A/N: This is a re-post. The first eight chapters were written in 2011 when I was quite new. Reading back, I realise this is a slow start and slightly cringe-worthy. I considered changing it, but frankly I'd rather get on with the story, so please forgive me; it gets better!
Disclaimer for story: All recognisable characters belong to S Meyer. No copyright infringement intended.
First few chapters un-beta'd—bear with me.
"I am not wearing this, Alice," I hissed, holding up the skimpy black bra made from French Chantilly lace.
"Bella, you know these aren't my orders," she sighed. "You have to take it up with Aro. Speak of the devil." She nodded to the window of the trailer.
I followed her gaze to see my boss coming towards us, cutting a dark, ominous figure against the mountainous pre-alpine backdrop of Lake Como.
He knocked on the door, and I pulled my robe tighter around me before he burst in.
"Bella, you're due out in ten minutes!" he exclaimed. "Why aren't you ready?"
"I can't wear this scrap of lace," I insisted. "You know I don't like it, and my husband—"
"Your husband should suck it up and deal with it," he said bluntly. "This is your job. Need I remind you, you are under contract here?"
No, he didn't need to remind me. Everything I did was because I was trapped in a contract. Currently I was on a shoot at the Italian lake for FHM magazine. I had been styled in increasingly raunchy lingerie throughout the morning, the current garment being Agent Provocateur's range Black/Kiss.
"Bella," he continued, "this is a massive spread for you. You're going to be on the front cover of FHM, for fuck's sake!"
"I never wanted to accept this, Aro. You made me."
He shrugged unashamedly. "You're the hottest commodity around, Bella; I'm doing my job. Now get out there and do yours."
He turned on his heel and slammed his way out of the trailer, his long black hair swishing behind him.
Alice held out the ridiculous excuse for a bra, with matching barely-there panties, and I dropped my shoulders in defeat.
Perhaps I should tell you a bit more about myself? I'm Bella Cullen, nee Swan. It's by my maiden name that I'm known in the modelling industry. I used to love my job; to me modelling is art. I always appreciated it, but it wasn't until high school that I began with a few shoots after being picked up by a local agency. I enjoyed it, but then it was more of a hobby than anything else.
The big change happened when I made the move to NYU. I studied literature, but still found time to do my modelling, and it certainly helped pay the bills. I didn't struggle like a lot of students did. During my first year, I was approached by a tiny, fairy sized girl with black spiky hair, and she introduced herself as Alice Cullen. As a junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she was two years older than me, and was majoring in fashion styling, with modules in make-up artistry.
She asked me to be a model for a shoot her group were doing as part of their course, and I happily agreed. I was thrilled she had sought me out. We became good friends as we talked over our shared interest, and one day I went back to her place to go over the shots.
It was that day that I met my future husband.
Edward Cullen was Alice's twin brother, although they looked nothing alike. He was tall, muscular without being too bulky, with a sharp jawline and a head of unruly bronze hair. His green, vibrant eyes danced, and when I looked into them I felt I had found everything I had ever wanted.
He asked me, quite shyly, out on a date, and we quickly became inseparable. He was my first love; in fact he was my first everything.
People were often surprised if they found out I was a virgin; as if because I was a model, that somehow meant I flaunted myself and was a slut. That couldn't have been further from the truth. I wasn't vain, but I had enough confidence to say I had a good body, which I worked hard to maintain. That didn't mean I jumped into bed with every guy I saw or even fancied. To me, there was a world of difference between modelling and sharing your body with someone you loved.
And I found that with my Edward.
My career seemed to propel itself forward quickly, and by the end of college I was signed onto one of the most prestigious modelling agencies in the business—Volturi. I brought Alice with me as my stylist and make-up artist and she was building a big name for herself. I loved my job at first, but now it was a chore. I hated travelling the globe for shoots; I always missed Edward so much.
Luckily I was leaving the US less and less, but things with Edward were getting ... fraught. He seemed to be increasingly ill at ease with my job. The rows were growing more frequent and our physical distance ever greater. I didn't even know why that was nowadays; I still wanted him just as much as always.
Part of me was just so tired of being a 'sex symbol' at work, that home was the only place I felt I could be comfortable. I didn't have to bother with fancy clothes or hair or make up. I often considered a life away from the camera.
I pulled on the bra and panties, tying a robe around me when I was finished. Alice sat me back down and did the final touches on my smoky black eye make-up.
"There, you're done," she told me. "I know you don't like it, Bella, but you're good at your job. You're a true professional. Let's do this."
I nodded and she gave me a smile as we headed out the trailer.
"Bella, sweetie!" Peter called as I removed my robe. "You look amazing!
"Thanks, Pete. Where d'you want me?"
"We're going to start by the rocks there," he told me as he led me to the boulders and began 'arranging' me in front of them, lying on my side. "I want to start this time with your hair splayed out like this—" he moved my mahogany locks so they fell correctly over my shoulders, "—and I want this shot to be playful."
I followed his instructions and we did some more shots on the shingle beach shore of the glittering lake under the clear blue sky.
"Okay, Bella," he continued. "Now I'd like you in the water. If you can go in up to mid-thigh, dip below the surface, then come back up. Your hair will be wet and tousled, and your eye make-up smudged and running. It will look fab-u-lous!" He clapped his hands together as I stood stock still.
Aro shot me a warning look, and Alice looked sympathetic as she stripped to her bikini. We waded into the warm water, as Peter continued to adjust his camera.
He gave me a nod and I dipped under the water. When I came back up, Alice adjusted strands of my hair before moving out of the shot.
"Okay, now cross over your arms behind your head, Bella," Peter instructed. "I want this to ooze sex. Make it intense."
I closed my eyes, imagining Edward. Our passion for each other, our love making, the kinky, deviant fucking. He was the only one who made me burn with lust, and I had to go to this place in my head to get the look across.
Normally, the only side effect this would give me would be damp panties, but now … now I growing increasingly melancholy over the fact our sex life had dwindled. I missed my husband, missed our intimacy, missed his touch.
The growing distance between us was making my heart ache.
"I said sexy, not sad!" Peter yelled. I closed my eyes again, and tried to push my feelings away. I concentrated just on the memory of Edward's toned, sculpted abs, his muscular thighs, his big hard cock…
"That's it, Bella! Perfect!" Peter shouted. "Give me even more! Pout for me slightly, sweetheart … brilliant … now pull on the front of the bra as you smoulder."
I continued to follow his instructions and posed for the camera. Between rolls, Alice came over to 'fix' my wet hair and my artfully smeared make up.
"Okay, I think we've got it, Bella," Peter said finally. "Smokin' hot, girl. This is going to fly off the shelves."
I was handed a towelling robe as I got out the water. I hurried to my trailer with Alice close on my heels.
"That wasn't so bad, was it?" she asked tentatively. She knew how much I disliked my job. It seems like such a glamorous lifestyle, but it was no longer what I yearned for. I knew how lucky I was to have this opportunity, but I wanted to concentrate on building a life with my husband. We had looked over ways I could possibly get out of it, but I could potentially be sued for breach of contract. I couldn't wait for it to be up.
I shrugged in response to Alice, as I slipped out of the wet underwear and back into my robe. Alice sat me down in the chair and set to work removing the smeared, black make up from my face.
"At least we can relax this afternoon," she pointed out.
"Yeah," I smiled. "I need a stiff drink after that. Edward's going to hate it, Ali."
"I never thought I'd be agreeing with Aro on anything," she muttered, "but my brother does need to suck it up and deal with it. Although it would help if you actually talked to him."
I frowned as there was a knock at the door. "Please don't be Aro," I prayed silently, as Alice shouted, "Come in!"
I looked around to see Angela Webber, one of the agency assistants popping her head around the door.
"Awesome shoot, Bella." She closed the door behind her. "Are we going to hit the pool this afternoon?"
"Try and stop me," I laughed. Angela was a great friend from the agency, someone who disliked the bosses, Aro, Caius and Marcus, as much as I did. She often travelled with me on shoots. She was tall and slender with long dark hair and oriental features. She was also a born organizer, like Alice, and she tied everything together perfectly. No detail was ever forgotten.
When we were back at the decadent Hotel Larius, we all changed into our bikinis and headed for the luxurious, sparkling pool overlooking the gorgeous Italian lake. The deep blue water shone in the late April sunshine.
We applied sunscreen and lay on the padded loungers, as the waiter brought us Bellini's. For some, this may have been a wonderful memory to take away; basking in the spring Italian sunshine next to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world whilst drinking sparkling wine cocktails.
But for me, nothing could come close to another memory I had of this place.
Edward and I were away celebrating my graduation from NYU at a luxurious hotel on the shores of Lake Como. I was in our hotel suite getting ready for dinner, while Edward had gone to take a phone call. I presumed it was work; it had been difficult for him to get time off from his law firm.
I was wearing a floaty, deep blue, embellished halter-neck dress to mid-thigh, and my hair was gathered up loosely. I was about to go find Edward when my phone beeped.
B—Meet me on the terrace—E xoxo
I threw on my matching heels and grabbed my clutch before heading out of the room. It was our second night here, and the previous evening the terrace had been full of couples dining in the fading sunlight. I was surprised therefore, to hear complete silence as I made my way out of the hotels big glass doors. There were tea lights and lanterns everywhere, adding to the dwindling orange light of the Italian sunset behind the mountains. It cast a shimmering reflection across the deep blue water, and Edward stood dressed in a white shirt and black dress pants, gazing out upon the scene, leaning against the railing.
When he heard me approach, he turned around grinning broadly as he wrapped me in his arms.
"This is so beautiful, Edward," I whispered.
"You're so beautiful, my Bella," he murmured back. "From the first moment I saw you, you took my breath away." He looked me deep in the eyes. "I knew I loved you then, but every day I love you more and more. You are everything to me, and I want to spend my life making you realize that. He pulled out a ring box from his pocket and got to one knee. "Please let me love you forever, in the way you deserve to be loved. Isabella Marie Swan, will you do me the honour of consenting to be my wife?" He opened the box to reveal a stunning, sparkling Marquise diamond on a platinum band.
My eyes were blurry and he looked so nervous. Through my tears, I smiled widely as I nodded. "Yes, yes I'll marry you, Edward!" I exclaimed as he stood up and lifted me into his arms with a beaming smile on his face.
He held me tightly, before pulling back to wipe my tears. "I love you so much, Bella." He brought his lips tenderly to mine. When we broke apart, he carefully took the ring from its box and slid it home onto my ring finger, where it would stay for the rest of my life.