Effective immediately, I no longer require your services as my publicist and manager.
I have decided to withdraw from all future projects and will be away from Los Angeles indefinitely.
P.S. Fuck you.
Staring at his reflection in the make-up trailer, Edward barely recognized the face staring back at him. The wavy blonde surfer hair, unnatural cerulean colored eyes and carefully maintained 5 o'clock shadow made him who everyone thought he was.
"Anthony, there's some lawyer on the phone, about your dad's cars." Edward's assistant Jasper popped his head through the trailer door, disrupting Edward's self-loathing.
Jasper handed him the phone and slumped down in the empty chair behind him.
"Is this Edward Anthony Cullen?" An older gentleman spoke softly through the receiver.
"Yes, this is he." Edward was wary of anyone who knew his real name. Even his little sister, Alice, had changed her last name to Masen, rather than Cullen, to keep up the charade.
"I've been contacted by your lawyer and we've discovered your father was storing his collector cars in a home your mother owned in Delta, Wisconsin." The man told Edward.
"The only house my parents owned is in Chicago, Illinois." Edward said with his brow knit together in confusion. His father's car collection consisted of 18 various vehicles, most of them were muscle cars from the late sixties. They were willed to Edward after his parents died unexpectedly three years prior. He remembered every single vehicle as they were his father's prized possessions. During the summers, when his dad wasn't teaching he'd drive cross country and to car shows.
The only problem was that they were moved from the showroom where Edward thought they were being kept, right before their passing. He had desperately been trying to locate them ever since.
"Well, the deed belongs to your mother; I don't know what to tell you." The man continued, "There are 18 cars in a hanger on the property."
Edward released a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding in, "That's them." He said in relief. He wasn't exactly sure what it was about those cars, but he needed to see them, however, at the same time he wondered if it would make their deaths more final.
"I can e-mail you the address if you'd like to see the cars and the property." The man offered.
Edward sighed in frustration, "I'm not sure if I'll be able to come any time soon, but I'd like the address as well as an inventory of the vehicles if possible." He would have given anything to see those cars again, but the fact was, he was literally booked solid for the next two years and could barely afford the time to go to the bathroom, let alone fly halfway across the country to reminisce. The consequences of instant fame were never ending.
"No problem Mr. Cullen. Your assistant has my information if you need to contact me." He offered.
"Thank you very much, have a nice day." Edward said politely before ending the call and returning the phone to Jasper.
"You found them, didn't you?" Jasper asked excitedly, "Alice is gonna want the Roadster; she never shuts up about it." He informed Edward.
"You can tell my dear sister that she's not getting her hands on any of them. She's an awful driver." He scowled, "Besides, if she remembers correctly, Dad wrecked the Roadster when we were in college." He adjusted the uncomfortable leather gun holster around his shoulders.
"Not even for a wedding present?" Jasper hedged.
"You know you have to propose first, right?" Edward gave Jasper a sideways glance. Jasper was by far the only guy he had ever approved of Alice dating. She had terrible taste in men and had always dated one of two types: tortured artists or bad boys. So when he found out she'd secretly been seeing Jasper, it was a huge relief.
Sure, he had his doubts at first because Jasper was not only his friend, but technically his employee as well. But in the back of his mind, he always knew it was going to work out between them. Jasper was the only person aside from Edward that had the guts to call Alice out on her shit and his relaxed demeanor countered her outspoken personality perfectly.
"Shut up, dude." Jasper ran his hand nervously through his blonde hair, "I just haven't found the right moment." He adjusted his coke-bottle glasses on his nose.
"You've been carrying that ring around for months." Edward said mockingly, "Just do it already."
"Anthony." Jasper glared at him, meeting Edward's gaze in the mirror, "Have you met Alice? I can't just propose whenever – however. She's lectured me plenty of times about how it needs to be special because she'll be telling this story for the rest of our lives – to our kids someday." He shook his head, stunned that Edward would even suggest he do anything half-assed as far as Alice was concerned.
"You are so whipped," Edward chuckled.
"There you are!" Alice burst through the door, "Where's your walkie Jazz?" She scolded, "They've been calling him to set for the last twenty minutes!"
Alice didn't look particularly threatening, that is, until she opened her mouth. "Why aren't either of you moving?" She snapped.
Both men got up immediately, mumbling apologies as they shoved their way past her. Alice rolled her eyes and followed close behind.
Edward took a deep breath and pumped himself up as he walked to set. It was the last time he would have to appear on screen as the infamous private investigator and vigilante, Phillip Kelley.
Momentarily he remembered the day he'd been discovered in that tiny coffee house in the valley. At the time he'd been attempting to write a screenplay, but he found the format exceedingly difficult to stick to.
"You'd think a masters in creative writing would help." He'd complain to Alice.
But everything changed that day, when a leggy blonde with an obviously surgically enhanced body approached him. He was dubious of her offer at first, but she managed to convince him to meet her on the lot the next day for a screen test.
They offered him the roll of Phillip Kelley on the spot, under the condition that he change his appearance and public personality to adhere to the character. They wanted an unknown to play the well-known literary anti-hero so they could bring him to life for the fans.
The problem was, Edward was nothing like Phillip Kelley. He wasn't a suave womanizer who oozed sex, charm and wit. He was a shy writer that was frankly afraid of women after his heart had been broken by the love of his life in college. He told the people at the studio about his fears and instead of brush him off they taught him how to change, how to become someone he was not, how to become Anthony Masen.
Alice suggested the name. When he was younger he made everyone call him Anthony because he didn't like the name Edward, so he usually went by Anthony and Masen was their grandfather's name.
"Anthony Masen just sounds like a movie star!" Alice insisted and he rarely disagreed with his sister – it was far too much of a hassle.
Thus Anthony Masen was born. And when his physical transformation was complete, including sandy blonde hair, terribly uncomfortable contacts that hid his natural eye color, scratchy stubble and ridiculously trendy clothes, he was truly Anthony Masen, and by proxy Phillip Kelley. But Edward Cullen was gone.
Nobody could have predicted the success of the first of three Phillip Kelley movies. Blockbuster didn't even begin to cover the frenzy the movie adaptation of the first book created. It was a media phenomenon. And poor, naïve Edward was stuck in the middle. Only, he wasn't Edward, he was Anthony Masen and Anthony was supposed to love the attention.
It was shocking how quickly Edward became a household name and instantly recognizable celebrity. At first, a sick part of him enjoyed the attention he received and the women that threw themselves at him (well, not the creepy forty-something soccer moms). The thing was, he always felt so plain and ordinary; he constantly surrendered the spotlight to his baby sister and now that it was his moment to shine, he took his time basking in the sun.
The elation of fame was short-lived, however, because along with the constant ego-stroking came crazy super fans that screamed his name and followed him wherever he went, an exhausting schedule that constantly left him unaware of what time it was, or where in the world he was located and the bane of his existence: the paparazzi. He didn't know how, but no matter where he was, they managed to find him. The fame that so many people dream of, was turning into an absolutely terrifying waking nightmare that Edward was powerless to stop.
Recently the tabloids had a field day with a photo that was leaked showing him and his co-star conversing at a private party. Although the act was innocent, the angle at which the photo had been taken made it appear as though they were kissing.
Suddenly everyone was obsessed with his love life and the nature of his relationship with Victoria Shields. The original story snowballed when other women came forward claiming to have been with Edward at the same time, then there were the engagement and pregnancy rumors as well. He had never met any of the women mentioned in these stories and it was never reported that Victoria had a serious boyfriend that Edward was almost sure she had eloped with during the break between shooting the first and second films.
Anthony Masen was slowly becoming a womanizing asshole, instead of the charming media darling he had been at first. Edward had never asked for any of it, never wanted to be famous. When he agreed to play Phillip Kelley he remembered his mother's favorite trope: 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.' He thought acting would be fun, an adventure, and something to take his mind off the loss of his parents. Edward couldn't have been more wrong and he regretted signing his name on that dotted line almost every day since then.
When he saw himself in the mirror, it wasn't Edward Cullen that looked back at him. But it wasn't his alter-ego Anthony Masen or his on-screen counter-part Phillip Kelley either, not anymore. It was a stranger; a sad, lonely, angry, paranoid stranger, who would eventually destroy himself. It was no longer a matter of 'if' but a matter of 'when'.
The crew clapped for Edward and Victoria when the director called cut and exclaimed 'That's a wrap!' It had been a long day that began before the sun even rose over Los Angeles and Edward wanted nothing more than to sneak out the back door, avoid the photographers that were no doubt lurking outside and go to bed. But everyone had other ideas and Edward knew well enough by now, to do as he was told.
"Excited for the wrap party?" Alice slipped her arm through Edward's and followed him back to his trailer.
"I'd rather go home," he muttered.
"Buck up, at least there's free liquor." She beamed.
"There's always free liquor Alice." He sneered, "And there's no way I'm drinking in public after what happened the last time." Edward remembered Alice's frantic phone call asking him if he needed to check into rehab, when the tabloids leaked some photos and declared he was an alcoholic.
"It wasn't that bad." She whined.
"Well it wasn't your mug plastered all over every grocery store in America making that stupid face." He countered.
"You're such a baby." She released his arm when she saw Jasper sitting inside the trailer responding to e-mail on his Blackberry. "Miss me?" She giggled, sitting down next to him and slinging her legs over his lap.
"Always." Jasper gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
Edward looked away. The awkwardness he felt upon witnessing their public displays of affection never abated. And deep down he was envious of what they had. Given his current situation, he wouldn't even consider trying to date. What would be the point? Even if they weren't after his fame or money, he'd never want to expose anyone he loved to the chaos of his world. He longed for the life he lived before Anthony Masen existed.
Edward could barely see anything in the dim lighting of the latest Hollywood hot spot where the wrap party was being held. The club was full of plastic women and equally fake rich men. The crew that was actually responsible for the production was nowhere to be found. He was still a little disgusted with the blatant disregard for their hard work.
"I've the finalized contract for your next film with me." The devil's voice purred in Edward's ear, "I need you to sign before you leave."
"Tonight, Jane?" Edward turned around to face Jane Darling, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, thanks to his success. One too many botox sessions had left her face perpetually frozen with an annoyed expression of displeasure. She was only 33, but somehow felt the need to immobilize the muscles in her forehead. Long bleached blonde hair and fake boobs completed the ensemble.
"Yes, tonight." She hissed, then her eyebrows surprisingly unfurrowed.
'Time for another injection,' Edward laughed inwardly.
"But I also want you to have fun tonight." She grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him down to her, "All work and no play…" She winked suggestively and released him.
Edward held his breath, her perfume was so thick, he thought he might suffocate.
"Find me later." She brought her index finger up to his face and touched his nose before spinning on her precariously high heels and swaying her hips exaggeratedly in a skirt that was just a bit too tight for even her slim figure.
Edward sighed and was attempting to make his way over to the bar when he was stopped by two twenty-somethings that managed to get into the club.
"Oh my god, we're huge fans!" One shouted, "Can we get your autograph!?"
"And a photo!" The other added.
Edward put on his best smile, "Of course ladies," he crooned.
The first girl found a passerby to take the photo and the three of them smiled as Edward was temporarily blinded by the flash. He felt the second visibly shaking as she removed her hand from around his waist.
"I don't have anything to sign." The second girl's voice cracked as she searched through her purse, but she did have a Sharpie in her hand. She looked up at him nervously.
"I can sign your bag." Edward offered smoothly, it wasn't the first time this had happened, "On the inside, so it'll be our secret." He grinned down at her.
If it was possible the girl visibly swooned.
"Who shall I make it out to?" He asked politely.
The girl was frozen, "Jessica." The first girl spoke, "Her name's Jessica."
Edward folded the inside of her tote bag back and signed 'Jessica, I couldn't have done it without you. Always, Anthony Masen.' At the end of each movie and book a different character would tell Phillip Kelley that they couldn't do it without him, so he thought she would enjoy it. She gushed when he handed the bag back to her and her cheeks flushed an even brighter crimson as she read what he wrote.
"It's Lauren." The first girl with more confidence smiled as she handed Edward the Vanity Fair which he shot the cover and a ten-page pictorial for, just before the first Phillip Kelley movie was released. "I'm seriously your biggest fan. We love you as Phillip Kelley, I mean he's like our ideal man!" She babbled.
Edward nodded appreciatively, as he was taught and signed, 'To Lauren, my #1 fan, you're my ideal woman. All my love, Anthony Masen.'
"I really appreciate all the support Lauren." He turned, "Jessica." She looked like she was going to faint. "I hope you enjoy the second one, it comes out on Labor Day weekend."
"Oh, we know, we already bought our tickets for the midnight show at the Arclight." Lauren prattled.
"Awesome." He grinned, "Have fun tonight, it was nice meeting you both." He gave them a small wave as he slipped past them.
"Oh my god, he's so much hotter in person! I can't believe I froze like that. Did we seriously just meet Anthony Masen!?" Jessica jumped up and down with her friend.
He glanced back and saw them fawning over the photo that had been taken. Edward sidled up next to Victoria at the bar, hoping they had bottled water. Speaking to Jane and dealing with fans always left him feeling slightly nauseous.
"What a ladies man." She joked.
"Right," he snorted.
"You're really great with them though." She said more seriously, "I mean sure I've got my fair share of stalkers, but I don't know how you deal with the screaming and everything else."
"I don't. I just kind of shut down; it's like I'm not there." He signaled the bartender and tried not to think too much about the truth of his words.
"Are you glad it's over?" Victoria tucked a lock of her curly red hair behind her ear.
"It'll never be over." He laughed, "I'll be Phillip Kelley for the rest of existence."
She laughed with him, "Well, are you at least excited for a break?"
"What break?" He quickly asked the bartender for bottle of water, "I start work on an indie film in two days."
"I heard about that." She smiled ; Victoria had always been sweet, but generally kept to herself, "Shooting on-location in New York's gonna be a bitch in the summer." She traced her finger around the rim of her wine glass.
"I'm not paid to worry about logistics. I'm paid to show up and shut up, unless I'm told otherwise." He said humorlessly.
Victoria's eyes softened, "I'm gonna miss that optimism of yours."
Edward grinned, "I bet."
A tall, burly man came up behind Victoria and wrapped his arms around her torso. She yelped in surprised, but relaxed as soon as she realized who it was.
"Keeping my girl company?" James, her boyfriend, perhaps husband, rested his chin on her shoulder.
Edward nodded and took a sip of the water. Idly he wondered if Alice had any Tylenol in her purse. He listened politely as James told him a story about having to punch an overzealous fan they encountered while on vacation (the one where they 'didn't' get married) and felt guilty as his mind wandered before James finished.
"You don't look so good." Victoria placed her hand on Edward's arm.
"It's just a little warm in here; I think I'm gonna go get some fresh air." He smiled weakly and excused himself. Pushing past the hipster smokers, he rounded the corner, but stopped dead in his tracks when he heard Jane's voice.
"I just got some amazing shots for you." She beamed. "Does it matter what he was actually doing? It looks like Victoria's boyfriend is punching him and I've got a shot of her touching his arm affectionately. Plus I snapped a ton of him holding a water bottle filled with vodka. A story about him falling off the wagon will get you serious numbers." She paused, listening to the voice on the other line.
Edward's stomach churned and he thought he might throw up. That harpy had been the one leaking everything to the press.
"Obviously it's exclusive. Just wire the money to my account and I'll send you some quotes." Edward walked around the corner to find her examining her nails, nodding silently.
He tore the phone from her fingers in a rage and threw it on the ground, "You bitch." He seethed.
She would have looked shocked, had it not been for the botox, but instead, she just looked pissed, "Do you honestly believe anyone would give a shit about you if those stories weren't on newsstands?" She placed her hands on her hips in defiance.
"They're all lies! YOU LIED!" He cried, and the flashbulbs that began to go off around him went unnoticed despite his anger.
"Come now Anthony." Jane's mouth curled into a fiendish grin and he got the distinct impression that she was striking a pose.
"You're ruining my life!" He encroached on her space.
She took a step forward and glared up at him, "Anthony, let's go inside and discuss this like adults." She said calmly and placed her hand on his arm.
Edward violently snatched his arm from her clutches, "I'm not going anywhere with you!" He shouted, "We're finished!"
He almost hit four paparazzi when he tried to drive away from the valet and sped off to his home in the Hollywood hills.
The drive to his house was more dangerous than usual because the photographers decided to give chase due to his uncharacteristic outburst at the club. He didn't even want to think about all the stories that Jane would spin out of the photos taken.
Alice found him in his room while he was halfway through packing, or rather throwing clothes and shoes haphazardly on his bed.
"What are you doing?" She said with concern as she got between him and the closet, "What happened at the club?" She tugged on his shirt.
He shoved her away, harder than he intended, and she fell to the ground. Edward stopped immediately and stared in horror at her sprawled on the floor in her cocktail dress.
"Oh my god, Alice. I'm so sorry." His voice cracked as he bent down to help her to her feet.
"It's fine." She mumbled dejectedly as she righted herself.
"Enough." She held her hand up, palm facing him, "I know you didn't mean it. But you have to tell me what's going on." She rubbed her hand down his arm.
"Jane planted the stories." He swallowed thickly, still feeling sick about it all.
"That bitch." Jasper called from the doorway.
Alice turned on her heel to glare at Jasper.
He frowned apologetically.
"Can you cut my hair and dye it?" Edward asked Alice suddenly thankful she attended cosmetology school while he pursued his Masters degree. Her affinity for fashion and style had always been a nuisance before then.
"What? Why?" She turned again to face Edward.
"Dude, what's with the clothes?" Jasper asked.
"I'm leaving." Edward said matter-of-factly.
Alice couldn't help but let a small giggle escape, "You can't leave." She choked.
"Wanna bet?" Edward challenged, "I never signed those final contracts and now that the movie's wrapped, I'm not obligated to do anything."
Alice stared at her brother, mouth agape, utterly confused. It may have been the first time in their 28 years that he had rendered her speechless.
"Where are you gonna go?" Jasper stepped into the room and took his place beside Alice.
"I'm not sure, anywhere but here. I can't do this anymore. I'm going insane." He shook his head, begging them to understand.
"What color?" Alice whispered almost inaudibly.
"Huh?" Edward prompted.
"What color do you want your hair?" She said a bit louder.
"My natural color." He requested, "Can you cut it short like it was before?"
"Anthony, faux-hawks aren't really 'in' right now." She complained.
"Alice…" Edward rolled his eyes.
"Fine, fine." She held her hands up in defeat, "It's gonna take a while since I want to do foils as well as a semi-permanent color. Jazz can finish packing for you." She told them both.
Edward followed Alice into her and Jasper's bathroom down the hall. She instructed him to sit down on the toilet and he complied.
He watched his sister as she began to mix together the color and chattered aimlessly. As his twin, they had always been identical and inseparable.
Alice always wore her hair in short cut, even when they were kids, so she could be just like her older brother, well, only by four and a half minutes, but he still lorded the small time difference over her head.
In truth, she was his best friend and favorite ally. She followed him to the University of Wisconsin, even though she had been accepted to Parson's School of Design in New York and when he decided to stay longer than the standard four years to complete the two year Masters program, there was never a question of 'if' Alice would stay with him, she just did.
At the age of 25, their worlds collapsed around them when their loving and doting parents died suddenly though. Edward might have been older, but it was Alice who had been stronger – braver. However, even her immense courage couldn't keep the depression and weight of their parent's deaths at bay.
One night she came into Edward's room crying and slipped into his bed, like she used to do when they were kids and she'd been frightened by a nightmare.
"I can't stay in this house." She sobbed, "I keep thinking they're going to walk through the door, like they're just on vacation. But they're not coming back."
Edward knew then that she was going to leave, after all, he knew better than anyone that she was destined for greater things. But he also knew that wherever she decided to go, he would follow her.
Two weeks later they had used part of their sizeable inheritance and moved to Los Angeles so she could finally pursue the dreams she'd put on hold to stay by his side. And now, here he was, leaving her for the first time in his life. He hoped they'd both survive the separation, but at the very least she had Jasper to comfort her.
Alice cringed when the first lock of Edward's infamous hair hit the bathroom floor, but she did seem somewhat pleased with the end result after she finished with him.
Edward took pleasure in ridding his face of the scruff that drove women nuts. He blinked in relief when he popped out the custom contacts that had been made for him and slid on a pair of silver wire framed glasses Alice picked out for him. He kept them around just in case, but rarely took out the contacts as it was unnecessary due to some cutting edge technology and more painful than keeping them in.
Staring at himself in the mirror then, he found it impossible to suppress the wide grin that spread along his face. He recognized the green eyes behind the thin lenses, shorter, but still unruly bronze hair and clean-shaven angular jaw. For the first time in years he felt like the person he was before he moved to Los Angeles with Alice. Anthony Masen and his on-screen counterpart Phillip Kelley were gone. Edward Cullen had returned.
Alice entered his bathroom, "It's perfect." He smiled at her.
"I hardly recognize you." She frowned.
Edward smiled broader, "I know; it's perfect."
She slowly walked up beside him and he wrapped his arm around her small shoulders, at 6'2" he had a good eight inches on her.
"We look like twins again." He squeezed her arm, thinking it would make her happy.
"I don't want you to go." She sniffled as she buried her face in his shirt, hugging him tightly.
"I'm sorry Alice." He felt a lump begin to well up in his throat.
"Can I go with you?" She peered up at him, her usually vibrant green eyes were red, puffy and filled with unshed tears.
"Not this time Ally," He held back tears of his own at the sound of her childhood nickname crossing his lips.
"Will you at least tell Jasper where you're going so I don't worry?" She pleaded.
Edward nodded somberly.
"Can I talk to you alone for a sec?" Jasper was leaning tensely against the door frame.
Alice removed herself from Edward's hold, wiped her tears away and the bubbly mask she always wore returned. "Don't be mean." She poked Jasper square in the chest as she exited.
He grabbed her finger and kissed the tip of it, before smacking her ass on her way out the door.
"There's no way you'd reconsider?" He stayed put after Alice left the room.
Edward hopped up on the counter, "I just—" He buried his face in his hands, "I'm sorry."
"This is gonna kill her." His voice trembled slightly and Edward understood that Jasper loved Alice just as much as he did, but Edward knew her better, having 26 more years of experience dealing with her. She would survive.
"C'mon, you guys should be thrilled. You'll have the house to yourselves, although my room is still off limits." Edward tried to keep the situation light and refused to think about what he was doing, lest he change his mind.
"Fuck, Anthony. This is serious." Jasper growled, "I love Alice and I know how much she needs you. You should care a little more about the fact that the second you walk out that door her heart is going to break."
Edward sighed, "Jazz, it'll be so much worse if I stay here and let her watch me self-destruct."
Jasper ran his hand through his hair, knowing Edward was right. "You're gonna go see the cars aren't you?" He guessed correctly. When Edward didn't respond, he continued, "If won't lie to her if she asks me where you are."
"I'd never ask you to lie to her." Edward said defensively, "I just don't want Jane and the media finding out where I've gone."
Jasper nodded, but then a look of apprehension crossed his face, "They'll have a fucking field day when they realize you're gone and that you dropped out of all those movies."
"Good, let them." Edward scowled.
"Have you thought about how you're going to get there?" Leave it to Jasper to worry about the finer details, "If you book a flight, Jane will find out."
"I'm not flying. I'm driving." Edward jumped down from the counter.
"She can trace a rental car too, ya know." He said with concern.
"I have plenty of cash and accounts she doesn't know exist. I'll figure something out." Edward told him.
"You're really going to do this?" Jasper was still worried.
Even if the media found him, at least he'd have a break. He'd always wanted to take a road trip cross country and he missed the Midwest more than he wanted to admit. It was then that his mind was completely made up. Edward met Jasper's gaze and smiled as he said, "What have I got to lose?"