“Go with the white dress, Bella,” Alice cooed. “You’ll look like a bride.”
“Alice,” Bella deadpanned. “I like the ombré dress. I love the colors.”
“I’m with Bella,” Esme said, spinning to look at the dress she’d tried on for the benefit. It was slate grey, with a lace overlay and a subtle amount of sparkle. “I think the ombré is the perfect dress for the benefit.”
“And besides, I want to wear only one white dress, Alice,” Bella snorted. “And that will be my wedding dress. You understand?”
“Put the dress back on. I want to see if I can make it work,” Alice snickered. Bella rolled her eyes, grabbing the plum/fuchsia gown. She slipped back into the dress and stepped onto the raised platform. Alice looked at Bella appraisingly, twisting her hair and fluffing the dress. “Okay, you’re right. This dress is totally perfect for the benefit. All you need is some gorgeous jewelry that picks up this pink at the waist.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Esme smirked, taking out her phone and tapping on her cell phone.
“Esme,” Bella chuckled, looking back at her. “Please, don’t do anything rash.”
“Too late,” Esme sang. “You look gorgeous and you’ll be the belle of the ball.”
Dresses were paid for and the three of them went out for an early dinner. After dinner, Alice and Bella went back to Bella’s apartment. Alice was leaving the following day, flying back to Seattle. “I’m going to miss you, girl,” Alice said, packing up her bags. “But, I’m so proud of you. You sailed through those interviews and your books are flying up the best seller lists.”
“Well, those emails are still coming, being more threatening,” Bella frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“Did they figure out who is sending the emails? Or who’s following you?” Alice asked. “I know that cute detective came over and spoke to you several times.”
“That cute detective is the son of the woman that Charlie’s dating,” Bella snorted. “But, he didn’t say anything that I didn’t already know. I just got a copy of the protection order against Tanya. Seth also mentioned that there was some suspicious activity on her credit account, possibly paying some private detective.”
“That could be who’s following you,” Alice said.
“They’re trying to track down that person,” Bella sighed. “Regardless, I’m not going to let Tanya win. She was queen bee in high school, but she’s a washed-up has been who is jealous of her ex-husband and me, his new girlfriend.” Bella blew out a breath. “Supposedly. We just need the smoking gun.”
“Damn,” Alice growled. “I’m so sorry, Bells.”
“Not your fault,” Bella said, sitting down and crossing her legs.
“Have you heard anything about the job at the university? They’re not rescinding their offer, are they?” Alice asked.
“No. In fact, my class that I’m teaching has a wait list that’s …” Bella laughed. “It’s insane. I may be teaching more than working in the library. I don’t know how I feel about that.”
“Why? Bella, you’d be a great teacher and it’ll help with your stage fright,” Alice chirped.
“I want students to take my class because of my educational prowess, not my popularity on the best seller list,” Bella snorted. “It’s a double-edged sword, that’s for sure.”
“Bella, you’re an amazing author, with a knack for making women swoon and writing deliciously sexy alpha males,” Alice snickered. “And the citrusy times in your novels are hot.” She sat down, curling up on the full-sized bed in the guest room. “Jane and I knew that when your identity would come out, it would explode. It’s true. To see such a sexy, but demure woman write such saucy novels … it’s the perfect juxtaposition. You know?”
“I suppose,” Bella sighed. “I’m just freaking out because I don’t want my career as a writer to impact my relationship with Edward or with his kids.”
“It’s not,” Alice said, arching a brow. “Now, let’s get drunk and stupid, enjoying some Boone’s Farm.”
Bella's Dress for the Benefit