While housesitting for his sister, Edward Masen walked up on the deck of her Florida beachfront home to find a young woman asleep in a chaise lounge for the third time in a week. Who she was and what she was doing there was the mystery to solve. The fact she was beautiful made it far more intriguing.

AU/AH and OOC. Canon pairings, some later than others. Mature content, language, and other characters. He's older…she's sarcastic. There are lemons (Rated M), and there's a rat terrier named Petey.

A/N: Hey, I promised you another one, and this is it. SMeyer owns. I merely manipulate. Can't wait to hear from you. Thank you, SoHe. Without your encouragement, this wouldn't see the light of day.


Chapter 1.
Trespassa wrongful entry upon the lands of another

"Get the ball, Pete," Edward called to the rat terrier for which he was caring while his sister and her husband honeymooned in Europe for the summer. The request to housesit and watch the dog for the couple had come at exactly the perfect moment…almost as if fate had stepped in to lend a hand. The woman they'd lined up to do it had been in a biking accident and had to cancel on them at the last minute, so when Alice phoned and begged Edward to spend the summer in Florida instead of The Hamptons with their parents, she didn't have to ask him twice.

Alice and Jasper lived in a large house on Vanderbilt Beach, Florida, flanked on both sides by houses, one even larger and more ostentatious than the next. The beaches were white, sugar sand…the neighborhood was quiet…and most importantly, he knew no one. There was no forced small talk while collecting the mail, and no declining of invitations to picnics or cookouts. It was only him, the dog, and the solitude he craved to do a little bit of soul searching.

He'd just ended a destructive relationship with a Washington, DC, socialite which ended somewhat publicly and embarrassingly for him.

The woman, Katharine Moore, was exactly the type of woman he enjoyed having on his arm. She was stunningly beautiful. She was a successful DC lobbyist. She worked long hours much like himself, and she wasn't clingy.

He attended fancy parties and galas with her as his date, and when the couple walked into a room, all eyes took them in. Women hated Kate for many reasons, and men wanted to be Edward for obvious reasons. It fed the couple's already over-inflated egos, and neither wanted to do anything to disrupt their status as the ultimate Washington power couple. It suited their purposes quite handily.

Everything was perfect in his world until a Monday morning in May when his phone began ringing relentlessly in his office. He ran a consulting firm specializing in preparing governmental-appointment nominees for the maze of the appointment process, from initial sit-downs with members of one Congressional committee or another to the final vote which would ultimately secure the appointment.

He'd just shepherded the selection of a banker to the Federal Reserve Board which thrilled his clients, the American Bankers' Association, to no end. The "Fed," as it was referred to in Washington, was notorious for stacking the Board of Governors with academics, so it was truly a coup for Edward to be able to facilitate the appointment of someone from the industry to balance any future decisions relating to the financial sector.

That particular Monday, he was in the process of returning phone calls to contacts instrumental during the last minute glad-handing which took place to ensure the nominee was approved. When his phone began ringing off the hook, he became concerned. He'd instructed his secretary, Claire, to take messages so he was able to thank everyone who'd been influential in his latest success. That was all very well and good until Claire came busting into his office with a note.

"Boss – I'm getting calls for comment regarding the fact Kate and you broke up and she's engaged to Garrett Harper. Did you guys break up?"

Edward read the note and held up a finger for her to wait. "Say, um, Senator, I've taken up enough of your time. I just wanted to thank you for all your help. Let's get together for a drink soon," he called to the third Senator he'd spoken with that morning. They quickly finished their conversation and hung up.

Edward had looked to his secretary for clarification regarding the note, and he could see that she was as confused as he regarding the enquiries. "I didn't break up with Kate. Who's calling?" he asked.

"Those chicks from the 'Reliable Source', a few news magazines, some stupid cable gossip show here in town that airs on DC50," she answered. He quickly went to the internet, and typed in his name and Kate Moore's name to see about what was all the fuss.

Immediately, several articles and blogs popped up speculating Edward and Kate had broken up rather publicly after he confronted her and Garrett Harper, a White House staffer, at a trendy DuPont Circle eatery. There were photos of Kate and Garrett sharing an intimate dinner, and every bit of it was surprising as hell to Edward.

He'd phoned Kate's cell, assuming they could share a laugh about the entire thing and she'd give him a logical explanation for the photos and articles, but instead, she apologized profusely for not telling him first, and she informed him she was pregnant with Garrett's child.

They were getting married immediately in California. She wished him well, and then she hung up. He couldn't really fault her because they'd never explicitly discussed exclusivity, but it was a surprise just the same.

The following weeks had been filled with friends and acquaintances alike calling him with their condolences at the deception Kate had purported on him, and it was all more than he could stand. He needed to get out of town, and when Alice phoned him the Monday after her Saturday afternoon wedding Memorial weekend, he didn't hesitate to toss his things into a few suitcases and hop back on a plane, having just arrived at his home in Arlington the previous night.

That was a week before. He was thoroughly enjoying the quiet of Vanderbilt Beach. He'd already come to a few conclusions in the short span of time he'd been hiding at his sister's house.

First, he'd allowed Kate to dictate the terms of their relationship from nearly the beginning of the one-year coupling. She'd determined which parties they'd attend and which wouldn't benefit their career aspirations. She'd determined when they'd get together and when she was too busy to attend functions where he was required to make an appearance. And she'd determined when they'd have sex and when they wouldn't.

Second, he solidified his determination he would never toss his hat into the political arena as a candidate. Kate's latest crusade had been for him to consider running for public office, for which he had no desire, but he'd actually considered it because she'd been quite persuasive in her arguments.

Third, he'd decided he was through wasting time. He was thirty-five years old, and he'd been so driven by his desire for success he'd allowed himself to abandon all of his old goals and dreams in pursuit of power and financial success. At the end of the day, those pursuits had cost him years of happiness he'd never get back.

He didn't hate Kate for her betrayal. He was, however, disappointed in himself for allowing it to happen. In the spirit of "no hard feelings," he went to their wedding registry and sent the couple an expensive platter from Tiffany & Co.

It took a bit of salesmanship on his part when the store called him and asked about the wording for the engraving, but when he explained the circumstances to the young man on the other end of the telephone line, the guy had agreed that the inscription of "Good Luck You Cheating Fucks" was, indeed, appropriate and warranted, under the circumstances.

As he and Petey, the four-year-old rat terrier Alice had given Jasper for his birthday the year before, jogged up the beach toward the house, he wasn't really surprised to see the young woman asleep on the back deck in a chaise lounge. It was the third morning it had happened since he'd been at the house, and he had no idea who she was or why she was sleeping there.

Petey trotted over to her and sniffed her, licking her bare thigh. Edward noticed her make-up was smeared, and she was dressed in clothes he was certain she'd worn the previous night. He vaguely recalled hearing a lot of noise on the beach late the night before, and he assumed she was a left-over party guest who had stumbled upon the wrong deck, yet again.

He walked over to her and pecked her on the shoulder, betting that she had a hangover akin to the beating of a drumline for a college marching band. "Excuse me….young woman," he called as he persistently pecked her shoulder while Petey continued to lick her thigh. Edward noticed her skirt was in a precarious position, having hiked itself up to a nearly indecent level, so he stepped away and allowed the dog to wake her.

He'd left her alone the two other times he'd found her because he had no idea what to do about her, but he wasn't about to allow it to become habitual that she'd wander onto Alice and Jasper's deck and pass out. He didn't know where she belonged, but he knew it wasn't there.

"Go 'way," she mumbled as she batted at the dog. Unfortunately for the young woman, Petey took her dismissal as an invitation and hopped up on the chair with her, licking her neck because her face, just as it had been the other two times she'd passed out, was shielded by her hair.

After a few more minutes of the dog licking her exposed skin, the young woman shouted, "Jesus, fuck! Get off…oh…hi, Petey," she offered as she moved the hair off of her face. Edward saw the realization settle on her face it was a dog and not another human, and when she began scratching Petey behind the ears, he could see that the dog was in a state of bliss.

He cleared his throat and waited for her to acknowledge him. She looked up with big brown eyes, and then immediately put her hand across her forehead to shield the bright sunlight from her vision. "Who are you?" she asked as she continued to pet the dog.

"Actually, who are you?" Edward retorted. He felt she owed the explanation since she was sleeping on his sister's deck without anyone's permission. She did seem to know the dog, so he assumed she must be staying in the neighborhood somewhere.

"I'm Bella. I live over there," she admitted as she haphazardly pointed to a house two down from Alice and Jasper's.

"Well, Bella, if you live over there, why are you sleeping over here?" he asked as he pointed to her house, and then to the deck as if it was obvious she was in the wrong place.

"I have a bad habit of forgetting my keys. My parents won't leave the doors unlocked at the McMansion. Alice told me it was okay if I just sleep here if I get locked out. If I wake my parents, they lecture me, and I hate it. Now, you know who I am…who are you?" she asked again.

"I'm Edward, Alice's brother. I'm watching the house for the summer and taking care of the dog. I don't really feel comfortable with you sleeping on the deck. I realize you might have had that arrangement with my sister, but I'd prefer if you didn't sleep here while they're gone. Maybe hide a key outside your parents' house or something," he suggested, trying to be as polite as possible while getting his point across to the young lady he didn't appreciate her trespassing on his sister's property while it was in his care.

"Yeah, they'd flip if they thought I hid a key somewhere. I'm not exactly the prodigal daughter, if you catch my drift. I'm the black sheep of the family, and as the black sheep, it's my responsibility to drive Olivia and Carlisle crazy," she answered as she stayed put.

"Olivia and Carlisle? You refer to your parents by their first names? I doubt that dissuades their notion you're the black sheep," Edward surmised, unsure of why he was standing on the back deck having the ridiculous conversation in the first place.

"Oh, I was the black sheep before I ever began calling them Olivia and Carlisle. See, I'm adopted. It's really a tragic story. Pull up a chair," she invited lightly as she sat up higher on the chaise and looked at him.

For reasons he'd never understand, Edward pulled one of the chairs from the patio table and sat down, looking at the young woman. He was trying to gauge her age but he was at a complete loss, only able to determine she was much younger than he.

"You're looking at a full-fledged orphan who was graciously taken in by Dr. Carlisle and Representative Olivia Cullen at the ripe old age of ten when her heroin-addicted mother abandoned her at a supermarket.

"Mommy Dearest decided the money she earned from what I assume was hooking should be used to feed her addiction and not her kid. When a well-meaning teacher at my middle school in Baltimore alerted DCFS that maybe I wasn't being properly supervised, Mom decided it was time to dump the baggage, as it were, said baggage being me.

"I was in the frozen foods aisle when she disappeared to go grab milk while I picked out my favorite ice cream. I should have known it was implausible because we'd never had ice cream at our house. Anyway, after searching the store for over an hour and not finding her, I finally went to the store manager and after several shout-outs over the store intercom, the two of us determined she wasn't coming back for me.

"He called the cops, and I ended up in foster care until Olivia decided to run for Congress. Apparently, part of her campaign platform was to spearhead an adopt-an-older-orphan initiative, and when they visited the adoption fair at which I was on display like a poodle in a pet shop, she took the photo op to speak with me. I guess I polled better than the Hispanic boy, Miguel, or the white boy with a history of pyromania. So, after slicing through much red tape like a chainsaw through a cherry tree, I was blessed to be taken in by the Cullens, much like the adorable moppet, Annie, who was taken in by Daddy Warbucks.

"Unfortunately, I'm not exactly Cullen material…that falls to my adopted sister, Princess Rosalie…so I continue to live down to their regret and disappointment. Some story, huh?" she asked as Petey jumped down from the chaise and went through the dog door into the house, obviously finished with the morning sun and ready for breakfast.

All Edward Masen could say was, "Holy shit. Seriously?" He was taken aback by not only the story but the girl's flat delivery. She didn't seem to have feelings about it one way or the other which led him to believe she'd lived a very difficult existence.

She started to laugh and sat up on the chair, swinging her legs over the side. "Nah. It would make a hell of a movie, though, wouldn't it? Actually, they adopted me at birth from an unwed teenager, but their disappointment in me is real. They wanted me to go to Harvard…I chose UVA. They saw medical school in my future…I chose business management. See, I'm a disappointment to them regardless of whether I'm the adorable moppet of a heroin addict or the love child of a sixteen-year-old girl who got knocked up in the backseat of a Chevy.

"Do you have a last name or are you like Prince or Madonna or Cher?" the girl asked as she stood up from the chair and finally adjusted the too short skirt he'd been trying not to notice…though unsuccessfully. She pulled her hair up and tied it in a knot, looking at him with a smirk.

"Masen. Edward Masen," he answered, feeling a bit shell shocked. He looked at her and saw she was a lovely young woman, but he believed her to be a few bananas shy of a bunch, as personalities went.

"Well, Masen Edward Masen, I won't sleep on your deck again if it bothers you. I could use a bit of time in the bathroom, if you don't mind," she asked before she went into the house uninvited.

He looked at the door as if it had answers, and then he followed her inside, still reeling from her whirlwind approach and her far-fetched fabrication of her life. He truly had no idea which story…if either…was true, but he could tell she really didn't give a damn what he thought of her.

As he poured himself a cup of coffee and filled Petey's bowl with dog food, he heard the shower turn on in one of the upstairs bathrooms. When she'd told him she needed a bit of bathroom time, he had no idea it included a shower. He plopped a whole-grain bagel into the toaster because he could tell she was going to be a while, and he wondered what the fuck to do about her.

She most assuredly wasn't like any woman he'd ever met, and he wanted her gone as quickly as possible because he wasn't exactly certain she wasn't psychotic. He could almost see the headlines… "Washington Consultant Murdered by Bi-Polar Vixen." It wasn't exactly the notoriety he wanted associated with his untimely demise.

The popping of the bagel from the toaster startled him as he daydreamed about the crying his mother and father would do at the side of his coffin after the young woman had dismantled a safety razor and carved him up like a Thanksgiving turkey. He was certain he had to get her out of the house as soon as possible and make it blatantly…painfully…clear she wasn't welcomed back.

As he was buttering the bagel, he heard her tromp down the stairs, and he prepared himself to be forceful with her. When she walked into the kitchen, he saw she was wearing one of his t-shirts and a pair of his shorts, and he was stunned mute by her audacity to go through his things without permission.

"Oh, good, coffee. Is there milk?" she asked as she went to a cabinet and pulled down a mug, seeming quite at home in his sister's house which puzzled him. He wondered why Alice hadn't warned him about the young woman.

"Um, I believe it's still fresh. Look, you can have coffee, and feel free to keep my clothes you didn't ask to borrow, but I don't know you, and I'd prefer to be left alone. I'm here for the summer, and I'm looking forward to a lot of reading and solitude. I'd appreciate it if you just take your things and Alice's mug to go. I don't know you, and it would look pretty scandalous if someone got a picture of a very young woman sleeping on the deck while I'm here. I don't want, nor need, that kind of publicity," he explained.

"You said you don't know me twice, but you know a lot more about me than I know about you, Masen Edward Masen. I told you my life story, and all I know about you is you have a very peculiar name. You're Alice's brother…and, by the way, you're nothing like her…and you seem to have a penchant for gray," she responded as she pointed to what he was wearing and then what she was wearing.

It was true when he chose workout clothes, he simply bought gray. They were "utilitarian" clothes, and variety wasn't necessary in his opinion. Many things in Edward Masen's life were shades of gray, above and beyond his workout attire.

"Yes, well, anyway. I'd appreciate it if you'd respect my request and just leave me…" he trailed off as she went to the refrigerator and pulled out bacon, eggs, milk, and orange juice.

"I'm hungry. Gotta feed that hangover. You like waffles?" she asked, obviously nonplussed by his rebuke.

He watched her go to the cabinet and pull out many ingredients without his consent, and as Petey settled on his pillow in the corner of the kitchen to enjoy the morning sun, Edward wondered what the hell he was in for with the young woman. She didn't seem to understand his gentle command to go away and leave him alone, and as he watched her gracefully move around his sister's kitchen, he had no idea what it would take to chase her off.

She poured him orange juice and went off on a tangent about the lack of obtainable employment in the DC area for someone with her qualifications, not really allowing a breath for him to offer any input, not that he was so inclined. He could see where she would get along with his sister…Alice was one who could pack many syllables into a single breath.

He silently watched her pull out the waffle iron and spray vegetable oil on it after she turned it on. "So, since Alice hasn't volunteered any information about you whatsoever, it's your turn to spill the beans," she demanded.

Edward blinked at her, not exactly sure from where the young woman had come, nor what she was doing in his sister's kitchen that morning. "How old are you?" he asked snappishly.

"Well, now that's an interesting first question, isn't it? Do you mean chronologically? Do you mean emotionally? Do you mean mentally?" she asked cryptically. Edward notice there were a lot of 'ly's' associated with Bella Cullen…psychotically…frantically…mysteriously…beau tifully. The last word that crossed his mind disturbed him because one thing of which he was certain when he looked at the young woman wearing his clothes and flipping over his sister's expensive waffle iron was she was extremely (another 'ly') beautiful.

"Let's start with the most important question. Chronologically, how old are you? I fear the other two questions will be too much for me to handle after only one cup of coffee," he answered as he watched her flipping bacon and removing two perfectly cooked waffles from the iron, refilling it with batter and flipping it closed.

"Okay, chronologically, I'm twenty-four. I just graduated from UVA with my MBA. I'm supposed to take this summer off to 'give my life a thorough review' according to Olivia. I'm to make some choices, namely find a job. That's Cullen-speak for 'you're not moving back home'," she responded with the appropriate air quotes.

Edward didn't comment. He only sighed in relief that the woman was at least a woman and not a girl as he'd feared. As he set his cup on the island counter, she quickly refilled it, and after she replaced the coffee pot on the burner, she turned and propped her elbow on the counter, batting her eyelashes at him. It completely disarmed him as he sat there watching her.

"What?" he asked.

"So, how old are you, Masen, Edward Masen?" she asked with a smirk on her face.

"I'm thirty-five," he answered staunchly as Petey sprinted out the dog door and settled on the deck, obviously bored with their discussion and looking for the peace and quiet the sound of the ocean provided.

"Wow, so you and Alice are five years apart? So, tell me, Masen, why doesn't your sister talk about you?" she asked as she sipped her coffee.

"I'd guess it's because we're not close. Alice would probably refer to me as a self-absorbed ass who only makes time for family two weeks a year, but…actually, that's really none of your business. Why do you know your way around my sister's kitchen?" he asked as he saw her go to the freezer and rummage around.

"Do you like pork, beef, or chicken, or are you one of those lame-ass vegetarians? I cook here for your sister because she can't boil water. They pay me to cook and do light housekeeping. I've been here since the first of the year, having graduated in December.

"Carlisle and Olivia really didn't want me in DC for the past six months, so they sent me down here to live. I got bored, and when I watched your sister burn hamburgers on the grill, I walked over and had a convo with her, and ta-da…I'm the cook and light housekeeper.

"I was supposed to be in Spain with my sister, which was why I couldn't take care of the place while they were gone, but Rosalie actually eloped with some doofus. The two of them took the trip instead of me. Mommy and Daddy aren't happy with her at the moment," Bella volunteered as she turned to wait for his answer.

"Um, I'm not a vegetarian, but I can…" Edward began as she jumped over in front of the waffle iron and flipped it over. He watched her go back to the freezer, removing two vacuum packed pork chops and placing them on the counter. She then reached under the island and pulled out a large bowl.

She quickly pulled out the bacon from the skillet and placed it on paper towels, after which she flipped the waffles out of the iron and made him a plate. She retrieved butter and syrup from the fridge, placing it in front of him and then she grabbed silverware for him.

"Eat…eat…eat. Um, do you like sweet potatoes or white potatoes?" she asked as she seemed to root through the vegetable bin, pulling out a russet and a sweet potato, looking to him for an answer.

Edward cut into the waffles, and he closed his eyes at their goodness. He hadn't seen her put any spices in them, but they tasted delicious to him. He watched her take one in her hand, bite into it, and then she went to the sink and washed her hands, quickly opening the pork chops and placing them in the bowl.

"You don't have to cook for me," he told her as he continued to consume the decadent food in front of him.

"I know. I just like cooking, which would actually have been my chosen profession except my parents wouldn't tolerate a daughter who cooked for a living. Working as a short-order cook was never anywhere in their demands of what was expected of me. It's the one thing I enjoy, and they hate it. It makes me common, in Olivia's opinion," she replied as she began pouring many liquids into a measuring cup and whisking furiously.

Edward finished his breakfast and moved his dishes to the sink to rinse them and load the dishwasher. He'd only been eating carryout during his time at his sister's place, though he'd gone out one night for a nice quiet dinner. The prospect of having someone else cook for him appealed greatly, so he decided to tender his own offer.

"Um, if you enjoy cooking, I'll pay you what Alice does to cook for me and do light housekeeping. Just tell me what it is," he remarked as he finished loading the dishes and washed the syrup from his hands.

"A thousand dollars a week," she called as she poured the marinade into the large bowl and turned the pork chops in it, ensuring they were covered completely.

At her proclamation, he choked on his own saliva. "Um, she does?" he asked with wide eyes. He knew his sister wasn't domestic, but it seemed pretty incredible she'd pay the young woman that much money to cook and clean for them. Even for Alice, that was over the top.

"Jeez. No wonder she doesn't speak of you. You're the dimwitted member of the family, aren't you? She pays me two-hundred dollars a week. I cook them breakfast and dinner and take care of simple housecleaning, including laundry. What do you do for a living?" she asked as she washed her hands again and then reached into a drawer pulling out plastic wrap and covering the bowl only to return it to the refrigerator.

Once again, the young woman had taken him off guard. "I'm a consultant in DC. I'll pay you what my sister pays you," he responded in the fog she'd created around him.

"On what do you consult?" she asked as she closed the fridge door and began running water in the sink to clean the pans and waffle iron.

For reasons Edward Masen would never understand, the young woman had him spellbound. She was quite beautiful, as he'd observed more closely than he felt he should, and she had a wit about her that kept him off-kilter. He hadn't been so confused by a woman ever in his life.

"I shepherd nominees through the political-approval process. It's a lot more boring than it sounds," he answered.

"Really? Because, I've gotta tell you, watching paint dry would be a lot more exciting than that," she answered as she dried a skillet and replaced it from where she'd retrieved it.

He could only laugh because he tended to agree with her. Watching paint dry was probably a lot more exciting than what his profession entailed, and the fact she'd called him on it impressed him very much.