I was going to keep this story all in BPOV, but I never made any promises. Edward just wouldn't shut up and he can be pretty loud and demanding. Anyway, this may be the only EPOV or he may pop up again. We'll see how it goes.
Thanks to SusanQ, Nicffwhisperer, Vampshavelaws, iambeagle, and Stephanie for all of their help pre-reading/betaing for me. I seriously have so much love for these ladies.
The Flip Side
Son of a...
I ground my teeth and forced myself not to flip the fucker off as I turned onto the street—no matter how much I wanted to. They thought they were so sly, trying to hide in cars just outside the gates of my community.
Sly, my ass.
At this point in my life, I could spot a dumbass paparazzi pig a mile away.
I dialed my sister as I made my way south toward the 101.
"Hey, I'm almost there," she answered. "Just chill out."
I blew out a gust of air. "That's not why I'm calling."
"Then what do you want?"
"If you'd shut your piehole for a minute, I'd tell you."
She let out a loud, whiny sigh and I grinned. It was my responsibility as an older brother to give her shit.
"I just left the house and I'm on my way to meet with my team, then the doc, and then Bella's dad. There were some paps waiting when I turned onto Franklin. I'm pretty sure they're tailing me, but just head's up when you take her out today. If you guys end up surrounded, call me and I'll figure something out."
"We'll be fine. That Rodney guy is coming and Em's coming, too."
I snorted. "Em's going shopping with you guys?"
She laughed. "Yeah, I think he's crushing on Blondie. We'll make him carry our bags."
Alice was on the mark in regards to his Rosalie obsession. Poor guy had it bad.
Almost as bad as me.
I cleared my throat and adjusted my pants when thoughts of a naked Bella still lying in my bed flooded my mind.
"Anyway," I continued. "I just wanted to let you know they were waiting out there."
"It's all good. Have fun getting your head shrunk and then kissing Papa Swan's ass."
I hung up on her with a growl. She'd effectively taken care of my semi by reminding me of Senator Swan. I ran my hand through my hair in aggravation.
I already had serious problems with Daddy Dearest. He'd kept Bella from me all day yesterday when she joined him at a fundraiser, and today I was going to be without her again because he wanted to meet me alone. The problem was, she wouldn't tell him no. She had it in her head that she owed him something for breaking off her engagement. That she had to make up for it and be at his beck and call every single second. She told me she'd promised to do anything to help his campaign and I had a feeling he was going to take full advantage of it. She said she wanted to break free, but she's still completely under his control.
It shouldn't have made me so angry. Bella and I hadn't been together very long and I supposed it was understandable her father would come before me in terms of importance in her life. But I still hated it. I wanted to be her number one.
I only had two more days left with her before I left for Vancouver for eight weeks. It wasn't nearly enough time. I wished I could take her with me. Like pack her up in one of my suitcases and steal her away. I didn't understand this compulsion I had to have her by my side every second, but it was there anyway.
She calmed me. Made me happy. Happier than I'd been in a long time.
And I had a sinking feeling I needed her much more than she needed me.
I felt like I was going crazy.
Why did the one girl I wanted in the world have a prick for a father and a psychotic bitch for a mother?
When I pulled up in front of CAA, the building housing my management and PR team, Mike was standing there waiting for me.
"Hey," he said, catching the keys I tossed after getting out.
"Hey," I answered. "I'll be a few hours in here and will call when I'm ready to leave."
He nodded and got in the car. I liked that he wasn't too chatty.
Once inside, I hurried onto the elevator, hoping for as little fanfare as possible. Luckily, there were only two other people in there and each was more interested in their phone than me.
My luck didn't last long.
When the doors opened to the twenty-second floor, the bubbly blonde secretary popped up from her seat behind her desk as soon as I started walking toward her.
"Oh... hi. Edward... I mean... um... Mr. Cullen."
I rolled my eyes behind my sunglasses. This chick annoyed me every time I came here, and I couldn't even remember her name.
Janice or Jordan or some J name.
"Yeah. Can I go on back?"
She nodded her head so fast she looked like one of those bobblehead dolls while sidling up next to me. "Yes, they're ready for you."
Her eyes were big as she pushed her tits out on display and tried to casually brush up against my arm. I wagered I could tell her to kneel down and suck my cock right there in the middle of the lobby and she'd do it.
Not that I'd do something like that.
At least not anymore.
I smirked and shook my head. "Well, have a good one." I turned away and started walking toward Paul's office.
"Wait," she said, rushing to catch up. "They're in the conference room." She pointed toward a different door which was open.
I walked in, finding Paul, Embry, Jane and Heidi all sitting around a table.
"That will be all, Jessica," Paul said, standing up to greet me.
Jessica. That's her name.
I glanced back in the direction he was staring, finding Jessica standing frozen in the open doorway and panting a little. Jane walked over and shut the door in her face.
She turned back toward me, shaking her head. "I told her to stop acting like a fool when you were here."
I shrugged. "No big deal."
It really wasn't. That was tame compared to what I usually dealt with.
I shook hands with everyone, before taking one of the open seats and a gulp of my favorite coffee they had waiting for me.
Paul Rosenphal was the head of CAA, running it with his son, Embry. They handled everything from deal signings, script approvals, endorsements, all the way down to public appearances and fan mail. They even at times worked in conjunction with my financial advisors, including my friend Eric. I had hired them four years ago after ending my disastrous relationship with Aro and his firm.
Being under the thumb of Aro was just one of many mistakes I made in the past.
My life was normal until I hit Hollywood. I'd had a fun childhood and didn't have any complaints. My parents were loving, but allowed me some freedom. I had friends, girlfriends, experimented with booze, sex, fun... overall I was a normal teenager.
Then it all changed when I filmed my first major movie.
I was still basically a kid. A kid with stars in my eyes. I was surrounded by glamour, glitz, drugs and beautiful, fawning girls always willing to spread their legs—an almost constant party—but it was all being controlled by people who didn't have my best interests in mind.
Aro took my money, made poor decisions on my behalf, and kept me like a puppet on a string for too many years. It wasn't until I got into legal trouble and my family intervened that I even realized how deep in I was and how much I was being used. Drugs and women and notoriety had a way of blinding you from reality.
But I learned my lessons and came out of it all a wiser, if not more jaded man.
"I was hoping you'd bring Isabella with you today," Jane said, smiling across the table. "I want to meet the girl who's swept you off your feet."
I fiddled with my coffee cup. "She couldn't come today. You'll meet her sometime." I cleared my throat, wanting to remain noncommittal. "So, I got chased here by the paps all the way from my house. What's going on out there?"
Out there meaning in the land of gossip and scandal. I both loved and hated the dependence my career had on image. I relied on the interest of the masses: going to see my movies, buying things I endorsed, making me relevant. On the flip side, it meant privacy was scarce and I had to worry about the mob's opinion when they observed my life under the microscope.
Even more so now with Bella in the mix.
"The tide is mostly in your favor at this point, probably because it's so new," Heidi said. "Kate's people are somewhat peeved, but they're also contemplating playing the victim card. They've been quiet so far, but I've seen a couple mentions of 'Poor Kate' and wondering how she's handling being tossed aside. You know it would be smart of them to try and use this in her favor to gain sympathy from her fans."
I snorted. The whole charade was ridiculous at times. It was hard not to laugh at the stupidity.
Heidi and Jane had a dozen interns and associates under them, constantly scouring the news and internet for information or mentions of the celebrities they represent. In this day and age of instant communication, these bits of knowledge were used for and against people like me to sway public perception.
Embry tapped his fingers on the table. "The studio's been calling me nonstop, irate about you and Isabella coming out now. They've made an offer for you to consider."
My stomach twisted as I stared at him. "An offer for what?"
He grimaced. "They want you to shut up about Isabella until after the promo of Shade is complete. They're offering another percent of net profits to both you and Kate if you remain together until sales die down."
Shade was the final movie in the series I'd filmed with Kate. These fuckers wanted to control my private life again because they believed they could make a few extra dollars.
My blood boiled and I clenched my hands into fists. "Does Kate know about this?"
He nodded. "Probably. I was going to tell you days ago when I called, but you told me to wait until this meeting."
I vaguely remembered that call. I was busy taking Bella's panties off of her and didn't want any interruptions.
But why in the hell wouldn't Kate tell me about this?
I noticed she was a little cold towards Bella when they met, but I tried to play it off. I figured she was simply concerned about me.
Was it something more than that? Did I have reason to doubt her now?
"No," I said.
"Maybe you should take some time to think—"
I cut him off with a glare, pounding my fist on the table. "I don't need to think about it. The answer's no. And fuck them for thinking the fans are going to run away because I won't participate in some fantasy anymore. It's stupid. People aren't that dumb."
Everyone fell silent, occasional glances sent between them. Maybe people were that dumb.
"It's only a few more months," Embry said. "It could be a lot of money in your pocket."
"I have enough money. The money means nothing."
It was about Bella. Playing games like this could ruin the best thing I had going.
Paul must have seen I was about to blow because he held his hands up. "Embry, that's enough. Edward doesn't want to go in that direction. What's next?"
Embry didn't appear too put out by his father's subtle reprimand and slid a few files in front of me. "Here are some promising scripts for you to take with you to Vancouver. Cruise dropped out of the one on top. It's an action movie. Lead role is up for grabs and they're willing to adjust the character for your youth. But they're wanting to film in October and November. I know you're booked for promotion of Shade and Wanted, but maybe we could work around it."
I frowned and skimmed a few pages of the script, thinking about how busy I was going to be already. Adding more on top didn't sound very appealing. Plus, I didn't want to be anybody's backup choice.
I slid that file back over to Embry. "Not interested in that one. I have enough going on already. But I'll take the others with me."
He nodded and looked down at a calendar. "So you'll be clear through the end of the year filming-wise and I'll send you an updated promo schedule soon. After the new year, you currently only have two major projects lined up. TFR moved filming back a few weeks. It's looking like February and March and then Confidential is still set for May and June."
My mind briefly wondered what would be happening next summer. As usual, my focus was on Bella.
What would she be doing?
I imagined her father would be even busier than he was now. Bella had mentioned the National Convention would be at the end of the summer, but I wasn't sure of the exact date.
Would her father already have the nomination in the bag at that point? How much of Bella's time would be required once he was the official nominee?
"That just leaves Vancouver," Jane said, grabbing my attention again. "I'm going to be traveling there with you and I'll be around the first couple weeks. I have Demitri assigned to be there the full eight weeks. Will Isabella be visiting at all?"
"I'm not sure." I took a drink of coffee, wishing the answer was yes.
I'd made passing references to the possibility, but Bella hadn't taken the bait yet. I wanted her to be there, but I didn't want to push too much. Emmett kept telling me not to scare her off, and I was trying to keep things casual.
But it was difficult.
Bottom line was I wanted her with me. More than that, I wanted her to want to be with me.
"Well, you can still talk to her even if she's not there in person," Jane added, probably trying to make me feel better.
"Yes, let's wrap this up," Paul said. "I have a few things for you to sign and then your appointment is waiting in my office."
I smirked and took the papers from him to sign. My appointment meant Dr. Eleazar Thorpe was waiting. One of the advantages of being me was having the shrink make house calls.
Or office calls in this case.
Nobody wanted to see me papped walking in and out of a psychiatrist's building, so Eleazar always met me here for our sessions.
After finishing with the signatures, Paul escorted me down to his office, telling me he'd be back in an hour.
"Hey, Doc," I said, walking in and closing the door.
He stood by the window, admiring the skyline and turned at my greeting. "Edward, good to see you."
I took a seat on the couch and he sat in a chair close by. I'd been seeing Eleazar for a few years now, and our meetings were pretty routine at this point. It was mainly a time for me to get my anxieties off my chest without any judgment. I was comfortable with Eleazar because he reminded me of my grandfather.
He was a cool guy.
"You look happy," he said.
I grinned. "I am happy. For the most part."
"Tell me what's going on."
I reclined back and crossed my ankles. "I met someone. The someone."
His eyes widened slightly and he leaned closer, waiting for me to expound. I knew he wouldn't have any clue about a new relationship in my life unless I told him. His media exposure consisted of watching the Golf Channel.
"She's amazing. Beautiful, smart, sweet. She's probably the nicest person I've ever met. Not a mean bone in her body. And funny, too. I swear I laugh more with her than I ever have before. It's like she has all these different sides to her. She can be quirky at times, yet she has this air of sophistication. She's innocent, but can also be so fucking sexy. She's naive in some things and adventurous in others. She's strong, but has a vulnerable side. The more I get to know about her, the more I want to know." I sighed and gazed at the ceiling. "I feel different around her. I can be myself, but it's like I never feel so crazy or upset. She calms me down. I don't know. It's like she gives me peace or something. I can't get enough of her."
Silence filled the air for a minute before he spoke again.
"You didn't mention her at our last appointment. I assume this is a new relationship?"
"Yes," I mumbled, feeling a little defensive. "It's new, but I know this is it. She's the one."
"I'm not judging you, Edward."
I knew he wasn't, but everyone else probably was.
I glanced at him again. "I don't rush into relationships with anybody. I've never done that before. This is different."
"Why do you think it's different?"
"Because she's all I think about. All I want." I gripped my hair. "I can't even sleep when she's not around anymore."
I was afraid I'd said too much. Hearing those words come out of my mouth made me cringe. I sounded crazy.
"Have you discussed your feelings with her?"
My eyes snapped to his in surprise.
Where was my lecture? Why wasn't he telling me to calm my shit down? That I needed to be a strong person alone and not dependent on someone else?
"I... uh... not really. I guess we've talked about not being with other people, but not exactly what we mean to each other."
"Do you believe she feels as strongly for you as you do for her?"
There's the million dollar question.
I had no clue as to the answer, but I shoved my hand under my leg when I suddenly realized I was chewing on my thumb nail.
Fucking nervous habits.
"I don't know. Probably not." I went on and spilled my guts, telling him all about who she was, who her father was, and my fears that she would always do whatever he wanted her to do.
His face never changed throughout, nodding me along as I talked. When I finally sat back in silence, he leaned forward again.
"It seems to me she cares for you more than you think. She's already broken away somewhat from her parents' control. You say you wish she would put you first, but then again you are leaving the country for your work in a few days. Right?"
I nodded, not sure where he was going with this.
"Consider her helping her father as a job. She has obligations, things she was signed up for long before you two met. You wanting Bella to be with you despite her father would be the same as her asking you to be with her despite your job. How would you feel if she told you not to go to Vancouver? To quit acting and move to New York full time so you could be around her?"
I chuckled. That fucker had a point.
"I guess I'd feel she was being ridiculous and asking too much." I scratched my head. "But I would still know she cared about me enough to want it."
"Talk to her, Edward. I think you'll be surprised how much she cares. Have this discussion before you leave, because we both know you'll fret and worry about this more after you're gone. Then take the time while you're apart to prioritize your feelings. This isn't the last time you two will be apart. Try to figure out what you'd be willing to give up for her before you ask her to give up anything for you."
We talked a little more about other things in my life before Paul popped back in and told me my car was waiting downstairs. I shook both their hands and took off across town, my mind whirling from the Doc's advice.
He put a lot of things into perspective, and I actually felt better getting all that off my chest. At least to someone besides Emmett.
I pulled in front of the Beverly Wilshire, smiling at the texts Bella had left me telling me about their shopping day. She sounded happy and they were on their way back to my place. I replied that I had one more stop and I'd be there as soon as I could.
I handed my keys to the valet and was met with the manager at the door. He personally escorted me to Mr. Swan's suite.
I felt drained from my day already. All I wanted to do was go home and see Bella, and I groaned as I stood in front of the door. Before I could even knock, the door opened and Alec stood there watching me.
The last time I'd seen him was when he dropped me and Emmett off at our hotel in New York the first night I met Bella. He told me not to contact her again, and I told him to go fuck himself.
He finally moved to the side and let me walk in, closing the door behind us.
"Come on, he's this way," he said, leading me to another room. Before he opened the door, he paused and turned to face me. "You better not fuck this up."
Was he talking about with Bella or with her father?
I swallowed the smartass retort I wanted to fire off and settled for a nod. I walked in to find Bella's father and another man seated at a table covered with books, papers, and laptops. Neither acknowledged my presence for a minute or two as they finished their conversation.
I shuffled my feet and stuck my hands in my pockets, growing increasingly irritated with each passing second. I wasn't used to, nor did I enjoy being ignored.
Was her father trying to prove a point here or something?
"Ah, Edward," Mr. Swan said eventually. "Come on over." They both stood and turned my way as I walked over. "This is Caius Volturi, my campaign manager."
I shook his hand, unimpressed with the beady eyes and menacing expression on the small, blond-haired man's face.
"Have a seat, Edward. And Caius, that'll be all for today. I'll meet you in the morning."
I sat down, watching as Mr. Swan took the seat across from me. I kept my head up, refusing to allow myself to feel nervous.
"Thanks for coming down here," he said.
I nodded. "No problem."
His eyes narrowed a little. "I thought it'd be best for us to meet alone. Lay it all out there without any interruptions."
Lay what all out there?
"I'm not sure I understand, Mr. Swan."
"It's Senator Swan."
I stopped myself before I rolled my eyes. Pompous fuck.
"I apologize, Senator. What exactly are we laying out here?"
"Why are you with my daughter?"
What the fuck?
My mouth dropped open in confusion. "I like her. We like each other."
He sighed and shook his head. "You can be honest here. Everything we say in here can stay between us, but you have to tell me the truth now. I need to know what's going on before things go any further. Is this some publicity stunt on your behalf?"
"Publicity stunt?" I clenched and unclenched my hands over and over trying to relieve some tension. "I'm not sure what you mean. Are you referring to the public statement of us being a couple? You were the one who insisted on that."
"No. I mean what interest do you have in my daughter? She's not some Playboy pinup or model or starlet. She's young, awkward at times, can trip over thin air, and doesn't enjoy being in the spotlight. She's about as far removed from Hollywood as one could be. Her reputation, along with mine, is already being sullied by this farce. So I want to know what the bottom line is. What do you want? Is this some public image thing suggested by your agent? Find a good girl and widen your appeal or something?"
I was pissed. Beyond pissed. A realm above pissed. This fool didn't even know his own daughter.
"You couldn't be more off base. Not only are you insulting me, but you're insulting Bella." I stood up. Fuck him and fuck this whole scene. "She's beautiful and sweet and means more to me than anybody. I lo..."
I broke myself off before I said I loved her.
I did love her, but I'd be damned if this asshole would hear it before Bella.
"We're together because we both want to be. Deal with it! I'm fucking out of here, Senator," I spat before stalking out the door and out of the suite.
I didn't say a word as I stormed past Alec, despite him standing there with a smile. All of them were fucking insane.
How did my sweet Bella come from these people?
As soon as I got back in my car, I sped home. I didn't allow myself to stop and think. If I did, I'd lose it.
Had I just blown any opportunity with Bella? Ruined my chances?
I gunned it, flying down the highway. I had to get to her. The only thing that could save this day was having her in my arms again.
I'd barely parked in my driveway before jumping out of the car and running inside. Loud shouts and laughs were coming from the backyard and I slipped out there seeing Emmett and the girls splashing around in the pool.
As soon as I saw Bella, all smiles and in a bikini, I felt better. Like an instant balm on my aching heart.
Her head turned my way as if she could sense me close. "Edward!" She swam to the stairs and came up out of the water.
I had to talk to her. Tell her that I loved her and that her family needed shock therapy. But she was wearing some skimpy little thing.
And she was wet.
Little drops of water all over her.
It was like I was living my own personal Phoebe Cates from Fast Times fantasy... every man's dream.
All the blood in my body went straight to my cock.
I shook my head to clear it. "Wha?"
She wrapped a towel around herself and ran over. "How did it go?"
I snapped out of my funk and hugged her to me, not caring if my clothes were getting drenched. She wrapped her arms around my waist and hugged me tightly in return.
"Can we talk?"
"Sure," she said, a hint of fear in her voice.
I tightened my hold for a minute before letting go and leading her inside and up to my room. She ran into the bathroom and threw on some clothes, coming back out to sit next to me on the bed as she brushed through her wet hair.
"What is it, Edward? What happened?"
I took her hand and turned toward her, wanting to ease her distress. I smiled and swallowed hard a couple times.
I'd never said the words I was about to utter to another person outside my family. I only prayed she would return the sentiments.
"There's something I need to tell you."
She put her brush down, both of our hands now connected as she stared at me.
"I have a lot of things to say, but the first is the most important."
She nodded and I took a deep breath.
"I love you."
AN: How do you like being in Edward's head? What do you think is going on with Charlie? Will Bella have to make a choice between her father and Edward?
Hey everyone! Sorry it's been so long since I updated. You probably know already, but if you don't, I've been busy working on my dissertation. Please bear with me a few more weeks and after that I should be able to get back to updating regularly.
Also, this story is up for fic of the week at The Lemonade Stand. Voting is here (just remove spaces): www . tehlemonadestand . net
Thank you all so much for reading, reviewing, and letting me know your thoughts. I read and enjoy every single one.
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