"I don't know why she keeps tormenting herself," Emmett repeats, muttering to himself and surely not for my own benefit.
I'm really feeling like an unwelcome guest, to the point I'm almost tempted to leave. I'm sure Bella didn't want me to witness this even less than she wanted me over for dinner but … What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment, and I couldn't bear to say goodbye. I just wanted more time with her.
I'm really feeling like an unwelcome guest, to the point I'm almost tempted to leave. I'm sure Bella didn't want me to witness this even less than she wanted me over for dinner but … What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment, and I couldn't bear to say goodbye. I just wanted more time with her.
I don't know what to say. I don't even know if I'm supposed to say something. Anything I might come up with would sound nosy or out of line, so silence it is. I look away from Emmett and devote my full attention to my cheesecake.
Talk about awkward situations. After an amazing dinner, with amazing company, I'm sitting on the deck of my assistant's home with her brother while she is shouting profanities on the phone with an unidentified caller. It doesn't take rocket science, though, to figure out that such distress could only be triggered by the unsettling reappearance of an ex-boyfriend. My memory recalls a flight to New York, months ago, and a conversation with a certain bloke named "Jake" …
My nasty suspicions are confirmed by the next scrap of conversation Emmett and I are forced to witness.
"I talked to Rose, Jake, so don't try bullshitting me anymore. I was a means to an end, Jake. That's all I was to you." Bella is seething with rage, shouting through angry tears.
My instincts are urging me to run and comfort her, but my lone, overworked brain cell tells me to stay put. It's not my place while her own brother sits right across me. Emmett notices my discomfort and throws a weird glance my way. I guess the guy's on to me.
If only you were less transparent, Cullen.
The next thing I hear is a loud crash. Bella's actually so mad she's throwing things all over the place. The next words we hear are gut-wrenching, blood-curdling, stone-cold. Cold, bitter, and enraged.
"I will not talk to you ever again. I won't let you ruin my life again. I'll be off your radar. The CIA, MI6, and Google combined won't ever find me. We are over, Jake. Are you getting it? Over!"
Another loud crash. The French doors to the deck violently swing open, and Bella's running away from the house.
Emmett tries to stop her. "BeeBee, come back!"
"Leave me the fuck alone!"
Wait, Cullen! Did Bella just growl? Why is the traitor "downstairs" twitching, then?
Emmett reluctantly backs off. "It's always like that when she talks to him," Emmett mutters, still visibly angry.
"That her boyfriend?" I ask, non-committal, preferring not to make assumptions.
"He still wishes, the asshole. Man can't take a hint."
I still don't know what to say. Most of my potential comments would give away that I know more than I'm supposed to about Bella and her goings-on. I need to tread this unsteady ground carefully. Not a mean feat for clueless old me.
As it turns out, I don't have to put too much effort into this because Emmett spills the beans of his own accord.
"She'd kill me if she knew I was telling you this …" he begins.
"Let me guess. No visitation rights?"
"Hell, man, I'd be left to play with Lego blocks, let alone my PlayStation, but ... you're going to spend a lot of time with her, and you need to know." He starts playfully but ends on a serious, ominous note.
"Emmett, I don't want to pry into Bella's personal concerns. She's made it very clear that …" I interrupt, my voice hesitant and low. I have no idea where Bella is, and the last thing I want is for her to overhear us discussing this.
Emmett silences me with a commanding hand. "She wants to keep this to herself? That's my sister for you, Edward. Welcome to the convoluted workings of her mind. She may think I'm just a beefy ex-jock, and my sensitivity extends only so far as the length of my dick …"
This man is ruthlessly honest, and he adores Bella. I think I've met my new best friend. Sorry, Alice, but I'll need someone to turn to in the long, hard months ahead. I sense there's a "but" in Em's speech somewhere.
"But she's my baby sister, man. I hate to stand and watch while he makes a meal out of her, crushing her confidence, abusing her selflessness, and forcing her to leave home in the process. I'd sooner kill him," he continues, his expression deformed in an angry, stern scowl.
"Emmett, do you mean …" I don't really know what I'm asking; I just want to know more. I just want a name, an address, a freaking postcode, or a fucking phone number, anything to track down this mongrel and give him my best regards. Repeatedly and painfully.
"He's one of the reasons she left London. But I'm not telling you the specifics; it's her story to tell," he finally admits in one hushed breath.
"And you are telling me this much because?" My thoughts are a tangled mess of shock, anxiety, anger, and concern.
"Because, as I said, you're going to spend a lot of time with her. Whenever she starts second-guessing herself, whenever she gets weird phone calls, and has these mood swings, it's because Mr Asshole has reappeared. She'll be weird; she'll be angry. Leave her be to let off some steam," he says, his fingers restlessly drumming the table.
I can't wrap my mind around the fact there could be, anywhere in this world, someone so abusive and mean to shatter my Bella's confidence. She was so bossy, self-assured, and business-like this morning. She confronted Aro fucking Ziegfeld, for God's sake, and now she's crumbling because of a phone call from this scumbag?
I shake my head and try to follow Emmett's line of thought.
"That's what she's doing now, letting off steam?"
"Yeah. I'd normally try and help her out of this, but as you saw, tonight she sent me packing," he answers as a tight-lipped smile finally creeps up on his almost childlike face.
A cursory glance at my "crackberry" tells me it's time for me to go. Bella and I have an early start tomorrow. I wonder if she'll be in any shape to face the field day we'll be having.
"I really need to go, Em. Thanks for telling me all this."
"Remember, Eddie. There's one reason I told you." My eyebrows knit together. Go figure—Emmett talks in riddles now.
"Because I'm her boss and I'm hogging her time 24/7?"
Emmett flashes a sly, pearl-white grin at me. "No. Because she likes you," he quips, suggestively quirking an eyebrow in my direction.
Dumbstruck. This is my only clever reaction at Emmett's revelation.
She likes you, Cullen.
"Don't play dumb, man. She likes you."
"Em … you think …" I stammer for the umpteenth time this evening.
"Yes, wonder boy. Follow the footpath around the house down to the beach."
"Thank you," I call, over my shoulder and realise I'm thanking Emmett not just for dinner, not just for offering me a glimpse of Bella's mind, but rather for acknowledging Bella's feelings to me and … for letting me know, in his own way, he's okay with it.
At the back of my head, I have an inkling it won't stop him from breaking my bones if I fuck this up.
What is "this" anyway? I wonder, as I make my way to the beach and to Bella, who will, in the best case scenario, tell me to mind my own fucking business and sod off, just as she did with Emmett.
This is me, obsessed with my assistant to the point I became a stalker even before I met her.
This is me, mesmerised by her quiet, understated beauty, by her grace and sweetness.
This is me, completely in awe of her skills, of her sixth sense in managing my impossible self and my crazy-ass schedule without so much as a handover from Jess and Angela.
This is me, utterly and totally unable to do without her after only twenty-four hours of working together.
I don't really know what "this" means and if there's more to it. My clueless self has no idea. I'll have to fly by the seat of my pants—or "go with my gut", as Bella said—and, for once, I'll follow my sister's advice. I'll try to get to know Bella and be there for her.
There she is, sitting in the sand, her knees gathered to her chest, her head resting on her linked hands and her hair fanned around her shoulders. I try to approach her without making noise, so she doesn't hear my footsteps in the sand nor does she sense my presence. She's too wrapped up in her own bubble.
I crouch behind her, unsure of what to do. Then, I give in and go with my guts. My hand slowly, tentatively reaches out to touch her shoulder. My thumb starts running circles on her collarbone, the very same collarbone I'd like to shower with heated kisses and do other unspeakable things to. Except, that's not what she needs right now. Right now, she needs someone to lean on, someone who will neither question nor judge her.
Paradoxically, this is ideal for me because I officially know next to nothing about her, and I am duty-bound not to question her about her life. Still, I brace myself for a few choice words from her colourful vocabulary.
"Edward?" she whispers, still facing away from me, her eyes staring at the midnight blue expanse of the ocean in front of her.
Dumbstruck, twice over. Not only don't I get the choice words, but she also knows it's me.
"How did you …"
"Your fingers are nothing like Emmett's. There's no way he'd be so gentle."
"Uh?" is my brilliant, MIT-worthy response.
"Emmett's hands are twice as big, and he's crushed his fingers multiple times. Ex-jock, remember?" She turns to face me, a strained smile on her lips.
"Oh. That's. Right." Slightly less speech-impaired, still not much of a Roman orator.
"Besides, you have the long, elegant fingers of a musician, and there's a little mole to the side of your left thumb," she adds, her tone hushed, her eyes averted from me again, as if she were giving away an unforgivable secret.
Blimey. She's taken a freaking good look at my hands. And I thought I was the stalker.
It's just your hands, Cullen. Just your hands.
"So, should I 'leave you the fuck alone', too?" I whisper against her shoulder.
She shakes her head, and weaves her hand through mine. "No, Edward. Don't. Though I wish you hadn't seen that."
I sit down beside her, my hand still entwined with hers.
"Don't even go there, Bella. This is your home. I shouldn't even be here … monopolising your space and time while you're … off the clock."
She winces. "About that. Sorry about blabbing your plans to Jasper. I was careless. I should know better than telling this kind of thing to just anyone."
I shake my head. Too much second-guessing, too many apologies. I want some of my badass Bella back, even if the urge to protect and cuddle this vulnerable Bella is almost overpowering.
"Stop apologising. That's not classified information, and even if it were, Jasper's not 'just anyone'. I guess he knows a thing or two about not broadcasting it around."
She nods and sniffs at the same time.
"I'm not asking you any questions about what happened tonight, Bella. I just know you're upset, and it doesn't sit well with me …" I start again, but before long, my voice ends up in a near growl at the mere thought of what she's just been through.
"I don't want to …" she starts, but I'm faster and I silence her, my index finger slowly tracing her lower lip.
Bad move, Cullen. Now you want to kiss her.
"You're not doing anything, Bella. I'm only telling you I'm here for you, anytime—punching bag, private shrink. I'm clueless about most things, but I'm a good listener."
"You're far from clueless, Edward … but you're my boss …" She trails off, still averting her eyes from me.
Ouch. Guess I walked right into that one.
"That doesn't mean we can't talk to each other, right?" I don't want her to build other walls between us.
"Talk as in?"
"As in … friends who work together? How does that sound?"
Epic, Cullen. You just friend-zoned yourself.
"As in … you think this could actually work?" she asks, swinging our linked hands before my eyes.
"As in … we're a great team, Bella."
She nods again. "That we are, Edward. Let's rock this boat, boss."
Ang's nickname escapes my lips before I even realise it. I'm afraid I've made another blunder, but Bella's own blinding smile tells me that, for once, clueless yours truly hasn't fucked up.
I say goodnight and go.
Say goodnight and go
You get me every time
Why do you have to be so cute?
It's impossible to ignore you
Must you make me laugh so much?
It's bad enough we get along so well
Should I be friends with my boss? Does he really mean it when he says he'll be there for me?
I was friends with Jazz long before we started working together. Regardless, the dynamics changed when I first joined the firm. All this "talk to me, I'm here for you" was still there, it only tended to be pretty one-sided.
He vented, he ranted, he shouted, and I was on the receiving end. End of story. I wasn't allowed to have breakdowns because I was the designated pillar of strength. I wasn't allowed to answer "I don't know" because my uncertainty would drown Jasper in a gurgling ocean of doubt.
So here I am, tracing idle circles in the sand, one week after our heart-to-heart in the moonlight, and I'm still pretty puzzled at what transpired from it. All in all, I've made my way through the last week pretty safely, trying to learn the ropes of this insidious business from Angela.
Meanwhile, Edward is still up to his neck in promotion rounds for the movie, but there're still loads of things we need to wade through together on a daily basis.
While the tax guys at White, Devlin & Hale have sorted out his taxes, I've navigated my way through six months of credit card statements and bills, both personal and business-related. I've done the same for Jasper for years, but Jazz was clinically precise about his expenses, and this side of my work, though tedious enough, always went without a hitch.
With Edward … Let's say I figured out most of it on my own after double-checking every single receipt with his calendar, courtesy of Jessica. To my immense relief, Jessica and Angela are as organised as Edward is clueless. Otherwise, I would have never emerged from the shapeless tangle of papers he dumped on my desk.
I've memorised the next six months of his calendar, and I'm pretty much on top of everything that's going on. I've liaised and introduced myself to all vital press and production contracts. After this first meet-and-greet with everyone, I have the distinct impression that, while all these people respect Angela and would go to any lengths not to piss her off—not a smart thing to do in Hollywood—they've all welcomed me warmly and with more than a tad of relief, as if my presence finally provided them with a buffer or a benefit they didn't have before.
I've also filed and sorted out chronologically all the contracts he's already signed. Needless to say, my inner lawyer felt the need to read through all of them and get a clearer picture of what I'm dealing with.
Some of these contracts include pretty stringent and demanding provisions, and I can't help but wonder why Edward has agreed to sign them without even questioning or mitigating them. Then it hits me—he probably doesn't even read them, Angela does, and on the business side of things, even I must admit these contracts are pretty good and remunerative for Edward in the long run.
This means Angela advised him to sign because they were good deals for him, and since he trusts her implicitly, in all likelihood, he went along with whatever she advised. I trust Angela too, and there's actually nothing major to worry about, apart from the fact that Edward probably needs to be more involved with this, clueless or not, and I'm determined to make him see reason, at least with the contracts he's still negotiating.
Last but not least, since month-end is approaching fast, I've taken him, or rather, dragged him to see a few houses, but none of them are to his liking. One's too far away, one's in an uninspiring neighbourhood, another's too tacky, and so on and so forth. He's hell-bent on the one house he hasn't even seen yet, the Venice Beach house, namely the one that would make him my neighbour.
Needless to say, I'm not thrilled about it. It would be the final nail in the coffin to my fruitless attempts to keep some distance from my boss-friend.
Em's dulcet tones shake me out of my musings with a thunderous shout.
"BeeBee! Eddie on the phone for you!"
"Coming!" I reply with my own answering shout.
I tiptoe in the sand back to the house and onto the deck where Em is having breakfast while reading Sports Illustrated. It's 7.30 a.m. and Edward is phoning me. I wonder what's up already.
Em snickers while he gestures to my BlackBerry.
"Good morning, boss. Did you fall out of bed?"
He chuckles. "No, my mean assistant set the alarm on my 'crackberry'. She babies me too much."
"Do I know her? Maybe I could convince her to drop those habits."
Edward back-pedals quickly. "Please don't. It feels awfully good not to be late for everything for once. Thank you again, B."
"Still doing my job, boss. To what do I owe this early pleasure?"
"I know you're off the clock, technically, but I was wondering if we could squeeze something into this morning's schedule."
As ever, Edward sounds bashful and unsure, but I'm incredibly proud of what he just said. It just goes to show that, in one week, he's learned how to check his calendar on his BlackBerry. He's right; we do have time to squeeze something in this morning since we're not due anywhere 'til 11:00.
"I kept it clear in case you wanted to regroup a bit before the casting call."
"Oh. That." He sounds hesitant.
"Boss, what's up? Are you getting cold feet?" I joke, wondering what's up with him to have him so confused.
"No … I just … Would you help me read through my lines before I go in? Please?"
"Of course, Edward. It's not like you have to ask. That's what I'm here for, you know," I answer, relieved that nothing major seems to be wrong with him. He still sounds hesitant and nervous though. Bad omen.
Edward sighs over the receiver. I know the signs by now. When he does that, he's raking his hands through his hair, and he's nervous because he thinks he's going to say something I probably won't like. Fortunately for both of us, so far our criteria haven't really matched. In most cases, Edward panics for trifles and runs every little thing past me, fearing he'll mess things up, or worse, he'll ask me something I'd never want to do, not in a thousand years.
"Thanks, B. That means a lot to me, though it's not the reason I'm ruining your breakfast."
"Spit it out. I'm comfortably sitting at the deck table. Hit me," I answer, now genuinely intrigued, as I'm starting to wonder whether he'll ever get to the point.
"What I wanted to ask was … Well, I looked into all the housing options. I forced you to visit them all with me. But there's this idea that's been nagging at me and … couldwegocheckoutthehousenexttoyoursthismorning?"
He spits it out in one frantic breath so fast I can't catch a syllable. I can't help snickering, even if I shouldn't. Speech-impaired Edward usually equals over-the-top nervous Edward.
"Edward, you're supposed to be an actor. I'm sure you can deliver a line a little better than that. Could you please try and do it for me so I can understand what you want me to do?"
Another laboured breath. My morning mug of Earl Grey magically appears in front of me. Thank God for thoughtful brothers.
"Right, take two. Do you think we could visit the house next to yours? Is it still available?"
I freeze in place and manage, out of sheer luck, not to drop my BlackBerry. For once, Edward was right to be nervous. I've been neglecting this option—quite unprofessionally, I must admit—for a number of well-known reasons. Edward must have been thinking along the same lines if he's waited so long before broaching the subject.
"B, I know what you must be thinking. I won't burden you with my presence. I won't even come over to see Emmett, but please, let me just see it. If I don't like it, I'll pick something else. Promise," he spits out again, breathlessly, before I can put a word in edgewise.
He has given the matter some serious thought, and after all, it's his house. I can't dictate where he should or shouldn't live.
"Edward, don't fret. Let me just give Kate and Garrett a call to see if we can pop in around nine-ish. Does that suit you, boss?"
"Sure it does, B. You rule my time; you should know. Will I get a calendar invite?" he jokes, clearly quite smug as he shows off he's finally gotten the hang of some of my basic time management methods.
"Wow, does this mean the wonders of synchronised calendars are finally growing on you?"
"A little more respect for the boss, there. But yes, they actually are. So?"
I shake my head. Sometimes this guy is so clueless he can't even take the credit for the incredible progress he's made in barely a week. "You'll get the calendar invite. If that doesn't work, I'll pick you up with Tyler as planned, and we'll head to the casting call."
"Goodie. See you later, B."
"See you later, boss."
Emmett raises an eyebrow from behind his favourite magazine.
"Dependent much? The guy is worse than Jasper, BeeBee."
I laugh outright at Em's skewed assessment of the situation. Edward can't compete with Jasper, not even on a bad day.
"Em, those two guys are polar opposites. Jasper is an anal-retentive, perfectionistic, competitive, megalomaniacal, and neurotic lawyer. Edward is a disorganised, erratic, nervous, perfectionistic, self-deprecating, and clueless actor. I see no similarities so far, except in their crazy-ass schedules and working hours."
"Sure, sure," he mutters, putting a serious dent in his second donut. It's a great thing he gets to burn off all those calories.
"Em, is Kate's house still up for lease?" I ask, trying to sound casual.
"Yes. Are you fed up with me? Wanna move out?"
"No, but Edward wants to check it out. I'll see if we can drop by later this morning."
Emmett nods pensively, pointing his half-eaten donut at me. "Are you going to bring work home, Hot Stuff?"
Look who's talking, and this coming from the prick who invited my boss over for dinner on my first day of work.
"I'm not going to dignify that with an answer, Emmett. Edward wants to see it, and I'm doing my boss's bidding," I answer, with a tone that brooks no rebuttals.
As it turns out, Kate is actually home and thrilled to see a potential tenant. More specifically, she is thrilled that the potential tenant is none other than Edward Cullen.
Edward rides over and we visit the house together. I make myself scarce and let Kate do the honours. After all, I already know this house and I don't want to influence Edward's opinion in any way. I follow them silently, taking some notes based on Edward's questions and reactions to the various rooms. My assumed list of pros is greatly outnumbering the cons.
Before long, we're back in the hall, and Edward unleashes his full charm on poor Kate. Not only is he always a flawless gentleman, but he also never realises the true effect he has on the unsuspecting female population. By the time I say goodbye to Kate myself, she's almost swooning. I mouth an "I'll let you know" and rush out of the house with Edward in tow.
"Why are we running away?" Edward asks. "Didn't you like it?"
"I don't have to like it, you do. But to answer your question … We're running away because I want to give poor Kate some recovery time."
Meet Edward "the King of Clueless" Cullen. Ang was right. The guy really has no idea.
"Edward, one more crooked smile and she'd faint on me. She'd probably waive the rent, and afterwards turn the house into a museum, or a shrine, complete with 'the bed Edward Cullen slept in'."
Edward bends over with laughter. "Seriously? That's creepy; maybe I shouldn't take it. What do you think?" He ends on a more serious note.
"I was only having some fun at her expense, Edward. Didn't you really see what effect you had on her?"
Edward scowls. "That's not what I meant, B. I want to know what you think about the house."
I fish out my list of pros and cons. I try to stay professional and give Edward a rundown of the pros. He nods, and then looks me straight in the eye.
"These are all the reasons why I should take it, and they are, as always, impeccable reasons, backed by common sense and other valuable considerations. But I want to know how you feel about it."
I steel myself for an answer that will, no doubt, come back to bite me in the ass.
"I told you at the outset I think you should go with your gut," I say, my voice low, my eyes struggling, and failing, to wander away from his gaze.
Edward leans towards me, his elbows on his knees and his chin propped up against his hands. His hair, in its constant trademark disarray, shadows his green eyes.
"B, what should my gut tell me? Because right now, they're telling me a million different things." He's almost whispering, his velvet voice touching me like a caress. Is it my imagination? Is he only talking about the house?
What is this guy doing to me? Is he even trying, or is it just me, over-reading and overanalysing his behaviour? I file this away for later scrutiny when I'll have another Earl Grey to boost my confidence.
He taps on the divider, his gaze never leaving mine. "Eric, could you please stop at Starbucks for Miss Swan's tea?"
I force myself to look away from him, tearing my eyes away from his emerald depths. Is he trying to butter me up and bribe me with my favourite tea, or is he just trying to be nice to me for the sake of it? When will I be able to stop second-guessing myself? When will I be rid of Jake's curse, which forces me to uncover hidden agendas behind everyone's actions?
"Bella, please. Look at me; this is making me nervous."
I'm a horrible person. Edward's already on edge because of the casting call, and I'm adding to his anxiety with my silly behaviour. I look up and my eyes meet his keen gaze once again.
"That's better. B, what should my gut tell me?" Velvet caresses again. Damn him.
"Fuck everything else, Edward. If it feels even remotely like home, take it."
Edward's eyes light up and go as wide as saucers. "B, is this really, truly what you think?"
I realise I do mean it. Screw the rest; this guy needs somewhere to call home among all this craziness. That's what Edward needs, and that's what Edward should get.
"Yes, Edward. Screw the rest; we'll deal with it."
He nods just as the car skids to a stop. We're finally at the casting call. Tyler accompanies us to the green room where all the other candidates are waiting in line.
Ang says it's just a formality, and the role is Edward's anyway because the director was keen on having him on board for this project. Edward and I don't totally believe her, for our own personal reasons. I don't want to jinx this and give Edward any false hopes; on the other hand, Edward is such a perfectionist that he feels he must prove himself to get every role. He wants to earn things just like everyone else, and this shows me again how much of a hard worker he is.
We go through his lines together. He delivers them with consummated ease, pacing the room and resisting the urge to run his hands through his hair. I stand to go get him his coffee.
"B, where do you think you're going?" He scowls.
"To get your caffeine fix, boss."
He stops me, grabbing my elbow. "No, leave it. No coffee. I'd rather be incoherent than a babbling idiot. I'll make do."
"As you wish."
I return to the script in my hands and my training kicks in, captured by a minor syntax flaw. My hand automatically reaches for my reading glasses and my fountain pen, but then I catch myself and resist the urge to make the edit.
Edward notices and comments. "Professor Swan, what's wrong?"
I scrunch up my eyebrows, highly diverted. "I'm no professor. Don't mock me."
"Maybe, and maybe not. But you look like one with your specs, ready to wield your fountain pen like a broadsword," he jokes with a childish smile that reaches his greenish eyes.
I raise an eyebrow. Clueless my ass, Edward's even too perceptive sometimes.
"Oh, come on, B. I can tell you're itching to correct something. What's wrong with this script?"
I try to back-pedal, fully aware he'll weasel it out of me eventually.
"Look, this isn't a contract, and it's not my place to …" I stammer. I really don't want to do this.
He sits down beside me and follows my gaze to the guilty line. "I've learned to trust your instincts. Just tell me what you think and screw the rest."
I smile. I knew he'd use those same words against me. My fountain pen points to the bit that doesn't work.
"It's a silly thing … but it would flow a lot better like this …" I say, showing Edward the tiny revision on my copy. He nods.
"I knew there was something wrong with this line. I couldn't get the rhythm right. Thanks, B. You're awesome," he says, his smile lighting up his glorious features again.
The casting director glances our way. It's Edward's turn. I touch his elbow to get his attention.
"Mr Cullen? Your turn to go in, I believe," I say, my voice professional and level.
He smiles and slips back into our self-imposed public personas. "Thank you, Miss Swan. I'll see you later."
"Of course," I reply, as I watch him saunter after the casting director and into the "examination" room.
It feels like going through finals at Oxford all over again, except I'm not the one sitting this time. The nervousness doesn't dissipate one bit, though.
Almost two hours later, a triumphant Edward meets me in the foyer of the studios as I'm talking to one of the production assistants, ironing out some minor details of the pre-production stint for Edward's next movie.
"Miss Swan, are we ready to go?" he asks, his voice unwavering but with an unmistakable excited glint in his eyes.
"Sure, Mr Cullen. Judith and I can talk later."
"But are you nearly finished?" he prods, now quite unable to rein in his enthusiasm. Something is definitely up.
I quickly wrap up my conversation with Judith and return my attention to Edward.
"I'm all done."
He nods and ushers me to our car. As soon as Tyler closes the door on us, Edward explodes. "We're going to celebrate, B. And you can't say no. We've got plenty of reasons to."
He's beaming like a kid on Christmas morning.
"Don't you want my news, too?"
He skids to a stop, slightly crestfallen. "I'm sorry, B. Is it important?"
"I'm afraid it is, but it will only take a minute. Then we can celebrate all you want," I answer, smiling.
He composes himself, reverting to work mode. Concentrated, focussed Edward is really a sight to behold. You can almost hear the wheels turning in his brain.
"I have both good and bad news. Which do you want first?"
"Bad news first, B. I can take anything today."
I chuckle; his enthusiasm is contagious. "You won't be able to fly home until December 22. That means you'll only arrive in London two days before Christmas. On the upside …"
"Hm, I'll have to deal with a pissed Alice. Give me the upside, please."
"On the upside, production has been rearranged a bit. It seems they don't need to drag the whole cast and crew to Vancouver just yet. They can do everything in LA. Which means …"
He brightens up once again. "We don't have to go to Vancouver, do we?"
"Exactly! We'll need to be there by mid-February only."
He rubs his eyes, still quite stunned. "Wow, I can't believe this. I get a whole month with my family. And you get a whole month of holidays."
"Wrong answer. I'll have to work anyway, but that's nothing you need to worry about."
He scoffs, evidently displeased.
"Didn't you mention celebrations? Care to enlighten me?"
His mood changes again completely, and Christmas morning Edward is back in full force. "Right. Well, I most certainly got the role. The director told me right away. He's going to email the contract to Angela and the production schedule to us."