Title: Match the Stars
Warnings: This story is rated for lemons, language, drug use and bad seventies innuendo.
Summary: Izzy Swan is booked on the game show Match the Stars to promote her new TV pilot. What she doesn't expect is the warm welcome she receives from the manic cast, especially the one and only Edward Masen. Based on 1970's TV show Match Game.
A/N: There are a lot of things and people who can take the blame for this bunny. My Nan, who loved her some GSN (Game Show Network) something fierce, which introduced me to the world of Match Game. My Mother, for conspiring with me to re-order the channel recently, an action that prompted me to DVR Match Game every time it airs. And my sleep deprived mind, which fell asleep one night thinking, "If the Twilight universe had a Match Game, Edward would be Richard Dawson."
I've taken some liberties because I have no idea what their filming schedule was like or how they shot the daytime show versus the evening version. Also, in an attempt to keep it in the time period, all the questions and responses are from the actual show. I may have messed with the number of people that answered a particular thing, or what the contestants answer was, but they were all in there somehow.
A tackle hug to my beta, mizzdee, for putting up with my insane plot bunnies, and asking the question, "I vaguely remember it, but if it aired in the 70's, how do you know about it?"
I hated my agent. Aro Volturi was probably lounging in his ungodly extravagant office counting his money while I was sitting on another one of his "promotional whirlwind tours." I wasn't about to try to argue with him, because if this pilot didn't pan out, I would need to be in his good graces.
After weeks of being seen and heard on every radio and TV show imaginable, he'd finally booked me on a week's shooting schedule of Match the Stars.
It was a fun show to watch, and a few years ago when I was sitting at home, I'd always wondered what it would be like to be a contestant. Maybe match Edward Masen and get a kiss to go along with my prize money. But now, I was going to be on the panel as a celebrity. Only Edward Masen wasn't going to be on this week because he was finishing work on a new project.
I was informed that I'd be sitting next to Mike Newton from some soap opera or another. His games of grab-ass were legendary and I wasn't looking forward to it.
They shot the shows on a rotating schedule. The daytime show would film a week's worth of shows on one day, and then the next day they'd switch to the night version. The premise was the same, but we could be cheekier on the PM show, so it was more fun to film. Or so I'd been told. The regulars were there for every day of filming, filming for three months and then taking three months off, allowing the regular panel members the chance to do other projects. It also allowed the network to air the episodes they'd banked.
I woke up the Monday I was due in for my first day a little frazzled, not knowing what to wear. Normally, I wouldn't have had a problem, but this show allowed me a little freedom to be Izzy Swan, not the prim and proper Elizabeth. She was the character I played on Heart of Fools, the show I was there to promote.
I looked through my closet and stared blankly at my wardrobe. I would need twenty-five outfits for the week, because we changed between filming for each day, and that was pushing it for me when there wasn't someone dressing me. Three years in the business and I still didn't know how to act like a celebrity. Grabbing two sets of slacks, since they wouldn't be visible below the desk I would be sitting at, and four tops that would give me a little variety with the various prints and styles, I packed my garment bag with a few pieces of jewelry to add if needed. Finally taking out a maxi dress with a bright orange halter top and a white skirt, bright yellow, orange, pink, and brown flowers creating a trail across the front and wrapping around the back, I slipped into it and a pair of wooden wedges and left my hair down in its trademark waves.
As pleased as I could be with my choices, I took my garment bag and my purse and climbed into my one big ticket item, save my house, a 1972 green Chevy Impala convertible. Starting up my baby, I pulled out of my block and out the front gate of the private community I lived in, heading for Television City.
Traffic was hell at this time of day, but thankfully I arrived in plenty of time to get through hair and make-up. One of the Production Assistants took my things into my dressing room and whisked me off to get ready for the show.
It was during make-up that I met the first two stars of the show. Jasper Whitlock, the show's host, walked in with his wife and one of the shows three regular panelists, Mary Alice Brandon. I was a little shell shocked when the petite woman ran over to hug me, gushing about how they'd seen me on Broadway while in the show that led to me being discovered by Hollywood.
Alice was still going a mile a minute when Jasper walked over and gave her a kiss on the top of her head and whispered something in her ear. When she relaxed and smiled bashfully at me, I had to laugh.
"Sorry about the missus, darlin', she wakes up like she's on her second cup of coffee." Jasper's smile was infectious, and his Southern drawl was genuine, something my roommates and I had always argued about back in New York.
"That's okay, it's just nice to know someone saw that show, we had a rough few months after we opened."
Any further conversation was cut off by the appearance of the hulking form of Emmett McCarty. If I had thought he looked big on screen, it was nothing compared to seeing him standing a few feet from me. He walked over to ruffle Jasper's California beach blonde hair, something that Emmett's tight curly brown hair was likely impervious to.
I was soon done, a different PA whisking me off to set so I could get settled in. Alice and Emmett came out a few minutes later, bickering just like they did on air. As Alice took the center seat on the top row, and Emmett sat at her left, both of them wished me good luck. Esme Cullen was next; sitting in the seat at the left side of the bottom row, her greeting was another genuine one.
With only a few minutes before we were scheduled to start filming, Mike Newton sat down on the desk in front of me and winked. "So, they got us a thespian this week? Things couldn't be any better unless I was sitting in Masen's seat."
Before I could make a comment about how it might be easier to get to know me if he wasn't looking down the front of my dress, a heavenly voice cut in.
"Newton, you belong in the top row. It will be hard for the camera to get a nice shot of Miss Swan's pretty face if your ass is planted where it is now."
I vaguely heard Emmett's howled, 'Ooh, Face' as Mike moved up to his seat and Edward slipped in next to me.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Swan." His hand was soft and strong as it shook mine.
"Please, call me Izzy, Mr. Masen," I told him.
"Edward," he countered just as Tyler, the Stage Manager, came out to explain the quick shots they'd be shooting of us for the opening credits, before we moved on to the actual show.
It only took a few minutes with Eric Yorkie announcing us as we went down the line and then he was welcoming the star of the show, Jasper Whitlock.
"Thank you everyone, and welcome to Match the Stars. We have a great panel here, and I'd like us to start off with a little tradition we have here and give Izzy Swan, the new kid on the block, a nice round of applause." He waited for the audience and my fellow panelists to clap for me before he turned to his right. "And now let us welcome back out our contestants, Lauren Mallory, and our current champion, Peter Campbell. Lauren, why don't you tell us a little about yourself?"
From the introductions, we moved right into the first round. Lauren picked the letter 'B' so Jasper opened the card and read the phrase.
"Fred said, 'My wife is a strange cook, at dinner last night, I didn't even know what I ate until I realized my *BLANK* was missing.'"
Jasper repeated the phrase a few times as the theme music played and I wrote what I thought was a good answer on my card, slipping it under the box with my name on it. When everyone had given their answers, Jasper turned to Lauren.
"Okay, Lauren. We need an answer," he told her nicely.
We all stared at her. Now I know that she's probably nervous, hell, I'm freaking out and I'm not up to win money. But really?
Jasper didn't even comment as he turned to us for our answers.
Mike smiled at the young college student as he responded, "I'm sorry, Lauren, I said shirt."
The buzzer sounded as the focus shifted to Alice. "Dog."
Emmett held up his card with a shrug. "Parrott."
Jasper got to me and sat down on the edge of my desk as he asked me to reveal my answer. "Dog."
Moving to Edward, he pouted a little as he showed his answer. "Dog."
"Cat," Esme revealed, leaving Lauren with no matches after the first round.
"Well, Lauren, the first round is a little tougher than the second, so we'll have to wait and see what you get on your next try. Now, Peter, let's try your first round question."
The game continued for a about another hour before the first episode was wrapped. I couldn't imagine how much of the laughing and shenanigans they would cut out, but it had been a fun introduction.
Tyler told everyone to go and change for the next episode, leaving us to our own devices for a few minutes. I followed the ladies into the backstage area where our dressing rooms were and began to pick out my next outfit.
Deciding on a pair of lavender high-waisted pants, and a lavender paisley shirt, I kicked off my wedges and began to undress.
As if he had some perverted sixth sense, Mike barged in right as I'd unfastened the tie holding my dress up, a scream erupting from me.
"Sorry to startle you, baby, but I had to pop in and sneak a little one on one time with you." He walked closer and I tried to back away, clutching the fabric of the dress to my chest.
"Get out! Who do you think you are, rushing in here like that?" I yelled as I continued to put distance between us. Unfortunately, my foot caught the extra fabric hanging down from me being barefoot and I tripped, landing on my side behind the couch.
I heard Mike about to continue before what sounded like a scuffle on the other side of the room, my view temporarily blocked until Alice came around to my side.
"Are you okay? That piece of trash didn't touch you, did he?"
"No, I just fell. I'm fine though." I reassured her.
"Well you just stay in here. The producer is having him thrown off the lot, and Esme is already calling to see if Carlisle can come and fill in for Mike, at least for today. It will push back shooting for a while, but it has to be done."
I was bewildered that it was all happening so fast, but evidently, Alice called security the moment she heard me scream. Alice helped me to my feet and got me my clothes, leaving me alone to change and wait out the delay behind locked doors.
No one came to visit me for a while, but I could hear what sounded like a bustling around outside my little cocoon. It was nearly forty minutes after Alice had vanished that there was a knock on my door.
"Izzy, can I come in?" Edward called through the door and I got up to unlock it for him.
"Did they find a replacement for Mike yet?" I asked, but Edward was too busy pacing.
"It took Jasper and Emmett to keep me from finding which exit they threw him out of and beating the tar out of him. Who does he think he is? Deciding that you obviously wanted him and that he could just fly in here and do whatever it was he was planning."
"Edward, can we not talk about it?" I really didn't want to have to deal with it right now, knowing that we would soon be walking back onto set where the entire cast and crew was aware of it. Luckily the studio audience had already been released and the members from the latest tour were now being settled into their seats.
"Five minutes," someone called through the door and Edward moved to sit beside me.
"Are you sure that you're okay?" Edward asked as I nodded.
"He just startled me, I promise."
"Well, maybe we can spend a little time together tonight. The main gang always goes out to dinner on Monday nights; it's the only night that we're all free so we make a big deal of it. Esme and Carlisle will be joining us and I'd really like you to come as well." His sincerity was so sweet that I couldn't refuse it.
"I'd love to," I answered just as we were called to take our places.
Everyone walked out in a group and took our seats, Carlisle offering me a quick handshake before he took the seat above me.
Peter was back again, and after his competitor struck out in her first round, Jasper read the current champion his question.
"The nurse said to Dr. Grenady, 'Sir, that patient has been dead for six months, when are you going to stop *BLANKING* him?'" Jasper waited for everyone to fill out their cards and then turned to Peter. "Well, Peter, what do you have for a response?"
"Billing him," Peter offered confidently, making me smile even though the audience groaned.
Carlisle and Alice were both buzzed with a response of 'treating him' and Emmett made sure to rub it in on his turn.
"Unlike the feather-head to my direct right, I gave the correct answer, charging him." The bell sounded and the attention of the audience fell on me.
Deciding to be a little cheeky, I smiled and said, "Well Emmett, I will do you one better and say billing him."
Edward and Esme were both incorrect matches so we moved on to the second round questions. This game in and of itself moved much faster and soon we were breaking for lunch. I had a meeting with Aro to discuss the show and then I'd be back to film the last few episodes. I drove to the restaurant down the street from the studio and was immediately shown to my table.
"Isabella, dear, I'm so glad you were able to make it over here for a little bite between shows. How is it going?"
Groaning, I leaned in, "Mike Newton was thrown off the lot after he tried to get handsy in my dressing room, but other than that, the crew is wonderful and the cast has been most welcoming. In fact we're going out to eat as a group tonight."
"I was informed about Michael after it happened. The producers called Marcus and he called to rip me a new one. Your manager is such a testy little man."
I had to laugh at that. Most people who met Marcus thought he was the snobbiest person in the business. The reality was he seemed bored to ward off stupidity, but the man was a riot once you won him over. "He's annoyed that his talent has been too busy promoting a show that hasn't even been signed on to a network yet."
"Not so fast, young lady. Besides the chance to be seen with one of Hollywood's rising stars, this lunch comes with good news. Between all of the free publicity that you and the few series regulars that were in the pilot have been drumming up, and the cancellation of one of their other shows, the peacock has given Fools a time slot. You've officially been picked up for your first season."
"Really?" I could hardly contain my squeal. "Oh thank you, Aro, I'm so excited!"
Just then the waiter arrived with a chicken Caesar salad and a glass of sweetened iced tea. I looked to Aro as he cut into his fish and said, "I didn't know how much time you would have and I wanted you to get a good meal."
Smiling at the man I'd been cursing for the last few weeks, I began to eat my lunch before time could run away from me. Aro and I chatted about the buzz that was generated from the fact that NBC had picked up our show. The production staff was already trying to fill out the cast that would be needed for a full season, not to mention writing the scripts. We'd been given a date about three weeks out for the start of production and we'd be going for about five months straight. It was daunting to think about it, but I was ready for it. My theater background would certainly come in handy.
Needing to return to the studio, I said my goodbye to Aro and drove over to Television City. As I parked my car I was glad that I'd changed my shirt before leaving because I was running a little late. My heels pounded the hard floor as I made my way to the set. Alice was looking around and when she spotted me another shriek escaped her. "Congratulations, Izzy!"
I looked from her to the remaining panel members who were all smiles. "How could you possibly know already?"
"Because I stopped by to congratulate my girl." Marcus' voice came from behind me.
"Marcus, you didn't have to make the drive, a phone call would have been enough," I chastised him.
"Nonsense, we need to go to dinner and celebrate your triumph. This arduous schedule Aro has had you on has finally proved to be valuable. I'm simply glad that this is the end of the circus."
Edward's voice was a little sharp as he interrupted Marcus' rant. "I hate to disappoint you, Marty, but Izzy is going out with us tonight. A little family gathering, if you will, to welcome her."
"Oh, well then we can do it another night, call me and we'll pick a night," Marcus said, the glare he shot Edward wasn't missed by anyone.
"Way to mark your territory, Masen," Emmett chortled. "Congrats, kid. It'll be nice seeing you on the lot. Your boy said that you're only two sound stages down."
"My manager, Marcus, is just excited. The agency thought he was crazy when he decided to move me to LA, especially with someone like Aro as my agent. But I guess I'm paying off, now."
"You'll do more than that, Izzy," Esme offered, "you'll be around for the long haul."
"Ooh, can we go shopping tomorrow night. If Izzy is going to see and be seen then we have to make sure that she's ready for any occasion."
"Alice, I'm not much of a clothes horse," I admitted and her expression was akin to someone kicking her puppy. "Fine, but nothing too crazy."
"Places everyone," Tyler called and we settled into our seats.
The three episodes that took up the afternoon schedule were a blast. No one had chosen me yet for an audience match or a super match, but I wasn't disappointed. Without any hiccups or disasters, we were released until tomorrow morning and I went straight to the dressing room. I knew I would need something nicer to wear to Pacifica, the restaurant that the cast frequented, so I told them I was heading home to change and that I'd meet them there.
I wasn't surprised by the line outside the restaurant, but the reception I got inside was a little uncalled for.
"We don't take anyone without a reservation," the woman condescended to me.
"The line would lead me to think otherwise, and besides, I'm meeting some people here. The table is probably under Whitlock or Masen," I said with some bite to my tone.
I could tell she was going to make a comment, but thankfully, she was interrupted.
"Izzy, there you are," Edward said, wrapping his arm around me. "Is there a problem, Gianna?"
"No, Mr. Masen. I was about to show her back. Have a nice evening, Miss." The sickeningly sweet way she spoke to Edward made me sick, but I smiled back and let him lead me to our friends.
"Izzy, come sit by me." Alice waved me over as I sat between her and Edward. The waiter was immediately there, asking for a drink order.
Playing it safe, I asked to have the same as Alice and then began reading my menu as the group continued their conversation.
"I can't believe that creep," an unfamiliar voice rang out. I looked up to see Rosalie Hale, one of the best known supermodels in the world sitting beside Emmett. Of course she would be here; they were together, after all.
"Well, he's been banned from the show, so it won't be a problem anymore. Thankfully Carlisle was available today as well and was able to step in," Jasper commented, bringing an end to the conversation about Michael and his actions.
The topic shifted to the other celebrities that would be filming with us this week as I looked for something on this menu that was in any way affordable. I may make good money, especially with the show being picked up, but it didn't shake the habits of the thrifty girl who used to clip coupons and take the subway into Queens because they had better sales.
I could feel Edward's eyes on me for a moment before he asked Emmett, "If my memory serves me correctly, tonight is my turn to pay, right?"
My head shot up and I started to protest, "You don't have to do that."
"It's tradition, Izzy," Jasper said, "and yes, it's your turn to buy dinner."
Leaning in, Edward whispered, "The salmon is phenomenal, as is the baked chicken."
Mulling over Edward's suggestions, I decided on the chicken when the waiter returned and then lifted my wine glass to take a sip.
"Izzy, how has your family reacted to you being so far from home?" Esme asked, trying to include me and get to know me better at the same time.
"Actually, being on the West Coast means I'm closer to my family. I think my mother's just happy she doesn't have to worry about the time difference, she always called my house in the middle of a show, thinking she was calling after I got home. My father's a cop, so the thought of me in New York City was a little daunting for him. He had a hard time being alone in Forks after I went to try my hand on Broadway."
"Alone, but you just said your mother -" Rosalie asked, but I halted the question.
"My parents are divorced," I said quickly, my wine glass meeting my lips as soon as the words had left them.
"It isn't the taboo it used to be, Izzy," Edward said as he took my hand.
"That's right," Esme commented. "After all, I was married before I met Carlisle. My first husband wasn't a nice man, but leaving him was the reason I moved out here. Sometimes a marriage serves a greater purpose by ending it than trying to hold onto something that isn't worth saving. Your parents had a wonderful daughter and they were able to teach you independence and compassion instead of you growing up in a home with nothing but tension."
"Thank you, Esme," I said, squeezing Edward's hand in appreciation of the bit of comfort he'd offered.
Conversation waned as we ate the appetizers that had been ordered for the table. I was still slightly confused by Edward's behavior over the course of the day, but I was battling over how to brooch the subject with him. When Alice mentioned that she was in negotiations to do a situation comedy, I was surprised by the response I got to my question of how it would affect the show.
"The way we do it now based on the space they had for filming when the show was started back in 1969. But with Edward, Emmett, and I wanting to pursue other work, they decided that it might be better to film Match the Stars during what is the hiatus period for normal shows. I'm excited by the prospect of getting back to regular series work. I've missed it the last few years."
"Will that change how stars like me come on and promote our new projects?"
"No," Edward explained. "We know the general airing date for episodes, so if you're aware of it you can plug it, otherwise they'll add it into the opening announcement, or as a small teaser at the end of the show."
"Well, I guess that'll make it easier for you to pursue other projects," I mentioned and then left that in the air for a minute before Carlisle jumped in to save me.
"Edward, I noticed today that you seem to have a little bit of a history with Izzy's manager. I've never seen you be territorial like that before."
Edward ducked his head in embarrassment before he responded. "Well there is a bit of history, but my reaction had as much to do with my admiration for Izzy as it did my distain for Marcus."
Turning to me, Edward continued, "My parents were both in the business, but my father was a leading manager, all the big stars wanted to work with him. He set me up for my first audition at sixteen, and he handled every aspect of my career with the team he set up for me until my parents died when I was twenty-two. I needed a new agent, and someone tried to set me up with Marcus, saying he was the next great talent manager. I was leery of him, but when they called to set up a meeting he said, 'If I wanted to deal with a preening prima donna, then I'll buy a cat.' I refused to take a meeting with anyone at his firm and soon found myself working with Liam Mackey. But I never got over that sniveling shit's characterization of me and whenever we see each other at events there's an unspoken understanding that we avoid each other. Civility doesn't normally last long between us."
"While I'm not happy that he insulted you, Marcus has done wonderful things for me; I guess we can agree that it is a personality clash. It isn't like you'll have that much dealing with him after this week, and I'll ask him to call me at home if there's anything that needs to be discussed."
I noticed the piqued look on Rosalie's face, but tried to ignore it, because I couldn't possibly think of how I could have offended her.
Dinner was brought out and once again the group fell into light chatter as we ate. The remainder of the evening was easy enough and as Edward settled the check, Alice and Esme asked me about going out the following day to do some shopping.
We left as a group and with the exception of Emmett's wolf whistle over my Impala; everyone said their goodnights quietly and drove off. Edward waited until the others left before he approached me. "I know I was a little intense today, but there's something about you … it draws me in. I'm not normally a caveman and I just didn't want you to think that I'm some big shot that's trying to go off any time something happens."
Shocked by his admission, I moved to put him at ease. "Edward, I'm a little surprised by the interest, but you haven't scared me off."
Reaching out to cup my cheek, Edward leaned in to kiss me, our lips barely brushing one another. "You shouldn't be surprised. I am glad that you haven't run off screaming yet, though. I'll see you in the morning, Izzy."
Dazed, I watched as Edward got into his black sedan and then waited for me to start up my own car before he left. The traffic was a little heavy on the drive home, but when I finally unlocked my door, I skipped to my bedroom to get ready for bed, the feel of Edward's lips on mine still with me.
The following morning, I got up and picked out some slightly dressier clothing, as we were filming the PM version of the show, and then showered. My hair was fighting me, so I decided to throw it in a bun and see if I could tame it once I got to the studio.
Traffic was a lot heavier today as I made the drive, and I could see that I would not have much time to play with my hair when I was done with makeup.
I parked my car and walked in to have a PA dragging me to a chair where Peggy was already waiting for me. Thankfully, she was able to do my hair in a quick twist that would stay for a while and looked really nice. After complementing her on how it turned out, she took my things to my dressing room so I could go straight to set.
The rest of the panel was there, including an overly tarted-up Jessica Stanley, her fake boobs on display in a barely there top. I would have felt self-conscious if Edward wasn't watching me as I settled into my seat.
"I got a little nervous when you were late for your call," he said as his fingers brushed my knuckles.
"I'm still not used to the LA traffic," I admitted.
"Yeah, it can be a killer." He smirked, but we were interrupted by Tyler so it didn't matter.
I knew that Match the Stars PM was a slightly racier version of the show we filmed yesterday, but the first round question from the show set the tone for the day.
Jasper chuckled before saying, "Mildred slugged her husband when she found a *BLANK* in his suitcase."
I immediately started scribbling my answer, the rest of the panel needing very little time to come up with their answers as Annette Walker filled in the blank with panties.
Starting with Carlisle, we came up with three answers of 'panties,' two responses of 'a bra,' and Jessica's unique answer of 'lipstick.'
It was the second round when I felt Edward's foot accidentally tap mine under the desk and I realized the possibilities that offered. It was hard to describe what I was feeling, but Edward brought it out in me. Everything was heightened with him around, everything was more.
We broke shortly between the first and second episode, the morning seeming to move faster than I would like. But with the lunch break came a chance to have a little private time with Edward. We ate in my dressing room and talked more about our families, our lives before we became actors. It was normal, and unexpected, and amazing.
The afternoon dissolved into innuendo and raucous laughter, but knowing that Alice was going to be claiming my evening was a little sad, a part of me had hoped that Edward would ask me to dinner or something.
With the second round running long in the final episode, this week would be ending with Annette's attempt to keep her title and go for some more money. As soon as Jasper read the question, I knew she was going to nail it.
"My new agent is very demanding, he even wants 10% of my *BLANK*."
I couldn't help but laugh as I answered, because Aro would claim 10% of anything he could, but this wasn't something that he could have, Edward on the other hand…
Only needing to match two out of the three remaining celebrities, Annette whispered, "Breasts."
Emmett was all too happy to call out, "Boobs."
When the laughter died down, Jessica revealed her answer, "I said 'body.'"
Sitting on the end, I just winked and flipped my card to show that she would once again be going to the super match round when we resumed taping the PM shows on Thursday.
Alice said that she needed to make a few phone calls after we got off set, so I walked back to my dressing room to hang out until she was ready. I'd just finished zipping up my garment bag when an urgent knock startled me. Opening the door, Edward was physically vibrating on the other side.
"Can I come in?" he asked.
"Sure, I was hoping to get a few minutes before Alice drags me off." I was going to continue, but I noticed that Edward's attention was focused on my mouth. His intense expression told me he wasn't reading my lips. "Edward, was there something you wanted to ask me? Something you maybe wanted to do?"
He caught my teasing tone and moved in, still not meeting my eyes. "I didn't want to just bust in here and attack you -"
"But I kind of want you to," I admitted giving Edward the incentive to lock the door and pull me to him.
"I've wanted to do this all day," he groaned as our lips met again.
It was far from the gentle kiss we shared, this one was all need. I pulled myself up to meet him and I could already feel him stirring against my thigh. My body acted on instinct as I pushed myself in line with him, causing him to hiss.
"Iz, babe, we don't have time to do this right," he murmured as we stumbled to my couch. The way we fell gave me a little advantage as I slid to my knees on the floor and pushed the coffee table away, my fingers finding his belt. "Izzy, what are you doing?"
"Stand up and help me get these off."
Edward watched me carefully as he did what I asked, and soon his pants and boxers were on the floor while he sat there as I stared at his cock. He was bigger than my ex boyfriend, and I was suddenly worried that I wouldn't do this right. He was Edward Masen, I'm sure he'd had plenty of girls in my exact position before.
Before he could sense my distress, I looked up to see him smiling at me as I continued to stroke him, my pace speeding up now that I wasn't over thinking things.
I let my fingers trace up his thigh as I bent down to lick his tip.
"Fuck, Iz," Edward moaned.
His reaction to my tentative first touch urged me on as I leaned forward, taking his tip into my mouth. Edward's hands were instantly in my hair, massaging my scalp as I took more of him in.
I felt Edward's length hit the back of my throat, but before I could react, he pulled me up a little.
My teeth grazing him on the way up as my hand pumped what didn't fit had another string of curses escaping him.
It seemed I could do no wrong, so I focused my attention on pleasing Edward, excited for the time when he might be able to return the favor. Alternating between my teeth and tongue, I could feel him twitch in my mouth before he started mumbling incoherently.
I knew what he was trying to warn me about, but I also knew what I wanted to do for him, so I sped up and ignored his last attempts to get me to stop.
Edward came hard and I worked to swallow it all, looking up to see him smiling a big goofy grin.
"Get over here, babe," he said, pulling me into his arms.
I sat there on his lap for a minute before another round of knocking had me jumping up. Edward fixed his clothes and ran for the bathroom, giving me a kiss on the forehead as he went.
I grabbed my bag and purse, unlocking the door to see Alice waiting for me.
"Jazz needed the Mercedes, do you mind if we ride in your car?" Alice asked as we walked to the soundstage door.
"That's fine, but is Esme still coming? Because I didn't see her after the last taping," I asked just as we made my way to my car.
"She's going to meet us there," Alice said climbing into the car.
I could tell she wanted to ask me something, but we were almost at Rodeo Drive before she finally spoke up. "Edward didn't have to hide when I showed up. He could have just walked us out."
"Edward wasn't in my dressing room," I responded a little too quickly.
"Izzy, I know he was there. Besides the fact that you looked guilty as sin when you opened the door, Edward wasn't quiet and those walls are thin. They only soundproof the wall that separates the dressing rooms from the set." She was amused by her revelation, but I was too busy turning seventeen shades of red to care.
"Oh my God! I'm calling out sick the rest of the week," I whined as I pulled up to the valet parking station.
"Relax, Iz. No one is going to judge you. God knows they've heard Jazz and I-"
"Not another word, Mary," I warned just as we approached the first store.
My first indication this was anything but a normal shopping experience was the man waiting just inside the door with a tray of champagne. Taking a glass, I watched as Alice entered the middle of the store, squealing at a well dressed man standing by Esme.
"Fred, this is a dear friend of mine, Miss Izzy Swan. She's a transplant from the Great White Way and we need to help her match her wardrobe to her new status as a soon-to-be it girl, once her series premieres. She has good fashion instincts, but I think we can bump it up a notch and fill out her wardrobe a bit."
Fred approached me, asking that I turn slowly before he reached out to take my hand and place a gentle kiss against the back. "My dear, take a seat with your friends and I will pull some choices for you, once we're ready, I will escort you all to the back for a private viewing of my new collection."
The man was gone before I could respond, so I turned my questions on the girls. "He doesn't know my size, how can he pull clothes for me?"
"Izzy, Fred is a genius; he knew your size the moment you walked in. Now try and relax while we wait," Esme offered and I sunk into the comfortable chair and sipped my champagne.
"This store has a bar?" I asked as I noticed the people milling around the far end of the store.
"There's one down the street that has a pool table to keep the men folk busy while we shop," Alice explained. "This is Beverly Hills, nothing is too good, or too expensive for those who have the desire to attain it. This is a part of your future, especially if you continue on with Edward."
"Already?" Esme whispered, her voice surprised. "Did something happen after dinner last night?"
"No, but something definitely happened before we left today," Alice answered.
"A quickie in the dressing room?" Esme asked, sounding strangely proud.
"No, she's too uptight for anything mutual, I'm guessing a little -"
"Enough!" I warned in a hiss, cutting off Alice before she could embarrass me anymore.
Draining my glass, I waved over the server who offered me another flute. A little while later, Fred came out to escort us to the back room so we could pick through the endless racks he had pulled. There seemed to be one for every type of clothing from maxi dresses to mini dresses to pants and shorts and tops.
Starting on one rack and picking out my favorites, the girls who worked for Fred moved them to a separate rack of my potential purchases. Fred kept encouraging me to pick out a few more, but as it was I had no idea how I could possibly afford this.
I was staring longingly at the mini dresses when I caught Marcus' profile enter the room. "Izzy, sweetheart, you keep picking out some of those sexy little dresses while I speak with Fred."
"What is he doing here?" I asked. I didn't even know where we were going, so how did my manager know where to track me down. And why was he talking with Fred.
"They're probably hashing out a deal," Esme explained. "Designers like Fred need women who are known to promote their clothing as much as they need professionally trained models. I mentioned to him that you were going to be on a new show that just had its entire season picked up, so he said he wanted to see if you might be right for his esthetic. It seems you fit in perfectly."
"Esme did the same thing for Fred a few years back, you get paid to model in the print ads, plus he dresses you for major events and you get some of his best fashion gratis," Alice explained.
"Wait, he's going to give me those clothes?" I asked, completely dumbfounded.
"It isn't like you couldn't afford them, but yes, he wants you seen in the clothes you represent." Alice continued, but my eyes were focused on the door that just opened.
"You're right, Fred. It's the same contract as we've used in the past, I don't think we'll have a problem. Let me just get legal to look it over and we can set up a shoot date for the adverts," Marcus said as he approached me. "Pick out whatever you want, within some reason, and Fred will have it ready to go once you're done shopping at the other stores you're bound to go to this evening."
"Marcus, I can't afford this, what if the deal falls through?"
"You had told me that you wouldn't mind modeling or being a spokesperson for products, has that changed?" Marcus questioned.
"No, but even so, how can I afford to shop on Rodeo Drive. I was planning on letting Alice take me out and getting a dress or two, but -"
Marcus cut me off there. "Iz, I really think you need to sit down with your accountant. What you were paid for that pilot was enough to sustain most people for a year. You used your savings towards your house because it was something you could sell if you needed to, but with the bonus for the show being picked up and the commercials and now this, you're doing well. We'll set something up in my office next week so you can have a better understanding."
"You're sure I'm okay?" I asked again.
"Bella, I saw what Fred would like to pay you, you'll be more than okay," Marcus assured.
With my manager gone I went back to shopping with the girls. I was a little easier about picking out items knowing that I had a way of paying Fred back for his wonderful clothing.
Leaving the shop, Alice and Esme led me to a designer shoe store where I had a little too much fun with getting some platforms and heels. I think Alice noticed my love of accessories and dragged me to Tiffany and Co. and Gucci for a treasure trove of them. I did pick up a few cute Gucci dresses as well, but a majority of my wardrobe was waiting for me as the valet brought out my car. Esme took some of my bags with her, as she would be at my house after picking up some dinner for us.
Alice and I began to go through my purchases, my bags from Frederick's of Hollywood seeming to be her favorites to rummage through. Together we put away my clothes; a task she insisted was not a chore to her, stopping when Esme arrived with the second load of bags and some late dinner.
It was so wonderful to have two women who knew the business offering to help me out, because I was truly lost when it came to this. In New York my friends were the business savvy ones and they helped me when it came time to join the unions and such, but my bubble of focusing on my work and leaving the rest up to Aro and Marcus was over.
When the girls finally left, I headed into the bathroom to shower, excited about tomorrow and the chance to show off a little bit for Edward.
Wednesday morning started with a nice warm shower and I straightened my hair, brushing it back into a low ponytail and then I wrapped a scarf around my head.
Picking out one of the mini dresses I'd gotten yesterday, I paired it with a pair of flip flops and picked out a few of the outfits that Alice and Esme had thought would be cute for filming today.
The drive was easier today, as I managed to leave early enough to bypass a good portion of the traffic, so when I walked into make-up to see Edward finishing up, I was happy.
"Good morning, Edward," I said, sitting in the empty chair beside him.
"Morning, Izzy," he said just as the girl working on him finished.
"You're free, Mr. Masen," she said politely as she approached me.
"Thank you, Peggy," he said, walking past me without a second look.
Maybe Jasper teased him about being loud last night, but I had expected a little more than a passing hello. Letting myself stew during make-up, I heard the heavily accented voice enter with Emmett.
"Hey, Iz," Emmett greeted me warmly. "This is Heidi Olsson; she's sitting on the bottom tier with you today. Heidi, this is Izzy Swan."
"Nice to meet you," I said, shaking her hand.
"Likewise," she responded.
I retreated to my dressing room for a minute before I needed to get out to set, hoping to walk out there and see that I was just overreacting. Alice caught me in the hallway, bringing me up to a very handsome man with long blonde hair. He wasn't at all my type, but Garrett Richards was smooth as silk and as soon as I took his hand, he laid on that charm.
"Miss Swan, it's so nice to meet you." he had my hand pressed to his lips before I could respond, so I blushed and whispered my greeting back.
The three of us walked out to set, the audience cheered at the sight of us, the rest of the panel was there, Edward and Emmett joking with Heidi as I slipped into my seat. Edward never turned in my direction, so I was glad when Tyler announced that we were going to shoot the intro.
Peter, the contestant from Monday, was still on, but as we played our first round, it seemed he wasn't in it. By the time the game ended, he had lost to his challenger, Katie. Katie stuck with the regulars during her Super Match, and then picked Edward for her chance at the $5000. His perfect match earned her the money and a kiss, and left me miffed. I didn't want to doubt Edward, but as he joked with everyone but me, I wondered if last night was a bad idea. Had I given him what he wanted and now he was done with me. God, I hoped not.
When we broke between the games and Edward left with Emmett, leaving me sitting there with Alice and the other new players, a part of me wanted to run back to my dressing room, but one of the PA's came up to ask about lunch orders.
Looking to Alice, she nodded, so I placed an order and tore up one of my cards as I waited for the new audience to settle in.
Garrett's voice from above pulled me from my thoughts. "Are you changing between games, Izzy? Because we don't have much time left before they start up again."
"Yeah, thanks," I muttered walking into the back with him.
"You're a natural at this game, Izzy. There doesn't seem to be a question you don't come up with a good answer for." Garrett's complement had me blushing again, and I told him that he'd managed some pretty funny responses himself.
I ducked into my dressing room and switched out one mini dress for another, removing the scarf and checking that my ponytail was still slicked back perfectly. Content with how I looked, I walked out and sat down beside Edward, not even bothering to turn and look at him.
The second episode featured a new challenger in a young Native American named Jacob. He was all smiles as he answered his question, matching the entire panel in round one and Katie just couldn't come back. But after being here for two full days and never being called on at this point, I was surprised to hear Jacob called for me to offer a response to the phrase 'Great White *BLANK*'
Thinking quickly, I remembered a Broadway play from a few years ago and gave my answer. "Great White Hope."
Asking for Edward next, he answered, "Great White Way."
Alice was the third person he asked for an answer and she responded, "Great white shark."
Thinking for a moment, Jacob picked my response and I was a little surprised to see that Alice's was the $100 answer. Edward's was the $250 response and much to Jacob's excitement, our answer was under the $500 slot.
Running over to get a kiss, I leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek before he asked to try and match me for the money.
Watching as '*BLANK* noon' was revealed for me to think of something that would match Jacob, I wrote my answer and slipped it into position so Jacob could speak.
"I have two answers in my head, but I have to go with my instinct and say high noon."
Smirking a little, I simply picked up my card and flipped it over, revealing my match. Jacob ran over again and I gave him a hug and another kiss on the cheek. I signed the winning card and Jasper said his end of show spiel so we could head to lunch.
I hadn't even noticed that Emmett, Edward, and Jasper were gone until Alice told me to take lunch in her dressing room. I nodded and walked with her and as soon as the crew member delivered our meal, Alice pounced.
"What's going on with you two this morning? Is it because I told you that I heard you, because most people weren't in the area and I would never say anything about it."
"I have no idea what's going on because Edward isn't talking to me. Is this something normal? Does he get a little play from the visiting celebrities and then act like they don't exist afterwards? Because if so, I would have appreciated a little warning."
Alice looked shocked by my accusation, and she moved to my side where I fell onto her couch, pulling my hands away from my face. "Izzy, I have no idea what's going on in that boy's head, but this isn't like him at all. I've never seen him act so enamored by someone, so the fact that he's ignoring you like this is shocking. But if he's going to play games, then you should play too. He's being so sweet to Heidi, maybe you should flirt with Garrett. Hell, if that cutie contestant wins again and picks you, then give him a kiss on the lips. Edward does it, so I'd like to see him open his mouth about that."
"Alice, I can't lead on Garrett?"
"I didn't say offer yourself up to him on the top tier's table. Just smile and blush like you do, maybe bat your eyelashes a little. Maybe a little competition will get Edward's head out of his ass."
"I don't feel well," I muttered, but Alice just shook her head.
"You'll be fine, now why don't we eat so we can find where our good friend is hiding."
I somehow managed to eat my lunch and then Alice and I picked out a pair of short shorts and a low-cut top for the next episode.
We found Garrett and started talking about his work on Broadway several years back and how he'd been nude onstage, something I could never imagine doing, and I told him about the productions I'd done that led to me making the move out here.
The guys were late coming back from lunch, so there was no time to waste as we went straight into the beginning of the show. Doing just as Alice suggested, I gave Jacob a much sweeter peck on the lips, but it was during the taping of the forth episode that I finally got a reaction.
It was the challenger's second question, a little girl named Jane who had done okay in the first round, who now had to come up with an answer to a pretty provocative question for the daytime version.
Jasper repeated the question after we finished, letting her fill in the blank. "When Garrett went streaking through the studio, the whole audience …"
"Screamed," Jane answered.
Garrett was happy to match the young girl, and with Alice and Emmett being the only ones to match her on the first question, it had them jumping down to me.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was my turn, I got to thinking about Garrett streaking through the studio and the only answer I came up with was 'the audience cheered.'"
I heard the grumble as Edward flipped over his card, "Sorry darling, but I thought of Garrett streaking and my first thought was 'they yawned.'"
Heidi matched Jane as well, but Jacob pulled out his question to win again.
Another super match had him playing with me for a chance at $5000, and when we both thought of 'Lil Orphan Annie,' Jacob earned another kiss and an autograph.
Right after Tyler sent us on break; Edward caught my elbow and growled, "I need to speak with you, now!"
Yanking my arm free, I walked with him and let him lead the way to his dressing room, which I realized was on the side that shares a wall with the set, so at least the crew wouldn't hear us. Because I intended to be loud.
"What in the hell is your problem?" I yelled.
"What's my problem? I'm not the one who was walking around here dressed like that, flirting with half the panel and laying a kiss on that guy. How long until he gets the same treatment I did?" His words were like a slap in the face, so I happily returned the favor.
"How dare you?" I seethed. "First off, you kiss every female contestant that picks you, so you can't say anything about that little peck. And for your information, Garrett, Alice, and I were talking during the lunch break and we were discussing the different Broadway productions we'd been a part of. In particular he told us about when he had to appear naked onstage. The fact that one of the questions referenced him streaking was a coincidence, so I made a little comment trying to be funny. There is nothing going on there."
I took a breath and continued before he could interrupt my rant. "Last night was something special; at least it was to me. The only other person I've done that with was my ex and we dated for two years. I took a chance on you, opening myself up like that and being in the moment because I trusted you because I felt something between us and I thought you were a good guy. But then I come in here today and you won't even look at me. Everyone else was worthy of your time but me. So when lunch came and I told Alice what was wrong she told me to play along with whatever game you were playing. But this isn't a game to me."
I could feel myself losing steam, the tears welling up in my eyes. "I wore something a little showier because I needed to feel confident, to be the girl who makes you look at me like you did the past two days. Instead, I made myself look trashy and I proved everyone in New York right."
My tears fell and much to my surprise, I felt Edward pull me to him. I wanted so badly to push him away, but I knew these were my last moments with him, so I would take the comfort he gave me.
"Izzy … God, babe I'm so sorry. I was trying to do the right thing by putting distance between us, because of what I found out when I got home, but I can't let you beat yourself up over this. I was offered a role on your show, but it isn't official yet, so I'm not supposed to say anything. What happened last night shouldn't have happened like that. I should have taken you out to dinner and won you over and then taken my time with you. Not a quickie in the dressing room with you getting nothing in return. You are the classiest person I know, and I treated you like you were some trashy little groupie, and for that I am so sorry. I thought that if we were professional, than we could move slower, but then I saw you with Garrett and I went a little crazy. I never meant to hurt you, but I can't seem to do anything but. I'm no good, Iz, not for you."
Blown away by his one-eighty I looked up to meet his eyes. "Will you stop deciding what is good for me, and what I shouldn't be doing. I make my own decisions and whether you asked me to dinner first or jumped me in my dressing room the answer would have been the same. I like you, Edward, and that isn't going to change. Your decision is whether or not you'll break my heart."
"Never," he whispered. "I've screwed this up so bad already; I'm going to do everything in my power not to hurt you again."
"Good," I said with a firm nod, and then we got quiet again.
"What did you mean when you said your New York friends were right?" he finally asked.
"They said I was too small town for Hollywood. I have a tough skin when it comes to most things, and New York I could handle because when people came at you, they stabbed you in the front, metaphorically speaking. Out here people smile to your face while they stab you in the back." Edward didn't say anything in response and my mind drifted to something he'd said earlier. "Edward?"
"If you're not pushing me away anymore, are you going to ask me to dinner?"
His laugh shook my body as well as his as he pulled back to look me in the eye. "You'd still go out with me?"
"I told you, I don't have a choice in how I feel, so you're the one who has to make the call."
"Do you have plans tonight? I can get us a reservation and pick you up later."
"That sounds great," I admitted, and then he stood up.
"I'll be right back," he said, leaving me alone in his dressing room.
I was surprised when a few minutes later, Peggy came in, sitting down a bag and my last outfit and then going directly into the closet on the far wall, picking out a plaid suit and handing it to whoever was outside. "Alice got this from your dressing room, now go change and I'll fix up your makeup for the last show."
"How much do they know?" I asked as I picked up the maxi dress and changed in front of Peggy, my years in theater leaving me unfazed by changing in front of people.
"Alice and Jasper kept everyone on set after the audience was cleared. They didn't let anyone back here until Alice said so. No one heard a thing and no one is going to question what happens when you walk back on that set. So if you're lovey dovey, they'll assume it was a lovers' quarrel, if not, then who cares."
With me sitting in the chair in front of her, Peggy made quick work of reapplying my makeup and hiding the fact that I'd been crying. Alice popped in to make sure I was okay, and then Edward came in right as Peggy left.
His fingers found mine as he pulled me close. "Come on, babe; let's get this episode filmed so I can make up for my bad behavior."
"Edward, you don't have to-" I started, but the look on Edward's face pulled me up short.
"I made you doubt yourself and then to make it worse, I made you cry," he murmured. "I have a lot to atone for."
"Well then, let's get this show wrapped so we can start."
We walked out together to find the rest of the cast and crew in position. I took my seat next to Edward, who leaned over to kiss me before we started filming.
The filming passed in a blur, Jacob losing to a guy whose name I couldn't tell you if you asked me, because my focus had been on the man beside me.
As soon as filming was over I packed up, Edward coming in to get my phone number and address so he could pick me up in two hours.
I drove home, pissed that I'd once again managed to hit traffic. By the time I got there I jumped into the shower and blew out my hair, thankful that it worked with me tonight so I could leave it down. The stare down with my closet was a different battle, but I found a strapless maxi dress that was sexy and still me.
I did my makeup and was just starting to get inside my own head when there was a knock at my door. The sight of him waiting there for me in a suit was too much for me. He was too damn handsome for his own good and yet he was looking at me the same way.
"Christ, Iz, let's head out before all of my intentions of being good are erased by all the things I could do to you." His breathing was heavy, so I locked up before he escorted me to his Mercedes. "After you."
The drive with Edward was a lot more eventful than it seemed, he navigated side streets and alternate routes easily, his hand holding mine over the console as we came to a stop by the valet stand at Cantante Mio.
We were escorted past the line and directly to a table in the back, the manager stopping by immediately to let us know that whatever we needed should be brought to his attention. It was new, having people fawning over me, but if I was being honest, they were reacting to Edward.
"Same rules as Monday night, order what looks good, because the prices aren't even on the menu," Edward smirked as he reached out to squeeze my hand.
The waiter stopped by to take our order, and once he was gone, Edward decided to brooch what was likely the heaviest topic of conversation to be had tonight.
"I got a call from my agent tonight, I have to make a decision on whether or not I join the cast Fools. Are you okay with me saying yes to it?"
"I'd rather hear why you're not okay with it, if you don't mind?" I needed to know what had him so reluctant.
"I'm not sure I could manage it if this ended badly. Seeing you every day, and knowing I couldn't have you would kill me. Today was proof of how stupid I could be."
"You don't think we'll last?" I asked in a quiet voice. "I mean I get it, you're you and I'm me -"
"What does that mean?" Edward's voice had a hint of an edge to it.
"It means you're a superstar and I'm someone who's lucky to have a job out here," I admitted.
"Iz, I'm worried that I'll screw it up. But that isn't a reflection on you. If you don't want to mix business with pleasure, then I'll say no, if you'd prefer to have me there with you, then I'll say yes. It's you're call."
"I can't make that decision for you," I told him.
"Well I won't put you in an awkward position again," he countered.
"Promise if you're paired with one of the other actresses, you'll always kiss me after you wrap a scene with them?"
Edward's laugh caught me off guard, but it was a good sign. "If you want me to eat a clove of garlic before my scenes, I will. I'll make sure you're the only one to enjoy kissing me."
Chuckling to myself, I nodded. "Take the job. It'll be interesting working with you."
"Okay, now let's get on to the important stuff."
What was 'important stuff' to Edward was every detail of my life that he didn't know already, including a gruesome retelling of the past two days. He told me that he wanted to learn from his mistakes now, so he was committing his sins to memory. I told him he was being dramatic, but he didn't care.
By the time dessert was being taken away, I was feeling a lot better about where we were. The valet had the car waiting for us and as Edward drove back to my place, he asked an unusual question.
"Can I pick you up tomorrow morning?"
"I guess so, but why would you want to take the extra time to do it?"
"Because, I know the streets better, so it won't take as long. Besides, it's the only truly private time we'll get. Before you say yes, we're going out as a group to Studio 45 tomorrow night, so I'd be driving you home after we left the club."
"That's fine, I'll have to pick out an extra outfit for that, but it shouldn't be a problem," I told him.
"Okay, I'll be here at six," Edward said as he opened his door, surprising me that we were already back at my place.
Edward walked me up the front steps and then leaned in to kiss me. His hands found my hair, while mine rested against his chest. It wasn't frantic, just passionate.
"I'll see you in the morning," I whispered against his lips.
"Night, Iz," he replied, waiting for me to get inside before he walked to his car and drove off, leaving me shocked senseless.
I was up early, showering and picking out a set of outfits for my last PM show, as well as a flowy blue top that would nearly hide the white hot pants I'd be wearing under it at the club tonight. My hair was down, sprayed into place for the day as I heard the car pull up. I gathered my things and found Edward leaning against his passenger side door as I opened the front door.
"I wanted to give you a few more minutes before I knocked," he told me as I walked up, kissing him on the lips as he hugged me to him.
"That was sweet of you, but I got up early so I wouldn't keep you waiting," I explained as he took my garment bag and opened my door.
Edward spent our morning drive to the studio explaining the various shortcuts and side streets that I could take to avoid the freeway traffic as much as possible. It was sweet of him to offer the assistance and I was taking in every tip he had for me.
We entered the studio to hear the sound of someone trilling on in Spanish; something I was used to from living in New York City, but Edward looked truly confused until he realized who it was.
"Shit, I can't believe the producers did that?"
"Did what?" I asked.
"Last year there was a telethon that Jasper hosted and one of the stars was this Latin American singer, Maria. She spent all her time backstage hitting on Jasper, he was trying to be polite, because he was on air for most of the day and night, but she didn't quit. If Alice had been in the state, she would have slugged her. It sounds like in their infinite stupidity; they got her on as a panelist for today's filming."
"I'm sure Alice and Jasper are thrilled," I remarked sarcastically as Alice came flying out of the production office.
"I refuse to work with her. I want her off my set. I want her run back to the whorehouse she left after being publicly exposed for the tart she is."
"Breathe, Ali," Edward attempted to soothe her, but she turned on him quickly.
"When Garrett and Izzy were joking, you hauled her off set and accused her of sleeping with him during lunch, and you're going to tell me to relax when that bitch is in there flirting with my husband?"
"Is he flirting back?" I asked.
"No, of course not!" she yelled back.
"Then let her look like a tramp on national television. Everyone knows you've been married for five years, Jasper will be as polite as he has to be, she'll fawn over him, and if she gets to be too bad, you choke her with Jasper's microphone wire."
"You think she'll be able to climb down the stairs before Maria can run off?" Edward asked.
"She won't have to," I said finding Tyler out on the studio floor. "Tyler, we need to make a few changes to the seating arrangement. Maria will be sitting in Emmett's regular seat, and Emmett will take the seat Maria was going to fill. And Edward and I will be switching places."
"I'm not sure the producer will like that?" Tyler said.
"If the producer has a problem, he can come to me. But he can do it through my agent, because Alice and I will not be a part of today's taping if there's an issue."
"Whatever you say, Miss Swan," Tyler agreed as he went to gather his crew.
"That was a lot of shuffling, Iz," Alice commented.
"It put the entire cast between Jasper and Maria, and Rosalie will be up top to help you push her off the platform if she gets too bad."
"Thanks, it means a lot that you would boycott with me."
"We all would, Alice, you're family," Edward added, ending the group hug moment.
The three of us went to makeup to do our final prep for filming, exiting in just enough time to hear Maria complaining about the seating arrangement. "I thought I would be sitting here, next to Eduardo y Jasper?"
"Sorry, we switched things up today; you'll be sitting next to Mrs. Whitlock up in the corner seat." Tyler didn't even look up at her as he explained the seating change, probably out of fear of her reaction.
Emmett and Rosalie were the last to take their seats and Jasper didn't come out until the show began taping. Even the distance didn't stop Maria as she asked if she could still get her 'new kid kiss' from where she was trapped in the tower.
Jasper reached up to kiss her hand, making sure there was no way she could manage to get close enough for anything more.
It was a long day of filming, with most of it spent trying to keep Alice from killing the little bitch beside her, but thankfully, it did come to an end.
I had thought the discussion of dinner we'd had earlier had meant that we were all going to another group dinner, but I didn't even get a chance to see Edward before Rosalie and Alice took me to eat and then get ready at Rosalie's villa.
I was feeling very self-conscious around someone as beautiful as Rosalie, and she seemed to still be deciding whether or not she liked me, despite her reaction at dinner on Monday.
Alice was a woman possessed as she twisted and braided my hair into an intricate updo and then set out to make me over. She was telling me about the club we were going to, which played soul and R&B, which made me feel better. I would feel more comfortable with music I knew, and disco was too over processed for me. I wanted to hear a voice, not a synthesizer.
With us dressed and ready to go, we piled into Rosalie's car. She drove expertly through the streets in her flashy red sports car, finally pulling into the club's valet line. We were just exiting the car when a guy with a giant pornstache escorted us past the line of people waiting to gain entry.
"Ladies, your guys are up on the VIP level, enjoying some drinks while they're waiting for you. If you need anything, just ask for Benny, and I'll take care of it."
With a wink and a smile, Benny was off to schmooze his next VIP as we found where the guys were hiding. I was surprised by the cloud of smoke that filled the air around them.
"You toked up without us?" Rosalie griped, taking the proffered joint from Emmett.
"Sorry, baby, you guys took too long to get here," he told her.
It took a minute for Edward to notice that I was standing by the table, not moving to sit down. He stood and walked over to me, looking a little sheepish. "I'm sorry; I should have mentioned that Emmett usually brings some weed when we go out. It honestly slipped my mind."
"I've just never tried it before, daughter of a cop, and all." I shrugged and Edward was pulling me farther from the group.
"If you don't feel comfortable, we can go somewhere else. I don't want tonight to be over, yet."
"I don't mind it; I just was a little surprised. Will you show me how to do it?" I asked, not wanting to look like an idiot.
"I'll do one better," he said, looking me up and down before he turned to Emmett. "Give me one of the other joints, Bella and I are going to smoke at one of the other tables."
Emmett handed over a joint and the lighter, letting Edward light up before he picked up his drink and led me to the next table. Edward sat down and then pulled over a chair.
"You have to sit close for this to work," he explained and I went to straddle his lap. "Iz, you're going to flash everyone up here sitting on me like that."
"This is a shirt, Edward. I'm wearing hot pants."
His fingers moved to pull up my shirt enough to reveal the white shorts hidden under the dark blue fabric. "Fuck, Iz. Okay, I'm going to take a hit, and then you lean in and open your mouth. I'll breathe out and you breathe in. You'll take in the smoke without having to worry about taking in too much."
I nodded and he took his first hit, leaning in just as I did and I felt his breath tickle my lips, causing me to inhale and take in the first of the smoke. He was right, enough smoke was lost that I wasn't coughing or anything, and after a few hits, I was starting to feel nice.
"You like that, babe?" Edward asked, his eyes a little glassy.
"Un huh. But what I really want now, is to go dance." I stood up, pulling Edward with me as he put out the joint and slipped it behind his ear.
We made our way down to the main floor and the flashing lights and loud music enveloped us. The song changed from one to another as Edward and I swayed together. It seemed this DJ was enjoying the soul and funk because I'd yet to hear anything I didn't like. Edward's hands never left my body, his fingers dancing across my arms and back, squeezing my ass as he pulled me closer, and tracing up my sides.
"I'm thirsty; do you want something from the bar?" I asked as we took a break from the dancing.
"Sure, let's go," he yelled back and then led me to the bar. We both ordered our drinks when Edward told me he needed to use the restroom. I offered to carry our drinks up and meet him at the booth.
It took a few minutes, but I was finally heading towards the VIP level when I was stopped by a tall blonde guy. "Was that Edward I saw you with at the bar? I should go say hi; it's been a while since I've seen him."
"Yeah, it was. Are you a friend of his?"
"More of a business associate, but I'm guessing you know all about it if you're hanging at a club like this."
"I don't understand," I told him truthfully.
"This club is known for its casual drug use. Weed is smoked more than tobacco in here, but Benny doesn't let the hard stuff in. You have to be careful who you buy from. In fact, why don't I give you a sample, if you like it, tell Benny that you need James' number. If not, then no harm. I'm willing to risk it, because this is some of the best grass there is."
I was about to reach for the joint when I felt Edward come up beside me, his hand pushing James' away. "We're not interested in what you're selling, James."
"Why not let the lady decide, she seemed ready to give it a whirl." James was staring at me, but I could tell that he'd been lying about being someone Edward dealt with, so I backed off.
"On second thought, I'm not feeling that great. I don't think all of the smoke is agreeing with me."
James seemed annoyed at my refusal, but let it go, moving on through the crowd. Edward led me to the VIP area and then turned me to face him. "Are you okay? He didn't give you anything else, did he?"
"No, you caught most of it right there. He said you were business associates and then offered to give me a sample of his stuff to see if I liked it."
"What's going on?" Jasper asked.
"James just tried to give Bella a toke," Edward told him, but it was Emmett that responded.
"That fucker's back? Shit, we're going to have to find a new spot. Too bad, I liked the music they played."
"He's really that bad?" I asked.
"He laces his weed with stronger drugs so people keep buying. Anything from mushrooms to cocaine, if it will get you more addicted to what he's selling then he'll try it," Alice explained.
I leaned heavy into Edward, grateful that he'd shown up when he did. "Do you want to go? You said the smoke was bothering you."
"No, I just said it to get away from him. As soon as you showed up, I knew he'd lied about you having any kind of working relationship with him."
"Okay, why don't we sit down for a while," Edward went to the booth, where our drinks had been placed after we'd been swarmed by our friends.
Edward and I spent a while sitting there drinking and kissing, the high from the weed slowly wearing off. I was really enjoying our time with the gang, and even Rosalie seemed to warm up to me as she and Emmett danced on our private level. Jasper had gone to get some more drinks and Alice asked if I'd use the ladies' room with her.
We split up from Jasper just before the bar, and took a few minutes to use the facilities before we were back in front of the mirror.
"Are you enjoying yourself tonight?" Alice asked, her eyes meeting mine in the mirror.
"Yes, this club is so fun and Edward's amazing."
"I'm glad you two were able to work out your issues. It would have been a shame if he'd messed up the best thing that's ever happened it him." I stopped mid lipstick application at her words.
"You think I'm the best thing that's happened to him?"
"Everyone does. You make him happy, Iz."
I smiled and finished touching up my makeup as we left the restroom. We started to walk back towards the stairs when I heard Alice's whispered curse before she ran back towards the bar.
I followed her to see Maria all over Jasper, while he was trying to get away without shoving her to the ground. Alice had no problem going that far. Maria was quick getting off the floor and went to take a swing at Alice when she had turned away from her, sending me into action. I caught Maria's arm and hauled her over to the wall, getting right up in her face.
"Listen to me, you pathetic tramp. The only thing more despicable than going after a married man that has no interest in you is to sucker punch someone because you know it's the only way to get a shot at it. Why don't you crawl back to where you came from before you embarrass yourself anymore?"
Letting go of her, Maria slipped past me in the direction of the door. I was about to check on Alice when the cheering started behind me.
"Damn, New York, that was impressive," Rosalie said with a smirk before she and Emmett moved to check in with Alice and Jasper.
"Izzy, that was one of the hottest things I've ever seen," Edward said as he pulled me close. "Are you ready to get out of here?"
"Yeah, let me just say goodbye to everyone," I told him.
We were quick with our farewells, and Edward looked at me like I was missing something. "Did you have a purse?"
"I'll show you in the car," I told him, not about to lift my shirt in the middle of the club.
Valet was quick to retrieve our car and as soon as I got in I showed Edward one of my new purchases, an envelope belt purse. "I wanted to use this so I could fit a few things in it and not have to worry about carrying it all night."
"You think I would have noticed that?" Edward muttered as he started the car.
"Your hands were a little more occupied with my tush, honey," I teased.
Edward drove me home, the car sitting in my driveway for a moment before he got out to walk me to the door. I was quiet as he led me to the door, but as he leaned in to kiss me goodnight, I knew I didn't want the night to end.
"Stay the night," I whispered, hoping he wouldn't reject me.
"Iz, if I stay here, that's a big jump in our relationship. Are you ready for that?"
I saw that his expression was one of hope, and I knew he just wanted to make sure I understood what I was asking. "Spend the night with me, Edward. I want this, I want you."
Edward went back to his car to shut it off and then jogged up my steps, coming inside my house for the first time.
After locking up, I led him around on a quick tour of my tiny little bungalow, ending with my bedroom. My fingers began their work on his button-down shirt as he kicked off his shoes. When I'd freed him of his top, he did the same for me, moaning at the sight of my bra, my purse already on the floor.
Edward peeled the fabric from my breasts and then let me unzip his pants, his hands eagerly pushing them down, leaving him naked before me. Seeing him drop to his knees, Edward pulled down my hot pants and underwear and then stood, looking up at me.
"You're so beautiful, Izzy." Edward's words tickled my cheek as we backed over to my bed.
Edward's attention was so focused, his lips kissed mine as his hands stroked and fondled my breasts. My sighs and gasps must have spurred him on because he used one of his legs to part mine enough to slide his leg between them. I could feel him hard and long against my thigh as he rocked into my sex.
The sensory overload was driving me insane, he was everywhere but where I needed him and I intended to let him know.
"Edward, please, baby I need you."
"Anything for you, Iz. Open up for me."
I parted my legs for him and he shifted so he was settled completely on top of me.
Edward rocked forward, pushing into me slowly. My head rolled back into the pillow as he stretched and filled me completely.
"So fucking good," Edward muttered as he rocked in and out of me.
My hands reached up to his shoulders, holding him to me as I rocked my hips into his. I felt every move Edward made inside me and as his lips trailed along my neck. I hitched my leg over his hip, needing to feel every inch of him as he began to pick up the pace.
"Oh, Edward," I cried as my climax began to build deep in my belly.
"That's it, Izzy, let go."
"You too, Edward … come with me, love."
Edward's motioned became stuttered and erratic as his orgasm ripped through him, sending me off the peak with him.
We both lay there, panting and basking in the post-coital glow. Edward slipped out of me and pulled me close. "I love you, too."
I looked up at him in shock before I realized what I'd said. "You do?"
"Yes, and I'm glad that I've said it, because now I can tell you as often as I want."
"We should get to sleep; we have our last day of filming tomorrow."
"Night." I yawned and settled into Edward's chest.
The following morning, I woke up to Edward's strong arms around me as I slept on his chest. His masculine scent surrounded me and I sighed as he started to stir beside me.
"Mmmhhhhnn, morning, Iz."
"Good morning, Edward."
"Are you hungry? Cause we can stop on the way into the studio."
Sitting up, I looked down at the man in my bed, "I'm not much of a breakfast person, but if you want to grab a bite we can. Let me just jump in the shower, that way you can take one while I do my hair."
"Sounds like a plan, babe," Edward said, letting me go so that I could go to the shower.
I cleaned up as quickly and thoroughly as I could, giving Edward a chance to use the bathroom while I combed my hair back into a ponytail.
While I wasn't much of a breakfast in the morning person, I loved having breakfast for dinner, so using Edward's shower time to surprise him; I cooked up a cheese omelet, bacon, and toast.
I made enough for both of us, guessing he wouldn't want to eat alone, and was just pouring the coffee as he walked into the room. "You didn't have to cook for me. I meant it when I asked about going to pick something up."
"I know, but I wanted to do something special for you, last night was amazing."
"It was, but you still didn't have to cook for me."
"Will you just hush and enjoy the meal," I told him with a smile as we fell in easily to a conversation about the rest of the day.
When breakfast was done, Edward offered to wash dishes so that I could get the rest of my clothes together. Both tasks were completed quickly and soon Edward and I were in the car on the way to the studio.
As it usually goes with your last day somewhere that you love, it went by much too quickly. The morning was gone before I could blink and soon it was the final question in the second round for my last episode.
Jasper smiled as he said, "Two-ton Tessie said, 'I have never been so embarrassed, on my first day at the dude ranch I was *BLANKED* by a near-sighted cowboy.'"
Giggling to myself, I wrote my answer and waited for Jasper to turn to the young man named Austin for his answer.
"All I could think of was 'branded,'" Austin said to a mixed response from the audience.
Beginning with Caius, we started going through the full panel. "I wrote 'roped.'"
Alice smiled and said, "I put down 'branded.'"
Emmett flipped his card to reveal his answer was also branded.
Still laughing to myself I showed my answer. "I'm sorry; I said 'mounted.'"
Luckily, Edward and Maggie, the comedian in the last spot, both matched Austin, so he went on to the Super Match.
Giving me a chance to redeem myself, he picked me to give an answer to 'Wonder *BLANK*'
"Bread," was my response.
Edward's cheeky answer was, "A thing that is often on my mind, 'woman.'"
Looking for a third choice, Alice said, "Land."
Austin went with my answer and it earned him $500, so he kept going with me as it was time for his final match for the $5000.
Jasper opened his card and read, "*BLANK* way."
I wrote my answer and then waited for Austin to reveal his guess. "Being out in LA, my first thought was 'freeway.'"
Trying to fake him out a little I started by saying, "You know, I wrote down 'one way,' but then I remembered how impossible it is to get here every morning so I threw that out and wrote 'freeway.'"
I showed my card, signing it quickly so I could hand it to Austin as he ran over for his kiss.
Jasper wrapped the show and I had a series of long goodbyes with the cast and crew, promising to come back and film another time. When we were done, Edward took me out to celebrate the end of filming, and the beginning of us.
It was the beginning of September and Edward and I sat on his couch ready to watch my first set of PM shows as they aired on TV. I sat next to him as he turned up the volume on the big wooden set.
"It's hard to believe that was only five months ago," he commented as the intro ran.
"I know, it seems like a lifetime ago," I admitted, happy to be where I was.
"Is Alice going to help you pack this weekend, I want you moved in here before we get back from our mini shooting break."
Heart of Fools had filmed from the moment we were picked up by the network in April, straight through the summer, giving us two weeks break before we went to film the rest of the season. It was right when we got our little break that Edward asked me to move in with him.
It was truly a formality at this point; because we switched between his house and mine, but I understood him wanting us to be together under one roof, and he was happy that the sale of our little love nest would be money in my account. I was still conservative in my spending, and even more so in his spending for me, so the boost in my checking account was his way of getting me to splurge on myself a little more.
The show itself would begin airing next week, and we would see if all our hard work had paid off. But for now I was exactly where I wanted to be.
I once dreamed about being a contestant on Match the Stars, winning the game and earning a kiss from Edward Masen. Instead, I was a panelist on the show, and Edward Masen kisses me every night before I fall asleep, and every morning when I wake up.