Falling for a Dark Soul @tufano79
Chapter 11

Disclaimer: None of this mine, nor do I claim to be Stephenie Meyer. I just like to dabble in the playground that she created with Bella, Edward and her Twilight characters. No copyright infringement is intended.

Up next, we will be having Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving … what will happen between our enemies turned friends … will their relationship morph into something more?

Chapter Eleven


I practically floated back to my office. I sat down at my computer, pulling up the information about Fringe. Alice sat down next to me. "You look happy," she said. "Did you and Edward have a good talk?"

"Interesting, really," I chuckled. "He invited me over for Thanksgiving."

"Aren't you going to Sue's house?" Alice asked. "At least, that's what I thought since our lunch conversation."

"I am. You heard me and Sue solidify our plans over lunch," I answered. "Obviously, I'm spending time there, but Edward asked me out for a date the day after Thanksgiving."

"And from that dreamy look in your eyes, you said yes?" Alice giggled. I blushed and nodded affirmatively. "Good. I think when we go out for lunch, we need to go shopping for a new outfit for your date. Something sexy, but yearning for him to want more. There's some adorable things at …"

"Alice, I have more than enough clothes," I snorted. "Besides, I need to call Monique to discuss her holiday campaign for her salon."

"I'll let you get to work. Do you have access to the files?"

I pressed a button on my computer and the file for Fringe was open on my desktop. "I'm good to go. Anything that I need to be aware of?"

"Nope. Monique is pretty awesome and one of the most easy-going clients we have," Alice answered, getting up and picking up her tablet. "I'm off to the team leader meeting. Wish me luck."

"Don't fall asleep," I snickered, picking up the phone. She rolled her eyes, ducking out of our shared office space. I dialed Monique and spent the better part of an hour going over ideas with her for their holiday campaign. I jotted down the ideas and set over some mock up designs for her perusal. Once I got her go-ahead, I'd create her designs and send them over for the launch of her holiday promotion.

When I got off the phone with her, I did some work on the New Moon designs and saw an email from Victoria. I checked the time, deciding to call her.

"Victoria Walter, New Moon Cosmetics," she said when she picked up her line.

"Hello, Victoria. It's Bella Swan from MAC," I smiled. "I just got your email. How are things going for the PR packages?"

"Oh my word, things are moving so smoothly. Bella, you are truly a god-send," Victoria breathed. "Your ideas are new and fresh! Our launch will not be as amazing without your influence!"

"I'm so glad," I said. "When are you sending out the PR packages?"

"The week after Thanksgiving," Victoria answered. "I'm also planning a launch party. You and your team are all obviously invited. So is Edward, since he's the boss."

"Wow! Thank you," I smiled. I flipped through the calendar, seeing when New Moon's launch was scheduled to the public. "When's the party?"

"It's scheduled the weekend before we launch," Victoria said. "I know that this is in your purview, but I wanted to do it and invite you as guests, not as the advertising team. It's a thank you for you. Black tie and nothing but the best … The invites are in the mail to the office."

"I'm looking forward to it, Victoria," I said, adding the launch party to our shared calendar. "It's been such a pleasure working with you and I can't wait to see what your company has planned next."

"We do have our next product launch planned. We're beta testing at the moment, but we should have some preliminary results soon, possibly by the party," Victoria explained. "Now, there is a reason why I emailed you. I need your home address. You've been invaluable with everything you've created for the promotional materials and product launch."

"I'm just doing my job, Victoria," I grinned.

"Address," she chided. "I won't take no for an answer. You've dealt with my psychotic demands with grace and poise. You've made the launch of our new brand into something fun and meaningful. Please accept this, Bella."

"Thank you," I breathed and I gave her my home address.

"If I don't talk to you before the holiday, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving," Victoria said.

"You, too," I said before hanging the phone. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on mock-ups for Fringe and did some cleanup work on a few other promotional campaigns that were going live in the next week. As I was saving my work, Alice, Emmett and Jasper came into the office. Alice was at the senior staff meeting and Jasper was out of the building at a class. Emmett, he was bouncing in and out of the office, but working on his various promotions. "How was the photo editing class, Jas?"

"Boring as fuck," Jasper grumped. "I knew all that shit, but I did pick up some new techniques. I just hated to be away. I have so much work that needs to be done on the Pixie campaign."

"This?" I asked, pulling up the nearly finished product and projecting it onto the larger screen in our office.

Jasper's eyes widened and he ran over to me, kissing my forehead. "You are a fucking goddess, Bella! I love you so much! You saved me hours of work," he crooned.

"I just didn't have the full list of prices since it wasn't in the file. I couldn't add those," I said.

"They're in my notes. I spoke to Abby and she gave them to me," Jasper breathed, dragging the image onto his computer and adding the final details. "How was the senior staff meeting?"

"Good. The Halloween party photos really encouraged people to explore our company. We got a ton of new proposed clients requesting our assistance. Several team leaders wanted to hire more junior advertising executives, but unless they're like Bella, they would not be an effective use of our resources. Edward suggested that we hire a ninth team leader and that team leader would build their own team. Most of the teams put forward names," Alice said.

"Let me guess … Riley decided to be a douche and he didn't put any name forward," Emmett snickered. "He thinks his team is a well-oiled machine when in reality, they're a hot mess. Jared is such a douche."

"You're right in one," Alice giggled. "Anyway, tomorrow, they're announcing the new team leader. So, staff meeting tomorrow morning at nine in the cafeteria." She turned to me. "How was your phone conference with Monique?"

"I just sent off mock ups to her and she'll let me know what she wants. I can complete the work tomorrow," I answered. "I also got an email from Victoria. She's having a launch party the weekend before the products for New Moon Cosmetics go live. We're all invited and it's black tie. I added it to the shared calendar."

"Another reason for us to go shopping, Bella," Alice teased. "Now, since Bella was so kind to do so much of our work, I think we're done for the day. Anyone want to go out for a drink?"

"My treat," Emmett said, picking up his coat.

"I've got to pick up Katie," I frowned.

"One drink, Bella," Emmett smiled, draping his arm over my shoulder. "You did a ton of amazing work for us. You deserve ONE drink."

"One single, solitary drink, Emmett," I teased. "Thank you."

xx FFADS xx

I snuck into the staff meeting. Katie did not want to get moving this morning. I practically had to drag her out of the house and to preschool. I pulled into MAC a little after nine. I was cursing my sister for making me late as I tried to navigate the maze of tables to sit with my team.

"You're late, Bells," Alice chided gently.

"Katie was Princess Grumpy this morning and would not move her ass," I sighed. "I'm so sorry."

"Not a big deal. Edward's just going over the third quarter revenue for the company," Alice explained. "It's riveting, let me tell you."

"Math is something that is so far above my level of expertise," I snorted "The fact that Edward can make sense of all that mumbo jumbo is highly impressive."

"It's why he's the boss and we're his lowly minions," Alice chuckled.

"I'm shocked he doesn't have a CFO," I mused.

"Edward is CEO and CFO rolled into one. He's got an amazing mind and he brought MAC back from near bankruptcy. The previous owners did not handle the money well, spending frivolously. This cafeteria is an example, but it was renovated improperly," Alice explained. "This place was a money pit. It was closed once Edward took over, until we had the proper funds to complete the renovations correctly."

"Now, recently, we had our first team building event. It was well-attended and I'd like to thank Alice Brandon for her hard work in planning the Halloween Extravaganza," Edward beamed, nodding to Alice. "Alice, do you have any announcements for the next event?"

"Oh, right. If you haven't already done so, sign up for Friendsgiving and bring a dish to share. It's scheduled for Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We're working in the morning, but the afternoon will be spent in here. Charlotte, Riley and Kevin are handling the main course. Turkeys, ham, prime rib and tofurkey for our vegetarian staff members. That will be catered in, using their connections. The rest of the meal will be provided by you," Alice explained. "The kitchen staff will set it all up. So, if you haven't already done so, thank Carole and her amazing team for working with us for our Friendsgiving celebration."

"Thank you, Alice," Edward grinned. "When I signed up on Monday, my mouth was watering at all of the recipes that are on the list." He changed the presentation slide to the next one. "Now, thanks to the photos from our Halloween party, we had a lot more interest in MAC. The interest was so great that the senior executive team and I decided that we needed to create a ninth team for the influx of requests.

"I asked the senior executive team to put forward names and after discussing it with Rosalie and with some invaluable information from Shelly, we decided to promote Emmett McCarty to be a member of the senior executive team. His team will be working in two categories, clothing and personal care," Edward said, grinning at Emmett, who had gotten up to shake Edward's hand.

Over at Riley's team, I overheard Jared bitching. "This is horseshit. It should have been me!"

Edward glared over at Jared. "What was that?" he asked, his voice icy.

Jared stood up, crossing his arms and glowering at Edward. "I've been with the company as long as Emmett. It should have been me."

"Jared, if you'd like to discuss your performance, now is not the time," Edward snapped. "Once this meeting is done, we'll have a private conversation. For now, sit down and be quiet."

Riley hissed at Jared, who sat down heavily. He clenched his hands into tight fists, giving Edward the death stare. You know the popular phrase, 'if looks could kill'? Yeah, Edward would be dead, a smoking pile of ash.

"As I was saying, before I was interrupted, was that Emmett will be our newest team leader. He'll be hiring his own team and after the first of the year, he'll be ready to go," Edward said. "Congratulations, Emmett. We're proud of you."

"Thanks, Edward," Emmett smiled, but it was tight. He sat back down at our table, scowling at Jared. "Fucking asstard."

"Riley didn't even put a name forward," Jasper whispered. "So, it was apparent that Riley didn't want to lose Jared."

"Or, he was eager to lose Jared. It would appear that Jared's little outburst was the final nail in the coffin," Alice said.

"With Emmett's departure from Alice's team, that opens up a spot for a senior advertising executive. She's decided to promote from within," Edward explained. "Alice, would you like to announce your choice for filling Emmett's shoes?"

"Emmett's shoes are quite large to fill," Alice chuckled. "He's been my right-hand man for several years. However, there's only one person I can think of to be my right-hand woman. Isabella Swan will be promoted to senior advertising executive and we'll be hiring a new junior executive."

My eyes bugged out, blinking up to Alice. She pulled me to my feet, hugging me tightly as I tried to process what Alice had said. "Bella's been invaluable these past few month and I know she'll do phenomenally as my right-hand woman."

"Congratulations, Bella," Edward smiled, his grin crooked and genuine. "If you could swing by my office this afternoon, we'll make Alice's offer official."

"Thank you," I said, my cheeks flaming. I sat back down, elbowing Alice. She just beamed widely as Edward wrapped up the meeting.

Once he dismissed us, we all scattered. Edward made a beeline for Jared before he could skulk out of the cafeteria. He had a coldly polite smile on his face, grasping Jared's arm and nodding to Riley. They made their way out of the cafeteria, heading directly to Edward's office. Rose was on their heels, carrying her laptop. She looked pale and tired. I wondered if she was feeling badly about what happened on Saturday.

"Hey, Em, is Rose feeling better?" Alice asked as we walked back to the office.

"Not really, but with the changes in the office, she needed to be here," Emmett explained. "She's on some pretty hefty anti-nausea meds."

"What happened?" I questioned.

"Stomach flu," Emmett answered.

"You should have been home with her yesterday, Emmett," I chided. "Not out with us, having drinks."

"Rose texted me. Her mom was with her at our condo," Emmett explained. "Mommy Hale took care of her baby girl and gave her some much-needed advice about thinking before she spoke." He gave me a look, arching a brow at me. "She's working up the stones to face you again, Bella. She feels awful."

"You know what happened?" I groaned, sitting down at my station.

"We all do," Jasper said. "Emmett told us when we were out with Edward on Sunday. Rose really fucked up and she knows it."

"We all gave her grief after you left with Sue," Alice said sympathetically. "But, we'll talk more about that at lunch tomorrow. We need to discuss the changes in our team. Emmett, don't you have an office to move into?"

"I came early. I'm moved into my new office," Emmett said, his brows pursed. "I just don't want to sit in an empty office. I'll just sit here quietly. While you discuss, I've got resumes I need to peruse to build my team. Unless you want to give me Jasper?"

"Sorry, he's mine. In more ways than one," Alice chirped. "Find your own IT graphic designer."

For an hour, Alice redistributed Emmett's work and discussed how we'd handle the larger workload. Alice and I divided the clients evenly. Jasper would do double duty as the head of our IT and taking over my old position until Alice hired someone to replace me. I also would be assisting Jasper since I had strength in graphic design.

After we got our new assignments, I spent the rest of the morning working on emailing the clients that I had not worked with and that I'd be taking over with my promotion. There was yelling and we all looked up. Jared was stomping back to his office. One of the burly security officers was closely following him.

"Oooh, damn. Jared got the boot," Emmett muttered lowly.

"Are we surprised?" Alice asked. "His little performance at the staff meeting was the straw that broke the camel's back. Highly unprofessional and all sorts of skeevy."

We all watched as Jared was frog marched out of the office, carrying his belongings in a box and wearing an angry scowl on his face. "Bells, I hope you get some details when you go in to sign your promotion paperwork," Jasper said.

"Don't hold your breath," I snorted. The phone rang on my desk. "Isabella Swan?"

"Bella, it's Rose," she said quietly. "Can you please come to Edward's office?"

"Of course," I said. "Do I need anything?"

"Nope," she practically moaned. "Just get here soon."

"I'm on my way," I replied, hanging up the phone and picking up a pen and a leather portfolio I'd gotten from my parents when I graduated from graduate school. I walked to Edward's office. Shelly was sitting at her desk, her lips pursed. "I'm here to see Edward."

"Are you waiting for a personal invitation?" she snapped.

I sighed, shaking my head and I moved to go into his office. "Do you not like me, Shelly?"

"I don't like or dislike you, Ms. Swan," she scoffed.

"Your tone says otherwise. I've done nothing to you," I said. "I've been respectful and you've been snippy toward me. So, what did I do to you?"

"He favors you," Shelly sneered. "You make mistakes and you get special, preferential treatment. You're lazy, working from home. You don't do enough to validate your salary. I don't see what's so great about your work or about you, Ms. Swan."

"Shelly," Edward growled. "I've already fired one person today. I do not want to make it two. Apologize to Ms. Swan or you will be joining Jared on the unemployment line."

She looked at him, her eyes wide. Her hands fumbled on the computer keyboard. She blinked to me, shock coloring her expression. "I'm sorry, Ms. Swan," she said.

"I'll believe it when I see it," I replied.

"I agree," Edward muttered. "Come with me, Bella."

I nodded, following him into his office. Rose was sitting on the sofa, pale as could be and clutching her stomach. "You look like hell, Rose," I said.

"I feel worse. This is Karma for my big mouth on Saturday," she groaned. "After we finish this, I'm going home."

"And staying home until you can keep food down," Edward said, his nose wrinkled. He blinked to the garbage can next to Rose. That's when I smelled the sickly sour scent of vomit. I gulped down some saliva, trying not to throw up. Edward guided me to the far side of the room, sitting next to me. "I'm going to need sage to rid this place of the bad mojo you're spreading."

"I'm sorry," Rose whimpered. "At least I managed to get it into the garbage can."

"Let's put Rose out of her misery," I said.

"Both of us, really," Edward deadpanned. He picked up a file folder and handed it to me. "First off, congratulations. I spoke to Alice after the meeting yesterday and she gave you a glowing review. She was eager to have you as her second in command."

"Why not Jasper?" I asked. "He's been with her longer than I have."

"His skill set is different. Yes, he works with clients, but he's not as dynamic as Alice or you," Edward explained. "The IT guys get paid very well since they make the ideas you come up with sparkle and shine. Though, Alice said you've got a lot graphic design experience and you've been helping Jasper out a great deal. Anyway, this is your new contract. It is an increase in your base salary, plus increased percentage bonuses based on performance and commissions. You also get a stipend if you travel."

"With Katie … I can't really travel …" I began.

"We've taken that into account," Rose said. "You have many people here who are willing to help out with Katie's care. Sue has volunteered to watch her if you need to travel. Alice, Cynthia and I have as well. Though, I'll understand if you don't trust me."

"Bella, we will send Alice first, but if she's unavailable, we'll have to send you. That stipend will obviously cover the cost of your travel, but also any child-care costs, as well," Edward said gently. "Read the contract. Let me know what you think. You can take it home if you want to discuss it with Katie."

"Edward," Rose moaned.

"Go home, Rose," he said. "If I need a third signature, I'll use Shelly like I did for Emmett or pull in Alice."

"Do you need a ride?" I asked.

"My dad is picking me up. I came in with Emmett, trying to catch up on work. Instead, I ended up worshiping the porcelain god until the staff meeting," she replied. "Do not pass go, do not collect $200 … go directly to the emergency room." She picked up her stuff and darted out of the office.

"Would you mind if we relocate? I'm going to call janitorial to have them deep clean my office. The stench …" Edward said, shuddering visibly. I nodded and we left his office. Shelly barely looked up at us as we walked to a small conference room, just outside of the bank of offices. "Much better."

"You may want to load up on vitamins since you spent so much time with Rose, enclosed in the vomitorium," I cringed.

"Noted," he quipped. "Bella, I know that you're hesitant to take this new position."

"It's what I would have had if I started at the advertising firm in Seattle," I said. "With a smaller paycheck, of course. I want it so badly that I can taste it. Hell, I would have killed to be a team leader, but I knew that was not a possibility since I'm still a newbie." I looked at him, staring into his eyes. "Answer this question honestly, Edward. Am I getting preferential treatment? Like Shelly said?"

"Yes," he answered, but put his hands on mine when I bristled. "Because you're doing the work of five people, Bella. Your team is one of the most effective in my employ. You guys have the biggest client list, the highest success rate and largest bonuses. Part of it is due to Alice's leadership, but the rest is up to you. Even when I was being the largest dick in all of dick land, I recognized your hard work."

"The largest dick in all of dick land," I repeated slowly. "I've never heard that before."

"Work with me, Bella," he snorted. "Do you think I would have blindly let you handle the New Moon campaign if I didn't think you couldn't handle it? Alice was ready to step in, but she saw your ideas and how Victoria took to you. I can see you in Alice's position. Hell, I'm freaking out that you might go after my job."

"Nah. All those numbers in the first few slides? I'm not strong in math," I giggled. "For me, a good day is when I look at my bank account and I have money to pay for gas."

"Really?" he asked flatly.

"No, Edward," I snorted. "But, the projections you had on your presentation are far beyond my realm of understanding. I'll go with creating slogans, designing advertising campaigns and making my clients happy."

"So, what's your decision about your promotion, angel?" Edward pressed, taking my hand and threading our fingers underneath the table. "Will you let your MAC family help you?"

"Yes," I breathed, smiling at him. "You got a pen? I left mine in the quarantined area of your office."

He pulled out a pen from his breast pocket, handing it to me. "Congratulations, Ms. Swan, Senior Advertising Executive."

I signed my name with a flourish. "I appreciate the opportunity, Mr. Cullen, CEO of Masen Advertising Corporation."

"Want to celebrate? We can go out to lunch," he said, signing his name beneath mine.

"As tempting as that offer is, I've got a lot of work to do. My boss is a real slave driver," I snickered. "Rain check?"


"I'm going out with Alice," I said. "Celebrating my promotion and partaking in some girl talk."

"Thursday and I won't take no for an answer. I'll pull rank," he said, standing up and helping me to my feet.

"It's a date," I smirked.

"I'll drop off a copy of your new contract to your office before I leave. I'll have Alice sign the paperwork since Shelly may spit on it," Edward grumbled, rolling his eyes. "I'll see you later, Bella."

xx FFADS xx

On Wednesday, lunch turned into a half day of searching for gowns for the New Moon launch party. Alice had cleared the time off with Edward since it was for work. We were representing MAC at the party and we needed to put our best foot forward. I ended up getting a beautiful wine-colored cocktail dress, with a pair of gold strappy heels and a clutch that cost as much as one of my car payments – a gift from Alice, a bonus for a job well-done. Alice found a beautiful periwinkle high-low cocktail dress with silver accessories.

Thursday, I had a long email from Shelly sent to me. She said she tried to find me on Wednesday afternoon, but was told that I was out for a business meeting. The email was a sincere apology for how she acted toward me. I responded back to her, thanking her for her email, but I told her that it would take me some time to truly accept her apology. I needed to see a change in her for me to believe it.

Lunch with Edward was spent in the same conference room where I'd signed my paperwork for my new position. He wanted to take me out, but he had a meeting that he couldn't get out of due a time difference. Regardless of the time, it was nice to spend some time with Edward. Ever since he told me story, he seemed so at ease around me. There were still walls around him with the rest of our coworkers, but with me, he was relaxed. His smiles were genuine, kind. His humor came out, dry and snarky, but incredibly intelligent.

What shocked me was his protective streak. He wanted me and Katie to be safe. It was sweet and I never pegged him to be so caring. Part of it, I think, was due to his childhood. He didn't have that protection so he wanted to make sure the people he cherished for were safe from whatever unknown dangers existed in this world. The other part was his growing attraction between us.

I was very attracted to Edward.

He was undeniably handsome, with thick bronze hair that was always tousled, clear pale skin and crystalline green eyes. However, when I first met him, those eyes were filled with anger, hatred and self-loathing. As our relationship morphed into the friendship we had now, I could see wariness, emptiness and loss. Those emotions were far buried and only came out when he truly felt comfortable.

Edward was tall and lean, obviously in great shape and he could wear a suit like nobody's business. If I had to guess, he probably used exercise as something he could control.

What did I know? I wasn't a therapist. I'd only seen one for a little less than a year.

The following week, the invitations for the New Moon Cosmetics launch party arrived. The invites were art deco inspired, very similar to the aesthetic we'd chosen for the advertising campaign and the website. Alice RSVPed for the entire team, along with our guests. Emmett was bringing Rosalie and Edward said he'd be my date for the evening.

Saturday morning, prior to the week of Thanksgiving, I was shopping at the grocery store. I needed to pick up the ingredients for the sweet potato casserole for Friendsgiving and cheesy potatoes for Thanksgiving at Sue's home. "Bella, can we pick up some pumpkin pie, too?" Katie asked from her spot in the cart. "It's so good."

"Miss Sue is making some, Kit Kat," I said, tossing a package of chopped pecans.

"Is it as good as Mommy's?" Katie mused.

"I don't know. I've never had Miss Sue's pie," I explained, checking my list.

"I have," came a deep voice.

"Mr. Edward!" Katie squealed. "Is Sammy here?"

"They don't let dogs into the grocery store unless they're service animals," Edward answered, strolling up to us. His cart was filled with the fixings for stuffing. "How are you doing, Miss Katie?"

"I'm good. I made you a picture at school. Bella was supposed to give it to you," Katie grinned.

"The turkey? It's on my bulletin board behind my desk at work," Edward answered. "I like the colors you used."

"Yay! I'm happy," she said, clapping her hands.

"You're shopping for the party on Tuesday?" I asked.

"I had to pick up the recipe for stuffing from my mom last night. She said I can prepare it this weekend, freeze it and then cook it on Tuesday morning," he smiled, moving closer to thread our fingers together. "You doing the same?"

"Yeah," I nodded. "I'm doing the same. Hard work now and put it in the oven on Tuesday morning while I get ready. You want to come over and cook together?"

"I like that," he grinned. "I'll swing by my place and pick up Sam. I'm pretty good at following recipes, but this one Is a little over my head."

"Only if I get to borrow your muscles to mash the sweet potatoes," I quipped.

"Deal," he laughed.

"Can I help, too?" Katie asked. "Mommy said I was the best helper!"

"Sounds like a plan," I grinned, brushing my fingers through her curls. We finished shopping and went our separate ways after we'd paid for our supplies. Edward came over to my house and we spent the afternoon cooking, laughing and building new traditions. Katie was a great help and she basked in the attention from both Edward and Sam.

After we made the casseroles, Edward put in an order for pizza and we spent the rest of the evening eating delicious pizza and watching some holiday favorites. Katie was curled between Edward and me, holding my hand and idly petting Sam. The last time I'd seen her this relaxed was prior to my parents' death. She eventually dropped off, her head in my lap.

"How is she doing?" Edward asked, smiling tenderly at her.

"Better. She has her usual moments of crabbiness, but she's not as sad as she used to be," I said, scratching her back. "We've found our groove and we're building a new family here in Chicago. It's not the same as the family I had with my parents. In some ways, it's better. We chose our family. People who are opening up their hearts and homes."

Edward reached over, tucking an errant hair behind my ear. His gaze was tender. "You've wiggled your way into our hearts and homes, angel. Definitely into mine. I'm jealous that Katie is cuddled up to you. I'd rather hold you." His face flushed as his eyes moved to my lips. "Kiss you …"

I closed my eyes, wanting to feel his mouth against mine. The timing, it wasn't right. "I want that, too. However, not while my sister and your dog are cuddled in between us."

He snorted, nodding. "I need a picture of this before I take my overgrown fur child back home." He took out his cell phone and snapped a few pictures of me, Katie and Sammy. He stood up and walked to the kitchen. He walked back into the family room, holding the baking dish with his stuffing. "I'm going to put this in the car and then I'll get Sam."

He darted out of the house before Sam realized that he was gone. Edward came back in, his hair covered in a few snowflakes. "It's snowing?" I asked.

"It just started," he chuckled, rubbing the snow out of his hair. "There was a chance." He picked up Sam's leash and crouched down, attaching the leash to Sam's collar. "Come on, bub. Time to go home."

Sam huffed, snuggling closer to Katie and me. Edward gave Sam a rub and the dog eventually dragged his body off the couch. His tail wagged as he gently licked my fingers. "Be a good boy, Sam," I giggled, scrubbing behind his ears.

"I think he loves you guys more than me," Edward pouted.

"He loves the treats that Katie gives him," I argued. "Drive safely back home. Call me or text once you get inside?"

"Always, angel," he said, leaning down and kissed my cheek. It was so tempting to just turn my face to feel his lips against mine. He pulled back, cupping my chin and turning my face to his. "Thank you for today. It was a lot of fun." His thumb caressed my lower lip. He moved closer, but blew out a breath as he took a step back. "Our date … good things come to those who wait."

"Yeah," I replied breathily.

"Sleep well, angel. I'll call you when I get back home," he grinned, gently tugging on Sam who had sat down. "Come on, buddy. Walk then home. Lock the door, Bella. I don't want anything to happen to you or to Katie."

"I will," I nodded. He ducked out of the house with a crooked grin. I got up and locked the door, leaning against the wood. Looking at Katie, who was still asleep, I sighed, "I'm so in trouble, Kit Kat. I think I love him already."

She didn't wake up, but replied to my statement. "Me, too."

xx FFADS xx

"Did you see the cafeteria?" Alice asked, whirling into the office like a tornado. "It looks perfect! Elegant, but rustic and chic."

"Breathe, Alice," I giggled. "I did see the cafeteria. When I dropped off my sweet potato casserole. Didn't you set that up?"

"I purchased the supplies and had every intention of setting it up this morning. Carole and her crew set everything up for us, using what I'd left in the cafeteria. Can I ask a huge favor of you, Bella?" Alice asked. "I'd ask Jasper, but he's at home, trying to salvage his mama's sweet potato pie. It's not going well."

"What do you need?" I asked. "I don't have much scheduled for today. Just some polish work for the vitamin campaign that's launching after the new year."

"Awesome! Can you go around and collect some money to give to Carole and her crew as a tip and as a thank you? Whatever they can contribute would be great," Alice asked. She handed me an envelope. "I've already put in $50."

"Got it," I smiled, tugging out my bag and tossing in the same amount from my wallet. "I'll get started on this. Do you want to put in money for Jasper?"

"Right," Alice said, putting some more money. "He can pay me back in orgasms."

"Didn't need to know that," I groaned, getting up and walking around the office. I got money from almost everybody. The few hold outs were Riley, who appeared to be in a grumpy, Grinchy mood since Jared had been canned and Sarah, who didn't have cash. I told her I'd cover her and she could pay me back once we got back from the long weekend. She hugged me in appreciation. My last stop was Emmett's new office. "Knock, knock …"

"Hey, Bells," he beamed as he got up and hugged me. "I want to introduce you to Sophie. She's my senior advertising executive. She transferred here from another company in the building."

"Welcome to MAC," I grinned. "Is today your first day?"

"My official first day is December first," Sophie answered. "But, Emmett invited me to Friendsgiving so I could meet my new coworkers."

"Well, I'm Bella and also a senior advertising executive. I took over for Emmett when he got promoted to his own team," I said.

"I've heard a lot about you. Emmett's showed me your work and you are very talented," Sophie grinned. "The New Moon promotional materials are sleek, glossy, but approachable and necessary."

"Thank you," I blushed.

"It was all Bella who did that work," Emmett said proudly. "Are you certain you don't want to come over to my team?"

"Tempting, but no," I snickered. "How have the interviews been going for your team?"

"They're going," he shrugged. "At least I have Sophie to help me with the rest of the interviews. Now, what's up?"

"With all of the work that Carole and her team did, I'm collecting some money for a tip," I said. "You're one of my last stops."

"Who else do you need to get?" Sophie asked.

"Rose, Shelly and Edward," I answered. "Rose is the head of human resources and Emmett's girlfriend. Shelly is the administrative assistant to our CEO, Edward Cullen."

"Here, Bells," Emmett said, handing me $100. "That's for both of us."

"I can give my own tip, Emmett," Sophie argued. She reached into her purse, giving me some cash.

"You're not even an employee yet," I snickered.

"I brought food and as far as I'm concerned, I'm an employee," Sophie sighed, thrusting a couple of twenties to me.

"Thank you, Sophie. I think you'll fit in here perfectly," I grinned. "You'll keep Emmett on his toes."

"That's why I hired her," Emmett grinned.

"Well, I'm going to bug Rose, Shelly and Edward. Thank you, both, for your contributions," I said, ducking out of the office and walking to Rose's office. I knocked on her door and she beckoned me inside. "Hey, Rose."

She looked at me, her lips pursed. "How are you doing, Bella?"

"Better than you, it would appear. Is everything okay?" I asked.

"Mother fucking Jared," she sneered. "He's suing MAC for wrongful termination." She pulled out a thick file. "LOOK at all that documentation? All of these are infractions! Wrongful termination. He's lucky he got a severance package. If anything, he should have been fired and paid us money. Happy fucking Thanksgiving, mother fucker."

"Tell me how you really feel," I snickered. "I'm sorry."

"Not your fault. I've already spoken to our legal counsel and his case doesn't hold merit," Rose sighed. "I'm just pissed at that ass clown to think that he had a snowball's chance in hell that he'd get paid anything. What's up?"

"Money for Carole and the cafeteria ladies," I said.

Rose held up a finger, getting up and taking some money out of her wallet. "Do you need any more?"

"This is fine, Rose. Thank you," I smiled. "I hope everything goes well with the Jared's case and that it gets thrown out."

"Me, too. But, don't say anything. Jared, in order to get a severance package, had to sign an NDA. I kind of broke that," Rose said with a grimace.

"Mum's the word," I said. I ducked out of her office and spoke briefly to Shelly. She had turned a corner with me, but I still didn't trust her. She donated money and sent me into Edward's office. I could tell that he was preoccupied. Undoubtedly, it was probably about the lawsuit, but I didn't bring it up. I couldn't. He gave me whatever cash he had in his wallet, but I left him to deal with that situation.

Back in our office, Alice and I counted the cash and we had about $3500 from all the donations. We divided up the cash for the four ladies, putting them into an envelope for each of the cafeteria workers. We made our way to the cafeteria, giving them the envelopes and they all cried at our generosity. With hugs and more tears, we walked back to our office and did some work until we got the email that Friendsgiving was ready to go from Edward.

Our plates were piled high with food and we were all settled at elegant tables set up around the room. Edward was the last person to come in and his eyes found mine. He made his plate, settling it next to me. He used the wine glass to get everyone's attention. "I'll keep this brief," he chuckled. "In my family, before Thanksgiving dinner, we'd go around and say what we were the most thankful for. I was hoping that you'd indulge me as I share what I'm most thankful for. Then, you all can enjoy your lunch and the rest of the afternoon is yours.

"This year had been challenging for me, personally. A year ago, I had very little to be thankful for, but now? I'm starting to see I have a lot to be thankful for. There are three things that I'm thankful for. The first thing I'm thankful for is friendship and the growing friendships I'm seeing in this room. The second thing I'm thankful for is second chances." He blinked to me, giving me a brief grin. "The final thing is family. A friend of mine said to me recently that you have two families. One is the family you're born into. The other family is the one that you choose. Your chosen family is so special because you share love and respect for each other. I feel honored that you all have chosen to be a part of the Masen Advertising Corporation to be your work family.

"Everyone, raise your glasses. To friends, second chances and family, both born and chosen," Edward breathed. "May you all have an amazing Thanksgiving. Cheers!" He sat down, taking a sip of the wine.

"That was beautiful, Edward," Alice said. "My family does a similar thing."

"So did we," I said. "We had to remind Katie that things we were thankful for were not physical things. Stuff like family and time together."

"What was the craziest thing she was thankful for?" Emmett asked.

"All her dolls, her ballet tutu, the purple sparkly barrette for her hair," I snorted. "Though, I think that she understands why we would say we were thankful for family. Yes, we're building a new family, but it's not the same as before – different traditions and obviously different location."

"We need to make new traditions," Rose said. "Like Friendsgiving."

Jasper, who had arrived while I was out getting money for the cafeteria staff, held up his wine glass. "To new traditions, new friendships and new family."

We echoed his sentiment, clinking our glasses together. Edward held my eyes as he smiled at me tenderly, "And to new relationships."

"Cheers to that," I whispered to him, touching my glass to his. "Happy Thanksgiving, Edward. I'm very thankful for you."

"Do you know how hard it is to not kiss you right now?" he asked.

"Very much so," I smirked.

A/N: So, what do you think? Leave me your thoughts …

Up next will be the first date. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poll in my group in which POV you preferred the first date. So, the next chapter will be in that POV. We'll also start building those new traditions.

Pictures from this chapter are on my blog. You can access that through a link on my profile. I'm also on Facebook: Tufano79's Twilight Fanfiction Appreciation. I'm on twitter, too: tufano79. Thank you for reading!

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