A/N: I do not own Twilight, SM does and that is that. I am just having fun with my own ideas for these characters. Thanks to my lovely Beta Gooseonline - mistakes are my own because I like to reread and tinker. Sometimes though I may use spelling or expressions that seem odd but I am Australian and we are an odd bunch anyway but also we speak Australian English. :)
I am so excited so many people have joined me for this little adventure. A special shout out to those who have left me a review. Appreciate every comment.
Chapter 3 ~ petit fours
After releasing a heavy sigh I answered the call impatiently. "Tanya?"
"Oh, Edward, you left so quickly last night I was worried about you. Is everything all right honey?" I hate it when she uses that whiney tone and I really hate it when she calls me honey.
"Yes, sorry, I had some urgent work at the office last night and this morning I had to let a senior staffer go," I told her flatly. I wondered if I mentioned James by name if she would react.
"Oh, that's too bad honey. Who was it?" Sounded like she knew already but I wanted to see her reaction.
"James, y'know … my cousin."
There was a short pause but then she recovered herself. "I don't think I know him honey. Oh dear, it must've been a serious issue for you to fire your cousin. What did he do?"
Her enquiry confirmed for me that she did indeed know him and that my suspicions about them were correct. She had never shown even the slightest interest in the people in my office and even though she had visited my office on occasion I don't think she ever spoke to anyone except my PA. Tanya was always such a bitch to poor Jessica that I'm pretty sure Jess was scared of her.
I just wanted to tell this bitch what I thought of her over the phone and just kick her to the curb but I needed to find out what I could from her first. I needed to know who had initiated her relationship with James. I also needed to know which of these two masterminds was behind setting up the Denali investment portfolio which was using the leaked information from James to get ahead of the market thus putting the reputation of not only my venture capital investment division but my whole business in jeopardy. The financial community is fickle and one fuck up or even a hint of a fuck up and your reputation is shot.
I am going to have to meet with her, damn, I really don't want to spend another minute with this treacherous viper.
I took another calming breath and tried to sound eager. "Oh Tanya honey," I sneered as the endearment honey came out of my mouth, "I don't want to bore you to death with the machinations of my office politics; so dull. We can talk about much more pleasant topics when I can see you next".
"Edward honey you know I'm always open to seeing you." She emphasised the word open and I felt myself vomit in my mouth a little but playfully cooed to her over the phone chuckling at her very unsubtle innuendo.
"Yes I know just how accommodating you can be Tanya," and apparently so does James and god knows who else I thought, but went on with the charade. "Why don't I come over and visit with you this evening, say around 9.30?"
"Of course, honey, I'll see you then, bye now."
I hung up and held the phone out and strangled it a little in frustration just as I wish I could strangle her but I had to control my temper.
I sat down heavily at my desk and pulled up my calendar on my computer. I started nibbling on the croissant which I had defended so vehemently from Emmett.
"Oh god, oh god." I moaned as the flaky, buttery pastry melted in my mouth. I picked up the croissant and bit down greedily. The chocolate centre burst into my mouth and I moaned out again. "Oh god." Oh Isabella what are you doing to me? This pastry is positively sinful.
Jessica's voice interrupted my musing over the intercom, "You okay boss?"
"I don't know Jessica. I think I may be in love with this pastry."
She chuckled. "Whatever floats your boat, boss!"
After licking the last of the beautiful pastry from my fingers and then washing my hands in the private washroom off from my office, I stopped by briefly at Jessica's desk.
"Jessica, get me a meeting with Angela from the New Proposals team for after lunch please and can you organise a small celebration with that team for half an hour after that in the boardroom. Make sure the Exec team are all invited too. My diary is clear until then so please hold my calls and no walk-ins today."
"Sure thing boss, I'll take care of it." I like working with Jessica. No frills, no formalities. She likes her job and she's good at it; so refreshing.
I went back into my office and shut the door behind me. I set my alarm to 15 minutes prior to my meeting with Angela, stretched out on my couch and slipped off to sleep, exhausted after no rest the night before.
When my alarm woke me I threw water on my face and brushed my teeth to wake up fully from my nap, ready for the rest of the day.
My meeting with Angela went really well. I told her that James was no longer with the company, although I didn't go into the specifics. When I offered her his role to take over leadership of the team she was excited to say the least. I explained that this new position would mean she would be part of the Exec team briefings in my office each morning and she would be in a position to pitch new opportunities on behalf of her team. As she spoke of her willingness to accept the role and her ideas for the team she confirmed my suspicions that she's been preparing the briefs James has been presenting as his own work. Now she'll just be presenting her ideas in person and get the recognition she deserves. She was also excited to hear of the substantial raise which comes with the role.
Angela shook my hand, "Thanks for this opportunity Edward." We're all on first names basis here in the office on most days, except of course when I am in a foul temper like I was this morning when everyone just seems to naturally call me Mr Cullen because I'm just that fucking scary when I get in a mood.
"You've earned it Angela," I assured her. She had earned it too. She's worked her butt off for us since joining the company straight out of Harvard where she'd worked hard to graduate in the top 10% of her class. She had a scholarship for her Harvard studies which was quite an achievement considering she'd come from some tiny arse town about four hours drive from Seattle.
Jessica reminded me that everyone was now waiting in the Board Room. "Come on Angela, let's share the good news with your team." I ushered her out of my office and towards the Board room where her team were milling around chatting and no doubt wondering why they are all there.
Everyone quieted as we entered the room, probably expecting some sort of announcement. I called for everyone's attention as I moved to the centre of the room.
"Okay settle down you rowdy lot, we have serious business to discuss here." Standing next to me Angela was smiling a broad Cheshire cat grin across her face. Everyone chuckled a little but settled down to listen. I noticed members of her team smiling at Angela, obviously relieved that this must be good news since we were both smiling.
"I am here to announce a change of leadership for our very important New Proposals team. James Volturi left Cullen & Masen permanently this morning." There was considerable muttering at this and a few members of the team had similar expressions of relief as Angela had on her face when I told her the news earlier. I made a mental note to ask Emmett to check in with this team and make sure there was nothing unprofessional going on under James' leadership.
"But I am thrilled to announce that Angela has accepted the leadership role and will be taking over effective tomorrow. At Cullen & Masen we believe in rewarding effort and success. We like to promote from within rather than always importing talent. I think you'll agree with me that with Angela and her team we have plenty of talent right here. I hope you'll join me in congratulating Angela to this new role." There were a rousing chorus of cheers and plenty of shout outs of 'about time', 'well done Ang' and even a 'you go girl' shout which made everyone laugh.
While I was speaking I noticed the room was filling with delicious smells so enticing I licked my lips. I noticed trays of delectable looking sweet and savoury treats had appeared on tables around the room.
"Jessica has kindly organised some tasty treats which I must say smell delicious and some refreshments so please take the rest of the afternoon to enjoy some time together and congratulate Angela on her new role." I gestured to the platters of delicacies filling the room with their delicious aroma.
Everyone broke up and started mingling around Angela to make a fuss and congratulate her. People were also fussing over the food, they were moaning and groaning their pleasure at the tasty treats and the smell was so enticing I had to go and try them. I picked up a small savoury tart, took a bite and was immediately hit with the most delicious taste.
"Oh God… what the … what the hell is this?" I stammered to Jessica who was standing next to me enjoying a sweet pastry. "Jessica where did you get the catering it is incredible. You didn't make this yourself did you?"
Jessica gave me her best bitch brow. "Yeah Boss I zipped home and whipped up this array of goodies in the three hours since you asked me to pull this shindig together!" She shook her head condescendingly.
Okay, so it was a fucking stupid question but I really hadn't had much sleep in the last 24 hours.
"Actually Boss," she said in a more pleasant tone, "I got the name of the place from you."
I cocked my brow at her questioningly. I may not have had much sleep but I really don't remember chatting about fucking catering companies with anyone… ever!
"That croissant you asked me to heat this morning had the name and details of the bakery café on the bag. So I called them."
That got my attention. The food was from Isabella.
"You seemed to really enjoy that croissant this morning, I mean really, really enjoy it." She smirked at me. "So I thought I'd check them out and they're great. Isabella, the baker who owns the café delivered the stuff herself".
What? Isabella was here and I missed her? She probably came while was napping like a toddler in my office. It would've been good to see her away from the bakery. I wonder if she would still wear that apron. I'm such a Neanderthal but I was getting hard at the thought of her in that full apron with a tray of sweet treats freshly baked and with her hair falling about her face. So sexy. Damn. Shake it off you idiot you're surrounded by co-workers.
What? Oh shit Jessica, right she's still talking.
"She was really nice. She left some petit fours for me, and some for you too, as a thank you for the new business. Smart idea. I left yours on your desk Boss. Now that I've tasted how good her stuff is I kind of wished I hadn't told you, I should've kept them all for myself."
What did Jessica say? Isabella left something for me?
"Ok, thanks Jess, great work," I said hurriedly as I rushed off to head to my office.
Like a love-struck school boy I burst into my office and darted over to my desk to see what she'd left for me. Pathetic Cullen! There on my desk was a small white box tied with a royal blue ribbon with a business card sitting on top. The card had Bella's Bakery on it. I picked it up and turned it over and there was a handwritten note. 'Mr Cullen, I have packed you a box of my petit fours to enjoy as thanks for trying our fare for your function. I hope you enjoy and will use us again. Have a good one! Bella.'
It was hand written! Bella, short for Isabella of course. And she'd put a smiley face under her name I normally find that sort of thing so annoying but I couldn't help but smile. "So fucking cute," I muttered.
"Who's fucking cute?" Emmett asked as he strolled into my office carrying a plate fully loaded with Bella's pastries from Angela's function.
"Hungry Em?" I teased him, avoiding his question.
"Are you kidding this is the best food we've had in this place…. ever!" He popped a little fruit pastry in his mouth. "Anyway I just popped in to remind you that we are going to Ma's for dinner tonight." He raised his eyebrows at me, with that you're not going to pike out. I grimaced as I remembered that I was meeting Tanya tonight.
"Aww, c'mon Edward. You can't cancel on Esme again, man." Emmett clearly saw my intention to cancel.
"No, no Emmett I will be there but I need to get away in time to visit with our favourite viper Tanya."
"You are cutting her loose, right Edward?" He looked at me willing me to agree.
"Oh yeah she's done," I affirmed to his relief.
"Emmett, I nearly forgot. Can you spend a little time with Angela's team? I got a strange vibe from her and from some of her team today when I spoke about James. I want to make sure nothing inappropriate has been going on there."
"Sure man, no drama, I'll get to that tomorrow."
"Now we've discovered what a rat James has been I am concerned there may be other sins to add to his list," I mused aloud as I reached over to grab a pastry from his plate.
He slapped my hand away from his plate. "Hey don't make me growl at you the way you did at me this morning. What was that about anyway? No matter, I am off. I'll see you at the 'rents at 5.30. Should be a good night Ali will be there too," he called over his shoulder as he was leaving my office.
Should be quite the night. I really wish I'd had more sleep.
A/N: Poor Edward missed on seeing Bella again but I think he really did need that nap. I can't help but think how cute he'd look all curled up on his couch. Anyhoo! A big night ahead for Edward dinner with his family and then a rendezvous with the naughty Tanya. Should be fun. I hope you'll join me.