A/N… I thought this little fic was done, but there was a writing prompt on FB that triggered this little outtake. #Want. And nothing screamed want like these two. So I wrote a quick little outtake showing the second time these two met, which was the beginning of the affair. Hope you enjoy…
Pieces of You Outtake
"Edward?" I heard from my office doorway, and when I glanced up to see James there, he smiled. "There's a Bella Swan from the Chicago Tribune asking for you up front."
I nodded, trying to keep my face blank. The photojournalist had spent an afternoon here doing a spread for the Tribune. Just when I thought she'd take the normal approach concerning Sterling Gallery, she'd focused more on my kids – the art classes I taught for the special needs kids. I wasn't sure what the reaction would be, but after meeting her, I'm not sure I cared what anyone thought.
I stood up from my desk, gazing through the window and out into the gallery. My fingers twisted my wedding ring over and over. I shouldn't have noticed that Miss Swan's legs were strong, that the skirt she was wearing hugged her curves just right, and that her hair was a sinful chocolate brown. I shouldn't have noticed, but I did. And couldn't seem to stop noticing. It didn't help that her face was stunning, with eyes that seemed to see more than just the surface of things. But fuck, that smile… I was pretty sure that it had the power to bring a man to his knees.
One more twist to my ring, and I stepped out of my office.
"Miss Swan," I greeted, holding my hand out. "It's good to see you again."
"Mr. Cullen. You, too."
"Bella," she countered, lifting her laptop bag. "I wanted to show you the article before it posts."
Nodding, I gestured toward my office. "Okay, let's take a look."
Sweet Jesus, she smelled like sunshine and sugar, like flowers and fruit. And my mind immediately wanted to know if she tasted the way she smelled. I squeezed my eyes closed to clear my mind. I hadn't had sex in what seemed like ages. I let out a deep breath, trying to not think about Jane. I'd been relegated to the guest room due to her sleeplessness. Deep down, a small voice told me there was more to that, but I wasn't sure I cared. Hell, I wasn't sure Jane cared either.
"Have a seat," I told Bella, and I took my chair behind my desk.
She set down her bag, taking out her laptop. Opening it and standing back up, she set the computer down in front of me, that gloriously sexy scent rolling off her and wrapping around me.
I tried to listen as she spoke about the article, but it was when I saw her photos that my mouth gaped open. Her eye to detail, her focus…it was way better than the average newspaper photographer.
"You're very talented," I whispered, clicking through the pictures. "Tell me you do more than newspaper photos."
The laugh that escaped her was beautiful and embarrassed. Even better was the sweet pink that lightly painted her cheeks. She tucked her hair behind her ear, shrugging a shoulder.
"Ah, but the newspaper pays the bills," she stated, wrinkling her nose a little. "Not all of us get to hang in a place like Sterling."
"I'd very much like to see samples of your personal work, Bella," I stated firmly and without apology.
She smiled softly. "Well, they're not digital. I use film for my personal work. I probably have some samples in my car…"
Suddenly, I couldn't seem to let her step away from me long enough to go get them, much less leave after this meeting.
"Let me buy you a drink," I stated out of the blue, and when she started to protest, I added, "As a thank-you for this article, these pictures. You're shining a light on something important." I closed her laptop and handed it to her. "Please. The gallery gets plenty of press, but the kids, the art classes don't, and I… I just…"
Fuck, I couldn't let her go. Not yet. And there was a part of me that wanted to see what she could do outside the newspaper with her camera. And without her camera. My brow broke out in a sweat because I was treading into dangerous territory, but I wasn't sure it mattered anymore as I gazed into those gorgeous eyes. They weren't just brown; there were golds and greens mixed in there, too.
"There's a bar right up the block. You can grab the samples of your work on the way…"
She studied me for a moment, simply nodding once. She seemed to hesitate again but tucked her laptop away. As we walked out of the gallery and up the street to her car, we were quiet, and mentally, I kept repeating that I was truly just thanking her for a job well done.
I tried not to focus on the fact that the bar was downstairs of a hotel.
Bella grabbed a portfolio out of the back seat of her car and turned to face me. "Edward, you don't need to…" She gestured up the sidewalk but said no more.
I smiled, placing a hand on my chest. "Please? It's the least I could do for those amazing pictures of my kids, especially Sarah. She's sort of the reason I started the classes in the first place."
Bella inhaled deeply, finally giving me a nod. "Okay."
The bar was quiet for the middle of the afternoon on a damn Wednesday. We found a table in the corner, and once I'd ordered a bourbon and Bella ordered a martini, she handed over the portfolio.
Her work was amazing. It was life and nature and the world around us. Some things were up close, showing minute details of things we took for granted, like flowers, butterflies, bees. Some of her photos were people – children at play on a playground, lovers walking in the park, and one of an elderly gentleman. That last one took the wrinkles and lack of teeth, showing the beauty underneath it all. My gasp caught her attention.
Bella glanced over, chuckling a little. "The guy from the newspaper stand downstairs from the Tribune. World War II vet. He tells the best stories."
Grinning her way, I let out my own soft laugh. "God, Bella, you've got talent. Real talent."
Her brow furrowed. "Thank you. I don't get to do my own thing much, but now it's really just a hobby."
"You shouldn't sell yourself short," I countered, shaking my head and handing her case back to her. "Have you shown those around? I could put you in touch…"
"No!" she interrupted me. "No, Edward. It's okay. I'm… I appreciate it, I do. I just don't know if that's the route I want to take." She smiled, and it was slow and beautiful like a sunrise. "I'm just…me. I kind of like my anonymity and the quiet."
I could see she didn't have faith in herself. She was shy about it, actually. As a journalist, she was bold and confident, but her personal work was just that. Personal.
Her hands shook as she picked up her drink to take a sip. "Edward, I've shown my work, but it never panned out. I just… Don't… Please?"
Smiling, I nodded and took her hand, which made us both freeze a little. "If you change your mind, call me." I pulled her phone to me, sending myself a text to save her number, but I wasn't sure this hadn't turned personal. "Actually, you can call me anytime."
Bella's eyes narrowed. "What would your wife say to that?"
"Probably nothing," I sighed, smiling sadly. "Jane is… We are…" I shook my head. "Our marriage is one of a business deal, Bella. It's more about contracts and Sterling than it is anything else. Though I'm not so sure she's hasn't got her own agendas elsewhere."
Bella's eyes saddened. "That sounds…lonely."
A humorless laugh huffed out of me. "I didn't always think so. What about you? Is there someone who would mind my number in your phone?"
Her fingers fiddled nervously with her drink, specifically the olives on the little sword. "No, there's no one. I'm just not sure it's a good idea."
Grimacing, I said, "You're probably right." I set my elbows on the table, leaning closer to her. "I just… I have been unable to get my mind off you since you stepped into Sterling two days ago. I don't know what that means, but I know it feels…right."
Her nose wrinkled and her cheeks flamed, but she nodded. "I know. I understand, but despite how true that is… You are married, Edward."
"And have been sleeping in the guest room for the last several months."
Her eyes were dark fire as they raked over me, and I swore she muttered, "She's an idiot," under her breath.
Grinning, I chuckled a little. "Maybe."
Her laugh was glorious and flirty and all things alluring. "Sorry!"
"Goddamn, your smile is just beautiful," I whispered, shaking my head at just how the truth came popping out with this woman. "Like sunshine after the rain. Or maybe I've just been in darkness," I muttered, glaring at my almost empty drink and regretting all my life choices up to this point.
I reached for her hand again. "Tell me I'm alone in this and I'll go back to work."
Her gaze drifted around the bar, but she shook her head. "No, but… Edward, I'm not… As much as I feel the same…"
"Tell me. I'll go back to work, you'll go back to work, and life goes on. But if…" I reached over and tucked her hair behind her ear so I could see her face. "You want to go upstairs?"
She leaned into the hand I had on her face. She nodded once, and I stood from the table, tossing a large bill down. She stayed absolutely silent as I paid for the room and we rode the elevator up to the tenth floor. That elevator, though, was filled with a crackling energy. It was fire and a pull I've never felt before, and as much as I knew what we were doing was wrong, Bella felt so right.
And I didn't want to give it name or contemplate just what it all meant. I didn't care that this was probably a front-row seat in hell. At least I'd burn later. For now, I wanted her. I wanted her on a level that scared me a little because that meant everyone and everything before her paled in comparison.
And I hadn't even fucking kissed her yet.
But that shit was about to change, because as soon as the hotel room door clicked closed, I stepped to her, finally sinking my fingers into that gorgeous hair. My kiss was returned with heat and tongue. Her lips were soft and warm, and I could taste the gin from her martini. Even better was the feel of her fingers slipping into my hair.
"Sunshine, I want you," I whispered, slowly slipping my fingers around the straps of her bag and setting her things down in the chair.
"God help me, I want you too."
I didn't stop to think. I just couldn't give in to the niggling voice in the back of my head that I could ruin this girl. I was surrounded by money-hungry people, people with agendas and goals. I could hurt this girl with all the shit around me. But for the moment, it didn't feel like she was worried about it as we tumbled down onto the bed.
Since I was going to hell, I might as well do it properly.
A/N… Thank you for reading. ;) I doubt I'll add to this story again. Like I said, it was just a quick writing prompt that I couldn't resist.
Later! Mooches, Deb ;)