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Splashing down the sidewalk in the light mist of Seattle, dressed in her bright yellow rain jacket and paisley wellies, Bella was on a life or death mission. She would just die if she didn’t get a grande cup of coffee. As soon as possible. She had been working for the past month without a day off and even though she didn’t have any patients today, she had a mountain high stack of charts to complete. FUCKING CHARTING!! There were so many other things she would love to be doing, but she couldn’t put it off any longer.
And being caffeinated was an absolute must.
When she got up this morning, Seattle was once again encased in grey, heavy clouds and it was raining. Hell, it had been raining every day for a week. Damn, it would be nice to have just one day, or even a few hours, of sunshine. She was glad she had invested in several pairs of good, yet stylish pair of rain boots and a London Fog rain jacket. Her favorite pair of boots were colorful paisley knee boots. Even though it was a dreary day, the brightly colored boots made her smile. They would be something that Angela would have loved to wear.
Walking down the sidewalk towards the cafe, La Marzocco, she tried her best to avoid the large water puddles, not wanting to splash the unexpected person who happened to be walking by at the same time as she hit the puddle. She had been hit many times before and it really did make a gloomy day, even gloomier, and her socks wetter. Finally, getting to the door of the cafe, she pulled it open and walked in, removing the hood from her head.
She loved the cafe and came here almost every morning for a grande cup of coffee, with a dash of vanilla and a slight topping of foam. Of course, she could make it in her condo, but she didn’t think it tasted the same. The aroma of the freshly brewed coffee assaulted her senses and her heart began to race over the thought of a rich, dark brew, flavored with the rich vanilla hazelnut creme, passing over her tongue and down her throat. Fuck, it was better than sex or at least a very close second.
Damn, she needed to find someone to scratch her itch because she hadn’t had anyone in her bed since moving back to Seattle. Working seven days a week didn’t make it easy to find a guy to suit her needs.
The line was shorter than usual, which made her smile brightly. While waiting for the line to move, she pulled out her phone and checked her email. Most of it was junk, but a few were important and she flagged them to view later on. There was an email from Alice, who wanted to get together tonight for a girls night. Rose, one of the fire investigators under her father, had news and wanted to share with them.
Oh, please don’t let it be about Royce, Bella thought, wrinkling her nose at the prospect.
Rose had a troublesome relationship with Royce King, a local land developer. He was known around the city for being a know-it-all asshole and quite controlling. He did not want Rose working. At all. He wanted her to be his ‘arm candy’ for any social events, acting subservient and submissive. That was not Rosalie Hale. She liked to take charge and refused to have a man make decisions for her. She tried to make it work, but when Royce interfered with Rose’s job at the fire department, she ended everything with him.
Royce was talking with another captain, sabotaging Rose’s reputation, and spreading rumors that she was sleeping her way to the top. Those rumors spread like wildfire until they finally reached Charlie Swan. He didn’t believe them and went back to the captain who had spoken with Royce. Suffice it to say, Charlie fired the captain and told Rosalie about what Royce had done. It was a messy breakup, with Rosalie’s reputation tarnished and she was working her ass off to prove that she wasn’t some opportunistic whore, sleeping her way up the career ladder. Charlie took Rose under his wing and she was growing as an arson investigator, seeing things that Charlie hadn’t.
“Welcome La Marzocco. I’m Lauren. Can I take your order?” chirped a young, blonde barista.
“Can I get a grande latte with vanilla, hazelnut and a dash of foam? Oh, and a berry scone with some creme fraiche?” Bella requested. Lauren prattled the total and Bella handed over her credit card. She slid over to wait for her order, tapping out a response to Alice about getting together. She was off and she needed some downtime. A girl’s night out was a welcome respite from her chaotic schedule.
Bella’s order is called and she took her coffee and the small bag with her scone, walking toward the door. Her head was buried in her phone, not seeing what was in front of her. “Shit!” came a masculine voice before the unmistakable sound of a coffee cup clattering on the tile flooring. Her own to-go cup slipped from her hands and joined in the mess.
Bella blushed and she blinked up. “I’m so sorry,” she gasped. She was held captive by the deep evergreen irises of Edward Cullen. “Edward … oh, my God. I’m a mess. I should have watched where I was going.” She crouched down, balancing her own cup of coffee, bag and staring at the shattered coffee mug.
“Dr. Swan, please, it’s okay,” Edward chuckled as he helped her up. An employee from the coffee shop came over with a broom and dustpan, pushing them away from the mess. “I desperately needed coffee since we don’t keep it at the house. The scent still makes Mom’s stomach turn. My dad suggested this place because he refuses to go to Starbucks or Seattle’s Best.”
“Let me get you another cup of coffee,” Bella pleaded. “And please, call me Bella. Right now, I’m just a hot mess, spilling your coffee. Not a doctor.”
“I wasn’t paying attention either, um, Bella,” Edward smirked, strangely enjoying her name on his lips. “I’m as much of a hot mess as you are. How about I get us both a cup of coffee and we enjoy it. Here?”
Charting or having some caffeine with a good-looking son of a patient? Bella thought. “That sounds perfect,” she smiled.
His smirk broadened to a full grin and they got back in line. His hand hovered over the small of her back. They reordered their coffee. Lauren was staring at Edward and blatantly flirting, giggling and flipping her blonde ponytail. Edward was abrupt with her, paying for their coffees and guiding Bella away from the counter and to a quiet corner of the coffee shop. He shook his head as he helped Bella into a booth. Lauren would be the type of girl he’d flirt with, have his sexual fun with and never call again in Boston. Now? Her behavior turned him off and he was more intrigued by the quiet brunette sitting across from him. “You have a day off, I presume?” Edward asked as he settled into the booth.
“From the hospital, yes, but I still have to work,” Bella answered. “I’ve got mountains of charting to do. I was picking up some caffeine before I went to the Hutch to lock myself in my office and catch up. I should, really, do it as I go, but I let it build. It’s a bad habit from my residency.”
“Where did you do your residency?” Edward asked, staring at Bella. Her chestnut-colored hair fell over her shoulders in carefree waves. Her skin was pale, with dusting freckles over her nose and a soft rose blush on her cheeks. Her lips were plump and her eyes were the deepest brown, almost black. Bella was, for lack of a better word, exquisite.
“Sloane-Kettering,” she replied. “I worked there, completing a fellowship in gynecological oncology before moving here, working at the Hutch.”
“Did you always know you were going to be a doctor?” Edward pressed, leaning forward. “And oncology … that’s got to be tough.”
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a princess,” Bella quipped. “But, the fact that we’re not royalty kind of put a damper on that idea. I toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but Angela had all of the musical talents. I, on the other hand, do not.”
“You never tried?” Edward chuckled.
“I tried and failed. I gave up after a few piano lessons. My fingers got tied up more than anything and I can’t find a steady beat if my life depended on it. Science was more interesting to me,” she shrugged. “Then, my mom got sick. Breast cancer.”
“I’m sorry,” Edward frowned.
Lauren came with their coffee and she pushed her breasts in Edward’s face. “If you need anything else, please don’t hesitate to let me know.” She pressed a napkin under Edward’s cup. It had her number on it. He picked it up, crumpling it in his hand and tossing it into a nearby garbage can.
“She’s cute,” Bella snickered, sipping her fresh coffee. “In a cheerleader, ditzy sort of way.”
“Not interested in her,” Edward growled. “And to be clear, it appears like we’re on a date. What she did was very rude toward you.”
“Is this a date?” Bella asked, a sly grin spreading over her face.
“Do you want it to be?” he responded. She blushed, going from a soft blush to a sexy pink, and took another sip of her coffee. “I am sorry about your mom.”
“She’s fine, now. She went into remission after she had a full mastectomy and rounds of chemo, along with radiation. She had reconstructive surgery, getting the boobs she always wanted,” Bella chuckled. “Perky, and not too big. They fit her frame better. Before, her breasts were too large for her body and caused her back problems.” Edward blinked up at her. “Sorry, too much information. Mom’s okay talking about her tits, which means I have zero issues … I’ll shut up now.”
“You’re cute when you ramble,” Edward smiled. “Your nose wrinkles and you wave your hands anxiously like you’re trying to bat the words away.”
“I really shouldn’t be allowed out in public,” Bella groaned, pulling out her scone. “Want half? They make these fresh every morning.”
Edward nodded and Bella cut the scone in half. She offered it to him, putting the tub of creme fraiche between the two of them. “So, I’m assuming your mom’s cancer diagnosis made you want to go into oncology.”
“I wanted to pediatric oncology, but I did a rotation in the peds ward when I was in my residency. I got too attached to a patient and nearly walked away from my medical training when that patient died. It just shatters me when kids get cancer,” she said. “After that, I decided on becoming a gynecological oncologist. I’ve also done training with bone cancers and breast cancers, but my focus is anything in the reproductive system.” She nibbled on her scone, wiping some crumbs away. “What about you? Are you still a firefighter?”
“How did you know?” Edward asked.
“Esme told me all about her handsome, single sons. Emmett is a venture capitalist, working in land development and owning several apartment complexes around the area. We met after her initial appointment. He’s big,” Bella laughed. “Tall and beefy.”
“When he’s not working, he’s working out. I think he’s training for America Ninja Warrior or some shit like that,” Edward snickered.
“His muscles have muscles, but he’s sweet. Totally dotes on your mom. Jasper is the baby of the family and is a computer nerd. I know he’s working with the police department and fire department for some new, high-tech dispatch system,” Bella shrugged. “He tried to explain it to me when I was checking on your mom after her surgery. I just smiled and nodded. I had no clue what he was talking about.”
“Jasper, he’s an odd duck. I love him and he’s probably the smartest out of the three of us, but he’s just weird. We called him Lurch growing up. He just appears, hovering over you and scare the crap out of you,” Edward groaned.
“I could see that,” Bella smiled. “He’s handsome, in a dorky sort of way. And those glasses? So hipster!”
“He is that,” Edward shrugged.
“And you are the middle son, with the brawn of Emmett, the brains of Jasper and following a path all your own,” Bella said. “That’s a direct quote from your mom. A firefighter, hmmm?”
“I used to be a firefighter, but now, I’m like your dad. I work as an arson fire investigator,” he said. “A number of years ago, I worked on a fire and I lost someone.”
“No, a victim in an apartment blaze. It shattered me. After that fire, I took some time off. I was injured, suffering from smoke inhalation and a severely sprained wrist. Then, my uncle, who lives in Boston, gave me another option. I didn’t want to leave the brotherhood of being a firefighter, but I couldn’t put myself back out there, in the trenches. Your dad said I had the makings of being a stellar fire investigator. I’m meticulous, methodical and patient. So, with my uncle’s help, I got a job in the Boston Fire Department and began training to become a fire investigator. When I left, after finding out about Mom’s diagnosis, I was the second in command of the department, underneath my friend and mentor out there, Felix.”
“And now?” Bella asked.
“I’m working with your dad,” Edward answered, shifting in his seat. “I respect Charlie a great deal. He’s a great man and a dedicated fire investigator. It’s an honor to be able to work with him. I just hope I can live up to his expectations.”
Bella reached across and laid her hand on his. Her touch was still so warm, so vital as her tiny fingers curled around his knuckles. Edward tried to keep his face impassive, but everything in his soul wanted to flip over his hand and twine his fingers with hers. He needed to feel more of her warmth, her soft touch. He blinked up at her and saw a tender smile on her face. “My dad already thinks you’re awesome. He wouldn’t have hired you if he had any doubt, Edward,” she breathed.
Unable to stop himself, Edward did take her hand and ran his fingers over her knuckles. Her skin was so perfect and his hand fit perfectly in his. “Thank you, Bella,” he whispered, a smile ghosting over his features. “I appreciate your vote of confidence. Sometimes, I struggle … I second-guess my choices.”
“Most of us do,” she murmured, relishing him holding her hand. “There are moments when I second-guess treatment options for my patients, but it’ll work out.” They were leaning closer and his eyes were lost in hers. The moment was shattered when his cell phone rang.
“Damn it,” he growled, jumping as he reached into his pocket. His hand was still curled around Bella’s, but he released it when he saw the name on the screen. “It’s work.”
Bella tried not to pout. “I should be heading to the hospital anyway,” she said. “The mountains of charts will not magically complete themselves if I’m talking to you. As much as I enjoyed it, I have to go, too.”
“Don’t go yet,” he said, capturing her hand. “Just wait a moment?” Bella nodded and settled into the booth. He slid his finger across the screen of his phone. “Hey …”
“I’ve got information from the rug store fire,” Rose said. “Are you busy? Can you come in and go over these results with me?”
“Okay, I’ll be there in a little bit,” Edward replied. “Everything alright?”
“I don’t know. There’s just something wonky about these findings, Edward,” Rose grumbled. “Get here soon, Cullen.”
“Will do,” he answered, hanging up and blinking back to Bella. “I have to go, but I really enjoyed talking to you this morning, Bella.”
“Me, too, Edward,” she answered, a warm flush spreading over her pale cheeks.
“I don’t know what you’re schedule is like, but I’ll be here tomorrow, around the same time. If you’d like to do this again?” he said, his green eyes dancing and a crooked grin on his handsome face. “I know I would, except getting second-degree burns from molten hot coffee.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Bella breathed, returning his smile. “But I can’t guarantee about not getting hot and bothered.” His cock twitched in his jeans at her sexy innuendo. He squeezed her fingers before sliding out of the booth. She watched as he left the coffee shop, turning before he ducked out, shooting a beautiful smile and a sexy wink toward her.
Bella fell back against the velvet booth, her face flaming. “What was that? Oh my God!” She shook her head, sliding out of the bench and tossing her garbage. Whatever that was, Bella liked it. Her hand was tingling from Edward’s calloused palm curled around hers and he gazed at her like she was the only woman in the world. Breathe, Bella. Just breathe. Pulling up her hood, she left the coffee shop and walked to the hospital to complete her charting.
Though, charting was the last thing on her mind. Edward Cullen, with his raspy, sexy voice, unruly bronze-colored hair and emerald eyes, was in the forefront of her mind. Her body just tingled with the memories of his deep voice and his long tongue as it like slipped out of his mouth, licking his full lips. Hmm, what would that tongue feel like as it licked her wet pussy lips? And his full lips, what would they feel like as they sucked on her clit? Closing her eyes, she could almost see him between her legs, bringing her to her climax.
“Does that feel good?” Edward groaned, looking up from between her legs with his emerald eyes sparkling with lust, licking her juices from his lips.
“Oh, God yes. Don’t stop. I need to come so badly.”
Burying his face back in her pussy, he began, once again, licking, sucking, biting her pussy with passion. She was so fucking close. Then, he began to hum against her pussy.
“HOLY FUCK!” She screamed. The vibrations were sending her body into a writhing, screaming mess. She felt her orgasm build, tightening the muscles in her stomach and thighs to the point that they were about snap.
Edward bit down hard on her clit, “COME NOW!” he growled.
The powerful orgasm began causing her whole body to shake. “YES, YES, YES.”
“Dr. Swan, are you okay?” Maggie asked.
Bella jumped, her eyes flying open. She whipped her head around when she heard Maggie’s voice. What the fuck had just happened? Had she just had an orgasm by just thinking about Edward?
“Yes, Maggie. I must have drifted off to sleep. Charting does that to me,” Bella said, trying to convince Maggie.
“Okay, I just heard you yell something.”
“Oh, I must have been dreaming of chasing that dog that keeps hanging around the front of my condo.”
“Alright, would you like a cup of coffee?” Maggie asked.
Having sex with Edward? Oh my God, please! And yummy
Maggie didn’t know what or who Bella was thinking about, but it must be great by the look on her face. Decided just to bring the coffee and leave Bella to her thoughts. However, after leaving the room she couldn’t help but chuckle and hoped that whatever it was kept the smile on her boss’s face. Making the cup of coffee, ensuring that she used the special creamer that Bella loved so much, she took it back into the office and placed it in front of Bella, who was still staring out the window with a smile on her face. Not saying anything, Maggie left the office and placed the do not disturb sign on the door.
Inside the office, Bella sent a text to Alice and Rose, telling them that drinks were on. She needed her girls, with their perspective and tequila. Lots and lots of tequila.
Across the city, Edward was sitting in front of his computer, reading the preliminary reports about Ludwig’s Rug Store. Well, reading was the operative term. He was looking at the words, but his mind was focused on the morning he’d spent with the gorgeous brunette who haunted his memories. Unlike his memories and nightmares, the woman he’d shared coffee and a scone with, Bella was warm, vibrant and everything he’d ever wanted in a woman. She was smart, compassionate, funny and beyond beautiful.
“Cullen,” Rose barked. “What do you think? Arson or just a zebra?”
“Hmmmm, what?” he replied, shaking his head. “Zebra?”
“An accident that looks like arson,” Rose explained, slowly and deliberately.
“I know what you mean,” Edward said. He looked at the reports again, minimizing the window to show the pictures they’d taken. He narrowed his eyes. “There … accelerant.”
“The entire building was an accelerant,” Rose argued. “It was a rug store, filled with every possible accelerant known to man, in the forms of expensive area rugs.”
“This picture is not from the show room, Rose,” Edward said. “This was the office. No rugs in there. Just concrete and tiled floors.” He pointed to the photo. “There. Explosive pattern and accelerant trails from ground zero. This was definitely a targeted location. This was arson.”
“Who would deliberately blow up a rug store?” Rose asked, her brow furrowed. “I mean, other that shop owner if business was sucking.”
“It wasn’t,” Edward said. “The police looked into the financials of Ludwigs and they were a lucrative shop. They had contracts with several interior design firms with high-paying clientele.”
“Do you know what firms?” Rose asked.
Edward opened up the file they’d received from the police. He flipped a few pages, but shook his head. “No client names.” He looked at Rose, a brow arched. “Why?”
“Maybe one of the clients was displeased with their service,” Rose shrugged.
“So, they blow up a building? I don’t think so,” Edward snorted. “You write a bad Yelp review, but not destroy a store. This might be more personal. The blast is in front of the computer desk, destroying the files, too.” He looked up from the computer screen. “Have there been any other fires like this?”
“I’d have to check the files, but not off the top of my head,” Rose shrugged. “Are you thinking that this fire could be linked to a pattern?”
“An arsonist,” Edward muttered. “We had this one guy in Boston. He had this very distinct signature in his fires. He set fires to houses all around Boston, using flash bomb followed by fast burning accelerant. Within ten minutes, houses were completely enveloped and it caused a lot of injuries along with seven deaths. Once we figured out the causal link, we found him easily.”
“What was the link?” Rose asked, sliding up onto the desk, crossing her legs daintily.
“A former soldier who was dishonorably discharged for cowardice. He targeted the men and women from his squad. Their families, too. It was their testimony that had this man’s career in the military ending,” Edward explained. “He blamed them. But, he’d run during an attack in Afghanistan. He was completely overwhelmed. His actions caused the deaths of four soldiers. He spent time in the brig.”
“It sounded like PTSD,” Rose breathed.
“He was diagnosed with that, but he also had some mental illness. He lived in that moment. He reenacted that moment. Each time he did, he targeted another person, and using flash bombs from his time in the military, along with fire gun that destroyed everything,” Edward sighed. “One of the survivors recognized him.”
“So, your supposition is that there’s an arsonist targeting somebody. Ludwig’s is a piece of the puzzle. We need to find that connection,” Edward grumbled. He pointed to the picture on the computer screen. “We need to know who Ludwig’s has as clients. They may be the clue as to who’s our arsonist. The connection to who this person is targeting. That way, we can put an end to it, Rose.” He pointed to the screen. “We were lucky. Everyone got out safely. Only minor injuries. A sprained ankle by one of the sales people when they ran out of the shop when it exploded. She was unlocking the shop when it …”
Rose looked at her partner. She saw his eyes darken and a haunted look fall over his face. “Cullen? You okay?” He was stuck in some sort of trance. She reached forward, pressing her hand to his shoulder. “Edward? Come back to me, man.”
He shook his head. Angela’s death had snuck into his mind. His memory of her falling, her fingers slipping through his was so vivid. He blinked up to Rose, seeing her eyes swirling with concern. “My apologies, Rose. We just need figure that link so we can put a stop to these fires. No more injuries. No more deaths.”
“Got it,” she nodded. “Now, I’m going to head out. I worked most of the night last night. I just wanted to show you my findings and see what you thought.”
“Big plans tonight?” Edward asked.
“Going out with some girlfriends,” Rose explained. “After a nap and time in a bubble bath. I’m covered in soot.”
“Have fun and be safe,” Edward said. “Call me if you need a designated driver. I’ll probably work a bit, then go back home to check on my mom.”
“Thanks for the offer, Cullen, but we’re probably going to keep low-key. One of my friends has to work tomorrow,” Rose nodded. Her phone chirped and she saw a message from Alice. She laughed. “Or not.”
“What does that mean?” Edward asked.
“Never mind. Look, I was supposed to get some work on the fire near Safeco Field. The apartment building?” she said.
“I’ll take a look at it,” Edward nodded.
Rose turned to leave, draping her jacket over her arm and picking up her purse. “See you later, Cullen.”
He waved at her, smiling as she left the arson lab. When Rose was gone, Edward allowed his head to remember the morning with Bella. He wanted to remember the softness of her skin, the warmth. She’s not Angela. Bella’s still here and she’s real. She was real and he wanted it. He wanted it more than anything.
For now? He’d just hoped that she would meet him, again, tomorrow morning, for coffee.
A/N: Our two lovebirds have finally met, in a less clinical and traumatic setting. And there are obvious sparks, on both parts. Yay! Now, the question remains … will she meet him again tomorrow for coffee? Will those sparks ignite into something more?
Pictures for this chapter on both Clo and Tufano’s blogs. You can find links for both in our respective Facebook groups: HeartForTwilight Productions and Tufano79’s Twilight Fanfiction Appreciation. You can also find me (Tufano79) on twitter: tufano79.
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Tufano79 and HeartForTwilight