Title: Scary Stories
Summary: For Bella Swan, in her five years of being an editor-in-chief, Edward Cullen was the most peculiar writer she has ever had.
Disclaimers: Twilight's not mine.
In her four years of being an editor-in-chief, Bella Swan has never met an author more bizarre than Edward Cullen.
They first laid eyes on each other ten years back, she was a junior in a well-known school and he was an exchange student from Britain. Aside from his strange accent and exquisitely handsome features, she knew that something else was there inside him that attracted an inevitable swarm of admirers, may they be females or not. They used to have a handful of classes together, but never did they have a decent conversation. After all, because of the attention he was grabbing, Edward obviously had better things to attend to--flings, hook-ups, the noise and the glitter.
Her dreams meant so much to her right then and she never cared. After four years of perseverance and hard work in high school, she landed on a very prestigious university--Ivy League type. And she forgot all about her high school classmate.
But their paths crossed again, when he got hired last year in the publishing house she was working in. He was already a good writer by that time, and she thought everything will be just fine.
"That's the final draft."
Light flickered and filled the whole room, revealing an elegant office in white. At the center is a mahogany table, its top covered with a transparent sheet of glass. Lithe, pale hands appeared from her hindsight and dropped a USB, but she didn't look up from the thin, flat screen.
But much to her annoyance, the intruder stayed. She nodded once, signaling that she was aware of his arrival and the data which came with him.
He stayed anyway.
She didn't dare look up; she just took a sip from her coffee and massaged the bridge of her nose.
She knew he was smirking anyway.
"What is it, Mr. Cullen?"
"Read it. I want to see what your reaction is going to be while reading it."
Goddamn it. She cursed in her head. The bastard sure knows how damn good he was.
Indeed, his novels get into his readers' heads, not only that, but they could feel every word seeping in their veins…the adrenaline pumping. The fear and anticipation saturates their blood.
But they would never quit it. They couldn't. The thing is, once you start reading Edward fucking Cullen's work, you can't ever seem to get enough and you will wait for the next.
Instead of saying all these though, she raises an eyebrow.
"What policy in this institution obliges me to do just that?" she lashes back. "And why not give this piece first to Ms. Brandon? She's your division's editor."
Anyone who'd hear these words from the mouth of Isabella Swan, the editor-in-chief of this enormous prodigy in the literature industry, would have ran away until he was fifty feet away from her.
An angelic smile. "No. I want you to read it first. You."
Anyone except Edward Cullen.
No editor ever needed to revise his books. While even the greatest writers required technical modification for their pieces, Edward never needed one. Not a single typographical error in his work. Not a single grammatical error. Not a single overused word.
"I do believe no one has given you authority to overlook your division editor's advise, or to insist a demand you are not qualified to ask for."
His tone took a mock turn. "I never overlook authority; I only wish to hear from the best."
She rolled her eyes. This flattery never worked for her. "Why don't you just get out of here and go out with some girl? The city's alive, Mr. Cullen."
She couldn't see, but she could definitely feel the frown sketched on his face. She didn't know if it was sincere or not.
"I'm afraid no woman out there could be suitable for me."
She didn't know if she just imagined it, but there was something beneath that simple statement--an inside joke, maybe.
No girl ever showed up in his office. Contrast the usual crowd in the basketball locker room back in high school, his office was always empty except for him, or some random employee who'd scurry away after two minutes.
The sound of wrappers crumpling and being thrown aside filled the room as the employees' grins returned to their ashen faces. Dinner time. Three grueling hours in the meeting hall sent ten stomachs growling for mercy.
She looked outside the glass pane, and saw the bright lights engulf the city below.
Her attention, though, was quickly diverted to a very unlikely scene across the table. In front of Edward's place was left an untouched Styrofoam containing his meal.
She was about to ask him why he wasn't eating just like every other of their famished colleagues, but her own stomach growled. She just pushed herself to shut up and eat.
Probably some special diet, she thought.
"Kindly come to my office tomorrow morning, Mr. Cullen."
The slight widening of those magnificent topaz orbs, the stiffening of the flowing, lanky body and the slight crumple on the paper he was holding was not missed by the chief editor's keen eyes, even though it lasted only for measly two seconds.
"It would be my absolute pleasure, Bella." She frowned at the endearment. She never called him Edward, just Edward, in work. In turn, he also never called her Ms. Swan. The amused expression in his face made her frown deeper.
He shuffled and glided smoothly to the door. His pallid hand reached for the knob and turned it.
"However, I'm afraid I have very important things to attend to on daytime. You are wondering why I never show up until the sun goes down, aren't you?"
She hated the imposing and correctly assuming tone he said the words in, but that annoyance was overshadowed by the cold, creeping feeling, something very unfamiliar to her, with his last statements.
The door was left open.
It was a few weeks afterward that Edward entered her workplace once more. Contrast to his usual sarcastically composed and confident demeanor in facing her, he now wore the face of a man who has absolutely no senses and no feelings. It was a blank and expressionless face, the face she only saw him in since…since never.
"This is the last installment of the series."
She immediately looked up at him in confusion. "You said that you're going to add a few more chapters."
He looked straight through her. "I changed my mind. Maybe I'd add more mystery to my next novel…I think some people can practically see through my work by now."
He sneaked a small glance at her. She froze at once.
After a few seconds, she blinked. Odd. This was not the first time the same thing happened. This was not the first time she was magnetized into staring at his eyes.
Suddenly, her eyes dropped to the bags under his eyes. Purple, but not bulging. Since he entered this job, he already had those. She couldn't quite remember if he had those ten years back.
She blinked once. "Yes. I do think you need some sleep."
With that, a small smile with a very subtle hint of realization crept into his lips. "Maybe. Maybe I do need some sleep."
Friday. For everyone in the publishing house, it was a weekly heaven. But for Bella, it was a new opportunity to have time for some last minute touches to some stories. So she grabbed her expandable envelope from her wooden, locked drawer and turned to head home.
But just as she was about to open the door, documents came falling down the floor.
Cursing mentally, she picked them up. She stopped when two words caught her eye.
She shuffled the papers covering the said page, and read on.
"She knows. I could tell, just by looking in her eyes, that she's beginning to see me in a new light. The flickers of discovery in her wise gaze dislodge me from my arranged endeavors, from my constant, invariable and unending existence. But how, how much I long to be with her! To let her see the truth with her own eyes; to see them through mine… how enviable yet exasperating it is to be in my place! In a place--in a place where I know I could destroy, I could cheat, and there was nothing she could do to stop me! I can't be sure, not in one moment we share, if I wanted her or her blood!"
For God knows what reason, two drops of tears fell blatantly on the paper, dispersing the ink that formed the words.
Bella doesn't know exactly what pushed her to drive her car to a direction she knew but never went to, that dark and cold night. The city lights streaked behind her as she drove deeper into a suburban road close to the countryside. The cold breeze entered as she opened the window, leaning her arm against the railing.
The speedometer indicated a quickly growing pace, but no growl from her new engine interrupted the silence that engulfed her. There were no thoughts, no doubts, that stopped her from what she was about to do.
As soon as she stepped outside her hybrid, she felt her tightly clenched fist rapping against the door. She felt numb, and it was as if everything was in slow motion.
Until he opened the door.
His topaz eyes were calm and composed, as if he knew she was coming, as if he was anticipating it…but there was something crumpled there--anguish? He was wearing his usual blue polo and dark black slacks. His hair was slightly disheveled, but she could tell that he was not sleeping when she intruded his property. His slightly muscular build was enough to cover the length of his door.
His voice was as sweet as honey, as smooth as silk.
She looked into his eyes, and she felt the same tears of realization and disbelief and compassion blur her sight of his beautiful, inhuman face.
When Bella found herself going to Edward Cullen's house at the middle of the treacherous and helpless night, she didn't know what to tell him. But then the words escaped without warning, in a soft and firm voice.
"Fast and flawless drafts."
"You don't ever eat."
"You don't ever show up at daytime."
"Lack of sleep."
For a minute, they just looked at each other.
He sifted the strands of his hair, flowing in response of the wind, chuckling darkly.
"This feels like you've seen me for the first time since seven years--not that you've known me much before."
His hand gripped the front door's knob and met her eyes again, without guilt and without anger. His cold bitterness felt like a slap in the face, but she knew she had a stolen power that no one he knew had--the truth of who and what he was. And she knew exactly what he was trying to do.
If he closed the door then, she'd have to go home and be rest assured that she'd never see his shadow again.
It would be different if she didn't allow him to do just that.
It was an ultimatum. And though she had no reason why, she knew exactly what she'd choose.