Edward never came back. Seven years later, Bella is a tough, heartless corporate girl in New York City. She has taken down many businesses and never lost. Now, she is about to take down C-CORP. Who is the mysterious owner? Who is "C"? She will find out, and she will destroy him. Who is the monster now? Can she be saved? The story is done. I will update everyday! THIS IS IT GUYS! THE LAST CHAPTER AND EPILOGUE! (SNIFF)
7. FRESH MEAT
Rating 5/5 Word Count 5257 Review this Chapter
Do you remember me?
Like I remember you?
Do you spend your life, going back in your mind to the time?
I walk the streets alone.
I hate being on my own.
And everyone can see that I really fell,
And I‘m going through hell,
Thinking about you with somebody else.
Somebody wants you,
Somebody needs you
Somebody dreams about you every single night.
Somebody can't breathe,
Without you it's lonely,
Somebody hopes that someday you will see,
That's Somebody's Me.
You will always be in my life,
Even if I'm not in your life,
Cause you're in my memory.
When you remember me,
And before you set me free,
Oh, Listen please.
Somebody wants you. Somebody needs you.
Somebody dreams about you every single night.
Somebody can't breathe,
Without you it's lonely,
Somebody hopes that someday you will see,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I was faintly aware of cars passing by and a policeman that kept circling the block eyeing me suspiciously. It was Sunday night. For the third night in a row, I had positioned myself on a park bench across the street from Bella's apartment building and had sat all night staring up at her window.
On Friday night, after she left the party, Jasper and I waited 10 minutes and then I followed her scent. It led to an upscale high rise apartment building only two blocks down from our hotel. She was so close. We walked into the lobby and Bella's scent became much stronger. I knew she was in for the night. The only thing I didn't know was if she was alone, or if that Thomas gentleman was with her. I had to know.
I went up to the doorman and said, "Excuse me, I have something that Isabella Swan left at a party tonight. Is there any way of getting it to her?"
"You could leave it at the front desk and attach a note. I would make sure she got it in the morning," he offered helpfully.
I smiled politely. "No, thank you, I will see her tomorrow and will give it to her myself."
What I really wanted, was to hear what his mind would tell me when I said Bella's name. I was extremely frustrated that his mind did not show if Thomas went into the elevator with her. However, his thoughts did tell me she lived on the top floor, in the Penthouse Suite. I would be able to get to her, but would she want me there? I thought about what she wrote in that letter. Did she choose the top floor with all of its added security because of me? Was she doing all she could to ensure I wouldn't come to her room in the night?
It was hard for me to imagine her living in such a place. She had really done quite well for herself. It didn't seem like her at all. A lot of things about Bella seemed to have changed.
When Jasper and I got back to our apartment that night, we saw that Alice had called numerous times. I dialed her number in a fury.
"Hey, Edward!" She was using her "I am so happy that I haven't a care in the world," voice.
"You knew damn well Bella was the woman I was meeting tonight. It would have been nice to have a little warning," I hissed.
"If I had told you, there would have been no meeting," she shot back.
That was true. I wouldn't have gone. At least I would like to think I would have stayed away.
"This is none of your business, Alice. Do you hear me?"
"Of course it's my business, Edward. This is a family company."
I scoffed. "You and I both know what I am talking about, Alice. I was trying, once again, to tell you that what happens with Bella is none of your business."
"Make up your mind, Edward," she said in her high voice. "Either you want me to tell you what is going on with Bella or you don't."
"Alice!" I bellowed.
She was not done trying to convince me. "I know it didn't go very well tonight, Edward. Do you want to know why? Because all of the things I told you about Bella and how she was suffering were all true. It's time you listened to me for cha . . . . "
"Stay out of it, Alice!" I was roaring into the phone. "You listen to me! I do not want to hear anything about Bella's future, or any of the decisions she is going to make. I do not want to hear about this football player she is dating, and most of all, I do not want to hear how she feels about me!"
She pouted and I gave the phone to Jasper.
Sometime later, I made the call to Carlisle. At first, he seemed relieved it was Bella, but I explained her reaction to me and I could hear the worry in his voice. We talked about possible strategies for the next hour, and I assured him I would keep him apprised of all the details.
When I hung up, I knew there was only one place I wanted to be.
I went back and stayed up all night looking up at Bella's window. After all this time, here she was. What had she been doing all these years? Had she been happy? I pictured her in college. I had so wanted her to have the college experience. I hoped that she enjoyed it and had great memories of parties, and dances . . . and dates.
All through the night I listened intently, but I never heard Thomas. He wasn't there. At least one thing had gone in my favor.
I was about to leave the next morning, when a car from Berkshire-Hathaway came and picked her up at 9:00 a.m.. Working on a Saturday didn't seem like much of a life. I supposed that was what Vice Presidents who are about to get their name on a building do. I had my own meetings. I left to get Jasper.
She stayed at the office until after midnight, and then the next morning, it was barely sunrise when I saw Bella come out and cross the street and begin running through Central Park. Bella waking at sunrise and running? There were definitely some changes in her. I stayed in the trees and followed far behind her. She ran at least ten miles. She never tripped. She seemed to be doing just fine all on her own. All too soon, she walked back in her building and I was left standing in the trees staring after her.
On that third night, as I stared at her window again, I realized I had some decisions to make.
Bella didn't love me anymore, of that I was sure.
The way she had acted Friday night told me all I needed to know. She had gotten over me. She had made a new life. She once offered me her soul so that she could be with me forever, now . . . she called us a high school romance and couldn't look me in the face.
It was what I wanted. I was hoping that I could make it as if I had never touched her life. I was happy for her. But seeing her again made it fresh in my mind and heart just what I had given up.
We could have had everything.
My marble skin could stand up to the sharpness of any blade, but this pain carved straight through me, and burned and scarred as it went. I wanted her so much. It was said that our venom was the only thing that left a scar on us. That wasn't exactly true.
If I wasn't able to fend off this attack from her firm, I was going to have to see her at least once or twice or week for the next two of three months. How should I act towards her? Should I treat her the way I wanted to treat her? Or should I treat her how I would treat an acquaintance, impartial and unaffected?
Now that I had seen her again, I had another problem. I didn't want to leave her. I wanted to be wherever she was. I wanted to be in love with her. Would I pathetically follow her on her run every morning? Would I watch her on dates? The thought of going back to Ireland or New Jersey with my family when I knew she was here, was just too much to take. I would give away all my tomorrows just to touch her again.
There was something else. I knew that she had grown past me. I knew that she had become this breathtaking woman that wouldn't give me a second thought, but even though it had all happened seven years ago, I needed to tell her that I still loved her. The rest of my existence would be bearable if I could just tell her I left to save her, and not because my love for her had diminished in any way. Before this was over, I would tell her.
It was very late before Bella's light finally went out.
"Good night, Bella," I whispered.
I made myself comfortable on the bench and settled in for another long night, alone.
- - - - - - - - -
Monday morning, Jasper and I were preparing to leave for the meeting. I had a hard time believing that Bella was going to go through with this. I could see her striking out at me, but this would be a blow to the entire family. The Bella I knew did not have it in her to be this cruel. Of course, the Bella I knew was an eighteen year old child.
Even though this would be an unpleasant morning, I couldn't contain the exhilaration I felt at knowing I would see her again. I would be in the same room with her. I could look in her face and speak to her. I could once again hear her heartbeat.
"How are you doing?" Jasper asked me.
"Fine," I answered.
"Anything you want to talk about?" He seemed concerned.
I swallowed hard. "She looked so beautiful at the party, didn't she?"
"Yes, she did," he said softly.
"She seemed so sure of herself," I added.
"Yes, she has really grown a lot," Jasper agreed.
"Every man in that room wanted her. They didn't all like her, but all of the minds I heard were drawn to her," I lamented.
Jasper didn't comment on that. I saw him smile a little.
I decided I wanted him to know what I had been thinking.
"No matter what the outcome, I want her to know how much I love her," I whispered.
Jasper's head turned sharply. "Are you sure that's wise?"
We were ready to leave. Before we walked out the door, I said, "I want her to know that I didn't leave because I didn't love her. I know it was a long time ago and that she doesn't love me anymore, but it has been a burden that is too heavy to bear. I can't let her go the rest of her life thinking that she wasn't enough for me, that it was easy for me to leave, that I don't cherish her."
Jasper thumped me on the back and raised an eyebrow as he said, "Good luck with that."
We entered the conference room at Berkshire-Hathaway and found our seats. Our lawyer's faces were grim. I saw Simmons walk in and then more lawyers and assistants. Simmons came and shook mine and Jasper's hand. "I'll contact Ms. Swan now that we're all here," he said.
My insides turned as I anticipated her arrival. To occupy myself, I decided to get all the knowledge, data, and facts from her team that I could. They had to be full of secrets for the enemy. After a few minutes, I sat there bewildered. Her lawyers were amazingly void of information. They seemed to have their thoughts on anything but this buy-out. I twitched uncomfortably as I realized that Bella had prepared her team for me. She was good.
There was a tense silence in the room for a few minutes, and then she came breezing into the room followed by four more assistants. She walked swiftly to the head of the table and said, "Good morning everyone, let's get started."
I didn't hear anything she said for the next ten minutes. I closed my eyes and breathed her in. She was wearing her hair down, more the way I remember her wearing it before. She wore a brown skirt that clung tightly to her thighs and tapered in snug just above her knees. Her blouse was a pale pink color and made of an airy material that flowed when she moved. Her makeup was light and showed off her lovely cheeks and full lips. Her legs, oh man, her legs. She wore really high heels. She used to call them death traps when I knew her, but they made her legs look amazing.
Jasper nudged me and whispered, "Keep it together man."
I forced myself to pay attention.
Bella was still speaking. Her demeanor was calm, but her heart was pounding hard. She seemed to be purposely not looking at me. "So, in addition to the documents spelling out how I would like to proceed, I have a first offer on the table. It is all enumerated on page 275 Section 4 of document 7. We believe this offer to be a generous one and hope we can resolve this quickly and move on to other matters."
Mr. Banks, my head lawyer, practically jumped out of his seat. His thoughts told me he really hated her. "Ms. Swan, you seem to be under the ridiculous impression that we are just going to lie down and let you steal C- CORP from us."
"I would hardly call 27.5 billion dollars stealing," she icily shot back.
"This company is not for sale!" Mr. Banks bellowed.
"Unfortunately, your opinion is not shared by me, or the numerous businesses that have recently bought shares to all your client's companies and are chomping at the bit for a piece of you."
Bella's voice was authoritative and smooth. Try as hard as I might, I could not get over how amazing she was. Smart, tough, beautiful. I was enthralled.
Mr. Banks had a vein that was sticking out in his forehead. "We have an injunction spelling out how we will counter-sue for every attempt to take over C-CORP!"
"Interesting, but not high on the list of things we need to consider today," she sounded a little bored.
"There is one more matter we need to discuss," she said. "I want to remind the owners of C - CORP that there will be no talking to me except through their lawyers. There has to be at least one member of my firm with me if I am approached in any way. I will consider it harassment if you do not follow these rules and I will press charges."
She glanced once at me during her little speech. She was going to have me arrested if I tried to talk to her? How was I going to find a way to get close to her? From the anger I saw at the party, and from what I witnessed in here, she would probably actually do it. I had to find a way to get her alone. For now, two could play at this game of hardball.
I raised my hand like I was in fourth grade and waited for her to call on me. Her eyebrow raised as she said, "Mr. Cullen, you have something to say?"
I couldn't help but smile. I was talking to Bella. "I believe, Ms. Swan, that phone calls made from a doctor to a patient are held private under doctor-patient privilege, are they not?"
Immediately, Bella saw where I was going with this line of questioning. She stiffened, "I may be aware of that," she answered flatly.
"I believe that the phone record pulled by your intern last Friday is deemed confidential, and therefore, I believe you have a small matter of "breach of privacy" on your hands."
Bella's teeth clenched and her jaw tightened. Simmons looked at me with an incredulous stare wondering how I could possibly know that an intern had pulled a confidential phone record to trace it to Forks Hospital.
Her eyes narrowed as she said, "Just because that call was made by a doctor, does not mean the person on the other end was a patient."
Bella was fast.
I was faster.
I pulled out a piece of paper and said, "Here is proof that the person contacted by one Dr. Carlisle Cullen was indeed a patient, and not just a member of our company in France. The only way that number could have been traced was through illegal means." I smiled big, just for her.
Bella's lawyers began scrambling and yelling and clawing at the paper. My lawyers were completely shocked and staring at me and each other. Simmons was trying to explain to his lawyers how he got his information, and Bella and I, through all the chaos, just stared at one another.
My chest was thumping up and down madly. Her heart was pounding even harder. I wanted to leap across the table and grab her in my arms and pull her to me and crush my lips on hers and tell her I would never let her go again. That's what I wanted to do, instead, I winked at her.
Her face colored immediately and I sighed at the blush in her cheeks. It pulled her out of our stare and she called for attention, and said, "Gentlemen, before we proceed any further, we will have to look over the document and discuss what this means, I am sure both sides want to see this resolved quickly."
She got a wry smile on her face and said, "I propose that we all meet for lunch today at Fraunces Tavern." She stared at me, "Does that work for you Mr. Cullen?"
Meet for lunch. Great.
"I don't believe that my brother and I . . ."
"Oh, please Mr. Cullen, we very much need you there. You do care about your company, don't you?"
The danged beautiful she-devil.
"We will be there," I said dryly.
Her smile was angelic. "Until then gentlemen." She then walked out of the office.
Jasper sneered at me. "Thanks brother, just what I wanted, lunch."
Just then, I heard a voice. "Bella did well, Mr. Cullen would never guess how she really feels about him."
My face whipped around the room as I located the voice. It was Simmons, her assistant. I stared at him and clenched my teeth as I strained to get more information from him. His mind was on to other matters. He looked over at me warily and I heard him again.
Remember what Bella said. Just get the hell out of the room before Bella fires you from the best jobyou've ever had.
How did she really feel about me? Judging from how she behaved just now, she detested me. Was it all an act? Simmons knew about mine and Bella's past, and she had obviously warned Simmons about me, so they must have a close working relationship. I would be paying much more attention to him from now on.
We were bombarded by our lawyers. Smiles covered their faces as they demanded to know how I got that information. I played dumb, said I got lucky, and followed Jasper out of the building.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I had already broken the first rule about dealing with Edward and C- CORP. I had promised myself that the only place I would ever see him was that conference room. I had taken steps to insure myself. Now, on the very first day, I was meeting him and his people for lunch.
I had pledged in my mirror that morning that I would treat him like any other adversary. I wouldn't get close to him. I wouldn't let us become friends, and I would stay blissfully detached in all our meetings. Edward would see me walk into the room, and he would see me walk out. I would never even have to address him personally. I would direct all communication through his head lawyer, Harry Banks. Harry was just arrogant enough to think that he was in charge anyway.
Edward had disarmed me in there. I tried not to notice the custom tailored Hugo Boss suit he was wearing that fit him like a glove, or the tie he had on that brought out the gold in his eyes. I should have known he would have heard Simmons telling me at the party about the call Carlisle made from Forks. He winked at me. My memory shot back to the time he winked at me in the lunchroom. I grabbed a folder off my desk and began fanning myself.
Get a grip, Bella. I yelled internally.
I would show Edward who was in charge. Getting the upper hand in negotiations was what I did best.
When Simmons came to my office to get me for the lunch meeting, I was on the phone with a client. He stood in front of my desk waiting for me to finish my conversation. When I was done, I stood up and began walking out the door. Simmons was deep in thought.
"That Jasper and Edward, they are quite interesting individuals aren't they?" He said.
I sighed in frustration, "I suppose so."
Simmons did not seem to notice my frustration. "I mean, aside from them having the coldest hands I have ever shaken in my life, they are extremely intelligent and well-bred. I heard Edward on the phone talking to his companies in Russia and Italy and he spoke the languages fluently. I can't imagine what he was like in High School."
I blew out air angrily and said, "Yeah well, he kind of stood out."
Lucky me, Simmons kept talking.
"It's really strange how calm I felt in that meeting. It's almost as if I don't really care what the outcome of this takeover is, I just feel calm and relaxed. Did you feel that way?"
That damned Jasper. We were at the elevators and I hit the button with so much force that I knocked over the plant sitting next to it.
"I guess not," he muttered.
When we were in the elevators alone, I looked at him and said, "Did you control your thoughts in that room?"
He stammered a bit. "I think so," he said meekly.
"You think so?" I yelled. "Well, what about our lawyers? You prepared them too, right?"
He backed up a bit and said with more confidence, "Yes, I did. I did talk to the lawyers, and I did control my thoughts. Don't worry about that, okay?"
Simmons and I walked out of the elevators and out the doors to the street.
"You know, that was pretty crafty of Cullen. How in the heck he found out about us finding that phone record of Forks Hospital, is beyond me," said Simmons.
"Yeah, he's pretty crafty all right," I sneered.
I put out my hand and hailed a taxi. I was just stepping into the back seat when I heard a velvet voice behind me, "Mind if we share a cab?"
"Yes, I mind," I said forcefully. My heart was pounding in my chest.
Simmons stared at me and then rolled his eyes. "I'll sit between you," Simmons sounded like a father.
I got in first, and sulked. "To Fraunces Tavern please," I said once we were all in.
We rode for five minutes in silence. I was glad it wasn't a long drive. Finally I broke the silence.
"Where's Jasper?" I said.
"I am extending his regrets at not being able to meet us for lunch. He is feeling a little under the weather," he said warmly.
Almost as if by divine intervention, at that moment, the clouds parted and the sun shone bravely through the November sky.
"Driver," I said, "Would you pull over here please?"
"Bella, we're still 3 blocks from the restaurant," Simmons said.
"I know," I said, "But it is such a nice day and the sun just came out. I haven't seen the sun in so long, and well, I just love the feel of the sun on my skin, don't you?"
Simmons looked at me as if I had three heads.
"Come on Simmons, we're walking," I said flatly. I got out on my side and dragged Simmons out with me. I poked my head back in and said, "Well, aren't you coming, Mr. Cullen?"
He looked at me with a polite smile on his face and said, "I think I'll just ride the rest of the way, thank you."
I shrugged my shoulders. "Well, all right, if that's the way you want it. Oh, and if you don't mind, be sure to pay the fare."
Another extremely polite smile. "Of course."
I shut the door with a smug smile on my face and started walking to the restaurant.
"What the heck was that all about?" Simmons cried.
"Tactics." I snapped.
Simmons and I were the last ones to arrive. Edward had arranged the seating so that there was an empty seat on each side of him. No matter what, I would be sitting by Edward. I took a deep breath and went in smiling. Edward stood as I came into the room and pulled my chair out for me.
He scooted his chair closer to me as he sat down and I used all my power to keep my heart in check. I did not, under any circumstances, want him thinking he still had any kind of power over me.
I took the initiative of ordering our appetizers, and when the waiter asked me for my order, I said very quietly, "Oh, by the way, please bring my guest here the largest and juiciest steak you have."
Edward had been talking to someone across the table and didn't appear to notice. When the waiter walked away, he watched him go. I looked at him reassuringly and said, "Don't worry, I took care of it." He looked at me warily.
After ordering, I got us down to business. "Okay gentlemen, I have discussed our little legal snag with my lawyers and at best it will delay things a few weeks. It is nothing serious enough to derail our negotiations. If you feel the need to prolong the inevitable, please, by all means file the motion, otherwise, let's get back to talking about how to handle the important matters."
All eyes were on Edward. He looked down for a moment as if deep in thought and then said in his velvet voice, "We will be filing the motion, and I can guarantee we will prolong it much longer than a few weeks."
I was seething. I made myself calm down by telling myself that any owner of any company would react this way and try to save their business. Still, I couldn't let it go.
"I appreciate your tenacity Mr. Cullen," I said acidly. "But I have always felt that when the outcome was inescapable that lengthening the process just causes more pain. I think the best way to handle this is with a clean break." I emphasized the last two words. He knew exactly what I was talking about.
He stared at me for a moment. His eyes were soft and gentle with no trace of anger. "I no longer agree that is the best decision," he said softly.
I felt my heart swell into my throat and I couldn't speak, breathe, or swallow. I looked into his eyes and for a moment, I saw everything there that I used to see when he would say he loved me. Our eyes locked in a struggle to understand what the other was thinking. I broke away first. I couldn't do this to myself. I couldn't sit here next to Edward and actually think that he loved me again.
I closed my eyes to get a bearing on my emotions and then forced myself to turn and start a conversation with the man on my left. My heart was pounding and there was nothing I could do about it. I knew Edward could hear it.
Our appetizers came and Edward declined, saying he was saving his appetite for whatever I ordered for him. He didn't have to wait long. Shortly, our meals came out. I was handed a salad and Edward received a plate that looked as if it was filled with half a cow. It was the largest steak I had ever seen. I actually felt a little guilty.
"Wow." That was all Edward could say. He took a deep breath and began cutting into the beast.
I began our talks again and tried to not be preoccupied with watching Edward struggle to eat the steak. No one else at the table had any idea that Edward wasn't loving his meal. There was about a ¼ of it left when he said, "I couldn't eat another bite, but it was delicious!" The dinner was winding down and I could tell that Edward was anxious to leave. After all, there was half of a cow sitting in his stomach with no place to go.
He sat uncomfortably as he answered a few last questions for his lawyers and then waited while we scheduled our next meeting for the following day.
I was so aware of him next to me, and I hated myself for not wanting the lunch to ever end. My hands instinctively went around my middle under the table as I remembered how I felt sitting by him in Biology, especially when the lights went out for the movie. I desperately wanted to reach over and touch him now just as I did then. I dug my fingers into my arms. Edward was saying his good byes and I was vainly trying to be interested in what other people around the table were saying. I wanted him to think that I didn't even notice him leaving.
All of the sudden, he leaned over to me. He put his arm on the back of my chair and I could feel the chill of his body through his suit. I could smell his delicious scent. It swirled around me and I could taste its flavor on my tongue.
My head swirled in a daze as he said softly, "At the risk of being arrested, I need you to know something. Bella, there is no one waiting for me in Ireland. I am there alone."
I was stunned and dazzled with his face inches from mine, smelling him, and gripping my chair so my hands would not come up to touch his cheek. His face stayed inches from mine for an extra second. He then stood up and excused himself and walked swiftly out the door.
I was left breathless, staring after him.
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