The Root of All Evil
When Bella Swan goes to plead with mobster businessman Edward Masen for an extension to her sick father’s loan she asks to work off the debt by waitressing in one of his restaurants. Edward has an altogether more sordid proposal. After all, money is the root of all evil. A, M for language, violence, drugs and sex.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
1. Chapter 1
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Bella Swan stared at her reflection in the mirror. She knew what she was about to offer was a long shot, but she had to try. This current situation was killing her parents' and making their lives miserable. She remembered the day he came into her father's failing soul food restaurant. She knew as soon as she met his cold black eyes that he was the devil himself. She loathed him with every single cell in her body. He had ruined her family. Her parents' lives. Her life. At that instant there was only one thing she could despise more, the whole reason she was in this predicament to begin with—money. It really was the root of all evil.
And as a result, here she now was putting on the only decent dress she owned. A black dress with thin straps that stop just too far up her thigh to be entirely decent as a result of being washed a million times. The colour had started to fade, and under a bright light it turned to an ashy black shade. She wore an old pair of black heels that belonged to her mother, and pulled her messy brown locks up in a ponytail. She wanted to look somewhat presentable for her visit to the lion's den. Or snake pit...either was appropriate when talking about him.
She sighed as she turned off the light and walked out of the tiny bathroom she shared with her mom and dad in their one bedroom apartment. Her dad was in the bedroom asleep finally. His back pains kept him up and moaning most nights and when he couldn’t sleep he made sure the rest of them suffered too. Her mother, Renee, was in the kitchen scraping the leftovers from dinner into containers.
She turned to look at Bella and then back at the dishes. Her mother had once been a beautiful woman, but the years and her husband had not been kind to her. Her smooth pale skin that used to glow and shine was now translucent and wrinkled. Her makeup and hair that she at one point had taken so much pride in was not even a part of her daily routine anymore. She had prematurely greyed, which Bella figured was due to her father's bad business investments and subsequent loss of good humour. Worst of all, the smile that Bella remembered as a little girl seemed like it had been permanently removed from her mother's face. Now a hard line and tight lips were all that replaced the bright grin she had once grown to love. Bella continued to stare at her mother's back.
"I don't know what you think you’re going to accomplish by going over to that dangerous man's place. Just plain stupid in my opinion," Renee said, not bothering to turn around. Another of the changes the years had brought to this family; where Bella had once merely found her mother laidback she could now only see indifference and neglect.
"I know mum, but I’ve got to try something. We can't live like this. I didn't want it to come to this, but this is a last resort," Bella said, pleading with her mom to understand.
"You think you can just walk in there and have him erase the debt?" Renee asked, turning around and throwing the dishrag over her shoulder. Then she smacked her lips and ran her eyes over her daughter's tiny dress. "Unless you plan on offering him something to make him forget the debt."
Bella sucked in a breath. How could her own mother think her capable of that. "Mum! I would never. I just want him to try and see it from our point of view. That's all. It couldn't hurt to try."
"Bella, he doesn't care about our point of view. He is rich and dangerous and doesn’t give a damn about anyone else. The sooner you get that through your head, the better," her mom said, and turned back around. Bella figured that was the end of the conversation.
Bella sighed as she grabbed her purse and an old black jacket of her father's. It was chilly outside and she wasn't used to wearing something so revealing. As she slid the oversized jacket on, she looked down at her dress. She really hoped he didn't get the wrong idea. She just wanted to look presentable, not easy. She chanced another look at her mother, who pretended like Bella wasn't even in the room anymore. Bella blew out another sigh and opened the door. The windy night air hit her bare legs and it caused her to hesitate for a moment. 'No, I can do this' she thought, as she zipped up her coat and headed down the street to the nearest bus stop.
Edward Masen stared at the green table before him. He bent down and looked at the open hole between his ball and the striped ball that sat in its way.
"Not sure how you're going to pull that one off, Masen?" Jasper said confidently, as he leaned on his cue stick, staring at his boss and best friend. He knew that Edward hated to lose. It just wasn’t an option. He would circle the table a million times until he could figure out a way to win. Jasper figured that's why Edward had gotten so powerful at such a young age. When you don't accept failure, you have no other option than winning. And Edward’s philosophy was to conquer and destroy.
Edward’s emerald eyes narrowed when he saw the perfect shot he had to take. He walked back up to the table, slid the cue stick back and forth between his fingers two times, and then knocked the red solid ball into the far corner pocket, barely grazing Jasper’s striped ball.
"Bastard," Jasper muttered under his breath.
Edward rose up, no smile or celebratory air in his voice. "You're up."
Edward watched as his oldest and closest friend walked to the table and scratched his head, trying to figure out his next move. That was actually Jasper’s problem. He gave too much away. Never let people see you sweat. That was the one good thing he learned from his father, rest his soul. Edward had a thriving business because he followed the few rules his father had given him, and a couple of his own rules that he had set throughout his life.
When he was a kid, he never thought he'd be leading an underground crime circle. He had always respected the law and police officers. He was eight when Miami Vice first aired, and his love for cops and the law was first born. He thought Sonny and Rico were the coolest motherfuckers to ever walk the planet. But over the years, Edward started to realize that the work that his old man was dabbling in would have caused him to be one of the guys Sonny and Rico would have tried to lock up.
His father, Edward Masen III, was a tall, dry man from the old country. He was born and raised in Italy, and believed in the principles of his home country. At fifteen, he travelled over to the United States on his own dime, and started working little odd jobs around town until he had saved up enough money to open his own fish shop. He would cheat men at the docks out of fresh fish, to get a leg up on competition. Over the years he made a name for himself. Not necessarily a good one, but a name nonetheless. He met Edward’s mom, Elizabeth, at a local dance one night and the two became inseparable. They ended up having five children, while Edward Senior’s business grew from a smelly fish place, to his first restaurant, which was funded by crooked cops who came to conduct business with drug and weapons runners. He would turn a blind eye, and in return they would give him money and turn their heads away from his illegal numbers business. It was a perfect arrangement that worked well over the years.
But when Edward started thinking back over his life, there were things about his father that he didn't like. Edward didn't like cheating people. He preferred to scare them. That usually got the message across even better. And when Edward was a teen going into his twenties, instead of turning the blind eye like his father did...he started dealing with the weapons runners, to gain more money. He didn't approve of drugs, so they could still use his restaurants, but he was not a part of their deals and made sure they all knew it.
In the ten years since he had taken over his father's business, Edward had started another restaurant and opened a club uptown. All three investments were flourishing and he was in business with three foreign companies which he worked with to supply weapons. He had more than quadrupled the income his father had been bringing in. In their city, you knew to do any 'business' you had to go through Edward Masen IV.
Edward was never an overly flashy guy, but he did dress in the nicest Armani suits and had a hot new thing on his arm every other night. That's actually how he met his wife, Tanya. She had been one of the regulars at his club, and eventually she flirted her way into his bed and then into a marriage. He still didn't know how that had happened. Maybe he had a weakness for tall, mean blonds, because that's exactly what Tanya was. And part of him was turned on because of this mean streak she seemed to possess. He found it amusing when she would launch into someone and cut them down before they even had a chance to speak. Of course, when she turned that foul mouth on him...he knew what to do to put it to good use. She might have been the Alpha bitch, but in his domain, he was king, and no one would disrespect him. Not even his wife.
But at the moment, they were separated and had been for six months. Frankly, he couldn't stand her. He never loved her, and still couldn't figure out why he agreed to marry her three years ago. Something in him did want to share all of his success with someone. A companion, but Tanya only wanted the money. And the sex. Originally, he knew that this leggy blond was only flirting with him because of his status. Although, he knew to women his looks were a bonus. His strong jawline, straight nose, full lips and messy bronze hair had women falling all over him. As a result of their separation, he had gone back to playing the field a bit...not that he had ever really stopped. He never had to chase women. They were always there...and always willing. But without Tanya at home cursing people out left and right, he was becoming bored. He couldn't stand talking to her, but yet she was amusing. In all honesty he was bored of it all. He needed a new challenge.
Jasper shot at the striped ball and missed. "Shit."
Edward took the next three shots to clear the table of all of his solid balls, along with the eight ball. He looked over his handiwork and tossed his cue stick to Emmett, his accountant.
"Fuck, one more Masen. Let me try to redeem myself," Jasper said.
Edward sighed and grabbed the cue stick back. "You're a glutton for punishment, Jazz," he said, shaking his head at his friend.
Jasper smiled and racked the balls back up. Edward rolled his eyes and turned toward the back door, where Newton, his head of security was entering.
"Sir, there's a young lady here to see you," Newton said.
"Lucky bastard," Jasper muttered, as he shot first, and the balls went scattering everywhere.
"What does she want?" Edward asked, surveying the table.
"She said it's a personal matter, sir."
"What's her name?" Edward asked, as he lined up his cue stick and sunk three striped balls.
"Isabella Swan, sir."
Edward ran the name over in his head. Swan? Swan, Swan...oh. He knew who she was. Her father, Charlie, owed him a shit load of money. He had opened up some cheesy food restaurant that tanked, and sunk Edward’s fathers' money with it. Edward had only been in the restaurant once. Charlie ran the place with his wife and daughter. The daughter had been a waitress at the horrible restaurant. Cute, shy thing, but he wasn't really paying attention. Maybe she had his money. Or maybe she just came to beg for him to stop sending his sharks down to their apartment, threatening to break her father's legs.
"Tell her I'm busy," he stated, as he leaned up against the table, waiting for Jasper to make a shot.
"Yes sir," Newton replied, as he exited.
It only took less than ten minutes for Edward to beat Jasper again. Jasper stood there scratching his head over the fact that Edward had managed to whip him in three straight games. He never could beat him, but one day...he'd figure out a way. Emmett sat over in the corner laughing at him.
"Fuck you, you four-eyed bastard," Jasper yelled. "I mean, they have contacts nowadays, why the fuck are you still wearing those goggles?"
Emmett never got rattled. But he also didn't really have a personality. As a true accountant, he cared about numbers and that was about it. They had even brought over a hot girl once to show Emmett a good time, but she left the bedroom only about fifteen minutes after going in, with a confused look on her face. When Jasper asked her what had happened, she said they never had sex. Instead, he started talking to her about the importance of numbers and how they keep the universe in order. She told Edward she didn't come here to get a math lesson. So Edward took her to his room instead...and gave her the lesson she had come looking for. And more.
Edward laughed and hung up his cue stick. "So Emmett, this month, are we good?"
"Yes sir, we're really good. Here are the figures," he smiled, while pulling them out of his briefcase. Edward nodded a few times while he examined the documents.
Newton entered again. This time his face was flushed and he seemed irritated. He stood there waiting for his boss to acknowledge him.
"What?" Edward asked, when he finally looked up from the papers in his hand.
"Sir, she won't leave. She said if she doesn't get to talk to you, she'll start making a scene in front of the customers."
Edward’s eyebrows shot up. Who the fuck did this little girl think she was? He'd have to teach her a little lesson in respect.
"Okay, show her to my office," he said, as he flicked a lighter and started burning the documents.