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The Hot Corner

Summary:
Bella Black and Emmett Cullen are co-owners of the Chicago Cubs Baseball Team. Edward Masen is a free-agent third baseman looking for a fresh start. Bella and Edward have a hidden messy past. Can they work out their differences on and off the field? Will they be able to find love again?


Notes:


4. Chapter 3: Comfortably Numb

Rating 0/5   Word Count 4903   Review this Chapter

Song Choice- “Blurry" by Puddle of Mudd

* *Edward's POV**

Beep beep. Beep beep. Beep beep .

What is that noise? I was awoken from a dreamless slumber. The fucking alarm clock was going off. Why it was going off, I had no idea. It's Saturday for Christ's sake. I slammed my hand down on top of it, in the process knocking a half empty bottle of red wine on the carpet. Fuck. This day was already off to a sensational start. I stared at the deepening red stain saturating my white bedroom carpet. I couldn't even bring myself to care. I took a deep breath as I felt my head start pounding. Great. Another hangover. The details of last night were extremely fuzzy. I rolled over towards the middle of the bed and saw the tiny, dark haired woman lying on the pillow next to me. She had red lipstick smeared around her mouth and dark mascara smudges under her eyes. I had no idea what her name was or how she got here, but I was pretty sure I knew what happened.

I groaned and decided to get up and find some Advil. My social life was as monotonous as my career. Game after game. Different city after different city. Random woman after random woman. It was like Groundhog's Day. The scenes were different, but it was always the same outcome. My dad would have been so disappointed if he could have seen how my life turned out. And yet again, I couldn't make myself care enough to change it.

I felt lost. I was drowning in my own self-induced misery. I was angry, sad and apathetic all at the same time. I saw my credit card bills sitting in a pile unpaid on my counter as I passed through the kitchen. It certainly wasn't that I didn't have the money to pay them; I just couldn't make myself sit down and read over them. I would be forced to face the reality of what my life had become. My agent and best friend from college, Jasper, had recommended I start to see a psychiatrist to work through my issues. He was worried it was going to start interfering with my career. Truth was, I wasn't sure I cared if it all ended. The game I once loved and reveled in had long since waned in interest to me. I swallowed three Advil and chased it down with some wine left in a glass from last night. Ugh, disgusting!

I sat down on my couch and flipped on the TV. There was absolutely nothing on worth watching. As I continued to flip through the channels I thought about how this therapy was hardly doing me any good. I saw the sports psychiatrist twice a week. He was the one who had suggested a change in scenery might be good for me. Jasper agreed it might be a good idea, and it would work out well, since my contract was up at the end of the season. I subsequently turned down a multimillion, multiyear deal from the Diamondbacks. Not that I cared about the money, I had plenty of it. I wasn't sure a change of scenery was really going to fix me, but I was too indifferent to care to argue about it.

I had done a pretty good job of hiding my “depression,” as my psychiatrist called it, from my manager and teammates throughout the season. I was still the ever-encouraging captain of a team that had seriously faltered in the past year. I showed up on time everyday and played hard, hoping to lose myself in the game. I went to additional hitting and fielding sessions to keep myself from wallowing in my own pity. The team thought I was trying to set an example for the younger players by never giving up on our abysmal season. Truthfully, however, my self confidence was at an all-time low. I figured the extra sessions could only help me to continue to perform at the level everyone was used to. Personally, I wasn't sure I could handle a hitting slump in my current mental state. That might be the straw that broke the camel's back. In other words, it may have broken me to a point of no return.

I was drafted in the first round by Arizona in 2002 after graduating from USC and winning the Dick Howser Trophy as the national collegiate baseball player of the year. I made my debut with the young team about one year later after rising rapidly through the minors. I quickly became, as the media referred to me, the team's “Golden Boy.” It was a lot of pressure but something I took to with a passion. Two years later I was bestowed with the honor of captain of our team. I did what was expected of me- hosting charity events, participating in the Make-A-Wish program, hosting youth league camps, etc, etc. Blah, blah, blah. I was always congenial in public and, despite my reputation for being a playboy, was considered a role-model for the kids of Phoenix. But as time went on, I realized something was missing from my life. I couldn't figure out what that was, though. I was disgusted with myself, but I tried to ignore the nagging feeling for years. That all abruptly changed about six months ago.

Realizing I wasn't going to find anything better than Sports Center on the TV, I flipped to ESPN. Most of the news was football and hockey related, but I knew news from the Winter Meetings would be on eventually. I let my mind wander back to June of our last season. The team had traveled to Seattle for an interleague series. After the final game, I was in the parking lot to sign autographs for fans when I saw her. Her chin-length platinum blonde hair looked similar to her style back in high school. She realized immediately when I recognized her. She had that same smug smile plastered to her face just as she always had. I took a deep breath knowing I had no choice but to talk to her at this point.

“Hey, Lauren, right? We went to high school together?” I begrudgingly smiled out.

“Eddie Masen! I knew you would remember me,” she snidely remarked and then giggled. “I am pretty unforgettable. Especially after that amazing night together. I can't believe you didn't call me after that. I know I had to have made an impression on you and I'm not talking about the one I left on your neck,” Lauren giggled again. “You always were so mysterious, though.”

Ugh! I felt my stomach begin churn at her words. First of all, I hated the name Eddie. My Mom was the only one I let call me that. Secondly, Lauren had no idea the mark she made on my life. It definitely wasn't a good one, however. I knew I had to get out of there, and fast, or I might seriously get sick.

“Well, it was good to run into you, Lauren, but I have to get going,” I lied. “We have a long flight to New York tonight.”

In reality, we weren't leaving for New York until morning, but by just looking at the woman who had single-handedly ruined my life ten years ago, I felt myself getting insanely irritated. As years of pent up anger bubbled to the surface, I clenched my fists at my side, turned abruptly and continued walking with my teammates out to our bus.

I knew, deep down, the anger should have been directed more towards myself. I had let my emotions and jealousy get the best of me that night ten years ago. I tried to drink my sorrows away at the graduation party held down at the Reservation. My heart was aching for my ailing father and my girlfriend had made other plans with a friend.

Bella . My beautiful, sweet Bella. I made it a point to try not to think about her too much. She was the only good thing I had in my life at the time. She was my rock, my one constant, and I threw it all away for one drunken night that I didn't even remember and with a girl I had always despised. God, I am such a bastard. How my heart ached just thinking about her.

Bella. I had never really gotten over her. I even tried to look up Isabella Swan a few years ago, but couldn't find anyone with the name on Google. Hell, once in a pathetically weak moment, I thought about finding her friend Jake to see if he could help me track her down, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember his last name. Damn Lauren!

Lauren had always thrown herself at me in school. She flirted shamelessly with me in front of Bella, which always made the both of us very uncomfortable. She was considered the prettiest, most popular girl in the school, but she had the ugliest personality I had ever known. She would step on anyone in her way to get what she wanted. I had always tried to keep my distance from her.

That night, I had felt my world crumbling. My father's health was deteriorating quickly. I wasn't handling it well at all. My father had been sick for some time with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He had beaten it once, but when it came back, the medicine seemed to stop working. I made it a point to not really tell anyone about him when I moved into town. I thought it would be easier to make friends that way. I wanted to see Bella. I wanted to finally tell her about my father. I wanted to tell her I loved her. I wanted to apologize again for being such a dick to her a few days before that.

There were so many things I wanted to do/say/feel that I got anxious and overwhelmed. I decided to have a few drinks to take the edge off my nerves. But instead, I got drunk. Piss drunk, like blackout drunk. Lauren took full advantage of my inebriated state and dragged me out to the beach with her. I didn't remember a god-damned thing from that night. When I woke up the next day, I had a message on my cell phone from Bella. The words haunted me to this day.

"What...how...Edward, why? Why would you do this? Why now? I don't...I don't understand what I did wrong. I needed you!" Her voice was so broken. The pain in it sent shivers up my spine. "Obviously, you want this to be over. I can't bear to hear your reasons, so please don't call me or try to find me. You are both so important to me, didn't you see that? Looks like you chose for me in the end. I am leaving town and won't be back. Dammit, Edward! I loved you!" A loud sob escaped her lips before the line went dead.

What?What did that mean? I had no idea what I had done wrong or what made her so sad. She loved me? Bella had never said those words to me before. I knew it by her actions and gestures, but we had never said them aloud. I absolutely did not want what we had to be over. It was everything to me. I needed her. What did she mean she was leaving town? Was she going to Phoenix with her Mom? I was in a panic and was frantic to see her. I tried to call her immediately, but her phone was turned off. I called my teammate and closest friend in town, Austin, and he filled me in on the story. Bella had come looking for me at the party and found Lauren and I together on the beach, apparently in a fairly compromising position. She then ran to her car, tears streaking her face and took off. Her friend, Jake was the one to comfort her.

The news floored me. What the hell? There was no way I would ever hook up with Lauren. How could that have happened? The last thing I remembered from the party was sitting at the bonfire with the guys having a few beers. Where did the night go wrong? The confusion, hurt and anger began to bubble up inside me. I was mad at Lauren for taking advantage of the situation, knowing full well I would never have agreed to it if sober. I was mad at myself, obviously. I had gone and fucked up the only good thing in my life that was left. I was mad at Bella for just leaving me and refusing to talk to me, even though it was probably justified. I was mad at Jake for being there to comfort her, as he always was.

Jake. He had been a thorn in my side. Not that he was a bad guy. In fact, I actually really liked him. But he had been best friends with Bella for the past seven years, and her loyalty always seemed to lay with him. Jake was never athletic although he could have been a star basketball player, I was sure. I tried to befriend Jake when Bella and I started dating, but I always felt like the third wheel. I hated all the private jokes and smiles that they shared. It was truly the first time in my life I ever felt jealous of someone or something. Maybe it had something to do with my already emotional state at the time, but I desperately wanted Bella all to myself. Jake would have none of that.

In fact, Bella and I had gotten into an extremely heated argument only two days before about Jake. I couldn't contain my jealousy anymore regarding him. I wanted her to choose. She couldn't keep dragging me on like this if he would always be most important in her life. Bella explicably told me to not ask her to do that; that I might not like the decision. I knew she was right. I knew as happy as we were together as a couple, I would lose. Jake had been there for her after the loss of her father and the move to Washington, in which she had to leave the rest of her family behind. They had a connection together, that was more than she and I could have established in the two months we had known each other. I didn't really want her to choose, anyway. I just wanted her, only her. I wanted to establish our own deep connection together. We had made up afterwards, but I knew she hadn't really forgiven me for asking her to pick me over her friend. It hadn't escaped me that the message said that I had chosen for her.

I had to find Bella. I had to talk to her, had to hear her voice just once more. Even if it wouldn't make any difference, I knew I had to apologize. The self-deprecation in me was overwhelming. I went to Jake's house first. He would not tell me anything about Bella. I tried to bribe him, threaten him, beg him, my God I cried to him, but he held strong and wouldn't tell me where she was. The hate and disgust in Jake's eyes when he looked at me was overwhelming. I couldn't bear to face him anymore, so I gave up with him.

I tried Bella's friend Angela next. Angela was the most wholesome, good person I had ever known. I was always pleased Bella had such a wonderful person in her life. Angela could see the sorrow in my eyes. I was a broken mess by the time I had come to see her. She took pity on me and gave me a little information. She told me Bella had indeed left town. She knew she didn't go to Phoenix with her mom, but was with family. She said Bella traveled to Illinois every summer to stay with her cousins and had decided to leave right away after the incident at the party. Angela told me she hadn't seen Bella after the party, but Jake described her as inconsolable. I felt my heart break even more with her words. What had I done? How could I hurt the person I loved more than anything else in this world?

I never saw or spoke to Bella again. A week later, my father passed away. My mother decided to move us immediately back to San Diego since the funeral would be taking place there anyway. My grief over Bella and my father was overwhelming. I was practically catatonic for the first three months. The only good thing from the situation was how strong my relationship with my mother grew to be. She is an angel. I would not consider myself to be a "Momma's Boy," but I do confer with her on almost all major decisions in my life. She has never led me down the wrong path.

The creaking door to my bedroom brought my memories to a halt. The girl I couldn't remember from last night was walking towards the living room. I desperately wanted to ignore her and pretend I couldn't hear her approaching. I was hoping she would take the hint and just leave.

She sauntered over to the couch and stood in front of me. I wished that I could be a prick like some of my teammates were, but ever the nice guy, I tried to smile up at her. The woman smiled back and sat down. Sensing some sort of implied invitation from my smile, she began prattling on about nonsense stuff. She seemed reluctant to leave my house, and nice guy or not, there was nothing else that was going to come of this relationship.

Over the past few months I found myself becoming more selfish. Taking what I wanted from these women without a second thought, but never finding what I needed. I was so lonely and empty. Meaningless sex was just so easy. I had known meaningful, beautiful love-making in the past with Bella and these women could never carry a torch to her. Without her, my life was meaningless.

I turned to the woman with all the sweetness I could muster, and said “I had a great time last night, Hon, but I have to go work out. Maybe we could get together again sometime soon.”

She smiled and thanked me, then wrote her name and number down on a piece of paper by the phone. After a chaste kiss to her forehead, I watched her make the walk of shame down to her car. I looked at the paper she handed me. Jane. Sorry Jane, but you won’t be hearing from me anytime soon, I thought as I crumpled up the paper and threw it in the trash.

I grabbed a bottle of water from my fridge and threw some bread in the toaster. I figured some carbs might help soak up some of this alcohol swimming in my blood stream. My cell phone started ringing and I went to find it. I could tell it was in the living room, but I had no idea where. I finally found it stuck between the cushions of my couch. The call was already lost to voicemail. I saw the missed call was from Jasper. The voicemail finally beeped and I called back to hear what he had to say.

Hey Edward, it's me. I got a call last night from the GM of the Cubs. They might be interested. Call me back when you get a sec and we'll talk logistics.”

Chicago. Well, that would definitely be a change of scenery. Except for my traveling with the team, I had never really been anywhere except the west coast. Chicago seemed like a cool city. There was always a lot going on downtown whenever we played. The weather would certainly be a huge change of pace. However, the biggest bonus would be living closer to Jasper. The agency he worked for was headquartered there, and it would be good to have him so close again. Maybe having someone I trusted so deeply close by would be good for my mental health.

I gave him a call back after I finished eating my toast. My headache was finally easing and I felt somewhat functional. He answered after the second ring.

“What's up, Bro? Hope I didn't wake you,” he drawled.

Jasper was from Texas originally and had that southern twang to his voice that all the girls swooned over. We were quite the duo on campus back at USC. Jasper was tall with perfectly styled, curly blonde hair. Which was quite the opposite of my brownish-red hair that was always in complete disarray. Never quite understood what the girls found so appealing about my hair, but I loved that they wanted to run their hands through it. He looked liked like he should have grown up on the beach of Southern California playing beach volleyball. Both of us were built quite nicely for eighteen year-old college kids and we enjoyed working out together. We were roommates our first year since they tried to group athletes together, and hit it off immediately. Jasper played baseball with me our freshman year, but after realizing he was probably never going to start on the team, he decided to throw himself into school work. He graduated early and went to law school, focusing on Entertainment Law so he continued being involved in athletics. I vowed that if I ever made it to the bigs, he would be right there along side me, as my agent.

“Nah, I was already awake. Just finished taking out the “trash” and eating some breakfast.” I couldn't hold back the chuckle that escaped after my play on words.

Jasper groaned, Edward, you have to stop doing this. I thought you were making good progress with the therapist” He sighed and then continued, “you need to be able to pass a physical when you finally sign with the new team, and your excessive alcohol intake is not going to bode well for you, you know.”

“You're probably right, but I don't need a lecture right now. Just get to the point and tell me what happened with the Cubs,” I snapped back, feeling my head starting to pound again. I am grown man for God's sake! I don't need this first thing in the morning. I instinctively began rubbing the bridge of my nose with my thumb and index finger, something I did when I got irritated or frustrated. A habit I picked up from my father.

“Fine, fine. Don't get your panties in a wad, Edward! Hendry called me last night. Says they are looking to replace Ramirez because of that chronic shoulder injury. It's pretty hush, hush right now. I think they need a name, too. You heard they backed out of the deal for Peavy yesterday?”

I hadn't heard that yet. The Cubs hadn't really made any big moves this offseason. I'm sure their fans would be disappointed in that news. Chicago had a legitimate chance of being a playoff contender next season. They had slowly been adding young talent to their team over that past two years. The two new owners were considered a force to be reckoned with.

“So the Peavy trade is completely dead? Interesting. Did they make you an offer over the phone?”

I could hear Jasper typing on his computer in the background. “Well, no, but if you are interested one of the owners wants to come down and meet with you in person. They apparently like to get to know their players to make sure that personality-wise, they would be a good fit for the team. I guess they are really hands-on.”

“Really, the owner's coming down? Not the GM? Usually the GM's are the ones to handle that kind of stuff.” They must be really hands-on. Then again, they obviously had a high stake in the players they were acquiring. I wondered why more owners didn't do that. “Well when are they planning on coming to town? You know I am heading back to San Diego to spend the holidays with my Mom.”

“So you're interested then?” I could actually hear the smile in Jasper's voice. “This would be great if this worked out. Us in the same city again. I have missed you, my brother. I will give them a call back and set something up. Will you be back in town for New Year's? I thought maybe I'd make a trip down to see you for the ball drop, anyway.”

“Yeah, I don't see any reason why not. You should definitely come down, with or without this meeting. We'll tear it up like we used to.” I chuckled knowingly. “Give them a call and set something up around then, if possible. I'll talk to you later today, Jazz. I'm going to go hit the gym.” We hung up a few minutes later after I promised to try a little harder with the therapy sessions.

For the first time in at least half a year, I felt a little lighter. I was optimistic about a possible change and being able to spend more time with my best friend. Maybe all I really needed was a fresh start and a new lease on life.

Later that afternoon, I headed over to my usual training gym to hit the weights and do some cardio. Phil Dwyer, our batting coach, met me there. Phil's a good guy. He sort of took me under his wing when I started out in Arizona. He had always offered excellent and unbiased advice, which meant the world to me as a young player. His training had also improved my hitting immensely over the years. I had a lot to thank him for. Phil was also one of the only people who know about my mental state right now.

“Need a spotter for those presses, Masen?” I heard Phil say as he came up behind me.

“Hey Phil! That would be great. I was going to ask the high school kid over there, but I think I scared him when I started putting the weights on,” I smirked at the boy as his face turned beet red.

“So how's everything going? Have you had heard from any interested teams yet? We are certainly going to miss you around here,” Phil managed to converse in between rep counts.

I sat the weight bar back up on the base and wiped the sweat from my brow. “Actually, Jazz called me today and said the Cubs were possibly interested. Talk about a change of scenery, huh? Hey, don't you know some of the higher ups over there?”

I stood from the bench and stretched my back and chest muscles and then laying down on a mat on the floor, I started doing my sit-ups.

“Sure, sure. It's my wife with all of the connections, though,” he shrugged.

“I was just wondering, because the owner wanted to come down and meet with me in person. That's nice. You don't hear about that kind of treatment very often. Is that normal for them?”

“Hmm...Don't really know. They're good kids, though. Probably just trying to extend their hand. I can put in a good word for you, if you want.”

I laughed. “That's alright,Phil. You've done so much for me throughout the years. I guess I am going to have to start learning how to do this kind of stuff on my own. It will be weird not having you wherever I end up next year.” Really sad, too. Another important person in my life slipping away.

“Well my wife hasn't mentioned anything about Izzy coming into town, so must be Emmett. Listen, if you want we could all go out to dinner when he comes down. Strength in numbers, right? I know you could use the extra support right about now.”

“That'd be great Phil, thanks. Thanks for everything you've done for me, actually. And also, for not giving up on me and being a true friend.”

“That's what I am here for, Masen. You want to work out tomorrow or take the day off since it is Sunday?”

“Ahh... you know what? If you're not busy I'd like to meet up tomorrow.” I surprised myself with my own words. But once I make a commitment, I always stick to it.

“Sure, meet you here around noon. Take it easy tonight, Masen. I can smell the alcohol sweating out of your pores, you know? ”

Fuck. Well that is embarrassing. Maybe it's time I tried to put my head on straight. I kept saying that I was looking for a fresh start. Might as well put some effort in now. I suppose my comfortably numb existence was in need of a make-over. I was afraid to start feeling again. More than anything, I was just afraid to end up back where I was in that catatonic state. “Feeling” always seemed to lead to pain and loss for me. Sighing deeply, I realized I might just be too broken to fix.