“Good morning, Washington. It’s going to be a rainy one today…” I didn’t hear anymore of the announcer’s gloomy prospects for the District’s weather, as I slammed my hand on the alarm. I opened my eyes and stared around my room.
It was too cold to get up, but I knew I had to make it out of bed and into the shower. I hastily removed my blanket, stuffing my feet into slippers as I threw them over the side of the bed. I took my towel from the door and made my way down the hall to the bathroom.
I lived in a house with three roommates. Rosalie, Alice, Jessica and I had all graduated from the University of Washington and moved to Washington, DC. Jessica and I shared one bathroom, while Alice and Rose shared the other. Alice figured she wouldn’t feel as awkward sharing Rose’s bathroom, given that Emmett, Rosalie’s boyfriend, was her brother and she had shared a bathroom with him for 18 years.
Jessica was not awake yet, so I had plenty of time in the bathroom to myself. I turned on the light and looked at my reflection in the mirror. My brown hair was unruly in the morning, especially in the drying winter of DC. It was a change from Forks and Seattle—as DC typically had more snow than rain, which made the air a bit different. It was definitely different from the very dry, hot climate of Arizona, where I had lived until I was 17 and moved to Forks to live with my dad.
I took my time, savoring the warmth of the water in the chill of the March morning. We had been having an unusually wet and cold spring, but I didn’t mind. It reminded me of Forks. After my shower, I stepped out and wiped the mirror down with my towel. I ran a brush through several times and blow dried it to get most of the dampness out of it. I then pulled it up into a ponytail and fastened it with a clip.
Back in my room I dressed, choosing a black pencil skirt, pink blouse, and black pumps. It was my usual work attire, but I always felt awkward in skirts and feminine colors. By now, Jessica was in the shower and I went downstairs for my usual bowl of cereal. Alice was already downstairs, dressed in a fashionable dress and pumps, and smiling.
“Good morning, Bella!” she said between bites of her eggs. She had the morning edition of the Washington Post in her hand, turned to the fashion and celebrity page. Her spiky hair always made her look spunky yet feminine, and I was usually jealous of her seemingly never-ending good hair days.
“Hi, Alice. Anything interesting happening in the world?” I asked her as I grabbed my cereal and a bowl from the cupboard and took a seat next to her at the counter. She laughed.
“Nothing I haven’t heard before.” Alice was a fashion consultant at a fashion magazine. She majored in marketing but had an eye for fashion, It was a perfect fit. “Are you off soon?” she asked, glancing at the clock as she polished off her piece of toast.
“Yep,” I said, taking my last bite as I stood up, putting my dishes in the dishwasher. “See you later, my dear!” I pecked her hair and she laughed.
I grabbed my coat from the hall closet and my purse from the entry table. Our house was an old row house in historic Dupont Circle. It was only a 5 minute walk to the metro station, which was a large part of the reason we chose it. The fact that both Alice and Rose’s parents were loaded helped, too, as they could shoulder a larger part of the rent. Houses in the area easily go for over a million dollars.
I locked the door behind me and started down Q Street. I waved at some of my neighbors, though it was early and most weren’t out yet. Alice and I left by 6am, as both of our jobs required early attendance. Rose was a lobbyist for an auto labor union, so she typically did not need to be in the office until the start of the legislative day, which was around 9am. Jessica was in graduate school, studying biology.
And then there was me, Bella Swan. I worked as the deputy communications director for one of the senators from Washington, Carlisle Cullen.
Carlisle had given up a lucrative medical practice to run for office. Health care was becoming a bigger issue on the federal political scene, and as he was on several medical boards and health insurance advisory committees. Most politicians in Washington thought he would be an excellent candidate for the open Senate seat. He did not have any political experience, but he was well known in the major Washington cities, especially Seattle. He had easily won the seat, as the incumbent was retiring.
I had known Carlisle for years, as he used to be my physician. When I graduated with dual degrees in political science and English, and had no job offers, he brought me on board his campaign staff. I was just an aide at first, but he quickly recognized my talent for tactful reconciliation of office conflicts and creative solutions to politically poisonous problems. Once he was elected, he promoted me (and nearly doubled my salary) to the position of communications staffer. A year later, I was promoted again to deputy communications director.
Shaking myself out of my reverie, I turned the corner onto New Hampshire Ave and walked the half-block to the metro station. I rounded the circle, waiting as needed at traffic lights, and stepped lightly down the escalator. A light drizzle had started, but it was nothing I much bothered at. My position did not require photographs or television appearances, so I never much minded if I looked a bit frazzled. The truth was, I usually felt frazzled, so looking that way wasn’t so surprising.
I tapped my SmarTrip card on the machine and crossed the barrier. A train was just pulling in, so I quickly took the second escalator to the platform and grabbed a seat on the train. I stuck my ear buds in, flipped on my iPod, and looked around me. My trip was entirely below ground, so there was nothing to see out the window, but I enjoyed watching people. Usually at this hour it was business people – often political analysts or those who worked in Congress, like me. After two stops, I got off and went to the lower platform where I could transfer from the red line to the orange or blue lines. Both would take me to my destination.
A few moments later, a train approached while I stood waiting. The passengers exited and I stepped on. A man brushed past me and took the seat in front of me just as I was about to sit. Though it was early, it was crowded, and I said, “Excuse me, I was about to sit there.”
The man looked up at me and snickered. “Yes, well, you didn’t. So I did,” he said arrogantly and put his headphones in. I felt my face blush pink and held the bar instead, turning from him so I did not need to look at him. A couple of people looked at me sympathetically, with some of the older men, who had offered seats to ladies, giving the man glares. He blatantly ignored them.
I got off at Capital South, which is only a few blocks from the Senate and House Office Buildings. The man got up as well, brushing past be again and knocking me over. One of the older men who had glared at him caught me and righted me. I smiled and thanked him, but the man just waved his hand dismissively.
“Apparently, chivalry is dead in the new generation,” he said lightly and gestured that I should exit before him.
“Yes, it would seem so. Thank you again,” I said as I left. I tapped my card again and crossed the barrier, choosing this time to wait as the escalator brought us above ground rather than climb them as stairs.
A few moments later, I was brushing water off of my wool coat and pulling out my staff ID.
“Hi Charlie,” I said to the guard. Charlie was from Washington State, too, and used to be a police chief. He was very nice, especially to the young ladies. He viewed us all almost as his daughters and was very protective.
“Good morning, Bella. How was the commute?” he asked, a big smile crossing his features. I smiled and placed my bag on the conveyer belt to get scanned. I crossed the metal detector and grabbed my bag.
“Oh, you know, the usual.”
He laughed and said, “Yes, yes, the usual. Have a good day, Ms. Swan!”
I walked to my office and greeted the secretary. She smiled brightly and handed me my messages. I took them and flipped on the light in my office. I set the message slips on the desk and took the electric kettle into the kitchen to fill it with water. Returning to my office, I set it on the plate and turned it on to boil and took a seat. I had gotten through all but one slip when the Senator came into my office.
“Hi Bella!” he said smiling. I never saw Carlisle without a smile, but it seemed particularly big today. I stood up and shook his hand.
“Good morning, Senator.” He laughed.
“How many times must I tell you to call me Carlisle? I was your doctor for years, Bella.” I chuckled. This was not the first time he said that and it had become something of a game for us.
“At least one more time, Senator,” I said, sitting down again and motioned to my sofa for him to sit. He declined, waving his hand.
“I can’t stay, I need to go. But I want to see you later and discuss a project. Very close to my heart. How about five minutes in my office?”
“Sure, whatever you want. Do I need to bring anything?”
“Nope, I have everything for you,” he said and rushed out of the room. He was always very calm and had a cool demeanor about him, but his face was incessantly warm. People loved him, which is why he won his seat. He fiercely fought for the best interest of the residents of Washington, which is why he deserved his seat.
Since I had five minutes, I walked to the kitchen to get a danish. My cereal never lasted long. I grabbed a cheese one and after a moment’s hesitance, a carton of vanilla yogurt as well. I took them back to my office and poured the water for tea. My Earl Grey was steeping when I heard a man’s voice in the foyer.
“I’m here to see the senator, please.”
I froze. I knew that voice.
“What is your name sir?” the receptionist asked politely.
“Edward, Edward Cullen.” I heard a sharp intake of breath, and almost thought it was mine but realized it was the secretary’s.
“Oh, you are the senator’s son. I’m so sorry, right this way.” She stood up and led him down the hallway to the senator’s office. As he walked by, I got a glimpse of his hair. I’d know that copper hair anywhere.
It was the man from the metro. Then it sunk in…
I had met Carlisle Cullen’s son on the metro.