Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight Characters.
The young mother of two opened her email to check her reviews. She had just loaded a new chapter and was anxious to see what people thought. It was hard for her to find time to write, with a toddler and an infant to care for, but it made her feel connected to the adult world. She would write during nap times and after everyone was asleep, it was limited and she felt guilty for taking so long to complete chapters.
Her attention was drawn to a review typed in all caps. She read: DO YOU KNOW WHAT A PERIOD IS? IT IS A SMALL DOT AT THE END OF SENTENCE. ALSO, LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEIR, THERE, AND THEY'RE, YOU IDIOT. The young woman burst into tears and left the story unfinished.
The figure waiting on the stairs wasn't going to let the comment go. The door opened and the skinny, bucktooth woman walked in, grumbling under her breath about a supposed wrong that was done to her. The figure waited for her to sit at the computer before lunging with an ice pick. Her body was riddled with small dots, bloody grammar, as the stranger tried to make a point.
Edward was sitting at his desk looking online for a pale yellow tie; he needed one for his brother's wedding. Who picks pale yellow, he thought? His soon to be sister-in-law assured him it would look great with the black suits, but he didn't plan on wearing the suit coat for long during the hot summer. His boss, Winston, stuck his head in his office. "Where's your partner?" he asked.
"At a deposition. Why?" Edward asked in return.
His new partner was experiencing the worst part of the job, sitting in court waiting for a possible question. She had been assigned to him two months ago and they finished a case he had been working on. She was a quick learner and easy going, so he didn't mind teaching her the ropes. Edward was a veteran of three years now; Bella Swan was his third partner. People came and went quickly under so much pressure, but he liked the fast pace, high thrill, and quickly changing lifestyle.
"I have a case for you," Winston said as he tossed a file on Edward's desk. "Be ready to leave by tonight."
He picked up the folder and began reading. He knew his new partner was not going to be happy about being sent clear to the other side of the country on such short notice. Since coming to the bureau she still hadn't unpacked her things. He read further and began chuckling. His door opened and Bella walked in.
"What's so funny," she asked, showing exhaustion from a day in court.
"Ever hear of Forks, Washington?" he asked and tossed her the file.
She picked it up and began to read. He watched her closely. Her thick dark hair and porcelain skin gave her an ethereal look. She was pretty, but not in an obvious kind of way, making it easy for her to blend in. Together they made a great pair. Her eyes slowly moved from the paper up to his. "Vampires?"
He shook his head and took a sip from his coffee, "Vampire stories, and someone is taking them very seriously. Have you heard of FanNet?"
"Vaguely, isn't it some writing thing?"
"You write about known characters and load them on the site for others to read. It seems someone doesn't like being critiqued."
"No, the stories all come from various authors, but when they get a negative review the unkind person ends up dead."
Her eyes shot open wide and she looked back at the file. "How can it be one person doing it, the reviewers come from all over the world?"
"It is narrowed a bit, it only happens to people who criticize stories regarding a certain vampire family."
"So, why are we going to Forks?"
"In the original book it is where the family hails from, the town is making a lot of money off the tourists, so they have the biggest motive to keep negative things out of the press," he reached for the file and Bella pulled it out of his grasp.
"Surely, we aren't being sent across country with such little information to go on," she said, trying to find any way out of the new assignment. She had worked hard over the past two months to prove herself to her new partner, but she was tired of living out of boxes and since their case was over she hoped to take time to settle in. It wasn't a relationship she wanted time for; it was simply a need to feel like she belonged here.
"There's a lead, Winston wants to meet with us," he said and stood. Edward was well over six feet, but not an overtly big man. He was thin and fast, but it was his instincts and quick wit that made him such a valuable agent.
"Damn it, Edward, I need to unpack, can you fight for me a bit?" she asked and followed him from the room. They walked down the long hallway and into the administration end of the floor where Winston's office was. He had the door open and waved his hand for them to enter as he spoke on the phone.
Bella sat and then leaned closer to Edward and said, "Push to get the case alone."
Edward didn't respond and tried very hard to keep a smile from his face. He was not heading to Forks alone and would do everything he could to make sure Bella would suffer right along with him; she needed the experience over unpacking.
Winston hung up and turned to give them his undivided attention. Edward took the folder from Bella's hand and said, "This sounds interesting, and vital to have Bella with me."
"You ass," she mumbled and sat back in anger.
Edward smiled and loved that he was getting under her skin. She was learning he would always be the antagonist and finding it fun to bug her. But he also knew she needed as much experience as she could get. He would teach her things, like unpacking, would always come second to a case. He did admit she was a quick study and he felt comfortable depending on her, so much better than his last partner.
"You must take Bella," Winston said. "This is more of a girl's story and the killer is most likely a woman."
"So you think a woman travels around the world and kills people who don't like a story written by an anonymous person? Come on, that is as absurd as the original Vampire story," Bella said. It wasn't like she just didn't want to do her job, it was the fact the job was ridiculous and she had better things to do with her time.
"We have a person of interest. She doesn't travel the world, but she has the means to pay people in various parts of the world. She runs a bed and breakfast in Forks, and corresponds with people who are really into the FanNet aspect of the characters. Several people have said she is a bit eccentric and kind of freaky."
"Most likely caused by lack of sunshine," Bella grumbled and grabbed the file from Edward's hand.
"Or probably someone who has lived out of boxes and lost their mind," he teased her and she smacked his leg with the folder. "Where does her wealth come from, surely not from running the bed and breakfast?"
"Her family made its money from logging; she's the last of the line, still single and owns most of the land around Forks. We need you to go in as a couple celebrating an anniversary. Bella, you'll be obsessed with the book, so study up. Edward, you're along for the ride, but looking for attention due to your wife's new interest."
Bella laughed hardily, she loved the idea of Edward Cullen, the suave ladies man, not able to keep his wife from lusting after a character in a book. He didn't seem too enthusiastic for the assignment after that point.
He didn't think it would be possible to find fun in the small town of Forks; most of the people were visitors, although the person of interest did look interesting in her photo. She had long thick fire red hair, appeared to be in her mid thirties, and the tattoo peaking out of her low cut shirt had him intrigued.
"You have a flight in three hours," Winston told them. "You are booked to stay at the place for two weeks, but if you need more time, Bella can demand to stay."
"Oh goody," she said and stood to leave. Edward led the way and stopped by his office to shut off the computer and lights. Bella held the elevator for him and sighed when the doors closed and they were all alone.
"What?" he asked, a bit put out she was dreading being his wife so badly. His last partner, Tanya, had enjoyed working assignments that had them act like a couple, until she married and wanted a family over life in the bureau.
"Nothing, I'll grab my already packed suitcase and be ready to go," she said as she shook her head.
"Hire someone to unpack you and stop bitching about it," he suggested, going back to his antagonizing way to anger her.
"Yeah, great idea, then I won't know where anything is. Just don't talk to me," she said and crossed her arms.
"Perfect, it's like we're really married," he said and hit the button again as if it would make the elevator go faster.
They walked quietly to their separate cars and he finally called over to her, "Do you need to stop somewhere to buy the book?"
She shook her head back and forth and felt her face blush, admitting she had read the Vampire love story. He laughed loudly and climbed into his car as she squealed out and got in front of him. He followed her to the new apartment she had yet to unpack and parked in front. It felt odd to walk with her to her door, but they would be living as man and wife for two weeks so he felt he better shed the feeling now.
She unlocked the door and groaned at the sight of all the full boxes. "I'll be right back," she said and headed down the hallway. Edward moved a box off the sofa so he could sit, not believing a woman when she said she would be right back. He was right; she returned forty minutes later pulling a large suitcase behind her.
"I'll take that," he offered and she pushed his hand away.
"It has wheels, I think I can pull a suitcase," she said offensively.
"Fine, pull away," he said and extended his arm toward the door. She grabbed her laptop, checking her gun in the fake bottom of the computer case, and shut off the lights before trying to navigate the door with the large bag. Edward stood back with a smirk and let her fight her way from the room.
They climbed into Edward's car and drove to his place. She was instantly jealous of the spacious apartment, which was clean and orderly. It was decorated with a modern edge and he had pictures everywhere. She walked over and picked up a family portrait, with stylish parents, a huge brother and a tiny sister. None of them looked anything alike and she wondered if Edward was adopted. He came back within ten minutes pulling his own bag.
"No way, you're done?" she asked.
"Yes, I don't have to analyze my attire, it pretty much fits with whatever mood I have," he said with a smile.
"You must be one of those psychotically organized people," she accused.
"Nope, just a man," he said and something about the way he said it sent chills down her spine. She instantly chastised herself for even subconsciously becoming attracted to a partner. They could not become involved, rule number one, and she didn't want to get the reputation as the agent that slept with partners. This was all an act and she had to keep that in mind.
He called a cab and she sat in a chair to wait. He sat across from her and smiled, "How did court go?"
"Good, I only had to refer to my notes once, but of course I've only had one case since I got here," she laughed and he nodded.
"You have good instincts, you'll be a great agent," he said, causing her to blush a bit.
"Thanks," she mumbled.
He stood and leaned over his coffee table to hand her something. "Bella, will you marry me," he laughed and she looked at the ring he was holding out.
"Why not, you seem harmless," she teased and took the ring and put it on her finger as he did the same with a band.
She sat back in the chair and looked at him, getting the same chills as earlier. He wasn't smiling but staring directly into her eyes. She fidgeted a bit and wished the cab would hurry. He noticed her ill at ease movements and worried about making their cover seem plausible.
"Hey," he said softly and she looked at him. "We need to appear natural, will it be a problem?"
"Not at all, I can turn it on when I have to," she said and watched a smile grow on his face.
"Am I, 'it'?" he asked.
"Grow up," she answered and looked away. She felt like such a rookie, getting flustered by her good looking partner when he teased her with sexual innuendo.
"Okay, this will be our fifth wedding anniversary; we married in college at Colorado State University, I'm an accountant and you work for a graphic design firm. We love the outdoors and I surprised you with the trip," he ticked off quickly.
"What's the issue?" she asked and he gave her a puzzled look. "Every couple has an issue that causes a wedge. I'm turning to a fictional vampire, so there must be an issue."
He gave her a funny look and turned his eyes as he thought. "Okay, I play cards, I'm gone with buddies a lot and you read to pass the time."
"What if you get asked to a card game?" she asked wondering if he came up with the issue because it was truly an issue for him.
"Then I'll take some money off some poor sap," he said with a grin.
"Great, a confident gambler," she answered.
"Life's a gamble, sweetheart," he said and she rolled her eyes at him.
Now she realized why he was single. They had never talked about their personal situations and she didn't know if there was a woman he was seeing or if he was divorced, she just knew he didn't wear a ring and never spoke of a woman. She glanced back at his family photo and pointed. "Your family?"
"Yeah, my father and mother are physicians. My older brother, Emmett, is getting married in a couple of months, and my little sister Alice, is a senior at the University of Illinois."
"You're a middle child?" she asked and smiled when he set his shoulders.
"What does that mean?" he asked.
"That Emmett beat you up a lot and Alice got all the attention," she laughed.
"What are you?" he asked and put the topic back on her, which she didn't want.
"I'm an only child," she said and waited for his rebuke. "My father's a cop and my mom's a teacher."
He completely passed on the myriad of comments he could have made and asked, "What made you want to be a fed?" She smiled and looked away so he pressed. "You watched, Silence of the Lambs, didn't you?"
"No," she said with disgust. "I had a really cute criminal justice professor."
"Oh, that's much better," he laughed loudly.
"What about you?" she asked.
"I attended a job fair in high school, the feds were cool," he explained.
She nodded in understanding. He was most likely tired of being bullied by his brother and felt becoming an agent would give him some of his self respect back. He was a nice guy, and seemed very educated and mannerly, of course, his looks didn't hurt, but Bella felt lucky to have him as a partner.
The cab driver buzzed Edward's apartment and they headed down stairs to ride to the airport. She was a bit surprised when he took her hand once they settled into the back of the cab. He glanced over and said, "It all starts right now. Every action you make from this point forward will be as my wife."
She nodded and liked the idea that he would hold her hand in a cab if he was truly her husband. She relaxed and leaned into his shoulder as she let her head rest against him. The vibrations of the car made her sleepy so she closed her eyes. He turned twice to kiss her head and she smiled unknowingly.
They checked their bags and made their way through security before stopping off in the airport bar for a drink. They found an empty booth in the back and sat in the dark room. The waitress smiled at the sight of Edward, and quickly glanced at his ring, before asking what they wanted to drink. "I'll have a vodka tonic, what do you want, love?"
Bella giggled at the oddness of having him call her love in front of people and tried to cover by saying, "I'll have a Jack and Coke, honey."
The woman walked away and Edward kicked Bella's foot, "Come on, you can't laugh at me when I'm using pet names."
"I'll get better; it just feels funny to suddenly be at the stage where you use pet names for someone without any build up." She looked at him and began laughing again so he kicked it up a notch.
"Just wait until we climb into bed together tonight," he said and her face drained of all blood.
Bella spent most of the flight from Dulles reading some of the FanNet stories. She was really getting into the various interpretations of the main characters and finding a couple better than the original book. Edward was studying the murders and exactly how they were committed. Whoever was behind the killings was very brutal.
"Look at this," he said leaning over to Bella. "The victim was found with paper in the stomach cavity. She was forced to ingest the story she criticized."
"Well, that's one way to make her eat her words," Bella said and looked at which story she had been fed. "I read that one; it was really good, why did she rag on it."
"She wrote, 'I didn't like the ending, it was too cliché and felt rushed.' Did it?" Edward asked Bella since she had read it.
"I didn't think so, but I wouldn't think that way to begin with, I mean, the story is in the authors head so how can anyone say it was rushed? It can only be rushed it the author wanted it rushed. I thought it flowed similarly to the rest of the story."
"Relax, she's already been killed for saying it was rushed," he said and Bella pushed his shoulder with her hand. "Oh man, this one was ruthless with her review, and she got her fingers chopped off and had them placed on the ground to form an F and a U."
"Which story?" Bella asked and looked over at the file. "I haven't read that one yet."
"Shouldn't they be drained of blood or something? I mean it is a book about Vampires after all," he asked.
"The stories on FanNet are not all Vamps, some of them have turned the characters human, and some have the male leads together in a love story," she said and watched for his reaction.
"No shit," he said and leaned over to look at the screen she was reading.
"You're not going to leave me for another man, are you?" she teased and he turned his attention to her. She smiled and when his eyes moved to her lips she suddenly felt awkward again. He began moving toward her mouth and when the flight attendant walked up Bella jumped as if getting caught with another woman's man.
"Are you using that pillow?" the woman asked her. Bella shook her head and handed the small square to her.
"We're going to have to work on your reflexes," Edward said and Bella began to wonder if he was truly acting this way for her sake or his own gratification.
"Not really," she said. "If we've been married for five years we should hardly be speaking."
"My parents have been married for thirty years and they are still all over each other," he said with a slight frown.
It made Bella feel a bit sad, hers were divorced and maybe if they continued acting like newlyweds they would still be together. She questioned his motives because she learned men don't stick around. Edward was open and demonstrative with his affections because it was what he had been taught about marriage. She hopped she would be able to pull this off.
Bella took the initiative and leaned toward him for a kiss. She planned on making it just a loving peck on the mouth, but his hands came to her face and held her for a longer passionate kiss. She wasn't sure how to respond, because if he was truly her husband she would be dragging him to the bathroom to join the mile high club. She let her hand run up his arm and held onto his wrist. When he finally pulled away she took a shaky breath and hoped he didn't notice.
"Much better," he said and turned back to his file. He was trying to act casual, but inside he was working to keep visions of pulling her onto his lap out of his head. He had been on an assignment like this once before, but kissing the other agent didn't feel the same as kissing Bella. He convinced himself it was because Bella was a junior agent and he felt responsible for her.
Bella went back to reading and couldn't believe how sexy some of the stories were. They were very graphic and quite frankly, getting her hot. She was reading about a very detailed description of the male characters genitalia, and when Edward nudged her the word, Cock, sprang from her mouth.
"What?" he laughed loudly.
She buried her face in her hands as he continued to laugh. "It was the next word in the sentence," she tried to explain, so he took her lap top and pulled it onto his tray.
"I think I need to read a few of these," he laughed. He read a couple of lines and turned to look at her. "Oh my God, women are filthy."
"Don't comment or we'll kill you," she teased and felt her face still blushing from her outburst.
He pointed to a paragraph and said, "I'm sorry, but that is not even possible."
"Maybe not for you, but for a Vampire it is an every night occurrence," she said to explain and also take a dig at his ego.
"Now I get the whole Vampire obsession, women just like a guy that can keep it hard for hours and men like a guy who can suck a woman dry for demanding he keep it hard for hours."
"Sorry, but we have to invent creatures of the night to satisfy us," Bella laughed.
"Ah, but there's the fatal flaw, see, there are devices to do the same thing, but you still want the guy. It isn't the sex you crave, it is the man."
"You can't write an entire story about a relationship with a vibrator, idiot."
"Try it, write about your vibrator and see if anyone gets killed for giving it a bad review," he said and pushed the lap top back onto her tray.
"I didn't say I have one," she pointed out.
"Of course not, because you want the man," he laughed.
"Shut up," she said under her breath and went back to reading the explicit story. If she were to write a story it would have the lead male character as a mute. She had done her rounds of choosing the wrong guys and pretty much gave up on finding a good one. She wasn't into looks and status, she just wanted one who knew how to be faithful and not use her as his personal ATM.
Edward was romantic by nature and had grown up watching his father treat his mother tenderly. Woman today wanted a man who she could boss around or use for stuff, he didn't mind showering his women with gifts; he just didn't want it to be a stipulation to keep seeing her.
He leaned back and read a bit more of the story on her screen, but it was only getting him aroused so he finally closed his eyes and went to sleep. He woke up, covered with a blanket, and found Bella with her head on his shoulder. Her tiny hands were wrapped around his arm and he hated to move and wake her. It felt nice to have a woman snuggled up to him, he missed it.
The plane began to prepare for landing and when Bella woke up she looked up into his eyes. He leaned over to kiss her forehead and she stretched her arms across his body. The plane was dark and the cramped row of seats gave them a feeling of privacy. He held her chin with his fingers and kissed her. Her hand moved to his neck and the feeling of her warm fingers on his flesh caused him to moan and pull her closer.
Bella was wound tightly from reading the sensual stories and found the darkness escalated every sensation. She felt him breathing against her face, his hot mouth moving on hers, as his hand went into her hair and fisted it securely. When he moaned she felt her body arch up for his, searching for the pressure she needed.
The flight attendant began speaking and they broke apart at the lips, but kept their foreheads connected as they both breathed loudly. Bella was over analyzing everything and yelling at herself to realize they were both acting a part. Edward's thoughts were much simpler. He could hardly wait to get to the hotel so he could take a shower and get rid of the frustration he was feeling.
They didn't speak for the remainder of the flight and disembarked simply holding hands without looking at each other. Bella waited for the bags as Edward rented a car. It was late and neither one felt up for a long drive so they stopped at a hotel in Seattle.
"You can use the shower first," he offered, not knowing how long he would be. It was a big mistake. Bella dug through her bag and went into the bathroom. She showered, shaved her legs, dried her hair, straightened it, and dressed in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. When she finally emerged Edward was sound asleep on the bed, still wearing his shoes.
Bella pulled down the covers on her side and climbed into the bed. She tried to keep quiet and not disturb him. It was late when he woke and took off his shoes before heading to the bath room. She felt him come back to bed and move closer to her. It didn't feel as odd as she thought it would to share a bed with him.
The sound of a shower woke her in the morning and she was grateful she had done everything the night before. She dressed and packed up her bag as she listened to him shave. He finally came back to the room with only a towel wrapped around his torso. She felt her eyes scan his body and hoped he didn't notice.
"Jesus, you took forever last night," he said as he pulled his boxers up under the towel. "You could write an entire trilogy about your vibrator."
"You told me to go first," she pointed out.
"Yeah, I forgot it takes women forever to take care of business," he said and put on his jeans.
"I didn't 'take care of business' and if that was what you needed to do you should have told me," she said angrily and he smirked at her, causing her to blush again. She grabbed the file and looked at the back story they needed to perfect.
She would be Bella Marie Cullen age twenty-seven, from Colorado, parents deceased, and living with her husband in Virginia. She glanced at some of the coroner reports and felt sick to her stomach, so she shut the file and put it back on his briefcase.
"Any questions?" he asked.
"So am I befriending the owner, or are you?" she asked.
"We'll play it by ear, and see who she warms up to first. Just assume we are being watched at all times and react as you would if I was really your husband. Don't worry about how I may be processing the attention, I know we are on a case and if it is something you would naturally do, go ahead and do it, I'll be doing the same."
She understood his message and would have to remind herself he is working a case and not trying to play her. He was having his own inner war, hoping he could turn it off as easily as he seemed able to turn it on. He finished dressing and they took their bags to the car before heading to the hotel restaurant to eat.
She felt people staring at them and tried to work on standing close and touching him as she spoke. It began to feel much more natural and when he pulled out her chair after kissing her cheek she never even blushed.
"Okay, lightening round," he said a wiped his mouth. "Favorite food?"
"Steak. Favorite music?"
"Retro stuff, Beatles, Pink Floyd, KISS."
"I like jazz and anything that isn't synthesized. What size do you wear?"
"Pass," she said with a smile and he nodded.
"I wear thirty four, thirty six, and a large tall," he said and she nodded, so he continued on. "Chocolate or Vanilla?"
"Chocolate, of course."
"When was your last period?"
She choked out a cough and looked at him with shock. "Why?"
"If we are married I would know," he pointed out.
"Just make up a day," she said and looked away. He was truly beginning to worry. The last assignment he had like this, he and his partner had weeks to prepare and still made a couple of blunders. Bella was holding back and it would cost lives.
"We have to be more relaxed with each other, Bella. You aren't playing a part; you are living, breathing, as my wife. It has to seem real," he warned her.
"I told you I'll do fine when I need to, it is just doing it now seems too forced," she said to give him a bit of hope it would get better. He wondered if maybe it would help if he told her he was actually interested in her; make her think he was feeling what he was playing. He would worry about the consequences after they found the killer. She ate in silence and he decided to see how it went when they got to Forks and then decide.
He paid the bill and they got into the car. He turned to her and asked, "Did I put salt and pepper on my eggs?"
"What?" she asked.
"We just ate together, you don't eat the edges of the toast, you used salt but not pepper, and you drank your water after every sip of your coffee. Did I put salt and pepper on my eggs?"
"I don't know," she said softly and realized how much better he was at this than she was. He took a deep breath and she finally decided to take a stand.
"Okay, let's see how observant you can be. Do I wax or shave? What shampoo do I use? Is my hair straight or curly?
He smiled and leaned closer to her in the seat. "You shave, because I felt your legs in the bed and I could feel the beginning of new growth. You use over the counter Dove shampoo and conditioner, because you left your toiletry bag in the bathroom. Your hair is curly because I also saw your straightener. You wear Giorgio Red perfume, I smelled it when I first met you, and you bite your nails and never wear polish.
"I'm an awful agent," she said and felt tears beginning to form.
"None of that has anything to do with being an agent, I know it all because I'm a man and you are very attractive," he told her to bolster her confidence.
She lowered her eyes and said, "You wear Lucky jeans and plain colored v neck tees, you like ankle socks, carry your phone in your left front pocket, and chew peppermint gum."
"Damn, Bella, are you stalking me?" he asked and her eyes shot open wide making him laugh as he started the car and headed to Forks.
The town was small and had references to vampires everywhere. It almost felt like a studio set and they both chuckled as they searched for the bed and breakfast set back into the forest. The driveway wound through the trees and had wooded cutouts of the various book characters hidden along the way.
"This is really creepy," Bella said as she looked around.
"But love, this is where you wanted to come," he said, and reached over to take her hand telling her to remember the game. She took a deep breath and tried to focus.
He pulled in front of a large gothic looking house. It had a big wraparound porch with narrow steps and a wheelchair ramp. Edward stepped from the car and opened the trunk. Bella walked over and put both arms around him from behind.
"You good?" he asked as he turned his head away from the house to speak.
She smiled and said softly, "Eyes are on us." She had noticed someone with red hair looking out the parlor window.
He turned in her arms and kissed her a couple of times before reaching for the bags. She followed him up the steps and the door opened before they reached it. A beautiful woman smiled up at them from a wheelchair.
"Welcome to Chez Fang, home of Vampires, good and bad," she said and backed up so they could enter.
"Hi," Edward said with a smile. "I'm Edward and this is my wife Bella. We're the Cullens."
"I understand it's your anniversary," she said. Bella nodded and let her hand run down Edward's back and settle on his butt, hooking her finger in his back pocket.
"Yeah, I brought my wife here to swoon over a fictitious man for our anniversary," he teased.
"There are women in the book, too," Bella laughed and looked at the woman in the chair. "I've begged him to read it, but he won't. I've even tried to get him to read some hot FanNet stories."
The woman seemed to light up at the mention of FanNet stories. She moved her chair closer to Bella and asked, "Have you written any stories?"
Bella laughed, "No, I'm too chicken. Some people can be really cruel, and I don't have the confidence to hear the shit from strangers."
"I know what you mean," the woman said with a nod. "People feel they can bully from the comfort of their own homes, hidden away, too afraid to write their own stuff or tell you who they really are."
"Do you write?" Bella asked her.
"No, I'm just a big fan. I have a lot of authors come here to stay. I read as many stories as I possibly can. My name is Victoria, by the way."
"You have a great place here, Victoria," Bella said and stepped forward to shake hands. Edward was amazed at how easily she bonded with the woman and decided to stay out of their conversation. He looked around as they spoke and when she asked where they came from he jumped in before Bella could answer.
"We're here from Denver," he said and Bella wondered why he changed their back story from Virginia. Her ease was suddenly hindered and she wondered what she was missing. He could feel her stiffen and turned to speak directly to her. "Love, have a seat and I'll get us checked in."
Victoria made her way to an antique secretary desk and pulled out paperwork for Edward to sign. Bella looked around the room and noticed small details from the book, like the ink well and quill, the pocket watch hanging in a display case, and a heart shaped pillow on the rocking chair. She had to admit Victoria made the place seem like you stepped inside the book.
They climbed the stairs and went to the end of the hall to their room. It was the perfect romantic spot for an anniversary, if they were actually celebrating a real one. Bella walked over to look out the window into the dark forest and was glad Edward would be in here with her. He sat the bags down and pulled out his computer and turned it on.
"Love, can you put away our clothes?" he asked and sat at the desk.
"Sure," she said, irritated that she would be unpacking his things when she had so much of her own unpacking to do at home. She put things into the empty wardrobe and he held out his hand for her. She took his hand and he pulled her onto his lap and moved her hair out of the way so he could nibble on her ear.
"The rooms bugged," he whispered.
"Already, you don't want to wait for tonight?" she said and tried not to glance around the room.
"Why don't we take a run and then come spend the rest of the day in the room," he said as he pushed her off his lap. They changed into running clothes and waited until they cleared the property before speaking to each other.
"Can you jam the bug?" she asked.
"Yeah, but she'll know. The bathroom is clear, so we will have to act like we are having shower sex and leave the bed for sleeping," he said and she hoped fake noises wouldn't be needed. "Victoria seems to like you, so I'll stay clear of her and let you work it out."
"My gut tells me she's harmless," Bella said and he glanced at her with a smirk. "I'm not saying she isn't the one behind everything, I'm just saying I don't think she could actually kill someone."
"If she is hiring it to be done, she is just as guilty," he pointed out.
"Yeah, I know. This just seems so bizarre over a book; I mean the whole town has been converted into Transylvania all for tourist money. FanNet is a site for amateur writers, why would anyone take it so seriously?"
"You should see some of the reviews. There are a few people who make it their life's vocation to rip stories apart."
"Purists who want to keep the book version alive?" Bella asked.
"No, more like people who just have a need to be an ass; it must be fun for them to put someone down. The world is full of people who feel only their opinions matter."
"But killing them for it is a bit much, don't you think?
Edward stopped running and looked at a diner touting vampire specials. "There is a lot of money coming in here, and it won't last long. I'm not sure if it is money that is the motivation or protecting the authors and their hard work."
"Hard work, they write stories," she chuckled.
"I think you should write something to load, just so we will understand the whole process. Let Victoria know you're writing and I'll find some guys to play cards with," Edward suggested.
She looked at him and laughed. What he was suggesting was absurd; she didn't have any idea how to come up with a story. Reading was a hobby since she first read Romeo and Juliet, but she never tried her hand at writing. But she had to admit it would be a good way to get closer to Victoria.
"How are you going to find some guys to play cards with?" she asked.
He smiled at her, "You doubt me?"
"No, I'm just asking, a small town like this must be pretty tight knit."
"I'll hit a few of the bars and strike up a friendship with the locals. It will be easy to break through when they hear I have money to lose."
"Some man code thing?" Bella laughed.
"They will all be pitying me when they hear how ignored I am by my wife," he teased and pulled her in for a quick kiss. It felt natural and spontaneous and both were caught off guard by the ease at which it came for them to act like a couple. It was only this morning she wasn't sure she could pull it off, and now she felt like she was taking a run with her husband.
"Why are we from Denver now?" she asked him as they began walking again.
"I saw a sticker on her van, Virginia is for lovers, I didn't want her putting it together with Langley," he explained.
They headed into the diner and ordered from a young woman named Angela. She had a kind face and an open demeanor so Bella struck up a conversation. "We're here from Denver, this seems like a nice place to live," Bella said.
She smiled and nodded in agreement. "Forks has some great qualities on its own. We don't need all this Vampire stuff, it cheapens the town."
"We're staying at Chez Fang, I doubt Victoria agrees with you," Bella said and watched Angela's reaction closely.
The woman rolled her eyes with disgust and huffed angrily. "People like Tanya are ruining this town. I doubt she is mentally stable."
"Do you know why she is in a wheelchair?" Edward asked.
"No, she can walk just fine, I've seen her," Angela said and Edward gave Bella a stunned glance. She finally left to fill their order and they both tried to figure out why Tanya would use a chair if she didn't need to.
"Edward," Bella said, "Maybe she has something like fibromyalgia or a condition that tires her?"
"See what you can find out, women confide better in other women. I found that out with my other partner," he said and Bella felt a bit of jealousy.
"Were you and Tanya close?"
"What do you mean, we were partners?" He knew Bella was feeling a bit of jealousy and didn't know how to ease her mind. Tanya had been his partner for almost two years. They had experienced a lot and knew each other very well, but he was never attracted to her as a man, like he was with Bella.
"I guess I just want to know if it is hard to switch partners?" she asked and wouldn't look at his eyes.
"Bella," he said softly and she looked up at him. "It's like making a movie, we try to make it look like we are madly in love, but it's just playing a part."
"I know it, Edward, but I'm sure there is a comfort in knowing your partner well and it must be hard to start over again."
"I can't compare, since I am senior agent now, this is so different from what I had with Tanya. I feel responsible for you on a different level," he lied. It wasn't responsibility he was feeling, it was attraction, but he wasn't letting himself admit it just yet.
Angela brought their food and Edward asked, "Do you know of anywhere to play poker?"
"Yeah, they have a game on the reservation in La Push," she answered and Bella noticed how much Edward lit up.
She ate a few fries and finally asked, "Do you have a gambling problem?"
"It isn't a problem if I'm winning," he teased.
"Seriously, Edward, is this something I need to keep a watch on?" She hated the thought of watching him like a fishwife, but she wasn't going to watch him fall prey to addiction. He needed a distraction for this case but she wondered if he was only opening up an old wound.
"Why, love, you don't trust me," he laughed and she was beginning to get angry. He wouldn't be serious and it caused her intuition to worry her.
"Shit," she said and tossed her fries back onto the plate. "I don't need a trainer one step away from rehab. Are you in trouble here or not?"
"No, I use poker to hone my instincts. I'm not in it for the money or the rush. It helps me to read people, that's all, but thanks for asking, sweetheart." He acted angry but she wasn't about to let him push it off onto her. He didn't answer her simple question and as a partner she should worry about him.
"Don't give me that little boy shit," she said as she leaned in to speak softly to him. "I asked you for my own information, be straight with me, Edward, and we won't have these problems. And by the way, you hold your straw with your left hand, you salt your fries, and you don't let any of the different foods on your plate touch."
He broke into a smile and kicked her foot with his. "I knew you were a natural," he said and she felt a bit of pride that he was happy with her development.
They went back to their eating and Bella began to worry about writing a story. She tried to think of different scenario's to write about, but she couldn't take it further than just an idea. Edward noticed the tense look on her face and asked what was bothering her.
"Give me a story idea," she pressed.
"Write about something you know, a past boyfriend or something," he suggested.
She shook her head and knew she would never have the nerve to write about real things. She would feel too exposed and too vulnerable. Her past relationship was very painful and she didn't want anyone knowing about it.
He watched her reaction and knew there was something deeply buried. He wanted her to offer to share it with him, not as a partner but as a friend. He bit his lip for a moment and had to admit that wasn't true, he wanted to know about her past relationships because he felt she somehow belonged to him. He warned himself to tread lightly and watch himself closely. He couldn't jeopardize the case and end up falling in love with a coworker.
Bella looked around the diner in frustration. The only idea she would come up with was about the character falling in love with someone she could never tell, an unrequited love that had to stay in the dark, as he held her, and kissed her, and pretended to love her.
The tension filled them as they both sat quietly thinking about the other. The sun was beginning to head lower in the sky and the realization they would have to climb into a bed together was weighing heavily on them both.
When they finished eating Edward paid and they walked outside. "We better head back," he said.
"Yeah, it will be dark soon," she responded.
They began walking toward the bed and breakfast in silence, filled with anticipation and the need to touch each other, but also the dread of trying to pretend.