The ringing of my phone pulls me from the best sleep I've had in weeks between rehearsals and the winter holidays. I blindly grab for it to stop the quacking and make a mental note to threaten to fire my assistant for resetting my ringtone … and turning the volume up.
"I know we have a rule that I only call you this early if I'm bleeding, but you want to be awake for this," Tanya, my assistant, is rambling. She doesn't ramble.
I push myself up in bed and rub a hand over my face. "What's going on?" Just as I turn on my light, I get the beep that I have another call coming in. "T, hang on." I glance down at the phone and see that Edward is calling me.
"Why is Edward calling me this early? Tanya, did he quit? Because he has a contract!" I'm panicked. This tour cannot lose another headliner.
"Tell him to head over to your place; I'm already on my way. Put the coffee on. Your day off just turned into a nightmare." Tanya hangs up and I switch over to Edward just in time to catch his call.
"Have you seen or heard yet?" he asks and he sounds frantic. I climb out of bed and start grabbing clothes from my dresser.
"Tanya just called but didn't tell me anything. She's headed over and said you should come too." I set my phone on speaker and slip into a bra, and then a sweater as I hear Edward murmuring on the other end of the line.
"Can I bring my sister? She's going to act as my assistant on tour, so …"
"Of course, that's fine," I say as I step into some leggings and grab the phone. "Just get here. You remember the address, right?"
He tells me he can find it again and hangs up, and I head downstairs as Tanya lets herself in the front door and turns off the alarm. "Make me some fucking coffee. It's too early to see your mug."
I roll my eyes and grin as I make my way into the kitchen. "This better be good or really bad, T." I grab the coffee from the pantry and set about making a full pot when she stops me with a hand to my shoulder.
"Make the good German stuff." She drops her bag onto the counter and pulls out several newspapers. "It's really bad."
We wait for the coffee, Edward, and some clarity when I reach for the stack of papers for the hundredth time and Tanya slaps my hand away. "We're doing this all together."
The driveway security gate buzzes and I let Edward in and pull down two more coffee mugs while Tanya lets in Edward and his sister. Rosalie hugs me in greeting as soon as they reach the kitchen, and I give her a squeeze back. Meeting her and her husband, Emmett, at Christmas was amazing, and I felt like I had made lifelong friends.
"So, have you seen it?" Edward asks as he pours coffee into the two spare mugs. "Because you're pretty calm if you have."
"Tanya made me wait. What is it?" I grab a seat at the kitchen table and gesture to anyone to fill me in.
"I just read the byline, but I can assume it's pretty bad. Anthony's at it again," Edward says as he grabs the stack of papers and sits next to me at the table.
I'm sitting in the back of a restaurant in Beverly Hills where the staff has cleared the tables, all except for mine. I'm waiting for music "sensation" Anthony Masen to make an appearance, but even though I was on time according to LA standards, 15 minutes late, I've still been kept waiting for 45. Which means Mr. Masen is an hour late to the interview he asked for.
"That reporter is pissed," Tanya murmurs, and we all laugh a little.
"Let's hope it swings in our favor," I say before continuing to read the article.
I'm in the middle of eating one of the best chicken piccatas in town when he finally strolls in. No apology or excuse for his lateness. A waiter comes by to offer him a beverage and he orders a bottled water the restaurant doesn't carry and makes his assistant go and fetch him one.
I finish my meal and think that if the best thing to come out of today is that dish, it will have been worth it, that is until Anthony opens his mouth.
"I want to get one thing clear." He points at me with an unlit cigarette in his hand. "I want you to tell my side of this story exactly the way I tell it to you."
I nod and make a mental note to tell this story exactly as he tells it … and exactly as I hear it. He's cocky and embarrassed. Five months ago, he announced he was dropping out of the biggest reunion tour of the decade to focus on his solo career, which has never taken off.
When Bella Swan found a replacement for Anthony on the tour to look alike and sound alike, Edward Cullen, Masen flipped his lid. He released a statement saying how "sad and pathetic Bella must be to find a dime-store knockoff of her former partner" and how "Edward Cullen must be lip-syncing".
Shockingly, many of their fans were on his side. That is until the footage of Cullen's audition was leaked on YouTube. Then there was no denying his raw talent far surpassed Anthony. Edward could not only sing, but he played guitar, piano, and made musical arrangements. These were all things that Bella did for Chance Music and Anthony just sang and reaped the benefits.
That's not to say he didn't work hard, but we all remember their 2005 tour when they had to cancel and refund several tour dates in a row because Anthony went missing and wound up in rehab, but I digress.
"He pulled the rehab card," I whisper, and Tanya squeezes my shoulder for comfort. There's a lot more to that story, but that's what everyone knows.
"Oh, Anthony is pissed right about now," Rosalie says, and I look over to her.
"He will be in a few hours when he wakes up."
"I've been wronged by Bella, and this whole situation is ridiculous!" He actually lights up his cigarette like it's 1987, and the waiter comes by to ask him politely to put it out because it's against the law, a health code violation, and they literally don't have ashtrays anymore. "Look, I'm having a really rough time and I need this." When the waiter doesn't budge, Anthony drops the offensive stick on the carpet and stamps it out with his loafer.
"Where were we? Right, this whole situation is Bella's fault. She's the one who broke us up in the first place, and now she found some poor man's Anthony Masen to take my place? I made Chance Music what it is! I deserve some recognition!"
I'm so dumbfounded I'm at a loss for words, which could be a potential problem, given my chosen profession.
"Which situation, exactly, are you referring to?"
"The one where she set up this tour and convinced the record label and producers to go against me so I would have to back out." He's huffy and it's unbecoming on anyone older than 13 and a girl.
"As I understand it, you had some pretty impressive demands. For instance, you didn't want to do the 40 cities and wanted to only do a small number of shows."
"Is that really too much to ask for? I'm not getting any younger and doing 48 shows in 40 cities is taxing." Anthony rolls his eyes and I sigh.
"But the whole point of the reunion tour was to recreate your first tour as Chance Music. Same cities, roughly the same days. You would have known that was the plan going into it. Why try to change it so drastically?"
"I can ask for anything. Look at who I am."
"It didn't get you very far though, did it? What did you mean when you said Bella broke you two up? From the outside, it seemed as if you wanted to go your own way, be a solo artist, and go in a different direction than Chance Music was taking you. What really happened?"
He can't spill on this and I know he won't, but I'm worried about the requests my camp is going to get. I'm worried about what I'll have to disclose.
"Well, I'm technically not at liberty to discuss it, but it wasn't my fault. I was all her." His grin is smug, and again, I'm confused.
"You can't make that statement but then tell me you can't talk about it? No one is going to care or believe you; you realize that, don't you?"
"It doesn't matter what people believe. I'm telling my truth."
I roll my eyes so hard I'm surprised they don't pop out of my head. "What about your other claims? You've already claimed Edward Cullen was a lame imitation of yourself, but your fans have heard him sing and can tell he's the real deal. What's your beef with him?"
"He's an imposter. I don't know how I know, but I can tell. There's something fishy about him."
I've never seen a better example of someone deflecting their insecurities onto someone else. "You made Chance Music what it is? Bella wrote all the music and did the arranging. The rumor is she taught you to play guitar. Explain that one to me."
Anthony actually smiles and winks. "Chance Music would be nothing without a male voice. Bella's voice is weak on its own. She needed someone to back her up and I was there."
"So … you were her main backup singer."
"I didn't say that! I was there to sing along with her when no one else wanted to take her on. Chance Music wouldn't exist without me."
"Okay, he's sorta right about that but that was a record label decision, not mine," Bella says.
I can think of no other reason to remain in this man's presence any longer than necessary, so I check my notes and ask one more question.
"Why are you trying to ruin a good thing? Millions of people are looking forward to this tour and the idea of another album. Why can't you just let it go and be happy for her?"
Anthony stands up and snaps his fingers to beckon his assistant. "Because, those are my fans. Not hers, not Edward Cullen's. They haven't been there to support me like they should have all these years, and it's because of her. She has to pay."
I wish I could say he was wearing a cloak and he swept away in it, but instead, he walked away pompously and loudly, and then made a racket when people recognized him in the main part of the restaurant, and I could hear him saying he didn't want to be seen.
I had an interesting afternoon, amazing chicken piccata, and his assistant dropped his business card on the table. Maybe a tell-all will be coming soon.
For Variety, I'm Embry Quill.
We all look around at each other and let out a collective sigh of relief and begin laughing hysterically.
"That could have been way worse," Tanya says, but eyes me as I set the paper down and shove it away.
I nod. "He already let too much slip. Call Aro to set up a meeting and call Tyler at Crowley's and see if he can fit us in sometime in the next week."
Rosalie stops whispering with her brother and looks at me. "Crowley's? As in the bar?"
"Yeah, Tyler is an old friend. We're gonna see if we can't do a small set there to dispel any lingering rumors." I jerk my head in Edward's direction.
"What about all that stuff he said about you being the reason you two broke up?" Edward moves closer to me, and I stand up from the table. "Is there any truth to that?"
"We need to talk."