Hello my friends. Ready to take another little flight of fantasy with me? All B/E- all human and yes HEA. Updates every 5 days.
And the usual diclaimers apply. Not mine - the original characters belong to SM. But the idea and this story belongs to me. Please respect that.
Light spilled out through the windows, shining bright against the deep black of the night. I glanced at my watch, frowning. It was three o'clock in the morning; why was she up so late? I grabbed the bag beside me, wished Felix a good night and waved the driver away—I was famous, but my arms worked. I was still capable of carrying my own luggage.
I entered the house, grinning right away at the sound that greeted me. Journey was blaring out of the speakers, which meant only one thing. If eighties music was playing; Bella was ironing.
I followed the music to the kitchen and stood in the doorway, smiling at the sight before me. Sure enough, Bella was in front of the ironing board, her head moving to the music, her slippered feet tapping away as she sang in her delightfully awful off-key voice with Steve Perry, while she pressed my shirts. My clothes were hanging everywhere; dress shirts, trousers, even my t-shirts, which I told her all the time didn't need ironing, were done and folded neatly on the table beside her. In fact, I told her to use a service to do all this, but she refused, saying it was part of her job.
I cleared my throat loudly and her head snapped up. She smiled widely in greeting as she picked up the remote and turned down the music.
"You're gonna go deaf listening to this bloody shit so loudly," I teased.
She shook her head. "Already am. At my age, hearing is the first thing to go. And it's not shit, it's classic." I rolled my eyes at her; you would think she was twenty years my senior, not six. I stepped forward and kissed her cheek. "Hey, Bella."
"Hi, Edward. You're home early."
"And you're up late."
I frowned. "All right there?"
She nodded. "Yeah, I'm good. Why are you home? Emmett never called to say you were coming early."
I went and grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. I took a long swallow before answering. "Right. Ah, he may not know."
She set the iron down. "What did you do now?" She groaned.
I shook my head. "Nothing! They were idiots, Bella! And the woman interviewing me had no bloody clue. She droned on and on about some crap relating to the economy. I'm an actor, for fuck sakes. Not a market manager."
Bella laughed. "But you play one on the big screen."
I laughed with her. "Hence the acting thing. Seriously, she kept asking me to talk in different accents, like I was some sort of puppet. I got tired of it and … walked out."
Bella sighed. "That's the third one so far."
She shook her head. "Temperamental British actor."
Bella just chuckled as I sat down and drew in a deep breath, moaning at the delicious aroma that surrounded me.
"Why do I smell turkey?"
Her voice was filled with mirth. "Because you were due back tomorrow and I knew what you'd want when you came home."
"Brilliant girl you are. Is it … warm?"
"I want one."
"Yeah. In fact, two. I didn't eat on the plane."
"Aye. And a shot of whiskey for after. It's been a day."
"Okay. Go sit down on the sofa and I'll get it ready."
I wandered into the den and sat down, enjoying the comfort of the deep, plush cushions. I pulled off my tie, undoing the top button of my shirt and drawing in a deep breath, as I listened to Bella moving around the kitchen, making me sandwiches.
Her sandwiches. Bloody hell, I loved her sandwiches.
The music changed and I held back a chuckle as one of Survivor's over-the-top ballads came on and Bella started singing along with it. The Search Is Over it was called. She loved all this shit.
Then I did chuckle. She listened to them so often, I now knew the names of this crap as well.
But if that music was playing, it meant she was here, in my house.
And listening to her moving around my kitchen, I knew I loved having her around.
My head fell back against the cushion as I remembered how she came to be a part of my life.
I walked through the door and stopped short. "Jane, what the fuck are you doing?"
She stood up, looking guilty. "Nothing. Just … laundry."
I snorted. "You don't do laundry. You send it all out to be done. You told me it wasn't part of your job!" I was actually grateful about that. I didn't want her touching the clothes I wore.
"I made an exception."
I spied the camera in her hands and my eyes widened.
"Why the hell are you taking picture of my underpants?" My eyes flew to the computer sitting beside her on the desk and the website open on it. "Bloody hell! Are you selling my stuff on the web?" I gaped at her, my hands pulling through my hair. "Are you fucking daft?"
Her guilt vanished immediately. "You have plenty. I needed some extra cash."
"I have plenty? Extra cash? Jesus Christ! I pay you a bloody fortune to literally do nothing! And those … those are my underpants … they are … fucking personal!"
"Fine. I'll put them back."
"Bloody right you will." I shuddered slightly, knowing I would never wear them again. I needed to buy all new ones now. I drew in a deep breath, finding the courage I needed. "You're fired."
"What?" She screeched at me.
I straightened my shoulders. This was my house. My stuff she was selling. I didn't want to wait anymore. "I said, you're fired. Pack up your stuff and leave anything of mine behind. You're not selling any more of my things. Get out—now."
"Me?" I yelled back incredulously. "You're the one selling my stuff—that's stealing! You're lucky I don't press charges!"
Suddenly, the laptop, which had been sitting on the desk beside my underpants, came flying toward me. I yelped and ducked, watching as it hit the wall behind me, shattering into pieces when it hit the floor. "Blimey, you git! That was my laptop!" I yelled.
The camera followed suit, as well as anything else she could get her hands on. Bobbing and weaving, I ran for the bathroom, locking myself in. Objects hit the door behind me, as the whacko I had just fired screamed obscenities at me. Apparently she didn't like being sacked. I heard her storm out of the den and I breathed a sigh of relief, before scrambling for my phone, in a hurry, when I heard the sounds of breaking glass and more yelling coming from down the hall.
Holy shit, she was going to destroy my house. She might be angry enough to break down the bathroom door. Bollocks, I hadn't thought this through very well.
I dialed Emmett, who answered impatiently. "What Edward? This isn't a good time."
"Fuck, Emmett, neither is this. Jane has gone barmy and is destroying my house! I need you here!"
"Why?" I yelled. "Because I think she may kill me!"
"No, you idiot, why has she gone … barmy?"
"I, ah … sacked her."
"Crap, Edward, you dipshit. You did what? We agreed I'd handle that while you were away! Five more days—you only had to last five more days. What the hell happened that you couldn't wait five more days?"
"She nicked my underpants!" I screamed into the phone. "My underpants, Emmett! She was selling them on the web! I couldn't let that slide! So I sacked her, and now she's breaking everything in the place!"
"You never fire someone alone, Edward. You especially, should never fire anyone. No doubt you cocked it up. What did you say?"
"Um, you're fired? Oh, and get out. I think that was about it."
"Yep. You cocked it up."
"Fuck that! Get over here before she burns the place down!"
"On my way already. Where are you?"
"Locked in the bathroom."
He chuckled. "Of course you are."
"Oh, God. Blimey."
I looked around in disbelief. How could one woman, especially one fairly small woman, do so much damage in such a short time? Emmett had arrived, subdued her, called the cops and let me know it was safe to come out of my hiding spot. I had opened the bathroom door and exited with as much pride as I could muster, considering I had been hiding from someone half my size. In my defense, I had a movie that started filming soon and I couldn't have my face mucked up, and the little cow had good aim.
We stood in what was left of my kitchen. Dishes, glasses and cutlery were smashed and thrown everywhere. A couple of cupboard doors were torn off their hinges and even the glass on the table was cracked. I hated that table anyway. I walked into the den and stood in shock. It looked like a tornado had blown through—the biggest insult: my Oscar that was planted in the middle of my beloved flat screen, which was still sparking and smoking. My collection of movies and music were tossed everywhere, the couch knocked over with a few cushions torn. My desk was destroyed as well.
"She didn't take it very well," I mumbled.
Emmett snorted. "You could say that."
"Maybe I should have offered her a pay off?"
"It's called a severance package here, Edward. Maybe you should have walked away and called me to tell me what was going on, and I could have handled this ... professionally."
I sighed. "That was another option I suppose. Certainly not as exciting as this one."
"Good thing you've been thinking about redecorating."
My lips twitched. "Yeah, good thing."
His phone rang and he grabbed it, turning away. I walked over to the TV and stared at the Oscar protruding from the centre of it, uncertain if I should try and pull it out. I looked around, unsure where the bloody electric was for it and gave up. I heard Emmett's worried voice speaking softly. "It's okay, Bella. We'll figure it out. Get on the flight I booked for you and get to me. I'll take care of you. Promise." I looked at him curiously. I knew Bella was his older sister who lived in Phoenix with her husband, who Emmett wasn't overly fond of, but I had never met her. Why was she coming here? I caught his eye and raised my eyebrow in a silent question, and he shook his head at me. His voice lowered further. "Don't cry, Bella. It's gonna be fine. I'll look after you. Don't worry about that stuff. Your flight gets you here at six and I'll be waiting. We'll figure it out together. The car should be there for you any minute. It is? Okay, good. I'll see you soon. Love you."
He hung up with a sigh and cleared his throat of emotion.
He nodded; his usual jovial face serious. "Big time. Between the two of you it's been quite a day."
"Your sister is coming for a visit?"
"Something like that."
I knew not to push. He'd tell me when he was ready. "Okay." I looked around. "Bugger. I hope Jane didn't get to my bedroom." I shuddered, thinking of what she might have done in there.
He clapped his hand on my shoulder. "Let's go look."
I poured myself a good shot of whiskey. Thank God the bitch hadn't made it to the living room and the bar. The den, kitchen and dining room were disasters, although a crew had come in and cleaned the mess away. Things still had to be replaced and fixed. She hadn't made it to my bedroom either by the time Emmett had arrived.
He had left last night to go pick up his sister, and I hadn't heard from him since then, but he had texted a short time ago to say he was coming over. A few minutes later he let himself in and helped himself to a glass of whiskey before sitting down heavily across from me.
"Jane's been charged with destruction of private property and I got a restraining order against her. You said you wanted it kept quiet so she agreed to leave the city and keep her mouth shut if we don't add on theft or any other charges."
I nodded. "Yeah, it's fine. I don't want the publicity. I just want her gone. I certainly don't want my stuff back that she touched." I frowned into my glass. "She was bloody mental."
Emmett chuckled. "She asked if you'd give her a reference."
I shook my head. "Not bloody likely, mate. What the hell was Alec thinking when he hired her?"
"I don't think Alec was thinking with the head on his shoulders, which is why he got his own ass fired. They were sleeping together, you know."
I paused with the glass part way to my mouth. "Well, that explains a lot."
Emmett nodded. "You should have let me handle it sooner, Edward."
I shrugged. "She kept the place clean and at least there was food in the house. I didn't think it was that big a deal. I didn't know she was … doing … other stuff."
He sat back and smirked at me. "She scared you."
I snorted contemptuously. "No, she didn't."
"You had a deadbolt installed on your bedroom door."
I was sure I had seen her in my room one night when I woke up, although she had denied it, insisting I must have been dreaming. I had the lock installed immediately.
"She didn't … okay, fuck, she bloody well did."
He shook his head. "I think we're rid of all the deadweight your last management team had you saddled with before me. Now, we'll find you a new housekeeper."
"I can look after myself."
He chuckled. "Right."
I frowned at him, but he was probably correct. I was rather hopeless when it came to the house … or keeping myself on track.
"I'm interviewing the next housekeeper."
Emmett snorted. "Like you'd know what to ask them?"
I glared at him. "I'd ask if they can make cupcakes. What kind of housekeeper can't bake?" That always pissed me off about Jane. Me own mum was brilliant in the kitchen and I liked that sort of stuff. I missed it, living here in L.A.
"They need to be able to do more than bake, Edward. They need to be organized, trustworthy, run your house, and help keep you organized. We need someone with some experience."
"I want to like them this time."
He studied me for a minute. "I think I know someone who'd be perfect."
"You don't know her."
He nodded and stood up, walking to the window. He looked outside for a minute not saying anything. "My sister, Bella, is in a bit of a jam."
"Her fucking no good husband dumped her. And took all their savings and disappeared."
"Yeah." He sighed. "She lost her job a month ago—the company she worked for did some downsizing and they let a bunch of the executives and PA's go. And then the fucker pulls this shit." He shook his head." I never liked him."
I chuckled. "I know. I think you referred to him as 'the jackass' most of the time."
Emmett nodded. "Bella is strong and independent, so I only found out all this when she finally called me. James took everything of value and left her with nothing. She's been struggling, trying to figure this out on her own, but it was simply too much for her. The fucker left her with a shitload of debt and she hit the wall. "
"Good thing she called you."
"I know it took a lot for her to make that call. But I'm glad she did. I brought her here—with her husband gone and no job I thought a new start would help her …"
I nodded in sympathy. "Crap, Emmett—that's awful. What a stupid arse he must be. Good thing she has you for a brother." Understanding dawned. "You want me to hire her?"
He sat back down. "She's a hard worker, Edward, and a hell of a great person. She's dealt with being a PA for years, so she would know how to keep you organized. She needs a place to live and a job. You need a housekeeper, and someone here while you're away filming, to look after the place."
"She'd be a damn sight better than Jane. And she isn't remotely scary."
That was a plus.
"At least meet her."
"Can she cook?"
"Like a dream. Always has."
"My favourite thing is turkey sandwiches. I love turkey. And cupcakes. I love those, too."
"I know this, Edward. What does this have to do with Bella?"
"I want to meet her, and I want her to make me a turkey sandwich and some cupcakes."
Emmett shook his head. "Some interview."
I thought it was a bloody brilliant idea.
"If I like her and her cupcakes are good, the job is hers."
"Thank you, Edward. I'll let her know."
"Anything else I should know about her?"
He grinned. "Just don't call her Beaker."
She wasn't what I expected. Aside from the dark hair and brown eyes, she and Emmett were polar opposites. He was tall, broad-shouldered and huge, spoke loudly and exuded confidence.
Bella was short, tiny, her voice soft and pleasant, and she seemed quite shy. Her deep, toffee brown eyes were sad and filled with confusion and lingering hurt, but she smiled and shook my hand when Emmett introduced us. As we talked, I realised she was also very intelligent and kind. There was an aura of gentleness around her, which drew me to her easily. I knew I would be able to trust her as much as I trusted her brother. I had already decided to offer her the job before she opened the basket she had brought with her and presented me with a feast.
A turkey sandwich. Unlike the deli type offerings Jane would put in front of me, there was no processed fake meat—it was made with real turkey. It was so big I could barely get my hands around it. There was even stuffing in it, just the way I liked it. She also handed me a container of milk, and once I finished groaning over the sandwich, offered me a container of the best cupcakes I had ever tasted.
I grinned at her, my mouth full.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"This is an interview," she retorted dryly.
"Will you bake me these cupcakes again?"
"Will you make me turkey sandwiches every week? More if I want?"
"Can you make biscuits?"
Her brow furrowed. "Like savoury biscuits?"
"No … you know … cookies. Chocolate chip ones. Or peanut butter. Yeah, peanut butter ones. Can you make those?"
She grinned. "Yes, I can."
"Do you do laundry?"
"Can you buy me some new underpants?"
She frowned at me.
"Jane —she was pawing at my stuff. I don't know which ones she touched so I threw them all out."
Her eyebrow arched. "So, right now …"
"I'm commando. Yes."
Her laughter was loud and rich. I smiled, just hearing it, as I stuffed another cupcake in my gob. They were amazing.
"Yes, I can get you new underwear."
"You're in America, Britboy. We call them underwear."
I grinned at her. I liked her—a lot.
She eyed me speculatively. "After Emmett told me what happened, I, ah, was looking around the web and I saw a few other posts—she wasn't only selling your underwear, just so you know."
I looked down at my t-shirt and grimaced. "Bloody hell. I thought the dresser drawer seemed a little empty." I pulled at the material. "I wonder what was wrong with this one?"
"It's a little thin. I'm sure she went for the best."
"You mean … she probably touched it?"
Bella's smile was gleeful. "Oh, I'm sure she did. Many times."
"I feel dirty. Maybe you could also throw them out and get me new ones."
"Bleach works well too." She grinned mischievously. "Gets rid of Jane cooties."
I chuckled. "I'll leave it to your discretion."
"I think I can handle that."
I nodded as I shoved in another cupcake. I was subtle about it so I was sure she hadn't noticed. I was also sure there was something else I should ask.
"Do you know how to clean a house?" I asked as cupcake crumbs blew out of my mouth. I looked at my lap. Maybe not as subtle as I thought.
Now she rolled her eyes. "Yes."
"Then it's all covered." I sat back in triumph. Who said this would be hard? I asked all the pertinent questions. Stupid Emmett. What a git. "You're hired."
She smiled, even though it didn't quite reach her eyes. "You're easy."
"Tell that to your brother. He thinks I'm a pain in the arse." I winked at her. "I think, Bella, this is the start of a beautiful friendship."
"I hope so, Mr. Cullen."
She smiled. "Edward."
A plate appeared before me, two huge sandwiches stacked on it, along with some pickles. Bella always added some pickles, and now I was addicted to them with my sandwiches. Beside it, Bella placed a large glass of milk and a plate of cupcakes, as well as the bottle of whiskey and a glass. Everything I needed. I grinned at the meal, already anticipating how good it would be.
"I'm going to bed now. Leave the dishes on the counter. Don't stay up all night, and don't drink too much whiskey. You know you can't handle it."
Smiling, I reached for a sandwich. She could sleep now, because I was back in the house. I was glad I had come back home early. I didn't like to think of her not sleeping. "I'll eat and have the whiskey to relax. Then I'll go to bed. Ta, Beaker."
Bella cuffed the back of my head. "Don't call me that, Oscar." Then she grinned and dropped a kiss on my head. "Night, Edward."
I took another huge bite of my sandwich, as she left the room to go to her suite on the top floor.
Yeah, it was good to be home.
There you go. Say hello to Britward. Slightly dorky, no filter and generally a cock-up. Thank you to Liz and Trina for prereading. Midnight-Cougar is my beta who makes all my words so much better. Thank you my friend.
Next update is Thursday.