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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.


7. Shoot Me Now

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5499   Review this Chapter

Since when have I become so courageous and bold? Since when have I been able to stand up to bullies?

I couldn’t think of one single event in my life where I had acted with guts, not one time when I took charge of a situation. With my past bosses I withstood the inappropriate caresses, butt grabbing and sexual innuendos until I couldn’t take it anymore and broke down to Jake. In those instances I would cry for weeks, sometimes months, until I had built up enough courage to hand in my letter of resignation, tell them to their face I was quitting, and then threaten them with a sexual harassment law suit. I guess my doormat tendencies had started in High school, or as I like to called it: Hell. I was bullied for everything; for being short, skinny, freckly, and geeky, for wearing glasses, miss-matched clothes, and squeaky shoes, for having frizzy hair, no friends, and no boyfriend. Since then I have been able to build my self-esteem and confidence; I don’t have a problem with my body or my odd quirks, anymore. I have learnt along the way that being ‘normal’ is boring and being unique is far more interesting. But even with all this knowledge it’s still hard to erase the memory of bullies past and stand up to someone— until today.

The look on Edward’s face as I failed to take him away from the interview was too much to bear; I couldn’t sit back and let Vanderlinden continue to bully him into answering questions which he was clearly uncomfortable with. Something just snapped in me. I didn’t want him to have that defeated look on his face; he looked so tired and miserable that I just couldn’t hold the words back. And before I knew it I was in front of a camera using an impolite tone and glaring at a semi-celebrity who I was sure was about to gouge out my eyes with her sharp claws. And the funny thing was that I wasn’t scared of what Vanderlinden could or would do; instead I was empowered by my out of character behaviour. Throughout the entire ordeal I wasn’t thinking: Oh God, Oh God. What have I done? Instead I was thinking: Calm down, don’t slap her. Just get him out of here. Don’t slap her. But that wasn’t where it ended; outside Edward had gotten extremely upset with Jasper. I knew Edward had a bad temper but as he confronted Jasper his temper had turned from bad to volatile. I was sure he would have punched Jasper had they not had been best friends for over a decade. It was frightening to watch. And yet, I couldn’t stay away and let him walk out of the hotel and straight into the hungry vultures. I was surprised he had agreed to let me help so quickly but very glad he did so. I re-entered the suite to grab my handbag and maybe have a few choice words with those who had been in the room and had done nothing. But when I saw Jasper and Gray standing idly, acting as if nothing had happened my not-so-nice self came out again. I still hadn’t gotten back to my usual passive ways, which in this case was good and bad. Good because it meant I could give them a piece of my mind... Bad because, well, I gave them a little piece of my mind.

I cringed as I remembered our exchange. I think I may have used my wide vocabulary for the forces of evil. The conversation went something along the lines of me calling Jasper some very bad names— including some very childish ones like ass-wipe— telling Gray I was going to mess up his manly parts, and in general threatened their manhoods with various forms of castration if they ever, ever left Edward alone or did anything to make him as miserable as he had been a few moments before. This tirade might have gone on for over fifteen minutes...I may not have let them explain anything... I may have over-reacted, a tiny little bit.

Ok, I over-reacted. Big time. I let my protective side get the better of me and just lashed out. The logical part of my brain had told me that they probably had a good reason for going outside when they did, after all, Jasper was Edward’s best friend and he would never do anything to hurt him. Unfortunately, my emotional side took over and told my logical side to go suck it. And because of all this I now found myself standing in pink bunny slippers in the middle of the kitchen baking cookies. So many, in fact, that I was sure I would be able to create an exact duplicate of the Great Wall of China with them. They were apology cookies. I made Jasper Chocolate Chip ones, Gray some Ginger Snaps and even Emmett – who wasn’t really involved in the argument—got his favourite; Peanut Butter cookies. I felt bad for being mean and figured it was the best way to wiggle my way back into their good books. Of course, I wouldn’t give them their sugary treats until Edward said it was ok, until I was sure he had forgiven them, or at least patched things up.

I placed my latest tray of cookies in the oven and set the timer for exactly twenty minutes. I then got another bowl and started mixing the dry ingredients for the batch of Triple Chocolate Chip muffins I was making for Edward. They were Thank You muffins for finally dropping the asshole façade. I started adding milk but stopped as I heard the front door being opened and then soundly shut.

Oh, crap.

I had managed to delay my talk with Jacob by using various tactics. The main one being avoidance; I left before he woke up, I came back after he was asleep, and I pretended to be deep in slumber on the rare occasion I got home before he did. But I knew today was D-Day; that I had to finally face my sexually frustrated, and possibly very hurt, boyfriend.


The more I thought about my relationship with Jacob the more difficult it became for me to imagine getting back in bed with him. It wasn't that I loved him less or that I found him repulsive. Not even close. It was just that, well, when you put something off for so long it just becomes harder to do it. And this was exactly like one of those situations: the more I kept delaying the harder it got to think about his caresses and kisses without shuddering. Darn.

I wiped my hands on a tea towel and turned around to see Jacob take off his shoes haphazardly and sit down on a stool by the breakfast bar.

After a few minutes of awkward silence I decided to get things rolling.

“Hey.” Not the most original start, I know.

Jacob shifted slightly in his seat and leaned his elbows on the counter—not giving me an answer.

I took a deep breath and approached him. “So... how are things?”

“As my girlfriend you should know.”

Oh, he was going down this route. Great.

“Jake, you know I’ve been busy. But, I’m sorry I haven’t been around much lately, and I can understand if you are angry with me for neglecting our relationship. I’ve just been putting all my energy into this job, you know I love it.” That was all I was offering. If he didn’t reply or kept giving me snarky comments I just wouldn’t waste my time on even trying to reason with him. The ball was in his court, as they say.

Jake narrowed his eyes and let out a monster of a sigh. “Fine. I get it, I do. You love your job and you want to be great at it. But I’m not asking for the world here. All I want is to have a few hours each day to talk to my girlfriend, or spend a little time doing what couples do.” I knew exactly what he meant by ‘what couples do’. “This was never an issue before and you’ve had some equally demanding jobs in the past. I don’t think this is about your job at all. I think this is something else; it’s not about how busy your day is but something completely different.” Jake lowered his eyes to the counter. “Have you noticed we haven’t made love in over two months?”

Of course I noticed, and if I had my way we would continue sans sex indefinitely. I was just so tired lately doing everything and anything to keep Edward’s life in order that I simply didn’t have the energy to fake an orgasm convincingly, and I really didn’t have the energy to be prodded and rammed into for a few minutes just to satisfy him. I guess I really was a horrible girlfriend, after all women do it all the time, and they do it because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings by telling them how they suck at having sex, right? This really was a low point for me; I couldn’t bring myself to give a few Oh my Gods and Yeah,Yeahs to make the man, who I have been with for five years, happy. Yep, I have some pretty big problems.

I didn’t respond to his question. There was no answer I could give. I couldn’t tell him he didn’t do it for me sexually, or that the idea of having sex with him again always made me cringe. How do you say that but in a nice and caring way to a person who loves you and has supported you for years? You don’t, you can’t. So, instead of an answer I gave him silence and an apologetic look.

Jake got up and took my hand, leading me to the sofa.

“Bella, talk to me. You know I love you and whatever it is we can get through it. But, you have to tell me what’s going on because I can’t survive like this for much longer.” Men are so dramatic when it comes to sex.

I fidgeted with my sleeve, not wanting to meet his sad eyes. “It’s nothing Jake. I’ve just been tired. ” I knew he wouldn’t buy it, but it was worth a shot. I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings anymore than I had already done.

“Hey, look at me.” He put his finger underneath my chin and tilted my face to his. “What is it? Did I do something?” I shook my head. “Come on, Bells. You have to tell me. You have no idea how well acquainted I have become with my right hand, it’s getting uncomfortable now. I’m even thinking of giving it a name.”

I gave Jake a small smile and he chuckled before sobering up again and tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. “Sweetheart, what’s the problem?”

Should I tell him? Of course I should. I owed him that much. He had been my rock for five years, and even though I was pretty sure I wasn’t in love with him I still loved him, meaning that I owed him the truth but not the entire... that would break his heart.

I bit my lip and began in a whisper. “I- I just never feel up to it... I think it’s because we’ve been together for as long we have.” I didn’t tell him I had always felt like this, even two months into our relationship.

“So... it’s just a low sex drive? There’s nothing more?”

For his sake that’s where I stopped. I was not about to tell him all the things that were wrong with our sex life much less in our relationship. “Yes, that's it.” I kept my eyes down. My lying skills were dreadful at best and had I looked into his eyes in that second I knew he would be able to tell I was hiding something.

“Ok, I think we can work this out. We just need to get our spark back.” What spark? There’s never been a spark. “What about we go on some exciting dates? And then when you feel up to it we can try some more... adventurous techniques in the bedroom to spice things up. How about it Bells?”

Urgh. The answer I really wanted to give was: No, no, no. If normal was already bad imagine what ‘adventurous techniques’ would be like. Instead the answer I gave was a defeated ‘yes’.

“Great.” Jake leaned in and kissed me on the lips before getting up and stretching. “I’m gonna have a shower. Want to join me?”

At that exact moment the timer went off. Saved by the Bell. Thank God.

I got up and rushed into the kitchen. “Sorry, the cookies need my attention. You go right ahead and I’ll get dinner ready.” Thankfully, he didn’t push the issue.

I removed the cookies from the oven and placed them on the cooling tray and started to wonder what I was going to do with this relationship.

Part of me reasoned that it was better to end it now, let him go to a woman who deserved him and would appreciate him. But the other part of me reasoned that it would hurt Jake too much and I simply couldn’t put him through that much pain. I was damned if I did, damned if I didn’t. I guess I could give it another try, see if things could improve. I didn’t want to try it, but Jake was my friend, my boyfriend, and technically, my lover. He deserved for me to give it another shot.

After I finished the cookies and muffins I prepared dinner, ate dinner, cleaned up, had a shower, did some work, changed for bed, and pretended to be asleep before Jake got into bed.

This was no use. I would never look forward to being intimate with him, and even though I continuously tried to delude myself that sex wasn’t integral to a relationship, I knew I was wrong.

I would go on one date. I would try to be intimate one more time. If it didn’t work I was breaking it off. Jake would thank me... someday.


In the morning I got my things together and left the apartment before Jake was even out of bed. I was looking forward to today for two reasons. Firstly, I would get to spend the day with Edward and not Mr. Cullen; after yesterday I was sure that things would only get better and not worse. And secondly, today Edward had a Vanity Fair photo shoot scheduled. The theme was called ‘All Year Around’ or in English: The Four Seasons. Yeah, I was looking forward to see what his Summer outfit might look like.

After nearly forty-five minutes stuck in traffic I decided that there was no way I could get to Edward’s in time to wake him up, and then make my way to the location where the photo shoot was going to be held. I called Edward’s mobile in a futile attempt to wake him, I knew Edward would just sleep through it, but I was hoping that if I just kept ringing some noise would seep into his subconscious and he would wake up.

On the third ring someone surprisingly picked up.

“Hello?”

“Hello. Who’s this?” I instantly recognised Edward’s voice but there was a hard edge to it. What could possibly have happened to make him angry this early in the morning? If Jasper did something...

“It’s Bella. Are you ok?”

“Oh, hey.” His voice brightened, and my stomach did a little flip. Silly me. “Yeah, I’m fine. Your number turned up as private so I figured it was either a crazy fan or the media.”

“Ahh, I see.” It explained the harsh voice. “Well, I just called to try to wake you up but obviously you are already awake.”

I could hear him chuckling at the other end of the phone. “Yeah, Jasper came over for breakfast. I have to say, I now appreciate your tactics to get me out of bed much more; you never poured water on me.”

I started laughing. “It never crossed my mind...”

He laughed even harder. “I’m sure it didn’t.”

I was glad he was laughing. And it seemed Jasper would be getting his cookies; if he was over for breakfast it meant that he and Edward had sorted things out.

“I also wanted to call to let you know that traffic is nuts and I won’t be able to make to yours. Will it be ok if I just make my way to the photo shoot location?”

“Yeah, that's fine. We’re just leaving now so I’ll see you there soon.”

“Great. Goodbye Edward.”

“Bye, Bella.”

The photo shoot was going to take place in a beautiful stately home. It was one of those mansions you could picture in a Jane Austen adaptation film, complete with surrounding woods, lake and swimming pool. I could definitely see why they had chosen this for Edward’s cover shoot: the place was stunning.

I drove to the gates and was let in and directed to Edward’s dressing room. I juggled the many boxes of cookies and muffins as well as all the other things required to keep Edward’s life in order, but was able to make it without smashing my face on the floor or breaking a bone. Already a great start to the day.

Edward’s dressing room was situated on the ground floor of the house. It was a living room with breathtaking views of the mature gardens. The decor was turn of the century, with pale yellow walls and golden accents. If I ever won the Lottery I would buy a house just like this one. Every piece of furniture— from the plush sofas to the velvet curtains— was infused with a sense of history and endlessly elegant. I always was a sucker for beauty—never could resist it. So, I made my way around the room touching every surface and caressing every material, dreaming that someday—maybe in a future life time—I could own something so exquisite.

After ten minutes of snooping, and touching things I really shouldn’t have touched, I sat down and was immediately overtaken with a small wave of uneasiness. Mainly because I would have to face Jasper and Gray after our blow up and I didn’t know if things between us would be awkward, but also because I wondered how I would act around Edward now that there wasn’t any real animosity between us. In the past we didn’t speak much so there was no way I could say something foolish like ‘You’re pretty’ or ‘I love your hair. Can I touch it?’ But now such things were a possibility. I have been known to frequently put my foot in my mouth and I would be mortified if anything idiotic slipped out, and without the mild hatred to keep my fantasies in check I dreaded to think of all the embarrassing situations I would get myself into.

However, anxiety was rapidly replaced by curiosity once again. In the corner there was a small bookshelf. Another thing I couldn’t resist: books. By the time I heard giggles and mumbling from outside the door I was well into Villette by Charlotte Brontë, it was one of her less well-known works, but in my opinion her best.

I continued to hold the book as the door opened and Edward, Jasper, and Emmett entered the room... followed by another bout of nerves.

“I swear if those girls are on set when I come out I will refuse to take a single shot. Bella, tell Jazz to get rid of them, right now.” Edward had gracefully plopped himself down on the sofa, already giving me tasks without even a simple ‘Good morning’. Typical. I inwardly sighed with relief; things were going to be fine.

“Edward, I can’t tell them to leave; they are part of Vanity’s team, not some crazy fans.” Jasper’s eyes looked around the room. When he saw me in the corner his eyes quickly lowered to the floor and he shoved his hands in his pocket—making him appear like a little boy and making me feel ten times guiltier.

“Then explain to me why they asked for my autograph and giggled? They freaking giggled Jazz!”

Jazz rolled his eyes and took a seat opposite Edward and was joined by Emmett, who responded to the question with a dismissive hand gesture. “They giggled because you’re a pretty princess. I should think that by now you would be used to it.”

Edward mumbled something incoherent and turned his attention to me. “Hey, what are you reading?”

I looked at the cover even though I knew perfectly well what I had been reading. “Villette,” I said, as I approached the sofa and took a seat next to Edward. It wasn’t the best place to sit because it meant I was face-to-face with Jasper and Emmett.

“By one of the Brontë sisters, right?” I nodded. “I think I read that one in Japan. It was good.”

I gave him a small smile, not because he had read one of my all time favourites but because he had initiated a conversation, which was a first.

Emmett was staring at me, grinning like a fool.

I arched an eyebrow and he burst into laughter. “Sorry Buttons, but you totally rock my socks right off.”

I didn’t really know how to respond to that, so I just smiled. Was I meant to smile?

“I would never have thought that there was a tigress behind the kitten exterior.”

I was mortified and began to bite my lip.

“Em, shut up.” Jasper got up and adjusted his button down shirt. “I think we should get started. Emmett go look around the perimeter of the set. Edward get into the makeup chair, somebody should be here soon to brighten up you sour mug. Bella... um... do whatever you want.” Jasper started shuffling his feet towards the door.

“Wait.” I reached for one of the boxes on top of a table nearby and silently handed it him.

Jasper opened it and raised both eyebrows in question.

Now it was my turn to shuffle my feet. “I’m sorry for how I acted yesterday; my brain wasn’t working to its full capacity.”

Jazz took one of the cookies from the box and started munching. “Oh. My. God. It tastes so good.” He said, with his mouth full.

I laughed. I guess I was forgiven.

“What he gets cookies for being a shit-head and I get nothing? Even though I was a complete angel yesterday?” Emmett looked annoyed and was eyeing the box like he might just do a grab and run.

“No. Because you were an absolute angel you get your own special box.”

Emmett started jumping. He really was just like a child.

“No way! Peanut Butter? That is awesome Bella.” He gave me a super tight hug, only letting go when Edward punched him in the arm.

“Em, you need to work on your hugging skills.” I chuckled and then picked up the muffin box and gave it to Edward. His eyes lit up.

He didn’t say anything but gave me a devastating smile as he opened the box and grabbed one of the muffins—ready to eradicate it.

“Edward, no carbs...”

I shot Jasper a nasty look and he quickly shut his mouth. Just because I felt guilty about what happened yesterday it didn’t mean I was going to let him deprive Edward of chocolate.

After our rather unusual way of apologizing we went our separate ways. Jasper pulled an unwilling Edward into the makeup section, and Emmett was getting ready to leave.

“Make sure you look into the bushes near the swimming pool; that would be the perfect place for them to hide.” Jasper reminded while flipping through some papers.

Em seemed deeply insulted. “Jazz, I’ve been his body guard for four years and I was a policeman for two. I think I may know how to do my job.”

I resumed my seat and started answering all of Edward’s email. It was amazing how many crazy fans were able to get his personal contacts. I usually deleted the majority, they were mainly marriage proposals, but there were some that were so ridiculously funny that they deserved to be answered.

I was typing my reply to some nutty girl who wanted to know if Edward would send her his underwear so that she could dress up her blow-up doll when Edward’s voice started rising in volume. He was irritated.

“Jasper what did you do?” I asked without taking my eyes way from my PDA. Children. They were like Children.

“He’s being a diva again.” He answered, and then in a quieter voice—clearly speaking to Edward— he said something that truly shocked me. “It’s only an inch. What’s the big fuss? The photos would turn out so much better if you didn’t have hair in your eyes.”

He wants to cut his hair? I gasped and was immediately out of my seat. “Don’t you dare touch his hair! It’s beautiful the way it is. If I see one lock of copper hair on the floor you will suffer pain. Understood?”

Jasper nodded and was clearly trying to fight a smirk.

Did I just have an outburst about Edward’s hair? Shoot me now. I stated –practically screamed—that his hair was beautiful. I knew this would happen. I just knew it.

I couldn’t even look at Edward so I just sat down and hid my face behind a curtain of hair—willing myself to wake up from this embarrassing nightmare.

There wasn’t much commotion after that. Edward had his makeup and hair done, followed by wardrobe and then a quick chat with the photographer.

The day was extremely long. I lost count of how many outfit changes Edward went through. But after watching from the side lines I could definitely understand why they had chosen this particular theme. For autumn they had Edward walking through the woods, he was dressed in simple brown clothes, all relaxed and messy. They had sprayed some of the leaves in a reddish- brown colour that accentuated his hair perfectly. Unbelievably gorgeous. For winter he was sitting on a bench near the lake, his dazzling face reflected on the water, his outfit was once again simple; jeans and a white button down shirt accessorized with a large green scarf. His eyes looked beautiful. The set up for spring had Edward leaning against ancient-looking concrete railings looking out at the grounds. It was hard to look away when his face was in profile; his eyes were unfocused and he had this dreamy look on his face—the photographer had a field day. But the pièce de résistance was the summer set up. I nearly choked on my tongue when he came out of the dressing room. He was wearing surfing shorts and flip flops, his chest was bare and he was all greasy. I think I drooled a bit. Then they had him in the swimming pool. I drooled some more.

By the end of the day I was dehydrated from all the drooling and other reactions in my nether regions. But damn me if it wasn’t worth it.


“Bella, can you pass me the towel please?” I passed Edward the towel and sat back down on the sofa and waited for him to be ready.

We were now back in the dressing room and Edward was drying his hair after washing away all the baby oil they had spread all over him. When I had been told the makeup girl had touched his chest I wanted to hunt her down and chop off her hands. Ridiculous reaction, I know. But I guess I didn’t just feel protective over him, I felt possessive too, which was an absurd feeling to have. He was just my boss and nothing more. But I couldn’t deny that I felt incredibly attracted to him. Urgh. The little fantasies I had about him before were nothing compared to the ones I had now; the ones I had now were so improper I embarrassed myself with my dirty thoughts.

After the photo shoot had finished both Emmett and Jasper left in a hurry; they had a double date and were already late. Edward and I teased them relentlessly for being forced to go on a double date. We might have made smooching noises like five year olds to annoy them.

“Finished yet?”

“Yep.” Edward chucked the towel over a random chair but instead of making his way to the door he sprawled himself next to me. “but can we just relax for a bit? I know standing in front of a camera isn’t the most tiring thing in the world but it’s been a really long day.”

Edward closed his eyes and leaned his head against the sofa. After watching him for a stupid amount of time I decided to stop being a ninny and busied myself with reading.

“Bella?”

“Mmm?” I answered, still reading.

“Do you really think my hair is beautiful?”

My head quickly snapped up and I looked at him with wide eyes, a blush covering my face and neck.

He had his crooked smile in place— the one that make me forget my own name and made me even more dehydrated—waiting for an answer.

I ducked my head a little. “Yeah, it’s...nice.” Edward got this tiny little crease in between his brows, so I had to amend myself because I hadn’t been totally truthful. “Ok, it’s absolutely stunning. There. Happy?”

I was expecting him to say something like ‘Yeah, I am’ or something sarcastic but instead he leaned forward and picked up a strand of my hair and twirled it around his finger.

“I think your hair is gorgeous too. Is the colour natural?”

His touch left me breathless, and I had to focus really hard to put words into a comprehendible sentence. “Erm, yeah.” Smooth.

Edward laced his fingers through my hair and shifted closer. He started stroking slowly, leaving me with Goosebumps every time his hand accidently brushed against my neck.

“Strawberry?”

I tried to answer, I really did. But I just couldn’t; there wasn’t one single thought in my head. The only thing that was swimming in all the free space in my brain was ‘Oh God, his hands are heaven.’ It was incredible how with one simple touch he had turned my mind to mush and had my nerves buzzing. My body’s reaction to his fingers was startling and I didn’t even want to contemplate what it meant. So, I just sat there watching him as he watched his hand weave in and out of my hair.

It seemed like hours that we sat there doing nothing but me staring and him stroking, until he tucked a piece of hair behind my ear and got up.

“We should get going; otherwise traffic is going to be insane.” He had this amazing look in his eyes as he offered me his hand to help me up.

I accepted his hand and gently squeezed it.

We were silent until we got to my car, but this wasn’t a comfortable silence. There was an energy vibrating between us that made the silence tense, but not in a bad way. It was more like an anticipating energy, like we knew something was going to happen and we were just waiting for something to crack. It was... incredible... one of a kind.

“So, did you enjoy your day?” Edward asked as he opened the door for me. His voice was huskier than usual, and I swear I saw stars just by hearing his voice that way. Oh crap. I need to get a grip. Now.

I took a deep breath and shook my head; trying to clear all those sparkling stars away. “It was very ... interesting.” Urgh. Interesting? Really? Was that the best way to describe seeing him without a shirt?

Edward smirked. “Yeah, interesting is the right word. Did you notice how you were staring at my chest throughout the entire summer shot? Isn’t that interesting?”

My mouth dropped. I was speechless and gawking. He did not just say that.

“Ok, then. I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow. Have a nice evening, Bella.” And then he did something that was sure to make my poor heart explode; he leaned in and sniffed my hair. He sniffed. “Mmm, definitely strawberry.”

I was wrong. It didn’t make my heart explode but it did make me collapse into my car seat and stay there until my phone began ringing and interrupted my Edward Cullen induced stupor.

Shite. I was in trouble.