Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight.
The door closed with a soft click, momentarily softening the buzz of conversations outside. Alone at last, but not for long.
He wearily scrubbed his face, his hands rasping against the stubble that he couldn't be bothered shaving off that morning. He wanted a shower. And a drink. And something to eat. He wanted to be far away with no-one tugging at him for attention, no-one telling him that he couldn't sit quietly for five minutes because someone else had more dibs on his time then he did.
A knock at the door sounded, and the publicity assistant appeared, clipboard in hand and expectant face.
"Ready for the next one?"
"As I'll ever be." He replied, his face automatically pulling up into a polite smile.
"Okay!" She stepped aside to usher in the next journalist. Another woman. Great.
"Edward this is … " the clipboard was consulted, "Girlfriend Magazine." The two woman traded polite smiles, the assistant's face could have made Barbie looked relaxed. "You've got 30 minutes."
He stood up, wiping his palms against his denim thighs before extending a hand in greeting. The journalist stepped forward, eager for contact. Was it his imagination or did they all seem to lunge at him? He'd seen more lipstick smiles and less-than-subtle glances today than he cared to count.
"Edward, it's lovely to meet you."
"Likewise. Please," he gestured, "take a seat."
Pleasantries were exchanged, just like all his other encounters today. He really wanted that drink now. He looked at the journalist with an inward sigh. He knew where he stood with the male journos. A firm handshake, kick back and be yourself, or as much as yourself as he was prepared to reveal, which let's face it, wasn't much at all.
The women were a different story. It felt like he had been facing squadrons of them, all high heeled, pouty lipped and what they thought was sly innuendo. If he saw one more woman 'absent-mindedly' sucking on the end of a pen he'd throw something.
The one sitting in from of him now was no different. Smart attire, legs carefully coiled to show them at their best (how did women know how to do that? Was there a special class in school?), and hair twisted up into a smart knot. She was wearing glasses in a way that she no doubt hoped would one day lead to their removal, a gasp and "My god, but you're beautiful!"
"So Edward, have you been surprised at the 'Bitten' phenomenon so far?"
How many variations on that question had he had today? This week? He could almost hear the internal 'click' as he switched gears smoothly into autopilot. He'd been promoting his latest movie for a month now, so he barely needed to think before the response.
"Absolutely, I mean …"
The interview went on. How long at the assistant said, 30 minutes? They were all starting to blur. Any minute now she was going to start to get personal.
"Now Edward, our readers of Girlfriend Magazine are going to want some more details from you." A smile as she said this, her tongue darted out to lick her bottom lip.
He smiled automatically, wondering just how many of these questions were for the readers, or for the journalist's own interest.
"What do you wear to bed?"
God. He made himself laugh as he raked a hand through his hair. No matter how many times he got asked this, it never failed to make him uncomfortable. Still, he knew the drill, knew what they wanted to hear.
"Generally PJ bottoms, but if it's a warm night then … nothing."
Did she just leer at him? He'd seen snakes that had more appeal. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, then immediately regretted it as her gaze shifted to his crotch. He had to fight to urge to cover his lap with his hands, feeling somehow exposed before her predatory gaze.
The knock at the door this time was a welcome interruption. The assistant opened the door and smiled brightly. He wondered if her facial muscles were starting to atrophy.
The door closed again, and he managed to conceal his sigh of relief before smiling at the journalist. The interview was wrapped up with the usual thanks and good wishes. She lingered over the handshake a little longer than was necessary and he stood up to see her out. The assistant checked the clipboard and gave another brisk smile.
"Last one for today."
There was enough time for a gulp of water before the final journalist was shown in.
"Edward, this is Scoop Magazine." The clipboard was ticked off with satisfaction, time constraints were noted, and she was gone.
This one looked different. No thigh hugging skirt, no artfully applied makeup and choking clouds of scent. She was wearing dark trousers and a tailored blue shirt which followed her shapely form without hiding or revealing too much. Chocolate hair fell to her shoulders, and she reached out with a warm smile and firm handshake.
No seduction then. It surprised him that he felt mildly disappointed.
"So how's the performing seal today?" was the first question as they sat down.
"I'm sorry?" His eyebrows shot up in surprise.
She indicated the door with a jerk of a thumb. "All those people you've had to see today, you must feel like a piece of meat."
"Well," he paused for a moment. Experience had taught him that comments could be taken out of context. "Press junkets go with the territory."
"True," she agreed. "I bet you'll be glad when it's over though." A quick grin, and then she opened her satchel and withdrew a laptop with an ease borne of long practice. A couple of clicks and she was ready for business.
"I should probably kick this off by saying I'm not a journalist."
He glanced at her with some amusement.
"All evidence to the contrary."
He indicated her laptop with a raised eyebrow, and leaned forward to pick up her media pass from the coffee table, wagging it at her.
"Does this ring any bells?" It was the last interview of the week, the last one of this particular junket. He was going to be free in twenty minutes and was already starting to relax.
"Oh, right. Well I'm more of a freelance writer, so interviews like this aren't my usual style." This was said with a dismissive wave of the hand, pulling his lips into a wry smile in response. A light flush stained her cheeks as she realised her gaff. "I mean, that is to say I don't mind doing this, it's great but …"
"No it's okay. You're not used to writing fluff" he made air quotes with his fingers for emphasis.
"Something like that." She cleared her throat. "I'm guess I'm more of a cultural anthropologist. I'm really interested in talking to people and finding out what makes them tick." A pause. "When I haven't got my foot in my mouth anyway. I can't believe I called you a seal."
Her self-depreciation surprised a chuckle out of him.
"I've been called worse."
He stretched his legs out in front of him and crossed them at the ankles.
"O-kay." She consulted her screen for a moment and then looked up with a slight frown. "Am I your last duty for the day?"
"Yep." He couldn't hide the relief in his voice this time, and she smiled in response.
"Damn, well that means you've probably every question on my list at least 30 times over." She considered him for a moment, chewing her bottom lip. "How about we just have a chat and make this up as we go along?"
"Whatever works for you." After a day of cookie cutter interviews, this was starting to feel refreshing.
"Has there been anything that has really taken you by surprise since you joined the Bitten franchise?"
This was greeted with a laugh. It was a well documented fact that Edward's every movement, every glance was lovingly documented and discussed at length both within the media and the fan communities.
"I mean, it's great. I wouldn't be where I am if the fans didn't like me after all." He didn't want to sound unappreciative. It was too hypocritical to want fame and then whine that your privacy was gone. "But I guess the sheer passion some of them have is ... well it's flattering and daunting all at once."
She nodded attentively as he spoke, not even glancing at the keyboard her fingers were flying over.
"Do you find that some of them have a hard time separating you as a person from your vampire character?"
"Some of the younger ones, yeah." He grinned. "I had a little girl – she must have been about 10 – want me to bite her neck. I guess when you're that age it's a bit harder to distinguish between film and reality. Some of them probably feel quite disappointed when they see photos of me looking scruffy coming out of the gym."
"And your … " a slight pause, "more mature fans?"
He threw his head back gave a laugh that was full of delight. "Oh they're in a category all of their own. They know it's fantasy and couldn't give a flying f-..." He checked himself just in time, earning an amused snort over the laptop. He cleared his throat and started again. "They just don't care, was what I meant to say. My Mum checks out some of the boards sometimes, and from what she can tell they either want to jump me or take me home and give me a nice home-cooked meal."
"Your mum checks the message forums?"
He shrugged. "With my schedule and the time difference, she reckons it's the best way of finding out what I've been up to."
"I think that's a universal mothering theme, mine complains about me taking the time to talk to everyone else, but that I don't call her enough."
He nodded. "Right, but when you've been talking to people all day, the last thing you want to do when you get home is more of the same."
"Exactly!" They grinned at each other in delighted recognition.
The conversation flowed easily, roaming from one topic to the next, rarely touching on the subject of the movie itself. He found himself laughing often, relaxing into the chair that had felt like a torture device for most of the day. They were both taken by surprise when there was a knock at the door.
"Time's up!" The Assistant was looking chirpy, no doubt looking forward to getting home after a long day of shepherding. She probably had a life, which was more than he could say for himself.
"Already?" they both chorused, before looking at each other with a grin.
The door stayed open, Edward's happy jailer gazing at them with inquisitive eyes.
"Oh well." A good natured smile as she clicked her laptop shut, slipping it into her tote bag.
He stood, and feeling slightly awkward, extended a hand for farewell. The conversation had been one of the more comfortable ones that he could remember for the past month. There had been a rare sense of connection, one that he wasn't sure he wanted to let go of just yet.
"Good luck with the movie." She shook his hand, and he couldn't help but notice how warm and dry her hand felt. Capable. Supportive. He realised with a slight shock that he liked her. This was an entirely new experience for a press interview.
"Good luck with the article, hope you manage to avoid too much fluff .. uh … sorry, I can't remember your name."
This remark was answered with a gurgle of laughter. "I'm not surprised, I didn't give it. She collected her bag and pass. "It's Bella."
"Bella, nice to meet you." he paused. What the hell. "I'm Edward." He held out his hand, and with a laugh she shook it again.
"Hi Edward, and goodbye."
A nod, and she was ushered out the door. The door closed, and he was finally free. This was the moment he had been looking forward to all day. He sighed heavily and rolled his head from side to side, walking towards one of the large windows, tugging his tie loose. Leaning against the window frame, he pulled the tie from under his shirt collar and nudged the curtain aside, gazing absently at the traffic below.
Moments later, he saw a familiar blue shirt as she wove her way confidently through the crowds of people congesting the sidewalk. A brief moment following her, then she turned a corner and was gone.
He turned and gazed at the sumptuous hotel room, Bitten posters and paraphernalia scattered everywhere. He was free now. So why did he feel so lonely?
Bella. Nice name.