A/N: This is my second piece of fan fiction - a Twilight themed story, of course! For those of you who like more snark, sass, and citrus, this is the fic you'll wanna keep up with!
No set in stone update schedule, but I aim for something every 2-3 weeks depending on how hellish RL gets for me.
Thanks to my amazing beta/wonderful friend Chloe Masen. I'll be thanking you until I go to the fan fic graveyard. ;)
Reviews are like taking a little back side thrusting from DuRob - so please, by all means, feel free to leave some!
Characters belong to SM. Everything else belongs to me.
Chapter 1 – Wanna Make a Bet?
"Bella, over here! Smile for us!"
Several flashes went off and my vision became speckled with hundreds of dots of various sizes and colors. I nudged Rose in the back, trying to get her to move down the red carpet. She kept stopping, jutting her hip out and posing for the photographers, her crimson lips pulled back in a seductive smile. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, not wanting to show up in one of the trash rags tomorrow next to some ridiculous headline about being a bitch. Alice was already inside, and I chastised myself for not walking behind her instead.
Being best friends with two Manhattan socialites was practically a full-time job.
Rosalie Smith and Alice Erickson grew up together on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Both of them came from "old money" as they called it. Rosalie's great great grandfather developed what was eventually reworked, updated, and transformed into the most common projector used in movie theaters today. Alice's grandfather was one of the founding CEOs of New York Stock and Bond, a bank that started out small and grew to become one of the largest, most well respected in all of Manhattan. Both of them had attended the Brearley School before going on to Harvard, where they met me.
We all had English Lit together our first semester. Alice sat next to me and was gracious enough to share her notes and bum me a cigarette after class. She introduced me to Rose and they offered to show me around Boston. Four hours and too many high-calorie desserts from Finale later, we'd bonded and were already making spring break plans.
Now here we were, eleven years down the road, living out the last year of our twenties. Alice and I owned our own public relations firm in Midtown. We had a multitude of clients, ranging from small local businesses t one or two names that lingered on the top of Hollywood A-Lists. Rose surprised us all, dropping her pre-med track and majoring in business and marketing. In the end it was the right decision, because coupled with her artistic talent, she'd become a well known and highly sought after fashion designer. Her spring 2012 collection had just debuted, and stylists were already calling to book looks for the winter award shows.
Tonight's charity gala at the Guggenheim was just one of a laundry list of events that Rose and Alice went to each year. Sometimes I got the popular-by-association invite in the mail, and on rare occasions (especially if Josh Duhamel was on the guest list) I'd cough up the money and attend the dinner, drink the free champagne, and ogle all the high society types that were there. Tonight was one of those rare occasions.
After a few more photo ops Rose and I finally made our way inside. I grabbed two flutes of champagne from the first waiter I saw and promptly downed them both. Rose looked at me with a hint of mischief sparkling in her warm brown eyes.
"It's gonna be one of those nights, huh?" She winked before grabbing two flutes for her and pouring them back. I giggled and waved Alice over.
"Could you take any longer on the carpet? Christ Rose, I thought Bella was going to have a panic attack!" Alice scowled at her before turning to me. "Do you need a Xanax honey?" I cringed remembering what had come to be known as "the Great Red Carpet Disaster of 2009" in our circle of friends.
"I'm perfectly fine, ladies! Let's eat so we can get our drink on!" I led the way to one of dozens of lavishly decorated round tables. We seated ourselves and flagged down a waiter for another round of champagne. People kept coming over to schmooze with Rose and a few of them asked Alice and I about PR representation. Rose was kind enough to let me borrow a dress from one of her collections for the event, and I felt like a queen in the silky gray fabric. Even though this had never really been my scene, I always enjoyed getting to be "somebody" for one night. That's all I ever wanted was just one night, after which I could go home, slip into my Harvard sweats, throw up my hair, put my glasses on, and be just plain old Bella, the small-town girl from Forks, Washington who really didn't know (or give) two shits about being hip.
"Look, there's Emmett!" Rose tugged on my arm and pointed across the room. Emmett Hale was a Broadway actor turned producer/director. Rose had been pining after him ever since she saw him in last year's big Broadway spectacle, Breaking Dawn. The performance earned him a Tony Award and his stylist dressed him in pieces from Rose's men's collection for the big night. He was definitely an attractive guy with a tall, muscular build, short, wavy blonde hair, and eyes the color of the ocean. Alice and I were convinced he was gay, but Rose was bound and determined to prove us wrong. I giggled as she checked her reflection in her compact before strutting across the room and planting a big, crimson colored kiss on his cheek.
"She's got balls I tell ya." I held my empty glass in the air, signaling the waiter for a refill, while Alice giggled in agreement.
"What Rose wants, Rose gets, even if he is homosexual." Alice clinked her glass against mine and winked at me. I sipped my champagne and surveyed the crowd. Dinner was over, which meant cocktail hour would commence, and people were already starting to mingle in the various rooms throughout the museum. I grabbed Alice's hand and pulled her towards the door.
"C'mon Al, there's too many single men to check out and too little time to do it!"
"You're a terrible influence, Swan." Alice giggled as we made our way to the patio.
That was the best thing about living in Manhattan – you never knew what the night would bring.
"Glenlivet on the rocks." I tossed a ten on the bar, knowing full well the drink was free, but the bartender's ass alone was reason enough to tip big. She slid the drink towards me and I smiled suggestively before tossing my business card on the bar as well.
My eyes surveyed the crowd of people before me. The Guggenheim was one of my favorite spaces in the city. To see it turned in to some highbrow charity dog and pony show broke my heart a little. Then again, I was here myself wasn't I?
"You are one slick mother fucker, you know that?" Jasper Whitlock slapped me on the back appreciatively.
"Most of New York knows that my friend. Where have you been all these years?" I laughed and Jasper bumped his fist against mine. We grew up next door to one another in Brooklyn. We went to the same schools, spent summers in Europe on vacation, and roomed together during our freshman year at New York University. Now here we were, 31, still single, and living the dream (whatever the fuck that was) in the Big Apple.
"See any potentials here? Aside from your drink-pouring admirer." Jasper took a swig of his beer and leaned against the bar next to me. My eyes scanned the room once more. Too short. Too curvy. Too loud. Too made up. Too … Holy shit.
She was standing just outside the door to the patio, holding a cigarette in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. The fabric of her dress clung to her curves, showing off her small waist and her petite, firm ass. She had the most amazing rack I'd ever seen and her legs … well, let's just say the hardness in my pants showed my approval. Her brown hair fell in waves past her chin and onto her shoulders. I knew right then and there that I needed to have her. And I would have her – later tonight.
"I believe I've found my next conquest…" My voice trailed off as I weaved my way across the room. She was engrossed in a conversation with her friend when I cleared my throat.
"Can we help you?" She smelled like a combination of oranges and cigarettes. Her eyes were bloodshot and glazed over, and some of her words slurred together. All the easier it will be to take you to bed, sexy, I thought to myself.
"Do you know anything about iPhones? Mine seems to be broken." I hit her with the puppy dog eyes and a sheepish grin, holding the phone out to her. Her friend rolled her eyes and tapped her foot impatiently. I recognized her from somewhere but my scotch-induced stupor prevented me from remembering any details.
"What's wrong with it? Not that I'd know anything about it, I haven't progressed past the flip phone era, but I could try to fix it." She took a gulp of champagne, probably to stop her nervous ramblings.
"Your number isn't in it," I said matter-of-factly. I was prepared for an eye roll, followed by a nervous smile, followed by the girl giving me her number and having several cocktails with me before going back to my place.
This girl was different. She choked on laughter and the champagne sprayed out her nose and all over the front of my Armani suit. Her brown eyes grew wide and her hand flew over her mouth in embarrassment.
"I'm so sorry! I can't believe I did that! But really, can you blame me? Who uses pick up lines these days?"
I chuckled despite myself. Under normal circumstances I'd be furious with this bitch. This suit had cost me almost two grand. Her eyes and her smile somehow managed to extinguish my anger.
"Don't worry beautiful, with tits like those, you don't need to apologize for anything." This girl was a spitfire and I probably should have known better than to speak to her that way. Her expression quickly changed from one of mild-embarrassment to one of all out rage. She handed her champagne to her friend, took two steps towards me, drew her arm back, and WHACK! – slapped me (harder than I'd ever been slapped, might I add) across the face. Then, adding insult to injury, she set my phone on the table next to me, and poured the remainder of her champagne all over it.
"That should fix your problem. Now you can't run your disgusting mouth to any of the poor women in your phone book ever again." She spun around and grabbed her friend's wrist. "C'mon Alice. This asshole doesn't deserve our company." They disappeared into the crowd before I even had a chance to process what had happened.
"Ouch, man! What the hell was that?" Jasper asked, clapping his hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off and made a beeline for the men's room. I looked at my reflection in the mirror, adjusting my tie and dabbing at the champagne stains with a wet paper towel. If this was any other woman, I'd be furious. My brunette didn't have that effect on me. Her standoffish behavior only made me want her even more.
"I'll figure out who she is before the end of the night if it's the last thing I do," I said to the empty bathroom. I fixed the collar on my shirt and smirked at my reflection in the mirror. I was Edward Cullen, after all. I always got what – and who – I wanted.
I squared my shoulders and strode back out to the party, prepared to find my sassy girl and have my way with her.
I spotted Rose near the bar and headed her way. Alice was somewhere behind me, trying to keep up with my ridiculous pace.
"I can't believe that son of a bitch had the audacity to talk to me that way!" I threw my purse down on the bar and balled my fists at my side. "Who the fuck does he think he is?"
"Um, Bella, this is Emmett Hale. Emmett Hale, meet Bella Swan, my best friend and the queen of speaking like a sailor." Rose elbowed my arm and shot me a look.
"Nice to meet you, Emmett. Breaking Dawn was terrific. And for the record, I reserve my sailor-speak for special occasions." I shook Emmett's hand and smiled.
"Could you walk any faster Bella? We weren't all gifted with long legs!" Alice slipped her heels off and massaged the balls of her feet. "Hi Emmett!"
"Good to see you again, Alice. Pleasure to meet you, Bella." Emmett looked frightened. I couldn't blame him. "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to use the men's room." He gave Rose a light kiss on the cheek before leaving us to ourselves.
"God Bella, what a great way to make an impression! What the hell is going on anyway?" Rose was irritated. I felt a twinge of guilt but it quickly turned back to anger as the words "with tits like those, you don't need to apologize for anything" played in my head.
"Oh please, stop being so dramatic, he's clearly smitten with you, he'll come back, I promise." I crossed my arms over my chest. "What's going on is some good looking prick just tried to weasel his way into my pants with the worst pick up line ever."
"And you're complaining about this?" Rose rolled her eyes. "Bella, you haven't gotten laid in what, a year? You should be happy that someone even acknowledged the fact that you have a vag that's open for business."
"If he hadn't acted like a disgusting pig I might be more grateful." I looked around the room, hoping to see the asshole so I could point him out to Rose. "Who was that guy anyway?"
Alice smirked. "Edward Cullen." Rose and I both looked at her incredulously.
"That was Edward Cullen?" Suddenly it all made sense. Edward Cullen was a household name in the Manhattan business world. He was the hottest new addition to Wall Street, a stockbroker with a knack for picking the best investments and a very healthy appetite for sex. Or so I'd heard – and almost received the invitation to experience tonight. Half the models in Rosalie's last runway show (along with a good chunk of Manhattan's single female population) had fucked him. He was a bonafide playboy who knew how to wine, dine, and spoil even the prudest of women into submission. Of course he never stayed with any of them for more than a night or two. After his needs were met he threw them to the curb and moved on to the next one. For the past three years he'd been in the top five on the "NYC's Most Toxic Bachelors" list. The Empire State Building had fewer floors than he had notches on his bed – And that was one tall building!
"Sounds like you dodged a bullet my dear," Rose said, patting me on the back. "Although I must admit, I'm surprised by your level of self-control. That man is walking sex, most women would kill to be in your shoes, disgusting pig or not."
In truth, my panties had been wet since he trained his puppy dog eyes on me. I didn't think it was necessary to make anyone else privy to that information just yet, however.
"No shit." I glanced at my watch and sighed. "Now that Edward Cullen has managed to single-handedly ruin my evening, I think I'm going to call it a night. Do either of you want to share a cab?"
"I will! I have spinning class in the morning and my instructor will kill me if I show up half in the bag." Alice handed me my purse and stepped back into her shoes.
"I think I'm gonna stay for a bit. Emmett and I …" Rose trailed off and smiled shyly. It was an expression I hadn't seen her wear in a long time, and I couldn't help but smile with her. Evidentially Emmett was quite the guy.
"Shush, no explanations are necessary! We just expect all the details at brunch tomorrow!" I hugged Rose and she air kissed my cheek. Alice and I started for the door when I saw him staring at me from across the room.
Alice followed my gaze and pushed me. "Oh no you don't, missy. We're going to catch a cab, go home, and forget this night ever happened. By Monday you won't even remember Edward Cullen." Alice cocked her head to the side and lifted her hand in a small wave. "Although his friend is kinda cute." I swatted her arm playfully and resumed my trek to the door. It turned out Alice was right; by the time I got home the only thing on my mind was a bubble bath and my warm bed.
As I crawled between the sheets later that night, I silently thanked the higher power above for making New York such a big city. The last thing I needed was to have to worry about running into Edward Cullen on a daily basis.
"You might want to put some ice on that." Jasper pointed at my jaw. "You don't want to have an actual bruise on your face. That will tarnish your image."
"Fuck off, Whitlock." I rubbed my cheek, wincing in pain. I'd had a few more Glenlivet's since my failed hook-up attempt, and while they did take the edge off things, my ego was still bruised and my desire still burned strong.
"I suppose it doesn't matter. An entire room full of New York high society just saw you get spit up on and slapped. It can't get much worse than that." I glared at my best friend, wondering why I'd agreed to bring him to this stupid event in the first place.
"While it's been a pleasure spending this evening with you delighting in my public humiliation, I think I'm going to head home." I grabbed my suit coat off the back of the chair next to me, resisting the urge I had to hit Jasper.
"Hey man, no harm intended! I'm just in shock that you found a woman on this island who doesn't want to sleep with you."
"For your information, she never said she didn't want to sleep with me. Given the opportunity, I'm sure she'd graciously accept an offer to go to bed." I'm not sure why I felt the need to defend myself. Getting turned down by one woman out of how many was nothing really. I was cocky, however, and I wasn't about to let this go. "In fact, I bet I could even make her fall in love with me."
"Are you willing to wager something on that?" Jasper reached in his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash.
"It's going to take a hell of a lot more than money to send me on a wild goose chase like this. Money I already have, my friend." Jasper raised his eyebrows and reached in his pocket again, this time dropping a house key on the tabletop.
"My Hamptons house is yours if you can win this woman over." Jasper was staring at something across the room with an amused smirk on his face. I followed his gaze and saw her gathering her things at the bar. She leaned in to hug the tall blonde standing next to her before following her friend from before towards the door.
"All I have to do is get her to love me? You've got yourself a deal." I shook Jasper's hand, making our bet official. "Women tell me they love me before they even get in my apartment, Whitlock."
"Oh no, I'm talking real love buddy. I want to see her marching down Madison Ave. proclaiming her feelings for you. None of this 'I'm in love with your cock' bullshit. If she doesn't say it, out loud, for all of us to hear, I keep the house and you get to give me that brand spanking new BMW."
"Real love, huh?" Jessica Stanley crossed my mind briefly, but I didn't want to let myself go there. Not right now, not in public. "Real love is not hard to create, my friend. All it takes is a few nice dinners, a Broadway show or two, a couple dozen roses, some nice jewelry, and voila!"
"I wouldn't be so sure about that." Jasper held his beer in the air and smiled. Across the room, my brunette and her friend had stopped in their tracks and were glaring at us. The short one nudged her in the back and whispered something before giving Jasper a small wave and heading out the door.
"I hope you're ready to vacation in Rhode Island next summer, my friend, cause your Hamptons pad is going to be all mine." I slipped my suit coat on and made sure my house keys were in the pocket before paging the driver. Jasper shook his head at my arrogance, drained his beer, and followed me out to the car.
"Best of luck my friend. Best of luck."
"Who needs luck?" The words fell off my tongue smoothly, and for a minute I believed them.
Then reality hit and I wanted to choke myself.
I, Edward Cullen, did not do love, even when a beautiful Hamptons house was on the line.
What the hell had I gotten myself into?