3rd Place Winner – Delectable Award
Beautiful Edward Challenge Anonymous Entry
Story Title: Beauty Crowds Me
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Edward is beautiful, of that there is no doubt. His beauty has opened so many doors for him, but it has closed just as many others.
Has the door slammed shut on what he truly wants?
Word Count: 6,997
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight character names. Anne Fine, Randy Mayam Singer and Leslie Dixon wrote the book and screenplay for Mrs. Doubtfire, which is referred to in this story. I've just played around with the characters and made them do what I want.
Thankyou so much and lots of hugs to PhoenixRising for stepping in and performing her magic beta work so fast on this one-shot, as of course the idea came to me just days before the deadline…
Beauty crowds me till I die,
Beauty, mercy have on me!
But if I expire today,
Let it be in sight of thee-
I have a little confession to make.
I have a secret.
A secret life, if you will.
Please don't look at me like that…it's nothing sordid or dishonest.
I don't cheat on my wife - I don't have a wife or even a steady girlfriend at the moment. I don't snort up, shoot up, drink up or smoke up a storm behind closed doors. I'm not into that BDSM lifestyle, although I don't mind giving a little spanking …not any of that other weird shit. And I don't rob banks or scam the stock market or steal the life savings of little old grannies from under their mattresses.
My secret is this….
I am an executive assistant working for Glamour, a women's magazine!
"Ooh?" I hear you say.
Yes…yes, it's true.
I, Anthony Mason, as of today, am the executive assistant to the features editor. Well, to be more accurate, a temporary executive assistant, currently assigned to the magazine from the temping agency for which I occasionally work.
Okay, it's true…this is not my dream job. But, I am hoping that the experience I will gain will start me on my way towards the long-term, respected career I crave. One day I plan to be a well-read, highly respected journalist-cum-author with novels on the New York Times Best Seller List.
"It's a far cry from being an executive assistant for what is essentially a woman's magazine, to a Pulitzer Prize-winning author," I hear you say.
Well, fuck you.
It's a start. Everybody has to start somewhere…right?
I have a lot to learn. I know that, and I'm doing something about it. What the hell are you doing?
I have already completed my Bachelor's degree in Journalism by distance study with the University of Massachusetts with honors, but I desperately need work experience. Do you know how hard it is to get an internship at any of the major newspapers or even some of the little ones? Do you? Well unfortunately I do, and even with some of the highest grades in the school's history, I got offered diddly squat.
Besides, any experience is good experience…right?
You may be asking yourselves - why the secret life? Who is he keeping it a secret from? Is this guy just plain crazy? Does he have a superman complex with his secret identity?
Well actually yes. I am a little like Superman…without the super powers of course. I am not delusional!
And just like Superman, I have my everyday persona – the dorky, bespectacled, shy and studious Anthony Masen, and a very public persona - the infamous Edward Cullen – highly paid, highly sought after photographic and catwalk model whose face and body adorn magazine covers the world over.
Okay, you can pick your jaws up from the floor now.
I know…it's hard to believe, right? There is no way that this non-descript man peering at himself in the bathroom mirror through bottle top thick lenses and with lank lifeless brownish hair, is the beauteous Edward Cullen.
Edward Cullen is famous the world over for his freakishly good looks. He doesn't need glasses because they would detract from the deep, sea-green pools of his gorgeous eyes; his locks are a beautiful mess of lush, hand-moulded bronze; he has a pair of killer abs many a woman has drooled over and lusted after, and his voice is like liquid sex.
What? No…ewww…those are not my words! Contrary to popular opinion, I do not have 'tags' on myself. Those words came directly from a magazine article that my sister, Alice, shoved in front of my face and quoted to me a few days ago…while laughing her ass off. Seriously, I would much prefer not to be beautiful. It is a fucking pain in the ass. I'm serious!
It's not that I'm ungrateful…I have a very nice house, several in fact. I also have a garage full of expensive cars and more money than I know what to do with, even after donating a lot of it to a number of charities close to my heart.
My mother, Esme, died a few years ago from cancer and I set up a charitable foundation in her name, one that provides funding for cancer research and hospital equipment. My mother, in fact, is the reason why I became a male model.
The foundation is why I am still a model, twenty five years after first getting involved in the madness and hating every single moment of it. Well most of it…there was that photo shoot with Miranda Kerr, a Victoria's Secret model, in see-thru lingerie draped all over me while I wore only jeans…where was I again?
From the moment I was born, and the first visitor to the hospital oohed and aahed over the crib at the incredibly pretty baby, my life has been one long photo shoot after another. Then, one cursed day when I was fourteen months old, my mother happened to visit a shopping mall on a day when a baby contest was being held. Of course I won the contest for 'most beautiful baby', 'most beautiful smile' and 'most photogenic'. After that, my mother scoured the newspapers for Baby Contests and we went to all of them within a hundred mile radius. I won the lot.
I hated posing and smiling for hours when all I really wanted to do was stay at home and play with my best friend who lived next door, Jasper, in the sandbox and make mudpies. But it made my mom happy, so I did it.
Once I had started school, things calmed down as my father insisted that a good education was important. I had real friends, who I got to hang out with every day and play and have fun. Those years were the best of my life. I joined Little League with Jasper and I went to a book club at the library every week with my other friend, Bella, who lived down the road from me.
Sadly, those halcyon days were short lived. When I was thirteen, my mother had taken Alice and me to get professional portraits done as a gift for our father and our grandparents for Christmas. I knew the drill well and had smiled and posed as asked by the photographer. Alice, however, had been a nightmare… I wondered whether she did it on purpose. My mother had been fuming until finally in the last few minutes of our session, Alice posed and smiled like a perfect angel and the pictures were taken.
The photographer suggested I was so photogenic and good looking that I could be a child model. He gave my mother a card from a modelling agency and when she called them and mailed them a copy of the portraits, my career as a model was born.
I was featured in the local catalogues for the shopping mall in town. At first it wasn't so bad. The catalogue had featured me in a range of jeans and button down shirts. To my complete and utter humiliation, the second catalogue that came out was of me modelling a range of boy's underpants, which I had pleaded with my mother to get me out of doing. Unfortunately my contract did not allow me any say at all. At school, the girls still worshipped the ground I walked on, but the amount of teasing and toilet dunking I was on the receiving end from the boys made my life a living hell.
My modelling career took off and I was at photo shoots several afternoons a week for several years. My free time to spend with Jasper and Bella became less and less until eventually the only time I was able to see them was in class or at the cafeteria for lunch. The times we did spend with each other were filled with tales of things they did together. I felt left out and I remember feeling extremely jealous of Jasper. I had long harboured a secret crush on my childhood friend, Bella, who had grown up into a beautiful and smart young lady of sixteen, but who now seemed to prefer Jasper's company to my own.
I let my petty jealousies build up and avoided the cafeteria so that I was spared the sight of them getting closer, and eventually they had stopped hanging out with me all together. Instead, they started to spend time with the kids from the school paper. Bella had written articles for the paper while Jasper took photos for it. There had been nothing I'd wanted more than to be there with them, but my pride kept me mute when I had the chance to sign up myself.
During that year I had become moody and somewhat of a recluse at home as a result of the continued bullying at school. When I wasn't smiling or posing for the camera, I could be found in my room scowling and listening to angry, loud head-banging music. And okay, I admit it, wanking…a lot. Hey, I was sixteen, perpetually horny, and had a case of unrequited love for Bella.
Then, one week I had been too ill to go to school and thankfully looked like shit, so all my photo shoots had been cancelled for the week. One afternoon, I remember slinking down from my room to foray for some food when I walked in on Alice and Jasper fooling around on the couch in the family room.
I had yelled at Jasper for daring to touch my sister, but also for cheating on Bella. They had simply burst into laughter and rolled around on the couch, after which Jasper had calmly informed me that I had been a complete and utter ass since he had been dating Alice for six months. He and Bella were only friends and spent a lot of time together because I was too busy primping and posing in front of a camera, on top of which, Bella thought that I was only interested in the models and not in her.
After hearing that, I was anxious to repair things with Bella. I had desperately wanted to date her, but before that I needed to regain our friendship, which I had stupidly thrown away. The plan I came up with was to get a job on the school paper.
Regardless of my high marks, the editor of the paper, James Masters, a complete and utter asshole, ridiculed me in front of everybody in the school cafeteria when I approached him to talk about writing an article.
He laughed at my request and taunted, in his loud, carrying voice, "Edward fucking Cullen wants to write an article for the paper. Not fucking likely…all you're good for, Cullen, is smiling pretty for the camera and taking some photographer's dick up the ass."
Bella had been sitting right beside James at the table, and after he had thrown his hateful words at me, he had leaned over and kissed her on the mouth, right in front of me. Bella had pulled away from the kiss quickly and had looked up at me with the sheen of tears in her eyes.
That was the last time I had seen Bella Swan.
When I drove home early from school fuming, the house was in chaos. Packing boxes were strewn about the floor, my mother and father in tears. I soon joined them after my father haltingly informed me that my mother had been unwell for a little while, that her health had deteriorated and we were moving to Seattle so that she could get access to state of the art medical treatment.
In the week leading up to our move, I had refused to return to school, choosing instead to stay home and help pack up the house. Hearing pretty much the entire student body dissolve in laughter at James's comment that day showed me that I had very few friends, regardless of being constantly surrounded by girls wanting to get into my pants. None of which had, by the way. None of them was Bella. I had pretty much turned into a workaholic, studious, loner who never dated. No wonder everyone thought I was a closet homosexual.
The day before we left town, Alice and Jasper clung to each other and promised to keep in touch. I'd ached to go and see Bella, to say goodbye and to exhort the same promises from her. But I couldn't face her, knowing that she was dating James and had witnessed my humiliation.
My mother's medical treatments were very expensive and although our family was reasonably well off, everyone felt the strain. I had taken it upon myself to take my portfolio to the leading modelling agency in Seattle. I had hated this work with a passion, but my mother loved to see her beautiful boy in print and I wanted to contribute to her treatments the only way I knew how.
By that time I had turned seventeen, I was more sought after than ever. Shopping mall catalogues gave way to major designer house shoots, fashion show runway jobs and finally, the pinnacle for a male model, magazine cover shoots wearing Armani, or sometimes nothing much at all!
I also received advances from male and female models and photographers alike, all of which I judiciously turned away until my 19th birthday, when I'd thought, "Fuck it!" and finally took Jessica Stanley, a photographer, to bed. Or rather, Jessica took me to bed and taught me all there was to know about pleasing a woman.
Jessica wasn't like all the other plastic 'gimme' people in this business. She was a true professional and had a quirky, funny sense of humor which reminded me a lot of Bella Swan, the first and only girl I had ever loved. I tried not to think about how much Jessica reminded me in other ways of Bella too, from her long, dark brown hair, her small stature and her pale creamy skin.
I tried hard not to think of Bella the first time Jessica kneeled at my feet and gave me head. I had held onto her long brown locks as she had serviced me expertly with her mouth and tongue, and I forced the thought of it being Bella's chocolate brown skeins cascading over my thighs instead of Jessica's, out of my mind.
I tried not to think of Bella again later that same night as Jessica sprawled on the bed in front of me on her hands and knees. Her face had been mashed into the pillows as I pounded into her from behind, my long fingers on her pale petite hips pulling her back into me while her long brown hair fanned out across the bedding.
I liked Jessica a lot, but a year into the relationship when she realized that I would never fall in love with her, she ended it. It was for the best. I had never been in danger of losing my heart to her. Jessica was most gracious, like everything she did.
Just before my twenty-first birthday, my mother lost her battle with cancer. She succumbed one lazy Sunday afternoon in her favourite chair, reading her favourite book and surrounded by the love of her family. After the laboured breathing of her last few weeks, the eerie quiet of the room after she took her last breath was deafening in its peacefulness. My father, Alice and I had just sat there quietly, holding hands, thankful that my mother's suffering had finally ended while mourning the loss of her future.
In that quiet room, my mother's hand still warm in my own, I had made the decision to continue as I had been, working as a model to finance cancer research in her honor. I also reached the conclusion that life is too short and I needed to work towards something that I wanted as well, and I desperately wanted to be a writer.
A few days later I ventured online and enrolled in my Journalism course, to be completed long distance so that I could continue modelling to fund the foundation's activities.
My life was not all work, study and no play. I had a number of shorter term relationships after Jessica, but nothing really serious. I picked my partners judiciously, not wanting to get labelled a man-whore like so many other male models in the industry. I knew that to be taken seriously once I was in the writing arena, I had to make the right choices even now so that nothing could endanger my integrity.
First there had been Victoria, a tall voluptuous redhead. Victoria was modelling to pay for her legal education. When Victoria had saved sufficient funds she left the world of modelling and me behind without a backward glance.
Next was Jane, a pale-white blond, a new executive at the agency who handled my contracts. It started out as a business relationship and turned into a 'friends with benefits' thing. It was great until Jane was offered a promotion in the firm's
Chicago office. I missed her friendship and the sex but my heart remained whole.
Tanya was a tall, strawberry blond ad exec. That ended when I caught her cheating with her sister's husband…in my bed. I took a nice long break from women after that.
My last girlfriend, Gianna, was Italian and a model. We were often paired together in photo shoots. I was quite taken by Gianna with her flashing eyes and passionate nature, so completely the opposite of my reserved nature. Our relationship had been one of those on again, off again sorts which fizzled within a year, mainly due to my inability to lose my heart yet again. That, and the fact that I spent way too much time studying for her liking.
I was starting to think that no one would ever measure up to the incomparable Bella Swan.
Basically I worked, travelled a little, dated a little and wrote a lot. I wrote about how my looks, while monetarily satisfying, were killing me little by little. I wrote about losing my first love through insecurities and stupidity. I wrote about my mother and how her death affected me. I wrote about the places I travelled and the people I met.
After completing my Journalism degree with honors, I had eagerly sent out my resume and portfolio of articles I had written to all the major newspapers and respected magazines for a chance at an internship position. Based on my performance at college, I was immediately granted interviews with a number of prominent papers. Within minutes of attending each interview, I could see each and every one shut me down as a potential candidate on the basis of my pretty face and well known modelling career. Not that anybody said as much, but the pile of rejection letters spoke for themselves and it stung.
So that is my little sob story about poor Edward Cullen, famous, rich and utterly miserable. Woe is me.
I still on occasion mope, and I did then after being rejected by newspaper after newspaper. So sue me…you try studying every free moment, day and night for four years only to get kicked in the teeth by fucking idiots who are so blinded by your good looks that they can't see the brain inside. How did they think I got my good marks at college? Did they think I slept with the entire faculty?
Ohhhh! Fucking hell!
No matter how circumspect I am in regard to women and relationships, the gossip mags still manage to sensationalize every little coffee meeting with a TA, or a drink after work with a photographer. For Christ's sake, once I had been having lunch with Alice and the gossip world was abuzz for a week wondering who my new flame was!
That's when I came up with my plan to live a double life as Anthony Mason, in the hope that without my looks, my brain might take center stage for once. I had to alter my appearance and find work in the publishing world anonymously and on merit alone. Sadly, since my academic results were in my own name, the only solution had been to start from the bottom and hope that someone, somewhere in the industry would recognise my writing talent.
Changing my looks meant letting Alice in on my little secret. Alice worked in the entertainment industry, behind the camera in makeup and costume design. Many a time she had been the make up artist on my shoots, although I did draw the line at her involvement when I had underwear shoots. We both agreed she did NOT want to be anywhere around when my private parts were being adjusted in boxer briefs or all but out between changes.
I asked her to make me look unbeautiful. Alice was a freaking genius at disguise having worked on aging some of the most beautiful women in Hollywood until they were unrecognisable hags.
I've been Anthony Masen on and off for twelve months now and not one person has recognized me. I am slowly working my way up the ladder via the temp agency whenever I have some downtime from my modelling assignments. I don't have to accept every modelling job offered to me these days, so I have more free time than in previous years.
So why today am I acting all OCD, peering at myself through the thick glass of the spectacles that Alice found for me, fussing with the wig of boring brown, slightly longish hair, adjusting the garish, old fashioned tie and straightening my shapeless, cheap suit?
For some inexplicable reason I am a nervous wreck. There is nothing different about this company, except the position I am filling is more senior than those I have held previously. It also offered the chance of writing some small articles to be published under the supervision of the features editor, who I am yet to meet.
My other life as Edward Cullen, supermodel, will take a front seat after work this evening and as such I have brought my gym bag with me with a change of clothes befitting the beauteous Edward, to meet with my agent and Jasper. Alice and Jasper kept in touch as promised and had been married for two years now. I see him a lot in my modelling work as he is now one of the principal photographers for Details magazine.
The dinner is planned for 6:30pm just down the road from the offices of Glamour Magazine in a new restaurant called Eclipse. I am quite looking forward to it; the food is fantastic, plus I haven't seen Emmet McCarty, my agent, for a while.
After one more adjustment to my wig, I make my way out of the bathroom and back to my desk. There is no name tag on my boss's door yet; the new editor has recently been promoted from out of state, and this is their first day on the job, too. I busy myself getting to know the software on my computer, flick through the diary so that I can pass on the editor's appointments for the day as soon as they walk in the door and sort through the correspondence, typing up some recommendations as I go.
I've been working steadily for an hour, when I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up and a shiver race down my spine. I jerk my head up and scan the area in front of me. I feel like I am being watched but there is no-one there. As I drop my eyes to the desk, ready to start the next task, a feminine throat is cleared immediately behind me. I swing around in my seat, my heart racing, only for my eyes to land on a wet dream come to life.
Behind me, leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe is a woman who I assume is my new boss, her chocolate brown eyes watching me as I take her in, from the gleaming gloss of her long, chocolate brown hair to her pale heart-shaped face; her petite frame poured into a fitted chocolate brown pin-striped dress with a matching suit coat and kick ass high heels designed to torment me.
Even before she introduces herself, I know immediately who she is. Isabella Swan, playground playmate, teenage ingénue and now the woman I have long imagined her to be, all grown up and as incomparable as ever.
For the first time ever, I long for my golden good looks instead of being plain, incognito Anthony Masen.
Bella Swan, who I dreamt of often over the years, especially in my thoughts as I wacked off, was standing right in front of me. Even though I had never so much as caught a glimpse of her boobs let alone anything else in our school days, I have imagined them to be handful-sized globes tipped with pale pink, rosy nipples. I have imagined her pussy to be framed by chocolate brown soft curls and sometimes bare. I have often wondered what it would be like to just kiss her.
Unfortunately, my body has decided to react to those thoughts as it has long been conditioned to and I hastily grab my notebook off my desk and place it in my lap, ready to take notes if I am required…yes…take notes.
Bella introduced herself to me and we got down to work immediately as the office had been left rather in a mess by the previous editor. Bella agreed with all of my recommendations and asked me to type up the short articles we agreed on. I'm ecstatic. Who would have guessed this morning that in the space of a few short hours, a couple of my dreams would come true?
Surprisingly it is very easy to work with Bella, and given this is the first day on the job for both of us, our thoughts about so many things are in sync. Several times today, as we sat side by side in the conference room, the familiar scent of the shampoo she had used in high school infiltrated my nostrils. I almost blurted out that very fact before I caught myself and reminded myself most firmly that today was supposedly the first time we had met.
I've often wondered about how Bella's life had turned out after I left Forks. I was even tempted a few times to Google her, but in the end decided against it. I had been quite happy imagining Bella staying in Forks with her father and working at the local paper. I hadn't wanted to know that she had married James Masters or someone equally obnoxious. I still had no idea, a full day later, whether she was married or not. She used the name Swan but that didn't mean anything these days.
As the day drew to a close, I transferred a late call from the publishing house to Bella's telephone. As I packed up to leave for the evening, Bella appeared in her doorway, flushed and slightly agitated.
"Fucking London office and their weird time zones. Anthony, can you stay back for a little while to brainstorm with me? I need to get an outline to them before ten a.m. tomorrow and I could really use your help."
Fuckity, fuckity, fuckity…fuck!
I'm supposed to be meeting Emmett and Jasper in half an hour and I really need to go. Emmett has negotiated a five page spread for me in Details magazine, to be photographed by Jasper, and we are ironing out the contracts tonight.
It is important, but so is spending quality time with Bella, who has managed within a day what Jessica, Victoria, Jane, Tanya and Gianna all failed to accomplish over the last five years. She has wormed her way back into my heart and I need to spend the time with her to make her fall for this normal everyday guy, Anthony Masen. I hope he can achieve what Edward Cullen has never been able to.
I have a plan. A diabolical plan. I just hope it won't end the same way as the movie from which my plan stems. The concept was good, but Mrs. Doubtfire got hopelessly drunk and screwed him/herself royally. I will just have to make sure I don't screw up.
"Miss Swan, it's been a long day; why don't we go and have a drink at Eclipse? It's a new bar and restaurant, just down the road. That way we can relax a little and discuss the outline in a relaxed atmosphere. It's been a very long day, and I for one could use a drink. What do you think?"
Bella stood up and stretched, rolling her shoulders a little. I try not to stare at her breasts that jut out enticingly as a result.
"Bella, please, and that sounds like a great idea, Anthony. I'm feeling a little stressed after that call. Let me get my handbag and my notebook and we can head over to Eclipse now."
I pray my plan works. I will need a clear head and lots of clothes changes. There is no way that Edward Cullen can be seen in these clothes and come out with his career intact. Although I don't want to remain a model forever, I still need to continue for another year at least to set the foundation up for life and a comfortable income for me while I am working my way up to my dream job.
Bella walks out of her office and I grab my gym bag and follow her to the bank of elevators at the rear of the building. As the elevator is descending, she gestures towards my gym bag and raises her eyebrows. Thinking quickly, I tell her that I have a membership at an all night gym and will go there after our meeting is finished. Phew, this secret life is exhausting keeping everything straight.
As we enter the bar, I note that Emmett and Jasper are already seated at the far side of the restaurant around the corner from the bar. Perfect. Bella and I sit down and order and while we wait for the drinks, I excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I set off at a brisk pace with my gym bag in tow. Thankfully, years on the catwalks have gifted me with the ability to perform speedy gear changes.
In the larger stall at the end of the aisle, I quickly change out of my nerdy suit and tie and into dark button fly jeans, a soft white v-necked tee and a pricy dark blue button down shirt which I leave open and roll up the sleeves to just below my elbows. I look in the mirror and laugh at the trendily clad nerd with flat hair and glasses. As I pull the wig off, I emit a sigh of pure relief to feel fresh air against my scalp. Next I remove the glasses and place everything neatly into the bag and hide it in the janitor's closet.
I take a last look in the mirror, run my fingers through my hair, releasing it into its standard floppy sex hair look, then slip out the bathroom door and make my way to Emmett and Jasper's table. I clap my hand on Emmett's shoulder and lean down to shake his hand. He looks rather perplexed, not having seen me arrive.
"How did you manage to walk in the restaurant with me seeing you, Eddie? Did you come in disguise or something?" Emmett chuckles at his little joke.
"Something like that, Emmett," I replied as I reach over and clasp Jasper's shoulders in a man hug. Our former close friendship has been restored over the years, now that I have taken the stick out of my ass and the chip off my shoulder, as Jasper was fond of reminding me.
Emmett slid over a whiskey on the rocks for me, and told me that I needed to catch up as he and Jasper have already had several. Without thinking, I lift the glass and drain it, momentarily forgetting my plan to stay completely sober for this exercise in deception. A second appears on the table in front of me and despite my plan, my nerves get the better of me and I drain that one, too.
Emmett leans down and extracts papers from his briefcase, handing Jasper and I each a copy of the contract to look at before signing. I glance at the first page and then make my excuses for the bathroom.
I rush in and after checking the stalls are empty, grab my bag and change clothes, put on the wig and the glasses and rush back to Bella. I must have been longer than I realized as she crooked her eyebrow at me and asked, "Is everything okay, Anthony?"
I nod, embarrassed.
How long had I been with Emmett and Jasper, anyway?
Bella pushes the whiskey sitting on the table towards me and indicates that we should clink our glasses, which we did as she murmured, "Well cheers, Anthony. Here's to a hopefully long and productive working relationship. You made my first day on the job run so smoothly and I look forward to working with you on a regular basis."
I smile but inwardly I am conflicted. On one hand working together is like a wish come true. Bella and I are on the same wavelength and work together like a dream. However, working with Bella is also torture. She has no clue who I am, and will never be interested in nerdy Anthony Masen.
Bella pulls out her notebook from her bag and we begin discussing the London office request. We sit there talking for a while before I again take my leave and head to the bathroom. As I change I look into the mirror and my reflection seems a little blurry and my nose feels a little tingly. No more drinks for me.
As I sit down at the table with Emmett and Jasper, they both stare at me as if in shock.
"What the fuck are you looking at?" I fiercely whisper at them. Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose or something?
They both burst out laughing and Jasper hands me another whiskey which I drain in one long gulp and then burst out coughing at the strength.
"What the fuck! Was that triple strength you ordered for me?" I glare at Jasper.
"Well, Edward," he giggles…yes giggles like a little girl, "you spent so long in the bathroom, you are a little behind. What took you so long anyways and why the fuck are you wearing a creepy wig and glasses?"
My eyes start to cross as I mentally tabulate the drinks I have consumed. Two drinks with these bozos, two with Bella, and a triple strength just now. Why is everything swaying?
Wait, did Jasper say wig and glasses?
I lurch to my feet and stumble back to the bathroom. I will deal with Emmett and Jasper later. I need to get back to Bella.
I change quickly and return to my seat, albeit a little unsteadily. I sit down and look over at Bella, starting to apologise for my delay. Bella is sitting there with an enormous smile on her face. "You don't drink very often do you, Edward." She smirks.
"No, not really. I'm sorry Miss Swan. I seem to have imbibed a little too much tonight and I….wait a second…did you just call me Edward?"
"Yes, Edward, I did." She smiled widely at me.
"How did you know?" I whisper to her, my eyes crossing and it's a bit difficult to focus on her face.
Bella leans closer to me and crooks her finger for me to lean forward as well. I have the sudden urge to lean even closer still and kiss her, something I have longed to do for ten years. She whispers back, "Well, apart from the fact that you just came back from the bathroom without that horrible wig and those thick ugly glasses…" I gasp and my hands fly to my head where I confirm that sure enough, the coarse hair of the wig is absent, and my own soft hair is in full view. Bella nods and smiles.
"I strongly suspected that Anthony Masen was you a few weeks ago when I was sent your resume and writing portfolio, among a host of others, to choose my executive assistant. I know we grew apart in school, but I do happen to know that my best friend's full name is Edward Anthony Masen Cullen."
I feel rather foolish. Bella hadn't finished.
"And then there was the short story you included in your portfolio called Missed Opportunities, about how in high school the girl of your dreams got away because you never told her about how incomparably beautiful you thought she was and then let petty jealousies drive a wedge between you. Not that I knew at the time that you thought me beautiful, but you did name the girl in your story, Isabel Swansea."
I'm in shock. Bella has known for weeks now that we would be working together? She did, in fact, choose me to work with her, and she hasn't said a thing all day. I shake my head, trying to clear it and start thinking straight.
"So you knew all along?"
Bella is shaking her head. "I strongly suspected, but I wasn't completely sure until I saw you sitting in front of my office and that's when I knew for sure."
"How did you know, Bella? Not one person has ever suspected who I really am and I have been Anthony Masen for a year now." I can feel my brow furrow as I contemplate her answer.
Bella moves her chair closer to mine and leans forward some more. "When I walked into the office, you were so focussed on your work; you didn't notice me for a while and I watched you. Did you know that when you concentrate really hard on a problem you stick your tongue out a little and suck on it with your lips?" Bella lifts her hand to my face and brushes her thumb down over my lips.
I shake my head and shiver a little at the contact. I think my dick is connected directly to my lips because it lengthens and hardens at the touch of Bella's thumb.
"Well you do, and it is very distracting. It has always been distracting."
"And you have always run your hands through your hair and pulled at it when you are nervous, except today, because every time you went to do it, you touched the wig, grimaced in disgust and put your hand down again." Bella reaches out and scrapes her nails lightly through my hair and I groan at the sensual contact which is causing my nipples to harden.
"And there is the fact that Edward Cullen has the cutest little mole on the back of his neck, right here…" Bella pulls me closer and then she kisses the back of my neck, right there.
"Fuck…Bella!" I grind out, my dick twitching to get to know the object of my desire better. "Bella, to me you have always been the most beautiful woman, the only woman I have ever loved. I'm so sorry I never let you know how I felt about you at school but I was so jealous of Jasper and then of James."
Bella shakes her head at me and a tear escapes down her cheek. "Edward, you cannot beat yourself up about that forever. I wasn't ready to hear it then. I was jealous of all the pretty girls you were photographed with and would never have had the confidence then to believe you even if you had told me."
I try to reassure her, but she cuts me off.
"I have read all that you have written and I understand now. I never knew how unhappy you were. We thought that your career was more important than we were, and Jasper and I shut you out when you needed us the most. I am the one that's sorry, Edward. You are the only man I have ever loved and I threw it all away because of my insecurities."
I can't hear any more of her painful confessions. It seems we have both fucked up, but I didn't want to continue all night going over all of our mistakes. It seemed there is but one solution.
I kiss her.
It was meant to be a sweet, gentle kiss but when my lips finally touch hers it's as if a fire has been lit and gentle becomes urgent, with pressure and tongues and moans and roaming hands. It is perfect.
It is cut short with the sound of two throats clearing, Emmett's manly chuckle and Jasper's girly giggle. Emmett is holding my gym bag and Jasper the discarded wig and glasses.
"Lose something, Eddie?" he called out. "Hello, Isabella. It's lovely to see you again."
Bella smiles and blushes as I stand up and take my bag, hair and glasses from the boys.
They both have raised eyebrows and smirks but I'm not in the mood for their questions right now. I draw Bella to her feet and as we walk past, arm in arm, I throw out, "I'll answer your questions later fuckers…Edward and Anthony have some catching up to do with Bella!" and walk out of the bar, the love of my lives in tow.
~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~