Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

Mr. Cullen

Summary:
Isabella Swan has a good life, ‘good’ being the key word. Her life is just fine and ordinary. But will her world be turned upside down when she gets a job working as a PA for Hollywood’s latest darling? And is he as cold as he seems? First impressions can be very deceiving indeed. Photobucket(Please note its rated adult for a reason. The story contains adult humour, some strong language, and it will have sexual scenes in later chapters.) Chapter 16 is up!


Notes:
Disclaimer: All the wonderful characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.


18. Silver Silk and Red Leather

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6426   Review this Chapter

I turned around in his arms and rose on my tip toes so my mouth was brushing his ear. He hugged me closer and I just gave myself over to the moment, knowing I would never regret it.

"Edward..."


"Mmm?"


"I love you."


Edward's arms around my waist loosened. I pulled back from his weak embrace to see his face, to gauge his reaction. There was none. He stood there, face blank, eyes wide and unblinking. He wasn't looking at me but rather through me. It was as if I wasn't even there.

The wind was picking up around us; the snow was now joined by a steady sprinkle of rain. The elements were wrecking havoc with Edward's hair and some strands stuck to his forehead, hanging over his eyes. He made no movement to brush them aside, seemingly frozen by my words.

I hadn't expected for him to return the sentiment, at least not yet. I could understand why he didn't; after all we had only been dating for a few weeks, not even a month. But I didn't anticipate his... non-reaction. It was as if Edward had left the building.

I took a step back, breaking all contact between us. I tried not to feel the rejection that was surging through me. I needed to give him time, space. I needed... to not let this hurt me. I- I expected this, I told myself. But really, I didn't. I may not have thought he would say the words back, but I thought he would welcome mine.

"Edward?" I whispered, hoping my quiet plea would bring him back from wherever he went inside his mind.

I crossed my arms and looked away from his glazed over eyes and instead focused on my feet, waiting. When minutes passed and nothing had been said and Edward hadn't moved, I made eye contact with him once again. His expression was the same as before; his face untouched by any emotion except for his eyes. His wide shocked eyes.

Edward was in shock... because I told him I loved him? Yes, it sounded ridiculous when I put the words together in my mind. I tried again to re-phrase them but it always came back to the same thing. It didn't make sense.

I didn't have time to come up with an answer to the puzzle Edward threw my way; Emmett started shouting for us to get a move on as the weather was progressively becoming more unpredictable with the rain falling harder, the snow coming down faster and the wind whirling around us even more violently. It was obvious Edward would not move from his spot in front of the National Gallery entrance without a little shove or push. The man had been turned into a statue with only three words, and words which he had to utter so many times in his films. I wondered, as I tugged on Edward's hand and pulled him down the stairs to where the others were, if the words had always made him coil back into himself and become deaf and mute to the world.

As we ran across to Trafalgar Square and down the streets to the hotel, Edward's hand squeezed mine ever so slightly. The movement would have been imperceptible if I'd not been waiting for a response, no matter how small. My head instantly snapped up and my eyes locked onto the side of his face, but he was looking straight ahead and my intense gaze seemed to pass him by unnoticed.

When we reached the Savoy, I disentangled my hand from his and took several steps away from Edward, leaving the appropriate amount of space between us—the streets may have been deserted but the hotel lobby certainly wasn't. Emmett and Jasper noticed Edward's distant stare and rigid posture but kept their opinions and questions to themselves, retreating to their respective suites with mumbled good nights.

Edward opened his door and went inside. I followed silently behind him and shut the door with a soft kick, leaving a wet shoeprint on the white door, no doubt. And then we were alone inside his warm but unlit room, neither of us making a move to turn on the bright lights. I began to remove my soaked clothes— first my gloves and then my scarf and coat. I sat down on the bed and removed my boots. Edward remained in his statue-like state in the middle of the bedroom as I walked barefooted to the bathroom to change into my flannel pyjamas.

There was too much unfilled, unspoken air around me. It was beginning to make me feel extremely uncomfortable. I could understand a momentary shock as soon as the words had left my mouth, but I couldn't understand the way Edward was behaving now. I didn't regret saying 'I love you' to him and I very much doubted I ever would, the only thing that concerned me was how he appeared to be waging battles with himself. His mind, pulling him in different directions, asked question after question but left him with no answers. I could tell it left Edward confused, unsure of which path to take. I hoped he would choose the one I was on.

I spread my clothes near the bathroom sink to dry and returned to the bedroom. I was too distracted by the worrying thoughts three simple words had inflicted upon me to stop a sudden collision.

Edward caught me as I stumbled backwards. I looked up, he looked down. His eyes searching mine for some clue to solve it all. He must have found it, because moments later his lips were passionately on mine. The little nips of his teeth and the plunges of his tongue were urgent and frantic—the reaction I hoped for back at the gallery. His arms brought me closer to him, and I was so lost in his kiss that I didn't think or care about his wet clothes. My hands found their way to his dishevelled hair and fisted tightly, pulling his face closer to mine to deepen the kiss that was so... Edward.

We began to move slowly backwards, never breaking contact, until the back of Edward's knees hit the king-size bed and we fell on it, completely intertwined and hungry for each other. His cold and shaky hands sent delightful shocks through me as he caressed the warm skin on my back. Edward's lips were equally as cold as his hands, but I was doing my best to warm them up, showering him with small kisses and then open mouthed ones—some with tenderness, others with lust.

I pulled back slightly to tug Edward's coat off him and then his shirt. His eyes never left mine as I removed his clothes with fumbling fingers. The quiet sadness in his gaze worried and confused me. My touches told him I wasn't mad or upset over his reaction. Not now. Sure, I had been disappointed and sad at first, but this was just how his mind worked. When I really thought about it, I understood his retreat into coldness, and I had to accept that side of him. If I loved him, I loved the good with the bad and the marginally crazy.

My hands traced Edward's bare chest slowly, making nonsensical patterns. Our room, lit only by the yellowish glow from an outside lamp, was eerily still even with our frenzied movements and panting breaths. I looked down at my fingers as they traced a circle around his tiny nipple and felt Edward shudder beneath me. It wasn't long, however, until my hands were pinned above my head as Edward rolled me under him. And then it was his turn to remove my pyjama top and bottoms.

There was a small moment of awkwardness as I belatedly realised I wasn't wearing a bra, but it evaporated as Edward's lips forged a path down my neck to my breasts, his tongue gentle and enticing as it began to drive me crazy with passion.

Soon I was whimpering for his mouth to return to mine, and it slowly did. All the while his hands traced all of my curves; heating my skin and making me writhe under him. I was mindless from his attentions on my body. His long fingers walked across my bare stomach and caressed the underside of my breasts, unhurriedly memorising their shape.

I wrapped my arms around Edward's neck, stroking his nape and his still damp hair. My caresses, I hoped, showed all the tenderness I felt for him. All of it. I told him with every pass of my hands on his silky soft hair how much I love him.

As his lips continued to tug and caress mine, I brought my legs up to embrace his hips, bringing our semi-naked bodies closer together. But, somehow, an action that should have spurred grinding hips and wondering hands didn't. Instead the contact of our bare chests slowed our movements and made them gentle, whisper soft. Edward rested his forehead on mine and brought his finger to brush my lower lip. All his minute actions were nothing compared to the way his emerald eyes, onyx in the dark, refused to leave mine. He dropped one last kiss to my lips before his head came to rest on my chest. At that moment Edward wasn't the famous actor or the man with the world at his feet; at that moment Edward was a boy tangled in a web of emotion, seeing no solution and clinging to me for all that he was worth.

My ministrations on his hair continued as I waited for him to unravel his thoughts. We stayed there, wrapped around each other, until the storm of his feelings passed and he was calm once again.

A quiet, whispered, "Bella?", finally broke the silence.

"Mmm," I hummed hesitantly.

"I-I'm so... I'm so sorry." His stumbled words were filled with sadness. So much sadness.

I pulled his face up to mine and peppered kisses over his lips, his damp cheeks and the delicate skin of his eyelids.

"I know," I said between kisses. "It's okay, Sweetie."

Edward's head moved between my hands as he shook his head.

"It's not...I'm such—" His eyes closed tightly and an explosive breath came from deep inside him. "I'm such a fucking dick."

To hear Edward use such strong expletives showed how deeply this whole situation had affected him. It hurt me so much to know it was hurting him more.

"Sweetheart, I understand. I completely understand," I murmured against his lips. "I shouldn't have said it the way I did. Just, just talk to me when you get lost up there," I tapped my fingers lightly against his temple.

He breathed a simple, "Okay", before rolling off me and simultaneously scooping me up so my cheek was resting on his firm chest.

Intertwining our fingers together I stared at his handsome face, now clear of darker emotions. "Do you want to talk about it?" I asked, because even though it was past one o'clock in the morning, something told me to not let this go. We needed to communicate, and this was as a good place as any to start.

"Do you want to?" Edward's eyes closed but he didn't seem unwilling to carry on the conversation.

"Yes. I think we should." I bit my lip slowly. "What happened back there?"

He sighed and started to play with my fingers. "I don't know. It was a surprise. No one ever told me they loved me and meant it, so it could be that," he explained. "But I think..." He stopped and I heard him swallow. "I think you know that my childhood wasn't ideal. After my Aunt Esme moved to Scotland I never had anyone who was really close to me, until Em and Jazz that is. But—" Edward stopped again, this time disentangling our hands so he could mess with his hair. The action screamed discomfort and nervousness, both feelings I never wanted Edward to suffer with me.

"It's okay," I said once again. "You don't have to tell me what happened in your past." He really didn't. I'd made the decision long ago— the night of Jasper's engagement dinner—that I would never push for details of his life he didn't want to share. Even though, I was bursting with curiosity about his Aunt Esme; the woman who he'd mention less than a handful of times and yet seemed to hold in high regard.

He kissed the top of my head and re-linked our fingers. "What I think I'm trying to get at is... I was just... stuck. When you told me you loved me I couldn't get past the words and see what they meant." He chuckled quietly, bouncing me on his chest. "God, that sounds ridiculous. I was astounded and amazed and my brain froze and I couldn't believe you said what you did, and I'm stupid for acting so...stupidly."

Edward scooted down so he was face to face with me, cradling my cheek. "I'm so sorry, angel. Things caught me off guard and I don't know how to deal with emotional situations." His mouth curled into something that resembled a smile. "Maybe if I had a heads up or, I don't know, a memo about it, I would have acted like a decent person and not a dickhead. I really am sorry."

I kissed his palm, mumbling words on his soft skin. "You don't need to apologise anymore. Let's forget it and move on. As long as I can keep telling you how much I love you, then I don't mind."

I smiled as he sucked in a breath when I said the words again. I wondered how long it was going to take him to get used to them, but I would repeat them for as long as he wanted me to.

We stayed hugging each other close for about another half an hour; tender kisses being traded and slow, caressing fingers exploring exposed backs. It hadn't escaped my notice that he hadn't said he loved me, but in time, I was sure, the words and sentiments would come.

The hands on the clock ticked away but neither of us closed our eyes to sleep. We decided to stay awake and order room service.

There was a knock on the door exactly twenty minutes later and I huffed on my way to the bathroom, hopping from leg to leg as I put my pyjamas back on, to hide until our food was delivered. When I heard plates being put down on the wooden table and then a door being closed, I left the bathroom and had an early morning dinner with Edward. We talked about the paintings in the Gallery, which ones we liked, which ones were a bit of a disappointment. He laughed when I disagreed on something; I poke him with my fork to show it was not okay to laugh at me. Our light-hearted conversation purged all of the tension between us. It was at times like these I loved being in this relationship; things were easy, we were ourselves, and there was a connection between us that wasn't easy to explain but that was there nonetheless.

After our dinner came to an end, Edward went to fiddle with the iPod and the room's entertainment system. I crawled back into bed and got under the covers. I watched Edward's naked back as he scrolled through playlists and soon enough Jason Wade's voice was floating around the room.

A smile tugged at my lips as Edward joined me in bed, spooned me, and began to mumble lyrics in my ear, dropping kisses to my neck and shoulder.

Being in bed with the man I loved, being in his arms and listening to one of my favourite bands was, so far, the highlight of this trip. London was wonderful, but it had nothing on Edward.

XXX

"Right, get up there. They only have an hour to grill you. It won't be as bad as you think, but I won't be able to interrupt. So, yeah, you're on your own," Jasper said slapping Edward on the back and pushing him forward to the small stage in front of the rows of journalists.

This morning, unlike the afternoon, could only be described as idyllic. We stayed in bed for hours after waking up making out like overeager teenagers, talking and singing along with the music in the background. Edward had tugged me up and jokingly spun me around the room in a waltz, which resulted in his toes getting bruised and me being carried off to bed again over his shoulder. I was punished with a tear inducing tickle marathon.

Our bubble of carefree happiness had come to an end at eleven when Jasper knocked on the door and demanded Edward to be ready and in the conference room of the hotel at twelve. We grudgingly kicked back the covers and got dressed for the day.

Now it was one o'clock, the room was filled with reporters tapping away on notebooks and scribbling down notes.

I left the backstage area and entered the main room to watch the conference, taking a seat far away from the stage, the last seat in the back, the one next to the one reporter more interested in his meatball Subway than on the super star taking a seat on stage.

Edward ran his hands through hair and sat down shyly on the one chair in the middle, behind a table with a microphone. Jasper, walking behind him, instructed them to begin the questions but reminded them of the rules. I could tell he didn't think they would stick to the guidelines; I had no doubt they would break them the first chance they got.

At first things were good, fine. Yeah... that lasted less than fifteen minutes and then I had to watch Edward squirm for approximately three quarters of an hour, with the questions progressively becoming more and more personal.

"You recently did an interview with Vanity Fair magazine. The interviewer seemed convinced that you are in a relationship. Is it true?"

"Who is this she you mentioned repeatedly? Are you in love?"


"Is 'she' Alyssa Maymore?"


"If you are not in a relationship with anyone, are you single or dating around?"


"Who was the woman you were photographed with?"


"Is she the same person mentioned in the Vanity Fair magazine?"


Edward stumbled through his answers and tried his best to divert questions back to the film. The reporters, however, had other ideas and were fixated on his relationship status. At one point a woman at the very front asked if his girlfriend—for it had been decided, without question, that Edward was in a relationship – was someone who he had known for a long time, perhaps someone who worked for him. My face burst into colour and I slumped down on my chair, trying to hide. It was that final question that made Edward's voice harden as he stated very clearly that he was not answering any questions that did not concern the film, and that was it. They either stuck to the rules or the conference was over.

There was a quiet apology from the female reporter and mumbled acceptance of the conditions by all the others in the room.

A few minutes later, the hour was up. Edward thanked the press for coming, no smile or jokes were exchanged. He left without looking back. Edward's displeasure was made loud and clear. And the message silently heard among the journalist was that he was not the awkward man who felt uncomfortable in the media, but rather the man who was highly successful and powerful, someone who would not be disrespected or played with for the sake of selling a few weekly glossies.

"He certainly is an interesting one that Edward Cullen."

I turned to find the Subway man packing up his extremely small notepad and putting away the remainder of his sandwich in his man bag.

"He is going to get slaughtered tomorrow. No doubt his management team are going to kill him for pulling a stunt like that," he said with a chuckle, his double chin wobbling.

I wasn't going to respond, but I took exception to the chuckle.

"I don't see why he should be slaughtered in the press. His personal life is his; it's no one's business." My voice came out sharper than I had intended, earning me a raised eyebrow and another chuckle for good measure.

"You're not one of them, I see." He put down his bag and turned to look at me, the small movement causing him to pant faintly. "Let me explain something to you, little miss."—I ignored the condescending way he was speaking to me, because, and only because, I was quiet interested in what he had to explain— "When you get into this industry 'private' no longer exists. Your entire life becomes public domain, or at least it does if you want to be successful. Cullen just bit the hand that feeds him. There is no way any the media are going to let him get away with it, oh no, they ask and sooner or later, by any means, they receive."

I crossed my arms in a childish gesture. The man wasn't telling me something I didn't already know. "You all sound cutthroat and ruthless to me. And I mean that as an insult."

"Oh, of course you do," he replied with a smile. "But mark my words, little miss. I've been in this business for nearly three decades and situations like that"—he waved a chubby hand in the general direction of the stage—"always end the same way. Cullen will, A, keep this girl under wraps for as long as he dates her, leading to crazy photographers stalking their every move. Or, B, Cullen will let the cat out the bag, leading to crazy photographers stalking their every move."

I nodded and kept silent. It would appear there was no difference between the choices, yet I was living the difference. I was under wraps, and it was suffocating me.

After a lot of moving about he got up and I helped him with his bag. He said it was a pleasure to meet me, gave me his card, and shook my hand.

Eleazar Delani was written at the top of the small white rectangle.

I tucked the card away in my hand bag, forgetting its existence as soon as I stepped into the elevator, and made my way up the suite. Eleazar's words, however, stayed with me.

What was the point? Why did Edward insist on playing a game with a fixed result? Sooner or later we would have to become public and there was no way around it. All of this mess seemed so...pointless.

The elevator doors opened and I quickly walked to Edward's room. From the outside I could hear the faint sound of shouts coming from inside. The picture that emerged as I opened the door was one which had increasingly become more familiar: Edward pacing from wall to wall, Emmett on a chair with his head buried in his hands, and Jasper sitting on the sofa arguing with whatever Edward was saying.

Silently, I grabbed Edward's hand and led him to the bed; he resisted my actions but relented in the end. Emmett quickly left, as did Jasper with a quiet thank you.

"Bella..." Edward whispered into my neck, his lips moving over my skin.

He was distressed; irritated with the world he was part of. Every time he took a step in front of the media he was torn down, made to feel an inch small. Unfortunately we were all aware that this was one of the main aspects of his career—there was nothing to be done.

"Everything is fine," I told him consolingly, not believing my own lie.

I interpret the small movement of his head as a nod and carefully pushed Edward to lie on the bed, cradling him with my arms and playing with his bronze hair until he fell asleep.

XXX

Edward was quiet for the remainder of the afternoon, sitting beside me reading his horror story. I stayed with him for as long as I could. Eventually, I had to start getting dressed, a task I was dreading.

The makeup was already splayed out on the bathroom counter, my black shoes sat on top of the ottoman, the dress hanging in its cover was behind the door.

I squared my shoulders back and prepared to enter the war zone.

This was not going to be pretty.

Two hours later my hair was up in a sleek chignon, small earrings adorned my ears—they matched Edward's eyes. Cheesy, I know.—and I had stepped into an asymmetrical silver dress. The material was cool on my skin, the knee length style making me look respectable but still feminine and young. The shoes were killer and they were killing my feet.

"Bella, can you hurry up? I'm ready, Emmett is ready. For heaven's sake, even Edward has his big boy pants on."

Ignoring Jaspers silly comments, I applied my clear lip gloss before opening the bathroom door.

"I'm a woman. We have more stuff to put on our faces. I bet you didn't have to spend anytime wondering if your foundation made you look orange, did you?" I asked, putting the essential re-touch makeup in my small clutch.

"No," he answered with a laugh. "But I did have to deal with Edward and his relentless arguments with his stylist. Does that even things out?"

"Considering you aren't wearing five inch heels, no, it doesn't."

Edward was scowling, much like usual, from his place in front of the window. The sour expression on his face, however, was for Jasper. For me he had a silly smile and a pervy wiggle of his eyebrows. I couldn't think of a better compliment.

"If you can walk without breaking an ankle and ending up in hospital, we'll be waiting for you downstairs in the car." Jasper gave Edward and me a stern look. "No more than five minutes, you got me?"

Jasper left with a grumble to wake up Emmett who had fallen asleep waiting for me to exit my make-shift salon.

When we were alone, Edward sauntered over, looking all sexy in grey slacks and a simple white button down shirt.

His hands instantly found my waist and his thumbs circled the shiny material on my sides. "You look amazing in silk," he told me with a kiss to my mouth.

"It's satin Charmouse," I said with lips glued to his.

"I don't know what that means, but it sounds sexy."

I laughed and took his hand. "Let's go before Jasper, rather than my heels, sends me to hospital."

XXX

The drive to the premiere location in Leicester Square took twenty minutes, double the time it should have, I'm told. I'm next to Edward in the car but then again so is Jasper who is prepping him on all the main points for the evening. I'm excited to see Edward on the big screen, less excited about having him face the screaming fans and flashing cameras.

"Edward," Emmett said from the passenger seat. "Please keep in mind to remain a safe distance from the crazies. I have no desire to dive into a sea of horny teenagers to rescue you. Last time one bit me."

"That's not going to be a problem, Em. I'll keep far, far away."

I look at Edward to see if he is taking this in stride or if he is as freaked out as I am.

"I'm good, Bella. I think I am, at least. Is my breathing normal?"

I smiled. "Yes, it's not as erratic as mine."

"You're fine," Jasper mumbled looking through a pile of papers. "Edward is fine. Emmett is fine, aren't you big guy?"

"I'm pumped." He punched a fist in the air and went back to driving.

"See? And if you aren't fine, just smile and then you can cry or do whatever girls do when we get back to the hotel."

Jasper was not helping matter. Not at all.

I gave him a good glare and then the piercing screams reached my ears. Oh sweet Jesus...The wall of sound was the loudest thing I had ever heard and, as the car came to a crawling halt, it only got louder and more hysterical.

"Okay. It's show time," Emmett announced as he exited his seat and came around to Edward's door.

Edward let go of my hand with a tentative kiss to my lips and rubbed his hands down his thighs.

The door opened and the fans went insane. Seriously, it was as if they had never seen a man in a suit.

The blinding flashes of cameras started as soon as Edward's foot came down on the red carpet. I beat down the urge to use my clutch as a way to shield my eyes.

The three of us stuck to Edward like glue down the media line. I tried to not pay attention when women reporters tried to flirt with my boyfriend, tried not to growl when they insinuated that he would be better off single. I wanted to scratch their eyes out, and I'm not a violent person, they just had sent me to that level of fury.

I guess my expression had showed what I was feeling, because, not four reporters in, Jasper told me to cool down.

I put my head down and handed Edward a bottle of water when he needed it. No one questioned me being there; the pass around my neck and how I interacted with the guys made sure there was no question over the fact that I was just an employee.

At the end of the line, when the reporters gave way to just photographers, I was yelled at to get the heck away from their shots.

I was fine with that. I never did like having my photo taken.

After the hungry media had every last morsel of Edward, we took our seat to watch the film. Jasper was adamant that we stick around; he argued that if he was going to be helping promote the damn movie then he sure as hell was watching the stupid thing. I agreed full heartedly. Of course, Edward grumbled all of the way to the reserved seats in the back row and not once did he look up at the screen.

I, on the other hand, was totally captivated as Edward played Edison Collin, betrayed First World War soldier. It was such a touching story. It was dark, passionate, with desolate characters and a tragic, but realistic, ending.

Tears were inevitable.

"Oh, man. You're still a shitty actor," Emmett said after some of the people in front of us vacated their seats. "but that was beautiful."

"I thought it was average," Jasper disagreed.

I kicked his shin. "No, it was wonderful." I ran my fingers of the back of Edward's hand, wishing I could praise him with a kiss. "I thought you were amazing."

Edward ducked his head, completely embarrassed after having to hear himself on screen for nearly two hours. "Uh, thanks. Can we go now?"

We put Edward out of his misery and went directly to the after party which was going to be held not far from Leicester Square.

The venue was large, and the white and blue decor made it feel as if we were inside an igloo.

Immediately Edward was whisked away to talk to the film's producers who had also attended. Emmett casually stuck to my side, sipping on an orange and red cocktail, commenting on the skimpy outfits worn by the barely clothed waitresses.

Floyd joined our conversation soon after with a woman draped on his arm. By her bleach blonde hair I was guessing this was not his wife or his mistress. I could see that Em was dying to make some sort of joke.

I paid little attention to what was said around me, my focus on Edward and Jazz as they sauntered from group to group in the room. Most of the eyes in the room were glued on his every action and people's attentions were only distracted by a flurry of commotion.

"I didn't think she would show up," I heard Floyd say next to me.

The woman who walked in was what most women wanted to be: sculpted curves, perfect hair and cleavage, long legs and regal posture. She was wearing a provocative red leather mini dress and dripping with diamonds.

"How the heck was Alyssa Maymore invited?" Emmett asked, nearly shrieking.

"Publicity, of course."

She didn't look about her, her eyes on the prize. Edward.

Maymore glided to the circle of people Edward was standing talking to. They stopped their chatter, looked at the classless bimbo waiting for them to disperse, and quickly retreated like obedient little minions.

I watched as she leaned in and kissed my boyfriend on the cheek – or rather, very close to the corner of his mouth— and pressed her body to his, her boobs nearly falling out of her indecent dress. No doubt that was her intent all along.

Maymore stood shamelessly flirting, touching her inflated chest every chance she had. It was as if she knew I was watching and relished every opportunity to torment me.

"If Jazz doesn't kill over from the glares Edward is throwing his way it will be a miracle," Em chuckled and came closer, his hand squeezing my upper arm in what I interpreted as a supportive gesture.

"He looks like he is having the time of his life to me," Beach Barbie said.

And I had to agree with her. He was laughing – which he rarely did—and seemed to fit right in with the group that had surrounded him.

"Floyd, baby, we should go and introduce ourselves." Her candy voice gave me the urge to shove her out of a window.

"Of course my little doll, let's go."

Her hips swayed exaggeratedly as they crossed the room. It was disturbing to watch.

"Her perfume was making me want to lose my dinner."

I didn't reply to what Emmett said. Maymore had slipped her arm around Edward's and he made no move to step away from her touch.

"Don't worry about it, Buttons. It means nothing. All Edward is doing is networking, nothing more."

His reassurance didn't reassure me that much.

I nodded and smiled at him. It was the fakest smile I had ever conjured up. "I think I'm gonna go back to the hotel, this music is giving me a headache."

"Are you sure?" Em looked at me, then at Edward, then at me again. "Stay a little longer. It's only midnight. We'll be done in another hour or two."

I waved my hand at him and checked my clutch to make sure I had enough money for a cab. "No, I really need to lie down. I'll see you tomorrow."

I left before he could say anything else.

Rain was falling as I stepped out of the club and the ice cold droplets felt good against my skin. It felt like I was washing away the images of Maymore's hands on Edward.

It was harder to find a cab than I thought it would be and, in the end, I decided not to bother and walked to the hotel, ignoring the pain from my heels and the shivers racking through my body because of the low temperature and pelting rain.

I received weird looks as I passed the lobby and entered the elevator. It wasn't surprising. I had racoon eyes and limp noodle hair; the satin stuck to my body and made me look like a cheap prostitute going up to a room to do business. But I didn't care about my appearance right now. I didn't care about anything other than getting into bed and letting sleep erase my mind.

Even as I lay warm and comfortable in a cocoon of luxurious covers, I wasn't engulfed by pleasant dreams and neither did my mind fall into oblivion. I tossed and turned, I flipped over more than a hundred times, and I even tried sleeping on the opposite end of the bed.

I gave up.

I threw the windows open and allowed the frigid air to enter the room, the curtains billowing past me. I pulled the duvet up, wrapping it around myself and stared into the night. The Thames was peaceful, the sounds of London much like that of any other big city.

I tried to concentrate on the small details I could make out in the dark, but it was impossible. As usual my thoughts were centred on one person.

There was much I understood: I knew Edward had a high profile job and that he preferred to keep his private life hidden. I understood his desire to keep me a secret. I understood that he thought he was doing what was best for me. I also understood his need to socialise with skanky whores for business reasons.

Still, I did not understand how he was always so against physical contact between us in public, even innocent handholding, while with Maymore he did nothing to prevent her pressing her nasty tatas to his chest. I did not understand how he could dismiss me so easily, how he could forget my existence once his attention was diverted by his job. I did not understand why he left me behind, why he didn't follow me if I left a room visibly shaken.

Maybe... Maybe I did too much understanding and not enough asking. I accepted all that he said, all that he did, and smiled, even though inside I felt like I was slowly crumbling down. I said nothing every time he made a stupid decision that hurt me. I was to blame for how things were between us, only me and my doormat tendencies.

The door knob turned and I was pulled away from my thoughts.

Edward walked in, squinting around the dark room, not even noticing that there was someone by the window shivering with tears rolling down their cheeks.

He passed to go into the bathroom, the smell of a sickly sweet perfume trailing behind him.

It was time for me to understand less and demand more.