Driving Forces Chapter 3
For an entire month I’ve been assistant to Ms. Cullen, and it's incredible; the best job I have ever held. The family environment is more than entertaining. I learned the headache from my first day is Emmett Cullen, brother number one. He oversees the entertainment department of Cullen Enterprises. Brother number two is Jasper Cullen. He is vice president of the advertising and arts department. Brother three is a step brother, but a brother all the same, Seth Cullen. His department is the financial section.
And each of them fears Bella. I don’t think she is the oldest, but she is the one that they listen to.
I gather up the paperwork from a contract deal that needs one final look-over and knock on her door frame. If there is one thing that I know about Bella, she is dedicated. And children seem to melt the icy look she holds every day. I still shy away from almost every woman that works here. Even with Bella I tend to keep a good distance. I wonder sometimes if she notices when she tries to touch me how I flinch away. If she does, she doesn’t seem to care.
“Yes.” She looks up from her computer. She looks young right now with her hair down and just a touch of natural makeup.
“Here are the papers you wanted me to type up for Emmett.” I walk in, handing her the file and keeping my eyes down.
She shuffles the papers around as she reads over them. “These look really good.”
I can’t help but look up as she praises me. She has a soft smile and I can't help but return one back.
“This is extremely well-written and edited. Have you considered taking some classes to help you better understand the legal aspect?” She leans her elbows on her desk, her eyes boring into mine.
My thoughts are a mile a minute, and I blink. “I don’t think I would be smart enough, Ms. Cullen.” I have my hands in my pockets trying not to let her see the anxiety that’s rising inside me.
Standing up slowly, she walks around her desk, keeping a respectful distance from me, and leans against it. “Edward, you don’t ever ask me any questions about any of the legal terms or jargon that are written in these documents.”
I shrug my shoulders, trying not to blush. “I Google it, mostly, Ms. Cullen.”
Her brow raises. “Even with Google, it's difficult to understand fully. I think you would do wonderfully taking some classes and maybe doing some legal aid work. Think about it, okay?”
I nod my head and leave her office. I sit, letting all the air out of my lungs. I can’t believe she really thinks I could take college classes. Me in college classes… The loud booming voice of Emmett breaks me out of my cloud of thoughts.
“Edward, my man.” His dimpled smile matches his enthusiastic voice.
“Hey, Emmett, what can I do for you?” I shuffle some things around on my desk to keep my hands busy.
Placing his hands on my desk, he leans forward. “It’s Friday and us fun people are going out to the local spot, please say you’ll come.”
Anxiety builds so quickly that sweat pours out of me. “I don’t know, Emmett…” I try to hurry up with some form of an excuse. “I don’t have a sitter for Emma.”
Emmett stands up. “Bells, can you add the lovely Emma to the hoard of kids tonight so this overworked gentleman can come out with us fun folk.” His voice is easily loud enough for her to hear.
The heels clicking on the floor seem to echo in my mind as my heart pumps in my ears.
“I would love to have Emma-bear with all the kids.” I look up at hearing the light-hearted voice Ms. Cullen uses when she talks about children.
I swallow hard, knowing I need to call Alistair to talk me into this. He has been telling me I need to go out with adults and socialize again. Turning to Ms. Cullen, I ask, “Are you sure, I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed.”
Her smile is radiant. “I’m positive. Go have fun, you deserve it. Emma will be in very safe hands.”
Biting my lip, I see no real way out if it. “Alright, I guess I’ll be there.”
Emmett fists pumps. “Fred’s down the block at five.”
I nod my head as he leaves. Fuck, fuck!
Bella hands over a stack of folders. “Could you please get my father to sign these, and these are for Seth, before you head out to lunch.”
I blink, startled by the change back to her professional voice. “Of course, Ms. Cullen.” I take the papers from her, moving away from my desk.
“If at all possible, make sure they actually read them.” She rolls her eyes and I can’t help but laugh. She joins in.
“I know, I know.”
Walking away, chuckling still, I think about the fact that every time she has sent me to get signatures she wants them to read the documents, but no matter what I say, or she says, they never do.
I take the elevator to the top floor where Charlie Cullen’s executive office is. I hear childish giggles and Mr. Cullen’s baritone laugh as I walk up to his office. Charlie Cullen is a family man to the core, which is probably why all of his children work for him. He is also one of the most honest people I have met outside Ms. Cullen. Mr. Cullen has peppered gray hair, heavy on the gray around his temples, wearing a slick suit but tennis shoes on his feet. Wrinkling around his mouth and eyes are the proof of how much he smiles.
His assistant isn’t at her desk, signaling that I can walk up to his door. Knocking on his wooden door frame, I see that he has visitors.
“Edward! I take it my daughter has papers that need to be signed.” His chuckling smile gets me smiling as well.
I walk over, ignoring the heavily built man with the dark fade haircut. “I would like to remind you to please read this before signing it.”
His laugh echoes through the office, causing the little girl in his lap to clap happily. “Love, please take Sara.”
His wife has copper skin, much like her son Seth, with long dark hair that is currently braided down her back. She comes over to grab the cute little girl off his lap.
“Come, little one, your mommy is waiting for you.” Mrs. Cullen takes the little girl who has a strong resemblance to the hulking male figure that’s standing by the door now.
Mr. Cullen takes the papers and begins to look them over when the gentleman speaks. “Wow, Charlie actually reading the papers, that has to be a first.” The teasing tone of the man’s voice doesn’t look like it sits well with Mr. Cullen.
His top lip curls up in a snarl and Mr. Cullen's eyes darken as they flicker to the guy.
“I don’t know why you think you can talk to me. The only reason you’re walking and talking is because of that little girl right there.” The venom in his voice makes me cringe and thank God that I'm not on the other end of it.
The man has darker skin but his face drains of that color and he walks out the door, not looking back as Mrs. Cullen gives her husband a knowing look. She follows the man out with the toddler.
I keep my eyes to the floor as Mr. Cullen shuffles the papers, and by the sounds of the mumbling and the thumps on his desk, I’m going to assume the man pissed of my boss’s boss.
I hear a huff, triggering me to look at Mr. Cullen.
“I’m sorry, Edward, the boy tends to put me out of sorts.” He leans back in his chair, handing the papers back to me.
I shrug, “It's okay, sir.”
He chuckles. “You heading to lunch now?”
I shake my head. “No, I need Seth to sign a few things, but then I am.”
Nodding his head, he says, “Have a good day.”
Smiling, I reply, “You too, sir.”
Before leaving the office, Ms. Cullen, she keeps reminding me to call her Bella, gave me her address to drop Emma off to her. Driving up her driveway is a wake up call on how wealthy Ms. Cullen is. The driveway is hidden amongst trees and after a few minutes we come up to a large brick house, mansion is the only word that comes to mind, with a huge yard. I can picture Emma running and playing, maybe chasing a dog.
I park the car and I just stare, my heart pumping loudly in my ears.
“Its okay, Daddy. I like Miss Bella, and lots of the kids from daycare will be here,” my daughter’s sweet voice reassures me.
Chuckling because I needed to hear that, I get out of the car and help Emma out. The woman who opens the door is not the one I see in the office every day. Bella is in yoga pants and a tank top, her hair pulled into a ponytail and a sparkly crown on top of her head. Her eyes are bright with life and her smile could light up a room.
“Miss Emma, we were waiting for you to start our pizza party.” She bends down to talk to my princess.
Emma is smiling widely. “Really?”
Bella nods her head. “Head on in.”
My girl doesn’t hesitate and runs in, forgetting to say goodbye to me. “I guess I’m chopped liver,” I chuckle, rubbing my neck.
Her eyes sweep over me. “It tends to happen,” she replies, chuckling.
I continue to stand awkwardly, not ready to leave. Bella leans against the doorway crossing her arms. “Are you okay?”
Shaking my head, I answer, “Just nervous.”
She nods her head. “You have my number and it's okay to make it short. Go out for an hour and come back and get her.”
I swallow hard, remembering Al’s encouraging words and now hers. “Thank you. I’ll see you in awhile.”
She gives me a little wave as she shuts the door.
The entire drive to Fred’s I'm doing my breathing exercises and telling myself that I can do this. And I hate myself because I have to do these things just to socialize.
The noise and smell of the place really puts me in a bad mindset, but I continue further in until I see Emmett and the others from work. And there are a lot of people, women, here. My chest begins to tighten as I move closer. I can do this. Nothing bad will happen.
Emmett sees me first and hollers my name, which causes a bunch of people to stare at me. I feel the heat rise to my face.
There's Jasper and his wife, Alice; Seth is here with Claire; and then there is the doppelganger, Emmett’s wife, Rose. There are also some different people from their departments and two of them are ones who I don’t know.
Taking a seat near Jasper, I give a small wave. Jasper smiles back.
“I’m glad you came, man.”
I smile shyly, shaking my head and trying to keep the fear from my voice. “Yeah.”
The night progresses with the alcohol flowing and I continue to sip on my coke. Most of the group is dancing and chatting a lot. Currently, I find myself sitting with Claire, Alice, and Rose. I’m learning she's nothing like what I thought her to be. She is kind, loving, and easy to talk to about parenting, which is the topic of discussion amongst us right now. I’m smiling and very much enjoying the company, surprisingly enough. It's shocking how much in common I have with them.
A woman sits on my lap in the middle of the conversation and all I can smell is alcohol.
“You are so fucking hot.” Her hands are in my hair as my body begins to shake, blood pumping in my ears. Oblivious, she leans closer and slurs, “Take me home.”
All I smell is the alcohol on her breath as she grinds herself into me. The rising panic makes me jump up, causing her to fall the floor, cussing me out.
I try not to fall into the blackness of pain and yelling. My body is shaking as voices all around me start saying my name.
“Emma, please, I need to see her.”