Note from the translator: all things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer, and Collisions is a story by the very popular and lovely French author Drinou. I know that you've been waiting for this update like forever, so on with the show. Thanks for all your reviews, and good reading.
Chapter 18: Trapped
"Who told you the game was over, Isabella?"
And as slowly as he'd approached me, he pulled away, letting his lips touching mine in their path, glaring at me all along. My breath caught instantly in my throat, while my heart went berserk. The next moment he was by his car, quickly rushing inside. The engine of his Maserati roared loudly, and with screeching tires, he disappeared from my sight.
I watched his car disappear down the street, stunned. "Who told you the game was over"... I still heard his whisper, his light voice breathe those few words in my ear. And the worst part was that I didn't even react when his lips had brushed against mine. Idiot! Yet I had stood up to him throughout our pseudo discussion. But I had let my guard down a little too soon and without hesitation he had taken the opportunity to 'regain power.' Because when it came to him everything was a matter of power.
I sighed while shaking my head, crestfallen. I had no resistance whatsoever. Even when I was all wound up against him, he seemed to always end up winning.
You're mad about him, that's all. Deal with it.
"Where is he?" a voice growled behind me.
"Jake?" I marveled. "But what are you..."
Breathless and somewhat edgy, Jacob stood before me, soaking wet and all fists. It seemed like he'd just made his way from his place to mine running the entire time in the rain.
"Where is that bastard?"
A couple of minutes sooner, that could have been comical!
"Damn! Are you okay? He didn't do anything to you? Tell me that you cut off his urge to hump on anything that moves with some high knee kicks in-"
"What?" he pouted like a child caught with a potty mouth.
I sighed again. I was mostly shivering, as was my friend.
"Come on. Let's go warm up at my place before catching our death from cold. I have a pepperoni and cheese pizza waiting for us."
A shrill beep brutally pulled me out of my dreams; a beep that was savagely interrupted by my fist crashing down on my clock radio, which died right away. If a crane couldn't pull me out, then I had no chance in succeeding to extricate myself from my bed at such an ungodly hour.
If the previous evening had started really bad, what with Cullen's impromptu visit, it had marvelously improved when Jake and his tense muscles had come to my rescue. We had a long chat and we talked about him, me, our lives and his brand new relationship with Leah... And between laughter and confidences, the time spun by at full speed.
Which brought about this result: me, my hair all mussed up, the still visible traces of my pillow deeply etched on the cheek, eyes glued shut, painfully snatching myself from under my warm and fluffy quilt. The sound of the rain constantly pounding the windows of my apartment didn't add anything to my already wavering motivation.
Even though my mind was still wandering between the events of the previous evening and their oh so sexy and Machiavellian source, the number one goal of this day was to find a job at all costs. And for that to happen, I had to put on my best pair of sneakers, and huddled under my umbrella as I scampered to the nearest subway station.
Never did a week seem as endless as this one.
I had wanted a job and I had found one on the very same day. But to what cost? Probably the one of having blisters for walking long hours. Unless it was the one of boredom? Anyway, I was back at Starbucks to serve coffee after coffee to all those stressed people in suits and ties who came here without a smile.
And to think that I almost had to beg Mr. Hawkins for that position back... Fortunately Sophie, his wife, had defended my cause, thereby allowing me to return to the team, which, by the way, had changed a lot in the few months I was away.
"Vanilla Latte Grande, please," a quite edgy customer spat when arriving at the counter.
Even the last time I worked here looked like paradise compared to this. The patrons were all insufferable, in a hurry, stressed out, irritable, and so on.
Thankfully I got along well with two new recruits freshly hired, which allowed for some good moments of recreation in between rushes. Christel was a European girl who came to the United States very recently to start over with her life, and Charlotte was a strong-willed girl from Texas who landed in New York to follow her downtrodden love. We were working together often, which allowed the three of us to get acquainted quickly.
I briefly glanced at my watch after ringing up Mister I-swallowed-a-broom number three. You'd think that they all had the same idea to claim their dose of caffeine at the same time. It was only nine in the morning and I couldn't take it any longer.
Help me dear Lord!
My face lit up when I saw Jake in front of me on the other side of the counter.
"Oh thank God, here comes my own personal sunshine! You know I couldn't do without your visits," I said while heating three pancakes in the oven.
"Unfortunately all good things come to an end. My mission in the neighborhood is almost over."
"Is that so?" I pouted. "It's going to be hell here without your little daily visits."
"And what are we, chopped liver?" Charlotte, who was polishing the espresso machine not far from me, laughed.
I put the pancakes on a plate and handed it to Jake.
"Wow, that's what I call premium service. I don't even need to order."
"You'd have pancakes for every meal. Do I have to remind you that I know you as well as you know me?"
"Not even funny!"
With these words he grabbed his plate and as usual, moved to the nearest table so that we could continue our discussion. He would tell me the latest stories related to his current assignment while I put new pastries in the refrigerated display. I even laughed at one of his jokes, ignoring the arrival of a new customer since Christel, freshly returned from her break, had taken my place. It's therefore very naturally that I was enjoying my friend's visit all the while keeping busy.
"Hi, what can I do for you?" I heard from afar without paying much attention to it.
"Wait a second, you're telling me that they did it in the back of the limousine while you were driving it? ... Yuck!" I exclaimed.
Jake burst into laughter as he confirmed the information, very amused by my despondent look.
"I want that person to serve me."
The last cinnamon roll fell on the ground.
That voice. Oh no, no, no.
My gaze turned unwillingly to its source.
"Uh, Bella, this gentleman wants you to serve him," Christel told me, very confused by Cullen's specific request.
As calmly as possible, I laid the now empty box of bake goods on the shelf behind me and went to the counter, totally forgetting about Jake who was probably wondering what had gotten into me.
Oh God, that smile.
For the survival of my sanity, I mentally slapped myself. Now was not the time for licentious thoughts!
Hmmm ... that mouth...
Muzzling that nasty little voice to the best of my ability, I sported as impassive a face as possible before talking to him.
"Hello Sir, what would you like?"
Unwise choice of words.
I noticed it for myself as I saw a small flash of dare passing through his irises.
"A dinner for the two of us tonight at my apartment."
"Sorry, we don't have that in stock. However I can offer you a very good Arabica directly from Kenya."
"No dinner? You're absolutely sure, Isabella?"
Without taking his eyes off me, I saw him slowly leaning toward me, his perfect face approaching close to mine; way too close to mine.
"Yet I thought you enjoyed the previous one."
Steamy images of our entwined bodies near the bay window of his office came back to my memory.
Hum... that's an understatement...
My treacherous cheeks took a wicked pleasure turning pink. Great! Of course this slight epidermal detail didn't escape him. And to amplify my embarrassment a little more, I could feel the intrigued look of my co-workers behind me. I was going to have a thorough interrogation when all this was over, I was pretty sure about that.
"One should never abuse a good thing," I retorted softly, hiding the turmoil in my voice with all the determination I could muster.
"Only good? I would have envisioned a more grandiose qualifier judging by your moans," he whispered in a low voice, so close to my face that his breath caressed my cheeks as he stifled a chuckle.
"A problem, Bells?"
I was so absorbed with this verbal sparring between Cullen and I that I hadn't noticed Jake approach. In fact I had completely forgotten his presence.
"No, it's okay," I stammered.
Cullen straightened up, smiling, and with a quick move he held out a steady hand to my friend.
"Edward Cullen," he introduced himself.
Jake... Cullen... here... at the same time... Not good. Not good at all!
I saw the face of my friend tense in rage and at the same moment his fist crashed noisily on the cheek of Edward who, taken by surprise, took several steps back to regain his balance.
"JAKE!" I yelled.
"That's what you get for treating women that way," he spat out in a fit of rage.
Hands over my mouth, I stood frozen on the spot. Did he really just take a jab at my ex-boss and incidentally ex-lover on my work place?
Cullen, stunned, put his hand on the area of impact, wiping a drop of blood beading down his swollen lip.
"So you're not going to hit back? Where are your balls? Wimp!"
Jake sprang to his target again. I swiftly jumped around the counter to intervene.
"Jake, stop that immediately," I commanded him, sticking my hand on his torso.
"Bella, let me beat up this scumbag, maybe it will teach him to respect women."
I heard a clap followed by the noise of someone pushing a button behind me.
"Give me Jenks. Right away," Cullen ordered to the person he had on the phone. "Jenks, Cullen speaking. I want to see you in my office in an hour to file a complaint. Assault and battery."
Great. That's all I needed...
"Jake, get out."
"Get out of here now!" I commanded, pointing my finger at the door.
"You and I are not done," he raged at Cullen while I pushed him toward the exit.
Once he was out of sight, I turned to my worst nightmare.
Yeah, tell it to the Marines.
One sigh later, I grabbed a handful of paper towels, a bottle of green ice tea in the refrigerated display, and walked toward Cullen who was staring at me.
"Where is the 'sir" and the formal tone?"
Tell me, can I punch him too?
"For God's sake, don't start with your damn thirst for power or whatever," I snapped. "Sit down, that's all."
"The wild kitten is back," he smirked as he sat down on the nearest chair.
A smirk that earned him a wince.
Serves him right!
"Let me handle this and relax."
I reached out to his cut with one of the paper towels.
"Usually I'm the one asking you to relax and let me handle things," he implied while locking his sparkling eyes to mine.
His implication once again caused the rebellion of my skin. In response I dabbed the paper towel on the thin gash that split his lower lip. He winced again. The skin of his cheek was beginning to turn slightly purple where Jake had struck with his fist. The least we could say is that he had not missed and had not been mild either.
I gently put the cold bottle of green tea on the purple mark, causing a sharp hiss from Cullen.
"I will survive."
Slowly, I rolled the small glass bottle over the affected area.
"Jake is not a bad guy. He just... lost his cool," I stated, reluctantly leaving his perfectly sculpted lips to meet his eyes staring at me intensely.
Standing between his legs, my position created such promiscuity between us that I totally ignored the incessant waltz of customers behind me. I felt like I was in a bubble sealed from the outside world. He always had this power over me, the power to mesmerize me at the slightest glance.
"He's very protective," I went on.
"Yes. No. Well yes, but..."
Hey, you idiot. Who told you to justify yourself?
I sighed. Truth be told, I totally infuriated myself.
"Is all that really necessary?" I asked.
"The complaint, the lawyer, the trial," I recited.
A smirk played on his lips.
Oh, it clearly smells of foul play!
Bingo! I'm too good at that.
I raised a brow, not grasping what he was implying.
"On you and my invitation to dinner tonight."
At the same time, his hand covered mine on the bottle of tea glued to his cheek. A shiver, mixture of surprise and anticipation, electrified my whole body.
I. Want. This. Man.
I swallowed painfully, internally pounding on that annoying little voice with fast punches. Number one goal: keeping control of the situation.
Yeah, go ahead and try.
I freed my hand from his without pulling away, his gaze keeping me captive.
"You mean that if I agree to have dinner with you, you won't prosecute Jake?"
"A simple yes and I immediately call my lawyer," he specified, showing me his phone with his free hand.
I shook my head, thunderstruck, and took a step back.
"Basically, you're blackmailing me."
"That's one way of seeing things. I'd rather say that it's another way to get what I want."
"By forcing people to bend to your will?" I retorted.
"I'm not forcing you to anything."
He stood up and put the bottle on the table next to him.
"Think about it," he added before moving toward the exit. "I see my lawyer in an hour."
I was dreaming. Yes, that was it; I had to be dreaming... I knew he was arrogant and manipulative but now, he was breaking records. Either I let him scram and Jake would certainly be in big trouble, or I agreed to his little blackmail and I'd be forced to dine with him.
And what a horrible blackmail it is to have a one-on-one dinner with the sexiest guy on earth.
And the worst part was that the completely masochistic portion of my mind was craving it.
"Wait!" I said before he passed through the door.
He stopped in his momentum and I closed the distance that separated us as he turned to face me.
"Okay, but on one condition."
"I don't think you're in a position to negotiate, Isabella."
His everlasting crooked smile returned to settle on his slightly banged-up lips.
"Maybe, but I still have one condition," I replied. "You don't file any complaint against my friend and in return I dine with you tonight, but I choose the place and it will certainly not be at yours. Take it or leave it."
"Your place suits me just as well."
I glared at him and in return he looked at me with a mock sad pout.
"On neutral ground then. It suits me too. Where?"
"At the corner of 3rd Avenue and 37th Street, at 8 p.m."
"Well, see you tonight then," he smiled.
"A meal, nothing else. And no more mention of your lawyer or anything like that. Are we on the same page?" I asked to be sure.
"You have my word, Isabella."
And with that, he walked through the door and disappeared into the stream of passers-by roaming the street.
Tonight, he and I were having dinner together...
I returned to the table he'd just left and gulped the abandoned bottle of green tea.
Lord, help me!
Who wants to kill Edward?
Who wants to thank Jake for this masterful punch?
As for me, I want to thank my dear beta lizzard43 for her precious help.
Until next time