Bella Cullen was about to have everything she had worked toward until she lost the two most important things in her life. Vice president of the legal department in her family's business, she tries to bury her pain in work. All of that changes the day she meets a man that has obviously suffered from a serious trauma. Edward Swan is more than shy; he's scared of everything. Bella doesn't know what happened to the endearing man, but she vows to help him and his young daughter in any way she can, starting with hiring him as her personal assistant. Little does she know they'll soon become the driving force in her life.
I rub my temples as I kick yet another potential assistant out the door.
I am the vice president of the legal department of Cullen Enterprises. I make up the entire legal department, so it’s not like I have a ton of subordinates, but that also means I do all the work. My dad is the CEO and founder. Along with me, my three brothers are VP’s of the various departments of the company. With so much on my plate, I need an assistant to help me keep my shit straight.
“Swan,” I holler for the next interview. At this moment I don’t care how harsh I sound. I'm pissed at the insanity I’ve had to deal with this morning. What I need to be doing is working on the mountain of papers that need my attention, not coddling applicants that think they can chew gum or wear t-shirts to an interview.
I pull out the resume of Edward Anthony Swan. His employment history is substantial with lots of recommendations, but the downfall is that he hasn’t been an assistant.
Edward walks in wearing a blue button-down shirt and black jeans. His hair is scattered everywhere and he has startling green eyes. I can detect a few small scars on his strong jawline. Attached to his hand is the cutest little girl.
He nervously puts his hand out. “Ms. Cullen, thank you for having me here today.”
I take his hand with a firm shake. I am impressed with his approach; he is the first one to properly greet me. “Thank you for coming. Let’s sit and get to it.”
He sits down in one of my chairs and his little girl takes the other. She puts headphones on and looks at her tablet.
“I reviewed your resume, Mr. Swan. You have a remarkable work history and your references praise you left and right. But what surprises me is that you have no office experience. What makes you think you would be a good fit as my assistant?”
He clears his throat. His hands are noticeably shaking. “I'm good for this position because I am a hard worker, I am organized, and a quick learner.” His voice reminds me of warm honey, but there’s a hint of fear.
I nod my head and look at him. His eyes hold mine even though his bouncing knee tells me he wants to run from the room. I look down at his paperwork. Everything inside me tells me he is the guy. My gut instinct has gotten me far.
“Do you have questions for me?” I fold my hands on top of my desk.
He shifts in his seat, wiping his palms on his jeans. “I wanted to talk about what hours I would work, and I saw that you had an on-site daycare that’s free to employees.”
He could be an amazing employee if he had confidence. “Yes, a daycare is on site. It's all in your employment package when you're hired. The hours you will work are eight to four. There are days I don’t leave here until eight at night. There will be occasions I will need you to stay with me."
I watch his shoulders fall. “On Thursdays, I have—” He fidgets in his seat, not meeting my eyes. “There is a group meeting I need to attend.”
My brows pull together. “Are you an addict, recovering or otherwise?”
His eyes meet mine and widen. “No! I can take a drug test if you need me to."
I lean back in my chair, completely puzzled at what kind of meetings he would be going to. “I will make sure you are out in time on Thursdays. I will have you take a drug test down in HR, but that’s not to say I don’t believe you, it’s just routine for new employees.”
His face relaxes, and he smiles lightly, showing how gorgeous he is.
I clear my throat. “I want to offer you the position, and would like you to start immediately. Would tomorrow be too soon for you?” I look at him expectantly.
He nods. “I can, but I do need the services of the daycare. It’s just my daughter and me," he whispers the last part.
I smile. “Well, let’s go over and you can meet the daycare workers, and she can see the facility. Then we will stop over at the HR department and get you started on that paperwork, and get your badge and computer log-in. And set up a corporate account, also," I start rattling off everything and his eyes get wider and wider as I list his benefits package.
At this point, his little girl takes her headphones off her ears. “We done, Daddy, you get the job?”
He smiles, kneeling in front of her. “I think so, baby girl. We’re going to go to the daycare, where you’ll hang out while I’m working.”
Her green eyes that match her father's land on me with a big smile and then go back to her dad. “Okay.”
Mr. Swan stands up and his eyes fall to the ground as I walk around my desk. I see another scar on the back of his neck.
What the hell happened to this man?
I open the door, looking back and making sure they are following along as I lead them over to the daycare. His eyes stay on his little girl as he follows me over to the elevator and to the bottom floor where the daycare is located. The whole elevator ride down they whisper to each other quietly and giggle. He hasn’t taken his phone out once, either, unlike the other candidates. We reach the main level and walk down the hall to the daycare.
As I reach for my keycard to let me in the door, I turn to Edward. “To get in or out you will need a keycard. You’ll get one once we have...” I look down to his mini-me in little girl form.
“Emma.” He smiles while saying her name and swings her arm back and forth, making her giggle.
The giggling pangs at my heart. I quickly push it down deep and enter the daycare. The first thing to hit us is the screaming and laughing as we walk into the center.
“Bella!” My sister-in-law, Rose, calls to me, holding my one-year-old niece on her hip.
I smile wide at my niece, taking her from Rose. “Hey, my little Lilly.” I kiss her cheek.
Rose chuckles. “No wonder they never want to be home with you spoiling them like this.”
I snort, changing the subject. “Rose, my new assistant, Edward, and his daughter, Emma. Emma needs to start coming here tomorrow.”
At this point, I look toward Emma, who is clinging to Edward and burying her face into his leg. He's pale and unable to make eye contact.
Rose looks at me, mouthing what’s wrong?
I shake my head, unsure. “Mr. Swan, are you okay?”
He swallows so loudly I can hear it. “Ms. Cullen, um, may I-I speak to you in private?”
His voice sounds very scared. I give Rose a look, and she walks away.
Emma nudges her dad. He looks up with haunted eyes that flick to Rose and then back to me. “I’m very sorry, it’s just that she reminds me of someone.” The words seem stuck in his throat as his mouth flattens into a grim line.
“We can set it up so that you have minimal contact with her until you feel comfortable,” I say with finality.
He gives me a hopeful look. “I don’t want to cause any trouble.” Biting his bottom lip, his green eyes look haunted with something from the past.
I shake my head, waving off his concerns about being any trouble. “It's no trouble to make sure you and your daughter are comfortable here at Cullen Enterprises.”
He gives me a timid smile. “Thank you.”
We continue to Angela, the daycare administrator, and get him the paperwork for Emma. Then we head to human resources, where I set him up with Heather to get his paperwork done so he can start work tomorrow.
When I get back to my office, Rose is waiting for me.
“What happened to him?”
I shake my head. “No fucking clue. But until he gets to know you better, I need you to bounce between the daycare and Emmett’s office, avoiding drop-off and pick-up times.”
“Okay, that isn’t a problem.” I have never been more grateful for my sister-in-law.
I make plans with her for her girls to stay with me later and get to work on the mountain of paperwork waiting for me. As I try to focus, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the two of them. What would it take to make a full grown man cower as he did?
I leave the office at seven and head home. My house is two stories in the middle of nowhere. Perfect for a family. A family that I won’t have.
I wipe the tears away angrily as I enter the foyer and ignore the emptiness that fills me. Walking into the big kitchen to get something to eat, I picture my ex standing at the stove, whistling carefree tunes and making me dinner.
Jake loved to cook and make healthy food for me while I was… I stop that train of thought. I can’t go there again.