Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Pairing: Bella/OC, Bella/Jacob, Jacob/OC
Setting: Jitters' Coffee Shop in New York City
Timeline: Tuesday, 5.36pm, December, 14th, Bella's Sophomore year of college
"Uh, miss? Whoa!"
"Crap! I'm so sorry!" I grabbed the rag tucked into my apron and began frantically mopping up the steaming coffee from my victim's table.
"It's fine, I think I'll still be able to father children.. Finals kicking your ass, huh?" he asked, gesturing to the well-worn novel in my left hand. Looking at him for the first time, my breath hitched in my throat. This guy had one of the kindest smiles I had ever laid eyes on. Piecing green eyes under a sympathetic brow, and ridiculous dimples that I thought only existed on boyband members. He had a cute smattering of freckles across his nose, leading down to a sexy, unshaven jawline and adorably mussed, sandy, blonde hair that looked like it had spent some time under a beanie hat recently.
"You wouldn't believe... " I sighed. "I guess I shouldn't try to bone up while pouring coffee," I ventured, and was rewarded with a small chuckle. "I'm so sorry about almost maiming you, let me get you a cupcake, on the house," I amended, turning in the direction of the baked goods counter.
"No really, it's okay, I was trying to figure out how to catch your attention for the past half hour anyway.." he smirked.
"Shit, really? I blushed. "I'm sorry, I am actually the world's worst waitress, did you need something?"
"Uh no..." he replied, sheepishly. "Well, maybe your name?"
"Any particular reason?" I asked, my heart beginning to thud. Don't make this awkward, dimples. I'd hate to have to wipe that gorgeous smile off your face...
"Well, you're not the only one who's been neglecting their studies. I've come in here every night for a week on 'study breaks'," he air quoted, "which my room-mate rightfully translated to 'trying to talk to the cute waitress at Jitters' breaks," he confessed. "I guess there's something about you, it's like you don't even realise that half the male customers are checking you out, " he jerked his head away from the corner booth he was in to the open area of puffy couches and mismatched tables, populated with students and professors escaping the harsh chill of the city's biting winds. "It's kind of intriguing," he finished.
Because they're not? Damn... here comes awkward.
"Josh," he supplied. There was that smile again.
"Okay, Josh.. you really don't want to go there with me." A crease appeared between his brows.
"I don't? It sure feels like I do...?" he was fishing for my name. Smooth move, Josh.
"Bella," I conceded.
"Bel-la," he emphasized, smiling at the new discovery. "Wanna give me a reason?"
"I'm not as interesting as you seem to think I am,"
"I beg to differ."
"I wouldn't make a good girlfriend," I confessed, shaking my head and returning my attention to the stained table-top.
He held his hands up in a halting motion. "Whoa, Bella, who said girlfriend? All I was thinking was one measly date," he answered, his smile widening. "Maybe Friday? There's a new Tisch production debuting this week."
I sighed. I did want to go see the newest performance, but I wasn't willing to bend my self-imposed rules. "I don't date."
"It's a non-date then."
"I'm really busy with finals."
"So am I."
"I have to cat-sit."
"I love cats."
"I only sleep with girls."
"I'm really in touch with my feminine side. Ask my ex-boyfriend." I spluttered a laugh at that. Damn, this guy is persistent.
"Look, Josh," I began, leaning one hand on the table to relieve the aching burn my job placed on my feet. "You seem like a great guy, but I'm just not doing the whole relationship thing. I'm sorry." He finally looked defeated.
"Damn, a week's worth of semi-stalking, down the tube, " he mock sighed. I giggled despite myself.
"Believe me, you dodged a bullet. Last guy who showed interest in me got his heart broken." And I'm still not over him. Okay lungs, keep working, it's no use getting worked up again.
"Did you run off with his sister?" he quipped, cocking an inquisitive eyebrow. I found myself giggling. Again. Damn, those dimples.
"No, but I almost ditched him for a guy he hates, changed my mind, and ran off anyway."
"Ouch, you really are a heart-breaker," he winced, clutching his chest with one hand. "Still, I can't really complain since you're here and you're single."
He really is relentless.
"I'll make you a deal, if I ever change my mind, I'll take you up on that non-date," I offered. Those stupid dimples were cracking my resolve. He seemed to ponder it for a moment, before coming to a conclusion.
"Okay, but how will I ever see you again? We could be like two ships in a passing storm in the vast sea of New York City," he gasped, eyes widening dramatically. I scoffed at his antics.
"You know where I work, I'm sure we'll see each other again," I answered, not wanting to be swayed any more by his irresistible charisma. He slumped in his seat, finally relenting. "Although, if I stand here talking to you any longer I might not have a job to come to. Then you'll never find me," I whispered, glancing over my shoulder where my supervisor, Tracy, was glowering at me, arms folded, as if she was a drill sergeant.
"Fine, you win this one, Bella. I have to get to the library anyway, otherwise you'll have to tell my mom I flunked out, it being your fault and all, " he joked.
I rolled my eyes and he moved out of the booth. Standing to his full height, I took the chance to assess his broad shoulders, encased in a dark green waffle shirt and his athletic chest leading down to low-slung dark wash jeans and black Converse sneakers. He wasn't as tall as most of the La Push guys, but was taller than Edward. I berated myself for making comparisons. He shrugged on a charcoal pea-coat and fixed a light grey beanie on his head. He was smiling as he held out his hand.
"See you on the other side of Finals, short-stuff," he said. I placed my hand in his and marvelled at the temperature before shaking it. It was normal. I snorted at the nick-name.
"See you around, Josh."
As the bell above the front door chimed, signalling his departure, I began to clear the booth he'd been sitting in. When I noticed a dog-eared copy of Ulysses sitting on the seat, I believed it was accidental. That is, until I saw his name and phone number written inside the front cover.
My shift wore on past rush hour, and my mind kept drifting back to my earlier conversation with Josh. Alex, my colleague and good friend had gone un-noticed as she'd been clearing a table, two booths down. She'd heard the whole exchange.
"Sweetie, I don't know what you're holding out for but don't you think it's time you, I don't know, stopped?" she asked, flicking cigarette ash into the wind, We were leaning against the back door of the coffee shop, I was nursing a swiftly-cooling latte while I joined her on one of her frequent smoke breaks. My nose tickled as she exhaled close to my face. The girl was a chimney.
She had taken it upon herself to be my own relationship counsellor, no matter how much I discouraged it, and believe me, I tried. She'd been through her fair share of guys since I'd known her, and was baffled as to why I wasn't aiming for the same 'all-round college experience' as she was. She was currently dating Peter, a guitar player in a pretty popular local folk band who would only answer to Pierre now, and wore fake glasses to complete his 'intelligent, artsy bum' look. The guy was a douche, and she knew it, but from the all-too-frequent accounts of their sexcapades, Alex didn't really care.
"I'm not really waiting, per se." Liar. "I just don't want anyone to get hurt," I admitted. Alex had been given a bare-bones, all-human account of my love life. She was firmly Team Jacob, and didn't believe that the fact he would one day be 'paired up' (imprinted) with a Native girl because of his 'future chief ' (alpha werewolf) status was legitimate reason for leaving him. (Yeah, I'd gotten better at lying since my fumbling teenage years. It came with the territory of having to keep two of the biggest secrets of the supernatural world.) The truth was, I wasn't willing to allow myself to move on until I'd heard he'd imprinted, and I would finally accept there was no hope for us. That, and it wouldn't feel right until Jacob had moved on first, me being the heart-breaker and all. Last I'd heard from Charlie, there was no girl in the picture. I'd been disgustingly relieved, but that was during Freshman year, and I planned to dig for more info when I went home in a few weeks.
"You know you're kidding yourself, right? Look, are you going to see the hunky Native man-meat over Christmas break?" she asked. The allusion to Jacob shocked me. Sometimes, I wondered if my face did some kind of twitch when I thought of him. She always knew. I shook my head adamantly.
"No, I promised myself I'd give us both enough time before I saw him again. Since I'm not ready, I doubt he is either."
"So you're living like a damn nun for no reason?" she asked, exasperated by my actions. "All I'm saying is, you might never be ready, and before you know it, you're 40, single and contemplating Cougardom. That shit only works if you look like Courtney Cox, hun. And you probably won't have her Botox budget," she chided.
My mind was once again drawn back to the copy of Ulysses I'd stashed behind the cash register. Would it really be so awful to give Josh a call? I knew Alex would approve, but I didn't want her influencing my decision. This was something I had to figure out alone, and she'd been pretty vocal in her opinions already. Ugh, I was so over this conversation, a repeat of the same one we'd had many times over the last year. Thankfully, Tracy's bellowing voice interrupted us.
"Bella! Alexandria! You're not getting paid to gossip, we've got customers."
"I swear, she only calls me by my full name because she knows I hate it," Alex grumbled, pouting at Tracy's retreating back. I snickered at her childishness.
"She probably thinks it's more professional or something," I ventured.
"Sure, then how come you never get Isabel-la?" she asked, mocking Tracy's shrill tone when she said my name. I laughed again.
"Clearly I'm just the better employee," I teased, pushing my tongue out between my teeth. Alex's response was to transform her dish towel into a whip and chase me back into the shop's heat. Taking my place as barista behind the counter, I began to set up the espresso machine for the new clientèle. The line was moving well in front of me and I began to take orders. When I got to the third person in line, I was wiping down the milk-steamer when I asked for their preference.
Furrowing my brow, I looked up to see what the hold up was, and my heart leapt wildly in my chest. There, towering in front of me wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a look of bewilderment on his face, stood Embry Call.
A/N: Hey guys, this story began life as a one-shot, but once I started writing the character of Josh, he kind of took over. What do you guys think of him? Do we like him? For reference, I imagine him looking like a 21-year-old Jensen Ackles. ;) And to those of you wondering what happened to Communications, it has NOT been abandoned. I will finish it, I just had this idea and had to explore.
Also, I have a fair idea of the direction of the story, but that can change in response to reader input, so let me know your opinions. Reviews are so important to me and I urge you to leave one, even if it's just a line. As in the description, the story is based on the song "Don't Bother" by Shakira. I'm sure that will give a huge clue to the direction I'm going.