A/N: Hello readers! I am currently working on three stories right now and can't seem to focus on just one. Letter From the Heartland has 10 chapters completed. Notes on His Pillow has 20 chapters completed. Deviant Minds has 2 chapters completed. If you have followed my stories in the past you'll probably remember two things about me. 1) I hate posting a story before it is completed and 2) My writing is frequently stifled by pregnancy!
Well, you guessed it, I am prego again! Baby is due in a few months so I am flummoxed what to do with these stories. They are all different and enjoyable to write. I thought I would post a chapter or two of each and let you all decide which one I focus on.
So please leave me a review for the stories you read and I'll decide from the feedback which one is the winner. Again, the titles are: Letter From the Heartland, Notes on His Pillow, and Deviant Minds
A Letter From the Heartland
Chapter 1 Zero Gravity Premiere
Edward stumbled through the heavy oak doors of his house in Beverly Hills and waved to his limo driver just to prove that he was indeed capable of unlocking the door on his own. He was so tired of people opening soda cans for him and constantly asking him if he was alright every time he coughed or sighed too loudly. He hated being babied and the constant attention Edward had been receiving for the past year was wearing on his psyche. His driver, Stanley, had had his doubts about Edward's ability to care for himself that evening. He'd watched Edward approach the black limousine in the back alley behind the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel hours earlier. He knew that night was the premier of Edward's new movie and he would undoubtedly be partying hard. But Stanley had never seen his boss that bad off before.
Edward had been slurring his words and stumbling towards the limo with a mob of paparazzi cameras flashing in his face the whole way. He only had to walk ten feet from the back door of the hotel to Stanley's limo but even that short distance proved too much for the young actor. Stanley had bolted from his seat behind the wheel just in time to catch Edward before he fell face first into the pavement. Those damn cameramen were so concerned about getting a decent shot of Edward Cullen than not one hand extended to help stop him from tasting the concrete.
Stanley had to drive around Los Angeles for over an hour until he was certain that not a single car was still following them. After having been Edward's driver for six months he was now very familiar with the makes and models of the cars belonging to the most persistent members of the paparazzi. Meanwhile Edward was lying in the back muttering something about his agent being a money hungry bitch. He looked like he would be sick any moment and Stanley hoped beyond hope that he could get Edward back to his home in Beverly Hills before the hors d'oeuvre's from the very upscale Zero Gravity after party were spewed all over his limo's leather interior.
Thanks to Stanley, Edward arrived home unnoticed by the media or even his neighbors. A little after three am Edward finally shuffled his feet across the marble floor of his foyer and into the large empty kitchen. The cabinets were made from the finest wood and the appliances all top of the line stainless steel but that hadn't impressed Edward when he selected this house. He always thought the kitchen was too large and felt cold. He chose the house because of the gated community around which it sat; not because of its bells and whistles, although it did have quite a few of those. Edward proceeded to vomit in the deep basin sink and afterward ran the water for a good minute to make sure there would be no evidence when Lupe came to the house Monday. His housekeeper had enough work to do each day cleaning up after the twenty three year old bachelor; she didn't need to wipe up his sick too.
Edward felt better after purging his stomach so he went to the fridge and pulled out a fresh beer. He realized he was drowning his sorrows in alcohol but couldn't think of a better way to ward off the demons inside his head. At the party tonight one of his costars had taken offense to his foul mood. Laurent was a French Canadian actor who'd played another astronaut in the sure to be blockbuster hit, Zero Gravity. He had told Edward that tonight was a celebration of their accomplishment and he needed to loosen up. Laurent had handed Edward drink after drink until he was able to forget all about the film they just watched.
Edward had hated the script the moment he read it and hated the whole project more and more as filming got underway. He had to wear a moon suit twelve hours a day for three months shouting things like "She's coming in too steep!" and "We'll never get out of this alive!" in front of a green screen. It was torturous from beginning to end. He knew while they were making the movie that the final product would be an offense to the film industry, but he had made promises and signed contracts. His agent told him it would make his career and the money was more than he'd ever dreamed of making his entire life. To earn that much from a single role was like winning the lottery. It was a prize he couldn't bring himself to pass up.
Edward took his beer into the living room and slumped unceremoniously to the couch. He noticed Lupe had left his mail on the coffee table so with shaky hands Edward began leafing through it. There were two sorted piles, one being a collection of bills. His phone bill alone was over a thousand dollars a month. When Edward signed on to portray Travis Tague in Zero Gravity he celebrated by buying a lot of things he couldn't even recall now. The Smart TV was one, a lot of electronics probably, and a fully equipped SUV. Everything else he'd already forgotten about. He had no clue what was included in that Verizon bill but it was of little concern to him. Hank, his financial adviser, handled all that. He took another swig of beer and carefully placed the brown bottle on the table.
The second pile of mail was more to Edward's liking; they were letters from his fans. Edward enjoyed reading his fan mail. The envelopes were always different shapes and sizes, some had drawings or pictures taped to the outside designed to catch his attention, others smelled like perfume. A few months ago he made an effort to reply to as many as he could. Now there were so many letters that he'd be lucky to even open half of them. Edward's fans made him hate his new life a little less. Sometimes they were all that kept him from disappearing back to the small town in Wisconsin he still considered home.
Reaching for the beer bottle for one last swig, Edward clumsily knocked it over spilling the amber liquid all over his mail. Many fan letters were soaked beyond saving and a number of bills were ruined too. Edward cursed out loud and threw the wet envelopes onto the travertine tiled floor beneath his feet. As he looked upon the mess he made, Edward remembered the little white pill Laurent had given him at the party.
He made the mistake of trying to explain to his costar just why he was feeling so down that night. Zero Gravity was even worse on the big screen that it had been while in production. Edward was always uncomfortable watching himself on screen so the entire premier itself was arduous. He began telling Laurent that fame and fortune weren't turning out to be everything he'd imagined. When he asked Laurent if he believed in karma his costar and occasional friend rolled his eyes and pushed him into a dark corner.
"Stop talking about shit like that, Cullen," Laurent whispered. "Stop over thinking everything and just enjoy it, will you?"
Laurent had slipped a clear plastic baggie into Edward's hand containing the pill. It came with a promise of mellowing out and having a good time. Edward had to admit that sounded tempting, but he'd never indulged in any drug stronger than a little weed. He slipped the pill into his pocket and thanked Laurent.
Home and all alone in the dark empty mansion Edward once again considered swallowing the tiny poison. He hadn't even asked Laurent what it was called, but there wasn't any possibility that he'd given him something beneficial like a dietary supplement. Edward looked around the living room, deciding what to do. He wondered if his life had really come to this; doing mystery drugs alone in a house ten sizes too big for one person. His mind was cloudy from the alcohol but he wasn't stupid. He'd graduated from the D.A.R.E. program in middle school. Edward scoffed at the direction his thoughts had taken. His memories, school, home, his family; all that seemed like another lifetime. He didn't want to take drugs. He wanted to be happy again.
He thought about calling his mother, she always made him feel loved. But it was three thirty in the morning and he was drunk. A middle of the night phone call to Wisconsin would only worry his mother to death. She'd be able to sense the pain and desperation in his voice and undoubtedly start to cry. Esme Cullen had been the first person to tell Edward to follow his dreams, but the last to support his decision to move to Los Angeles. She worried about her youngest baby surviving the culture of Hollywood. Edward was beginning to think she was right.
He soon realized there was no one else to talk to. Lupe was off Sundays; he wouldn't see her again until sometime Monday morning. His housekeeper had become his closest friend, or at least the person who knew him best. The thought depressed him. His friends in Hollywood were untrustworthy. Most of the guys only hung out with him because of the attention it awarded them or special perks from restaurants and clubs that came with Edward's level of fame. The women he met only wanted him to take them to bed, and his friends back home in Wisconsin acted strangely around him now. He couldn't bare his soul to his brother, Emmett, because he was jealous of Edward's fame. Emmett thought Edward didn't appreciate his great luck and success. He would have no sympathy for him, and instead would demand to know why he hadn't been invited to the movie premier.
Eventually Edward made the decision that he wouldn't be reduced to Laurent's idea of a good time, but he also didn't throw the little white pill away. Instead, he tucked it deep inside the drawer of the coffee table underneath a Men's Health magazine and a recent issue of GQ in which Edward was featured on the cover. Someone had penned a large handlebar mustache across Edward's face on the magazine's cover. It was probably one of his so called friends trying to be humorous. Edward kept the defaced magazine because he felt the image was a metaphor for what he had become. He felt like he was always in disguise, parading about like a fun sexy superstar, when in reality he was really just a small town Wisconsin boy hiding behind designer jeans, bleached white teeth, and a lot of hair gel.
Edward let out a long sad sigh as he retrieved a hand towel from the kitchen to mop up the remainder of the beer on the table. The after effects of the alcohol were beginning to make him drowsy. He would have a hangover in the morning for certain. As he contemplated what to do next, a canary yellow envelope sticking out from between two white ones caught his attention. Knowing he needed to sober up somehow, he reached for the letter and took it upstairs to his bedroom along with a glass of water and his cell phone. Edward stripped down to his boxer briefs and crawled in between the clean white sheets. God bless Lupe for doing his laundry.
Sitting back against the headboard Edward opened the colorful envelope and was surprised at what he found inside. The woman's name was Isabella Swan. She began her letter by scolding the A-lister; which was highly uncharacteristic of typical fan mail. He was immediately intrigued.
As a fan who's been following your career since the beginning I must say I've been troubled lately by what I've seen in the news about you. I know better than to believe most gossip but there are pictures to corroborate the stories about your late night antics. Your face has graced the tabloids more in the last two months than ever before. Partying every night? Public drunkenness? And don't get me started on your tweeting! You've always been different, Edward. A polite, respectful young man transplanted to Hollywood from a quiet town in Wisconsin. You've been a bright shining star in an otherwise shallow and morally inept Hollywood populace. Is that sweet, camera shy man still in there somewhere? I hope so.
I loved your last film and think you have amazing talent. I'm sure you hear that often enough. But what I've seen in your eyes during the last few interviews for Zero Gravity have me wondering what's changed in you. You confessed on the Today Show that living in the limelight can be surprisingly lonely. I want to make sure you know that there are people all over this world who care very much for you.
I'm sure you have other people to turn to when you're feeling down but I wanted to offer you just one more. My name is Isabella Swan, but I go by Bella. I'm 25, working towards a Bachelor's degree in biology. I work in a research lab during the day and babysit my nieces most nights. I'm not married, but someday I'd like to be. I live with my mother and father in Amarillo, Texas.
I wanted to tell you to please take care of yourself. Don't choose to go down the same dark path that so many talented young actors have done before you. I look forward to watching your promising career continue for years to come. Your fans love you, myself included, and we all want you to find happiness.
My phone number is 806-555-8779 if you'd ever want to talk to a regular girl from America's heartland.
Edward read the letter twice more and by the end of the third time he was sober. He'd never been called out on his behavior by a fan before. This Isabella Swan person had him pegged. She could see the destructive path he was on better than anyone standing in front of him. Lupe and Stanley were too concerned with their own job security to overstep their bounds with their boss and rightly so. Housekeepers and limo drivers were routinely fired for much lesser offenses in that town. Edward's agent had commented to him about the partying, but she admitted that any publicity was good for his career so she wasn't about to interfere with his behavior. And his friends, well they were the instigators ninety percent of the time. There was no one looking out for Edward, really. Except Miss Isabella Swan from Amarillo, Texas.
He felt lost, alone, and worst yet sorry for himself. Emmett was right when he reminded Edward of how lucky he was to have such a charmed life. And now he was on the verge of throwing it all away. Edward felt sickened by his own self pity, wanting nothing more than to fall into a dead sleep and not awake for days. He was disgusted by the way he behaved at the Zero Gravity after party. No doubt Bella Swan will feel likewise when she reads about his drunken stupor on TMZ tomorrow.
Edward chugged the glass of water and lay on his side clutching Isabella's note to his chest. Disgusted with himself, Edward Cullen sobbed like a baby. Eventually his tears ran dry and Edward passed out in the middle of his king sized bed.
When he awoke Edward felt even worse than the night before. His head was pounding, he could smell stale beer and cigarette smoke on his breath, and he felt humiliated for having cried himself to sleep like a child. It was eight am and he'd been out for just short of four hours. He realized he was hungrier than he'd ever been, which only reminded him of how he'd tossed up everything he'd eaten the night before.
Lupe usually cooked extra food for him during the week and left Tupperware containers filled with nutritional meals in the refrigerator. Edward traipsed down to the kitchen in nothing but his boxer briefs in search of some of Lupe's finest. He ate sirloin tips and mashed potatoes over the sink, took a long hot shower, and then fell back into his bed.
When Edward wasn't actively filming a movie it was typical practice for him to go out to clubs partying into the wee hours and then sleep away the next day. His days and nights had been inverted for over a month now. He saw no reason to attempt correcting that pattern in his current state so he opted to cover himself with the high thread count sheets and slip back into a mercifully unconscious state.
Edward finally roused again around five in the afternoon. He rolled from his stomach to his back in order to stretch and in the process heard the crinkling noise of paper beneath him. Bella Swan's canary yellow letter was creased many times over but still intact despite Edward's restless slumber. He sat up and rubbed his eyes in an attempt to remember the last twenty four hours.
The Zero Gravity premiere had been last night, Edward remembered. Young girls and mature women had screamed as he walked the red carpet alone, a thousand flashbulbs blinding him the entire way. Laurent sat next to him in the theater as that atrocious movie played on the silver screen for the first time. There was an after party. Definitely an open bar. And a little white pill. Edward shook his head, disappointed in himself for having even considered taking some unknown drug that a friend had given him. He'd acted like a fool in front of the paparazzi once again. His agent would not be happy.
Edward reached across the nightstand to retrieve his cell phone and checked his messages. One missed call. It was not from his mother, father, brother, or even Laurent. It was from Melissa. Edward listened to the message his agent left and then dropped the phone in his lap. She wasn't mad at him for getting wasted at the party. She didn't even care the paparazzi caught him falling into Stanley's arms before escaping into the limo. In fact, Melissa was pleased.
Edward, darling. I sent you an email with links to a number of articles written on Zero Gravity's premier. Everyone's raving this morning about how glamorous all the stars looked, and every one mentioned just how sexy Travis Tague looked in his black Armani. I told you that suit was made for you. Anyway, I'm sure your sleeping off the after party. Yes, I saw the pics of you leaving! Don't worry about them, the press seems to think you're a very sexy drunk. I'm sending you over some new scripts to read through this week. I really think you'll like the one about the race car driver who falls in love with his best friend's sister. Call me once you've read them all. Bye bye, darling.
He didn't know why exactly, but Edward always thought how his agent reminded him of Cruella de Vil over the phone. The last thing Edward wanted to do was pick his next film. That would take careful consideration and a much clearer head than he currently possessed. He just couldn't make another movie like Zero Gravity. The next one needed to have... substance. Thinking that maybe a little more sleep might be in order, Edward's hand brushed over the letter from Bella Swan again. He picked it up and decided to read it one more time.
He felt oddly guilty for letting this seemingly genuine young woman down. A lot of his fans looked up to him as a role model; Edward knew this well. It pissed him off that a stranger who lived halfway across the country had the nerve to presume she knew anything at all about his life or how he felt about anything. Miss Swan was correct in one observation though. Edward was lonely, and growing more so by the day.
It was dinnertime in Wisconsin and Edward thought a call to his mother was in order. He was sober now and figured he could fake excitement over his new film for a ten minute call with the woman who loved him most in the world. The phone rang four times and then the voice mail picked up. Carlisle and Esme Cullen were probably the last household in America with a land line as their primary telephone. They did in fact own a cellular phone but it was kept in the glove box of the car for road emergencies.
Edward left his parents a brief message recounting the good moments he experienced at the movie premier and assured them that he was well. Once again Edward reminded his mother and father they were welcome to visit him out in California, all the while knowing they would never accept the invitation. Carlisle feared flying on airplanes and Esme feared all of Los Angeles. He ended his message by telling them that he loved them both, and told Esme to send his love to Rocky, the family's ten year old husky.
Edward felt disappointed that his mother had not answered the phone. He wasn't afraid to admit to himself that he needed to hear her voice. He wondered where they could be at six o'clock on a Sunday evening. Edward could picture his mother setting the dining room table while pots boiled on the stove and the most wonderful smells wafted out of the oven. Edward missed his mother's cooking something awful. No amounts of Carl's Jr. or In & Out could ever fill that void. Edward's stomach was desperately homesick for Esme's stuffed cornish hens among a number of other dishes he grew up enjoying.
Just about every part of Edward felt homesick. He looked at his phone and then at the canary yellow fan mail that he was fast becoming obsessed with. Edward read over the woman's description of herself one more time. I'm 25, working towards a Bachelor's degree in biology. I work in a research lab during the day and babysit my nieces most nights. I'm not married, but someday I'd like to be. I live with my mother and father in Amarillo, Texas.
Edward smirked recalling how this young woman gave him her phone number in case he wanted to "talk." Edward got letters with phone numbers quite often. At least this one wasn't accompanied by a pair of risqué underwear. He spent a few minutes toying with the idea of calling this woman named Bella. What would this girl do, if in fact her celebrity crush actually took her up on the offer to speak about his problems? She was a biology major, not psychology so he wasn't worried about her trying to analyze him. Edward chuckled to himself thinking that the girl would probably shit herself when she realized who was calling.
He was sad and alone and wanted to talk to someone who'd listen. Briefly, he considered calling Melissa but then quickly dismissed the idea. The next name to come to mind was Laurent. Edward remembered the little white pill hidden downstairs in his coffee table and part of him wanted it. He realized he was in trouble. He should have flushed the damn thing down the toilet the night before. Now, with the absence of any warm body nearby to comfort him, Edward once again considered ingesting the mystery prescription Laurent had promised would make him forget his troubles. It was very tempting.
Edward was so perturbed about the direction of his thoughts that his fingers immediately started dialing Bella Swan's number. A rush of nerves flowed through his body and he ended the call. He entered the ten digit number and stared at the screen for at least a minute before finally saying, "Fuck it," out loud and connecting the call. Edward Cullen had never been nervous about calling a girl in his life. This one should be no different.
The phone in Amarillo Texas sat on Bella's kitchen counter charging while it rang over and over. Edward was beginning to worry that this call might also go to voice mail. If he didn't talk to another human being soon he was going to lose his mind. He felt like he was the only person left on the planet. Just as he was about to lose his nerve and hang up the call connected.
A sweet timid voice filled Edward's eardrum as Isabella Swan greeted her unknown caller. "Hello?"
Edward cleared his throat awkwardly. "Um, hello. Is this Isabella Swan?"
"Yes it is she. Who is this?" she asked with a hint of annoyance in her voice. Bella had rushed to answer the phone for what she was beginning to suspect was a telemarketer. The caller ID showed the caller's number was blocked.
"This is Edward Cullen. Am I calling you at a bad time?"
Bella laughed into the phone. "Nice try, Jake. Are you calling to talk to Mom?"
"Um, no. This is Edward Cullen. I am calling to speak with Isabella Swan," Edward politely explained a second time. This sort of misunderstanding happened frequently. It was the primary reason Edward allowed Hank to make most of his personal calls on his behalf.
"Knock it off, Jacob. You're being cruel. I don't call you and pretend to be Selena Gomes."
"I met Selena at a charity function in New York last year. She's a very nice girl," Edward replied hoping he hadn't made a huge mistake by calling this woman. He wasn't sure how he had expected their conversation to go but so far they were off to a bad start.
"Okay. You don't sound like Jacob anymore. Who is this, really," Bella demanded.
Edward sighed under his breath. "My name is Edward Cullen and I'm an actor. I received a letter written on very bright yellow stationary from someone named Bella in Amarillo, Texas. Was that you? I'm sorry to call out of the blue like this but you did give me your phone number with the offer to call anytime."
There was silence on the other end of the line and Edward knew Bella finally understood what was happening. Or she had hung up.
"Bella? Are you still there?" he asked warily.
The color in Bella's face changed from a pale pink to ghostly white as the identity of the caller finally hit her like a ton of bricks coming down on her head. She couldn't believe she ever mistook his voice for that of her younger brother. As his words echoed in her mind she realized how familiar the voice sounded. It was familiar, yet not what she expected. Of course, Bella never believed the actor would ever actually call her. She'd often wondered if he would even read her letters at all.
Bella quickly realized she hadn't answered his last question. She sprinted through the kitchen and up the stairs to her bedroom, shutting and locking the door swiftly. She pressed her free hand over her heart and felt it beating wildly in her chest.
"I'm here," she replied as calmly as she could manage.
Edward smiled, happy that she was still on the line. Her voice pleased him. He wondered if Isabella Swan was as sweet and innocent as her voice made her seem. For the first time he also wondered what she looked like. He was surprised the details of her appearance hadn't crossed his mind until that very moment.
"Thank you for not hanging up. And please forgive me for calling you on a Sunday evening. I hope I didn't interrupt something important."
"Not at all. I was watching last week's episode of Walking Dead but it's on the DVR." Bella struggled to keep her voice even as she spoke so as not to come across as a giddy, infatuated fan girl. Those adjectives described her to a tee but she didn't want him to know that.
"I've never seen that show. Is it good?"
"You've never seen Walking Dead? The show is amazing and number one on cable by the way. What shows do you like?"
"I like Homeland. And I've been watching Lost recently."
Bella chuckled despite her best efforts to the contrary. "Lost? Edward, come on. That show ended years ago. Where have you been?" She gently smacked the palm of her hand against her forehead. She felt like such an idiot.
"Give me a break. I was thirteen when it first aired. I don't know, I just never watched it," he replied playfully.
Bella didn't understand why she was talking about television programs with Edward freaking Cullen but she wanted to keep him on the phone as long as possible. Her best friend, Jessica, was never going to believe this story.
"Your voice sounds different on the phone than it does in the movies," she commented.
"I can assure you everything about me is different than the roles I portray in the movies."
"I didn't mean it like that; I'm not under the delusion that those fictional characters are you and you are them. I meant you're usually more upbeat in television interviews and things like that. Right now you sound sad, defeated almost."
"Yes, well, that is the reason you invited me to call you..."
"Oh, of course. What did you want to talk about, Edward?"
He ignored her very direct question. "You were right; what you said in your letter. I haven't been happy lately and I just wanted someone to talk to. Someone outside L.A."
Bella was still nervous, intimidated, and more than a little confused as to what Edward had to gain by contacting her of all people. He said he needed to talk. She had offered to talk through whatever problem was bothering him. She'd noticed his drinking and partying and accused him of being lonely in a letter disguised as fan mail. Bella was surprised he hadn't lashed out at her disrespectful accusations and used her letter as kindling.
But he didn't. He called her for help, and now she was engaging in the most awkward conversation of her life. She began pacing back and forth in her bedroom as she talked with Edward Cullen, the man voted Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine last year.
"So..." she began with butterflies feasting on her stomach cavity. "Zero Gravity's L.A. premier was last night. I've already seen red carpet pictures and one of your interviews. How was it?"
"I'll tell you about it later. First I'd like to know more about you, if that's okay."
Bella kept thinking at any moment he might decide to end the call so she liked his promise that there would be a later. "Oh, sure. You want to feel confident I'm not a psycho, right? I get it."
"Please don't misunderstand. I mean I feel like you already know a lot about me. I want to feel the same about you."
"I told you about myself in my letters." Bella said matter of factly. The embarrassment was only beginning to hit her. What had she written to him? It was difficult for her to remember.
"How many were there?" he asked surprised.
"Four in the last year. Which ones did your read?"
There had definitely been four letters, of that much Bella was certain. Three were sent many months ago when Edward's first big movie had made him a bonafied celebrity. The most recent letter Bella knew by heart. It took her at least ten drafts to get her feelings out on paper in a way that satisfied her.
"Just the yellow one."
"They were all yellow," she said quickly.
"The letter I have here in my hand calls me out on my abhorrent behavior recently. No one's ever done that by the way. You said I was lonely. I don't understand how you knew that about me. How you know me. All I know about you in that you're 25, you live in Texas with your parents, and you think my phone voice sounds like Jake."
Bella giggled. "Okay then, what else do you want to know?"
"Let's start with 'who's Jake?'"
"Jake is my twenty year old brother. I swear he was born to make my life a living hell."
Edward smiled. He had one of those brothers too. "Why do you say that?"
"Well, for starters he's my half brother. My mother cheated on my dad when I was four years old and the affair ended with her getting pregnant. I don't remember what happened since I was so young but from what I've been told my mother confessed the whole thing to my father and he decided to forgive her. They are still married and he's always raised Jacob as his own son. I'm lucky my parents' marriage survived considering Jake is sort of a walking reminder of her infidelity. His biological father was Native American and so Jake's skin is darker than the rest of ours. Everyone who meets him assumes he was adopted. It often makes things awkward when we have to explain the truth, but Jake doesn't like it when I let people think he was adopted. We grew up together though, so he's just like anyone else's little brother. He's obnoxious, teases me every chance he gets, and he's a foot taller than me. To sum it up, he's a royal pain in my ass."
Edward laughed. "That's quite a story."
"Yes, well, I'm afraid to say that the drama only escalates from there," Bella said. "Jake got his high school girlfriend pregnant during their senior year. Her name was Leah. They found out after graduation that she was carrying twins and she completely freaked out. Jake convinced her to keep the babies and promised to raise them himself if she didn't want to. He never thought she'd take him up on that offer. Leah took off last year, leaving Jacob alone with Rachel and Rebecca. They're 18 months old now and I babysit them almost every night while he works to support them."
"So those are the nieces you mentioned in your letter," Edward said.
"Yes. I'm still surprised you read even one of my letters. You must get hundreds every month."
"Sometimes thousands. My housekeeper is good about sorting through the envelopes and making sure I see the ones that stand out. May I ask you why you chose such a blinding shade of yellow to write on?"
Bella smiled to herself, beginning to feel more comfortable chatting with Edward Cullen. She settled back on her double sized bed and rested her head against a pillow. "Yellow makes me happy. Also because of my hometown. Amarillo is the Spanish word for yellow."
At the same time Bella was making herself more comfortable in her bedroom in Texas, Edward was doing likewise in California. He shuffled down between the sheets in his bed and lay on his side, one hand propping up his head and the other holding his cell phone to his ear. He quickly decided that calling Isabella Swan was the best decision he'd made in weeks.
"So tell me more about you," he coaxed dropping the tone of his voice to a lower register.
"No way, I just told you a whopper. Now it's your turn."
Edward thought for a moment. There was so much he wanted to talk about but was still hesitant about revealing too much. Edward had learned the hard way to be careful who he trusted. "I didn't have a good time at the premiere last night."
"Why?" Bella asked with genuine concern in her voice. She had read on TMZ that Edward had attended the after party in Hollywood and left in a black limo, drunken and alone.
"It makes me very uncomfortable to watch myself on screen so premieres are always hard for me. My family wasn't there to support me. And I didn't even like the movie," he admitted. "I hadn't wanted to accept that role in the first place but my agent pressured me into it. She said my career needed a big budget flick like that to stay on course and I believed her. So I got drunk at the after party and made a fool of myself in front of colleagues and paparazzi alike. But in my defense the film truly is an abomination. I mean it, don't go see it."
Bella snickered. "Edward, of course I'm going to see it! I see all of your movies without fail. I've really been looking forward to its release."
"Have you seen the trailers? It's just another disaster movie, nothing new or special about it in any way," he argued. "What is there to look forward to?"
"Isn't it obvious?" she asked feeling embarrassed.
"Not to me."
Bella sighed. He was really going to make her say it out loud. "Well, you're the appeal for me honestly. The world ending story line might be kind of hokey but isn't there a decent love story too?"
"Yes, a minimal one. I'm in outer space most of the film," Edward replied rolling his eyes.
"The trailer showed you in a hotel room with Emma Watson. That shower scene alone will get thousands of women to buy a movie ticket."
Edward scoffed at her words. He knew what she said was true, but that didn't mean he understood his own sex appeal. Edward knew what he looked like first thing in the morning. He witnessed the burps, farts, and ball scratching that none of his fans ever saw. They looked at him and saw the movie magic; the airbrushed magazine spreads, and the carefully choreographed television interviews. Hair and makeup stylists were on standby for every scene of every movie he ever filmed. None of it was real.
"Are you saying you're willing to spend $12.50 on a movie that you know will be terrible simply because the trailer promises shower sex between me and Emma Watson?" Speaking of movie magic. Shower sex? Please. That shit's impossible, Edward thought to himself.
Bella laughed nervously. "Yes, absolutely. Oh my God, you have no idea how embarrassing it is to talk to you about this."
"Don't be embarrassed. It's not a big deal," he tried to assure her.
"Maybe to you! But while we're on the subject... Can I ask you an acting question?"
"How do you do scenes like that; where you have to be practically naked in front of all those people on the set? I have no idea how you make a scene that must be so uncomfortable to film still look so sexy."
Edward hummed thoughtfully. "There was no passion shared between me and Emma. It's just part of the job. It is uncomfortable to be undressed in front of the crew, but I feel much more naked with you right now. Exposing myself to you this way is much more difficult that filming love scenes. I'm telling you secrets that no one else knows."
Bella paused for a beat, reveling in the way his sad, defeated voice gave her goose bumps as he said the words naked with you. She sensed the conversation had taken a more serious turn. "You mean secrets like how you're only now watching Lost?" she joked.
Her attempt at humor worked. Edward laughed out loud and it felt good. "I like talking to you, Bella Swan."
"I'm glad. I meant what I said in that letter. You've had me worried lately. Tell me what you're thinking when you act the way you did last night."
"You mean the drinking? Do you think I'm an alcoholic, Bella?"
"Do you think you are?"
"Not yet," he whispered. "But I'm not happy and sometimes drinking makes me forget about that for a while. Last night I almost did something much worse."
Bella sat up in bed, afraid but determined to ask Edward to elaborate. "What did you almost do, Edward? Don't lie."
He liked the way she said his name; her tone was patient yet insistent. He liked that she demanded the truth from him. Edward imagined that Bella was not a faceless stranger, but perhaps an old family friend who'd known him forever and wasn't about to take any bullshit from him.
"Someone at the party gave me drugs. A pill. I didn't take it, but it's downstairs in my living room right now and I wrestled all night with the desire to take it. I want this pain to go away, even if just for a little while."
"Where are you sitting right now?" Bella asked.
"I'm lying in my bed."
Bella closed her eyes, promising herself there would be time to revist that mental image later. "Edward you called me for my help. And I'm going to do that. I want you to get up and walk down the stairs. Can you do that for me?"
Edward huffed. He was quite comfortable in his warm bed. But he stood up and followed his new friend's direction. "I'm in the foyer downstairs now."
"Good. Listen carefully. I want you to go get whatever it is that pusher gave you last night and carry it into the bathroom."
Edward knew what Bella was asking him to do. He'd considered the same solution the night before but lacked the courage to follow through. With Bella's stern guidance he was able to force his feet forward. He pulled the little white pill out of the coffee table's drawer and it felt hot in his hand all the way to the bathroom.
"Now what?" he asked Bella.
"Put it on the vanity and then look in the mirror, Edward. You see that man there? I need you to keep him safe for me. You have to take care of yourself, Edward. Not just for me but for every other person who cares about you as much as I do. Do it for your parents and your brother too. You deserve so much better than whatever that thing is sitting next to the sink. And I promise you right now that you don't need it. So I want you to pick it up and flush it down the toilet. Right now."
Edward thought to himself how Bella had a flare for the dramatic. He also decided that he liked her and wanted to talk to her again. "I can do that for you, Bella."
"No, Edward. You have to do it for you," she insisted. She heard the sound of a toilet flush and was finally able to let out the breath she'd been holding.
"Thank you, Bella," Edward said softly as he walked out of the bathroom and went to sit on the couch.
"You're very welcome. Is there anything else you need to tell me?" she asked cautiously.
Edward changed the subject, not ready to delve deeper into his demons yet. He had plenty more soul bearing to do but thought it better to save for future conversations. He hoped she would agree to allow him to call her again. "You're an enigma, Bella. I want to ask you more questions now."
"Proceed, if you must," she replied while faining annoyance.
Edward smiled, happy that she seemed more relaxed with him now than she was when he first called. "What's your favorite band?"
Bella giggled, not surprised by his response. "He's a country music artist. I'm from Texas, remember?"
"Are you telling me you're a cowgirl, Bella?" Edward asked dropping his voice again. It was the voice of Edward Cullen that she recognized from his films. Deep and sultry. Jessica called it a panty dropper.
"I've ridden a horse a time or two," she replied. Edward liked that visual. He suddenly wanted a clearer picture.
"Bella, would it be too forward of me to ask you to text me a picture of yourself? I want a face to go along with your lovely voice."
"You want me to send a selfie to Edward Cullen?"
"I'm just a guy named Edward, Bella. Please don't think of me as anything more than that. The Edward Cullen you speak so fondly of is nothing more than a figment of your imagination. Believe me."
"And this guy named Edward I've been getting to know is nothing more than a voice through my phone," she countered.
"Precisely. I can send you a picture of me too if you want," he offered.
Bella couldn't say no to that. "O-okay."
Edward smiled. "I won't take up any more of your time this evening, but I've really enjoyed talking to you and I'd like to do it again sometime. Would that be alright with you?"
"Yes," she breathed.
"Thank you, Bella. I'll call you again next Sunday night. Don't forget to text me that picture."
"You either, Guy Named Edward."
He chuckled into the phone. Bella closed her eyes and tried to memorize that sound for she wasn't at all convinced that Edward would ever dial her number again. Especially after he saw her plain face appear on his Smartphone.
"Have a pleasant evening, Bella."
Bella hung up the phone and quickly ran a comb through her hair. She took off her glasses and applied a touch of makeup to her face before snapping her picture. She took several shots before getting an image she was willing to send him. The text with Edward's picture came through before she finished typing her own message. She noticed his phone number was included in the body of the message. Edward was stunning in his selfie, wearing a plain white t-shirt and a smile. What made her heart swell was the fact that next to his face Edward held up her yellow fan letter in his hand. Damning evidence that the conversation she just had was not a dream. Bella knew she would open that text message every time she needed proof that the last hour had been real.
Bella was now deeply concerned about Edward's well being. If the tabloid photos weren't enough to worry her then their conversation certainly did. She wanted nothing more than for Edward to follow through on his promise and call her again, if not for her own indulgence then for his comfort. Bella could sense how much Edward needed a loyal, supportive friend and she wanted to be that for him. Bella thought he was wrong about his negative self image. In that picture Edward was real, untouched by computer effects and lighting tricks. He looked natural and more handsome than she'd ever seen him before.
A few seconds later Edward received the message from Bella. He was excited and nervous to see the face of the woman who had such a profound impact on him. Even the short amount of time they spent conversing that night made Edward's heart and mind ache a little less. Edward knew he wanted to be friends with Bella Swan. He had never had a true friendship with a woman and he thought it was high time he gave it a try. Bella had already saved him once by convincing him to flush the little while pill. Edward understood how much he needed to talk to someone outside Los Angeles once in a while.
It didn't matter to him what she looked like; it might even be easier on him if she was unattractive, for Edward knew himself to be a bit of a flirt with women. Young and old, they all gravitated to him with very little effort on his part. Edward opened Bella's text message and quickly saw just how problematic being strictly platonic friends with her was going to be. Isabella Swan was downright beautiful.
A/N: Just a reminder that this story is a WORK IN PROGRESS! I have three stories with this status and I'd appreciate your comments to determine which one I should work on completing first. I promise that at some point all three will get completed!
Thanks for reading!