The Red Coats
Summary: She loves the holidays. He loathes them. As new neighbors, they have to learn to tolerate each other. The problem for Edward is that she's irresistible in red. Can she bring the Grinch around in time to save him from a lonely New Year?
Chapter One—The New Neighbor
Edward Cullen tossed his jacket aside cursing the snow that filled one of his shoes with slush. Winter was one of the worst seasons to him. Women wore too many clothes, there was the daily duty of scraping ice off your car windshield, and along with the weather came the intolerable holidays.
The first warning was the changing of the leaves to the warm colors of fall. Those brilliant colored leaves cost taxpayers a shitload of money as they fill gutters and streets. Following soon after, turkeys and hams were cooked, or overcooked, and stuffed down the throats of millions across the country while they watched television and fell into a food coma.
There's a mad rush for gifts at incredible prices the following day, usually too good to be true, which only served to bring the worst in people. Every year news was usually plagued with some incident at some department store, where another person hurt someone just for a space in line or a product.
Nearby, at a local store, someone was tasered on Black Friday three days earlier and over a damn fancy phone. It disgusted him.
Edward hated every second of the time from start of November to a few days after the first week in January. Only to have a few weeks until Valentine's Day accosted him. How many prostitutes and johns did he book when he worked G Street, years earlier on that holiday?
Way too many and about half were married.
In his line of work, he'd seen what the season brought out in people. It was never easy being a cop, but a detective often saw the worst of it, especially during the holidays.
His two-day vacation he'd taken to move to his new apartment ended earlier when his captain called him in. There was a thief in the area with an MO that matched several unsolved cases the year before. He had hoped those responsible had merely moved on since there had been no activity for months, no such luck.
He poured himself a drink emptying it just as quickly. As he made himself another, his eyes were on the sidewalk below his window, hidden behind a heavy curtain. For the last few minutes, his gaze followed a woman with long, flowing sable-colored hair, dressed in a red coat. She stood out amongst a sea of white, grey, and black.
"Sticks out like a sore thumb," he grumbled, tossing back another drink and turning away.
For the past three days, he'd seen the woman and did what he did best, watched and analyzed. She lived in his building, though on what floor he was unsure. From where he stood, he couldn't tell if she was beautiful, but there was a smile on her face every single moment he watched her. He wasn't sure she had another expression.
She often stopped to talk to someone on the street below, and willingly these people flocked to her. On occasion, he could see her singing or whistling carrying on in a much too cheerful way.
He hated people that tried to infect others with their happiness. What was with the red coats anyway? He often wondered. Every time he saw her, she was dressed in a different one and matching boots.
The fact that he noticed her, he blamed on her attire. How could anyone miss that much red? What pissed him off was that he took notice of her at all. Sure, he was always aware of his surroundings and that came from being a cop. The fact that he looked for her daily, annoyed the hell out of him.
When the woman in question disappeared under the eve of their building, he flung the curtains closed and decided it was best to follow his drinks with some food. Before ordering something, he remembered he'd forgotten to check his mailbox. He cursed himself the entire three flights worth of stairs down and refused to believe that he chose that particular moment to go downstairs. It certainly wasn't in the hopes to see the woman up close for the first time.
However, when he made his way to his mailbox, she was nowhere in sight. He tried to take as much time as possible without making it obvious. Some other equally peppy person probably stopped her on the stoop.
"They probably travel in groups," he said to himself. Maybe migrated toward each other. After another minute, he gave up and headed upstairs.
Back in his apartment, he was in a foul mood with a paltry meal of a pizza pocket nuking in his microwave while he waited for his Chinese food. After ten minutes of inane reality television he determined he needed to change the channel.
Seriously, who watches this shit? Here I am busting my ass daily for a measly thirty grand a year and these moonshine-making people are probably getting twice that much from the network.
After watching that, he also determined he'd need another drink soon. Before he could act on that thought, he heard music filter from the direction of the apartment across the hall. That normally wouldn't bother him in the least; he often played some while he worked out in his place.
However, the shit his neighbor was listening to was Christmas music.
The woman who showed him the apartment said his neighbor across the hall was on vacation somewhere for about a month. It was obvious someone was there now. Maybe he should check it out, considering all the robberies in the area.
Edward rolled his eyes at his thoughts. "They wouldn't turn on Christmas music, dumbass." There was no way he'd put up with the music for long.
The buzzer startled him. Cursing, he snapped at the deliveryman when he answered. He opened his apartment door to wait for his food.
The door to his neighbor's apartment was open. Warm golden light emitted a soft glow, a decadent scent of apple and cinnamon wafted from within like a beacon promising wonderful delights. They drew him further into the hallway, the scents were tantalizing, though the sounds coming from within the apartment annoyed him.
Leaning against his doorjamb, he waited, wanting a look at his new neighbor. Edward saw a flash of red, before the door widened further, giving him the glimpse, he denied he waited three days to see.
The woman in the red coat and his new neighbor were one in the same.
She hadn't noticed him as she moved to grab a bright green plastic tote beside her door. Completely unaware of his gaze, she hummed along with the music, waving her backside from side to side dancing.
It almost seemed like a damned invitation to look.
He refused to take the bait, his desire to see her now falling flat when he realized she was literally a representation for Miss Christmas. He thought the red coat was simply a color that she liked. Horrified to find that not only did she like the color, she dressed according to the holiday.
Her pretty heart-shape face and sexy as hell mouth, were only glanced over when he'd seen she was wearing candy cane earrings…that twinkled with actual miniature lights. Her boots of red leather reached just above her ankles, with a chucky sole, red straps and gold buckles, with a jingle bell hanging from each one. Leggings hugged her every curve in black, and from the part in her coat, he could see a cream-colored sweater adorned with sequin snowflakes.
From the corner of his eye, he saw the delivery guy appear, with a white bag with the logo for Hong Kong's Bowl from down the street. The kid was probably barely sixteen with acne covering most of his face; his eyes were glued to the woman's ass.
He cleared his throat, getting the shit's attention.
"Mr. Cullen," he said, clearing his throat too. "I have your order."
With a startled "Oh," Edward's neighbor finally realized she was no longer alone, whipping around to look at him. "Hello," she said with a smile, watching as he paid for his food. He only offered her a glance and moved toward his door without a word.
She proceeded as if he hadn't pointedly ignored her. The kid blushed when it seemed she knew his name.
"Hi, Miss Christmas." The kid struggled to get Edward's change. He was tempted to let him keep the extra ten bucks.
Mike left after he muttered a goodbye as Edward stuffed his change in his pocket.
"I'm sorry, I haven't had time to come by and introduce myself," she stated with a laugh, one that made her eyes widen and brighten. "I've been so busy lately." She placed the tote she held just inside her door, removing a black glove and extending her hand as she walked over to him. "I have some warm apple pie fresh out of the oven inside. Would you like to come inside and have a slice? I have coffee, too."
It was an enticing invitation, but light fell on her sweater at just the right angle. Lights bounced off her sparkling sweater, reminding him, that she was the epitome of the damned holiday he despised.
Her nice attitude irritated him. No one should be that sweet and that into Christmas. Without a word, he stepped inside his apartment, ignoring her look of confusion, and slammed the door in her face.
AN: Thanks to Kimmie43 for all her help with this story.