I know I know, it's been forever since I've updated! But I'll make it up to you with a really long chapter! Don't forget to review, thanks!
The morning crawled by. Literally…A handful of mail had fallen behind one of our shelves and I was on my hands and knees, fishing for the dumb letters for about a half hour. Afterwards, I had my sorting pile all laid out nicely on the ground in respectable piles. I always got my work done, so no one ever questioned my methods. Luckily for me, Jake was delivering reports in various parts of the building, so I didn't have to subject myself to telling him about my various birthday activities. The last thing I needed was a jealous boy asking several questions about my new crush on the senior editor and answer things like why he was bringing me lavish bouquets to work.
The clock was finally ticking towards noon and I thought it was an appropriate time to take a break to the restroom.
Skirt, still as hot as it was this morning, shirt, slightly wrinkled, hair somewhat droopy, but one can't complain too much. Putting on a fresh coat of lipstick, I headed back to the mailroom.
"So what's with the fancy getup today Bells? This have anything to do with your appointment this afternoon?" Jake came into the room rolling in the small mail cart while eyeing me up and down.
"Ha, no nothing like that. I just kind of decided this morning that I needed to try harder. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have and all that nonsense, ya know?"
"Trying to leave this place already huh? And I thought we were being so much fun!"
"No offense to you Jake, but I didn't bust my butt at college so I could organize various editor's mail stash. This job is great, you're great, and I'm glad to be here but it doesn't mean I don't want to have a desk job."
"Just joking Bella. I was just wondering if you maybe were trying to impress anyone, that's all." Jake gave me a small smirk before disappearing into the back room.
Great, he's already onto me…Luckily it was time for lunch. I took a second glance in the mirror looking at my less than perfect image from this morning. My eyes darted towards my shoes. Where were we going for lunch? Would I be making a small jaunt on foot to the other side of town? Screw it, my legs look amazing in this. I decided to take the risk.
The mailroom is in the basement of the Cullen corporate building. Which basically means, if we were on the Titanic, we'd be the ones to die first. The mailroom was the same level as the parking garage where the loading docks were. Believe it or not, the company receives large packages quite often. So I pressed the number 3 button in the elevator with the star next to it, indicating the lobby entrance. I was a little early.
When I emerged out of the elevator, the grand entrance was bustling with various people making their way through inn wayward directions. The girl behind the secretary desk I recognized from yesterday at lunch. She had light brown, overly highlighted hair, and enough mascara on to make it look like she was wearing spiders on her face. I sat on the bench perpendicular to her desk, crossed my legs and put my hands on my lap.
"Can I help you? She asked with a perky grin.
"No thanks, I'm just waiting for someone."
"Okay, if you'd like me to page anyone just let me know."
I nodded and smirked. I bet she would. I bet she'd be willing to fetch Edward herself personally. Luckily, she wasn't one for small talk and went right on to typing at her desk while I absentmindedly fidgeted with my fingernails, pushing back my cuticles.
Two minutes later, the elevator doors open and the perfect man himself emerges from their barriers. His face lights up, and I could swear that his pace quickened just slightly the second we locked eyes.
Oh great, I'm smiling like a fool now, in the lobby of the corporate office where I work where the man I'm grinning at happens to be my boss. I stand up promptly and start walking towards him. His eyes widen as I straighten out my skirt and take a step in his direction. Two points so far today for this skirt! Maybe this 'wear a skirt to work day' should be a regular thing.
I momentarily notice the secretary girl gaping in my direction seconds before I'm scooped up in a hug by Edward Cullen. Before I can stop myself, I'm leaning in towards his smiling lips and he finishes the action by pulling me in for a kiss.
The morning couldn't have dragged by any slower. I was way too overcome with excitement for lunch to focus on anything, and I didn't have an annoying assistant bugging me every five minutes. Seth was out of the office, and I stared at my open email for hours wondering if I should sent a message to the beauty downstairs.
Luckily, I stopped myself from looking too much like a creeper. Instead, I called Alice to my office to help with my unpacking. She chatted away about some new boy named Jasper she had met the night before and how much she liked him. It didn't surprise me much. Alice has always been boy crazy. She was the twelve year old girl who read every Teen Beat and Bop magazine that the stores stocked. Multiple posters of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Backstreet Boys adorned her walls and she was always stalking celebrities. With a new boyfriend every week, I took note not to pay too much attention to her admirers.
By a quarter after noon, my office looked reasonably better with some lamps and pictures that Alice brought in. I was basically jumping out of my skin to get to the lobby early when she asked me to join her for lunch.
"Please please pleaaaaase will you come with me? You totally owe me. I'm supposed to be working on the charity ball right now but instead I helped you with your office. Call me the best sister in the world and take me to lunch! I'm dying to go to that little Italian café four blocks down and I wouldn't go there with anyone but you my first time!"
"Raincheck Alice, I promise. I already have lunch plans with a co-worker."
"Can't you reschedule? You're like the boss now! Aren't I more important?"
"I really can't reschedule Alice. It's really important and I don't plan on blowing it off. Please, we can go tomorrow I promise. Or I'll take you to dinner tonight. Your choice."
"Dinner is a no go for me. I'm meeting Jasper at Spencer's Steak House. By the way, you really should have stuck around for a few extra minutes last night. Emmett has this new girlfriend who has a roommate. She's completely your type. Maybe you should join us at dinner tonight! We could double!"
"Alice, I really think you've set me up on enough blind dates to know they're all doomed for failure. You don't need to be my dating service."
"Okay, okay fine. But if you don't call me for lunch tomorrow afternoon, I'm telling Dad to demote you."
"Deal. Really sis, I gotta go. I'm already going to be late."
"Kay, have fun. Call me later alright?"
"Will do, thanks for your help." I gave her a quick hug, and rushed to the elevators. I was on the twenty-seventh floor, and after stopping five times already to get to the lobby, I was considering taking the stairs the rest of the way. However, that might look a little awkward with the Senior Editor arriving in the lobby, breaking a sweat after taking the stairs.
My heart started beating faster and I could have sworn someone changed the pace of the dumb lift to being annoyingly slow. I'd have to talk to someone about that later. When the doors finally opened up to level three, I walked briskly towards the entrance when I almost stop dead in my tracks at the sight of my newfound obsession sitting mere yards in front of me. Before I could help myself, I'm practically jogging towards her. That's when she stood and revealed her sexy pencil skirt and heels to my over eager eyes.
Just seconds away, I keep repeating to myself. She smiled that crooked smile that I love, and I grabbed and lifted her into my arms. I sat her back down where she lifted her chin and blushed. Damn it to hell, I don't care if the whole company knows how twitter pated I am with this girl. So I put my lips on hers and lose myself in our kiss. I feel myself melt into her when her shoulders relax. I pull her in closer with the back of my hand at the nape of her neck. Where has this girl been all my life?
When we finally broke away, I brushed a piece of hair on her glowing face and whispered "hi."
"Hi," she replied.
"So are you hungry? I hope you're not picky with ethnic food cause I was hoping I could take you to a favorite of mine."
"Umm…just as long as it's not too spicy. My stomach is kind of a wimp." As she finished her sentence, a small growl escaped the small of her belly.
"A little eager? We may have to raid a hot dog stand on the way there if you're starving?" Am I being too cocky thinking I could joke like this to her right off the bat?
"Har har. I'm really fine as long as you don't hold my lunch hostage. Whatever is fine with me. I'm not too picky."
"Is Thai ok? It's not spicy I promise." Wow, a girl that doesn't say anything to impress me…that's refreshing.
"Actually that's great! I'm a huge fan of yellow curry."
"Perfect. Well shall we then?" I gesture towards the door. The revolving glass was spinning slowly, and I usher her inside the first opening before following through.
"Another sunny day, kind of a miracle don't you think?" I asked.
She looked down at the sidewalk, blushing as we swung our hands back and forth between us with our fingers intertwined.
"After everything we covered last night, don't you think we can move past weather chat?" she giggled.
"Are you laughing at me?"
A stern look crossed her face, but I swore I could see a hint of a smile fighting in the corner of her lips.
"Nope, absolutely not." The grin was about to escape, I just knew it.
"You know, I haven't done this in a long time. The whole dating thing…I have rather enjoyed dating my books the last few years, so I'm kind of at a loss."
"Ha!" The giggle burst through. "You sound like me. Despite your first impression of Rose last night, she's actually quite desperate for me to meet any guy to get me out of my apartment. You wouldn't think it; the way she peeled me away from you, I know. But I'm always just scribbling away in my notebook, cornering myself into my apartment. I have this little window seat in my room, and it's kind of my refuge."
"Oh really? Have you written any good stories lately?" I ask intrigued.
"Just one that I've been working on forever. I'm a wee bit meticulous when it comes to my own book. I haven't even let Rose read it yet, but I think she's snuck into my room a few times for a quick peek."
"I'd love to have a look." I confess serenely. If this woman fascinates me from just a few hours of interaction, I'd relish in the concept of being able to read into her imagination.
"Nuh uh, no way. Not until it's done!"
I make a pouty face. It's the same one I make for my mom when she doesn't let me pick at the cookie dough when she's making a fresh batch. It's almost always successful. "Please?" I ask.
"Haha, well isn't that look a weapon for mass destruction, but no. I promise I'll let you read it when I'm done with it. Technically it's already finished, but I keep putting bits and pieces into it when I have an idea. Then, it won't work with a later chapter so I'll go through the entire editing process again. Sad, I know."
She spoke so quickly and exasperated that I couldn't help but muffle a stifled laugh.
"What?" She asked.
"Oh nothing, you just get very excited. Maybe you're just as nervous as I am."
"You should have seen me in the shower this morning!" The words escaped her lips before she realized, and she brought her palm to her mouth in shock.
"The shower huh?" I teased.
"I'm sorry, I spew word vomit when I'm nervous."
"Don't apologize, I find it refreshing. Usually any girl I go out with agrees with everything I say like some Stepford clone. Granted, the majority of the last few dates I've gone on have been set up by my sister. I wouldn't enlist her in the Matchmaking business anytime soon."
"I see. Well if I answered your question, I am a bit intimidated. You're sort of a lot to take in." Me? How could this independent woman who stands her ground more than any other girl I've seen feel intimidated by me? The boss's son, whom most people believe fell into his job by mere family ties.
"Then I think we're on common ground. We're here," I say as I lead us both into an alley where a Channon Thai Café explained the sweet aroma wafting out of the little room.
The café was a little gem in the heart of Seattle in which not many people had knowledge of. The location of it was enough to keep them in business, but by no means was business booming.
"Wow," Bella whispered as we walked in. There were only seven square aluminum tables positioned in the tiny room. One man sat at the far end spooning noodles and typing one handed into his laptop. Atop the counters were plastic lotus flowers as the only table decoration. However, the far wall of the place was perhaps my favorite reason for dining here (besides the food of course). A vine garden hung on the far wall with a beautiful fountain leaking small flows of water into a small pool at the bottom. The intricate display was indeed breathtaking, and drew away any unwanted attention from the tacky decorations adorning the rest of the room.
"Pretty huh." I nudged her on the arm. "I suppose I partially blame myself for the lack of traffic these guys get. I've come here at least once a week for over a year and haven't told a soul about it. Besides my sister…I'm afraid it would get too popular and I'll be standing in line for over a half hour to get my Pad Thai."
"Hmm, it's that good huh? Well what would you recommend?"
"You said you liked yellow curry. I bet theirs rates number one on your impress-o-meter. You should give it a try. I'm getting pad thai. We could split both dishes if you'd like?"
I gave her a quick grin while walking towards the bar.
"Eddie!" Jin the owner stood behind the counter waving in my direction.
"Hi Jin! I brought a guest with me today."
"I see that." He replied in his Taiwanese accent. "To what do I owe the special occasion?"
"Well, it was her birthday yesterday. Ow!" I looked down to my right to find Bella's elbow; the culprit inching away from my side just seconds after the sharp pain.
"Birthday! How fantastic! What will it be for you today Ed? The usual? What would the young lady like?"
"Could we get a dish of pad thai, and a serving of chicken yellow curry? Use the mild seasoning on the curry though."
"Coming right up. I saved your table for you if you want to seat yourself. Anything besides water for you to drink?"
I look at Bella who shakes her head "No I'm good with water," she says.
"Water is fine."
"Okay folks, we'll have your order in about ten minutes."
"It was nice to meet you," Bella politely replied after me towards the small man behind the counter. "Well isn't this place accommodating? You don't even have to wait for them to bring you a menu!" She jokes.
We walked over to the table for two by the fountain that had two glasses of water and a place setting ready for us.
"Like I said. I've been here every week for over a year. I sit at the same table, order the same food, and bring the same person every time."
"You're a traditional man then, aren't you." It's not a question she asks me, it's an assumption. And a good one. Aside from being with her, I don't really like change at all.
"Yeah I guess you could say that. I find myself repeating the same things over and over. Not cause I'm boring, but I like familiarity. You on the other hand, I would make an exception for. You are far better company than the women I spend my time with."
"Oh? And what type of woman is that Mr. Cullen? I thought you said you didn't do the whole dating thing."
"I don't, but like I said before, the women I spend time with usually consist of romantic sentences in black lettering on a manuscript or a novel."
"Hmm…" She reached over for a sip of her water and her eyebrows scrunched in the most frustrating way. Was she disappointed? Maybe she's had a lot more experience than I have and she feels disappointed?
"You know, you're sort of cryptic." I confess.
"The way that I say something, then you make that little concentrated face without saying a thing. Usually I've got a pretty good handle on reading people, but with you I honestly have no idea what you're thinking."
"Well, if I'm honest, and don't make fun because this may sound stupid, but how on earth am I supposed to compete with the heroines of English literacy? What if you have this high expectation of women, and there's just no way I measure up to it?" She says it all with a smile. I'm not sure if she's joking or serious so I just let myself assume the worst and before I know it I can't stop laughing.
"Hey! I said you weren't allowed to make fun!" She's smiling at me now and tries to hide it by sticking her mouth around her straw for another gulp of water.
"Bella that is the most ridiculous thing I've heard! You should know by now that obviously no one has lived up to it, which was up until last night when I met you. I've never given a girl a second glance, and then there you were sitting beside me on a park bench after I fired my first employee. Call me unrealistic and foolish, but if that isn't fate, I don't know what is."
Maybe I'm coming on too strong. Do girls like that sort of thing? It seems like she would be the type who would appreciate good ol' fashioned romance.
"One Pad Thai for Eddie, and one Yellow Curry for his pretty friend." Jin was back setting our entrees on the table just in time to break whatever tension that had previously existed.
"Thanks Jin," Bella smiled at him and dove right in by pouring the curry all over her bowl of white rice.
"Hungry are we?" I joked.
"Hey, you're the one who talked this place up, I'm just anxious to see how it measures up to my standards." She took the first bite, paused a millisecond and didn't hesitate before shoveling in another spoonful.
"I'm interested to hear your standards in other departments."
"Such as?" She asked with a muffled voice.
I giggled. At long last, I was no longer sitting across from a prissy blonde that only ordered water and half a crouton. To top it off, we weren't talking about diets or how much weight they were trying to lose. Bella didn't have to try. She was perfect the way she was.
"Well, for starters, what kind of standards will I have to measure up to?" I raised my eyebrows and took my first bite of my pad thai.
"Oh please, I think you already know that you've outdone yourself in every aspect of the boyfriend category." She said it before she could catch herself. Boyfriend. Is that what she wanted me as? I fervently hoped so. But since we were already on a role with hashing each other with embarrassment, I decide to roll with it.
"Boyfriend huh? Are we already at that stage in the relationship?"
"I am so sorry, I didn't mean that you were my boyfriend…only that you are probably better than any guy that I could…well I think I meant that you-" I cut her off right there.
"Bella, I'm just kidding. Here, let me ask you another question. How would you feel if I asked you to be my girlfriend?"
"Well, I guess I'd have to say that we don't know each other that well and we'd have to see." Her cheeks were flushing, and I couldn't help but feel a little let down. Perhaps I was getting too ahead of myself. Maybe she didn't feel as strongly about me as I do for her. How foolish to think I could get someone this incredible and just assume she wanted me too?
"I see. Well don't feel pressured. I apologize if I made you uncomfortable." I take another bite of my lunch.
"Edward, no, no, no! I don't mean it like that. I just don't want you to think that I tricked you into saying the "g" word without really thinking it through. What if I'm a complete crazy like one of the other girls you've dated?"
"Bella, I can tell you right now you're different. I don't go buy flowers for just anyone. Hell, I have never stooped down to a stalker level to find out where anyone worked because I liked them so much. I'm asking you because I enjoy being with you and I hope there are many more dates after this one. In different words, would you like to be my regular plus one for lunch?"
"Stalker huh?" She giggled.
"Hey don't avoid the question! And technically it's okay because I didn't have your number. How else was I supposed to find you? Declare every woman in the company to try on a glass slipper?"
She was hysterically laughing now. "Don't laugh too hard Bella, rice will come out of your nose! And believe me, it's not a pleasant experience."
"Yes Edward, I'd love to always be your plus one for lunch, and if the offer is still available, for the girlfriend thing too. Also, I'd love to hear the story where you experienced that." She takes a sip of water without losing eye contact. She's a brazen little thing isn't she?
"Maybe next time," I say. And now I'm smiling like a fool. I take her free hand and bring it to my lips before taking another bite of my pad thai.
The rest of our lunch conversation took a much lighter turn. Once we finished, we said goodbye to Jin and headed back to the office.
I took her hand in mine as we walked along the sidewalk in tandem; her looking down and me with my eyes unable to leave her face.
"So I still don't want to wait until Friday to see you again," I confess. It was only Tuesday, and I could hardly handle the fact of her being so close and unable to see her. "Are you busy tonight?"
"Actually yes. I promised Rose I'd go shopping with her for this hot date she's got tomorrow. Plus she's buried in this project she's working on for her company and she'd kill me if I ditched her. What about tomorrow for lunch?"
"Perfect. Do you want to choose the next place?"
"I know the perfect place! Same time?"
"It's a date." I haven't stopped smiling since first meeting her last night. We arrive to the front door to the lobby where I stop her.
"I suppose since you're my girlfriend now, I'd be allowed to kiss you Miss Swan?"
"I'd be thoroughly disappointed if you didn't Mister Cullen."
I grab the nape of her neck in, and secure her back into me with my other hand. I don't even mind the bystanders walking past as we full on make-out in front of my building. When we stop, no words are exchanged, but she grabs my hand and I lead her into the lobby.
"Can I walk you back to your office?" I ask.
"Actually, enough questions have already arisen with the flowers from this morning from Jake. I don't want to get a full-fledged assault if he sees the Editor and Chief kissing me goodbye in the mailroom."
"Then to the elevators at least?"
"Okay," she answers with a grin.
We pass the reception desk with Jessica glaring at us the whole way through. No question she'll be doing research to find out who Bella is. Maybe this will get her and her girl minions to back off on me for a while.
We get to the elevator. I press both a down and an up button. The elevator heading down arrives first, so I lean in for a quick peck and squeeze her hand one more time before saying goodbye.
When I get back to my office, my phone is already ringing.
"This is Edward," I answer.
"Edward Anthony Cullen. Word has traveled that you just spent your afternoon kissing another girl in the lobby. You ditched me for a date?" Alice's voice was frantic.
"Alice, let me explain- -"
"No way Jose. I want full out details when you take me to lunch tomorrow. You better review everything that happened today so you can recite it back to me in the most accurate detail. The only reason I'm not coming down there now to talk about is cause I have a meeting in 2 minutes and a date tonight. Plan on taking an extra hour for lunch tomorrow. I gotta go. Love you."
Then the line went dead.
"Shit." I whisper. I guess there won't be any lunch with Bella tomorrow after all.