Pop the Question Contest Entry
Title: Of Lust and Hope
Word Count: 8711 words
Summary: Who would have thought that the man that had caused you to lose your job would also be the man of your dreams? Not Bella Swan, but her life gets turned upside down by none other than 'The Corporate Cuckoo' himself. Edward Cullen.
Warnings (if any): N/A
A/N I am soooooo excited. This is the first time I've entered a contest, so I'm not sure how it'll work out. Anyways here you go.
Of Lust and Hope
No. That two letter word, seemingly innocent, wormed its way into my every thought.
This could not be happening. If I had to list the Top Ten worst days of my life, today would be up on the Top Three.
First on 'The List of Evil' (as it shall from now on be referred to) would be the day I lost my job, exactly one month ago.
This year just had to be the absolute worst year. The only thing that could go wrong now is if I get robbed and beaten to death.
Paranoia struck and I quickly looked around to assure myself that there were indeed no evil muggers nearby.
But my little James Bond like search only brought more depression, as I saw the huge building looming in front of me.
'Cullen Inc.' read the shiny golden sign. A sign that cost thousands of people their jobs.
Cullen incorporated prided themselves in their ability to be able to buy other company's shares in a blink. They would then fire the original workers and put in their own workers. Like I said, thousands of people lose their jobs. And their lethal weapon was a guy nicknamed 'The Corporate Cuckoo'.
He was known to worm himself into a company and kick out all former employees. Exactly like a cuckoo bird. Everyone knew they had to look out for him, but each time he succeeded in buying every company that he had had his eye on. Even family companies would fold in time. It was sad to see people working so hard to build their empire only to have it swiped from under their feet.
I haven't had the rare pleasure to meet the supposedly charming thief, but if I do I would gladly assure that he never would be able to produce kids. I would be doing the poor kids a favour. Who would want a dad that only brought sadness to the world?
I would also like to beat him to death. I, unfortunately, was also a victim to this exploitation. I had worked for an art gallery that was on the verge of success, but 'Corporate Cuckoo' man ruined everything. Now I've been sitting without a job for a month and I don't have enough money to pay the rent. Resulting in my bad day.
My landlord had let me know that today was the last day I would be able to pay my rent. And I was panicking, like a turkey on the day before thanksgiving.
One thing on top of the other led to my infuriation and the moment I saw the big, shiny, black building I bristled with anger.
Who was this cocky big shot to think that he could come and destroy my life?
Inspired and fuelled by this - admittedly irrational - anger I walked to the high-rise building with quick lopes. I was almost caught off guard by a handsome guy swinging the door open. Regardless of his hotness I had decided that some of my anger should be released on him. He did after all just depart the Cullen Inc. building and anyone who worked there had to have some degree of idiocy and evilness.
"Do you mind?" I spat, my teeth clenched together. He turned around and stared at me with wide eyes. He was very handsome.
He had blond, wavy hair and startling blue eyes. I could see the slight muscles clenching from underneath his tailor-cut suit. It fit him like a glove and the blue colour made his eyes stand out.
"Oh thank Gawd." He said with a slight drawl. I was caught by surprise. He had a Texan accent? My thoughts flew to my best friend, Alice.
She would eat this guy for breakfast. Alice was completely smitten with cowboys. I guess you could say it was a fetish.
Mary Alice Brandon had been my best friend since we both knew how to talk and think coherently. Her mom and my mom had been friends at high school and their friendship had lasted till my mom had died three years ago. Alice and I do everything together and I know that one day our kids will be the best of friends like we were.
I was drawn from my thoughts by a strong hand on the small of my back, pushing me into the building.
'What was he doing?'
"Come this way." He said walking to an elevator. I stood there completely bewildered. Did they know I was going to show up? That seemed like the only plausible explanation to this somewhat bizarre behaviour. I walked up and into the elevator just in time to hear him mumble something.
"I suppose models are known to be snobbish." I thought I heard him say. Though it made absolutely no sense. Maybe he had had an incident with one earlier. The elevator started with a smooth pull instead of the usual jerk. I suppose they had enough money to keep it well-maintained.
"Where are we going?" I demanded. I hated not being in control. He raised an eyebrow, but before he could answer me the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Without a word he strode out and I followed with a scowl.
"Supercilious idiot." I whispered under my breath. His polished Armani, or whatever the hell designer, shoes clicked on the beautiful white marble. Everything inside was posh with gorgeous lush colours.
'They're thieves, Bella.' I reminded myself. 'They steal from others.'
The Texan guy walked to a set of black, shiny double doors. He opened them and made a movement with his arm for me to walk inside.
The inside surprised me. It was a neat, open space. The back window took up the entire back wall and instead of office blinds it had rich, golden curtains. Against the wall on my left-hand side was a huge flat-screen television. A comfortable-looking leather couch was set in front of it. On my right-hand side was a huge mahogany desk with a sleek laptop on top. I expected the desk to be messy, but everything was neatly stacked on top of each other.
And the pièce de résistance was the guy sitting behind the desk. If I thought the Texan guy was hot then this guy is extra-terrestrial. I had a sudden, inexplicable urge to use some lame pick-up lines on him.
You know there's always this guy that was way out of your league, so you just want to do something silly so that he would at least acknowledge you. Yeah well, here came my guy.
The only thing that stopped me from physically attacking him was the fact that I was standing in a Cullen incorporated building.
I was suddenly very aware of what I was wearing. A red flannel shirt with black jeans and All-Stars. I didn't even have make-up on.
"Is this her?" The guy behind the desk asked with an incredulous air. That annoyed me. He probably thought that I was just a little girl who won't be able to do anything to him and his precious company.
"What do you mean by that?" I said the same time Texan guy said: "Looks like it." I glared at both.
"Can you please tell me why you brought me here?" I glared at the Texan guy. The hot guy behind the desk stared at me with raised eyebrow.
"She doesn't look like a model?" He said, scrutinizing me.
'A model? Why the hell would I look like a model? What on earth was this company's deal? Did they have some kind of a model fixation?'
"I know. She's too short and curvy. I thought models were as thin as sticks." Texan guy said.
'What was their problem?'
"Great now you're calling me fat. You know in most social circles that would be taken up as an insult." And the angry, sarcastic pms-ing teenager inside of me arrived.
"Not to mention her anger." Hot guy said, still looking me up-and-down.
"Would you please stop talking about me like I'm not even standing here?" I pleaded with their judging looks.
"Okay listen carefully…uhm…miss…?" Hot guy paused.
"It's Bella." I mumbled, scowling.
"Right, Bella. I know that traditionally you must do catwalks and fashion and shoots and stuff like that. But I'm going to have to ask you to try and do something on a different level." He paused as if to create tension, but all it did was confuse and annoy me further.
'What was he talking about?'
"I want you to act. Just pretend to be my fiancé for two hours, tops. I'll reward you richly." He started packing up his laptop. "I actually like this look, Jasper. She looks like a wife type, not blond and busty. It'll fit better with this profile." He spoke to Texan guy who I know presume is Jasper.
"What do you mean I'm not busty?" I asked, indignation flooding me as I looked at my chest.
'Ah hell. Who am I kidding? I can't be busty to save my life.'
He ignored me instead taking off his blue tie and putting on a green one. I just noticed that it fit his eyes. This guy is gorgeous. It was a miracle I wasn't a blubbering mess.
He had beautiful and strangely coloured reddish-brown hair. His eyes were the colour of freshly mowed lawn. He had a tall frame and was more muscled than Jason or Justin or whatever the hell his name was again.
"Listen here. I'll do all the talking. This is a very important contract I have to get. They value family morals and I won't be able to buy it if they don't think a family will run it."
Ah, so he wants to buy a company, but has to have a family to buy it, so he hires me (or rather a model, but they don't know I'm not one) to pretend to be his fiancé so that he can trick the poor people out of their establishment.
"Don't worry, Ed. They don't call you 'The Corporate Cuckoo' for nothing." Jonathan said. I almost choked at this new piece of information.
'The Corporate Cuckoo, huh? So this was the guy that resulted in me losing my job and consequently my house. And I was just awarded a golden opportunity to destroy him from the inside. I'll make sure he'll never get this contract.'
"You're doing that wrong." I said with a blunt voice, pointing at his too narrow tie. He glared at me.
"I've been doing this for years and I don't think a model would know how to make a tie. Don't you have someone to do it for you?" I narrowed my eyes, but didn't say anything. I walked toward him holding out my hand, but stopped in question before I could touch the accessory. He shook his head, no.
"Oh for Pete sakes. Fine. Just know that models aren't always idiots." He looked startled at my outburst, but – wisely enough – kept quiet.
He picked up his briefcase and walked to the door.
"I'll fill you in on the details in my car." I didn't argue, but walked out of the door following him.
I was tapping my foot in impatience as we sat at the aristocratic table of a stylish restaurant – or rather manor. Edward, otherwise known as Hot guy, had filled me in on the way to this, probably million dollar, restaurant and bar. From his favourite colour to our supposed meeting. I had tried not to gag as he told me about how we had met at a charity function and how it had been love at first sight.
I was told not to speak unless spoken to and to speak in short, clipped sentences. Edward had also informed me that his ex-fiancé was his competition. And then he proceeded to tell me of his very boring (at least to me) love-life.
He and Tanya (the ex-girlfriend) had separated because of their rivalling companies.
Gawd, they must both be morons. Who could maintain a healthy relationship when half the time they had to be mortal enemies?
The rest isn't even worth relaying. My word, this guy had to unwind a bit. Maybe get a girl or two.
So far I had found out that this 'Corporate Cuckoo' guy was a presumptuous ass. Like I had thought.
Edward thought himself a gift to the world and all the way to the restaurant he had been preening like a freakin' Cockatoo.
Not once had he asked anything about me. That made me all the more pissed off and now I was ready to absolutely ruin his reputation.
We were now waiting for the other people to arrive. That was about the only redeeming quality this Edward character had. He was more than punctual.
"Was this necessary?" I asked, picking at the lace of my new dress.
Edward had all but ripped me apart about my clothing choices. Apparently I looked like a 'hobo'. He had stopped at the nearest department store and had bought the first thing he had laid his eyes on. A very short pink summers dress and it fit me like a… potato sack. I mean it was very form-fitting and showed off my narrow waist. But the pink made me feel like I was a cake and it took me way out of my element.
Edward sighed. "Yes, it was. Now stop fidgeting, Tanya's here." He whispered the last piece.
I looked up in interest. This girl must be an ice-queen if she dated this guy, not even to mention considering marrying him. I was curious.
"Oh, where, where?" I asked eagerly looking around the room. Edward was staring at me, probably berating me inside his mind for being so childish.
"Edvard, hello." A high soprano voice sounded from behind me. The voice had a distinct Russian accent. I turned around and had to hold back a gasp. She was absolutely stunning.
She had long strawberry-blond hair. Curled elegantly and pinned on top of her head. She wore a stunning yet simple black dress with high heels. She looked professional and seductive at the same time. Who could do that? Her eyes were a forget-me-not blue and her lips were a solid pink.
I hated her. I always hated beautiful women. I hated Alice the first time I had met her.
"Tanya, it's so nice to see you." Edward said, though his tone suggested the opposite. "This is Bella, my fiancé." His arm snaked around my waist and I almost jumped at the slight sting. Did he just shock me?
Tanya scrutinized me. "It is nice to meet you, Bella." She said in that freakin' cool accent. She put out her hand for me to shake, but I ignored it and instead pulled her into a hug. I could feel Edward's hand stiffen on my waist and I could feel Tanya's shock.
"No need for formalities, Tanya. I feel like I already know you." Now that ought to do something to our dear 'Corporate Cuckoo'. "Edward has told me all about you." Edward tensed behind me.
"Is that so?" She asked looking at him with raised eyebrows. I nodded. There was an awkward moment where we were doing this triangular staring contest or something. Tanya would look at Edward, Edward would glare at me and I would smile brightly at Tanya.
A cough sounded from behind Tanya and she stopped staring at Edward, resulting in the break of our three musketeer stunt. It transformed in a dynamic duo as Edward still glared at me. I, however, gave the person who had broken the silence my full attention.
He looked to be Native-American with deep set eyes and gorgeous olive-toned skin. His shiny black hair was cropped in a military sort of style; I didn't know what it was called. I mentally shook my head.
"Ah, right." Tanya said, rolling her 'r'. "Edvard, Bella. This is Jacob my boyfriend."
Her boyfriend? That seemed strange. This Jacob dude looked like he was a really nice guy. Not only was he built like a freaking gymnast, but he had an easy going smile on his face.
"Hey." He said, giving a two-fingered salute to Edward before taking my hand and placing a small kiss on my knuckles. I practically swooned. Edward coughed and my eyes snapped to his. He was glaring, obviously realizing I wasn't going to play this his way.
"Oh. Great, they're already here, Rosie." A loud booming noise came from behind me.
I looked around only to be met by a huge guy. His muscles had to be this size of flippin' Jupiter. He would be really intimidating if he hadn't had a dimpled smile on his face. His hair was dark and really curly and his eyes were a chocolately brown.
"Emmett, would you please calm down?" A soft voice came from his side. I had been too preoccupied with this huge guy that I hadn't even noticed that he had a girl tucked in his side.
She was even more gorgeous than Tanya. She also had blond hair, a killer figure and startling blue eyes.
I have never in my whole life felt so insecure. And do you know what insecurity did to me? It made me nervous. And when I get nervous I try to alleviate some anxiety through sarcasm. Oh this is going to be an interesting evening.
"Oh Rosie Posie. They won't mind." The guy who I supposed was Emmett answered with a blinding smile. "Do you?" He asked us. And of course like I said before. I become all sarcastic and babbly when I'm nervous.
"Well I don't mind. I actually prefer that someone announces their arrival. Like once Edward sneaked up on me while I was dressing – the little pervert wanted to try out being a peeping Tom – anyway, I ended up spraying him with pepper spray because I thought he was a burglar." I took a deep breath when I stopped talking, immediately turning red at the surprised expressions in front of me. Edward was once again, glaring. Emmett burst out laughing.
"You see, babe. She might have pepper sprayed me." He walked to his seat, mussing my hair on the way. Everyone took their respective seats and sat down. Jacob was smiling at me. Tanya looked bewildered and stared at Edward. Rosie – I assumed that was her name – looked disapproving, but I could see a slight sparkle in her eyes. Edward was moving toward me.
"What was that?" He asked in a whisper, his face set in a grimace. I shrugged.
"Improvisation." I answered before sitting down next to Emmett. Edward gracefully sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. Again I felt a shock.
"Okay before we start anything I want each of you to tell me a little bit about yourselves. And I will return the favour." Rosie said with a smile. "Hi, I'm Rosalie Lillian McCarty." Oh I guess Rosie was just a nickname. "I'm married to this big goof over here." She pointed at Emmett who in turn smiled widely "Em and I are the owners of Lust and Hope wine vineyard. We have decided to sell because we want to start a family and wine wasn't really that much off an interest of ours. It has been in Em's family and passed on and we think it unfair if the vineyard was neglected. We want a family to run it because we still believe in the passing on of it." Emmett leaned in and pecked Rosalie's cheek. Such a normal gesture though it made me feel all mushy inside. It made me believe that true love did exist. "Emmett you say something next." Rosalie said, patting his large bicep. Emmett cleared his throat and sent us a huge smile before speaking.
"Hello, my name is Emmett McCarty. As Rose already said, we're happily married and ready to have some bouncing baby boys who are going to absolutely adore their otherworldly, perfect father." Rosalie slapped his arm, but gave a light chuckle. Emmett's playful face suddenly turned very serious. "This farm has been in my family for centuries and I want a real, happy family with family morals to look after it and pass it on." My heart melted and I found myself very fond of this couple in front of me.
How could Edward be such an ass and just sit there and lie to them when family was clearly a very important factor? I gave the before-mentioned ass a questioning glance, but he ignored me instead choosing to sip his wine.
Jacob was next.
"Hi, my name's Jacob Black and I'm originally from a small town called La-Push, it's situated in the Olympic Peninsula. I came to Seattle and started working for a mechanical shop. Tanya had brought in her car and of course I couldn't let this pretty lady leave without so much as a 'Hi there' so I introduced myself and since then we've been inseparable. I asked her to be my girlfriend (officially) only a few months ago on one of our romantic trips to Russia – my beloved Tanya's hometown." His hand, which was positioned on her hip, gave her a light squeeze and she gave him a blinding smile. Edward seemed like he was trying not to gag. I fought the urge to punch him.
"Hello everybody. My name is Tanya Denali." Tanya started. I couldn't help, but stare at her in fascination as I drank in her strong Russian accent. "As Jacob said I come from Russia and I transferred here to help my company. I believe in strong family values and love my Jacob very much." She looked at Edward pointedly. I expected him to be cold and distant as he had been all day, but the moment all eyes fell on him he sank in his chair. A picture of ease. He had a lazy crooked grin. A grin I wanted to both smack and kiss off his face.
"Well my name is Edward Cullen. I originally lived in Chicago, but transferred, like Tanya, to Seattle with business in mind. Bella and I had a cliché meeting I guess you could say. It was at a charity ball – a fund raiser – where we had first seen each other." He looked at me and I actually believed what he said. Wow he had good acting skills. I rolled my eyes at his story. His story was crappy.
"No, no, Edward." I exclaimed, surprising everyone at the table. I blushed. "So sorry for interrupting, but I know he'll make it out to be a fairy-tale." I giggled, ignoring his death glare. "It was anything but one. Edward, honey you must admit that our first meeting had gone an absolute disastrous way." He was staring at me and I knew that he was silently cursing me. "Before I go on. My name is Isabella Marie Swan, but I prefer Bella.
"Now mine and Edward's story is quiet interesting. We met last year." While I said this I quickly planned the story in my mind. "I was ecstatic when my dearest father had asked me if I wanted to join him to a Fund-raiser with his work colleagues. My father wasn't one to socialise a lot, but he wanted to meet the Cullens. He intended to sell the business and retire and he thought that the Cullens would insure that his business would still grow. I'm afraid I cannot tell you the name of the company since my father wanted it to remain anonymous, it is a charity and he does not want the charity to benefit just by throwing around his name.
He wanted someone, preferable a hard-working guy, to come and make his charity a success, make it a company that could benefit all the little children that was part of it. I was in awe of my father, he had built his small company from almost nothing and it had grown to a company that he – and I – could be proud of. You see he had a big company who made millions of dollars a month and all of the money – excluding pay checks – were given to his charity he had built. Later on he had merged the company and charity. He paid his employees and he himself got a generous pay-check. He made sure, however, that all the money was equally dealt up and that the charity received the most money. He had decided that his colleagues should meet his family, he never went to balls or anything since Charlie isn't what one would exactly call verbose. Anyway the night of the charity ball my dearest daddy had arranged a make-up artist and had about a thousand dresses set up for me. I didn't really understand why he wanted me to look so nice.
Anyway, I had looked amazing by the time I was ready, make-up made a huge difference. So I had gone to the ball and was very excited. It was glamorous and I absolutely loved it. When everyone had decided to start dancing I went outside – I'm a horrible dancer. And I sat down on the edge of a huge fountain, looking down and the little fish swimming inside. I had been so entranced by my little observation that I did not notice a lot more people outside. It wasn't until I was bumped rather harshly that I realised I was surrounded by people. The bump however made me lose my balance and I fell into the fountain with a loud splash." Everyone was looking at me in horror and it seemed to me that Edward had relaxed a little. It shocked me when he chipped in.
"Not only did she fall in, but she took her cause of her fall with her." He chuckled.
"And who else should it be, but Edward." He seemed to expect that I would blame him and chuckled.
"But it wasn't my fault," He quickly added. "I had been bumped myself." I rolled my eyes.
"Sure, sure Edward. Anyway to cut a long story short, not only was I freezing and yelling at this handsome man, but I found out the whole reason my father had wanted me to come to the ball was to meet, and hopefully date, Edward." Rosalie made a little squeak of laughter and put her hand over her open mouth. I giggled.
"Edward being the gentleman had arrived the next morning at my apartment with a bunch of flowers and a heavy speech of how he had ruined his chances with the prettiest lady at the ball." I smiled widely pretending to reminisce. "I couldn't not forgive him, so I told him I would forgive him if he took me on a date." Silence followed after I finished and then Emmett burst out laughing. The patrons and other people in the restaurant were staring as his big frame shook our table. I laughed, too.
"I alvays thought you vere very professional, Edvard." Tanya said, scrutinizing him. Edward flinched.
"I still a-" Edward was probably worried he was seen as unprofessional. Tanya caught that.
"It is nice to see you let go a leetle. She is good for you, yes?" I laughed.
"He was a little uptight at the beginning, but I soon loosened him up." Jacob laughed.
"Well now we know who wears the pants in the relationship." That set everyone off again.
'Ever expect you would have so much fun, Bella?' A small voice sounded from the back of my mind. And the answer was evident.
'No, no I didn't.'
"Alice you will never believe what day I've had!" I shouted over the phone at my pixie friend.
"If you're so hyper, I'm guessing it's good." She said with a giggle. I gave her a quick laugh.
"Yeah, so get your little pixie ass down here. I have a pint of Ben & Jerry waiting for us to devour it." I only wasted my breath because the moment I said Ben & Jerry the line disconnected. I guess she was taking my advice and hurrying over here.
Five minutes later the doorbell rang and instead of waiting like a patient little girl that she was supposed to be she barged inside.
"Where's the ice-cream, Bitch?" I giggled as her little form pushed past me and into the kitchen.
"Wait. No 'Hi, Bella' or 'It's nice to see you, Bella.' What happened to formalities?" I asked, following her. She was already gulping down the ice-cream. I swear sometimes it's like she was raised by wolves.
"Nope. Now sit down and tell me what got you in such a good mood." Obviously my huge smile was giving everything away.
"Are you sure you don't need to lick your muzzle clean like a good wolf?" I asked, watching in satisfaction as she tried to wipe her face clean while glaring at me.
"Ugh wolves are disgusting. Couldn't you compare me to another animal, I hate wolves. They're like big dogs and I'm sure they stink like something else." I laughed at her rant. "And stop trying to change the subject. What happened today?"
I then proceeded to tell her about how I had been sulking and walking down the street. Alice had gasped when I told her that I was worrying about losing my apartment.
"I can lend you money, Bella. Or you can come stay with me. Why didn't you tell me?" I shook my head.
"You know how I hate it when people buy me stuff or give me money. I'm fiercely independent, Ali." I winked at her and she nodded smiling. "Now are you going to be good and stop interrupting me?" I asked, she made a show of locking her lips and throwing the key away.
I continued telling her about my day. She practically drooled when I told her about Jasper (I finally remembered his name).
"He had a Texan accent?" She squeaked. "Please introduce me, Bella. Pleeeeaasssseeeeeee. Oh please." I laughed at her begging form.
"I thought you weren't going to interrupt." I chastised her. She sighed with an over-exaggerated air, but motioned for me to continue.
Alice was a good audience; she gasped and laughed at just the right places.
"Oh my Gawd, Bella. What a day you had." She giggled, trying to scrape the last part of the melted ice-cream. "So what's gonna happen now?" I wiggled my eyebrows and quickly stood up to get my purse. I searched for the cheque and handed it to Alice. He eyes popped when she saw the amount of money.
"Dang, Bella. That's hell of a lot of money." She whistled and I laughed.
"I know Ali. It's enough to cover my rent for the next three months. Annnnnddddddd you know what the best news is?" I waited for a millisecond before answering her silent question. "Emmett and Rosalie want us potential buyers to spend the weekend at their farm, so Edward hired me for the weekend. I'll be getting a lot more zero's than that." I pointed at the cheque. "And I'll have a better chance to ruin his reputation." Alice jumped up and down and squealed.
"When did your life get so exciting, Bella?" I laughed, but stopped when Alice suddenly stilled.
"Oh my word, Bella. I have to go get packed." I looked at her confusion.
"What? Where are you going, Ali?" She shook her head at me and giggled.
"With you of course. Did you really think I would give up spending a weekend at a wine farm with a sexy cowboy?" I laughed.
"I don't know if he's going, Alice."
"Oh he'll be going, Bella." She said jumping up and running out of my apartment.
Saturday morning Alice had awakened me early so that we could start driving to the vineyard. Alice was practically quivering with excitement. The car skidded to a stop and we were immediately enveloped by a cloud of dust. Alice opened her door and jumped out into the explosion of earth. I waited until it settled to open the door and rather ungracefully plopped out of the car. Edward, Jasper, Tanya, Jacob, Rosalie and Emmett were already waiting for us. Alice danced toward the group of people. I had asked Rosalie if she could come and Rosalie had been more than eager to have another female come. I had the feeling that Rosalie was a little lonely on the farm.
"You kept me waiting." She scolded Jasper making us all look at her in surprise.
'What are you doing now, Alice?'
"Uhm…I'm sorry ma'am." Alice squealed at the accent and turned around to wink at me before introducing herself to the rest of the assembly.
"Who's she?" Edward asked looking bewildered at the tiny faerie.
"She's Alice. My stylist. I don't go anywhere without my stylist. But she's pretending to be my best friend." I smiled at his disapproving face.
It was quiet funny. Alice who is my best friend is pretending to be a stylist who is pretending to be my best friend.
"Well now that everyone is here. I just want to tell you guys what's on the agenda." She picked up a piece of paper.
"Okay now we will be having some tea and get to know each other a bit more. At 12:30 we will go for a hike. At 15:00 we will have lunch. 16:00 we will go to the wine cellar and we'll teach you some of the history of the vineyard. 18:00 everyone will get ready for a night at a restaurant nearby. And then tomorrow we will have breakfast and after that you have to tell us why we have to sell the farm to you specifically. And then you will all be murdered in your sleep." She frowned at the last sentence. "That can't be right." She muttered and giggled. Obviously Emmett had something to do with this. After a moment of confusion, Rosalie realised what happened and proceeded to tell her goofball of a husband off.
I laughed and to say that the rest of the day had been nice would've been an understatement. The tea was highly enjoyed and we were now getting ready for a hike.
I had planned out what I was going to do this weekend that could ruin his reputation. I would be the perfect 'fiancé' until Sunday morning when he would have to tell Rosalie and Emmett why they had to sell him their land. I would then drop the bomb about me being his hired fiancé. And then he would probably sue me…the pretentious ass.
The hike was absolutely beautiful. We travelled up a hill and were able to see the whole vineyard. It was breath-taking. We stopped at the top where two gravestones were situated. They read.
Carlisle McCarty Esme McCarty
1922 – 2008 1920 - 2006
Beloved husband and father Beloved wife and mother
"Emmett is this," I didn't finish staring at him with widened eyes.
"It's okay, Bella it's been a while, you can say it. And yes they are my parents. They were probably the best thing that happened to this farm. They ruled it with so much faith and love." He chuckled shaking his head. "They even invented a 'Lover's Lane'. It's down there." He pointed at a small narrow path with beautiful trees and flowers growing alongside it. I understood why they called it Lover's Lane; I fell in love with it just by looking at it.
"It's beautiful." Tanya whispered. I nodded in agreement.
"You know," Rosalie said walking up to me. "It's tradition to walk down the Lover's Lane when you're engaged. Why don't you and Edward take a walk?" She wiggled her eyebrows and pushed me toward the little path.
A wave of guilt rushed through me. I didn't want to break the tradition. Alice looked at me with sympathy in her eyes; her arm was hooked with Jasper's. He seemed bewildered, but I could see the awe in his eyes whenever he gazed down to the little elf next to him.
"Oh no." Edward said. "We don't want to mess up the schedule." I wasn't sure whether I should be insulted that he didn't want to be with me alone or whether I should glad that he was taking the schedule into account. Emmett laughed.
"We have time and it isn't that long of a walk. Go on." He pushed Edward my way.
Edward gave me a reluctant glance before he laced his fingers with mine. The familiar shock travelled through my spine.
'Was this guy always loaded with static electricity or something?'
We slowly walked down the path, looking back only to see encouraging smiles. The buzzing from my fingers still hadn't receded. The moment we were out of the others sight, I ripped my hand from his. Immediately the buzzing disappeared and a strange feeling of loss came over me.
Edward was walking ahead of me, completely in his element while I struggled to even walk over flat surfaces.
"Ouch." I muttered as a thorn caught a piece of my shirt. The sleeve ripped halfway and I cursed, making Edward laugh. He turned around, but froze when he saw me. I was about to ask him what was wrong when he spoke.
"Bella, don't move." Instead of contradicting him like I normally would've I stood as still as a statue. Not knowing what was happening.
"Bella there's a huge spider behind you." He said with horror in his eyes. "Don't move or it'll move." And that did it. I absolutely hated spiders. I gave a loud yell and ran like the girl I was.
"Ahhhhhhhh get it off!" I wasn't even aware in what direction I was running all I wanted to do was get away from the eight-legged devil. I took off my shoes to run even faster. I heard a loud laugh and someone running behind me.
"Bella stop! Bella stop I was just joking. There wasn't a spider." His chuckle was breathless. I whirled around, looking at him incredulously.
"What!" I shout-asked. He laughed.
"I was just kidding, Bella." He raised his eyebrow and talked in such a way that I felt like a two year old.
"You idiotic, pretentious, supercilious, conceited ass." I then proceeded to hit him with my shoes.
"Wow such a vocabulary." He smiled his cocky crooked smile and yet again I had the urge to punch him. He really didn't bring out the best in me. I huffed in anger and spun in a circle only to find that I had no idea where we were.
"Edward how do we get out of here?" He looked around, too, but didn't seem fazed at all.
"Uh well I came from that way. So I guess we just walk back until we cross the path again." I nodded and we started to walk. It was after ten minutes that I started to worry.
"Shouldn't we have come to the path, yet?" I asked looking at Edward. He grimaced.
"I think so; I mean you didn't run so far." I glared at him.
"This sucks, not only am I stuck walking down something called Lover's Lane with a cocky idiot, but I'm lost, too." I mumbled under my breath.
"Well I'm sorry that I followed your sulking ass so that you won't get lost." He folded his arm looking at the ground.
"Don't talk about my ass and you wouldn't have had to follow me if you didn't trick me with the spider thing." He sighed. "Can we sit down for a moment my feet are killing me?" He looked at me with raised eyebrows.
"And where do you intend to sit?" He asked again speaking down to me.
"On the floor, dumbass." He didn't comment as I folded myself down to the ground. My feet groaned in relief. After a while he sat down next to me and started to pick the grass from the ground. It was such a boyish action and it shocked me for a moment.
"You know," He suddenly said breaking the peaceful silence. "I'm not really a jerk." I waited for him to continue, bewildered by the sudden confession. "I actually work really hard and people think that being 'The Corporate Cuckoo' makes me evil, but really I'm just a guy trying to make an honest living. I really, really want this vineyard, but not for the reason you and everyone else think I do." I kept silent as I watched his brow furrow. "As a child I had loved to play with my grandpa. He was a strong man and a hard worker. He had also owned a vineyard and I had enjoyed playing in it as a kid. But when I turned thirteen he died and the vineyard had been sold. I was very sad not only because my best friend had died, but because I had lost a playground.
This is more important to me than anything I had ever imagined. I need this vineyard and I'll take good care of it." He sighed and let out a big breath.
"Why are you telling me this?" I asked. My heart had skipped a beat as I looked at the unexpectedly vulnerable man. He was so strong and cool, but now. He was sensitive? He gave me a small smile.
"I don't know." He said softly. "I guess I'm just tired of being judged by people who didn't know the whole me." I looked down and played with the grass. My cheeks flamed.
"Bella." He said softly and his gentle tone made me look up. I was however shocked to find that his face was much closer than I thought it originally was. My breath caught as I breathed in his musky scent.
His eyes flickered to my lips and he licked his.
And then his phone rang.
'Stupid kiss-blocking phone. Wait phone?'
He flicked open the silver device and answered with a husky 'hello'.
"Right, no sorry we got a little lost, but I'm sure we can find our way." Pause. "Okay see you soon." He put away his phone and stood up brushing off the dust from his pants before reaching out his hand for me to take. I brushed off the dust and we started to walk, again.
"That was Jasper. He wanted to know where we were. He said we missed lunch and the tour." I gasped.
"Goodness is it already that late. How do we get back before dark?" He chuckled and put his hands in his pockets.
"I knew the way all along, Bella. I just wanted to spend some more time with you." And then he whistled.
I was getting ready to go to bed. Edward and I were actually expected to sleep in the same bed, but luckily Alice and Jaspers' (they slept in the same room, but there was two separate beds much to Alice's displeasure) room was adjoining so Edward and Alice were going to switch.
The evening had been very pleasant. When Edward and I had returned from our long walk Emmett had wiggled his eyebrows and threw some innuendos in the air. I had blushed and rushed off to tell Alice all about the walk. She awed when I told her about the almost kiss.
"Alice I don't know what to do. I mean I saw another side of this man today and this seems so important to him. I think I should be a perfect fiancé until the end of the weekend and then never see him again." Alice rolled her eyes.
"Come on, Bella. I think someone is falling in !" She screeched while I tried, in vain, to stop her from shouting it to everyone in the house.
I was contemplating that. At the restaurant he had treated me like a princess and we had even danced a little before he excused himself so that he could prepare himself for the speech the next day. Could I be falling in love with Edward Cullen? Could one afternoon change my whole perception of him?
"Bella." Alice came into our room singing my name. "What're you still doing up here? I think you should go talk to our dearest cuckoo." I blushed and shook my head.
"Are you crazy, Alice? He's working right now." Alice rolled her eyes.
"Excuses, excuses. Get your pretty little ass down there." She shoved me out into the hallway and then locked the door. Effectively shutting me out of my own room. Having nothing else to do and knowing that Alice wouldn't let me in the room until I talked to him I walked downstairs to the study.
The door was slightly open and I could hear two voices inside. One with a thick Russian accent. Tanya. The other was velvety and I immediately knew it was Edward's.
"Come on, Edvard. This isn't fair to Bella." My ears pricked at the mention of my name and I sidled closer to the door. "We both know she is just a pawn in your game. I still love you Edvard and together we can rule this vineyard." I watched in horror as she closed the distance between them and kissed him. Not being able to take any more of it. I rushed upstairs and pounded on the door. Alice opened without question, probably hearing the urgency in my knocks. I burst in tears and spent the rest of the night in Alice's arms, ignoring the knocks from our door. Alice was pissed at Edward and kept muttering:
"Idiot ruined everything."
I fell asleep with a broken heart and a vengeful feeling growing in my chest.
The next morning I avoided Edward where ever I went. My original plan was set in stone. He chiselled it himself last night.
I sat down outside on the patio and watched as Edward and Tanya prepared to give their speeches. Edward gave me a small quizzical smile, but I ignored him. Emmett stood up and faced us all.
"We will now hear why the contestants think they are worthy to carry the name Lust and Hope. And no Edward it's not that kind of lust. I'm sure you and Bella took care of that with your little walk, yesterday." I smirked at the comment.
"Actually Emmett." I said out loud. "I would like to say something." He nodded confused. I stood up and faced everyone.
"A month ago I lost my job. I had worked at a local art museum and we had begun fairing really well. That is until Cullen Incorporated came along." A sharp inhale sounded from Edward and Jasper. "I lost my job as did many of my colleagues. So imagine my surprise when I walk down the street and there I see Cullen Inc.'s shiny name. It angered me that they could leave so many people jobless just so that they could benefit from it all. I was angry and fuelled by my anger I walked to the building. But Jasper caught me outside and was he relieved to see me. You see he thought I was the model Edward had hired to pretend to be his fiancé." The gasps were more pronounced by now. "I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to ruin 'The Corporate Cuckoo' from the inside. And here I am, making sure that nice people like Rose and Em don't get shamed by this lying, cheating S.O.B." The all looked at me in shock and Edward's face only showed betrayal.
"You and Tanya deserve each other." I spat out before walking out. Alice was waiting in her Porsche for me outside and the moment I climbed in she sped off.
*Eight months later*
"Oh Gawd Alice. I can't believe how good you look." I sniffed as I watched her spin around in her white dress.
Alice was about to become Mary Alice Brandon Whitlock. Yes she was marrying none other than my dearest friend Jasper. Since they had met they had been smitten with each other. At first it was awkward because I had called his best friend a Son of a Bitch, but it was all cool now. Edward and I haven't seen each other since that fateful day. I had been a bitch and didn't allow him to explain.
It turned out Tanya had made a move on him, but he had practically thrown her off of him.
Today was going to be the first time I saw him in eight months. I had been too cowardly and didn't want to go apologize, but I had to do it today. For Alice and Jaspers sake.
The ceremony went beautifully. Alice had been planning her wedding since she was six so it was bound to. Edward had looked dashingly handsome in a simple tux.
At the reception I sat down at a huge fountain and looked down at the little fish.
"Talk about dé jà vú, huh?" A soft velvety voice made me jump and my hand slid on the slippery edge. My flailing hands searched for some purchase, but instead I found the lapels of a tux.
I went down with a splash and I could feel a warm body next to me. I coughed and spluttered and saw Edward was with me. I laughed.
"Definitely dé jà vú." I said with a laugh. He pulled himself out of the pond and held his hand out for me. A slight crooked smile on his face.
"Bella, Edward. Are you guys alright?" I looked up to see that Alice was rushing to us her eyes wide.
"Well, well. What do we have here? Is your fake meeting finally actually playing out?" A familiar voice sounded from my left. It was Rosalie and Emmett and they were chuckling at us.
"Wait you knew?" Edward asked surprised. "You knew that we were lying?"
"We knew from the beginning Eddie boy." We didn't have time to answer instead Alice took me upstairs and gave me another dress to put on. I raised my eyebrow and she rolled her eyes.
"I'm always prepared, Bella." She giggled and left. I quickly dresses and brushed out my wet hair.
There was a knock at the door and I quickly opened it, expecting it to be Alice, but I found none other than a dry Edward with Alice's bouquet in hand.
"I'm so sorry. I think I may have ruined my chances with the prettiest girl at the wedding." He looks at me through his lashes and I couldn't help but laugh at his adorableness. I took the flowers and then noticed that he looked a little fidgety.
"Are you alright, Edward?" I asked looking at his hands, which seemed to be shaking.
"Bella, these past few months have been horrible without you. The day at the vineyard when you told everyone I wasn't sad at losing the contract, but rather sad because you were leaving. I don't want you to leave, Bella." He sank down to one knee and I gasped. "Will you do the honour of really becoming my wife, Bella?" He asked looking up so sincerely.
"No you idiot, stand up." He looked bewildered. "Stand up." I said with a laugh. "First we have to go on a date then we have to have couple fights then we move in and then I marry you, you big goon." He laughed as he stood up.
"Bella Swan you just made me the happiest man on earth. Alice thought it would've been nice if I proposed now, but I didn't want to. I first have to find out if you're not really the pain-in-the-butt you seem to be." I slapped him on the arm and pulled him towards me.
His lips were soft and gentle against mine. A whole new kind of lust for me. A lust to have a life with Edward and a hope that we would succeed.
Of Lust and Hope.
A/N: This has been brutal. I had decided I wasn't actually going to do the contest, but then last minute I decided I did. So this is horribly written. I just really wanted to write a contest story! So there it is. I just hope I don't get humiliated to much *face palm*.