Author: Soft Ragoo PM
When Bella accepts a home-care provider position, she has no idea that the impossible son, Edward, will have such an impact on her. Will she find herself completely wrapped up in his complicated world, or will she learn to hate him? AHRated: Fiction M - English - Family/Romance - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 44 - Words: 166,743 - Reviews: 2,264 - Favs: 1,124 - Follows: 823 - Updated: 10-10-11 - Published: 02-14-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6744234
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Absent-mindedly, I spun the platinum bands on my ring finger. It was a nervous tick I'd developed during formal events after seeing the first photos of myself on the red carpet… chewing on a fingernail. Edward had laughed and teased me mercilessly. MJ gave me a 'thatta girl!' for being myself in that situation. It irked me that being myself resulted in a stunned looking grimace with a finger in my mouth, while Edward being himself meant a coy little smile and twinkling eyes under a mess of hair. Okay, so my hair had been swept up in a perfectly kempt and elegant do, while his looked like he'd just rolled out of bed… but he still came out looking better in photos.
As I switched to my one-handed twirl, my other hand moved to the tiny bulge at my waistline. We hadn't publicly announced this pregnancy, though family knew. Selecting a dress that wouldn't look like I was hiding a baby bump was no easy feat, but so far, no one had commented.
"When's Dad coming back?"
I smiled at my companion. "Soon, Ev. He's doing an interview backstage. They'll wait until there's a commercial break–"
"They show us commercials?" He used the same expression for baffled as his dad, and it always amused me.
"No, no. They show the commercials on telly while they're shifting things around here for the next presentation." I had been to enough of these events to get the gist of them, even if I didn't fully understand. "They'll come back out before they next award is given."
His plump red lips pulled up into a wide grin. "So the camera will be on us when they win?"
Draping an arm around his shoulder, I chuckled. "Did you get a memo we didn't? Are they winning?"
Evan struck Charlie Sheen's memorable pose and mouthed, 'Winning!' Flashes went off, and I had a feeling Evan was about to make his debut in gossip magazines. We all figured it was inevitable by this point anyway. Almost eleven, he was a remarkably intelligent boy, with his father's musical abilities. And a huge ham. He was made for the entertainment business. We weren't overjoyed about that, but we were proud of him and supported anything he wanted to try.
He was also proud of his father, and when Edward's film was nominated for Best Screenplay, he begged and pleaded to come to LA with us for the ceremony. Evan was fascinated by LA, and Edward was anxious to get it out of his system, so we'd made several trips with him. This time was different. This time was a celebration, so everyone came along. We only had six seats allotted, but the house was filled with the others watching at home and waiting for a big after-party of our own. I was Edward's 'plus one'.' Alice, of course, was with Jasper, and MJ had given her extra seat to Evan.
Edward and Jasper had been teasing Alice all evening that she was all three's 'plus one.' It was much more difficult to hide her pregnancy – she was in her eighth month and looked like she was smuggling a beach ball in under her dress. I was certain she was carrying multiples, but they adamantly denied it. It was just one hugely healthy baby inside one tiny little mommy. The Alice I knew now was nothing like the little brat I'd first met in LA. She still got mooed at on occasion, but it was usually done out of jest. I adored her devotion to the family and the spark she always brought to any gathering. She was a bundle of excitement over the impending birth of their child, and I already felt for her. She had no idea what was to come.
Our first child had been an eye-opener. I went into it with the notion that women have babies every day. It couldn't be that bad, or no one would ever have a second baby. Never been so wrong. Yet here I was, carrying our own second baby and positively thrilled about it. It had taken much longer to conceive this baby than our daughter had. Allie, a name that combined both aunts', was a one-shot wonder. After discussing the possibility of children together, the very first time we went with no birth control at all, we struck gold. Yeah, Edward is still that lucky.
Edward may have sub-consciously sabotaged this second conception. While I had conveniently forgotten the horrors of giving birth and every mortifying thing that occurs – the things that no one warns you about beforehand – he vividly recalled the ordeal and was hesitant about a second take. He's a trooper though and will be there through it all.
When the floor lights came on, a flurry of activity began all around us as people left seats, people reclaimed seats, and others, like Alice, took the opportunity to dash out to the loo. She sighed with a broad smile as she flopped down in her seat.
"Did you pee your pants, Auntie Alice?" Evan teased her. He'd told me she had been doing Allie's 'pee dance' for at least two presentations before she was able to leave her seat.
"Of course not! I'm wearing a dress!" She poked her tongue out at him, and he snickered at her lame joke. "When's your dad coming back?" Alice looked every bit as excited as Evan did. Of course, Alice was doubly proud, because her brother and her husband were partners in this film, along with MJ. In truth, I could pee a little out of excitement – and a tiny Cullen on my bladder. I should have gone with her, but I didn't want to leave Evan alone.
I was in the midst of starting my own version of the pee dance when the three nominees returned. Of the three, MJ was the most relaxed. Jasper looked like he was either going to pass out or vomit. Edward was taking up his old craft and acting his way through the festivities. Even though he'd gone out of the acting business with a huge media blitz, he was still uncomfortable with zoo aspect of it all. The daily drama he went through had died down as he faded out of the spotlight, but he was still a magnet for cameras at events like this. Each one made him edgy and terrified that the circus would return. Alice assured him constantly that he needn't worry – his prettiness was gone. Ah, sibling camaraderie.
He was absolutely still pretty.
"How're you doing, Ev? Nervous?" Edward took the seat between us as I moved over one.
"Not as much as you!" he retorted with a gleam in his eyes.
"Know who's nervous?" Edward tipped his head towards me. "We're all dying to see what stunt she'll pull before the evening's out."
Evan laughed with his dad. "I hope she snorts!"
I pulled a face that would eventually be my Bella-esque moment of the event. A new picture that would make the nail-biting one look dignified. We all settled back, and Edward took my hand as the lights dimmed and the cuing music began.
Edward's hand was sweaty in mine, but I was used to that. It was endearing. His smelly feet after a full day on set directing his newest project – not so much. He was leaning close to me, asking if I felt all right when they introduced Shadowplay as a nominee. He, along with Jasper and MJ, had rewritten the screenplay, making adaptations to change some things about the original story he felt strongly about. This script stayed true to his original piece of work and resulted in a completely different film than Trackers had turned out to be.
We all let out a whoop of joy when it was announced it had won. Edward released my hand to give his son a warm hug before turning to me for a kiss. I patted his ass as he turned to walk to the stage. He looked back, both shocked and amused by my action. Yeah, I was claiming him. Mine!
He was still chuckling when he followed MJ and Jasper onstage. They insisted that MJ go first.
"Well, this is icing on the cake! I feel quite honored to be up here with my partners for this little endeavor. I've enjoyed every moment of making this come to fruition. Every day brought laughter with these two… and frustration that you would not believe! It's amazing we got any work done at all! Thank you!"
Edward gave Jazz a little shove forward as he looped an arm around MJ's waist. His grin was epic.
"It is amazing! MJ is correct! We had an absolute blast working on this together, and I can only hope every one of our future projects brings as much laughter. You guys rock as partners! And my other partner rocks my entire world. Alice, thank you, baby. I hope you feel just a little of the pride today that I feel for you every day. I'd also like to thank my main man, Emmett! Whoot!" The crowd laughed as he fist-pumped into the air. "And every Cullen and variation of a Cullen who kick my sorry ass when needed and then take me in anyway… love you guys. So much. And of course our awesome crew. Thank you. See y'all next time!"
Edward stepped forward, his head bowed with a shy grin. He cleared his throat and chuckled when a croak was issued rather than a statement. "It's dry in here! Or is it just me? I don't know!" He chuckled again, and Evan giggled beside me. "Okay, quick before they cut me off…" He began talking rapidly, not seeming to breathe. "I want to thank the entire cast and crew who worked with us – too many to name because I'm on time restriction here as they're motioning me to wrap up and every bloody one of you are important. You're all stars! And if you hadn't drawn the crowds into the theaters, we wouldn't be here tonight. So this is for you!"
Holding the award up, he tipped his head to the crowd. "Jasper, MJ… thanks for helping me make it right this time!" The three laughed together as Edward's chin dropped down. He peered up beneath his lashes and smiled genuinely. "And my family, who encouraged me to tell this story just as I wanted it told. You deserve this, not me. You inspire me every day." He touched the tips of his fingers to his lips and gestured to Alice, Evan and I, cuddled up together in our seats.
As the cut-off music began, Edward turned to the camera and splayed his hand over his heart, mouthing, 'Thank you.' I smiled from the audience, knowing that one was for Esme. She had once told me a story about Edward as a very little boy who hated saying goodbye, even going off to school. They began a routine together – instead of saying it, Esme would blow him a kiss. Edward would 'capture' it, and hold it against his chest until it was absorbed. Then he would feel the love from inside whenever he missed her.
"That was sweet to include her that way," I whispered to him when he returned to his seat. They had worked very hard to restore their relationship. Even though all was right between them, Esme always worried that she had lost a little of his love.
He smirked at me with red lips and cheeks. "I should work on a script about forgiveness. Perhaps she'd learn more from a movie than from what's in front of her. I have nothing to hold a grudge over – my life is perfect."
~ 0 ~
We decided to hit up the after-party briefly, after calling home to check in on Allie. Evan wanted to witness the entire experience, so we gave him a glimpse. He revelled in the attention as people at the party recognized him as Edward's son. Back home in England, he had adopted Edward's habit of wearing a hat out in public. With Maggie's round cheeks rather than Edward's pronounced jawline, many people assumed he was my son from before our marriage. Most though, couldn't be bothered about it either way. By the time Evan attended school, media wasn't a huge concern.
It wasn't long before Jasper and Alice sought us out to say they were leaving. Alice was tired.
"I think I've had enough too," Evan announced. "Do you think Allie's still up? I took a cupcake for her."
I pulled Evan into my side. "I think, even if she's already asleep, she'd love to see you and the cupcake."
Esme often reminisced about Edward and Alice when watching these two together. Evan doted on his little sister just the same as Edward had. Alice must have seen the similarities too, because she egged Allie on to be her brother's 'little princess.' I was determined not to let him spoil her, but my god, they were so precious together. The unconditional love and deep bond between the two was irreplaceable.
Making our way out wasn't as simple as our en masse entrance. Going in, there were many more big names in the business to occupy the media. Leaving early left us alone with the vultures waiting outside the venue.
"Edward! How does it feel to be back in the industry?"
Flashes went off.
"Edward! Can we do a brief interview?"
"Edward! How about a shot with your family?"
The crowd seemed to grow along with the noise level. His name was being shouted from several directions and the flashes were non-stop.
MJ pulled on Edward to whisper quietly together while Jasper, Alice, and I kept a circle around Evan. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes wide at all the fuss over his dad.
Moments later, MJ held up her hand. "Okay, folks! Easy! Edward will answer one question at a time! We've only got a few minutes. Keep it brief." Her old days of being Edward's manager and PR rep came back instantly.
"Why the name change, Edward? Did you think people wouldn't know you were Edward Masen?"
"I took my wife's name," Edward replied smoothly with a cheeky smirk towards me.
"What would you think of a Diamonds and Spades reunion?"
Edward shrugged. "Haven't given it any thought. I probably wouldn't watch it. Though my mum would, I'm sure."
"Not interested in being part of it?"
"Not in the least."
"Do you miss acting? Would you go back to it at some point?"
"Ummm, well… to be honest, I still do a lot of acting. My daughter is partial to me acting out her bedtime stories rather than just reading to her. That's probably the extent of my ambition for the time being."
"Did you burn out, Edward?"
He laughed heartily at that one. "I grew up."
"What do you think about Jessica?"
I held my breath, hoping I hadn't heard that right.
Edward's smile faded and his eyebrows rose. I'd heard correctly. "Not much."
MJ put on her media face and stepped forward. "Any relevant questions? If not, we'll be going now. Thank you."
"Have you seen her blog, Edward?" one persistent interviewer called out.
"Can't say that I have," he responded with a small chuckle. "I've more important things to do with my time."
Amen! We had put Jessica Stanley out of our lives on the day the lawsuit was settled. Our plan to make her act in haste was worthwhile – the silly airhead had attempted to auction off her copy of our Toe Contract. That was the proof Edward's lawyers needed to nail her for breach of contract, along with theft. Her dreams of publishing her exposé on Edward were crushed with the hefty suit. She would make no more money off of Edward, and she had inadvertently propelled us forward. He no longer cared about having a public persona – he was just Edward, my husband.
"You should check it out," the interviewer persisted.
He smirked and raked his fingers through his hair, becoming more agitated. "I may have my lawyers take a look. I have zero interest –"
"She's self-publishing an autobiography!"
A dozen or more cameras flashed to capture his reaction – a raised eyebrow.
"Still not interested?"
I found myself becoming agitated as well by the goading. I caught Jasper's eye for some help.
"I'm sure maids around the world will enjoy her stories," Jasper cracked, stepping up to join Edward and MJ. The crowd chuckled.
"Her blog states that she's within her rights to talk about her days under your employ, as it is part of her life experiences."
She has someone writing her blog for her. She wouldn't phrase it that way… I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from blurting that out.
"Who's Jessica?" Evan whispered.
"No one of importance, honey. She used to work for your dad years ago. He'll tell you about it later." I had complete faith that he would. Edward was done with keeping any secrets.
"Well, my lawyers will definitely be interested in that case," Edward responded. "Still can't see myself being drawn into the drama."
"It doesn't bother you that she's using your fame to cash in on a few bucks?"
He shrugged. "My life is what it is. I can't stop anyone talking about it… or reading about it. I honestly can't comprehend why anyone would want to, but I've got nothing to hide. I'm sure it's quite a boring read."
"Is that why you disappeared all those years ago, Edward? Truth… did Jessica have the goods on you?"
Huffing out an irritated breath, he rubbed his hand along the back of his neck before stuffing it in his pocket. "I removed myself from this life because I didn't want to live in a fishbowl any longer. My family deserves better. I had done all that I felt I could with my character on Diamonds and Spades and was ready to move on. I enjoyed working on the films I was part of but chose to move on to what I really want to do. Aside from that, what more can I say? I'm human. I made mistakes and bad choices. I also made some stellar ones, so it all balances out."
"Not embarrassed by those days at all?"
I noticed his face running through a series of reflective expressions. "We're all capable of looking like an idiot. Some of my most awkward moments were caught on film. Nothing I can do about that aside from move on… and I have. I'm no longer that guy. Today, I'm just a guy who wrote a story that happened to win an award. Tomorrow, someone else will do the same, and I wish them luck."
"Thanks, everyone!" MJ called out the moment he finished speaking. She noticed, as I did, the familiar vehicle pulling up to the curb. "It's been a long day and –"
"One more question? Is there a role that would draw you back into the other side of the screen, Edward? A dream role?"
Edward looked in my direction, his true smile shining through. "I'm living it – my dream role. Husband and father. And I've got a little girl at home waiting for a goodnight kiss!" He reached for my hand, pulling myself and Evan protectively towards him. "Thanks, all!"
Emmett rushed forward to usher Evan towards the waiting car. Sam held the door open, giving Evan a reassuring pat on the back as he ducked inside. Edward and I rushed in, sandwiching him, while the others followed.
"All right, Ev?" Edward gazed at his son in concern. Evan looked completely overwhelmed.
"That was crazy. Like, barking mad! What's with those people? They all talk at once, and no one makes any sense –"
"Right?" Edward chuckled, cutting off his son's rant. "A ten-year-old sees this is barking mad," he called out from the back. "My son is brighter than most of the population!"
"At least they didn't ask him about cheese," I said teasingly.
Edward and I smiled across Evan, fondly remembering the first day I had with him at work. "Important stuff, Ev. People need to know my preference in cheese."
Evan scrunched up his face. "Who cares? You make a wicked grilled cheese sandwich, no matter what cheese."
With that, Edward was in stitches. What the same people who had desired to know every detail of Edward Masen's life would never know is that all the adoration from the masses would never surpass the praise he was just given. To Edward – the real Edward – making a wicked grilled cheese was more of an accomplishment than working on a renowned serial drama, or any award, for that matter. Taking a walk through the English coastal town where the extended Cullen family went for holidays was more thrilling to him than any after-party.
"I think I'll stick to my music," Evan announced. "Movie people are just too weird. No offense, Dad."
"None taken!" he replied with an amused sparkle in his eyes. "So you know, the music industry is not a weirdo-free zone either. Maybe you should follow in Mum's footsteps and teach instead."
He snorted, rolling his eyes. "I'll be so glad to see the end of school! No way would I torture myself with making a career out of it! I think they've made you barking mad as well, Dad."
Evan had no idea how close he was to that observation made in jest. In fact, he could have succumbed to it if not for Evan. I gave full credit to him for turning Edward's life around, while Edward often held me responsible for the same thing. Perhaps we're both wrong. Perhaps we just happened to meet at the turning point in our lives. Perhaps our roles were always laid out, and fate put us together to work out an ending.
Edward Masen had a brilliant ability to act, but Edward Cullen had a remarkable capacity to love. Not a day passed that I didn't feel fortunate to know the real man and his heart. I would gladly accept this role and thank my lucky stars that we were brought together to work on an ending.
A/N ~ The end. :(
BUT... I am at work on the next twisty mess of SM's peeps. 'True Love Way' will be starting soon. I hope. I'd love it if you'll join me for that one too! :D
As I click 'complete', I'm going to take the suggestion of a reader who made me smile and not say goodbye, but see you all real soon!
Much love! ~ SR
And Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians. May you have a wonderful day filled with family and turkey and all 'round fun and good eats. XX