Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.
I got bad, bad, bad kind of butterflies
Like when you got something to hide
Lies, tellin' you that I'm alright
Bad, bad butterflies in my chest
There's something I gotta confess
Yes, somebody's stuck in my head
~ Camila Cabello, Bad Kind of Butterflies
The rude woman with a headset led me to the side of the stage. Maybe rude was presumptuous of me, especially since I knew what an asshole the man she worked for was. Still, she led me to the side of the stage without much more than a nod before she rushed off.
He didn't know I was here and had no idea I had even been hired in the first place. Not that I wanted to be here either. I could list a good twenty other things I'd rather be doing than watching the filming of this show.
I was supposed to be finally thriving. I had graduated college with every honor possible thanks to myself and myself alone. Worked my ass off in an internship at the best public relations firm in the city full of public relations nightmares. And when I graduated college I had my absolute dream job lined up at said firm.
Then, Esme Cullen walked in our office and fucked up the last four years of my work. Being the new girl meant I got the short end of the stick that was the public relations nightmare of Edward Cullen.
Yes, she was beautiful and kind and unfailingly sweet. Sure, she was just trying to help her son, even though he was a thirty-four-year old man who could make his own decisions. Still, I had been planting seeds for months. Clients I wanted in on, clients who I knew I could work well with.
Then the biggest asshole in Hollywood's mother decides he needs to clean up his image and I'm stuck with him.
I want your full attention on this, Bella.
The Cullen's have been our clients for years and we can't lose them.
The meeting where I was told it was my job to clean up Edward Cullen's image was burned in my brain. I went in to public relations because I loved the challenge. Loved solving other people's problems. Loved having something to focus on other than my own problems. That didn't mean I wanted to have to try to restore the image of a man who made a living tearing down everyone else.
You would think they'd give the case to someone who had been at the firm as long as the Cullen's had been clients. Not that I wasn't good at my job, or going to be considering I had started less than a month ago, but the Cullen's had been a staple in Hollywood for years and only had the best of the best on their team. Problem was those people had enough clout to say they didn't want Cullen on their roster because he was a lost cause.
So, instead, I got to start my career with a practically unsolvable client. Especially because he was a client who didn't even want my help in the first place.
I watched the lights dim, heard the crowd suddenly go silent before a man walked by, telling them to cheer a moment before he came out.
I had never seen him in person. I saw picture after picture of him over the last two weeks as I researched my newest, first, and only client. While I already despised the jerk, the countless comments from women wanting him suddenly seemed very valid. Especially when you saw him in person.
I hated myself for the way my stomach filled with butterflies as I watched him gracefully walk across the stage, cocky smirk on his lips. Full, pouty, pink lips that I bet tasted phenomenal. I shook my head, clearing my thoughts, and promising myself never to get distracted by his looks again.
"Hello everybody, and welcome to the Tonight Show," he said smoothly, standing there in a perfect suit with his perfectly imperfect hair. And just as quickly as the fluttering butterflies invaded my stomach they flew away, saving themselves from the wrath of Cullen as he started his monologue.
In my mind, Hollywood was broken up in to three groups. The talent that made everything run, the most important part. The people that took care of them; managers, publicists, agents and such. Then, there were the Edward Cullen's of the industry. The ones who made a living bad mouthing everyone else. To me, he was in the ranks of trashy magazines and fake YouTube channels that did nothing but expose people for situations that were no one's business in the first place. Half of which were made up anyway.
For the next two hours I got to listen to him talk trash about everyone and everything that had happened over the last week. There was nothing like listening to an asshole who knew nothing about a situation give his two cents. It was no wonder no one wanted anything to do with him these days.
When things were wrapping up I headed back through the halls and into the dressing room with Cullen written on the door. I didn't need to snoop, I was fairly certain my weeks locked in my apartment researching him gave me more information than I would get out of his sparse belongings here.
I sat on the couch in the back, phone in hand and picked a piece of lint off of my dark jeans. It took me a good hour to pair the black jeans with a white camisole and blazer. Fashion was never my thing but, thankfully, Rosalie was around to make sure I never made a complete fool of myself.
The door swung open and he walked in, somehow walking in a way that made my mind go fuzzy for a quick second. I collected myself quickly and took advantage of the few moments before he knew I was here.
He pulled the mic from his tie and tossed it at someone out the door, grabbed the cold bottle of water on the counter, then bright emerald eyes met mine through the mirror in front of him.
"Who the hell are you?" he grunted, turning to face me.
I hated myself for staring at him for a second too long before responding. Yes, he was pretty, but he was my job. And an asshole. And married. Damn, that was the most important one.
I stood, grabbing my tote bag from beside my feet, and took a few steps toward him with my hand held out. "Isabella Swan. I work for Newton & Cheney Relations."
He frowned, fluffy eyebrows coming to a deep V on his forehead. "The PR firm?"
"Yes," I said, smiling through my self-hatred. "Esme Cullen has hired us to work with you. You should have an email from her explaining the situation."
Esme Cullen was a living legend, an actress turned philanthropist. She has used her notoriety in an attempt to help people all over the world. She went from acting in Academy Award winning films to making documentaries with her husband about real problems, real people. It helped that Carlisle Cullen was, of course, an Academy Award winning director. They made quite the couple.
I hadn't met them. They were far above my paygrade at the firm, but I had done a little research on them, too. They appeared to be a couple of the kindest, most well-spoken and genuine people I had heard of in this business. They were both out of town, probably somehow saving the world, but I was told she would send him a message tonight explaining everything.
Edward continued frowning at me as he pulled his phone out of his pocket.
As he read I awkwardly put my hand back at my side, considering he never bothered to shake it. I watched his face as he read what I hoped was his mother's message. How uncomfortable would it be if he was simply shifting through emails?
It might seem overly controlling, his parents hiring people to hopefully change the overwhelming public opinion that their son was an insensitive jerk. When they talked to me, though, it seemed like more than that.
They weren't parents who were worried about their son dragging them down. They were parents worried about their son in general and didn't know how else to help him. They also knew he was about to get booted from his show because no one liked him. That was left out of his email, though.
He must have finished, because he pocketed his phone and leaned against the counter behind him. Dark green eyes landed on me without a word. For a good two unbearably awkward minutes.
"How old are you?" he asked, catching me off guard.
I expected him to try and fire me. Hoped he would, really, even though I was told he didn't have the authority to do that. My age wasn't the first thing I thought we would discuss.
The brows that had been in a deep V from the moment he saw me shot up. "The biggest PR firm in Los Angeles sent a girl fresh out of college for me?"
I shrugged. "No one with any say over their clients wanted you."
For the first time in my life, I saw him laugh. Genuinely laugh. Like a full body chortle that was nowhere near what his laughs on his show looked or sounded like. I had watched nearly every second of his show over the last few weeks, and I had never seen anything like it. It was kind of beautiful.
"How much are you getting paid?" he asked once he calmed down.
"Um – "
"I can get you an interview at any other PR firm in the city and cover your living expenses until then if you walk out of here right now."
God, he was infuriating. Just when I saw… something in him. Something not hard and cold and mean, he went and proved his status as Hollywood's biggest asshole.
"No. I was hired to do a job, and as unfortunate as that job is, I'm going to do it. Could we meet sometime this weekend and discuss things?"
There would be no progress made while he was still trying to talk me out of the job in the first place. Maybe a day or so to calm down would make him more amenable.
He stared at me again. It wasn't a creepy or perverted look, just an uncomfortably intense gaze. One that made those butterflies from earlier reappear.
"I'll be home all weekend. You can come by Sunday afternoon. One?"
His offer surprised me. I thought tonight was going to be like pulling teeth, but maybe he was saving that for Sunday.
"Okay," I nodded. "I'll see you then, Mr. Cullen," I muttered, my bravery for the day quickly running out, completely wiped from not cowering under his intense emerald gaze.
I left quickly, feeling like I could breathe for the first time in hours once I was outside. My drive home was filled with traffic and once I stumbled inside I was ready for some peace and quiet.
Rose was gone, but it wasn't surprising. It was a Friday night and she had a phone full of friends to get in trouble with. We were best friends, had been since college, but I was never her go-to for a night out. And that was completely fine with me.
Socializing, interacting with anyone outside of school or work where our conversation was typically pre-determined… it was never for me. Part of it could be blamed on my upbringing, I knew that, but part of it was just in innate awkwardness around people.
School and work, they were all I really thought about. Ever. It was a lot easier than thinking about my own issues.
The next morning, I met Rose at her gym. It wasn't hers, technically, but she was a trainer there. It was a beautiful place, had to be to compete with the million and one other gyms in Los Angeles, but it was also comfortable. It wasn't the kind of gym where you constantly felt judged or like someone's eyes were on you. At least, I hadn't felt like that.
Rosalie got me in for free, thanks in large part to one of the co-owners of the gym having a blatant crush on her. Thankfully, it wasn't in a creepy way. The guy, Emmett, seemed like a big, muscled teddy bear. He made it known that he had a thing for Rose, but he wasn't holding her hostage or anything. The ball was in her court, and she was having fun dribbling a while as she made up her mind.
Rose and I met when I was a freshman in college, at the University of California: Los Angeles. I was there on a full ride scholarship and already stressed out after one class and the frustratingly beautiful blonde working in the library took pity on me. We became fast friends, and stayed that way even when Rose graduated a couple years before me.
It was hard to lose touch when you were roommates. Still, the sentiment was there. She was the older sister I never had but always wanted.
Her career path as a personal trainer also proved useful as well, considering I was an angry kid and needed an outlet. Hell hath no fury like Rosalie Hale yelling at you to keep your plank for another twenty seconds.
My anger was gone now, most of the time, but I still enjoyed my time in the gym with her. If only for the show of Rose yelling at the periodic shmuck that booked a class with her because he thought he had a chance with her, only for Rose to kick his ass in the first training session. I swore by the fact that it would make a better reality show than anything currently on television.
When she was done with her client, she sauntered over to where I was running on the elliptical. Somehow, she hadn't broken a sweat. I, however, was dripping after forty minutes here.
"So, how'd it go?" she asked, tossing a towel at me.
I wrapped it over my shoulders, stopping the machine and catching my breath before I could talk. "As well as could be expected."
"Oh, come on. I need more details than that! It's Edward Cullen for crying out loud."
I shrugged. "I talked to him for maybe seven minutes and he confused the hell out of me," I admitted.
"What was confusing?"
"You know what I think of him, especially after my research. But I swear, for just a second, he seemed like a completely different person. Laughing, maybe even cracking a funny joke for once. I don't know. Maybe that's the butterflies talking."
Rose's brows shot up. "Butterflies?"
"Yes. Butterflies. In my stomach. Stupid little buggers," I grumbled.
Her eyes softened, but not in a sweet way. In a this-girl-has-a-crush-on-the-worst-guy-imaginable way. "You got butterflies around him?"
I knew butterflies around a guy usually meant a crush. But I was fairly certain I had never had one of those. And I was damn sure I wasn't going to have one on Edward Cullen of all people. "It's not – no. Only for a second, then he started talking and they flew away. It's nothing," I answered defensively. Maybe too defensively, even for my own liking. My life would be much easier if Edward Cullen were a little less attractive, though.
Married. Married. Has two children. Ten years older than you. And did I mention married?
It was a reaction I wasn't expecting at all. I stared at his face on my computer screen for two weeks straight and not once did a single butterfly pop up. He was obviously handsome, but a lot of people were. In person he was drop dead gorgeous, but I was sure after tomorrow my slight infatuation would disappear. After more than a few minutes with him, once I saw who he really was, those butterflies would be dead for good. They had to be.
"Are you sure you don't want me to set you up with someone?" Rose asked out of the blue.
"Maybe the reason you're getting these… butterflies… is because you're finally ready to date."
I rolled my eyes, hopping off of the elliptical and grabbing my water bottle. "Dating has never been my priority."
"No. But you're a twenty-two-year old woman who had needs whether you ignore them or not."
I very nearly spit my water out all over her.
Just the thought of walking into a restaurant to spend two hours with a strange man I had never met… having to talk to him about God knows what… torture. Literal torture.
Rose's bluntness shouldn't have been surprising, not after I had known her for four years, but it still caught me off guard sometimes. It wasn't the first time she had tried to get me to date. More than once I had come home to a 'friend' of hers at the house who just happened to be joining us for dinner.
It was sweet and I appreciated that she was trying to help me, but dating just wasn't for me. Not right now.
"Don't look at me like that. I'm serious. You're twenty-two. You have a body girls would kill for. Have some fun instead of working twenty-four-seven, Bella," she said softly, which meant she was being about as honest as one could get.
"I need to figure this whole Cullen thing out before I can focus on anything else."
Rosalie scoffed, rolling her eyes in my direction. "Oh, he can't be that bad."
The night before my meeting with Cullen, I sat myself in my bed with my laptop to do some more research. I wasn't sure he was going to be very forthcoming with information, and I wanted to be prepared for anything.
But, I got distracted by clips of his show. There were hundreds upon hundreds online. He started hosting his late night talk show when he was twenty-seven, about seven years ago. Before that he did some acting, following in his mother's footsteps, then he settled on the talk show. A prime spot usually for someone who had been working in the industry for twenty years, but somehow he snagged it out from everyone else.
Even though I was far from his biggest fan, he was good the first few years. He was personable and laughed and seemed genuinely interested in the people he interviewed. No, he wasn't interviewing diplomats or presidents but he was talking to people who were impressive in their own right. And he was good at it.
He was the complete opposite of me. It seemed like he could keep a conversation going for hours if he wanted.
Then, about two years ago, there's an obvious change. His smile was forced, I could tell thanks to the hours of clips I had watched the last few weeks. His questions were tinged with annoyance and backhanded compliments. He wasn't warm and inviting anymore, he was cold and uncaring.
And now my job was to try and get the public to ignore every cold and insensitive thing he had said on his show in the last few years. A job even the best publicists in Hollywood ran away from.
It made me loathe the man even more when my dreams that night were filled with his genuine laughter and bright green eyes.
A/N: Me? With a new story? Who would have ever thought! I'm not going to make any promises about lengths of anything because we all know I am a bold face liar in that department. But, I have quickly fallen in love with these two as I've been writing. I've got a few chapters under my belt, so expect an update every Friday for now. Maybe a random Tuesday update every now and then if I get too excited.
Another little disclaimer: I, surprisingly, do not know the exact ins and outs of late night television or PR! Please don't drag me if there is something off or inaccurate. It's fanfiction for a reason.
Anyway… I'd love to know your first impressions on these two!