Rock 'n Roll Boots & White Collar Roots @bitterharpy
Chapter 21

Y'all have your hand over your eyes peeking through your fingers don't ya? Probably smart.

Thanks as always to Team Harpy. Love y'all.

Lots happens in this chapter and it's longer than usual so Happy Hump Day! See you at the bottom.

**B**

"Thank you very much. You saved my life." I hand Jasper an envelope.

He looks down at it. "What is this?"

"Payment for services rendered. And you will take it." I say as he tries to hand it back. "And there is more where that came from, just say the word."

"I'll keep that in mind." He says with a grateful smile as he pockets the envelope.

I take the hint and say my goodbyes to Mac.

The weather is lovely; not too hot for late May. I parked a little ways down so I could walk and enjoy the neighborhood that Mac's is nestled in. The more I come here, the more I am growing to love this bustling town. I'm pausing at an antique shop window and salivating at a vintage dress in the window but I know I can't afford it so I decide to keep moving. I'm passing an alleyway and a voice startles me.

"What are you doing?"

I jump about a mile but I know that voice so I turn around and jump in his arms.

"Masen! How did you know I was here?" I kiss his cheek. "Nice sunglasses."

"Thanks, and I didn't but you're rather recognizable so I pulled over on my way to a meeting."

"Another one? So I guess lunch is out of the question?"

"I'm afraid so. What are you doing here?"

"I had to get the money from Mac and pay Jasper for his services." I fiddle with his tie, still not used to seeing him all dressed up.

"You're here a lot lately." He mentions casually.

"I know. I might just move here."

"Why would you want to move here? It's busy and you hate the traffic."

"Yeah but you're here and I could see you more. Unless you don't want that."

"Of course I want that. But I like escaping this city and coming to see you. That's all."

"Well, nothing has to be decided now. Oh! But I did have some news! I can't believe I almost forgot to tell you. Seeing you just makes everything fly out of my head, I swear."

"Tell me what?"

"Guess who just landed the Idle Rich a gig in Colorado?"

He blinks a little in shock but then relaxes and smiles.

"You."

"Yes, me."

"When?"

"Two weeks from this Saturday but we will need to fly out Friday morning. They are covering airfare and lodging. And guess what the best part is?"

"I couldn't begin to."

"My Ma and Pops are coming! It's an early anniversary trip and they will be staying at a nearby resort but they are very excited to watch you perform."

"I'm excited for them to see me." He takes me into his arms and kisses me and I almost melt right then and there. His glasses bump my cheekbone. I reach up to remove them but he backs up quickly.

"I'm sorry, I'm running late. I'll get with the guys later to work out rehearsal times and I will get with you later for other matters." His arm snakes around my lower back and he pulls me to him, kissing me quickly. His hand sneaks down to my butt and he gives it a squeeze. I laugh into his mouth.

"Tease."

"It's not teasing when I intend to follow through at a later time and place." He kisses me once more and waves goodbye before hurrying around the corner and disappearing from view. I lean against the brick facade of the wall and sigh dreamily. I finally gather my senses and get out of the well lit but still creepy alleyway and continue on to my car.

"Oompf." I grunt as I run into someone. Her papers fly out onto the cracked pavement. "I'm so sorry!", I cry out as I scramble to help her gather them up.

"It's perfectly fine. I wasn't watching where I was going either apparently." We laugh.

"Oh, your nails are gorgeous." She says as she takes some papers from me. "You must tell me who your nail person is?"

"I do them myself, actually." I pause to admire my handiwork.

"Well, they are quite lovely. Thank you for helping me but I must get going before I am late." She throws them back into a file and with a smile is scurrying to her next destination.

The people are so friendly here. I really need to work on Masen about moving here. But first I have to get things in order for Colorado.

**AW**

I sit in my Lexus and watch the vagrant get behind the wheel of a Hyundai that has seen better days. What is he thinking taking up with that?

Is this why he won't go out with me? He's busy dragging poor commoners into alleyways and having clandestine rendezvous?

I know his type well; blonde, polished, well educated. All the makings of a corporate wife. It's one of the reasons my hair has been blonde for so long. She's loud- in her choice of clothing, her speaking, and her naivete. She's brunette and doesn't seem to have any sort of formal education to speak of.

And I gathered all that in a two-minute span of vapid conversation. The Cullen's would eat her up and spit her out. Which could be fun to witness if I wanted to out his new girlfriend.

But I have bigger fish to fry. I start my car and drive towards my office, listening to the smooth sounds of classical music. I'd hate for my less than stellar upbringing to show when I speak to Edward so I surround myself with the luxuries I never had growing up. I find it funny that she wears her blue-collar raising like a badge of honor while I work like a dog to obliterate any traces of mine, hence the materialistic lifestyle. After all, it's not hard to find a willing man to supply whatever my heart desires with so little effort on my part.

But Edward is different. He's effortlessly charming while remaining absolutely unattainable. I thought I had him years ago until Kate caught his eye. She was more suited to his needs then but she's gone now. And I waited for the appropriate amount of time before pursuing him. Only to find him not interested. I began to question myself which I rarely do. But seeing him with Little Miss Fingernails filled in a whole lot of answers to my mental questionnaire.

He's different with her. His smile was genuine and his eyes danced with affection though he seemed slightly panicked at whatever she was talking to him about. He has feelings for his dirty little secret and that just won't do.

"Is Emmett Cullen in his office?" I ask the front desk receptionist. She's too busy gossiping to say much other than a quick no. I nod and act like I will check in later but I circle around and looking both ways, enter and close the door quickly. I don't have much time. I'm pretty sure he's meeting Edward which is my next stop.

I pause to think of where I need to look. There's his desk, a bookcase, an oak filing cabinet and two chairs. I decide on the filing cabinet. I open the first drawer- hotel personnel files. Second drawer- budget reports and the like. Third drawer- more of the same. I huff out an irritated breath.

The desk then. I jerk open the biggest drawer. Office supplies. Next drawer- more files. I thumb through them quickly not seeing anything of consequence.

That only leaves the small sliding center drawer. I ease it open but it's empty save for a few pens and post its. I sit down in his chair and slump over his desk with my head in my hands. I know it's here. I heard them talking about it. I sigh and decide to get out of here. I slowly shut the door but it catches. I feel under it to see if it is off track and my finger slices against thick cardboard. I quietly yelp and put my bleeding finger in my mouth. I check the damage and search for a tissue so I don't leave my DNA all over the place. I wrap it around my finger and start to feel under the drawer for what cut me. Whatever it is it's stuck so I slide off the chair and onto the floor and I grin when I see it.

I gently pry the file from it's glued prison and open it, checking its contents quickly before slapping it shut. I slip it in my bag, check everything to make sure it is like it was and leave as quietly as I arrived.

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why you make sure you are truly alone before speaking of such private matters.

I pass Emmett as he is leaving Edward's offices and I smile at him. He nods and continues on, whistling a happy little tune. I square my shoulders and take a breath before I have to deal with the barracuda. She's the first person who is going. Well after Little Miss Fingernails.

"Is Edward in?" I ask, as nicely as possible. Wouldn't want to upset the zoo animals after all.

"Do you have an appointment?"

"No, but could you see if he could make a few minutes for me? It will be quick, I promise."

She rolls her eyes but picks up her phone, dialing his extension. "Angela is here requesting an audience." She listens, makes a face then hangs up. "He has ten minutes so make it snappy."

I open and close his door, making my way to the guest chairs.

He looks up from a mountain of paperwork. "Wow", I remark casually.

"Yeah, I have to go out of town for a long weekend in a couple of weeks and don't want Grandfather on my ass when I'm gone. What do you need?"

"You."

"Clearly as you are in my office." He is still concentrating on his work. I stand up, lean over and put my hand down on what he is working on so he has to look at me.

"Do you mind?"

"Not at all. I'm just going to lay this all out on the table, so to speak. I want to be the next Mrs. Edward Cullen. I've waited for you to come to your senses and quite frankly, I am getting impatient. I'm exactly what you need. I'm beautiful, educated, smart. I can stand by your side as you rule the Cullen empire. Kate obviously wasn't what you needed. But I am. All you have to do is ask."

The look on his face can only be described as stunned stupid. I settle back into my chair and wait for him to process.

However, I didn't expect processing to include wheezing laughter. The confident smile falls from my face and I know I'm scowling which I try not to do because facelifts are not cheap and I'm too young for frown lines.

"I don't know what you find so humorous."

He struggles to get control and wipes the wetness from his eyes. "Did Emmett put you up to this?"

"I'm dead serious, Edward. It's been fun and cute but I'm done playing hard to get with you."

All traces of laughter are gone as he leans forward looking me dead in the eye. "I'm not playing at anything with you. I have made it very clear that I am not interested. What we had years ago was fun but it's over. You were a decent lay; nothing more, nothing less. So if you want to keep your job, I suggest you leave my office immediately and we will never speak of this moment ever again."

I stubbornly remain seated.

"Don't make me call security, Angela." His threat hovers in the air and I know I won't win anything tonight so I get up and bend down to grab my bag with all its precious cargo.

"Fine, I'll leave but let me make one thing clear here, Edward. You will be mine if it's the last thing I do."

I stride out of this office leaving his door wide open. Next stop: The Cullen Estate.

Looks like we are moving on to Phase Three of my plan.

**E**

What the hell was that?

"What the hell was that?" Alice asks as she comes into my office. Noticing the stunned look I am sure is on my face, she comes a little closer.

"Edward, are you okay?"

"She proposed to me. Well, more like demanded I marry her."

"The hell you say. I told you she belonged in a mental institute. What did you say to her?"

"I told her to get the hell out of my office before I called security."

"You should've fired her."

"I can't fire her."

"Yes, you can. Washington is an at-will employment state which means you can fire an employee for any reason as long as it doesn't violate employee protection laws."

"I know what it means, Alice. But we don't need that kind of negative publicity." I groan.

"She's obviously a few Fruit Loops short of a full bowl. Who knows what she will do now that you've rejected her again."

"If she escalates it any further, I will fire her. I'm just going to wait and see what her next move is."

"You don't have any bunnies around for her to boil, do you?"

My mouth twitches a little in amusement. "No Alice, no bunnies."

"All joking aside, you do have skeletons in your closet at the moment. Skeletons that you worry can ruin your whole life. What if she finds those out? She's desperate enough to start digging."

"I'm not breaking up with Bella." I'm insistent on this.

"I don't want you to. But maybe you should come clean about her and your alter ego. That way she doesn't get any leverage on you."

I'm shaking my head before she is even finished speaking. "No."

"Edward."

"I said no. You are the only one who knows and I know you aren't telling anyone. Right?"

She sighs. "No, I'm not telling anyone."

I decide to put Angela out of my mind so I switch subjects. "Did Bella tell you about Colorado?"

"Yes! She is so excited."

"It's Bella. She's excited about everything." I smile affectionately. "At least it's far away from this place. It seems like she's always here now. She even made a comment about moving here today. I need a little breathing room."

"Away from Bella?"

"No. I always want to be near Bella. I just mean … I don't know what I mean." I throw my head down on my arms and groan.

"This has certainly gotten complicated."

I raise my head up to glare at her. "You think I don't know that? You think I want to hurt her?"

"I don't know, but the fact of the matter is she will get hurt. Whether she finds out from you or from someone else. You can't hide forever, Edward. You're too well known."

I know she's right but I do what I do best. I avoid.

"That will be all, Alice. I have work."

I ignore her huff of annoyance and her knowing look and try to focus on my work.

But I can't seem to shake the feeling that a storm is coming.

It arrives almost two weeks later and comes in the form of Grandfather demanding an urgent family meeting. I'm not too worried as he tends to do this so I'm in a good mood. I saw Bella over the weekend and we had a great time together. Then again last night as we had a last ditch rehearsal before we leave later this evening from Sea-Tac. I drove into Tacoma early this morning and so I'm whistling as I enter the den. Looks to only be Grandfather, James, Victoria and Emmett but the looks on their faces puts a halt to the cheeriness.

"Did I miss the execution?"

"No, I'd say you were right on time," Victoria replies.

"Dare I ask whose it is?"

"Here's a little hint, Edward. What would you like for your last meal?" Emmett chimes in with way more amusement than seems appropriate.

"Alright, what's going on?"

"I had a very interesting visit with Angela Weber. Remarkable young lady. Always brimming with new ideas." Grandfather says, sipping his morning coffee. "And that blind ambition of hers is a wonder to behold."

"So, I guess she has come up with another inspired PR campaign."

"You might say that."

I try to shake off the feeling of foreboding.

"For herself." He continues.

"Okay, well, let's hear it."

Emmett comes up behind me and slaps me on the back. "Brace yourself, Big Guy, looks like you're getting married."

I look at everyone's face waiting for someone to crack.

"Is this your idea of a sick joke?"

"Oh, it's no joke. Angela has it in her head that she wants to marry you. And you are going to accommodate her wishes."

I start laughing at Grandfather's words long before he's finished speaking.

"Okay, let me explain something here. Angela did propose to me and I said the same thing to her as I will to you. And that's no. N. O. No."

"I'm afraid it's not that simple, Edward," Grandfather says.

"No, let me. It's my mess." James interrupts. "Remember Jason Jenks?"

"Who?"

"The man that sexually abused Claire Young," Victoria speaks up.

"Now that you mention it, yes."

"Well, when Claire went public with the abuse, Jenks went after her mother, Rachel. One night I went over to her apartment and he had beaten her within an inch of her life with no intention of stopping. I was enraged. I just lost it and I threw him across the room like the garbage that he was."

"Unfortunately, he landed at a weird angle and broke his neck." Emmett supplies.

"It was an accident but there's no question the responsibility was mine."

"My God, his body was found near one of our construction sites." I can't keep the horror out of my voice.

"I disguised my voice, called for help for Rachel and I dumped him in the wooded area behind the subdivision we were planning."

"James, that's insane! Why didn't you just call the police and tell them what happened?"

"Well, that's where it gets complicated. You see James and I were having our problems about his friendship with Rachel at that time."

"I didn't want Victoria to know that I'd gone over to Rachel's apartment. And I've gotta tell you, I don't consider Jenks' demise a great loss to mankind."

"How did Angela find out about it?"

"She got a hold of the evidence."

"What evidence?"

"The evidence the police had gathered during the course of their investigation."

"Obviously that isn't enough on its own or you'd be facing murder charges right now."

"True but apparently Angela overheard a conversation between Emmett and me a few weeks ago. So she went and found the evidence in his office."

"Wait. How do you have the evidence? I thought the police had it?"

"Well, I paid someone to pose as housekeeping and they stole it," Emmett admits.

"Why didn't you destroy it once you had it?"

"You never know when you might need leverage over dear old dad." James glares at Emmett.

"It wasn't like that." Emmett protests.

"Then what?"

I interrupt them.

"So, what I'm hearing is A, you're all a bunch of accomplices and conspirators, B, somehow Angela got her hands on the evidence and C, the price for her silence is me."

"Well, this didn't take as long as I thought it would," Victoria says. "Anyone want some more coffee?"

"Forget it."

"Now, no one is asking for a long term arrangement." Grandfather objects.

"Read my lips. Over. My. Dead. Body."

"No that won't work. Angela wants the body alive and screaming for mercy."

"Shut up, Emmett."

"Come on, Edward. Angela isn't that horrible. She's a very lovely... lady. It might not be so bad." Victoria consoles me.

"All we are asking for is time until we can find some other option." Grandfather chimes in.

"NO!"

"Edward said no, Ed, now what?" Victoria asks.

"No is not an acceptable answer."

"Come on, where is your sense of family and loyalty?"

"Emmett is right. We've all done things we haven't necessarily liked for the good of the Cullen name."

"The Cullen name? What about my life?"

"Don't be so melodramatic, no one is asking you to forfeit your life. A few months off the top is all. Besides, there is no point in our arguing about it. I've made up my mind."

"Then why don't you marry her? I can't believe this. You murder someone…"

"It was an accident!" They all scream in unison.

"And the rest of you cover it up so sloppily that the evidence turns into a game of hot potato and now I'm supposed to bail you out by marrying a woman I don't love."

"It's not about love, it's about family. Now you listen to me. I have stood by for months and watched your disappearing and reappearing and have stayed mostly silent while you put things in your personal life above your responsibilities to Cullen, Inc, and your family but this time I am putting my foot down. I am not about to allow my son to be incarcerated for the death of a slimeball like Jason Jenks. And if preventing that outcome means you have to marry Angela Weber then that's the way it will have to be!"

"And what's in it for me?"

"Name your price," James says.

So many possibilities with that answer.

"Okay, I'm going to go think about this. Because if I'm gonna agree to put my head on the chopping block for James, it's gonna cost and I mean big." I gather up my coat and briefcase.

"Where are you going?"

I stop and look at Grandfather. "Out of town for a few days. I'll be in touch when I'm ready."

I was right about the storm. And the tsunami that arrived blew my whole life into smithereens.

And I have absolutely no idea where to go from here. Well, that's a lie. I know exactly where I'm going right now.

I park in my space in the executive garage and storm through the lobby. One look at the murderous rage on my face and the seas part. One guy even got out of the elevator. I take a left instead of my normal right and bypass the very surprised receptionist on the floor. I don't bother knocking and am satisfied to see Angela look a little off guard at my abrupt appearance in her office.

She recovers quickly and stands. "What a surprise to see you, Edward."

I slam the office door in response.

"You little bitch." I grind out.

"Now, is that any way to speak to your future wife?" She sits back in her chair, all smug and satisfied. And I realize the tables have turned. In a sick role reversal, I'm the one standing in front of her and she's behind the desk calling all the shots.

"Why me?"

"Who else? Emmett, Riley? They aren't half as much fun and nowhere near as powerful."

"How much will it take for you to go away? A million, two? Name your price and it will be transferred into your bank once I receive the evidence in hand."

"Silly boy, I don't want your money. Well, that's not all I want. I want the status that comes with being a Cullen. I want respect. I want people to be in awe of me. But most importantly, I want you at my mercy. You really should think about how you treat people, Edward. This could have all been avoided if you would've given me another chance. But now you have to."

"And if I refuse?"

She walks around her desk and stands close to me, her breath hitting my ear. "We both know you won't risk tarnishing your family's reputation like that. So, get your tuxedo ready, Lover. We've got a date at the altar coming up."

The door opens and I'm left standing there among all the debris left behind from Hurricane Angela.

Now, what the fuck do I do?

Playlist:

Girlfriend- Avril Lavigne

A Storm is Gonna Come- Piers Faccini

Many of you were right, Angela is blackmailing him but not why you thought. I'm saving that revelation for later.

So what are your theories now?

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