Summary: 'The Other Side of You'
For people who are sick and tired of Edward Cullen being so god damn perfect! :)
Edward and Bella have been in an 'on/off' relationship for years. What happens when Edward turns up to Bella's birthday dinner two hours late and drunk off his ass?
Bella kicks him to the curb of course!
Watch as a newly single Edward crosses paths with an enchanting Alice, and falls under her spell. Will Alice be able to change him, and what will Bella do when she sees the new and improved Edward?
AU – All Human OOC E/B and E/A
I'd Like to thank my beta Red Summer for turning my mess into something pretty :)
Chapter 1 – Spice Girls and Surgeons
Edward Cullen's all time favourite karaoke number was The Spice Girl's 'Wannabe,' which he was currently performing with a certain amount of panache.
"…ziga zig ahhhhh!" he bellowed.
His cheerleaders, and best friends, Jasper and Emmett were always very encouraging of his vocal talents (or lack there of). This evening they'd been plying him with strong alcohol since six o'clock on the dot to ensure that he was inebriated enough to grace his audience with a tune or two.
"Do 'Two Become One' next!" Emmett called to Edward.
Edward held up his hand and shook his head. "I'm afraid that is all for tonight Ladies and Gentleman. Try the veal, it's to die for! Oh what the hell! One more for the cheap seats at the back!" The opening began for Emmett's request.
As well ad being a thirty-two-year-old white, heterosexual male, his only other attribute was that he was generally known as unreliable. Edward worked in the heart of Seattle but other than that he wasn't entirely sure what the purpose of his job was, other than to make huge sums of money, for other people, all the while developing a fairly decent nest egg for himself.
Jasper and Emmett worked with him, although they were both considerably better at whatever they did than Edward was. They had earnest discussions about the stock market and the economic crisis that was becoming a world wide issue, but quite frankly, Edward didn't understand any of it. Because they were such good friends they covered up for all manner of his shortcomings and Edward loved them for it. Edward felt he'd be more suited to being a… well, a something else - a singer perhaps? Maybe a professional bed tester at Captain Snooze? He really didn't know.
Edward turned his attention back to his performance. " … I wanna make love to ya baby! I had a little love, now I'm back for more…"
He considered himself exceptionally good at doing the 'low sultry sexy voice' as Jasper referred to it, and ran his hands up and down his body in a provocative manner.
A look of concern crossed Jasper's face and he shouted up at Edward through the display. "Mind you don't fall off of the table mate!"
Edward was on a table, in an unspeakably trendy wine bar somewhere in the depths of the city. He had no idea where as he'd been brought here totally against his will. The bar was very Moulin Rouge, all chandeliers, red paint and gold leaf mirrors. But no Nicole Kidman on a swing, and no burlesque dancers flashing their pink bits. Damn.
Edward was at a 'Farewell' do – he couldn't remember whose. Melissa. Melanie. Mallory - something like that anyway. Edward thought she was pretty nice. J-Lo ass, unfeasibly short skirts. Wonderful Combination. She had a brain the size of a planet and was/seemed very feisty, and she was leaving - as soon as she removed her tongue from the boss's throat. If Edward wasn't mistaken, if she wasn't already leaving, she probably would've been sacked after her promiscuous behaviour tonight, so it was just as well.
Edward had to leave soon too as he was already late. Extraordinarily late. Winding up for the big finale he gave 'Two Become One' all he'd got. The audience and his cheerleaders roared.
Edward loved being in the spotlight even thought most of the audience were probably more drunk than he was. At this time in the evening, the bar and its attendants became more and more entertaining. The booze was poured more freely, and the waitresses no doubt were gaining more in tips, the more inebriated we all audience, easily satisfied, howled for more. Edward bowed gracefully, as he prepared to take his leave and exit the spotlight.
A shout went up. "Do 'I Will Survive'?"
Next to 'Wannabe' this was Edward's best number. He also did a refreshingly original interpretation of ACDC's 'Dirty Deeds'.
Edward shook his head in a self deprecating way, even as he basked in his own glory.
"No. No. No."
He certainly wouldn't survive if he didn't get a move on. Besides, he didn't do requests (other than Emmett's or Jasper's). Elvis didn't, so neither did Edward.
"Cant. Cant. Have to go. Bella'sh birthday" Was that his voice slurring?
Bella was Edward's girlfriend. For years and years. On and off. More off than on. He had no idea why she put up with him and all his bullshit. Edward wouldn't if he were in her place But then he knew that Bella didn't know why she put up with him either.
He couldn't quite remember how they met but he was sure it involved him being wonderfully suave, sophisticated and sweeping Bella off of her perfectly pedicured feet. She'd been the only lady in his life ever since, and he loved her. Even the 'off' periods had been very brief, therefore, not necessitating the finding of a suitable replacement. Bella was irreplaceable. During the 'on' periods however, Edward was a constant source of irritation to her. Bella did not appreciate his singing talents or his habit of using tables as his stage.
Edward's watch was very blurred but he knew instinctively hat it was telling him a bad thing. The hands should be pointing very differently if it was good. He was sure.
"Shit. Shit. Late. Late."
In his haste to depart, Edward fell head first off of the table and landed in the arms of his true and trusted friends. His limbs were feeling very lovely, and jelly like.
"Bella will kill me," he gasped, before floating off to oblivion on a fluffy cloud.
From faraway, Edward heard his friends sigh patiently. Emmett looked over his head to Jasper and said, "She might not need to."
"Bella, darling, is that Pinot Noir?" My mother cocked her head towards the direction of the decanter that was holding the bottle.
"Yes." I take a sip of my champagne and try to smile at her.
"Very fruity, quite relaxing."
"Yes, Mother." I say tightly. If I held the stem of my glass any harder, it would no doubt shatter, probably cutting my hand in the process. Not what I need right now.
This is a fabulous restaurant. There is no denying that. A firm family favourite. Whatever the celebration – anniversaries, the announcement of a new grandchild, the traditional Christmas gathering – a table is booked at Fratelli's. Thirtieth birthdays are no exception. And this is mine, the big 'three- oh.' And what do I have to show for it?
Fratelli's had a hushed genteel atmosphere that pandered perfectly to my parents' idea of having a good time, no rowdy pubs for the Swan clan. No Siree! No chain pizza places, no faux Mexican Cantinas, no standing in line for buffet food. My father would rather saw off his own arm than queue up for a slice of roast beef.
At Fratelli's, a surfeit of waiters bustled about unobtrusively, catering to their patrons' every need. The maitre d'hôtel – a starched and black suited cadaver of a man – had been the same person for about a hundred god damn years. Look at the historical photographs on the walls and you could see that he featured in all of them, in the same way that Jack Nicholson did in The Shining. Creepy.
Oak panelling lines the walls, the like of which you'll never see in a Happy Eater. The starched white linen of each table bears an exquisite arrangement of highly- scented pastel roses. It's rather like exclusive gentlemen's club, except they grudgingly allow women in too - most likely to avoid a discrimination law suit.
The lighting is subdued. Conversation is muted, quite probably frowned upon. Only the regular popping of expensive corks punctuates the light classical music. Hmmm…Debussy?
Next to my mother is my father. "I'm going to stop doing facelifts," he announces to no one in particular. "The last woman I operated on ended up with a face like fucking Joan Rivers! I tell you, people today strive to look like Barbie dolls. That Heidi Montag girl for instance! She was a perfectly petite young girl. Now look at her…ugh!" He shakes his head in bewilderment and obvious disapproval. "Why they want to do it I'll never know."
My father, Charles Swan, is 'old school' – opinionated, judgemental and extremely pretentious. He's a cosmetic surgeon of some note – if one acquires a reputation by giving eye-lifts, tummy tucks, and the occasional 'lunch time lipo' to reality stars, soap stars and fading rock singers. Not forgetting those daytime television presenters in the last desperate throes of their careers. Daddy might wonder why they all avail themselves of his services but he doesn't mind charging them rather handsomely for the privilege.
"I'll stick to Botox." He confirms this with a plentiful swig of his champagne. I don't think he realizes that no one is listening. "Better just to paralyse someone's face than to cut bits out completely. You can be sued at the drop of a hat these days. There's no fun in being a surgeon anymore." There's no fun in listening to a surgeon anymore. But was there ever?
"How lovely," my mother says, patting her exquisitely styled hair. She turns to me and places a hand on my arm. "What do you think darling?"
"Yes," I reply automatically, not taking in the question. I tilt my head to glance at the entrance once again. This is torture and extreme humiliation rolled into one. I'm surprised at his actions, even though I know I shouldn't be. Edward should have been here two hours ago, but no, here I sit once again. Alone, yet surrounded by people. How ironic. My naturally straight falling hair has been glammed up with big bouncy curls. I'm wearing a light and floaty dress with a Grecian neck line, and once again it has all been a pointless effort.
"Bella," my father sighs theatrically. "Do stop looking at the door, it's not going to make him get here any quicker."
I pull out my mobile phone. "Maybe I'll give him a ring."
Mobile phones are banned in Fratelli's and there's a collective gasp around the table which would have been more suited to me having pulled up the hep of my dress to expose my lacy thong.
"You'll do no such thing," my father says, snatching up my Blackberry from in front of me.
"He may have had an accident!" I said in defence, knowing well and truly that that wasn't the case. I'm not that naïve.
"I'll make sure he does one of these days," he threatens with a shake of his head.
"Face it sweetie, he's let you down - again! How long are you going to let him get away with hurting you? You deserve better!"
"You don't know that."
"I do." My father glances conspicuously at the one empty space at the table. The assortment of perfectly polished cutlery lies untouched as does the neatly folded napkin in the shape of a fan. "He always does."
"Charlie." My mother intervenes, as she often does in our frequent father-daughter tiffs. "It's Bella's birthday, please don't upset her."
"I'm not upsetting her," he protests, his voice drowning out the strains of the classical music. "It's the ever so charming Edward Cullen that's upsetting her."
"Why can't you find a nice man, someone who will actually show up to dinner on your birthday?" My father sweeps his arm expansively across the table. "A man like Ben or Eric?"
Ben and Eric – the nice men in question, smile in a self satisfied and distinctly unpleasant way. Ben and Tyler are, unfortunately in my opinion, married to my older sisters. The sisters who toed the line and found themselves suitable husbands, who were determined to have them barefoot and pregnant upon their return from the honeymoon. While I, instead, found Edward.
Dickless wonders. That's the best way of describing my two brothers-in-law. Eric is a nerd; a comic book nerd, though he prefers that you refer to them as 'graphic novels.' Basically, he can draw and works for some big-shot company drawing pictures for comic books which are distributed across the country. Angela, my eldest sister, is deemed to have married well, even though she has to sleep with someone who sports an excess of nasal hair and still sleeps in Batman Pyjamas. Her three children range from angelic to the spawn from hell.
Ben imports antiques and sells them out of a dainty and overpriced shop in a little town just outside of Seattle. The sort of place that is lined with similar shops, but you can't find a cup of coffee or a newspaper to save yourself. Not my kind of town that's for certain.
My brother-in-law spends a lot of time in other countries, most likely being a pretentious bastard to people a lot less fortunate than himself, and ripping them off with unfair prices. 'Fair Trade' is not a term in which Ben is familiar. All his antique rugs are probably fashioned by the calloused and blistered hands of children who work for a few bucks a week. But Ben is loaded (and Jessica, my other sister, by proxy) and that counts for a lot in my father's world.
Ben is moderately passable in the looks department, but has 'FIGJAM' tattooed right across his forehead. The middle sister of the Swan household is Jessica, and despite having two hyperactive school-age children, she still manages to conduct a long term affair with their gardener.
I, on the other hand have been dating Edward for the last five years. No ring on the finger, and no kids to speak of. Yes, dating is absolutely the right label to use. I never know with Edward whether he will be around for the next week or not. He's not a man whore or anything, truth be told he wouldn't have a clue where to start in an attempt at seducing or even courting a woman. He just doesn't have it in him. He's positively clueless when it comes to women, which is really quite strange because he is breathtakingly good looking, and has a jaw line that supermodels would kill for. Not to mention that mop atop his head. There's nothing I love more than running my hands through his bronze coloured locks in the throes of passion. When he is around, that is.
Edward possesses a charm that is unbeknown to him and that, to me, is his biggest asset. Women fall for it all the time. I blame his panty dropping smile, it gets me every time, no matter how mad I am.
I met Edward through a friend of a friend on a day out to the beach. La Push, as I recall. Edward was trying to surf and had nearly drowned himself after getting tangled up in the ankle cord, when I swam out to rescue him. Five years later and it still feels like I'm the prince needing to save the damsel in distress. When is it my turn to play the princess?
I saw Edward as a challenge. For the first few months of our relationship he never once returned one of my phone calls or texts. I know what you're thinking… He's just not that into you, right? But, he just knew that I'd continue to call him and I'd often wondered what would've happened of I had simply stopped?
Edward is not a natural hunter and gatherer. I think the caveman gene has skipped him completely. I don't think there is a jealous bone in his body. He's never going to grab me by the hair and drag me away from suitors and into his 'cave', as much as I may secretly have a fantasy that he might. Again, he is utterly clueless.
My family, sisters and dickless wonders included, treat him like a leper. He's the social outcast of this family as he doesn't have opinions on politics and sporting events. My sisters are constantly on his back at every given opportunity about when he'll 'make an honest woman out of me.' Basically, according to my father, 'He's not Swan material.'
"Edward is a nice man," I insist. Everyone around the table avoids looking at me. My mother patronisingly pats my hand in sympathy which makes me want to cry. Out of all of them, only I can see the good qualities of Edward. "He is, he's just…He's just very good at hiding it. You don't see him like I do. You don't see him as often as I do."
I grip my champagne glass even more tightly, while forcing out a smile that I hope comes across as sweet, at the rest of the unbelieving characters at the table. When Edward finally shows up, I'll kill him.