A/N: Characters are based on the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer. This is my first entry on fanfiction, I hope you enjoy it. Feedback is welcome.
Chapter 1 - EPOV
Smile. Breathe. Shake his hand. Smile. Breathe. Shake his hand, take hers, raise it and nod. I kept repeating the steps of greeting etiquette in my head as we walked through the hotel foyer. It was common place for a business man of my calibre to be invited to these fucking fundraiser events but I hated every one of them. I was expected to attend at least a couple each year and this one would fill my annual quota. I could then go back to being my solitary self. I preferred to stay out of the spotlight, my wife on the other hand, loved the attention.
I looked to my left to see my socialite wife hanging off my arm. Her dress was inappropriate for the black tie affair, it was bright and short, showing much of her and little class. Her fake smile widened flirtatiously, as we entered the banquet hall, and the male usher handed her a program for tonight's event. It wasn't unlike her to find him later for a tryst in the coat room. I think she took inventory, whenever we attended these things together, of the men and the available rooms.
There was no love lost between us. We were, more or less, an arranged marriage. There was no actual contract or dowry that I'm aware of, but our marriage was assumed and inevitable. Our fathers shared a medical practice and were long time friends. Naturally, all the kids were thrown together on a regular basis. Jane, my wife, was the youngest child and only daughter of Aro and Irina Volturi. She was closer to my age than to Emmett's, the lucky bastard, and the rest is history.
I found our table and dragged Jane in that direction. A few more hand shakes and polite nods and we were ready to join my family. I pulled out a chair for Jane and she plopped herself down under the strong hold of my hand, though I made sure it looked like my hand was simply resting on her shoulder. She was as high as a kite and I had to try and keep her under control. Before we stepped out of the car I insisted she put some shit in her eyes to clear the redness but her demeanour wasn't as easy to hide.
In my business, appearance was everything. Jane, more than anything else, was an embarrassment to me and to our families. The child, so highly regarded by her parents, was proving to be the epitome of their demise. Carlisle was well respected in Boston's medical community and was revered by many, from blue collar to the wealthiest residents. Aro clung tightly on his shirt tail. His own medical accomplishments were lacking but out of respect for Carlisle, most people tolerated his company. I'm not sure why Carlisle stayed close to Aro but I never cared enough to inquire.
Jane, being the ever present social figure, was popular with the tabloids and always made great headlines, which is why I kept a low profile. Her antics were jeopardizing the little respect people had for her family. I hated being tied to her by marriage but my reputation stood on its own and as long as some eager photographer didn't snap a rare shot of us actually together, most people seemed to forget we were married. Fortunately, she didn't take my name, a little underhanded manipulation on my part, so it was easy for people to forget her Cullen ties.
She dropped out of college after we got married and never worked a day in her life. I gave her a modest allowance, she was my wife, but most of her money was still provided by Aro. Aside from my family's wealth, I knew where I was headed financially in life, and insisted on a pre-nup. Jane was never my choice as a bride and I made sure to cover my ass in the unexpected dissolution of our marriage. I never wanted to marry period. The love bullshit was overrated if you ask me. A good fuck when needed was sufficient. My parents, the happily married Carlisle and Esme Cullen, were under a different impression.
Everyone at the table just stared at Jane. When I sat down their eyes turned on me but before anyone had a chance to speak, dinner was served. The conversations started after the server walked away. Carlisle talked across the table to Emmett and Jasper, mostly casual business talk. Esme, Alice and Rosalie were discussing the rooms' décor and critiquing the first course. The way they spoke you'd think they were fucking food critics. I should be grateful they weren't asking me about Jane's current condition.
I didn't discuss my marriage with my family. As far as they were concerned everything was great. Jane and I only came out in public, together, when absolutely necessary. Family events were hit or miss, sometimes we'd attend together but mostly Jane went to her family's stuff and I to mine, alone, making up some plausible excuse as to why the other couldn't attend. The only hiccup in all of it was the fact that Jane's life was public property. I knew Esme wouldn't read trash newspapers but I wondered sometimes if Alice or Rosalie ever caught sight of one of Jane's covers. The Volturi's certainly would never bring it to their attention, though they read every word. I really didn't care what they saw or knew. I wasn't the fucking problem.
The last course had been cleared and the dessert was being passed out when the speeches began. This fundraiser was for underprivileged children in the inner city. A cause, near and dear, to Emmett and Rosalie. They had met in college and were business partners, with benefits, opening multiple youth recreation centres throughout Massachusetts. They used profits from the more profitable centres in well to do neighbourhoods to fund the centres in poorer neighbourhoods. I was proud of my brother though I'd never say it to his face. He found a way to amalgamate his love of athletics with his impressive knowledge of business. Of course, Rosalie helped but it was ultimately Emmett's dream.
Business was my affair. I earned my MBA from Harvard then graduated from Yale Law. There was nothing, or no one, that could hinder my rise to the top. At 23, I started my own business and by the time I graduated from Yale, Cullen Industries was a multi-million dollar company. I helped Emmett with some of the initial setup but he ran his own show and was doing well.
This, of all the fundraiser type things, was the most boring, one of the reasons I chose this event to attend with my dearest. It didn't present much opportunity for Jane to create a scene. There was no silent auction, no themed gimmick. Old men and women stood in front of the podium listing off the benefits of helping the poor children. A few success stories were paraded around the stage and given a chance to tell their sad story and everyone would applaud. By the end of the night, we were expected to take out our check books and write out a fat donation in support while more old people walked around with wicker baskets to collect.
I donated to everything, whether I attended the functions or not. The tax exemptions were incomparable. Personally, I would have preferred to simply right a cheque to Emmett. As far as I could see, his centres were the best thing those kids ever had. The centres started with localized sports but evolved into much more. They offered tutoring, music lessons, food, clothing and at times, shelter.
Jane had kept quiet throughout the evening but I lost her on the way out. I wasn't sure how she got away from me but one minute I was holding her hand, not the term of endearment you might think, and the next she was gone. I quickly scanned the crowd, with her gown she should have stood out like a sore thumb, but I couldn't find her. After a few minutes I said fuck it and headed towards the door and the valet kiosk.
"Good night, Edward." Alice reached up and kissed my cheek, as we waited for the valets to return with our cars.
"Good night, Alice," I replied bending down just a little to lessen her stretch. "Jasper." I nodded my sentiment as their car arrived.
Jane wasn't the only one I had lost. I hadn't seen my parents or Emmett since I left the table. They still hadn't come to the valet kiosk by the time my car arrived. I gave a quick glance through the crowd as I rounded the car but they were no where in sight. I got in the car and drove off.
The next morning I rolled over in bed to find Jane's space empty. I wasn't surprised. I proceeded with my usual morning routine and drove into work. When Jane first started disappearing I did worry but that was a long time ago. I didn't worry about her like a husband worried about his wife but I had known her a long time and wondered if she was in a morgue somewhere.
The morning went by quickly. I had a meeting scheduled over lunch. I was in the process of acquiring a local television station and I was meeting with the current owner to iron out the details. That's what I did. I acquired shit. Back in the day, I would be called a corporate raider. That term was antiquated now but basically that's what I did. I bought company's when they were about to go under, for next to nothing, and then broke them up and sold off the pieces at a profit. When I started the company I relied heavily on investors. Even then, at my young age I was considered charming. I could talk the skirt off a nun, if you know what I mean, so talking men out of their money wasn't that much of a stretch. Now, the money I used was all mine.
I was packing my briefcase when my phone beeped, alerting me to Gianna's call. I picked up the receiver, "Yes Gianna?"
"Sir, your lunch meeting is in half an hour."
"Yes, I'm preparing to leave now." I was ready to hang up when Gianna started with something else.
"Sir, you have a call on line one. It's Mrs. Cullen and a call on line two from Ms. Denali." Gianna always referred to Jane as Mrs. Cullen and Esme was 'your mother', without another word I dropped Gianna and picked up the call on line two.
"Well, to what do I owe this pleasure?" I asked, straightening my tie.
"Edward," Ms Denali whispered my name, "I'm very, very hot." She spoke slowly, emphasizing the h of hot.
"Hmmm, I like the way that sounds." I returned sounding just as seductive. I cleared my throat and spoke in normal tone again. "Tonya, I have a lunch meeting. Can I drop by around 1:30?"
"Edward," she whined. Quickly she changed her tone. I guess she remembered whining was one of my least favourite female qualities. "Yeah, that's fine."
Tonya Denali was one of my fuck buddies, why mince words? We used each other for sex and nothing more. It was a good relationship, there was no expectation other than a clean bill of health and we were tested regularly. Like me, Tonya was devoted to her profession and didn't have time for relationships. We'd known each other for years. I dated her sister, Kate, in college but there was never anything between us until we reconnected about three years ago. Her company moved her to Boston and she decided to look me up. She was fucking hot! I had no choice but add her to my collection.
I walked past Gianna's desk, which was right outside my door. "I'm leaving now. Rearrange my schedule, I'll be out of the office until…," I paused for a minute, looking at my watch, trying to figure out how long I'd spend with Tonya, "until about 3."
"Sir, you still have your wife on line one."
"I know. Tell her I'm busy." With no further explanation, I walked to the elevators and pressed the button. Jane was obviously alive so there was nothing else I needed to know.
I met with Liam Brennan, Owner of the local public television station, for lunch. I was seated and half way through my first drink when he finally arrived.
"Mr. Cullen." He offered to shake my hand as he approached the table. "Thank you for meeting with me."
I rose from my seat and extended my hand. "Mr. Brennan. I didn't think you were going to make it," I said, curtly.
"Sorry, we had a little mishap at the station," he apologized.
"And you have no one in your charge to handle crisis in your absence?" He shrugged his shoulders and smirked, proud of himself for his role as top dog. "Perhaps this is why your operation is in such chaos." His grin quickly dissipated. I was already annoyed by his tardiness and was not interested in small talk with this bloated self-absorbed little man.
"Well, I don't think…."
"Let's cut the bullshit. We both know why we're here. Your little station is so broke you can no longer pay your employees. Your benefactors are dropping out like flies and you've got no where else to go." His jaw dropped as I spoke. I guess he wasn't used to being spoken too like the worthless piece of shit that he was.
"Ok, Mr. Cullen." He stopped pretending. "I need about one million to clear up the station's debts, my backers assure me they will continue supporting us if we can clear up this current situation."
"Mr. Brennan, are you really as stupid as you look? Do you even know what I do?" Again his jaw dropped, astounded, he was completely speechless. The waiter came to the table and I waved him off. This meeting was not going to last long enough to eat a meal. "I'm not here to give you money, bail you out as it were. In my briefcase there is a contract whereby you sign the station and all its intellectual property over to Cullen Industries. That's the only topic up for discussion today."
"I…I…," he stammered.
I opened my briefcase, took out the document and handed it to him. "You will see my offer is fair with current market value. You have until the end of tomorrow to decide. After tomorrow, you'll see a significantly lower offer, if I even consider this acquisition at all." His eyes skimmed over the papers. It was obvious he wasn't absorbing the information listed then his eyes rose and met with mine. Before he had a chance to say anything else, "You can go now! This meeting is over."
As Liam Brennan got up to leave, I called the waiter back. I read from the menu, ordering for two, and requested the meal to go. I called Tonya to tell her I'd be at her office shortly with lunch. She was pleased with the news as her afternoon obligations were increasing quickly and she needed a little release before she faced them.
I got out of the elevator and walked down the hallway to Tonya's office. Her secretary was away so I just knocked on her door and waited until she directed me to come in.
"Lunch." I held up the bag as I walked in.
"Lunch will have to wait, Mr. Cullen." Tonya came towards me unbuttoning her blouse. I put the bag down on the floor, locked the door behind me and proceeded to take off my jacket. Our bodies slammed together and Tonya raised her arms, wrapping them around my neck and pulled me closer to her lips. My cock hardened as her hips slowly and seductively swayed, back and forth, rubbing against me.
My hands moved over her body, stripping off her blouse. The clasp of her lacy black bra was no match for me as my fingers craftily unhooked the eye. As I slid the straps off her shoulders, my hands travelled down her chest until I was cupping her tits, pushing them together and up towards my mouth. My lips enveloped around her hard nipples, sucking and nipping, my tongue licked and lashed. Tonya's back arched almost convulsively, pushing her tits further into my mouth. Her low throaty moans encouraged me to continue.
The short skirt, that barely covered her thighs, easily slid upward, no longer concealing her hot fucking pussy. She wasn't wearing panties and I heard myself groan as I slipped my fingers into her throbbing slit for a quick dip before hoisting her unto the desk. As I undid my belt and released my eager dick from the confines of its fabric prison, Tonya lowered herself across the desk. Her heels digging into the edge of the wood, I used my hands to forcibly spread her knees exposing her wet cunt.
My balls slammed against her ass as I thrusted my cock into her, again and again. It was hard to control the volume, as we vocalized our pleasure. I slid my hands under Tonya's body and pulled her ass closer to the edge of the desk, her legs wrapped around my hips locking me in. Hers hands grabbed my shoulders as she pulled her body up to mine, pressing her tits against my bare chest. Our kiss was violent and intense as I pushed deeper inside her. Her muscles began to contract around my dick and I pushed deeper, my pelvis slowly rubbing against her clit. My hands squeezed her plump ass, her fingernails dug into my flesh. Simultaneously, we climaxed. Tonya's body shuddered as I felt my cum shoot out into her in a jerking motion.
Our bodies started to relax, I pulled out and went into her private bathroom to clean up. While Tonya was in the bathroom completing her own routine, I set up lunch. We sat on the floor and leaned against her plush leather couch while we ate off the coffee table. We were both exhausted. I could see Tonya's legs still quivering. It made me smile to see her body still reacting to the orgasm I provided her.
"What are you smiling about?" She asked.
"Nothing." Saved by the bell, my phone started to ring from my jacket. Tonya reached into the pocket and passed me the phone, reading the caller ID as she handed it over.
"Jane has incredible timing." All of my indiscretions were aware of my marital status. I didn't feel the need to hide it, in fact, some of them were Jane's friends.
I nodded then accepted the call. "What is it Jane?" Her voiced shrilled through the little speaker in my cell phone, "I'm at lunch. I don't have time for this bullshit. No, I am not driving 20 miles, out of my way, to pick you up. Take a fucking cab!" I ended the call and rolled my eyes at Tonya.
I returned to my office at exactly 3pm. Gianna handed me some messages and I walked into my office and closed the door. I flipped through the messages quickly, nothing too important. Jasper called to remind me of the golf game we'd planned for the weekend. Jane called a few times, complete nonsense. A few other things, business related that could wait.
I turned around in my chair and looked out the window. My office, the only office on this floor, was on the top floor of my 25 storey building. The tallest building in the immediate area and when I looked out I felt like I owned the world. From this distance everything appeared to be very tiny and I could imagine what it was like to watch an ant farm. I could see the hustle and bustle of the people, the worker ants, busily running errands, getting lunch and completing the trivial business of everyday.
I leased the first twenty floors of my building to other companies, keeping only the top five for my own business. I liked to handle most of my transactions personally and didn't require much staff. My employees were highly educated and devoted, I hand selected, first in class graduates from the best schools offering impressive compensation packages. Some called me generous but that wasn't the case at all. I expected the same level of perfection, from those who worked for me, as I achieved myself. Finding competent employees willing to meet that level of expectation wouldn't come cheap and I accepted that. In all fairness, they often exceeded my expectations putting up with some of the shit I dispersed. Putting myself in their position, I don't think I would still be employed by Cullen Industries, only because I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut if I had a boss like me.
The next day was much the same, meetings and calls, regular business minus the afternoon rendezvous with Tonya. My sexual appointments were a regular part of my work week, not always scheduled during work hours and not always with Tonya, but I had a healthy sex drive and made sure to tend to those needs. I don't even want to imagine what an ass I'd be if there was no outlet for my sexual release.
The highlight came just after lunch. Mr. Brennan accepted my offer. I turned the paperwork over to one of my charges, Riley Biers. The final close on the deal was still months away. Riley would work with my legal team to make sure all t's were crossed and i's were dotted. I'd step in closer to the final take over to clue up the details. It was a good day.
The rest of the week was uneventful. As usual, Jane was gone more than she was home but then I didn't spend much time in the house either. Friday night I belted out a few ballads on the piano while having a few drinks. Scotch was my drink of choice. My fingers glided over the keys without even thinking. The more complicated the piece the more I enjoyed playing it. Esme's years of insistence, that her children play musical instruments, was paying off. Sitting at the piano was one of the few places where I found true peace and solace. I could get lost, for hours, sitting at the vast keyboard of my grand piano. The familiar feel of the keys at my fingertips, the rich full tones of each note, it was home to me.
I woke up at my normal time, early, on Saturday morning. I could feel the heat from Jane's body on my back and quickly jumped out of bed trying not to wake her. I don't know why we just didn't sleep in separate rooms, separate beds. We hadn't had sex, with each other, since our second year of married life. I pulled off my boxers on the way to the bathroom.
I was meeting the guys this morning on the golf course. We tried to play together at least once a month. Family time was important to both Carlisle and Esme. It wasn't really my thing but I didn't rock the boat when it came to my parents. I was the perfect son. I guess I enjoyed being with them. Carlisle was a good man and a good role model. He conducted himself in business as he did in life and truly earned the respect of everyone he met. Emmett was alright, though his goofy nature often irritated me. I think we were born in the wrong order. I was a typical first born, A type personality and all, where as Emmett could pass for the middle or baby child. Fun and full of life, he took everything with a grain of salt. There were times when I almost envied his easy going nature and good spirit. Jasper was my college roommate. I was the one who introduced him to Alice. At first, I wasn't crazy about Jasper putting the make on my little sister but I got over it, especially when I realized I didn't have a fucking choice. Jasper was a good guy and one of the few people, outside of my family, I could actually tolerate for more than half an hour. As far as brother-in-laws go, I couldn't ask for better. We were a tight family. Carlisle and Esme made sure of that.
Jane was awake when I came out of the bathroom, "morning," she grunted. I didn't acknowledge her.
"I said good morning, Edward." She tried again, sitting up and projecting her voice.
"I heard you."
"Where are you going?"
I glared at her, "why are you here?"
"I live here asshole!" Jane threw a pillow at me but she didn't speak to me anymore so it was worth the soft attack.
I grabbed a banana on my way out, tossing the peel into the trash before I left the kitchen. I pushed a button on my key remote and heard the familiar beep of the alarm deactivating behind the garage door. The scent of leather filled my nose as I sat in the driver seat and that always made me smile. I drove a Porsche Cayman S Black Edition, the sweetest ride ever made. The seat fit my ass like a fucking glove, my underwear didn't fit as well. Fuck I loved this car.
I peeled out of the driveway, a few early bird neighbours giving me a disapproving look as I sped past them. I turned up the volume and the music was pumping when I pulled into the club. Reluctantly, I handed the keys to the valet, I hated other people driving her but the club had strict rules about members parking their own cars. Yes, I referred to my car as a lady, get over it!
As I entered the club, some moron approached me. "Edward Cullen," he said, his voice filled with disdain.
I didn't recognize the man and kept walking. He grabbed my arm and I turned back. With as much restraint as I could bare I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "get your fucking hands off me!" I didn't want to make a scene, especially not with Carlisle present.
"You don't remember me, do you?" He sputtered angrily. I didn't respond but continued to stare him down. "You don't remember ruining my life, you fucking bastard?" His voice was rising and beginning to catch the attention of other members close by. "You tore my company apart!"
That was my job. I wouldn't even try to remember the face of every person who failed their company so badly that I was able to acquire their assets. I attempted to walk away, hoping to diffuse the situation before we drew more attention and before I got angry back, but he had a strong hold on my arm. I forcefully pulled my arm away and began to walk again.
"By the way, your wife Jane," I turned to look at him again. "Is a really good fuck!" He taunted.
I stepped purposely towards him, keeping my voice low, "Jane may be an easy fuck but good? I guess you don't have much experience in that area." I glanced down towards his crotch and smirked, "I know what Jane has to offer and believe me, I fucked you better!" I turned my back to him and spoke over my shoulder, "I was definitely more satisfied." I laughed. He attempted to come after me but I caught his two friends holding him back, from the corner of my eye.
At reception, I asked to see the manager, Ben. Seconds later he was shaking my hand. Ben was a family friend and I was confident he would prefer to keep our business over the fucking idiot that just approached me.
"Edward, so good to see you. What can I do for you today?"
"That guy," I pointed, "just outside, standing with one of the valet's. Who is he?"
"That's Peter Randall. He used to work for some import company but now he's CEO of Bower Inc. Why?" He answered innocently.
"I want you to revoke his membership." Ben's eyes widened at my request. "He assaulted me and referred to my wife in a very disrespectful manner." I didn't have to explain, I'm sure when Ben weighed the pros and cons of my request he'd certainly comply but I thought it would help him explain to his superiors if questioned. The young lady behind the counter nodded in agreement with my statement, she had obviously overheard.
"Of course, Edward. His membership will be revoked immediately." We shook hands and wished each other a good weekend.
Carlisle, Emmett and Jasper were on the terrace. "Hey, what was going on out there?" Emmett inquired.
"Nothing," I shook my head and they left it alone.
"There's your menu." Carlisle pointed to my setting, "we're going to have breakfast before we start." I settled in and reviewed the menu.
We placed our order with the waitress and started chatting about the past weeks events. Emmett caught me checking out the waitress a couple of times and razzed me about it. Jasper chimed in reminding me of my marital status. It was all in good fun but enough was enough. We moved on but our conversations, even with Carlisle present, always found their way back to sex. Personally, it was a favourite topic of mine but I'm sure Carlisle would prefer to be left out of those discussions with his sons and especially his son-in-law, for no other reason than Jasper was screwing his only daughter, the details of which he did not want to know, and Jasper better not dare stray. It had to put Carlisle in an awkward position, and we knew we should steer clear, but it was so fucking funny to watch this well mannered, perfectly behaved man squirm. The three of us got quite a charge watching Carlisle try to be one of the boys.
"Edward, how many women work for you?" We were nearing the 18th hole.
"I don't know, forty, fifty, something like that. I don't take regular attendance, Emmett."
"That's a lot of pressure. Do you ever think about screwing any of them?"
I laughed. I knew what Emmett was doing. "Never Bro. These girls are the best of the best. I can't afford to lose any of them. Don't mix pleasure with business, right dad?"
"That's right, son." Carlisle agreed.
"See now, I have to disagree with you on that. I'm glad to have Rosie working with me, she keeps me in line."
"Yeah, but you and Rose aren't a thing, like Alice and Jasper. You're just fucking her so technically you are mixing business and pleasure. You need to watch that shit." I scolded. Carlisle kept his head down visualizing his put.
"Edward, where the fuck have you been?" Jasper piped in. "Emmett and Rose have been living together for over a year."
"What?" I was shocked.
"You're fucking kidding me, right?" Emmett was shocked that I didn't know. It took a few minutes for him to realize I wasn't kidding, "how could you not fucking know?"
"Wow, Emmett. Sorry man, I didn't realize things were that serious. I've had a lot on my mind." Before they could press me for a break down of what was so preoccupying that I didn't realize my brother had gotten serious with this girl, my phone rang. "Esme." I said, shrugging my shoulders, I had to take the call. I walked away from the group for a little privacy.
"Hi dear. I'm having dinner here at the house tonight, can you two make it?"
"Uhm… ma it's really not a good time…."
She cut me off, "Edward." The tone of her voice made me crumble to her will. She was skilled in her guilt techniques.
"I don't know if Jane can make it but I will be there." Her cheery voice returned as she gave me the details. I ended that call and made one more.
"Hey baby. I can't wait to see you tonight." The voice on the other end breathed into the phone.
"Senna." I paused and I could sense she knew what was coming. "I can't make it. Something's come up."
"Edward. This is the third time you've cancelled on me." I could hear the anger building. I was in no mood for it. It was time to end things with Senna, she was getting attached.
"Senna." I said sternly.
"Come on Edward, it's your turn. Get off the fucking phone and put, asshole." Emmett's voice boomed toward me.
"Senna, I said I can't make it and I have to go. Let's talk soon." That was my usual brush off. The soon never came.
We finished our game and drove back to the clubhouse. We recapped the day's highlights over drinks in the bar. Carlisle watched Jasper and I shoot pool, Emmett took a call and disappeared.
"So we're having dinner at your place tonight?" I asked, directing my question to Carlisle.
"Yes. Your mother's been cooking all day."
"Anything special going on or just another Saturday?" Carlisle and Jasper looked at each other and I knew something was up. "What is it?" There was no reply. "Why am I the only one out of the know here?" I was beginning to sound like a child.
"Your brother is proposing to Rosalie tonight." Carlisle finally gave in.
"Really?" I couldn't disguise my disapproval. Rose was fine but he didn't need to marry her. Fuck, what was he thinking?
"Sounds like you don't approve, little brother?" Emmett heard my response as he entered the room from behind me.
I took a moment to think of an appropriate reply. "No man. That's great. Great news."
"I don't believe you." Emmett was right in my face now. He stood about an inch and a half taller than me but his massive form made him appear much bigger.
"I'm just surprised. Fuck, I just learned that you were living together. Give me a break." I joshed. He fucking bought it and playfully jabbed my shoulder.
I went home to shower and change. Jane was home when I arrived and I asked her if she intended to join me. I had called her cell as I was leaving the club and left a message. I extended the invitation only because Esme would prefer if the whole family was in attendance for such an occasion. I wasn't surprised by her resounding no, but at least I did my part.
My parents house was large, a mansion if you will. Esme employed cleaning staff, grounds keepers, pool keepers, even a butler but insisted the kitchen was her domain. Carlisle often suggested she hire a cook for large crowds but Esme would not hear of it. She loved the kitchen, cooking was her outlet she said. We certainly didn't complain, the woman was an artist, a master, in the kitchen. I was pretty confident in my culinary abilities but wouldn't dare compare myself to her.
Jasper and Alice were at the door when I pulled up. The butler, Berty, opened the door allowing the three of us to enter. He ushered us to the formal living room where Emmett and Rosalie were already sitting with Carlisle and Esme. The room was vastly oversized with high ceilings. The external wall was a combination of gypsum and glass. Emmett's voice boomed and echoed towards me as he spoke.
"Well, it's about time. I was starting to worry you guys weren't going to make it." His massive frame was closing in on me. I quickly glanced down at my watch, reflexively, ready to challenge Emmett. "I'm kidding you brown noser!" He looped his large arms around my body and lifted me up in one of his infamous bear hugs. This was an example of things about Emmett that irritated the fuck out of me. Alice and Jasper backed away slowly to avoid their own capture as I struggled to get free.
Finally on my own two feet, I approached Esme and bent down to kiss her cheek. "Edward," her voice was low, staying exactly between us. "I'd like to talk to you tonight after the others leave." I straightened up without responding, it wasn't necessary. No one refused Esme.
Carlisle nodded his head to me, "I take it…."
"No, Jane's not coming." I could feel the disappointment of twelve eyes boring holes through me. My successful business and financial portfolio, my unblemished public status and my many strengths, none of it fucking mattered. My marriage to Jane hung over my head like a fucking storm cloud. Nothing I could do would ever over shadow my family's disappointment in me. My marriage, my one and only failure. Jane's absence, in everything family, was my short coming and if I was reading Esme correctly, our failure to produce grandchildren was a close second.
Alice's voice broke through the silence and consumed everyone's attention. Honestly, I had no idea what she was talking about. My internal banter rang far louder in my ears then her high pitch. I cursed Jane over and over in my head and then I turned on my family. I would never have married her if my parents hadn't expected it, wanted it. I could feel the anger beginning to course through my veins and I had to leave the room. I took a walk outside. I couldn't breathe in that room anymore.
I was outside for about half an hour when Alice came looking for me. "Go away Alice." I snapped.
"You know Edward," she plopped herself down, next to me, on the wooden bench encircling the gazebo. Her arms looped around mine and she squeezed herself tight to me. "You are your own worst enemy." I turned my head and looked at her, unconvinced. "I'm serious. No one holds you to as high a standard as you hold yourself." She loosened her grip and sat up, leaning against the wall behind us.
"What would you know." It wasn't a question, more an audacious comment.
Alice was quiet. Briefly. "I know more than you think, big brother." She left my side, heading toward the house. "Emmett's about to make his announcement. You need to get your ass inside." She shouted over her shoulder. Now she was being audacious.
Emmett started to clear his throat when he saw me enter the room. "Excuse me, I'd like to have everyone's attention." Alice moved in front of Jasper and he slid his arms around her waist from behind, watching Emmett from over her shoulder. Carlisle sat down next to Esme and reached for her hand. Esme looked into his eyes and you could see her happiness for what was about to happen and you could see the love in her eyes, that she still held for my father, after all these years. I leaned against the wall near the door and folded my arms across my chest, alone.
Emmett stood in the middle of the room. Rosalie was sitting close to Esme. "This is a very important night for me. I'm so glad to have all of you, the people I care about most, with me to share in this moment." Rose looked confused. There couldn't be much she didn't know about Emmett, living and working with him. Obviously, this was a best kept secret so she must have wondered what was going on.
Emmett turned to Rose and held out his hand for her to come join him in the center of the room. Naturally, she did. Her expression was still confused but I could almost see the wheels turning in her head as the reality of what was happening began to sink in.
"Rosie, you've been my partner in business, my inspiration in life and my greatest love. When I think about my future I can only see your beautiful face smiling back at me. You love my strengths and you strengthen my weaknesses. You are in my dreams, my heart and hopefully my forever." Rosalie was already blubbering, along with Alice and Esme. Emmett got down on one knee and looked up at her, pulling a velvet box from his pocket. He opened it and held it up to her, "Rosalie Lillian Hale, would you be my forever, my bride, my wife, my everything?"
Rosalie was crying too hard to utter a fucking word but she nodded her head profusely. I actually found myself smiling, who knew Emmett had that in him. His words were sincere and deep and I was impressed, which didn't happen all that often. Alice turned into Jasper and cried into his chest. Esme and Carlisle were the first on their feet to congratulate the newly engaged couple. Alice was still clinging to Jasper so I decided to be next in line to offer my condolences. My congratulations.
I took Rose's hand and admired the ring for a second. Emmett had good taste, though the rock was a little bigger than I would have chosen. I hugged her and whispered my congratulations into her ear. I slammed Emmett on the back, making a big fuss over him for taking the plunge. Making a bigger deal than I believed it to be, I had to make up for earlier at the golf course. Alice and Jasper finally made their way over.
Berty, as if on cue, entered the room with a bottle of chilled champagne and a tray of glasses. Emmett popped the cork and the sparkling liquid sprang out like a waterfall. We all grabbed a glass from the tray and tried to catch the flowing fluid. Laughter erupted and bounced around the room. Carlisle made his fatherly toast, congratulating the couple, welcoming Rose and blessing the family.
Dinner was done and the wait staff were clearing the table. The ladies trailed off discussing plans and dates, colors and style. Carlisle invited the three of us downstairs to the rec room. We separated into teams, grabbing pool sticks and racking balls. Jasper went behind the bar and doled out our usuals. Emmett, being it was his night, was first to break. The conversation was casual, sports and business. Each of us were in a different field so it was a nice change of pace to hear a different perspective. Jasper was a criminal lawyer with ambitions of being the state prosecutor and eventually going into politics. He'd certainly married the right girl to share that dream with. Alice was a media relations consultant and handled major scandals and career altering catastrophes for the world's most publicly watched characters, actors, athletes, politicians. No one could afford to keep her on their payroll indefinitely which suited her just fine. She was warm and energetic and enjoyed meeting and working for people. With Alice by Jasper's side there was nothing they wouldn't conquer.
The night was finally winding down. Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper and Alice made their way to the front door with my parents following them out. I shouted a good night to all then disappeared down the hall to the library. Oddly enough, the room, demanding the most quiet, is where Esme chose to place the piano. I sat on the bench and allowed my fingers to trail over the keys, softly tapping out the notes of Hedley's Perfect.
I closed my eyes and allowed myself to drift away with the music. I quietly sung along as I felt each note. "It's been a while since I heard you play." I didn't realize Esme had entered the room. I smiled when she spoke to me and changed the tune to a classical piece. It was her favourite. I played a few bars before stopping. The two of us sat at the piano for a few minutes in silence.
"So, you wanted to talk to me?" I asked, bracing myself for the lecture. I got up from the piano and created some distance between us.
"Yes, I did." Esme's voice was strong, completely different then the soft motherly tone she used when I was playing.
I stared out the window into the darkness, mostly seeing my own reflection, the failure staring back at me. "I know what you're going to say ma. Can't we do this another time? This is Emmett's night, let's not ruin it."
Esme came up behind. I felt her fingers tighten around my arms just above the elbow. I'd never noticed before just how much taller I was than my mother but it was clear in the window's reflection. She barely reached the top of my shoulder and her cheek gently pressed against my bicep.
"Edward…." She tried but I quickly interrupted.
"No. I don't want to talk about this with you." I pulled away from her, heading towards the door, my anger sparking up. I'd never spoken harshly to Esme but this time she was overstepping, "Yes, mother, I'm ashamed and yes, I'm sorry Jane is never here for these big occasions. I will fix it…"
"Fix it?" She questioned.
"Yes mother. I will fix it." I almost shouted at her, angrily. Angry because of the doubt in her voice, angry because it was partially her fault I was in this fucking mess. Fuck, my own mother didn't believe I could fix it. What the fuck does that say about me?
"Edward. Son." Her voice softened and I stopped walking toward the door. I couldn't walk out on her no matter how angry I was. "Where is this guilt coming from?"
"What?" I turned around, confused.
"Edward, please give me some credit. I am not without fortitude of my own. I know what's going on and I know where to lay the blame, if there was any point in that."
"Right!" I said, doubtful she had any idea what I endured in the joke I referred to as my marriage. I loosened the tie around my neck that suddenly felt like a noose.
"Edward, do you really think I'm that blind? That any of us are? We see Jane for what Jane is, and yes you're married to her, but she is not a reflection of you nor should you, in any fashion, bare her reflection."
I heard the words coming from Esme's mouth, I saw her mouth moving through each syllable but I couldn't convince myself that Esme had said that. For the first time in my life I was speechless, no angry comment, no quick witted response, nothing. I was stunned. The family knew. Esme knew, Carlisle. It felt like someone had just kicked the shit out of me. I started shaking my head in disbelief, it wasn't possible for them to know the full extent of my shame.
"We supported your marriage to Jane because we thought it was what you wanted. You and Jane were always together growing up, we thought you loved her. We've thought about it a lot over the years Edward. Did we do this? Did you marry her because of something we did or said to make you feel like you had too?" Esme's eyes were red, irritated and I could see the tears beginning to pool.
A lump was forming in my throat as I watched my mother begin to cry over me. I started to feel the burn in my own eyes as I watched her tears escape and I blinked furiously to prevent my own from spilling out. I couldn't answer her. I wanted to scream at her for making me live this lie. I wanted to scream at myself for thinking they'd ever make me do something against my own will. Everything hit me all at once. This was my fault, not theirs. I let this happen, me. In no other situation would I ever be forced into something against my will, not by anyone, not even my parents. I did this. Why the fuck did I do this?
When I didn't answer her, Esme started again. "You have been so strong throughout the past five years, trying to deal with this on your own. We commend your attempt to stay in this marriage but it's not healthy. We realize you are not without flaws of your own, but you have to understand, son, this is not your failure. It's hers, perhaps, even ours." I turned away from her, I couldn't stand for her to see me being weak. The heel of my palms dug deep into my eyes, I would not cry like a fucking pussy. "Edward, we want you to know that we'd support you through a divorce if that's what you want to do. She doesn't deserve you, she never did."
She hugged me from behind knowing I couldn't face her right now. When my breathing returned to normal and my hands dropped from my face, Esme released me and stepped back. Just as she took her step, Carlisle, as if listening from outside, walked in. I lowered my head, I didn't want him looking into my eyes and seeing I'd been weak, He placed his strong fatherly hand on my shoulder and looked past me at Esme.
"Is everything alright in here?"
"Yes," she said confidently, "I think everything will be fine."
"Yeah," I said simply.
Carlisle patted my shoulder and started towards his wife. I half turned to say goodnight to them as I bolted for the door. Carlisle cradled my weeping mother in his arms. I picked up my pace before the feeling to go back and hug them both overwhelmed me.
I looked forward to the long drive home. It would give me a chance to think, clear my head, figure things out. For once, I hoped Jane was home. We needed to talk and this conversation was long over due.
Esme's words repeated in my head. She said Jane and I were always together, she thought I loved Jane. Why? How could she think I was in love with Jane? I reminisced over my life, focusing in on my teen years and early twenties. I wasn't the type to bring girls home to meet mom and dad. That's the kind of thing one might do if he thought the relationship might go somewhere. I enjoyed bachelorism. Is that even a word? I didn't do relationships, not even in high school. Esme didn't get one picture of me with my prom date. Wait. What the fuck was her name? Bree something. I didn't take her though. I remember asking her and she said yes but the day before the prom she said her parents were making her go with someone else. There was no time to ask anyone else so I took Tonya, she was a junior.
Special occasions and holiday parties, we'd hang out together because we were the only singles. Alice brought every boy home, Emmett always had some cheerleader hanging off him and Jane's brothers were never in need of a date. It became a joke between us and she'd even color coordinate with whatever tie I was wearing. Oh fuck, she was dating me! I slammed my hands against the steering wheel. Did she orchestrate this whole fucking thing?
I had asked Kate to Alice's commencement. There was never a future for us, we both understood that. Kate had a bigger problem with monogamy than I did but I did ask her to come with me and she said yes. Why didn't she go? It took a couple minutes but I remembered. Jane had dropped out of college, for the first time, and her parents kicked her out so she came to stay with me. Obviously, Kate didn't care about that. A week after Jane left Kate told me she wasn't comfortable meeting my family for the first time under such important circumstances. I knew it was an excuse and I never spoke to her again after that. I was so pissed at her for bailing on me. Did Jane have something to do with her decision? Fuck, why didn't I see this before? Make no fucking wonder my parents thought I loved her, they'd never seen me with anyone else.
I pulled into the driveway. Jane's car was gone. The house was dark but I called her name anyway as I walked through the front door. I raced through the house just to be sure she wasn't passed out somewhere but she definitely wasn't home. I flung my self down on the couch, trying to cool down but it was impossible. My thoughts were racing through memories of various things all negatively influenced by that bitch. Things I should have noticed at the time and didn't.
I started to pace through the main floor, swiping at table lamps and picture frames until the floor was covered by puddles of shattered glass. The rage consumed me as I waited for her to come home and I ventured into the kitchen smashing dishes straight out of the cupboard. The last thing I held were her grandmother's prized crystal glasses. It was satisfying to hear each one crash into the wall on the other side of the room. The broken glass clamoured to the floor.
Even our engagement was a fucking mistake. The memories of our engagement flooded into my mind and I found myself drifting back to that time. I never proposed. I never asked her to marry me…
I'd picked her up at her parents' house. She'd begged me to take her to some New Year's Eve Bash a friend of hers was having. I wasn't into that but she pleaded saying her ex would be there and she couldn't ring in the New Year alone while he kissed some whore. I was intrigued by the idea of pissing someone off so I finally agreed to take her.
"I'm here." I called her when I got in the driveway.
"Aren't you going to at least come in and say hello to everyone?" She whined.
"No. I'm not in the mood. Hurry up."
Within a few minutes, the chauffeur opened the car door and Jane climbed in. "Look," she said.
"Nice rock. What is it? 3 carots?" I asked.
"2 and a half."
"No, I bought it myself to wear to the party." Stupidly, I thought nothing more of it. I didn't even pay attention to the finger it was on. Why would I?
We arrived at the party and immediately Jane ran to some girlfriends. I made my way to the bar, I wasn't driving tonight and was going to take full advantage of the free booze. I was pretty trashed by the time Jane found me again. A crowd of girls swarmed around me, screaming and squealing. It took a few minutes to figure out why but when I did I was pissed.
I grabbed Jane by the arm and pulled her away from the crowd. "What did you tell them?" Suddenly I was sober.
"It's nothing Edward. Nobody will even remember tomorrow." She replied nonchalant. I let her go maybe she was right. Why should I care anyway, this wasn't my circle. I didn't fucking care what they thought. Let them think we were engaged. If nothing else, her ex would probably be really pissed. That's if he wanted her back as bad as Jane implied, which I didn't understand. I started to chuckle.
I had ordered the driver to drop Jane off first but she insisted her parents would be at my parent's house and she'd get a ride home with them. She was right. We walked into a party in full mode. Esme and Carlisle loved to entertain. It's probably where Alice got her flare for people and entertaining. Somehow it escaped me.
Naturally, inside my own home, Jane and I parted ways. I expected to be done with her for the night. I was mistaken. The lights flickered and Aro was standing in the middle of the room trying to grab everyone's attention. Esme and Carlisle were walking, rushing in my direction with my siblings closely behind them.
Aro's speech knocked the wind out of my lungs and I thought the room was spinning. Was I drunk or did I just hear that right? Congratulations to Jane and Edward on their engagement. What the fuck?
My family congratulated me. Carlisle and Esme thought it was a very mature thing to do. I was coming of age but it was so unexpected…
Thinking back now I should have known how they truly felt by the looks on their faces but at that moment, maybe it was the liquor or the sheer shock of what Jane had done, I thought they were pleased with the announcement. There was no turning back then and Jane knew that's how I would feel….
By 12:30, I had worked out enough of my rage to stop breaking shit and was calm enough to go through some work I'd brought home. I went to my desk and opened my laptop. My office was the first room in the short hallway past the front door. Jane would have to walk past me to get further into the house. I purposely kept the lights off so she wouldn't expect to see me awake, waiting for her.
My eyes were burning by the time I heard Jane's key in the front door. Quietly, she crept past my office.
"Jane!" Jane almost jumped out of her skin, startled by my voice as it broke through the air in the silent house. With only the light of my computer screen shining up at me I couldn't see the details of her face, but she could see my expression clearly. If it were possible, my eyes would be glowing red with hate for her but I'm sure they didn't need to glow for her to understand my desires at that moment.
She quickly regained her composure. "Darling, were you waiting up for me?" Her words so drenched in sarcasm I began to feel ill at the sound of her fucking shrill.
"Where the fuck have you been?" I glanced down at the screen and saw it was 3:30am.
"Isn't it obvious? I was out!" She changed her tone to match mine.
I got up from my desk, I feared if I stayed in this conversation I would fucking kill her with my bare hands. "You're a fucking whore!" I said as I walked past her in the doorway. I just couldn't help myself.
"What? Don't you dare say that to me and walk away you fucking coward. Come back here and say it to my face!" I guess I struck a nerve.
I turned back with a quick twist and she almost fell on her ass, not expecting me to turn so fast. I lowered my head to her level. I was so close our noses almost touched. "YOU…ARE…A…FUCKING…WHORE!" In the seconds that it took to re-utter those words it occurred to me that she might scratch my eyes out. I stepped back and straightened up, though I really wanted to stay in her face and taunt her a little more.
"Oh such big words, Mr. Cullen. So what does that make you. Saint Edward?" She was primed and I could see the claws were coming out. Bitch!
"Well, at least I'm not out screwing everything that moves."
"What? And you think I am?" Jane moved closer to me and stretched up to get in my face. "Fucking Prove It!" She challenged.
"That shouldn't be hard!"
"No Edward. You should rephrase that. That isn't hard! If you had anything to offer I wouldn't have to look elsewhere for satisfaction!" Here she goes, trying to emasculate me. A tactic I was used to.
"Well maybe if I had something fucking sensible in front of me I would be more enticed." I threw it back at her.
"You son of Bitch!" Another nerve, I almost laughed.
My temper was boiling over. I had to end this before it got physical. Jane was daring me with every move she made. "I want a divorce, Jane!"
Again she stretched up to my face. "Never!" She pulled back. "This marriage, if that's what you'd call this farce of an arrangement, has never been more than one of your business transactions, a merger between our two families and I am not about to dissolve this contract."
"Oh, what? Are you acting as Aro's insurance policy now? You think as long as we stay married Carlisle won't push your father out of the practice?"
"Insurance policy? Are you saying I only married you to protect my father? Listen Saint Edward. You were fucking there and I didn't hear you speak up when the minister asked if there was any reason we shouldn't be married. If I am my father's insurance what the fuck are you?" That's what all of this was about. Jane pursued me and married me to give Carlisle a reason to want to protect Aro, preserve his side of the practice. Fuck, it was all making sense. I couldn't figure out why she went to so much trouble only to fuck around on me after we were married.
I walked away from her, ran up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door shut. In no time I had a bag packed, grabbed my laptop along the way and stormed out. Jane didn't question me, she just watched me leave. I was disappointed I wouldn't get to see her reaction to all the broken shit littering the floor but I had to get out of there.
I didn't want to bother my family at this hour. I thought about calling Tonya, she lived the closest to my work, for a place to crash but decided it would be better if I were alone tonight. I checked into a hotel, tossed and turned for a couple of hours, sleep was out of the question then headed into the office.
"Good morning, Mr. Cullen." Gianna greeted me with wide eyes and a smile. I was surprised to see her sitting at her usual post on a Sunday but I didn't question it. I made sure my employees had unlimited access to the building, at least the floors dedicated to Cullen Industries, so they could put in all the time necessary to stay on top of their game.
"Get Carlisle on the line for me." I snapped. Gianna worked for me long enough to know not to take my shit personally.
I stood at the window waiting for Gianna to connect me with Carlisle. I was still fuming from the night before and the scene outside my window was nothing more than a blur. I wasn't able to focus on anything in particular.
My office door opened and I turned to see Carlisle close the door behind him.
"Gianna said you looked quite upset. Looks like she was right." Carlisle's calm demeanour helped slow my breathing.
I sighed, "What are you doing here? I just asked Gianna to call you"
He nodded his head, "things didn't go well last night." It was more of a statement then a question and I looked at him curiously. How did he know? As if reading my thoughts, he started, "Jane called Alice, Alice called your mother and so it goes." Carlisle was very calm and almost jovial in his rendition of the chain of command in our family's female circle.
"She called Alice looking for my family to fucking side with her." I could feel my body starting to shake. "She's a fucking manipulative Bitch." Carlisle didn't react to my foul language, he was used to it although it was never tolerated in front of Esme. "I need to leave town. I have to get away for a while."
"Edward, we all know what Jane Volturi is. We all know what the whole Volturi clan is. You never have to defend yourself to us. I hope you know that." I nodded but until last night I didn't know it. "I agree, I think some time away would be good for you." Carlisle paused. "I love you, son. Don't ever forget that."
For the second time in as many days, I felt like falling apart and letting my parents protect me and put the pieces back together for me. I breathed deep and held my breath for a second, fighting for control of my fucking pussy emotions.
"I'm going to stop by and see Alistair before I leave. Get him to draw up the divorce papers and serve them to that bitch. Then I'm going to drive up to the family house in Washington." Carlisle nodded. "I'll have my phone if you need anything." We gave each other a man hug, barely touching with a slap on the back. "I'll call mom when I get there."
When Carlisle left I packed a few of my files in my briefcase and left my office. On the way out I told Gianna to redirect all of my calls to Riley. Riley was my right hand and I'd often left him in charge of things in my absence. I'd call him from the road to discuss things but he was more than capable of handling the workload and deciding what issues warranted my personal attention. I stepped onto the elevator and then I was gone.