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From Paris With Love

Bella has left behind her life in Forks to start a new life as a trainnee hotel manager in Paris. How could she know that one guest was about to change her life forever...


1. Chapter 1

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From Paris With Love

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are property of Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.

I had been lying awake for what felt like hours. It was my first day as a trainee manager at the Paris branch of Hale Hotels, and boy, was I nervous. It wasn’t leaving my family and friends behind in Forks that got me, nor was it living in France (after all I’d already done that for a year when I was studying for my French degree) - what worried me was that this was the first day of my first ever “real” job and I knew there would be no room for mistakes. Hale Hotels are internationally renowned for their luxurious rooms with high price tags; the hotels are filled with the rich and famous who have paid for perfection and won’t take no for an answer. There would be no room for mistakes. No second chances.

Although it was a ridiculously early hour of the morning, I was relieved when my alarm clock finally sounded, as getting ready would provide a much needed distraction. I jumped out of bed and headed straight for my ensuite bathroom; on a normal day I wouldn’t give a damn about what I looked like, but Hale Hotels are all about image. I headed straight for the shower. The cascading water helped to calm my nerves, although too soon I had to get out and continue getting ready. I wrapped a towel around my body and wet hair and then brushed my teeth for what seemed like forever - I was paranoid of repulsing the immaculate guests with a lingering hint of morning breath! I then headed back to my room to get dressed.

The Hale uniform is simple but smart – a dark grey skirt suit with a navy blue blouse emblazoned with the Hale Hotel logo underneath. For the finishing touch I walked over to the bedside table and picked up my name badge: “Isabella Swan – Trainee Manager” and then pinned it onto my lapel. After that I headed back to my ensuite as I had to sort out my hair and make-up. After drying my hair I made a start. Hale Hotels were very clear that female employees were to have their hair scraped back into a ponytail, but with my unruly hair this was easier said than done. Several minutes of struggling and a suffocating amount of hair spray later and the Hale Hotel hair-do was done. I didn’t much like make-up (I was lucky enough to have good skin and I didn’t like the idea of gungey foundation blocking up my skin pores) so I kept it to a minimum; a bit of concealer, eye-liner, mascara and a subtle lipstick.

Then it was time for the real challenge – in my wardrobe were a pair of black stilletos that my best friend Rosalie had bought for me as a leaving gift a few weeks before. Before now I had done my best to avoid wearing heels as much as possible – with my clumsiness it was a recipe for disaster, but whilst Hale Hotels hadn’t exactly stipulated that heels must be worn, it was clear from looking at the other staff when I went for my interview that black ballet pumps just weren’t going to cut it. I had been wearing them around my apartment as much as possible since I had moved here five days ago but not a day had yet gone by when I hadn’t fallen over. I was hoping that I would be spending most of my day at the Hale Hotel behind a desk, as stationary as possible. I took the heels out of the wardrobe and slipped them on, before walking to my full length mirror to see the finished result.

After just two steps I nearly lost my balance and fell. I tried to console myself by telling myself it was because it was only 6.30am and I was tired. Once I’d regained my composure I looked up at the mirror. I barely recognised myself, it certainly didn’t seem to be me in the mirror - I looked almost, dare I say it, sophisticated! The suit was surprisingly flattering – it hugged my curves and gave me a surprisingly defined hour-glass figure. And as for my hair and face…I looked a lot like the girls I hadn’t liked in high school. To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure I was comfortable in this new skin but at the end of the day, I was about to embark upon my dream job. And who knew what opportunities lay in store for me.

I glanced at my watch a saw that it wasn’t long till I had to go. I grabbed my purse and left my bedroom. My nerves meant I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I just grabbed a banana to eat during the short 10 minute walk to the hotel. I locked my apartment, walked down the stairs and then out of the front door of the apartment complex. It was a lovely September day, still warm but not stiflingly hot. The streets were full of people: mothers taking their children to school, elderly couples walking hand-in-hand and of course, many people like me, just heading to work. I understood the French conversations around me effortlessly and before long I had properly entered what I call “French mode”, when I even think in French myself.

Before I knew it, the looming Hale Hotel skyscraper had come into view and I headed towards the entrance. Once inside I immediately crossed the spacious lobby made for reception desk. In the distance I saw Jessica, who was a fellow trainee manager from Canada, and Angela, a junior manager from Germany who was also our mentor. I’d met Jessica once before at our interview and she seemed nice enough, although we didn’t seem to have that much in common – she fitted into the Hale Hotel image effortlessly. On the other hand, although Angela was my superior, she was the closest thing to a friend I had in Paris; we’d exchanged countless e-mails prior to me moving over here and she’d gone out of her way to help and reassure me.

“Bella!” she beamed. “How are you? I can’t believe you’re finally here. Excited about your first day?”

“Hey Angela, hi Jessica. I’m okay…actually…to be honest I’m kinda freaking out a bit. Everyone else looks so composed and confident compared to me! I seem to stick out like a sore thumb.”

“Woah, calm down Bella!” Angela laughed. “You looked totally calm when you came in, no one batted an eyelid. Besides, today is gonna be a complete breeze. You’re just going to be working on reception – all you have to do is make sure the guests feel welcome for the first 10 minutes of their stay. That’s it. And believe it or not, Bella, you have a certain charm about you that the guests will love.”

Angela’s words did provide some reassurance and as she explained the whole booking-in process I began to feel a lot calmer. For the first half an hour, Jessica and I just shadowed Angela as she booked in guests and dealt with any of their queries. Then it was our turn.

My first guest approached reception having just finished shouting at someone down an iPhone. You could tell that she was dressed from head to toe in the latest designer fashions and I have to confess that I was slightly intimidated by her immaculacy, not to mention her temper! She looked like she’d come straight from the hair salon. And nail salon. And make-up artist. And plastic surgeon. From the phone “conversation” I could tell she was Italian; this put me at ease – I’d majored in French and Italian at college and I loved Italian people. I hoped I could put an end to her bad mood by greeting her in her mother tongue. It was a bit of a risk, but the moment I uttered “Buongiorno” her suspiciously plump lips formed a genuine-looking smile and from then on she was pleasant enough and I quickly sorted out her room key.

I was surprised to see Jessica having more difficulties than I was. Unfortunately, her first guests (a middle-aged rich looking Russian couple) had been booked into a twin room instead of a double and they were not happy. The situation was not helped by the fact that they had very strong Russian accents which made their English rather difficult to understand and it was clear that Jessica wouldn’t have been able to stand much more of their shouting. In the end Angela had to step in to diffuse the situation, which was soon resolved, but it was clear that Jessica’s confidence and pride had been wounded by the episode. From then on Jessica tried to deal with guests as quickly and briefly as possible but this curtness was often construed as rudeness by the guests and they didn’t really warm to her. As awful as this sounds, my comparative success in dealing with the guests meant that my confidence was increasing with each one. However, no amount of confidence could have prepared me for my next guest.

I looked towards the hotel entrance to prepare myself for the next wave of guests when I could sight of him. A beautiful, beautiful man. He was tall - easily over six foot and his tousled bronze hair contrasted perfectly with his expensive dark suit. As he came closer I began to wonder if he was a model, but I soon saw that there was a certain maturity in his eyes that suggested he was older than I’d first thought, perhaps late twenties. As he walked up to the desk I could hardly breathe. This god of a man was less than a metre from me.

After partially regaining my composure I managed stutter out “Bonjour Monsieur, votre nom, s’il vous plaît?”

“Edward,” he replied. “Edward Cullen.”