Dedication: To Songster. Girly, you have become so essential to me, and I love you. Happy birthday.
A/N: So, remember when I said I wasn't gonna write fanfic anymore? Welp! But in my defense, this should be short and sweet. I think. Hopefully. Maybe around 5 chapters or so.
Disclaimer: My name is Kristina, not Stephenie! I'm just playing with her beautiful toys.
"Oh, here we go."
"The grease monkeys are on lunch?"
"And headed our way."
"Mmm. This is the best part of my week. Except for the part where they sit down. And speak."
Bella looked up from where she was refilling salt shakers, trying to figure out what three of the other staff - Jessica, Tanya, and Eric - were talking about. "What's going on," she inquired when curiosity got the best of her.
Mike Newton - owner of the little cafe they all worked at - stepped out from the back, shaking his head ruefully. "Don't mind them. They're ogling." He nodded with his chin out the wall of windows where they could see down the street a ways. For the first time, Bella noticed a trio of men walking in the direction of the cafe. "That right there is the reason I keep my lady in well running cars and make sure I'm the one to get the maintenance done."
Said lady, Jessica, snickered. "Don't let my husband put you off, Bella. Come ogle with us. They'll make it worth your while."
"Oooh. Jess!" Tanya was bouncing in place. "There's a new one today."
Though she thought it was just a little creepy, Bella gave in to the urge to stare. The trio wore coveralls, and she deduced they must work at Hale Mechanics just up the block. As they got closer, she could see what the others were going crazy about. All three of them were good looking in that slightly dirty kind of way. "Who are they?"
"They're regulars. They come in at least once a week." Eric leaned in conspiratorially, pointing. "The big beefy one is Emmett McCarty. He's a flirt, but he's harmless." He sighed. "And tragically straight. He's the Jessica of their little group" He smirked at Jessica who rolled her eyes. "Though admittedly he's shacking up with the boss's daughter, not the boss. The blond is Jasper Whitlock. Likewise attached and quite the charmer."
"He's got a Southern drawl that will make your knees weak." Jessica fanned herself.
"And like Tanya said, that one," he pointed at the guy in the middle, "is brand new."
"Holy crap." They were at the door now, so Tanya dropped her voice to a whisper. "Newbie is edible."
In spite of how ridiculous - though amusing - she found the whole debacle, Bella couldn't help but look.
Edible, Tanya said.
There was something about the man that struck Bella, which was unusual. Typically speaking, physical attributes meant little to her. She was indifferent to type and didn't feel attraction unless there was something else to latch onto. Pretty faces were a dime a dozen, but beautiful people were rare.
But this guy.
Bella rubbed the back of her neck, feeling her cheeks heat with some strange emotion.
Beside her, Eric chuckled. "What do you think? New girl gets to find out about the new boy?"
"Oh, hell no," Tanya said before Bella could answer. Grinning, she playfully hip checked Bella out of the way. "It's my table, and I call dibs."
"Have at it." Eric winked at her. "Though I don't know. He might swing my way. He is awfully pretty."
Chuckling, Bella concentrated on finishing her task. The busy lunch rush was about to start, and heaven forbid people be without their salt.
Still, even as she worked, she found herself glancing over at the table with the three men. More often than not, her eyes lingered on the new one.
The new mechanic's name was Edward Cullen. Tanya reported that flirting with him earned a grin, but otherwise he was unresponsive. Eric tried his luck the next week with much the same results. He'd moved to this area just recently, but he'd lived in Seattle for the last seven years. He was twenty-eight, he was a fantastic tipper, and he had a smile that made Bella want to smile back every time.
That last part was not something Bella added to the gossip mill. In the five weeks she'd been working at Newton's Cafe, she hadn't had a chance to serve them. The cafe was always busy, but even in a rush, her eyes were drawn over to that little table.
The others had no problem indulging in fantasies, but Bella only smiled indulgently at them, not joining in. They blamed it on her youth, supposing a girl of twenty probably wouldn't have interest in men eight to twelve years older than she was.
Privately, though, Bella would find herself wondering what would happen...
What would happen if they sat at her table one day?
Sometimes, Bella swore she could feel his - Edward's - eyes on her. Sometimes, she looked over and thought she saw him look away.
But that was ridiculous.
Bella's head snapped up and her cheeks flushed, knowing she'd been caught daydreaming. It was late afternoon, and the cafe had calmed to a dull roar. Jessica just chuckled. "I think you have a customer at table seven."
At first, Bella thought Jessica was poking fun. Table seven - a booth up against the front wall of windows, looked empty. On further inspection though, she saw it was, in fact, occupied by a little boy. He looked to be about six or seven, perhaps. He was a handsome fellow - light olive skin, dark, unruly, curly hair. He was studying the menu intently, his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth.
Bemused, Bella stepped up to the table. "Hey there, sweetie."
He looked up, the expression on his face suggesting she was already trying his patience. "My name is Benjamin."
Bella's lips quirked. "Well, I'm sorry, Benjamin. That was my mistake." She looked around. "Are you here with your Mommy and Daddy?"
"No." He shook his head, looking more cheerful now that they'd cleared up the whole name issue. He started to root through his backpack. "But I would like a piece of apple pie." He peered up at her. "Do you have apple pie here? Daddy said you do."
Feeling a little uncertain - was this boy really here alone? - Bella nodded slowly. "We have pie."
"Can I have a really big slice?" he asked brightly. "And milk. Please." He blinked up at her, and when she didn't immediately reply, he dug through his backpack again, coming up with a fistful of bills. "I have money, see? I'm supposed to have something to eat, and do my homework, and not be trouble." He pulled out his school notebook as if to emphasize his point.
"I see," Bella said quietly. "And your Daddy isn't here?"
"Not right now." Again, the boy's expression indicated he thought perhaps she was being just a little dumb. "Can I have my pie, please?"
"And a milk, right?"
"Coming right up, sweet... Benjamin."
"Thank you," he said cheerfully, tilting his head to consider his homework.
Bella went to fill his order, but she kept her eyes on the table, waiting for an adult to show up. True to his word, the boy was intent on his work. He thanked Bella, ever polite, when she brought over his pie and enthused to her how good it was when she came back to check on him. When he finished his homework, he pulled a handheld game out of his bag and played, only occasionally giving a small cry of, "Yeah!" or "Gotcha." He jumped a little in his seat, but otherwise wasn't at all rowdy.
An hour passed, and no adult came to claim him.
There was a small rush, and Bella got caught up with her other tables. When she looked back, table seven was empty. Benjamin was gone. She rushed over and found that not only had he left money to cover his check, but he'd left her a four dollar tip on a five dollar bill.
A/N: Happy Birthday, dear. I hope you'll enjoy your gift.
Big thanks to GinnyW for lending me a plot bunneh. I SUPPOSE I should thank barburella and jessypt even though they forced me to wait to post this. Le sigh. Le pout.
Erm, quick note. If you are so inclined, you should check out the Let's Do Anal contest. I have entered (snicker). You can find it at letsdoanal dot blogspot dot com.
So. Thoughts? Hopes? Guesses? Fears?