Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer is the queen of all things Twilight. No copyright infringement is intended. This story deals with smoking addiction and quitting, which may be uncomfortable for some.
Rated M for language and citrus.
A/N: *waves* HELLO!
So, this all began on a Graduate Bitterness review. I teased Mac by telling her I'd send her a toothpickward teaser and she's been at it ever since. At the time, I had no intention to write it. I just figured since she loved toothpickRob then I'd throw that at her. Then, she had a dream; a Stephanie-Meyer kind of dream and well, I was around to help her run with it.
These may be mostly my words, but I could've never, ever think about doing it without RMacaroni. Most of the ideas are hers and a lot of the accurate grammar and spelling you see in here, is all because of her.
We really hope you enjoy our little story. As of right now, RMacaroni and myself has given birth to Toothpickward!
I tell you… that devil, he loves me. I'm pretty sure God is the exact opposite. The past week has easily been the worst of my twenty eight years— and there are a lot of days in twenty eight years.
As I stand in my hotel room getting ready, I can't help but worry. Nothing has been going right and everything seems to indicate that tonight will be no different. This is the night— the one night of my career that I just want things to go over smoothly. I feel the need to fill this void. I need something I actually want to work in my favor. Just once in my miserable life—I need this.
Surely, that's not too much to ask?
But of course, my name is Edward Cullen. Nothing ever comes easy to a bastard like me.
It's been five days since I decided to quit smoking, and ever since it's been a catastrophe. Everywhere I go, everything I do, reminds me of that cigarette. My body craves it like the fucking addiction it is.
I want it but I don't. I need it but I most certainly do not.
Mind over matter they tell you, but how the fuck do you control the mind when everyday you're surrounded by the very vice you're trying to evade?
Bullshit! This is the most tormented I've ever been in my entire life.
And to add insult to injury, we have lil miss Tanya over here; standing in front of me, hands fumbling over the bowtie around my neck.
"Would you hurry up? The dinner is in two hours, not two days," I hiss at her, already aggravated at her slowness. Her hands tremble against my chest, and her being nervous is actually plunging me deeper into my own anxiety.
God, I need that smoke.
"Fuck," I mutter under my breath, causing Tanya to startle. I know that if she stays here, I might do something I regret. Her hands reach out to get back to work on my tie, but I take a quick step back.
"I need to be alone right now."
"But Mr. Cullen…" she begins, but I can't even get over the fact that she's objecting me right now.
"I said leave, Tanya!" I almost shout, and thank fucking god she doesn't emit another sound as she scurries out of the room.
I walk across to the bed and take a seat on the edge. My head falls into my hands which are shakily suspended on my bobbing knees.
"Shit… shit… shit," I grumble and run a nervous hand through my hair. I fist the hair on the nape of my neck as I attempt to take in a few controlled breaths. I can't afford to freak out, not tonight. I can already feel a disaster in the making, but the biggest threat here is me. I need to get myself under control.
One hand lets go of my hair and pats its way down to my left pocket. I groan when I come up empty. I sigh deeply, trying again but this time, the right. A small smile tugs at my lips as my fingers run along the edges of the rectangular box there.
This box is my life now. The inside of this box holds the very things that both make me and break me.
That's right… tooth-fucking-picks.
I pinch the bridge of my nose and let out a lungful as I remove the box from my pocket. As usual, I softly recite the words on the outside, almost like a prayer. Swallowing thickly, I open the box and produce one of the thin, cream sticks in my hand. I hold it in the center of my palm and in my mind, I think about the pointed ends and the thinness of the stick. I try to distract myself further, wondering about the length, where it's made, and even who spends time making such a thing, but no matter how much I try to block it, my mind always comes back to this one thought.
This stick— this fucking toothpick— is such a poor substitute for what I really crave.
I put up a mental block against that thought as I snake the tiny stick between my fingers. Finally deciding that I've wasted enough time sitting here wallowing, I thrust the toothpick into my mouth and jump off the bed. I shrug my shirt sleeve to glance at the watch on my wrist, noting that fifteen minutes has passed from the time I dismissed Tanya. I walk back over to the mirror, realizing my tie is still hanging loosely around my neck.
Fucking Tanya Denali.
Once I have that all tied up, I look up at myself in the mirror. With a Herculean effort, I attempt to ignore the way my eyes are dark and the droopy bags forming semi-circles beneath them. I pay no attention to the way my unruly hair is doing its own thing on my head. I even try to disregard the stubble that runs along my jaw and chin, even though I usually shave for high end events like these.
I fail horribly at the attempt to not notice all of the above and settle for acknowledging that there is nothing I can do about any of those things at the moment. I shake my head as I grab my jacket off the hanger of my suit bag, and walk out of the room, ready to be done with this shit.
The elevator ride is crowded and I feel smothered. Just what I need right now is for two senior citizens to be pressed up against my front and back.
When the bell dings signaling the first floor, I almost knock the people in front of me down, trying to get out. I completely ignore the audacity of a person calling me an asshole as I make my way to the front door.
When I exit the hotel, I stop dead in my tracks at the sight before me.
Felix is leaning against the car… my car. His back is toward me, and I watch speechless as his hands drop from his lips, revealing my worst nightmare.
Now everyone has to smoke in my face? FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!
He throws his head back, expelling a cloud of smoke from his nostrils in the space around him. My eyes trail the smoke as it swirls and slowly disperses into the air. My chest tightens, and my shoulders slump in defeat as I watch how his body seems to calm with every pull of smoke into his lungs.
I ache for that calm.
I dig my trembling hands into my eyes as I picture the way my chest would rise and fall with each intake and expel. The way my eyebrows would pull together at the center as I took in a drag. The way my eyes would flutter close at the feel of the smoke diffusing through every last part of my body. I even think about the way I would discard of the cigarette— the crunch of gravel ringing out in my ear, as I put the butt out under my feet.
'Christ Cullen, would you get a fucking grip' I tell myself, trying to control the boiling blood beneath the surface of my skin. My hands ball into white-knuckled fists at my side and my jaw clenches until the stick in my mouth snaps.
Spitting the broken toothpick out of my mouth, I clear my throat. Felix's body jolts upright and he straightens his posture as he quickly discards his cigarette and looks over to where I stand. His eyes go wide and I can easily identify regret and shame in his face.
"Mr. Cullen, I…" he says between coughs, and I can't stand the sound. I remember what it was like for me, just a few days ago, waking up, coughing and panting in my bed. "I thought you were going to be a little longer. I'm so sorry."
I hold my hand up, silencing him. The last thing I want is his apologies. I'm the one who quit smoking. Surely I couldn't expect the entire world to stop at my own decision, could I?
No, I couldn't, but that didn't stop me from wishing everyone did though.
"Look, I don't have time for this shit. Let's just get this night over with," I demand as I head over to where Felix is now holding the door open for me. I walk over to where he stands, instantly regretting that I need to get by him to enter the car. He reeks of tobacco like a mother fucker and I'm torn as to whether I'm fine with that or not. Actually, it's not quite that simple, I'm damn near about to lose my mind. My eyes close and I try to bar my intake of air around him.
"And where the fuck is Tanya?" I ask through clenched teeth. I'm about to ask Felix to take another vehicle because he can't be anywhere near me in here. I might be tempted to ask him for a cig and light that fucker up.
When I slide inside, Felix shuts the door. I am so fucking relieved to be away from the cigarette apocalypse of that outside world. I quickly forget about Felix, Tanya, and everything else as I make myself comfortable inside. The warm leather beneath me, coupled with the cool air inside the limo, feels like heaven all around me, and I sink back into the seat as I let my mind go wild.
I try to relax and think about how hard I've worked and how far I've come to even be considered as an invitee to the Annual Volturi Entertainment Party.
Three weeks ago, I managed to get my hands on the script of The Marine. I'd heard how production companies grappled over rights for this movie, and I knew it would be something big. Thank God, Tanya didn't mess up on getting me that script. I hadn't even read it yet, but when she called me and told me she got it, I just fucking knew.
This role had to be mine.
I devoured that script in less than two hours, sitting down with Tanya and discussing everything I would need in order to be in perfect shape in time for the auditions. The script was pretty intense, and I remember having to chain smoke my way through the entire reading. My head swims as I think about what landing this role could mean for me and my career. It was time for the world to see who Edward Cullen really was. Stepping out of my indie film realm, this role would finally put me on the map.
Tanya and I spent the entire week studying that project back and forth —cover page to end notes. It was obvious that I had to do some serious training and exercise to get in shape for this role. It's not like I didn't work out already or wasn't in shape, but I mean, this role called for an intense kind of training. I did everything from making notes on modifying my diet, to stocking up on reading material as background sources to help me channel the character in the best way possible.
I was so fucking ready.
Well, at least I thought I was. That was until a couple days into training.
I couldn't even do an entire three mile run, every two minutes stopping to catch a breath. I decided to get back into swimming, which I had never done much of since I became a full time actor. I failed miserably, not having the endurance to complete swimming drills. I fought to keep my breathing regulated in the water, often resulting in me pulling up and storming out of the pool and outside for a smoke.
It was motherfucking frustrating.
Cycling was no different. I was often winded even before meeting the mile marker and again, I would just relent and smoke the fuck out of my disappointment.
I started stressing.
The more I stressed, the more I smoked to ease the anxiety that threatened to eat me alive. I became fidgety and bitter ninety-nine percent of the time, snapping and going off on anyone and everyone close enough. Quite frankly, they were all undeserving of the wrath I forced upon them, but I couldn't help it. Something was wrong and I had no idea what it was.
So I called Carlisle.
The very next day I was at the doctor's office, blowing away into a Spirometer. The test was difficult and if anything, it made me want to smoke more. When the test was over, I talked to him about my anxiety and I listened as he told me that I had failed miserably on the pulmonary function test. He explained that my total lung capacity had decreased immensely, causing my intake of air to lessen over time. It also caused the amount of air I was able to take in and hold in extremely restricted, causing my lungs to work into overdrive.
I guess that's what smoking for the last decade of your life would do to you.
His next words shattered me, leaving me not only fearful for the fact that my career could be at the end of its road but so could my life.
"Edward, I'm afraid if you continue consuming cigarettes the way that you do, you will very soon be faced with Pneumothorax—which in case you don't know, refers to lung collapse. And you and I both know what could happen to you if that were to occur."
I'll never forget those words. They quite literally changed my life. It was then I vowed that I'd never, ever smoke another cigarette.
But you know what they say about that shit… easier said than done.
Even then, I tried to remain positive and determined. Carlisle warned me to lay low of any extremely rigorous exercises for at least two weeks.
I didn't fucking have two weeks.
He told me, my body would be in serious withdrawal mode from the sudden and impending denial of nicotine and I wouldn't be able to exert the force or strength I needed for that sort of training right now.
Fuck, if he wasn't right. Even my own personal exercises were becoming a task. I grew into this unfocused, confused, harsh and cold- hearted person. I spent my daytimes being annoyed at every little thing while anxiety attacks ruled my nights. Sleep became a stranger as I lay in bed, dreaming and wishing for just one last smoke. Times when I would doze off were useless, only to wake up a few minutes later, panting and sweating between the sheets.
I checked in with Carlisle yesterday, letting him know how I was coping with everything. He made notes on my profile and suggested that I even consider rehab.
He also threw out a few other alternatives. Everything from a nicotine patch, to eating four-six small meals instead of one-two big ones—from lowering my alcohol consumption, to talking to someone who have recently quit smoking or someone who can relate.
But it was this one other thing he told me that stuck with me. As my hands found my pocket again, I felt my saving grace. He'd told me to keep my mouth busy so I won't miss the feel of the cigarette poised between my lips. When he suggested toothpicks, I damn near laughed in his face; completely ignorant to the fact that it was probably the best thing he'd proposed all day.
I retrieve the box of wooden sticks and recite the words one more time before turning the box in my hands.
Little Sticks of Heaven.
So lost in my thoughts I am, that I don't even notice that we were at Volturi's already. The moment the car stops, I let out a huff when I see one… then two… then dozens of flashing lights swarm the limo. My body immediately tenses, as I try to prepare for the onslaught of the paparazzi outside. I was actually lucky I wasn't attacked leaving the hotel.
"You ready, Cullen?" I hear Felix ask, and I can only nod my head in response. He then steps out and runs around the vehicle. When he opens the door, I flick the box open and grab a toothpick before sliding the box back into my pocket.
With my wayfarers over my eyes and toothpick in hand, I step out of the limo. Thrusting the toothpick in my mouth, I plaster a wry smile on my face as unspeakable quantities of lights flash around and about me.
You can do this, Cullen, I tell myself as I maneuver my way down the line of paps. My name is being shouted in every direction as I take a few pictures and pose with a few other celebrities. Interviewers are on the sidelines, also putting in a few screams of their own.
"Over here, Mr. Cullen."
"Where's your date tonight, Edward?"
"Is it true that you're interested in the lead role in the blockbuster movie, The Marine?"
"Is it true a recent health scare, and not to mention, that bad break-up, prompted you to quit smoking, Mr. Cullen?"
The last question stumps me, and I turn in the direction from where the question came. I see a fairly tall guy with a blond ponytail standing there with a camera stringed onto his neck. I remove my glasses to take a better look at him, but mostly because I want him to see the seething rage in my eyes. He cocks his head to the side and gives me a cocky grin before bringing the camera up to his eyes and snapping off a few shots. I pretend to ignore as he shouts at me.
"No need to confirm, Cullen. Your face says it all."
He laughs evilly and my body is searing with anger as I turn away, heading straight inside.
Fuck the press. I don't need this bullshit—definitely not tonight.
I storm into the ballroom, with Tanya trailing behind me. She's saying things, probably running over the sequence of events for tonight and whatever else, but I don't hear her— I can't hear anything over the dominant voices in my head encouraging me to run back outside and smoke the first cig I get my hands on.
I'm about to make my way straight to the bar to get me something to drink, when a heavy hand on my shoulder stops me in my tracks.
"Edward, slow down," I recognize the voice as Emmett McCarthy, and he's infinitely high on the list of people I don't want to run into tonight.
"McCarthy," I great him, shaking his extended hand.
"McCarthy? What's with the formalities? Lighten up man; we're at a fucking party."
Lighten up? He has no idea how much I want to strangle him right now. At my sides, my hands fist and relax repeatedly in an attempt to calm down. But really, I need that fucking drink.
"I was just about to head to the bar," I tell him flatly. I really don't want to talk— to him or anyone else to be honest. Coming to think about it, I was beginning to feel that I couldn't even talk to Aro tonight if I had the chance.
"Damn straight. Put Pussy Cullen on a leash for just one night and come play with the big boys. Are you here with Lauren?" he says, turning his head, looking around the room.
"Ugggggh, don't fucking remind me of Lauren." I swear Emmett is master of saying all the wrong things at all the wrong times.
"Don't worry, I'll get your drinks," I hear from beside me and I turn to glare at Tanya. I'm being an asshole but I can't help it. I decide to try to turn my douchery down a notch since she practically rescued me from a very awkward conversation. I nod at her.
"I'll take a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and a double shot of bourbon— neat."
"I'll have a double shot of Jameson Gold— on the rocks; for now," Emmett finishes with a bang, speaking for the both of us before Tanya turns, heels clicking away towards the bar.
Emmett is rambling, going on and on about how his agent, Jessica, managed to get him a last minute squeeze in with Aro. I pretend to pay attention but quite frankly, every word out of his mouth annoys me further. Being constantly reminded of the fact that Tanya failed to get me any time at all with Aro tonight is actually getting on my last nerve.
And I don't think I have that many left.
We continue chatting and I'm laughing at some joke that really isn't even funny to begin with. But apparently, good ole friend, Karma, decides to crash the party because in the very next minute, I'm seeing red.
Literally seeing fucking red.
Wine— Red wine is now dripping down the shirt of my $2500 Gucci suit. For a moment, I can't look away from the mess drenched all over me. It's fucking horrible and thank God my jacket was unbuttoned because it so very nearly escaped ruin. I could feel the liquid, seeping through my shirt and onto my skin.
It feels dirty.
I want this shit off me. I want to kill Tanya. I want to get out of here.
I want a motherfucking smoke, GODDAMMIT!
After a moment of mental calm down rituals and a few breathing exercises, I manage to be able to tear my eyes away from the mess on my torso to see the dumbest look on Tanya's face. So help me God, the girl is on her hands and knees in front of me, attempting to pick up splinters of broken glass instead of finding a way to get me cleaned up.
What is she doing? And who the fuck brings red wine in a champagne flute anyway?
"To your feet, Tanya," I tell her, and she wastes no time getting into apologies, her voice insulting me more and more with every uttered syllable.
"You… you get me NO FACE TIME with Aro tonight but that wasn't enough, was it?" I sneer, hardly in control of any of the words coming out of my mouth. "Do you know that Emmett here has already seen Aro tonight, Tanya?"
Her eyes flicker from mine to Emmett. In my periphery, I see him shrug his shoulders.
"One thing I ask of you tonight… one thing and you manage to fuck it up. How could you fuck up a simple task as bringing me a glass of red wine, huh?"
She looks away from me, dropping her head in shame.
"No no no, look at me. Look at what you did. THIS IS ALL YOUR DOING. YOU DID THIS!" I shout; there's music all around but I hope no one's paying attention to my little fiasco.
When she looks back up at me, the tears are too much for her eyes, some spilling over and sliding down her cheeks.
"Oh please, Tanya. Don't start with the tears. This is the real world. People mess up and they pay for it," I tell her, not an ounce of sympathy left in my body. "Matter fact, I think it'll be best for all of us— if you just leave."
"But Mr. Cullen, I…"
"No no no." I shake my head at her rebuttal. "It's quite all right. Your services are no longer needed. You can go now."
I lean in, bringing my lips to her ear.
"I'm so done with you, Tanya."
She's standing there, looking at me and I'm wondering why is she still here. I nod my head, showing her that she doesn't need a map to find the exit. She gasps softly and then she's walking away.
When I regain a more rational function of my brain, I notice Tanya making her way to the door.
Holy fucking shit… did I just fire my agent?
I'm seething. My hand reaches up and wipes across my clammy forehead, coming away damp with beads of sweat.
"Hey," I hear Emmett say beside me, his hands on my shoulder. "You look like you need one of these, man."
I'm out of there before his hands even make their way into his pocket. If he was about to offer me a cigarette…
God, I can't even think of it.
Suddenly, I feel stifled. I need air.
I look around the room searching for my escape, hitting the jackpot when my eyes fall on the half-open balcony doors. Before I tell my brain where to go, my feet are already moving me in that direction. I steal two glasses of whiskey from a waiter's tray and chug them down in consecutively.
"Fuck," I cry out, the liquid burning my throat and chest as it infiltrates its way into my system. I rest both glasses on a side table as the room starts spinning slightly around me. My hands grip onto the wall to steady myself. When I regain composure, I loosen the tie around my neck leaving uneven ends hanging loose on both sides.
With eyes closed, I stumble best as I can to the doors, pushing it open and making my way out onto the balcony. I take in a huge lungful, my body needing a breath of fresh air.
What the fuck?
My eyes fly open and I start coughing profusely. This air is anything but fresh. I stagger back a few, unsteady steps, throwing a hand over my face and blocking my nose completely. I'm even afraid to breathe in through my mouth at his point; any further intake of this air could be dangerous.
When I finally look up from under my arms, what I see makes every hair of my body stand on end.
The Devil wears Prada herself.
"Edward… Darling… Hello!" she says, taking a few steps my way. Her voice rivals the sounds of nails being scraped on the hood of a car. "Don't you look," she pauses as her eyes study my ruined suit. "Well, dashing."
Her tone is teasing, no doubt basking in my suffering while dealing her own hand.
I match each of her steps with a backward step of my own, at least until my back hits the rail behind me. She closes the remaining distance between us and my skin itches at the proximity her body presents to mine. She pulls the cigarette up to her lips and I watch as her chest swells with the intake of smoke.
FUCK MY LIFE… IN THE ASS!
Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, she's dipping in, bringing her face to mine. Unexpectedly, her torso deflates as she expels the smoke from her lungs and into my face. I try my best to hold my breath but the action is too slow and the vapor rushes into my lungs like it belongs there.
My eyelids flutter close in a moment of relapse. It burns… the fucking smoke blazes through my body like an inferno and as much as I want to reject it, I can't. It feels so fucking good. I'm easily imagining the feel of the cigarette between my own fingers or nestled behind my ear. I even see it poised between my lips or even packaged in my pockets.
Fuck, I miss this shit.
I swallow and then I swallow again.
Once… twice… three times… four.
"Feels good, doesn't it?" Rosalie chimes in, and I have to wonder if she is some sort of mind reader. My eyes reopen and I look down at her hands where her own cigarette burns. Her eyes follow the movement. "Oh, you want one? I happen to have some more where that came from."
Her arrogant smile and her mocking tone is enough to draw me out of my smoke-induced trance. There is no doubt that she fucking knows— everyone who is anyone knows that I quit smoking. I had no idea that when I stepped out of my doctor's office, about fifteen paps would be there, trying to document my visit. Next day, my name dominated the tabloids under the heading— Is Edward Cullen considering rehab after his smoking addiction causes health scare?
And here she is, blowing smoke in my face and offering me cigarettes. She's trying to destroy me but I can't help the way my body wastes no time rejoicing in the visual of the smoking stick, begging me to take it inside, where it belongs.
It's never enough. Nothing is ever enough.
But fuck, I have to resist this.
"No," I grunt, tearing my eyes away from her hands. My heart thumps unsteadily in my chest and my breath comes out in harsh rasps.
"You will not be the ruin of me, Rosalie Hale. Not here, not now. I won't allow it," I spit between pants, pushing myself away, bumping into her and back inside.
I run into Felix when I get there. He hands me a fresh shirt and I take it without even saying thanks, almost running to the bathroom. I have déjà vu from the elevator ride earlier and I just want to push or trample every single fucker out of my way.
When I get into the bathroom, I quickly check the stalls making sure I'm alone. When the room comes up empty, I slam the door shut, locking the entrance. Throwing my shirt over the door of one of the stalls, I silently scream into the room, hands fisting in my hair, yanking hard. I pace the bathroom, hands everywhere at once; in my hair, behind my neck, rubbing at my temples. Before too long, I become winded and I slouch over panting, my fingers on my thighs, digging into them.
I finally walk over to the sink, turning the tap on and letting the cold water run. My fingers drum along the edge of the porcelain bowl as I study my reflection in the mirror.
I've never seen worse.
My eyes are tired and empty, no green there anymore—just black, surrounded by a sea of white. My nostrils flare repeatedly as I have yet to get my elevated breathing back to normal. My hair is everywhere it's not supposed to be, as usual. My lips are tight, my jaw clenched and set. I am sweaty and fidgety and I watch as my fingers tighten around the edge of the sink.
The overall picture is frightening, and I have no fucking clue who the person staring back at me is. I cup my hands under the running water and bring it up, splashing it about my face and hoping that this will wash away the agony.
It doesn't. Not by any stretch.
But it does cool my body down. The cold water against my hot skin feels like rain to a desert drought. I make quick work of removing my soiled shirt and splashing water all about my chest and at the back of my neck, needing to release at least some of the tension there. I sap some water in my hair as well, hoping that the chaotic mess both inside and out would be tamed.
When I feel that my body has cooled off enough, I grab a few too many paper towels to dry my hair, face and chest before changing into my new clothes. I move a couple strands of wet hair that flopped onto my forehead back into place and tighten the tie around my neck. I look somewhat presentable again and I just have a few more hours of this to endure before I could get away from this hell.
Not forgetting my saving grace, I reach into my pocket. Before I know it, a toothpick is in my hand, then in my mouth and I head back to the party beyond these walls. With my hand suspended on the doorknob, a new realization becomes clear. Not only do I not have a meeting with Aro tonight— I am also acutely aware that I don't have an agent.
I have no idea how this night could get any worse. I need something to help me get through the rest of this night and escape with the little of my sanity I have left.
I shake my head, opening the door, the answer hitting me square in my chest when I see it— or rather her.
Her back is to me and she's talking to Rosalie.
Rosalie is going on and on about something I couldn't even care about if I tried. What I do notice though, is the way Isabella's shoulders slump, her face bouncing around the room unfocused.
"Yes, Miss Hale… Sorry, Miss Hale… It won't happen again, Miss Hale."
I lean back onto the wall, crossing my hands across my chest; watching with a smile on my face from afar as Rosalie and Isabella interact. Before too long, Rosalie glances up in my direction and gives me a sardonic smile.
"Oh, before I forget," her voice is slightly raised now, no doubt to make sure I hear whatever she's about to say next.
"I have that meeting with Aro at 11:30pm. Some unlucky bastards at this party would give up a lung for this opportunity, so don't fuck this up, Isabella."
As Rosalie walks away, laughing under her breath, my blood boils like lava under my skin. So fucking ungrateful that Rosalie. She has eyes but she can't even see what a good fucking thing she has right there in front of her. She has someone who not only managed to get her an interview with Aro Volturi but who also hasn't dumped red wine all over her front.
I'd seriously consider killing for someone as remotely responsible, professional and amazing as Isabella Swan as my agent.
Wait… This is exactly what needs to happen.
I need an agent and Rosalie Hale needs to be taught a fucking lesson. And I don't have to kill anyone to achieve either.
My eyes lock back onto Isabella and I can't help but chuckle as she ever so discreetly flips the bird to Rosalie's retreating form. She bitchfaces at Rosalie and she's just adorable, whisper-shouting all sorts of things I have no idea about. But I don't care because watching her shoot up like a firework across the room from me, is the best thing I've seen all day.
Hell, best thing I've seen in months.
Isabella composes herself, professionally running a hand through her hair and down over her dress. Her fingers trace along a necklace that dangles halfway down her chest. My eyes take the slightest detour downward and I am amazingly graced with the most spectacular view of cleavage I've seen in— well let's just say, a while. Before I can ogle them any better, she turns on her heels and fuck, she's leaving.
I may not know many things but one thing I do know— where she goes, I go. My legs shoot forward, following in her footsteps; until I notice the direction of her steps. My steps grow hesitant when I realize that she's heading toward the place… the one place I never want to see again. Well at least, not tonight.
I need to talk to her but not there— definitely not there.
I quicken my footsteps, hoping to catch up with her before she goes out. When I get close enough, my hand shoots out, wrapping around her wrist and giving her a slight tug in my direction. Her steps waiver.
"It's really crowded back that way. Trust me; you do not want to be out there." She flinches when I touch her and she must recognize my voice because she tries to pull her hand away almost instantly.
But I hold on— never letting go.
"Who the hell are you to tell me what I want, Cullen? You don't even know me," she sneers, without even looking at me.
"Hey," I say, holding up the hand that is not currently wrapped around her wrist. "All I'm saying is, you seem to need a breather as much as I do. The balcony is not the place to go. Come with me?"
She spins around, finally extracting her hand from mine. Her stare is direct and piercing as she steps into me.
"What makes you think following you would do me any good? You're nothing but trouble, Cullen. Always has and always been."
Her words are as penetrating as her gaze. She's judging me and it claws at me.
She has no idea what I've been through in the past couple weeks. But I don't tell her any of that. I just ignore her comment, frantically thinking about ways to lure her anywhere but that dreaded balcony.
"Look, just… come take a walk with me."
"A walk? Edward, are you out of your mind?" she objects, but I can see it in her eyes, she needs an escape just as much as I do. "I don't have time for a walk, especially with you of all people."
Judging me… judging me.
"Shit… would you please… just for a second… fuck," I mutter, rubbing my hands over my face. I pinch the bridge of my nose and let out a heavy breath. As much as I want this to happen right now, Isabella is proving to be quite trying.
And everyone knows what happens when I get aggravated.
"Look, I just need to get away, all right? And I… I don't think I can do it alone. Come with me, please?" I say on shaky breaths. Every time she shuts me down, I crave that cigarette a little bit more.
She looks me over, noticing that my body is slightly trembling and my breaths are quick. I need fresh air, I yearn for it. I say a silent thank you to the sun, moon and stars when I see her turn away from the balcony and head to the exit at the back of the building.
I rush along ahead of her, holding the door open as we walk outside.
Finally some fresh fucking air.
I take the toothpick out of my mouth and toss it aside, needing to take breath inside of my body any possible way that I can. The wind is slightly chilly but I don't mind because the feel of the cool spring night against my skin and inside my lungs is quite heavenly. I close my eyes and let myself just be for a while. The anxiety in my body drains with each deep pull and expel of air and for the first time tonight, I don't feel suffocated.
Before too long, paradise is snatched from right between my fingers when I hear the rustling of leaves beside me. I groan, looking over to where Isabella is walking a little way off from me. Her arms are wrapped around herself, body shivering against the cold air.
"Here," I say, shrugging off my jacket and handing it to her.
"You don't have to do that," Isabella protests, as usual. I'm beginning to think that she doesn't appreciate anyone doing anything to help her. Or could it just be me?
"I know I don't have to do anything, Isabella," I tell her. "I'm an idiot for asking you to come out here with me when I didn't even think about how chilly it'd be. Please, humor me and take the damn jacket."
She rolls her eyes but she relents, and that's all that matters. She stretches out her hands to take the jacket but I snatch it away, walking over to where she stands. Standing behind her, my eyes meet her shoulders. She has the most gorgeous set of freckles dusted across her shoulders and the upper part of her back. I drape the jacket over her, using the action as an excuse to brush my fingers along her neck in the process.
Her body shivers at the contact but this time, I know it's not from the wind chill because the same current simultaneously courses through my body. Isabella quickly spins around, her eyes looking into mine.
She's searching, hunting for hidden motives. Does she think I brought her out her to seduce her?
I mean, I wouldn't be against that per se, but it wasn't my main intention.
I don't want her to run from me, so I take a quick step away from her, putting some distance between us. There is this weird feeling as I move away, my body already missing that nearness to her.
I drop my head, watching as my feet kick at the soft dirt on the ground. I pull myself together, reminding myself why I brought Isabella out here. When I finally gather myself and look up, Isabella is busy digging through her purse.
My panic instantly spikes.
"Woah woah woah," I say, scooting back and away from her. I hold my hands up, palms facing forward in case she doesn't already get the memo.
Are you fucking kidding me? If she starts smoking out here, I'm going to lose my shit.
"It's just lip gloss, Cullen. Jeez, calm the fuck down, will you?" she says as she removes the cap from the bottle. I stare at her as she applies the gloss to her red lips and holy shit, if I don't wish those were my lips brushing against hers instead. She passes the brush three times along her bottom lip and two times along the top. I hope she's paying no attention to me as my tongue mimics the strokes of the brush against my own lips.
It's actually quite embarrassing and a little pathetic even but I don't give a fuck.
She finishes up her glossing, pulling her lips in and releasing them with a pop. It is only now as she stands, there under the light of the moon, that I really begin to appreciate how fucking dazzling she is in that red dress.
The dress is long and flowing along the length of her body. The cleavage presents a very deep V and her breasts are just fucking ideal for it. Not too big, not too small— just perfect. I'm guessing there's some lace in the back but I can't be sure because of my jacket over her. Isabella does not have on an absurd amount of makeup and I'm glad because it used to irritate the shit out of me when Lauren would cake so much of that thing on her face.
Her hair is pinned away on her head and I love the way her little ears are visible. A few tendrils of hair fall around her face and under the moonlight, this girl… she is absofreakinglutely stunning. She's glowing and by far, the most beautiful person at this party tonight.
"What are we doing here, Cullen?" I am snatched away from my daydream in the night at the sound of her voice. I look her in the eye trying to come up with a way to tell her what I intend to do with her. I know this is going to be a tough one to crack, and I'm already feeling the nerves creeping in. On instinct, my hand reaches for my pocket, and grabs a toothpick, placing it in between my teeth. Isabella takes one look at me and scoffs.
"What's with the toothpick, anyway? Is that supposed to be some sort of fashion statement?"
Holy fuck, why does this woman insist on calling me out? She really has no idea does she?
I shrug my shoulders, deciding that withholding this truth would probably do more harm than good. And I could use all the cooperation I can get right now.
"If you must know, Isabella, I'm just trying really fucking hard not to have a smoke." I walk past her and make my way to the gazebo ahead. Taking a seat on the bench, my head sinks into my hands as I try not to lose control. I loathe talking about smoking as much as I do being around people who smoke. It's ridiculous how my skin crawls every time someone asks me about smoking, or about quitting or so help me god, when people ask me if I want a smoke.
"I quit a week ago after a health scare. My doctor basically told me, it was either quit or die. He's been telling me it's bad for quite some time now, but I guess, I was ignorant. I couldn't stop, you know? Or rather, didn't want to. I don't know, still trying to figure everything out."
Before I know it, I'm pouring my heart out to the fucking woman. I tell her about what this role means to me, how much I want and need it. I describe my week in training hell; how boot camp kicked my ass as well as my swimming and regular exercise routine failures. I tell her about the doctor's visit and when Carlisle told me, quitting couldn't be just an option anymore or else my addiction would ruin me and my career.
I told her about my week; how my anxiety spiked due to my body's failure to accept my nicotine deprivation. I tell her all that had happened to me tonight— everything from getting ready at my hotel room to this very moment. Well everything except the part about Tanya. She doesn't need to know the specifics about that just yet.
By the time I finish telling her just about everything, I'm damn near exhausted. I'm so fucking tired of talking about that shit. It drives me crazy.
I remove my face from my hands to see Isabella looking at me, her mouth slightly ajar, in the soft shape of an o.
"Don't fucking look at me like that, Isabella," I snap and look away from her, not really liking the look on her face. "I don't need your pity."
"I'm sorry. I didn't know," she mumbles and although I'm looking off at the side, I can hear her footsteps headed in this direction. My skin prickles with heat as I feel the distance between us lessening, my body feeling right again when she sits next to me.
"Hey," she calls, placing a hand on my arm. I turn towards her but my eyes are locked on her fingers around my bicep. "You didn't have to tell me about that, you know."
"I didn't want to but I needed to."
"I'm not following. You needed to? Why; and why me? Who am I to you?" she asks and it's a legitimate question.
Why her? Why Isabella Swan?
"Because you're here," I tell her and it's the truth. "Because you're here and I need you."
"Need me? Whatever for?"
"I need a shot with Aro Volturi— tonight."
I look over at her and she's staring at me as if in shock.
"Okayyyy, and where's your agent?" she asks, and I scoff at her words. The last fucking thing I need right now is to remember the disaster of the night that happened a few hours ago. By the way, did she not hear me just say I needed HER!
"I just fired her actually. There's no room for fuck-ups, especially on a night like this."
"Smart move, Cullen," she spits and its venomous, the sarcasm in her tone burning in my ears like acid. "But how exactly do you intend to get through to Aro without an agent?"
I can see I'm going to have to spell this out for her.
I lean forward, turning my entire body to where she sits on the bench across from me. Pulling the stick from its comfort zone between my teeth, I instantly miss the feel of salvation in my mouth. I focus my eyes on her body, pointing the toothpick over to where she sits. Her eyes go wide as realization sets in—finally.
"I… want… you!" I tell her, stressing every last syllable in case my actions left any doubt at all there.
What I wasn't prepared for was her body launching off the seat and moving back and forth along the diameter of the gazebo. Her actions remind me of myself when I was in the bathroom a while ago. I quickly push that thought back, not wanting to stimulate a repeat.
"Have you lost your damn mind?" She's flustered, hands flailing wildly all around her. It's quite arousing and I want nothing more than to throw her down onto this bench and take said hands in mine and prop them over her head.
"No, but I'm about to."
"I already represent Miss Hale, Edward. I can't just walk away from that," she says, but I don't believe her, not for one bit.
"Oh but you know you want to, Isabella. She doesn't fucking deserve you. She doesn't want you."
"And you do?"
"I do." I nod, rising from my seat on the bench. Isabella sees my approach and she's walking backward, contradicting me. I move my body forward, her retreat beckoning my advance. I hear a soft oomph as her back bounces into the rail. I chuckle and shake my head, thinking that this couldn't possibly get any better. When I reach over to her, I place both my hands on the rails beside her, caging her in.
It's not enough. I want more.
I drop my hands and move closer into Isabella. I bring myself so close that a string of thread would have difficulty getting through us. I press myself against her, lips only inches from hers. My eyes travel to her lips and the sight of her bottom lip embedded between her teeth causes my dick to twitch in my suit pants. I resist the urge to press my hard on into her stomach as my hands reach up and tug on her bottom lips. Her teeth releases it and I run my thumb along the bite marks there.
"I want you," I tell her again. I don't think I could ever say it enough. "Are you going to help me or not?"
Really, the statement and question combined is a double edged sword.
Isabella's breaths come in heavy pants beneath me, her eyes frantically racing over my face. I could see the dilemma in them, the war between wanting to give into what feels right and what actually is.
"What's in it for me?" Her voice is so little. Next to the frogs and who knows what other living things live in the lake nearby, I hardly hear her.
"Hmmmmm," I say, bringing a finger to my chin and tap on it, pretending to think. Isabella lets out a soft chuckle and I know she's enjoying this just as much as I am.
Well maybe not as much but pretty close.
I look at her face and bask in how beautiful she looks under me. I can't help but think of her in the same position in a different situation— a more private one. I tuck a tendril of hair away from her face, slipping it behind her ear. I move my face closer to hers, my lips barely brushing against her ear lobe. I know she can feel my breath on her when she shudders, almost losing her balance. One of my hands wrap around her waist keeping her upright as I whisper into her ear.
"You trust me, don't you?" I ask her rhetorically, not really waiting on a response. "I'm going to take good care of you, Isabella."
I pause, for nothing more than dramatic effect.
"In ways Rosalie can't even begin to." When I hear her breath hitch in her chest, I know that the deal is sealed.
"You're such a cocky bastard, Cullen."
"Oh, you haven't seen anything yet, Miss Swan," I tell her, nipping on her ear gently before pulling up and away from her body entirely.
"Get me time with Aro and you'll see just how cocky I can be."
And just like that, although my body protests against it, I walk away from her heading back inside.
E/N: Still with us? Our boy is having a crazy night, and it's far from over.
So, this was supposed to be an o/s but we decided to do turn it into a two-shot of sorts. The latter half should be posted no later than Sunday. It's already written and just has to be chiseled a bit.
See you guys then!