Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or characters, no income being made, only fulfilling a creative whim.

Chapter 11

Bella's POV

All I had wanted was to finally get Mike Newton off my back. I told one little white lie, something I didn't do often. But I felt it was necessary. Have you ever been in a situation where it was your only option? I guess God and the universe decided differently.

Well Bella, I think you have learned your lesson. Do Not Lie.

So here I was faced with the fact that I was going out with Edward tonight. Edward Cullen! I was having difficulty breathing and my heart felt like it was the track at the Indy 500. Could I be having a panic attack? Just breathe. A shower would relax me, however in my haste I nicked myself while shaving my legs. I know what a shocker! And of course the sight of blood has never been a good thing for me so I quickly grabbed the face cloth, and began blotting the spot. I got the damn thing under control and placed a bandage over it. I wasn't sure what to wear tonight. I didn't know where Edward planned to take me, but now with my leg bandaged I was definitely ruling out a skirt.

I wanted to call Angela and get her opinion but thought better of it. I couldn't run to her every single time I felt unsure. Nor did I need the Angela pep talk along with her opinion that this was fate. No thank you.

I was rummaging through my closet when I heard my phone ring.

Edward

I was literally shaking when I answered, my voice nearly cracked I was so nervous.

How are you going to react when he's here, in your home!

The timbre of his voice was just as silky and sinful as it was in person. Did I expect that it would sound any different? This man could read the phone book out loud and I would be under his spell.

"Bella, I'll be by in about 30 minutes."

Oh God, this was really happening.

"Okay… Edward?"

I could hear how uncertain I sounded. I attempted to bolster my confidence as I desperately wanted to ask him what dress attire would be appropriate for this evening. I nearly laughed, not that I thought this was amusing, but that most likely I was the first girl to ever ask him such a question. I could feel the heat radiate to my cheeks. This was an awkward moment for me, believe me I knew awkward. We were on a first name basis. I felt so stupid having to ask him what I should wear but he put me at ease letting me know Rain was a casually sophisticated place and I could dress it up or down and still fit in.

I looked at the clock; I had twenty-five minutes, I only hoped he might be a few minutes late by getting lost. Are you kidding me? Number one, how does one get lost in Forks? It's nearly impossible considering how small the town is. Second, who gets lost today since the invention of GPS and Mapquest? This was just wishful thinking on my part. I wanted to delay as long as possible. I began to bite on my thumbnail then quickly stopped. I had done so well curbing this nervous habit. Well up until a certain bronze haired green eyed Adonis entered my life.

"Why am I having such a hard time deciding on what to wear? " As I mumbled to myself my cats were stalking my every more. Before I took a tumble because they were weaving in out of my legs, I decided I better feed them. Once that was done I rushed back up to my bedroom to find the perfect outfit. Or as close to perfect considering I wasn't exactly a fashion expert. I finally settled on a pair of black Levis and after making a chaotic mess out of two dresser drawers I reconciled pairing the Levis with a midnight blue sweater.

I looked at myself in the mirror.

Was the top too much?

The neckline dipped a little low, but I didn't think it exposed too much. It hugged my curves nicely, whatever curves I had. I mean Jessica certainly wore plenty far more revealing than this and tighter. I just didn't want to make a bad impression or give him the wrong idea.

And just what would that be?

I really had no idea why he would even want to go out with me. Although secretly I was relishing the thought that he actually found me attractive. It could be possible right? After all, I knew I was certainly attracted to him. I think one would have to be dead to not be, and maybe even then. Other than the medal I always wore, I put on the gold hoops that had belonged to my mother and headed for the bathroom.

As I was putting the finishing touches of my make-up, which I wore sparingly I thought about the type of women Edward dated. If the one I saw him with at New Moon was any indication, he was attracted to tall, blonde, sophisticated and all woman. We couldn't be more polar opposites. How could I even compare to that?

You can't.

Don't even try.

Do I even want to?

What the hell am I saying?

I wanted to turn off my internal monologue but that was a lost cause. So I brushed my hair I don't know how many times until I was satisfied that it hung as near perfect as I could get it. I had not put this much effort with any of the other dates I had. Why?

Could it be that you like him? Really like him?

The house was in order, not that I intended to give him a tour. The last guy who I had over was Jacob, and he didn't count. This would the first time I actually had a guy come to my house to pick me up for a date. The handful of times I had gone out I always met them. He didn't even give me an opportunity to tell him that I would just meet him at the restaurant. I wondered if he would have agreed. Well it was too late for that. In fact it was more than too late. The doorbell rang.

I gazed at myself once more in the full length mirror in my bedroom, running my fingers through my hair and made my way to the front door. Taking a deep breath I turned the door handle. There he was, one of the most beautiful images to grace my doorstep. Eyes of forest green immediately locked onto mine and he was wearing that crooked grin. My insides were screaming 'run for the hills' – I can't do this. But I reminded myself, this was one date, nothing more.

Before making a complete ass out of myself I finally acknowledged him. "Hi Edward."

My God he looked incredibly handsome in the charcoal jacket with a light blue dress shirt with the collar opened. From the first time I saw him in that conference room something about his exposed neck and glimpse of chest hair made my stomach flutter. His dark blue jeans fit his slim hips and legs certainly outlining his fine form. This from a woman who rarely ogled the male anatomy, but he made me want things. Things I knew I couldn't have. But what was the harm pretending just for tonight that I was normal? He frightened me because he had awakened feelings within me I never knew existed. I could see how easily he could make me lose control if I let him in. That was what scared me the most, because I knew I could never hold him.

"Hello Bella. You look lovely."

If it were possible I would drown in the sound of his voice. My mind flashed to lying in bed wrapped in his arms while he spoke softly lulling me to sleep.

Earth to Bella.

A bouquet of flowers was roughly thrust in my face which startled me that I took a step backwards.

"I'm sorry, these are for you." This time he was far gentler as I took the bouquet from him. He appeared a bit nervous as he jammed his hands in his pants pockets. I was surprised because of the few times we had met he was always so confident.

He had brought me wildflowers.

I was stunned that be brought me flowers, but even more that he chose these instead of the cliché bouquet of roses.

I took them thanking him and boldly told him I thought he looked really nice. Nice? That was the best I could come up with? What did you want to say? Oh Edward you are so beautiful?

I stood there like an idiot when I realized he was standing outside while I was in the doorway. I apologized and asked him to come in. Do you understand now? All common sense had apparently vacated the premises. I was so embarrassed; I knew I had to be blushing profusely.

The bouquet was simple but yet beautiful. The fragrance reminded me of meadows and wild fields of color. And they certainly brightened up a room. More importantly they reminded me of my Mom. I had held on to a few memories, one that was clear was her love for wildflowers. I excused myself for a moment so I could put them in a vase.

Walking back into the living room poor Edward was getting the bum's rush from Shack. He was the friendliest cat out of my three. Edward looked a bit stiff and unsure as to what to do. I had no idea if Edward liked cats and more importantly I didn't want Shack to get hair all over his pants. Shack loved to mark you as his own. At that moment I wondered what would it be like to be marked by Edward.

As if you will ever know.

"Edward, I'm so sorry. Shack, shoo now. He apparently is quite taken with you." With my foot I removed Shack from Edward's legs. I didn't think bending down in front of Edward to pick up my cat would be a good idea.

Edward was gracious and didn't seem to be bothered by Shack. Of course he made a comment about the fact I had three cats. Actually is more like a question as if I might have more hiding somewhere. I began to wonder if in his past he had been traumatized by cats. I introduced him to my three beauties which always made me feel less nervous.

He asked me if I lived with my parents. From a brief moment I felt a lump in my throat. The room suddenly felt too small but Edward suspected this was a delicate subject not asking anything further. I told him it was just me and the cats. I couldn't resist and asked him to refrain from making any jokes about single girls living with cats. Trust me I had heard enough of them from my co-workers, and yes Angela too. Quickly the mood in the room was light again.

We chatted for a few more moments and I even offered Edward something to drink but he declined saying that we needed to get going to make our reservation. I swiftly ran upstairs to my bedroom to grab a jacket. I kept telling myself to just relax and try not to do anything embarrassing. You know trip over my feet as I did on the first day I met him. It seemed to be my favorite pastime. Edward was waiting for me in the foyer when I announced I was ready to go. He gave me a wink and my cheeks warmed again.

I think he liked to make me blush.

~~SyP~~

Seated in Edward's vehicle, which was a Porsche, I was further reminded that I was in the company of a man who had expensive tastes. I felt so small sitting on the leather seat, the SUV was luxurious and there was no shortage of comforts. No doubt this vehicle was worth more than what I made in a year. That it was black made even more desirable. It reeked of class and affluence. And how do I fit in? Don't answer that.

I knew I was quiet on the ride to the restaurant. Edward must have sensed it as well because he turned on his audio system and the piece that filled the cabin was hauntingly beautiful.

Cinema Paridiso

I wasn't familiar with the piece but it seemed to fit the mood for both of us. I vowed I was going to download it onto my iPod as soon as I was able. It would forever remind me of tonight and Edward. No matter what the outcome. I wanted something tangible as a memory. There was so much I wanted to know about the man seated beside me. I ached to peel back the layers and discover him at my leisure. But always in the back of my mind loomed the shadow bringing me back to reality.

~~SyP~~

Rain was definitely unique. It was distinctive and the fact that the interior was made to look like a rainforest just blew my mind. Silently I praised myself for not missing a step at the shock of feeling Edward's hand on my lower back as he escorted me further inside.

The hostess and Edward were on a first name basis. In hindsight, I wasn't surprised. I would imagine a man like him certainly had more than his share of women. What did surprise me was the fleeting moment of jealousy that this woman knew Edward intimately. Aren't you being presumptuous? I had tried giving my inner monologue the night off but apparently she wanted the overtime. Reflecting for a moment, she was right. Couldn't it just be that he had dined here before? That caused me to ponder that perhaps he frequented Rain with the other dates he brought here. Had he brought that Blonde Barbie here?

Our waitress, Ashley, brought our drinks over. She seemed to be eyeing Edward although he paid no mind to her. He was rather hard not to stare at. Everything about him exuded sex. From the way he sipped his beer to the way he raked his fingers through that gorgeous mane of hair. He wore it a little longer than some of the guys I knew from the office. If it wasn't the hair, it was the eyes, the mouth, the strong jaw, his neck; the wisp of hair from his chest that peeked from underneath his shirt, everything about this man was captivating. The butterflies in my stomach were jockeying for position. I was such a bundle of nerves I ordered the salmon salad, which didn't impress Edward in the least. I nearly laughed when he asked me if I was feeling okay. And then his eyes nearly bugged out when I told him I was watching my weight. In reality I wasn't lying. But I knew I couldn't eat.

"So Bella, how do you know Jacob Black?"

Jake.

What's it to him?

I just stared at him for what felt like minutes when I knew it wasn't more than a few seconds.

Well answer him you idiot!

"Um, Jake?" I could hear the apprehension in my voice. Why I had no idea. Jacob was a good friend of mine. Why would Edward ask? And more importantly why would he care?

He was twirling his spoon between his index and middle finger. "Yes, Jake."

"Jacob and I attended college together."

His green eyes were blazing into mine, daring me to look away.

"Oh really? You seem to be very close."

He was fishing. At least I thought he was. How would I know? He was the first guy I dated who didn't center the conversation on them.

"We were in college. I actually hadn't seen him since we graduated. I was surprised to see him at the job site a few days ago."

He seemed to like that answer. The furrow between his brows eased. At this particular moment the one thing I wanted above all else, and yes that even meant Edward, was the ability to read his mind. Just what was going through that beautiful head of his?

"Mmmm, yes. What small world. Jake works for me and E & E is building your new corporate headquarters. How ironic. By the way how was your date?"

My date?

What date?

And why did he give emphasis on that word?

It dawned on me that he had overheard our conversation about getting together later that night. I was surprised because as I remember Edward seemed to be annoyed at me. I didn't particularly care to be grilled and frankly it wasn't any of Edward's business.

"It was great."

I noticed a twitch from the right side of his face and his eyes narrowed. If I didn't know any better I would have said Edward was jealous.

"Great."

Was that laced with sarcasm? And was he smirking?

Thank God our dinners arrived because I was becoming entirely too uncomfortable with the way the conversation was going. We ate in silence, well I attempted to eat. Instead I arranged the salmon several times on the bed of fresh greens and tomatoes. It was inviting if I had an appetite. Edward seemed to be enjoying the Dungeness crab he ordered, looking at me occasionally. I took a sip of water, since I had drained my cocktail. I did say I was nervous remember? The silence hung like a curtain between us.

I didn't know where I mustered the courage but the next thing I knew I opened my mouth and spoke.

"Edward, how long have you and your brother been in business?"

"About four years now."

"Oh really, so how old were you when you started?" Was I being forward? I didn't think so. I mean asking a guy his age didn't have the same connotation as a man asking a woman. And I really wanted to know his age.

"I was twenty-three and Emmett was twenty-five."

Wow, that's young.

"Really? That's amazing."

He looked at me like I had three heads. What did I say? I mean starting a business at the age was not the norm for someone so young. I would be lying if I didn't find that unbelievable. Not that I thought he was lying to me. I just had never met someone who was that driven at such a young age.

"What?" It was as if he could read my mind. Or I was very poor in masking my facial expressions.

"Oh, nothing. It's just I find it incredible that someone so young would be that ambitious." I smiled at him, wanting him to understand that I admired this quality.

"Why would you say that? I don't mean to sound rude. I'm just curious."

"Most guys at that age are not interested in starting a business."

He positioned his elbows on the table and motioned his body closer to me across the table.

"Well, Bella I guess I'm not 'most' guys."

Damn, he could say that again.

This time I felt the heat emulate from my toes and work itself up. I didn't need a mirror to realize that not only were my cheeks red but the exposed area of my neck and upper chest were flushed. Now I was wishing I hadn't worn this top.

Did I say this man was dangerous? Well he is.

I took a moment to compose myself to get my pulse under control as well as lodge the boulder that had found purchase in my throat.

"No, I guess maybe you're not. I find that quite admirable really. Both you and your brother must be quite driven."

"Driven? I suppose so. But we both knew what we wanted to be since we were kids. So I guess you could say we had some goals early on."

"Your parents must be very proud."

How could they not? What parent isn't proud of such an accomplishment at a young age? A momentary pang of anguish settled over me as I wished my parents were still alive. Would they have been proud of me?

"Yes, I think they are. At least I hope they are." He snickered then cleared his throat. "So Bella, tell me a little bit about you? What drives you?"

What was there to tell? I certainly wasn't the success that he was. I didn't drive a fancy car or wear expensive clothing. Everything about him suggested he led a privileged existence.

"Oh there's really not much to tell." Focusing at my hands on my lap, my thumbs dueled with one another as I attempted to rein my nerves under control.

He wasn't going to buy that line. I'm sure I was giving him the impression that I was shy. Well I was, but more importantly I was very uncomfortable talking about myself. Even without the baggage I had I would most likely have been the same. I led a very boring life, with a job that wasn't exactly exciting and spent most of my free time either at home or with Angela. As I said there wasn't much to tell.

"I doubt that Miss Swan. We all have a story to tell."

And some are meant to be shared, while others must remain silent.

Those emerald orbs held my gaze in such a way that I was willing to believe he could hypnotize me unleashing my secrets.

"Bella, so how long have you been working at Wolf's."

Apparently he wasn't impressed with my vow of silence. Well to be fair he did answer my questions and without hesitation I might add.

"Um…I've been there for about three years."

"Do you like it?"

"Yes."

"Fred seems like a nice guy."

"Yes."

"Have you always lived in Forks?"

Get ready for another one word answer. I know I was being a bit of a bitch wasn't I?

Don't answer that.

"No."

I could tell by the expression on his face that he wasn't exactly pleased with my responses.

"I bet you give one hell of an interview." He laughed, even snickered.

"I'm sorry?" I spat back.

Now I was getting a little irritated. My teeth clenched, and I gripped the edges of my chair to the point my knuckles were turning white. While I admit I wasn't making it easy for him but to laugh at me? I can handle most anything but what I would not tolerate was being laughed at.

"Excuse me? " He was toying with me.

He sat back against his chair with his arms crossed against his chest with that damn grin on that damn beautiful face. He could be unnerving!

"Just what did you mean by that comment?"

"Simply that you seem to be a woman of few words. Look, I didn't mean to piss you off but really Bella, I was only asking to satisfy my curiosity. It's one way to get to know a person."

Then he smiled at me. That damn crooked smile that melted my heart. I was being rude and looking at this logically, he wasn't asking me my bra size for Pete's sake!

"I apologize. I didn't mean to be rude."

"Apology accepted. How about starting over? "

I nodded giving him a tentative smile.

"Do you like your job?"

"Yes…" I hesitated but only for a moment as I gathered my thoughts. My job couldn't compare to what he did and there wasn't any reason to be ashamed, but it paled in comparison. "I do, it's fast paced and I work with a great group of people."

"What exactly is your day like?" He seemed to be genuinely interested.

"Well as you know we manufacture ski equipment so our customers are ski retailers across the country. My department is responsible for the supporting all the needs of our retailers. From processing their orders to resolving issues related to product, orders, shipping. We pretty much do it all."

"Sounds like they keep you on your toes." Another wink! By the end of the night I was sure to be in a coma.

"Yes, if you only knew." I let out a nervous giggle.

"And Forks, have you lived here all your life?"

"Have you?"

Oh now that was cute, answering a question with a question.

Edward sat forward letting out what sounded like a groan. His expression didn't give away whether he was angry or annoyed. But I doubted he was impressed with my reverting to being evasive.

"No. I was born and raised in Chicago. My family actually moved to Forks when I was in my second year at UW."

"So how old are you?"

I was back in the driver's seat. Maybe Edward decided to just let me control the conversation, for now. He didn't strike me as the type of man who relinquished his control to anyone. His body language said as much.

"Miss Swan, asking my age isn't that a little forward?" He laughed again and I blushed.

"Bella, come on. I'm just having a little fun with you."

"At my expense?"

"What can I say, you're an easy target."

Now he definitely was teasing me. I wanted to be infuriated at him, but I was finding there was a bigger part of me enjoying the banter. I could do banter…

"You would make one hell of a spy. Extracting information from you is like pulling teeth. Actually I think pulling teeth would be easier. Okay, let's try this. I ask a question you answer, then you ask me one and I answer. Agreed?"

"Okay. So how old are you."

"Ha! I would have thought you could have figured that one out on your own."

"What do you mean?" Was this another game? If so I was beginning to find him more annoying than charming, even if he brought me wildflowers.

"Only that you have already asked me how long I've been in business and how old I was when I started the company."

I had asked him that. I cringed thinking he must have thought I wasn't listening to him. When the truth of the matter was I hung on every word he said. It had totally put my axis off kilter.

"You did, I apologize. You must think I have been listening half-heartedly."

He only shook his head while his hand ran through his hair which he seemed to do often.

"It's fine. I'm twenty-seven. I know it's rude and my mother would be ashamed but what the hell, I'm going to ask. How old are you."

"I just turned twenty-four."

"When?"

"September 13th."

"Happy Belated Birthday Bella. Say that three times fast."

We both laughed and at that moment I started to let go of feeling apprehensive and allowed myself to enjoy the conversation. It's what I did on a day to day business at work right? Think of this as just one of those conversations. Suddenly I felt a bit lighter and could breathe easier.

~~SyP~~

The drive back from Rain was far different than when we had driven there. Both of us couldn't stop talking, we continued to ask questions. He had yet to ask me about Forks again or anything about my family. Although I knew the topic was going to resurface and when it did I would answer truthfully. I would divulge as little as possible surrounding my circumstances.

As we drove closer back to my house, I was wishing that he would ask me out again. He was charming, funny and honest. Oh and the fact that he is drop dead gorgeous didn't hurt either.

Who are you and what have you done with Isabella Swan?

"I really like your car, or whatever you want to call it."

I don't know why I blurted that out. For some reason I was being afflicted with diarrhea of the mouth. That can never be a good thing. I needed to get my filter back into place.

"Oh thanks. I bought it about three months ago."

I was waiting for him to mention the model and make but he didn't. I knew it was a Porsche. It was an SUV and I believed it was called the 'Cayenne.' I think I was a bit surprised that he didn't fawn all over the fact he owned a Porsche. I was going out on a limb to say that he seemed to be down to earth. He didn't need to impress anyone. Then again with his looks and the way he swaggered, there was no need. It came natural to him without having to say one damn word.

"I've never ridden in a Porsche before. It certainly rides better than my car."

"Oh, what do you drive?"

"I have a Ford Focus. It gets me to point A to point B. I mean I love my car don't get me wrong."

"I use to have a Ford F-150 when I was teenager. My dad had bought it for me to learn with. I loved that truck. Ford makes some damn fine vehicles."

Did I make him think I was embarrassed that I drove a Ford? I hope not. I didn't want him to think that my car was beneath me. Anyway a car is just car. As long as it was comfortable and reliable it didn't matter to me what make and model it was.

We pulled up outside my house, all too aware that the evening was coming to an end. I was sad and relieved all at once. Did that make any sense? Sad for the obvious, he was going to leave. I was relieved that I managed to get through the evening without any mishaps.

We sat there for a few minutes, and all the chatter we had enjoyed came to a screeching halt.

Until I blurted out words I never expected to come out of my mouth.

"Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee or tea?"

A/N: So, Bella survived the date with Edward. Wonder what happens next? Thanks to everyone who is still with me. Huge thank you to Jlyn and DennaRose!