FF Fail! I don't know what happened or why it didn't post last night but... taa-daa! Thanks for those who let me know!
Hi, ladies! Sorry it's been... a very long time :) I was sick, uninspired, busy on other things, and then my boyfriend sucked the time out of me (in random order). Forgive me. Thank you all so, so much for your love and support of TD. It seriously amazes me every single day how supportive you guys are. THANK YOU! I love you and appreciate it all! I know this is short again but meh. We're progressing slowly!
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, but Assward is minee.
Before I knew it, March had creeped its way into the year.
Between the eight to most-of-the-time six o'clock schedule I'd been working, twelve credit hours of online classes I was balancing in the hours before midnight, and doing everything that life entailed (like laundry and grocery shopping and something called sleep), February had rolled through like a low tide. Quiet and unassuming.
My court date with the psycho bitch was coming up at the end of the week. I'd be transferring back to Jasper's department in no time. And I had mid-terms.
That was all a little overwhelming.
I felt like I barely had time to breathe. It was almost as if I had to pencil in things like getting some Vitamin D into my schedule.
And to top it all off, Mr. Cullen had been moodier than the pregnant woman I'd worked with downstairs.
I shouldn't have been surprised. His patience had gradually been wearing thinner and thinner each day. His meticulous eye and reign of terror over management and employees alike escalated daily.
Just the day before he'd asked the head of shipping over the phone if he was aware of "this thing called a calendar that allows you to keep track of what day it is," when he hadn't received several reports on the day they'd been required.
I may have sat at my desk and stifled a laugh. Was he an asshole? Definitely. But the real question was, was he being an asshole toward me? Not really. I figured if anyone had a right for get-out-of-asshole passes at MSM it would be me.
So, I could laugh.
We'd been so busy with paperwork and different tax crap the accounting department had been sending up hourly over the last couple of weeks, that he was usually out of the office, so that might have been a plus for me as well. There hadn't been any other jokes of visits home or anything, but I'd been so busy with my own lifesz that it hadn't really hit me.
This routine we'd set up had grown to be so second nature that I started taking for granted how comfortable I'd gotten in my position.
Until Mr. Cullen had dropped a handful of files on my desk one morning.
I looked up at him, ignoring the Office Depot order I'd been in the middle of compiling, and tried my best not to frown. "Excuse me, Mr. Cullen?"
He tipped his head down, hands lax on either side of the navy blue pants he was wearing. I noticed right then that he'd taken off the matching jacket he'd been wearing when he first walked in.
And then I realized it.
He. Had. Suspenders. On.
Some women liked men who dressed up. Some women liked men in uniform. Some women liked hipster guys, guys who wore dark denim and Affliction shirts, or nerdy guys.
I just liked men for whatever reason. I didn't have a type as long as they wore deodorant and were reasonably attractive. I valued a personality more than I did looks by far.
But I had kryptonite. And my kryptonite when the opposite sex was involved was suspenders. It didn't matter if the man was old enough to be my grandfather, I still looked though I thought it was more cute than attractive.
The point was, any man not old enough to be my father or grandfather that wore those two bands of elastic was up for grabs where my eyes were concerned.
So it was impossible for me to not look and not appreciate the fact that my boss, who for all intents and purposes, was... good-looking, was wearing suspenders. Black suspenders with little gold clasps.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that my ovaries clenched in recognition.
And just as quickly as they reacted, so did my brain. Thankfully. But those thirty seconds I'd lost staring at the very elegant looking suspenders over a snow white shirt that had been perfectly ironed, had been lost forever.
By the time I managed to relocate my eyes, I caught Mr. Cullen giving me a funny look before clearing his throat.
His eyes went from me to the folders now sitting on my desk. "Choose an applicant from there and let me know who it is," he instructed in a voice that I might have considered hoarse if I would've been paying closer attention.
But I'd glanced down at the gold piece that adjust those damn suspenders when he'd started talking. Damn it.
"What's this for?" I asked him. Did my voice sound like a croak? No. No way.
Those cooked-broccoli green eyes stayed narrowed. "Your replacement, Isabella."
I thought about it for all of a second before something rung weird in my head. "I don't think I'm supposed to be looking at this," I told him slowly, as if he didn't know that the paperwork was confidential.
Mr. Cullen looked at me with a blank expression for all of a second before rolling his freaking eyes. Seriously. He rolled them. "I trust your judgement. Just choose one by the end of the day."
"Shouldn't you...meet them first?" I asked him, slowly again.
He stared at me.
"Someone might look good on paper but when you meet them in person they might have an annoying laugh, or body odor..."
The corners of Mr. Cullen's lips drooped down. "You're right." He blinked. "In that case, send an email down to Josie in HR and ask her to set up interviews with the applicants. Once she schedules them in for anytime this week, clear our appointments for those blocks of time so we can meet with them."
What was going on with all this we? I didn't understand why I would have to be in on the interviews. It wasn't my choice who was going to take over my position. Mr. Cullen was going to be the one putting up with a newcomer. He had to get along with them—well as along as he was capable of.
I didn't say anything though, and I nodded, curling my lips in to keep from asking him why I hadn't gotten an interview to get the position. I hadn't even interviewed with human resources either until I signed my contract.
Which was weird now that I thought about it again...
"Also, book another room for our trip down to Tampa. The replacement will be going with us."
The replacement and the trip to Tampa. My last trip with Mr. Cullen, exactly a week before my final day. We were visiting a string of warehouses along the coast for a few days and I'd just booked two hotel rooms a few days before, since he'd opted on driving down instead of flying.
I may or may not have glanced at his suspenders one more time before he disappeared back into his office.
"You ready for the trial?" Jasper asked from across the table in the break room.
I made a face at him, shoveling into the chicken parmesan he'd run out and grabbed after I told him I was too busy to leave for lunch. My business law class was kicking my ass and he'd promised to help me with my homework. "I guess. I've just been kind of ignoring the fact it's coming up."
He laughed but followed up by saying something that I didn't exactly find amusing. "Edward said the same exact thing."
"Is he going?"
Jasper nodded. "Moral support, Bella."
"For me or...?"
"You think he'd be there for Kate?" he scoffed like a good best friend. A friend that knew a lot more about the complicated man I worked for and only partially understood.
"Maybe." I said it but I knew deep down that he wouldn't. I knew he was the one who had filed a restraining order against the psycho. A restraining order I didn't completely understand.
Jasper rolled his eyes and gave me a disbelieving look. "That'd be the day I get him to listen to rap."
"You mean he doesn't have Lil' Wayne on his playlist?" I snickered.
He tossed his head back and laughed, which made me crack up as well. Mr. Cullen in his New Balances, belted jeans, and prog-metal t-shirts, listening to any kind of rap? Ha!
"Who's Little Wayne?" a voice we both could've recognized in our sleep asked from the doorway.
It couldn't have happened intentionally, but almost as if we'd choreographed the movement, we looked over to see the infamous Cullen standing at the doorway, hands shoved into the front pockets of his ash brown suit. Jasper and I looked at each other, still synchronized, and started laughing even harder.
"What?" Mr. Cullen asked indignantly the moment we'd stopped laughing our asses off.
"You're so clueless, my friend," Jasper chuckled, tossing a balled-up napkin in his direction.
Mr. Cullen scowled before picking up the ball and putting it in the trash can. "I'm not clueless."
I'm not sure why I did or said it, but I put my hand up and held my index and thumb finger an inch apart. "Just a little, little bit but you can't tell unless someone knows you."
His response was a simple scowl that wasn't remotely mean or annoyed, it was a resigned look. "You two would know."
It wouldn't be until later on when I'd realize how exactly he had worded his statement.
Until I was sitting next to Mr. Cheney in the small room where Kate would be getting sentenced, with only Mr. Cullen sitting in a row of chairs behind me as his ex-fiance was sentenced for the incident back in Florida. Kate who still looked every bit the snow princesses as she had months before, blonde and tall and thin, and the complete stereotype for a rich sorority girl. Not once did she turn around to look over in my direction. She'd turned once for a brief moment while listening to whatever her lawyer was saying and looked at who I could only assume to be Mr. Cullen for a brief moment. Blank. Void.
It was creepy.
All of the courtroom dramas I'd seen over the course of my life had lied apparently. There wasn't a jury or some grand courtroom. The judge had seemed to barely pay attention as he told Kate, her lawyer, the old blonde man sitting behind her, and Mrs. Cope, that she was heading to the crazy bin—not really but that was the way I was envisioning it. Treatment for six months in a medical facility of the family's choosing, just like Mr. Cheney had said in our meeting.
I'd thought for sure to get more pleasure out of the situation. That I'd feel relieved or avenged in some way after the month I'd suffered with my muscle contusion. But I didn't. I only felt bad for the woman sitting like a drugged robot at the table with a stoic-looking father and a carefully blank stepmother that hadn't spared more than a glance over to our side of the room. Not once to the man who had employed her for years, put up with her when she didn't know a damn thing about anything.
And that kind of pissed me off suddenly.
I understood that she'd be on Kate's side but to completely ignore Mr. Cullen? What a bitch.
That was the only thing I felt while Mr. Cheney shook my hand and led me out of the room, my boss flanking my other side.
I felt the heat of his breath before he asked, "Want to take a long lunch with me to celebrate, Isabella?"
If my legal crap is off, ignore it and forgive me :)
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And for those asking what I've been busy doing: REWRITING MY ORIGINAL! Please thank my friend, Dell, and my princess, Krystel, for finally getting me out of my funk. It's coming along, I swear, and I'm really, really excited about it—finally! I'm going to need another prereader if someone is interested, in a couple of weeks (if you are, email me! marianazapata at live dot com )