Summary: Isabella Swan is a young, but well-respected actress. Edward Cullen is a complete unknown looking to make his name. They have never met and their lives are completely different, but when they are cast to play doomed lovers in a heart-breaking story, will their worlds collide? And if so, what casualties will be obtained?
Chapter 1 – EPOV
LA. The City of Angels. Yeah right. This place was filled with more sin and sinners than hell itself. I've always hated LA and 6 months of living here have done nothing to change my mind. In fact, I think I've actually grown to hate it more, now that I know so many more things about it. From the smog covered sky to the dusty, traffic-ridden ground, I don't know if it actually has a saving grace. If I didn't have to live here to succeed at what I loved doing, I wouldn't come within a thousand miles of this place. Beneath the glitz and glamour of LA is the crime, the corruption and the unadulterated misbehaviour. This town lost its morals somewhere between the 20's and the 50's and it's never bothered to even look for them again.
I'm originally from Chicago and if the movie industry would take notice of an unknown actor in the middle of the country, I would have stayed there. I spent some time in New York doing a bit of stage acting, but both my agent and my manager categorically told me that every new-comer must do time in LA to make it in with the big boys. That's why I find myself sitting in a small cafe just outside of the centre of LA, sipping on the best coffee in town scribbling little notes on a worn-out script that I had received months previously. My audition for the part was in a couple of hours and I was nervous as hell and still unsure about whether or not I should even go. The auditions had been going on for a couple of hours and this was the penultimate day and I was one of the last to read for the part because I hadn't given the go ahead for my agent to confirm until Friday, last week.
It wasn't that I thought the movie was going to be lame, it wasn't. It was just that I didn't know if I could pull this off without looking like the biggest amateur on the planet. The script was based on a poem written by a very well-known musician published post-humously. At first, no one had a clue as to who had written the piece and I had read it without knowing anything about the author or the supposed story behind it. It was haunting and disturbing and heart-breaking and completely damn epic. It was easily one of the best pieces of poetry written in the modern era and the fact that no one knew who the author was made it even more popular and critically acclaimed. Then, about two years ago, it came to light that the author was quite a famous musician who had died in what had been presumed to be an overdose. That's when the shit really hit the fan, so to speak. There were theories popping up everywhere as to whom he was writing about because there was no doubt in anyone's mind that he had to be writing about his own life. Suddenly, the accidental overdose that everyone had thought to be just another rock star getting heady with excess was suddenly a suicide because he couldn't be with the love of his life. None of this was confirmed, of course, apart from the fact that he did in fact write the poem. Not that proof was something too sought after in Hollywood. If it made a decent enough story and the big wigs of the town could make enough money from it – more than they would lose if a libel case came about – it would be turned into some kind of production. Actually, it had already been made into a TV movie as soon as all the speculation started and it sucked!
This film had been in the works since before the bomb that was the movie of the week a couple of years ago, but it had been pushed onto the backburner because of the colossal failure that was the first attempt. The main reason for the failure, in my opinion was the weak script, which meant that the actors were weak in it. This script, however, was much better, possibly because it had been revised a hundred times over in order for the green light to be given for a multi-million dollar production. Hence why I'm so unsure about even auditioning for the role. With the pressure that must surely be on the production team, they would laugh me out of this town if I auditioned and completely sucked! Hell, I may get such a bad name that I would never find work in this industry again. The highlight of my life would forever be the pilot that I came to LA to film, which was never picked up. How sad!
"Are you still bloody brooding over that script Ed?" I looked up to find my best friend, Rosalie Hale, sitting opposite from me with an impatient look marring her flawless features.
Rosalie worked in the fine establishment I was currently occupying and seeing as there was absolutely no one else in right now, she had decided to give me shit about my indecision – again.
"I'm glad that my best friend is so supportive and understanding Rose," I bit out, sarcasm dripping from every word that came out of my mouth.
"I passed supportive and understanding two weeks ago my friend," she told me, bringing her feet up onto the small table between us. "Probably around the 50th time I heard you moaning about this."
"Whoever said you weren't patient never met you, obviously."
She rolled her eyes at me and put on a stern face. "Look Ed, just get out of your bloody head for once and stop analysing everything you are or aren't going to do. You don't even know if you're going to get the bloody part! Who cares if you suck? It's all part of the learning process."
"Says the girl who's never failed at anything in her whole life!" It came out before I really thought about what I was saying and by the look of utter disgust on Rosalie's face, I had reminded her of the very thing that had brought her to the West Coast of America with me, thousands of miles from her British home.
"You're a fucking wanker, you know that right?" she spat out, standing up, about to walk away.
I stood with her and grabbed her hand, stopping her from getting too far. "You know I didn't mean to say that Rose," I said sincerely. Those memories were not something that I wanted her to replay. "I'm a fucking selfish, insensitive idiot. I'm sorry."
She looked back at me, her eyes still hard and nodded once, telling me that she had forgiven me, but she was still pissed off. I would have been too, had I been her. Rosalie was right. Sometimes, I got so caught up in my own thoughts, in my own head that I tended to ignore stuff around me. It still didn't excuse what I had said to her, but she knew I didn't mean it, knew I wasn't thinking about what I was saying at the time – which really was the fucking problem. I let her go and watched as she walked away from me, but she hadn't even made it back to the counter when she turned around.
"Look Ed, just go to the audition and stop moping. I'll let you take me out tonight for an 'I'm sorry I'm a self-absorbed prick actor' dinner and celebratory drinks."
I smiled at her, walking over to hug her. Rosalie was bloody unbelievable and I was reminded pretty much every day of why she had become my best friend. She rolled her eyes at my dramatic display of affection and pushed me out of the door, saying good luck as she shut it behind me quite forcefully.
A man just about to enter the small coffee shop looked at Rose and then at me with jealousy in his eyes. I knew that look well. I had seen it in the eyes of literally thousands of guys whenever I was around Rose. It was a look of 'how the hell did you get lucky enough to get her?' A lot of people assumed that Rose and I were together, especially because we live together, but nothing could be further from the truth. There has never been anything but friendship between myself and Rose, which isn't to say that I don't find her attractive. You'd have to be dead not to find Rose stunning with her long blond hair, piercing blue eyes, perfect model figure and legs that seemed to go on forever. She was the epitome of Californian beauty...except she was actually from Brighton, England. I had met her 5 years ago when I backpacked around Europe after finishing high school a year early. England was my first stop and when I met Rosalie, I found myself travelling through the rest of Europe plus one. The girl had a wicked sense of humour, a taste in music to rival my own and she knew how to fix a car like most people knew how to breathe. The only thing about Rose was that she was also constantly attracted to – and attracting – the wrong type of guy. I can't even count the number of times we've had to sprint away from a bar – or the number of times I've nearly been arrested because of her. Still, I wouldn't trade the girl in for an easy, quiet life. I mean where's the fun in that right? Besides, I don't think anyone else could tolerate my tendency to over-dramatise and over-analyse everything I do. I would go as far as to say that I was slightly paranoid – Rose would say that I was 'fucking insane' and 'bloody neurotic'.
I looked around, checking to see that no one had seen me sneak out of the audition room and down the hall to the back exit. Thankfully, everyone else was busy looking for the next guy that was supposed to show up and read with me, or congratulating the previous guy on his 'good performance'. If good these days meant that it sucked harder than a vacuum. I had been reading the same lines with apparently the same person for the past two and a half weeks and I was absolutely sick of it. Well, okay, they weren't the same person, but they all blended into one. Not a single actor had given me anything to work with, to play off of. Instead, they all sat opposite of me, thinking more about how to look broody and dark than thinking about the part. What made it all even worse was that not a single person had ever read the poem on which the film was based. I had been very close to hitting one guy who thought they were doing the film from the shitty little excuse of a Hallmark film that came out a couple of years ago. If Sue hadn't walked in to start the scene, I would have had a very sore hand and a lawsuit.
I was now sneaking off around the back of the small, non-descript building to have a cigarette, which was something I had promised my boyfriend and my parents that I would quit doing. Yeah, as if. With all the stress that I was going through just reading with these idiots, it was a miracle I wasn't going through a pack of twenty a day. I was trying not to let Sue or Alice see me puffing away on these little white sticks because they would undoubtedly feel the need to tell Jake about my continuing habit. That was one of the major disadvantages of doing a film with people that knew you and your significant other. I couldn't really do anything without it getting back to Jacob somehow, even if it was a passing comment over dinner. Not that I hid much from him, but he had never liked me smoking and I had been promising him for a year solid that I would quit. I just didn't want to start now...maybe after the movie was done filming. I inhaled deeply on my slim cigarette and let the smoke ease its way down my throat. There was nothing better than the first puff of a cigarette, especially when you shouldn't be having one. I felt my heart beat slow and my breathing became deeper, as I tried to get the smoke to reach down to my toes, not just the bottom of my lungs.
My mind cleared of the buzzing that had been there since I first came face to face with this morning's load of thoughtless morons. I had been acting since I was ten and I loved my job, but I hate the people that it attracted. A lot of people, in LA especially, wanted to be famous and they thought that acting was just a way to get there. I hate the idea of fame, the obsession with celebrity that society has now. I think it's watered down the craft and there are so many people in the industry who think that acting is just memorising some lines and trying to look good on the big screen. I hated that and I hated the people that were so obviously here to see their name in lights. I think that was why I had more or less steered clear of big-budget films. I liked working with people who loved acting, who had a thought in their mind that didn't die of loneliness, but huge studios wanted huge celebrities, never mind if they couldn't string two words together if someone else didn't write them down. However, I made several exceptions. I had worked on a big studio film in my early teens because it had offered me the opportunity to work with one of my favourite actresses, someone I had looked up to since I knew what a role model was. Then there was this role.
Sue Clearwater was a friend of Jake's. She had directed him in one of his very first films and he spoke very highly of her and the way she worked. He had told me that I could learn a lot from her about how to work within the industry, work the industry and still be true to who you are. I had taken slight offence at this, seeing as I thought I was doing a great job all on my very own at keeping my morals, but I dampened down my bitch reflex and agreed to read for the part. When I read the script, I felt this huge compulsion to do the part. I had read the poem and I had loved it from the very first moment I laid eyes on it, but I had also seen the film and I knew how bad things could go. However, although not as dark as the poem – they had to make it appeal to a mainstream audience after all – it had the same depth, the same character and I found that I absolutely could not let anyone else play Kristen. I had to be her, I had to tell her story, and I had to be her voice. I called Sue up and practically begged for the part, to which she laughed at, confessing that she wasn't beyond bribing me to do the part had I even thought about turning it down.
Right now, I was having second thoughts about playing the role of Kristen Stewart, half of the doomed couple being depicted in this screen play. The film would absolutely not work unless the right male lead was cast and so far, no one had been anywhere near right. In fact, they were so far off right that they could have been auditioning for any role in the film other than Rob and would have been a better fit – even my own. As much as I wanted this role, as I wanted to be the one to bring Kristen to life, I didn't want to do it in a film that sucked. I wanted this film to do well, to tell the story that should have had a much happier ending and I wanted to do that with someone that cared just as much. Which meant really, that they had to have read the poem and so far they were batting zero for fifty-eight.
I inhaled deeply for the last time, wishing that cigarettes were longer so that they'd last longer, but knowing that I'd smoke just as many anyway. I had just stubbed out the butt with my sneakers when the back door opened and Alice burst through in her typical graceful manner. I didn't even have time to step out of the cloud of smoke that still hung around me before she came before me, her delicate nose scrunching up at my disgusting habit. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. People who didn't smoke were so damn judgemental about the whole thing and sometimes I really wanted to give them a piece of my mind. I bit my tongue though, not only because Alice would no doubt tell Jake if I bitched her out after only two weeks of knowing her, but also because she couldn't help it. Alice Brandon was the stereotypical Californian girl, minus the blond hair and blue eyes. She was all about keeping fit and living a healthy lifestyle, which meant absolutely no puffing on a 'cancer stick'.
She smiled brightly at me, trying to hide the fact that she wanted to gag at the air around me. I decided to follow her lead and ignore what I had obviously been doing here. If we became friends, maybe she would help to hide the fact that I was still smoking from Sue, which meant that Jake wouldn't hear a word of it. Alice and Jake had been friends for a while themselves. They hung out in the same circle, having both been in two of Sue's more famous films when they were young. They were the same age and pretty much grew up in small Californian towns next to each other. I had been introduced to her briefly before we were both cast for the film, but I don't exactly take to new people well. I find that I can't make small talk. I have absolutely nothing to say to them and because I don't numb their minds with whatever is crossing mine in that instant, they all think I'm being stand-offish and a bitch. This is probably the reason that Alice and I barely knew each other even though she and my boyfriend were all pally.
"Sue's looking for you," she told me. "The next guy is here and she's all excited about him. She wants to talk to you about changing scenes."
I rolled my eyes when she told me about the next guy. I had barely had ten minutes of peace and now the buzzing noise was back in my head. Alice, I'm pretty sure anyway, was telling me about how good looking the next auditionee was, but all I heard was that he was another pretty boy with nothing going on above neck level and the buzzing became almost chain-saw like in nature. It would have been more interesting, and probably a hell of a lot more promising if the next guy was ugly. Although Rob was actually the very definition of sexy rock god, it seemed as if that was the only requirement for this audition so far. Apparently it didn't matter in Hollywood if you didn't even have the brain capacity to tie your own shoe-laces in the morning as long as you had an artificially dimpled chin, almost fluorescent white teeth and a weekly appointment at a tanning parlour. I guess with all the time these guys spent trying to look good, they didn't have time to even find out what an acting class was.
"Sue was giggling at something he said when I left," Alice was finishing her story, her eyes bright and her smile wider than it had been when she first greeted me. "Honestly Bells, I mean Rob was good looking, but this guy..." she trailed off with a sigh and I couldn't hold back an eye roll this time, which she caught. She just laughed at my expression, holding the door open for me to walk through. "Jake doesn't know how lucky he is to have such a devoted girlfriend. It's like you don't even see anyone else."
I smiled tightly and shrugged, choosing not to say anything because I didn't know what to say. I was embarrassed. I didn't think I was a particularly good girlfriend, but in the way that Alice meant, I could see her reasoning. The thing was, I would never disrespect Jacob that way because he was first and foremost my best friend. Even before anything romantic happened between us, he was in my life as my friend and he understood me in a way other people hadn't even tried to before. Our relationship had shifted so casually from friendship to romance that I didn't even notice for the first couple of months that something had changed.
We walked to the other side of the building where Sue had told Alice she would be, bypassing many of the other cast and crew already associated with the film. The part of Rob was the last one to be cast and so everyone else here already had their roles within the production. It was the final couple of days of auditions and I, for one, couldn't be more glad that it was almost over. The only down side was that there hadn't been a single person yet that I would even consider acting opposite of. I was mostly silent on the walk, psyching myself up to hold back my bitchy comments and trying to force my buzzing head into Kristen's mind-set. Alice was not in any way put off by my silence. In fact, I doubt she actually noticed that I hadn't even said three words to her because she was happily recounting the auditions she had done for her last movie and the men that she had screen tested with.
It was strange, the compulsion I had to do this part. I was very different to Kristen in so many ways – at least from the way she was written. It was speculation that the woman on whom the poem was actually based was actually Kristin Stewart, a wealthy heiress well known in the inner circles of Manhattan. She wasn't exactly well known to the world, but in her own circle, she was infamous and ever since her mysterious death 5 years ago at the tender age of twenty seven, she had become pretty famous worldwide. It was hard to really uncover anything about her death. All anyone knew was that one minute she was playing the role of gracious hostess at a summer party in the Hamptons and the next, she was floating face down in the pool of her Hamptons home, her Vera Wang gown billowing around her. The Manhattan elite closed ranks and no one talked about anything to do with that night. It was amazing what you could get away with if your family owned half of the East Coast and had done since the Pilgrims landed.
The link between herself and Robert was tenuous and had all come from a photograph that was leaked just after it was revealed he was the writer. It was the two of them, years before either of them really made an impact on the world in a rather intimate moment, backstage at one of his friend's gigs. It was rather a surprise because no one knew that these two beautiful people had even known of the other's existence, never mind that they could have once been friends. It was all speculation of course and there was absolutely no one that could really verify it. Not that it stopped gossip magazines and websites from spreading their own brand of truth. It all pretty much died down when a magazine was sued for 10 million dollars because of a particularly sensationalist story they had run about the two. The money had gone to charity and everyone had learnt their lesson. I was actually pretty surprised that this movie was given the go-ahead because of all the legal drama, but when I asked Sue about it, she brushed me off and told me that everything was taken care of. I was still a little unsure, but if a huge Hollywood studio was willing to associate itself with this project, then their legal bases must be somewhat covered.
I rounded the corner just as Alice was finishing off telling me about the date she'd been on last night with one of the crew. We both smiled widely as Sue called us over, script in hand and her glasses on the end of her nose.
"Hey guys, I was just looking over the scene we were going to do, adding little bits and pieces to it. I talked to Edward," she gestured over her shoulder to the closed door behind her and then looked at me. "That's the guy you're reading with by the way. Anyway, we were talking about the scene and he had a couple of notes that I think are very valid, so I talked to Arielle and she didn't mind it all trying it out his way to see what it would be like."
I arched an eyebrow, my mind reeling with the news that someone who hadn't even got the part yet was making changes to the script. I didn't know what to say and I couldn't even begin to think about what my face must have looked like. Alice tried to muffle a giggle as she looked at me, but Sue had already turned back to the script and circled a few things, whilst scribbling out some other stuff. By the time she had turned back to me, I had schooled my features into nothing but curiosity.
"Just take a few minutes to read over the changes and go into the room when you're ready. He's under instructions to start when you open the door." She left after that, through the door and I heard her starting to say something to him before the door was closed again.
Alice squeezed my shoulder in a comforting gesture before walking back down the hallway, undoubtedly to find the guy that she had been on a date with. I think it had gone well, but I couldn't be sure because I wasn't listening closely enough to keep up with the way she changed subjects. I looked down at the pages before me filled with Sue's barely legible scribbling. As I gave it the once over, I noticed that it was much better than the original scene had been. It was a shade darker than the first one; much more in keeping with the poem than the actual movie in its tone, but it didn't stand out so much that it was separate from the rest of it. There was a lot less dialogue in the new take on the scene and it really benefitted from that. I was very surprised and slightly thrilled at the fact that this guy had obviously read the poem – he wouldn't have got the tone so spot on otherwise. I read the new words again and then took a few deep breaths as I tried to clear my mind of my own thoughts and replace them with what I thought Kristen's would be. It took a good five minutes, but then I was ready and opened the door to step into the next room.
The light was dim and I heard an unfamiliar slow, haunting melody that was coming from the far corner. I could see a figure, his head bent down, and his fingers falling heavily on the ivory keys. Each note depicted sorrow, pain and I felt my entire being ache as I stood in the doorway, just listening to the melody. Although music was dictated in the script, there had been nothing to indicate what type of music it should be and I wondered whether this guy was playing off the top of his head, interpreting the scene through the notes. As Bella, I was seriously impressed and excited by the possibility that someone had actually come to audition for the part of Robert the tortured soul, not just Rob the good looking rock star. As Kristen, I felt my heart break a little as I listened to the man I loved play through his emotions.
I stepped closer to him and though he couldn't have possibly heard my soft footsteps, he knew I was there because the music got louder, impossibly more tumultuous and confused, but there was an undercurrent of need, of desperation. I didn't know how he was getting the feel of the scene so well, but I liked it and decided that I would give this audition one hundred percent. I was going to raise my game for the first time in the past two and a half weeks. I took a step closer and the music stopped altogether, but he didn't look up and I could feel myself being drawn closer, to make him see me. Even though I was in character, a part of the real me was very curious to see this guy.
"You shouldn't be here," Rob whispered harshly, his voice rough and low, his fingers ghosting over the black and white keys, but not making a noise.
Kristen stepped forward, her hand reaching out for his shoulder, but he turned around abruptly and looked up at her. She stopped abruptly, her hand static in the space between them. Her breath caught at the expression in his dark green eyes. He looked as if he was being tortured, like he was in an immeasurable amount of pain. His entire body was tense, as if ready to bolt if she made even the tiniest movement. She felt her heart constrict painfully in her chest and she had to gasp to breathe. She opened her mouth to say something to him, an apology, an explanation, a declaration, but the change in his expression from pained to pleading broke her and she could feel the tears well up in her eyes.
"Please," he begged in a harsh whisper as he looked around the room, looking at everything but her eyes. "Please just leave Kris."
Her entire being ached, but she didn't know whether she was aching to take his pain away by leaving, or aching to take her own away by holding onto him for dear life. She kept looking at him as his head whipped around, refusing to look at her. Without knowing what was happening, without even consciously making the decision, she found her hand reaching out to touch his face, to still his movements so that he would see her. She wanted him to see that she wasn't trying to hurt him, that she would give anything in the world not to be causing him so much pain, but she needed him. It had felt as if she was drowning the past week without him, the world was just one fuzzy, blurry mess that was closing in around her and she needed him to save her. She was selfish, she knew that and if she didn't know that she would shrivel up and die without him, she would have left him and never looked back.
"Why?" he asked her, implored her even. He was so damn confused. She had told him she needed time, she needed space. She told him that they couldn't do this, that their lives were too different, that their worlds could never collide. He loved her enough to let go of her because tearing her apart was not something he had ever wanted to do. He just wished that she would extend him the same courtesy. She pulled and she pushed and it always came down to the same thing – she would leave and he would once again be left with nothing but memories and more pain than anyone should ever have to deal with.
"I don't know," she whispered, her hand stroking his face, feeling the rough stubble that tickled her whenever he kissed her and sent millions of girls around the world positively giddy with want. If she thought that she had missed seeing him, touching him was a whole different experience. It was as if her hand had caught fire, but it had been encased in ice before so the sudden high temperature was a lifeline, saving it. "I love you."
He closed his eyes at her words, wishing they were true. Surely if she loved him like he loved her, they would never be in this position. Neither of them would be feeling as if their hearts were being ripped straight out of their chests. Well, that's how it was for him anyway. This past week without seeing her, thinking he had lost her forever was a hell that he had never even imagined in his worst nightmares. She was tearing him apart piece by piece and he was going to let her because he loved her so much that he would rather have any small part of her than not at all. He would have laughed at the realisation that this five foot four, 100 pound girl would eventually kill him, but the situation was not funny in the least.
"I'm sorry," she told him, stepping closer when he unwillingly nuzzled his face into her hands. "I wish I could stop loving you, wish I could walk away and give you the chance to be happy, but I can't because I need you."
Kristen took a deep, shaky breath, aware that this was it for them and it was all on her. She could make them or break them and in doing so, seal her own destiny, her own fate, like she had been wanting to do for as long as she could remember, and yet had always been so scared of doing. She dropped her hand from his face and instead entwined it with his larger, calloused hands, marvelling at how well they fit. She had never believed in absolutely being out of your mind in love with someone, so much so that life actually made no sense when that person was not in it, until she had met Rob.
"I'm selfish and I'm royally screwed up and I absolutely do not deserve you Robert, but I can't help it. When I don't see you, I feel as if I'm walking around in the dark, just waiting for the lights to come back on. When I don't hear your voice, I feel agitated and nervous, as if there's just something not quite right with the world. And when I don't touch you..." she broke off and stepped even closer to him, leaning up so that she was literally only centimetres away from his face. They were breathing in what the other was breathing out and she found that just so damn poetic at this moment in time. "When I don't touch you, I don't know if I'm real."
She breathed out the last part and briefly heard the strangled cry from his throat before she lost all coherence and thought as his lips lightly touched hers. It wasn't hard, or urgent, or filled with lust and want, like so many of their kisses had been. This one was different. It was desperation and need and absolute and total dependency. They both knew that it was completely unhealthy to actually need someone to feel alive, to feel real, but that was how it was and neither of them would really have changed it, even if they could.
"I don't know how to live my life if you're not in it Rob," Kristen confessed, their lips still touching.
"You'll never have to Kris," he choked out, his voice higher than it should have been. Their lips met again in a deep, passionate kiss that poured out all their love. Tears flowed between them, whether it was from him or from her was impossible to tell. Neither did they know if the tears were due to utter, complete happiness or sadness at knowing that whatever they did, however much they loved each other, they needed each other, it would never be enough. They could pretend, and for this instant, they did, but in the end, at the back of their minds, they knew that life would intrude on their small piece of heaven.
"Cut-" Sue's voice was hoarse and low, but it rang out in the still silence of the room. "Cut!" she yelled again, more forcefully, the volume of her voice this time echoing around the room.
I heard the director's voice and I knew that she was in the room, but it seemed as if she miles away or calling out from another room. I shook my head to clear it, feeling as if I was under water with the way my mind was clogged and my body was reacting slowly. I stepped away from the girl in front of me, wondering whether or not she had felt the intensity of that scene, of our connection in that moment, and if she had been just as affected as I had been. I notice that she stepped away at the same time I did, turning her face in the direction of the voice, her brows furrowed, as if she was deep in thought.
"That was..." Sue had walked into the dim light and her face was a mask of disbelief. "I have absolutely no words. That was beyond fantastic. Really, great job guys."
I gave her a small smile, trying to hide the fact that I was over the moon ecstatic that she hadn't laughed in my face or told me that I'd been playing it all wrong, that my ideas were idiotic and I should have just gone with the original scene. In truth, I had been a bit nervous when she caught sight of the notes and changes that I had made on my copy of the script. I thought she was going to ream me out about respect for other people's work and stupidity for coming to auditions showing that you already weren't happy with the material. I mean I was almost completely unknown and I thought she would think it entirely presumptuous. I hadn't even meant to make the suggestions, but she had practically forced me to show her the changes and explain why I made them. I told her the truth because I was so nervous at that point that I figured I had nothing to lose. I told her that I was a huge fan of the poem and I thought that the scene would be better played with fewer words. I told her that in my mind, when I read the passages of the poem pertaining to this moment, I always saw intensity and desperation and I think it would have been better reflected with music. After all, the poet was a musician and if he had really felt any of the things he had written about, he would have expressed them through the medium of music. She smiled at me and then walked away with the script I had been holding in her right hand. It wasn't until she came back with the damn writer that I realised what was happening and I was far too shocked to object.
Sue had convinced me to play the scene out my way, telling me that the audition would work better if I could identify with the moment. I didn't really want to tell her that I would never identify with that moment because I had never felt that kind of passion, that kind of all consuming desperation for another human being. So, that was how I ended up in the room playing a very obscure piece of music written by the author of the poem. I had been a fan of his late stuff, when I started to really understand what music was about and when I got the script in my mail, I had decided to look back at his life and his career, even though I was still unsure about even auditioning for the role. I wasn't sure if I would be able to remember it all, and I didn't, but I had played notes that I thought went with what I could remember.
"What did you think Bells?" Sue asked when she was in front of Isabella Swan and I.
She turned to me and smiled before she answered. "He was great," she praised and I felt myself redden slightly at the compliment. I didn't know Isabella Swan personally, but her reputation as an actress was flawless. The films she had made, although small, were very well critically acclaimed. I had seen a film that she did a couple of years back, wondering who I would be auditioning with, and I was beyond impressed. She was amazing and I was absolutely aghast when Rosalie informed me that she was only 15 when they shot the film. At 15, I was still in High School trying to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with my life and this girl was already making hard-hitting films with some of the biggest names in the industry. It was hard not to feel a little pleased with myself that she had thought my audition was good. I just hoped she wasn't just saying that because I hadn't left the room yet. Maybe she had said that to everyone she'd auditioned with. After all, she was going to have to spend a hell of a lot of time with whoever got the part, it wouldn't do well to tell them they stunk and then have to pretend you're in love with them for three months.
"Wasn't he just?" Sue enthused further. She had just opened her mouth to say something else when her phone rang shrilly, making her jump a little. She looked down at the caller id and sighed, pressing the answer button and simultaneously giving us both an apologetic look. "What the hell do you want now?" was the last thing I heard before the door closed loudly behind her.
"Don't mind Sue," Isabella was said to me, perching herself on the small piano stool that I had been sitting on before. "She's a little bit scatty, but she's an amazing director."
"I know," I grinned, finally able to look at the girl in front of me. It was strange because it was only in that moment that I noticed what she actually looked like. All I saw before were her eyes and the character that she was playing. I saw and felt every single one of Kristen's emotions from Bella's face, but I never once really saw her face. She was gorgeous. Much more beautiful in real life than she had been on screen, but then again she had only been a child then. Hell, she was still pretty much a child now, but for some reason it was hard to see her like that. Probably because she just blew me away in that scene. "Her reputation precedes her, but it's definitely a good one. The same can be said for you actually. Isabella Swan right?"
She blushed a little at my extremely small compliment and nodded her head a little. "You're American?!" She shook her head and ducked it down in embarrassment. "Yeah, but call me Bella. I hate my full name." Bella stuck out her hand and I grasped it, only really just realising how tiny she was. I almost envelope her entire hand when I shook it.
"Edward Cullen," I answered back, squeezing her hand before letting go. I noticed that her hand were extremely warm, so much so that after I had taken mine away, there was still a small trace of that warmth on my palm, which started to run up my arm. "And yeah, I'm definitely from this side of the pond."
"Well Edward Cullen, I meant what I said before," she clarified, grinning at me. "You were absolutely fantastic. That scene was amazing. Exactly how I saw it when I read 'The Dimming Light'."
"You've read the poem?" I asked, shocked. I noticed her narrowing her eyes and realised that I had offended her by sounding extremely surprised at the fact that she'd actually read the epic piece. "Sorry," I apologised, trying to explain my reaction so that I didn't get on the wrong side of the girl who could potentially be my co-star. "I didn't mean that to sound so –"
"Fucking rude?" Bella asked, her eyebrow cocked up, her face a little harsher than it had been since I had properly seen her and not Kristen.
I reddened, hoping that I hadn't actually really offended this girl that I had only met fifteen minutes ago because I didn't have a filter between my mouth and my brain. It was one thing to piss off someone who knew and loved you, but it was quite another thing to piss off someone you'd just met. Especially if they may have a hand in deciding whether or not you were going to get a job. "Yeah," I agreed with her, not really wanting to meet her gaze because for some reason, this tiny child intimidated the hell out of me. "I just...I didn't mean it to sound like that. It's just I've never met anyone else who knows it."
She chuckled at my rushed apology and I had to look up then, meeting her very amused brown eyes. Brown? I hadn't even registered that during the scene when I was literally millimetres away from them. I had obviously projected the supposed green colour of Kristen's eyes onto hers.
"I was just kidding," she clarified. "You're actually one of the few people who've auditioned that knows the script is even based off a poem and I think you're the only one who's read it."
I joined in her easy laughter, relieved that my foot in mouth syndrome hadn't quite gotten me in trouble yet. I wish that Sue would hurry up so that I could leave before I really did fuck up what I thought myself was a good audition. And just like that, my prayers were answered, as the door opened and Sue came in, phone completely out of sight and just that little bit brisker. She told me once more that the audition was great and that she wanted to see me in a week's time for a second reading. They were going to pick the best five from the entire audition period and then we would all battle it out against each other to get the part. She told me that I had been the best so far, but I knew they still had two more days left and so I was just thankful that I had made the short list. It was at that point that I suddenly realised I really wanted this job.
I don't know when exactly it happened, but I was suddenly in agreement with Rosalie – I would be extremely pissed off if someone else was cast in this role. Even though I had never felt the kind of love that had been written about, I understood that there was desperation and hurt and selfishness in the poem. I wouldn't be arrogant enough to say that I was the only person who had auditioned for the part that did get all those messages, but I would bet that I was the only person who really believed it. Even though I had never experienced it myself, I could easily see how people could fall in love like that. Addictions were a hard thing to let go, even if you knew it was bad for you, even if you wished you could stop.
When the poem came out, a lot of people had merely read it as an ode to a lover and a love that could not be. I had read it as an ode to a destructive love that had been, that still was and that always would be. It was haunting in the way that the writer would seem crazed in points, as if he hated the subject of the poem. I guess in a way he did hate her, but more than anything, he hated himself. He felt guilty for loving her, for needing her, for not being enough and for not being strong enough. It was heaven and hell all rolled up into one – rapturous joy and abject misery. The reason that I loved the poem so much was that it was a whole spectrum of grey – not the black and white that love is depicted as so often.
When I got back to my apartment, Rosalie wasn't there and instead left me a hastily scribbled message that she had stuck onto the fridge.
Get your arse down to the bar pronto. Carlisle just got back into town and he's got news!
I left almost as soon as I read the note. Carlisle was my older brother and for the past couple of years he had been working for Doctors without Borders all over the world. He hadn't spent more than a couple of weeks in the US since I turned 21 and he had loved every single moment of it. I didn't think he'd be home for another couple of months and he certainly hadn't mentioned anything to me in his last email. The bar that Rose had mentioned was one we frequented often. At first it was because it was close to our apartment and cheap, meaning to could get very drunk and stumble back home without having to fork out extortionate amounts of money for a cab. Now that we had lived here a while, a huge part of the reason that we kept coming back was because of the regulars that we now called friends. The bar was named after its owner, Jasper Whitlock, whom I now counted as one of my closest friends. He had given me a couple of shifts there when I first moved here and had absolutely no money because the project that I had moved out here for was suddenly canned.
Wednesday night at Whitlock's were usually quiet, just a few of the locals grabbing some drinks or a bite to eat with friends after work. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and when I walked in, I was greeted with hellos from a number of people who I stopped to talk to for a little bit before moving on to try and find Rosalie. We usually sat in the back room, which was decorated a lot like an English pub – a quirk that Rosalie absolutely loved. When Jasper met her, he immediately brought her into the room and told her that the place was hers whenever she wanted because she was like an authentic piece of Britain dropped into his bar. She had taken him up on the offer, glaring at any unsuspecting person who would dare sit at our usual table. If we hadn't been friends with the owner and most of the staff, I'm pretty sure that Rosalie would have been banned from even entering the place.
I saw Rose's honey blond and platinum head shaking as her throaty laughter rang out through the small, almost empty room. She was sitting opposite of the very familiar light blond head of my older brother. However, sitting next to Carlisle was a head full of caramel tresses that I most definitely had not seen before and as I got closer to the table, I noticed that my brother's hand was casually intertwined with this new woman's. I cleared my throat when I got next to the table, which made them all stop laughing and look up at me.
"Edward!" Carlisle greeted, standing up and letting go of the unknown woman's hand so he could hug me. "You're finally here. How was the audition?"
I laughed as I sat down next to Rose and opposite the woman who still hadn't been introduced to me. She was looking at me as they all waited to hear my answer. "It was great," I said honestly. There wasn't any other word to describe it without going into the details and right now was not the time for me to wax lyrical about the audition. Right now was time to find out why my older brother was home and why he was with a strange woman that not only had I never met, but was pretty sure I had never heard of before. "But what we should be talking about is what the hell you're doing in the good old US Carlisle."
Carlisle lifted an eyebrow and smirked at me in a very familiar expression – one that I saw back in the mirror on a regular basis. "Good to know that you missed me little brother. Really feeling the love."
I rolled my eyes and took a gulp of the beer that they had thoughtfully ordered for me. "And people say I'm the dramatic one," I dead-panned. "Seriously, I thought you weren't going to be back for another couple of months."
He shrugged, putting an arm around the still unknown woman. Well, unknown to me at least. He looked at her and smiled, an expression on his face that I had never seen there before. "I wasn't, but plans changed." He gave her shoulder a small squeeze and then picked up on of her hands that had been on the table and intertwined their fingers again. "Edward, this is Esme. Esme, my little brother Edward, obviously."
The woman tore her gaze from Carlisle and met my eyes, smiling at me shyly. She held out a free hand to me, which I took, a little surprised at the way Carlisle was with her. "Nice to meet you Edward," she said, her voice soft, but confident. "Carlisle's told me so much about you."
I took her hand and shook it briefly, glancing over at my brother whose eyes were still on the woman in front of me, the strangest smile on his face. It's not like Carlisle had never had a girlfriend that he introduced me to before, but he had never had this look of complete devotion on his face. It was as if he literally could not keep his eyes off of her. She was pretty much the same because as soon as she shook my hand and I told her that it was nice to meet her too, her gaze shifted back to my brother and they sat there for a good five minutes just staring at each other and grinning like idiots.
I looked over at Rose and she made a face that not only made me laugh, but also gave me the impression that Carlisle and Esme had been like without me there. Poor Rosalie. My laughter however, seemed to break the lovebirds out of their trance and they both looked over at us, Esme with a slight blush colouring her cheeks, but Carlisle with just an annoyed look. "You two need to grow up," he admonished, taking a sip of his own beer and finally letting go of Esme's hand."
"And you two need to get a room before Ed and I see something that'll have us in therapy for the rest of our lives!" Rosalie quipped back instantly, making Carlisle cough up the beer that he had been swallowing. I howled with laughter and even Esme chuckled a little, though she was also busy rubbing and patting Carlisle's back as he sputtered at Rosalie's blunt comment.
"So, my question of why you're back still kinda remains up in the air Carlisle," I pointed out as he spluttered up the last of the beer that had been lodged in his windpipe mistakenly. It was time to move the subject on and get some of my questions answered. It was obvious that the reason he was back had something to do with the woman beside him, but the exact specifics still remained a mystery.
"Yeah," he said, tapping his fingers on the table in front of him – a nervous tick. Carlisle always tapped his fingers when he was anxious about something, just like I ran my hands through my hair. "Well, you know how I told you that I was heading over to Southern India in my last email and I may not be in touch for a while because I might not be able to get to a computer or a phone?"
I nodded, indicating for him to go on. "Well, I was working in one of the clinics in the mountains up there and staying with the other doctors nearby when at about three in the morning, there was a huge commotion around the place. We all got up to see what it was and there was this crazed, beautiful woman holding a child in her arms with his leg twisted in the strangest angle and blood spurting forth everywhere. It was chaos, trying to get the bleeding to stop and then trying to get enough blood to make sure he didn't crash because if he did, there was nothing we could do to bring him back."
Sadly, the scene that my brother was describing was not one which I was unfamiliar with. Carlisle had faced many similar situations and many which had been worse and I had heard of some of them, but also knew that he kept the worse ones inside his head. I had witnessed some of these horrifying scenes when I went out to visit him in Africa a couple of years ago – an experience that I have never forgotten and doubt I even could. "Anyway, to cut a long story short, we got the little guy stable and fixed his leg and the beautiful crazed woman that walked him in from five miles away absolutely blew me off my feet and here we are a couple of months down the line."
"That's so bloody romantic," Rosalie said, her voice holding no trace of sarcasm, though I'm sure it was difficult for her. Not because she thought it was bullshit, but because Rosalie tended inject a sarcastic note into everything she said whether she meant to or not. "But I still don't get why you guys are here, right now."
"Well, Carlisle wanted me to meet the two of you," Esme said, smiling over at Rosalie and myself. She really was very pretty and very soft. That was the word that had come to my mind as soon as I saw her. She was all soft and gave out this warmth that I'm sure even Rosalie could not help be affected by. Rose found it notoriously difficult to get on with other women, mostly because a lot of them were thinking that she should stay as far away as possible from their significant others, but she had been okay with Esme thus far and seemed actually friendly.
"Yeah," Carlisle clarified, taking a deep breath before he continued. "That and I wanted us to get married here, with my little brother as best man."
I choked on the beer I had just taken a sip of and I noticed that Rosalie had done the same thing. "Excuse me?" I spluttered out just as Rosalie screeched "You're doing what?!"
"Getting married," Carlisle said calmly, his face lighting up at the thought. "In about three weeks actually."
"Three weeks?!" My head was spinning. My brother was not the type of person who just met someone, fell in love and then got married. Carlisle was not impulsive. He weighed everything up, factored in every variable and then made a decision about whether or not he was going to even bother making a decision. He had made a list of pros and cons about which college to attend – when he had been in ninth grade! He hadn't bought a car until he read all the safety reports about each model. Needless to say, Carlisle had not actually bought a vehicle until he was in his 20's.
"Yeah," Esme confirmed. "We don't really have much time before we have to get back to work and then we won't have any more time off to come here for at least another six months."
"Well why can't you wait until then?" I asked, still not really believing the fact that my brother was going to marry someone he had met no more than a month and a half ago.
Carlisle's shrugged and grabbed hold of Esme's hands once more. "There's just no point Ed. When you know, you know." He kissed her chastely on the lips when he said that and I had to resist the urge not to gag. No offence to the two of them, but I wasn't exactly used to seeing my older brother get to soft and cheesy. It made me kind of want to put my hands over my eyes and sing out 'la-la-la' really loudly, like I've been told I used to do as a kid.
"Save that shit for a Hallmark card Carlisle," Rosalie said bluntly. "So, are you guys getting married here or back in Chicago?"
I turned to my best friend and stared incredulously. She seemed to be taking this news in her stride whereas I felt as if I was floundering in a world that I no longer knew. Was I really being ridiculously dramatic about this? If Rosalie could accept the news like it wasn't the craziest thing she'd ever heard, maybe I was making a big deal out of nothing. It wasn't like I wasn't happy for my big brother because anyone could see he was so head over heels for this woman it made other people uncomfortable. Esme seemed like a nice woman too, sweet and she seemed as if she was genuine, something that both Carlisle and I valued a lot in people that we knew. I didn't know anything about her, but that didn't mean that my brother didn't. I was ruining this for him, I knew that when Rose gave me a hard stare as Carlisle told her that he was thinking about getting married in New York actually, where Esme's grandmother had gotten married.
Carlisle and Rosalie continued to talk about how the couple had met, but I couldn't seem to keep up with anything. I was still stuck on the fact that my brother was getting married in three weeks to a woman I had literally just met twenty minutes ago. My mind was abuzz with questions and all I could think to do was take a very long sip of my beer. It was so long in fact that I drained the rest of the bottle. Esme looked at me as I placed the empty bottle back down and smiled. She shifted away from Carlisle, but he seemed to be too engrossed in recounting the details of his proposal to an extremely curious Rosalie.
"I know it's a bit of a shock Edward," she began, her voice quiet so as not to talk over Carlisle. "And I know it's a lot to take in. Trust me. When he got down on one knee a month after we met I laughed in his face." She smiled fondly at the memories that hit her. "But he meant it, really meant it and when I knew that I just couldn't find a reason to say no."
"But this is so unlike him," I argued with her. I didn't want to make her feel bad, or to devalue their relationship, but it had been the one thing that kept going around in my mind and it was the only thing that I seemed to be able to pick out from the buzzing in my head.
She nodded. "I know," she told me. "Quite unlike me too, but Carlisle..." Esme stopped and looked over at my brother who was laughing at something Rosalie had been saying. The look in her eyes as she watched him was one of admiration, love and complete awe. She was looking at Carlisle like he was the very centre of her whole universe and I realised in that moment that my big brother may just be that important to this lovely, warm woman. And finally the buzzing in my head stopped and it made sense. I mean hadn't I just auditioned for a part where the two characters were so madly in love with each other that they literally abandoned everything and everyone they had ever known for a chance to be together. Hadn't the two of them sacrificed their own lives to just have the chance to love each other?
Carlisle looked over at me and Esme and I smiled a genuine smile at him. My big brother was happy, really, really happy and I wasn't going to be the asshole that messed this up for him.
"Fucking Carlisle eh?" Rosalie asked as she let herself into my room and collapsed next to me, just as I was figuring out that it was morning and I was in my room as opposed to the small darkened room that I my subconscious had concocted.
"Ugh," was my eloquent response. I turned my head away from her and put a pillow over my head for emphasis, hoping she would take the hint and get the hell out of my room.
"I mean if I didn't know your big bro better, I'd swear down that she was up the duff."
"Urgh!" I groaned again. I did not need to dissect my brother's strange behaviour early in the morning with a hangover, no less.
"I mean why else would you marry someone you'd only just met?"
"Get the hell out of my room Rose." The noise was slightly muffled by the pillow underneath my face and the fact that I couldn't seem to move my mouth quickly enough to form the words my mind was telling it to.
"Why are you not more freaked out about this?" She persisted, as if I wasn't telling her to leave whilst still being half asleep.
I finally gave up and shoved the pillow over my head in her direction. "Maybe it's because it's 7 o'clock in the morning, I'm hung over as hell and it was you that was chatting about damn china patterns with them both last night."
Rosalie just slammed the pillow back down in my face. "I was only doing that because I didn't want to upset Carlisle," she confessed. "I wanted to discuss his madness in the privacy of our own home, idiot."
"Could you not have wanted to discuss it in a couple of hours Rose when I would have actually been up?"
"I couldn't sleep."
"So you thought that I didn't deserve that right either huh?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
I groaned louder still and finally sat up to talk to her, my face thunderous, but Rose merely raised a carefully plucked eyebrow at me and shrugged. Obviously I needed to work on my angry and threatening face. It probably didn't help that I must have looked like complete shit, with my hair sticking up in all directions and my eyes still heavy with sleep. I'm pretty sure that looking like you're either going to throw up any moment or pass out from lack of sleep did not make for a threatening facade. Rosalie however, even from just three hours sleep and a hell of a lot of alcohol still looked as fresh as if she'd spent a damn week at some weird rejuvenating spa.
"Seriously though," she said when I'd settled myself into a position pretty much mirroring hers. I bet we looked the very definition of domesticated bliss right then. "What are we going to do about Carlisle?"
"What can we do?" I asked, pushing my cover off and swinging around so that I could go to the shower now that I was up. I only wore boxers to bed, but Rosalie had seen me in much less, quite frequently actually since she insisted on barging into my room without knocking. I really should look into getting a lock for my bedroom door – and the bathroom door. "My brother's a grown up Rose and I'm sure he's actually thought about this, probably more than we give him credit for. Plus, Esme's great. They seemed happy – ecstatic in fact."
She pulled a face. "It was a bit disgusting wasn't it?"
I snorted as I walked out of the bedroom and into the bathroom that we both shared to take a shower. I didn't really want to discuss my feelings about Carlisle's surprise wedding with Rose because I felt as if it would be betraying my brother somehow. I had reservations about it, sure, but I didn't want to talk about it before I talked to him first. I was going to be getting that opportunity today. We had arranged to have a game of squash early this afternoon just before Carlisle and Esme left Whitlock's and Rosalie and I headed out to another bar to get completely trashed. It wasn't a conscious decision by either of us, but after the earth-shattering news that Carlisle had just dropped on us, we needed several drinks so that the world would spin at the same time our heads were. Maybe then it would make sense once more.
Apart from my game with my brother and the talk that we would surely have after it, I had nothing much to do this morning. I had no auditions booked until next week, so I spent the morning working on a couple of pieces of music that I had started to write, but hadn't quite finished. I knew it was very cliché these days for an actor to also want to be a singer, but that wasn't actually me. I didn't want to make a living playing music at all; it was just a creative outlet that was purely for me. I think I could count the number of people I had ever played for on one hand, so I definitely didn't play so I could make millions out of it. I played to clear my mind.