Disclaimer: The characters of Twilight belong to Stephanie Meyer.
All other characters, and the original story of Virgins &Villains, is the intellectual property of Emmamama88, copyright 2010.
** This is my first time, please be gentle.
Chapter 1 - Armpits & Coffee Stains
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
My phone alerted me to an incoming text message.
Meet me in the conference room, 10 mins. Need to talk before meeting at 9:30.
I looked at the time: 9:10.
Oh please God, I hope she doesn't expect me to attend this meeting.
Yeah I tend to pray a lot when dealing with Rosalie.
I fixed my coffee and carried it with me towards the conference room. I walked quickly past Mike's office hoping he wouldn't see me.
My hopes were crushed as soon as I heard his simpering voice.
"Bella, Bella, Bella" he called in what I assumed he thought was a 'sexy' tone.
"Hey Mike. I'm kind of in a hurry, catch up with you later?" I didn't slow my pace, while barely glancing in his direction, still making a bee-line for the conference room.
"Sure Bella, I'll be waiting". I cringed a little.
For some reason, Mike Newton had been fixated on taking me out ever since I started working here. I never encouraged it, in fact I actively discouraged it. I've even toyed with the idea of pretending to be a lesbian so he'd leave me alone, but I could see that opening a whole other can of worms.
Knowing my luck, Shelly, one of the sportswriters who already ogles me, would start hitting on me. She was the female version of Mike.
I really couldn't understand why they were interested in me. My brother Emmett got all the looks. I'm plain, boring, and extremely awkward.
Anyway, I've been working at WIRI, Seattle's "up and coming" network-affiliate television station since September. Rose is one of the members of the on-air staff. She is also my brother's girlfriend, and hopefully, after this New Year's Eve, she will be his fiancée. Yep, Emmett was 'popping the question' at midnight.
I'm in my last year at the University of Washington, majoring in English. Rose hooked me up with this part-time job, as her personal assistant, or as I liked to call it her "glorified go-fer".
The job helps me pay the bills, but my true passion is writing. I've loved to write stories for as long as I can remember but, unfortunately, it's not something that I can make a career of yet.
Rose caught up with me as I reached the conference room door, and pulled me inside with her.
"Oh my gosh Bella, I finally did it!" I'd never seen Rose this excited before.
"What are you talking about Rose?"
"I got the interview with Edward Masen. His manager is coming in this morning to go over details" She said excitedly.
"Rose, his manager is your brother, why is that so exciting?" I rolled my eyes at her giddiness.
"Because Masen doesn't do interviews unless it's to promote a movie. I've been bugging the shit out of Jasper for months to grant me one. I pitched this as 'from hometown boy to Hollywood heartthrob' the Edward Masen story. Jasper called me today to confirm."
"My gosh Rose, take a breath" I giggled at my friend's lack of composure.
"We have a lot of work to do, Jasper and the others will be here shortly."
"Rosalie, what do you need from me? You know how I get really nervous around new people"
I already knew Jasper, but hadn't yet met his wife Alice. Jasper and Alice (who also happens to be Edward Masen's sister), were married last June.
The general public is unaware of the relationship between Edward and Alice, but because of Jasper's position, a lot of Hollywood's elite attended the ceremony. I was invited, but made up some lame excuse. I'm pretty sure that Emmett and Rose saw through me, but they didn't push it.
I could feel my palms starting to sweat, and if I was sweating there, I knew it was ten times worse in my armpits.
Crap, I can't remember if I put on deodorant today…what a day to forget.
I tried to take a sneaky sniff of my right armpit, hoping Rose wouldn't notice.
"Bella, what the Hell are you doing? Are you sniffing your pit?" I was thankful at least that she dropped her voice to a whisper, and that we were still alone in the room.
"I..I couldn't remember putting on my deodorant if you must know" I whispered.
"Oh jeez" She leaned over and took a big whiff of me, and I could feel the blush in my cheeks. "You smell fine, great actually, remind me to ask what scent that is later. But right now I have to concentrate on getting ready for this interview, and you're going to help me."
My nerves completely took over at this point, and my verbal filter evaporated. Raising my voice I said, "I can't see of what use I could be, except to mumble awkwardly, trip over my own feet, perspire profusely, and completely embarrass you in front of a room full of Hollywood people."
"Maybe I should just strip down to my panties and bra, and parade through the station so I can face all my ultimate humiliations in one day?"
The clearing of a man's throat from the doorway caused me to freeze where I stood.
While covering my face with my hands, I felt the blush course through my body all the way up to my hairline. I peered out from between my fingers in the direction of the throat clearing.
And because the universe hates me, who should be standing there? None other than Edward Masen himself, wearing a wicked grin, and chuckling.
There he stood in all his perfection. From the top of his tousled bronze hair to the bottom of his expensive Italian shoes, he was sex on legs.
I'd seen him in a few movies, and thought him handsome. But, right here, in person, I was stunned by his gorgeousness. And just like the universe, he was standing there laughing at me.
Hey is gorgeousness even a word? I don't know Bella, you're the English major, jeebus.
My fear of wet armpits was immediately replaced with a fear that I was in serious danger of shitting my pants.
Why-the-hell is it always me?
I contemplated whether I could make it to the window, open it and plummet to a grisly death below, which had to be better than dying of embarrassment where I stood (then I remembered that the damn windows don't open and the building only had two floors).
I'd probably end up with a broken leg or arm, and turn into a royal inconvenience for Emmett and Rose when they had to help me to the bathroom.
I paused from my inner ramblings to actually listen to the conversation going on between Rosalie and the entourage of Edward Masen, which had entered the room while I was distracted.
I immediately recognized Jasper Whitlock. Rose's brother was tall, blonde, and flawlessly beautiful, just like Rose.
Following behind Jasper was a short blonde woman and a medium height blonde man, they were both pretty in a bland Hollywood sort of way, and had very similar facial features. They were introduced as Jane Volk, Edward's agent, and Alec Volk, his personal assistant. Not surprising, Jane and Alec were siblings.
A strikingly beautiful dark-haired pixie-like woman entered next, introduced as Edward's stylist and sister, Alice, whom I recognized from the wedding photos.
The last person to enter was the biggest guy I'd ever seen in my life. Even bigger than my pro-football player brother. This guy was easily 6 ft 7. His name was Felix Morris, Edward's bodyguard.
Holy crow, I'm glad I don't have to pay his grocery bills, or cook his meals. I seriously have to rethink my belief that no one on earth eats more than Emmett.
Rose hugged Jasper and Alice , then shook hands with Edward, Jane, Alec, and Felix.
"I didn't realize you were all coming down here, I thought it would just be Jasper, Alice and Jane." Rose said, keeping her smile, but narrowing her eyes at her brother.
"Yeah, Edward wanted to meet you before doing the interview, and then everyone else sort of tagged along" he answered nervously.
Yep, Rose even intimidates her brother.
"Well, Felix, Alec and I are leaving this afternoon to return to our respective homes for Christmas. This is the last day of work with Edward before the new year". Jane was a little defensive.
"Actually, it's a good opportunity to go over a few details" Rose said happily.
Everyone was taking a seat at the conference table, and Rose yanked my arm, forcing me to deposit my butt in the seat next to hers.
The sexiest man alive, took the seat across the table from me.
Hey if People magazine says so, it must be true!
Edward proceeded to frown while staring at me. Rose was hammering out the details of Edward's interview with Jasper. "Bella is going to help me come up with a list of questions today. I guess we can do the interview sometime next week."
"Rose, I will need to approve the questions well in advance of the interview, this will avoid awkwardness on both sides." Jasper told her.
"I got it Jasper" then, turning her attention to Edward, who was still staring, sort of glaring, at me "I'm just really glad you agreed to this interview Mr. Masen, I promise you won't regret it."
"Please, Rose, call me Edward. After all, Jasper and Alice have told me so much about you that I feel like I already know you. However, I'm not acquainted with your friend" Edward said while tipping his head in my direction.
"Oh, forgive me, I wasn't thinking. Edward, this is Isabella Swan, my assistant. Um, that sounds so cold, actually she's so much more, she's my dearest friend, and her brother is my boyfriend, so we're very close."
Rose answered while looking at me indulgently.
"I'm glad to see that you are as comfortable with nepotism as I am Rose" Edward stated with a smile.
"Hey, in this business, it's all about 'who you know' right?" she answered.
"Absolutely" Edward returned to staring/glaring at me. "And often 'who you are related to'."
"Well, I'll have you all know that I run a successful business which keeps me quite busy." Alice quipped in her chirpy soprano. "My side job as Edward's stylist is merely so that I can be certain he will dress appropriately for the spotlight" She continued, "If I allowed him to dress himself, he'd never be out of his hoodie, Doc Martens, and jeans"
A man after my own heart, among other parts of my very sweaty body.
Holy crap, where did that come from?
"Oh yeah, Bella, I don't think I ever told you that Alice is a fashion designer. As a matter of fact, she is the co-founder of Brandon Miles designs". Rosalie said while smiling at Alice.
"Brandon was my Grandmother's maiden name, it's also my middle name." Alice added. "Miles comes from my business partner, Christopher Miles."
The media is always going on about Brandon Miles, the elusive designer. Now come to find out he doesn't really exist…and one of the owners is a she, and the sister of Hollywood's hottest movie star. Shocking.
I giggled to myself, and Edward's gaze turned questioning, as if he was trying to figure me out.
"If you don't mind, we'd like to keep that fact quiet, Bella". Alice smiled at me. "I never wanted to be known because of who my relatives are. I must say that it's quite satisfying to have this extremely successful business, while still retaining my anonymity".
I decide to hide from Edward's watchful eye by taking a sip of my now cold coffee.
I sort of listened to the details of the interview while playing with the rim of my coffee mug, avoiding eye contact with him.
It was decided that the interview would be conducted over the span of three days, December 28 through 30 (next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). The first part would be filmed at Edward's suite at the Hotel 1000, the second part at a location around Seattle yet to be determined, and the third part would be filmed in the TV studio.
"I'm in town for the holidays, and will be staying until the day after New Years, so I figured it would be a good time to do this interview. Jasper's been trying to coax me into it for a while now". Edward said while smirking at me.
That smirk is driving me crazy. I'd like to wipe it right off his face…with my tongue. Once again, what the Hell is wrong with me?
I started to pay attention to the conversation again.
"Now, of course, I'm aware that your people are all on vacation for the next week or so. I'll be glad to send someone from the station to be your personal assistant for the three days. Rose stated brightly.
"Well, I think I would like to request Miss Swan as my assistant. She seems quite capable of handling my needs".
Hold the phone. What the..?
I choke on my coffee, and make an ungraceful show of spluttering, coughing, and then spitting and spilling said coffee all over the front of my shirt.
Of course today I would be wearing a thin white cotton top.
Fuck my life.
"What the hell Bella?" Rose snapped. "Oh my God, look at your shirt! You certainly achieved the wet t-shirt look, everyone can now see your bra."
I quickly crossed my arms over my chest, but that didn't stop the tears from forming in my eyes.
"Let me see what I can find to keep you from being on public display." Rose jumped from her seat heading for the door.
Someone kill me now, and smack Rose while you're at it, for adding to my embarrassment.
"Let me help" Edward stated while he started removing his jacket and rushing around the table to me, as I died of mortification. When he reached me, he gently placed his jacket across my shoulders, and turned me to face him while closing it across my chest.
I looked up at him, expecting to see that ever-present smirk, or a cold glare, but was met with a smoldering look in those beautiful green eyes. He was too close, and he smelled too good.
Mmm, oh my, I really don't want his pity…I want to bite his lower lip…
I've never had this reaction to anyone. Not ever….hence my virgin status.
I looked at him again, and his expression mirrored what I believed to be my own gaping, stunned and speechless one.
I want nothing more than to run my fingers through his messy bronze hair, and give him a smoldering kiss.
Wow, what is going on with me? I've never kissed anyone before, and wouldn't know a 'smoldering' kiss from a kick in the ass.
"Back to the personal assistant issue." Rose had returned to my side. "Bella is my assistant Edward. I don't think she'd be comfortable working that closely with you".
Thank heaven for Rosalie. She knows me well. My little innocent self wouldn't survive long in the presence of "Sexy Eddie".
That's the name the National Enquirer gave him last year when he was seen on dates with at least 2 different women in one weekend. None of which, I might add, were his steady girlfriend of the last six years, Tanya Madison, Hollywood starlet. Tanya was also Edward's co-star in at least 4 films from the time they were both 18 years old.
I certainly didn't want to be a notch in his bedpost, even if his girlfriend chose to turn a 'blind eye' to his liaisons. She must have no self-esteem, or Hollywood was a whole different world from the one I'm used to.
Probably a little bit of both.
"I really must insist on having Miss Swan. This is a stipulation of granting the interview" Edward practically breathed the first sentence in my ear, and turned to Rosalie while stating the second.
Crap, crap, crap, I feel drunk. His breath is intoxicating me. Stand up for yourself Bella.
The non-intoxicated part of my brain realized that Rosalie was looking pissed, and was about to kill this entire interview.
Oh no, I couldn't let Rose sabotage her career like that, but could I work for Edward and survive?
I had to. Rose needed this interview under her belt. She's damn good at what she does, and this could help her move on to bigger and better opportunities.
Rose was fuming, "Well, Edward, I must insist that you take your stip-u-la-tion and stick it up your.."
"Rose!", I interrupted before this could escalate further. "I'll do it" I said so low that she could barely hear me.
"What? Bella you don't need to do this." Rose grabbed me by both shoulders and turned me to face her. "The interview's not that important. I would never put you in this position". Rose was visibly upset.
"No, Rose, really I'm fine with it as long as you can spare me."
"Are you sure? Bella, I don't want you upset. You'd have to spend a lot of alone time with Edward. Can you handle that?" Rose was now oblivious to the presence of other people in the room.
Edward wasn't glaring at me anymore, but he looked very confused by what Rose was saying.
It's really unfair to hold grudges against Edward because I have emotional problems.
I felt a little bad for him, then I remembered he was a man-whore.
"I'm good Rose. Just part of my job okay?"
Rose sighed, then glared at Edward.
"Listen here Masen, I don't like this, but Bella is a grown woman and I can't make her decisions for her. Just know this", Rose's voice became low and menacing, "Bella isn't like the females you're used to toying with. She's fragile."
Oh no, Rose is not going there please! I don't want my dirty laundry aired, not here, not now.
The blush returned to my face as I hung my head and stared at my feet.
"That girl's brother is Emmett Swan, yes THE Emmett Swan of the Seattle Seahawks" Rose was now enjoying herself.
"I know your reputation, and if you cause her any distress, Emmett will not even have the chance to rip your balls off, because I will beat him to it!"
"Oh my gosh, Rose, enough!" This day has been chocked-full of embarrassing moments. I. Was. Done.
I turned to Edward, his green eyes shining, and an amused smirk prominent on his gorgeous face.
"Are we through here?" he asked "Because I really need to see my parents before settling into my hotel."
"Yeah, I guess we're through" Rose was still angry, and not even trying to hide it. She grabbed Jasper's arm while speaking in a low voice with him, leading him toward the elevator.
Everyone else followed. Alice gave me a meaningful look, and smiled brightly before waving and following her husband out.
Edward and I were left alone in the conference room. He was still looking at me, not smiling, but studying my face. He looked puzzled.
"Good day Miss Swan, it was a pleasure to meet you."
I, of course, was rendered speechless by his presence.
He took one more puzzled look at me, sighed, and was gone.
What have I gotten myself into?
Surprisingly, Rose didn't bring up the personal assistant issue for the rest of the workday. In the afternoon, having taped her segments for the noon and 5pm shows the next day, we found ourselves in Rose's office brainstorming for the Cullen interview.
"Are you now, or have you ever been a Communist?" I was sprawled across the sofa in Rose's office, trying to come up with the last few interview questions.
"Cut it out Bella! Be serious, we've got to finish this list of questions and have them approved today! I've got a ton of things to do tomorrow, and I'll be damned if we're spending one minute of Christmas Eve in this office."
"I thought McCarthyism was a perfectly acceptable topic. Besides, Jasper won't let you ask anything about Edward's personal relationships. You can't mention his parents or Alice. We're really limited here."
I was annoyed at the many restrictions put on our interview questions.
"Bella, I agree with you about the relationship stuff. But I understand why he wants to keep his parents and sister out of the limelight. He doesn't even use his real last name of Cullen, opting instead for his mother's maiden name of Masen to protect their privacy."
"Yeah, but we can't tell the public that either right?" I was still aggravated.
Who does whats-his-face think he is anyway?
"Okay, how about Where were you/ What were you doing when you learned about 9-11?" I asked, trying to get back on track.
"Oh, good one Bells. See, we can work around these restrictions." She beamed at me.
After about two more hours, Rosalie and I had thirty questions to e-mail to Jasper.
By 4 o'clock, Jasper had e-mailed back the list, minus seven questions that Edward found objectionable.
"What the fuck was wrong with asking if he was a cat person or a dog person?" I heard Rose barking into her phone at Jasper.
"Yeah, yeah, don't want to upset the fans, sure. Whatever Jasper. He's a real piece of work if you ask me. Why's he even an actor if he's so hung up on his privacy…seems to be an impossible situation."
"Alright, yeah, I guess that's it. We'll see you and Alice tomorrow night at our place for dinner. Jasper, sorry I was a little harsh, I really appreciate you arranging this for me, it means a lot."
"Love you too. Bye" Rose smiled and hung up.
"Well Bells, are you ready to go? Emmett's got practice, so you're having dinner with me."
Oh no. Why do I get the feeling that Rose is going to unleash on me about Edward Masen as soon as we're alone?
A/N This is going to be a slow burn, but hopefully you will enjoy the characters as much as I've enjoyed writing them.