Appreciate y'all so much! I went out with a friend for her birthday last night and stayed out WAY too late lolll IDK who I thought I was but this mama is paying for it today.

Also, I'm not sure if this is crackfic or if I'm just hungover but thanks for reading!


2

I linger outside the restaurant, bouncing in place to shake off the cold while I wait. After a few minutes of loitering, a blonde woman walks over to unlock the door, a small plastic bag dangling from her hand.

She eyes me. "Here you go."

"Thank you so, so much." I hand her a twenty-dollar bill. "Does that cover it?"

"More than. I don't have change," she says apologetically.

"It's fine, seriously, I appreciate you doing this." Instead of asking if she's the woman Edward has slept with, I decide it's safer to ask, "Are you Edward's sister?"

"Yeah. Rosalie. And you are…?"

"Bella. We work together." I motion toward the glass building looming over us.

"Bella," she repeats, and I swear recognition flashes in her eyes at the sound of my name. "Nice to meet you."

"He's talked about me before, hasn't he?"

She fights a smile. "Why do you say that?"

"I can just tell. What terrible things did he say about me?"

She laughs, shaking her head. "Only good things, I promise."

It's a little suspicious, but I let it go due to my time constraint. I thank her again for helping me and run back across the street to give Jane her food.

She's on the phone making someone else's life a living hell, so I leave the container on her desk along with the provisions Edward gave me, and sneak out.

When I make it back to my desk, I find a card with my name on it. It wasn't there before. I would've noticed it, the way it's purposely propped up between the keys on my keyboard.

I tear it open, curious as to who it's from.

You always make me laugh,
I've had my eye on you for a while.
Meet me at the holiday party,
I'll be the one with a huge smile.

I blink, utterly confused.

This has got to be a joke.

I caught someone's eye?

Yeah, fucking right.

I made someone laugh?

The only person who typically understands my humor here is…

Edward.

This doesn't seem like something he'd do, though. Unless he knows that I wouldn't expect him to do something like this, in which case it's the perfect scheme.

But why?

That's what doesn't quite add up. He's gotta be fucking with me, so I pull out my phone to text him.

Bella: Did you leave something on my desk?

Edward: No?

He's lying.

Bella: Liar.

Edward: I haven't been near your shit, Swan. Also, tick tock.

Bella: Pushy pushy.

Edward: I'm gonna eat all the pumpkin pie if you don't hurry up.

Bella: Rude. Send me your address.

An hour later, I'm buzzed up to Edward's apartment. When I get to his floor, his door is already open and he's waiting for me, wearing fitted sweatpants and a T-shirt. I've never seen him this casual before, and a flicker of attraction for him creeps in.

I step inside and he takes my bag and coat from me, but before he can hang them on the rack, I stop him.

"Wait." I dig inside my bag. "Here, I brought this for you," I say politely.

"A stapler?" He laughs. "Why?"

"I didn't want to show up empty-handed when I'm coming to your place for the first time."

"Where'd you get this?" he asks me, eyeing it.

"Work, where else?"

"So, I was right. Klepto vibes."

"Whatever, there are like a million extra staplers in the supply closet. No one will even know it's missing."

He tries to hand it back after hanging my stuff. "I don't want your contraband stapler, Swan."

"It's rude to decline a gift. It's yours. Keep it."

With a shake of his head, he moves past me and leaves the stapler on the kitchen counter before opening the fridge. We both peer inside.

"I got some Rainier and one good beer left," he says.

"That's it? You bribed me with booze, and this is what I'm offered?" He shrugs. "What's the good beer?" I ask.

"Some hazy beer from the brewery up the street."

I pinch his cheek. "Cute. You go to breweries." He rolls his eyes, opens the good beer, and hands it to me. I take a swig. "Thanks. But this won't get me drunk."

"Oh." He smirks but grabs a Rainier for himself. "You're trying to get drunk?"

I shrug. "Why not? It's Friday, and we don't have work tomorrow."

"After we finish our beers, I'll bust out the tequila."

Now I'm smirking. "Perfect."

I walk around Edward's apartment, inspecting it. Everything is perfectly in place. It almost feels like one of those model homes, where everything is immaculately curated to create a scene.

"Your place is like... really clean," I muse.

"Thanks."

"I'm not sure it's a compliment," I explain as we sit on the couch. "Do you have like, OCD or something?"

"Wow," he breathes out, eyes squinting when he laughs. "You know, you can't just go around asking people stuff like that. There are rules."

"Rules?"

"Manners," he clarifies.

"It's just really clean in here!"

He smirks. "You're not helping your case."

"Whatever. I'm sorry," I mumble, feeling bad. "I'm not trying to be rude. And you're one to talk—you roast me all the time."

"I know." He's still grinning, keeping his eyes on my face. "Luckily, I'm not easily offended and find you amusing… and a little weird. So don't apologize. It's refreshing compared to the other people we work with."

I scoff. "I'm weird?"

"Maybe quirky is a better word," he offers, softening the pseudo-compliment.

I think about this and sip my beer, shrugging. "I've been called worse."

"Quirky isn't bad."

"It's different."

"It's entertaining," he offers.

"So, you find me objectively attractive," I say, remembering his words from the elevator earlier, "and you think I'm weird."

He swigs from his can of Rainier, and I watch his throat bob as he swallows. "Basically."

"Great. Well, I think you're frustratingly handsome and generically funny."

"Wow. I'll take it. Frustratingly handsome, though? I might need you to explain that one a bit more."

"Like… annoyingly good-looking. A pretty boy. You know."

"So, it's a bad thing?"

It's a wonderfully terrible thing.

"It is what it is," I answer because that's safer than my thoughts.

"Really, though? Pretty boy?" He's the one scoffing this time. "I wouldn't say I'm a pretty boy."

"Oh, you are. With the jaw and the scruff and the collared shirts. The way your hair is purposely disheveled. No one wakes up like that. You put effort into looking this way."

"You've thought about this a lot, haven't you?" He's smug now.

"Don't flatter yourself," I say dryly.

"I'm not." Another smirk. "You're doing it for me."

He's right though, and I need to divert the subject of how much I think about him. "That's your name in the office, too. Pretty Boy."

"I have a name?"

"Everyone has an office name," I say in a "duh" tone.

"Yeah, I guess. I wasn't aware I had one, though."

"You do. What's mine?"

He holds my gaze. "I don't know."

"Come on! I can handle it. Is it something super derogatory, so I can sue the company and become rich?"

"No. I don't know," he says again, but I don't believe him. "Maybe you don't have one. You haven't been there long enough."

"I've been there just over a year."

He shrugs. "Not long enough."

"Whatever. You're no fun," I accuse, and he stands from the couch and walks into the kitchen. "Where are you going?"

"I need tequila."

I follow Edward into the kitchen, patiently waiting as he slices a lime and fills two shot glasses. We shoot them back, and I suck a wedge into my mouth, wincing at the citrus and burn.

"I met your sister, Rose," I tell Edward. "She made a face when I said my name."

"Your real name, or your office name?" he asks with a sly smile.

I throw my lime at him. "Fuck off."

He laughs and picks it up. "What kind of face did she make?"

"Not a face I guess, but her eyes. They lit up like she knew something."

"You mean smug? That's how Rosalie always looks."

"Not smug. More like you've talked about me before."

He doesn't bite. "I've probably mentioned you."

"Mentioned what?"

"I don't know, Bella. Does it matter?"

"Did you tell her I'm… funny?" I ask, thinking back to the card I found on my desk.

"Maybe. I don't remember."

"Or maybe you mentioned that you've had your eye on me for a while?"

Now he actually does look confused. "Are you already drunk? What are you talking about?"

"This." I grab my bag and pull out the card, handing it to him. "You left this on my desk."

He opens it and reads, then immediately bursts into laughter. Loud, infectious, annoying, sexy laughter.

"This was definitely not me."

"Yes, it was," I argue, but now I get the sneaking suspicion that maybe it wasn't actually him.

"I mean, I get that you might want it to be from me—"

"Why would I want it to be from you?" I interject.

"But it wasn't." He hands it back over, smirking. "I'm way smoother than that."

"Oh? Get out a pen, let me compare the handwriting."

"No way, Sherlock Holmes."

"I'm offended you didn't think to call me Nancy Drew."

"Whatever. I'm telling you right now, it wasn't me. If I wanted to confess my feelings, I'd just tell you."

Narrowing my eyes, I say, "No, you strike me as the type who'd hide behind cheesy love letters."

Edward shakes his head, drinking his beer. "No way. I'd straight up tell you that I want to be with you. That all of this constant flirting and back and forth is just foreplay, and we should finally give in to our feelings. Fuck the company and it's no fraternization policy. I want you, Bella. So fucking bad."

I swallow, suddenly serious. My cheeks feel warm, my chest feels tight, and the way he's looking at me makes me burn. "What?" I say softly. Shyly.

"That's what I'd say," he clarifies.

"If you were confessing your feelings for me," I add, throat dry.

"Right."

"But you're not."

He doesn't answer right away, but then he brightens. "You know who I bet left you the card? Muscles McGee," he says, using Jake's office name.

I roll my eyes. "Fuck off."

"I guarantee it's him."

Jake doesn't write for Swoosh, but he does work for the company. I occasionally run into him in the cafeteria. And in the elevator, on my way to annoy Edward. And sometimes when I'm on my break, he just so happens to come by my floor because that's where the good copier is.

Or so he says.

Fuck.

Now I'm pouting. "I don't want it to be him."

Edward holds my gaze. "Who do you want it to be?"

I ignore him. "It's actually really weird if it's him. He's like, ten years older than me, and… no."

"I'll be the one with a huge smile?" Edward gives me a pointed look. "Have you seen that guy's mouth? Huge."

I die laughing. "You're a dick." But he's right.

"I'm right."

"You're… annoying." I bite my thumbnail. "Isn't he aware of the no-dating policy? I'm pretty sure cheesy cards asking someone out falls under that category."

Edward shrugs. "Well, maybe it's okay since he writes for the fitness magazine. I think it'd be different if he worked with us at Swoosh."

True. Jake works for Pecs. It's actually called Flex, but Edward and I make fun of it and call it Pecs because most of the people who work for that magazine are narcissistic douchebags.

Like Jake.

"Why would he like me? I've never said one nice thing to him," I muse.

Edward eyes me. "Some men are into the whole feisty thing."

"Like you?" I tease.

"Nah, I'm into kinkier shit," he admits, and I perk up. "Like women being nice and complimentary."

I laugh. "So, me telling you you're generically funny got you off, hmm?"

He scoffs. "If that was you being nice, I don't wanna see you being mean."