"I'm here! Here I am!" Familiar, anxious energy thrust open the car door as my engine idled on. The morning fever and rush filled the street scene around the usual Bella blur of busy. "Thanks, Peter." She fell in, a haphazard pile gathering in her lap. "Oh. Peter, this is my boss, Edward." Angling her head, hands full, she introduced me to the boy with the bicycle loitering still. I reached across with an offered hand. Bella grabbed my wrist quick and tight, fingers tapping over my heavy watch. "See, I'm not late. You're early. Jerk."
"Edward Cullen." He only nodded.
"Good luck today, Bella." She waved her thanks, obviously worried enough to tell someone new. Shifting the mess, she blew loose waves from her face.
"Neighbor?" I wondered, moving her design tubes, leather bag to the back seat.
"Who? Peter? Yeah, he's in the flat above me. Super nice. Just sort of always there though… you know? I don't know. He's a psych resident at Rush." Always and as long as I've known her statements end with a questioning tone.
"Well, that might be useful."
"Yes, well, working for you, it might…" She played effortless, primping in the humidity.
"That's right. Your boss, Edward Cullen…"
"Should I say my project manager? My mentor? Wait no, my hero…" Dripping sarcasm, she smirked, smile growing. "But I am excited. Like really excited about this morning."
"Yeah?" I taunted, her freshman enthusiasm was infectious. "Well, you might need these." I motioned to the rectangular cards on the console between us. Diving in, she gently brushed and flipped and admired.
"Isabella Swan, M-Arch… Garrett Paul Urban Design and Build…" she mouthed, pursing full, naturally glossed lips. "You made these for me?" Lashes batted slightly to amuse.
"Yes. Yes. You're officially big time now."
"I am. I've finally arrived. I'm talented and important and you should promote me."
"I just hired you."
"I know. And thank you for that. I'll be forever grateful… You should take Peppervine and Church instead, to avoid the construction." She pointed, craning and annoyed.
"I like construction. It's kinda what we do." I turned down Peppervine, she tuned to local sports radio.
"Why is it so fucking hot today?" She twisted in the grey leather seat. "It's hot right?"
"No. I mean a little. But it's like we're having an Indian summer or something. Is that what you call it? Seventies in October? Shit." She rambled as I pulled onto the expressway heading west of the noise. "Maybe I should take off my tights." I glanced, sudden. She was leaning and unbuckling. "I'm an idiot anyway, this looks ridiculous. Tights and open toe t-straps. You should've told me." Reactively, I shifted towards the door, rubbing an anxious thumb over my mouth as her patterned dark blue silk hiked further. "Ok, look that way." She gestured, bossy.
"I'm driving." She arched and struggled, pulling down to bare legs. A side eye peek left endless cream skin. I straightened, grateful for dark shades.
"Oh god, look at this bruise." She smoothed over the purple, shaded mass on her right thigh, laughing. Jesus Christ. "Wait, what are you wearing?" Hands tugged at my tan jacket.
"Hey, now." I batted, sneaking another glance at the jagged wound.
"That looks nice. You look nice." So do you. Fingertips obliviously smoothed down my pinstripe dress shirt, tongue clicking."I bet Jenn-i-fer bought that. Hmmm?"
"No. It's new, but thanks for ruining my morning. How'd you get that bruise?"
"Oh god. No, no, no I'm sorry. Don't be sad." She pouted, rubbing gently over her thigh again. Fuck. "I thought she was so far gone. Edward, seriously, I'm sorry."
"It's fine. I'm kidding. Tell me about that." I pointed, another look.
"Oh. My drafting table. The new one you brought in. Yeah. Well, the corner gets me every fucking time."
"You know those are adjustable, right?" She stared, glared and rolled dark eyes.
"You're a sarcastic asshole sometimes."
"That's no way to talk to your boss."
"But wait are you really still sad?" She twisted, facing, dramatic. "Because you shouldn't be. She was dreadful, completely toxic. And it's been a year, right? I seriously thought you were going to propose last Thanksgiving. You were acting so bizarre. We were all really scared. Remember? She just disrupted the flow." With confident, crossed arms, she sassed on ugly details even I'd forgotten. "And Brett tried to warn you..."
"Brett the relationship expert. He should have his own reality show."
"Well, he and Beth have been together since the seventh grade. I'd say that makes him an expert."
"Christ." We laughed, hovering the console, gliding arms. She casually grabbed my stainless thermos, flipping the lid, sipping slow. The thin silk of her dress gaped over her chest as she fell back against her seat. Deep blue lace edged and peeked.
"Mmmmm. Why so much cream?" She cringed, then eased with an impish grin.
"It's how I like it. But please help your self." She stroked the canister, watching Chicago's urban landscape slip by.
"She doesn't know what she's missing. Look at you. Junior partner now. Swanky silver Audi. Expensive suit. Gorgeous apartment. With original dentil molding. I'd kill for dentil molding."
"When did you get so materialistic? It's not an attractive quality."
"I'm not. You know I'm not! I just love details. It's what we do…" She mocked, winking. "I just worry. Don't be lonely. I need all my guys happy and content and loved. It's just a thing for me. You know this." I do know. I was there. The loss still soul deep.
"Hardly lonely. Don't worry about me."
"Yeah? Are there new ladies I should meet? I mean they've always lined up for you." She perked, giggly, I smirked. "Oh. Oh." Her fingers flew over my lips as she adjusted the volume on the radio. "Shhhh! I need to hear what they say about Cutler from yesterday. I got stuck with him on my fantasy team this year."
"Such a girl, you are…"
…And the Bears finally win at home against Atlanta 30-12. Cutler completed 22 passes for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brian Urlacher in the studio a bit later to discuss the game, so don't go anywhere! You're listening to AM670 All sports, all the time.
She offered the obnoxious, familiar fist bump.
"We are? Shit." Suddenly reaching, stretching and angled, her chest brushed my shoulder. "You know I altered the exhibition space dimensions slightly. Right?"
"Yes. I approved and signed off, remember?"
"Ok. Sam Uley. Mr. Sam Uley, director, head curator, blah blah blah… the survey specs… the Quileute library space would allow… sitting approximately… " She whispered, reciting to no one, I beamed amused, impressed. Knees knocked together. "Ok. I'm shaking. This is so stupid." She chewed and hummed. "Renovations aren't my strength, Edward. I like conception. Ground up. From scratch. Fuck, fuck, fuck. "
"What are you even talking about?" I shook, narrowed eyes at her nervous nonsense, pulling in to park. "Hey. Look at me." We breathed, she slowed. Her eager, innocent expression a vague memory of random past firsts. "I've reviewed everything. These clients are easy. They are very grateful and open to ideas. Your preliminary designs are…"
"Tragic? Amateur?" You're tragically frustrating.
"What is this new professional insecurity with you? You're usually so full of yourself."
"Ha! I know. I know." She steadied. "I'm a sick study in duality, right? A fucking mess!" Her trembling hands whipped through long, mussed waves, then wildly danced in my face. I grabbed them, holding tight, then gentle. My thumb stroked her palm to soothe.
"I wouldn't let you present if I didn't trust your ability, Bella. My reputation is on the line too."
"Wait! What? Present? Edward!" She shouted, I ignored, smug, unloading and grabbing two bright hard hats. She stalked towards with purpose. "You won't let me talk. Right? You're kidding, aren't you?" I pulled the yellow plastic down tight to her arched brows, knocking twice over the top.
"It's all you, kiddo. Don't blow it." I spun, she trailed, faintly furious and getting psyched.
"Calling me kiddo. You fucker. Oh god. Ok. I will nail this. I will nail this." I know you will.
Hello again! Thanks so much for being here and reading. We've missed you xo
These friends... ffpassion, obsmama and carenl, they're lovely and wise and preread for us xx
We love our Edwards sweet and our Bellas fun. This trip promises fluffy sugar, hot naughty goodness, and our favorite bittersweet hook. Be sure and read the future peek on Jaime's blog, Fic Fare .
Please say hi, leave your thoughts, we reply to each and every. More on Monday. xo