A/N – Ah, the coffee shop date….finally they put it all together. Thanks for the lovely reviews! They made me squeal like Jacob Black finding an agent for his first book.
Everything Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer, of course.
In preparation for the coffee shop date, Bella had gotten Jasper's OK to be an hour late for work. Actually, she'd gotten Alice's approval, since everyone knew Alice really ran the place. As comfortable as she was, with her head tucked up under Edward's chin and their arms wrapped around each other, she knew it was probably time to leave. She tipped her face up and looked into his beautiful green eyes.
"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have to go to work now."
She'd barely gotten the words out when he placed his fingers gently under her chin and pressed his lips against hers. Just like the first time, his lips were warm and soft and the kisses were a little tentative, a little shy. It was, she thought, the most wonderful first kiss any two people had ever shared.
He straightened up, sliding his arms from around her and taking her hands in his. "Bella, I…." He shook his head. "I can't believe I'm saying this either, but I have a meeting with my lawyer." He laughed. "Here we both are, planning to meet our drive-through secret crushes, and still we both scheduled things for an hour after our meeting."
She blushed. "Maybe we were both a little nervous, so we didn't plan to spend hours and hours talking the first day."
"Possible" Edward acknowledged. He ran the back of his hand down her cheek. "Or maybe we'd both already had our hearts stolen the other night."
She'd read it in books so many times, and always thought it an exaggeration, but yes, her knees actually did go weak at his words.
"I couldn't understand how I could be so attracted to you and still be so curious about my little red car girl" he said. "Now I know. It was you all the time. No matter where I saw you, or how I met you, it was you all the time."
"You do have a way with words, Mr. Cullen." She smiled. "No wonder your romances are all best-sellers."
He smiled, sheepishly. "I hope you don't think I'm just talking here. I'm really excited about the possibility of getting to know you, Bella."
"I'm excited about that too" she said. "And not just because you're my favorite author." She unlocked her car door, and he opened it for her.
"Good to know" he said, with a smirk. "Like I said, I have a meeting with Jasper tomorrow. Could I take you to lunch? Or are you going to make me wait until our date Saturday?"
Bella pretended to be thinking it over. "I think tomorrow can't come soon enough."
"Tomorrow it is, then." Edward leaned in and kissed her one more time. "I can't seem to stop doing that."
"It's OK" she said, holding on to the steering wheel. "You can do that as much as you want." She slapped her forehead when she realized what she said. "Sorry, my mouth and my brain don't seem to be connected right now."
Edward laughed. "It's OK, beautiful. I'll see you tomorrow." He closed her door, took a step back and waved.
"I'm not at all sure I should be driving right now" Bella murmured. "Talk about driving under the influence!"
She could still see him in her rear view mirror as she headed toward her office. She pressed her fingers up against her lips, and just sighed.
Bella rounded the corner of her cubicle and stopped short when she saw Alice sitting on the desk, her eyes gleaming.
"Spill it – all the details. What happened? What did he say? What did you say when he said it? What did he say when you said what you said to what he said…"
"Whoa, tiger" said Bella, laughing. "You're going to hyperventilate."
She told Alice everything that happened, starting from when she first saw him come in the coffee shop door, and ending with the wave goodbye.
"And he really didn't know you were, well, you until he saw your car?" Alice just shook her head.
"No, but to his credit, he figured it out pretty quickly" Bella said. "Thank goodness."
"I have to go – Jasper's here" Alice said. They made plans for lunch, and Alice went back to her desk.
Later that morning, Bella's intercom buzzed. "Yes?"
"Bella, its Tanya. Flowers just got delivered to the reception desk, so of course I thought they were for me, because, you know, they usually are. But I looked at the card, and they're for you."
"Try not to sound so surprised" Bella growled. "I'll be right there to get them."
When she got to the front desk, there were three women standing there, whispering. Jessica noticed her first and stepped back out of the way. "Oh, hi Bella. Wow, these are beautiful. Who are they from?" There on the desk was a crystal vase filled with a dozen long stemmed white and red roses. She stepped forward and picked up the card.
My little red car girl,
To the first of many shared coffees…
Bella looked up into their anxious faces, and realized she was surrounded by the Edward Cullen fan club. There was no way in hell she was telling them that he sent the flowers. Knowing them, they'd steal them off her desk and fight over them. She had visions of coming back from lunch and finding red and white petals in a trail across the office. A voice broke through her daydream.
"Yeah, Bella, who are they from?"
"Just a guy, Lauren. Someone I've just started seeing." That was all they were getting out of her. She marched back to her desk and grabbed her phone. First, she sent a text to the newest number in her contact list.
Thanks – they're beautiful.
Then she took a picture of the flowers and sent it to Alice. The intercom buzzed a second later.
"Are those from who I think they're from?"
"Yes, and the fan club nearly intercepted them."
Alice laughed. "It's lunch time. Meet me at the door and you can tell me all about it on the way to the deli."
Bella stood up and nearly collided with someone standing behind her chair.
"Hello, Isabella. Do you have a few minutes for me?"
Bella took a step back, nearly tripping over the chair. "Um, of course Victoria. What can I do for you?"
"Oh dear girl" Victoria said. "It's what I can do for you." She sat on the edge of Bella's desk and motioned for Bella to take the desk chair.
Bella cringed as Victoria sat a little too close to the roses. "Here" she said. "Let me just move those out of your way." She shifted the flowers to the other side of her desk, turning them so that the card was out of sight.
"We've just had our usual Monday morning senior editors meeting, and I understand that you have your first new author." Victoria looked over the papers on Bella's desk. "I know how exciting it can be, especially when the author is a young man, and so good looking."
"How do you know what he looks like?"
"Simple, dear. I googled it. It was only a college photo, but my goodness, such an attractive man." Victoria ran her long, blood-red nails along the edge of Bella's desk. "This is such a competitive business, Bella. I'm offering to mentor you as you go through your first client experience."
"I appreciate the offer Victoria" said Bella, not at all sure what to say next.
"Of course you do. Who wouldn't want a senior editor to show them the ropes, so to speak?" She sighed a long, dramatic sigh. "Such a difficult business, publishing. Why just this week I've lost two of my authors to another agency."
"Two? I thought it was one?" As soon as the words came out of her mouth, Bella knew she's made a big mistake.
"I see news travels quickly around here. Unfortunately, I've had another one leave."
Bella didn't know what to say. "I really appreciate the offer, but Jasper said he's going to work with me directly on this one. I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings."
"I'm afraid Jasper may not have the…shall we say…the disposition to survive this battle for our little firm?" Victoria grimaced. "But you do what you must, my dear. Just let me know if I can be of any help to you."
Bella stood as Victoria began to walk away.
"Oh, and Bella?" The woman turned on her pointed toe shoes and leveled a look at Bella. "One more little piece of advice. Be very careful what you say or do with James."
At Bella Italia in downtown Port Angeles, Jasper and Rosalie finished up an extended business lunch with one of their oldest clients. Jasper held out his hand to the man. "It's our pleasure, Eleazar. We're so glad to see you."
The older man leaned in and kissed Rosalie's cheek. "Jasper, Rosalie, always such a pleasure to do business with you. You have made me a very wealthy man, and I am very grateful. You do not have to worry about where my loyalties lie in all this." His face turned somber. "I would not let Volturi represent me under any circumstances."
"Thank you, Eleazar." Rosalie whispered in his ear. "You know you're my favorite client, don't you?"
"Ah, Rosalie, if only I were twenty years younger." They all laughed. This was a running joke between them. "The next time you are in Los Angeles, it will be my turn to treat you to lunch."
When he left, Jasper signaled to the waiter. "I'd like coffee, please, and my sister will have a latte. And you can bring me the check."
"I really do have a soft spot for him, Jasper. It's good to know we aren't going to lose him." Rosalie may have a tough exterior, but Jasper understands her. This agency is just as precious to her as it is to him. While they knew how lucky they were that Edward was Jasper's best friend and that they didn't have to worry about him, every client was important to them. It was why they opened their own agency, instead of trying to join one of the big, less personal ones. They could call their own shots, make their own decisions, and take chances on authors that the big houses might overlook. Eleazar had been one such author, and he was now their second highest seller, right behind Edward.
"What do you think they'll do next?" Rosalie smiled at the waiter as he brought her drink.
"I'm not sure" Jasper admitted. "They seem to be going after some of our newer, less well known authors." He sipped his coffee. "I think we just keep doing what we're doing. Reassure our clients, and our staff."
"Where do you think the leak is coming from?" Rosalie's eyes narrowed. "If I find out who it is…"
"I don't know. Just keep your eyes open." Jasper put his elbows on the table. "I can't believe I'm going to ask you this, but how are things with Emmett?"
Rosalie looked like the cat that swallowed the canary. "You never told me you had such…talented friends, Jas."
"I don't even want to know what you mean by that."
"No" she said "you probably don't. I know you weren't happy at first about us dating, but he's funny, and sweet, and he makes me laugh. Aside from everything else he does."
Jasper grimaced. "As long as he makes you happy. Just don't give me any details."
"Details about what?" A high-pitched voice asked from behind them. Jasper whipped around to see who was in back of him, while Rosalie's face hardened into a grimace.
"Hello, Jane" Jasper said. Damn, he thought. How long had she been there? And what had she heard? At least for the last ten minutes he and Rosalie had been talking about her love life, not about the agency.
"Just talking about a few friends, that's all." Rosalie got a gleam in her eye and Jasper knew that meant trouble. She put on her sweetest expression. "What brings you here, Jane? Did you fall off your broomstick? Lose your black cat?"
Jane glared at Rosalie and then turned on her heel and walked away.
"One for our side" Rosalie said coolly, sipping her latte. She winked at Jasper. "Don't worry, brother, we're gonna be OK."
"I hope you're right."