Title: The Secret Diary of a Broken Heart
Penname(s): Claire Bloom
Pairing(s): Bella and Edward
Picture #: 61
Rating: M for language
Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight, I own my dreams of Edward Cullen and all that transpire in them
Summary: Bella is a talented journalist who dreams of furthering her career. When she stumbles upon a diary, she is torn between achieving her lifelong goals and ruining the life of a broken man. Will Bella listen to her head or her heart?
Submitted for the 100 Pictures—An Anon Fanfic Competition
Please check out the other entries here: HYPERLINK "http:/www" http:/www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/community/100_Pictures_An_Anon_Fanfic_Competition_Entries/83603/
Conscience is the impulse to do right, because it is right, regardless of personal ends.
Margaret C. Graham
Jeez, I don't know what to say, this is hard, especially for me. I just don't think this is working anymore. I have my promotion to concentrate on and you're - Well, you've become so needy, lately. I hope we can still be friends.
I stared at the letter, literally dumbfounded. Best? Best! What the hell was that supposed to mean? That Mother Fucker! I had become so needy? What a knob cheese! I'd spent fucking hours listening to him moan about his job and the other wankers at his firm making partner before him, when he thought he deserved it more.
And he accused me of being needy!
He never asked me about my day. Ever! I had even loaned him money to go away for the weekend to a bachelor party in Vegas, because his first mortgage payment was due, and he still owed rent on his apartment. I couldn't fucking believe this shit!
"I don't fucking believe this shit!" Rosalie yelled as she screwed the letter up and threw it across the room. "What a total smeg!"
"Smeg?" Alice and I looked at each other. Rosalie was always so inventive with her vocabulary, and I was the writer!
"Please elaborate?" I asked.
"Smeg, you know, the cheese usually found under the foresk-..."
"OKAY! I think we've got it!" Alice interrupted as I sat back, spitting my cocktail out with laughter. It even dribbled down my chin.
"Here, Bells, I've made you a sandwich." Alice handed me a plate, the bread piled high with filling. This was Alice's idea of comfort food. Mine was in the form of two guys who made great ice-cream.
"What's in it?" I asked dubiously.
"Fishy cow!" Rosalie snorted, taking a sip of her drink.
"Excuse me?" I almost choked, spewing my cocktail all over my chest. Was Rosalie calling me smelly? I lifted my arm to take a sneaky sniff.
"The sandwich, I call it fishy cow. It's Alice's specialty; tuna and cheese."
I put the plate down, and wiped at my face.
"Napkin," Rosalie held one out to me. "Jake was right; you're a needy bitch. You can't even drink without making a mess!"
"What a smeg!" I muttered.
"Damn right!" Alice toasted.
"Honestly though, Bella, you do tend to pick the dickheads!"
"How so?" I cocked an eyebrow at Rosalie and waited for her to explain that comment.
I thought I had good taste in men. I mean, everyone had a dating history, right? The arrogant guys whom you were into, but weren't that into you. The creeps who stalked you, forcing you to get a restraining order to stop them from stealing your underwear off the washing line. Or the geeks who spent all their time in front of their electrical equipment rather than showering and spending time with you.
Okay, maybe I did have bad taste in men!
"You have a consistent history is all."
"I need more," I urged her.
Rosalie sat forward, her elbows resting on her knees. "I just mean you tend to pick the guys who need to rely on you, and when they don't deliver, you wonder why it went wrong."
"So, you're saying I pick needy guys which in turn makes me needy?"
"In a nutshell."
"Of course you'd think so. Nobody wants to admit when they're wrong."
"And you're right, right?" I smirked.
"Damn straight. I'm always right." Rosalie sat back, crossing her legs lithely.
"But you wouldn't admit it if you were wrong, because people never admit when they're wrong, right?"
"I never admit when I'm wrong because that doesn't happen."
"Alice, a little help here?" I begged. Alice just laughed and sipped her cocktail.
It was Friday night, and my best friends had ditched their dates to come and mollycoddle my broken heart. The fact was my heart wasn't really broken. Yes, I was hurt, rejection always hurt. I think it was more the fact that he had broken up with me before I'd had the chance to even admit there may be a problem. I knew things hadn't been great between us, but what couple didn't go through rough patches? That's what made them stronger. Or so I'd believed. The trouble was I didn't know what to believe anymore.
"Fucking men!" I grumbled.
"The truth is, Bella, I think you pick these guys because you know there's no future in it." Alice sipped her drink and looked up at me through her lashes, guilt at her statement making her cheeks flush. She was sweet and didn't like to criticise.
"And then you can blame them when the relationship breaks down," Rosalie added.
I stood up, one hand on my hip, the other holding my drink out and pointing it at my so-called friends. "So, let me get this straight. I am a needy chick who picks needy men to make me feel less needy and more needed. I pick the jerks-.."
"Dickheads," Rosalie piped up.
"I pick the dickheads because I want to call them a dickhead when they fuck up, and I have a fear of intimacy?"
Alice and Rosalie looked at each other over their drinks. Alice shrugged and Rosalie finally nodded. "In a nutshell."
"I'm fucked," I muttered, dropping back down into my chair, spilling my drink once more, all over my t-shirt.
"Oh for fuck's sake, woman, get a bib!" Rosalie bitched.
I spent the remainder of the night thinking about their words and drinking more cocktails. Were they right? Was I the human equivalent of a dumping ground? Did I attract losers just so I could say I had lost at love? I had no idea what to believe; I just knew I didn't want to go on like this anymore. How much rejection could one person take? Wasn't I supposed to have found my knight in shining armor by now? Where was he? Walking barefoot from China? What was taking him so long?
I bid my friends goodnight and fell on top of my bedclothes, fully dressed and sticky from the spilt liquor. I grabbed my duvet and wrapped myself up like a caterpillar in a cocoon. Snug as a bug in a rug, I fell asleep.
I woke the next morning with a hangover, red sticky goo all over my chest from my drink-ridden t-shirt sticking to me, and mascara smudged under my eyes. The panda look was not good! My twenty dollar waterproof mascara apparently wasn't smudge proof.
I turned on the faucet and grabbed a cloth to scrub my face, only to find my shower gel was empty. I didn't own makeup remover as I usually had soap to assist me with my cleansing routine. I groaned as I realised I'd also run out of toilet paper. Thank God I at least had toothpaste. I brushed my teeth and dressed quickly in jeans and a clean tee from the laundry basket. I slipped on my sunglasses before running out the door without as much as a brief glance in the mirror.
I drove to work and parked, grabbing my sophisticated work equipment, which consisted of a pen and notepad, from the backseat and hurried inside.
My boss was sort of cool. His name was Emmett, and he liked to establish good office morale, so humour and flexibility was essential in his workplace. But he detested tardiness, and I was late.
I slipped in the foyer and landed on my knees in front of the elevator doors. They began to close, but not before I caught a glimpse of the glamorous businessmen and women all watching me flail around on the floor.
"What are you staring at?" I grumbled at the leggy redhead smirking at me.
To my horror, she heard me just as the doors dinged closed. "I have no idea, the label's fallen off!" She laughed.
I grabbed my shit from the floor and turned to the stairwell, moaning about the fact that my office was on the eleventh floor.
"Swan, you're about a fucking month late!" Emmett growled as I raced to my desk and answered my ringing phone.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I verbally vomited at him, through the receiver.
"Get in here!" The call ended, and I held my head in my hands as my hangover decided to up its presence a notch.
"He's been waiting for an hour, Bella. You'd better get a move on." I looked up to see Emmett's assistant, Angela, watching me. "Oh, Jesus!" she exclaimed, covering her mouth as I removed my sunglasses.
"What? What is it? Do I have something on my face?" I reached up and rubbed at my mouth, seeking traces of toothpaste I may have forgotten to wipe off.
"You have mascara, everywhere," she whispered, indicating on her own face where my problem lay.
"What?" I muttered reaching for my shiny silver stapler and holding it up to see my reflection. My face looked morphed into a blob of pink and black and was upside down. "Fucking stapler!" I moaned turning back to Angela.
"You need to wash your face," she said, "and be quick! Emmett's waiting."
I grabbed my bag and headed to the ladies' room. "Distract him," I begged her over my shoulder before careening face first into a wall. "Fuck my life!" I yelled, rubbing my nose as tears stung my eyes.
Emmett's office door was yanked open. "Get in here!" he barked, making me jump. I rubbed at the tears on my cheeks, replaced my sunglasses and headed into his office with my head down.
I stumbled into the nearest chair and waited for Emmett to state his business with me. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die in peace.
"Bella, this is Tanya Denali from the New York Times and Jasper Whitlock, editor of The Enquirer magazine, based in London."
I looked up surprised to see we were not alone in his office. My eyes met those of the bitchy redhead from the elevator.
"Bella, it's nice to meet you." Jasper held out his hand, which I shook, and then I glanced back at Bitchy McBitcherson.
"I see you found your label," she snarled, not bothering to take my offered hand.
"Hmm," I replied, my rapier wit astounding me, as I dropped my hand and glanced at Emmett in question.
"Bella, Jasper's magazine has just published '2010's Richest Bachelor List', and Edward Cullen is number one for the third year in a row."
"Edward is known as quite the ladies man, but recently, has become something of a recluse. In the past, he has refused to be interviewed for any magazine, but has finally issued an individual press release," Jasper informed me. "Based on your recent articles, we've decided you are the ideal candidate for the interview."
"An individual press release?" I repeated. "Is that a real thing?"
"Edward has agreed to be interviewed by one journalist only, but the contents of that interview will be shared amongst the top seven glossies and newspapers worldwide. You will be paid a substantial amount of money based on the interest of this interview, so the juicer the better." Emmett grinned, crossing his arms.
"You want me to interview a guy who has never been interviewed and just dish the dirt?" Emmett's comment irked me. I wanted my journalism to be taken seriously, and all he wanted was great gossip. I began to doubt I would ever make anchor.
"Yes," Jasper and Emmett nodded in unison.
"I don't know if that's a good -," I wanted to persuade them the truth and diversity of his privileged life was the better route for this article, but I was interrupted.
"She isn't right for this job!" Tanya began her assault. "She has no style, no substance and looks like she spent about a fucking week in those clothes. This is the world's richest man we're discussing, and this is what we're sending in?" Tanya swept her hand up and down as if to illustrate just how poorly put together I was.
She was right, but it really pissed me off.
The truth was I didn't think I was right for the job either, but having Bitchy McQueen reconfirm my thoughts was rather like a slap in the face. Suddenly, I wanted the job. The fact that it would help my career may have played a part in my unexpected desire to fight for it, but I also wanted to wipe that smirk off her smug and irritating face.
"Why did you think I was right for this job, Mr. Whitlock?" I asked, glancing at the handsome blonde with the tasty British accent.
"I read your article 'Climate Biodiversity in Third World Countries' and was most impressed. Plus, your weekly column on women and their relationships also caught my eye. In my opinion, you have substance and a sense of humour. I think Edward Cullen will like you very much."
The fact was, I was incredibly proud of my Climate Biodiversity article, but the rewards had been few and far between. I paid my rent by writing a ditty little column based on my friends and their social lives, which I exaggerated to make more readable and fun sounding. The column was very popular, but my passion was in real news, and who's fucking who wasn't as noteworthy as the floods in Africa. I enjoyed my column and had found, as time wore on, that I looked forward to writing it every week. However, I wanted to reach anchor, and my column just didn't grant me that opportunity for recognition.
"Thank you," I blushed at Jasper and tapped my pen on my notepad. I had yet to write any minutes on this meeting, but felt confident Angela would produce something for me to look back over later. "Mr. Whitlock, Ms. Denali, I understand your reluctance to send me in, especially after meeting me, but I can assure you I will deliver."
"I'm just not sure," Tanya argued.
"Why is that?" I asked. "Because I'm not draped in Chanel?"
"No dear, because you're draped in yesterday's makeup and last week's laundry. Don't you even look in the mirror?" she bitched.
I couldn't help but react. She brought out the best in me. "I'm sorry. Is this an interview on the private life of the world's richest man, or a blog for Vogue?"
"Ladies, ladies," Emmett intervened. "The decision was made last week. Bella is going in, and she will deliver."
I watched as Bitchy McStick-up-my-Ass bid Emmett goodbye and left with Mr. Whitlock, who was holding the door open for her. I waited for Emmett to come back to me. I had questions.
Emmett returned bearing gifts. Coffee and an aspirin. I took both gratefully and swallowed. "I don't understand," I told him.
"You look like shit; no doubt you feel it, too." He smiled and sat opposite me.
"Not the coffee, Emmett, the job."
"I've been pimping you out for months now, and it finally paid off."
"You knew about this job months ago?" Emmett's admission had surprised me. I felt a little disappointed he had kept me out of the loop, but a sense of elation at his belief in me. I inwardly cringed at the possible information he'd used to 'pimp' me and hoped he'd picked the best parts of my column.
If I'd known this was in the pipeline, I would've tried to sound more sophisticated.
Emmett nodded and sipped his own coffee. "It's been on the horizon for a while now. The editors of the seven chosen magazines and glossies had to pick their best journalist. We then had to justify our choice, and the board agreed with mine after reading my proposal." He indicated me with his hand.
"Like I said, I don't understand. Jessica is better than I am."
"I agree," he said.
I choked. "Pardon me?"
"But you have more ambition, which is why I know when I tell you what I want, you will deliver."
"You don't just want me to interview him?"
"Of course I do, but I want the juicy parts. We will keep the best bits and feed the others the tidbits. I want the main feast, and I want it to be good."
"Is that legal? And what exactly do you mean?"
"How the fuck should I know?" he shrugged. "You will be invited aboard his yacht where the interview will take place after dinner. I think this will be the perfect time to do some off the radar snooping."
"Emmett, I'm not sure about this." I suddenly felt incapable of pulling this off. My big chance at becoming a household name in journalism was so close, but I couldn't help but allow Tanya's words to penetrate my excitement. Her negativity clouded all of Emmett's positivity. Plus, the idea of dining with Edward on his yacht – alone - scared me. This job was a test of my capabilities. It wasn't the time for doubt.
"Bella," Emmett stood and walked round his desk, crouching in front of me. "You have paid your dues. It's time people knew your name, and this interview will make you a household name. Trust me."
He echoed my thoughts and I tried to listen. I nodded and sipped my coffee. "This isn't just about my career though, is it?" I asked him.
"Hell no, I have a life, too, you know. And like you, I've paid my dues."
I looked away from him, frowning.
"Bella, I know I sound like a total shit," Emmett said as he patted my knee. "But this is a great opportunity for this paper and for your career. I didn't just pick you because I know you'll do the job - I picked you because I know you won't let me down."
"It's a good thing I like you." I grumbled.
"Now, go home, take a fucking shower and get about a week's worth of sleep. You look like shit." Emmett said, standing up and opening his office door. "I don't want to see you here until Friday. I'll email you the agenda."
I nodded and took off for home, my bed and bath calling me. I felt like shit.
I woke up two days later, fully rested and in desperate need of a shower. I'd been so tired and hung-over when I'd gotten home I'd fallen asleep in my clothes again. Now my jeans felt tight, and my t-shirt was crunched up around my chest. I groaned, stripped and headed into my bathroom, swearing when I realised I still had no shower gel.
I called Alice, who luckily lived in the apartment above mine, and five minutes later she arrived with Rosalie and bathroom essentials. I left her and Rosalie in my living room whilst I scrubbed my hair and skin clean. I really did stink. If Rosalie mentioned fishy cow again, I doubted a sandwich would be present.
Emerging fifteen minutes later, I felt more human and rejuvenated. Alice held out a coffee as I dressed in sweats and struggled to comb my knotted hair.
After I told them about my new job, Rosalie Googled Edward Cullen, his image flashed up on the screen and I stopped combing, mid stroke.
"He's cute," I mumbled, letting go of the comb, leaving it hanging in my tangles. I sat behind her and read the information, ready to indulge in any detail as I literally knew nothing about him.
"It says here he recently split with his fiancée, Lauren Mallory. After a four year relationship, they were engaged for only three months,. I wonder what happened?" I asked.
"He cheated," Alice told me.
"What? Really?" I scanned the article but couldn't see that detail. I wondered how she knew this.
"Look at him! He's drop dead gorgeous and needs nothing in life because his bank account could feed the world. What can any woman offer him? He got bored and went looking elsewhere, obviously," Rosalie sniped.
"Rosalie, you're just judging him. Nothing in this article tells us about his real life or the real man behind the name. It's all just speculation. He's never given an interview, just spoken via his PR firm and lawyers," Alice said. I was proud of her for jumping to his defense. She always saw the good in people, but a part of me agreed with everything Rosalie said.
I sat still as Rosalie grabbed the comb dangling from my hair. She pulled it free, and I winced in pain, and then relaxed as she began combing it carefully.
"Are you excited about this job?" she asked me. I nodded. "Just be careful," she said.
"Careful how?" I asked.
"You know, don't fall in love with him."
I held up my hand to stop her from combing and turned to face her.
"I'm interviewing him, not dating him, and will be in his company for a maximum of four hours. Why would you say that?"
"You have a tendency to fall for the unobtainable, and he is the ultimate in that."
"You have a terrible perspective of me," I said, sulking.
"I don't mean to be a bitch, Bella, but I have a terrible feeling about this."
"I won't fall in love with him," I promised, glancing at the screen to see his image smiling back at me. He was incredibly handsome, and for a moment, I worried Tanya McQueen-of-the-fucking-world was right – I would screw this up. Edward Cullen lived in a world where I didn't belong, but I was hired to do a job, and my pay packet would be more than my wages over three years combined. I had to get this right; I just didn't know how.
"It says in Emmett's email that you're having dinner with him on his yacht, before the interview. Do you have a dress?" Alice turned from the laptop and clapped her hands together.
"Of course I have a dress," I said and led them into my bedroom. I pulled open my wardrobe doors and pulled out the two dresses I owned.
"Tell me, Bella, are you a transvestite dominatrix or a hooker from Brooklyn?" Rosalie asked as she and Alice fell on my bed laughing.
I held my dresses up again and looked at them. "What's wrong with these?" I asked, but my question just made them wipe away tears and hold their tummies as hysterics took hold. I threw the dresses to floor and sulked. "Well, help me, I need help!"
"Leave it to us," Rosalie said, sitting up and delicately wiping under her eyes. And so I did.
Friday came too fast for my liking. I had prepared my interview and had even gone with Rosalie to an advance yoga class that morning. She promised it would help me relax. I pondered as I lay with my buttocks hovering close to my face how I could possibly relax - especially when seven of the world's best selling newspapers and glossies were expecting nothing short of brilliance from me.
I met Alice for lunch, and she handed me my bag to take to the yacht and get ready for my evening with Edward Cullen. As I walked the gangplank to board the vessel, I felt like I was about to throw up.
"Ms Swan," Edward's lawyer, James, greeted me as I was shown into the bar and handed a flute of champagne.
I was on a yacht with a bar and sipping champagne from a flute, not gulping it from a mug like I did at home! I already felt like I was million miles away from where I really belonged. I nodded and held out my hand to shake his outstretched one.
"Mr. Cullen is in meetings till four. He will rendezvous with you for dinner at seven sharp. Follow me, and I will take you to your rooms where you can relax and get ready for your evening."
I nodded again and followed James through the boat. He opened a door, and I gasped as I was shown inside. It was huge, bigger than my bedroom at home, and I gaped in awe at the view from the window.
"Someone will come get you when Mr. Cullen is ready," James told me and left.
I decided to unpack the clothes Alice had supplied and let the creases drop out while I took a bubble bath.
I felt butterflies fluttering in the pit of my stomach and thought dinner would be a terrible idea. I wanted to be sick. I had spent the rest of the week leading up to this night devising witty and interesting questions. Now, as I thought of them, they seemed childish and dull to me. I wanted to get this right and prove Tanya McVinegar-tits wrong! I was the right person for this job, but more than that, I wanted Edward Cullen to like me.
I took my time in the bath and used everything Alice had packed. I left the bathroom smelling like a rose garden and eyed the stockings I'd placed on the bed. I didn't do stockings. I did jeans and biker boots. Delicate wasn't my thing. Besides, Edward Cullen would not be seeing my legs so I felt safe leaving the stockings to one side. I slipped on the dress without the fancy undergarments. The dress was beautiful and surprisingly comfortable. It was black and empire cut and, although it skimmed my frame, was not tight or constricting. I spied black, kitten heel sandals sitting in the bottom of the bag and shrugging, I pulled on my thongs instead. The dress was long. He wouldn't see my feet.
I sat on the bed and waited for someone to come and fetch me. Glancing at my watch I noticed it was four minutes past seven. I was fed up with waiting, and felt my anxiety grow with each passing minute. I decided to go looking for him instead.
I left my bedroom and walked the corridor, unsure of where I was supposed to go. There were doors all around me, and I knocked gently and opened each one. They were all bedrooms, but appeared uninhabited. How many bedrooms did this yacht have?
I reached the last room and knocked quietly then pushed the door open. It was Edward's bedroom. Clothing lay scattered all around; suits were visible in the closet and it smelt incredible in there, like soap, cologne and man. Steam was still visible in the bathroom but it was empty, as was his room. I scanned the area, looking for anything that could tell me something about this man.
My eyes landed on a journal laying open on the bed. I looked around and walked farther inside. I wasn't going to read it, I told myself, but deep down I knew there was no other reason for me to be entering his room. I reached the bed and looked down at the pages. It was dated two weeks prior.
Lauren called me. I was happy to hear her voice again. I didn't realize how much I'd missed her. She suggested dinner but I didn't think it was a good idea.
I turned the page back and noticed the date was a month before the last post.
I can't believe this night. I feel so angry and this almost desperate need to run, but I have no idea where I want to run to. I just know I need to get away. I found Lauren in bed with my father. I'm not really mad at him. He's been widowed for almost three years. I'm mad at her. She has betrayed me in the worst way imaginable, and yet, I can't find it in my heart to blame her. It's my fault. I drove her to it and I know this. I feel so – dirty and know I can't ever be with her again. Yet - it hurts to let her go. I wanted to marry her and have children with her. I thought I had everything, but now it's gone, and I don't know how to get it back.
He hadn't cheated on her; she had cheated on him! Why had the rumors hinted at it being the other way around? I pulled away from the journal and sat down on his bed.
Who was this man? The few words I'd read told me he was just like any other ordinary guy out there and was capable of loving someone and feeling heart ache. He had never seemed more human than he did right then, and I'd still yet to meet him in person. I picked up the journal and glanced at the cover. It was a plain book with a simple crest engraved into the leather. I opened it again, but this time to the beginning and read a happier insert.
I met Lauren Mallory for the first time today. She made me laugh and we walked barefoot along the beach, and ate shrimp on the porch of the beach house. I think I really like her.
It made me so sad to read his hopes in those first few words, knowing that she was eventually going to break his heart. I wanted to reach inside the diary and warn him, but it was futile as it was in the past. But still, it seemed vividly present to me as I read each line.
I heard footsteps in the hall outside and quickly hid the journal behind my skirts as the bedroom door opened. It was a maid.
"Oh, excuse me," she exclaimed, surprised to see me standing in his room.
I apologized and left quickly, still clutching the journal. I'd panicked, having been unable to put it back with her standing there looking at me, and now I had it with me and no idea what the fuck I was supposed to do with it.
I rushed back to my own bedroom and stashed the journal in my bag. I would figure out what to do with it later, but for now I had to go interview this guy and try not to let on I knew his horrible secret.
I was met in the hallway by a steward. "Ms. Swan?" he greeted me. I nodded. How many other strange women did Edward have on this boat? "If you'll follow me, Mr. Cullen is waiting."
We walked up the stairs to the deck where a single table with two chairs waited under both fairy lights and starlight. There were roses and tea lights floating in a small bowl of water on the table, and Edward Cullen stood leaning against the railing, looking out at the darkness ahead of him. He was holding two glasses. I just stood and watched him for a moment, curious about this man who had the world in awe, but was secretly nursing a broken heart and wounded ego.
I wondered how I was going to proceed with the evening, knowing what I did about him and Lauren. I wanted to comfort him. I felt a strange, overwhelming need to go to him and offer him sympathy, but instead, I cleared my throat to announce my presence.
He turned and smiled, and I felt my stomach flip. His hair was unruly, and I couldn't fathom if it was from his hands or the sea breeze. I felt a strange desire to run my fingers through it. His eyes were green, and under the dim glow of the fairy lights, they seemed dark and oh, so deep. I clutched at the rail, feeling like I might fall as my gaze rested on his lips. They parted in a smile, and I spied the pink of his tongue inside. I licked my own lips, imagining he would taste like wine.
His pictures on the internet did him no justice.
"Ms. Swan," he handed me one of the glasses, and I took it, his finger lightly grazing mine as he released the stem. I felt a buzz in my hand and ignored the sensation lest I drop the glass which I was sure was crystal.
I looked down and noticed his shirt was unbuttoned at the neck, revealing a small amount of throat and collar. It was sexy.
Somehow I managed to speak. "Mr. Cullen, it's a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for this opportunity."
I watched his green eyes glance over me, nothing unkind hidden in their depths, and rest on my lips as I sipped my drink.
"Please, call me Edward," he said. He smiled again, his eyes rising from my mouth to mine once more.
"In that case, call me Bella," I returned.
"Bella," he murmured, the silky tone of his voice causing my body to react in ways I didn't recognize. I sipped my drink again, unsure why there was so much sexual tension in the air already when we'd only just met. I could feel it. It was absolutely palpable. Did he feel it, too?
He watched my tongue flick out and lick along my bottom lip, tasting the residue of wine that rested there. I thought I saw his eyes hood for a second.
Oh yeah, he definitely felt it, too.
Edward pulled out a chair and motioned for me to sit, which I did, gratefully. My legs felt wobbly, and I was sure I was going to ruin this night with my clumsy and ignorant behavior. Tanya was right, my negative little voice nagged at me; I was the wrong person for this job. I jolted my cutlery, causing the knife to fall to the floor. I wanted to face palm, but instead, I bent down to pick it up, knocking heads with Edward as he did the same.
"Ow!" he yelped.
"Fuck!" I muttered and blushed at my obscene language. I was suddenly so aware of everything I said and did.
Edward laughed, "You said it." He handed my knife to a waiter, retrieving a new one from the tray he offered.
Dinner was promptly served, but I barely paid attention to anything except for the gentleman sitting opposite me. It was an amazing evening with good company - something I hadn't had the pleasure of in a long time, and I told him as much.
"You don't have a boyfriend?" he asked me, coyly licking at the chocolate dessert coating his fork. I watched his tongue with morbid fascination and jumped when he laughed at me and repeated his question.
I shook my head and blushed. "How is that possible?" he mused. "You're simply delightful."
"Delightful? Is that code for crass and uncoordinated?" I laughed.
Edward laughed, too, and picked up his coffee cup. The brew smelt divine and I followed suit, picking up my own cup and mirroring his actions as we both sipped espresso.
After dinner, Edward led me into the lounge and, to my surprise, sat down at a Baby Grande and played me some of the most beautiful music I'd ever heard.
"Shall we begin this interview?" he asked, looking over his shoulder at me as he continued to play.
"Are you for real?" I asked him, my brain filter suddenly stopping working when I needed it most.
"Of course," he laughed. "What, no man ever played you a bit of music after dinner before?"
I shook my head. "No, never."
Edward stopped playing and turned to me. "You think I'm a typical bachelor, don't you? And that I'm showing you all my seduction moves."
"Are you?" I asked him, slipping my feet up under me as I sat back on the sofa.
"A typical bachelor or seducing you?" he smiled.
My gaze met his, and my breathing stopped. For the longest moment, we simply looked at each other, no words required. I was lost in his eyes, and could see his hurt and loneliness surface as he refused to break eye contact with me. I felt like he was telling me everything he needed to say. He wanted to confide in someone about his hurt, but trust was an issue. And then he blinked, and it was gone. All that remained in his stare was flirtation, but that wasn't so bad either.
"I suppose you want to know about my life," he surmised.
"Just tell me what you want me to know." I told him.
"This could be a very quick interview," he joked.
"You don't want to tell me anything?" Edward ducked his head and didn't reply.
"Then let me ask this - why the interview?"
"I think people have the wrong perception of me," he admitted.
"I can relate to that," I told him.
This time he looked at me. "How so?"
"My girlfriends think I choose the wrong men, that I'm some sort of ass magnet. They think I deliberately choose the dickheads because I don't really want to commit."
"That's a very truthful response," he said.
"Yes. And now you owe me one."
Edward laughed again and stood up from his piano bench. Walking over to a desk, he took out a tape recorder and placed it on the coffee table before sitting next to me on the sofa. I looked between him and the recorder.
"I get full disclosure on the contents," he said.
I felt stupid for not thinking of bringing my own. I had almost forgotten this was a job and not a date.
"So, you want something truthful?" he asked.
"It's only fair."
"Okay, ask away."
I paused, pretending to think and keeping him guessing, then asked outright.
"Why did you break up with Lauren Mallory?"
The expression on Edward's face fell. Happy and content from a pleasant evening changed to angry and scared in a heartbeat. I wanted to take it back. I wanted to withdraw my question and start again. I really was stupid.
Before I could apologize, Edward's phone rang but for a moment neither of us moved. Eventually, he reached for the phone and answered it, angling his body away from mine.
I heard him ask a question, then saw him nod before he hung up.
"Is there a problem?" I asked him.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Swan, but I have to terminate our evening. Can we liaise again tomorrow instead?"
"What's happened? Is everything alright?" I knew it wasn't - he had reverted back to calling me Ms. Swan. I had ruined the night and possibly my career, but strangely, I felt more annoyed about hurting him than my future with the paper.
"James will make sure you get home," Edward said, and before I could argue, James appeared. Edward vanished before I could say goodbye. I went back to my room and packed my belongings before following James off the yacht and into a limo.
I was driven straight to my front door where James proceeded to tell me someone would call with the arrangements for tomorrow. I bid him goodnight and went inside, locking my door and heading for my room. My magical evening was over.
As I unpacked, I realised with horror I still had Edward Cullen's journal and had no way of getting it back on his yacht. He would know I had taken it, that I had been in his room, and that I'd read the secrets hidden inside.
I was a terrible, stupid, horrible person. I held my head in my hands and determined I was going to lose my job and my reputation by the time he finished with me. He was going to be furious.
But once again, I realised I was more concerned about his feelings than my job. My question had surprised him which I found hard to believe. He had to have guessed it would be asked. Yet, I hated that I was one asking it. I knew what she did to him. I'd read his words, his thoughts, things he had never spoken out loud. And instead of being supportive, I had thrown it in his face. What reaction had I expected? Of course, he didn't know that I knew because he had no idea I had taken his journal, but time was running out, and soon he would know. I didn't want him to think those awful things about me, that I had betrayed him, too. I didn't know him at all, but I knew the secrets of his heart, and that made me care for him more than I wanted to admit.
Was Rosalie right? Did I deliberately find a way to ruin things when I felt it was going somewhere? I had felt attracted to him and something more than that. He was funny, smart and fascinating, as well as undeniably sexy. And he had flirted with me, too.
I had known this man for less than four hours, yet I was drawn to him. I wanted to know more, and despite the fact that he'd said I would see him again, the always present, negative part of me felt that I would not be hearing from Edward Cullen or his people.
There was only one way I could really know him, I justified to myself, and that was by reading his words. My hand hovered over the journal. Was this wrong?
As I turned the page and started at the beginning, I felt sick. I felt like I was digging the knife in deeper. Of course it was wrong, but I read on anyway.
I feel like a teenager. I'm sitting here writing in my journal about my amazing night with my girlfriend. Could I get any more adolescent? The fact is Lauren and I had sex. No, forgive me, I belittle what it meant to me, I should say made love. Fuck, I'm such a loser, but so what? We did make love and it was so beautiful, and she is beautiful, and I wanted to tell her, so much, what she means to me.
I moved on through the journal, each section more rendering than the last. I literally devoured their four-year relationship in Edward Cullen detail. He adored her, spoilt her, and laughed with her. He held her hand when her father passed away and sat with her for hours as she wept. He had even donated a generous amount of money to a charity in her father's name, taking no credit and barely even acknowledging the massive contribution it made. He had just seen it as a small, inadequate gift when all he really wanted was to give Lauren her father back.
I wiped away tears as I read how she'd suffered a breakdown after a brief pregnancy had miscarried, and with his father, Carlisle's help, Edward had her admitted to a 'spa' for the best treatment money could buy. He never once complained about how his grief was not heard by Lauren. He only worried that he was not enough for her.
I put the journal down at one point, unable to read on without my own heart breaking. He had wanted to give her the world just to see her smile, and she had thanked him by bedding his father. He had shown no animosity to either of them. He had been so accepting of his father's actions, and although he could not forgive her hers, he had moved on.
I dreamt of a family of my own; fat, adorable children chasing me around the garden and my wife, by my side, in my heart, completing my life. I had once believed it would be Lauren sharing those dreams with me. Now, I just picture myself in that fantasy. No wife, no children, just me, alone.
I lay down on my bed and sobbed. The empathy I felt for him was unlike anything I had ever felt before. It was like reading the best fiction out there, yet this was a real man and a real girl and their pain was so tangible. I wailed like a banshee and felt exhausted afterwards.
My ringing phone roused me from my slumber. My eyes were so swollen after crying I could barely open them.
"Hello?" I croaked down the line.
"Oh, fuck, Emmett, I'm so sorry."
Emmett laughed. "Good night was it? Don't answer that. I just want the details, so join me for lunch? Let's say an hour. You know where and bring everything you've got on him." Emmett hung up before I could decline.
I sat up and rubbed at my eyes, hiccupping as I remembered what I had been crying about.
I washed my face and fetched two old tea bags from the kitchen, and placing them over my lids I sat down, listening to daytime television.
My phone beeped and I lifted one bag to peek at the text.
Please accept my sincere apologies for running out on you.
Would you allow me to make it up to you? Dinner, tonight, my yacht again? If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, I will see you at seven.
I read the text three more times just to be certain it was from whom I wanted it to be from. He hadn't mentioned the journal, and his tone had read as humorous. Could it be that he hadn't realised the journal was gone?
I declined responding, so sure he would send another one between now and then telling me my career was over. I dressed and went to meet Emmett, stuffing the journal in my bag, feeling uneasy about leaving it lying around.
Emmett was waiting for me. I sat, holding up my hand to stop his barrage of questions. "The interview was -," I was about to explain the interview had been cancelled, but was interrupted by my phone ringing, and I was stunned to see Edward's office number flashing across the screen. I swallowed and just stared at the phone.
"Are you going to answer that?" Emmett asked.
Not wanting to piss Emmett off any further, I licked my lips and accepted the call. "Hello?"
Emmett was watching me like a hawk. I set my bag down on the table and stood, walking away in the hope to gain some privacy.
"Ms. Swan? This is Mr. Cullen's office." I swallowed again, nausea bubbling up as I waited for them to tell me I was a sneaky bitch and he was suing my ass. "Mr. Cullen has been delayed and has asked that you meet him at eight rather than seven as originally planned. Is this to your liking?"
I nodded, then realised I was on the phone. "Yes," I simply squeaked, and the secretary bid me good afternoon and ended the call. "Fuck," I whispered, sitting down in the nearest chair. "Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck!"
I rested my head on the table and groaned. I had been so scared, so afraid he had found me out and was calling to tell me to go to hell. I had to get that journal back into his room, and I had to do it soon. Tonight was my only opportunity. I had to get in Edward Cullen's bedroom by any means possible.
I stood up and straightened my shirt, turning to see Emmett rifling through the pages of Edward's journal. I felt my stomach fall to my knees as I recognized the glee plastered all over his face.
He thought this was my scoop. Edward's journal was the juicy success he craved and he held it in his hands. If Emmett published any of those entries, then more lives than my own would be screwed.
"Emmett," I spoke softly, watching as he read passage after passage of Edward's heartache.
"Bella, this is golden."
"Emmett, that's not for you to see! It's not for me, or anyone else to see! Please - give it back." I held out my hand, and he stared at me incredulously.
"Are you selling out on me, Bella?"
"No, how can you ask me that?"
"I'll pay you triple what the other's have offered!"
"Emmett, I'm not selling the contents of that journal to anyone. I never should've taken it."
"He doesn't know?" Emmett laughed, and sitting back he shook his head. "Do you have any idea what this will do for our careers? For our lives?"
"What about his life? What about Lauren and Carlisle, and Edward's family? Emmett? Emmett, please look at me." I felt tears spill over and knew my emotions were going to get the better of me. Emmett looked from the diary to me. "I have to take it back."
He shook his head.
"I can't do this to him," I said.
"Then, you're not the journalist I thought you were." Emmett stood and, tucking the journal under his arm, left the restaurant.
I raced after him, gripping his coat. "Please don't do this. It's social suicide."
"For him, not me." Emmett whirled on me.
"If you publish anything from that diary, then you're not the man I thought you were, Emmett McCarty!" I cried, letting my tears fall freely.
"You had such a promising career ahead of you, Bella. Why would you throw it all away for a guy you hardly know? Why do you care so much? He's rich, spoilt, and ignorant, and he has no idea what it's like to struggle or what it's like to be us."
"After reading that diary, I wouldn't want to walk a yard in his shoes, never mind a mile. I am grateful for my life, struggles and all, but what's apparent to me is that I have had it easy compared to him." I held my hands up. "Go ahead and read it, Emmett. Read it and then tell me you still think all those things of him. Just promise me you will read every single line before you decide to publish."
Emmett ignored me, turned, and walked away. I couldn't stop him. He was my boss, the editor, what went to press was his call. I felt despair creep over me, knowing that in a few hours the world would know every little secret from Edward's life, and it was my fault.
I watched him turn the corner, gripped my hair in my hands, and panicked. I had no idea what to do, where to go, or with whom to speak. I had done a foolish, terrible thing by taking that book. I tried to imagine how I would feel if it were my life that would soon be splashed across the glossies. This was the exact reason why Edward Cullen never gave interviews. He got fucked!
I raced to the marina, unsure of what I would say to him, how I could explain myself. I reached his yacht and raced onboard, bumping into James as he sat on the deck surrounded in paperwork.
"Edward," I panted, clinging to the rail, trying to catch my breath.
"He's not here. Didn't you get a call postponing your meeting until eight?"
I nodded, but heaved rather than replied. I felt sick and was so incredibly out of shape.
"Please sit down before you have a heart attack." James led me to a chair.
"You have to call him," I spluttered. "I took his diary! I didn't mean to! It was a mistake, but now my boss has it."
"Edward keeps a diary?"
I nodded again. "It was an accident. I didn't mean to take it."
"What was in it?"
"Everything! James, this could ruin lives!"
James watched me for a moment, then reached for his phone and dialed Edward's number. "You need to get over here, Edward. We have a situation." He hung up and leant forward, elbows on his knees. "Your boss, he's going to publish information from this journal?"
I nodded, unable to say anymore. I needed to say it all to Edward.
I waited impatiently for his arrival. It seemed to take hours for him to get there, but the minute he stepped out of the limo, I wished I had more time.
He walked onboard, his eyes on me the whole time. I couldn't look away and felt shaky and unable to speak as he looked over at James and back to me again.
"I'll leave you to it," James said and disappeared inside.
"He should stay and hear this," I whispered. "Maybe he can find a way to stop it."
"I think you'd better start at the beginning," Edward said.
"I took your journal." I looked away from him and down at my fisted hands in my lap. "I took your journal by mistake, and now my boss has it."
"How did you manage to take my journal by mistake?" He sounded remarkably calm, but I couldn't chance looking up at him.
"I went looking for you when no one came to get me for dinner last night. I found your room and went inside."
"I saw the journal, and it was open at the last entry. I read it." My voice was so low I doubted he could hear me, but then he responded and I knew he had heard every word.
"So you read it all." It wasn't a question.
"I'm so sorry - for everything, for reading it, for taking it and now for what is about to happen because of it. I didn't come here intending to steal from you. The maid came in, and I panicked so I hid it behind my back. It doesn't really matter anymore. What matters is what happens next."
"Lauren will see what I wrote," he whispered, pushing away from the wall and walking to the rail. "She'll finally see everything I couldn't tell her."
"Edward, I'm so sorry," I sobbed.
"Do you cry for your career or for me?" He turned and stalked over, lifting me from the chair by my arms. "Which is it?" he hissed.
"It's for you," I trembled, but not for fear of him. I was scared of the energy running through him and into me. He was so angry, yet I felt so alive at his touch.
Shoving me away, Edward turned his back, and I watched as he fisted his hair. Sobbing, he let go and clutched the rail again, his shoulders shaking with his silent tears.
"Your words were so poignant to me, Edward. I read them and didn't want to publish your pain. I wanted to comfort you and hide you away so no one could ever hurt you again. If I never work as a journalist again, I don't care. I don't want to be the kind of person who spills someone else's secrets. I feel dirty."
"I liked you," he muttered. I stepped closer and placed my hand on his back. "I liked you because you're funny and made me smile. It's been so long since I smiled and enjoyed a woman's company. I actually thought we could be – friends."
I wanted to tell him I liked him too, but his next words stopped me.
"But now you disgust me."
I dropped my hand and stepped back.
"Get off my boat," he snarled.
I turned and stumbled towards the gangplank, stopping just before I walked away for good. "For what it's worth, I'm so sorry I lost your friendship," I whispered.
I covered my mouth with my hand and ran, not stopping until I reached home, not questioning my sudden stamina. I fell to the floor outside the door, panting and sobbing, and unable to unlock it and get inside.
Alice and Rosalie appeared from nowhere and swept my hair from my face, wet with my tears, asking me what had happened. Rosalie opened my door, and they both helped me inside. I watched Rosalie place a brown parcel on my end table before sitting next to me and drying my eyes with a tissue.
"Do we need to call the police, Bella?"
"Yes." I sobbed and heard Alice gasp. "But only for me, because I'm a terrible, horrible person." I wailed and buried my head in Rosalie's skirt.
I stayed that way for most of the evening, not ready to talk but desperate for their solace. They were good friends and delivered, not needing me to explain until I wanted too.
Sometime around midnight, I sat up and wiped my snotty nose across my sleeve. I noticed Rosalie scowl, but ignored her.
"Are you ready to explain?" Alice asked, turning off the television. I nodded and proceeded to tell them the whole sorry tale, finishing with Edward's last words to me. I glanced between the two, waiting for their reaction to my actions. I needed them to confirm what a horrible person I had been.
"I think you're overreacting," Rosalie said. I gaped at her, not entirely sure she had heard the same story. "Ah, before you say anything, I think you should open this."
She reached for the brown parcel and handed it to me. I tore open the wrapping and gasped as Edward's journal fell out onto my lap. A post-it note was tacked to the cover.
He is still rich and spoilt, but he is also more of a man than I can ever hope to be. Don't you dare tell my mother I said that! Emmett.
"He gave it back," I whispered. Both Alice and Rosalie nodded as I thumbed the crest embellished on the cover of the journal.
"What are you waiting for?" Alice asked.
I looked at her and nodded. Standing, I put on my shoes and raced towards the marina to give Edward back his property.
I had no idea if he would still accept my apology. The damage had already been done. All I knew for certain was that after reading this secret diary of a broken heart, Edward Cullen made me want to be a better person.
I just hoped he would forgive me.