Title: Dogwood, North Carolina
Written for: Cruiz Fanfiction/ cruiz107
Written by: dolphin62598
Summary: Dogwood, NC is a sleepy little town and a tight knit community. Bella Swan is the town's newest resident and the hottest topic of conversation among the locals. When Bella lands a job as the town lawyer's assistant, will she be able to concentrate on work or will she become obsessed with her hot new boss?
Prompt Used: Lawyer hooks up with his assistant
If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this exchange visit the Facebook group: Fanficaholics Anon: Where Obsession Never Sleeps or add the C2 to get all the stories direct to your inbox. (Just remove the spaces)
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A/N: Thanks to Clarisa for betaing this!
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or these characters. No copyright infringement is intended.
. . . .
The air in the job placement office was stale and heavy. The air conditioner whirred overhead, but it didn't feel like there was any cool air circulating around the room. I was certain these people in Dogwood, North Carolina were immune to the sweltering temperatures. Coming from upstate New York, I wasn't used to the humidity and I felt drained.
"Miss Swan," the secretary called, her voice garbling my name with her accent, "Esme will see you now." She pointed towards the only closed door in the office. I smiled and nodded, approaching the door with as much confidence as I could muster.
"Isabella," Esme breathed, "what a pleasure it is to finally meet you. Why, your cousin Vera speaks so fondly of you I feel as if we are already acquainted."
"Thank you, Mrs. Platt," I said politely. She was so regal and elegant that I was instantly intimidated. Her auburn colored hair was twisted up behind her head and her green eyes sparkled with wisdom and mirth. She exuded an odd sense of comfort as well.
"Now, dear, please call me Esme," she scolded lightly with a demure grin. I nodded and sat in the chair across from her desk.
"Good, let's see if we can find you a job. Can you list some of your attributes?" she asked, setting a pair of reading glasses on her nose and peering down at some papers arranged on her desk.
"Well…" I started, but she immediately cut me off.
"You can type?" she asked, her tone turning professional and brisk.
"Yes," I answered.
"You can handle answering a phone and filing paperwork?"
"Yes," I repeated.
"I'm assuming you can read?"
I snorted, thinking it was a joke, but her eyes flashed up quickly and narrowed. I immediately straightened up and nodded.
She nodded sharply in return and took out a business card from her rolodex. I didn't think anyone used a rolodex anymore. Usually business contact information was stored in a computer program, but apparently, Esme liked to do things the old-fashioned way.
"Now, you go down three doors and tell my nephew that I sent you. He's been looking for an assistant for quite some time now, but no one in this town is capable of handling the job. I think you'll be the perfect fit."
"Thank you, Esme," I said and smiled. I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
"Oh, it's no bother. Now, why don't you sit on down and have some tea with me?"
"Thank you, but I'd really like to get down to see your nephew," I replied, hoping I sounded gracious.
"Nonsense, he's in court right now. We have another thirty minutes or so to visit. I want to learn more about you."
"Well, I don't really like talking about my reasons for coming here," I stammered softly.
"Oh honey, I already know how you ended up in Dogwood," she said, smiling warmly.
"Uh…" I said stupidly.
"I want to know what your plans are now that you're here and just so you know, the entire town has speculations about you and why you're here. Don't listen to the nasty gossip though. In the blink of an eye you'll be old news," she chuckled.
That made me freeze up slightly. Dogwood was a very small town and I knew people would talk, but I wasn't sure how anyone would know why I was here. The small-town mentality was going to take some getting used to.
"I'd like to make a new life here," I stated.
"That's fantastic news," she said offering me a dainty cup with a saucer. She moved around her office fluidly and gracefully.
"Edward will be happy to have someone working with him finally. He's the town's only lawyer and I swear he puts in eighty hours each week. Hopefully you can alleviate some of his work load."
"How long has he been without an assistant?" I asked.
"About two years now. The last girl…let's just say she wasn't properly suited for the position," Esme said cryptically.
"Now, let's talk about your ex-husband. I know you said you didn't want to discuss your reasons for coming here, but I think we need to get this out in the open. The more proper people in town that know your story, the better," she said pointedly.
I stared at her unblinking.
"How long were you married?" she asked.
"Three years," I sighed. I didn't really want to talk about him or my motives for leaving.
"Was the girl younger than you?"
I gasped and looked down. Anger surged through my veins and I found it hard to form words. How could she know exactly why I'd left him?
"Sugar, I know it's tough and it's probably hard to hear that someone else knows of your pain, but it's best to air it all out. You'll feel better," she offered, her tone comforting.
I counted to ten and took a deep breath before answering her, "She was younger than me and prettier." I looked up and grimaced as Esme's brows furrowed.
"Well now, that won't do," she said softly shaking her head.
The anger was still lingering, but I held back. I didn't want her to call her nephew and tell him not to hire me because my fuse was too short.
"You're a beautiful woman," she said. "That cheatin' bastard didn't deserve the likes of you," she snarled.
I was taken aback at her harsh words. She looked as if she'd pummel him if he were here.
"We take care of our own down here. You'd do well to learn that, darlin'," she said and smirked.
She looked at her watch and smiled. "Now get on off to see Edward," she said, shooing me out of the office.
"Thank you," I said and nodded.
"It's been my pleasure, dear. Don't be a stranger," she called as I left the office.
I waved to the receptionist as I exited the office into the heavy heat and walked down the street to the law office. The card Esme had given me stated that his name was Edward Cullen. The name sounded old-fashioned. Hopefully he wasn't an old man stuck in a young man's body.
The office looked old-fashioned on the outside with a plate glass window and fancy lettering stating the business name. The door had an old brass handle and was made of wood with a long glass window centered from top to bottom.
I turned the handle and entered, slowly scanning the office. It was in complete chaos. Paperwork was stacked on every available surface. Styrofoam take-out cartons dotted the piles along with paper cups. No one seemed to be in the office, which was a large open area with only one door in the very back that was closed. I found an empty trash can and started walking around collecting the empty containers and paper cups.
"Can I help you?" a deep voice boomed from behind me as I was putting the last container in the receptacle.
I spun around with a wide smile on my face, but it immediately drooped and my eyes widened as I observed the man in front of me. My eyes didn't know where to look first and my brain felt like it was at an all-you-can-eat eye candy buffet. He was gorgeous. Like Calvin Klein underwear model gorgeous.
The thing that stood out the most on his tall, lean frame was his reddish brown hair that was standing in complete disarray on top of his head. It was as if the strands were revolting against each other. It was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen.
"Shall I repeat myself?" he drawled, narrowing his eyes.
"I…uh, your aunt sent me," I stuttered. "I just left her office and there was so much trash…I just thought I'd clean up a little."
"Esme sent you? Who are you? Are you new in town?" He fired off questions rapidly. It was easy to see that he was a good lawyer. It was in his nature.
"Yes, Esme sent me. My name is Isabella Swan and I'm new in town. My cousin, Vera, lives on Gardenia Drive though. I'm currently staying with her. I'm from upstate New York," I replied, providing more information than he'd asked for.
"Can you type?" he asked and I nodded. "You can file paperwork?" I nodded again.
"I don't know if you're what I'm looking for," he said regretfully.
"Oh, please, Mr. Cullen. I'm desperate. I need this job," I begged. My hands even pressed together in front of my chest as if I were praying.
He sighed and ran his incredibly long fingers through his hair. It sent me into a daze and I was certain that my eyes were probably glazed over.
"How about a probationary period then? You have one week to get this office cleaned up. If you can do that, then I'll hire you."
"I can do it," I said confidently. "I'll start right now," I offered.
"No, I'm only going to be here for another twenty minutes and I'm taking the rest of the day off. I'm exhausted and I need some time to myself. Be here at eight tomorrow morning. Your week will start tomorrow."
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Cullen," I exclaimed grabbing his hand and shaking it enthusiastically.
"You can thank me this time next week if you still have a job," he said briskly. I nodded and bounced out the door.
I knew without a doubt that I'd be able to have that office sparkling and in order in less than a week.
. . . .
The next morning I arrived at Edward Cullen's law office promptly at 7:45 in the morning. I had a thermos of coffee, some muffins and a sandwich for later. I'd hoped that Edward enjoyed blueberry muffins.
Vera was a little hesitant to tell me anything about Edward last night when I arrived back at her home. She gasped when I told her of my interaction with Edward, but smirked slightly when I told her he'd given me a week to get his office rearranged. She did tell me to bake some muffins to bring in with me this morning though. It made me wonder if she knew Edward personally or if she just wanted me to make a good impression.
I approached the door to the office and peered inside. The office was dark, but I tried the door handle anyway. It was locked so I knocked lightly on the glass. Glancing around inside and seeing no movement I sighed and leaned against the door.
People were strolling up and down the street not so discreetly glancing at me. The office was located on Main Street so I was sure I'd be seeing many of the town residents through the big front window. I needed to get used to these people if I wanted to make a life here.
"Edward doesn't arrive until at least nine on Wednesdays," a blonde woman chirped, approaching me.
"Oh, he…uh told me to be here at eight this morning," I said.
"Are you his new assistant?" she asked happily, clapping her hands slightly.
"If I can get that mess cleaned up in there by this time next week, then yes," I chuckled.
"I'm Alice," she said holding out her hand. "You must be Bella." I nodded and shook her hand gently.
"We're so happy to have a new resident," she said with a smile. Her green eyes sparkled as she appraised me quickly. "I think you'll do just fine here."
"Thanks," I said and grinned.
"I'll let you into his office," she said and pulled a large ring of keys from her purse.
"Oh, I don't know if that's a good idea," I said, panicking slightly.
"Nonsense," she scoffed. "If he has a problem with it, you can tell him to take it up with his sister."
"Okay," I agreed, somewhat stunned. Alice looked nothing like her brother.
"He told you to be here at eight probably to see if you'd have the patience to wait for him. That was your first test. Since you're here, and early at that, the least I can do is let you in. My husband, Jasper Whitlock, is the mayor so I have keys to almost every building on Main Street," she rambled as she opened the door and turned on the lights.
"Thanks," I sighed and rubbed my forehead looking at the chaos again.
"Try to keep the filing in chronological and alphabetical order. The cases he's working on now should be in his briefcase, but sometimes he has a working pile right there," she said pointing to a pile on a desk towards the back of the office. "I'd leave that desk until last. The rest of this mess has already been handled so you should be able to get it all filed away without any complaint from him."
"Wow, thank you," I exclaimed, relieved to have somewhat of a system to start with.
"It's my pleasure, Bella," she replied happily. "Now, when you answer the phone make sure you say 'thank you for calling Cullen Law Firm, how can I help you?' because that's how our dad answered the phone and Edward will not tolerate it answered any other way."
I nodded and grabbed a notebook and pen to jot down the greeting. I set it by the phone so I wouldn't forget the proper wording when the phone rang.
"He carries his planner with him at all times so you'll have to ask him for copies of his schedule so you know when to plan future appointments for him," she added. "If all else fails, just get the caller's information and tell them you'll return their call as soon as you have more details about his schedule."
"Thanks so much, Alice," I said. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate this."
"Really, Bella, it's no problem," she said, her southern drawl becoming slightly more pronounced. "I want you to like it here and I think you'll work wonders for Edward."
I nodded again and took a deep breath preparing for battle as I looked around the office.
"Now, I have to go and check up on Aunt Esme. I hope your first day goes great. Don't let my brother intimidate you," she stated. "Your outfit is lovely, Edward loves the color blue," she added with a smile before she walked out the door and down the street.
I looked down at my navy blue, wide-leg dress pants and my white, cap-sleeved blouse smiling. I was hoping to make a good impression with my attire, but I wasn't sure if I'd hit the mark. If Alice approved then I was sure I did okay. I had a feeling she'd end up being my biggest asset for my new job.
I immediately got to work on the desk closest to the front of the office. I sipped coffee and nibbled on a muffin while I tried to make sense of the piles and filing cabinets in the office. Once I had a good system worked out, I was able to organize and file almost the entire desk before Edward walked in.
"Ms. Swan," he greeted me coolly. "May I ask how you got into my office without my knowledge or being here?"
"Good morning, Mr. Cullen," I greeted him cheerfully. He narrowed his eyes and I quickly added, "Your sister let me in. She saw me standing in front of the office at eight and informed me that you didn't start until nine on Wednesdays. When I told her that you'd advised me to be here at eight, she let me in."
"So you've met Alice then?" he asked setting his briefcase at the desk where his working piles were located.
"Yes," I replied.
"I take it you've already figured out your own system of filing?"
"Uh…Alice may have told me how you liked things filed," I said hesitantly. He nodded and removed his suit jacket, draping it across the back of the chair.
"Would you like a muffin?" I asked, holding out the basket I'd brought with me.
"No, thank you," he said without looking at me. "I trust you can answer the phone when it rings?" he asked.
"Yes, Alice gave me the greeting as well in case anyone called before you came in. I will need a copy of your schedule if you'd like me to arrange meetings for you."
"You will have a copy of my schedule if you make it until next week," he said harshly.
"Very well," I said and returned to the desk I'd been working at. I wanted to lash out at him, but he was giving me an opportunity here and I didn't want to ruin that. I decided it was best to bite my tongue.
Hours went by without a word uttered between either of us. The phone had only rung once, but it was a telemarketer. Once twelve-thirty rolled around I unwrapped my sandwich and took a healthy bite. I chanced a glance back at Edward and he was staring at me. He quickly looked down at the papers on his desk once I'd caught him.
"Would you mind if I walked down to the corner store?" I asked him suddenly. I really needed to walk away from the stacks of papers surrounding me for a few minutes.
"That's fine," he said.
"Would you like anything?"
He shook his head so I grabbed my purse and headed down the street walking slowly, trying to enjoy the fresh air. The scent of pine and gardenias flooded my nose, relaxing me slightly. I grabbed two bottles of water and paid the elderly woman behind the register before making my way back to the office.
Edward was leaning back in his chair with his arms behind his head chatting on the phone when I walked in.
"She's fine, Ali," he said hoarsely. "Don't do that shit again or I'll have Ma tan your hide," he scolded. Alice must have said something harsh because he sat up in his chair and snarled into the phone. "It was a test. At least she passed it."
I instantly knew they were talking about me so I cleared my throat as discreetly as I could.
"I have to go," he hissed and hung up the phone.
"You don't happen to have a refrigerator anywhere in here?" I asked, holding up my two bottles of water.
"Right through that door." He pointed to the closed door in the back.
"Thanks," I said quietly and shuffled to the door. I was surprised to see a kitchen on the other side of the door. A full size refrigerator stood in the corner along with counters, a sink and a stove. A microwave sat on the counter as well. A decent table was centered in the room with four chairs. The air felt much cooler back here than in the office and I opted to open a bottle of water and chug what I could. I placed the other bottle in the refrigerator and headed back to my desk.
"I have to leave in an hour," Edward said as I took my seat again. "You'll be dismissed when I leave. Seeing how you managed to clear off that entire desk today, I don't think you'll have a problem finishing up within the week, but I want to monitor your work habits before the job is officially yours," he said.
"That's fine," I replied.
His eyes traveled down my legs and then back up to my face before he nodded. It angered me slightly that he was blatantly ogling me, but again I bit my tongue. As much as he hurt me, my lady garden certainly wasn't upset at the attention from Edward. He was a pleasure to look at and I hoped that after a few days, he'd maybe loosen up a little. Only time would tell.
. . . .
Once Friday arrived, I had almost the entire office back in order. I unearthed two wooden desks that I thoroughly cleaned and rearranged with supplies. The only thing I had left to do today was the desk that Edward worked at.
I arrived at the office at 7:45 and stood outside until 8:15 when Edward came casually strolling up the sidewalk with a red-headed woman beside him. He was laughing and touching her arm while she told what appeared to be an elaborate story complete with hand gestures.
I had finished my coffee and was itching to make a fresh pot so I shuffled in place waiting for Edward to unlock the door. He walked in, holding the door for the redhead and letting it go as soon as she was in the office. I stood on the sidewalk with my mouth gaping, holding my purse, tote bag and thermos. The least he could have done was hold the door for me as well.
Determined not to let him ruin my day, I yanked the door open and stomped to my desk. After I'd set my things down, I stomped to the kitchen to prepare a pot of coffee. I seethed and fumed while I waited for the brew to finish.
Who does he think he is? Who does she think she is?
Obviously, they both saw me standing there. Why would he treat me like that? This was my third day working for him and he hadn't really spoken to me other than to dismiss me at the end of the day or ask me to retrieve a file, but there was no reason for him to act like a complete ass in front of the red-headed bimbo.
Once the coffee was done, I stomped back to my desk and began my day of filing. The red head was seated next to Edward at his working desk and laughing over something in a file.
"Who is she?" I heard the woman ask.
"She's supposed to be my new assistant, but she might not have a job at the end of the day," Edward hissed.
I'd had enough.
"That's it," I snapped, causing them both to look up at me. "May I have a word with you in private please?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at Edward.
He rolled his eyes and asked the redhead to give him a moment. I led him to the kitchen and leaned against the counter with my arms crossed.
"What have I done in the past two days to displease you so?" I asked nastily. He stared at me dumbly without answering.
"You don't know? Okay, let me tell you then. First, I cleaned up this pigpen of an office. I understand that you are the only lawyer around here and you're working many hours, but there's no reason not to throw out your own trash. That's just pure laziness.
"Second, I organized and filed every single piece of paper that has been lying around this office for God knows how long.
"Third, I make sure the kitchen and bathroom are clean, I answer the phone and also make sure you have whatever files you need. I'm not sure what else you expect of me, seeing how you haven't uttered more than six words to me in the past two days. If this is how I'm going to be treated working for you then I'm done," I snarled.
His mouth opened and closed like a fish, but no sound came out. I took one good look at him for the memory bank and stormed out of the kitchen to collect my things. I noticed the redhead smirking at me as I flew out of the kitchen, but I didn't give a shit about her or what she thought of me. I wasn't going to stay here and be treated like dirt by some asshole who couldn't even discard his own trash.
I had exited the office and was halfway up the street before I heard pounding feet behind me.
"Ms. Swan, wait," Edward panted.
"What?" I scoffed and spun around to face him. "Do you want to belittle me some more?"
"No," he breathed. "I'm…I…" he stuttered.
"Well?" I huffed. He had three seconds to utter some type of apology or I was turning around and leaving him standing on Main Street in front of the whole town.
"I'm sorry," he said softly.
"What was that? I didn't catch it," I said cupping my hand around my ear sarcastically.
"I'm sorry," he said a little louder.
"Okay, apology accepted," I bit out and turned to continue walking away.
"Wait, aren't you going to come back?" he asked in confusion.
I stopped walking and turned around to face him again. "You think an apology is going to have me running back into your office? I want to know that you're not going to treat me like dirt anymore. I don't want to dread going to work every day, Mr. Cullen," I spat through clenched teeth.
"Well, I said I'm sorry. I don't know what else you want me to do," he snapped.
I shook my head and wiped my forehead with the back of my hand. "I can see now why you haven't had an assistant in two years," I said and chuckled humorlessly before turning and walking away from him.
I needed a job, but I wasn't going to put up with him. I'd travel to the next town over to find something if I had to.
. . . .
"So you just walked out?" Vera gasped once she'd arrived home later.
"I did," I confirmed. "He can kiss my ass. I'm not going to tolerate being treated like a second-class citizen. I busted my ass to clean up and file that office the past three days and he didn't even say thank you.
"Obviously, it was my job, but still…he could have at least told me that I'd done well. I'm not looking for an award, just some recognition."
"Honestly, I didn't think you'd last this long," she said and smirked. "He's known to be a real asshole, but he gets away with it because he covers this town's ass. His father was the same way," she said.
"It's no wonder that he has no assistant," I pointed out. "I wish you would have told me all this before I started working for him."
"Yeah, you needed to discover that on your own." She smirked and then laughed. "His second-to-last assistant, Clara, was the town bicycle. Everyone got a turn riding on her. She only lasted a few months before he caught her in the kitchen screwing the bus boy from the diner."
"How did she get the bus boy past Edward in his own office?"
"He had been in court or something. She was in the office alone."
"He wouldn't let me be in the office alone," I said. "The first day, Alice let me in because she knew he wouldn't be there for another hour. He didn't seem too thrilled that I was there by myself when he strolled in a little after nine that morning."
"That's why. He doesn't trust anyone alone in his office unless it's Esme or Alice."
"Huh," I replied. I wondered how much Edward Cullen had been burned in the past to turn him into the harsh man that he was today.
He left me feeling like I did a piss poor job this week and I felt like I'd done a spectacular job. I was second-guessing myself and I wasn't thrilled that his actions were causing me to feel this way.
"Go get cleaned up. We're going to the town square for the Friday night social. It's just what you need," Vera said cheerfully.
"I don't want to go out," I whined. "I want to stay in and consume several glasses or bottles of wine and watch sappy chick flicks."
"Too bad," she chirped and tapped me on the nose while she walked by heading towards the stairs.
"Ugh," I cried and let my head fall into my hands.
. . . .
Freshly showered and changed into a light cotton sundress, Vera and I headed to the town square, which was only a couple of blocks from her house. Twilight painted the streets in semi-darkness, pink lingering in the sky from the sun that had set not long ago. The streetlights were humming to life one by one.
The town square was a massive grassy area with sidewalks winding through the area. Large flowerbeds dotted the landscape bursting with fragrant blooms and a wooden gazebo sat in the center of the square. Twinkling lights lined the gazebo casting a soft glow around the area. Picnic tables covered in gingham tablecloths were spread out around a makeshift dance floor. A DJ was set up inside the gazebo and country music twanged through the speakers.
"The music changes once the older people start to head home," Vera informed me.
"What does it change to?" I asked. "Doesn't everyone listen to country music around here?"
"Not everyone," she said cheekily.
Vera led us to a bar that was set up under a large pine tree.
"Two reds," she chirped to the handsome bartender. He nodded with a smirk and poured two plastic cups with red liquid from a wooden barrel.
"What is this?" I asked as I sipped the ruby liquid. It was bitter as it hit my tongue, but had a sweet aftertaste.
"Red wine," she said simply. "The mayor makes his own wine and provides it for free every Friday night during the summer."
"It's not bad," I stated.
"It packs a punch," she said with a chuckle. "Make sure you sip it."
I nodded and we headed towards a table where I noticed Alice sitting.
"Bella," she sang and hopped up from the table. "Come meet my husband and my mom," she said excitedly.
"Jasper," Alice called towards a handsome man with blonde hair.
"Yes, Allie," he replied as he turned towards us. His blue eyes sparkled in the light as a crooked smile lit up his face.
"This is Bella, Edward's assistant," Alice introduced us.
"Oh, I'm not working for Edward," I said quietly. "It's nice to meet you, Jasper," I said politely and offered him my hand. He grasped my hand and drew my knuckles to his lips for a gentle kiss. I sighed longingly. What I wouldn't give for such a gentleman in my life.
"What do you mean you're not working for Edward?" Alice screeched.
"I left him this afternoon. I couldn't take his…uh…attitude any longer," I said. I wasn't sure how she'd react to our split. This conversation could very well be the last we'd have.
"Oh, I'm going to murder him," Alice spat and stomped off towards the other end of the square.
"Please excuse Alice," Jasper said with humor in his voice. "She's a little spitfire when she wants to be, but she means well," he said, gazing where Alice had disappeared. "Hi, Vera," Jasper added, casting his eyes next to me.
"Hey, Jas," Vera said happily, plopping down across from him.
"Have a seat, pretty lady," Jasper said, patting the spot next to him. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you," he said turning his attention to me. "Alice hasn't stopped talking about you. I felt like maybe she'd made you up, but don't tell her I said that."
"I won't," I said and smiled.
"Now what's this about Edward's attitude?" Jasper asked.
I didn't have the chance to answer him though as a slender woman interrupted before I could open my mouth.
"What did that boy do now?" she asked.
"Not sure, Lizzie," Jasper said, grinning at the woman that looked quite a bit like Edward. "Why don't you have a seat and let this beauty fill us in?"
"You must be Bella," she said warmly and sat down daintily across from me. "Hi, Vera," she said, nodding at my cousin. Vera waved and sipped her wine happily.
"I'm Edward's mother, Elizabeth," she said, offering me her hand.
"Nice to meet you," I replied and gently shook her hand. "I was working for your son up until this afternoon," I said reluctantly. "We didn't see eye to eye so we just agreed to disagree."
"He was an ass, then?" she asked, but it wasn't really a question. I refrained from answering because I didn't want to badmouth him to his family.
She sighed heavily and shook her head. "He can be abrasive to people he doesn't know and that's my fault."
"No, he wasn't abrasive…just…trying to run his office and I don't think he was happy with my performance," I said in his defense even though he was a giant ass.
"That's bullshit," Alice spat, approaching the table. "She had that pigsty office cleaned in less than three days. Everything was organized and put away. She even cleaned the bathroom and kitchen. He lost his cool and was an asshole to her and as soon as I find him he's going to get laid out in lavender."
"Allie, honey, let's calm down and have a drink," Jasper said, trying to placate her. He passed her a cup and she drank greedily. My eyes widened as she gulped the wine down. I took another sip, but I knew Vera was right. I wasn't going to be able to consume more than two cups of this concoction. It would knock me on my ass.
"Barbeque," a voice boomed from across the lawn. I looked up and saw a burly man barreling towards our table holding a large platter of sandwiches. A tall blonde woman strolled behind him leisurely.
"Emmett," Jasper nodded.
"For the Lord's sake, Emmett," Elizabeth huffed. "You probably woke Mrs. Conley at the farm outside of town with your voice."
"Sorry, Ma," he replied before turning to me with a bright smile. "Hi, Bella, I'm Emmett."
"Hi, Emmett," I said and gave him a grin. He plucked me from my seat and squeezed my ribs painfully. "Can't breathe," I coughed.
"Put her down," the blonde woman said as she approached the table. "I'm Rosalie, this buffoon's wife," she said and pointed at Emmett.
"So nice to meet you," I said, sucking air into my lungs with deep breaths.
"What's Edward done now?" Rosalie asked looking at Alice.
"He's a dumbass," she scoffed, getting worked up again.
"Why am I a dumbass?" Edward's voice floated over the table as he appeared from the darkness. The redhead was beside him grinning happily.
"Why is she here?" Alice seethed, glaring at the redhead.
"She's with me," Edward spat, moving in front of the ginger slightly.
"I don't want her here," Alice replied, fury rolling from her in waves.
"Get her out of here, Edward," Rosalie hissed, glaring at the redhead.
"You guys are such assholes," the redhead spat.
"Bite me, Victoria. You have no business being in this town. You knew we'd run you out if you ever came back, so why are you here?" Alice questioned.
"I'll call you later, Eddie," she simpered and slinked off into the darkness.
"That was uncalled for," Edward growled, his eyes bouncing from Alice to Rosalie.
"No, it wasn't. She's trash, Edward and you know it," Elizabeth chimed in.
"Stay out of this, Mother," Edward snapped.
"Let's eat," Emmett shouted, calling attention to the food sitting in the middle of the table, effectively cutting the tension and ending the conversation about Victoria.
Everyone grabbed a sandwich. I pulled the buns apart to inspect the contents. "What is this?" I asked.
"Barbeque," Emmett mumbled, his mouth stuffed full.
"I thought barbeque was a condiment," I stated dumbly.
Everyone snickered including Vera. I shot her a death glare, but she just grinned widely.
"Honey, barbeque is a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw as a topping if that suits your fancy. It tends to have a little kick, but that's not achieved through hot sauce. The best barbeque is a family recipe that's kept secret and passed down from generation to generation," Elizabeth clarified for me.
"There's not barbeque sauce on this though," I stated, confusion evident in my voice.
"No, there's not. That would ruin it," Edward hissed. "Everyone knows that."
"Well, I obviously didn't know that. I wasn't born and raised down here, you jackass," I spat back at him.
"Just eat it," Edward growled.
"Tension," Emmett whispered. "I like it," he said and chuckled quietly.
Minutes passed in silence while everyone ate. I was surprised at how delicious the sandwich tasted. The meat was so tender it almost melted in my mouth and the flavor burst as soon as I took the first bite. It was indescribable, but there was definitely a kick to the juice that drenched the bun. I opted for a sandwich without coleslaw since I wasn't a fan of that, but now that I'd had a plain sandwich, I wanted to try one with the coleslaw.
"Just try it," Edward growled. I looked up at him and narrowed my eyes.
"Edward Cullen," Elizabeth scolded him. "I did not raise you to treat a woman with such disrespect. Mind your manners, son. You're not too old for me to tan your hide."
"Yes, ma'am," Edward said quietly.
"Hey, ya'll," Esme called cheerfully approaching the table.
"Hi, Auntie," Alice replied.
"Bella," Esme said in greeting. "How's the job?"
"What job?" I asked with indifference.
Her eyes immediately snapped to Edward's and narrowed. "What did you do?" she hissed. Elizabeth and Alice broke out into giggles.
"Why does everyone assume that I ran her out?" Edward asked, trying to look hurt. His acting skills were subpar at best.
"Well, I looked in the window yesterday when I was coming into the office and that place was so clean it was sparkling. Seeing how Bella did that in less than three days, I'm sure she's more than qualified for the job. That leads me to believe that you did something to run her out," Esme said, her voice sharp.
Edward looked chastened for a split second before he started spouting off and the only thing that was coming from his mouth was bullshit. "She was missing the phone when it rang and I found entire stacks of files in the wrong places," he said weakly.
"Did you tell her exactly how you wanted things filed?" Esme snapped. Edward shook his head and then looked down.
"Then what did you expect, boy?"
Edward remained silent staring at the ground. I wanted to speak up in my defense, but I remained quiet, letting Esme chastise Edward. I had a feeling she'd make him feel worse than I could.
"Bella, come on by Monday. I'm sure Mike Newton could use a new executive at City Hall," Esme said without removing her fiery gaze from Edward.
"No," Edward growled. "Not Newton," he said.
Esme smiled widely. "That's what I thought. So I trust you'll apologize to this beautiful girl and accept her back on Monday without any qualms?"
"Yes, ma'am," Edward said.
Edward was such a hard ass and I knew he was good at his job, but seeing him get cut down by his mother and aunt gave me a sick sense of satisfaction. It was nice to know that he had someone to keep him in line.
The rest of the evening passed uneventfully. The older crowd thinned out and the DJ switched to a more current soundtrack. I found myself moving my hips to a few songs while standing at the bar. I was working on my third glass of wine and my senses were all numb. Things were moving slower and I felt an incredible sense of calm wash over me.
Alice and Jasper were grinding together in the center of the dance floor while Vera was getting close with a tall, dark-skinned man. A blonde haired guy walked up to the bar and smiled at me. He ordered a beer and turned his attention to the dance floor.
"You're new here," he stated.
"That I am," I answered slowly.
"I'm Mike," he said, offering me his hand.
"Bella," I replied, shaking his hand. I assumed this must have been the guy that Esme was referring to who worked at City Hall.
"Beautiful," he murmured staring at my lips. I couldn't decide if he was cute or overdone. His blue eyes weren't exactly bright, but more like a muted grey. His blonde hair was spiked and looked a little messy, but it was obvious that he'd styled it that way purposely.
"Care to dance?" he asked, setting his beer on the bar and leading me to the edge of the floor without waiting for my consent.
"I don't really dance," I said.
"Everyone can dance. I've been watching you swing your hips at the bar for the last hour," he said creepily.
Usher's smooth voice flowed from the speakers, causing Mike to pull me closer. I closed my eyes and lost myself in the music, moving with the beat. I was oblivious to the fact that Mike was happily enjoying himself as he pulled me closer and spun me around so my back was to his chest. I could feel his arousal at the small of my back and it snapped me out of my dance-induced haze. I pulled away slightly, but he wasn't having that and pulled me in tighter. I was just about to spin around and push him away when Edward's voice spoke coldly.
"May I cut in?" he murmured icily.
"Back off, Cullen," Mike spat.
"I think you're making her uncomfortable," Edward said assuredly. "So I think you're the one that needs to back off," he stated and gently grabbed my hand, pulling me to him.
The music switched to a slower beat and I was engulfed in Edward's embrace. "Thank you," I whispered.
"Yeah," he said swaying us slowly and looking out over the square. "Maybe you shouldn't drink so much next time," he said coolly.
I huffed and pulled away from him. I turned to walk away, but he pulled me back. "Don't walk away from me again," he growled into my ear. I melted into him as my panties flooded with arousal. His voice sent shivers down my spine. He noticed and chuckled quietly running his nose down my earlobe breathing deeply.
"You're sinful, Miss Swan," he whispered. "You come waltzing into my office in the most professional, but teasing outfits. I haven't been able to stop fantasizing about ripping them off and having my wicked way with you."
I whimpered and he continued. "I don't let many things get to me and I have a good handle on my emotions, but you bring something primal out in me, Bella.
"I called Victoria for a distraction. I thought if she were with me that I'd be able to keep my mind off you for more than thirty seconds, but it didn't work. Then you show up here in this lousy excuse for clothing," he murmured running his fingers across my exposed shoulder blades. "It's taking every ounce of control for me not to take you behind a tree and ravage you."
His words penetrated my brain and turned me into mush. I couldn't think straight and if I weren't drunk on the wine, his prose surely would have intoxicated me.
"You see, Isabella," he spoke slowly as his nose trailed up over my forehead and down to my other ear. "I didn't think it a wise idea for you to be employed by me because I didn't get a lick of work done the entire week. I was too busy staring at you and watching you move. Everything you do emanates a wicked undercurrent and you've gotten under my skin." His teeth grazed the bottom of my earlobe causing my eyes to roll back into my head.
Toxicity by System of a Down blared through the speakers and I trembled. The deepness of the lead singer's voice in this song always shot right through me. Edward chuckled and held me closer. His hands gripped my hips and slid around to the small of my back.
"You like his voice?" he asked. I opened my eyes and nodded. Edward smiled and began singing.
"More wood for the fires, loud neighbors. Flashlight reveries caught in the headlights of a truck. Eating seeds as a pastime activity. The toxicity of our city, of our city." Edward's voice was just as smooth and deep. My head felt like it was floating as I stared at him. His green eyes peered at me curiously, like he'd experienced a shift within. His gaze wasn't cold or calculating.
"I'm giving in," he whispered, leaning towards me. I closed my eyes and waited for his lips to meet mine. I wasn't disappointed as his soft mouth met mine. We wasted no time opening up to each other and our tongues were tangling within seconds. A groan radiated from somewhere deep within him and I whimpered lightly in response. His taste was indescribable, but deliciously addictive.
He pulled back, sucking my lower lip into his mouth and moaning as he released my mouth with a pop. My eyes opened to a peaceful look upon Edward's face as his tongue peeked out to lick his lips.
"Delectable," he whispered, opening his eyes and gazing down at me.
A fire was smoldering deep inside me and Edward had lit it unknowingly. I wanted to climb him like a tree and lock my mouth with his. I didn't care if we never parted again. He smirked after a long perusal of my face and grabbed my hand, dragging me off the dance floor.
I followed behind him for several moments before I tugged on his hand. He turned with a questioning look.
"Let me just send Vera a text so she doesn't worry," I said. He nodded and waited for me to pull out my phone and quickly type out a text.
"Done?" he asked impatiently. I nodded and we were hurrying down the street again. We'd walked a few blocks and came to a two-story town house.
"This is yours?" I asked and he nodded, walking in the front door. I didn't have an opportunity to look around because as soon as I closed the door he had me pushed up against it attacking my neck and collarbones with bruising kisses.
I cried out and grabbed onto his hair as his lips traveled down pushing the cotton of my sundress down. His lips left a trail of fire against my skin. It was an amazing feeling that added to the inferno that was burning within me.
Abruptly, he pulled away from my skin and attacked my mouth. I whimpered and melted into the door behind me as he assaulted my mouth with the sweetest form of torture.
Panting, I broke away and mumbled, "Bedroom." He nodded and dragged me up the stairs and to a large master suite. Once again, he gave me no time to observe my surroundings as he shed me of my dress and pushed me onto the bed. He stripped to his boxers and crawled up the bed until he was hovering over me.
"You're so beautiful," he whispered against the valley between my breasts. At that moment, I was thankful for my outfit choice since I couldn't wear a bra under the sundress.
"I'm sorry I was such an ass to you," he breathed against my skin sucking a nipple into his mouth slowly.
I was incapable of speech and as his words registered in my alcohol-induced haze, I started to think that maybe this wasn't the wisest idea, but I couldn't stop now. We could talk later about how he'd treated me. Right now, I wanted him to shut up and continue with the kissing.
"Not now," I murmured, finally finding my voice.
He raised his eyes and smirked then yanked my panties down my legs and followed with discarding his boxers. He ripped open a condom that he pulled from his nightstand and sheathed his length with the latex.
There were no words exchanged as he sunk into me with a swift stroke. My eyes stayed glued on his as our initial connection was made. Unconsciously, I bit my lip and my back arched slightly as he filled me. His eyes slid closed as a contented smile stretched across his face as he pumped leisurely.
Once his green eyes peeked open again, I groaned and succumbed to the pleasure and let myself go. The waves of pleasure crested and I screamed.
"That's it," Edward groaned. "Let go, Bella."
"Fuck," I snarled and lifted myself up so we were chest to chest. Edward sat back on his feet and cradled me in his lap.
"That was hot," he said and moved me lazily up and down his length. "Think you can take some more?"
I nodded and pressed my feet into the mattress to gain some friction. Our bodies were slick with sweat making it easy for our chests to move in tandem. Moments later, Edward was grunting and pulling me into him tightly. His teeth sunk into my neck as he stilled completely.
I threaded my fingers through his damp hair, massaging his scalp lightly as he came down from his orgasm. His lips brushed my shoulder in return with a gentle pressure.
"That was better than my fantasies," Edward admitted.
"You've had fantasies about me?" I asked astounded.
He lifted his head and nodded with a sexy smirk. "Yes, since Tuesday, when you first stepped foot into my office and started cleaning up my shit."
"That place was disgusting, Edward. There was no reason for you not to clean up your own trash," I scolded him lightly.
"I know," he sighed in defeat as he pulled away and discarded the condom. I gathered the sheet and covered myself, suddenly feeling modest.
"Please don't do that," he begged. "You're too beautiful to be covered up." He joined me on the bed and tugged the sheet away then dragged me down to lay next to him.
"I used to clean up after myself and put all my files away, but one day of not cleaning lead to another and another until it ended up looking like it did when you walked in on Tuesday."
I nodded and furrowed my brows, thinking of how to phrase my next question without offending him or setting him off.
"What's the deal with Victoria?" I asked timidly.
He sighed deeply and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. "She was my last assistant. She tried to screw Esme over by saying that I wasn't paying her what Esme said I would. My entire family hates her."
"Then why are you still associating with her?"
"She's the only woman I felt comfortable enough to use as a distraction. I forgave her for her misgivings, but I don't really like her. I hated her when she was my assistant. Honestly, Bella, you really threw me for a loop when you walked in on Tuesday. I was trying to do anything I could to get you out of my system."
"Did you have sex with her recently?" I asked trying to rein in the anger edging my voice.
"No," he stated firmly. "I know that's what she thought she would get when I called her, but I couldn't do it."
"Okay," I whispered and closed my eyes. The wine was finally catching up with me and I was suddenly exhausted.
"Will you come back to work on Monday?" he asked with a quiet shyness to his voice.
My eyes popped open and narrowed. "Did you have sex with me-"
"No," he jumped in before I could finish my question. "No, Bella," he said and sat up running his hands through his hair in agitation. "God, I'm such an idiot," he mumbled. I remained silent and waited for him to explain further.
"I…I couldn't resist you tonight, Bella. I just…when Mike Newton was dancing with you, it took everything I had not to punch him in the throat. I can't explain what I'm feeling, but I did not have sex with you to entice you to come back to work with me. I swear, I wasn't intending on luring you to my bedroom. You're just so irresistible," he finished with a dejected sigh. "I've screwed this up majorly, huh?"
I took a deep breath, lifted myself to lean on my elbow and reached up to cup his cheek. Gently, I turned his cheek to look at me. "You didn't screw anything up. Against my better judgment, I'll be back to work on Monday, but we're having a serious conversation over coffee tomorrow morning about how you will treat me while I'm at work."
"I can handle that," he said happily with a wide smile.
"Okay," I said and nodded. "I'm going to sleep now because I'm exhausted and don't think I can keep my eyes open any longer.
"Sleep," he said and pressed a tender kiss to my forehead. "Sleep sounds perfect, beautiful."
"Goodnight," I mumbled.
"Night," he whispered and ran his fingers through my hair, relaxing me further into the mattress. Within moments, I was out. I thought I heard Edward speak, but I couldn't tell if I was dreaming.
"Hopefully the first of many nights."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed reading!