A/N: Thank yous to my contest team which includes my daughter, NKubie, and Midnight Cougar.
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Fallin’ For You,” Colbie Caillat
(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
Over the next three weeks, I contact one of my former professors in College Station, seeking his advice that leads me to reaching out to Jason again, but this time for his legal expertise. Edward never misses an opportunity for us to see one another when he’s home and calls while on the road for away games. Through our late night conversations, our budding relationship deepens. He listens patiently whenever I need to vent about Paul or practice my pitch for my upcoming meeting with Sam.
When I enter the office on the Friday before Thanksgiving, Rose is already behind the desk. She knows I’m meeting with Sam later today, but not what the meeting is about, despite her best efforts to wheedle it out of me. After a bustling morning full of patients, the office quiets around noon with everyone working only a half-day. Once I’m alone with my racing thoughts, my confidence wanes slightly. I look over the paperwork and wonder if I’m asking for too much. Even though Edward has an “after hours” appointment later to have his splint removed, he calls reassuring me with a quick pep talk before Sam’s arrival.
“Bella, how are you?” Sam strolls into my office, giving me a brief hug before taking a seat in the chair across from me.
“I’m good. We’ve been busy, but that’s always welcomed. How are Emily and the kids?”
“They’re great. While I’ve cut back on my hours, our number of new patients is on the rise and the practice is growing. When I brought up being here more, she wasn’t happy.”
I nod, release a deep breath, and tamp down my nervousness, because it’s the opening I need. “And that’s something I would like to talk about too.”
“Oh?” He shifts in the chair, getting comfortable.
“Yes, I want to talk about my future here. When I took the job as an associate, I began with only a handshake and no written documentation about either of our expectations for the future. After almost six years, I’m handling the brunt of the workload.”
“Our patients love you, Bella. Your work is top-notch and you’re probably the reason for our surge in business. You’ve exceeded my expectations here, obviously.”
“Then why doesn’t my pay reflect my seniority or expertise?”
“What are you saying?”
“Paul works less but is paid more. Do you disagree?”
He scrambles for the answer. “Well, I don’t have the numbers in front of me.”
“I’m not looking for exact figures, but Sam, I’m not going to mince words. I like it here and all the improvements you’ve made since I was hired. I love everything about my job, but I’m going to need more if you want me to stay.”
I slide the documents Jason prepared across the desk. “I’m proposing an associate buy-in. These are purchase, partner, and operating agreements. I hope you’ll consider signing each, but please take some time to look over everything. I’m willing to negotiate the timeframe and numbers, but if you don’t see this working out, I understand and would like to pursue a partnership elsewhere. I think it’s the best move for me, but it should be for you too.”
“What about Paul?”
“I believe moving forward, it’s in our best interest to hire an associate who would rather be here than the golf course. I suspect he wants to retire before you.”
Sam huffs with disbelief while he flips through the pages, but I know once he looks at the numbers, he will understand I’m an asset while AWOL Paul brings little to the table.
“I’ve been here for over 20 years and . . . I don’t know, Bella. This is a lot to consider. Let me think about it.”
“Sure. I hope we can work something out, but if you’re more comfortable with Paul, I’ll respect that decision too.”
“Okay. I need to talk with Emily and I’ll be in touch.”
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
I’m a nervous wreck after my meeting, thinking I did better than I feel. I notice a text from Rose to call her, but I call Jason first, giving him the details of how it went. His reassurance puts me at ease, and I conclude he’s definitely a better lawyer than a boyfriend. The thought of my boyfriend puts a smile on my face, and before Edward arrives, I call Rose.
She starts speaking immediately. “Is it something bad? Are you leaving?”
I chuckle. “I don’t know.”
“I knew it! If you leave, I will too. I’m not staying there without you. Paul’s an idiot and Sam checked out after hiring you both. He should just retire. It would make Emily happy.”
“Tell me what you really think, Rose, and don’t hold back.” I giggle while she continues.
“You could start your own practice and at least half of our patients would follow you. So . . .?”
“I proposed an associate buy-in. Jason drafted the agreements to weigh heavily in my favor.”
“Jason, the lawyer?”
“Will wonders never cease?”
“He laid out a plan, and we’ll work from there if Sam wants to negotiate because we have room to move.”
“What about Paul?”
“I suggested terminating him.”
“Yes!” she whisper-yells. “Holy shit, Bella. That’s fucking awesome!”
“He’s bad for business, and if Sam looks closely, the numbers will support letting him go.”
“You’re so badass right now. I want to kiss you.”
I chuckle. “Sam hasn’t signed the papers, but we’ll see what he says after taking time to look over the proposal. If he does, then I’m sure my first job as partner will be to fire Paul.”
“I’d like to be there for that, and no matter what Sam decides, this is a step in the right direction—for you.”
The closing of our main office door gets my attention, and moments later, Edward appears in my doorway.
“I’ve got to go.”
“My brother’s there?”
“Yes, my afternoon appointment just arrived.” My attempt at maintaining any professional composure falters at the sight of him, because after a month, the flutters are stronger than ever.
Recognizing her voice on speakerphone, his eyes dance with mischief and my favorite crooked grin tugs at his lips.
“Lock the door.” Rose snickers, but before I can reply, she ends the call.
“Hey.” I smile and inwardly sigh.
Edward’s dazzling gaze charms me instantly as he closes the distance between us.
“Hey yourself,” he says, pausing when our lips are but a breath apart.
“Do you kiss your dentist with that mouth?” I whisper cheekily.
“Every chance I get.” His grin widens, matching mine, then he captures my lips tenderly over and over.
In a season marked by some of my favorite things: falling leaves, pumpkins, and cooler temperatures, this one is extra special. There’s no denying I’m falling for him a little more each day as he makes every effort to win my heart.
I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be than caught in my favorite spider’s web as we look toward the future—weaving one together.
A/N: Awww… This chapter is shorter than those on the horizon, but this is where the one shot ends. Next week, Chapter 6 is all new, picking up right here at Edward’s appointment with his POV. Happy Holidays! Thanks for reading. xx