Disclaimer: I own nothing
I gave myself a final once-over as I fastened my earrings. The red dress I had chosen for the charity ball was bright against my pale skin. Satisfied that everything was perfect I made my way to the living room and gathered my coat and clutch, making sure I had my cell phone and my lipstick.
Carlisle knocked on my door exactly on time and I hurried to open it.
"Bella, you look breathtaking," he greeted in a rough voice, his eyes sparkling.
I looked him up and down, his tux fitting him perfectly and not a hair out of place, he was perfect. And mine.
"You look very handsome yourself," I grinned as he helped me put my coat on.
I locked the door and tucked my keys into my clutch. Carlisle offered me his arm and I took it, then we made our way down to the town car he had waiting.
We settled into the soft seating of the car and I noticed Carlisle glancing at his watch.
"Are we running late?" I asked.
He shook his head, "Not really, just fashionably," He smirked. "I want to make a grand entrance with you on my arm."
I snorted. "I don't know if everyone will be happy to see me with you, Carlisle. There are a few ladies in our office who have been waiting to sweep you up." That was for sure, I had noticed over the past few weeks he was getting more attention and it had begun to disturb me more than it ever used to.
Things had changed after we returned home from New York.
Work-wise, I was still as much a workaholic as ever. We both were, nothing had changed there; in fact I was probably busier than ever. There was a handover period which was only just finishing a month later. I'd had to learn a new job and also train my successor in my old one, the charity ball being my first official event as the new Chief Financial Officer. Carlisle never showed any resentment towards me for winning the job and I'm sure if it were the other way around I wouldn't have been sorry he won the position either.
It was on a personal level where our lives had changed quite dramatically. Any hesitancy between us was gone; I was surprisingly comfortable with our new relationship. We spoke to each other more often and spent more of our spare time together, not just holed up in his apartment either; dating, enjoying getting to know each other and just having some fun as a couple. At work we still kept things quiet, not intentionally, but I had been so busy with the handover that I hadn't had a chance to even have lunch with Carlisle yet.
The car came to a stop and the driver opened the door for us to exit. Carlisle took my hand and helped me out after him, we stood in front of the hotel where the ball was being held, he smiled down and me and pulled my hand up to his mouth and gently laid a kiss on the back of it.
"Let's go have some fun," he announced with a smirk.
I'd learned over the past month that he had quite a playful side that hadn't had a chance to emerge. He blamed not being happy for years on his rigid demeanor. He was still quite guarded when in public and especially around the office, and he'd always been a little bit OCD when it came to some things. In general he was much happier and was even known to wear jeans on the weekend, something that shocked even me, who had spent a fair amount of time with him before.
Carlisle led me into the foyer; it was a five star event and was being held in one of the city's best hotels. We made our way towards the grand ballroom leaving our coats in the cloakroom on the way. As we neared the room the murmur of the crowd and the tinkle of classical music in the background grew louder. There was a sign next to the door that announced the Newton Stanley Annual Charity Ball for those who weren't sure where they were going.
Some people were standing around in the foyer, dressed to the nines, chatting and enjoying themselves. A few people looked twice when they saw us together, but other than a couple of raised eyebrows we made it past unscathed. I smiled to myself, happy to be finally out together at a work event.
Carlisle stopped just inside the door and squeezed my hand; he stood and looked around, almost as if he was waiting for everyone to look. When he was satisfied we'd gathered enough attention, he smiled down at me and then led me towards our table, greeting people as we went. We had definitely created a stir, people were openly staring, some smiling, others in shock. The PA gossip mill will be working overtime for the next week or so.
Our table was near the front, being CFO had some perks. We sat with a few of the other senior executives and their spouses, eating the delicious food, drinking expensive champagne and making conversation with those around us. Carlisle never stopped touching me; he held my hand or laid his palm on my knee. It was sweet and perfect; the night couldn't have gone any better.
We sat for speeches and listened as Mr. Newton praised the staff on a great year's work and thanked all in attendance and especially everyone who donated. Then the dance floor was opened, Mr. Newton led his wife out onto the floor, taking her in his arms with a smile.
Carlisle leaned in and whispered in my ear.
"Have I told you how stunning you look tonight?"
"Maybe," I smiled as he kissed me just below the ear.
"Dance with me," he said and held out his hand.
I placed my palm in his and followed him to the slowly filling dance floor, ignoring any looks we were getting. He pulled me in his arms and I rested my head on his chest and we danced slowly, in our own little bubble.
"Carlisle! Bella!" I looked to my right and Mr. Newton and his wife were dancing next to us, he had a wide grin on his face.
"I'm so happy to see you here together." Then he leaned in closer as if he had a secret. "I've been waiting for you both to figure out that you were perfect for each other."
He shot us a wink, and then twirled his giggling wife back across the dance floor. I blinked at his retreating form then looked up at Carlisle who was beaming down at me.
"He's right you know," Carlisle declared. "We are perfect for each other."
I smiled in return as he leaned down to kiss me tenderly. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd win the man and the promotion, but sometimes things just work out perfectly. All thanks to a crazy bet.
And there you have it! Thank you so much for reading! I hope you liked it! Especially Midnightlove87 - I hope my Carlisle was okay! :o) Thanks to everyone who reviewed and alerted, I appreciate you all so much!
Extra special thanks to Dolly Reader and Kitty Vuitton for doing what they do best. I really couldn't have done this without you!