Right. Yeah...okay, sure." I couldn't tear my eyes away from his hands on his belt and I stammered over my words, grimacing at my unease and totally not sure what to do. "Shut up," I whispered at Poodle as he snickered at me. Yes, he snickered. I heard Edward's jeans hit the floor and I ran out of the room, because as much as the realization horrified me, I realized that a big part of me wanted to turn around and take a peek. "I mean no…you change. I'll go do something. Or check voicemail. Yeah…I should go do that."
Fuck. For the first time in my life, I felt out of control.
I knew there would be no messages on voice mail since I had not heard the phone ring, but I took the chance to send a strongly worded text message to Angela. Her signature was all over this and as attached as she was to her phone, I knew her silence was intentional.
After allowing time for Edward to change, I walked down the hall to the wash room, peeking through the door to make sure I wasn't going to see anything I didn't want to see. Okay, so maybe that was a little bit of a lie. If I got a peek, it wouldn't necessarily be the end of the world. Instead, what I saw took my breath away. Not only was Edward in sea green scrubs, but he was folding and refolding his clothes until they looked like he had a job at The Gap.
As I watched him take various doggy shampoos of the shelf and smell them, wrinkling his nose at the flea dip, I couldn't help notice how his eyes shone and how maybe his hair wasn't obnoxious. As Edward put the container back on the shelf, rotating it so that the label was front facing and the edge of the bottle was completely in line with the others, I squeaked. I couldn't help it. He turned sharply and I was completely busted watching him. Oops.
The folders...the blue pen...the front facing labels. It was like my own personal brand of heroin...something I knew I shouldn't want any part of, but yet I found harder and harder to resist.
Poodle stood in the big metal bathtub, looking first at Edward and then back at me...back and forth like we were at Wimbledon, his gargantuan tail beating a rhythm against the sides of the tub that echoed the massive rate of my own heartbeat.
Edward was as much of a control freak as I was. It all made sense now. The classes, the same paths to and from school, the whacked out hair as I watched him run his fingers through it, toeing the ground and grinning. Once, twice, three times. He knew he was busted. I knew he was busted.
And I don't think I had ever been more turned on.
"You planned this, didn't you?" I stepped forward once. Twice. Three times, daring him to match me. He didn't disappoint.
"I know what you like. You like order. You like structure. You like rigidity." Once, twice, three times. We were nose to nose now and rigid was right. He leaned down and whispered in my ear, "You like planning." He grabbed my hand, shoving something into it and I looked down and gasped.
No, it wasn't that.
It was a laminated calendar. His schedule in green, mine in blue. It had our overlapping free days highlighted and attached was a spreadsheet of things he had planned. While part of me wanted to freak at the loss of control, the rest of me wanted to do cartwheels because it was a spreadsheet. It was like organizational Mecca. My knees buckled and I fell into him, our fingers locked together around the document that was going to bring us together.
"Edward," I whispered against his skin, not trusting my voice, but willing myself to speak anyway.
"Yeah," he whispered back. There was no turning back, our paths had intersected and it was a one-way street.
"Count to three."
"One." I closed my eyes.
"Two." Unable to resist any longer, I lunged, weaving my free hand in his crazy hair and crashing my lips to his.
And it was good. So good. See...I told you I could be spontaneous...even if I did have to whisper three when we finally pulled apart thirty minutes later.
Poodle never did get his bath.