Disclaimer: I don't own the characters - I've just borrowed them from SM to have fun with - enjoy xx
Huge Love to the FicSisters, The Lemonade Stand, Rob Attack and A Different Forest for recommending this story.
CHAPTER ONE: Norton, Nails and Nuts
Somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean:
"Do I really have to do it?"
"Yes, Edward. The Graham Norton Show is the most popular talk show in the UK and it's shown all over the world. It's great publicity, whether you think your movie needs it or not."
"Can't you get me out of it; say I'm ill or something?"
"Absolutely not. When you signed up to do the movie you agreed to do promotion; it's part of that commitment. You've already been paid handsomely for doing both, as you well know. It'll be fun; most celebrities have a ball on that show."
Edward ran his hands through his hair in frustration as he responded negatively to his agent's reassurances.
"You know I loathe talk shows, Jasper. I hate answering inane questions in front of a live audience, and I can't stand being polite to vacuous people when I'd rather not be in the same room as them. Why the fuck do actors have to do promotional tours now anyway? Steve McQueen never had to suffer this shit?"
Jasper didn't answer but rolled his eyes to heaven as he rested his head on the comfortable first class seat. He turned his face away from his scowling client and gazed out the window at the brilliant bright blue sky, then downwards onto the impenetrable layer of fluffy white clouds that blocked the view of the ice-cold North Atlantic thirty-five thousand feet below. He glanced at his watch, which was still on EST, and worked out that they still had four hours flying time before touching down at Heathrow. Then it would be straight into the next leg of the promotional tour for Edward's latest movie and he was not looking forward to it one bit.
After the hugely successful premiere in LA, Edward had promoted the movie in several US and Canadian cities, ending up in New York that morning for an interview at 8 a.m. on Good Morning America. Then it was straight from the studio to JFK for the flight to London. Jasper had already spent eight tortuous days in the company of this sulky, spoiled, arrogant, shit of a movie star, who had complained about anything and everything at every opportunity and he wasn't looking forward to the rest of the tour, which would take in the UK premiere and promotional events in London and Paris.
Jasper's individual first class pod seat was alongside Edward's, but he had removed the privacy screen between them so they could go over the schedule for Europe while they were travelling. He noticed that Edward was pressing his call button for service and a flight attendant was quickly on hand to take his order for yet another Jack Daniels. Edward had been drinking steadily since leaving New York and Jasper was quite concerned he might be over-doing it. He declined an offered top up to his orange juice and the attendant disappeared to get Edward's drink.
"Don't you think you've had enough, Edward?" he whispered. There'll be paparazzi at the airport and you don't want to look like shit when you're walking through the terminal."
"I don't give a fuck about paparazzi and anyway, when do I ever look like shit, Jasper? Haven't I just been voted the sexiest man alive by GQ for the third year running? It'll take more than a few J.D's to knock that crown off my head, so don't fucking nag."
Jasper squeezed his chair arm wishing it was Edward's neck. He breathed deeply and started counting backwards from a hundred to calm himself down, then went back to his paperwork to read through Edward's schedule again. It was going to be a busy week for Edward but a punishing week for him, with meetings and interviews filling up most of his days with hardly any free time available. He didn't mind working flat out, but being with Edward practically 24/7 was wearing him down, as it was like having to cope with a spoiled child that he wasn't allowed to chastise.
Jasper took a sip of orange juice and thought back to the day when Edward signed up with his agency almost twelve years ago. He was twenty five years old when he first met sixteen year old Edward Cullen, when he arrived at his office as a good-looking, straight from acting-school, child actor. Edward was already reasonably well-known throughout the States because of some high-profile roles on television sit-com's. His pushy and very wealthy parents were eager for him to break into the lucrative teen-flick market, so he had walked away from the nurturing protection of his school earlier than other students, and before graduating.
Edward had needed a professional agent quickly after he was offered a part in the first movie he auditioned for, and Jasper had taken him on after a very brief interview with Edward and his obnoxious parents, who had to be involved as Edward was still technically a minor. He put Edward's moodiness and arrogance that day down to normal teenage hormones, but unfortunately Edward's attitude hadn't changed as he grew into adulthood.
His amazing success had only fueled Edward's self-belief that he was the best thing to happen to the movie industry since Rudolph Valentino. Unfortunately for Jasper, this was actually quite near to the truth. He had to live with the consequences of having a client who was probably the most talented, hard-working and best-looking actor of his generation, with the added trauma that he was a big-headed tyrant who thought he was God's gift to womankind.
If Jasper could have walked away from Edward he would have, but he had an ex-wife who was bleeding him dry, plus two daughters who amazingly still thought the world of him, despite the best efforts of their bitch-whore mother, Kate. She belittled him in front of the girls at every opportunity, even though she was the one who was caught with her pants down. The small cut of Edward's earnings he was entitled to receive, which was still a substantial amount of money, just about kept his head above water, which was why he put up with the verbal abuse and childish tantrums from his difficult, but very lucrative, client.
When Edward's glass needed re-filling again, rather than call the steward and get another ear-bashing from Jasper, he got up from his seat and ambled towards the drinks bar which was situated between Business and First Class. Jasper watched his progress down the aisle, concerned that he might not be able to walk in a straight line. He was curious when he saw Edward stop at one of the pods and stare at whoever was sitting there. He didn't move for about fifteen seconds, and as far as Jasper could tell he didn't say anything to the passenger, but continued towards the bar where he ordered another drink. From where he was sitting, Jasper couldn't see who had grabbed Edward's attention because of the way the pods were arranged; all he could see was a pair of empty grey Converse trainers dangling over the end of the footrest into the aisle but he couldn't tell whether the shoes belonged to either a man or a woman.
Edward returned to his seat with another drink and a dish of nuts. After a couple of minutes of silence, broken only by the sound of Edward tapping himself on the forehead as though he was trying to remember something, he turned towards Jasper with one of his forced smiles on his face.
"There's a girl down there with bright blue nail polish on her toes that I wouldn't mind getting to know. Go speak to her and tell her to come up here and she can sit in your seat for a while and you can sit in hers."
Jasper shot him a look of incredulity.
"Are you serious? Go and talk to her yourself. Our contract doesn't say anything about me being your dating service!"
"Oh, go on, Jasper. I don't want to chat her up with an audience listening. Anyway she looks familiar. I'm sure I've seen her somewhere before."
"No, Edward, I'm not doing it. I'm your agent not your servant."
"Please, please, pretty please, Jasper." Edward set his mouth in a childish pout and fluttered his long eyelashes jokingly.
Jasper's eyes rolled up to heaven, as he knew from past experience that Edward would keep on at him until he relented. He reluctantly unbuckled his belt, which he always kept fastened when he was flying, and rose from his seat, wondering again why he'd chosen a career as 'agent to the rich and arrogant'. After he had walked up to the girl who was engrossed in a book, he coughed gently and said, "excuse me," to gain her attention.
Edward watched Jasper intently as he leaned right over into the girl's pod so he could talk to her discreetly. He could tell by Jasper's head and hand movements that he was having a discussion with her, then he saw Jasper straighten up, but instead of exchanging seats with the girl, as Edward presumed he would do, he made his way back to his own seat where he settled himself down again. The smug look that was spread across Jasper's face didn't go unnoticed by Edward.
"She didn't want to come; she's reading a book."
"What did she actually say?"
"Do you really want to know?"
"I said that you would really like the pleasure of her company, or words to that effect, and she said, '"Tell him to go fuck himself."'
Edward looked flustered at this and hissed, "Didn't you say who I am?"
"Yes of course I did. She laughed, then asked me to go away, very impolitely I may add."
Edward huffed and wriggled in his seat. He turned his attention back to the movie he was watching, but after a few minutes he dragged the earphones out of his ears and threw them across his seat angrily. He picked up the in-flight magazine and perused it for a few minutes, then flung it down on the floor.
Jasper was trying to contain himself and he covered his mouth with his hand so that Edward couldn't see the smirk that had crept across his face. Edward not getting his own way with a woman was unheard of, and the temptation to laugh out loud was becoming almost uncontrollable.
"Who does she fucking think she is?" he spat.
"She's Isabella Swan, an actress. I recognized her right away."
"I've never heard of her, so she can't be that famous."
"She's a very well-known stage actress, Edward. You know, live theater; that thing actors used to do before they invented celluloid. She's just finished a very successful run on Broadway and her play is transferring to London; you may have read about her in one of the trade magazines recently. Perhaps, if you took the time to set foot inside a theater one day and witness what stage actors actually do, it might broaden your mind seeing and appreciating real talent?"
"Are you suggesting I'm ignorant and untalented now?" Edward's face was turning slightly purple and a large vein appeared on his forehead, which was always a sign he was furious.
"No, Edward. I'm just saying that your profession is not only about acting in movies. You should try and see a theater production while you're in London, then you might appreciate the skill involved in performing to a live audience and having to memorize the words of a whole play, not just learning a script scene by scene."
"So that's it. This Isabella Swan thinks she's better than me, does she? Well, we'll soon see about that." Edward went to rise out of his seat.
"Leave it, Edward. Just take it like a man that Isabella Swan is the only female on the planet who isn't interested in you, either professionally or sexually."
Jasper turned his face towards the window and smirked again. He was thoroughly enjoying Edward's discomfort and was relishing stirring the angry pot with a big ladle as it was an opportunity too good to miss. He guessed that Edward wasn't going to leave it though, as his ego was the size of Mount Rushmore and he couldn't lose this game. Hopefully this girl would persist with giving him the brush-off and Edward would learn a valuable lesson in humility.
Edward stood up and straightened his shirt and made to walk up to her seat, but Jasper grabbed hold of his arm as he passed him.
"For heaven's sake don't cause a scene, Edward. There might be media people and reporters on the plane who may overhear what's going on, or get to hear about any confrontation you may have with Isabella from the crew or other passengers. Do you really want the story that a beautiful young woman has resisted your charms on the front of all the tabloids tomorrow? Are you that stupid?"
Edward glared at Jasper and leaned over his seat so their noses were nearly touching.
"Don't you ever call me stupid again, Jasper, or I'll find myself a new agent. I'm warning you!"
Jasper glared back at him, then smiled smugly.
"If you can find a new agent who can put up with your tantrums and all the other shit you send my way, be my guest, Edward."
They stared at each other until Edward broke eye contact and turned away. He swaggered down the aisle to where Isabella Swan was sitting and made as if he was going to walk past her pod, then quickly turned to look at her but didn't say a word. He could see Jasper watching him over the heads of the other travelers, who fortunately were either asleep or engrossed in a movie, so at this point nobody else was aware what was just about to go down.
Edward flipped Jasper the bird then looked at the brunette beauty, who was still totally unaware of his presence. He was going to say something to her immediately but instead he made use of the illicit time he had to scrutinize Isabella before she noticed him.
He studied every inch of her; from her luscious mahogany hair that was tucked behind her ears and fell in curls almost to her waist; to her small but curvaceous body, casually dressed in a plain grey hooded top and faded jeans; down to her bare toesnails covered with bright blue polish.
Isabella carried on reading her book until it was time to turn over the page when she looked up and saw Edward standing there gazing down at her.
"Can I help you?" she asked as she laid the book on her lap.
"I invited you to come and sit with me; why didn't you come?"
"No, you didn't."
"Yes, I did."
"No, you sent your lackey to ask me. If you'd have taken the trouble to invite me yourself, I might have considered it, but you didn't have the manners to ask. So why should I want to spend time with an impolite, gutless individual, who doesn't have the balls to approach me himself? Now please leave me alone; you're disturbing me."
Edward's mouth dropped open as she spoke. He stared angrily at her as she picked up her book and carried on reading as if he wasn't there.
"So, high and mighty 'Lady' Isabella Swan; the superior stage actress who doesn't lower herself to consort with common movie actors. Is that the problem we have here? Am I not cultured enough to be in your esteemed company?"
Edward bowed from the waist in mock-servitude as Isabella slung her book to one side in frustration.
"No 'Mr' Edward Cullen, I'm not the one with a problem here. I just choose not to mix with rude, arrogant individuals, who think they can snap their fingers and everyone will rush to do their bidding. So just fuck off and leave me alone, or I'll call the steward and have you restrained."
Edward bent over her and hissed in her ear. "You don't really want to do that; do you, Is-a-bell-a?"
"That's it you fuckwit; I'm calling a steward."
Edward grabbed her hand as she went to press the call button, and as he touched her, a jolt of energy shot up his arm and through his body. He gazed into Isabella's dark brown eyes as she struggled and a feeling washed over him that he was drowning in a deep pool of warm water. For a fleeting moment he didn't know what the hell was happening to him.
Isabella pulled her hand away from him and drew a quick breath. She had felt the electric charge as well, but the shock of Edward actually touching her and preventing her from calling the steward put her in fighting mode. She picked up her full glass of coke and slung it all over his face and white linen shirt.
"Holy shit!" Edward cried, as he jumped backwards to avoid getting soaked, but ended up colliding with a steward who was passing directly behind him with a tray of drinks. The tray flew up in the air, drowning the steward and a dozing passenger with wine and assorted nuts. Within seconds there was uproar, as other members of the crew rushed to the scene with cleaning equipment; clearing up the mess quickly and efficiently, while trying to calm the irate passenger who was picking cashews and peanuts from his clothes and hair.
Edward held his hands up in surrender and backed away from Isabella, who by now was out of her seat and seething with anger. He turned around and was walking quickly back to his own seat when he heard Isabella shout out above the heads of the other passengers.
"Have you even considered apologizing for what you just did? No, I thought you hadn't, you ignorant bastard!"
He turned to say something, but Jasper grabbed hold of his arm and forcibly pushed him into his seat.
"Sit down, stay there, don't move a muscle. I'm going to have to sort this goddamn mess out, so for once in your life do as I say, or you really can find another agent as soon as we land."
Edward resisted for a moment, then relented with a petulant huff as Jasper disappeared down the aisle. He snatched his earphones up and restarted the movie, but couldn't concentrate on what was playing on the screen in front of him. His mind was filled with images of Isabella's chocolate-brown eyes and heart-shaped face, which he had memorized during those precious seconds before she noticed him, and before her face turned red with anger. Then he recalled the jolt of pure energy that had coursed through his body when he touched her; a feeling he had never experienced before. He ran his left hand over his right bicep, just to check whether it was generating any more heat than his other limbs, which of course it wasn't, but he could feel his heart pounding in his chest as though he had over-dosed on adrenaline.
He pressed the button which controlled the rake of his seat, and within a few seconds he was lying almost flat, then he closed his eyes so he could concentrate on recalling what had just happened in the last few minutes.
Who was this fire cracker of a girl who had rejected him so spectacularly? Being turned down so emphatically, then verbally and physically assaulted, was a new experience for him, and he didn't know how to handle it. Was she beautiful? Yes. Talented? Obviously. So, like him, was she fed up with being constantly hit on by the opposite sex, so had she reacted exactly as if a random woman had tried to hit on him in the same way? If that was the case, then he felt a bit better about her initial reaction to his invitation, but he was still angry she felt he was to blame for the wine incident, as she was the one who threw the first drink.
He sensed Jasper had returned to his seat, so he opened his eyes and moved his seat upright in preparation for the fall out. Jasper ignored him; remaining silent as he picked up his remote to flick through the movie channels to find something to watch for the final hours of the journey. After a few minutes of being ignored, Edward couldn't contain himself any longer and demanded to know what had happened.
Jasper turned towards him with a look of sheer contempt on his face.
"Fortunately for you, Miss Swan is not pressing charges for assault and the air crew are also not going to file a report. You behaved abominably back there, Edward, and any decent person would have apologized to everyone concerned."
Edward went to say something, but Jasper shot him down.
"Before you rush to defend yourself, you are exactly what Miss Swan called you; an 'ignorant bastard'. You haven't got an ounce of humility in your body and you just can't handle not getting your own way. So, for the rest of the journey, I suggest you sit quietly in your seat and do what you normally do, which is concoct a story in your over-privileged brain that will convince your conscience, if you have one, that none of this was your fault as usual. While you're doing that, if you don't mind, I'm going to watch a movie for the rest of the flight and I don't want to be disturbed."
Edward opened his mouth to respond with a smart-ass retort, but for once thought better of it. Jasper had put his earphones in and had turned in his seat so his back was to Edward, effectively preventing any chance of hearing the response to his cutting remarks, so Edward was left alone with his thoughts for the rest of the journey.
Within the space of a few minutes, his agent had turned on him spectacularly, giving him some home-truths about his attitude, and had threatened to dump him as a client. He had also met the first girl who had ever rejected him and damn it to heaven, she had lit a fire in his belly and he couldn't fathom why. Was it the thrill of the chase? Did he only want her so his unblemished record of conquests remained at 100% success rate, or was there something else there, something he had never experienced before?
He recalled the saying that 'the eyes are the window to the soul', and he had seen something in her beautiful brown eyes that intrigued him. He squeezed his own eyes tightly shut when he recalled the look of disgust she threw at him as he backed off from the wine disaster and accepted then that if he wanted to find out more about Isabella Swan in order to establish any sort of future relationship with her, he would have to be prepared to do a serious amount of grovelling.
But he had never had to grovel to get a woman before; it was against his nature to do such a thing. He resolved then to try to forget about Lady Isabella Swan, the Doyenne of Broadway, and be content with what he had now, which was a harem of beautiful, willing women in Hollywood, who just sat by their cell phones waiting for his call. It had worked for him for the past ten years, so why change the habit of a lifetime because of one girl?
"Chances are our paths are highly unlikely to cross again," he muttered under his breath.
But of course, they were.
A/N: I hope you have enjoyed the introduction to my new story. It will be a bumpy ride, so be prepared!
Edward is not a nice guy to be around, but maybe there's a reason he's like this? Bella is a feisty character, which means there are definitely fireworks ahead if these guys hook up!
Reviews are always a pleasure to receive, so thank you in advance if you feel inclined. I promise I will answer every one.
Joan (aka Michaelmas54) xx