Edward smiled as he watched the cab disappear into the distance, carrying the source of much of his recent pain with it. He began to fight his way back to the hotel with the prospect of a quiet evening brightening his smile ever so slightly.
His battle to return to his hotel complete, he set about enjoying his newfound freedom by running the massive double bath in the master bathroom next to Tanya's bedroom. He filled it to the brim before sliding comfortably into it and settling down to watch the footage he had requested before his arrival; the complete set of game tapes from the New York Giants previous season.
As the heat penetrated his flight weary muscles, he lay back and watched each offensive down that the Giants had played in detail, often utilizing the waterproof remote to go back and re-watch plays and individual routes that particular players had run. He winced as he watched the offensive line allow yet another sack as the quarterback was subjected to yet another bone-rattling hit. He sincerely hoped that there would be a noticeable improvement in the O-line's blocking ability, but he wasn't holding his breath. It looked like it could be a long season for him.
The offence appeared to only have a single redeeming feature that he could see, and that was its wide receiving corps, or to be specific, it's number one wide receiver, Jasper Whitlock. Edward had come across Jasper Whitlock during his freshman year at Florida, while Whitlock had been in his junior year at Texas, in the BCS National Championship game. He was a famously quick, deep-threat option who had a reputation of making something out of nothing. He'd been drafted with the third pick the year before Edward, after breaking several records at the draft combine, most notably the 40 yard-dash, running a scintillating 4.19.
He was the proud owner of the best selling New York Giants jersey, aided by the fact he was tall, willowy and blonde, and sported a deep southern accent which meant that women made up almost half his jersey sales.
After a few more hours of game tape, Edward heard the door slam loudly, and the smacking of high heels on marbled floor. Tanya was home. Struggling to suppress a groan, he looked at his phone and realised it was after three in the morning. He had become so immersed in the tapes he'd blown six hours straight watching them, which was strange; he'd always avoided game footage like the plague before.
He jumped out of the bath, and realised that he looked like a prune; the tips of his fingers and toes had wrinkled up something shocking, and he yawned widely. It was definitely time to get some rest, especially before he had to participate in this 'skit' that he had apparently signed up for on Conan the next day.
Having dried himself, he wandered out of the bathroom, fully intending to disappear into the guest room and lock the door, when Tanya, complete with six inch heels, came tottering up the stairs, half supporting herself with the handrail. Edward tried to look surprised to see her in this state, but failed miserably, as the Butler appeared underneath her other elbow, supporting the bits that weren't clinging onto the railing.
"Thank you for that, I'll take it from here," said Edward with a grimace, taking Tanya by the elbow. She was blind drunk, and slurring words so badly they weren't even intelligible, let alone meaningful. Edward was somewhat grateful for this however, as it allowed him to pick her up, and place her on the four-poster bed in the master bedroom with relative ease, remove her shoes and jewellery, cover her up warmly and then leave her there without any fuss. Unresponsive Tanya definitely had her advantages.
Edward groaned slightly as he rolled over, rubbing his eyes blearily. He could see the sun peeping through the drapes, and he resented it immensely. It took five minutes for him to give up on going back to bed, but eventually he rolled out, and trudged into his exquisite and overly gilded shower to wake himself up.
After standing under the jets for five minutes, he felt infinitely more alive, and dressed himself, slim fit jeans and a button up shirt. The clock read 10:14 AM and Edward suddenly remembered the state in which his host had returned to him in. Creeping down the hallway, he pushed open the door to the master bedroom and peeked inside. Sure enough, Tanya was dead to the world; her room still pitch black with the curtains pulled firmly shut. She wouldn't be appearing for several hours yet.
Edward had never been to Los Angeles before; his only trip to California had been to Oakland to play the Raiders, given that the Chargers had played away at Seattle. He didn't have to be at the studio for the Conan O'Brien skit until three in the afternoon, so he decided that he would take the opportunity to get out of the city, and head towards the beaches. It looked like a warm day outside, and sun was something he hadn't had much of in Seattle or New York.
He didn't, however, have a means of getting there, and there was no way he was hiring a limo to drive him. He hunted around a bit, and finally resorted to ringing the concierge's desk.
"Good morning, how can I be of assistance this morning?" came the clipped reply after only a single ring.
"Um hi," Edward replied, "It's Edward Cullen from the Presidential Suite, I was wondering if you could help me with something?"
"Certainly sir, how can I help you?"
"Well I was wondering if you had the number of any car hire services in the area? I'm looking to take a short drive today."
"This can easily be arranged sir. We will organise it ourselves, and inform you when the vehicle is waiting for you. Would you like The Regent Beverly Wilshire to provide a driver, or will you be providing your own?"
"My own, my own!" Edward insisted, "But that's great, thank you very much."
"Does sir have a preference for the model of vehicle?" the concierge enquired.
"Surely you don't know what is available until you've rung up?" Edward replied.
"We are here to fulfil your wishes sir, if you have a preference, we will do our utmost to locate that particular vehicle."
"No, no," Edward replied, running his hands through his hair exasperatedly, "just get me something to drive, something with four wheels that gets me from A to B in reasonable time."
"Very good sir, I will send someone up when it is ready. Would you like to meet it at the front or the back of the hotel sir?"
"The back, definitely the back."
"Have a nice day sir."
Edward put down the phone and rummaged through his bag for his sunglasses. He couldn't fault the service given, that was for sure. With his wallet and phone tucked safely into his jeans, and his sunglasses hanging from the front of his shirt, he had barely set foot on the bottom floor of the suites two levels, when the bell rang for the door.
He opened the door, only for the butler to inform his that his car was ready. Edward checked his phone in disbelief; only fifteen minutes had elapsed. It wasn't called the best hotel in Hollywood for nothing he surmised.
He considered leaving Tanya without telling her where he was going, but in the end he compromised. He borrowed a pen and paper off the butler, and scribbled a quick note which he placed on her bedside table on top of her phone where he knew it would be found. Then it was down the elevator to the lobby.
He was led out the back, into a circular driveway at the rear of the building, where there was a loading bay and people milling around, doing their jobs. Several of them stared at Edward as he was led to his car, where the man he had spoken to on the phone stood waiting by his hire car.
"Mr. Cullen, I hope you'll find this satisfactory?" he said, gesturing to the vehicle.
"It's absolutely perfect, thank you," Edward grinned, taking the keys that were offered to him. He tipped both men generously, especially the concierge, for the service they had provided, and they bowed appreciatively, and left him to it.
He looked at the car and smiled. The concierge had excellent taste, because waiting for him was a matte blue Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, with the convertible roof dropped, and the light brown leather interior sparkling in the sunlight.
Edward unlocked the car and jumped in, firing up the engine right away, the noise making everyone in the vicinity who wasn't already watching jump slightly. Putting the car into gear, he put his sunglasses on as the sun glared off the shiny bodywork of the vehicle. Life wasn't so bad, he thought as he smiled, adjusting his Louis Vetton shades that he'd received free with his watch; he could have been in New York City where the forecast was for rain all week.
It took him fifteen minutes to clear the city, as he headed south towards Venice Beach. But that wasn't where he was aiming for, not even close. As he drove through the city, and people stopped and stared at him as he passed, he wondered about the wisdom of taking such a flashy sports car, but once he made the turn-off onto the Pacific Coast Highway, on the northern side of Los Angeles, all doubts were erased.
The feeling of cruising down possibly the country's most famous highway, with cliffs to his right and the Pacific Ocean crashing against the rocks to his left was exactly the tonic he needed after the crushing, claustrophobic sensation of being in the middle of Los Angeles in its busiest week of the year.
Malibu, California. Home to the successful, famous and fabulously wealthy. It had always been a place that had intrigued Edward, given it's notoriety as a getaway for people who were sick of being chased around by a camera and microphones.
Also, the appeal of the beach was something he had never really gotten to experience in his life. Sure, he'd moved from Forks to Florida, but Gainsville, where Florida University was situated, was exactly equidistant to the coast on either side. The nearest thing to be had to an outdoor swimming experience was the swamp, not an experience Edward had ever had to the urge to try.
He pulled into the left hand turning lane as soon as he saw the word "Malibu" attached to a sign. Granted, he was in ownership of a GPS in his Lamborghini, but he had always preferred the analogue method of getting from A to B. Technology had a way of killing the joy of the journey to his mind.
He idled the engine, as the car trundled slowly passed a small stone gate, towards a white weatherboard shack, approximately the shape and size of a beach house. To Edward's surprise, however, he found himself confronted with a barrier, blocking his path. He pulled up in front of it, and a portly man lent out the window of the building that divided the entry and exit lane of the small off ramp.
"Identity card?" the man asked, looking somewhat bored.
"I'm sorry?" Edward required, nonplussed.
"Your identity card, sir, your proof of residence. The card that you own that shows you are a resident of Malibu Colony. Only vehicles carrying the relevant documentation may enter."
"I don't have any card like that," Edward replied, still confused.
"I'm sorry sir, but this is a private residence, unless you have a card or are registered on a visitor entry list beforehand, there's no entry for you."
"So unless I live here, Malibu is off limits?" Edward asked, his temper rising slightly.
"Oh no sir, definitely not. It's just this part of Malibu that you can't access, at least by car. The normal part of Malibu is open to the public, just like any other part of the country."
This response made Edward doubly determined to find out what made this part of the coast so special.
"Look sir, if you're desperate to get in, there's a public shopping centre a quarter of a mile down the road which has access via a track to Malibu Colony. It used to be a secret until some star-spotters discovered it, but now its all over the internet, and anyone can come and gape at their favourite star eating breakfast through his kitchen window."
"I'm just curious to see what all the fuss is about, I'm not some sick in the head stalker," Edward replied, slightly defensively.
"I hope not Mr. Cullen, because New York are my nephew's favourite team, and I'd hate to have to call the police on you."
Edward did exactly as the guard who thought he was working at Checkpoint Charlie had suggested. He reversed, turned back onto the Pacific Coast Highway, and drove thirty seconds down the road until he found the turnoff for the local shopping strip.
He registered that he had a missed call from Tanya as he parked, and he checked the time on his phone. It had just ticked past 11.30 in the morning, and the sun was shining brightly, even though it was not a particularly warm day, especially by Californian standards.
His phone vibrated again, and he looked down at the ID. Bella was calling him, again. Then he realised. He was supposed to be at a suit fitting that morning, 10am sharp. The whole thing had slipped his mind completely, and he winced as he answered the incessant vibrating iPhone, knowing he was about to cop it big time.
"Finally!" came an exasperated voice down the line, "I've been calling you for an hour or more!"
"Sorry," Edward muttered, leaning back into the leather seat of his parked vehicle, and running his left hand through his hair with a slight wince. That rib injury still occasionally gave him trouble, especially when he forgot to take his prescribed pills in the morning. He was forgetting everything today it seemed.
"I called the hotel after your cell was out of range, then I called the hotel, I called Conan's people to see if you'd got the times mixed up and had gone there, I even called Tanya after I wrestled her number off her agent, whose number I had to extract from his secretary. And she admitted she doesn't know where you are either only after five excruciating minutes of coaxing! So in short, where the hell are you!?"
"Malibu," Edward replied, as quietly as he could manage.
"What are you doing in Malibu!?" Bella screamed down the line, causing Edward to fumble his phone in his haste to get it away from his ear.
When Edward didn't answer, Bella swore.
"You know what, I don't even care. I'm supposed to be your agent, but you ignore things I told you only yesterday, and just go swanning off to do whatever you feel like! You had commitments today, and you've completely blown them off!"
"I've already had the deputy-CEO calling in to find out what's happened to you, as has Peter who has now informed the entire organisation that your AWOL. I had to lie and say that you were feeling very ill because you weren't used to the pollution and needed to get out of the city!"
"I'm sorry," Edward muttered, "and thank you for covering for me."
"Yeah well, you better make sure you get your ass to the fitting that I've just rescheduled for tomorrow morning instead, otherwise you want be getting any cover from me, it'll be open season on you, no holds barred."
"Thank you," Edward repeated, just wanting to get the conversation over with now.
"Alright, I'll let you get back to your one day sabbatical or whatever your calling it, and I'm going to call everyone in that hotel if I have to tomorrow morning, to get you to that fitting."
Edward locked the Lamborghini, and glanced around the car park, wondering if it was entirely safe to leave it there, but he needn't have worried; this was Malibu after all, it wasn't exactly a field of beat up station wagons and a pickup.
He put his phone away, and wandered over in the direction of the beach. A rumbling of his stomach reminded him that lunch had been noticeably absent from his morning routine, and as soon as he had found the track between two of the stores that led to the more private row of shops on the other side, he headed for a diner, keen to see what the food was like in the exclusive 'Malibu Colony'.
After eating his fill at a homely, yet decidedly average and extremely expensive American style diner where one of the waitresses seemed to spend as much time staring at him as she did actually making sure his food made it to the table in one piece. Not that it would have made any difference to the flavour if she'd dropped it into the garbage on route, given the taste.
Still, having filled himself with an overpriced, bad quality breakfast, he continued East, following the row of shops until he happened upon a real estate agent. Caldwell-Browning Real Estate it was named, and it claimed to deal in only the finest properties available in Malibu.
Naturally, as a student of the property market, Edward was intrigued, and cast his eye over the properties that were posted in the window. Of course, none of them could be had for less than seven figures, and a couple of them were touching eight figure asking sums.
There was an old fashioned ring, as the bell above the door chimed as it opened, and Edward became aware that he was no longer alone on the pavement.
"Good morning sir, are you interested in receiving some assistance there?" enquired a tall, willowy woman, who had an extremely business-like manner to match her pristine attire.
Edward turned and smiled at her.
"I think I'm just looking, I'm a bit of an amateur investor in property, you know how it is."
He saw an expression of distaste cross her features, but suddenly it was overwhelmed by recognition.
"Mr. Cullen, this is a delightful surprise!" she exclaimed, and Edward was somewhat shocked that she even knew what football was, let alone any of the players who partook in it.
"Come, come inside! I'd be happy to show you our full range of properties," she said, waving away his protests, "even if it is just for your own enjoyment."
Edward somehow doubted that he wouldn't have been offered this chance if she hadn't recognised him, but felt unable to refuse, and walked through the door that was being held open for him.
The Caldwell-Browning office was not a very large space, which was not very surprising given local property prices, and like all businesses in hot climates, had its air-conditioning turned up a couple of notches too high, despite it not actually being very warm at all outside.
Edward was led to an alcove at the back, where the woman's desk sat, devoid of any personal touches. Rachel Browning read the plaque on her desk, and Edward took a seat as she removed a large folio binder from her desk draw.
"This is a complete list of all the properties with have listed at the moment, if you would like to look over it, Mr Cullen?"
Edward wasn't entirely sure he would actually, despite his natural interest in the topic, but he didn't want to seem rude, so he accepted the folio with thanks, and opened it up on the desk.
"The properties are ordered by location, there is an index on the inside cover," she informed him, as he leafed through it slowly. He found himself drawn to the local properties, interested to see which ones were for sale in the vicinity. There were several beach front homes, and Rachel Browning gave a small spiel about each of them.
Edward flicked to yet another page, and found himself looking at the third house he'd found that was on Malibu Colony Road, which was the street to which he had been denied access. This house, however, was different from the others, to Edward's eye at least.
"Oh yes, delightful isn't it? It was built and is owned by a merchant banker from New York, who comes here during summers, only three years ago. Most unfortunately, he has suffered serious financial difficulties due to the Global Financial Crisis, and has had to shed assets in an attempt to remain solvent. It's a desperate sale this one, market value of nearly $15 million, but he's had to slash a third off that in an attempt to find a buyer, but in the current economic climate, there's no market for buying, it's only sellers."
"Really? That's such a shame, a really beautifully designed home he had himself there," Edward said, glancing through the photographs.
"Oh, that doesn't even compare to what it's like in person. If you would like, Mr. Cullen, I'd be more than happy to give you a tour, just for your own interest of course," the woman said, and Edward considered.
In the end he agreed, reasoning that even if he hated the place upon arrival, he would have received a lift to the beach which was where he felt like going anyway. After all, who didn't love Malibu?
Long time no see hey? Anyway, I feel I should clear things up a bit, because this chapter has some interesting references (at least I think so). The Beverley Wilshire is a real, five star hotel. The bath I'm referring to actually did appear in the Richard Gere and Julia Roberts film "Pretty Woman". The Malibu Colony is also real, you can't drive in unless you live there or have express permission from a resident. It's home to some of the most famous and wealthiest people on the planet, and some of the nicest and most expensive real estate as well. If you get a chance, take a stroll along the beach and you'll probably see at least a couple of people you recognise.
As always, a review would be lovely!