Your pen name(s): ***
Your beta's name: ***
Your story name: Livin' on a Prayer
Song that inspired you: "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi
Summary: With the support of his wife, a guitar player struggles to find success in the music business. When a talent scout offers him the deal of a lifetime, Edward and Bella think their prayers have been answered. What they really learn is all they can depend on is each other.
Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.
Livin' on a Prayer
"When are you going to marry me, Bella?"
I smiled and placed Dr. Cullen's check on the counter. He ordered the same thing every day – a slice of apple pie and a cup of coffee. The total would come to just over a dollar, and he'd give me a twenty and tell me to keep the change.
"Whenever you get divorced, old man."
He chuckled as he finished his coffee. This was our daily routine. He'd flirt, and I'd remind him that he was a dirty old man. He was hot for a forty-year old, but still…
"I'm pretty sure my son would kick my ass," Carlisle grinned and nodded toward the small stage. His son was standing there – in his acid-washed jeans and black t-shirt with the rolled-up sleeves – dutifully tuning his guitar.
Edward Cullen was Ponyboy Curtis and Johnny Castle in the beautiful flesh, and he was all mine.
"He really loves that guitar."
"He loves you more," Carlisle reminded me.
As if he could hear us over the music, Edward lifted his head and smiled in my direction.
"I told you so," Carlisle laughed lightly.
Edward and I had been together since we were fourteen years old. Not long after we'd graduated with the rest of the Class of 1985, we'd gotten married before the Justice of the Peace and found an apartment in town. Our moms had been planning our wedding since our freshman year of high school and had been totally disappointed when we'd eloped. Neither of them understood that we didn't care about the actual ceremony. We'd just wanted to be married and get out of this small town.
Getting married had proved far easier than leaving home.
Edward was a musician. While he was a local celebrity, it was proving nearly impossible to break out and find success in the larger cities that surrounded us.
The first six months of our marriage had been filled with following my new husband to one sleazy dive after another. Nobody tells you how hard it is to break into the music business, which is why we're still living in Forks and working at Billy's Diner. In between shifts on the grill, Edward plays on the tiny stage. On weekends, he performs at local festivals or the occasional wedding. Tonight was special because a music scout was coming from Seattle to hear him play.
Nobody famous ever came from Forks, Washington, but my husband was going to be the first.
"What time is his set?" Carlisle asked as he finished his pie.
"At eight," I replied. "I need to remind him to eat, I guess. The scout might not be impressed if he passes out on stage."
"You take such good care of him," Carlisle smiled at me.
"I love him," I shrugged, as if this explained everything – which it totally did.
I took a few orders and began to wipe the counter just as the diner door flew open. I bit back a groan as Jessica Stanley and her cheerleading squad rushed inside. One of the perks of graduating was that I wasn't forced to see Jessica Stanley's bogus face every day of my life.
"What can I get you, Jessica?" I asked sweetly. I was civil to her because I needed to keep my job.
She snapped her gum and pretended to examine the menu.
"Like, we want to try that new tea. You know, like, with the fruity flavors?"
I heard Carlisle's stifled laughter while I gritted my teeth. If you looked up the word airhead in the dictionary, you'd find her picture.
"You mean Snapple?"
"Snapple!" Lauren, her best friend, giggled loudly. Their matching headbands made me want to hurl.
The entire squad ordered bottles of Snapple. While I rang them up – individually, of course – I noticed Jessica make her way over to the stage. Edward was plugging in his amp just as her hand brushed across his shoulder.
I slammed the register shut.
"What's your problem, biatch?" Lauren smirked in my direction. "Are you afraid of a little competition?"
Carlisle's forehead creased in confusion. "What's a biatch?"
I didn't answer him. Instead, I watched as Edward politely but firmly shrugged Jessica's hand off his bicep.
"There is no competition," I said with a smile. To prove my point, I walked around the counter, up to the stage, and promptly wrapped my arms around his waist. He smirked down at me and leaned close, placing a toe-curling kiss against my lips.
I might have slipped him the tongue, too.
When we came up for air, the entire cheerleading squad was standing behind their captain, watching our display with horrified expressions on their faces.
"Gag me," Jessica snorted.
"Gladly," I retorted with a grin. "Would you prefer me to gag you with a spoon or with that ridiculous headband?"
Jessica smirked in my direction before turning her attention back to Edward.
"Good luck tonight," she said softly. "Maybe we can celebrate later?"
"I'll be celebrating with my wife tonight," Edward replied.
I smiled sweetly in her direction as Jessica rolled her eyes, flipped her teased hair, and led her squad out of the diner.
"I hate her."
"You always have," Edward chuckled.
"Well, she always wanted what was mine," I said, wrapping my arms around his waist and snuggling close.
"You're adorable when you're jealous," Edward said softly, nuzzling my nose with his. "I have to be honest. It's kind of hot."
Yeah, we still had newlywed fever.
"Stop," I whispered when his hand found its way under my skirt. "Your dad is here and you need to eat."
"I need you," Edward whispered against my ear. "I'm nervous, babe. Distract me."
I shivered as he took my earlobe between his teeth.
"I get a break in fifteen minutes."
"That's my girl. Usual place?"
"I'll be there."
Exactly fifteen minutes later, my skirt was around my waist and I was straddling my husband's lap in the front seat of our Trans-Am. Thankfully, he'd planned ahead and had parked behind the trees in the back lot.
"Babe," he panted against my neck as I rode him harder. The top of my uniform was hastily unbuttoned, and I whimpered when his mouth surrounded my nipple, blowing gently against the skin before licking it with his tongue and taking it into his mouth.
I didn't care that my back was digging into the steering wheel. I didn't even care if someone happened to pull up and catch us having a quickie in the parking lot. We were young and in love and absolutely crazy about each other.
"Better?" I asked a few minutes later as he helped me button the top of my uniform.
"Totally," Edward grinned lazily. "Someday we're going to get busted."
"Nobody ever parks back here," I reminded him. "Besides, we're married. What can they say?"
"I bet the sheriff would have plenty to say."
Yeah, my father would probably have a heart attack, right after he charged us with indecent exposure.
"You know it won't always be like this, don't you?" Edward asked seriously. "We won't always be working at this greasy diner and struggling to make ends meet."
"I know we won't," I assured him, kissing him softly. "That's why tonight is so important. I want you relaxed and happy so that you can impress that talent scout."
He smiled at me.
"I love you, babe."
"I love you, too."
The scout's name was Victoria Parker. Dressed in head-to-toe leather with a wild mane of flaming red hair, she looked like she belonged in a Whitesnake video instead of the offices of Twilight Records. She took a seat right next to the stage and watched as Edward made his last minute preparations.
"Go talk to her," Billy whispered, nudging my shoulder.
"No, no. I don't want to come off as the overprotective wife."
"At least take her some coffee," he said, handing me a mug. I filled it with decaf and took a deep breath before heading to her table.
"I thought you might like some coffee," I offered in explanation as I sat the mug on her table. She offered me a brief glance before returning her gaze to the stage.
"Do you know him?"
"Edward?" I asked. "You could say that, yes."
She arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow. "Oh?"
"He's my husband."
Victoria sighed heavily, and my heart sank. Had I already done something to jeopardize his chances? She didn't say anything else, and I had the distinct feeling I was being dismissed, so I took the hint and made my way back to the counter as Billy introduced Edward to the crowd. Surely Victoria was impressed with the turn-out. Edward could always draw a crowd, even on a weekday night in our little hometown.
One song drifted seamlessly into the next, and I kept my eyes on Victoria throughout the set. She seemed totally into his music, which made me happy. Her eyes never left the stage – not once, and I couldn't deny that it made me a little jealous.
Applause exploded in the diner as Edward thanked the crowd for coming, and like he always did, he motioned for me to join him up on stage as he talked to a few of his fans.
"You were awesome!" I said excitedly as he wrapped his arm around my waist.
"You certainly were," Victoria said as she offered her hand. "I'm Victoria Parker from Twilight Records. Do you have some time to talk?"
"Absolutely," Edward nodded. The crowd began to thin, and Edward started to lead the three of us over to Victoria's table.
"Alone, if you don't mind," the woman said, glancing at me. Her eyes were piercing and cold.
"Mrs. Parker, this is my wife – "
"I know who she is," Victoria nodded. "I'm sure she has some work to do."
Okay, she was a bitch, but she was willing to talk to Edward, so I forced a smile.
"It's fine," I promised him. "Go talk to her. I'll help Billy close up."
An hour later, Victoria walked out of the diner, leaving my husband at the table with a contract in his hand. It was a recording contract with Twilight Records.
Edward's wide green eyes met mine.
"I guess we're calling Jake?" I asked hopefully.
Jake was like a brother to me and the only lawyer in town.
"Yeah, let's call Jake."
Three months later, we found ourselves living in a tiny Seattle apartment. I spent a lot of my time alone while Edward was at the studio. If he wasn't recording, he was writing. If he wasn't writing, he was in meetings or photo shoots. If he was home, he was asleep.
My life was a little lonely.
I didn't complain, though. My husband was living his dream, and he thanked me every day for following him to Seattle and giving him the chance to do what he loves.
I'd found a waitressing job at a restaurant on our block, and the tips were decent. We needed them, because royalties might be great, but they only start to roll in once the record sells. The studio had been generous with the signing bonus, but rent was insane in the city. With Edward gone so much, I'd started to take additional shifts to bring in extra money. I'd made a few friends at work, but none of them could replace my husband.
I missed him.
It was Saturday night, and I'd worked a double since I knew Edward would be recording at the studio way past midnight. My feet ached as I walked up the stairs to our apartment. Tonight had been busy, but the tips in my pocket made the pain worth it. I slipped my key inside the door and pushed my way inside, only to gasp when I saw my husband sitting against the wall on the living room floor.
"You're home!" I said happily as I dropped my purse onto the table. I started to rush toward him but stopped abruptly when I noticed his eyes. They were tormented and dark.
"Edward, what's wrong?"
His tired eyes stared up into mine.
Slowly, I walked toward him, sliding my back against the wall and sitting by his side. I took his hand in mine and gently stroked his skin.
"Coming to Seattle was a mistake," he murmured. "Devoting my life to music was a mistake. I should be devoting my life to you."
"You are devoting your life to me," I replied softly. "You're doing this for me. For us."
"I've neglected you, and for what?" Edward laughed darkly. "It was all for nothing."
"I don't understand," I admitted with a sigh. "What's happened?"
Edward tilted his head toward mine and offered me a sad smile.
"I'm walking away."
"From the label?"
"But why?" I asked, bewildered. "I thought things were going so well. Victoria said – "
"Victoria is a cut-throat, manipulative bitch," Edward whispered angrily.
"Babe, you can't just walk away. You signed a contract. Is that what this is about? I thought Jake said it was a good deal?"
"Oh, it was a good deal – on paper," Edward replied stiffly. "There were just some…unmentioned obligations that I refuse to be a part of."
"What kind of obligations?"
"It doesn't matter," he shook his head and sighed. "I'm calling Jake tomorrow to see how much it'll cost me to get out of it."
None of this made sense. Why was he so willing to give it up? He'd done nothing but dream about a recording contract, and now he had one – and according to our lawyer, it was a good one.
Something had changed.
"There's something you aren't telling me."
He closed his eyes and pounded the back of his head against the wall.
"Stop that," I whispered gently. Scooting closer, I climbed into his lap and forced him to look at me. His eyes were so anguished, and I wish I could take his pain away.
"I can't tell you why." His voice was strained and tortured.
"It's okay," I promised him, peppering his face with kisses. "You don't have to tell me why."
His arms wrapped around me and pulled me close to his chest. Shuddering, he buried his face against my neck while I ran my fingers through his hair, desperately trying to soothe him.
"We have to go back to Forks," he mumbled against my skin.
"No, we don't," I replied. "There are other record labels, Edward. You have your demos – "
"My career is over, Bella," he sighed heavily. "Victoria said she'd make it so that no other record label would want to touch me."
"She's not that powerful."
"She could be," he said. "I'm in breach of contract. Why would anyone give me a shot?"
"Because you're wickedly talented," I murmured, smiling softly. "You're outrageously handsome, and I have all the faith in the world in you."
Sighing, he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to mine.
"I wanted to give you the world," Edward said tenderly. "I've failed you time and time again."
"You've never failed me," I promised him with a smile.
"My music is important to me, but you – you and our marriage – is what I cherish most," he whispered sincerely. "You know that, right? You know that I'd never do anything to jeopardize what we have together, don't you?"
"Of course I do." I placed my hands on each side of his face. "We'll be fine, Edward. We always are. And we are not going home. Going home would be a step back, and we aren't doing that. We're moving forward. We'll stay right here in this tiny apartment, and we'll figure it out."
His soft eyes searched my face.
"Do you trust me?" I asked.
"With my life."
The next couple of months were rough. Getting Edward out of his contract depleted our savings account. It hadn't been nearly enough, and we'd had to accept a loan from his parents to finish paying it off. True to her word, Victoria had alerted the Seattle record labels and door after door had been slammed in his face. We moved out of our small apartment into a smaller, crappier apartment down the block. Thankfully, we still lived close to the restaurant. Edward had been hired to work the grill, so the close proximity ensured that we could walk to work and save on gas.
Our parents begged us to come home, but I refused. Accepting defeat wasn't something I'd ever been good at and I was worried that, if we did return to Forks, Edward would take it as a sign and refuse to pick up his guitar ever again.
We tried to make the best of it, but honestly, we were just scraping by. At the end of the month, we barely had enough to pay half the rent. We'd sold everything we could bear to sell and had taken as many extra shifts as we could. Unfortunately, business was slow, and the manager hadn't needed us as much lately. Our next paychecks would reflect that.
I was trying to stay positive, but it was tough…especially when I found the eviction notice taped to our front door.
As I sat down at our kitchen table, I cried as I read the tiny print on the notice, informing us that we either had to come up with the rest of the rent or vacate within ten days.
Back home, you help your neighbor when they're struggling.
The big city is a little less forgiving.
I placed the notice on the table, and that's when my eyes settled on the gold band on my left hand. It was a little tarnished and the diamond was small, but I really loved my wedding ring.
I loved my husband more.
Determined, I grabbed a phone book and searched the Yellow Pages. I scribbled down the closest address, grabbed my bag, and slammed the door behind me.
I'd never noticed Pacific Pawn on my way to the restaurant, but there it was – three doors down from the place I served coffee each night. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door…
…and ran right into the broad chest of my husband.
He was holding his guitar and looked as if this was the last place on earth he wanted to be.
"What are you doing here?"
"What are you doing here?" I repeated.
"I…" his eyes flickered around the shop just as a man from behind the counter yelled his name.
"Harry says we can give you $200 for the guitar, but that's as high as he'll go."
My eyes flashed to my husband's.
"You're hocking your guitar?"
Edward sighed tiredly.
"You weren't supposed to know, Bella."
"You don't think I'd notice that your most prized possession is gone?"
"We need the money!" Edward shouted, causing the other customers to stare. "There's an eviction notice on our door, Bella!"
"I know," I whispered.
"You saw it?"
"Yes," I replied. "But you can't pawn your guitar. You're a musician. You're a songwriter. You love that guitar. "
"I love you more," he replied simply.
I glanced down at the ring on my finger, and I heard him inhale sharply.
"Why are you here, Bella?"
I hurriedly wiped the tears out of my eyes, and when I did, Edward took my left hand, his wide eyes locked on my finger.
"You were going to pawn your ring, weren't you?"
"I didn't want to," I said softly. "I love my ring so much."
"Then why, Bella?"
I squared my shoulders and gazed into the tired, weary eyes of the only boy I'd ever loved.
"Because I love you more, too," I said.
Edward pulled me into his arms, and I buried my face against his chest as he kissed my hair.
"Excuse me," a man with long brown hair smiled at us. He looked vaguely familiar. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I couldn't help but overhear. You're a songwriter?"
"I am," Edward said, wrapping one arm around my shoulder.
"My band is cutting our first record, and we need a few more songs," the man said. "I could grab the guys. Maybe we could sit down and write something together?"
Edward's eyes brightened.
"Yeah, we could do that."
"My name's Jon," he said, extending his hand.
"I know who you are," Edward grinned broadly.
"You do?" I asked, curious as to how Edward would know this man.
"So do you, babe," Edward grinned down at me. "Jon, this is my wife, Bella."
"It's nice to meet you, Bella," Jon smiled at me. "I'm Jon. Jon Bon Jovi."
"Take my hand. We'll make it, I swear. Whoa-oh! Livin' on a prayer…"
The customers in Billy's diner were singing along to the number one song on the Billboard charts.
A song my husband co-wrote with Bon Jovi.
After that songwriting session, Edward was given a music publishing deal. Bon Jovi was now working on their second album, and Edward had co-written two of the tracks. The timing was perfect because music was really changing.
Grunge, which we'd seen become popular in Seattle in the mid-80s, was really becoming the rage in mainstream America by the end of the decade. Stadium rock anthems were being replaced with distorted heavy metal riffs and angst-filled song lyrics, and we really didn't know what that would mean for songwriters like my husband.
Not that it mattered right now.
Royalties were wonderful things.
We still lived in Seattle, but we'd come home to celebrate Carlisle's birthday. We'd stopped by the diner to say hi to Billy, and tonight, we'd have cake with the family. By tomorrow afternoon, we'd be back in Seattle and I would arrange Edward's schedule for the week.
After all, who better to manage a musician than his wife?
It'd taken some time, but Edward had finally admitted the real reason he'd walked away from Twilight Records. Victoria had propositioned him – offering him the world, not to mention herself, on a silver platter if only he'd pretend as if I'd never existed. I had wanted to scratch her eyeballs out, but he'd convinced me to let it go.
Knowing he'd been willing to give up his dreams in order to protect our marriage only made me love him more.
"You're quiet tonight," Edward whispered in my ear. We were sitting in one of the diner booths and sharing a slice of pie.
"Just thinking that I'm a very lucky girl," I smiled at him.
"Life is pretty sweet," he winked, offering me the very last bite of cherry pie. I swallowed it with a moan just as his lips found mine.
Life wasn't just sweet.
It was totally awesome.
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