This was written as a birthday surprise for Nicffwhisperer. I love you to pieces, Nic, and I hope you enjoy the beginning to this new little fic. Happiest of happy birthdays to you!

Thanks to SusanQ, VampiresHaveLaws, iambeagle, and Stephanie for all of their help pre-reading/betaing for me. Also, a big thank you to Ange de L'aube for the awesome banner. I'm always tinkering until right before posting and any mistakes are mine.

The Meeting

"No! Don't let that door close!"

Whoever it was must have been startled by my shrieking, because he fumbled around like an idiot, the door slamming shut behind him. I released a gust of air, both from frustration and panic. I'd been stuck in this storage closet for a little while now, and he'd ruined my chance of escape.

But now, no longer was I just trapped... I was trapped with some stranger.

In pitch black darkness.

"Um... sorry. I didn't catch it in time."

He was close. Too close. There wasn't a lot of space in here, and now I had to share. It seemed like the walls were collapsing in on me, and I concentrated on my breathing.

And on feeling around for a possible weapon in my purse.

Cash? Tissues? Lipstick?

No. No. No.

Could I knock him out by bashing him over the head with a tin of Altoids?

Not likely.


I had the worst luck ever.

This was supposed to be a fun night of post-graduation celebration. A time for my normally-reserved self to let loose a little and have a good time—or as Rose put it, for my uptight ass to get wasted and party. We were supposed to be drinking and dancing at a new club in Manhattan; instead I had wandered into some remote closet I'd mistakenly thought was a bathroom.

Who the hell has rooms that lock from the outside, and why couldn't I find a light switch?

"Are you okay?"

He had a nice voice, but he was right there. In my personal space.

I backed away as far away as I could, until some shelves were biting into my body from behind, my hands clenched into fists at my sides. My adrenaline was pumping as I tried to remember to breathe.

He could be a serial killer. Or a rapist.

Or worse... a Republican.

Like I didn't have enough of those in my life already.

I reached for my phone again. Still no signal.

Fuck my life.

"Hey, calm down," he said, his voice soft. "I'm not going to hurt you."

Famous last words. That's exactly what the villain would have said in a horror movie. Even my death was going to be lame, like Drew Barrymore in Scream. I would be easy pickings, and my part in this show would only be a brief cameo.

"My name's Edward," he continued, obviously aware I was close to hyperventilating.


Were there any criminals named Edward?

"What's your name?" He was trying to make me more comfortable, and it helped.

A little.

"" I managed to get it out between gulps for air.

"Nice to meet you, Bella." He cleared his throat and let out a chuckle. "Although not really in the best of circumstances."

There was something about his voice. Something I couldn't quite pinpoint, but almost recognizable.

Was it possible I knew him or had met him before?

I racked my brain for any Edwards in my past, and stared at the vague silhouette of his body. My eyes had become accustomed to the dark, but I still couldn't see him.

"Your... your voice sounds f-familiar," I stammered.

He snorted. "Yeah, I get that a lot."

The sounds of his feet shuffling made me gulp again. Was he coming closer?

"You don't have to be scared. I'm sure we'll be found soon enough."

Easy for him to say.

But that reminded me. Where the hell was Rose and why wasn't she screaming in the halls looking for me?

She was probably sucking face with some male model in a corner.

I let out a hysterical laugh, thinking about the secondary purpose of our evening out. She'd wanted me to get out of my comfort zone and hook up with some "hottie". Put a little flavor into my bland—and about to get blander—life.

How ironic was it that I was locked in the dark with a random stranger, but was in desperate need of a paper bag to breathe into?

It was like a demented form of Seven Minutes in Heaven, involving adults and liquor. Thank God for those two vodka gimlets earlier, or I likely would have already passed out from my panic.

It was clear I just wasn't cut out for the party lifestyle.

"Can I try something?" he asked. "I promise I mean you no harm. I used to have anxiety attacks as a kid, and my mom would help me through them."

That was sweet. He mentioned his mom and wanted to help. It almost convinced me he wasn't a murderer.

Or maybe he was just trying to lull me into complacency before he strangled me.

What in the world could he want to try?

I was wary, but also tired, shaky, and achy from my body being so tense. I took a leap of faith and decided to trust him before I had a heart attack.

"Uh... okay."

"I'm coming closer," he said, my body bracing. "I just wanted to warn you. All I want to do is help."

He moved slowly, eventually standing right in front of me, our bodies inches apart. It was so odd. I should have been scared out of my wits from agreeing to his advance, but the closer he got, the calmer I seemed to be.

"I'm going to touch you. I promise I won't hurt you."

I listened to him telling me exactly what he was doing, and his voice was very soothing, but I was focusing more on the other sensations flowing through me. His touch, his smell... everything about him was rather comforting.

I felt safe. Secure.

How was that possible?

He pulled me against him, my head resting under his chin.

"Feel my breathing and try to time yours with mine," he said, his hands lightly stroking my back. "In and out. That's it."

He kept telling me over and over to breathe with him, but it was his touch that most distracted me from my claustrophobic fear. Each time his hands moved up and down my back, my skin broke out into a new round of goose bumps.

The good kind.

It was easy to forget my fear when the other feeling was so overwhelming. In fact, within minutes I was breathing fine and mostly relaxed.

Maybe he had some kind of gift?

"It worked, didn't it?" he asked eventually, keeping me locked against him.

Strangely, I didn't feel trapped in his arms. I wanted to stay there.

"Yes. Thank you."

We both fell silent, although he made no move to back away from me. I was simultaneously happy and curious as to why.

"Did you think this was a bathroom too?"

He laughed. "Well, they didn't mark it very well out there. But I was more looking for a quiet place to escape for a few minutes."


"Too loud for you out there?"

"Something like that."

Hmm... interesting.

"Sorry I disturbed your quiet time. I'm sure the last thing you wanted to do was calm down some stranger."

His hands slid down my back again, sending a shiver along my spine. "Nah, it was nice actually. I mean... nice for me, I guess."

"Nice for you?" I didn't understand what he meant.

"Well..." He paused for a long time, and I began to wonder if he was regretting his nice comment. "I just meant that it's not often I get to take care of anybody else. It was nice. Especially considering you don't know who I am."

I thought over his words, even more confused than before. But I didn't want to be pushy, so I let it drop.

"I'm surprised nobody's found us yet. I hope Rose is okay."

"I'm sure the troops will swoop in soon." He sounded almost disappointed, before changing the subject. "So Rose is who you came with tonight?"

"Yeah. She's my best friend. We were out celebrating because we graduated from Columbia today."

He squeezed me. "Congratulations. That's great."

"Thanks." I tried not to think about how good it felt to be in his arms, knowing it would just lead to disappointment. "So... um, do you go to school around here?"

Please don't let him be a 40-year-old creeper.

"No. I never went to college."

I tried not to be disappointed, but I kind of was. Not for any specific reason, but my mind immediately conjured images of him working at a gas station or a vending stand.


I reminded myself it didn't matter anyway, and I shouldn't be such a bitchy snob. He'd been a completely nice guy, and it wasn't like I would ever see him again. As soon as I got out of this damn closet, I was grabbing Rose and going home. But in the meantime, I felt the need to make some sort of conversation while we waited for our rescue.

Plus, it felt great to still be pressed against him.

"So, no college. What do you do?"

He didn't say anything, his arms around me slackening their grip. I didn't like that at all. I was about to change the subject when he finally answered.

"I'm in the... uh, entertainment business."

Stripper? Male escort? Rent-a-clown?

I really hoped it wasn't the clown option. There was nothing scarier than a clown.

Just as I was about to probe further, he redirected the conversation.

"What did you major in?" He squeezed me again, making me forget my mission.

"I actually double majored... cinema and business."

He let out a gust of air. "Of course."

"What does that mean?"

Did he have something against those fields?

"Nothing." He shifted his weight, his breath in my hair. "What are you planning to do now?"

I let out a heavy sigh. "I have a job waiting for me in Boston at my uncle's advertising firm."

"You don't sound very excited about it."

I wasn't. I didn't like the fact my parents had my whole life planned out for me... including the man I was expected to marry. The job wasn't the real reason I was moving to another city, it was simply the cover until I said my 'I do'.

James Preston Hearst III was everything a girl was supposed to want in a husband, at least according to my mother. Rich, successful, impeccable manners, and from the right family with the right connections. If there was such a thing as betrothal in the twenty-first century, then our relationship would fall under that category. We had been pushed together by our families since our early teens.

He was waiting for me in Boston. Waiting for me to accept his ring. Waiting for me to show a sliver of excitement.

But I had none. Nothing. Sure he was nice, but there was no zing. I felt nothing more for him than I did any of my acquaintances.

I wagered he and every member of our respective families would fall over and die of shock if they knew I was currently snuggled up next to some stranger.

I smiled at that thought.

"It's a long story," I told him, inhaling a few more times and enjoying the hints of soap, smoke, and some other unnamable scent. Maybe it was just him. "You smell good."

My cheeks burned from my jabbered confession, and I was glad for the lack of light. I was cringing from embarrassment when his voice rasped close to my ear.

"So do you."

You know that moment on a roller coaster ride, just as you're about to descend down a sharp hill? That's what my stomach felt like when he uttered those words.

I was literally tingling from head to foot, and I couldn't attribute it to lack of oxygen from my almost panic attack any longer.

It was him.

A thousand butterflies flew in my stomach, and I became hyperaware of what was happening.

I was attracted to this man.

But how could that be?

I'd never even seen his face. I didn't know him at all. He was a complete stranger, even if he had been nice enough to keep me from breaking down completely.

And perhaps that was part of what made him enticing. The not knowing.

It was foreign. Not planned, but instinctual. Sort of forbidden—even slightly dangerous—and completely out of my realm of experience.

Maybe that was what I needed.

Rose had told me to live a little. Break up the monotony before I left New York and went along with my planned-out, boring future.

I probably wouldn't come across a better chance than this to do something crazy and reckless.

So in a bold move, beyond uncharacteristic for me, I slid my hand up his chest and tilted my face up to align with his. The room was quiet, like a stillness before a storm, but the faint echoes and bass thumps from the music playing on the dance floor of the club made the setting somewhat erotic.

I took one more deep breath, and before I could talk myself out of it, I rose up on my toes and kissed him.

His body tensed, his lips unmoving and his arms tightening slightly around me.

Was it from surprise? Shock? Disinterest?

I felt like a fool, and started to pull away. But whatever the reason for his hesitation, it didn't last any longer. Just as I was about to ramble some apology for being too forward, he leaned in and started kissing me back.

His lips were soft, his kisses gentle. But it was the most exciting thing I'd ever felt as my heart pounded in my chest. He pulled my bottom lip between his, sucking slightly, and I felt almost light-headed.

When his tongue soon joined in, begging permission, I opened my mouth to let him in. He tasted even better than he smelled, and my knees wobbled as our kisses deepened.

My hands roamed his chest and shoulders. He was tall, lean, muscular—but not too muscular. The perfect masculine physique. At least perfect in my mind from what I was able to touch at this point.

I wondered if the package would be as appealing with the lights turned on.

He suddenly pulled away, alarming me as the sounds of our heavy breathing filled the air.

"Why did you kiss me?"

What kind of question was that?

I huffed. "Why did you kiss me back?"

"I don't know." He made some sort of grunt and removed his hands from my back. "It felt good at the time."

"And it doesn't now?"

"No. I mean, yes. I don't know." He paused, backing away from me. "Why did you do it?"

I wasn't sure how to answer him, because I didn't even really know why.

"I guess because I wanted to try something different."

"So you don't make a habit of kissing strangers?"

"No. Quite the opposite actually. I've only kissed one guy... well now two, I guess."

Oh. My. God.

Why did I tell him that?

Before I could drown in my humiliation, his arms were around me again.

"Really?" His voice was low. Seductive. I was woozy again. "And I just happened to be the lucky number two because we landed in here together?"

"It wasn't only that. I don't know. You were nice. And it felt good."

"Yes it did."

His lips were back on mine, much more insistent than before. I gave into the feeling again, allowing myself the thrill of getting lost in this enigmatic stranger. This man who made my insides twist and my blood race like nobody ever had before.

I threaded my fingers around his neck to keep him close, a moan of pleasure escaping me as our tongues moved together. He answered with a groan of his own, pressing me back into the shelves again. I barely noticed the pain since his hands had begun boldly exploring.

My waist, my hips, my ass. They were everywhere.

What had started as relatively innocent kissing had become a full-fledged fondling and make out session.

"Fuck," he gasped, tearing his lips from mine to nip along my neck.

I was ready to rip his clothes off when his teeth scraped across my skin. Instead I was panting and heaving, urging him for more.

His fingers dug into my hips. "Here," he said, moving us past the shelves.

I felt a table or a desk behind me, and he grabbed my thighs, lifting and placing me on top. He spread my legs apart, stepping right between, not quite so hampered by the height difference when his mouth was on mine again.

With our bodies pressed tight, rubbing and grinding against each other, I could feel everything.

And holy shit.

"You're so big," I blurted out, immediately wanting to kill myself for my verbal vomit. I couldn't help it though. Sure, I only had James' tiny parts to compare it to, but if dicks were populations, Edward's would be China.

And that was with it still contained inside his jeans.

He stopped his kisses, a slight chuckle leaving his mouth. His hands slid from my knees, up my thighs, under my skirt, and back to grip my butt, pressing himself against me even harder, every inch of my skin prickling from his touch.

"You like that?" His lips trailed along my jawline, finally landing next my ear. "Have you only had one of these before too?"

I swallowed thickly, trying to squash the way his voice made me tremble. "Yeah. Well, kind of. I think so."

I was such a moron, and I couldn't stop my bumbling.

"What do you mean you think so?"

James and I had messed around a few times, mostly when I got bored from his conversations, but both times we'd had sex, I hadn't been sure if we'd ever had it or not. He'd seemed happy afterward, but I never felt much during the few seconds he'd been pushing around down there.

Rose had laughed until she cried when I told her afterward and promptly went out and bought me a variety of toys to keep myself satisfied.

I was partial to the Rabbit.

"Bella?" he prodded again.

"I just..." I was flustered both from the topic and from his breath fanning over my skin. "I've been with someone. It just happened really fast and... ugh... I don't know. It was sex. I'm pretty sure it was."

His laughter rang out, echoing in the room, and I pushed him away to fold my arms over my chest.


"Sorry, sorry," he managed to say, trying to contain his chuckles. He rubbed my arms, finally calming down after a few minutes, and coaxed his way into pulling me close to him again. "I wasn't laughing at you. I was laughing at the moron you slept with."

I couldn't really blame him. Rose had laughed even harder than he had. It was the looming dread of basically being forced to have a life with James—a man whose prowess was obviously comedy material—that made me sick to my stomach.

When I remained silent, he leaned back in close enough for me to feel his breath on my lips.

"I think you need to know how it's done right." He kissed me hard. "Do you want me to show you?"

Against all rational thought, all logic, all convention, all sense of self-preservation... I did.

I did want him to show me.

I wanted him to tear off my clothes. Take me hard. Make me scream.

Change my course.

Maybe that's what I was really looking for. Something—or someone—to disrupt this track my life was set on.

Instead of speaking, I gripped his hair and kissed him back, wrapping my legs around him in invitation. It was a frenzy of groping hands, wet kisses, and panted curses.

There was no doubt in my mind we would have been naked in seconds, if not for the most unfortunate interruption by two loud voices.


"Get out of my way, you buffoon! Bella? Are you down here?"

Edward and I both groaned. We'd been found, and neither of us was very happy about it. A pounding on the door forced us to separate and try to fix our clothes.

"I'm in here, Em. Give me a second." Edward pulled me off the table, his hands remaining on my waist. "Bella. Something's about to happen when that door opens. I just want to tell you now that no matter what, I meant everything I said and did in here. This was all me. The real me."

"What? What does that mean?"

Before he could answer, someone pushed the door open. Edward let me go, and I blinked against the harshness of the light pouring in from the hallway. The outline of a hulking figure took up most of the doorway, but Rose was trying to bust her way in by elbowing the giant in the gut.

"Bella? Let me by, you horse's ass!"

"Bro, we have to bolt. The paps know you're here and there are fangirls lining the halls."

Both Rose and this 'Em' person were talking over each other, and I was more confused than ever. Rose finally squeezed her way inside, and my eyes had adjusted enough to find her standing there gaping at me.

"Holy fucking shit!" Her gaze darted from me to Edward, and back again.

I shook my head.

What was her problem?

So what if I was behaving in a very non-Isabella way? She's the one who told me to have a good time.

I turned toward Edward, both nervous and excited to see the face of the man I'd been molesting moments earlier. And every drop of blood drained from my body.

It was Edward Cullen.

Edward Cullen.

The boy-king of Hollywood. The biggest star around.

He stood there, watching me with a half-grin and shrugged.

I was frozen. I couldn't form words. I didn't even know where to start.

"I knew you were going to be gorgeous," he said, making his way back to me and grabbing one of my hands. "Let's go. You're coming with me."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Em asked. "We have to sneak out of here. Jane will kick your ass if you get caught papped with her."

Edward turned from me to Em. "I don't give a fuck. She's coming. And bring her too," he said, motioning in Rose's direction, who seemed to still be as stunned as I was.

"Jesus fucking Christ." Em shook his head, took Rose's elbow, and started leading the way out the door.

I knew I should have said something. Done something. Made some kind of remark. But I still didn't have any words. My mind was busy replaying the immense dialogue of mortifying things I'd said and revealed to Mr. Superstar in the dark.

We were almost out the door, when Edward put his arm around my waist and leaned down to murmur in my ear.

"By the way, when I fuck you... you'll have no doubt about it."

I was in so much trouble.

AN: I hope you all enjoyed the start of this new story.

Once again, happy birthday to Nic. You are one of the best friends I have in this fandom.

As soon as I finish up a couple things on my other WIPs, I will return to this story.