A/N: This fic is loosely inspired by the musical Gigi, which is delightful. No courtesans in this, though. Just fyi.
Disclaimer: Playing with SM's beautiful toys.
"It's nice to see you, Mr. Cullen. Did you get in okay?"
Edward Cullen took his sunglasses out and took off his hat. He shook his head, running his fingers through his hair. "I did. Thank you, Amber." He gifted her with a small smile, and the young waitress's eyes lit up.
"I, um..." Her cheeks flushed "Anytime, of course. It's always a pleasure to see you." She looked at him from under her eyelashes, holding his gaze for a moment.
"Is Garrett here?" He ignored her obvious flirtation.
Her lips fell slightly, but she was a pro. She recovered a quickly. "Yes, Mr. Larson is waiting for you at your usual table."
Again, he smiled at her. Egotistical as the thought was, he knew damn well his smile was a gift to the woman, and it was the least he could do.
With a sigh, he made his way into the main dining room.
Whoever thought the life of a Hollywood superstar was all glitz and glamour was delusional. There were probably at least a few hundred people wondering where he was and what he was doing at that very moment. Their fantasy of his life was their escapism. They probably imagined him doing all sorts of flashy things. Maybe he was at a photoshoot or perhaps a star-studded party.
Sure, he did those things. Photoshoots were tedious and often ludicrous. Because the stars of Hollywood were, in fact, normal people, they were just as prone to being annoying as hell, boring, ridiculous, or some combination thereof. Heaven knew he wasn't the suave motherfucker most of his fans imagined him to be.
His friends affectionately called him an asshole, but that's what friends did. They loved him in spite of his worst traits.
Today, his glamorous celebrity life consisted of driving the long way around town so as to avoid any potential paparazzi who might have tailed him to a mediocre restaurant he'd chosen because they had a filthy alley he could easily slip into without being seen. It was the kind of alley no one wanted to be in, but it got him through the restaurant's back door.
When he got to his booth, after the usual back pounding man-hug was exchanged, Edward's best friend and fellow actor, Garrett Larson wasted no time jumping on the issue of the day
"I would ask about your love life, but no need. Done with Victoria, are you?"
Edward snorted. "Haven't you read the papers? She's done with me." He rolled his eyes. "That's why I had to sneak in. Couldn't let the paps catch me in my fragile state."
"Oh, but it is a saucy scandal, isn't it?" Garrett laughed. "America's most beautiful couple. The steamy seductress Victoria Wyle and Hollywood's most eligible bachelor. What could be more embarrassing for a leading man like you to lose Victoria to the fresh faced, boy-next-door, Hollywood's most charmingly adorable Riley Biers?"
"Look at me. I'm so ashamed I can't even sit up straight." It was true, in a way. His favorite booth in the restaurant was his favorite because it was tucked into a dark corner. Still, he was slouched up against the farthest corner. It was just a matter of time before someone recognized them.
"Really, I have to ask. Victoria seems like a hellion in bed."
"You know better than to think I'm going to acknowledge that." Edward may have been an asshole, but he wasn't the type to kiss and tell.
Garrett held his hands up in peacemaking gesture. "Fair enough. At least tell me this: What's she like? I never have met her."
Edward shrugged. "She's fine."
Garrett rolled his eyes. "She's fine. That's all you ever say about the women you're with."
"What else do you want? They're people. People are mostly varying degrees of okay. Nothing spectacular."
The other man studied him for a long moment. He looked like he was about to say something, and then thought better of it. "Okay then. Next subject."
Edward listened attentively as Garrett went on at length about the next project he was set up to start in the upcoming weeks. It was good to see his old friend so animated.
They'd met many years before when Edward was nineteen and Garrett was twenty. They were playing teenagers on a popular television show at the time. A lot had changed since then. Garrett was popular and well known, but a movie Edward did when he was twenty-two had unexpectedly hit an epic level of popularity, catapulting him headfirst into a super-stardom he'd never wanted.
It wasn't to say his life was bad, it just wasn't as spectacular as everyone imagined it to be.
But Garrett hadn't let fame go to his head any more than Edward had, so here they were, seventeen years later.
When Garrett finished talking about his projects, it was Edward's turn.
"You got the Carmen Medina project?" Garrett looked impressed. "Damn. Not going to lie, I'm really jealous. I wanted that part. Are you excited?"
Edward waved his hand. "I'm indifferent."
"Oh, of course you are. Carmen Medina is one of the most brilliant directors out there. She exudes the scent of Oscars."
"You know how I feel about Oscars."
Garrett shook his head. "I do. Of course, I do. A popularity contest. No measure of talent. Blah, blah, blah. And fuck you. I still want one."
"It's just any other job."
A flash from across the restaurant caught their attention. Garrett turned, grinning and waving at a red-faced girl who had been trying to be discreet and failed miserably. Edward sighed inwardly but didn't protest when Garrett waved her over. They posed for a couple pictures with the girl and her elder sister before being left in peace again.
"Thank you for that, Garrett. I bet she's on Twitter even as we speak which guarantees the paps will be outside."
"Ah. They'd already seen us. The older one was making eyes at you," Garrett noted.
"They usually do."
"Well, speaking of pretty girls... Have you heard from Tanya?"
Edward looked up, giving his friend a warning glance. He knew exactly where this was headed. "No, Garrett. I haven't seen Tanya since she made it clear she was falling for me, and so I won't be able to introduce you to her sister."
Garrett hit his head against the back of his booth. "You're killing me."
"You realize you're a movie star, right? I'm pretty sure it would be easy if you really want to meet her."
"Come on. You're an actor for chrissakes. Don't you have a sense of storyline? It's got to be natural." His expression brightened. "Oh! You could throw a party. You and Tanya were always good friends. If you invite her along with everyone else, it wouldn't be leading her on."
"I don't like-"
"Shut. Up." Garrett was exasperated, his look ever so slightly disgusted. "Everything is boring, your work, people, parties." He pointed at Edward. "You need a reset, man."
"I'm sorry. This whole thing with Victoria just has me irritated today."
"You're always irritated, though I will admit the stick is shoved particularly far up your ass today." He leaned across the table, his look sincere now. "Really, man. You're getting burned out. Maybe you need to get away from L.A. for a little while."
Edward eyed his friend. "That would be fantastic." His drawl was dry. "The tabloids can say I'm running away to lick my wounds." Not that he cared what the tabloids thought. He was just being a pain in the ass at that point. Really, it wasn't a bad idea. "Like where?"
"You could always go see your little nieces. They always made you smile."
"I only have the one niece. Alice."
"There were two of them, weren't there? I remember that. When your sister visited and our set was overrun with giggling toddlers."
Edward did smile at the memory. "Only one of them was my niece. Bella is my sister-in-law's niece."
"Whatever. Just go. Get the fuck out of Dodge for a bit."
A/N: So. This one will have shortish chapters.
Thanks so much to songster and barburella.
So. Thoughts? Guesses?