Chapter 19


Furious Kate Charges to LA, Stakes Her Claim on Edward

Isabella and Crusaders Absent from LAX; Paparazzi Swarm Kate

Kate's Dying Dad Begs Edward: Drop the Affair for My Sake

Edward Spotted at Universal Pictures while Kate Remains in Malibu


BPOV

"Damn it, Alice," I shouted through the open door to my bedroom. "Stop sending me these stupid links! I told you I don't care about the crap they're writing."

Shaking my head, I minimized Outlook on my laptop and returned to my psychology seminar's assigned reading. The article on the evolution of cognition was interesting but also weighted with research studies that needed more than a cursory glance to understand. I'd barely read through the abstract when Alice breezed into the room. She flopped down on Jake's unmade bed and waited for me to acknowledge her presence.

For a moment, I thought about ignoring her but quickly gave up on that idea. Experience had taught me that she could be annoyingly persistent when something was on her mind. Resigned to my fate, I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms over my chest.

"You're braver than me to touch those sheets," I commented dryly. "I've caught him jerking off on that bed more than once."

"Oh, I bet he wanted you to help," she said with a giggle, apparently not caring that she might be lying on dried jizz stains. "Or did you jump right in on your own?"

"How doth thou gross me out? Let me count the ways," I muttered. "So, I'm assuming there's a point to this pleasant visit. Care to share in five minutes or less so I can get back to my mountain of homework?"

Alice swung her legs over the edge of the mattress and sat up to look at me, a serious expression on her face. "Okay, here's the deal. You know how Rose and Em are planning to live together after they graduate? Well, even though Jasper and I still have our senior year to get through, we've been doing some talking, and it's clear to us that you need to call Edward Cullen."

I blinked a few times, wondering if I'd somehow missed a chunk of the conversation.

"Uh…what?"

"You need to call Edward," she repeated slowly, as if speaking to a child.

"So the part about you and Jasper and living together…?"

"Completely irrelevant," she said, waving her hand in dismissal. "It's been over a week since you saw him, which is way past the 'I'm a desperate loser' critical time period for calling someone. So get to it. If you're feeling generous, you can let me listen in."

I laid my folded arms over the desk and buried my head in them. "You know, sometimes I really regret telling you people anything."

I had to give my friends some details after Paul returned to me campus last Saturday, but I was in such a stupor from spending the afternoon with Edward that I might have spilled a little more than necessary. In my defense, however, Jake had been the one to let slip the part about Edward giving me his contact info.

"Come on, he wouldn't've put his digits in your hot little hands if he didn't want you to use them," Alice pointed out.

I turned my head to the side to look at her. "I dunno, maybe he was just following up on his promise to Jake—which he made only because Mr. Possessive was acting stupid about my safety. It's not like he took the extra 30 seconds he'd need to get my number in return." My voice sounded like it had some weird mumble-whine-pout thing going on.

"He could've been distracted by the emergency…or maybe he didn't want to come on too strong. Who knows? Certainly not you if you don't call him. You can even send a text. Just…something to let him know you're interested."

"Um, hello? Are you forgetting about that small detail called Kate the Girlfriend?" I groaned in exasperation and hid my head in my arms again. "I can't go after a taken guy, even if—well, you know—I want to. It's just not right."

"Okay, fine. Be all moral and don't try to steal him under her nose. Whatever. But at least text the guy so he has a way to get in touch with you if he ever becomes un-taken. It might happen sooner than you think. I've been studying pictures of those two, and I just don't see the love."

"Really, Alice?" I wadded up a scrap piece of paper and chucked it at her. "You should know better, especially considering our current extracurricular activity of pap ball-busting. No couple's going to look all lovey-dovey when people are swarming them and shoving cameras in their faces. And before you say anything..." I saw the look on her face and held up a hand to cut her off. "Random spy shots are pretty much worthless, too. You know I love you, but if someone took a picture of us right now, they'd get me looking like I want to beat the snot out of you with a moderately firm pillow, possibly even a rolled-up magazine—the gossip variety, of course."

"Damn. I hate it when you act all rational and crap," Alice groused. She got up from Jake's bed, crossed the room, and stretched out on mine. "I swear, I'm not trying to give you grief for no reason. But I saw how happy you were when you came back from his place. I thought I would have to tie a sandbag to your feet to keep you from floating away. And it wasn't just because you were dazzled by the fact that he's a gorgeous, rich celebrity. Bella Swan is way too practical to become star-struck, so I know that light in your eyes was because of something else. I mean, I've never seen you look that way before. It was intense. You owe it to yourself to find out if you could have more with him."

"Aaaaand once again, we come back to Kate…"

"Oh my God, it's just a text! It's not like you're gonna yank the boy off the street, throw him in a car, and make him spend the day with you…oh, wait. That sounds awfully familiar, hmm? Besides, if their relationship is so great, nothing should make a difference in them being together. Now stop being a pussy and just do it already!"

"Gah!" I shrieked, covering my ears. "You know how much I hate that word."

"That's right; you're a pussy. A big 'ol fat pussy. Heeeere pussy, pussy, pussy—"

"Ah, stop! I'll think about it, okay? Just stop already!"

"Glad you're finally coming to your senses." She grinned evilly and heaved herself off the bed. "I'll leave you to your reading now, but if I don't get an update by Friday, I'm having the rest of the team throw you to the paps this weekend."

"For the record, I hate you," I growled as she sauntered to the door.

"And I love you, too…pussy."

"Bitch!" I yelled, throwing a highlighter at her.

She ducked easily and slipped into the hallway, laughter following in her wake.

"That word…ugh!" I said with a shudder. It seriously squicked me out for some reason.

I sat back in my chair and considered what Alice had said—though it wasn't like I hadn't thought about it before. In fact, that's pretty much all I did the day after Escape(thePaps)Gate. The Crusaders didn't go to LAX like we usually did on a Sunday because Emmett and Jake were busy. Alice had something going on, too, but it was really the loss of our two huge boys that caused us to skip out. Yes, the fact that we might run into Kate had a teeny bit to do with the decision. But that was mostly my issue, and I had no problem being benched for the day.

Ah, Kate.

I wasn't the type of person to have a grudge against a person I didn't know, but…yeah. I really wished she wasn't in the picture. I felt sure he'd given out at least a few signs of interest. Maybe Edward Cullen was the smooth kind of guy that could put the moves on any and every girl he met, but I honestly didn't get that vibe from him. In the short time I'd spent with him, his behavior ran the spectrum from dangerously suave to boyishly awkward. Most of the time, however, he seemed like a regular, down-to-earth kind of guy—aside from the ridiculous abundance of good looks and wealth—who was just trying to make his way through life without too much of a fuss.

And I thought he kinda maybe sorta liked me a little bit.

I'd had a good time with him. Really good. He was easy to talk to, and we'd shared plenty of laughs. While he displayed a more prickly side of him on occasion, I made the judgment that, overall, he was an even-keeled kind of person who didn't get riled up by much. My usual behavior tended to be heavy on snark, and he'd handled it like a champ.

Of course, next to Paul, I'd probably be considered a blushing schoolgirl.

However, I did think I'd picked up on a subtle shade of dissatisfaction in his general tone…or maybe it was wistfulness? I couldn't pinpoint it exactly, but it seemed to me that all was not copacetic in the world of Edward Cullen. I felt as if some secret desire or urge lurked under the surface of his movie star persona that wanted to break free and let loose. As if, despite all he had in life, there was something missing—a something more that would truly light him up on the inside.

But then, what the hell did I know?

Yeah, I was getting my degree in Psychology, but it was only a Bachelor's. It would be ridiculous to think I could figure out the guy's head in a couple hours of casual interaction. On top of that, he was getting ready for an intense role playing a starving artist of the addicted variety. He'd admitted to acting a little out of character because of his constant hunger. All my observations could be completely off-base because of that.

So, maybe the connection I thought we'd shared wasn't really genuine at all. Maybe he was totally happy in his uber-wealthy little world, with his ginormous house he hardly made use of and the security gate and the high walls and the gorgeous celebrity girlfriend who spent a lot of time on the other side of the continent. And maybe, just maybe…

Ugh.

I thumped my forehead on my desk. All the internal debate was driving me nuts. I wasn't normally so wishy-washy and fixated about things, but then, anything having to do with Edward Cullen could hardly be considered normal, no matter how much of a "regular guy" he seemed. Doubt and longing had plagued me all week, and I did not like the slew of downer thoughts and emotions I'd been having.

Alice was right. I was being a p—…a pu—…aw, dammit, I was being a p-word.

Clenching my jaw in determination, I reached for my phone and called up the contact list. Edward's info was saved under the name "Damien." I was no dummy. I knew there were chicks out there who would kill to have his cell phone number. And if one of those bitches managed to take me out someday, the hell if I'd give them the satisfaction of a payoff.

I quickly typed out a message, then set the phone down to stare at the screen before sending it. For a long minute, I debated deleting the words to write something else—something funnier or more clever or just…better. But in the end, I huffed at my idiocy, mashed my finger on the button, and listened to the whoosh of my first draft, unedited message being sent.

And then...I waited.


I'm going through a bit of a rough period, but I'm trying to update as much I can. For those following my other WIPs, next up is a chapter of The Fence. I also want to say thank you to all those who leave reviews. They really help boost my writing confidence when doubts overwhelm me. Rachel xxoo