Disclaimer for Story: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author (that would be ME). No copyright infringement is intended.
Well well well, my first true multi-chapter story in over a year. Let's get on with it shall we?
Have you ever woken up one morning with a sense of foreboding? I had that feeling today, and I knew I should have called in sick, turned back over, and gone back to sleep, hoping that when I woke up tomorrow the feeling would be gone. Common sense and self-preservation had never been my strong points.
Plus, it was a Monday morning, bad things always happened on Mondays. More people have heart attacks and are in car crashes on a Monday than any other day of the week.
I didn't wake to the jarring rooster crow of my cell phone alarm. Instead, I woke naturally, lazily stretching until my brain caught up with my body, and I realized, in a panic, I was due at work in twenty minutes. On top of the time I needed to dress, I still had a thirty-minute drive from the city.
I finally got into the office at nine fifteen. Emily, my assistant, looked me up and down and raised an eyebrow at my unusual, less put together, appearance.
"So is this a walk of shame from Friday or did you get dragged backwards through a hedge?"
"A walk of shame would imply that I'd done something shameful. Sadly, I was home alone all weekend. My alarm didn't go off. Do I look that bad?"
I ran a hand through my damp hair. It was going to be a nightmare when it finally dried.
"Here," she handed me some bobby pins and lip gloss, "A French twist should hide the worst of it, add a little lip shine and you should be good to go."
I inherited Emily from the previous Senior Project Manager about a year ago; she really was a lifesaver.
Thankfully, today's conference call was scheduled for ten, our time, rather than usual seven am when the New York office schedules them.
Emily buzzed into my office followed by a heavenly scent of coffee bean. I loved this girl.
"I come bearing coffee. Something tells me you didn't have a chance to grab some this morning. We have a copy of your schedule today. Here are the papers you need for your one o'clock, and the note summary of the two-thirty that you gave me on Friday are all typed and sent to your iPad. I'll patch through your conference call when it's ready. Anything else?"
"Nope." I sniffed the coffee appreciatively. "Oh, hold on. Have you heard anything about the project manager that they are bringing in from London for the Volturi move? You hear all the gossip."
Emily sat down at the chair in front of me, her eyes wide with intrigue. "It's really weird, there's not much on this guy. He's a shark; landing the Volturi account pretty much put him in the 'boy wonder' category and pushed him up to Senior Project Manager at twenty six." Emily turned her head towards her desk, outside my door. "That's the phone, gotta go."
It was only after she disappeared that I remembered my most important question: his name. Nowhere in the documents that Garrett had given me was this boy wonder's name. It was all company info and project details. I guess I would find out soon enough - Garrett was my two-thirty after all.
The conference call came and went. I gave my report and then hit the mute button, only contributing when I had to. Instead, I battled to get through some outstanding paperwork. After the usual mumblings from Head Office about the need to keep on target despite the downturn, I was free to hang up.
My morning passed quickly, although I managed to lose two sets of budget files, which took IT some time to find the back-ups. I really needed the files and had to move on to other work. I could tell by lunchtime that I was going to be in the office after hours.
I didn't even realize the time until Emily's head popping around my open door.
"You ready for lunch, boss?"
"I can't, I still have these appraisals to finish and the team end of month numbers to look over, not to mention this mystery meeting with Garrett at two-thirty."
"Oh come on, Bella, you have to eat. You didn't get breakfast this morning."
You would think Emily was my mother, not my assistant.
"Yeah Bella, you have to eat," Lauren jokingly mocked, her head appearing beside Emily's.
"What is this? A tag-team effort?"
"Nope, it's an intervention. You need to eat and we need a gossip session."
I conceded with a playful huff and locked down my computer. As I left the office and made my way over to Emily's desk to wait for her and Lauren, two men moved past me with boxes and disappeared into the vacant office beside mine.
"So, what do you feel like for lunch?" Lauren asked Emily and me.
"How about Rembrandt's?" Emily suggested - as if there was any other choice.
We went to Rembrandt's every day. It was a couple of blocks away from the office, and their menu changed every week. I'd worked at Rembrandt's while I was at UDub, completing my bachelors. I was one of the owner's favorites, although thankfully he'd stopped trying to convince me to marry his son.
Lunch passed with gossip from the previous Friday night, where Lauren confessed that she'd hooked up with the guy I'd spotted her chatting to at the bar, but swore blind she hadn't gone home with him. They had a first date brunch on Sunday.
I envied her excitement. It'd been a while since I'd been out on a date… a while, as in months. The problem was that I worked long hours and was really committed to my job. I only really let loose on a Friday night and used my weekends to do errands and take time for me.
Emily and I bade farewell to Lauren in the lobby and headed up to the office. If I was taking on this new project, I needed to start delegating some of the less senior Project Officers. I had a great team that I trusted, and to be honest, I was looking forward to working with the Brit…well, I assumed he was a Brit. Right now, I was imaging Mr. Darcy, reading Shakespeare and drinking a cup of tea.
I lost myself in writing up a report on some property renovations I'd managed when my phone rang beside me. I could see from the indicator that it hadn't come in via Emily, so it could only be one of very few people, most of whom were related to me.
"Hello, Bella Swan."
"Bella, it's your dad."
I smiled at my dad's gruff tone. He never usually called me at work; in fact I could count on one hand the amount of times he'd called.
"Hi, Charlie. What's up?"
"I'm sorry to call you, but Leah wouldn't stop buzzing in my ear. She's checking what time you will be coming up on Friday."
Ah, Leah Clearwater, my stepsister… also known as Bridezilla for the last six months. Ever since she'd asked me to stand up with her and be her maid of honor, Leah had been all wedding, wedding, wedding. She was marrying my best friend, Jacob Black. I was also Jacob's best man… well, woman. Thank God the wedding was the coming weekend, after which I would be free from nagging phone calls at five in the morning and getting frowned at because I didn't know what a Calla lily was.
"Um, I'm taking a half day on Friday, so I should be in Forks for around dinner time. I'll call Leah when I get home tonight with the details. So you're getting dragged into the festivities too, huh?"
"Managed to talk her down from a tuxedo yet?"
"Yep. Jacob and I joined forces and now we're both in smart suits."
I chuckled. Guaranteed, that would be the last suit that Charlie would ever wear.
"That has to be the coup of the year. Well done. I'm still okay to stay with you and Sue?"
"Always. Well, I'll let Leah know that you'll call her tonight and let you get back to work. See you soon, kiddo."
I put the phone down and turned back to my computer.
"Bella! What are you still doing here?" Emily asked through the intercom.
"Looking at costing reports last time I looked, why?"
"Its two forty. You have a meeting with Garrett and the new guy."
"Yeah, pretty much."
I grabbed my iPad and my suit jacket before walking briskly to the conference room. Garrett was sitting at the long boardroom table, a steaming cup of coffee in front of him and papers spread out. Garrett was old-school.
"Sorry I'm late. Couldn't get off the phone," I fibbed.
I looked around the table. Garrett was alone.
"So where is the new boy wonder?"
"A hold-up down in HR. Irina rambled something about ID cards and hair. Who knows?" He rolled his eyes. "Anyway, he's on his way up. Did you read the info pack on Volturi?"
I tapped my still closed iPad cover in front of me. "Sure."
I rattled through the facts and figures until I came to the important stuff. "Volturi, so far don't have a US head office, only satellite offices. Now, they want to develop one in Seattle…it's becoming a popular city for big business. Our London office handles Volturi's main portfolio and head operational development, so we'll take on the US portfolio after the head office is established."
Garrett smiled at me. "Efficient as always, Bella. That's the main reason that you are on this. I know you have several new accounts to settle in lately…are you sure that you will have the time to take this on? Lots of late nights and long hours."
"Come on, Garrett, this is me we are talking about. I wouldn't have said yes if I couldn't handle it. Anyway, it's not like the long hours are alien to me."
"Okay, if you're sure."
Garrett's concern touched me. He'd been my mentor when I first started at MacKenzie Brown; he knew how capable I was.
The conference door opened, and our heads both swiveled towards it.
In that instant, I knew that I really should have stayed in bed. If I had, this moment might never have happened, and he might have never walked back into my life.
"Ah good, you've made it out of HR. Bella, I would like you to meet…"
"Edward," I breathed.
And just like that, a blast from my not-so-distant past walked through the door and back into my life.
Author Note: For the first time ever i have a list of people to thank for helping get Between Us off the ground, and talking me down from the ledge plenty of times. Firstly, My pre-reader, Mallory, and beta, EvilPumpkin from over at Sparkly Red Pen. They do an awesome job and have actually agreed to stick with me to the end (nuts i tell you). Also to Adri (One of Eddie's Girls) who came aboard when i was farting around with this and said...POST IT! Finally, thank you to Twilly and Kikki7...there is not enough words in the word to thank you guys for what you do for me. You prop me up, crack me up and make me feel so loved and one of the fandom. I FLOVE you guys!
PLEASE PLEASE - i'm not too proud to beg - sign in and review, tell me what you think. I serious need to know i've i've found my mojo again. Teases for the next chapter to those who review - i'm not to proud to bribe either!
See you same time next week! - Nutty