This was my entry for the Dirty Talkin' Edward Contest. It didn't win anything but then it was up against some stiff competition! (Stiff ... LOL ... sorry, my mind is very dirty too!) I had a lot of requests to continue the story so I will be doing so, once I wrap up Fortune Favours the Bold in a few weeks.
This story was beta'd by my wonderful regular beta SunflowerFran, who was a rock throughout the writing process. Thank you so much Fran! Thank you to ysar as well, who gave the story a second review.
I have split the original one-shot into the first three chapters, and will be posting the new chapters once FFTB is done. Once it gets going, I'll be updating this story very regularly and will aim to get it complete by Christmas. I'm also trying this thing where I keep my notes to a minimum so I'm thanking you all in advance for your reviews, and for following/adding me to favourites.
Disclaimer: I do not own any publicly recognisable characters in this story and no copyright infringement is intended. I just own this plot and clearly, one filthy mind. I will not be posting the disclaimer on subsequent chapters, so please take this one to cover the whole story. I'm telling you now, this is a dirty, filthy, smutty story with graphic lemons. If that's not your thing, please don't continue. I hate upsetting people.
Chapter One: The Hen Party
"Hey, Bella?" I looked up from my computer screen to see Alice at the door of my office, twirling a strand of her raven-coloured bob around her fingers. "What are you up to?"
"The usual." I gestured to the massive pile of quarterly reports on my desk; report reviews were just one of the many 'perks' of being the youngest ever vice president at Hardwicke and Slade Global Investments. "How are you, Alice?" She clearly wanted to chat and would just hover in my doorway asking me inane questions otherwise, so I gestured for her to come in.
"I'm so looking forward to Rosalie's hen party this weekend, aren't you?"
"Yeah, of course," I replied.
In reality, I was fairly nervous about the event, far more so than about Rosalie's wedding the following month. Rosalie and Alice had very different ideas of what constituted a good time, despite the fact that they were my closest friends at Hardwicke and Slade. When the three of us socialised outside of work, it was mainly lunches, drinks, or coffee at the end of the work day or after a class at the gym. They were both straight-up investment brokers, and technically I was their boss. This meant they had a hell of a lot more free time than I did, and I generally chose not to spend mine partying until the small hours. "Is it true that she's invited some guys, too?"
"Yep. Apparently she has a couple of male friends who are like family to her, and she didn't want to exclude them just because they have dicks."
"Are they gay?"
"Two are straight, and two are gay. The gay ones are a couple."
"I don't know how I feel about it ... We aren't going to be talking about shoes and sex and stuff in front of them, are we? It's just dinner, drinks, and a club, right?"
"Yeah. It's basically a standard night out with some new faces, minus Emmett, Garrett and Henry."
"What about the spa day on Sunday?" The thought of parading around in just a swimsuit was scary enough, but in front of male friends of the bride? Double scary.
"I don't know. It's more of a hang-out-by-a-pool day rather than a proper spa day, so it's possible that they'll be coming to that, too."
Apprehension rumbled through me. At work I was fine around guys, but out of the office and in social situations, I was extremely shy and self-conscious. I'd resisted so many invitations from Alice and Rosalie to set me up on dates or to go to parties full of eligible men; I was afraid of what they would think about the real me away from my stock market analyses and company reports. Numbers made sense to me.
Unfortunately, that meant that my needs, my sexual needs, were usually unmet. It had been at least eighteen months since I'd had sex with a man, and in order to get over my anxiety, I'd had to get properly drunk. It hadn't been worth it. The guy, some douche named Eric whom I'd met at a conference, had been weedy in figure and weedy in his direction of our sexual encounter. It had been like the blind leading the blind, and I escaped almost straight after our very short session. Eric had been a safe choice; he was unthreatening and eager to please, but it had shown me that men like him just couldn't give me the satisfaction I craved. I therefore accepted the fact that until I could learn to put myself out there, I would remain unfulfilled.
I was early as usual. I walked into the restaurant, Eclipse, just after seven o'clock, and we weren't supposed to be meeting until half past. I'd allowed myself extra time because I'd never been before, and I didn't want to be late because of unforeseen traffic or roadworks.
As expected, Rosalie's choice of restaurant was exceptionally smart and achingly cool. It was all exposed brick walls, metallic sculptures, and monochrome furniture. It was empty, but judging by all the employees milling around adjusting cutlery, they were expecting it to get very busy.
"I'm sorry, Miss, the table's not ready yet," the maître'd told me, "but it'll only be a few minutes. If you'd like to have a drink in the bar, we will fetch you when the time comes."
"That's not necessary; I'd rather finish my drink and return later." I didn't really have any desire to be at a table by myself for twenty minutes or more. I preferred to stand at a bar instead, getting liquored up.
He directed me to an equally hip bar, which like the restaurant was devoid of punters.
"What can I get you?" asked a friendly, female bartender.
"Oh, ah ... Do you have a cocktail menu?"
"Sure." She handed me a glossy black folder. "The monthly specials are at the front."
"What do you recommend? Something light but not creamy, and sharp with a little sweet."
"Mmm ... long or short?"
I felt someone step behind me. The hairs at the back of my neck rose and bristled. When I breathed in, an enticing, fresh, spiced smell invaded my senses; it was delicious and undoubtedly male.
"You should try the Elderflower Collins. It's a signature drink here," an equally delicious, male voice remarked from behind me.
I spun around on my heel, and standing less than a foot away was a drop-dead gorgeous man, around thirty, in a shiny grey suit with a white shirt and a black tie. He had a quiff of chestnut-brown hair, which shimmered with red as the fluorescent lights caught it. Square jaw with a hint of sexy stubble, hazel-green almond-shaped eyes, broad shoulders, lean body ... he was ... delicious.
"Oh, uh ..." I could feel my evil blush light up my cheeks, "t-thanks." There was no doubt that he knew what he was talking about. "I'll have one of those please."
"Coming right up. And for you, Mr. Cullen?"
"The same please, April," he replied smoothly, "and put both on my tab."
"Oh, t-that's not necessary," I began to protest. "I can ... I mean ..."
"Relax, beautiful! Do you put up a fight every time a man buys you a drink?"
I decided not to tell him that I couldn't remember the last time that had happened.
"I like to pay my own way," I told him instead.
"Well, please indulge me this time. Could I have the pleasure of your name, or should I just keep calling you 'beautiful'?"
"M-my name's Bella."
"So calling you 'beautiful' is actually right but in the wrong language?"
I shrugged in response. I always thought my name was a little ironic, really. I wasn't ugly; don't get me wrong. I just wasn't anything special. Average. Brown hair, brown eyes, average height, and a size ten so long as I was careful about what I ate. Being average suited me. I liked everything to be ordered and planned and generally found that getting involved with men was messy, in more ways than one. Being a little invisible in that respect was a good thing.
"Anyway, thank you, Mr Cullen, is it?"
"Edward, please call me Edward, Bella."
"Edward." A classic name, for a classically handsome man.
"So, are you here for a special occasion?"
"My friend's hen party. And you?"
"My friend's hen party," he laughed. "So, you're a friend of Rosalie's?"
"Yes, we work together at Hardwicke and Slade," I told him. "I'm guessing you're one of her old family friends?"
"Yeah, we grew up together. Our parents are best friends."
"And what do you do, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I'm a restaurateur."
"Here in the city?"
"Here, full stop." He gestured to our surroundings.
Suddenly it made sense; the bartender knew who he was and addressed him formally, and then there was his knowledge of the cocktail menu.
"Of course, silly me, I should have realised."
"Why? I didn't tell you before."
"I don't know ... just ... never mind. This place is great … really cool. The decor's very uh, trendy."
The bartender, April, placed our cocktails in front of us along with a small dish of wasabi peas. I picked mine up and took a sip. It was perfect- light, floral and fruity.
"To be honest, it's not the kind of restaurant I'd usually choose to eat in, but it fits this part of the city. I felt there was a real gap in the market for a restaurant serving modern British and French haute-cuisine in a glamorous surrounding, so I took advantage and invested. My other restaurants are simpler and more classic in style."
"Oh? Are they in Cambridge as well?"
"I have one more here in Cambridge, one in Oxford, one in South Buckinghamshire, one in Windsor, and three in London."
"Quite a little empire," I commented. "What's the name of your other local restaurant?"
"Breaking Dawn. Have you heard of it?"
I gasped. It was my favourite restaurant. It was set on the edge of the city centre, on the ground floor of an old Tudor-style manor house. It was so friendly, warm, and unpretentious that I frequently went there for lunch by myself on my days off, especially in the summer because it had the most gorgeous garden with tables on the patio. My visits there were my biggest indulgence.
"I love Breaking Dawn!" I exclaimed, unable to contain my enthusiasm. "I go there at least a couple of times a month. I'm on the mailing list and everything."
"Really? How interesting. A beautiful girl who loves the jewel in my 'little empire,'" he murmured. "It's my favourite too. It was my first, so I guess it'll always be special."
"Bella, Edward!" Rosalie entered the bar area just then, interrupting our conversation. I took a step back from him at the sound of her voice, but it felt strangely difficult. She looked absolutely gorgeous in a bright red, tight, halter-neck dress and silver, sparkly, peep-toed stilettos; her golden-blonde hair cascaded down her back in soft waves.
"Rosie! Aren't you a sight for sore eyes?" He held his arms out to her, and she squealed and hugged him. They spun around for a moment before he let her go.
Irrational, red-hot jealousy began to surge through me before I talked myself out of it. They've been friends forever, and she's marrying Emmett in a few weeks. If they were going to be a thing, it would have happened by now. You don't know anything about him, least of all whether he's interested in you, and let's face it, he probably isn't.
I sipped my drink quietly and listened as Edward and Rosalie caught up, and it didn't take long before more of the party filtered in through the doors. Alice flitted to my side, resplendent in a canary-yellow dress with short, flared skirt and a shiny, skinny gold belt. It emphasised her petite frame perfectly, especially when matched with yellow, sky-high platform pumps. I felt dowdy by comparison in my simple black shift dress and black wedge heels. Alice began chatting excitedly about the night to come, and as more people arrived, the likelihood of resuming my conversation with Edward seemed to get further and further away.
We were soon escorted to the private dining room on the top floor, which overlooked the expansive main restaurant. We were a party of twelve; there was Rosalie, of course, and her best friends from school, Vera and Kate, both of whom I knew well, as we all took the same Body Pump 'n' Flex class. Rosalie's mother Lillian, her university flatmate Charlotte, and Emmett's mother Siobhan were also there, along with Alice and me. The four boys included Edward, a rakish blond guy named Jasper, whom Edward clearly knew well, Rosalie's other flatmate from university, Jacob, and his partner Paul.
I ended up seated next to Charlotte on one side and Siobhan on the other. Alice had been placed between Edward and Jasper, and it didn't seem to take long at all for her to have them howling with laughter at something or another. I couldn't help but feel envious of her easy way with people.
I distracted myself with the exquisite food. The starter was a divine salmon and avocado salad. It was followed by a tender Beef Wellington. The dessert was a dramatic, layered, chocolate opera cake, which made me almost groan with delight. When I swallowed my first bite, I glanced over at Edward, who was looking back at me and smiling slightly. I smiled back and licked my lips to get the last bit of chocolate off of them. Suddenly his expression darkened. Confused at his change of face, I looked away to hide my reddening cheeks. What did I do? When I looked back up, he was talking to Lillian on his other side.