Bella's Lullaby of Broadway One-Shot Contest

Title: The Point Of no Return

Pen Name: A Cullen Wannabe

Song and Show Title for Inspiration Song: The Point of No Return from Phantom of the Opera

Summary: Bella is the replacement actress for Christine in the very first New York production of Phantom of the Opera opposite the handsome and talented Edward Cullen who plays her Phantom. As romance grows behind the scenes can Bella and Edward keep things professional on stage and off?

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, Phantom of the Opera, or any recognizable characters or lyrics.

Word Count: 11,480

Contest rules and entry information can be found at:

http :// www . fanfiction . net/u/2110026/


You have come here
In pursuit of your deepest urge
In pursuit of that wish which till now
Has been silent

I have brought you
That our passions may fuse and merge
In your mind you've already succumbed to me, dropped all defenses
Completely succumbed to me
Now you are here with me
No second thoughts
You've decided

Past the point of no return
No backward glances
Our games of make-believe are at an end.

Past all thought of 'if' or 'when'
No use resisting
Abandon thought and let the dream descend

What raging FIRE shall flood the soul
What rich desire unlocks it's door
What sweet seduction lies before us?

Past the point of no return
The final threshold
What warm unspoken secrets
Will we learn
Beyond the point of no return?

CHRISTINE: You have brought me
To that moment when words run dry
To that moment when speech disappears
Into silence

I have come here,
Hardly knowing the reason why
In my mind I've already imagined
Our bodies entwining
Defenseless and silent,
Now I am here with you
No second thoughts
I've decided

Past the point of no return
No going back now
Our passion-play has now at last begun.

Past all thought of right or wrong
One final question
How long should we two wait before we're one?

When will the blood begin to race
The sleeping bud burst into bloom
When will the flames at last CONSUME us?

BOTH: Past the point of no return
The final threshold
The bridge is crossed
So stand and watch it burn
We've passed the point of no return.

Please note that I have taken some liberties with the story and have actually based my depiction of the performance of the show more on the movie version than on the stage version of The Phantom of the Opera because it was my most recent exposure to the musical. Die hard theater fans who preferred the original version I'm very sorry, but my memories from the last time I saw it seven years ago were far too fuzzy to do the production any justice, so I went with what was more familiar and current in my mind. Please suspend reality for the next ten thousand words and just try to enjoy!

You can see the scene of the movie by using the following link:

www . youtube . com/watch?v=Dp4UqGxOeHk&feature=related (remove the spaces when you paste)

January 26, 1988

Bella Swan paced nervously back and forth in her apartment as she repeatedly checked the clock for the time. Tonight she would be performing for the very first time ever on the big stage. It was sheer luck that she was called back as a replacement for the role of Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical The Phantom of the Opera. She had been unceremoniously passed over at her first audition as a spirited strawberry blonde by the name of Tanya Denali pranced in and blew everyone away right before Bella was to go on stage and perform. In the shadow of the buxom blonde's unfathomable talent, Bella was barely a blip on the screen to the casting agents who were working that day in Mr. Lloyd Webber's absence, but thankfully all performances were recorded for future use.

The recording of the auditions is what saved Bella from having to return to Forks Washington with her tail tucked between her legs. Down to her last twenty dollars, Bella was just about to make the walk of shame down to her landlord's quarters to inform him that she would have to break the lease on her disgusting apartment that was still more than she could afford to keep by waiting tables at the corner diner when the magical phone call came in. It seems that while yes the fabulous Miss Denali had the voice of an angel, she had the temperament of a real life Carlotta. After several rows with the entire cast and most importantly Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, she was fired and the search began for her replacement only four weeks before opening night.

As the tapes of the hundreds of girls who had made it through pre-audition viewings were reviewed the composer was growing weary and frustrated. He seriously considered pulling Sarah Brightman from the London show, but he'd rather not interrupt the cast's chemistry, plus he was enjoying the idea of introducing a fresh face to the world just as Christine was to the world of the opera in the show. Luckily for Bella, she was exactly the ingénue he was looking for admonishing his casting director for passing over the obvious choice to begin with. In his opinion Bella had always been better suited to play Christine than the shrew and they wouldn't even have to worry about wigs or hair dye with his newest find.

Bella stumbled into rehearsal the next morning after the call that changed her life anxious and lost. She had never been in a real life full stage production beyond small playhouses way, way off Broadway that closed in under two weeks. She entered the stage door following the flow of a large group of people who appeared to be dancers as she hoped they would lead her in the general direction of someone who could provide her with answers.

Soon she turned a corner to find she was alone and lost in the labyrinth of darkened sets and hallways as she wound her way through the massive building. She began to grow nervous when she turned one final darkened corner to run face first into the chest of a rather tall man, but due to the lack of light she had no clue what he looked like.

He chuckled as she gasped, his voice rumbling in his chest and the scent of his cologne wrapping around her making her feel warm inside and weak in the knees.

As the mouth watering silhouette spoke, Bella felt her body grow even more limp at the luscious velvet timber of his voice. It was like liquid sex and the best chocolate you've ever tasted all wrapped into one. He chuckled again and Bella realized he asked her a question and she hadn't answered.

"I'm sorry, what did you ask?"

"I asked if you were lost and needed any help."

Bella sighed in relief, "Oh yes please, today is my first day and I'm completely turned around. I need to check in with the director and find out where I need to go."

"Oh, well you're totally turned around then, the director is on the stage and you're headed in the opposite direction. Here follow me and I'll lead you."

The shadow figure turned and reached behind him to hold onto Bella's jacket covered wrist as he guided her through the maze of hallways and props pausing at the edge of a thick curtain and turning back toward her.

"Right through there Miss..."

He paused waiting for Bella to fill in the blanks. "Swan, Bella Swan, but please just call me Bella."

"I'm pleased to meet you Bella, my name's Edward, welcome to the team. I hope you find yourself at home here."

She smiled at him in the dark and then blushed knowing he probably couldn't see her attempt at courtesy.

"Okay, well I need to get to the dressing room and get my things together. I'll see you later Bella."

"Thank you Edward, I look forward to working with you."

With that Edward disappeared into the darkness as Bella stepped through the curtain into the bright lights that illuminated the stage, gasping at the sheer beauty that was the Majestic Theater and the amazing detail of the set around her.

A sharp voice called from stage left as a tall thin man with stringy black hair pulled into a low ponytail stepped into view. "Well Miss Swan, so nice of you to grace us with your presence and completely unprepared for the grueling work head of you...I hope you stayed up all night memorizing lines and lyrics because we don't have time to baby you today. The next week you are going to be undergoing extensive work on blocking and choreography. Hope you work well under pressure."

He walked away mumbling something about Webber losing his mind pulling in people without any professional experience just as a thin brunette with thick rimmed glasses dashed toward her with a bright smile. "Hi Miss Swan, I'm Angela Webber. I'll be your assistant for a while helping you find your way around and making sure you have everything you need." She led Bella toward stage left and clicked on a pen light as she began to travel down a few dark corridors as Bella insisted Angela call her by her first name.

Angela nodded as she continued down the hallway. "Don't worry about Aro either Miss Swan...uh, I mean Bella, he's just cranky, but his bark is way worse than his bite. My uncle read him the riot act for casting Denali to begin with. She was never right for this role. He's just angry because his first pick got shafted."

"Your uncle?"

She led Bella to a door and opened it to reveal a brightly lit hallway lined with doors that Bella assumed led to dressing rooms. "Yeah, a lot of people are surprised since I'm an American and all. My dad chose to move to America when he got out of school and met my mom and I was born and raised here. Uncle Andrew gives him guff all the time about it. He loves me claiming me to be his favorite niece, but I'm pretty sure he says that to all of my sisters and brother too. Anyway, he was thrilled I caught the theater bug, but insists I work my way up to the top."

She leaned toward Bella and whispered conspiratorially, "Don't tell anyone, but the reason Denali got canned was because I called Uncle Andrew and told him what a witch she was being and how miserable she was making everyone. He hopped on the first flight back to the States that night and she was fired the next morning after making the mistake of pulling that crap with him directly."

Angela giggled and Bella thanked her for doing that and giving her a chance. Bella dashed behind a screen to change into the rehearsal leotard, thin satin wrap skirt, and ballet shoes before emerging to take a final look at herself in the mirror. She pulled her hair into a neat french braid and took a long drink of water from the bottle Angela was offering before following her back out to join the rest of the cast on stage.

The group was large and Bella could immediately tell they were all quite talented. Her eyes scanned the beautiful people surrounding her and she immediately began to fear falling flat on her face in front of this crowd of devoted professionals. She was almost positive she was beginning to turn green when she heard the velvety voice behind her and she turned to smile at her savior and froze with wide eyes as she found herself staring at the most beautiful pair of green eyes she had ever seen.

After a second she looked at the rest of his face to find that her savior was stunning. He chuckled smirking down at her with a crooked smile. "So we meet again Bella. I hope your first day goes well."

Bella jumped as a man behind her yelled for everyone to look his way and Bella shook her head thanking Edward once more before turning back to the front in a daze.

The tall blonde man who appeared to be trapped in the seventies pulled Bella forward to introduce her to the cast. He made his way around the room to introduce the major characters. A small pixie-like girl named Alice Brandon waved at Bella brightly as Caius explained that she would be playing Christine's friend Meg and a slightly taller slender woman named Irina would be playing Madame Giry. A tall blonde named Rosalie who was absolutely stunning but would most definitely either have to dye her hair or wear a wig to fill the role was cast as Carlotta and a tall burly man next to her smiled at Bella flashing his dimples at her during the introduction named Emmett won the role of Piangi.

The rounds kept going as Bella was introduced to cast member after cast member while Caius skipped all around Edward and a tall blonde man with gray blue eyes. Once everyone was introduced he led Bella to stand in front of the two men.

"And these two will be your major costars in this production Bella. May I introduce Jasper Whitlock who will be playing Raoul," the blonde smiled sheepishly and waved, "and Edward Cullen who will be playing the Phantom."

Edward beamed down at Bella as she gaped up at him in shock while internally struggling with the fact that she was going to be working extremely closely with him for the next God knew how many weeks if the play was as big of a hit as everyone was forecasting in a very intimate capacity. There were several scenes of close interaction and a single kiss that would be most intimidating. Bella attempted to smile and not show her concern, but Edward caught the cloud that passed over her eyes and shot her a concerned expression just before Aro walked over and yanked her by the arm across the stage to begin what would end up being the first of many long and grueling days of blocking and choreography training.

The first two weeks were probably the most grueling of Bella's life. While the rest of the cast got the weekend or at least Sundays off, Bella was in the theater rehearsing and learning choreography and blocking anywhere from twelve to sixteen hours a day seven days a week.

Ironically she interacted very little with her cast mates during this first week, only in passing as they drifted on and off the stage on their way to costume fittings or rehearsed together on the far side of the stage. They had already been working together for six weeks before Bella ever arrived, and had everything she was now struggling to learn cemented in their minds.

The biggest thrill in each of Bella's days though was the brief glimpses she would get of Edward's crooked grin as he would find excuses to float past where she was working and give her an encouraging wave or a knowing wink. The butterflies that his attentions birthed in her stomach were thrilling and intimidating all at the same time. It definitely had not escaped Bella's attention that she was not the only female to notice Edward's appeal. The girls of the dance troupe were always surrounding him with insipid giggles and seductive touches to his arms and chest, but to Bella's relief he seemed to ignore their attentions completely.

By the beginning of her second week at the theater Bella was completely exhausted, but finally felt she was ready to begin rehearsing the full play with the entire cast. She was relieved to find that the cast all got along amazingly well. They shared a camaraderie as they worked together, all nervous for opening night and greatly relieved to see that the absence of the harpy also meant the absence of the strain they had all felt on set those first few weeks of rehearsals.

Bella was nervous as she stepped on stage in her costumes for the first full rehearsal with the entire cast, but within minutes she was stunned by how magical it all was. Every person fit perfectly together as they seamlessly rolled from act to act with brief pauses in between for small bits of direction to the cast and the stage crew as they organized set changes.

It was also on the first day of full cast rehearsals that Bella learned all the dirty little secrets of the behind the scenes romances. She was pleased to see her handsome blonde costar was very deeply in love with the small beauty Alice while Rose and her real life Piangi Emmett were also happily taken with one another. It seemed couples were all around her as she discovered Irina was involved with Laurent Michel who played Andre, while her sister Kate who was a member of the dance troupe was hiding a romance with Garrett McCallister who was playing Fermin.

The second the cast were released for breaks or meals each of the couples seemed to gravitate to one another leaving Bella alone in a room with only Edward and his ever present crowd of groupies. It was on the second day of rehearsal that Edward grew weary of the attentions sending a pleading look at Bella who smiled and crossed the room to ask Edward if he could go with her to one of the back practice rooms and practice a difficult piece of one of their duets and he smiled appreciatively and followed her through the hallways into the darkness where they originally met.

"Well I see that you've learned your way around the catacombs back here in the week that you've been with us," Edward teased as he followed her through the dark corridors.

Bella chuckled. "Well I should hope so since I've only been away from here long enough to sleep and shower every night for the past nine days, and actually one night I ended up falling asleep in my dressing room just staying there overnight."

Bella's breath caught as she felt his hand clasp her bicep in the dark. "Oh you're kidding Bella! They've really been pushing you that hard?"

Bella sighed, "I've pushed myself just as hard as they have. This is my only chance Edward. When I got this call I was about five minutes away from telling my landlord I was moving back to Washington and giving up on this dream completely. I want to do my best and I don't have nearly as much time to prepare as I would hope for."

Bella and Edward reached the tan door that led to the rehearsal space and Bella opened it flipping on the dim overhead light as they both blinked trying to adjust to the new illumination.

When Bella's eyes finally focused she turned to see Edward sitting at the piano across from her looking her way with a smile. "Well I'm so glad that you didn't go home. You were born to play Christine."

Bella blushed and looked down at her feet shyly before glancing back up when Edward laughed at her from across the room. "Well that's a new one. I've never met a shy stage actress before. It's refreshing and it just reinforces what I just said. You nearly ARE Christine."

They sat and chatted while Edward played softly on the rehearsal piano as they hid from Edward's fan club. They were shocked to find out that they both had parents living in Forks and bonded over horror stories of visits back to the sticks. Both Edward and Bella whole heartedly agreed that they preferred the energy of the city to the quiet.

The duo both tried to not stare at one another, but failed miserably, as both were drawn to the simple lines of the other's face. Edward's heart warmed at the full uninhibited nature of Bella's laugh as it tinkled through the practice space while Bella found Edward's crooked grin charming and seductive. They shared tiny details about themselves as they discussed everything from favorite foods to favorite movies falling into a comfortable companionship. Edward smiled up at Bella pleased to find that she was as genuine and sweet as his first impressions suggested. Bella adored how sincere and polite Edward was at all times. It wasn't often that one would find such a handsome man that didn't have an equally overinflated ego to match. After thirty minutes of the best conversation she had the pleasure to enjoy since moving to New York nearly a year ago, Bella finally glanced down at her watch with a regretful sigh.

"Well, I guess it's time to reveal our location to your fan club. It's time to get back to rehearsals."

Edward chuckled again as he stood and closed the key guard. "Oh innocent Bella, you don't think you have your own fan club?"

Bella's eyebrows screwed up and her eyes slotted in confusion at an amused Edward. "Excuse me? I don't have a fan club!"

Edward threw his head back in loud laugher as he crossed to offer her his clothed elbow which she reluctantly slid her hand in the crook of before he shut off the light and closed the door behind them.

"My dear Miss Bella, you do most certainly have a fan club. Have you not noticed how those set boys follow you around like lost little puppies? I think their names are Mike, Tyler, and Eric. It's even more humorous since you don't seem to notice at all."

Bella felt as though she were walking in zombie mode as they walked back toward the main stage. The first day the rehearsals ended just as the Phantom stole Christine away to his lair. Bella couldn't help but notice how nicely her hand fit in Edward's and how warm and safe his hand felt even though the barrier of the gloves he wore.

That night when Bella finally slid between the cool sheets in her humble apartment Bella was visited for the first night by her own personal Angel of Music as visions of Edward floated through her sleep induced fantasies.

The next morning Bella arrived at the Theater and was immediately led to the dressing room where she returned to her Christine persona as rehearsals began with her and Edward interacting in the Phantom's lair. She and Edward struggled at times to focus as their intense songs often fell into chuckles when Bella took a misstep and tumbled into Edward who then fell over and nearly broke one of the props.

Edward reached down to lend Bella a hand to stand up once he was standing and they both froze when their skin touched for the first time as shock appeared on both of their faces. Bella swallowed hard as they continued to grasp their hands between them staring in confusion at one another and Bella wondered if Edward felt the same tingling sensation that vibrated from the flesh of her hand and through her body straight to the center where her heart trembled with warmth.

Someone behind them cleared their throats causing the two of them to jump and break apart as Bella spun away clutching her hand to her chest while Edward clenched and opened his a few times behind her staring curiously at her back.

Rehearsals on the second day managed to make it through to Christine and Raoul's All I Ask of You duet and Edward watched on in anxious tension as Bella swirled in Jasper's arms. He knew Jasper was deeply in love with his little pixie, but it didn't stop his heart from aching with jealousy as he twirled with Bella in his arms while they sang to one another with such earnest intensity. If he did not know what fantastic actors they were and it was just the role they were portraying, he probably would not be able to resist the instinct to stomp across the stage and rip Bella out of his arms.

Suddenly Edward realized he wasn't going to have to act in a few moments when the Phantom had to cry at the betrayal of Christine because his heart was heavy enough to feel it personally. He watched with baited breath as they reached the part where they were to share their first kiss and then melted in relief when Bella broke into adorable little giggles just before her lips were to brush Jasper's.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! I just can't do it without laughing!" She giggled and Jasper laughed back shaking his head. Bella ran her hands over her face and rubbed her temples looking at Jasper. "Okay, you aren't Jasper, you're Raoul, Raoul, I'm Christine and you're Raoul. Focus,!"

After a few moments the director asked if Bella was ready and she nodded and they sang the last few lines and followed their blocking to stand in the spot again and once more and just as their lips were about to touch Bella broke down into hysterical giggles again.

After a moment Alice rushed out on stage and pulled Bella aside whispering in her ear as Bella nodded. She glanced over in my direction with a small nod as Alice whispered again and then left Bella to return to Jasper.

This time Bella was the consummate professional performing her role perfectly and leaving Edward's chest aching ever so sharply after witnessing the exchange. When it was his time to relay the phantom's reactions very little acting was necessary. He funneled his emotions through the part and when he looked up after exiting the stage he found that the entire cast and crew including Bella was staring at him in amazement and his heart tugged again to see the shimmer of tears in Bella's eyes.

She walked up to him shaking her head slightly as a single tear escaped her right eye. "God Edward, you have such incredible talent. You seriously made my heart break for you just now. Stunning," she gasped before turning and walking away arm in arm with Alice to shed her clothes and go home for the night.

As Edward watched her retreating form he whispered too low for anyone to hear, "Unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot of acting necessary love." He sighed and closed his eyes worried about how this was going to affect the rest of the show. Edward was acutely aware of several things now. One, the presence of Bella Swan was going to change his performance in strange and amazing ways. Two, Edward was falling hard and fast for the innocent brunette with the molten chocolate eyes. And finally, no matter the outcome, his life would never be the same again.

The week continued on and on with Bella and Edward shaking their respective groupies to hang out in one of the practice rooms to talk during every break they got. They never discussed what was happening between them or the fact that these stolen moments together were the best part of both of their days. On Thursday Bella brought in a special treat that she hid in their regular hiding spot revealing the surprise once Edward finished his typical ham on rye. Edward's eyes grew wide and his smile brightened his whole face as Bella unveiled the pan of triple chocolate chip brownies she had made the night before for them to share, offering the leftovers for Edward to take home.

Edward hummed in delight as he took a savoring bite of the small chocolate piece of heaven. Without even knowing what she had done, Bella had given Edward a piece of home that helped alleviate the tugging feeling of homesickness that had been plaguing Edward the past few weeks before Bella arrived and thoroughly distracted him. New York was a cold place and Edward had spent the first six months in the city knowing next to nobody and not making any true connections with anyone until he joined the cast about eight weeks before. The rehearsals stretched right through the holiday season this year making a trip to Washington to celebrate with his family impossible during the single day free at Thanksgiving and the two days at Christmas that the cast was allowed off to celebrate. The soft chocolate coating his taste buds felt like a taste of love and filled Edward's heart with warmth.

Once rehearsals were over Edward carried the leftover brownies back to his apartment and settled in on his couch staring down at the small brown squares with a rueful smile. Bella had illuminated his life in a way that he hadn't expected and was filling parts of him that he hadn't even realized were incomplete. He sighed as he sunk his teeth into a decadent brownie before picking up his phone and dialing his parents' home in Forks. Only one person would be able to help him sort his feelings and that was his mother.

Friday morning was a beautiful sunshiny day as Bella and Edward both rolled out of their respective beds to greet the day. Neither had slept particularly well as they both struggled with vivid dreams of one another. On his way to the theater Edward dropped into a nearby Starbucks on a whim and ordered two dairy free drinks and adding an extra shot of vanilla just the way Bella had told him she preferred. His timing was perfect as he approached the building just as Bella came toward the stage door from the other direction. She smiled when she saw him and his chest tightened pleasantly.

Edward opened the door for her throwing her favorite smile her way as he handed her the perfectly blended caffeinated beverage which she held between both of her gloved hands and hummed in pleasure as she took a slow sip of the scalding liquid.

"Mmmm, Edward it's perfect! Thank you so much," Edward beamed down at her as he gestured for her to lead the way and followed her through the black halls toward the dressing areas.

The focus that day was on the scene of the Don Juan opera. The tension was thick as Edward cradled Bella to his body and sang the seductive words into her ear running his hands over the bare flesh of her shoulders and grasping at the clothing covering her midsection with formidable passion. Both actors were struggling with the quickly blurring lines between their characters and their own selves as their hearts raced. One second they were in character and then their eyes would meet and suddenly they were Edward and Bella once more. The struggle to remain professional was epic.

During the break for lunch Edward had been pulled aside for a discussion with the director. The meeting took a good ten minutes out of the cast's lunch break and when he escaped he immediately crossed the room to where Bella was settled on the floor next to Alice enjoying a cold cut sandwich. Alice looked up at him with a knowing smile as he asked Bella if she could take a moment to discuss a part of the next duet that was giving him some trouble. Bella smiled and got up bringing her sandwich with her as he directed her toward the bowels of the theater, looking behind her before stepping behind the curtain to see Alice beaming at her before shooting her an exaggerated wink that made Bella's stomach flip nervously.

Bella followed Edward into the rehearsal room and closed the door behind her as Edward flipped on the light. When Bella turned back around she dropped her sandwich to the floor in surprise when she found Edward standing right in front of her gazing down with dark green eyes full of intensity.

His face looked pained as his hand slid into his thick bronze hair and tugged hard before he dropped his head down to stare at his feet.

"I...I'm not sure what's happening here Bella, but I thought we should talk about it," he whispered gently as Bella stared up at his perfectly chiseled face with baited breath.

Edward slowly lifted his gaze to Bella's with a nervous swallow. "Am I alone in this or do you feel it too?"

Bella's eyes grew wide and she gasped quietly before nodding quickly as her face began to flush crimson. Edward's hand acted upon its own accord as it reached out brushing the back of his long fingers along the rouge tinged flesh before drifting over to tuck a thick lock of Bella's spiral curled mahogany hair behind her ear. Bella's eyes fluttered closed as she relished the contact of his skin on hers, her heart beating harder in response.

"I'm not sure how to do this," Edward whispered moving closer. "It's too hard to separate myself from the Phantom. I keep dropping out of character although thankfully my reactions are the same as what his should be, but still it's so unprofessional and I think people are beginning to notice. The director brought up a few concerns that I think are tied to what's been happening to me."

Bella's eyes fluttered open as she stared up into his deep green irises in total understanding. "I know exactly what you mean." She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth as she debated whether to share the piece of information trying to escape her mouth in the form of word vomit, but she just couldn't resist as the words began to form.

"That...that was how I got through the kissing scene with Jasper the other day. Alice told me that she knew it was acting, but if I couldn't push past the fact it was Jasper that I needed to pretend he was someone else, someone I wanted to kiss..."

Bella watched as Edward's chest began to rise and fall faster as hers did the same, his fingers cupping at her jaw and his thumb brushing her cheek gently. "The only way I could get though it," she whispered as she leaned her face a little more into his hand, "was by pretending he was you."

There was no hesitation whatsoever as Edward's lips melted against Bella's as they both took a deep breath through their noses. Their lips moved gently together as Edward's other hand joined the first to twine into Bella's hair as Bella's hands came up to rest on Edward's solid chest. The vibrations Bella and Edward had felt to this point were nothing in comparison to the waves of pure joy and elation that radiated through their bodies from their joined lips.

Bella shifted her head to the side to provide a better angle as they both opened their mouths slightly sharing breath as their lips continued to move together. After several long minutes of huffing through their noses in an attempt not to have to break the connection they were interrupted when a loud knocking surprised them making them jerk apart panting.

"We have to be back on stage in three minutes you guys," Alice called to them from other side of the door. "So wrap up the smooching and get back out here before they come looking for you."

"Thank you Alice," Edward and Bella replied in unison staring at each other with wide bewildered eyes. Neither of them had ever experienced a connection like that before with anyone.

"What do we do?" Bella whispered weakly as she leaned against the door.

"We do our best to keep it under control and do our job. We don't have time to talk now, but we will talk later okay?"

Bella nodded and bent down to pick up her ruined sandwich and throw it in the trash can before opening the door and leading the way as Edward switched off the light and closed the door following her back to the stage.

Edward and Bella did not get any more opportunities to talk after their clandestine kiss in the practice room as Edward was pulled through one door by a group of guys he had promised to go clubbing with that evening and Bella was pulled in the opposite direction by Alice, Angela and a few of the other ladies for what Alice referred to as a much needed girl's night.

Bella was looking forward to actually having the weekend off. Rehearsals had gone so well and she had made such great progress that Mr. Lloyd Webber rewarded them all with a full weekend to recuperate with promises that they would come back refreshed and ready to begin full on dress rehearsals and put together the acts they had polished over the week into a cohesive performance.

Alice and a few of the other girls shared an amazing apartment in the Village that made Bella's shoebox apartment in Chinatown look even more sad. All Bella really wanted to do was take a shower and go crawl into a bed and pass out for the next forty eight hours, but Alice wouldn't hear of it.

"Bella, you are too young to act so old darlin'! You've gotta live a little! Come on, just a couple of hours and then you can go back to your little apartment in Chinatown and sleep the rest of the weekend away."

Bella sighed and finally agreed allowing Alice to dress her in a short black Lyrcra mini dress with a sheer midriff covered with intricate lace and clear crystals that Irina allowed her to borrow for the night. Alice pinned her still curly hair from the day's rehearsals on top of her hair leaving trailing strands to frame her face and giving her a fresh faced look that Bella liked very much and asked Alice to teach her how to recreate using her own cosmetics.

An hour later the girls were all loaded up into three cabs and destined for some ultra hot club on 20th and 6th known as The Limelight. It had once been a church that was converted into a multilevel den of insanity with people from all walks of life from freaks to retro's, drag queens to party gods crowding in to pay homage to the insanity.

The girls walked past the waiting line and the bouncer beamed at tiny Alice who hugged him before he released the red rope and let the whole group through as he eyed several of the girls a little longer than others. Bella was struck by the noise and the sights once they passed through the massive front doors. Never in her life had she ever been to a club like this and she was feeling overwhelmed almost immediately.

Alice grabbed her hand and pulled her along as she led the group to the second floor and claimed a spot in the corner near the bar before disappearing to order drinks. Bella shifted against the wall uncomfortably as she tugged self consciously at the uncharacteristically snug dress she had on before wrapping her arms around her partially exposed waist wishing she had not let Alice talk her into this and just gone home.

Alice was gone for a long time before she finally reappeared with a stack of glasses and a pitcher of beer and Bella decided that she'd experienced enough and was ready to go home when Alice grabbed her arm.

"Bella, you can't go before you dance! Come on and drink one beer with us and dance a little bit and then if you want to you can go."

Bella wanted to deny the little pixie but when she unleashed the full force of her big blue puppy dog eyes on the unsuspecting wallflower, Bella caved and took the glass Alice was offering guzzling the bitter liquid quickly and sitting the glass back on the table. She stood and watched as the rest of the girls slowly drank their glasses absorbing the environment cheerfully wishing they would just get to the dancing already.

Two songs later Alice rewarded her patience by declaring that they finally played a song worth dancing to and pulled Bella onto the floor with her as the rest of the girls followed as her hips began to shimmy to the beat.

Bella was lost in the feel of the beat and the words of the song when she felt big warm hands rest on her hips and she jumped and jerked around with her hand raised to punch the arrogant ass only to find Edward's brooding eyes looking down at her with surprise as he eyed her raised fist warily.

Bella blushed and dropped her hand to her side as his eyes drifted back to her face darkening perceptibly.

"Oh my God Edward, what are you doing here?" Bella yelled over the music and Edward stepped closer to respond into her ear.

"Same thing as you I guess, out with the guys and they insisted we come here."

Bella glanced over at Alice who was curled up with Jasper in the corner smiling at them deviously. She pointed in their direction as she leaned up into Edward's ear noticing for the first time how hot he was in his black leather jacket with the white wife beater underneath.

"I think we've been set up by the lovebirds." Bella leaned back again to look into Edward's eyes as he looked down at her and she felt his warm hands return to her hips as a new more intense beat started to bounce off of the walls and he gripped tighter as he began to lead them in swaying side to side to the driving beat.

Bella allowed her body to move as directed as the space between them disappeared and Bella's hands found purchase in the material of Edward's white undershirt. Edward bent down and buried his nose in the curls atop Bella's head as she leaned in and took a long draught of the cologne and natural musk of the gorgeous man holding her.

Eventually the song ended and reluctantly the pair broke apart. Bella gazed up at Edward a few seconds more before mumbling about needing to go home. Edward stared down at her intensely before offering to escort her and Bella nodded slowly as he took her hand and pulled her along to their group of friends in the corner where she grabbed her purse and made plans with Alice to pick up her clothes and return Irina's dress on Monday at the theater before Edward eagerly dragged her through the crowd and out the front door to hail a cab asking her where she lived and giving directions to the tired driver.

Edward and Bella stared at each other in silence as they rode toward Bella's tiny apartment neither knowing what would come next.

"I hope this isn't out of your way Edward, maybe you should have taken your own cab." Bella felt her fingers wiggling on the seat beside her, wanting to reach out and twine with Edward's, but she forced them to remain at her side.

"It's not really that far out of my way," Edward mumbled as his own fingers twitched near Bella's fighting not to span the few scant inches that separated them and do as he really truly wanted to do deep down inside. "I live in Greenwich, so it's not that far at all."

They sat in silence a few more minutes before they both turned and began to talk again before both stopping at the same time with wide eyes.

Finally Edward quietly whispered, "I know we need to keep our distance for the sake of our job, but it's so damn hard. It doesn't matter if Jasper and Alice or Irina and Laurent or Kate and Garrett are involved because their characters don't interact on stage very much, it doesn't affect their performance, but you and I..."

He trailed off and Bella sighed and nodded her head in agreement. "We can't...we just simply can't because we're not experienced enough to box up Edward and Bella and simply be The Phantom and Christine."

They sat in morose silence again as the cab pulled up in front of Bella's apartment building and she opened her purse to dig out her money when Edward reached out to stop her, their hands brushing, causing them both to inhale quickly.

"I got this one Bella. Go ahead, I'll watch to make sure you get in safely and then I'll just have him drive me home. I'll see you Monday Bella."

She smiled sadly over at him as she whispered, "Have a good weekend Edward, see you Monday." She stepped out and shuffled quickly to the building door jiggling her key in the lock before finally getting it to open and providing her an escape from the longing gaze of Edward that was still burning into her back.

Bella pushed her way into her apartment and leaned against the door sliding down it to plop onto the floor as she cried. After a good fifteen minutes of quality wallowing, she undressed and threw on a pair of warm thermal underwear under her sweat suit and doubled her socks before sliding into her warm slippers and wrapping herself in a quilt to escape the cold before collapsing on her futon in the tiny efficiency apartment and quickly passing out.

The next two weeks were busy as the entire cast and crew worked diligently to be as perfect as possible for opening night. Edward and Bella kept their distance when not on stage. Both desperately missed their stolen moments in the practice room eating their lunches and enjoying a real interaction with someone else who shared many of their same views, but to do so would work against the greater good they were striving to achieve. They were the consummate professionals as they played their role to the best of their ability on stage together, but what neither of them knew was that in their dreams at night they both carried on a love affair that would rival every Harlequin ever published for heat and intensity.

The Friday before opening night the intensity on set was kicked up a notch as the cast and crew ran the entire production three times throughout the course of the day as the directors gave small suggestions to polish here and there. The cast gathered their things to go home after the third performance completely exhausted. Saturday only the crew would have to come in for some final set work and then everyone would get Sunday off before the big final dress rehearsal Monday before opening night.

Bella was nervous as she prepared her chorus girl outfit and reviewed the dance steps in her head. The ballet portion of the play was definitely the most difficult aspect of the show for her. She could sing the songs in her sleep and the blocking for most of the play came naturally to her. She could only pray that she wouldn't ruin the play with an errant moment of less than perfect coordination during the Hannibal ballet scene.

The intensity of the actors was immense as they all strove for perfection. Kissing Jasper was no longer a difficulty for Bella, but kissing Edward was harder each and every time because she had to hold back. She had to be Christine, not Bella.

Once the rehearsal was over the directors commented that Bella and Edward were still just a bit stiff and needed to relax and allow themselves to get lost in the characters before dismissing everyone praising them all for a great rehearsal and dismissing them to get a good night's sleep and reminding everyone of the call time for the next day.

Edward and Bella chanced fleeting glances at one another as they gathered their things to leave, both unsure as to what they could do to improve their performances. The stiffness the directors and everyone else was noticing was a byproduct of their struggle to remain professional and yet in doing so they were not fully stepping into character. It was a tight rope walk that they were not doing as well as they would hope. Sharing a pained expression they both left the building to go home and endure a restless night alone in their beds thinking of the other.

Bella sighed as she watched the clock flip the hour and grabbed her things dashing out into the street and making her way toward the subway station. She fidgeted anxiously with her shirt hem while sitting anxiously in an open seat as she slowly made her way uptown toward the theater.

When she arrived she found herself surrounded in a flurry of cast and crew as they all rushed to don their makeup and costumes and struggled to tamp down their overanxious nerves vibrating under their skin like live wires. A makeup artist soon came in to saturate Bella's face in the thick stage makeup and coerce her thick dark hair into tight ringlets that would be thrown up and brought back down multiple times between her appearances on stage. The makeup artist had just disappeared leaving Bella alone in her dressing room when a quiet knock at the door surprised her making her jump in her seat.

Bella called for the guest to enter and her eyes grew wide when a suited Edward with his prosthetics for the disfigured side of the phantoms face and the white half mask already in place. He swiftly entered the room closing the door behind him and walked across the floor to pull Bella to her feet and crashed his lips against hers.

They were both panting as Edward pulled away cupping Bella's face in his hands. "I give up Bella, I'm tired of trying to stay away from you and it's obviously not doing our careers or this play any good. You're on my mind day and night and I'm absolutely going insane here!"

Bella stared up at him with wide slowly blinking eyes trying to convince herself that this was in fact reality and not just another wonderful dream that she was about to wake up from to once again feel the sting of loneliness and disappointment. Edward's thumbs brushed over her cheeks tenderly and the tingle of his touch that was woefully absent in her dreams shot through her body and straight into her chest bringing forward the wonderful warm feeling deep inside and she sighed and closed her eyes relishing the touch.

"So what do we do Edward?" She asked slowly opening her eyes and gazing up at the glorious green orbs that shone down at her softly.

"We don't fight it anymore, we do our best to make this play a success, and then tonight when it's all over we make a brief appearance at the opening night gala and then disappear to spend some time getting to know each other better."

Bella's body tingled in delight at the possible implications of a night alone with Edward getting to know him better. She sighed deeply as her body relaxed forward conforming to his as they folded together like two pieces of a puzzle. Bella could hear Edward's heart pounding as she rested her head carefully on his chest trying not to mar it with smeared makeup and sighed as the thundering beat matched the cadence of her own fluttering heart.

A knock at the door forced them apart as the voice on the other side called a warning that it was ten minutes to curtain and Edward leaned down to brush his lips against hers once more. "Tonight sweet Bella, till tonight."

Bella smiled and brushed her fingers along his cheek before nodding and watching as he backed toward her dressing room door and opened it stepping through and hesitating before pulling the door closed separating them once more.

Bella felt as though she were walking through a dream as she sang and traversed the stage meeting her blocking marks perfectly every time. It had only been a month, but in that time she had learned her role so well that it wasn't even a conscious decision to do the required activities half the time and instead she focused her energy on conveying the full emotions and reactions of her character to the audience.

Scene by scene, act by act, the entire cast blew the crowd away with the beautiful cacophony of sights and sounds as they portrayed Mr. Lloyd Webber's masterpiece to the best of their ability. Edward and Bella's talent burned brighter than ever as they stopped fighting what was inside and embraced it, funneling the feelings and magnetic attraction into their characters dazzling the patrons and crew alike.

Soon Bella found herself lost in her character as she rode the emotional rollercoaster of the storyline and found herself facing Edward as he began The Point of No Return. Bella struggled to stay in character as a shiver ran down her spine at the fluid predator like movements her co-star made as he worked his way across the stage.

I have brought you
That our passions may fuse and merge
In your mind you've already succumbed to me, dropped all defenses
Completely succumbed to me
Now you are here with me
No second thoughts
You've decided

His eyes remained locked with hers as he strode toward her, circling her with intensity, in that moment he was both Edward and the Phantom, relaying one message to the girl inside the character and another to the character itself as Bella and Christine both watched with matching gazes of awe and bewilderment, constantly seduced by the voice of the dangerous angel predator stalking them. Edward's eyes blazed as his voice began to crescendo, grasping Bella as was scripted but with far more passion than ever before running his nose along her jaw as his velvet voice crooned the bridge.

What raging FIRE shall flood the soul
What rich desire unlocks it's door
What sweet seduction lies before us?

Past the point of no return
The final threshold
What warm unspoken secrets
Will we learn
Beyond the point of no return?

When Edward grabbed her and pulled her against him suddenly a fire bloomed hot and violent in Bella's body as his heat bled through the fabrics separating them, the intensity of the words Edward sang into the large theater fed the desire in their souls.

Edward's hands clutched desperately at the material covering her waist as he held her close as his other hand cupped her neck, the tingles from the skin on skin contact raging into seductive lightening as the audience faded and all that existed in the world was the two of them on the stage as they reluctantly let go at the end of the phrase and Bella struggled for the breath to sing the next part.

As she began to sing the words she pulled her eyes from Edward with great difficulty to gaze toward the distance as was blocked but as she began singing the section where Christine's role required her to sing of how in her mind she had already imagined their bodies entwining she shifted her gaze to Edward's, locking with his green eyes through flirtatious eyelashes. Now it was her turn to portray double meanings that excited them both as their bodies reacted with wanton arousal.

Their eyes remained locked as they navigated toward the staircases they had to ascend to the catwalk. The stage direction stated that they should maintain an intense eye contact as they traversed the stage, but Bella was bewitched as she saw the same fire burning behind her eyes also glowing behind Edward's as neither were able to look away.

Once they both reached the top of the catwalk they began to stalk toward one another as their voices blended in beautiful harmony. Every person in the auditorium watched captivated at the undeniable chemistry simmering between the costars

Past the point of no return
The final threshold
The bridge is crossed
So stand and watch it burn
We've passed the point of no return.

Edward's grip on Bella's hips were firm and determined as she rested hers on his chest before he grabbed her hand and spun her to rest her back against him. Once more his hand resting over hers on her stomach as they sang with passion to one another. Edward relished in the curve of Bella's perfect body as their hands drifted up according to choreography ghosting past her cleavage to rest on the bare flesh of her upper chest and he had to fight a groan of desire boiling deep inside of him. His body's reactions were taking over, but he was too lost in the moment to care.

As their voices drifted away to silence and the orchestra played the last chords Edwards fingers slipped up past Bella's to graze her pulse point as he resisted the urge to dip his face and suck on it tenderly, his mind imagining how sweet the flesh would taste.

He moved his hands to caress her jaw and neck as his soft sad voice sang the words as both Edward and the phantom into the soft curls by Bella's ear while indulging in the tender scent of her strawberry shampoo.

Say you'll share with me one love one lifetime

His hands massaged the tense muscles where her neck met her shoulders as Bella leaned her head to the side with closed eyes and a contented smile, absorbing his words as herself instead of Christine.

Lead me, save me for my solitude

Say you want me with you here beside you.

Bella's eyes grew wide and disconcerted when she remembered that they were in the middle of the play and their moment was about to come to an end. Thankfully it was a fitting reaction for Christine as well. Edward tipped Bella's chin turning her toward her as he grasped her hands between them belting out the next line, and again for the briefest of moments they were Edward and Bella again as she smiled up at him with glistening eyes that only he could see. Neither wanted the moment to end, but the show had to go on.

Anywhere you go let me go too.

Christine that's all I ask of...

The regret on Edward's face was real as he stood in his disfiguring makeup after Bella reached her hand up to remove the mask that covered the distortion and everything became a blur again as their bodies went into autopilot as Edward loosed the rope that was supposed to suspend the chandelier above the crowd and pulled the lever releasing the trap door that dropped the couple onto air cushions below the stage.

They paused for a brief moment to share a passionate kiss knowing that their microphones were now muted to keep the sounds of their shuffling to reach backstage for the makeup artists to touch up their faces before they had to meet their next mark. Once they were out of sight between the place they landed under the stage and where they needed to be for the beginning of the next scene, Edward turned to Bella cupping her face with a tender smile.


Bella smiled leaning into his touch and whispered back, "Tonight," before leaning forward to kiss him deeply once more relishing in the flavor of his tongue as it lightly slipped between her lips and tickled hers. They both moaned and finally broke apart with wide joyful smiles.

After a few more stolen kisses in the abandoned passageways they were traversing knowing full well that the short break between acts gave them lots of time to enjoy, they finally reached their next mark where the makeup artists were waiting impatiently. A few minutes later the curtain was beginning to rise and they fell back into character as Edward tugged Bella down the angled platforms as she tripped and stumbled along behind him.

They continued on, struggling to stay in character as the conflict raged through the rest of their interactions on stage that night, their masks only slipping once in the moment when Christine kisses the Phantom to save Raoul. With the exception of that slight slip of a somewhat more passionate kiss than was intended, the remainder of the performance was flawless.

Edward and Bella were on opposite sides of the stage when the time came for curtain calls as they hugged the friends who stood nearby waiting for everything to be set. The entire cast walked onto the stage as Edward and Bella met in the middle with Jasper on her other side at the front of the lines of cast. Bella was pleasantly surprised when Edward didn't even hesitate to hug her tight and kiss her when he reached her.

"You were absolutely brilliant love," He whispered in Bella's ear as he nuzzled her neck briefly.

"So were you," Bella whispered back to him. A woman's voice whined from behind her that it was all so unfair causing them both to chuckle as they broke away seconds before the curtain parted and Bella joined hands with the men on both sides of her as they all took a group bow. The crowd roared with applause as they all jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.

The supporting cast left the stage as Edward, Bella, and Jasper stepped toward the front of the stage with wide smiles as the crowd continued to roar even louder and they all bowed once more before stepping back for the curtain to close before Andrew Lloyd Webber and the directing staff joined them for one last curtain call before they were finally released to go change and wash off the heavy stage makeup and prepare for the swank party that was to follow in celebration of opening night as the cast and crew would anxiously await the reviews in the early editions of the local papers.

Edward held Bella's hand as they exited the stage and began to wander the blackened halls that they both knew by heart now, but as Bella went to make the turn toward the door that led to the dressing room area Edward tugged her hand in the opposite direction and a couple of turns later they were in a pitch black dead end as Edward grabbed Bella's waist tightly and pulled her toward him as his mouth devoured hers.

They turned together in circles as their hands roamed hungrily exploring one another's bodies until Bella's back finally hit a solid wall where Edward stepped forward meshing every inch of their bodies together. Fingers tugged blindly at buttons and hems of clothing as slowly their bodies were freed from the confines covering their upper bodies.

Edward pulled Bella back to him for a searing kiss moaning loudly when the bare skin of his chest met the flesh of her upper body only covered by her thin satin bra. Edward's hand reached down to grasp at Bella's thigh under the hem of her skirt and drew her right leg up over his hip as he leaned in closer while his mouth moved away from hers to explore the exposed skin of her upper body.

They could hear the voices of workers drift back and forth in the corridors surrounding them, but thankfully none wandered down the dark dead end where they were lost in their passionate embrace.

Quiet whispered moans escaped them both as Bella's bra was lost to the floor nearby and Edward's hands brushed past her excited nipples before he dipped down to kiss them reverently as Bella panted and fought to suppress the loud moans of pleasure that wanted to escape. Her hands caressed his bare shoulders and the taught muscles of his back as they rippled under her fingertips.

Eventually Edward moved back toward Bella's mouth and kissed her tenderly, attempting to slow the burning passion that was overwhelming them both. He couldn't deny himself the taste of her skin any longer, but this was not where he wanted them to advance their relationship to the highest level. He knew Bella deserved to be romanced and worshipped not taken in a dark corner of a busy theater.

No, he would spend the rest of the night with this beautiful creature on his arm and then when the night met it's end he would ask her if he could take her out again on a couple of romantic nights on the town before he would make love to her. Truly it would be making love because in spite of the fact that they had only known one another for a month, he had fallen irrevocably in love with Bella Swan and not that Edward was aware of the fact, but the same was true for Bella.

Edward was tender and gentle as he helped Bella reassemble herself, stealing sweet kisses as he helped her dress and led her back toward the area that held their dressing rooms. With great reluctance they parted ways at her dressing room door, but they would soon be reunited to attend the party as a couple.

Bella jumped as she turned around not expecting her new friend, the talented little pixie, to be sitting at her dressing table in a long black gown with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

"Have fun in the darkened hallways with Edward Miss Bella? Well rest assured, you'll be enjoying a whole lot more of him in about a week, and the two of you will be making beautiful music together both on and off stage for many years to come."

Bella shook her head with a grin at her friend. "Well I can't complain there, and I'm not even going to argue with you about the rest Alice because even though I haven't known you long, I've already learned never to bet against you oh clairvoyant one."

Alice smiled with a wink before walking behind the changing screen and emerging with a garment bag which she laid on the couch and gestured toward it. "For the party me, he won't be able to keep his eyes or his hands off of you."

"Thank you Alice," Bella whispered shyly before sitting at the dressing table where she began to use the wet cosmetics wipes to remove the thick hot makeup and reapplying a soft thin natural layer just as Alice had shown her. Once her face was officially back to normal, she tiptoed over nervously unzipping the garment bag which held a long royal blue satin ball gown with crystals embedded along the bodice. Bella smiled sliding it from the hanger and slithering into it. She was struggling to reach the zipper in the back when a knock resounded from the door just before Edward's voice floated through the wooden barrier to ask if she was ready.

Bella blushed as she asked him to come in and zip the dress for her. The tingles spreading through her body as his fingers grazed her flesh as they traveled up holding the toggle of the zipper were making her weak in the knees and she began to wonder if maybe Alice was fallible after all because with the way Edward made her feel, Bella seriously doubted that either of them would be able to wait a whole week.

Edward smiled down at Bella kissing her pulse point that had taunted him on stage gently as he told her that she was a vision and offered her his hand. They walked through the hallway and out the stage door into the night feeling complete in each other's arms now that they had found a way to balance their work and their love.

Author's note: I was obsessed with Phantom and got all swoony over the movie long before Twilight and have been drooling to do a crossover for a while now...can you tell? Thanks to AgoodWITCH and Patti996 for hosting this contest and to my own personal hubbyward for being my sweet understanding and cooperative spouse who also did me the favor of editing this for me. Love ya babe! Also shout out to my gal pal elohcin for all of her support and suggestions.

Voting will begin in December, so please come back and give me your vote or better yet write your own entry and help make this contest a success for the hosts! The address to the contest profile is posted in the header, so hop on over there and check it out!

Thanks for reading my little rendition of Phantom of the Opera with the use of Bellatine and Phantomward!