Disclaimer: This is really it for a while people. Unless it's another one-shot, but I sincerely doubt it. Oh and I don't own anything. And also, this is a long one-shot, so I'm impressed with myself.
"Dr. Swan? Dr. Swan. Dr. Swan!"
Isabella Swan woke up with a start, arms flailing. Blurry eyed, she squinted to try and make out the shape of… someone? Something? Where was she? Was this the on-call room? Or had she fallen asleep again in the restroom?
"I'm awake," Bella said, not sounding convincing at all if her hoarse voice was anything to go by. She'd been dreaming about falling asleep in her bed, and damn if she didn't wish she could go back to that.
"Dr. Swan, I think that Dr. McCarty is looking for you. It sounded urgent."
Bella paled. Dr. McCarty was one of the senior residents in the neurosurgery department; he'd taken her under his wing, and so anything he wanted, went. She wasn't the lowest of the low —she was a third year resident now, so she had her own people to boss around. However, neurosurgery was a seven-year program —which meant she had a shitload of people to answer to.
Dr. McCarty was one of them.
"Oh my God I'm dead," Bella whispered to herself, then shot the person —Nurse Maggie, she could tell now— a thankful look. "How long ago was this?"
"Just now. I ran into him on my way here; I needed to find Dr. Martinez. Have you seen her?"
Hurrying to put on her shoes, Bella gestured to the rumpled bed she'd been lying on.
"I've been dead to the world for the last hour, Maggie. Sorry." Bella stood up and threw her hair into a ponytail. "If anyone asks, I wasn't here."
Maggie didn't even ask why; everyone knew if she got caught by a resident above her she'd be dead meat. The reasoning? If the PGY-whatever wasn't sleeping, neither were those below them.
In conclusion, Bella took off like a bat out of hell, knowing she'd be able to find Dr. McCarty near the nurse's station.
Thank God for Nurse Hale.
"Rosie, baby, I know you want to go out with me. Why can't you just admit it?" Emmett McCarty was whining, and the blonde demigoddess in front of him simply raised a sculpted eyebrow.
"Because I don't want to go out with you."
The ice behind those eyes would've chilled anyone, but not Emmett. He was dumber than that.
"Dr. McCarty," Bella breathed out, her bring jog coming to a stop next to the bear of a man. "You needed me?"
Emmett nodded seriously.
"Yes. Would you tell Rose I'm an ok fellow to go out with?"
Bella didn't miss a beat.
"If this is all you called me here for then you're most definitely not."
Rosalie burst out laughing.
"Man, I really like you, kid," Rose shook her head, then turned to the older doctor. "Tell you what. You manage to convince the kid over here that dating you's a good idea and I'll give you a chance. No harassing her though."
Bella groaned, ignoring the anxious vibe coming from her senior.
"Would you stop calling me a kid, Rose? I'm actually a doctor, you know."
Bella was famous around the hospital, so everyone called her a kid. That's because she was, in a way. She'd graduated high-school at 15, undergrad at nearly 17 and medicine school at 19 years old. Now, at twenty-one (to be twenty-two in September), she was a third year neurosurgery resident. Genius didn't even begin to cut it; people said the only reason Bella wasn't in Johns Hopkins but in San Francisco was that she'd grown up here and didn't want to leave for the other coast. On average, first year residents were twenty-six or twenty-seven; Bella Swan was younger by about seven years than the rest of her fellow residents —and this unnerved a good portion of the doctors. To his credit though, Dr. McCarty didn't seem to care; he treated her the same as he did his the other residents, although perhaps he was nicer to her. Bella felt this had more to do with how little she put up with his shit than with her age; unless it was hospital-related, she didn't let anything slide.
"I was actually looking for you to remind you to go home."
"Go home, Swan. Now. Your shift ended like two hours ago. If I see you roaming the hospital in the next twenty minutes I'm keeping you here until tomorrow."
Now, that was something Bella did not want.
"Sir, yes sir." She waited until Emmett had turned around to glare at Rose. She glared and gave her a look that said they'd talk later.
The two had actually become close friends since Bella started her residency.
Hurrying, Bella left like a bat out of hell. Keeping track of time was hard for her, so she wasn't surprised Emmett had had to remind her to get out.
In a stroke of luck, the bus arrived at nearly the same time she did. Thankful, she quickly got on and found that the bus was half-empty, so she got an individual seat to herself. A few minutes after she was seated, she got a call.
Struggling to keep her eyes open, Bella answered.
"Hello?" She yawned, resting her head against the window. She watched the cars move past her, and she was having such a hard time keeping awake that she knew it'd been the right call to leave the car home. She was in no condition to hold a conversation, much less drive.
"B? Where are you? You were meant to be home like an hour ago," a worried Jasper Swan started rambling, and though she knew he said more, she couldn't keep up with it all. Frowning, Bella closed her eyes.
"Home?" That didn't make sense; Bella had started living on her own half a year ago, so he shouldn't have been worrying. Had he dropped by her apartment unannounced again? He had too much free time.
"Yeah, home. My home. Remember? I was going to introduce you to Alice?"
Suddenly alarmed, Bella's eyes shot open and she groaned. She nearly hit her head against the window, but thankfully she managed to swerve in time.
"Oh geez, Jasper, I totally forgot. I just got off a thirty hour shift. I'm on the bus. Uh… I can be there in an hour, hour and a half if I have time to shower."
"No, you're not showering as punishment for forgetting. How far away are you from your place?"
Bella glanced outside, recognizing the buildings passing by.
"Fifteen minutes, give or take."
"Alright, be ready in five once you get there. I'll send you an Uber."
Wanting to argue over his bossy tone, but unable to gather the energy, Bella simply agreed and hung up. Being an older brother seemed to suit Jasper well.
The ride to her place was quick, traffic blessedly light for a Saturday. She lived in a four-story apartment building on the second floor, and even if it wasn't huge, she rather liked it; she'd gotten it on her own and it had enough space for her. She rushed upstairs (elevator didn't even work, not that she needed it) and quickly went inside, dropping her backpack by the door and going to the bathroom to brush her teeth. As she was braiding her hair (if she couldn't shower, she'd at least do something about that bird's nest) she got a text from her brother informing her that her Uber had arrived. Groaning, she finished her half-assed hairdo, grabbed her wallet, keys and phone and ran downstairs to the curb.
But it was no Uber waiting for her.
No sir, it was Edward Anthony Cullen.
Gaping, and suddenly too awake for her liking, Bella watched the man of her dreams step out of the car, go around and open the passenger door for her. He looked like James Dean, if James Dean had been a quiet green-eyed redhead. Alright, so the only thing hey had in common was the clothes, glasses, hair and aura of coolness, but close enough.
"Edward?" Bella stopped walking when she was close enough.
He gave her a crooked smile, pushing the sunglasses up higher.
"Hey Bell. Jasper asked me to pick you up. Is that ok?"
He looked good, like he always did. Jeans snug but not uncomfortably tight, leather jacket and black t-shirt made up the ensemble. His silver car glinted in the sunlight, nearly blinding her. She could see the gray seats from where she was.
Snapped back to reality, Bella quickly nodded and got in the car, thankful when Edward followed suit and got into the driver's seat of his Audi. They both knew quickness was of importance when meeting in public —the walls had ears and all that.
"You're here," Bella turned to gape at him, acutely aware of what a mess she was compared to… well, anyone, but especially to a man so hot. Edward nodded, amused by her reaction. He put on his seatbelt, checking to see as well if Bella had put hers on. "I thought you said you'd be shooting in Seattle this week."
Edward gave her a look while he started the car. Not a good one, either.
"Bell, I told you that nearly two weeks ago."
Edward Cullen (or Edward Masen, the stage name he went by) was a Hollywood A-lister Bella had known since she was eight. Edward was Jasper's best friend, and at twenty-eight, the two were as close as they'd ever been. She wasn't too surprised that he'd come to pick her up —Edward lived in the apartment below Jasper's since two years ago, and he was there whenever he wasn't shooting something across the world.
"Two weeks ago?" Bella looked at her phone to see what day it was; shit. He was right. "Why didn't you call?"
Edward shrugged and left it at that.
She sighed in frustration; she wasn't amused by how often he left her with questions.
"I'm sorry Edward. You know time moves different for me in the hospital."
Looking at her out of the corner of his eye, he gave her a quick once over before returning to look at the road.
"You look tired. Did you sleep?"
She yawned, remembering.
"An hour. There were a lot of emergencies last night so I couldn't rest for long." She yawned again, resting her cheek against her hand, her elbow resting against the window. Again, she closed her eyes. "Jasper's gonna kill me for forgetting."
"No, when I saw him he just looked nervous beyond belief. He's really serious about this girl; he's been dating her for five months and I'm just meeting her now. If it weren't for you he wouldn't be letting me see her until their first anniversary."
Edward had a track record of getting introduced to Jasper's girlfriends and unwillingly stealing them away. Not because Edward even looked at them, Bella knew, but because they'd always switch targets.
"I'm still pissed he wouldn't let me meet her sooner."
"You know they get intimidated. Your brother is crazy for you."
Bella rolled her eyes, remembering Jasper's last girlfriend; Maria had met her during her vacation period, so Bella had been lazying around the house. She'd thought Bella was a NEET, since it wasn't summer or winter vacation and Bella had woken up at two in the afternoon. Maria had tried insinuating to Jasper that his sister was a bum, and that had been done.
"You'd think he'd try to curb his motherly instincts a little."
Edward gave her a sad smile.
"You know he can't do that. You're all he has."
Their mother had up and left them when Bella was six years old, leaving Charlie to take care of a hyperactive kid and a moody fourteen year old. When Bella was thirteen, Charlie died in a car accident; this meant that she became Jasper's responsibility. Thankfully for them, Esme and Carlisle Cullen (their neighbors and parents to a superstar) were willing to take Bella in. Edward had already departed for Hollywood, and Jasper needed to finish college. Bella had then doubled down on her studying, needing to graduate early and be out of the kind couple's hair. She had a full-ride scholarship to Harvard for a biology major and a minor in philosophy, both of which she completed in two years. Then she went to med school in Johns Hopkins —with a full ride scholarship as well. But when it was time for her to specialize, she realized she rather missed her brother —and so chose University of California San Francisco's neurosurgery program. Which wasn't a downgrade at all, but it wasn't what everyone expected of her. Still, she didn't regret her decision; she'd missed her brother, and if not for how independent she'd become the last handful of years, she'd have gone back to live with him. As it was, a year and a half was all she'd needed to save enough money for her own place.
Jasper was her older brother, but he also acted as mother and father sometimes. He'd been her legal guardian all her adolescence, and even when she'd lived with Esme and Carlisle he'd visited her nearly every day. She'd even hid boyfriends from him the same as she did with Charlie, not wanting to talk boys with Jasper. She sneaked a peek at Edward, then looked back to the front.
"I know. I hope this Alice girl doesn't mind, or beats it out of him."
Not that Bella wanted her brother to love her any less; she just wanted him to tone down the protectiveness.
"From what he's told me, she's something else entirely. I can only hope I don't screw things up for them."
Bella rolled her eyes.
"If you do, she wasn't it." Bella yawned again. "I'd fall asleep right now, but knowing your driving I'd close my eyes expecting five minutes of sleep and would get one. Talk about frustrating then."
Edward shrugged sheepishly.
It was true; he kind of drove like a (responsible) madman.
"So, how was the last week of shooting?" Bella asked. "Got to kiss Jennifer Lawrence?"
Amused, Edward quirked an eyebrow.
"It was good, though I didn't get to kiss her, what with her not being in the movie or anything."
Oh. Had that been the last movie?
"I'm glad that wrapped up quickly, though I'm sure the press junket is looming," Bella said thoughtfully, and Edward didn't even bother to comment shooting had taken three months and that last week was just to fix a couple of scenes. He knew Bella was aware of how long filming had been, and was simply speaking about time as she always did —strangely.
"It kicks up in like two months," Edward sighed, not even knowing if he was referring to the last film he did or the one he'd just finished. "I'm taking the next month off to relax though. I'll probably hide out at my parent's for a week."
"I thought you wanted to finally visit Fiji."
Edward made a turn, and Bella could recognize that they were making their way into his apartment building. Literally, his. He'd bought it out and rented three of the four apartments —one to Jasper and the other two to family members of his celebrity friends. Only Jasper got a discount though. It was secure but not excessive —it had strict security to protect him and the family members (and Jasper, kind of) but not so much that it alerted people that something was up.
"I do, but our vacations will only coincide for a week. I think we should go at least two weeks to make the most out of it."
Bella's eyebrows climbed into her hairline.
He flashed her a brilliant smile.
"What? I want to take you."
Oh yeah, and also, she was sex friends with Edward Cullen.
Not dating, not in a relationship —they were just friends with benefits. Edward could try all he wanted, but Bella wasn't about to jump into a long term relationship with him. Or short, for that matter.
"No, we're not going to such a public place. Paparazzi would be sure to follow you, and I'm not going back to the hospital to get my ass handed to me by everyone for not introducing you sooner."
"I've told you before I don't mind going in to say hi," Edward pointed out, reaching the apartment building. He pressed his thumb on a scanner (then wiped it clean) and let the security officer confirm it was indeed him. They made their way to the underground parking lot, Edward taking off his sunglasses as they went.
"Well, I mind," Bella said, waiting for Edward to park. "I'm already enough entertainment by being the youngest resident in who knows how many years. I'm not feeding fuel to the fire."
Sighing, Edward released his seatbelt. He turned to face the young woman fully.
"I'm not gonna push you. You know I'm ok with whatever you want," Edward said, not having intended to make her defensive. He smirked. "But... Marry me?"
Groaning, Bella pushed her door open and got out, ignoring Edward's protests about letting him get that.
That joke was getting old quick.
Jogging, Edward caught up with Bella easily enough before she could reach the elevator. He grabbed her wrist and pushed her up gently against the doors.
"I missed you," Edward said, reaching up to tangle his fingers in her braid. "It sucks not being able to see you more often."
He knew she wasn't going to reply to that, so he did the next best thing.
He bent down and captured her lips with his, putting more pressure when she didn't pull back. He licked her bottom lip, switching to cradle her neck instead with one hand and letting the other fall on her waist. He was about to deepen the kiss when Bella broke away.
"Come on, let's go in. We take any longer and my brother's gonna call a search party," Bella said; her cheeks were flushed, her lips barely swollen. He knew doing anymore would make them give themselves away, so reluctantly, he let her go and pushed the button to go up.
The elevator was already there.
Edward used his key so he could push the button for Jasper's apartment while Bella checked herself in the mirror; she wiped at her lips lightly and tucked in a few stray hairs so she could at least try and look a little less thoroughly horny.
"... here!" Bella heard her brother say the moment the doors opened.
The moment she and Edward stepped out, they found Jasper and a small, pixie-like girl standing anxiously a few feet from the elevator.
Damn, Jasper must've been tracking her again in the Find My Friends app. She should get around to deactivating it some time.
"Hi, sorry for being late." Bella greeted, the lack of sleep showing through in her voice. She expected Alice to be star struck by now and not have even noticed her presence —but boy was she wrong.
"Hi! You must be Bella, Jasper's sister! I'm Alice Brandon, it's so nice to meet you. Jazzy's told me all about you," Alice fired off, and before Bella could even blink the tiny girl had her arms around her in a bone-crushing hug. "I'm so glad I finally get to put a face to the name."
Well, a real face. Facebook-stalking her didn't count, Alice didn't think.
Bella didn't even know what to sort through first. Her tingling feeling of presently talking to someone on drugs, or the fact that Alice had just called Jasper Jazzy —someone he'd once broken her favorite mug for doing.
"Uh, me too. Jasper's talked a lot about you."
Despite not having met her earlier, this was true. The last few months Alice was all her brother talked about. Thankfully, Alice released her after another moment, and then she moved on to Edward.
"Hi, and you must be Edward, right?" Alice trained her eyes on the redhead standing quietly behind Bella, and it took her all three nanoseconds to realize who he was. She gasped. "Oh my gosh, you're Edward Masen, aren't you! I'm a huge fan!"
This was squealed, and it was a wonder Bella could even hear her. She was pretty sure only dogs should've had that privilege.
Edward gave her a polite smile.
"Thank you, Alice."
He didn't say anything else, not that Bella expected him to. He was only verbose with her; to the rest of the world, he hardly said ten-word sentences. Even to Jasper, and the two were best friends since high school. Then again, Jasper was verbose enough for the two.
Blushing, Alice took a step back and looked at Jasper. Giggling, she turned back to Edward.
"I really want to ask for an autograph, but it still feels a little surreal right now. Not to mention, I'm sure we'll be seeing each other often anyway, since you're Jazzy's best friend."
She said the last part looking at Jasper, and she had such a lovestruck look on her face that Edward lost some of the tension in his shoulders. Either this was a very good actress, or she was actually in love with his best friend.
"Well, I don't know about that darling. I hardly ever see him and he claims I'm his best friend. I don't know whether to believe him anymore."
Edward gave him an unamused look.
"Shut up, Jazzy," Edward said, relishing in the blond man's flinch. Oh yeah, two could play the asshole game.
"Anyway, I'm glad you were able to make it after all. I told Jazzy he should've rescheduled for next Saturday since he said you sounded so tired on the phone, but he said it was better this way. Are you sure? We could always have dinner another day."
In her half-asleep state, Bella had a hard time following Alice's words, which seemed to be sped up by two. So it took her a moment to comprehend, process and reply to the girl.
"It's fine. My brother was right; it's better to meet today, or else we might end up doing this by December."
Alice let out a tinkling laugh as if it was the funniest thing she'd ever heard —but neither Edward nor Jasper joined in, even if Jasper did quirk up a lip.
Bella was deadly serious.
If it was part of her daily routine or had anything to do with patients, Bella was strictly punctual. If it was anything (social) outside of it —you had to pencil it in and hope she made it either on time or at all. She was a woman who had too many things to do —workshops, congresses, shifts, even an online master's. Everything that was related to academia had her full devotion —anything outside of it, not so much. Not that she thought it was a good way to be; she just didn't have the energy or motivation to change. Thankfully, 90% of the time she actually remembered her engagements and at least texted to cancel, so it wasn't like she stood people up often; and if she ever stood anyone up, it was either Jasper or Edward.
Again, she didn't like this part of herself —but she was a work in progress.
"Huh?" Alice blinked, looking at the non-laughing people surrounding her.
"You'll learn my sister isn't well acquainted with the concept of time," Jasper explained, putting an arm around his girlfriend's waist. "She once missed my birthday by a year. When I graduated from college I had to place alarms all over her house just to remind her the day was coming and then had to go pick her up myself to take her to the ceremony."
"Sore baby," Bella muttered under her breath, then gave Edward a dirty look. "What's your story about me, bud? You got something better?"
"Nothing right now."
Oh, he knew which time it was. Last week —he'd told her the day and hour he was coming home and said he wanted to see her at his place. She replied ok, even when he reminded her on the day of his arrival. Then here they were.
He'd been pissed.
Worse still, he couldn't tell her. The agreement they had was tenuous at best —he'd even had to concede to not being exclusive, though the thought of touching another woman was gut-wrenching— so if he were to act like her boyfriend he knew that things could come crumbling down quickly. Bella had made it very clear when they first started this (whatever they were doing) that she had no intention to formally date him, the A-lister who was away from home half of the year. Which he thought was totally unfair, because she'd spent every single time they'd met since she'd turned eighteen flirting with him and trying to catch his attention. Now that she had it, she pulled away —as if this were all a game to her.
He was frustrated, to say the least.
"See? I'm not a terrible person. You're just too mindful," Bella stuck her tongue out at Jasper. She would've had more impact if she hadn't been interrupted by her own yawn. "Sorry about that."
"You really do sound very tired. You sure you're not gonna fall asleep eating?"
Bella nodded, though she was running out of things to say. Still, she thought it was nice of Alice to worry; and she did, she sounded genuinely concerned.
"It's fine, Ali-cat. We have a photo collection of places Bella's fallen asleep at ever since she went into medicine. We've got her standing, eating, mid-conversation, in the car, in the bus, in a rollercoaster ride, she even fell asleep one time when she was opening the door for me. You haven't lived until you see a book fall on her face and she just keeps snoring."
"I don't snore," Bella mumbled, but the next second her eyes had closed and she was breathing evenly in and out. Amused, Edward and Jasper took a picture of her. Another one of the standing category.
Alice raised an eyebrow at the boys.
"She's asleep already. It takes her seconds," Jasper elaborated, chuckling. "Sorry about her. She's usually a lot nicer, but she tends to check out when she's sleepy."
That was true, Edward thought, grabbing Bella by the waist and moving her to the dining room; she was the best person Edward knew, but lack of sleep often made her either grumpy, distracted or silly. Thankfully, these effects of sleep-deprivation had become less evident with the years. Otherwise, even she wasn't able to stand herself. He wondered how she managed the sleepiness with her patients and the other doctors, but he knew she probably controlled it well —she was nothing if not a work ethic fanatic.
"Your poor sister. She must be exhausted. Don't you want to let her sleep for a couple of hours before we eat?" Alice asked, giving the standing girl a once over. In her eyes she saw a young woman (how old was she even? She looked young to be a doctor already) in scrubs, tennis shoes, a messy braid and bags under her eyes. Bella was quite pretty, Alice thought, though a touch of makeup would do her well to at least hide those dark circles.
"No, don't worry about it. If she goes to sleep now she'll have a hard time going to sleep later, not to mention she's probably—" a loud growl came from Bella's stomach, making Edward grin at the timing. "—hungry." Jasper looked up at the movie star and motioned towards his sister. "Wake her up, won't you?"
Edward glared. Why'd he have to do it?
"Why him?" Alice echoed Edward's thoughts, and trying to be gracious, approached to wake Bella up. She put her hand on the young doctor's arm, ignoring the choked out warnings the boys attempted to give her, only to be scared shitless by the loud snore that preceded arms flailing.
"I'm up," Bella coughed, and then Edward and Jasper laughed their asses off at the expressions on the girls' faces. Jasper was quite dramatic about it, too —he even fell down with how hard he was laughing, and Edward tried helping him up. And was it just Alice, or was Jasper turning a little blue? Bella turned to her brother's new girlfriend with a deadpan look. "I fell asleep, didn't I?"
Giggling, Alice nodded. It had been pretty funny, now that her heart had stopped racing so violently. Thankfully, Bella started laughing too —she knew how ridiculous she looked, having seen all the pictures the two goofballs sent her.
Abruptly, Bella stopped laughing.
"Alright you assholes, feed me if you're gonna make me your clown," Bella snapped, and her stomach growling again let everyone know just how serious she was.
"When was the last time you ate?" Edward asked, finally getting himself under control. This was one of the things he liked most about Bella though —she never minded people laughing at her expense, and she gave people a lot of fodder material. Well, she only cared if it was a mean joke, but neither Edward nor Jasper were the type to make offensive jokes. He helped Jasper, who was still chuckling, finish standing up.
Bella thought back.
"What time is it?"
Bella pursed her lips.
"I think at seven, but I'm not sure."
Alice's eyes almost popped out of her head. She hadn't had anything in nearly twelve hours! Was this normal? Worse still, Jasper only nodded as if this was a common occurrence; it was, and Bella'd once gone thirty hours without eating anything. Jasper was sure a part of it came with her workload, but he also knew she was just that careless about her health. It was why he went to her place once a week to stock her up on food.
"Alright, let's eat then," Edward said, tugging at Bella's braid once before following her into the kitchen.
"Hey," Jasper whispered, holding Alice back before she could head in as well. She blinked up at him. "Everything ok? I know my sister and Edward can be a bit… overwhelming."
"I still can't really believe that Edward Masen is your best friend. He's my favorite actor, and it's funny that he's exactly like he is in interviews. And as for your sister… You kind of made it seem like she's some arrogant jerk who'd hate me, honestly, so I was nervous to meet her. I'm relieved she's nice, even if she has been asleep for fifty percent of her time here."
"How old is she, by the way? You never said. A year younger?" Alice wondered out loud. Jasper shook his head.
"Twenty-two in a few months."
Alice waited for the 'kidding' part, but it didn't come. She blinked.
"But she's a doctor."
"… with a 213 IQ. She could've finished high school much earlier than she did, but our dad convinced her she needed the experience. When he died, she wanted to make things easier for me, so she sped things up —though still tried honoring my father's memory by not rushing too much. So yeah, she might not seem like it, but she puts pretty much everyone to shame."
Stunned, Alice decided that she shouldn't have asked that on their first meeting. Now, she'd wonder if Bella was analyzing everything she did and thinking her dumb.
As if seeing the thoughts run away from her, Jasper put his hands on her shoulders, bringing her attention to him.
"Hey," he said softly, not wanting his sister to overhear. "Don't worry about it. She doesn't think much of her intelligence, and she's not the type of person to think someone's beneath her just because they don't have her IQ. Act like you normally would, yeah?"
He hoped she would. Bella was easily hurt by underhanded comments about her intelligence, but it was an inevitable topic most of the time. And much as Jasper knew he loved Alice, he couldn't let anyone hurt his little sister.
Alice saw on her boyfriend's face how much this meant to him —that she acted natural. So she told herself to get her shit together and returned a bright smile.
"Alright. I believe you. Now, let's eat, hm? Your sister's starving."
Giving her a weary smile back, Jasper let Alice lead him back to the dining room, the food having thankfully been heated up again. He knew that sending Edward to pick her up was a surefire way to have her here in fifteen minutes.
Dinner went surprisingly smooth, and much to Jasper's excitement, Bella didn't fall asleep again. He thought it had something to do with how energetic Alice was, and even Edward seemed entertained by the smaller girl. Edward didn't talk much, but he'd already expected that; his best friend wasn't well-known for his extroversion. And since it was his first time meeting Alice, Jasper knew he'd be unlikely to offer up much personal information. Bella had seconds, stating that Alice's pasta was even better than Jasper's —a true compliment for her. Alice told them about herself —she had an older sister, Cynthia, and she was a fashion designer. She and Jasper had met on a blind date a friend of hers had insisted she go on —apparently, Jasper knew said friend's boyfriend since college. Alice had taken one look at Jasper and had known she'd made the right call in showing up, and the rest, as they say, was history. She was a Virgo and she was twenty-nine, a couple of months older than Jasper. She'd gone to a private girls' high school and graduated from NYU. She'd even had the balls to ask Bella if she had a boyfriend, something nobody had ever done in front of her older brother.
"No, I don't."
"Her last boyfriend was in high school before she skipped so many grades," Jasper offered, heart going out to his sister. Too many people had been intimidated by her, which was just as well; Bella didn't need anyone who was scared of her smarts.
After that, Bella had steered the conversation clear of any talk of love. She didn't much care for talking about love, thinking that there were always more interesting things to converse about. Everyone had a blast when she talked about her latest encounter with her senior resident, and she even dished out on a couple of rumors she'd heard about. Hospital gossip was the best kind of gossip there was —it was mostly real and information was usually complete. Doctors were the biggest gossips there were, so they usually fished for all information available. Nobody was ever left with half-assed versions of events.
By the time that Bella was about to go home, she and Alice had established a friendly rapport that left her happy about not having fallen asleep during dinner. When they were saying goodbye, Alice had given her another bone-crushing hug.
"Oh, I'm so glad we met, Bella! I can tell you and I are going to be best friends." She buzzed with excitement, making Bella smile amusedly.
"I think Angela might have a problem with you taking her spot," Bella joked. "She doesn't share well."
"They've been best friends since they were in diapers. The last time Bella referred to someone else as her best friend, Angela caught wind of it and painted Bella's room black."
Alice blanched; what a crazy woman. However, Bella didn't seem bothered by it, so Alice let it go. To each his own, she supposed.
"Well, I call dibs on second best friend though," Alice laughed, and Bella gave her an easygoing smile. She could live with that. "Though I'm warning you, stand me up and I'll redo your closet so it's unicorn-themed."
Bella raised an eyebrow.
"You're assuming my wardrobe isn't already unicorn-themed." She snorted at the look on the girl's face. "I'm kidding, Alice. I'm not as bad as these two make me out to be. They complain so much I had to start using a calendar, but for some reason I didn't get any alarms about today."
"You probably slept through it," Edward offered, something that was entirely possible with Bella. He didn't bother mentioning she probably didn't even use it. "Anyways, we should get going. You need to sleep."
Suddenly remembering how sleep-deprived she was, Bella yawned.
"Right. Ok, thanks for dinner Alice, Jazzy," Bella emphasized, making her brother flinch. He was never living this down. "It was delicious, and I'm really glad we finally met."
"Thanks for taking her back, Edward. You're cheaper than an Uber," Jasper winked, and Edward sighed and flipped him off. He turned to Alice, this time giving her a much warmer smile than when they'd met; if Bella had deemed her nice, then so did he.
"It was lovely meeting you, Alice." Edward smiled, making Alice's heart skip a beat. Damn, celebrities really did have something different about them.
"I probably don't need to tell you how surreal this is. And I changed my mind about those autographs —I need something to prove to myself that this is real. I wouldn't put it above myself to have dreamed you up." Alice said all this with a teasing smile, letting Edward know that she was kidding —mostly. She really would have to work on getting that autograph, but she supposed that they had time. She was pretty sure she'd marry Jasper.
Edward simply laughed, knowing she meant it.
"Alright, bye kids. Behave yourselves." Bella yawned, waving to them tiredly just as the elevator dinged to let everyone know it had arrived.
As Edward and Bella got in the elevator, they saw the happy couple wave them goodbye before the doors closed on them.
Once they were in the privacy of Edward's car and pulling out of the parking lot, Edward asked what had been on his mind.
"So, did you really like her? Or was that just you being polite?"
"No, I really liked her. Plus, she seems to really like my brother. Did you see how she looked at him? Like he hung the moon and stars just for her. None of his other girlfriends have looked at him that way after he'd introduced them to you." Bella turned to look at his profile. "You?"
"You liked her, that's a good enough reason for me to like her too. Plus, she acted normal enough around us, though I'm sure we each made her nervous in different ways."
"I like how energetic she is. I mean, I'm usually so drained it's nice to see someone so full of it. It seemed real, too, like she could keep that up for days on end."
"I think Jasper's the happiest I've ever seen him, too. He didn't even nag you about not eating for twelve hours. And speaking of which," Edward turned to give her a dirty look. "Am I going to have to personally go and feed you? You're a doctor for Christ's sake Bella. Take better care of yourself. You need to practice what you preach."
"But I just didn't have any time! And by the time I did, I preferred going to sleep."
He kept glaring at her.
"Pack cereal bars or something. I'm serious, Bella. You can't help anyone if you're not in a good place yourself. You think it's easy to hide, but you look really tired and like you haven't eaten in days, B. Think of yourself more, if only because it'll inspire confidence in your patients if you look well-fed and well-rested."
Well, that was unfair. He knew she couldn't fight that logic.
Huffing, Bella only mumbled an ok.
"You're worse than my brother, you know," Bella said. "Nay, you're worse than Esme."
She was the biggest worrywart Bella knew —and she knew many. She thought perhaps she just brought that instinct out in people. Most of her friends were constantly nagging her about something —mostly eating and sleeping— so she suspected perhaps it was on her. She didn't mind, but it could get annoying to receive thirteen messages in one day asking if she'd had breakfast.
"Well, you bring it out in me," Edward shrugged, unrepentant. "When someone cares about you, they worry. It's normal."
Butterflies threatened to eat her heart —they always did whenever Edward admitted to feeling anything for her.
"I know. Thanks. It's because of your family and Jasper that when dad died I didn't run myself into the ground."
Though he was surprised, he didn't show it; Bella hardly ever spoke about Charlie, even in passing.
"It's always been our pleasure," Edward said softly, truthfully. Even when he only saw Bella as a little kid he'd found great joy in making her happy. Not that it was hard —she was naturally a happy person. Losing Charlie had been incredibly hard on her (he'd heard her cry until she couldn't breathe more times than he could count), but he'd seen her pick herself up as soon as she could. She'd taken her time healing, and had done it on her terms —it was the first time he'd realized just how strong the girl was.
They spent the rest of the ride quietly, and before they knew it, Edward was parking inside the apartment's garage. She thought she'd left her car at home, but seeing the empty spot she realized she'd actually taken her car. Huh.
Maybe she really was out of it.
"Wanna come up?" Bella asked, taking off her seatbelt.
"Are you sure? Don't you have work tomorrow?"
She shook her head.
"It's my day off. Come on, you can even stay the night."
At that, Edward shot out of the car, hoodie already pulled up and hat in place. Bella laughed; she only let him stay over every once in a while, but when she did, he put up absolutely no resistance. Opening her door, he looked like if he'd had a tail he'd be wagging it.
Bella pretended to be troubled.
"I was going to say only if you carry me. Otherwise, here's goodbye."
She wasn't even finished when Edward was already pulling her out of the car and placing her so she was hanging onto his front. Laughing, she locked her ankles behind his back and her arms around his neck, being careful not to pull his hoodie down.
"Excited much?" Bella giggled, holding tight as Edward rushed to take her upstairs. He'd already fished out his key to her place from his back pocket —the the Swan siblings and Edward all had a key to each other's place. Jasper, though, was always misplacing the key to Bella's place —so after the last time he'd lost it she'd told him she was giving Angela her extra one in case of emergency. The reality? Bella had swiped it. She didn't need her brother barging in whenever he wanted. So any time Jasper informed her he was at her place, she knew he was either with Edward or Angela.
"I think I've only stayed over twice this year," Edward grumbled, rushing to open the door and get her inside. He pushed the door open and hurried inside, thankful that nobody had poked their head out on the short trip up.
Once in, Bella told him to deposit her on the bed. She'd found a nice studio apartment that was near the hospital, so all the apartment had was basically the kitchen, a bathroom, drawers for her clothes and a bed.
She was in the process of taking off her scrubs while lying down, so she hummed to signify she was listening.
"I need to ask you something, and I need you to promise not to get mad."
"I'm too tired to get mad."
"Why did you ask me to be friends with benefits? I'm not exactly sex friend material."
Bella kept pulling off her pants, slowly wiggling out of them.
"Well, lots of reasons. I think the most important one is that we got drunk and had sex, and there's no going back from that. I liked sex with you then and thought I'd like to do it again."
She'd more than liked it —she'd loved it. Explaining that would be less than ideal.
Huffing, Edward finished yanking down her pants, jolting her.
"How… Have you had sex with anybody else since we started this?" Edward asked nervously. "I know we said we weren't exclusive, so I'm not trying to corner you. I just want to know."
Bella considered lying. She didn't want him to think she was sleeping around, but neither did she want to give the impression that she wanted more.
Still, at the end of the day, she was a terrible liar and being honest was all she knew.
When Bella turned twenty-one, she'd had a horrible day.
A patient had died, one of her superiors had chewed her out for trying to help a patient without insurance, Jasper was on a business trip and Angela wasn't speaking to her (she was angry Bella had missed a lunch date). So when Edward had arrived with pizza, cake and a bottle of vodka, Bella hadn't thought twice about inhaling the three. The problem? She drank too much, and Edward was a serious lightweight.
She remembered seeing his face approach and pull back —he was swaying on his feet too much and kept trying to right himself.
"You're hot," Bella had slurred. Edward had laughed.
"So are you."
The next time his face had approached hers, she'd leaned forward and kissed him. The feeling had been strange but nice —and it was only strange because she'd never thought she'd be able to.
If she was entirely honest, Bella had crushed on Edward ever since she was fourteen. Angela swore that it was because one year before that Edward had had his big break —but Bella knew that it was because of his support after Charlie died. Every weekend he'd go home from filming and play the piano for her to stop her crying —he'd never outright said it, but she knew it was too much of a coincidence that as soon as she started sobbing a song would carry out from his room. When she'd stopped living with Esme and Carlisle, Edward had also gotten his own place —as if all he'd been waiting for was for her to be ok and not alone.
It had meant the world to Bella, having him take care of her in his own way.
However, Bella thought something between them was too unlikely —he was nearly seven years older than her, her brother's best friend and a celebrity. How did she decide to lock her feelings away?
She slept with Edward's cousin, Felix, when she turned fifteen. He was only a year older than her and liked her enough to fuck —so they did. She gave him her virginity against her better judgement, knowing she'd probably have to see him at a family gathering. After that, she doubled down on her flirting efforts with Edward, needing to hide the lovestruck glances she gave only him in the misconception that she was just joking around. She flirted, but inside she was scared of him realizing her feelings.
So then she got into college, and she slept with Jacob Black for a few months and then with Riley Biers for half a year (they'd both been freshmen). She graduated from college and never talked to them again —they each got girlfriends soon after her, having both felt weird about having sex with a fifteen or sixteen year old. Then in med school she had a one night stand —Sam, she thought he was called— and had a rocky sex-friends relationship with a classmate, Marcus. First year of her residency she made the mistake of sleeping with a fellow resident —he snitched to everyone and left her to clean up her reputation. Thankfully, a new scandal rocked the hospital within a month and she was old news.
So when she and Edward woke up, her head pounding and her hair looking like she'd rolled in the hay, she'd panicked —she'd asked him to do it again. She didn't want him to say it had been a mistake, and she certainly didn't want it to be a one time thing. She knew Edward, and asking him to be fuck buddies would save him the trouble of having to fight with Jasper —that was, if he even liked her enough to date her.
So swallowing down a bitter feeling, she'd asked him to not be exclusive —she feared that asking exclusivity would make him feel like she was asking for a relationship. He'd been hesitant at first —he hadn't seen her as a woman before that night, she knew— and had insisted that in order for this thing to work he needed to keep being friends with her.
He needed an emotional connection, he told her; he didn't say she was only the second woman he'd ever slept with. Fame and fortune had left him little time and interest in dating; it had also made him suspicious of more than a few women and their intentions towards him. So as time went by and they'd grown closer, Edward started adapting the boyfriend role more and more; well, as far as Bella would let him take it.
They each liked each other a lot more than they let on, but Bella was too stubborn for her own good and Edward too afraid of her ending things if he messed up.
And here they were.
"Nobody?" Edward echoed, watching as Bella raised her head to take off the top of her scrubs. She was wearing mismatched underwear —black panties with a purple sports bra— and to Edward's eyes, she was as beautiful as ever. If he could've changed anything about her though, he'd have made her gain like ten pounds; she'd lost too much weight in the last year, something he'd noticed when he carried her. She looked gaunt, even her cheeks sinking in a little. He'd have to make sure he fed her well during the times they were together.
"Nobody," Bella sighed, laying on the bed like a starfish. "I can hardly keep track of one booty, I'm not gonna even have enough energy for two."
She was always referring to him as her booty (call), since she knew he felt awkward about the term friends with benefits. He wasn't sure booty was much better though.
"Me neither," Edward admitted. "But I think you knew that."
Yeah, she did. Lately, she'd been wondering about that. He was a movie star —he could probably have any girl he wanted. So what did it mean that he only had sex with her?
"Yeah," Bella mumbled.
"So, don't you think we should just say we're exclusive? We're not even interested in other people." Edward was careful not to let his whining come through, but in his heart, he was definitely throwing a tantrum. He wanted to make things official, but he knew baby steps were necessary with this woman.
"Whatever for?" Bella asked, though inside, she was reeling. This was the first time he formally talked about it with her, though he'd hinted at it before. She just wanted to be sure that it was his initiative, not hers.
Edward talked while taking his jeans, shoes and shirt off.
"I just think it's better for us. First, only having one partner means we don't have to worry about STDs or the like. If you get miraculously pregnant —despite being on the pill and me always wearing a condom— you wouldn't have to wonder whose it is or if they'd be present, because that'd be me and I would never bail on you. Neither of us would have to worry about—"
Bella stopped him; that wasn't nearly as romantic as she'd hoped.
"Alright, I get it. Exclusive booty calls."
Beaming, Edward went to her drawers and pulled out a t-shirt for her. He waited for her to take her sports bra off and then handed the shirt to her. He didn't bother with finding something for himself to wear —he always slept in boxers, and during winter, sweatpants. Bella got underneath the covers, and Edward immediately followed.
"I don't remember the last time I went to sleep at eight-thirty," Edward said, latching onto Bella and spooning her. In this position, she usually didn't hit him in her sleep.
"I'd say we should have crazy sex to kill some time," Bella said, wiggling her ass against his dick for show. "But we both know I'd fall asleep halfway through."
It was true; it had happened more often than Edward cared for. Every time he was left blue-balled, and one time he realized too late she was asleep (she hadn't been facing him, and it was frequent for her to be so tired she told him to not mind her not moving) and had come inside. It felt kind of wrong for him to have done that, though Bella had assured him she didn't mind if he finished when she passed out (she didn't say it, but it was kind of a sexual fantasy she'd had before); his answer every time was that there'd be something terribly wrong with him if he wanted to do it with a sleeping woman.
"Alright, you've got a point." Edward wound his arms around her waist, digging his nose into her hair. It smelled like vanilla. "Sleep well, beautiful."
He'd taken too long to reply though —she was already out.
"Bella, wake up," Edward's voice started invading her half-asleep mind —groggy, she couldn't quite make out what was going on. Still, she knew she was currently the right amount of toasty and that she rather liked the arms wrapped around her. She felt lips kiss the back of her neck, tickling her; she giggled. "Bella, your stomach's been making noises the last thirty minutes. Come on, let me feed you."
Hearing that, Bella realized she smelled something heavenly —Edward was a fantastic cook, and the promise of breakfast made by him had her snapping her eyes open.
"You should've started with that!" Bella said hoarsely, grunting when Edward squeezed her waist. "What time is it?"
"Ten," Edward said, impressed by how much she could sleep. She'd slept thirteen hours —though her record was somewhere near sixteen hours. He'd been up since eight, unable to sleep anymore; he hadn't wanted to wake her up though, knowing she needed to get some shut eye. Plus, the last time he'd woken her up before she'd slept twelve hours she didn't let him stay the night for three months. "I started breakfast when your stomach started making that sound."
She heard it then, the ugly growling. Smiling sheepishly, she turned around to give him her best innocent look.
"Does it have bacon?"
She loved bacon so much that she dreamt about eating it more often than she dreamed about Edward —though to be fair, it wasn't rare for her to dream about the two. Edward feeding her bacon, most relevantly.
"Of course it does. How long have I known you, a week?" Edward snorted, then leaned closer to give her a chaste kiss. "Come on."
The two of them ate in friendly conversation, and Edward thought about the stark contrast between a well-rested and well-fed Bella and a tired and hungry Bella. Now, she was how everyone knew her —cheerful, sassy and passionate.
"I'm just saying that I don't understand why your character had to break up with her," Bella grumbled. The two of them had finished having breakfast and were watching a movie on her bed—one Edward starred in, Bella's favorite torture tactic. He hated seeing himself act, but Bella was always forcing him to.
"I told you, he's losing his mind," Edward muttered, watching as on screen he started yelling at his female counterpart. Filming that had been difficult; he'd been really immersed in the character, and when the scene was done, he kept apologizing profusely to his co-star. Like he'd been the one doing all the frantic screaming.
"Well, as someone who's seen patients lose their mind —that's a fantastic job you did there. I'm still super pissed you didn't win that Oscar." He'd been nominated, which had made his family throw him a party; he'd lost to some actor in a movie nobody even saw. Bella had liked the actor —but nobody held a candle to Edward's acting. He had the capacity to do a complete 180 on screen —often switching between indie films and blockbusters to keep his skills honed.
"I just hope I'm not like Leonardo DiCaprio. He should've won that Oscar for The Wolf of Wallstreet, not The Revenant. Actually, for almost any other film but that one; I mean, it was a huge effort and he did a fantastic job, but he really proved himself in other films. If not for Wolf, I would've given it to him for The Great Gatsby."
Bella just nodded, amused by how verbose he became when talking about the film industry; Edward was a real cinephile, something not enough people knew.
Edward rolled his eyes.
"Even that one would've made more sense." He would've said more, but the scene switched and suddenly he was (pretending to be) fucking his costar. Flinching, he turned to look down at Bella —she was sitting next to him, leaning against the headboard— but she was watching in fascination.
"Shh, I'm watching you fake-fucking," Bella whispered, eyes wide. "You know, that really is the face you make when you come. And that little—"
He covered her mouth with his hand, blushing furiously.
She bit him lightly, and when he let go, she switched gears.
"You know, I really ship your character with the second lead. She's a lot nicer and she has a huge rack."
She knew Edward was a boob man, through and through —Bella was hardly a C cup, so she was constantly bringing up the subject.
Edward pursed his lips, intellectually knowing the woman he loved wasn't telling him she liked him with another girl but that his character deserved better; and yet, it was tough to hear that, since a part of him wasn't intellectual but all emotions. He couldn't ever picture himself telling her he shipped her with another man, but then again, the situation was a bit different. He chose to let it go though —kind of.
"Well, I'm glad my character didn't end up with the second lead. The actress is a nightmare," Edward confided. He was always comfortable letting these kinds of things slip to Bella; not only was she good at keeping secrets (he suspected she forgot most of what he told her), she didn't know who 99% of Hollywood was. It's what kept him humble, really; nobody he cared about gave two shits about his acting career beyond wishing him success.
Bella gave him a surprised look.
"Really? But everyone portrays her as a sweetheart," Bella said. "I follow her on Instagram. She's my girl crush."
"How about me? You don't follow me on Instagram."
Bella huffed. He was so annoying about that; he had over forty-five million followers and, to everyone's chagrin, only thirty posts. She'd never tell him this, but she did follow him —with a secret account. He didn't post a lot of stories, but whenever he did, it was either about charities, jokes or a beautiful picture.
"Well, you don't follow me either," Bella challenged, wanting to dodge that bullet. She liked stalking him without the pressure of accidentally hitting the like button and letting him know she was seeing posts from five years ago.
"Sure I do," Edward said easily enough. "Well, I tried. You haven't accepted my request."
Frowning, Bella fished out her phone and went on the app. Sure enough, there it was —Edward Masen had requested to follow her.
Alright, so she wasn't one for social media. She did however enjoy Twitter far more, and she'd followed Edward back when he first got into it. He posted a little more frequently there —about twice a month. Mostly funny thoughts she enjoyed retweeting.
Sighing, Bella accepted his request and decided to follow him back.
"There, happy? You millennial." Bella put her phone away, and beaming, he kissed her cheek.
"Ecstatic. Now I can say I'm in my prime," Edward joked. "Oh hey, by the way, dad asked if you wanted to go with him to some charity event. He said there's gonna be a trivia event about neurology so he wants you there to win for him."
"Sure. Though I'm surprised Carlisle agreed to go."
Carlisle Cullen was known for hating charity events. He claimed that though he liked people being generous and donating, he preferred going to remote places to help out with free consultation. That was how Edward had gotten into volunteering —ever since he was a kid Carlisle would constantly take him on his trips. Edward was well-known for helping out a lot of charity organizations, but also for never taking pictures; he claimed that it made him feel as if he was only helping out for publicity, and that he didn't want to invade other people's privacy. Ever since he was a teenager he'd been a frequent visitor at Carlisle's hospital, and he got along so well with the staff members that nobody ever leaked it to the press that it was his chosen spot for spending his free time. He also liked going to schools to see how he could help and going to homeless shelters.
Honestly? Bella went into medicine to help people, but she felt that Edward was disgustingly, annoyingly nice.
"Oh, his boss pressured him into going. The man found out dad knows you, so he actually kind of insisted you'd be perfect to help the hospital's image." Edward shrugged to indicate that was all he knew of the matter. "You don't have to if you don't feel like it though."
"There's always food and alcohol in that kind of event. Of course I'm in."
And also to help her kind-of-adoptive-father, but mostly because of that.
They spent a couple of minutes watching the movie before Edward turned to Bella.
"Oh hey, I'm also doing one of those Web's Most Searched Questions next week for Wired," Edward said, smiling when Bella paused the movie. Thank God. "I know you like that."
Bella was excited.
"Oh, you think those questions are real? Because I've googled some of the people on the clips with the same search terms, and many of the questions aren't there. Like, some of them have like 'Who did this person cheat with?' but obviously they don't put that in."
Edward chuckled at her enthusiasm.
"I think most of the questions really are the most asked, but they're gonna exclude the more awkward ones. They need to have a balance between answering questions people actually ask a lot to keep everyone interested and innocuous ones."
Bella nodded. That made sense.
"What's the most awkward thing you've been asked on an interview?"
Edward blew out some air, trying to think about that.
"Oh geez, there's so many. Some interviewer once asked me point blank if I was gay, and then justified himself by saying nobody had ever seen me with a woman. I told him even if I was, it was hardly his place to ask me to out myself."
Bella burst out laughing.
"Oh, do you think it has anything to do with Jasper?"
Almost any time Edward was papped in the streets, he was with Jasper. It was a wonder, too, because neither had much time to meet anymore. The only reason he didn't get papped with Bella was because Edward wanted to both protect her privacy and keep gossip about him to a minimum.
"I think it probably does," Edward flinched, thinking of all the headlines that talked about him and his best friend. They referred to Jasper as a hottie, which was disturbing. "Another time I got asked if the carpet matched the drapes, and I nearly died."
"If my pubes were the same color as my hair," Edward explained, and when it dawned on her, Bella snorted.
"Talk about inappropriate." But it did match, she thought. "I'd hate being asked that kind of personal thing. I wouldn't last a moment as a celebrity."
"But you kind of are already, in your midst." He looked down; their legs were pressed together, and he could feel her smooth leg. Bella was kind of religious about shaving, something he wasn't sure anyone expected about her. "I don't care, most of the time. I like having a platform and being able to reach out to millions of people, and I really do enjoy becoming different people with every film. I mostly don't mind the personal questions either, because I get why everyone wants to know —you love hearing gossip about people you know and know about because it's entertaining. The only difference is it's in a larger scale because I'm a public figure. I also get a lot of support from fans, which is amazing. The downside is I can't go out without getting recognized —sometimes I wish I had an invisibility cape. I can't even begin to tell you how annoying it is to be walking down the street and having someone come up to me and demand a selfie. It feels like I'm a commodity, so I much prefer the people who talk to me for a minute or two and then leave me to it. Even the ones who shout at me from the distance that they liked a movie of mine are preferable to the ones who feel entitled to a picture with me."
Bella was glad he was telling her this. He didn't often tell her about the struggles of being a star, and she could mostly assume what they were. She liked feeling like he was relying on her.
"I really like the celebrities that interact with their fans. Like, reply to comments on Twitter and the like; I've had one or two reply to one of my comments and it feels really nice. But yeah, I can see how your picture being taken forcefully is annoying and invasive." Bella looked back to the screen, where Edward Masen was frozen mid-rant. "Do you think it's worth it?"
Edward looked at the flat screen, not even needing to think through the question.
"I think so too. I love your movies; you always challenge yourself to do different roles, and you're not afraid to try new things. It's funny that you, who's always been like a rock to me, can be so versatile." She looked at him again, this time a teasing look in her eye. "Plus, it must be fun to kiss all those hot actresses."
He rolled his eyes.
"Believe it or not, it's not that fun. People and cameras are everywhere, which isn't exactly romantic. Quite a few of my co-stars are always playing pranks on me and they eat onions or something before a kissing scene, too. I much prefer action sequences —they're hard, but fun to shoot."
Satisfied with his reply, Bella put play on the movie again. There were only ten minutes left anyway, and she wanted to finish it. She couldn't stand seeing unfinished movies on her Netflix account.
Which was actually Edward's account, but he was a good sport.
Instead of watching the movie, he watched Bella —she was a very expressive person, and being with her while she watched a film was a whole experience. She laughed loudly, cursed a lot and also sobbed excessively. Nothing she ever did was done half-way. He knew what facial expression he'd been making because Bella in reflex did the same one, and he thought that was awfully cute of her. It made him feel like all he'd gone through with shooting had been worth it if it could make someone feel so much.
By the time the credits rolled around, Bella was looking at him again with a thoughtful look on her face.
She smiled, turning off the TV.
"Sometimes I forget you're a movie star. It's always in the back of my mind with the small things, like remembering I can't take pictures of you and post them on Instagram —but I never think about it. I can't help remembering when I see you up there —or when I see you trending on Twitter."
Edward chuckled, amused as he always was by Bella's take on things.
"What was my last trending scandal about?"
"You were caught going to Starbucks with Jasper and you didn't tip the barista." Bella rolled her eyes. "Some people like to make a huge deal out of nothing. I mean, I guess baristas appreciate it whenever they are, but they don't subsist on tips like waiters. Not to mention Jasper tipped double for you."
Edward hadn't addressed the scandal though, not needing to feed fuel to the fire. He didn't feel the need to justify himself as if he'd committed a crime —never mind the fact that the barista had made him incredibly uncomfortable with her heavy breathing and even slipping him her phone number. He hadn't wanted to tip her at all, but Jasper told him he'd tip in his place —and he'd given his ok, since he didn't even have cash.
"I doubt anybody else would've if they'd been subjected to her moaning," Edward flinched. "It was so embarrassing."
"How about if I do it?" Bella asked, and grinning teasingly she let out a moan.
Hers, though, had the desired effect. It was like a a switch had been flipped —and suddenly Edward didn't feel like talking anymore.
"That's another story," Edward muttered, looking up and locking eyes with Bella.
There was a moment of silence, probably when they both realized that it was midday and they hadn't touched each other yet, and then it was on.
Bella didn't remember ever feeling for a man the way she had with Edward. When Felix had taken her virginity, it had been quick and painful —not because she'd been a virgin, she knew, but because she hadn't been wet enough. Jake had been a good lover, if perhaps too clingy for her taste; he'd fallen in love quickly with another girl and called things off, not that Bella had minded much. Riley had actually been rather good, but he'd wanted more than she could give him. Her one night stand hadn't been more than she'd asked for, and Marcus was too much of an asshole for her to ever actually be glad she slept with him. And that resident —now that had been a mistake. Small dick, small mind.
Not Edward though, Bella thought, gasping when she felt his cold hands on her hips. He wasn't just her teenage crush —he was the man she loved. Physically, nobody could compare to him in her eyes. Mentally, no one entertained her as much as he did, nor did anyone apart of Jasper care for her as much—
No time for thinking; only feeling.
In one swift move, Edward had pulled off her shirt and left her in only her panties. Eyes blazing, he latched onto one nipple; gasping, she dug her fingers in his hair, pulling on the strands tightly. That was her sensitive spot and he knew it was the best way to get her attention.
He most certainly had it.
"Edward," Bella moaned, biting her lip when she felt his tongue circle her right breast while his hand pinched her left nipple.
Letting go, he moved lower, trailing kisses down her stomach. He barely stopped to take off her panties before he had his tongue inside of her, wanting to bring her more pleasure. Her gasp let him know he was doing something right.
"Edward, now," Bella breathed out, and that was all he needed to know before pulling off his boxers and reaching towards her nightstand for a condom. However, he felt her still his wrist, and frowning, he looked towards her. She looked nervous. "Do you trust me?"
That I'm clean. That I'm really on the pill. That I wouldn't trap you with a kid.
He looked down to where she had her legs splayed open, still breathing heavily. He gulped.
"With my life," he said honestly. It would've been more romantic if he'd been able to tear his eyes away from her pussy. "But are you sure?"
"Yes. I trust you too." She spread her knees apart, letting him have an even better view. Fuck, he felt like if she did anything else he'd come before even touching her. "Now fuck me."
Heart in his mouth, he did. He waisted no time in latching on to her mouth with his and thrusting inside her tight hole. Gods, this was everything. She felt so tight, so fucking warm without a condom —he'd never done it without one. The one girlfriend he'd had couldn't be on the pill because of her migraines, so they always used the condom strictly. And until now, he hadn't wanted to ask that of Bella, having assumed that she was sleeping with other men as well.
Remembering that she'd only fucked him in like half a year made him shudder and fasten his pace.
"No, no," Bella moaned, locking her ankles behind his ass. "Deeper."
Fuck, whatever she wanted. He placed his elbows next to her head for support, and being helped along by her legs, he went as deep as he could go; stretching her, filling her, making her feel like something was about to swallow her whole and spit her back out.
"Oh fuck, I'm so close," Bella whispered, and in response, he went even faster and deeper. He had one hand gripping her breast tightly, the other one rubbing her clit furiously. He just needed—
She clenched her pussy at the same time that she kneaded his balls, and he was a goner. He came calling Bella's name, somehow incredibly satisfied when he felt him cum be pumped out inside of her. Bella thought it felt warm and a little funny, though mostly she just enjoyed the deeply satisfied face Edward made as he orgasmed and collapsed on top of her.
"What's so funny?" Edward asked, lifting his head briefly from the crook of Bella's neck before letting it fall again. He liked not having to pull out almost immediately because of how icky the condom felt, and he really liked how Bella wasn't pushing him off.
"You. You really did make the same face when you come in your movie," Bella laughed, putting her arms around his shoulders. This felt nice. It felt like home.
"Well, sometimes we can't help but put a little of ourselves in the movies," Edward said, rolling to the side and accidentally slipping out. Damn. But he still quite liked this position —he wasn't suffocating Bella and he could still feel her boobs pressed against him.
"Leave something for these four walls, yeah? So I can have something they don't," Bella said, burrowing her face into his chest. This really was her happiness.
Edward grinned wide —thankful Bella couldn't see him.
"Oh, but you already do," Edward said, bucking his hips against hers to remind her of what they'd just done. "I'm not Michael Fassbender. I don't just show this to anyone."
"I only watched that movie to see him naked. It was so worth it." Bella laughed when Edward bit her ear; she knew the two had worked in a previous film, so it was probably awkward for him to hear her talk about how hot she found Michael Fassbender. Even his name was hot.
"I swear, am I going to have to do some independent movie where I show up naked just so you never talk about him again?"
Appalled, Bella scooted down quickly so she was hugging him around his waist with her face on his groin. She kissed the base of his dick.
"This one's for my eyes only," Bella said, dead serious. "We can talk about your ass making an appearance though, if you're so keen on showing off."
She wanted to kill him, Edward was sure. He was going to reply when Bella sat up, letting go of him.
"Give me a sec. I really need to urinate." She said this while throwing back a teasing smile, knowing how much he loathed when she used medical words for everyday things. Why couldn't she just say pee? Or better yet, that she needed to go to the bathroom?
"You take the romance away from everything," Edward called out to her, and hearing her laugh, he humphed. She didn't bother replying to that statement, simply flushing and washing her hands before skipping back into her room.
"Oh by the way, mom asks if you can make it to her birthday party next week," Edward said, humming contentedly when she climbed back in the bed and pushed her back against his front, letting him spoon her.
"I don't think so; I think I've got a shift on Friday." Bella smiled when she felt him wrap his arms around her. "But I could do dinner on Thursday."
Edward considered that.
"She's going out with Aunt Melissa, so you'd probably have to meet up with her," Edward said, and hearing that name, Bella grimaced. Melissa was Felix's mother.
"No thanks then."
"I'll never get what went on between you and Aunt Melissa. You used to like her."
Bella couldn't help herself; she had to say it someday.
"Yeah, well, that's before I gave her son my virginity," Bella flinched when she felt Edward's arms immediately let go of her. "Edward?"
"You slept with my cousin?" Edward echoed, and Bella turned around to look at Edward. He had a deep scowl on his face, and he was looking up at the ceiling. "When was this?"
"Almost seven years ago," Bella said. "Just before I went to college."
"Why hadn't I heard of it?"
"Well, you never asked, and I didn't think it was something you'd be happy to know. I was right," Bella pointed out, sitting up so she could look down at him. "It happened once, and we've avoided each other like the plague since. Your aunt noticed, I guess, so she's always trying to push us together."
Edward looked at her humorlessly.
"I'm really angry, but I can't tell exactly why. If it's at the thought that my dick of a cousin deflowered you, that you gave your first time to someone you didn't like, or just thinking about how someone related to me has touched you."
Bella tried for humor.
"Hey, and just think your dad was my target," she said, referring to how when she had just moved in next door to the Cullens at the ripe old age of eight years old she'd crushed heavily on Carlisle. Bella was unrepentant —Carlisle was a handsome man and back then she'd been intimidated by Edward. He'd been a fifteen year old then and a brat —complaining when Esme asked him and Jasper to look after Bella. He'd warmed up to her quickly though, probably at Jasper's (aggressive) prompting. Bella sighed when Edward didn't even crack a smile. "I think you're angry at all three."
He nodded. Probably.
"Look, I'm sorry ok? I didn't think I'd end up doing this with you. If I had known, I obviously wouldn't have lost it to him, alright?"
I wouldn't have tried to fuck you out of my system.
Edward sat up then, wanting to be eye level with her. His green eyes were stormy, a clear sign that he wasn't kidding about the anger.
"I know I never asked you this, but I want to know. You know I've only ever slept with my ex-girlfriend." That bitch. "But I don't know about you. You only ever had one boyfriend that I know of, and I really want to know who else you've done it with."
Bella gave him a skeptical bitch-brow.
"Why? You've always known I'm not pure."
Edward gave her a look.
"This isn't about your purity and you know it."
Yeah, she did. He'd gone all this time without asking, after all.
So she decided to be honest for once and just tell him.
"Alright. Six men, including Felix. You don't know the rest. Three were one time deals and three were fuck buddies."
He felt cold suddenly, realizing he wasn't the first man she did this with. Was he even special to her?
"How long did those arrangements last?"
"Longest one was six months I think, though we hardly saw each other." Bella squinted, knowing what his next thoughts were likely to be. "None of them ever slept at my place. I wouldn't have called any of them my friend, either. I might have sex with you, Edward, but you're not just my fuck buddy. I certainly never texted with any of them or made space for them after a long day. I never would've had sex with them without a condom either."
She wasn't in love with any of them.
Edward wasn't sure how to feel. It wasn't that he minded a number, or the fact that she'd had a life before him. He knew he was here with her now, and that she was sincere about him. He knew, intellectually, he wasn't like the others, if only because he was her brother's best friend. But sometimes it was hard to tell what Isabella Swan thought —the only thing he could be sure of all of the time was that she was a diehard academic and loved Jasper. Anything apart of that could be questioned every once in a while.
While he was pondering these things, Bella had scooted down until she was kneeling between his legs and kissing the tip of his dick.
He groaned, trying to push her off gently.
"Bella, no, we need to talk."
He saw her wrap her lips around his tip, and his thoughts weren't so clear anymore.
"You think too much," she said, looking up and locking eyes with him before engulfing him again. He took a sharp breath in, and realizing he wouldn't be able to line his thoughts up, dug his fingers in her hair.
Happy to have gotten things to go her way, Bella hollowed out her cheeks and took him as far as she could without gagging. He would've taken a picture of her if he could (he was too afraid of some fan hacking his phone), loving how she looked with his cock in her mouth and his balls in her hand. Fuck, he needed to come inside her again. He pulled her up so he could kiss her —she tasted just like him, and fuck if it didn't turn him on more. He started rocking his dick into her stomach, and she moved further up so she could rub herself on him. He felt her pussy, overflowing with how wet it was, create friction with his cock. Unable to take it, he grabbed himself and instantly found his way inside of her.
"Ride me," he said hoarsely, and without further delay Bella rightened herself and started moving up and down. "Pinch your nipples."
Her breath hitched, but she did as told. She wasn't expecting it though when he started rubbing her clit, making her clench around him almost painfully.
And then he stopped.
"Be my girlfriend." Edward said, hands now on her hips. Her eyes, which had been closed, snapped open. She was going to say no when he bucked up into her, making her lose her train of thought. "Be my girlfriend, or I'm not going to stop fucking you today."
Was that a promise?
"But I'm not gonna let you come. I'll fuck you for hours, but you're not gonna come." Bella tried rubbing her clit, but he grabbed her wrists and locked his hips with hers. She couldn't move.
"Edward," Bella whined. "I can't…"
"Sure you can. We can figure out the rest later. But I want to call you my girlfriend, not just my booty call."
Bella didn't know what to say, so she only clenched her muscles tighter around him. Fuck, he felt huge inside of her in this position.
"Say you'll be my girlfriend, and I'll even play out one of your fantasies."
She had a lot, many of which Edward had serious questions about. Most were based around Edward fucking her in a way he wasn't thrilled about, but he'd fuck her while she was on her period (something she vehemently wanted him to do that he was always grossed out by) if it meant that he could have her.
"Any of them?" Bella breathed, forgetting what he was trying to coerce her about.
He pinched one of her nipples.
"I'm not letting you put anything up my ass, but apart from that, anything."
That sounded promising. Her fetishes weren't along that line anyway.
"Say you'll be my girlfriend." Edward whispered, flipping them around so he was lying on top of her, her wrists above her head. He kissed her ear. "I want you to be my girlfriend."
He thrust inside of her, so slowly and yet so deep. Enough to make her feel like she was going to die, but not enough for her to come from it. He rocked his hips so every time he went in he brushed against her clit, driving her just the right amount of crazy.
"Ok," Bella cried, gasping when he thrust in deeper. "Ok, I'll be your girlfriend. Just… let me touch you."
Immediately, Edward released her wrists, and he used his newly freed hands to grab her hips and use them as leverage so he could pick up the pace. Bella's hands instantly went to his hair, her favorite place for them.
"Thank you," Edward whispered in her ear before switching to give her a bruising, deliriously happy kiss. He mimicked his thrusts with his tongue and switched to grip one of her breasts harshly, his hips knocking against Bella's frantically by now. "Thank you."
He repeated this throughout his punishing pace, probably having lost a little of his mind in the last few minutes. He felt her orgasm coming, judging from her twitching and clenching, and held on just long enough to fuck her through her orgasm before emptying himself inside of her. He kept thrusting languidly, waiting for all of his seed to be pumped out.
"If anyone asks," Bella gasped out. "You asked me over breakfast."
Laughing, Edward kissed her softly, taking her bottom lip in between his teeth before licking it.
Damn if he wasn't feeling the butterflies in his stomach go batshit crazy.
"You've just made me the happiest man alive," Edward admitted, warming her heart. She was going to say something to that when he gave her another peck and rolled off of her. "Come on. We need to clean up."
"But, Edward," Bella whined. She hated showering, she always had. She enjoyed not doing it on her days off.
"Come on," he laughed, walking to the bathroom. "We'll use the tub."
It was a rather small bathtub, but Edward didn't seem to be in the negotiating mood today. He was already inside and testing the temperature. She saw him close the door to go to the bathroom (for like fifteen minutes because he took his phone inside) before he called her to get in.
"I bet your ass has the toilet seat imprinted on it."
Edward chuckled, helping Bella into the tub.
"It probably does."
He got in behind her, the two of them hissing at the heat. It was just right —for Bella, Edward felt like his ass was on fire.
"I'll never understand how you like the water so hot," Edward said, wrapping his arms around Bella and leaning back.
"I like things on the same level as me," Bella said cheekily. "Don't you think you're sticking too close, sir?"
"No way. Boyfriend privilege number one: I can be as clingy as I want. You can too, but we both know I'm the one who'll make the most use of it."
Bella didn't know about that, but she let him believe it. She was pretty sure that she'd change now that they were an official thing; the only reason she hadn't been mushier was because she didn't want to give herself away. Now, it was apparent there was no point in hiding her feelings.
"Shouldn't we talk about the privileges first? What if I don't like clingy?"
She thought he'd let go, but instead, he held on tighter.
"You like me, and I like clingy. You can be as clingy as you want, too. I approve."
"I thought I read an article where you said you like your space," Bella pointed out, rolling her eyes when she felt Edward push her boobs up and then peek down. He liked the view, she suspected; then again, she enjoyed him liking it.
"I like my space, but not from you." Edward kissed her neck, making something flutter in her stomach. "Also, don't think I've forgotten I have to bleach Felix's brain now."
Damn, she was actually hoping for that.
"If it makes you feel any better, he has a really small penis."
He poked his bottom lip out.
"Not really, though it's nice to know."
"How about the fact that it was almost seven years ago so it's a good moment to let go?" Bella asked rhetorically, and getting the message, he laughed. He squeezed her harder.
"Fine, but only because you agreed to be my girlfriend."
He really didn't care anymore. He'd gotten what he wanted.
They spent the rest of the afternoon like that —Edward and Bella taking turns in clinging to each other. While Edward made lunch, Bella came up from behind him and hugged his back, remaining in that position while he cooked. When Bella had to research a couple of articles, Edward laid his head on her lap and tried to distract her —tried being the key word because nothing broke Bella Swan's concentration. When Bella insisted on watching some of his interviews he caved, and she didn't complain (for a change) when he started watching political debates on YouTube. Edward wasn't the most vocal political celebrity, but he certainly had his opinions well thought out; still, Bella rather loved that part of him. He defended what he believed in, but he didn't go about it criticizing those who thought differently than him. It was one thing Bella had learnt when she went into medicine —you meet all kinds of people, and you owe everyone respect even when you think they're wrong. Edward practiced what he preached, so she'd never heard him make mean comments about those he disagreed with.
Not even with Jasper, and boy did they think differently. They were the prime example of 'like oil and water', and yet they wouldn't change each other for anything.
Bella thought. She couldn't be sure.
By the time that it was time to sleep, Bella was wrapped around Edward, not wanting to let go of him.
"I don't have a shift tomorrow. Will I see you?" Bella asked in a small, hesitant voice that was really unlike her. In response, Edward hummed.
"I have a couple of phone interviews, but that's it. I'll be here when you get back, alright?"
She kissed his chest, letting a content smile spread across her face.
Honestly, they were fools if they thought they could hide anything.
When Bella had agreed to go out with Edward, the two had agreed to not make their relationship public —not to their family members and certainly not to the public. The two of them had hardly ever gone out anyway, what with trying to avoid the spotlight (and Bella's chronic fatigue), so it wasn't like they wanted to do anything differently. Edward had all but moved in with Bella before he'd gone back and forth to his parents' place, and Bella had started getting out of the hospital more or less at the hour expected of her. Everybody thought it was weird, but her fellow residents actually suspected that she'd just burned out.
So obviously, Angela noticed her drinking/eating buddy wasn't coming out much, and she decided to swing by her best friend's apartment. It had been four months since Bella had started turning down outings more and more, and Angela couldn't take it anymore —if that bitch had gotten a new best friend she'd have to lace all her drinks with laxatives.
So imagine her surprise when Angela swung the apartment's door open to find Bella lying in bed with Edward, watching a movie.
The couple turned to her, gaping.
"You!" Angela breathed, shocked, letting her purse fall to the floor. "You're worse than I thought. You didn't replace me —you broke the sacred law of chicks before dicks!"
Bella rolled her eyes.
"First of all, close the door, Ms. Drama Queen." Bella said, and despite her current madness, Angela did as told. "Second of all, we both know you'd be gone by now if you thought I'd replaced you."
Damn straight. Angela was serious about being Bella's only best friend.
"Hi Angela," Edward greeted, the crooked smile on his face making Angela's knees buckle. Damn, she'd never get over how Bella and Edward Masen were childhood friends.
"Hi Edward," Angela batted her eyelashes. "I hadn't seen you in a while."
That part was said glaring at Bella, who only whistled and sat back against the headboard of her bed, Edward following suit.
Angela went closer, sitting down on the very edge of Bella's bed —God knew what those sheets had seen.
"So, mind telling me why you barged into my apartment?" Bella asked, raising an eyebrow. "And it better be because you thought I was dead, or else I'm taking that key back."
Angela tucked it between her boobs —it wouldn't stop Bella at any other time, but it would with her boy-toy here.
"I thought you might be dead to me if you were hanging out with other friends," Angela said, then motioned to where the couple was sitting together. "Is this a new best-friendship, or am I gonna have to get angry over being left out?"
The good thing was Angela was quite well-aware of her irrationality. It saved Bella a lot of trouble.
"Well, Bella and I are dating now," Edward said slowly, knowing Angela would have been aware of their friends-with-benefits previous arrangement. "So in a way, we're kind of each other's new best best friend."
Angela gasped; Bella glared at him for trying to get the neurotic future teacher riled up.
"How dare you say that. I'll tell on you with my psychologist," Angela sneered, then laughed loudly. "I'm kidding. I'd never fuck Bella, so if that's what best best friends do, I want no part of it."
"So, when were you planning on telling me? Before or after telling Jasper?"
"Before," Edward and Bella said at the same time.
No one would give them as much grief as Angela Webber.
"Good. So he doesn't know anything, then?"
"Nobody knows, Ange. We're not being exactly open about this yet. It's not something exactly easy to come out with."
Angela snorted. She wasn't the type to pull any punches, and it seemed like this was about to be one of those times.
"Look, you idiot couple," Angela said, turning to face the two fully. "Nothing worth having is easy to get —except the lottery, and even that can ruin some people. So even though I understand you not wanting to tell the public, tell your fucking family and friends you tools. We're all gonna be happy for you, and you can bet your ass Jasper is gonna lynch you if he finds out about this through the press."
As Bella suspected —harsh but true.
"You're right," Edward said, putting an arm over Bella's shoulders. "We're sorry, truly. We've just tried to remain in our bubble for as long as we could."
And Angela could really understand that, given how damned popular Edward Masen was. The moment it got out it was likely Bella's life would never be the same; it wasn't their fault that they wanted to put off the circus as long as they could. Bella had somehow managed to snag one of the most eligible bachelors Hollywood had to offer —no scandals worth mentioning, a net worth of almost a 100 million dollars (Angela had googled it), hot beyond belief, smart and humble. And that was only what the public knew —if they knew what a great dude this guy was in real life nobody would ever leave him alone.
"Fine, I guess I understand. But lover boy's got to go, you and I need to have a talk," Angela said, pointing with her chin at Edward. He pouted and looked down at Bella so she'd defend him, but the young genius only shrugged her shoulders.
"Ange isn't going to let up. You should go and pretend you still live in your apartment anyway," Bella said. Edward didn't stop pouting even as he put on clothes and made his way to the door —Bella had already made her bed and found his hat in the meantime.
"Call me when you get home," Bella said, giving Edward a chaste kiss and fitting the cap on him.
Still pouting, Edward opened the door to her apartment a little.
"Hey, Angela?" Angela looked up from picking at her nails. Edward gave her a mischievous smile. "Bella has been texting with Alice, Jasper's new girlfriend who wants your spot. Have fun you two!"
Then Edward left in a hurry, scurrying away like the bastard he was.
Ok, Angela thought calmly. Laxatives it is.
"Um, guys, there's something you need to know."
Oh God, he was going to be sick.
"What's up baby?" Esme Cullen frowned when she saw her only son stand up in the middle of dinner. It was nearly Bella's birthday, so they were celebrating beforehand —she had a shift on her big day.
The Cullens and the Swans were gathered in the family's living room —Carlisle at the head, Esme to his right and Edward to his left. Bella sat next to Edward and Jasper next to Esme.
It was time to tell the truth.
"There's something I need to say."
"You already said that, son," Carlisle said kindly, letting go of his cutlery and sitting back. He wasn't used to seeing his twenty-nine year old son be nervous, but the fidgeting was certainly something to see. "Tell us what's up."
Alright, Cullen, it's now or never.
He cleared his throat.
"Mom, dad... Jasper." Edward's eyes lingered on his best friend's for a beat too long. No use beating around the bush, he figured. "Bella and I are dating each other."
The reactions were immediate. Carlisle and Esme jumped up and started congratulating the happy couple effusively —Bella was in the middle of blushing furiously and trying to pretend this had nothing to do with her.
Jasper stood up calmly, and he fixed his baby blue eyes on Edward, who was watching him hesitantly.
"Let's talk outside," Jasper said, gaze unmoving. Carlisle and Esme quieted down but gave each other a worried look; they understood how Jasper might not have been thrilled at the news, but they didn't know how he was taking it. Jasper wasn't a man of extreme emotions, but this kind of quietness felt too much like the calm before a storm.
"Alright," Edward nodded. He looked down at Bella, and seeing her almost constipated-looking face, winked at her. He might not have been as smart as Bella, but he knew his best friend —if anything, he knew Jasper would never do anything to hurt his little sister.
Edward followed Jasper to the backyard, which was big enough that from their position they were away from his family's eyes.
When the two were sure they weren't being seen, the unexpected happened —Jasper punched Edward in the stomach, and they both fell over in pain. Edward because he couldn't breathe, Jasper because he did not expect to find abs made of steel.
"What the fuck man?" Edward fell to his knees, groaning and holding onto his stomach. Jasper fell back on his ass, but he was holding onto his hand.
"Fuck man, how many hours a day do you fucking spend at the gym?" Jasper moaned, holding his aching hand. "Oh, and that's for touching my little sister you fucking creep."
Oh hell, breathing hurt.
"You mean your nearly twenty-two year old sister who's way more mature and way smarter than both of us combined?" Edward wheezed, amazed by how hard his best friend still punched. They hadn't gotten in a fight in nearly a decade, so he hadn't known.
"Yeah her, you asshole, the girl I saw be born," Jasper hissed, blowing on his hand as if it would've made any difference. "Also, you're welcome. I didn't hit your face."
He'd noticed; that was nice of him, Edward guessed.
"Thanks, I guess." Edward coughed, slowly sitting down so he was eye level with Jasper.
They spent some solid five minutes in silence, neither knowing what to say first to break the ice. The two were holding their injured body parts, looking at an orange tree Esme was growing.
Finally, it was Jasper who spoke.
"I'm glad it's you, dude. Dad would've liked it too, given some time to grow used to it," Jasper finally said, still looking ahead. "I'm scared for my sister, though. What the public eye could do to her; it's hard enough knowing you're in that shit show, but she's the most precious thing I have, you know? So make sure you protect her privacy man. That's the bare minimum she deserves."
Sadly, Edward couldn't promise him that.
"Dude, I'll do my best, but..." Edward shrugged, thinking back to the celebrity scandals of phones and email accounts getting hacked. He would make sure she changed all her account settings to private, and he'd check she had good and safe passwords. "There're no guarantees."
Yeah, Jasper knew that, but he'd kind of been hoping for an empty promise. Anything to make him feel like he wasn't a shitty brother for not being more against his little sister dating a man his own age who'd probably make her life harder.
Sighing, Jasper held his hand tightly and pursed his lips.
"Can you call my sister out? I want to talk to her."
Edward rolled his eyes.
"Bella," he said in his normal tone, and his girlfriend practically manifested by his side. It was quite ridiculous of Jasper, truth be told, to have expected Bella to not butt in. "Help me stand?"
Glaring at her brother, Bella helped him get up with some amazing strength; despite her size, she was physically strong as hell. She hugged him.
"I'm ok. Talk to your brother." Edward said, dropping a kiss on top of her head before making his way inside —groaning and moaning as he went.
Bella then sat down next to Jasper.
"I hope your hand hurts a lot," Bella stated simply, making her brother roll his eyes at her.
"Please, don't care about me so much."
"I'm just saying, I'm nearly twenty two. I'm a doctor. I live on my own. I can make my own decisions, and Edward is one of them."
Jasper frowned, turning to look at his little sister.
"What, so you're suddenly independent? Wow, I didn't know you were less my sister because you're over eighteen and a genius —you should write an article about that, I'm sure not many people are aware,"Jasper said sarcastically, making Bella glare. He sighed. "Isabella Marie Swan, you're my sister until the day we die. If you think you're too mature to be cared for, then you're too immature to be doing things like dating. I've given you space to grow up, and you're just a naturally quick learner —you're so fucking smart you could probably have chosen to be a rocket scientist and you'd have breezed through it. But as your older brother, it's still my job to make sure to guide you and care for you, especially if you might be making a mistake."
"You think I'm making a mistake with Edward?"
"I didn't say that. I'm saying I want to know whether you —and I fucking know already, you're a genius, geez— have really thought through what it means to be with him. The lack of privacy, the constant doubting about who's friends with you because of him, the not seeing him for weeks at a time because he's off in Timbuktu filming." Jasper took a deep breath in, knowing what he was saying wasn't pleasing his little sister but needing to say it all. "I know what a great guy Edward is, Bella. He's extraordinary, and so are you. I just have to wonder if you're both ready to be with someone so outstanding in their own way."
Bella cocked her head to the side, watching her brother's aged face. She remembered seeing the same face ten years back —no frown or laugh lines, not a single gray hair, same sincere blue eyes looking worriedly at her. Then she recalled Charlie —faint though her memories were— holding a beer and talking with Jasper on the porch.
"All I want is for her to be normal," Charlie had told his son. "No, not normal. I want her to have extraordinary happiness and average problems. I fear what the future will bring for someone like her."
Bella had been standing behind the door, the windows open and so carrying in the sound. She'd been able to see her father's hand over his beer and the top of Jasper's curls. Jasper, so young back then, had been the world to her.
"She'll have extraordinary happiness and dumbfounding problems, dad," Jasper had said calmly. "You and I are only here to lessen the blows and share the good times. Asking Bella to have anything that's average is like asking the sun to rise at night —against its nature."
That answer had pushed her through all her hardest times. It had been the truth —she wasn't average. She was abnormal, and she needed people who could support her throughout it.
Then again, she really was still one thing at the end of the day —human.
"Jazz, it's precisely because Edward and I are so extraordinary, humbleness aside, that we need someone to match us. We excel in different areas, true, but at the end of the day it's thanks to how demanding our fields are that we're great together. Edward knows I can't follow him wherever his job takes him, he knows I'm not looking to be a housewife, and he knows how demanding my job is. I have coworkers whose partners break up with them because they can't take the harsh working hours, the calls in the middle of the night, the lack of answer through texts for more than a day. And I understand that being with him is being in the public eye, is not seeing him for weeks at a time, is having people talk shit about me —shit I'm already used to one way or another. It takes special people to withstand these situations —whether the people know they're special or not."
Bella reached out and took her brother's fist in her hand, gently extending his fingers. She gave him a soft smile.
"Thank you for worrying about me. I love you, and I know you're just worried about me. But I know what I want, and that's been Edward for the last eight years."
Sighing heavily, Jasper nodded. Bella was stubborn, but she was also annoyingly smart.
"Do you love him?" Jasper asked.
He expected her to avoid the question or flush furiously and insult him, but instead she just smiled peacefully.
"I do. He's the best thing that's ever happened to me."
She stood up, helping him as well. He had a sour expression.
"Sure, he is. Whatever. Not like I raised you or anything."
Bella laughed, hugging her older brother.
"He happened to me. I, however, was born for you."
Jasper couldn't help it. He cried.
They were in Fiji when it happened.
They were lounging in the sun, enjoying the privacy of the beach on their lounge chairs. The holidays were months away, but this was when Bella and Edward had both gotten some time off —so here they were.
She turned to look at her boyfriend; he looked like a tomato because of his bad sunburn, and he'd grown a beard in the last month. She hated it. Still, she smiled.
"I love you, Edward Cullen."
He nearly cried —they'd been dating for a while now and they were only just saying it now. Alright, Bella was saying it now; he'd blurted it out the first week they'd been dating. He'd only been waiting for her to come around.
"I love you too, Bella Swan."
He couldn't say it; he was too busy crying and launching himself at his girlfriend to kiss the snot out of her.
Some time later
"Hi, I'm Tanya Denali—"
"And I'm Edward Masen."
"—and we are doing the Wired Autocomplete Interview."
"Is Tanya Denali Russian? No actually, I'm from Alaska. I've got a couple of cousins who live there though."
"Is Edward Masen a redhead? A little bit yeah, though my mom always tried to convince people I wasn't. She heard one too many redhead jokes."
"Has Tanya Denali gone to Russia? Wow, that's a lot of Russia questions people. No, I haven't, though I'd love to."
"Has Edward Masen gone to ComicCon? Yes, I have, because of work. Also, I'm pretty sure my best friend is responsible for this question —I went once without him and he hasn't forgiven me since."
"Can Tanya Denali sing? No, I really can't. I have a twin sister and she sings like an angel, so if you see someone who looks like me but can belt out a tune, that's not me."
"Can Edward Masen play the piano? Yes I can, my parents made me learn since I was a kid, and I was actually in my first semester in Juilliard majoring in piano when I got my first big movie role, so I dropped out."
"Will Tanya Denali get married in Moscow? Christ, what's with the Russia questions? Not to mention, I can't get married anywhere if I don't have a boyfriend, so no."
"Who is Edward Masen's… best friend? That would be Jasper; we're always getting photographed together. He lived with my family for a few years and stuff. He's like my brother."
"Does Tanya Denali own a cat? I have eight cats, so... yeah."
"Wow. Eight? Jesus Tan, you don't do anything in moderation do you? Ouch! Don't hit me!" Laughter. "Alright, alright. Does Edward Masen... have a girlfriend? No, actually, I'm married. Hey baby."
"You're married?" Pause. "Who even is it? When did this happen?"
"Childhood friend, and it happened last year. We'd been dating for three years before we tied the knot." Laughter. "Well, she's pretty famous in her own right. She's a neurosurgeon."
Edward's manager had fainted; this was the first live interview Wired did.
Also the last.
"A neurosurgeon? Do you guys even see each other?"
"Well, we sure do these days since she's on maternity leave."
Edward's publicist, who was watching the interview from his apartment, turned off his phone.
No way. What a fucking shit show. He quit.
All everyone saw before the live feed got cut off was Edward winking at the camera, a heart-stopping smile on his face.
"I love you, Bella."
And then it was dark.
Surprise! The last one shot before I'm out of commission for a while. I honestly wasn't expecting to write this, but the thing is I saw this k-drama about an actress and a lawyer (props if you know which one I'm talking about) and I just thought about how interesting it would be to talk about a superstar being in a relationship. Then, it was about going through the list (again) of all the different ways I've written Bella and Edward. Surprisingly, I'd always written Edward and Bella with either an equal number of sexual conquests, or Bella was far behind/a virgin; I realized I wanted to give her a little power in that way. Another example is, in She Did, He Said, I wrote a Bella as a child prodigy, but I didn't really show the ambitious part of her -here I wanted to expand a tiny bit more in how Bella was in love with Edward, but also with her career. Since this is a one-shot I couldn't go in-depth about many things, but I'm satisfied with what I managed to show. Also, anything that you might go 'Oh but that's not really true' like with the tipping or with something about celebrity lifestyle... remember research has a limit. I do my best, but if it's not in the first search result page on Google it's unlikely I read it. This is just my personal disclaimer; not because any of you are in the habit of pointing out errors, but because the perfectionist in me needs you to know I did my best but my best has limits. Hihi.
P.S. As always, I have the best readers known to FanFiction. Your reviews make my day, even when it's just a happy face. Thank you, thank you, and don't forget to favorite, follow and review!
P.P.S. Thank you so much for the nomination for Rules Don't Apply! You can vote for it at .com if you've already read it, and if not -go check it out! :)