Chapter Thirty Two: All Work and No Play

Makes Edward Masen a...

Isabella

"Welcome to the Jeep team, Bella! You're one of the cool kids now, like me. In your face, Edward! Jeeps rule and Chevys drool!"

"You're an idiot."

"Whatever, dude, she still picked what I showed her."

"Shut up, you overgrown octopus," Alice says to Emmett, smacking one of his overactive tentacles before climbing into the driver's seat of my new Compass. "She picked what she liked. And I think it's cute. I like it, too, Bella. And I love that you chose black."

"Thanks," I tell her, rolling my eyes at Emmett's mocking pantomime of her. "It's great not having to see the terror in anyone's eyes anymore when I ask to borrow their car."

"You never saw terror in mine," Edward says, planting a sweet kiss on my cheek.

"Yeah, well, yours are the only eyes I didn't see it in. Even though I'm a good driver and have only had one accident in my entire life... "

"Of course you're a good driver, you had a good instructor."

"I did."

"And will... " Alice says with a wink, climbing back out and handing me my keys. "In many other things, I imagine."

I feel the blush settle on my cheeks at her implication, and at Edward's can't-help-himself smirk, but I know someone else isn't in the least bit amused by her remark.

"Must you say things like that to her?" Jasper asks her, his ever-present, and, I think, sometimes self-encouraged, irritation with her clear.

"She's a big girl, Jasper, you should accept it. And start getting yourself some things like that, because at the rate you're going, she will before you will, and God knows that will kill you, and then you'll have missed your chance to get any... "

"Only you could make me miss the days when Rosalie Cullen was the thorn in my side, Alice Brandon. And that's not something to be proud of."

"You like me, Jasper Hale. Which is something else you should accept. Everyone else knows it."

"If I liked you, I'd kill myself."

"I'm going to go start dinner," I say with a smile, because I can't control the one that's plastered on my face.

Because Alice is right...

And I definitely know it.

He likes her. And no matter how much he doesn't want to accept it...

We Hales have a lot to learn.

And as my 'instructor' opens the front door for me, I know I, for one, can't wait to start.

Knock. Knock.

Yeah, I know who's there...

Welcome back, Blush.


I'm not the only one with new wheels around here. Edward got some, too. Black this time, just like mine. And for me. The new. Because he thought his old had hurt me too much.

Just like his house that he put up for sale, and already sits empty, because he just moved into a condo. A newly furnished one. Furnished by him.

And I love that he did that for me, removed all of the touched-by-despicable from his life - though I was a little sad about the couch - but... "I love it. And thank you, but if you don't stop spending your money, yet is going to take forever."

He laughs and lifts my hand to his lips. My left hand. And plants a tender kiss on it, just where I want a big, pretty chunk of his money to be spent. "Don't worry, little girl, clearly I don't like to waste time. And I promise, I have more than ample means to make yet - and forever - everything you could ever want them to be. Trust me?"

I nod, and smile at the truth in his adoring green eyes. "I do."

"I hope so, beautiful. And that you know you always can."


"Hi, Kate, is Edward not here? I didn't see his Suburban outside?"

"No, sweetie, he left."

"Do you know if he's going to be long? He said he was working on something important and couldn't break away for lunch... I just assumed he meant here. It's why I brought him some."

"I honestly don't know, Bella. He's been gone since after he turned away a client this morning. He's been doing that a lot lately, actually...

"Anyway, that was a few hours ago."

"Oh. Okay... "

"Do you want me to call him? And-"

"No, don't bother him," I tell her, and hand her his lunch. "There's a roast beef sandwich in there, from his favorite deli, obviously... feel free to eat it if he doesn't come back soon. The mayonnaise shouldn't sit too long... "

"Bella, his favorite deli, like everything else that involves food, is your kitchen. And if he's not back soon, I'll put it in the fridge. I don't think he'd like it very much if someone took so much as a single bite of something that was meant for him."

She raises her brows playfully and I smile.

And turn a walk out of Edward's firm wondering where he is. And without stopping to see my brother. And wondering why he's turning away so many clients. Edward... And what he's working on that's important. And not here...


Edward

"What are you so happy about? Did you run into Isabella on your way back?"

"Isabella?"

"Yes, Isabella. She was here just a little while ago."

"She was?"

"Yes. She brought you lunch. Because you told her you were too busy working on something important to have it. It's on your desk, by the way."

"Thanks, Kate," I say, and head for my office.

"What are you up to, Edward Masen?" she calls out behind me.

But I don't stop to answer her.

Because my lunch is waiting for me.

And then I have something else important to work on. Because the first thing is done...

And I don't want to waste any time before starting on the next.

The things I'm so happy about. And wish I didn't have to keep from her.


"Thank you for lunch. I'm sorry I missed you. And didn't get the chance to thank you properly for being so sweet."

"You're welcome. And that's okay, you can make it up to me later."

"I'm going to make everything up to you. As soon as is humanly possible, if I dare call myself a human."

"I don't know, Edward... those kind of looks should be humanly impossible... but you're not perfect, so I guess you are."

"Was that supposed to be a compliment, sweetheart?"

"Yes," she laughs, "It definitely was. Just find a mirror and you won't have any doubts."

"I'd rather look at you."

"Well, I tried to let you do that, but you weren't there."

"I know. I was working outside of the office for a while."

"And now you're working in?"

"Yes. And will be for the rest of the day."

"Well, I was just getting ready to head out of mine... so, I'll talk to you later?"

"Of course you will. After you tell me where you're heading out of yours to."

"I'm a photographer, Edward. Almost all of my job is outside of my office."

"You don't say?"

"I have pretty pictures to take, and I don't have time for any interrogations by my prettier boyfriend before I do. So, trust me, and say goodbye."

"Okay. Goodbye, prettiest. Be safe. So I can see you later."

"I will. And you will. Because I'll let you after that goodbye."

She blows me a kiss and then the line goes dead.

And I get started on later.

Because the sooner I do that, the sooner I can.

See her...

Every prettiest inch of.

That is going to be really hard not to get distracted by the thought of now...


"You heading out soon?"

I don't look up from what I'm doing to answer Jasper, who's standing in my office doorway. "Yeah, before too long. Tell Isabella not to hold dinner for me, though."

"You're going to have to deliver that news yourself. What are you working on? Did you reconsider the Campbell project?"

"No, I wasn't interested in that."

"Something new, then?"

"Yeah."

"That I don't know about?"

"That you don't know about yet."

"Well, what is it?"

"You'll know when I'm ready for you to know. But right now, you can return my door to the closed state you found it in, because at this moment - that I'm busy - I'm not."

"And not leaving with me?"

"No."

"Fine... but I'm NOT telling my sister that, so you better call her."

"Pussy."

"It's called self-preservation, thank you very much."

"And I guess I can support that... " Because she'd never want to walk down the aisle without you. "As long as you do it elsewhere. Now."

"ALRIGHT. God knows I see enough of your face, and frankly, this Hale will enjoy the break."

You do that, Jasper... while I ensure the other Hale doesn't ever have to again.

The one who I know won't enjoy it at all. But who hopefully won't be too upset that I have to give her one to not.


"Should I be worried that you're still not here?"

"Shit!" When was the last time I glanced at the clock? "I'm so sorry, beautiful, I had no idea that it had gotten so late."

"So, you're okay?"

"Yes, I'm okay. I was working on something and completely lost track of the time."

"You're still at your office?"

"Yes, Isabella, I'm still here. Because if I wasn't, I'd certainly be there."

"Are you still coming? Here, I mean? Or should I just go to bed?"

"Do you want me to? Because I will if you do, but if you're tired, you can absolutely go to sleep. And I'll make it up to you tomorrow. Cross my heart."

Her silence answers my question before she does, and I tear myself away from what kept me away from her to tell her I don't need her to. "Scratch that. I'll make it up to you now, because I don't want to go to sleep without seeing my prettiest."

"I really didn't want to, either."

I know, beautiful... I promise I know. It's why I'm here.

And why "I'm on my way right now."


"You warmed up dinner for me? Even after I didn't show up for it?"

"Of course I did," she says, pushing me onto their couch with one hand and setting my plate in front of me on the coffee table with her other. "I'll never let you go to bed hungry, Edward."

"Can I hold you to that?" I ask her with a hopeful - and devious - smile.

Which she returns, though far more shyly, before she dashes back into the kitchen to leave me with an unsmiling Jasper, who didn't take nearly long enough in the bathroom.

"I can easily go back to wanting to kill you, you know."

"I'm sure you could," I say with a shrug, "if you had a reason to. And didn't have the best reason not to."

"Then don't you forget that she is."

She comes back into the living room without a single worry on her beautiful face and my answer becomes even clearer than it already was. "I won't. Until the day I die, Jasper - by God's hands, not yours - I won't."


Isabella

"What happened? I know we haven't really talked about it, but when I saw you at the hospital, you guys seemed... well, I don't know, happy?"

"Nothing happened, really. We just weren't... compatible, I guess? Which I knew before we... it just wasn't meant to be. And so it isn't anymore. We aren't. Whatever."

"Whatever?"

"Yeah, whatever."

"You don't look like you think whatever."

"Well, I do."

Liar. "Are you upset?"

"Are you asking me that because you're assuming that Riley dumped me instead of the other way around?"

"I'm not assuming anything, Rose. I'm asking questions. Because I don't know. It's been awhile since we've really talked."

"That's because you're always with Edward."

"I'm not with Edward now." And barely have been in weeks.

"Yeah... why is that, by the way? I thought he was attached to your virginal little hip?"

"He's working late," I say to her first question, and ignore the dig she might have intended with her second. Because I really am trying not to assume anything these days. And because I really don't care, even if she did intend it that way.

"Since when does Edward Masen work at 9 pm? Is his secretary working late, too?"

"I knew you didn't mean it... what you said in my room... "

"I did mean it. Then. But he is Edward Masen... and maybe, no matter what else he's done, he hasn't stopped doing the other things he used to."

"He's working, Rose." Late. Again.

"Why? Because he told you he was?"

"Yes." And because I trust him.

"Don't be gullible, Bella."

"Don't be a bitch, Rose. Just because your relationship with Riley didn't work out-"

"That's not why."

"Then what?"

"I don't want to fight."

"Then get off of Edward's back." The last part of him I saw...

"Are you really not worried at all that he could be up against someone elses? As we speak?"

NO. "Go home, Rose."

"I'm really not trying to make you mad, Bella. I swear I'm not. I just don't want you to get hurt. And it's not even Edward... not in a personal way... it's men. In general. And the fact is, that most of them aren't capable of patience. The kind they'd need to have with you."

"Only most of them? Not all?"

"No. Not all. Not Riley Biers... you guys really would have been perfect for each other if Edward would have just stayed in his den of evil."

"Oh, please... he answered your door shirtless. With you right behind him wearing next to nothing. I'm a virgin, Rose, not an idiot. Don't-"

"It wasn't what it looked like, Bella. It wasn't at all. Not that I wasn't trying... "

"What?"

"He was shirtless because his got soaked. Doing something for me because he's a nice guy and I am an idiot. Something I wanted him not to be so much... a nice guy, I mean, which is why I was wearing next to nothing. Which is more than I'd had on just before that... when he rejected and humiliated me... "

"You hadn't just... "

"No. And when he opened the door, it was because he was leaving. So fast that he didn't even care about his shirt in the dryer. You just happened to have knocked just as he opened it. And he was not happy... because he knew exactly what you would think... and then he really wasn't so nice at all... to me, not that I benefited from it... "

"But you were together. Holding hands. And-"

"Later, yes. But not that day. That day he was just taking pity on me. Because I had- Look, it doesn't matter. The details aren't important now. Other than one. Riley is the kind of guy that would wait. Even if he didn't have to. Even if he had someone throwing it at him. Begging, for fucks sake... but are you really sure that Edward is? Even though you're, of course, not throwing anything?"

"Yes. I am. Sure, I mean."

"I hope so. And that he really is just working late."

"He is. I have no doubts at all. And you can't plant any in my head, so stop trying to."

"That's not what I'm trying to do. And maybe this really is about Riley... in an indirect sort of way... "

"So, you are upset."

"Yeah, I guess. But not in the devastated, heartbroken way my dad is... God, did he love him... "

"Then in what way?"

"In a slap in the face sort of way. The 'You were right' way. Because the man I really wanted... only wants a girl like you. Apparently. And as much as I tried to be... I'm just not."

"I never said that to you, Rose. I never said anything to you about Riley at all, but that-"

"Bella... you think the man I really wanted was the one that wouldn't give it up? Come on... I said the two of you would have been perfect for each other, not us."

"Are you saying you never...?"

"Not once."

"Then who... " Oh, shit. "Rose, are you talking about Emmett? Is that who you-"

"I saw him with your friend. Granted, they both looked a little like fish out of water, but... well, I know what kind of girl she is. And isn't. So, you were obviously right."

"Rose, I didn't know that you actually had feelings for Emmett. I thought you were just-"

"Well, you were half right. He was just. And I was what I always am... used and discarded. And I'm usually pretty quick to get over that... but it turns out this time I'm not. Or wasn't, or whatever."

"I'm sorry, Rose."

"You don't have to say that."

"I already did. Because I am."

"I really thought you were wrong. Emmett's a nice guy in a lot of ways, and I understand why you think that's who he is, because unless it comes to protecting you, he doesn't let you see his other side... or Jasper and Edward don't let him show you...

"But he does have one. Another side. And I didn't think that side of him could be happy with 'sweet'. I thought I knew what that side of him wanted. And I thought it was me. Or someone like, anyway.

"We'd had a lot of fun. The kind I'm good at. The only time he was unhappy was after. When he'd want a sandwich - or a side of beef - and I'd tell him to order one. Instead of make it for him. So, then, instead of staying to have more fun, he'd leave.

"And it was starting to bother me... because I thought he would have stayed if that part of me was different. More like you. So, that day when you said it, it made me angry. Because even though I knew you were right in one way, I knew you were wrong in another. And I got defensive, and...

"Well, I had decided that I was going to prove you wrong. Be the whole package, so to speak. But I never got that chance. Because Emmett never came back after that day. Because of what I'd done to you. And seeing how much he cared about you... even though I already knew he did... I don't know... it just made me want him even more. The side of him that you knew. I was already crazy about the other.

"That's how Riley and I met. Well, since school, I mean. Emmett had already tossed me aside, but I thought maybe I could lure him back. Your way, not mine. I was trying to teach myself to cook. It wasn't going well... and one day I caught my kitchen on fire... "

"And Riley came to the rescue?"

"Yeah. You know how good he is at that."

"I definitely do. So, sparks flew? After the flames were put out?"

"No. I didn't see him again until after Emmett had rejected me again. The me that was trying to be like you. I ended up in a bar trying to drown my humiliation - and create more for myself - and Riley was there and stopped me. Yanked me away from the asshole I was about to drown and create it with, and took me home. Where he stayed with me. All night. Making sure - from my couch - that I didn't do either. Including with him.

"I guess we became friends after that. After he didn't make me feel like shit for it. And then we became more. Two people who couldn't have who they really wanted, taking a chance on who they didn't. It was nice... he was nice. And I tried to be. And to let nice be enough... but it just wasn't. I wasn't enough for him, and he was too much for me.

"And you were right... again... he was the one that ended it. Nicely. And told me never to let anyone treat me any other way... unless it was what I really wanted."

Her less-than-nice smile tells me what that meant. And what it means now. Still. "Like the way Emmett isn't."

"Yes. Like the way he isn't. Always. But that doesn't matter now... because he apparently decided he wanted 'nice' too. Only... "

"Don't assume, Rose."

"What do you mean?"

"I think he really just wanted to try nice. Maybe because Edward was... but unlike Edward, I don't think it's enough for him."

"But I saw them... "

"Like I saw you with Riley?"

"Are you saying you think I have a chance? To-"

"I can't say that, Rose. Only Emmett could tell you that."

"And if there was? A chance? And he did?"

"Then, I'd be happy for you. Because I understand now what it would mean to you."

She looks at me for a moment, a long moment, and I think she finally sees what I've always wished she would. The truth. About Edward. And herself.

"I'm sorry about what I said, Bella. About Edward... I'm sure he is just working late."

"I don't know if I believe you, Rose... that you believe that... but it's okay. Because I know he is. Because I know that he really does want nice."

And that he wouldn't be doing anything that wasn't, or away from his, unless it was important.

And I think, maybe, for.

And that, maybe after Rose leaves, I'll make a list of what that for could be.

Because I do trust him.

And because I do, I think that all work and no play can only make Edward Masen...

xx

What, Isabella? Nice? Perfect? WHAT do you think? I know, of course... and what some of you were probably thinking earlier in this chapter... and let me take this opportunity to say... NEVER. GONNA. HAPPEN, DARLINS. Because that twisty road that brought us here? Is going to stay beautifully untwisted until we get to the end of it.

I really probably shouldn't have just told you that...

Just like I really probably shouldn't say this: Guest reviewer... You think this Edward is a pussy? Well... you can think whatever the hell you want, but keep it to yourself from now on. Your thoughts about him. And Isabella. I DIDN'T LIKE THEM.

Now, for most of the rest of you... I love hearing your thoughts. And I thank you for sharing them with me. I'm sorry my once-dependable replies have become so un. I won't make any excuses for that. It's just what it is.

Like this story... which is still mine, like Twilight is still SM's, and will be progressing my way, like it always has. Though it hasn't always (I KNOW, you don't need to tell me that, either. Or bitch at me for it.) in quite the way it will now. Even though this is a bit short. This chapter, I mean, clearly not this E/N.

Also, I wrote a fun little O/S titled Handled With Care. I think you might like it. And its Edward. They're on my profile if you want to check them out.

And just one more thing before I leave you to think about what I've said... and hinted at... and what this chapter may have...

For anyone reading Clear and Bright, it updated last week. I'm not sure anyone knows that if they aren't in my fb group. (Let me know if you want in it.) My blog doesn't alert, and apparently TWCS didn't this time. So, sorry for that. It, at least, wasn't my fault.

And I'm shutting up now. See?