Disclaimer: Nope, don't see her three boys hanging around my house (THANKFULLY) so clearly, I'm not Stephanie Meyer. I wouldn't mind having her money though…
AN: So…here we are, a NEW chapter of Miami at Twilight. Yes, ya'll should RUN over to Bliltxgirl's profile page, PM her, and bow at her feet. She talked me into not only re-editing and reposting MAT, but also managed to finagle a new chapter out of me. WTF? How is that possible? Well, simply put, there were a shit-ton of plot holes in MAT, starting right off the bat with the one-shot it stemmed from, "Lick". Well, I'm going back and…Hehehe… "Making Right What Once Went Wrong." (If you don't get that joke, clearly you're a new reader. That's another fic of mine. We'll see if AFTER I do the re-edits for MAT which stories I do next.) Talk to Bliltxgirl…clearly she's just pulling my puppet strings. LOVE YA, BABE!
Anyway, updates for MAT will be once to twice a week ONLY. Re-editing will take a long time and my lovely beta has a REAL job. I've got one too, though mine is in the house, PLUS I've got 2 kids now. Thankfully Mini-Mischief is back in school, but Micro-Mischief is just learning to walk. God help me indeed.
So, bear with me, hold onto your butts, and enjoy the new, IMPROVED, Miami at Twilight!
I knew I was eavesdropping but the moment was too precious to interrupt, so I leaned against the doorframe and continued to listen as Alice spoke softly to her newborn son. "I promise, even though Mommy's a former stripper, and Daddy's just a DJ at the strip club I used to work at, we'll do what's right for you. We'll love the heck out of you and give you everything we possibly can. We'll be the bestest Mommy and Daddy we can be."
"Of course, you will be," I told her as I stood up straight and made my presence known.
She looked up, startled by my voice. "I was wondering when you'd come by, Edward."
Alice and her husband, Jasper, were two of my closest friends from the club I worked at, Foxxy. Their son, Jackson, was their first and I couldn't help but envy them the family they had created. I couldn't wait for the day when I could come home to my wife and children and know I really was home, and not just in a space I called my home.
I smiled and sat down the fruit bouquet I'd brought. Alice eyed the chocolate covered pineapple daisy and I just chuckled and handed it to her. When I'd called Jasper to see if it was okay to stop by he had mentioned the hospital food sucked ass so he was on his way out to get her some Popeye's chicken. She had craved that during her pregnancy and I guess her body hadn't realized that little Jackson had been out in the world for a day already.
"When are you getting sprung?" I asked as I stood over Alice and Jackson, eying his tiny form warily. I had never been around kids. Well, that I knew of, most of us in our inner circle hadn't, actually.
"Tomorrow morning. It would have been sooner if J-Man had decided to come at a normal time instead of the middle of the night."
"I thought the middle of the night was normal for babies," I countered.
"Hmm, good point." She chewed on the pineapple thoughtfully. "So, what's new with you?"
I smiled suspiciously at her. Alice was going somewhere with this. I just didn't know where. Yet. "You mean since I saw you three days ago?"
She gestured down at Jackson. "Well, seeing as I've created a human and delivered him, yes, it is possible for something new to be up with you."
"You didn't create him in three days, Alice," I told her with a snort.
"No, but he was delivered. Thanks for taking Jasper's place at the club, by the way."
I shrugged and snagged a strawberry from the fruit bouquet. "Eh, no big deal. He showed me the basics of spinning music. I'm not him, but at least I didn't screw up like James would have. That douchebag wouldn't know his ass from a hole in the ground."
She grimaced as she tried not to laugh. James was the owner of Foxxxy, the club I worked at as a bartender and Alice used to strip at. He was a creep of the worst kind. Two of our other best friends still worked there with Jasper and me. Rosalie was working towards law school and had saved her pennies long enough to have almost enough money to not work while she attended. She had even sent in some late-entry paperwork to see if she could get in this coming semester. And Emmett, well, he didn't really know what he wanted to do with his life. I did know he saved almost every cent he earned by living in the biggest dump known to man and sent a ton of money home to his mother and sisters. He always felt responsible for them, even though four of his five sisters had moved out and gotten married. I couldn't remember how his father had died, but I knew they had been without him since Emmett was an early teen. Emmett was a good guy. I could only hope he would finally man up and tell Rosalie he had feelings for her. It was as plain as the nose on his face. And if Her Bitchness would get off her high horse, she might see that Emmett would be perfect for her. We all knew a bit about her past, maybe not the details, but the fact that she had been hurt by men before was quite evident. Emmett would be able to protect her and he was such a gentle spirit. God, my inner monologue was starting to sound like a girl; I needed to quit watching Oprah reruns with my mother.
"So, Edward, I've been thinking…" she started, bringing me out of my reverie.
Uh oh. This was where I found out where her devious little mind was headed with this conversation. "Oh, God. Do tell, Alice. Exactly what have you been thinking?"
She pulled the mom one eyebrow raise on me. How did she even know that already? Jackson was a day old! "You know," she continued, "sarcasm is such an unattractive trait."
"And yet, you display it with vigor," I countered.
"True. Anyway, as I was saying, I've been thinking. We all need to get out of Foxxxy. Do you have any dreams? Aspirations? I'm sure you must. Your family has money. You can't like working in that dump."
I pondered the question and when I realized I'd taken so long to answer that she appeared to be getting nervous, I replied, "Yeah, Ali, I've got aspirations. I got this job because I was just out of Bartending School. I wanted to work somewhere…well, let's be frank, I didn't want to work in a dive strip club," I paused and waited for her confirmation. She nodded for me to continue. No one wanted to work in a strip club. At least, no one I knew. And certainly not that strip club.
"But, it was the only job I could find. So, I took it. It'll last until I make my real dream a reality."
"Oh! What is it?" She whisper-yelled, being careful not to wake Jackson.
I thought about whether to reveal my biggest and most closely held desire to her. "You can't tell anyone. Not even Jasper, okay?"
"Is it that bad?" She wondered aloud, with a look of concern coloring her face.
"No, not bad, I just don't want James to get wind of it, you know? I need this experience."
She nodded in understanding. I knew she would get it. Jasper had dreams, too. He loved being a disk jockey. He wanted to work for a large market radio station and have his own show. He had plans to go to school for marketing when the time was right. But then Jackson happened and those plans got pushed back a few years. I knew she would do whatever she could to make Jasper's dream a reality which was why I was now entrusting her with mine.
"So tell me already!" she demanded.
I could just see the finished product in my mind's eye and I felt the smile overtake my face. "I'm in the process of having a building renovated. It's going to be a bar – a classy bar. I mean, I know there are a billion and one bars and restaurants in Miami, and I know I have no clue about how to run it, but I've taken classes and I'm learning and I really want to do this," I finished. I was breathless and there was a giddiness in my tone I'd never evenheard in my voice before. I always tended to be more reserved and had even been accused of being somewhat stuffy. I wasn't stuffy; I just kept my passions private until it was the perfect time to reveal them.
Alice's excitement over my revelation was evidenced by the joy in her eyes and her apparent forgetfulness of the baby in her arms as she enthused, "Edward, I think that's a fabulous idea! You'll be one of the hottest faces in Miami! Your place will be known from all around and you'll attract celebrities and stuff!"
I couldn't help but laugh. "Well, I'm glad you're with me. For a long time I thought only my mother was behind me on this, and only because she loves me. She's taught me a lot of things about owning your own company, though hers is an architectural firm. I've gotten my MBA and I'm hoping to get someone experienced in to be my general manager. If I can get a good GM, one that knows the business that will be a big hurdle I will have already overcome."
"Edward, I'm so proud of you. I think that will be perfect."
"Thanks. I'm excited, but it is a long way from completion yet."
"You'll get there. Take your time and enjoy the journey."
This time it was my eyebrow that shot up. "Words of wisdom there, Jedi Master."
She laughed, startling Jackson slightly. He let out a whimper and she patted him, moving him up to her shoulder. "So why on earth would you want to take bartending classes if you have your MBA?"
I had forgotten that Emmett was the only one to know that my schooling consisted of more than just Bartending School. "Well, I want to have hands on experience in at least one area of my business. I already have a great lawyer on retainer, but I'll still need a CPA to handle payroll and my taxes, plus the chef, the GM, and a shit-ton of employees. But the bartending, I've always loved. I wanted to be Tom Cruise when I saw 'Cocktail'. That was my starting point. From there, it snowballed. My dad was okay with me getting my MBA, it's the rest he's not too sure about."
"I still think it's terrific, Edward," she breathed. "You'll let me in for free, right?"
I chuckled. "Of course, Ali. Hell, I guarantee Jackson a job when he's old enough, how about that?"
"Deal," she said with a shake of her head. "You know," she added offhandedly, "one of the girls at the club has aspirations of being a chef."
This was interesting. Most of the insipid bimbos at the club were only there because they couldn't find jobs anywhere else. And I knew for a fact Victoria only worked there because her stellar personality led her to be fired from more jobs than she could probably count. "Really? Who?"
"Do you know Bella Swan?"
My eyes shot to hers and had to have been as wide as silver dollars. "Bella?" I squeaked, my traitorous voice raising an octave.
She nodded. "Yes. That's why she started working at Foxxxy. She was supposed to go to culinary school once she graduated high school, but when her parents were killed their life insurance policy wasn't enough to cover their funerals so her college fund dwindled pretty rapidly."
She nodded absently, her sadness for her friend evident. "It is. But she's a great person, Edward. Maybe, if you aren't ready for a chef yet, you might think about talking with her and giving her a chance. I know she's an excellent cook."
I agreed emphatically. "She is. She's brought in all sorts of things for us to snack on." Delicious things. If she was that good as an amateur I could only image the level her food would be on with professional training.
Wow. This opened so many doors. I had been watching, and honestly, obsessing, over Bella Swan ever since I first laid eyes on her when I applied for the job at Foxxxy. Keeping myself from asking her out had been an exercise in patience, frustration and more self-pleasuring than I had done since I was a sophomore in high school. She was beautiful and had a kind heart that exhibited itself through all the acts of kindness she performed for those around her. It was only James' no fraternization rule that kept me from trying to make her my own.
"Mmmhmmm," she muttered as she moved Jackson back down to the crook of her arm, smiling down at him. He yawned and drifted back off to sleep. "Do you want to hold him?" she offered.
I shook my head. "No, no, that's okay. I don't know much about babies." I wanted to be truthful. Jasper would kill me if I somehow damaged his kid.
"You just hold them like a football," Jasper said as he came in the door.
"Food!" she all but shouted, grabbing the bag from him with one hand and passing him the baby with the other.
He chortled and said to Jackson, "Yeah, Buddy, I remember when she used to look at me like that. Now it's a bucket of fried chicken. You think once she's able I could cover myself with mashed potatoes to get her attention?"
"Mmm," she moaned.
I wasn't sure if it was at the thought of a mashed potato covered Jasper or the chicken breast she had in her hands, but I wasn't going to stick around to find out. "And on that note…" I stood to leave. "I've got to be going anyway. I just stopped in to check on you guys and see if you needed anything."
"We're good," she told me. "But please, once we go home, come back and see me, okay? I miss you and Emmett something terrible! You guys are like the big brothers I never wanted!"
I bent over to hug her. "That means a lot coming from you. Really, it does."
She held on and pulled me closer. "You know, sometimes people right under your nose are perfect additions to your life."
"What do you mean?"
She shot me a look, waving the grease-covered food at me. "Don't be a chicken, Edward. Don't wait to make something of yourself to say something to her."
I blinked. "What are you talking about?" Surely I had been more subtle in my admirations that that.
"I'm not stupid, Edward, and neither is she."
"Who?" I asked, continuing to play dumb, but just then, the she in question walked in the door.
"Hi, Alice! Hey Jazz. Hi…E-Edward," Bella stumbled over her words slightly as she saw me standing near Alice.
"Hi, Bella, you're just in time to say goodbye to Edward," Alice told her. Dammit. Why had I told her I needed to get to work? I had enough time to stay. Especially now that there was perfectly good, brunette reason not to leave.
"Oh," Bella replied. I loved the fact that she sounded disappointed. Any other time, we would have seen each together more often than just at work. But with Alice's bed rest, due, so I was told, to the battle between her petite size and Jackson the heavyweight, and all our work schedules, we hadn't all gotten together lately. Hopefully that would change now.
"Yes, uh, well," I stuttered, frantically searching my mind for a reason to stay, but coming up blank. "I've got to be going. James will be pissed if I'm late. Bella, will I see you tonight?"
She nodded demurely. "I-I've got the early shift. I just wanted to pop over and hold the baby for a little bit before I went in."
"Okay, well, I'll see you later." I told her as I loitered in the doorway.
"Bye, Edward," Alice said warmly, but with that mischievous twinkle in her eye again. Oh yeah, she was dangerous.
"See ya later, man," Jasper nodded in my direction, ignoring everyone but his son.
I gave one last lingering look toward Bella before I turned and walked out of the room.
Rounding the corner of the door I stopped and leaned against the wall. As I was getting my wits about me I heard Alice ask, "Jazzy, I'm so sorry, but I'd really like a Sprite with my dinner. Could you run down to the cafeteria and get me one?"
What? She had put the Sprite he handed her right next to her leg, hadn't she? I could hear shuffling and assumed it was Jasper handing Jackson over to Bella. "Sorry, babe, I thought for sure I got you one. I'll be right back."
Needing to know what was bringing about Alice's duplicity I put my finger to my lips and silently begged Jasper not to rat me out as I came into his view when he exited the room. He gave me a warning look and muttered, "Don't be such a pussy," before rolling his eyes and continuing down the hallway.
I felt bad for putting him in this position, but I needed to know if Bella was okay. It was the only reason I could think of that Alice would want to speak alone with Bella.
Alice's next words just about sent me through the floor. "Sooooo…Edward's hot, right?" Surely even if she had figured out my attraction to Bella she wouldn't tell her. Right? She knew how private a person I was.
Bella seemed completely taken by surprise with the line of questioning, too. "Huh?"
"Edward. You think he's hot." Even I could hear the implied "duh" attached to the end of the comment. Seriously? Had I completely misread Bella?
"Yes, I suppose he is." What?! My heart started to hammer in my chest at her admission.
"So...you gonna go jump his bones or what?"
"God, Alice! Seriously?"
"He's got dreams, aspirations, Bella!" Oh, Alice, please don't betray my confidence. I'm not ready yet.
"And I do, too. But I can't be his equal working in a damn strip club! Are you crazy?"
Clearly we both were, and Alice, in her usual way, was trying to nudge us along. "Just keep an open mind, Bella! You need to get your shit together! You're not getting any younger, you know."
Bella let out a snort. Good girl. She was young and vibrant and well, everything I wanted. "I'm twenty-three years old, Alice! It's not like I'm over the hill or anything."
"Come on, the two of you have been pussyfooting around each other for months now. Seal the damn deal already."
"He doesn't like me that way." How could she think that? I had some serious ground to make up. I would though. I would find a way to make sure if the opportunity presented itself that she would know exactly how I felt.
"Says who? You? Sorry, sweetie, but you don't know much if you can't see the way he looks at you." So apparently I had been just that obvious. I wondered who else knew I had feelings for Bella.
Coming back to the conversation I heard Alice continue, "I'd be willing to bet if you gave it a chance, you'd be pleasantly surprised." Damn right she would, but how would I get her to give me a chance?
Bella was stern in her answer. "Don't be a matchmaker, Alice. When the time is right, if things are meant to be, they will be."
With a bounce in my step I headed down the hallway towards the exit, passing a returning Jasper who just snorted a laugh at my obvious joy and shook his head.
I couldn't deny she was right. If it was meant to be, it would be. I could only hope it would be sooner rather than later.
AN2: Hopefully everyone enjoyed that. I'm thinking of going ahead and posting all the outtakes in the main body of the story. That way it continues the flow of the story. If you decide not to read them, you don't have to. It will be your choice. If I decide to do that, then the next chapter you get STILL won't be B/E, but that's okay…patience is a virtue. Remember that.