Waiting in the Twilight Chapter 21

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Waiting in the Twilight

Chapter 21

EPOV

Utter stillness fills the air. The silence is eerie, causing the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Thick mist swirls around my feet like an evil thing crawling over the ground. The night is completely black and I can barely make out the ebony silhouettes of trees against the deep black night. I look up through boney branches, searching for the moon in the ominous sky, hoping to get my bearings. A sinister looking cloud passes slowly over the moon, allowing it to cast a bluish light through the forest. It shines enough light that I can now see the gnarled and emaciated trees barring my passage. The sickly stink of wood rot assaults my nose.

It is cold here, so cold. I pull my tuxedo jacket tighter around me but it doesn’t help. I feel the cold seeping through to my very soul and I don’t think I’ll ever be warm again.

The feeling of being watched crawls across my skin like a death watch beetle, making me shiver even more than the cold. A thousand malevolent eyes seem to be upon me and still, I’ve never felt more alone. Sprawling before me is a land that is both familiar yet foreign in its current state. Everything is deathly quiet; the trees stand like statues in a mausoleum. Fear fills me with the thought that I am indeed among the dead or dying.

Why am I here? I must leave. I need to find my way out back to warmth and sunshine back to…back to…to…Bella! I can’t leave her here in this forbidding world.

EDGe!” I cry, searching frantically all around for a sign of my beloved. I hear a wet rustling, like feet shuffling through the dead, dank leaves of the forest floor. And then, a feminine whimper. The sound is filled with such sorrow, dismay and pain that it rips at my soul. It sounds muffled as though she is trying not to sob.

EDGe! Where are you?” I plead. Laughter from multiple voices echoes back at me mockingly. The sound seems to come from everywhere at once. Hearing another sob, my heart stutters in my chest and I break into a frantic run towards the familiar voice of my EDGe. Fear for her safety fuels my desire to find her and I tear through the dark forest as fast as my legs can carry me, tripping and stumbling over the brambles, roots and vines that hide beneath the ghostly white fog of the forest floor. The incredible cold slashes down my throat and feels as though it will tear my lungs apart.

EDGe!” The sound of my own voice echoes back at me in a hollow scream, making me feel even more desperate and alone. I stop to listen and, as before, I see her bare feet. But the sight of them terrifies me as they are blue from the cold. Dear God, I hope it’s only from the cold. One foot seems lifeless and swollen. She’s not walking; she’s being dragged along by something I can’t see. She’s struggling, barely able to resist in her weakened condition. I don’t know how I know she has no strength left, but I know.

EDGe!” I scream her name and tear through the forest, catching just a glimpse of her feet as they disappear behind a gnarled old tree. “I’m coming baby, hold on!” The thought is in my head, yet I hear her weak and frightened reply.

Edward?”

She sounds so small and frail. Her voice is not playful and light as it has always been. She sounds afraid.

EDGe!” I’m out of breath and feeling panicked. “Where are you?” I whisper. I look around and, in the encroaching darkness, things begin to look familiar. I turn to where our tree is supposed to be.There! I can just barely see the deepest part of the V against the cold, black night. I begin to run towards it, but the tuxedo feels damp and heavy on my limbs.

EDWARD!” I hear her frantic cry in the night and charge through the darkness.

EDGe!”I scream in desperation. The sound echoes back to me in a contemptuous tone, as though the mist had become a living entity with the intelligence to torment me.

EDGe! EDGe! EDGe!” I hear deep, dark laughter that sounds like evil leaking from the very bark on the trees.

I have almost reached the tree. I can see her small, delicate hands clinging to the trunk. Her slender fingers clutch the spot where she usually reaches out to me. She grips the tree so tightly that her knuckles are white. She’s just a few feet away. I lunge through the blackness, though it seems the cold, the protruding roots, and the swirling fog all are living things, intent on stopping me. I will not be hindered. I will save her.

“Hold on, baby! I’m here!” I yell.

Edward? NNNNOoooooo!” She cries faintly, and I see her forearms and hands scrape across the bark of the tree, leaving her blood behind. I lunge to grab her hand but she’s gone…she’s just gone.

Oh, God! NO! EEDDDGGGEEE!”

I stumble and fall to the ground, disappearing beneath the white mist. I can just make out my hand on the forest floor as a drop of her blood falls onto it.

The sound that escapes me is the sound of an animal in agonizing pain.

Emmett bursts through my bedroom door, his gun drawn and ready to fire, with Jasper, Alice and Dean right behind him. Dean tosses Alice aside like a ragdoll, shoving her to safety behind him as he lunges past her, his weapon also drawn from the holster on his hip. Both guns are pointed directly at Bella and me.

I was propped up on one elbow with Bella buried in my chest. Clinging to me now, tears streaming from her eyes, I clutch her to me in terror and relief. Apparently, we woke up at the same time, both of us screaming. I was reaching for her, but she was shoving me away violently before realization hit that it had only been a dream. The look on her face as she’d been fighting me was one of pure horror and, as understanding that we were safe in bed dawned on her, her face crumpled and she began to sob.

“What is it Edward?” Emmett demanded. His eyes were flitting about the room looking for whatever psycho was threatening our lives.

“Dear God! Are you two all right? We heard you both screaming clear out in the hall!” Alice cried, peeking between the hulking forms of Emmett and Dean while Jasper clutched her shoulders in his hands, ready to pull her back away from any possible danger.

Both of us completely naked, Bella’s chest against mine, I pulled the sheet up over her bare back, doing what I could to buy her some privacy from the prying eyes of my family.

“We’re okay, Em. Give us a few minutes, please?” I insisted. Now completely confused, they all started slowly filing out the door, each one looking around the room for whatever it was that had caused our screams.

I lay back down, taking my tearful EDGe with me. Her arm wrapped itself tightly around my waist as I stroked her back and hair, soothing her until the sobs died away, all the while trying to calm my shattered nerves and figure out why she had been fighting me. We were having that same dream again {God I thought those damn things had stopped!} but, somehow, hers ended differently than mine. Well duh… you dope! Something had been dragging her through the forest and she was bleeding! You’re just the loser who can’t do anything to save her!

“EDGe, tell me about your dream,” I whispered soothingly. Bella buried her face deeper into my chest, wrapped her arms around me tighter, and shook her head no. I couldn’t blame her, really. I didn’t want to relive the dream either but, in truth, we would never stop reliving it until we talked about it, figured out what the hell it meant, and laid it to rest.

“I keep trying to save you in my dream, but I always fall short. When I woke up, you were fighting me, pushing me away. Our dreams are the same, but they end differently, EDGe. Tell me how your dream ends, baby. Maybe we can stop this.”

“You can’t save me, Edward,” she wept.

“If you tell me how your dream ends, I…”

“No! Edward, you don’t understand…you can’t save me!”

Bella wouldn’t say anything more than that. She just jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom. Next thing I knew, Rose and Alice were rushing her off to her room to get ready for the interviews being held in the hotel conference room in a few hours. Of course, at the same time, they were pressuring me to get ready for them, as well.

From then on, I didn’t have five minutes alone with her. We were running late as it was. I was under the impression that Bella would be in the room with me for the interviews and that the interviewer would occasionally call her over to answer a few questions. That had been the plan in the beginning, but Bella’s sudden and explosive popularity had the interviewers pressuring Summit for private interviews with her. Summit had finally caved and agreed, so now I was separated from her and praying she’d be okay with that.

The interviews were back-to-back and quite grueling. As soon as they ended, I had a meeting with Bill Condon. For some reason I couldn’t fathom, he seemed kind of pissed off. I was too concerned for Bella and preoccupied by thoughts of our shared dream and her fighting me to care why he was pissed. Bill then went to meet with Bella while Jasper filled me in on the upcoming promo tour details, including the necessary changes that had to be made to include Bella in our travel plans. Perhaps that was what Bill was irritated about, the fact that Bella was continuing the tour with me. Well, screw him! If he wanted me to go on this tour, then Bella was coming with me, like it or not! As soon as the meeting with Jasper ended, I asked to see Bella. Jasper said she’d just been whisked away to get ready for the premiere as soon as she had finished her lunch. Well, Hell’s Bells! If I’d known today was going to be like this, I would have…I would’ve…I would’ve done nothing, as usual, just sat back and took it! I had no choice until this promo tour was over.

I ate a quick and lonely lunch all by myself. Bella’s abrupt absence from my life was profound. I’d been lonely in the past, at times, but never in my life had I felt so alone. She was like sunshine to me, the very air I breathed, and without her now, I felt like I was suffocating. I remembered making the Harry Potter movie and reading the books. The description of the Dementors had always fascinated me… “they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling; every happy memory will be sucked out of you.” That’s how it felt for me to be without Bella. I had no peace; I was restless and irritable. Everything seemed bleak and darker without her in the room. I had everything a man could want but, without Bella, it meant nothing.

Jasper soon returned to rush me off into the shower and to get ready for the red carpet appearance and the premiere. Thank God! Bella would be back by my side soon and I’d be able to breathe, smile, and feel joy again.

I emerged from my bedroom, completely ready for the evening’s events. But, when I headed for the bar to get a beer, something stopped me in my tracks. Jasper was pacing! My heart caught in my throat. Something was wrong! My gut instinct was telling me that something was terribly, terribly wrong! Never had I known Jasper be to anything but cool, calm, and collected at all times. Jasper was unflappable! Jasper never paced! But, by God, he was pacing the floor now!

“Spill!” I said. Jasper nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Oh, God! Edward, don’t do that. You startled me,” he said. His face smoothed to his normal calm demeanor, but the fact that his hand was still over his heart gave him away. He realized his error and very calmly put both hands behind his back as if it was nothing. He raised his chin and gave me his version of a calm smile. Who was the actor here? Apparently, my brother-in-law was trying his hand at it and failing miserably.

“Out with it, Jasper,” I demanded. I could feel the anxiety crawling up my skin. Something bad had happened and Jasper was extremely worried about telling me. I pushed my suit jacket back and put my hands on my hips.

“Out with what, brother?” he asked.

“Is Bella all right? Has something happened to her?” I could hear the panic in my own voice, but I didn’t care.

“She’s perfectly fine! Of course not! She should be here any minute!”

She should be here any minute…my heart leapt at the thought. I looked at my watch. We weren’t due to make an appearance for over 45 minutes! Something was seriously wrong.

“So, are you going to tell me what’s up or are you going to keep me guessing all night until it comes back to bite me in the ass?” I fumed, making my way over to the bar. Jasper’s actions had already told me I was going to need that beer pretty soon.

“I was going to tell you when Bella got here, but I suppose there’s no sense in waiting. Maybe you can help diffuse her reaction to this situation.” he said, all Southern charm and calm attitude. Jasper had a knack for keeping others calm by reacting the way he wanted you to act when he had a bomb to drop. I looked at him expectantly.

“Edward, you were papped,” he stated, as if that was the worst thing in the world that had ever happened to me. I snorted.

“Jesus, Jasper! You had me thinking it was something terrible! It’s not the first time I’ve been papped, bro. It is the premiere. It’s bloody expected.” I took a long swig from my beer bottle and soon wished I hadn’t. Jasper tossed a magazine onto the bar and that mouth full of Heineken spewed all over the bar. I gasped and started choking. The caption read…

Breaking Dawn Contest Rigged.

Superstar Edward Cullen and Lover Bella Swan conspire to make her famous.

Are Summit and Condon victims or co-conspirators?

There was a picture of Bella and me outside of Little Brown…kissing. As I was choking, Jasper slapped my back hard a couple of times and continued to explain.

“We’ve intentionally kept you and Bella separated and busy today to avoid any more publicity on this. Bill is severely pissed off and is, as we speak, making the one and only announcement to be made regarding this situation. Anyone who brings the subject up will be escorted off the premises. The official and true statement on this is that the contest was not fixed. Summit, Little Brown, Bill, Bella, you, nor anyone else, did anything, in any way, to rig this contest. You and Bella met for the very first time on Friday and it was love at first sight.

“They wanted to keep your relationship out of this entirely, but the pictures and accusations within this piece of trash publication have made that impossible. Bill, Summit and Little Brown have agreed to let you and Bella tell as much, or as little, as you wish about your relationship. However, they reminded me to tell you that, thus far, you have always been very secretive about your private life and that it would behoove you to maintain that trait as any sudden changes in your behavior would only serve to perpetuate the scandal. Furthermore, they suggest you do whatever you must to convince Bella to do the same.”

As Jasper talked, I glanced at the pictures of Bella and me and caught the gist and severity of the lies being told within the magazine. This fucking pap hadn’t missed a single detail. He had put two and two together and practically described our entire make-out session in the back of the limo yesterday. I’d been caught, quite literally, with my zipper down! I wasn’t too worried about my reputation, though. I had a feeling my fan base would support me, regardless. I knew the truth would eventually come out. Summit always covered their asses and the NDA was proof of that. If it came down to it, I was positive they could prove the fact that the contest had not been engineered and that Bella and I had nothing to do with choosing the winner.

To say that I was furious at this pap, was an understatement. If I ever got my hands on him, Jasper would soon be bailing me out of jail because I intended to pulverize him into the pavement for jeopardizing Bella’s future, her reputation, and her livelihood to promote this bullshit and no doubt line his pockets with gold.

I normally answered questions as I saw fit, with no direction from the studio hotshots. For once, I agreed with them, for multiple reasons. To change tactics now would, indeed, extend the scandal. What I did off screen was no one’s business but my own. My main concern would be breaking the news to Bella. This would humiliate her. My stomach did a slow, sickening roll-over at the thought of having to tell her this. So far Bella had been avoiding the questions about our private life like a pro. I hadn’t told her not to say anything. I knew from our conversations that she was a pretty private person so I imagined she would continue in the manner she had been but I wasn’t going to make her choose either way. I would tell her what had been said and she could make her own decisions. I was contractually bound to certain things but Bella was not.

“MEoW and the other blogs have they got wind of this, as well?” I asked.

“They have,” Jasper replied.

“And?”

“As ever, they stand behind you and Bella 100%.”

“This entire thing is based solely on these pictures, right? They know nothing about our private conversations as EDGe and E.C?”

“Correct. All parties involved in the contest are unaware of them, as well. However, the public is aware that Bella was a fan girl and that she ran a fan site. I’m sure it won’t take long for the name of the site to get around via word of mouth. If anyone should take a notion to hack into her site, if she saved all of your Private Messages…” Jasper let the statement and its implications trail off into oblivion. I knew I had to convince Bella to delete those conversations. I knew she was very sentimental and that she wouldn’t want to do it, but she had to, for her own safety and for the benefit of her career as a writer. I only hoped that Little Brown would not revoke her contract based on these lies. I was about to tell Jasper to do whatever it took to convince Little Brown to stand by their end of the deal, when someone knocked on the door. Alice floated in, grinning like a child on Christmas morning, followed by the smooth and graceful stride of my other sister, Rose. Uncharacteristically, Rose was smiling, as well. I could see Dean through the open door, but there was no sign of Emmett.

“What are you grinning about, my lovely?” Jasper asked Alice as she danced into his arms. Ahh, geeze! These two would give anyone cavities just by hanging around them! I was so glad I wasn’t like that with Bella.

“Oh, just the fact that Rose and I have fabulous taste! You better brace yourself, Edward. Bella is gonna knock you off your feet!” Alice placed her head on Jasper’s chest and grinned at me as he hugged her close.

“Where is she?” I asked. I felt like a junkie going through withdrawal. I was going to start ripping the place apart if I didn’t get to see her soon.

“She looks so amazing, we thought she deserved an escort,” Rose supplied, nodding towards the door. I turned to look and, even from here, I could see Dean’s jaw drop before he remembered where he was and regained his composure. Still, he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. Buttoning my suit jacket, I took a few steps away from the bar out into the room and, when I looked up, I was left speechless, completely breathless, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my EDGe was a thief, for she had not only stolen my heart but the hearts of my entire family.

Alice and Jasper grinned like proud parents watching their daughter head off to her senior prom. Rose had a tear in her eye, although I was certain she would deny it later. Emmett was looking down on Bella as though she was his little sister and he was giving her away on her wedding day. Bella looked so small and delicate as she looked up at Emmett, smiling the loveliest smile I had ever seen. She looked positively breathtaking in that shade of blue. It was a full length gown made of some shimmery royal blue fabric. Over the top of that was a very thin sheer purple overlay. The dress flowed around her lithe body with each step that she took, making it appear as if she was floating on air. The color combination of blue and purple gave the impression of cool tropical waters ebbing and flowing, bowing to her will alone. A wide black bow at her waist was trimmed with a silver filigree buckle filled with diamond, sapphire and amethyst stones. The bodice was a strapless, heart-shaped piece of silver, blue and purple swirls with small black leopard spots on it. It was youthful, flirty, and fun while still remaining formal. Alice was indeed brilliant as was Rose. Her make-up was perfect, with that “barely there” look emphasizing her healthy glow. Bella’s dark auburn hair was in long, flowing curls down her back, pulled to one side of her head with a silver hair comb.

Taking her hand from Emmett’s arm, I twirled her around and she giggled as the gown swirled about her feet. Then I pulled her close to my chest. “You look like an angel,” I told her. I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven.

BPOV

Emmett was funny and charming as he walked me to Edward’s room, but the moment I saw Edward, no one else existed. He was positively stunning in his Italian suit, complete with lavender silk shirt, deep plum tie, and platinum and diamond cufflinks. He took my hand from Emmett’s arm and twirled me around. His eyes roamed approvingly over every inch of me, lingering for a moment too long on my pushed-up cleavage. “Boobage provided by Alice and her lingerie,” I thought with a grin.

“You look like an angel,” he proclaimed, and my heart thrilled that Edward Cullen had said those words to me.

“I feel like Grace Kelly in one of those old Fred Astaire movies, except I can’t dance,” I grinned up at him. His bronze hair was somewhat combed; however, I knew it would have that wild, sex hair appearance long before we got to the lobby or the red carpet.

“Neither can I.” he stated, matter-of-factly.

“No?” I asked. I could feel the blush in my face, thinking about last night. I would have sworn the man was an excellent dancer, ’cause he sure had some serious moves in the bedroom!

“Terrible.” Edward wrinkled his nose and shook his head. Oh, Lord! If all the girls on MEoW and Ed Attack could see that expression, they’d be squueeeing over how adorkable he was.

I looked up at him and smiled, and then he kissed me. So slow and so deep, it made me weak in the knees and I had to grip his arms to remain standing. It didn’t matter, though. Edward wrapped his arms around my waist and crushed me to his chest. He had been very gentle with me last night, although this morning was another story. I couldn’t help wondering how making love with Edward would be when we weren’t pressured for time, or worried over the fact that someone might walk in on us at any minute. His hot kisses made me wildly hungry, and not for food! I wanted to throw caution to the wind and release all the passion we possessed. Have him push me up against a wall, tear my clothes off, wrap my legs around him, and take me right there, standing up. Then we could really get serious!

“Ahem!” As though he could read my mind, Jasper cleared his throat to remind us we were not alone in the room. I felt the heat rush into my cheeks as I hid my face in Edward’s chest.

“Um, Edward? Shouldn’t you fill Bella in on all the latest developments? You have to leave soon to make all your red carpet interviews.”

JPOV

I’d been standing out here for hours trying to figure out how I was going to get close enough to Swan and Cullen to talk to them, and then how I was going to get them to fess up. I’d been here for Bill Condon’s warning speech and took it with a grain of salt. So what if they kicked me out? By the time they got to me, I’d have the pictures I needed, if I played my cards right. It wasn’t going to stop me from getting close to them, or asking the questions we were “banned” from asking. I just had to get my timing right. I had to decide if I would make my move before or after the screening of the movie. The entire crowd was talking about it in low whispers. Damn fools! None of them believed any of it. Here they all were, ready to have the pap responsible for this debacle lynched. Good thing they didn’t know it was me!

Every few minutes, I edged my way closer to the front. The velvet ropes were in place, but I had no intention of staying behind them. Cullen’s limo pulled up and the crowd went wild. I took this opportunity, when all the fan girls were screaming and jumping and bumping into each other, to force my way to the front. Cullen and his whore clambered out of the limo. To my surprise, Cullen’s zipper was up for a change and the Swan woman’s hair wasn’t mussed up. I guess Cullen had managed to keep it in his pants on the way over. Unfortunately for me, they went to the opposite side for pictures and autographs, which meant I couldn’t get near them until after the viewing of Breaking Dawn. I took as many quality pics as I could, all the while my mind was racing as to how I was going to break out of the crowd and get to them. I scanned the security surrounding Cullen. Usually, for major events like this, there were only two security guards – Dean and McCarty. But, tonight, there were an additional two. That would make my plans more difficult. They were probably there to protect “The Pretty” {that fucking nickname made me want to fucking puke} from the paps who were plotting to do exactly what I was planning on doing, now that their affair had been made public. I didn’t buy that “love at first sight” bullshit any more than the Man on the Moon! But it didn’t matter anyway. A reasonable doubt had been raised and the damage it would cause to Cullen was just beginning to boil.

I learned a long time ago that the key to being a good photo-journalist was patience and knowing exactly when to make your move. Luckily for me, my instincts were never wrong. Right now, my instincts were screaming at me to wait…to bide my time. My opportunity was coming very soon. I grinned at the thought as I snapped yet another picture.

Between the red carpet interviews and the general ass kissing of the fans {or was it the other way around?}, it took them a little over an hour to get inside. It had been more than two hours since they had disappeared inside and the crowds outside were growing restless. They must be on their way out by now. I had a plan as to what I would do, but I honestly didn’t think it had a snowball’s chance in hell of working. Yet my instincts were telling me I was on the right path and that an opportunity was coming that was even better than following the limo to Little Brown had been yesterday. Whispers among the crowd began to grow. At first it sounded like leaves rustling. Then it swelled to the sound of rushing water before erupting into ear-piercing screams. Cullen and the Swan tramp were back on the red carpet.

The closer they came to my end of the line, the more positive I was that my plan would not work and yet my instincts were telling me to wait…it was coming. With every step in my direction, I grew more excited. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know what to expect, but I could feel it in the air like an electrical charge.

My instincts were dead on.

I saw it coming before anyone else and my camera was snapping pictures nonstop. From the other side of the red carpet, I saw him make his move. I knew this guy. He was a down and dirty pap, a man after my own heart. I think his name was Laurent. He had a strange accent that was a mixture of French and something else I couldn’t identify. Laurent had done gone crazy though, because he lunged over the velvet rope and was running headlong for Cullen. His dreadlocks were flying as he charged across the red carpet. Halfway to Cullen, he started snapping pictures like crazy. Hell, at that angle, none of the pictures were going to turn out! He must have been desperate to get the story, any story, or a reaction from Cullen and his posse. I knew what it was like to be desperate for a story, hungry both for success and for some food in your stomach and unable to get either one. Then Laurent started screaming accusations at Cullen.

“Is it true? Did you to rig the contest? Have you fucked her yet? Is she any good in the sack? She doesn’t look like she would be. Does she give good head? A mouth like that, she should! How’d you do it? How’d you get your girlfriend picked as the winner? Was there ever really a contest? Is this ho-bag worth your career?”

It must have stunned everyone because Laurent was practically in Cullen’s face before any of the bodyguards thought to react. For a split second, they all just stood there with their mouths gaping wide open. Too bad Laurent wasn’t packing a weapon. Cullen would be dead by now. Apparently, they weren’t used to anyone hating on, or threatening, the goofy, sparkly vampire.

As McCarty, Dean and the others got their heads out of their asses and rushed to Cullen’s aid, Cullen swept his arm around behind him, grabbed Swan and pushed her behind him. He started backing her towards the limo, towards me, while it took all 4 bodyguards to tackle Laurent to the ground. Thinking Swan was safe, Cullen lunged forward to lend a hand and sling a few verbal insults at Laurent. McCarty left the skirmish and grabbed Cullen away from the scuffle and started yelling at him to stay out of it before he got hurt and said something that might get published later on. Cullen was yelling back at him while the other three bodyguards still thrashed on the ground with Laurent. He was small but tough, determined, and not going down easily.

McCarty was wrestling with Cullen to keep him from attacking the pap, who was still putting up one hell of a fight, yelling obscenities at Cullen about his cheap slut of a girlfriend and their cheating plot to manipulate the contest. I couldn’t help but giggle a bit. My plan was working brilliantly, regardless of Bill Condon’s statement. Little-by-little, word would spread and Cullen would eventually fall from his ivory tower.

To my utter amazement and delight, Swan stood alone, unguarded, right next to the limo. Everyone was so busy fighting, or watching the struggle with Laurent, or the argument with Cullen and McCarty, that they had all forgotten about Swan.

I fucking love my job!

I jumped the velvet rope and started taking pictures of her right off. Unlike Laurent, I watched my angle and kept my voice low, calming, and smooth. If she didn’t see me as a physical threat, she may actually let something slip before her mind had a chance to register the fact.

“So is it true, Miss Swan? How did you rig the contest?” Click, click, click.

“I didn’t!” she said, looking startled. Click, click, click.

“So, it was Cullen’s doing, then! I thought so! How’d he do it?” Click, click, click.

I was snapping pictures left and right, moving around her like a panther stalking his prey. I walked around her time and again and she followed me like an idiot, always giving me a perfect view of her expressions. It was pure gold! These pictures on my new digital camera were going to be worth a fortune. If I played my cards right, I could drag this out and dole out the pictures for more than a week, claiming claim top dollar from the highest bidder.

“NO! He didn’t do anything!” she exclaimed. I didn’t dare look back at Cullen or the others for fear it might remind her that she had help just a few feet away and she would remember to call out to them. “Edward is a good man! He’s honest and kind! He’s the best person I know!”

Oh, fucking gag me now! I thought.

“Really? Have you known him long? Longer than this premiere weekend, right?” Click, click, click. Click, click, click. She looked stunned. Her hands were visibly shaking and she looked a little unsteady on her feet. She was trying to get around me now, so I was no longer circling her but bobbing back in forth in front of her trying to prevent her escape. Click, click, click.

“Admit it, Swan.; You cooked this whole thing up, didn’t you?” Click, click, click. “The two of you plotted it together…” Click, click, click. “…You planned and schemed and found a way to cheat.”Click, click, click. “You’ve known each other for a long time, haven’t you?” Click, click, click.

She looked like she was about to cry now. Unable to get by me, she started backing up. Her hand was fisted and she held it against her cheek as she shook her head. Her other hand was across her stomach as though she was about to be sick. Good! I wanted her to puke!

Click, click, click. “You fucked him, didn’t you?” Click, click, click. “America’s sexiest man alive and you spread your legs as wide as you could, didn’t you? Click, click, click. “Tell me, what’s it like to fuck a multimillionaire?” Click, click, click. “I bet it was better than fucking a cheap ass whore like you!” Click, click, click. “Did you give him a blowjob in the back of that limo?” Click, click, click.“How long have you been fucking him, Swan? Cause I know you’ve known him longer than this weekend.” Click, click, click. My verbal slurs towards her didn’t seem to be working. She’d clammed up and I wanted her to get mad and say something she wasn’t supposed to say. I decided to change tactics.

“What do you see in him, anyway” click, click, click, click, click, click. “He’s a gangly dork with freakish hair.” click Click, click, click.

“Shut up! He’s a beautiful man inside and out!” she cried.

“Yeah, right! He’s got wonky legs and mutant fingers. He’s like some kind of weird circus freak who’s escaped his pen.” Click, Click, click, click.

Shut your mouth! You don’t know him! You know nothing about him!” Click, click, click, click. ” He’s..” click, Click, click, click.

“He’s an asshole, is what he is.” Click, click, click, click. “A cocky, arrogant, British fuck! With no brain filter and no brains!” Click, click, click, click. Bingo! That pushed her buttons.

Shut your fucking mouth!” she screamed at me. Her raised voice finally caught Cullen’s attention and all hell broke loose again. It was exactly what I wanted but I knew I only had seconds left before I’d be tackled to the ground like Laurent. Cullen, McCarty, Swan and I were all yelling at the same time. It was complete chaos and I loved it.

HEY! Get away from her! Bella! No!” Cullen practically flew past McCarty. His lighter weight and longer legged stride guaranteed he’d reach me before McCarty could. But not before I could royally piss her and Cullen off! Swan began smacking me about the head and shoulders with her hand bag, screaming at me about how wonderful Cullen was and what low-life scum paps were. I didn’t care; I just kept getting closer and closer and snapping picture after picture. I knew every click of my camera was hundreds of dollars in my pocket. Every step I took towards her she stepped backward but stayed within range of beating me with her purse.

Edward! Stop! Dean! Get over here!”McCarty yelled as he lunged after Cullen.

“He’s a complete fucktard. Everyone knows it.” Click, click, click, click. I egged her on. I knew I couldn’t bring a lawsuit against her for hitting me with a tiny hand bag. Click, click, click, click. But I could get Cullen mad enough to say too much! That’s when I messed up. Knowing Cullen and McCarty were mere seconds from tackling me, I pressured the Swan woman even more, edging closer and closer to her. Too close, now. When I heard Cullen’s footsteps, I whirled around to get a few pictures of his angry face as he was running towards me but, in turning, I literally knocked the Swan woman to the ground. Her high heeled foot slipped between the limo tire and the curb, jamming there as she continued to fall. She twisted her body trying to right herself, but she fell backward, banging her shoulder and head on the curb.

BELLA!”Cullen screamed. He fell to his knees in front of her just as McCarty grabbed me. McCarty maneuvered his arms through mine, then interlaced his fingers against the back of my neck, effectively pinning my arms and head so that I couldn’t move. I held fast to my camera with both hands. The grip McCarty had on me would have been much more comfortable had I let go of the camera with one hand, but I wasn’t taking any chances and I wasn’t done trying to get my fair share of Cullen’s fortune.

Cullen was fussing over Swan, trying to help her up, but her foot was lodged between the tire and the curb so tightly she couldn’t even wriggle out of her shoe. Her shoulder was scraped pretty badly and all scuffed up, but she’d live.

“What’s the matter, Cullen? Is my story starting to bite you and your girlfriend in the ass? The truth hurts, don’t it?” I taunted him. I was sure I’d get a few good shots of him when he turned around. I heard a guttural cry just seconds before Cullen whirled around and lunged for my throat. Dean grabbed him by the waist and held him at bay, but just barely. Click, click, click, click. I snapped a few pictures of his enraged face as he fought to escape Dean and attack me. I hadn’t gotten the confession I’d been hoping for, but something far better. The money I would make from all these pics would buy me Fort Knox! I was content for the night.

Your story? You wrote this propaganda? You son of a bitch! If you ever lay a fucking hand on her again, so help me God, I will destroy you! Get this piece of shit out of my sight before I kill him.” Cullen demanded.

“Oh, lighten up, Cullen. I got what I came for and your little tramp will be fine!” I said, grinning. There was another guttural yell from Cullen as he lunged for me. Dean’s footing slipped and Cullen escaped his grasp. At the same time, McCarty tried to yank me out of his reach. Cullen’s hands came down on my brand new camera and smashed it to the ground. Before Dean could stop him, Cullen stomped on it and kicked it as hard as he could.

My career was destroyed.