DISCLAIMER: Twilight character names belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. The intellectual property including but not limited to all characterizations, plot lines, backgrounds and details belong to LoveEqualsEDWARD. Plagiarism is theft so please, no copying or reproduction of this work in any language is permitted without express written authorization of the author.
Author's Note: Okay kids, I finally did it. This is my first fanfic. Please note that although this is ultimately an Edward & Bella fic, there will be some non-canon couplings at first.
"Oh! What a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive!"
-Sir Walter Scott
A real-life soap opera.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine myself as part of one. I most certainly never saw myself cast in the role of antagonist, either.
However, here I am, practically sitting at the tip of the all-hell-breaking-loose iceberg, holding power over peculiarly intertwined, secret-filled lives, all of which are somehow connected to mine.
What does one do with such power over the lives of others? A few simple words from me would blow things wide open and the shit would definitely hit the fan. Come to think of it, the real question should be "What's it worth to me?" For starters, having the ability to end the reprieve for one Carlisle Cullen would bring me much satisfaction. That alone is worth more than anything I could ever hope for.
Could this be fate? I'm not convinced. But I will tell you that if there is such a thing as Fate, it sure is one sick, twisted son of a bitch.
Now ... before you start judging me, let me tell you a bit about how I came upon this Pandora's Box, of sorts.
Not too long ago, thanks to my up-and-coming career as a print model and actress, I landed a small role in a film being shot in Seattle, Washington. While working on that set, I met a friendly little wardrobe stylist named Alice Brandon, and we hit it off instantly. Alice had a way about her - one couldn't help but adore her from the get go. Naturally, it took almost no time for me to regard her as my closest friend, even though I knew that she already had a best friend in Seattle. Alice often spoke so highly of her that I soon found myself fond of this girl as well and looked forward to meeting her in person soon. However, because of my busy schedule on set, I hadn't had the opportunity to meet her.
But, as fate would have it, one fortunate Friday during filming, when the weather did not cooperate as our Director would've liked, the entire cast and crew was given the weekend off. Alice, as expected, seized the opportunity to make plans for a "Girls' Night," which included her best friend. So, once introductions and awkwardness were out of the way (after several shots of Patron, no less), the evening turned out to be a crazy good time, and we found that we got along amazingly well as a trio. Within a few weeks, we were calling ourselves "The Three Amigas" and were pretty much inseparable after that first night. Even when filming for my movie ended, I still flew back to Seattle regularly in order to catch up with my girls. We became the best of friends.
A day before I was set to arrive in Seattle for one of my regular visits, I received a text from Alice letting me know that she'd miss our girls' weekend due to last minute work demands on a set in Portland, Oregon. So, the weekend would consist of just two Amigas instead of three. However, I knew we'd still make the most of it, sans Alice, as long as Senor Patron was kept on tap.
I arrived at Seattle International and found my then new buddy awaiting me with an expectant smile.
"Hey girlfriend, ready for a weekend of debauchery alá Yours Truly?" she said.
I rolled my eyes and giggled at her exaggeration. She was too much of a good girl to even know what "debauchery" really entailed. Instead, I hugged her silly ass and had her help me drag my Louis Vuittons out the airport doors in search of her car. We drove for what seemed like ages, but settled into our typical comfortable conversation about work, life in L.A., and men, as usual. Eventually, we turned off into a secluded, private road and my jaw dropped at the sight of the sprawling mansion, which sat at the end of it.
"Dude, you live here?" I said in awe of the sight before me.
She nodded once and smiled bashfully.
Shit, I knew that she was married to a doctor and that he was pretty successful, but after getting a load of that house I had a feeling that she was married to some Daddy Warbucks-type of guy. Actually, Alice had mentioned that he was several years older so maybe he was more of a Sugar-Daddy Warbucks. My interest was certainly piqued and I wanted to know more about him. In fact, I secretly hoped that I'd get the scoop this weekend and learn how to lock down on one of those specimens for myself, permanently.
"This isn't a house, Honey. It's a freakin' palace! Who the heck are you married to, a Seik or a Sultan or something?" I said in mock disbelief.
"Or something" she replied with an impish grin.
I marveled at the beautiful architecture as we made our way inside. But of course, the interior was even more exquisite than the exterior, featuring all kinds of beautiful art work and antiques.
My buddy hit the jackpot with this fella, that's for sure.
"Leave your bags by the foyer, Hon. I'll see to it that they make it to your room," she said as she walked ahead of me. "I'm sure you must be famished by now, so I'm going to slip into the kitchen really quickly to prep something for us to eat, okay?"
"Sure. Mind if I look around your museum for a bit? This place is like a freaking art gallery!" I replied appreciatively.
"Mi casa es su casa. Make yourself at home. And would you mind pouring us a couple of glasses of wine while you're at it? The wine is in the study, first door on your left," she said, and pointed me towards the study door.
I nodded in response as I made my way towards said study.
As I entered, I was surprised to find that three of the four walls in the room were almost completely covered in framed photos of all sizes. I knew that photography was a hobby of hers, but from the amount of photos in this room, I could tell that she was actually passionate about it and took pride in displaying her work.
I approached the wall closest to me and began to scrutinize the photos. There were varied pictures, both in color and black and white; beautiful landscapes, architecture, flowers, and people. Some seemed random; others casual and candid in style, while a few seemed like shots of people she knew. Family, I thought. I checked out the photos, one by one, until I came upon a cluster of black and white ones that sat in the middle of all the others. Stepping closer to get a better look, I was instantly shocked by what I saw.
It couldn't be.
In an effort to gather my thoughts, I leaned back on the desk in the middle of the room and accidentally knocked over a small picture frame that had been set upon it. Quickly turning around to pick it up, I almost dropped it again when I took in the face in the frame. It was a face I remembered all too well. As my eyes did a quick scan of the entire room, I realized that many of the pictures there featured the same face. The face of a great looking man with stylish blonde hair, piercing baby blue eyes, and a dazzling smile. A face I could never forget.
Oh. My. God. Carlisle fucking Cullen.
This can NOT be possible. Bella is married to THAT bastard?!
But she said that her name was Isabella Swan! She never once mentioned the name "Cullen" in our conversations!
I continued to scrutinize each and every picture, seeking clues into Bella's connection to Carlisle when I came across one that answered all of my questions. Although neither of them wore traditional wedding attire, it was clearly a wedding portrait. Bella had on a beautiful off-white cocktail dress while Carlisle wore a sharp black pinstripe suit. His arms were wrapped around her waist as they lovingly gazed into each other's eyes; the Eiffel Tower sitting in the distance. The typical romantic wedding cliché, I thought. Not to mention the ginormous rock that was sitting on Bella's left ring finger, which gave it all away.
"I see that you've found my personal gallery, Rose." Bella said with a chuckle as she entered the room, catching me staring at the wedding photo.
Attempting to seem as composed as possible, I replied, "Bells, you never told me that you were married to the Carlisle Cullen. How could you keep that a secret?"
She shrugged and said, "Well, I only use my married name for legal purposes, but I'm known as Isabella Swan for everything else, especially my writing. Besides, the locals know that I'm Mrs. Cullen, even if I don't wear the name like a badge. I just assumed that Alice had told you."
And there it was.
If I had been unsure about her connection to Carlisle Cullen before, she had just iron-clad confirmed it. Part one of the Pandora's Box puzzle had unexpectedly landed on my lap.
The funny thing is that despite what happened to me in the past, I had never actively sought the means to pay back the S.O.B. who ruined me. But now that the opportunity had fallen from the sky, so to speak, it was hard to ignore. You see, somewhere along the way, I played with fire and got burned. Many moons ago, I chose a path that led me right into the arms of a man who not only used and tossed me aside, but left me marked for the rest of my existence. Little did I know that ten years down the road, I'd befriend a woman named Isabella who just happened to be that despicable bastard's wife. So, because of that friendship, I've come into knowledge of secrets that when revealed, will shake up our little world as we know it. It is a small world, after all, and the thought of giving Carlisle Cullen what he so richly deserves almost makes me giddy with anticipation.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not malicious by nature, and yeah, Bella will likely be hurt in the process, but she's no innocent party either. As a matter of fact, it is her secrets that will be the key to exacting my revenge upon her husband's life. But that's another piece of the puzzle I've yet to tell you about.
For now, I will just patiently sit back, observe, and carefully plan what I want to do. It may not happen next week or heck, maybe not even next year, but I will have my day in the sun, as far as Carlisle Cullen is concerned.
Mark my words.
A few years ago ...
"Five minutes, Ms. Swan," said the stage manager.
In the next five minutes, my life, as I knew it, would completely change.
Not even a year prior, I was a 21-year old, no-name writer from Forks, Washington. But in the next five minutes, I'd become Isabella Swan, the highly praised, accomplished author and best-selling novelist. And out there? Out there was my future. I didn't know it at the time, though. In the next five minutes, I'd walk into a room filled with international press, publishing house big-wigs, all sorts of prestigious names, and people of importance - all gathered to meet me.
As the latest best-selling-author-du-jour, my publisher and I had been invited to attend an elite fund raising event - in Paris, France, no less - for which I was expected to donate my time and give interviews with countless media outlets, offer an exclusive book signing event (for VIPs only), and attend a ten-thousand dollar per ticket dinner and silent auction. An auction for which "a date with an author" (namely, me) was one of the prizes up for bids. So, in five minutes, I'd play the literary rock star part and autograph books, pose for photos, speak to the press, and then prep myself to be sold off like cattle to the highest bidder for a "night on the town" in the City of Lights - all in the name of charity, of course.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Hart-Meyer Publishing Co. and The CCF Children's Charities welcome you to our third annual Elite Fundraiser event. As you all know, today's events include a book signing with Isabella Swan, celebrated author of several books, currently on the New York Times best seller lists. But, we are most excited to announce that Miss Swan has generously agreed to an exclusive visit with one of our lucky patrons via the highest bid in our silent auction. So, for those of you interested, please be sure to place your bids before 5 p.m. today, as the winner shall be announced during our black-tie dinner event this evening," said my publisher, Mr. Hart.
"Please join me in welcoming Ms. Swan ..."
The room erupted in a series of polite applause. Knowing that it was my cue, I walked out onto a small stage where I was greeted by what felt like hundreds of flashbulbs.
Here goes nothing.
I put on my signature fake smile and waved as I made my way to the center of the small stage. Miss Beauty Pageant USA had nothing on me.
After exchanging a few pleasantries with Mr. Hart, I reached a small table and proceeded to call on people with questions or comments about my books, as expected. A short while later, the line was opened for the book signing and that's when he first made his presence known.
"Good evening, Ms. Swan," said an incredibly alluring male voice. "It is an honor to just be in the same room with you, but to have the opportunity to meet you in person is indeed a delight beyond measure."
I looked up from the book I was signing and was suddenly dumbstruck by a pair of piercing baby blue eyes. They were framed by long, dark lashes on a gorgeous masculine face, with stylish blond hair and a seductive smile. As if against my will, my eyes didn't just stop at his face. They continued to scan their way further south, and from the looks of things, it was evident that this man was keenly aware of his physical appeal and took time to keep himself in the finest shape possible. Sex on legs was all I could think of with his defined athletic body being hinted at through his snug fitting trousers and dress shirt.
Of course, my natural reaction was a traitorous blush brought on by the lewd thoughts running through my mind as I ogled him from head to toe. He smiled wickedly, as if he knew the effect he was having on me.
Damn that sexy smile. Oh, he most certainly knows the effect it has on women.
The man just exuded raw sexuality and I was instantly drawn to him.
Extending one strong hand in greeting, he continued to slay me with that smile. I nervously placed my hand in his and responded, "Ummm, hi ... pleased to meet you, Mister ..."
He kept my hand firmly in his grip, never taking his sky blue gaze away from mine, and said "Carlise ... Carlise Cullen."
Before I could pull my hand from his grip, he bent down, bringing my hand up to his lips, and softly kissed my knuckles. And for a fraction of a second, I wondered if it was a French thing to do or if he was actually coming on to me. Hell, I hoped to God that he was indeed coming on to me, as I had never before felt such an intense attraction to a man as I did right then.
And for the first time ever, I actually considered going home with a stranger.
NEWS: I've recently started working with PROJECT TEAM BETA (October 2009) in order to bring you a better version of this story - no story changes involved though, just grammatical tweaks here and there. Thank you, PTB authors!