Poker Face- Chapter 1
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, and Lady Gaga owns her music and her weird costumes. I own the rest of this.
I pulled my Seattle Mariners ball cap lower on my head, shrugged my shoulders forward to seem smaller, and reluctantly slid my giant black sunglasses off. Only Jack Nicholson and douche bags wore sunglasses inside; I would just have to hope nobody could see too much of my face.
I slid into the corner seat of the last row of the big classroom, thankful I was still in my gen eds so my classes had tons of people in them. When I began taking major classes, they would be smaller, but I'd just have to cross that bridge when I got to it. Which, if my manager and label had their way, would be a long ass time from now. I was only taking one class a semester as it was.
I pulled a notebook and pen from my huge tote bag to take notes. It had been hard to leave my beautiful black Birkin bag at home, but those things cost a fortune and someone was sure to notice and ask questions about where I got it.
I was trying to avoid questions.
Class was about to start, and I was glad nobody was sitting next to me. I was confident no one would recognize me- when I performed or was out in public, I got into character and looked so different- but it was easier to just avoid people altogether. The last thing I needed was for somebody to recognize me and tip off the paparazzi. I'd have to quit school then, and I really didn't want to do that. Just because I had a successful career didn't mean I didn't want my education.
My name is Isabella Swan, but to the rest of the world, I am Lady Bella.
My success was a surprise to even me. At least, the speed of it was. I'd always known I was going places, and had been working since I was fourteen on my first album. I'd left home, podunkville Forks, WA, after getting my GED early and I'd gone to New York City, where I'd waited tables during the day and wrote songs and worked the club scene at night. On my rare days off, I worked on my look, searching for interesting accessories and practicing different makeup techniques. I couldn't do open mic nights- that wasn't the kind of music I did- but I could sure as hell make sure every DJ in New York knew my name. It took awhile, but eventually I got some cred. I began playing my songs for the DJs, and occasionally they would play them if I was in the house.
Then, it seemed like overnight, my first single blew up. It turned out, one night, a prominent NYC radio personality was scoping out the club I was at, and my good friend DJ Jazz had played my song, and the radio guy had loved it. He began playing it instantly, and it spread, and the next thing I knew, everyone was asking for my demo.
It was a whirlwind after that. I signed with a label, I appeared on several early morning and late night talk shows, and began performing at smaller concerts. I released two more songs, and they got played constantly too. My debut album, the one I'd worked on forever, went double platinum.
The only way I kept my sanity was by sticking with the character. It had been Jazz's idea to create one, since he'd come to my apartment once and seen my sketches. I'd been playing with the idea of creating an alter ego for awhile, and he'd loved the idea. Thus Lady Bella was created.
I was short, small, with mousy brown hair and boring brown eyes. My skin was so-so, my face was so-so, and I had absolutely no ass.
Lady Bella, on the other hand, was larger than life. She had platinum blonde hair cut in a bob with severe bangs, sparkling amber eyes, wore tons of makeup, and usually improvised her outfits on the spot. Sometimes she was a miss, but more often than not, she made it on the "Fashion Visionary" lists.
It was refreshing to be able to let loose with Lady Bella. When I was in character, I could speak my mind and be a strong, confident woman. And before you go all psycho-babble on me, I realize it's a defense mechanism. I know it's the mask that lets me do things I'd normally never do, and I like it that way.
But being Lady Bella became tiring after awhile. There were days I loved my career, and I always adored my fans, but there were definitely times I wished I could just go out with the girls and chill. Ever since US Weekly had printed a few pictures of me from my normal life, people could recognize me even out of costume. Not as many, but enough to disrupt things. But it's not like I had "girls" to go out with anyway; my only close girl friend was my manager Rosalie Hale.
And that's why I decided to take a break and take a few classes at USC. I'd always wanted a degree in photography, and it was nice to have something separate from Lady Bella.
Class started, and the professor passed out the syllabus. This was the intro to mass communication class, one of the classes everyone has to take, and I wasn't too interested in the subject matter. I wished fervently I could make a friend in the class, to share notes with when I missed and study for exams with, even to pass notes with when class got boring. But that was too much of a risk- I couldn't let anybody know who I really was. It was awkward enough talking to the professor, explaining why I'd be missing a few classes and to remind him of his teacher-student confidentiality requirements.
The professor was halfway through the syllabus when someone slid into the seat next to me. I immediately tensed up, scooting over in my seat closer to the wall. This turned out to be a futile gesture because the guy leaned over into my personal space and whispered, "Have I missed much?"
I looked at him, face so close to mine, and nearly had a heart attack.
This guy was gorgeous.
Like, prettier than me, gorgeous. Maybe even prettier than Rose, and she'd hate that.
His face looked like it had been carved from marble, all hard edges and strong bones. But his eyes, his beautiful apple green eyes, were soft and welcoming. His lips also looked soft, and I instantly wondered how weird it would be if I just leaned forward and tasted them…
"So, did I miss a lot or what?"
I blinked and realized he was waiting for an answer. "Well, he's already halfway done with the syllabus."
Gorgeous Guy shrugged and leaned back into his chair, taking his yummy vanilla scent with him. "I'll just get that after he's done, then."
My eyes widened as I looked back towards the front. This guy was definitely sure of himself. Sure, syllabi were usually straightforward, but sometimes professors gave little hints about where to look for books or important comments about exams when going over them. I tried to listen to every word on the first day of class, to try and get a feel for how strict or laid back the professor would be.
The professor kept talking, and even though I knew I should be listening, I kept sneaking sideways glances at Gorgeous Guy and wondering about him. His profile was almost as nice as the front, since from the side I could see the line of his strong jaw. Mmm, and his cute ear, under which was a tiny little freckle that I wanted to suck on…
God, I had to snap out of it. I mean, it's not like I don't see extremely good looking guys on a regular basis- I was a pop star, for Christ sake! I had guys around me constantly!
I also had no business daydreaming about a guy that I could never do anything with. First, I really had no time for a guy, what with performing, writing songs, designing outfits, and taking this class. Second, I couldn't form any kind of relationship with someone at this school, because that would be taking a huge chance that they wouldn't sell me out at some point. When you get to the level I'm at, you become very wary of practically everybody. It's kinda sad, really.
Almost as sad as the fact that that wariness meant my lady parts hadn't seen action in so long, bats were liable to fly out at any moment.
Third, and not the least concern, I was positive this guy had them lining up around the block. He was just too hot. I couldn't tell much about his body, but I'm sure it matched the perfection of his face. He was obviously confident, which I always liked in a guy, and which he probably got from being able to snap his fingers and get any piece he wanted. All of whom I probably couldn't compete with. Outside of my costume, I was just a regular plain Jane who nobody looked twice at.
This made me inexplicably sad all of a sudden.
Everyone began getting up and gathering their things, and the sudden noise made me jump. I'd missed the rest of the syllabus! Shit!
"I'm going to go get the syllabus. Did he say anything important at the beginning of class?" Gorgeous Guy asked, still in his seat.
I looked at him, and swooned again. My reaction time got better, though. "He said he can't handle tardiness."
GG smiled broadly. "Hmm, maybe I shouldn't admit I was late, then. Can I just copy yours?"
He rolled his eyes at me. "Well, they invented these magical machines called 'copiers.' You put a little piece of paper under the lid, press a button, and an exact copy comes zooming out. It's really revolutionized things in the paper world."
I bit back a smirk. "I mean, how are you going to do that? I need my syllabus."
"Well, I have to show my coaches that I went to class and got one today. So why don't we go find the nearest copy machine, copy it, and you can be on your way? It'll take five minutes, tops."
I wanted to help him- I was a nice person, after all. But I couldn't risk spending time with somebody like that. The longer I spoke to him, the more likely it was he'd recognize me.
Then he smiled at me, this beautiful crooked smile that showed off his nice white teeth, and I found myself nodding. "Okay."
He smiled wider and stood up, grabbing his bag. "Let's roll, then."
I grabbed my tote and stood, careful to pull my hat down on my face. We left the classroom, and the second we were outside, I slid my bug-eye sunglasses on.
"Wow, your whole face is covered now. It's not that bright out," GG commented idly.
I gave him a tight smile. "I have sensitive skin."
He winked at me. "Well, it's pretty."
I blushed- something I haven't done in quite some time- and smiled wider. Then I noticed how many people were watching our trek across campus, and immediately frowned. How did they notice me? I thought my whole face was covered. I didn't even look remotely like Lady Bella today- I was wearing a simple t-shirt and jean shorts. Lady Bella wouldn't be caught dead like that.
I was looking around, panicked, when I saw GG nod to one of the gapers that we passed. "You know him?" I asked.
GG shrugged and kept walking. "No."
"Then why did you nod?"
"Everybody looks at me. That's the unfortunate side effect of my position."
I frowned again. His position? What did that mean?
People continued gaping, mostly of the female gender, and I finally realized that yes, they were looking at him, rather than me. I felt relief and confusion all at once. Nobody had recognized me, but they seemed to all know who he was.
"What's your name, anyway?" I asked.
He grimaced. "Edward Cullen."
Ah. And there it is.
Of course everyone on campus knew who he was. God, I was barely ever here and I knew who he was. Practically everybody in the United States, if they ever caught even a second of SportsCenter, knew who he was.
Edward Cullen, USC's starting quarterback and front-runner for this year's Heisman race.
"I wondered when you'd ask," he said, sounding resigned.
"I had no idea what you looked like," I replied. If I'd known the Edward Cullen was so blazing hot, I would've sought him out as Lady Bella awhile ago. She could get any guy she wanted, and I'm sure Rosalie could have figured out a way to wrangle a meeting with him. Lady Bella had performed in their stadium just last spring, after all.
Then I smiled resignedly to myself. Of course I would never have done that. Even as Lady Bella. I was too chicken shit to ever put myself out there like that. Especially to a guy as completely gorgeous as Edward Cullen.
"Really? Do you live under a rock?" That could have sounded arrogant, but he made it sound sad. Like he really hated all the attention.
"Something like that," I muttered.
During our conversation, I noticed we were getting further from the main part of campus. "Where are we going?" I asked, nervously.
"Well, why pay for copies when I can get them free at the athletic center?"
I rolled my eyes. "I thought this was going to take less than five minutes."
GG- I mean, Edward- smiled at me. "Are you complaining about the company?"
I blushed again, and kept my dignity by not answering. If I were truthful, the answer would be a resounding NO.
We walked into the athletic center, and about sixteen people said hi to Edward. Most of them were skimpily dressed interns or secretaries or something, obvious football groupies, and I found myself hoping that Edward hadn't touched a single one. Besides the clear risk of Chlamydia, I wanted him to be better than that.
Edward led me back into what was clearly a coach's office. "Are we allowed in here?" I asked timidly.
He laughed. "Of course. One of the benefits of my position." He held his hand out for the syllabus, plopped it down, and pushed copy.
"So I guess there are pros and cons, then," I said.
"Same as everything else, I suppose," he replied. I was becoming increasingly impressed with him. He definitely didn't seem like the typical college quarterback.
"Cullen! What the fuck is up, dude?" someone boomed from the doorway to the office. I turned and saw a giant, grinning at us, muscles popping out from every surface of his skin.
Edward smiled back and gave him a fist bump. "Nothing much, McCarty. Just making a copy so this fine lady may be on her way," he said, winking at me.
McCarty looked me up and down. "Does this fine lady have a name?" he asked, clearly slipping into seduction mode. I tried hard not to laugh- I never thought Schwarzenegger was very attractive- and looked him in the eye. "Isab- Izzy. Izzy Swan," I shortened. Less chance of him catching it on Google.
"Well, Izzy Swan, how you doing today?"
This time I had to laugh. "Are you breaking out the Joey Tribbiani on me?"
Edward chuckled while McCarty blushed. "Is it working?"
"I don't date," I said, shaking my head.
"What? Who said anything about dating?" McCarty asked, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
"Come on, Em, don't be disgusting," Edward said, handing me back my syllabus. "Thanks, Izzy." He smiled at me and my insides danced a little. Jeez.
"No problem," I replied, and turned to go.
"You know how to get out of here?"
"I'll escort her," McCarty said gallantly, and held out his arm. I laughed and took it.
"Watch out, Izzy," Edward warned with a grin.
"I'm sure I can handle it." McCarty led me out to the front of the building, saying hi to a couple of the girls as we left. He was obviously a football player, too, but not as popular as Edward was. "What position do you play?" I asked.
"Offensive line. Do you know what that is?"
I laughed. "Yeah, I can figure that one out."
"Well, most girls that hang around here don't know offense from defense, so I was just making sure," he said.
"Whoa, wait a second. I wasn't 'hanging around here.' I was helping Edward out since he didn't want to make a bad first impression on our professor," I said forcefully.
McCarty chuckled and raised his hands in surrender. "Whatever you say, Izzy Swan. I didn't catch you staring at Cullen or anything." He winked at me, grinning with his big dimples.
I sputtered. "I was not staring at him!"
"Hey, it's ok. Cullen is definitely a popular man with the ladies. I don't get it, not with me around, anyway, but a fact is a fact. Just don't get your hopes up or anything."
I grimaced. "Believe me, I don't have hopes for anything like that."
"Well, I hope to see you around, Izzy Swan," McCarty said, waving as he turned to go back inside. I waved back, slowly, and turned around to find my car in the humongous parking lot.
As I walked, I thought about Edward and what McCarty had said. Yeah, Edward was an attractive guy. Add his obvious football prowess, and I wasn't surprised he had girls flocking to him like bees to honey. He'd seemed like a pretty nice guy, too.
God, I must be terribly horny. That's the only reason I can figure why I couldn't just let it go. Rosalie would be so happy for me- she's been claiming I needed to get laid for awhile now- but I certainly couldn't go for Edward Cullen. He'd figure out somehow and my cover would be blown. I just needed to go home and practice some self love like usual. It had been too long since quality time with my Buzzy.
I got to my car, my awesome old red truck that had been my dad's, and got in. There was a melody playing in my head, and I really needed to get home and get it down before I lost it.
So…. What do we think? I'm going to post the second chapter shortly, to give you a feel for how this will go. I'm thinking a pretty short (12-13 chapters) simple love story. Anybody still like those?