I know, I know, I know...You're probably like "Did Faking It just update?" Sort of. A couple of days ago, I got a review on it (I can't believe anybody's still out there reading my fics) and they asked about outtakes I'd apparently referenced in an author's note, because the story didn't seem quite finished. I thought "How much more finished can it get? I wrote it all the way through their wedding!...Didn't I?" So then I went and checked and while, yes, I did write the wedding outtake for one of the Fandom Gives Back auctions, and I'd always intended to post it with the rest of the story eventually, apparently I never did. Ooops.
So here it is, pretty much as it appeared in the FGB compilation nearly a decade ago, complete with the original heading and author's note. The Roseland Ballroom is closed and Letterman is off the air now, but I didn't bother to fix it. Just pretend its 2011 again.
Oh, and in case anyone wonders what I've been up to since my Twilight fanfiction days, and you haven't already discovered me elsewhere by now, I'm writing original fiction (contemporary and historical romance) under Amanda Weaver. You can find me at your e-book retailer of choice!
Faking It- Future Take
This is the outtake I swore I'd never write. I don't do fluff easily and I certainly don't do weddings. But in the two years since I completed Faking It, this was the part the reviewers most consistently wished I'd written. Once a few people challenged me to do it for this round of FGB, I felt I had to try. I wrote this in two and a half days, so clearly these characters still had some life in them. But I wrote this in two and a half days, so forgive me if it's a little less than polished.
Thanks so much to everyone who contributed!
"Marry me, Bella."
"Edward, I already said I would and I will."
"So? Let's do it."
He laughed and rolled over, pressing the length of himself down on me, pinning one elbow beside my head to keep me from wiggling away. His face was in my face, all smiling, boyish and intense.
"Yes, now! Today. Right now. Get dressed, we're going. I'm sure we can find somebody in this godless town to marry us at ten a.m. on a Saturday."
"What's the rush?"
His humor faded away. "Sonata In G."
My smile faded, too. Sonata In G. Edward's next major role. He would be on location for three months. In Norway. I wanted to cry. It took twenty hours to fly to Norway from LA. Neither of us addressed it openly, but we both knew there was no way we could stick to our one week rule under those conditions. We'd have to go who knew how long between brief snatched visits. My eyes started to burn.
Fuck, no. I couldn't cry. He'd feel terrible.
"Baby," he murmured, his face creasing up with concern. "I'm sorry. I'll back out. There must be something…."
"Shut up, Edward. You're not backing out. You want this so bad."
He grimaced. "I do. But I want you, too."
I laid my hand along his stubby jaw, loving the blurry, unkempt look he had in the mornings. When he was like this, naked, wrapped in nothing but sheets, all stubble and messy hair and sleep creases around his eyes, he wasn't Edward Cullen, Oscar-winning movie star. He was just my Edward. And I wasn't Bella Swan, budding rock star, I was just the girl who loved him with her whole heart. There was only us and these moments were the only ones that mattered.
"You have me. You always will, you know that."
He sighed and dropped his head, pushing his face into the crook of my neck. I reached up and ran my fingers through his hair. That always made him feel better.
"I know I do, but God… I want it in writing. I want you tied to me forever. Listen to me. I sound like a Neanderthal, don't I? Trying to mark you or claim my woman or something."
I chuckled and he ran a hand from my thigh up to my hip. "Um, check out the back of my neck. You already did mark me."
He laughed and it vibrated through my whole body. I squeezed him tighter, like I could press him into my skin forever if I just tried hard enough.
"No you're not."
I could feel him smiling against my shoulder. "No, I'm not. Clearly I am a Neanderthal."
"Maybe a little. But it's okay. I know."
He sighed, his breath heating the little pocket of air under my neck, and he sounded sad again. Serious.
"Tell me I'm crazy, Bella. Tell me I don't need you to be my wife before I go."
"You don't need me to be your wife before you go."
He gave an exasperated huff. "Make me believe it, please."
I laughed, but conceded. "Believe it, Edward. I'm here. I'm yours. I always will be. Tomorrow, next week, after three months in Norway, after three years on Jupiter. It's a done deal. There. Better?"
He lifted his head and shrugged one shoulder petulantly. "A little."
I raised my knee until my calf was hooked over his hip. His signature slow, sexy smile—the one that undid women all over the world—unfurled across his face and his fingertips dug into my hip. Except this sexy smile was just for me and he was nobody else's… just mine.
"Now?" I asked.
He rocked his hips against me and I lost my breath. "Getting there."
I grabbed his shoulders and shoved, rolling him onto his back and following him over, folding my legs underneath me and sitting on his thighs. "How about now?"
"Closer every second, baby."
Moments later, when he was inside and gasping, I leaned forward and kissed his open lips. "Better now?"
"Best," he muttered. "Always the best with you."
I didn't let him leave our bed all day.
I heard the static of his sigh first. "Bella. God, it's good to hear your voice."
"I know. I'm so sorry I missed you yesterday. I was going to call you during your dinner break, but then this interview started and I just couldn't get away—"
"Baby, it's okay. I get it."
"Are you on set?"
"Yeah, but they're setting up another shot so I've got a good twenty minutes before anyone needs me."
"Oh, twenty whole minutes," I smiled. "We could get into a lot of trouble in twenty minutes, Edward."
His low chuckle over the phone made my face flush. "While that sounds like the most fun I've had all week, I'm pretty sure those lighting guys over there wouldn't appreciate watching me jack off while I talk to you." I laughed and he paused, considering. "I dunno. Maybe they would. That big blond one was kind of checking me out yesterday."
"Hey! Tell him to keep his hands to himself. Edward Cullen is spoken for."
I could hear Edward's smile through his words. "Yes, he is."
"How's the shoot going? How is Ernst?" I asked, referring to the genius director of the film. Unfortunately his muse only spoke to him when he was home in Norway, so he rarely shot a film anywhere else, which is why Edward was gone so long.
"He's fucking brilliant, which is a good thing because otherwise I'd have to kill him over this schedule."
"Believe me, I work with Jasper. I totally get it. He's fighting with the label about the first single and it's kept us in the studio an extra four days. I want to strangle him, even though he's probably right."
Someone called Edward's name in the background.
"Hang on, Bella," he mumbled, and held the phone away while he had a brief conversation with whoever it was. I could hear her voice, high and lightly-accented. She said something else and Edward laughed. I closed my eyes and forced myself to exhale.
Just some girl, a P.A. or director's assistant or something. She didn't matter because I trusted Edward and he just said he was all mine, even if he was joking. I wasn't even really jealous, even though I was tormenting myself by picturing some tall, leggy, Norwegian blonde goddess. Well, I was jealous, but I was only jealous of her circumstances, not her. Because she was there and I wasn't. She could talk to him and see his face when he laughed. She could reach out and touch him—not that she would. She would see him today and tomorrow and the day after and I wouldn't. I hated her simply for existing in the same air space as him while I was oceans and continents away.
"Sorry, baby," he sighed, coming back on the line. "They got through that faster than I thought they would. I gotta go."
I fought back a sudden sting of tears. "It's okay."
"Fuck," he muttered. "No, it's not. You're upset. Look, I get done at nine tonight. Can I call you back then?"
I did a quick mental calculation of the time difference. I shook my head even though he couldn't see me. "We'll be in a meeting with the label then. It's fine, Edward. I just miss you."
"Shit, I miss you, too. I'll fly home as soon as the schedule breaks a little. I promise."
"I hate this."
"I love you."
"I love you, too. Call me tomorrow."
Emmett looked back over his shoulder at me as he slid out of the back of the SUV and reached back to help me down. He held onto my fingers a little longer than necessary and gave me a little squeeze before he let go. I squeezed back.
Emmett might have all the emotional depth of an egg roll, but he knew how tough this was going to be for me. We were in New York to kick off a round of shows and publicity in advance of the new album. All good news except that I never did like PR and Edward had been gone almost a month with no sign of a break in either of our schedules to sneak in a visit. How would I ever last?
Randall Waterman was waiting on the curb for us, all wide, artificial smiles. He was the newest label liaison assigned to us. He was slightly better than Felix, but cut from the same fake cloth, right down to his hipster jeans and ironic hair. Still, he did his job well, which was basically to corral us and herd us from one event to the next, so I cut him some slack.
"There they are!" he shouted as I stepped up on the curb behind the others. Alice met my eye behind Emmett's back and rolled her eyes. I smiled back at her. "Let's get you all settled in upstairs because there's a lot to go over," Randall said, stretching his arms out and directing us inside. It was pretty quiet outside and no sign of press, which was nice. I had no doubt that within half an hour of our check-in, it would hit Twitter and the next time we left the building, we'd be inundated. But for now I was enjoying the relative peace.
Randall chattered away as he led us into the elevator. "First thing tomorrow you have a round of interviews set up in the hotel. Spin, The Village Voice, a couple of blogs, that sort of thing. In the afternoon you're taping Letterman. Bella and Rose, your stylists arrive at noon to start prepping you. Then tomorrow night is the Roseland Ballroom. Sound check is at five and the show is scheduled for nine."
Emmett groaned. "That's just the first day? I'm tired already."
Randall clapped him on the shoulder. "Relax, big guy. You caught an unexpected break. Sort of a good news/ bad news thing. The bad news is that the director of the video had a scheduling conflict and we had to roll the shooting date back to Monday."
"Jesus," Jasper snapped, "How much is that costing us?"
"Not your worry, my man," Randall said, slick smile never faltering. "The good news is that you guys now have two days off. We tried to book in another concert date, but there wasn't enough notice."
I jumped. Two days? TWO DAYS.
I was looking up flights on my phone before the elevator even reached our floor.
"Seriously, B?" Jasper asked, looking over my shoulder. "You're going to try this? You'll be dead."
"I can do it," I insisted. "It's so much shorter from here than from LA and the time change will work in my favor coming back and I'll get here just in time for the video shoot."
"You'll be on the ground in Oslo for, what…eight hours?"
"That's eight hours more than nothing, which is all I've got now. I'm doing this."
The sleek black town car pulled to a stop in front of the Hotel Continental and I felt my heart rate accelerate. I was here! In spite of the turbulence that kept me from catching more than an hour of broken sleep on the flight over, in spite of my return ticket burning a hole in my bag, I was suddenly wide awake, full of energy and excitement. Somewhere in that staid stone building was Edward and for the next few precious hours, he was all mine.
A doorman in a heavily-braided grey wool overcoat opened my door and reached out his white-gloved hand to help me out.
"Miss Peacock?" he asked in lightly-accented English. "Mr. Green is waiting for you in his suite." I had to resist smiling at the ridiculous names Edward used when he travelled. So silly, and they rarely worked anyway. If people wanted to find out where he was, they always managed.
"I'll escort you right up as soon as I retrieve your bags."
"Thank you, but no bag," I said sadly. "I'm not staying that long."
If he was thrown by that, he never showed it. He just smiled and gestured for me to walk in the brass and glass doors ahead of him. Yes, I just flew nine hours so I can spend less time than that in the arms of my fiancé. Totally worth it.
I had a hard time not shoving him out of my way as he sedately led me down the quiet, lushly-carpeted hallway to Edward's suite. He was walking so slow! Almost there. Three more doors.
"Here we are, Miss Peacock. Enjoy your stay with us and please don't hesitate to contact the concierge if there's anything else we can do for you."
I nodded rapidly and smiled hard. Go go go! He smiled in return and finally turned back down the hall.
I tapped just once on the door and it flew open under my hand.
"Thank fucking God," Edward said on an exhale, lunging forward to grab my hips and pull me inside. I laughed and opened my mouth to say something but the words were swallowed by his mouth coming down hard on mine. Instead, I just moaned my hello.
In moments, I was backed up against a wall and moments after that, I was up in the air, my legs wrapped around his hips and my arms around his shoulders. Weeks melted away as he kissed me, as his tongue reacquainted itself with mine, as his hands gripped and pulled at me. I pushed against him, just as desperate as he was and cursing the stupid jeans I'd chosen to wear. If I was in a skirt we'd already be….
"Not against a freaking wall," Edward rasped against my throat. "In a bed where I can do it properly."
"Only if it's really close," I said, tugging on his hair to get his mouth back up to mine.
Instead of answering, Edward lifted me up and turned, stumbling across the room. I only barely sensed that he was carrying me through a doorway into another room and then he was turning again and we were falling backwards. He came down on me fully, hands still grabbing and sliding, now looking for buttons and zippers.
"Jesus, I missed you," he muttered when he had to lean far enough away from me to get my jeans and shoes off.
I reached for his waistband. "So much," I agreed. My hand found its way inside, wrapping around him, and he hissed.
"Uhhh…. Slow down or this is all going to be over way too soon."
"Okay, no hands then, just hurry up and be naked," I said, pushing at his stupid pants that made his ass look amazing.
He laughed and kicked them off to the floor to join his shirt that was already there. My bra and panties were the last pieces to depart the bed and then we were there again. After the frenzy of the beginning, once Edward was inside of me, we both stopped, equally overcome. I held onto him and squeezed my eyes shut, trying to save this moment to live on for the weeks to come when he wouldn't be there.
"I love you so much," he whispered thickly. "So much."
"I love you, too. I miss you."
"Stay," he groaned. "Quit and stay and marry me tomorrow and just stay."
Hot tears leaked out from the corners of my eyes, streaking towards my hair. God, I wanted to. I wanted to glue myself to his side and never let go. But we both had lives and jobs we ultimately loved, and people who counted on us both to do them well. I knew he didn't even really mean it. He'd never want me to give up the band. He was just voicing the desperation I was feeling, too. That was why he was pressing to get married. It's why I wanted to say yes so badly. Anything to make this… us… last forever.
"I can't," I murmured. He shifted, thrust, and I gasped, arching my neck back. "Just come home and I'll marry you then."
"You promise?" he asked. He thrust again and I groaned instead of answering. "Promise me."
"I promise. As soon as you come home."
"As soon as I'm home."
"There she is!" Randall called brightly as I flew into the studio a flushed, rumpled, sleep-deprived mess. I could hear the underlying tension in his voice. My flight was delayed and now our video shoot, already two days behind schedule, was two hours late getting started because of me.
"Sorry sorry," I muttered, shrugging out of my jacket and tossing aside my bag.
Alice scrambled up off the couch where she'd been tucked into Jasper's side. "C'mon, Bella," she said soothingly, casting an irate glance at Randall. "Let's get you into the dressing room and I'll help you get ready."
"Chop, chop, ladies," Randall called after us.
"Bite me," Alice called back in a saccharine voice. Then she turned her face to me with a softer smile. "How is he?"
I smiled in return. "Good. Tired. Homesick."
"I'm sure he is. He misses you."
"We're getting married," I blurted, wanting to tell someone before we got surrounded by the stylists and hairdressers.
"I know, Bella. You've been engaged for months."
"No, as soon as he gets home. I promised. He insisted, actually. So now I have to plan this wedding. I guess." I felt overwhelmed, wondering how I could possibly do it in the middle of this chaotic schedule of concerts and promotion. Especially when I wasn't even at home in LA to handle anything.
"A wedding?" Alice said faintly.
"Yeah. Well, nothing too big, but I want the people we love to be there. There's just so much to figure out, and—"
"I'll do it!" Alice said, a little too quickly.
"Oh, Alice, I don't want some big Hollywood thing. This is just about us."
"I can do small," she insisted. "C'mon, Bella. Let me do this for you! For both of you. Neither one of you has time to think about it, and all I'm doing is tagging along after Jasper right now anyway. Let me plan it for you. It'll be fun!"
Before I even opened my mouth I had misgivings. But I also had no options, so I just nodded and said yes. Alice shrieked and jumped on me. I should have known.
"Art Rinkman wants to hold the wedding on his lawn."
I sat up sharply and stared at Alice. The plane flying us to our concert in Cleveland chose that moment to hit a patch of turbulence and we both jerked. "What did you just say?"
"Art Rinkman," she said with a shrug.
"Head of Canyon Pictures? That Art Rinkman?"
Alice nodded and went back to fishing the peanuts out of her little airline bag of snack mix.
"Why would Art Rinkman offer to let us get married on his lawn? Why would we want to? I don't even know him."
"He knows Edward."
Alice nodded. "He wants him to sign onto this big thing he's got in the works for next year. He heard I was planning the wedding and he called me and offered."
I shifted uncomfortably. "I don't know… Why would I want to get married on his lawn anyway? It sounds weird."
"He lives half a mile from the Getty Villa in Malibu."
"Remember that view?" Alice sing-songed. "Your jaw hit the floor when we went up to that museum. The trees, the ocean… he's got the same view."
I wavered, picturing me and Edward in a quiet little clearing, surrounded by cedars and juniper, with the Pacific Ocean crashing in the distance. It was a really pretty picture.
"But outside," I protested. "Won't we be too exposed? Photographers and reporters?"
"Seth is already lining up a massive security detail for the day. And we'll put up a tent. Totally safe, very private."
I sighed. "If you're sure…"
She sat up and gave a tiny clap. "Yay! Don't worry about a thing. It'll be so beautiful! All you guys need to do is show up."
Somehow I seriously doubted it would be that easy.
"Bella are you ready to get into your dress?"
"I've been ready for an hour."
Rose held up her hands in defense. "Don't shoot me. Alice sent me in to help. Lord knows why, though, since there's a staff of dozens here to get us ready. You should see it out there," she said, changing tactics to distract me. "There are three hundred chairs set up in the tent, every single one wrapped in white silk with a bow on the back and a spray of violets. The whole tent already smells like a florist's shop. There's a six foot tall ice sculpture. Ice! Can you believe it? Oh, and they've covered Rinkman's entire pool with this plexi-glass thing, and that's the dance floor. Alice must've gotten the water changed out, too, because the pool is full of goldfish. You can watch them swimming around while you dance. And the champagne! The wait staff is handing out Cristal and it's not even noon."
I groaned. "Why aren't any of them bringing me a drink?"
Rose stopped abruptly and looked at me.
"Sorry, Rose, I'm just tense. This is all so…."
"Big? Glamorous? Hollywood? Not you?"
"It's beautiful," I said emphatically. "And all these industry people came, which is great for Edward. I'm grateful. I really am."
Rose smiled knowingly. "But you'd be happier getting married on the front lawn. A real person's front lawn," she amended quickly, "not that four-acre botanical masterpiece Rinkman calls a lawn."
I shrugged. "A little. Yeah. I'm just overwhelmed. Where's Edward?" I was fully aware of how whiny and desperate I sounded, I was just past the point of caring.
"Getting dressed in Rinkman's guest house. Alice is adamant that he not see you until the ceremony. I think he's about to tear her head off. It's kind of funny to watch. He's such a grouch when he doesn't get his way."
"Rose, be nice. He's tired."
It was true. Edward was supposed to be home four days ago to be here for the last-minute planning, but the shoot kept extending, and as a result, he'd only flown home last night. The band had just finished a small concert series so we'd only flown home two days ago. Whatever was about to happen out on Art Rinkman's epic, rolling "lawn" was as much of a mystery to us as it was to the hundreds of well-heeled Hollywood elite guests in attendance.
Mostly I just wanted Edward, which was the one thing I couldn't have right now. I was with him all night, but after so much time apart, that wasn't nearly enough. We'd both been so tired that we'd fallen asleep after one brief round of sex. Definitely not enough. The ceremony couldn't come soon enough if it meant I could get back to him.
"Okay, okay. Let's get you dressed and get the show on the road, huh?" Rose said, clapping her hands together. "The sooner you get out there and get hitched, the sooner we can get drunk at the reception, right? Besides, if Alice comes in here and finds you still sitting around in your underwear, she's liable to sprain something."
I laughed, but got up to get into my dress. Art Rinkman, who was nice enough for a complete stranger and Hollywood mogul, had turned over a guest suite in his ridiculously large house for the bridal party to get ready in. Alice had been dressed for hours and was now stomping around the grounds on headset, barking orders. That left just me and Rose. She was already in her dress, a tasteful dark green silk sheath dress in a slightly different but equally flattering cut as Alice's.
I adjusted my bra, a strapless satin thing that pushed my boobs sky-high. It was uncomfortable and pinching my skin on the sides, but I imagined that Edward was going to love it, so I consoled myself with fantasies of him taking it off of me later.
Rose carefully lifted my dress off the hanger and helped me slither into it. Alice had literally a hundred sent out for me to try on. Every time we set down in a city for longer than twenty-four hours, a courier would show up with a familiar white garment bag stuffed with dresses. I made my way across America trying on wedding dresses in hotel rooms while Alice took copious notes with her critical eye.
The one we picked was actually really pretty and much more my taste than I'd expected. It was a simple ivory silk sheath with tiny little straps and a delicate row of crystals just under the bustline. It was spare and elegant, not overly-fussy or extreme. But the silk was Italian, the crystals were Austrian, and the designer was French, so all that elegant simplicity added up to twenty thousand dollars' worth of dress. It staggered me. All of this staggered me.
The stylist had been in earlier and swept my hair back in a loose, graceful chignon at the back of my neck. The makeup artist had left me polished and flawless, all while looking like I was barely wearing makeup. In short, I was another Alice triumph.
Rose smiled warmly as she straightened the tiny straps on my shoulders.
"You look so beautiful, B."
"Thank you, Rose."
She gave a rueful little laugh. "I've been with Emmett since we were thirteen. Who'd have guessed you'd do this first? And to him!"
She waved a dismissive hand. "Hey, you know I like him now, no matter how all this got started. It's just funny to see how much your life has changed. All of us, but you most of all."
"I know. It surprises me, too."
Rose frowned. "Don't take this the wrong way, because you know you both have my support, but you're sure, right? Because as crazy as life has been for the two of you up until now, it will only get worse after this. People will be after you all the time. The second you say 'I do' they'll start taking bets on how long it will be until you file for divorce. You're sure you're up for that? For the long haul?"
"Honestly? No, I'm not," I sighed. Rose opened her mouth to say something, but I held up my hand to silence her. "No one could be. Do I look forward to being scrutinized and photographed for the rest of my life? For my every interaction with Edward in public to be endlessly dissected? No, I don't. But I'll happily put up with all of that and more if I get to have him in my life. I can't imagine living without him, Rose. Not for a minute and certainly not forever. He's worth anything I have to endure to be with him."
Rose blinked at me. "Shit, you're going to make me cry with that stuff."
I laughed. "You? Cry? I'd like to see that."
"Hey, I'm not always a hard-hearted bitch. Only mostly."
"You're not hard-hearted at all," I told her sincerely, gripping her shoulders. "And you're my best friend. Thank you so much for being here for me through all of this."
She pulled me into her arms, trying not to touch my dress. "Always, sweets. Always."
"Jesus, now I'm going to cry," I laughed. "We need to stop this sentimental shit."
We were both laughing and trying to carefully wipe our eyes when Hurricane Alice swept into the room.
"Oh my God, have you two messed up your makeup? Rose, you were just supposed to get her dressed, not make her cry!"
"Relax, Allie," Rose sighed. "We were just having a sappy girl moment. It's all out of our systems now."
"Good, because it's time."
"Time?" I breathed.
Time. Time to marry Edward. Oh, god.
"You okay?" Rose squeezed my hand.
"Yeah," I forced a nervous smile.
"Of course she's fine!" Alice chirped, sweeping my bouquet off a side table and into my arms. I glanced down at it. Three long, elegant calla lilies tied with a cream ribbon. Pretty.
Alice gave me a long, leveling once-over, from head to toe, squinting. Instinctively, I stood up straighter.
"Do I pass?"
"You look perfect, of course. Now let's go."
I laughed but followed her out of the bedroom. Out in the hall, Seth was standing just to the right of the door, hands loosely clasped in front of him. As I came through the door, he put his hand to his ear…. Oh, God, was that a Bluetooth earpiece like the Secret Service used?
"The eagle has flown," he murmured. "Repeat, the eagle is in flight."
I rolled my eyes. "Seriously, Seth?"
He scowled at me, dropping his Jason Statham face for just a second. "It's how I communicate with the team, Bells."
"Do you really think all of this is necessary?"
"We've already intercepted four unauthorized personnel attempting to breach the secure perimeter."
"We caught four paps trying to sneak in."
I groaned. "Why are they bothering us?"
"Seriously?" Alice asked. "This is the wedding of the year, babe. You might live in a media blackout, but I don't. It's all anyone has talked about for weeks."
"How do people even know?"
"There are no secrets in Hollywood, Bella."
At that moment, the relative peace of the inside of Rinkman's house was disturbed by a loud motorized rhythmic thwacking sound… one I knew well.
"Helicopters," Seth sighed. "Let me go assess the situation."
"Goddamn it," Alice cursed under her breath.
"What are we going to do?"
"You're going to get married," she replied grimly. "This is why we got the damned tent. They can circle all they want, but they won't be able to see a thing and they certainly won't get a picture of anything."
I was secretly sad that the whole thing would have to happen inside the tent. It was a far cry from the mental picture I'd had of Edward and I almost alone in a tiny clearing with the ocean in the distance. Sure, Art Rinkman had an amazing view of the Pacific from up here, but we'd never see it from inside the tent and with helicopters circling, we'd certainly never hear it. But I swallowed it down because the real point of today was marrying Edward, and that would happen one way or another.
Alice herded us towards one of the side doors of the house, to avoid being seen by the mass of guests out front until the ceremony itself started. When I got outside and glanced up, I saw not one but three helicopters hovering over Art Rinkman's property and I groaned.
Seth's phalanx of black-suited security guards were running back and forth, barking into their earpieces, casting angry glances up at the helicopters. I could see all the well-dressed guests in the distance holding their dresses and ties in place and desperately smoothing their hair in the face of the furious wind being kicked up. Alice was back on her headset rapidly firing off instructions and demanding that someone get the FAA to immediately declare Rinkman's estate a no-fly zone.
I felt big warm hands on my waist from behind and heard Edward's voice in my ear, just audible over the choppers.
"Here you are. Finally."
I smiled and leaned back into him, reaching my free hand back to touch his hair, his face, any part of him I could reach. All my anxiety melted away once he was there. He dipped his head and kissed my bare shoulder. I turned in his arms so I could see him and leaned forward for a kiss, but to my surprise, he leaned away, blinking.
"What? What's wrong?"
Edward just stared at me. Then his eyes slipped down me and back up to my face. "God, you look beautiful," he murmured. I relaxed and smiled.
"You look pretty decent yourself." And that was no lie. Tuxedo Edward never failed to make me weak in the knees. Coupled with weeks of deprivation and I was pretty much putty in his lovely hands. He smiled and finally leaned in to kiss me. I rested my hand on his jaw, because he'd just shaved and I loved the feel of his skin then. Cool and smooth, and smelling positively edible. I wanted to burrow up under his jaw and lick the little hollow underneath it. He loved that. But now hardly seemed like the time or place.
"Edward!" Alice hissed. "What the hell are you doing here? You know you're not supposed to—"
"Can it, Alice," he snapped, pulling away from me. "Yes, I busted out of Guest House Prison. I want to be with my wife today, alright?"
"She's not your wife yet, smartass. That's kind of what today is all about."
Edward made a face as he looked around himself. I could tell he was about as thrilled about this extravagant display as I was.
"What the fuck is up with the choppers?" he grumbled, casting his annoyed glance skyward.
"That's what I'm in the middle of trying to figure out," Alice snapped, turning her attention back to whoever was on the other end of her headset.
The rest of us stood back and watched the choppers swoop ever closer to the house. I could see a photographer practically hanging out of one with a massive telephoto lens, desperately trying to get a picture of the two of us. Rose toyed with the ends of her hair and casually angled herself right in front of me to block the view.
Moments later, Alice's assistant, Angela hurried up in a near-panic.
"Alice! The butterflies!"
"What butterflies?" I asked.
"What about them?" Alice said at the same time.
"The butterfly wrangler was startled when one of the helicopters came too low and she knocked over the case. They got out!"
"No!" Alice gasped.
"What the hell were the butterflies for?" Rose asked.
Alice flung her hands up in frustration. "They were supposed to be released when you guys said 'I do' so they'd fly up in this big fluttery colorful cloud. It was going to be so beautiful!"
I thought it sounded kind of silly, but Alice was upset so I didn't say so.
Angela wasn't done, though. "It seems the air currents from the helicopters are disorienting them or something though, so instead of flying away, they're landing on people."
"Oh God," Alice moaned. "What is everyone doing?"
"Well," Angela hedged, "some people think they're pretty, but a lot of people are kind of freaking out."
"Imagine," Rose drawled, "being attacked by a swarm of butterflies. Really, what are the odds?"
Edward snorted a laugh, which he only sort of tried to hide behind his hand. "Seriously, Al? Butterflies?"
She glared at him. "Shut it. It was going to be beautiful."
"I'm sure it was," I said to her, trying to smooth it over. Edward was still chuckling beside me and I smacked his arm. We still had yet to move away from the side door we'd come through ten minutes ago and we were certainly no closer to being married. I was becoming seriously impatient.
Seth chose that moment to reappear.
"We have an incident," he said to Alice.
"No shit!" she snapped, flailing one arm at the helicopters overhead. "We currently have several incidents."
"No, one of the helicopters is reporting a mechanical malfunction. He has to ditch."
"What?! Here? NOW?!" Alice was practically apoplectic.
"The choice is set down safely or crash," Seth explained.
"Exactly where is he proposing this happen?" Alice asked, straining hard to hang onto her composure.
Seth pointed a finger at the wide lawn in front of us, the one currently crowded with mingling wedding guests.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," she groaned.
"Well, kids, are you two lovebirds about ready to tie the knot?" Art Rinkman stepped up behind Edward and I, clapping us both on the shoulder hard. Edward cast one black look at me before turning to Art with his mask of civility back in place.
"Sure thing, Art."
"Nothing I like better than a wedding," Art said, full of all kinds of false cheer, "And the wedding of my favorite actor? A dream come true! Almost as good as having that actor star in my next picture."
Edward looked uncomfortable, but he managed a tight smile. I felt terrible for him, seeing how much he didn't want to do this kind of glad-handing today. But right now there wasn't much to be done except put up with it.
"What's with all the choppers?" Art asked, as if he only now noticed they were there.
"One of them's apparently about to land on your lawn," Edward said conversationally.
Art scowled. "That hardly seems appropriate."
I had to stifle my own laughter now.
"They don't have much choice about it," Seth interjected. "I'm not happy about it, either, but we're running out of time. We have to clear the guests off the lawn or he might crash into them."
That woke Art up. "Do you mean to tell me he plans to land it there? He'll be speaking to my lawyers if he tries it."
"We don't have a lot of options here," Seth snapped back, before turning towards the crowd and directing his team via Bluetooth to start clearing the lawn. Art followed after him in an indignant huff.
"Fuck," Edward muttered at my side.
Jasper and Emmett appeared, pushing the opposite way through the retreating guests to reach us.
"Man, Edward, you sure know how to throw an awesome wedding," Emmett called out across the lawn. "First the plague of butterflies and now an airshow!"
"Shut UP, Emmett," Alice snapped.
Jasper stepped up behind Alice and started to rub her shoulders soothingly. "Relax, baby. It'll all work out."
"Work out?" she screeched. "How on earth is this supposed to work out? The place is crawling with paparazzi, the butterflies are on the loose, and now there's a helicopter about to crash in the middle of the wedding! How could things possibly get worse?"
The helicopter in question had been circling and hovering, gradually inching towards the lawn, as the wind continued to gust all around us. My dress was flattened against my legs and long strands of my hair had worked loose from the chignon, whipping around my face. Everyone was squinting to see and screaming to be heard. The wedding guests had all been herded to the far side of the lawn and they were hunched in a frightened, wind-blown huddle.
As Alice ranted, she waved her hand at the almost-landed helicopter and we all turned to watch. What happened next seemed to go almost in slow motion. The fabric sides of the white tent were flapping wildly in the wind. Then the gust crept under the side. First one side lifted up, and then slowly, almost gracefully, the entire tent, the one that comfortably housed over 300 guests, lifted into the air.
It whipped around, collapsed in on itself, and caught the breeze, taking off in a high arc towards the distant ocean. No one said a word. We just watched it go, accompanied by the startled screams of the guests. All that was left were the twisted aluminum support poles and a heap of bow-tied chairs, scattered across the grass like debris on in a battlefield.
Emmett broke the horrified silence first. "Dude, you are never getting your deposit back on that."
Alice began to shriek, Jasper began to sooth, Seth came flying back across the lawn towards us, Rose moved to intercept and charm Art Rinkman…
I stood frozen against the side of the house, watching my wedding day devolve into chaos.
"Fuck this," Edward muttered at my side. His hand closed around mine, warm and firm. "Let's go."
"What? Go? Go where?" I shook my head, trying to figure out what he was talking about.
Edward turned towards the back of the house, pulling me after him. The heels of my shoes kept getting stuck in Art's lawn, but Edward didn't slow until he reached the large gravel lot behind the house. It was littered with ridiculously expensive cars parked in tight rows. Half a dozen lanky boys in ill-fitting uniforms—the valets, I guessed— loitered against various cars laughing and talking. When Edward and I appeared around the corner of the house, they abruptly stopped talking and stood up in unison.
The one who looked nominally in charge managed to speak first. "Uh…. What can we do for you, um… Mr. Cullen…I mean, Sir?"
"I need a car," Edward said. "Wait…" He let go of my hand to pull his wallet out of his pants pocket. He fished through it, pulling out a wad of cash. "I'll give you…" He flipped through the bills rapidly. "Four hundred… no, four fifty, if you give me a car now. Any car. I just need a car."
They all just blinked at us for a minute. Edward shook his handful of cash slightly. The one who spoke snapped out of it and lunged for the keys in the car he had been leaning against.
"Here." He held the keys out and Edward snatched them from him, stuffing the cash into the boy's hand clumsily. He turned to me.
"What?" I asked, dumbfounded, confused.
"Get in!" he repeated.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. "Edward, the wedding…. We can't…."
"Fuck the wedding. At the moment there is no wedding, there's an FAA investigation. Just c'mon! You don't want that shit any more than I do. I know you don't."
He was right. I didn't want it. Even if it had gone off without a hitch, I still didn't want it. Not like this.
"I don't," I conceded.
"All I want today is you, baby," he said softly, taking a step closer and running his palm up the outside of my arm. "So let's just go and do what we want for once."
"But what about Alice? All the guests? Everybody came for us."
"Hang on." Edward pulled out his phone and started typing. After a moment, he turned it so I could read. It was to Alice.
Sorry, Al, but we're out.
Open the bar and get everyone drunk.
Host the party of the year on me.
Love you. We'll call soon.
I looked up at Edward and he cocked an eyebrow at me.
"She'll kill us."
"Yeah, but then Jasper will get her drunk and she'll forget about killing us. And when the two of them finally get hitched, she can throw another wedding of the century and I'll pay for the whole thing. Now just come with me, Bella. Please."
I smiled and nodded, because running away with Edward sounded like the absolute best idea on earth at the moment.
He grinned and hit send, then opened the passenger door for me. He folded me and my trailing dress into the car before sliding behind the wheel and gunning the engine. We peeled out of the driveway with a screech of tires and a spray of gravel.
We drove north up the Pacific Coast Highway for what felt like forever. The road fell away on our left, down to the crashing Pacific shoreline. The ground rose up on our right into the foothills. At first we passed one extravagant estate after another, just like Art's, but finally we left those behind and it was just us and the highway.
It turned out that Edward had swiped a convertible, and once we figured that out, I pulled all the pins out of my hair, we put the top down and just drove. It was too windy to talk, so I laid my head back on the headrest and closed my eyes as the wind whip my hair into a frenzy while the sun warmed my face. Every now and then I'd crack an eye and glance at Edward. He'd long since lost his bow tie and popped the top two buttons on his tux shirt. With every mile we drove, his body relaxed. His right hand was on the wheel and his left elbow was on the open window. When he felt me looking, he'd glance back and smile at me and I'd feel warm and loved and unbelievably free.
Once he switched hands so he could reach out and cup my face with his palm. I turned into him, kissing right in the center. He slid his hand down, skimming my neck and shoulder with his fingertips before putting his hand back on the wheel.
I had no idea what came next, how we'd fix the mess we'd just driven away from, but right now I honestly didn't care.
An hour, maybe more, after we'd fled Malibu, Edward eased off the gas and spoke.
"Are you hungry?"
I thought about that. I hadn't had anything to eat since some coffee early this morning, so I should have been starving, but I wasn't. Still I probably should eat. At the very least, I really needed a drink. A stiff one.
"Let's pull off," I said. Edward slowed at the first sign of civilization, although civilization might have been too extravagant a word for it.
It was just a cluster of ramshackle houses, some shabby beach rentals, a bait shop, and a bar. Most of the "town" was on the right side of the highway, but the bar was on the left, on the little strip of land in between the highway and the beach.
Edward and I exchanged one glance and he wordlessly pulled into the tiny dirt parking lot beside the bar.
"We don't have to go in," he said after he'd come around to my side of the car. "If you're worried about the attention or whatever, we can turn around and drive back home. It won't take that long."
"I need a drink, Edward. Like… ten minutes ago."
"Thank god," he exhaled, "Because I do, too."
He pecked me on the lips and led me inside the cool, quiet bar. It was mid-afternoon and there was hardly anyone inside, which was good, because it was only then that I realized how ridiculous we must look. Edward in his rumpled tux, me in my wedding dress, my hair a wind-blown rat's nest around my head.
The bartender glanced up at us as he dried a tray of glasses. If he recognized us or was at all fazed by our bizarre appearance, he didn't show it. He just gave us a tiny nod of the head in greeting and looked back to his glasses. There was a beat-up mid-70's era jukebox in the corner softly playing a Gerry Rafferty song.
The back of the bar, facing the beach, was mostly windows, allowing for a pretty remarkable view. The only other two patrons in there—a couple of grizzled old hippie fishermen who likely hadn't caught anything besides a contact high for the past decade—were sitting at a table by one window, nursing beers and talking. They didn't even look up.
I slid onto a bar stool next to Edward. The bartender glanced up at us again, this time seeming to notice our clothes, but he still didn't say anything. He was maybe seventy, with thinning blonde-gray hair held back in a ponytail and a short, scraggly beard. He was tanned and weathered from a life spent in the sun. The faded yellow t-shirt under his open Hawaiian shirt read "Legalize Weed."
"Beer?" Edward asked me. I nodded. "Two Coronas," he said to the bartender. I smiled, remembering drinking Coronas with Edward on a beach kind of like this one back when we'd first started dating. Well, fake-dating. Whatever. It counted.
The bartender popped the tops on two long necks and set them down in front of us.
"You serve food?" Edward asked.
The bartender slid a little laminated card, slightly sticky, in front of us.
My mouth immediately began to water. Okay, so I was hungry after all. Starving, actually.
"Bacon cheeseburger," I said quickly. "With fries. And onion rings."
The bartender raised his eyebrows at me.
Edward grinned. "She's had a long day. I'll have the same, but…er, no onion rings. I'll just share hers."
"The hell you will."
The bartender smiled and nodded, then disappeared through a doorway with a flowered curtain on a towel bar covering it.
Edward leaned into me, wrapping his arms around my hips. "You're really not going to share those onion rings with me? I thought you loved me."
"Edward, there's love and then there's onion rings."
"You flew to Oslo to spend eight hours with me but you won't give up one batter-dipped, deep fried, oniony piece of deliciousness?"
"If we're going to get married, you'd better be very clear about where I stand on onion rings."
He laughed, but my own words gave me pause. Married. Dammit. We still weren't.
"I'm sorry, Edward."
He kissed my shoulder absently before straightening back up. "What for?"
"The wedding. You wanted to get married as soon as you got home and it all fell apart. No wedding."
He took my left hand, resting on the bar next to his, and rubbed my knuckles with his thumb. "Bella, I wanted to marry you. I still want to marry you. I don't give a shit about a wedding, though. We'll figure it out."
"It was such a disaster."
Edward chuckled. "It sure as hell was. But one day we'll laugh about it. Even Alice will laugh about it one day, once she stops screaming."
"I guess so."
The bartender reappeared with two plates heaped with glorious dripping cheeseburgers and fries and a separate plate with my onion rings. My stomach leapt in delight.
"Here you go. I'll just put these onion rings over here out of harm's way. The name's Caius if you need anything else."
"Thanks, Caius. I'm… um…"
"I know who you are," Caius said softly, wiping down his bar instead of looking up at us. "Both of you. This place stays pretty quiet, but even I've heard of you. Seems you might be looking for a little peace and quiet and I'm happy to provide it for you for as long as I can."
"I appreciate it. More beers when you get a chance?"
I let out a long, relieved breath before digging into what had to be the best cheeseburger I'd ever eaten. I didn't even care if I dripped ketchup all over my Italian silk wedding dress.
Once Caius fessed up that he'd recognized us, Edward relaxed and got chatty. Well, it might have helped that he pounded back three beers in rapid succession. He asked Caius how long he'd owned the bar, how busy it was, if he liked the work… Edward really was quite social, just the circumstances of his life kept him from being as friendly with strangers as he might naturally have been.
Caius was just as chatty once he got going. He told us the story of hitchhiking to California as a teenager in the 70's. He'd been hitching up the coast on the way to San Francisco when he stumbled into the bar and made friends with the owner. He wandered the country for another decade before finding himself back in this tiny corner the of California coast just as the owner was planning to retire. Feeling that fate had put him there, Caius bought the bar and had been here ever since, serving the tiny community of fishermen, hippies and the odd vacationer.
"So pardon my saying so," he said as he set my third beer in front of me. Beer was my new happy place and Caius was my new best friend. "But it seems like you two might have been dressed for something a little more important than eating burgers in my bar today."
I snorted a laugh around a mouthful of fries. "You could say that."
"You have funny taste in honeymoons," Caius said.
"We didn't actually get married."
Caius raised one bushy eyebrow at me. "You're still here, sharing a civil meal together, so I'm guessing that the problem wasn't one of you running out on the other at the altar."
"Uh, no. More like the wedding ran away from us. All dressed up and nowhere to get married," I joked. Edward sniggered and made a reach for my onion rings. I slapped his hand.
"Well, you can get married here if that's the issue," Caius shrugged dismissively.
"Here?" Edward echoed.
"Sure." Caius pointed at a computer print-out in a cheap frame behind the bar. "I'm ordained."
Edward started to laugh until I kicked his shin under the bar.
"What church?" I asked politely.
"Oh, no church," Caius said, leaning back and throwing the bar towel over his shoulder. "That sort of thing's not for me. I got it at Ordain-Me-Now dot com."
Now I started laughing. I just really couldn't help it. Today just kept lurching further and further into the surreal.
"Legal and binding, though," Caius said, not at all bothered by my laughter.
"Legal, huh?" Edward said thoughtfully.
"Comes in handy when you run a seaside bar. We see our fair share of weddings on the beach. I used to do a half price drinks happy hour wedding package, but demand dried up."
"You don't say."
"Bella? You want to get married?"
"Here? Now?" He was smiling at me, that slow, glowing secret one that only I saw, and his eyes were warm, fixed on mine. For just a moment, there was only the two of us in the world. All the rest of the insanity faded away or didn't matter. So, of course, yes. In this quiet hole in the wall, over burgers and beers, with only a couple of burnt-out hippies to witness…
"Do you, Edward Anthony Cullen, take this woman, Isabella Marie Swan, to be your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to love, honor and cherish her until death do you part?"
"Yes, I do."
It was so stupid. Just some words spoken by a beach bum bartender as Edward and I stood barefoot in the sand just outside the bar. Dean and Mac, the two old hippies drinking the afternoon away, had moved outside on the sand with us, still nursing their beers, to be witnesses. Caius was reading the vows off a coffee-stained index card as the sun set behind him.
I was still about to freaking cry. Because this was it. No well-dressed guests or lavish reception. Just me, Edward, and a promise. And suddenly I got it, the reality and the weight of that promise.
Now I was so glad that it was just us. Well, just us and Caius, Dean, and Mac. Because I wanted no distractions as we made this promise of forever to each other. I wanted the essence of it, pure and real.
When Edward noticed my eyes starting to water, he smiled and reached out to rub his thumb under my lashes.
Caius cleared his throat, took a swig off his Michelob, and turned to me. "Okay, then. Do you, Isabella Marie Swan, take Edward Anthony Cullen to be your lawfully wedded husband? Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish him until death do you part?"
The first time I opened my mouth, nothing came out but a breathless squeak. I swallowed and tried again. "I do."
I waited. Caius didn't say anything. Edward cleared his throat. We stood facing each other, Edward holding my hands in his, looking expectantly at him. Caius stared into space. Suddenly he startled.
"Oh, right. I go next. This is the vows part, but I lost that card. Do you two have any personal vows you want to exchange? This is where folks generally do that sort of thing."
"Oh, the vows." We did have vows and they were lovely. They were beautifully written out in calligraphy onto heavy cream cards, waiting for us to read them to each other during the ceremony. We quoted poetry; a Pulitzer-prize winning author had been consulted on the wording. And they were back at Art Rinkman's house in Malibu.
"We did," Edward said, "but we lost ours, too."
"Well, you wanna wing it?"
Edward looked at me and shrugged. "Sure. Here it goes." He took a minute, looking down at the sand, to get himself together. I envied his experience as an actor. This was going to be so much easier for him than it was for me. He was going to open his mouth and beautiful, heartfelt, perfect words would just flow out.
Finally he looked up at me with an expression that truly made me melt. He hadn't said a word yet and I could feel myself already tearing up.
"Bella," he said, "This has been a hard year. Through space and time, I'm lost without you. Being apart isn't easy on this love. Two strangers learn to fall in love again. But I get the joy of rediscovering you—"
He blinked. "What?"
"You're quoting Journey lyrics in your wedding vows?"
"Same difference. And Journey? Really?"
He huffed and rolled his eyes. "Okay, fine, your turn."
I huffed, too, and straightened my shoulders.
"Against the odds, this love will last. When the world falls away and there's only you and I, we'll—"
"That's an Eclipse song," he cut me off. Damn him.
"Well, at least it's mine."
"Jasper wrote it."
"I sang it."
"You two about to wrap it up?" Caius broke in. "The evening rush starts soon."
"Does that count?" Edward asked.
"They're your vows, you can say whatever you want."
He smiled smugly at me. "Journey counts."
"I'm going to kill you."
Caius cleared his throat.
"Sorry," we said in unison.
"Do you have rings?"
"No," I began, "They're back in—"
"Wait!" Edward started fishing in his coat pocket and triumphantly produced a little black velvet box. "Alice gave it to me this morning."
I'd already seen the wedding band, of course, but I welled up a little at the sight of it anyway. It was the platinum mate to the one I was meant to give Edward. That one was definitely back in LA, because I didn't have pockets. Oh, well, one ring was good enough for now. He popped it free and pocketed the box, before taking my left hand in his.
"Edward, repeat after me. I, Edward Cullen, take you, Isabella Swan, to be my wife and I pledge you my love forever."
And now all traces of teasing and laughter were gone. This was it and he was all there, holding my hand so tightly, sliding that ring up my finger, meaning every single word he spoke as he repeated his vows after Caius.
"I, Edward Cullen, take you, Isabella Swan, to be my wife and I pledge you my love forever."
When he finished, I was a teary, choked up mess. Even Caius reached out to pat me encouragingly on the shoulder.
"Ready?" he asked. I nodded and sniffed.
"Repeat after me. I, Isabella Swan, take you, Edward Cullen, to be my husband and I pledge you my love forever."
I swallowed, gripping his hands hard as I spoke the most important words I'd ever say. "I, Isabella Swan, take you, Edward Cullen, to be my husband and I pledge you my love forever."
Mac and Dean let out audible exhales and clinked their beer bottles together when I finished, and Edward gave me a smile that could light up the world.
"Alrighty then," Caius went on. "In as much as you have pledged yourselves to each other with these vows, I hereby declare you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride. First round's on the house."
I laughed and Edward surged forward, pulling me into his chest and up off my feet. My laughter was swallowed up in his kiss, hard and joyous, and accompanied by the raucous drunken whoops of Dean and Mac.
"C'mon back inside, everyone," Caius said, "Let's raise a glass to the newlyweds."
Edward set me down and I started to follow Caius back into the bar, but Edward tugged on my hand to stop me.
He smiled and nodded his head towards the empty beach behind us, the waves glowing gold in the fading sunset. "Come take a walk with me first."
"Caius, we're going to take just a minute. Start without us."
"Hey, little lady, we'll start and finish without you. Take all the time you need."
When they were gone and it was just us, I leaned down and scooped up the hem of my now thoroughly ruined dress and held it up above my calves. Edward took my other hand and raised it to his lips, kissing my knuckles.
"I love you, wife."
Then I followed him, running down the beach until the ocean swirled around our ankles and the breeze blew our laughter away behind us.