DISCLAIMER: All recognizable characters belong to Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.
Now I can't stop thinking that I almost gave you everything. And now the whole thing's finished and I can't stop wishing that I never gave you anything. ~ Halsey, 100 Letters
The buzz of the alarm jerks me awake. My body is so sore and stiff from the last few days of working that the only thing that encourages me to get up is knowing it is my last day on this job. Hopefully ever.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore my job. It's everything to me and never something I take for granted. But working with an ex who lied to you about nearly everything from the moment you met can cause a few issues, to say the least.
The first time I met Jacob I was intrigued. Everything about him should have turned me off. He was my coworker, and nearly fifteen years my senior, but God he was everything to me. At least, I thought he was.
When I first met him and his friend, Sam, they were so kind and welcoming to me. They had worked side by side on this show for eight years, but it seemed that whenever a new cast member was introduced they welcomed them with open arms.
I still felt this pull toward Jacob, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. He had that whole cliché ruggedly handsome look to him. He was kind to everyone on set from the director to the girl who worked the craft service table, a feature rarely seen in some of my past costars. To top it off, he was also talented as hell.
And married, apparently. Not that he bothered to tell me that for the nine months we were together.
"Bella, get up! We have to be out of here in twenty minutes!" Kate shouts at me from the other room. Having her live with me in this tiny apartment seemed like a good idea when I first started working on Unknown about a year ago. Now, I can't wait to be on my own again and done with this show for good.
No, that's not necessarily true. This marks the beginning of my supposed 'hiatus' and that royally pisses me off.
I got conned into doing a shit show of a movie a few years back, another teen trilogy like the one that got me into acting in the first place. The books were great, but the movie adaption was just awful. Long story short, after I realized how horrible the movies were turning out, I had my lawyers get me out of the contract. The studio was pissed, but I got out. Unfortunately for me, one of the terms of my settlement is that I can't be paid to act for the next year while they finish the last movie of the series.
I sort of got around that, though.
I found out about that little clause a few months ago, around the same time I started writing some songs with a few of my friends. They were both ungodly talented musicians, and Grammy winners to boot, but they were my friends first. They could see I was spiraling and needed some kind of outlet. They started teaching me how to tinker with a guitar and how to put all of the emotions swirling around in my head on paper.
I ended up writing an album and recording it within just a few months. One of my friends that helped me find my musical side, Peter, was in the process of opening up his own label. I was the first artist he signed.
I'm not a world class vocalist or lyricist, but I think that's part of the reason people will hopefully be interested in the music aspect of my career. It's real and relatable. I hope.
I know, I know. Crossovers rarely work, right? But, here's where it gets interesting. I've written a movie/musical that follows the album. Every penny of the project has come from my own personal bank account, from wardrobe to cast salaries, myself excluded.
God, I hope this works out.
"Bella! Let's go!"
"I'm up! I'm up!" I shout back. I stumble out of bed and throw on the first articles of clothing my hands touch. I don't bother doing much more than brushing my teeth when I'm about to spend two hours having someone make me look either breathtakingly attractive or hideously ugly, depending on the scene we're shooting today.
I barely remember to grab the script sitting on my bedside table as I meet Kate in the living room.
"How nice of you to join me," Kate says from her spot on the couch. Her gorgeous golden hair is tied back in a perfectly symmetrical pony tail, and her casual t-shirt and jeans look a hell of a lot better than my yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt.
"What, did you miss me? It has been six hours after all," I smirk at her.
I may complain about her from time to time, and she knows it, but I wouldn't survive without Kate. She was one of the first people I hired on my team when I started this, and she's been my constant companion since. She's one of the only people I trust completely in this world. She may be my personal assistant, but she's also one of my closest companions.
"Let's get this over with," I mumble, grabbing a water out of the small kitchen near the door.
"Last day, last day, last day!" Kate fake cheers as we leave the condo.
"Thank God. Heidi knows I'm done with Unknown for the foreseeable future, right? I don't want her coming to me as soon as the year is up with a new contract. I'm out."
"She knows, but it wouldn't hurt to tell her again. You know how she can get when they start throwing more money at her," Kate grumbles.
I just have to get through today before I move on to the next phase of my life. I have Badlands to look forward to and I've put my heart, body, and soul into every aspect of that album and movie. I'm going to make it the best damn thing I've ever done.
"You're all set, Bella. I'll see you next time around, okay?" Addie tells me, a polite smile on her face. She's done with my makeup and is moving on to the next person in line. There is usually a line of extras on a show like this, all needing some horrific mask or wound.
Unknown used to be one of my favorite shows, which is why I jumped at the chance to guest star on it a while back. It has just the right amount of suspense and mystery and horror to keep people interested. But anyone watching could tell that as the show kept going, it was losing steam. I like to think the introduction of my character, Aurora, gave the show a little bit more life.
But . . . whatever. I'm over it now.
Walking across the blistering lot in Vancouver I bump into both of the people I've managed to avoid since I got here. I keep my eyes glued to the phone in my hand, hoping to slip right past them, but Sam calls out my name.
"Hey, how's it going?" My voice sounds weaker than I'd like it to. I want nothing more than to let Jacob know I'm not the immature child he accused me of being at the end of our relationship, but my mind blanks as I look at the two of them.
"Do you want to run lines for your last few scenes? We were just heading to – "
"No thanks, I'm good. I actually have a few calls to make before I have to head down to the set, so I should get going."
Sam gives me pity eyes and it takes all of my willpower to resist rolling my eyes at him. I'm tired of pity eyes. I'm ready to see admiration and awe in everyone's eyes when they look at me again.
"That's a wrap!"
I breathe out a deep sigh of relief. Usually hearing those words brings me a twinge of sadness. I tend get attached to the projects I work on, but I have no remorse about being done with this show.
Sam gives me a gentle hug. Despite everything that has happened since I started this show, and despite his role in all of it, he truly is a good guy. He's nice to every single person he meets. Whether it is an award-winning actor or the janitor who cleans up the stage, Sam will make an effort to talk to them and make them comfortable.
I know he feels bad about what happened between me and Jacob, but I've told him I don't blame him for any of it.
"I'm gonna miss having you around here."
"I have no doubt that I'll see you around soon, Sam." We don't typically run in the same circles, but in this business you tend to run into people when you least expect it.
Jacob puts an awkward hand on my shoulder and looks at me as if he is about to say something, but then a chorus of cheers erupts behind me.
I turn around and the crew is pushing a cart full of cake and decorated with streamers and balloons towards me. I look down at the cake and see "Farewell Bella" written in elegant purple icing.
My cheeks start to burn but I know my blush is well hidden behind the inch of makeup covering my face. "Thanks, guys."
My final few months on this show may have been hell, but the first half of my time here was pretty spectacular. I know I'll miss seeing these people on a regular basis, so I push my selfish thoughts aside and focus on my friends around me.
Twenty minutes later I'm eating cake on an uncomfortable prop couch next to Elliot. He joined the cast a few years before me, but we bonded instantly over our similar "newcomer" status'.
"Looking forward to a year off?" Elliot asks me.
"Not really." No one knows about my little secret project. I plan to keep it that way until its release. "I suppose I could use a break though. I've been working non-stop for . . . four years."
"You've been acting for four years but you've got the talent someone whose been doing it for decades would kill for. Don't let this whole situation bring you down."
I can't decide which situation Elliot means. My legal situation or my Jacob situation. Either way, I'm not going to let either mess with my career. It's all I have left.
I look over at Elliot and smile. I can't help but feel thankful for his friendship through my time on this show. "You can do better than this show, you know."
"Everyone thinks they can always do better, but not many actually can. You, for instance, can go from this washed up sci-fi show to an Academy Award nominated film in a heartbeat."
My face flames again, but only I can tell. "I've only been in one of those. You make me sound a lot better than I actually am."
"You're a special one, Bella Swan. Don't doubt it."
I look around my small trailer and know I am probably forgetting something. No matter how far in advance I start packing up my stuff, I always end up leaving something behind whenever I move or finish a project. Always.
I sit on the floor in the middle of the small space and look around. This area is so full of what used to be happy memories. Then my world crashed around me and they all turned to gut wrenching flashes that would leave me broken. But now . . . they don't really affect me.
I don't care anymore.
I don't care about Jacob and his lies. I don't care about everyone who betrayed me in the process. Holding on to those feelings will only hold me back. I'm going to put all of that emotion into Welcome to the Badlands and make something wonderful out of the shit storm that was once my life.
Four months. We cut everything close, but within four months we filmed and produced something I'm unbelievably proud of. I watched the finished version just a week ago before we sent the final edit to Netflix. That's right, a Netflix exclusive release!
Sending a movie to theaters across the world is . . . ungodly expensive. Even I couldn't swing that, but we managed to sign a deal with Netflix and everything fell into place. Tonight Welcome to the Badlands will premiere at midnight, and I could not be more nervous.
I pull my oversized sweater on and drape a few necklaces over my chest. I don't have anything too extravagant planned, mostly because there are only a handful of people who even know what is about to happen.
I've kept everything about this project a secret from anyone who wasn't absolutely necessary. At last count, I think we had around 2,000 nondisclosure agreements signed from all of the cast, crew, and other project managers and such. Thankfully, we've had no problem with anything leaking to the public.
Tonight I'm having a little party with some of my closest friends for the release. A few of them know of a secret project I've been working on, but no one knows the specifics.
I join Kate downstairs in my Los Angeles home. We actually filmed a lot of the movie in my actual homes, both here and my apartment in New York. Major cost saver.
Kate has transformed my living room into a comfortable movie room with just enough seating for everyone coming tonight. I went back and forth on even having this party. Wasn't it conceited to invite a bunch of people over and ask them to watch my face for two hours? But Kate convinced me that they were my friends and would want to support me on this.
"Are you sure – "
Kate doesn't even look up from arranging the food on the kitchen island. "Yes."
"You don't even know what I was going to say." I counter.
"Are you sure this was a good idea? Are you sure people are going to like it?" Kate does in what I hope is a terrible imitation of my voice. "Whatever it was, I'm sure you're wrong. Badlands is fucking amazing. Everyone is constantly badgering you for information on your life, and this is your way of giving it to them on your terms. It's creative and beautiful and going to help so many people who are going through similar situations. Stop worrying."
I hoist myself up on the kitchen counter and send a glare to Kate. I hate it when she's practical.
Half an hour later everyone is here and thankfully excited about the surprise project I have to show them.
"How did you even pull this off?" Alison asks me. She's one of the ones who helped me with the album in the first place, but she didn't know I took it an extra step.
I breath out a shaky breath, unsure how I actually did manage to pull it off. "I honestly don't even know. Everyone knew I couldn't do much this year so I guess they just decided to forget about me for a while. We didn't run into a single pap while filming, it was unreal."
"Three minutes!" Selena shouts.
I pull out my phone, ready to post what I need to when the time comes. Social media is a pain in my ass, but pretty damn effective. I have 60 million people following me on Twitter that care about what I have to say for some reason. I don't post on it much, but we've all sent a drunk tweet we regret, right?
Welcome to the Badlands. I hope you enjoy your stay.
I type out my cryptic message and attach the link that will go live right about . . . now.
Here we go.
A/N: Okay, a few things if anyone is confused: 1. The album that this lovely Bella has 'written' in my mind is Badlands by Halsey (wonderful album if you haven't heard it before). But, the lyrics at the beginning of each chapter are from her sophomore album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Just a little something to keep in mind. 2. Just because I used Halsey's music, I don't necessarily see Bella as Halsey if that makes sense. 3. If you don't like the music I base the story off of, that really has now bearing on the actual plot, so I hope you continue reading! I just thought giving you all an idea on the music might help you enjoy the story a little more. 4. We meet Edward next time!
I've been reading twilight ff for years, so I've decided to give it a try now, as writing my own novel has always been a dream of mine. What better way to practice than some ff? I hope you enjoy it enough to leave me a review, I just might post the next chapter early if I get a few. The next chapter is where the fun really begins, this was mostly just an introduction. This is chapter is also on the short side, the rest will be longer. I've got the first few written, so I'll likely post about once a week.