We all know I don't own Twilight, but hopefully, you'll enjoy my story nonetheless!
Welcome old and new readers! To celebrate the anniversary of the day I discovered fan fiction (Halloween 2009), I am very excited to bring you another touch of history, touch of paranormal, and touch of romance venture so let's dive in! More at the end, of course…
Magenta Violetta Chartruse Green – Maggie to her friends and Ms. Green to all else – sat primly behind her massive carved oak desk, holding a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a résumé in the other. Her eyes darted from line to line as she read for the tenth time the qualifications and recommendations for Isabella Marie Swan.
Miss Swan had already passed the written application stage and had received glowing recommendations from two subordinates so in reality, meeting with Maggie was merely a formality. This third interview was a hoop to jump through but a crucial one nonetheless.
Hands-On History was the premiere historical research agency, providing complete, accurate and extensive information for any and all takers. Primarily, HOH's bread and butter was the secondary education market including both public and private schools, but recently the television and movie corporations had taken note and hired them for special projects. Clients merely provided a time period and location they were interested in and for a fee, Hands-On History would compile a dossier that was educational, entertaining, and most of all, complete across the disciplines whether it be music, fashion, technology, et cetera.
Maggie was responsible ensuring Hands-On History hired only the best and brightest, and she was quite proud of her success so far. Recently, the applicants had been more and more unreliable. Transcripts had been altered and letters of recommendation grossly bloated. She could not permit such atrocities to be in her employ, particularly for a position as important as archival historian-in-residence.
As archival historian-in-residence, Bella would gather the information from each department and create cohesive, logical reports to provide clients as the end product. She would be the metaphorical gatekeeper for Hands-On History's clients.
Maggie set aside the paper at hand and took a long sip of her beverage, sighing contently as the aroma soothed her. And her nerves certainly were in need of assuaging. Something was afoot. She could feel it in her bones, and the various charts she had consulted just that morning indicated it would be wise to be wary. Changes were on the horizon and one false step could prove to be cataclysmic.
This Miss Swan did seem to have all of the markings of a perfect archival historian-in-residence even if she was a bit on the young side having only just completed her master's degree. In three subjects. Simultaneously. The impending interview would be quite interesting, of that Maggie was certain. She truly hoped the gifted Miss Swan had a personality to go with her academic accomplishments.
And then there was the special project she had bubbling under the surface which only one other person knew about. That was most important, indeed. Perhaps this Isabella would be the key to being able to finally move forward with the operation.
With a quick glance at the crystal desk clock, Maggie rose from her perch and with confident steps glided across the room to the lavatory. After washing her hands, she peered with gray, hawkish eyes through razor sharp bangs at her own reflection, carefully adjusting her pin straight black hair. Ten more minutes until the interview. Ten more minutes to wonder if…
"Ms. Green," a squawk from the intercom broke through Maggie's ruminations.
"Yes, Sweetie?" Maggie responded, her heels clicking across the tile floors as she approached her desk.
Sweetheart Mobolade was possibly the best personal assistant Maggie had ever come in contact with and had the uncanny talent of knowing just what Maggie needed before it was requested. Therefore, she was allowed to interrupt Maggie whenever and however she so desired.
"Miss Isabella Swan is here ta see you."
"Two minutes, Sweetie."
The intercom clicked off with a low crackle.
Early for an interview. Maggie liked punctuality and found herself smiling a little too broadly. She quickly wiped the grin off of her face and took her place at her desk. Straightening one heavy silver ring on her right hand, Maggie nested her fingers together before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. She held it for a few seconds before releasing it and slowly opening her eyes.
The door opened just seconds after Maggie opened her eyes. Sweetie hustled into the room, her traditional Nigerian dress shuffling around her. As her bare feet slapped against the tiles, Sweetie smiled warmly at Maggie, giving a slight nod of approval for the brunette following her. With a welcoming gesture, Sweetie gathered up the voluminous fabric around her almost alabaster pale arm and motioned toward an empty chair, her bracelets jangling a cheery tune.
The young woman in tow carried herself well, Maggie noted. Too often, interviewees tried too hard, either attempting mock humility or puffing themselves up to the point there was no room for anyone else at the table. Maggie also observed that the woman was simply dressed in the stereotypical black interview pantsuit. It had been carefully lint brushed to perfection and was neat and tidy, even though the cut was not the most flattering for the wearer. Miss Swan's clothes fit her as though she had recently lost weight but had not been able to purchase new clothes.
Everything about Bella exuded simplicity and practicality. From her low ponytail with pewter clip to the retro black glasses to the purely functional watch on her left arm to the sensible black leather flats on her feet, this was a woman who did not spend much time worrying about frippery.
Maggie's face softened ever so slightly as she rose and extended one hand in greeting.
"Miss Swan, thank you so much for coming in this afternoon."
"I greatly appreciate your time, Ms. Green," she replied, accepting the handshake with confidence.
"Cahn I get you something ta drink?" Sweetie inquired politely. "Coffee? Tea or water?"
"Some water, please," Miss Swan smiled. She had learned long ago that being polite to the administrative staff was as important, if not moreso, than being polite to department heads. She knew who held the power as it were.
Bella instantly was confused at the request and her face reflected as such. Fortunately, her hostess recognized the dilemma and grinned broadly, showcasing a brilliant smile.
"Sweet roll," Sweetie continued, obviously well used to being misunderstood. Her warm smile lighting up her face in an attempt to put the younger woman at ease.
"No, thank you, ma'am," Bella replied, hoping and praying the blush she felt tingeing her cheeks was not as obvious to her interviewer.
"Coffee, Sweetie," Maggie murmured, taking her seat and motioning for Miss Swan to do the same.
"Yes," Sweetie nodded before excusing herself from the room.
Bella smiled warmly at the woman who carried herself regally from the room before returning her attention to the real reason she was at Hands-On History's headquarters. She perched herself at the front of the chair, adjusted her black jacket quickly and gazed expectantly at Ms. Green who was watching her with unblinking eyes.
The oddest thing then occurred. Bella felt as if something had subtly changed before her. She could not quite grasp what the change was, but most certainly, something was amiss. She tilted her head ever so slightly as she frantically tried to unscramble the mystery.
"Is something wrong?" Maggie inquired nonchalantly as she pulled out a plain manila folder.
"Must have had something in my eye," Bella replied, straightening herself in her seat, her words a complete lie. She was quite certain there had been a coffee mug sitting on the desk before her, but in an instant, it had vanished.
Maggie stared at her in silence for a moment before a slow smile tugged at the left side of her mouth. The blank mask reappeared upon her face without warning. She did have a reputation to uphold and being too friendly during an interview was something Maggie could not allow.
"I see," she stated flatly. Had Bella been able to read minds, she would have realized how happy Maggie had been that she had noticed something was amiss. A high level of observance was required for this position and making something disappear was one of Maggie's favorite ways of testing for it. "Now, tell me why Hands-On History should hire you as our next archival historian-in-residence."
And for the next hour, Bella did just that.
Bella Swan sat happily behind the wheel of her ancient Chevrolet pickup truck, pounding the steering wheel in her glee. In her slightly battered find of the week at her favorite thrift store portfolio was a typed job offer signed by Ms. Magenta Violetta Chartruse Green herself. Bella half-pondered what the story behind that name was but decided the joy of meaningful employment outweighed that concern. Again, the poor defenseless steering wheel found itself the victim of her exuberance. Fortunately, it was made of sturdy materials and took the abuse without a single complaint.
Catching herself, Bella quickly looked around the almost empty parking lot to ensure no one had witnessed her outburst. Being just past five on a Friday, most of the employees had long since vacated the premises, but Bella had stayed on, enjoying the tour of the facilities Ms. Green had taken her on once the offer had been extended. Most importantly, she had seen what would be her office should she accept the position as well as the resources available to her. Bella's hand may or may not have longingly brushed against the old fashioned desk and leather chair with state of the art computer within arm's reach of a bank of oaken bookshelves crying to be filled with materials required for her next project.
God, she was thrilled to death at the notion. She would be able to show the naysayers – her mother chief among them - that a triple major in history, archives and creative writing was a worthwhile venture and not just the result of someone who had no idea what they wanted to do with their life.
That had never been a problem with her. Bella knew what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to experience it all. Fully. Passionately. Every ounce of her screamed to study the world, process it and then write her findings for future generations. It was her calling and she could not ignore it any more than she could stop breathing.
Bella had promised to ponder the offer over the weekend and let them know her decision Monday morning, but in her heart of hearts, unless the benefits package included her signing over naming rights to her first born, she would be accepting the job. She snorted at the thought of having children any time soon for that would require having a significant other and those had been few and far between and decided that even if the requirement was there, she would take the job.
She reached into the glove box and pulled out her cell phone.
"Forks Police Department, how may I direct your call?" a gruff voice responded on the second ring.
"Hey, Charlie," Bella giggled. For a police department of three, her father sure enjoyed sounding official when he was saddled with answering the phones.
"Hey there, Bells! You're not driving and dialing, are you?"
Bella shook her head before responding with a no, knowing he could not see her but would do that 'hearing thing' dads were wont to do.
"Because you know that's not safe."
"Yes, Daddy. I was just calling to tell you I got the job!"
"The history hands thing? Well, they would have been stupid not to hire you."
"Hands-On History," Bella sighed. Charlie had always been one of her biggest supporters but sometimes, he got things a little mixed up. "The interview went great. I got a tour of the facilities and met most of the people I would be working with. One guy wasn't in but everyone else seemed really nice. And yes, I have a job offer and benefits package to consider over the weekend!"
"You still going to come up to the bonfire tomorrow?"
"Wouldn't miss it." She reached across and buckled the lap belt into place while balancing her phone on her shoulder as the thought of the last bonfire of the season flittered through her mind. She loved fall with its changing leaves and a freshness clinging in the air.
"I can't wait to see you. Better let you go so you can get on home before it gets too dark."
"Lock your doors, Bells."
Bella smiled at the reminder. She may have been 24 years old, but she would always be his little girl.
"Will do. I'll text you when I get home."
"And I'll get someone to reply like always." Charlie was still pining for the days of the rotary phone when it came to technology.
Bella laughed and said her farewells before tossing her phone into the seat next to her and starting up her beloved pickup, pulling the knob to turn on her headlights, and easing out of her parking space. She happily sang along to the classic rock radio station as she wove through the hills, enjoying the scenery as she slowed to make yet another turn on her way home.
Just after weaving through a particularly tricky horseshoe curve, Bella noticed a bright yellow Porsche something-or-other with a flat tire in a pull off and a man clad in black rummaging around in what was merely an excuse of a trunk. She grabbed her cell phone and sure enough, there was no reception. The internal debate to help or continue on her way buzzed through Bella's brain. Never one to abandon her fellow human in need, her decision was made almost instantly. With a deep sigh, she found the next available place to make a safe three-point turn and pulled up behind the disabled vehicle.
The gentleman bumped his head on the trunk lid when her truck sputtered to a stop with a creak and a groan behind him. Bella was pretty sure there was some profanity muttered as she watched him rub the back of his head before spinning around. In the glow of headlights, the man took on an ethereal glow, his black suit and tie a shadow against the crisp white of his shirt. In his hands, he held pieces of what looked like a jack but she could not quite be certain. He was tall, of that she was sure. His face remained just above the beams of her truck's headlights and therefore she could not clearly make out his features.
Bella climbed out of the truck, pepper spray hidden in one hand, four battery Maglite visible in the other. One could never be too careful, she had been told time and time again.
"Have a problem?" she inquired, keeping part of the truck between herself and the stranger.
"Flat tire," came the reply, tinged with disgust as he waved toward the vehicle in question. "Just the end of a perfect day." His tone belied it had been anything but.
"Need some help?"
"Well, unless you happen to have cell phone service to call a tow truck, a jack that isn't in pieces and a lug wrench, or a magic wand, I don't see how you can help me." He threw the two bars of metal he held into the trunk with a satisfying clunk before turning to face her.
"Don't think what I have will work on a Porsche."
"Yes, your vehicle is a bit more rustic, and I wouldn't want to cause more damage."
Bella's eyes blazed for a moment as she glared at the man who looked properly ashamed as soon as he had spoken.
"To my sister's car. This is my sister's car," he explained quickly. "More damage to my sister's car. Not your truck. Not sure anything could hurt that. But my sister is very protective of her car. Usually, I have to sign off in blood just to ride in it. I had a production meeting to attend in Seattle, and she didn't think my car was 'appropriate' so she forced me to take it and…"
Bella laughed at the quote marks he put around the word. She was rewarded with a chuckle that was warm and gracious. The man seemed to relax and took a deep breath.
"Just topped my day," he sighed. "Last minute, I get a has-to-be-face-to-face meeting in Seattle. That was an utter fiasco. Jandesica - yes that was her name and her only name - demanded we basically rewrite the Spanish Inquisition because, I quote, 'That killing of people was so mean!'" His voice took a higher pitch to imitate the vapid Jandesica.
"And then," he continued, "the entire debacle occurred when HR is interviewing a potential coworker. No, more than a coworker, a potential supervisor. The archival historian-in-residence co-ordinates the projects among the different units, and I missed the whole thing. It'll be my luck that he'll be a complete and utter waste of space and throw everything out of alignment at work. Be one of those who can't write their way out of a paper bag." He paused before running one hand through his hair. "Just make it worse on the rest of us."
A silence fell upon the two as Bella really had nothing to add and the man appeared to be utterly deflated from his tirade.
"I'm sure this means absolutely nothing to you. I do apologize," came a tired groan as he pulled off a pair of tortoiseshell glasses and scrubbed his face. "It has just been a very, very long day."
"We all have those." Bella smiled to herself, thinking that her day had been rather excellent.
"We've just interviewed some real winners lately. I don't know what Maggie's been thinking bringing them in. Surely there is someone better out there."
Bella tilted her head at the name but remained silent. She wondered if this was the missing co-worker Ms. Green had alluded to during her tour.
"It's not that far to where I work; I'll just walk down and call a tow truck," the man continued. "Thank you for stopping."
"I can't let you walk in the dark." The words escaped Bella's mouth before she had time to think.
"That's very kind of you but…"
"You don't have a very good sense of self-preservation, do you?"
"Nope. Just a can of pepper spray and three self-defense classes," Bella smiled, opening the driver's side door.
"Fair enough," he laughed, clambering into the passenger seat. "I work at Hands-On History." He motioned the direction Bella had originally traveled from.
The Chevrolet pick-up roared to life, and Bella cautiously pulled onto the road and headed off into the night.
"Been working there long?" Bella inquired curiously.
"Three years. Truly rewarding work."
"And they are hiring?"
"Just the one position right now, economy being what it is and all."
Bella nodded in understanding even if she was pretty sure he could not see her in the dark.
"If you could just pull up to the main building over there," he continued, pointing toward the administrative building. The same dark red brick office Bella had been interviewed in earlier in the afternoon.
In the glow of the parking lot lights, Bella had a much better view of the gentleman in need. His hair, frazzled as if hands had run through it countless times, stood at odd ends around his face, though she could not quite make out what color it was in the half light. He appeared to be just a little older than her and at least in profile, not bad looking.
"Again, thank you so much," the man stated, sounding ever so grateful for her assistance. He climbed out of the truck and fumbled in his pocket for a moment before pulling out a key card and ID on a black lanyard.
"Don't mention it." Bella smiled.
"I guess I should have introduced myself." He extended one hand across the bench seat as he stood in the doorway. "Edward Cullen."
"Very nice to meet you, Edward Cullen." Bella shook his hand, noticing that he did not do the I-am-the-man-I'll-take-it-easy-on-the-handshake-with-a-woman thing. She smiled broadly at this.
Edward closed the truck door with a solid thunk and turned toward the entryway before spinning around.
"I never got your name," he called.
"Bella Swan," she called over the low rumble of her truck. "The new archival historian-in-residence."
And with that, she drove away from the building and disappeared into the falling night.
For my Evermore Experience readers, I have contributed part one of Liriope's back story to Mostly A Lurker's fundraiser. She is collecting funds for a service dog, a cause near and dear to my heart. You can contribute through 11/15/2011 at mostlyalurker dot blogspot dot com. I will be contributing a little something toward the Fandom Gives Back fundraiser as well. You can learn more about that at thefandomgivesback dot blogspot dot com.
I hope to post weekly, but we all know real life comes first. I am a mom, a wife, committee chair, and school volunteer. I do promise you this—I finish my stories.
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