All recognised characters are the property of Stephenie Meyers
No disrespect or copyright infringement is intended
A/N: This is the first chapter of the short story I wrote recently to kick start my brain when it failed on me. The chapters are of varying lengths and POV. Let me know what you think…..
The barman smiled at me, waiting for my order.
"A large Coke please, diet. No ice."
I picked up my bag which was leaning against the dark wood of the bar.
"I'm going to be sitting on the terrace, could someone bring it out to me if that's okay?"
"Certainly Miss. Room number?"
I showed him my key so the drink could be charged to my room, thanked him and headed outside. It was still early, not quite 10am and although I'd woken up later than usual, I'd forced myself not to rush around, reminding myself that I could relax, I no longer had to rush. I'd enjoyed a long, hot shower and breakfast in my room before heading down to the bar and terrace.
I was happy to see that no one else was outside so I had my choice of where to sit. I didn't want to be close to the main doors as I knew that as the morning progressed, guests would begin coming and going and I didn't want to be disturbed. I chose a table in the far corner and settled down, taking a moment to enjoy the fine spring morning and the beautiful view below the balcony.
I'd always loved Brighton and it certainly didn't disappoint today. A perky young waitress brought my drink out, snapping me out of my thoughts. Right, get on with it Bella. It's the last thing you need to do then you can start thinking about what you're going to do with your life.
I set up my laptop on the small table and switched it on. While I waited for it to power up I rummaged around in my purse for the flash drive, inserting it when the computer finally loaded.
I was completely immersed in what I was doing and was only dimly aware of other guests coming out onto the balcony. I flicked my gaze to the side of me for a few seconds and got a brief glimpse of a young couple and an older man. I barely gave them a passing glance before returning my complete concentration to the job in hand.
I grabbed my digital camera from my bag, switched it on and placed it on the table while I connected the USB cable, taking a sip of my drink while I waited for the screen to pop up allowing me to download the photographs.
"Excuse me Miss? I'm going to have to ask you to put the camera away."
The loud, no-nonsense voice startled me as it was completely out of place on the quiet terrace and I snapped my head around in surprise. Somewhere behind him I heard a faint "…..fuck's sake" before turning my attention to the man who was, apparently addressing me.
"I'm sorry…..what? I don't know…."
In a few strides he had reached my table and I was staggered by the sheer size of him. I had never seen anybody that big and couldn't help but feel slightly overwhelmed.
"I said, you need to put the camera away…..please. No cameras, okay?"
He had a nice speaking voice which somehow seemed at odds with his physical size.
"Er….why? There aren't any rules at the hotel…..are there? I mean, I'm staying here, that is, I'm a guest, you know…..no one's said anything about my camera before….."
I trailed off sounding increasingly more unsure and confused and trying to think if I had seen any signs warning that cameras couldn't be used in the hotel.
He moved even closer, almost leaning over me as he turned on a dazzling smile.
"No, not the Hotel's rules. My rules, well my boss's rules really. Please, put the camera away."
He smiled at me as he gently pushed the camera along the table towards me.
"So you don't work for the Hotel?"
He sounded slightly amused and answered me as if he were talking to a small child.
"No. I work for Mr Cullen. He's a guest of this hotel."
He nodded his head slightly in the direction of the young couple I had glimpsed earlier and I finally took a good look at them. The woman was young, maybe twenty and was dressed in a tiny black cocktail dress and killer heels and her blonde hair was falling out of what must have originally been a very intricate up do. The young guy was wearing a black tux and white shirt which was rumpled and hanging out of the waistband of his trousers. His bow-tie had been unknotted and was hanging loose around his neck. I couldn't see his face as it was buried in the woman's neck as she squirmed and giggled, but I did notice his messy shock of auburn hair and that one of his hands was trailing ever higher up her thigh. He didn't seem concerned that they weren't alone and I quickly realised that they must still be drunk after a heavy night.
I turned my attention back to the large man leaning over me and blushed as I noticed he was smirking.
I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was minding my own business and I was a paying guest. He could shove it as far as I was concerned…..and I told him so, forcing a smile on my face for good measure.
Big guy was not amused.
"I see. Well then we have a problem. Mr Cullen is trying to have a quiet day with no cameras….."
"Right, well, I'd like to help, but I fail to see what that has to do with me."
I turned back to my computer, effectively shutting him out and as far as I was concerned, ending the conversation.
He exhaled loudly and stood up to his full height. He paused for a few moments, as if contemplating what to do before walking back over to the young guy.
They spoke heatedly for a minute or so in hushed tones and all I could make out was a few words here and there.
"Take care of it…..what I pay you for…..don't need this today."
In my peripheral vision I could just about make out the big guy coming my way again and I internally groaned. The camera had just begun to download the photos and I concentrated on watching the counter as each picture briefly appeared on screen for a second before moving on to the next one.
Big guys shadow loomed over me as he stood there silently and I pointedly ignored him, forcing him to have to address me.
His voice was quiet, almost pleading.
"Miss…..please will you put the camera away?"
I didn't even look at him, really irritated now that he had disturbed me, yet again.
"No. Now please leave me alone or I'll call the hotel security."
He laughed without humour.
"Look, Miss. Mr Cullen is hounded constantly, he just wants one day where he can have some peace and quiet. Is that too much too ask?"
I snapped my head to look him in his eye.
"Again…..what has that got to do with me? And while we're at it, who the hell is this Mr Cullen anyway?"
He laughed out loud now, genuinely amused.
"Now, that's a good one! Nice try Miss. Look, last chance…..are you going to put the camera away or not?"
Big guy looked stunned for a few seconds and then his face turned thunderous as he stomped back towards his boss.
I just wanted one day – one fucking day where I didn't have to smile for the cameras, sign autographs, avoid the paps, attend meetings, listen to publicists and agents and answer the same fucking questions as if I'd never been asked them before.
I'd done my bit yesterday; spent all day in a boring as shit press junket, followed by the lamest award show sponsored by some random teen magazine that I'd never even heard of. I'd even smiled my most endearing smile, laughing and joking as I accepted awards for such accomplishments as 'Sexiest Smile' and 'Hottest Hair'. All the time internally thinking of ways to hurt my agent for making me attend this fucked up shit. And to add insult to injury, I was dressed in a fucking penguin suit, while everyone around me had on jeans and casual shirts. I'd made the mistake of listening to my agent and the stylist who thought it would be great publicity and add to my 'unconventional' image.
It wasn't that I didn't appreciate my fans and it wasn't that I didn't love my work. I did. Totally and completely. The only time I felt truly happy was when I was on a film set, immersed in a character and interacting with my colleagues and everyone on the crew. It gave me a huge buzz when I arrived and left the set each day and was met with the happy smiles and comments from the fans who had gathered there. I always took the time to say hi, wave and pose for some photos, sign a few autographs. I was well aware of the hours they stood there, just hoping for a smile or a few words.
But sometimes…..it got too much. I hadn't asked for this level of fame to land in my lap, almost overnight and I was struggling more and more to find a balance and to ignore the ridiculous stories that circulated in the press.
Apparently I was dating every female member of the cast of whatever film I was working on at the time…..I couldn't even go for a coffee, a meal or a drink with my colleagues without a lurid story surfacing. Most of the time, their boyfriends of husbands were with us anyway…..but that didn't make for a good story.
If I stood next to a woman for more than five seconds, or even glanced at someone briefly, the next day it would be all over the gossip rags. Proclaiming that she was my latest girlfriend/love interest/conquest…..The public seemed to have no idea of how easy it was to read whatever you wanted to see into a photograph, the angles could be so deceiving. It had got to the stage where I was trying desperately to keep expressionless when out in public as my every facial gesture was analysed to the nth degree and it was making me paranoid.
I had worked, non stop for the past two years and I knew I was starting to burn out, knew I needed a break. I had whined to my agent about it and he had begrudgingly agreed that if I did the junket and awards show I could take a day off then we would talk. I knew well enough that he thought if I had a day of and relaxed I'd be fine again, but I was unravelling…..
I needed to really relax and blow off some steam so I'd taken full advantage of the free alcohol at the awards show and had happily responded to the blatant flirting from one of the 'seat fillers' there. She was pretty, if typically generic but I knew I could lose myself in her for a few hours. It wasn't something I usually did, but I just wanted an escape.
I couldn't go anywhere without my bodyguard, Emmett, and the second I was done with the awards show, I asked him to get the car and drive me somewhere completely out of the way where I could disappear for a day. I briefly looked at the young woman – Tori? Tina? – and she nodded her willingness to come along. I loudly thanked Emmett for having the forethought to make sure the limo had plenty of booze and proceeded to get completely hammered while he drove us to fuck knows where.
I must have fallen asleep at some point as I woke with a start with the seat filler girl – fuck I really should find out her name – writhing and whining in my lap. Evidently she was feeing horny but I was tired and drunk and nothing was happening for me. I made the excuse of not wanting to mess around with Emmett watching and she giggled and climbed off, teasing me about what she was going to do to me with her mouth when we were finally alone.
We finally booked into a decent hotel, somewhere on the south coast as Emmett felt sure it was far enough out of the way for me that I wouldn't get bothered. As I had no plans to leave the hotel I was cool. This suited me just fine. In fact the only plans I did have were, having a few more drinks, going up to my room, hopefully getting a blow job from….seat filler girl….sleeping all day, getting laid when I woke up, eating, taking a shower, more sleeping and more eating.
Those plans were fucked almost as soon as we went out onto the terrace to wait for our drinks. I had initially breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed just the one guest, a young woman, sitting at a table right at the other side of the terrace. But then she glanced over at us as we sat down and immediately reached into her bag to grab a camera. Fuck my fucking life. I gave Emmett a look that told him in no uncertain terms to sort it out. Even if she was my 'biggest fan' I was not doing photos and autographs today. There had to be a point at which I could switch off and I knew I had reached my breaking point.
Emmett tried the nice approach, turning on his charm…..yeah, and that didn't work so he came over to me for further instruction. I was seriously pissed off as it was his job to sort this shit and we exchanged some heated words. She was a tiny little slip of a girl and he was worried about how it would look if he got a little heavy, plus she was apparently a guest of the hotel so if she made a fuss it would create a shitstorm and bring a lot of unwanted attention. The very thing I was trying to avoid at all costs. Even so, I took my frustration out on Emmett and he reluctantly went back over there to try and reason with her again.
I saw her trying to ignore him and when that was no longer possible she quickly became irritated and I picked up a few of her words the more annoyed she got.
"….who the hell is this Mr Cullen anyway?"
Emmett actually laughed as the sarcasm dripped from her words and asked her again if she was going to put the camera away or not.
All I heard was "Or. Not." And I thought my head was going to explode. I wrenched away from seat filler girl, much to her annoyance and stood up, marching towards Emmett as he strode back over to me. He looked furious but put both his palms up in a calming gesture when he took in the look on my face. He knew that I couldn't afford to have a public meltdown and grabbed both of my arms.
"Edward…..just calm down. Take a few breaths and think this through. If you go over there all guns blazing, it won't end well…..Give me a minute to sort it out. Go up to your room and I'll ring you later."
"Fuck going up to my room Emmett. I want to have a few drinks, here, on the balcony…..in the fresh air. Why do I have to hide inside all the time? For fucks sake."
Emmett held firm. I knew he was right but fuck it, I wanted to just have one day….one day off and I didn't think it was too much to ask.
"Look I know you're right Emmett, but I need this, I can't tell you how much I need this. I'm okay, I'll just go over and ask her nicely, explain that I need a day off. Shit, I'll let her take a fucking photo if that's what it takes to have a break. I'm fine…..I won't lose it, I promise."
He studied me closely before coming to the conclusion that I wasn't going to go ballistic and finally released my arms. I looked back at seat filler girl, shrugged my shoulders and walked over to the fan.
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