The Producer & the Vampire
It was a producer's dream story -- young newlyweds killed in a car wreck on the night of their wedding. The story of Edward and Bella Cullen would lead that night's newscast. But when the news is over, the story of the young lovers still haunts one plucky news producer. And when she goes in search of closure, she ends up finding so much more.
ATTENTION READERS: DO NOT STEAL MY STORIES. Someone has stolen some of my stories from this website and posted them as their own on fanfiction.net. It is plaigarism, it is stealing and it is illegal. Read, enjoy -- but don't steal. post-New Moon; this is a companion piece to my longer piece, “Different Sorts” (Please also note that KTRO is not actually a Seattle TV station. It’s an amalgamation of a few stations in the northwest, including the one I work at. The call letters technically belong to a small, Oregon radio station. I’ve borrowed them here for my fake TV station.) I originally submitted this for the "non canon ship" challenge -- but the submissions were never posted, so I'm posting it here now.
1. Chapter 1
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2666 Review this Chapter
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The news had been slow for a while. They were in a summer slump. At least they weren’t in sweeps – they could be grateful for that. But that was about all they could be grateful for.
For other people living in the greater Seattle area, the slump was actually a good thing. It meant that crime was down and life was good.
For members of the KTRO news team, it was a bad thing. It meant there was nothing to fill their hour-long nightly newscast. It meant the morning crew had four hours to fill with nothing but weather and traffic. And in the summer, there isn’t much weather and traffic to report. It meant a nightly parade of minor drug busts, inconsequential warrant arrests and the occasional near-drowning – padded out with fluff stories from the national feeds. A fat cat in Portland; a girl who can’t stop sneezing in Boca Raton; a man who found Jesus in his potato pancake in Jersey.
Then it happened – a story tailor made for TV news. It wasn’t the perfect story – nothing had actually been caught on camera – but it was damn near close. A late-night car wreck – a fiery crash scene … newlyweds killed. There was amazing video from the aftermath – the mangled car, all twisted metal and smoldering in the early dawn light. Blood smears on the pavement. Crime scene tape fluttering in the breeze. Police on scene, taking notes, snapping photos, marking evidence on the asphalt. And then there were the photos – graciously provided by the family to their favorite TV station – an “only on” exclusive. The wedding photos from just hours before the wreck. Plus, the “only on” exclusive interview with the bride’s parents – her father a local cop. It was just their luck that he was an avid KTRO fan and refused to speak to the other stations.
“I just don’t trust them to tell the story right,” he said, weeping.
The footage of his interview made the 10 O’Clock News Producer giddy. Kara Adams actually giggled when she first heard the guy say that last part. It was too perfect – too wonderful.
Now, before you rush to judge Kara and her coworkers, please stop to consider their jobs. They’re in the news business. That means they spend their days researching, writing about and covering some of the worst tragedies in the world. Gruesome murders, child rapes and terrorist attacks. None of these are sunny things – but they are the bread and butter of TV news. And when you’re surrounded by these things on a daily basis, you develop a coping mechanism. For Kara – and almost everyone else in the biz – it was a cynical sense of humor. So she was not happy that the newlyweds had been killed – but it made a great story to lead her show with. Bad news was good news for TV producers.
Their field crew did a great job with the story, too. It looked great on air – and surely made their competition green with envy. The story was well written, the video edited flawlessly. CNN even called to pick it up for their feeds.
But after the news was over that night, Kara sat at her desk – typing up the night’s notes for the morning crew – and thought about the dead couple. She opened the KTRO homepage on her web browser and scrolled down to the story. She clicked on the photos (A KTRO.com exclusive!) and gazed at the newlyweds. They seemed so happy together, in each other’s arms. It was sad to think they’d never get to spend their lives together, as they’d planned. They were young, too. Just out of high school. They had so much left before them.
This was one of Kara’s dark moments. She’d had them before. They were the nights she would fight back her emotions – fight the urge to vomit. They were the nights she would go home, crawl into bed and weep – alone in the darkness. Like after they reported on the Madras soldier – tortured and killed in Iraq; his body strapped with explosives and left as a trap for the others looking to find him. Or the Shasta Groene case – after she was found alive; after Kara read the FBI’s report on what she told them. They were the stories that made her sad and sick, all at the same time.
On this night, Kara wept for the newlyweds – for Edward and Bella Cullen.
The couple was still on her mind as she walked out to her car in the gated parking lot; as she pulled out onto the road and took the turnoff for SR 104 across to the Olympic Peninsula – instead of taking I-5 North to her apartment.
Kara was half-way to Forks by the time she realized where she was heading. Apparently, she had to see it for herself. She needed it to be tangible – beneath her fingertips.
The crash scene was actually just north of Beaver – near the junction of 101 and 113. It was still marked with crime scene tape on the side of the road. Kara pulled up along the road, leaving her headlights on so she could see. The mangled remains of the car had been removed, but a few bits of glass and metal were still scattered on the ground. She could still make out the blood stains and chalk marks that hadn’t washed away in the rain. She stepped across the road and knelt down, touching the ground. She picked up a piece of shrapnel and rolled it between her fingers, the sharp edges poking at her skin.
Kara shivered, then dropped the metal and hurried back to her car. It was dark, it was late – and she was alone.
She had just started her engine when she noticed a lone figure walking towards her. Actually, it looked like he was walking towards the crash scene – not her, per se. He was staring at the ground, following the marks. He moved slowly; precisely. And he didn’t pay any attention to Kara.
She watched him approach and gasped when she recognized his face. He’d been in the wedding photos – he was the groom’s father.
Kara steeled herself, slipped her mace into her pocket, grabbed her slim reporter’s notebook and stepped out of the car.
“You’re Carlisle Cullen, aren’t you?” she asked, approaching him slowly.
He looked up, surprised that she would be so brazen. He’d seen her there before him; seen her get in her car. He thought her senses would have scared her away from him – or at least her common sense, if not her other senses. Her senses that should have told her he was dangerous. Deadly.
“I’m Kara Adams with KTRO. We spoke on the phone earlier.” She flipped her hair in the breeze. “You refused to speak to us.”
He stiffened. “My son just died. I didn’t feel like doing a dance for the local TV station.” Kara opened her mouth to speak, but Carlisle beat her to the punch. “And I don’t care if her parents spoke to you. I won’t.”
She closed her mouth and paused. “I’m sorry,” she said, finally. “I forget sometimes. It must be very difficult for you.”
He shrugged. Actually, Kara, noticed, it didn’t seem very difficult for him at all. He seemed almost impatient, as if he just wanted her to leave. As if he was waiting for her to leave so he could be alone.
But Kara was a persistent producer. “Would you like to talk about it?” she asked. “Off the record.” She made a show of putting her notebook in the pocket of her jacket. The key was always to get them talking … later, you could convince them to go on the record; to go on camera.
His eyes continued to scan the ground. “You should probably go home,” he said, finally. “It’s dangerous out here. Not safe for your type.”
Kara scoffed. Was he implying that, as a woman, she was less safe? Was he threatening her? In her pocket, she wrapped her hand around the slim can of mace.
“That won’t help you, either,” he said, still not looking directly at her. “Not against the things that go bump in the night.”
“May I ask what you’re doing here?” she said, tightening her grip on the mace – despite Carlisle’s cryptic warning.
“I could ask you the same thing,” he replied.
Kara huffed. “I’m following up on a story.” That was mostly a lie.
“I’m looking for something that got left behind,” he said, his eyes still searching the dark pavement.
Kara steeled herself and took a few steps closer to him. She bent so she was in his line of sight. “Maybe I can help.”
Finally, he stopped. He stood up straight and looked at her – really looked at her – for the first time. “What are you doing out here?” Something about her felt electric to him.
She shrugged. “Sometimes it gets to you. I just needed to see it for myself, I guess.”
“What, your flashy video wasn’t enough?”
That stung. “That’s my job. But I’m not a monster – I’m still human. I still have emotions.”
Carlisle took a step closer to her, his eyes now scanning her features like they’d previously been scanning the pavement. “And what would you do if you ever met a real monster?”
Kara swallowed loudly. “You mean … bump in the night?”
Carlisle nodded, leaning into her. Kara did not move away. She took a deep breath and felt dizzy from the smell of him so close to her. She licked her lips.
“It must be very hard for you, to lose your son …”
Carlisle’s nose brushed against her ear, her neck, her collarbone – inhaling. “He was so young.”
“Yes,” Kara said, feeling faint.
Carlisle ran his hand through her hair and she didn’t move. This wasn’t how Kara would normally act. Normally, she’d have gotten in her car, locked the doors and floored the gas pedal to get away as quickly as possible. She didn’t normally have conversations with strangers on the side of a remote road in the middle of the night. She didn’t normally let them get so close – smell her, touch her. But there was something about this man that she could just not resist. There was a … connection … between them.
“Do you have any idea how dangerous this is?” Carlisle said, still not moving away from her.
She swallowed loudly. “Some idea, y-yes …”
“But not completely,” he said. It wasn’t a question.
“Should I be afraid of you?” she asked, leaning into his touch. His lips brushed her neck.
“That depends.” He trailed kisses along her collarbone – cold, erotic kisses. “Do you fear death? Do you fear the damned?”
“Are you damned?” she asked, breathlessly.
He shrugged, still kissing her neck. “Maybe.”
“I think I am afraid of you,” she said, still not pulling away. Afraid, yes, but drawn to him nonetheless.
Carlisle stopped kissing her, withdrawing his feather-light lips from her flesh. He pulled back and held her face in his hands, his fingers twisting into her hair. Before he could lower his face to hers, Kara leaned up and locked lips.
The kiss was cold and fiery at the same time. Passion flared and their arms reached for each other as if, by some luck, they might be able to pull their bodies closer together.
Then, just as suddenly, Carlisle pulled away – pulled his whole body away, almost leaping backwards. He moved away several steps and touched his mouth. His eyes, it seemed, had grown dark – almost black. He breathed heavily.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “That was stupid.”
Kara still felt dizzy.
“You should go. It’s dangerous for you here,” he continued.
Kara composed herself and met his eyes again. “That didn’t feel dangerous.”
He shook his head. “You have no idea.”
Something about the look in his dark eyes made her believe his words. Kara nodded slowly, composed herself and took another step back towards her car. As she opened the door, the map light spilled out and glinted off of something on the pavement. She bent to see what it was, but before should could – Carlisle had snatched it up.
Kara looked at the object in his fingers. It was a gold band. He rubbed it with the hem of his shirt, wiping off the soot as best he could.
“Your son’s wedding ring,” Kara said, realizing what he’d been searching the pavement for.
“No,” he said. “Mine.” And he slipped the band onto his finger.
Oh, Kara thought. She’d been making out with a married man. She’d made out with a strange man on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night – and he was married, to boot. Great. She really was losing it. Maybe it was finally time to take the station up on its offer of free counseling for employees.
“I left it in the car before my last surgery and forgot about it,” he explained. As if that made the situation any better.
“I should go,” Kara said. “I’m sorry again about your son.”
Carlisle smiled. “Thank you.”
Kara started to step into the car, but stopped and turned back to Carlisle. “It’s just … you don’t seem too shook up about it.” Ever the producer, even off the clock.
“Off the record?” he said, grinning. Kara nodded. “My son’s not dead.” Then he turned and walked away.
Kara was left with her mouth hanging open and the open door alarm in her car dinging loudly, echoing in the night air.
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The next afternoon, Kara sat at her desk, scrolling through her email. The afternoon meeting was coming up in a few minutes – they’d have to assign reporters to stories, pick the night’s lead. It wouldn’t be easy – despite the crash, they were back to the summer dry spell. The best story was looking like a meth bust out of Longview – and that wasn’t really a lead story (since meth busts were pretty common in Longview) – and it was a stretch, since Longview wasn’t technically in their market. It was in Portland’s. They’d have to find a Seattle tie-in – maybe that the drugs were being made in Longview, but sold up here?
Kara sighed. She paged down to yesterday’s leftover emails. Glaring at her was the one from Chief Charlie Swan of the Forks Police Department. It contained several photo attachments. Kara clicked on them.
Her screen was filled, once again, with the smiling faces of the newlyweds. The now-dead newlyweds. Or, off the record, according to Carlisle, the actually not dead newlyweds. Kara struggled, trying to find a way to follow up on the story – pursue the story further, without betraying her actions last night. Without sounding like she’d finally cracked and lost it. How could they not be dead?
“Let’s meet!” yelled the assignment editor. The other writers and reporters began wandering towards the conference room.
Kara took one last glance at the photos and sighed. She clicked “delete,” then grabbed her notebook and joined her coworkers at the meeting. As she walked, the crash scene started to seem like a half-dream. It became cloudy and foggy. She seemed to think she’d driven straight home last night – falling into bed; a heavy sleep plagued by strange dreams. Dreams that were suddenly fading fast.
The meth bust was sounding like a good idea – getting better with each step she took. By the time she sat down in the conference room she was grinning.
“Okay, people,” she said. “Let’s make an Emmy out of this crap.”
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