Disclaimer: I of do not own Twilight or any of these characters and no copyright infringement is intended.
I dash out of the restaurant, a sick feeling rising from deep inside me, joining my father on the sidewalk as I wish that I had not given Dean the night off. Now, we are faced with having to find a cab and to add insult to injury the heavens open up and rain starts to pour down. The unexpected downpour means that everyone is looking for either shelter, or a cab and neither was to be found. We end up finding shelter in a store doorway while we wait for the rain to ease. I half hoped that Bella will follow me out of the restaurant, but the other half of me is glad as I would not know how to explain it to my father.
Then I see her, she steps out, protected by the man I had seen her with, holding a large umbrella as she scans the street before shrugging to him, they head back inside. My cell starts to vibrate in my pocket, and I know instinctively that it will be Bella calling me, after all, she saw me standing only a few feet away from her and I ignored her as if I didn't know her, like she was nothing to me. Well, she wasn't, was she? She is someone that I have met a couple of times after a chance meeting in a diner, yeah I admit that I hoped that there could be a friendship out of the meeting. Yet there was something that I could not understand or explain about how I felt towards her, a couple of meetings and just seeing her with someone else sent me into a tailspin.
Pressing the button to reject the call, sending her to voicemail made me feel guilty, I should have spoken to her, but there was no way that I could explain how I knew her to my father, he simply would not understand. Then again neither did I. Thrusting my phone back into my pocket, I turn to see that my father has managed to hail a cab and I dash to his side, climbing in, relieved to be leaving this mess behind me.
The cab ride to the hotel is filled with more mindless babble from my father. Once we reach our destination I follow him inside and through to the bar. I know that he has an early flight in the morning, so this will not be a late night for him, and I am grateful for that. The last thing that I need is another lecture from him.
As we sit with our glasses of malt whisky he leans towards me. "Son, I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. The work that you have put in here on the new office, making sure that it all runs smoothly has been excellent." He sat back in his seat before continuing. "Now, you just need to put the same amount of effort and dedication into your marriage, and I am sure that everything will be okay."
I sigh, rolling my eyes at him. He is clearly not going to give up on this, but then again he never does on anything. It's his steely determination that got him where he is today, and I know that this is a trait that I have inherited from him.
"I know, I know. Seriously dad, you need to just let me handle things."
"Well son, just remember. A Cullen-"
I interrupt him. "Never quits, and quitters never win."
He laughs at me, emptying the remainder of his glass before standing announcing.
"I'm going to head up to bed. It's been a long couple of days and I really must speak to you mother. See, that's the secret to a happy marriage, communication.
With that I stand up and we go through the whole man hug routine before he leaves me standing there, a million thoughts running through my head, and a hand itching to get my cell phone out and listen to that voicemail message. I move away from the table and take a seat at the bar where I order a beer and whisky chaser. Pulling my cell out of my pocket I was not surprised to see that there was a new voicemail message waiting for me. Bella had not left me a message, but I could hear her talking, obviously not realizing that the call had gone to voicemail, the background noise of the restaurant must've made it hard to hear properly.
"Hi, Edward? Hello? Hello? The jerk!, He let it go to voicemail."
I hear a male voice in the background, but I can't make out what he is saying when the line goes dead. I feel like a real bastard for doing that to her, she didn't deserve to be treated like that. I shouldn't have ignored her earlier but too many questions would have been raised and I had no answers to give to any of them. I had no idea who the man was that she was having dinner with was, he obviously was someone that she was close to judging by what I saw. Maybe he is her boyfriend, but she had not mentioned one to me, but then again why would she? I am the man that she met after spilling coffee on me in a diner. But she bought me a shirt to replace mine that was spoiled, she had agreed to come to the dinner dance with me. Maybe she just felt sorry for me. I motion for another beer and chaser, finishing both quickly and repeating my actions before I head back to my apartment alone. Once there the only company I have are my thoughts that are now racing at a million miles an hour, question after question flood my mind, and I have no way to work out any answers. I lay awake for what feels like hours before I finally manage to sleep, once I do my dreams though are filled with images of Bella.
The next day I work right through to mid- afternoon, keeping myself busy to avoid the urge to pick up the phone and call Bella and ask who was with her last night, but I know that she is mad, and had seen me in the restaurant. This is not a question I am sure I want the answer to. My rumbling stomach alerts me to the fact that I have not eaten, and when I look at my watch I am horrified to see that it was after three. I throw on my jacket and head to the diner.
Walking through the door I am surprised to see that Annie is not working, but find myself a booth and proceed to scan the menu. My stomach growls again in protest at being made to wait so long for food and after I order a cheeseburger and fries I just have to sit and wait for the food to come. Being here is nice, it's a relief to be out of the office and away from the reports and spreadsheets, to just sit and relax. Once I receive my order it doesn't not take long for it to disappear and I am slurping down the last of my drink when I hear a familiar voice breaking the silence that I am enjoying. I turn around and I see Bella standing at the counter, collecting an order to go. Feeling embarrassed about last night I pretend that I haven't seen her and become engrossed in the newspaper that lay on the table.
I hear a throat being cleared near me, and when I look up, there she stands, one hand firmly placed on her hip the other holding her take out bag, a questioning look on her face.
"Oh hi Bella, sorry I didn't see you there." I lie.
"Story of my life these days it seems." She says, a slight smile playing at her lips for the briefest of moments before it's gone. "Just like you didn't see me last night at La Tasca."
She's looking straight at me, and I know that she is calling me out on last night, how the fuck was I going to get out of this one? I grimace and sigh before I answer.
"Bella, I'm sorry, it was difficult for me to talk to you. I was with my...boss. It was a business meeting."
"You could've said hello at the very least, it's not like I wanted a formal introduction, it's not like you were introducing me to your family."
She laughs at her own words, and I grimace internally. If only she knew how close to the truth she really was with that comment.
"Well you should've at least acknowledged me and not ignored blanked me. I looked like an idiot, calling you, being ignored and then coming outside to try and find you. Riley thought that I was crazy and just making it up that I knew you. Christ he thinks that I'm a bit of a fruit loop at the best of times. I turned down his invitation to the dinner next week because I am going with you, he was less than pleased. Then, I see you, and you ignore me. Thanks Edward."
She takes a seat opposite me in the booth and I really do feel like the biggest ass on the face on the earth, I have two options here, come completely clean and say that my boss is my father and that I am married, or lie. I choose the easier of the two options, well I'm not really lying am I?
"I'm sorry Bella, my boss, well he's a bit of an ass. He demands full attention on him and had I spoken to you he would not have been happy." That, after all, is not too far from the truth, just a slight amendment to it. So why do I feel so bad?
I make eye contact with her, seeing that her face has lost that hard look she had when she sat down.
"Well, if your boss is that much of an ass why do you work for him? I seriously cannot believe that he would have an issue with you saying hello to a friend, he must be a nightmare to work for if he is that strict with you. All I wanted to do was say hello. Well never mind, he's not here now."
She sighs, sitting back in the seat. "So at least I can tell Riley that I wasn't going crazy, it should give him a good laugh."
I notice that she has mentioned Riley twice now, and each mention of his name is like someone throwing cold water in my face, and I need to know. Keeping my voice as casual as possible I ask.
"Riley? Is that your, erm, boyfriend?"
Her reaction shocks me, she throws her head back and laughs loudly, slapping her hand on the table while she also shakes her head. When she finally manages to catch her breath, she wipes tears away from her eyes.
"What did I say that was so funny?" I ask confused by her reaction.
"Oh Edward, that is the funniest thing I have heard in a long time. Riley, no, he isn't my boyfriend. He is, well, there is no way to say this without sounding blunt. Riley is gay, and when you get to know him gayer than Christmas. You are more his type, trust me on that one. He is the owner of the gallery I told you that I was exhibiting at. I have known him a few years, he's a good friend to me and offered me space to show my work. There was no way to turn him down."
"Oh, I see." I feel my cheeks flush with embarrassment, which causes her more amusement.
"He will be so gutted that he missed you today, we were supposed to be meeting here for coffee but he got held up at the gallery. Hey, what can I say, I am used to getting stood up and ignored this week. Must be something in the air." She teases, a smile playing on her lips.
I smile back at her. So, Riley isn't her boyfriend, but that doesn't mean that there isn't one, I mean someone like Bella could not be single, could she? I am brought back from my internal musings by Bella snapping her fingers in front of my face.
"Hey, earth to Edward! Geez, you ignore me and then space out on me, a girl could get a serious complex around you."
"Sorry Bella! I was miles away, thinking. I didn't mean to, I'm sorry." I stumble over my words. "Let me make it up to you, dinner over the weekend? We can discuss the plans for Friday night. And I promise you will have my full attention."
Smiling at me, she tilts her head to one side. "Sorry, got plans this weekend."
"Of course you have, I am stupid for not thinking about that. You have a-"
"No, it's not like that. I would love to, but I am going to see my mom down in Jacksonville for a visit, she insisted that I go down this weekend and has even sent me the plane ticket so I have no excuse not to go. I'm away from Saturday through to Wednesday, I know that she is up to something, I just hope she's not trying to play matchmaker again." I watch as she shudders as she says the final part to me. So that would mean that she is single if her mom is trying to match make.
"Are you sure you still want to come on Friday night? I mean if you would rather cancel I can take one the girls from the office, they would jump at the chance to come, and I think that my poor PA, Angela is rather put out that I have not asked her to be my plus one."
"Edward, I am really looking forward to it, I already have my outfit planned for the night, right down to jewelry and accessories. I even have a hair appointment booked, so don't you dare think about asking anyone else. You hear me?" There was a plain, no nonsense tone to her voice, she was obviously a woman who was not afraid to stand up and fight for what she wants. I like her determination and drive, she is confident in what she wants and not in the demanding, almost foot stamping way that Maria uses, no, Bella is different, she has a confidence about her that is natural and unassuming. I smile at her, trying to keep from laughing at her outburst.
"Okay, okay. I get the idea. I'm a complete ass, and yet you still want to go with me to this dance. Wow. I have never met anyone quite like you before, that's for sure."
She smiles broadly at me, saying. "So, we have decided, you're an ass, I'm all set for the dance and I'm meeting you there at what time?"
I feel disappointment rush through me, "Oh. You don't want me to collect you and take you there? I have a driver who will be able to collect get you from where ever you want." It felt as if she didn't want to be seen arriving with me. That was okay, I think.
"I'm already sharing a car with Riley, he is hosting a pre- dinner drinks party at his gallery. You should come along, let me call him and sort it out."
She reaches in her purse and I try to stop her, but she simply waves her free hand at me with the cell phone attaches to her ear while she makes the call.
"Hey sweetie it's me... Yes I know, you're busy but I need to ask something... No Riley I won't marry you no matter how many times you ask me, we have been through this. Now shut up and listen to me. So, remember Edward?... Yes that Edward... Well I'm sat in the diner with him now and I want him to come to the drinks party you're having at the gallery, is that okay? He can be my plus one... Yes I know... I agree totally that he was an ass, but he apologized, his boss was there. Look I'm not gonna argue this with you now, just say yes to me. Please? Thank you Riley. Love you sweetie. Speak soon... Bye."
With that she turns to face me. "So drinks at Riley's gallery, 6.00pm before the dinner? You can pick me up, I'll tell Riley I got a better offer than his cab share."
Perfect. I will pick you up at 5.30 I'll need your address?" She smiles broadly, and starts to write her address down on the back of a business card. I put my palm to my face as I realize I have a meeting scheduled for 4pm on Friday that I cannot cancel, I have already had to reschedule it twice. Thinking quickly I remember that there are shower facilities at the office. I will have to get ready there quickly after the meeting finishes.
"Shit! Sorry, excuse my the language, but I have just remembered that I have a meeting on Friday afternoon, I will need to go straight to the gallery from the office. I'll have to meet you there. I am so sorry Bella, I wanted to be the perfect gentleman but-"
She interrupts me a broad smile on her face. "Geez, this is 21st century you know. Why don't I pick you up from the office at 5.45pm, the gallery is only a few blocks away. How does that sound?"
I am shocked to be honest, and lost for words, no woman had ever offered to pick me up before. I was always the one to be the perfect gentleman and this was a curve ball that I was not expecting. I manage somehow to answer her.
"Erm, yeah. Sorry you threw me there for a minute. Women don't normally offer to collect me before a night out. It erm, well it's different. Let me at least give you the number of my driver, he is paid for by the company and will more than happily collect you, he was going to be driving me anyway."
Leaning across the table she smiles at me, a playful look in her eyes as she replies.
"Edward, I am not a typical woman, trust me on that one. Send me the number by text. Now I have to go, but I will see you at 5.45 sharp on Friday night. Don't keep me waiting, and don'tstand me up."
She stood slowly, the mischievous smile still on her face as she left the diner, glancing back over her shoulder, waving at me before she walked out the door. Bella Swan is certainly an interesting woman, and one that I am looking forward to getting to know better. I couldn't wait for Friday, it should be an interesting night.
Sorry for the delay in posting, the next chapter is ready and I will put this onto a fortnightly posting schedule all being well. Thanks as always go out to Cejsmom, she is a very very busy lady and is finding time time to beta this for me.
I have a group set up on Facebook if you want to get sneak peeks and see pictures to go along with the story, come on over. Fraggle Rock Fics is open for you!
Please do leave a review below and until next time.