**January 25, 2016
It's been just over seven years since I wrote this story. If you read on, you'll understand why that amount of time is significant. I hadn't looked at my stories in a very long time, but something made me check back in and lo and behold! People were still reading LOST!…And still leaving reviews, and I had NO IDEA! I still don't understand why I stopped getting notifications for that, but I was amazed. Anyway, it inspired me. I started reading this again, and in many places, I actually winced. I decided that I wanted to re-"vamp" my story and resubmit it. So, I've spent the last month going over this and feel that it is now a tighter, better constructed story. I didn't change the plot at all. I swear, in the original, I was taking like two paragraphs to say what should have only needed a sentence or two, and that is the kind of stuff I fixed. There are 6,600 less words than the original.
For newcomers - Just for some quick background on how I came to write this story: I went to a Michael Buble' concert on a date. At that time, he had a new song called, "Lost" and as I listened to him croon out the lyrics, an Edward Cullen fanfic began to weave through my brain. I couldn't wait to get home and begin the process of writing it all down! Of course, I had to add a few Michael Buble' songs to my story for good measure.
Background: This story takes place in New York City. Just like at the beginning of New Moon, Bella did get a paper cut, Jasper did fly out of control, and stupid Edward did leave. But in my story, it's seven years later, and Edward never came back. Bella pulled all her life-threatening stunts, but apparently, Rosalie never called Edward about the whole cliff thing, and this, my wonderful fanfic friends, is what transpired when Bella stopped hearing voices and began to fight for some sort of life.
If you did read this story back in the day, there are a few things to be aware of:
*I changed Berkshire-Hathaway, to Whitmore-Hathaway. The former is a real company and I decided to create one that was all my own.
*I made the chapters smaller. I don't know what I was thinking when I made some of these into 22 page chapters. So there are a few new chapter headings, but the same story is there.
*This time, Bella is way more suspicious of all the similarities between C-CORP and the Cullens. Before, I was just too lazy to add that in there, but it did make the story a little less believable.
*I didn't leave in all the lyrics to the songs. It felt a little cheesy…but who knows, by the time I resubmit this, I might just add them all back in again…
*I left many of the original daily updates at the top of each chapter. Otherwise, there would just be a story with no communication from me, and that just can't happen!
****This story is completed! Because of this, if you're awesome enough to review, please do so at the end of the current chapter you're reviewing, or I will be hopelessly confused.
In this story, I have included a few phrases that are so wonderful, they only could have come from the great mind of Stephenie Meyer. All the credit goes to her.
I will shut up now…..
I stood in the middle of my living room and glared at the clock as if it were my mortal enemy.
The second hand just kept moving, tick . . .tick . . .tick. . . oblivious to the fact that I wanted to desperately stop time from ever moving forward.
I closed my eyes, and in the darkness, I felt every dream that I'd kept secretly locked in a secret and small part of my heart, slowly seep through the cracks in my soul and disappear into thin air.
Fifteen more seconds, 10 more seconds, 5 more, and then…. It was midnight. The date was September 13th. And I, Bella Swan, was now twenty-five years old.
My chest caved in painfully and as I hung my head in defeat, I once again berated myself.
Stupid Bella. Stupid, foolish Bella.
It had been seven years since he'd walked away and left me in the forest, and another birthday had now come to me. Wherever he was, I knew in that perfect mind of his that he never forgot anything. Whether he wanted to or not, his mind would remember this day as my birthday and he would know how old I was.
And he didn't care.
I knew it was irrational, but this birthday, turning twenty five, seemed even more final. If he'd ever planned on coming back, he certainly would have done it before I was twenty-five. Now, I was just too old; the span in our ages was too great. There were plenty of beautiful young vampires that could do the job much better.
I glared at the clock again.
You can stand here counting the minutes until you're ninety-two, my mind howled, and he's still not coming back!
I knew that. I really did. My heart was just screaming for something else.
He was somewhere in the world, and he was unchanged. The perfect boy that still found a way to invade my thoughts. His crooked smile was still perfect, his bronze hair was still perfect, and his arms were still the only place I wanted to be.
I was going to turn twenty-six, and then twenty-seven.
Time would keep moving. Even for me.
This is beginning of my life, I told myself. No more looking back.
But why did it feel like a life sentence?
The clock, uncaring to my misery, kept on ticking.
I turned around, straightened my shoulders, and went to bed.
When you're dreaming with a broken heart,
The waking up is the hardest part…
- John Mayer
I heard the irritating beep of my alarm clock and my hand flew out of my covers in the hopes I could beat the thing into submission.
It couldn't possibly be 5 am yet, I mentally groaned.
My eyes squinted towards the red glow and when I saw that it was indeed 5:00 in the morning, I did something that was forbidden. I allowed my eyes the luxury of closing again. It was only for a moment, but it was enough. Before I could stop myself, a memory rushed in.
The rain that had been steadily drizzling against the window all night, started to come down with greater force, and it woke me. Without opening my eyes, I reached out for him, and he was there. His scent permeated my sheets, it permeated everything. I melted into him as his marble arms closed around me.
"It's early," an angelic voice whispered, "You should go back to sleep."
I put my mouth next to his ear and whispered back, "I'm not sleepy."
His cold fingers moved slowly into my hair as his lips found mine and I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him down with me onto my pillow…..
No! I growled.
My eyes flared open. I threw back the covers and attempted to jump out of bed before I could dredge up any more dangerous memories, but I didn't wait until my feet were completely free of the sheet. I fell to the floor, catching myself with my elbows, and laid there for a moment, swallowing down the pain.
I was angry. Angry because I knew the rules.
Jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off, Bella. Never allow any unguarded moments in which your mind could wander. I knew from experience that as soon as I let my mind be free, it would go where it always wanted to go, and I was all too aware of what that kind of thinking could do to me.
I took a deep breath. That memory was only 8 seconds at the most.
I was getting better and better at controlling it, I reassured myself. I was getting better and better all the time.
I untangled my feet and stalked to the bathroom. I pulled on shorts, a shirt, and laced up my running shoes. I then grabbed my i-pod, and moved quickly out of the apartment. I forced myself to breathe deeply as I rode the elevator down the sixty-five floors to the lobby, and as I did so, I felt the tension from the unwanted memory begin to leave my body. I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and tried to forget about everything that made me feel weak and helpless. Everything that had to with him.
Philip, the night guard, waved at me as I walked through the massive lobby and out the revolving doors. Central Park was right across the street from my building, and in less than a minute, I was running. Most mornings I ran five or six miles. The mornings I woke up with unpleasant dreams, or (like this morning), let myself think about forbidden things, I pushed myself a little harder. Today, I felt a good seven or eight mile day coming on. One way or another, I vowed, I would get him out of my system, out of my mind, and out of my heart.
The cool, late September air was perfect for running and about four miles in, my head began to clear. I tried to make myself enjoy the hard rock and Rap blaring through my earphones. It was the only music I allowed. I pushed myself to run harder. Every step was another victory. Every step meant I was stronger. Every step meant I was farther away from wanting him. Every step meant I was fighting the weak and pathetic Bella, and that the strong Bella was winning. I wasn't as clumsy as I used to be, but having to concentrate on not tripping, also helped to keep my mind off the wrong things.
I checked my watch. I had to be home in 15 minutes and I still had two miles left. This day, of all days, I had to be to work exactly on time. This day, of all days, I had to be at the top of my game. For today, was going to be one of the biggest days of my life. It would determine not only the future direction of the company, but also my career.
Business had been my major in college, and I was definitely in business. The firm I worked for was carrying out a hostile takeover of #9 on the Fortune 500 and at our last meeting, I could see in their eyes that they knew they were beaten. I had them over the hot coals and I was doing everything I could to stoke the fire. Today, my job was to turn up the heat until they were burned to a crisp. And I was very, very good at my job.
After high school, (a time I tried to never think about,) I began a new chapter in my life. It was called, "Be a Human." He wanted me to be human, right? Then so be it. I was going to work at becoming as human as I could possibly get.
In college, I threw myself into my studies. The human mind is like a sieve, right? I did everything I could to forget him. I took classes year round, I worked at the library on campus so that I could sneak and study after the library was closed, I became the teaching assistant for my professors so that I could earn more credits, I tutored students so that I could earn more money and therefore, take more classes. And I pushed myself to be on the Dean's list so that I would be positioned at the top of my class.
Men weren't exactly high on my list. In fact they weren't even on the list. I purposely "relaxed" my standards of appearance and did my best to chase away any male that even thought of getting close to me. Through college I was known as "frump girl." I concentrated on nothing but getting through my studies, and I succeeded. I graduated with my Masters at the age of twenty-two.
My rise in the company was nothing short of meteoric. After graduation, I was hired by the #1 New York firm, Whitmore-Hathaway, almost immediately. After I was hired, every boss I had was so impressed with my work ethic and my heartless ability to get the job done, that I kept getting promoted. I crushed anyone that stood in my way of success. I worked harder and longer than anyone else and discovered that I was relieved with all the responsibility that the CEO had placed on my shoulders. Hard work meant no down time.
Now, I was at the pinnacle. After only three years in the company, at the age of twenty five, I had just been awarded the job that had belonged to my old boss, the Vice President. I felt a little bad about taking the man's job, but hey, it's all part of being "human," right?
I came back into the lobby a sweaty mess. My lungs were screaming for air and my ears were ringing from the loud annoying music, but my head was now on straight. I was ready to crack some skulls in the meeting today. I waved at Oscar, the morning doorman, and rushed to the elevator. My driver would be here to pick me up at 7:30 a.m., and I was never late for anything.
Sometimes I marveled at how much I'd changed in the last seven years. As my salary increased, I did two things. First, I bought a Penthouse Suite on Park Avenue. Second, I learned how to dress to kill. My intention was not to get a man; it was never about that, it was to throw off balance any man that got in the way of my success.
I'd recently heard through the grapevine that I was being called, "The Bitch in Heels". It was a title I wore proudly.
I stood in my massive closet deciding what to wear. I chose a blood red dress that fit snug against my thighs, and a pair of five inch black pumps that made my legs appear long and slender. (I practiced walking in the heels for two weeks before I went out in public).
I decided to wear my hair down. I styled it so it had a slight wave to it and was so shiny that the light bounced off of it when I moved. I was never one to overdo the makeup, but just the right amount of blush, mascara and blood red lipstick put the finishing touch to my outfit.
The phone rang. My driver was parked outside. I grabbed my briefcase, strapped my phone on my ear and began calling those on my team that would be at the meeting.
As the driver pulled in front of Whitmore-Hathaway's high rise offices, I got a call from Simmons, my assistant. He informed me that everyone was waiting for me in the conference room and I grinned with satisfaction. One of my tactics was to wait until the entire group was assembled, and then make my grand entrance. In the past, it had proved to be an effective form of intimidation.
I felt my heart rate increase. I grinned as the adrenaline began to move through my veins. I loved hunting, especially early in the morning. In a few hours, I reassured myself, the company will be ours.
I was four for four. I had taken down every company that I'd pursued.
I had never lost.
And I wasn't about to start now.
An hour and a half into the meeting, the adversary finally broke down and realized that they had been pushed into a corner from which there was no escape. Their lawyers had their head in their hands and I smelled victory. I'd made Whitmore-Hathaway 33.5 billion dollars and it wasn't even 10:00 a.m.
I turned to Simmons and with a look he knew well, communicated that I was turning the meeting over to him. I never bothered with the details. I left that to the little people.
"Gentlemen," I announced, standing and grabbing my briefcase, "It has been a pleasure working with you. I will now leave you in the capable hands of my staff."
I walked away without looking back and could almost feel the hate following me all the way to the door.
As I approached my office, my head secretary, Sally, stood up immediately and began walking rapidly along beside me.
"Ms. Swan, I have your list of clients for today and your phone messages are sitting on your desk. I took the liberty of setting up your lunch meeting with your 12:00 appointment and made sure it was at his favorite restaurant."
She was out of breath from running. I glanced quizzically at her. For crying out loud, I thought. I was walking in five inch heels, why couldn't she keep up with me?
She gulped a large amount of air and started in again. "Mr. Clooney has called twice and left a message for you to call him on his private number."
I rolled my eyes. I attended one, just ONE movie premiere as a favor to a production company and that, Joe . . . or was it Jim?...Clooney…..somebody would not stop calling me.
I grimaced. "Please Sally, get rid of that guy," I sighed.
Her eyes went wide. "Y..you want me to give George Clooney the brush-off?"
Ah, it was George then. I waved my hand dismissively. "Yes. Just do whatever it is you do. Tell him I have some horrible disease, or something."
"But Ms. Swan!" She exclaimed. "He was just voted the sexiest man on the planet! For the third time!"
Not as beautiful as the boy I once loved. . .Shut up Bella!
I sneaked a look at Sally and saw that she was eyeing me strangely. I unclenched my jaw, took a deep breath and said, "Is there anything else, Sally?" She handed me a thick folder. "Here is the information you requested on that company, C- CORP."
I took the folder from her and started to walk into my office.
"Oh, and Ms. Swan!" She said hastily. "The CEO of Radial Systems will be here to meet with you in twenty minutes!"
She got the last few words out as the large wooden double doors closed on her face and I sat down in my plush leather chair and breathed a sigh of relief.
I was five for five. I had a perfect winning record. I smiled. Smiling was an extravagance I didn't allow myself very often, but for this victory, I allowed myself one small grin.
I leaned back in my chair and turned to stare out over the cityscape. Having a corner office with windows that stretched floor to ceiling allowed me to have a panoramic view of the Bay and most of Wall Street. It was a beautiful sight. From up this high I felt like I had a window on the world. A window where I could see out, without anyone looking back in on me.
Which was just how I liked it.
I especially loved the way the city looked at night when it was lit up like a sparkling diamond. I spent most nights here, until midnight or later. Then I would go home for a few hours of sleep, and start this all over again the next day.
I swallowed hard and turned away from the window, purging all personal thoughts from my mind. Instinct told me that I must keep busy at all times, and those few seconds were all the down time I could risk. I looked down at my desk, and gratefully, saw the folder of my next opponent. I read the title, "C-CORP" and felt my blood begin to race.
About a year ago, while researching financial records of successful companies, I came across C- CORP. First, I was intrigued at the profits that the company had made, and second, I was amazed at their secrecy. As I read over everything I could find on C- CORP, I began to get that feeling that came over me when I found a company that was perfect for a hostile takeover. Like, I was the predator, and they were the prey.
I alerted my boss, Mr. Sterling Hathaway, about C- CORP, and within the week we were quietly buying up shares of stock through small companies that would not alert anyone as to what we were doing. It took some effort, but six months later, we had bought shares totaling 42% of the company. There were however, some things about C- CORP I still didn't know, like who owned it. I eagerly opened the file expecting to get my answers.
I had hired interns to spend months going over every part of the company's records with a fine tooth comb. The folder contained important information that listed, among other things, the weaknesses and strengths of the company. The details I required were specific. I wanted as much data as possible. I wanted to know what brand of dental floss they used, anything I could turn to my advantage. But, from the very first paragraph, I saw that the interns had been as unsuccessful as I had been in finding the company's owner.
I read down further, thinking surely I would learn the owner's name, but there was nothing. In all my years, I'd never seen anything like it. The billionaire behind this company requested to remain anonymous and had taken great pains in assuring his secrecy. All I could glean was that the company dealt primarily in foreign countries and made their money by setting up small promising businesses and nursing them into large money-making corporations.
The financial backer had been careful and patient. Some of the businesses had been purchased back in the early 1900's. I could see that the companies were built slowly, as if he or she thought they had all the time in the world. I was also impressed to see that the businesses had somehow managed to flourish even through the Great Depression in the 1930's. The backer had cleverly protected the company right before the stock market crash, as if there had been some warning it was going to happen.
One thing I couldn't figure out was how this company had stayed intact for so long. Surely the original backer had died long ago.
When computers came into their own in the early 1960's, the profits of C- CORP went through the roof. I noticed that again, it appeared as if the company had some sort of warning as to what an astronomical effect computers were going to play on the world stage, and it was at that moment, the alarm bells and whistles started going off in my head.
The longevity, the secretiveness, the seemingly uncanny ability to predict the direction of the market….I turned to my computer and typed a name that made me blaze with pain.
Dr. Carlisle Cullen.
The listings were all dead ends, except for one mention of a Dr. Cullen in London, England. I cross-referenced that information with financial records and got a lead. There were no pictures. I didn't expect any. But I did find a list of holdings. The amounts were large, but nothing like C-CORP. I steeled myself and typed in each of the Cullens, knowing this was a job I could never give to an intern. Because of social media, the world was becoming a place where all were rapidly losing their secrets and I wondered if there was the slightest chance I'd be able to locate any of them. I found nothing.
Certainly, I reasoned, it would be way too risky for the entire Cullen family to be joined in a business venture that dealt with such vast amounts of wealth as C-CORP. It would force them into the public eye, making them players in the game of business. It would be like the Kardashians on steroids.
Although I was sure the Cullens had large amounts of money stashed away, I was fairly confident that C-CORP had nothing to do with the family I used to know so well. I just couldn't see them dealing with so much money that was centralized into such a large corporation. I was sure they dealt in smaller sums of wealth that were spread out over a much wider area in an effort to avoid detection.
I took the folder in my hands and held on tightly. How C-CORP had stayed off the radar of so many other headhunters was beyond me, but I was going to get them. They had taken great pains to stay quiet and private, but I was going to acquire this company and break it up into a hundred different pieces, all going to the highest bidder.
I felt the rush of the hunt coming on. My instincts were taking over. And just like always, I was relieved. I had another diversion to keep me busy.
The "C" in C- CORP had to be a clue. "Okay "C", I muttered, sneering at the folder. "I'm coming after you. Your number will be up the first time I meet you."
Sally opened my door and then hesitantly drew back when she saw me talking to my desk. "M…Ms. Swan," she stammered, "Mr. Jensen is here for his appointment."
"Send him in," I barked. I hastily threw the folder in my top drawer and then sat back in satisfaction. I could smell fresh blood and I would show no restraint. I wasn't about to let this company get away from me.
Taking down C-CORP had just become my new brand of heroin. I was going for the jugular. And I was going to suck them dry.