Donated earlier this year, now I can share. Two chapters. Enjoy!
"Fuck. Seriously Emmett?"
He didn't even look up from his phone. "As a heart attack," he murmured.
I sighed. I hated these things.
"Can I decline?"
"How about Skype? It's almost like I'm in the room!"
"No. I promised them a face-to-face interview and that is what they are getting. I gave my word. You're gonna live up to it. We're here in New York; your first day on set isn't until Monday so you have lots of time."
He glanced up briefly. "It's an honor, Edward."
I snorted. "Which one is it again?"
"Faces. You were named Most Interesting Celebrity and Sexiest Male Face. A double win."
"Yep. Sorry I forgot. I worked my ass off to portray a character properly so that I get the honor of being named the Most Interesting Celebrity and the Sexiest Male Face at the same time. Fucking excellent."
Emmett shrugged, not in the least bothered by my annoyance. "I can think of hundreds of men who would think so." Then he looked at me. "It's one interview. One afternoon. Suck it up." His stare was serious. "And no walking out on this one. Just answer the questions."
"I walked out because she kept touching me, Emmett. You know I hate that. She was invading my personal space. Big time."
Emmett snorted, but stayed silent.
I tried again. "I don't want to suck it up."
"Too bad. Maybe if you weren't so cheap and hired a PR person we wouldn't have this issue."
I lifted my head off the couch. "So if I hire a PR person right now I don't have to do this interview?" I felt around in my pockets. "Where's my phone? You got a number?"
He chuckled. "Oh, you still have to do this, but they'd have to listen to your whining, not me. "
My head fell back on the sofa in defeat. "Who's doing the interview?"
I sighed, feeling slightly mollified. Faces was one of the largest selling, most respectable publications out there. The magazine was actually a good one and they never resorted to printing gossip or pap pictures. Their entertainment section was well-done and the rest of magazine had some interesting articles in it. I actually read it frequently. The yearly polls still made me grimace somewhat, but Alice had interviewed me before, and although still too enthusiastic, she was at least was polite, intelligent and her questions somewhat interesting to answer. I knew she would throw in some stock questions but she would also come up with some good ones for me to ponder. And she respected my personal space.
I looked over at Emmett. "I guess that explains the promise." Emmett was very fond of Alice. As well as the editor-in-chief, Rosalie Hale. Very fond. A fact which they both used to their advantage. And to be honest, Emmett used to his as well sometimes.
For the first time since we started talking, I saw a smile tug on his lips. "Sue me."
I leaned back grinning now. "Keep whoring me out so you can score brownie points with Rose and I might."
He snorted. "The readers voted you in, Edward. Not Rose."
I rolled my eyes, but stayed silent. I knew he was right. As much as I hated many aspects of my fame, I'd be nowhere without the people who voted and read everything they could about me.
I ignored the small voice inside my head that whispered maybe nowhere would be better at times.
A thick file landed on my desk and I looked up startled. "What's this?"
Rose stood beside me, a hand on her hip and an unhappy look on her face.
"Your next assignment."
I frowned. "I'm working on my next assignment, Rose. I'm doing a piece on the high cost of tuition and how it is affecting the average student. Remember? I've been talking to kids all over the country about how working three jobs, going to school and still coming out of University owing hundreds of thousands of dollars, is working for them. Ring a bell?"
She shook her head. "It's on hiatus."
She ignored my question. "Where is your cellphone, Bella?"
"I, ah … I was having an argument with my mom while I was doing the dishes last night and I sort of dropped it in the water. So it's in a bowl of rice. I heard that sometimes works, right?"
Rose shook her head. "That's your third one. What about your desk phone?"
"I unplugged my desk phone. My mom kept trying to call and continue the argument." I huffed in annoyance. "Now, why is my story on hiatus, and since when did I get a new assignment?"
"Since your friend Alice went into early labour a couple hours ago."
I jumped up from my chair. "What? Alice is in labour? She's a month early!"
Rose sighed. "Jasper's been trying to get hold of you. He's still stuck in Germany. I got the messages when I came out of my meeting a short time ago."
"I have to go!"
She picked up the file and handed it to me. "Read this on the way and while you're waiting. You need to go in prepared."
"Prepared for what? What am I doing?"
"Interviewing Edward Cullen."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Seriously, Bella. Edward freaking Cullen. He's an actor. Very well-known. At least in the world I live in. He was voted Most Interesting Celebrity and Sexiest Male Face. The two biggest polls in the Faces' Entertainment section."
I blanched. "You want me to interview him, Rose?" I shook my head. "I don't … interview people … like that. I investigate. I talk. I write. I don't … chat. I'd have no idea what to ask him." I pushed the file back toward her. "Give it to someone else."
"Nope. Alice insisted it be you. She has notes. You can ask her a couple questions and use her ideas. It's not up for debate. Now go."
"When is this interview?"
"Tomorrow, two o'clock at the Regis Hotel. I'll have the details in the morning."
I sighed. "Great."
She shook her head. "There are many women who would kill for this assignment."
I tried pleading with her. "Send one of them in, then. I don't know anything about him. Nothing."
She smirked and started walking away.
In desperation I called out one last time. "I have no idea who he is!"
Her grin was wicked when she looked back.
I blinked my heavy eyes as I sat behind the wheel of my car. The rest of my day and most of my night had been spent with Alice, holding her hand and being her coach until Jasper arrived. Luckily, he had made it in time and had been there when their daughter was born in the early hours of the morning. Then I had hit the computer and started my research on Edward Cullen, not even taking the time to eat something. I glanced over at the thick file on the passenger seat.
Google him, Rose said.
Did she have any freaking idea how many hundreds of websites, blogs, Facebook pages and YouTube videos there were dedicated to this man? How many thousands and thousands of pictures there were of him? It was overwhelming. I did my best, using Alice's notes and some digging, to try and get a sense of him in my head before I walked into the room.
For some reason, Alice was reluctant to talk about him much; simply saying I needed to really listen, just be myself and all would be fine. I didn't really believe her, thinking the pain from her prolonged labor had scrambled her head.
I had a feeling I was going to blow this interview. I didn't have a good understanding of Edward Cullen. All his interviews were the same. They asked the same questions and were far more focused on his appearance and trying to trick him into revealing something about his personal life, rather than asking him any real questions. In an effort to 'get to know him' I even downloaded some of his movie clips and watched them. I had to admit I was impressed; he was very talented, always bringing some unique trait to the characters he portrayed. He was also very good-looking. I poured over interviews and snippets of people he had worked with and I could find very little negative about him. His co-stars never had anything but praise about his work ethic or how professional he acted on set, also saying Edward was an all-around nice guy. Deeper digging gave me a little insight into some very little publicized charity work. Not big organizations, but ones seemingly close to his heart. There was no doubt he was very reserved, always refusing to discuss his private life or his family. The list of subjects I could ask him about was very specific. I had also heard stories he was very picky when it came to being interviewed and he had been known to walk out if he wasn't happy with how one was going. Given my limited interviewing skills that fact made me nervous. I didn't want to blow this for Alice.
I sighed picking up the folder, a picture falling out of it, and I bent down and picked it up, studying his face. He was usually very serious in most of his pictures, almost brooding. The ones of him smiling were quite rare. But when it was captured, I had to admit he was gorgeous. Everything about him. His wild, coppery hair, his intense, green eyes, his sharp jaw, all added up to a very nice package.
Which I had to go face now, with no sleep, no food, very little insight and abysmal interviewing skills.
This should go well.
Really freaking well.
"What do you mean a substitute?" I narrowed my eyes at Emmett.
He shrugged. "Alice went into early labor. Rose says the woman they are sending was handpicked by her."
"I hope the interview is better than the photo shoot. That was embarrassing."
Emmett chuckled. "They needed some shots for the sexy part, Edward. They got some good, serious ones for the interesting caption."
I quirked my eyebrow at him. "Will they get used?"
He clapped me on the shoulder. "We'll see. I did ask Rose if we could see the article prior to print. I'll pick up the key at the desk and then we can go and meet this Isabella Swan."
I waited by the elevators, frowning. The name was familiar, but I couldn't place it. Maybe she had interviewed me before. God, I hoped she wasn't some young, overzealous fan girl or even worse one of the older women who wanted to take me home and look after me. Sometimes I wasn't sure what was worse. I hated the fawning and the touching.
Emmett approached me, his phone ringing. He frowned as he looked at it. "Shit, Edward, I have to take this. I've been waiting for this call all day. You okay to go up yourself?" He extended his hand with a room card. "I have another key—I'll be up in like ten minutes. She might not even be ready or here yet—we're actually early."
I hesitated and he shook his head. "Wait for me if you want."
I grabbed the key from his hand. "I think I can handle an interview for ten minutes without you, Em."
He grinned, slapping me on the shoulder. "I gave them the lists of what topics you'd talk about. They know to stay away from your personal life. If there is anything else, you know the standard lines to use until I get there." Turning, he walked away, already talking on his phone.
I snorted as I got in the elevator. I did know the standard lines. "No comment" and "next question" were second nature to me now.
I hoped though, this wouldn't be the sort of interview where I'd have to use them for.
After knocking softly, I let myself into the suite in which I was meeting Ms. Swan. When no one answered, I assumed I had beaten her there and walked in. I stopped short at the sight of a dark haired woman sitting in a chair with her back to me. Her face was tilted downward and I assumed she was reading something in front of her. I cleared my throat, but she didn't turn around. Uncertain, I approached the chair warily, having no idea what to expect; perhaps she was hard of hearing or had ear buds in and I didn't want to frighten her.
What I didn't expect to find was her curled in the chair, sound asleep. On her lap was a manila file with my name across the top. In front of her on the table, was a room service tray with a half-eaten sandwich, a bowl of uneaten fruit, a couple bottles of water and some green iced tea. What I assumed to be her purse was open beside her on the floor, some past issues of the magazine visible and the rest of the contents slipping out everywhere. Ms. Swan, it seemed, certainly made herself at home.
She was tucked into the corner of the chair, one leg bent under the other, and her shoes on the floor. Her chin was resting on her chest, her long, dark hair falling over her shoulders. A pen was hanging from her fingertips and a notebook was half on her lap, indicating she had fallen asleep while writing some notes. An odd noise drew my attention back to her face and I realized she was making some sort of snuffling noise as she slept. I found myself grinning at the entire situation—it certainly wasn't one I had encountered before.
Tossing my hoodie on the chair beside me, I sat across from her, taking a minute to study the sleeping woman. Not a fan girl and certainly not an older woman; she was, I thought, about my own age. Judging by the way she fit in the chair she was tiny, not much taller than I remembered Alice being. Her long eye lashes rested on her cheeks and a small pair of what looked like reading glasses had slid down her nose; which I noticed had a scattering of freckles over it. Her skin was pale, and I could see the dark circles under her eyes, which kind of explained the nap. I found myself wondering what color her eyes would be when she opened them. I couldn't help but notice her rosy, full mouth, or the tip of her pink tongue that rested against her full bottom lip as she slumbered.
Leaning forward, I grabbed one of the unopened green iced teas off the tray and took a long swallow as I watched her; unsure why I was doing so and not just waking her up. Or why I found this so amusing and her so adorable.
She looked so tired though, and I was reluctant to wake her up. For some reason I wanted to sit and watch over her; to simply let her sleep. I sighed, knowing I had to do exactly that, though. Any minute Emmett would come bursting through the door, his voice booming in the room and it would scare the shit out of her. Not to mention how embarrassed she would be. At least this way we could keep the embarrassment to a minimum, although I was sure she would still be upset having been caught napping—my eyes drifted to the tray in front of her—and eating her lunch. I considered going back to the door and knocking loudly, but decided on the direct approach.
I cleared my throat. "Ms. Swan."
I got no response.
Gently, I reached my foot out and nudged hers. There was no reaction so I did it again, this time a little more firmly, trying not to laugh as her foot curled inward, making me notice the bright red paint on her toenails.
"What?" she mumbled, not opening her eyes.
Now I was grinning. "Isabella," I murmured, liking how her name sounded on my lips.
Her nose wrinkled. "Hmmm?"
I leaned forward. "You need to wake up."
"Not want to. Go away." Then, like a kitten, she stretched, knocking the file to the floor as she curled up even tighter.
I couldn't stop the shout of laughter that burst out of my chest. Instantly, her eyes flew open. For a brief second she stared at me, then wildly looked around the room as reality hit her.
She was out of her chair like a bullet, her foot catching on the spilled file, causing her to lurch forward, flailing her arms. I lunged out of my chair, the ice tea flying from my hand as I tried to catch her fall. Her arms grabbed onto my shoulders as mine wrapped around her waist, but then my foot caught on her purse, my knee hit the table, upending the tray and we both went down in a mass of spilled paper, cold liquid and the remains of her lunch. For a minute there was nothing but the sound of small, startled gasps of air that escaped her mouth and my deep breathing, as we laid on the ground, a mass of entwined arms and legs, and her sprawled on top of me. A thought drifted through my head that I should want to push her away, yet I didn't. Instead my arms stayed wrapped around her waist, holding her against me. Slowly her head rose from my chest, her eyes blinking and wide with disbelief and panic.
"Please tell me I'm dreaming."
I stared back at her, captivated at the beauty of her deep chocolate eyes and her low voice. We were so close I could see the specks of gold and green that surrounded her pupils like small starbursts of color against the deep hue of her irises. Her cheeks were dark red and she was biting her lip so hard I knew she was going to draw blood soon and I wanted to reach out and save the soft flesh. "Please," she repeated, her voice now quaking.
I shook my head and for some reason tightened my arms around her, refusing to let her move away from me. "Very much awake, I'm afraid."
"Can you please tell me then, that you are not, actually, Edward Cullen?"
"No can do. I am him."
Her head fell back to my chest. "Shit."
The door to the suite opened and Emmett strode in. He stopped dead as he looked at us, his eyes widening as he took in the disaster in front of him.
"Edward—what the fuck are you doing? I told you to say no comment not tackle her!"
I started to chuckle. Then it changed into laughter. I laid on the carpet in a strange hotel, pictures and notes of me scattered all around us, holding a woman I didn't know, both of us covered in sticky liquid, fruit and what I was sure was the remains of an egg salad sandwich. Chortling, I pulled a piece of melon out of Isabella's hair and threw it behind me. Then as if it was the most natural thing in the world, I ducked my head down and grazed her forehead with my lips, lingering for a moment against the soft skin.
Her eyes were startled, and then a small smile played on her lips before she started laughing, as well.
So far it was the best interview—ever.
"Let me call Rose, Edward. We'll reschedule—with someone else."
I ran a towel through my hair. "No. I'm doing this and I am doing it with Isabella Swan." I paused. "In fact you can go. I'll meet you later."
"What? Edward you're crazy! I think she's crazy! I'm not leaving you alone with her. God knows what will happen next. I mean, seriously, Edward, what the hell was that?"
I chuckled remembering how Isabella had scrambled off my chest, her sharp little elbows digging into my ribs as she babbled, in a horrified voice, about: how sorry she was, that she'd been up all night, she hadn't eaten, she'd gotten here early, Alice had a baby girl, the ice tea was for me, she had never interviewed anyone like me before and she'd been watching my movies all morning to get to know me. All of this and more was rambled off as she had fussed over me, touching my hair with one hand while her other one rested on my chest. Her fingers had moved constantly as she blathered on, not seeming to notice that her hand was, in fact, on one of my very hard nipples and her own shirt was soaked and her pretty, lacy blue bra was showed through clearly. My eyes had bounced back and forth between her panicked, adorable expression and her chest that was literally pushed into my face as she moved back and forth over me, one hand continuing to remove fruit from my hair while the fingers of her other hand constantly rubbed and plucked at my nipple.
And dammit, I liked it.
About to snap, I had sat up abruptly so she was then straddling my lap, and I'd stifled a groan at the intense sensation. Without thinking, I had grabbed her face and kissed her—hard.
I pulled back, staring into her now shocked eyes. "Enough."
"You kissed me," she whispered aghast.
"You've got your hands on my nipples," I hissed at her. "You keep playing with them!"
She looked down to where both her hands were now splayed on my chest, her fingers still moving. I groaned in the back of my throat as her fingers tightened unconsciously in embarrassment, the tingle from my hard nipples rippling down my spine. Between us, my cock twitched and her eyes flew to mine before they closed in horror.
"Oh, God," she whimpered, her head falling to my chest in despair. "I am so fucked. Rose is going to kill me."
I chuckled, even as I wrapped my arms around her in a protective gesture. My hands of their own accord began stroking her back in long soothing strokes. "It's fine, Isabella."
She lifted up her head. "My friends call me Bella."
My face broke out in a grin as I looked down at her. "Well, since you are so well-acquainted with my nipples now I guess that makes us friends—Bella."
Once again she looked down to where her fingers were still clutching at my chest. Her eyes closed. "Kill me now, please."
"What the fuck are the two of you still doing down there?" Emmett roared, startling both of us. I had forgotten he was even there. "Are you … groping each other?"
I got the two of us up onto our feet and looked at Emmett. "Right. I need a shower. Em—you have something I can change into?"
He nodded. I leaned over and handed Bella my hoodie I had removed earlier and which had survived the airborne food flinging. "You might, ah, want to clean up and put this on."
Bella looked down, her face turning a bright red before grabbing my jacket and leaving the room—quickly.
I watched her departure with a huge smile on my face.
Em's voice brought me back to the present. "This isn't a good idea, Edward."
I shook my head as I pulled on the plaid shirt. "I disagree. I know why I know her name. I've read her stuff, Emmett. She's good. She's really good. I want to do this interview. With her."
His eyes narrowed. "Why did you kiss her in there?"
"I have no idea. It just …. happened."
"And the groping? What's going on Edward? You don't like being touched by a stranger!"
I shrugged. "Again no idea. But I want to do this. So I am." A chuckle escaped my mouth. "Besides, I don't think we're exactly strangers anymore."
He threw his hands up in the air with an exaggerated huff. "I think you've lost it. Don't say I didn't warn you."
Chapter 2 will post on Tuesday. Thanks to my prereaders and Mid-Night for their assistance. Lost without them, I would be. (Channeling Yoda it would seem)
My 3 chapter Xmas fic, Belong to Me will begin to post on Sat Dec 14th.