Hai. I know, I know. It's been a while. Read and I'll explain afterward.

Disclaimer: I don't own Twiight.


"So…" I tried to break the ice. I didn't want things to be awkward between us when we weren't in the safety of… well, a hotel room.

That sounded so wrong.

Edward lifted up both eyebrows the moment he finished scooting over into the booth at the diner. "Have you eaten here before?" he asked, glancing around the old restaurant.

He looked so… not out of place necessarily, but something very close to that.

I couldn't pinpoint exactly why but I had a feeling it had something to do with the fact his suit probably cost more than most of the people dining made in a month. To give him credit, he hadn't batted an eyelash at the torn cushions or the suspicious looking stain on the table we'd picked. But at the same time, I guess Edward Cullen wasn't an easily ruffled man either. A new place to eat was nothing in comparison to the people and shit he dealt with every day.

It made me respect him a little more.

I couldn't help but smile. "Jasper and I have a few times. You?"

He shook his head, torn between looking at me and continuing to glance around. "Unfortunately not. When I get out, it's usually to that Chinese place you two always go to."

And steakhouses. And fancy restaurants.

But he didn't say that. He knew that I was well aware of most of his eating habits.

And me? I brought my own lunch most of the time. Which he was well aware of as well.

The difference settled in my brain for a second but I let it go. It didn't matter. We hadn't chosen the financial situations we'd been born into and he was a good man that wasn't wasting away the opportunities he'd been given. That was why we'd grown into our friendship.

I lifted up a shoulder at him. "Well, I'm glad you were able to get out today."

That little half smile of his crept up his lips but he didn't get a chance to say anything else because the waitress showed up, handing out menus, dropping napkin-wrapped utensils onto the table and taking drink orders.

I watched Edward undo the rubberband from the fork and knife that had been set in front of him as I pretended to look at the menu. He unrolled the napkin and set it on his lap, grabbing another napkin from the edge of the table to set his silverware on. I had to bite back a laugh when he looked over at me before picking up his menu.

I swear spending time with Edward was like going to the zoo and looking at the exotic animals through the thick glass. How the rich and cultured lived… and slummed it.

Another laugh tried to fight its way up my throat but I managed to hold it back with a rough cough. I needed to quit treating him like an experiment when we were out in public. "So… how's it going with your new best friend?"

Dark green irises peeped at me from over the top of the greasy, laminated menu covering the lower half of Edward's face, and by the slight way they tilted down, I could tell he was scowling. "You mean the changeling you left in your place?"

I laughed. "Alec's not bad." I kept the you guys are two peas in a pod comment to myself though.

His scowl deepened. "I don't want to say that I hate him but…"

I couldn't fight back the grin that had swept over my mouth. "But if Mike Meyers was running after both of you, you'd slash his Achilles and leave him?"

Dear God, I sounded like a psychopath.

But I couldn't dwell on how perfectly thought out I'd set the scenario up because… Edward was looking at me blankly.

The menu lowered half an inch as he asked in a low voice, "Mike who?"

It was my turn to look at him blankly. "You don't know who Mike Meyers is?" I asked him slowly.

The carefully controlled expression on his face didn't waver. "Should I?"

I stared at him.

And then he started laughing more loosely than I'd ever heard before. This asshole. "You're joking, right?" I asked just to be sure.

"I know who Mike Meyers is," he said between laughs. "I know I live under a rock most of the time but everyone's seen Nightmare on Elm Street."

I slammed my mouth shut and felt my nostrils flare. "Edward…"

The menu in front of his face dropped to the table, exposing his wide grin. "I'm kidding, Bella."

"Are you? Because I really can't tell."

Edward pushed his menu across the table to tap it against mine. "Yes, I am."

I totally didn't believe him. Who was this man and where had Edward Cullen gone? Not that I was complaining but… seriously. Where was he?

"I'm serious. You're just making this too easy on me." He smiled.

I rolled my eyes but didn't hold back a smile. "Okay, I deserved that. I'm sorry for thinking so lowly of you, but I figure the brilliant don't have time for things like scary movies."

"I'm not brilliant," he said in a way that made it seem the term embarrassed him. "And it's been years since the last time I saw one, but I did catch a few as a boy."

As a boy. Who says that? It only made me smile more. "No midnight showings of Paranormal Activity for you?"

He shook his head. "I like to go to matinees. The last movie I watched at midnight was Star Trek with my father."

How cute was that?

Wait.

What?

Oh dear God. I swallowed the thought and then spit back out of my head immediately, hating how uncomfortable it made me feel. Where the hell had that come from?

Where. The. Hell. Did. That. Come. From?

I think I might have broken into a sweat in that split second.

"Are you all right?" Edward asked me, his brows furrowed.

I swallowed again and made myself nod, trying to remember what we'd been talking about. "So…" I cleared my throat. "Star Trek, huh?"

I couldn't concentrate hardly at all after that anomaly. If Edward noticed that I was distracted, he was conscious enough to not ask why. We talked about Star Trek and then he told me a story about watching reruns of the television show in the rec room at his boarding school. I managed to tell him that I was never able to get into it.

The waitress brought our food at some point and we both chowed down. This newness between us, his good mood, whatever it was, all felt like a new pair of shoes. They fit and they were nice and smelled good, but they hadn't molded to me just yet. It was the difference between skinny jeans and your favorite pair of old, holey ones.

"I thought Chris Pine was a great choice," I told him, smirking.

Edward's eyebrows went up. "I don't know—"

The familiar sound of his BlackBerry ringing cut him off and I watched as his shoulders hitched up in annoyance right before he started digging into his pocket. With a sigh, he pulled the black device up and glanced at the screen.

From the expression in his eyes, I knew he needed to answer the phone. "Go ahead," I told him, smiling just so he knew for sure that I was being serious.

He hesitated but I shook my head. "I'm serious. It's fine. Answer it if you need to."

Edward pursed his lips together and nodded, curtly, touching the screen with obvious irritation.

I just kept eating, trying my best not to eavesdrop on his conversation but I caught bits and pieces. "What?... When did that happen?...Of course not…"

It might have been my assistant's sixth sense that warned me our lunch was going to end sooner than expected but I took it in stride. What else should I expect? I'd always known Edward was a workaholic, and most importantly we were eating during work hours, he was Mr. Cullen until he left the offices.

Usually.

So when he slipped his phone back into his pocket and looked at me with apologetic eyes, I pointed at the waitress coming back our way. "I asked her to get you a take-out box so you can finish eating later." Though I doubted he'd get a chance to but he'd only eaten about half his food.

"I'm sorry," he apologized. "I don't mean to rush off like this but," his mouth went into a firm, straight line.

I shrugged and waited until the waitress had lazily dropped the container on the edge of the table. "I understand. Don't worry about it."

A tick flexed in his jaw as he shifted his leftovers onto the take-out box with his knife and fork. "I hate to leave you like this."

And I believed him.

"It's really okay," I promised.

Edward didn't try to explain what was going on as he got his things together and I didn't bother asking. He looked so tense and frustrated, I didn't want to make it worse. Plus, what was I going to do? Work came first.

But when he pulled out his wallet after standing up, I waved him off. "Nope. I can afford to pay at the diner. Go on back."

"But Bella—"

"Nope. My treat. You've done enough for me."

"Bella—" he started up again, only to get cut off by his phone ringing again.

I smiled and waved him off. "It's fine. Go."

Edward looked at me with those dark green eyes, relenting only when the shrill tone of his cell got louder. Just as he started to put it up to his face, take-out box in his other hand, he mouthed, "I'm really sorry."

I just shrugged at him, watching him leave.

I stayed at the diner, playing around on my phone until I finished my food. I didn't let myself think that I was annoyed or bothered by the fact he'd left. So it wasn't a big deal when I walked back to work alone.

But it was totally worth it when I got back into the office and caught Jessica peeping over the divider of her cubicle.

I worked diligently for the next few hours, trying my best not to let lunch bother me and it didn't.

And just as I was leaving for the day, I got the notification of a new email.

From Edward.

I'm very sorry for leaving you.

Are you free for a raincheck this weekend?

The weekend?

I gulped.


I'm sorry it's been so long but it's been a good last two months for me.

My boyfriend came home after three months of being gone (hooray!) so I've been trying to enjoy that and life, period.

As some of you know, I released my novel a month ago-finally! I'm so excited about it and completely overwhelmed and grateful for the response it's gotten. Under Locke made it to the USA Today Best Seller List, New York Times Best Seller List, and Indie Reader Best Seller List. KLAJKLJFSLKFDS. Yeah. If you've read it, THANK YOU! Please email me so I can thank you personally and send you mental hugs.

Unfortunately, I did lose a lot of my momentum for TD along the way. I'm trying my best to keep going to finish it for you guys but some days are harder than others.

Okay, that's it. I truly love and appreciate how supportive (and patient) all of you have been. I'll try to be better about updating regularly *cross your fingers*

xoxox

Mariana

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