Business Class Girl @lamomo
Chapter 2

Chapter two, revamped. Your eyes are not deceiving you. I am reposting Business Class Girl from scratch, sprucing it up with the help of Alice's White Rabbit and Sunflower Fran.
The updated version will post weekly on Mondays and, once the first 22 chapters are re-posted, they will be followed by new chapters until completion, since the story is now entirely pre-written.

Thank you to Sally and Fran for editing and beta'ing, to RobsmyyummyCabanaboy and Deh for being my plot coaches and shoulders to cry on.

Disclaimer: *checks notes* It still all belongs to Stephenie. I just like to play in the sandbox.

BUSINESS CLASS GIRL – CHAPTER 2

[June] – Edward's POV

Three months have gone by, and quite unsurprisingly, I find myself once again in a glossy minicab headed to Heathrow. I have spent these last months in Los Angeles, walled up on a soundstage and clad in stifling period clothes for the whole duration of the shoot of my latest film.

Filming is now done; the movie is in post-production, and Angela's been gracious enough to grant me ten days away from the Hollywood mayhem. As usual, she's all but disinterested. My three-day stint in London was filled with press junkets and interviews, and though my primary wish in coming back to England was to be home and see my parents, I could only scrape up enough time for a hasty dinner. Needless to say, my mom was not pleased. My dad took it in stride but was honest enough to look puzzled when I asked about Uncle Russell—Russell Devlin, Esq., QC, to the general public.

I get to the airport in a blur, sipping from a paper cup full of crappy coffee. I'm on autopilot, going through the motions, and just as I leave security behind me, my phone chirps in my pocket.

"Edward! Are you on the plane yet?"

That's my sister for you—Alice Cullen, fashion designer extraordinaire. If I could bottle Short Stuff's energy, the world would have an endless, environmentally friendly renewable source of power. In the meantime, I let her harass me through the phone.

"Alice, sister dear, obviously not. I'm on my way to the VIP lounge."

"Oh, right. Well, I'll let you go. I'll see you in a few."

"Sure thing, Short Stuff, sure thing. Love you."

"Love you, too, famous big brother."

She has a right to be excited. Well, being Alice, over-excited would be a more appropriate descriptor. Angela's generosity with my crammed-up schedule has allowed me a four-day stopover in Milan, Italy, where my dearest (and only) sister works as a junior designer for Giorgio (Armani). Some coaxing on her part (and some bullying on Angela's) has worked its magic, and I will not only visit my sister in her adopted hometown for the first time in two years but also grace the photoshoot for Giorgio (Armani)'s upcoming spring-summer collection, which features some of my little sister's creations.

Cullen, you are not on holiday. You'll be harassed by your sister around the clock and be looked at like you're man meat for thirty-six hours straight. Thanks, Angela.

These are my bleak thoughts as I board the plane. As usual, I'm alone in my business class seat as I watch the other passengers slowly fill up this section of the plane. I notice that some of them are throwing knowing glances at me. Easy, my face has been plastered on every glossy magazine cover on the planet for the last three months, courtesy of Angela's ninja-like publicist skills. This huge press uproar is part of the pre-emptive promotion for my latest movie—the newly completed French period thing I was studying only three months ago on a very similar plane, on a very similar flight.

I sigh, half-bored, half-resigned, for there is no way in hell this short flight to Milan is going to hold a candle to that flight back to L.A. last March. I've been fantasizing about buzzing Blackberries and pinstriped pantsuits ever since. I'm hopeless.

Well aware that I'll need something to occupy my time for the next 120 minutes, I locate the script for my next project and begin scanning the first pages. I need to learn my lines; this shoot will begin right after my short stay with Alice, and I need to be prepared for the read-through.

For once, I forgo my secret pleasure of people-watching on the plane, and I realise with a guilty pang that this isn't because I suddenly have something better to do. It's because I want to be spared the disappointment of not finding anyone worth watching when I know perfectly well that only one person would be worth it.

With blind stubbornness, I bury my nose in my script. The plane isn't moving yet but damn close to being shut and herded onto the tarmac. A sort of commotion disrupts my self-imposed bubble of silence. The last passenger has finally made it to the flight. There is always someone, I notice with evil satisfaction, who manages to run later than I do. This one plops down on the seat in a flurry of colour and scent in the same row as mine and just a seat and a narrow aisle away from me. Right, we have a she-passenger within viewing distance of yours truly.

The she-passenger is talking animatedly to someone on the phone. Though, on second thought, "animatedly" is not an apt description. She's vehemently assertive, or in less politically correct terminology, she is pissed as hell.

"No, Jake. I won't change my plans. You thought? You thought wrongly. I'm going to see my mother. End of discussion. And there's nothing you can do about this."

The phone call drones on. I'm hooked, and now I can't help eavesdropping. She is seething with rage, her ice-cold words laced with finality.

"No, Jake! Goodbye. What? Oh, bloody hell, I have a call from Jasper waiting. And I'm on the plane. No, I won't talk to you later, if I can help it. Goodbye."

Before my brain registers these words, I'm suddenly frozen in place. The script falls to the floor with a thud. My jaw goes slack. I know this voice. I blink once. Of its own accord, my hand reaches the floor to retrieve my script. I throw a covert glance at her.

Cullen, this is not the time to have a panic attack. It's time to celebrate.

The tardy she-passenger is none other than my Business Class Girl.

Now that this flight has suddenly become the second best flight of my life—because the best ever, hands down, was three months ago—I find it perfectly normal to switch on my "keen observer" mode (after some deliberation, it sounds better than stalker). The script becomes a prop, the only shield that masks me as I stare at her unabashedly.

She looks stunning in a fifties-looking summer dress that flows over her curves in a whirlwind of flowers and colours. Her hair is longer and falls on her shoulders in billowing curls. She looks tired and tense, though. She huffs and quickly touches a speed-dial button on her Blackberry. I listen in while my eyes can't bear to be torn away from her figure. I'm now captivated by her fingers as she twirls a strand of her hair around them. I want to run my fingers through those silky locks. The flight attendant glares at her, but she haughtily looks the other way.

"Hi, Jasper. I made it. Yes, in the nick of time. No, don't worry. Kate has your schedule, and she has all the files. Garrett will attend the meeting in my place. Closing dinner is tomorrow. Sorry for bombarding you—but I really must cut this short. We're on the tarmac. Yes, he did call me. Yes, he sort of hinted he'd do that. No, I don't want to. I just want to leave it all behind. Yes, Jazz. I know you do. Thank you. Love you, Jazz. Bye."

She slumps in her seat and leans back on the headrest. She lets out a deep sigh as she closes her tired eyes before rubbing them with her hands. I can't believe she's here. I can't believe I get two more hours with her. Slowly, my dazzled idiotic brain starts to sift through the relevant information scattered in these two short phone calls. I need to do this. I need to size up the competition.

Competition? Cullen, hello? You still don't even know her.

This Jasper man is still in the picture. My initial killer instincts towards him have partially been subdued by the insider information I garnered from my dad in London. I had to suffer through a pint with Uncle Russell, but it was definitely worth it. The elderly Queen's Counsel has been most profligate in handing me information about his newest partner, the golden boy who has secured Uncle Russell's early retirement from the law firm. The golden boy is so golden that he's been made partner—name partner, mind you, as in White, Devlin & Hale. Jasper Hale, that is the bloke's full name, is an up and coming corporate lawyer with an Oxford BSc Hons degree and an LLM from Princeton under his belt (not that I know what any of those acronyms mean), and he leads the most profitable department at White, Devlin & Hale.

Russell has rather glowing words for his assistant, as well. Since I have to remain inconspicuous, I can't ask Uncle Russell for any details. My interest and my shameless hidden agenda must remain hidden. Nonetheless, this leads me to believe that Jasper Hale is actually Business Class Girl's boss, and she's the outstanding assistant who's prompted Uncle Russell's unsolicited praise.

I'm still partially annoyed, though, because this Jasper guy drains the life out of my Business Class Girl with his incessant requests and phone calls. Can't he see how hard she works? Doesn't he know he's one lucky son of a bitch to have such a star working for him?

I'm partially annoyed also because their relationship is not a typical boss-assistant interaction. She's professional but affectionate. She's always on top of things, but she draws a firm line when he exaggerates. She's knowledgeable, but their conversations are not just professional. Especially today. Why do I get the feeling she was just now sharing personal details with him? Why do I get the feeling that he was worried about something and that she was trying to hold things back?

Then I remember she's had another phone call in the last twenty minutes. I remember her irate tone as she spat curt words at this Jake bloke over her Blackberry, and I fervently wish that I'll never find myself on the receiving end of such a tirade. No human amount of grovelling could erase that tone nor placate such wrath. And yet, through it all, she sounded reluctant and defeated to me. She was holding her ground, but at what cost? My jaw clenches with blind rage. What has this guy done to her? What is this guy to her? He can't be another boss; she can't possibly serve two masters. This Jake guy must be the boyfriend.

This is the competition, Cullen. Game on.

The plane is now airborne, and my musings have gotten me through take off, and then some since all I can see from my lonely window seat is the blue expanse of the channel below the aircraft. From behind my script, I'm still staring at her as she calls the flight attendant and politely asks for refreshment.

"I'll have Earl Grey, please. No milk, no sugar, no lemon. In a mug? Just perfect, thank you."

She's still as picky as ever with her tea. I silently wave away the flight attendant. I don't need any refreshment; I just need to keep staring at my girl. Business Class Girl is a busy girl. She doesn't read this time—she works. Her laptop open on the tray in front of her, she types furiously without even looking at the keyboard. Her long hair cascades around her, masking her face from view. About halfway through the flight, she puts her laptop away and fishes a bulky, dog-eared book from her briefcase.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Fuck me pink.

What is it with this girl and her reading choices? I'm only a heartbeat away from lowering my script and telling her with shameless cheek that, once upon a time, I acted in that movie.

My brain filter isn't totally gone, though, and I relent before I make a complete fool of myself in front of the whole business class.

All too soon, we're landing in Milan. She doesn't linger this time. She practically flees the aircraft, and since I must leave the plane after everyone else, I have no hope whatsoever of catching a glimpse of her either at baggage claim or passport control. I wait for my security guys to fetch me and guide me through the terminal, and finally, they herd me out to the exit.

I'm somewhat pleased to find that there's no throng of squealing fangirls waiting for me. For once, I'm granted a peaceful arrival. That is, until a bite-size energizer bunny in designer clothes and Jackie O sunglasses collides with my chest.

Did I just say peaceful? Scratch that. Alice has come to pick me up at the airport.

"Edward! I am sooooooooooo happy to see youuuuuuuuuuuuu!"

I can't help smiling. I am sooooooooooo happy to see my little sister as well, with as many Os as she likes.

"Short Stuff! I really missed you."

She hugs me, and I hug her back and twirl her around the concourse. For the first time in about six months, I feel like a normal guy again. I can hug my sister, and there's no-one to snap a picture of me. I won't end up on the homepage of TMZ tomorrow with flying rumours about my latest fling.

My baby sister? Seriously?

For the first time in three months, I don't feel dejected and lonely, and in this fleeting instant, as I'm still twirling Alice around, and she is protesting because I get wrinkles all over her outfit, I'm too caught up in my own bubble of joy to notice a cloud of mahogany hair and a flowery dress file out of the airport.

###BCG###

Business Class Girl's POV

I specifically asked my mom not to come and get me at the airport. I needed some time alone before I got sucked in by her enthusiasm. She tried to make me cave in, blurting out something about a colleague of hers who had to come to the airport anyway to pick up someone else.

My mom works as a photographer for a fashion company that has several hundred employees. Seriously, what are the chances that a person from the same company is picking up someone on the same day, and on the same flight as me?

In the end, I won my argument. I just needed to mention that I had to swing by the Milan office to check my emails and talk to Jasper. She's known Jasper for ages, and the mere mention of his name mellows her out immediately. We agree to meet up for drinks near her office.

It's a long drive from the airport to downtown Milan, and I occupy my time with a long list of phone calls.

Rosalie calls me first. I smile as I pick up my Blackberry.

"Well, BeeBee, how's Milan?"

"Rosebud, I should say as hot as ever, and I'm not even in town yet."

"Good. Maybe the sun will put some colour on your cheeks. Did Mr Asshole Extraordinaire rear his ugly head again?"

Rosalie doesn't take kindly to Jacob. Normally, I would tell her to take a hike. Today, though, and lately in general, I don't take kindly to my boyfriend either, so I let her be.

"Yes, he tried to make me change my plans. Again. He wanted me to go to New York to see him instead. Lucky for me, I was already boarding the plane."

Rosalie scoffs. She knows it took a Herculean effort not to give in to Jacob's pleas, and I stood my ground only because my mom was involved. And some coaxing from Jasper.

"BeeBee, honestly, how delusional can you get about that guy?"

"Rosebud, listen. I know everything you want to say. And I agree with most of it. But I need time to extricate myself from this. And I've got enough on my plate. And …"

"And you want me not to stick my sorry nose where it doesn't belong. I get it."

Rosalie is as tough as nails, but I've known her forever, and in turn, she knows me like the back of her hand. She knows I need time to deal with the epic fuck-up Jake has turned out to be. She knows I have to do it on my own terms. And she definitely knows I can only deal with one thunderstorm at a time. Case in point, my mom first, and then, when I'm back in London, Jacob.

It's late afternoon when I arrive downtown. I swing by the office, check my emails (a metric ton of them, all from Jasper), and then make my way to meet my mom.

She sees me from afar, right in front of the corporate headquarters of Giorgio Armani (yes, that is the fashion company she works for) and literally runs to meet me.

She hugs me tight to her chest, and I scan her boho-chic attire with an imperceptibly raised eyebrow. Then again, she is an artist, and she works in fashion. She's allowed to be extravagant with her clothing.

"Isabella, baby, let me look at you."

Bless my mother and her childlike ways. She looks at me, frowns a little, and then I have no secrets to hide. She knows it all.

"Sweetie, what's wrong with you? Tell your mom."

And just like that, a few words are enough to unleash the waterworks.

"Oh, Mom … It's Jake …"

"What about Jake? You were head over heels in love with that boy, what's wrong?"

"He's making a mess of things. He says he can't live without me."

"That's supposed to be a good thing." She tries to be supportive, to see the sunny side of things. But this time, it doesn't work.

"It should, but there is a fine line between that and being co-dependent, and I believe he's crossed it. And Jake has no grip on reality—he's lost all sense of balance since he moved to New York. He feels lost there and wants me to move. I can't drop everything just because the spoiled little brat feels lonely."

We're now sipping margaritas in the garden of the Bulgari Hotel, one of the classic hideouts in town for the rich and famous. My mom is definitely in her element. Every now and then someone stops by our table to meet and greet. She nods cheerfully, exchanges a few pleasantries, and then comes back to me, her attention fully riveted by my musings.

"Doesn't Jasper's law firm have an office in New York? You could transfer over there, be with Jake and keep your job."

It all sounds so simple, coming from Renee's mouth. If only …

"Mom, I would keep an employer, not my job. Jasper's in London, and my job is in London. I don't want to move to New York City. I would have to start from scratch. And …"

My mom nods in understanding.

"The crux of the matter is that you don't want to be with Jake. Tell me the truth."

She gets it.

"No, Mom, I don't think I want to. Not anymore."

She hugs me.

"And now? What are you going to do?"

Ding! A sudden flash of inspiration, a metaphorical light bulb flashes in my brain.

"You know, Mom? Sometimes, tertium datur …"

Bella's having happy hour in Milan ... and I'm not.

Talk to me, people. See you next week. Where will our Edward fly, next?

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