Business Class Girl @lamomo
Chapter 5

Chapter 5, 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, after the first 22 chapters are 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.

Thank you for all the new alerts and favorites, and for all the reviews. I appreciate every single one of them.

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

BUSINESS CLASS GIRL – CHAPTER FIVE

Edward's POV

B as in … Busted.

B as in … Bang my head on the wall 'til I'm dead.

B as in … Business Class Girl.

B as in … Bollocks.

"Actually, Mr Cullen, the name is Bella. Isabella Swan. That's Miss Swan to you."

Holy crap!

I know this voice. I know those eyes. I know that mane of hair. I know those hands. I know those toned legs.

Automatically, my hand flies to cover my mouth. I squint once, willing the impossible vision before my eyes to dissipate to no avail. Business Class Girl is still standing there, in all of her bad-ass glory. If I thought I was a goner when I first got that glimpse of her designer power suits, it's nothing compared to the useless pile I am reduced to right this minute. She looks as hot and ruthless as Beatrix Kiddo. She is dressed to kill, and I'm calling the cops because the pair of black jeans she's wearing is a murder weapon. I'm the victim—that thin white line over there on the carpet marks the spot where my remains lie.

Shit! I must have said that out loud.

"Actually, Edward, you did. Please take a seat. There are a number of things the three of us should discuss."

Angela finally speaks before I say something highly inappropriate again, because apparently, my brain filter is gone. I'd better keep my own counsel, just in case I embarrass myself some more.

Dazed and confused, I approach Angela's mahogany meeting table. Mahogany, the same shade as Business Class Girl's hair in the sunlight.

Wait, Cullen. She has a name. Her name is Bella. Be the gentleman your mother raised, asshole, and introduce yourself.

I'm in front of Bella in a flash and extend my hand to greet her. She looks at me from head to toe, taking in my appearance and my vacant stare. As far as first impressions go, it's painful to wonder what her first glimpse of me tells her. What does she think of me? I try and read her countenance, but my guess might be as good as anyone's. Her gaze is keen but not too stern, serene but not mocking. She isn't judging me, or so I think. She's fishing for information.

I'll give you all the information you need, Miss Isabella Swan.

Eventually, she shakes hands with me and I hold on tighter than usual because I don't want to let go. Her grasp is firm and strong, more like a man's. I can't bear to look her in the eye. If my brain filter is out of commission from a mere glimpse, what would a full-frontal encounter with her eyes do to my sanity?

Out of viable alternatives, I let my gaze stray to the chair where Angela sits, and I find her analysing this exchange with the keen, narrowed eyes of a hunting hawk. She is sensing danger, and the look on her face screams suspicion. She knows me so well that she might be on to me already.

Bella—my mind relishes the feeling of saying her name, even if only in my head—releases her hand from mine and says, "I'll venture to say it's a pleasure to meet you, Mr Cullen."

Mr Cullen? What's with people today and these formalities?

I manage to blurt out a clumsy response. "Bella, please, it's Edward." All I want is for her to actually say my given name to my face just to bask in the sound of her voice.

I am a goner.

"Mr Cullen and Miss Swan will do perfectly well for now, thank you. We've only just met."

My face contorts into a mask of horror, and once again, Angela comes to my rescue. "Edward, what Bella means to say is that you are not working together yet, and it would be too much of an assumption to … assume that before we all iron out a series of details …"

This is a far cry from Hollywood's customary informality. Business Class Girl must be used to another playground. Not that my own glamorous pond is devoid of sharks; both worlds are teeming with predators; they just wear different clothes and flaunt different hunting habits. Again, compared to my own clueless self—a guy content to fly by the seat of his pants—Business Class Girl wears her black jeans like armour but is equally comfortable in those hot pantsuits I've seen before, and her every move and word appear to be painstakingly schooled.

Her use of my last name is not an affectation, it's a defence technique. She's trying to keep her distance. She wants to have the upper hand in this. Little does she know that she could have the upper hand with me without putting so much effort into it.

Angela's voice trails off while her gaze falls on Bella, her eyes narrowed to slits. She's sending Bella a covert message. Bella picks up from where Angela left off.

"Of course, Ang. That's exactly what I meant. Should we go over the details now? I know you have a busy schedule, and I'm actually due back home in a couple of hours."

Angela relaxes in her seat and smiles congenially at Bella. I relax too. We—well, Angela and Bella, at least—spend the next forty-five minutes going over my schedule for the next few months, the potential roles she's negotiating for me, the movies I'm already signed up for, and whatever else makes up my typical day.

Bella is in full professional mode now. She has the same look of determined concentration I remember from her countless phone calls with "Jazz." She's storing information away in that awesome brain of hers, and she's not even taking notes. I watch the two of them completely mesmerised by this interaction. I'm useless since they are covering every second of every day for the next six months of my life, and I can't contribute one valuable syllable to the conversation. After a while, she starts firing questions at Angela.

"Ang, where should we place home base? Should I work from here?"

Angela looks pensive for a second, and then answers without consulting me. "I think you could work from here for the first couple weeks, learn the ropes from Jess and the like. Then you should probably move your headquarters over to Edward's."

Bella raises an eyebrow in silent invitation for Angela to elaborate on her statement. Angela kindly obliges. "You'll need to follow him around for most of the day anyway, and the schedule will be crazy. You've seen it."

Angela saves the day.

That's the third time. She's going to raise her commission if I keep this up. "Edward, Jess spends countless hours sorting out your expenses, your tax issues, your bills, your mail, and whatnot. Someone outside this office should do that for you, and that certainly falls within Bella's job description."

My head shakes in disbelief, horror creeping up my spine. My apartment is a disaster area. I can't think of Bella in its vicinity, not without some kind of mortal threat to her health. "But my flat …"

Bella nods. She doesn't look too happy, but then concedes. "I guess it's going to be easier for me to sort out his personal business if I'm around, right?"

Angela's in seventh heaven. I, on the contrary, am in hell. I'm picturing Bella at my house, for most of the day. Sorting out my personal what?

Business, Cullen; she said business. She is not going to rummage through your undies.

Angela silences me. "The lease for your apartment is up at the end of the month, which is two weeks away. It's time you looked into something more permanent anyway."

Bella throws in her two cents, and my pleas are completely ignored. They do this better without me, anyway.

"Have you looked into potential new locations yet? I guess you do have a realtor you work with on a steady basis …"

"Yes. Jessica has looked at a few options, not that Edward has checked out any of the fact sheets we prepared. Edward?"

I open my mouth, but no meaningful sounds come out of it. Bella precedes me again.

"I'll have a look at those. If we only have a fortnight to choose, pack, and move, we have to make this quick and painless."

"Bella, I don't think it will be a big problem. The moving thing, I mean. That's going to be child's play compared to the rest."

"Speaking of which … Ang, I think we should come up with a standard communication protocol among the three of us. All of our calendars and emails should be in sync, otherwise I can't keep track of where Edward is and what needs to be done first."

Angela nods, glowing like a kid on Christmas morning. Even I can tell that Bella is the answer to her prayers. This is a life-altering event for Angela—all of my day-to-day crap will be off her back and thrust directly onto Bella's.

"Yes, of course. That's a good point. What do you suggest we do?"

Bella leans her head to one side and taps her nose with her index finger, pondering Angela's question for a second. "I don't want to use our personal cell phones for this—we're entitled to our own space. Those should be for emergency only, as in 'Fort Knox is being raided' emergency. What about two new BlackBerries, one for Mr Cullen and one for me?"

Angela's smile is beaming. "I'll have Jessica buy them for you …"

Bella interrupts her. "No, Ang. I can do that. I'll just liaise with Jessica and be done with it. That way, we can be all systems go by Monday morning. What I'm more concerned about is the moving thing. It's going to be back-to-back with Mr Cullen's last photoshoot and interview in town before he leaves for Vancouver."

Yeah, right, Cullen. Vancouver. The shoot for the first big role I've signed on after the teen movie. Wait, am I going to be without Bella for the length of my stay?

"But you're coming along, Miss Swan, aren't you?" I have no control whatsoever on my brain filter, and I blurt my question out before I can stop myself. Bella, though, appears unfazed but looks to Angela for support.

"We didn't discuss this. Would it be appropriate?"

My shoulders fall. She is reluctant; she doesn't want to follow me to Vancouver. Worse, she thinks she shouldn't come with me. She thinks it would make her look bad. She doesn't want to spend time with me.

"B, I think you should … No, let me rephrase that. I'm sure, for your own peace of mind, you'll find it a lot more convenient to follow Edward while he's on the road. Day in and day out, you're going to be the first port of call for everything that relates to him. Until now, I used to do this …"

Bella sighs, apparently convinced. "But now it's my turn. Right. It makes sense, after all. I'll have to get used to it. Don't worry, Ang. It's nothing new. With Jazz, I was practically on call 24/7."

They discuss some details about dealing with press representatives and similar brouhaha. I understand Angela is handing over to Bella most of the press contacts who are interested in me on a regular basis, with strict instructions to cut the bullshit and only go for the real deal. I never realised Angela put so much effort into keeping me afloat. Now Bella's taking over all of this, too.

"How do you wish me to deal with scripts and the like? You must go through tons of those. Do you actually have the time to check them all out?"

Scripts. Rehearsing lines with Bella. Ah, the possibilities …

This is a thorn in both Angela's side and mine. I love reading scripts, but we are literally swamped with them. Angela tries to select the most attractive ones for me, but our criteria don't often match. It's a constant complaint.

"Bella, actually, I was hoping you could help with that. Would you mind going through them with Edward, try to learn what he likes, and make notes for me? I would really value your opinion on that."

I'll tell you what I like, Bella. Gladly. Repeatedly.

After my lewd lower brain has had its five seconds of solace, my upper brain registers that Angela is speaking these words with an unusually reverent tone, as if Bella was some kind of higher authority in this field. Bella nods and then turns to me for the first time in the last hour. She's deliberately switching topics.

"Mr Cullen, will you have a lot of stuff to be moved into the new house?"

She's talking to you, Cullen. Answer before she thinks you're a complete moron.

I muster up some courage, send an S.O.S. to my brain, and look Bella right in the eye for the first time since I crossed the threshold of Angela's office earlier this morning. To my utter and complete surprise, I don't explode or go into shock. I feel completely at ease under her scrutiny because she's looking at me with the same keen, benign expression she bestowed on me when she shook my hand.

"I normally live out of three suitcases. That's about the size of what I'm moving."

Silence falls over the room; that is until, with a voice like a velvet caress, Bella comments. "I think I can handle that, Mr Cullen."

Angela is about to say something but holds her peace for a second. I can't hold Bella's gaze any longer, and I automatically cast my eyes down, suddenly very interested in the creases of my leather jacket. I barely hear her as she's talking to Angela again, wrapping up this long and eventful meeting.

"I think we covered everything. I'm starting on Monday as agreed. Remember my condition. It's a deal-breaker".

Condition? Deal-breaker?

I don't want to leave her, but she's faster than me. Dumbfounded, I stand up to say goodbye, and she's out the door in a flash. I gape like a fish at Angela, who is beyond diverted.

"Edward, she will either fix you or break you. I'll see you tonight at the party. You may go now, wonder boy."

Damn. Angela's monthly bash at her house. Tonight. Is Bella going to be there?

###BCG###

Business Class Girl's POV

"I normally live out of three suitcases. That's about the size of what I'm moving."

I'm trying to keep my distance from this young man. I insist on using last names, and speak mainly to Angela through the whole ordeal. I try looking at him as little as possible.

I succeed, to the point that I mentally compliment myself with a well-earned slap on my shoulder. I succeed until he utters those two sentences, and all my plans go astray. I quickly switch from compliments to ass-kicking because it's my fault. I asked him the damn question, and like the polite young man he is, he answers truthfully. This is what knocks the air out of my lungs. His honesty. He is too genuine for this city, for this pool of sharks.

When I worked in the Magic Circle, Jasper and I had a wicked pastime. We could pinpoint the exact breaking point of every single trainee down to a minimal margin of error. Our expertise had been honed over the years, and we could predict exactly who would quit and when. We could read all the signs. Based on my expertise, a man like Edward Cullen looks like he can have the stamina and trustworthy appearance of a great lawyer, but on the downside, he's too honest. That alone could crack him at any given point in time.

Edward's spontaneous confession tugs at my heartstrings. He sounds lost and alone. For all my own wanderings, I always had somewhere and someone to come home to. Suitcases are for business trips and holidays. Home and closets are a different planet. Everything about Edward's statement screams temporariness. He needs some stability, somewhere. Something to keep him grounded—and there has to be something, somewhere. I know there is because, in all this mess, he looks like he has a good head on his shoulders anyway.

Why am I so convinced of this? Easy—Angela.

Angela is proof positive for me that the guy is worth a shot, that he isn't a complete loser. I can deal with chronically disorganised freaks. Losers? Not so much.

I'm now standing in the reception area, talking to Jessica and making arrangements for our BlackBerries to be delivered on Monday. She also updates me on the status of various Cullen-related issues. This isn't a typical, peaceful handover. It feels like witnessing Britain's handover of Hong Kong to China all over again. The air ripples with tension. Jessica looks as if a huge weight is off her chest. I can't resist questioning her about this.

"Jess, what's the deal with this guy? Everyone's making him sound like such an asshole …"

Jess stops in her tracks. She looks at me like I've grown a second head.

"God, Bella, no. He's great. Nice even. He's just …"

I get it. I decide to help her out. "All over the place?"

"Check."

I go on. I want to find out more. "Time-consuming?"

"Check."

I nod. Despite Angela's protestations, despite Em's encouragement, this is not going to be a piece of cake. Goodbye to my dreams of glory and regular schedules. They're all out the window. I realise very quickly that this job is going to be more of a mission than a profession.

History is repeating itself; I'll be dealing with another Jasper. Out with the contracts, enter the scripts. Out with the meetings, enter the photoshoots, interviews, and filming. Out with business lunches, enter the after parties.

I've barely left one BlackBerry behind and I'm already putting my name down for another. Talk about golden cages, but it's the only way this can actually work.

I say goodbye to Jessica and head for the elevator. A jolt of static electricity crackles in the air. Someone is standing beside me, and they're clearing their throat to attract my attention.

"Miss Swan, are you headed back home? Maybe we could ride together."

Mr Cullen—Edward—is stepping inside the elevator with me.

"Actually, Mr Cullen, I have my own transportation. But thanks for the offer."

He looks briefly crestfallen but doesn't relent. "Maybe I can ride with you, instead? So we can discuss all those arrangements together?"

I smile. I don't even need to find an excuse to turn him down. We have now reached the foyer and we're headed where the Tiger is parked outside the building. The Tiger will help me.

His jaw goes slack as he watches me hop on my motorbike, my helmet still in my hands.

"As you see, Mr Cullen, my vehicle only sits one. I'll see you on Monday."

I tip my helmet at him in silent salute and ride off into the traffic on Wilshire Blvd.

Magic Circle refers to a group of the four/five most prominent law firms in London (and, in turn, internationally). For the purposes of our story, White, Devlin & Hale (Jasper's firm) IS a Magic Circle law firm.

Bella's Tiger is an MV Agusta F4 CC. There's a link to a Google Images Album on my profile with pics for all BCG visuals (if ffnet plays nice with the link...).

Back into Edward's head next week.

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