#Belward – Chapter 1
It was just another day. To some, it might have looked like the most exciting thing in the world to be in the green room for Access Hollywood. There was a table in the corner full of fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and crackers. He had chilled sparkling water and several bottles of chilled Cherry Coke waiting for him. There was a stylist standing behind his chair trying to tame his hair with the most expensive hair products known to man.
But Edward Cullen couldn't care less about any of it. As he sat in the chair, he tried to ignore the fact that Rachel was pulling his hair a little too hard, and the bright lights of the vanity were starting to give him a headache. He kept his eyes closed and tried to focus on the music coming through his earbuds. While some people always needed to have their watch and cellphone on them, Edward always needed his cell phone and his earbuds. With those, he could just close his eyes and drown out the world.
It wasn't that Edward took his celebrity status for granted. He knew that he was one lucky bastard, and he was grateful for everything that he had. He knew that fame was fleeting, and fans were fickle. After 12 years busting his ass, he finally felt like he could confidently say that he'd found success in Hollywood. He'd starred in five blockbuster movies, commanded a paycheck of $15 million per movie, and been nominated for a Golden Globe, a SAG, and an Oscar. Granted, he had yet to actually win an award, but Leonardo DiCaprio was still chasing his golden statue after 20 years. Poor sonofabitch.
Unfortunately, one of the price tags for success was the loss of his personal time, space, and life. Edward quickly learned that the more people recognized that he could actually act, the further they pried into his life. The closer he got to perfecting his craft, the closer the world came into the little bubble he tried to build for himself. Wherever he went, there were cameras clicking in his face trying to catch him doing something stupid.
Once the paparazzi figured out that he wasn't reckless or clueless, they started making stuff up just to sell their photos of Hollywood's Rising Star. If they snapped a photo of him right after he yawned, his fatigue was labeled as depression which incited rumors of suicide watch. If they caught him walking off the plane when he fell asleep with his contacts in and his eyes bloodshot from the lenses plastered to his eyeballs, he was a drug addict whose family was staging a soon to be televised intervention.
Through the earbuds, he could hear the producer knock and peek his head in to give the five minute countdown. Taking a deep breath, Edward pulled out the earbuds and turned off the music from his phone. He tucked both away safely in his jacket pocket, and looked at himself in the mirror.
Chuckling softly to himself, he met Rachel's eyes in the mirror and said, "Deciding to wave the white flag, Rach?"
With her hand on her hip, Rachel narrowed her eyes at her favorite male celebrity. He was one of the few who knew her name, didn't try to grab her ass, or drool on her tits when she was cutting his bangs. "Cullen, your hair is a fucking pain in my ass. I swear to God I'm so tempted to just shave your head. But one of your fucking fan girls would probably shank me at Starbucks for violating the coif."
"Would it make you feel better if I told you that my next movie is a period piece set in the middle of World War I. You're going to have to give me a crew cut in a few weeks," Edward said. Absent-mindedly, he started to raise his hand to run it through his hair before Rachel grabbed his wrist.
Rachel tugged Edward's wrist and held it against his chest. "Do. Not. Touch. Your. Hair! I just spent the better part of an hour trying to fix that god awful mess on your head. If I didn't know any better, I would tell you that you needed to go to therapy for sex addiction because from the looks of your hair it looks like you're constantly getting fuckawesome action. But I know you're a monk, so there's nothing rational that explains the hair."
"I'm not a monk," Edward said rolling his eyes. "I'm just busy. I don't have time to be in as serious relationship, and I have even less time to deal with the paternity suits and bad press that come from fucking fan girls. I could get a vasectomy on live television, and they'd probably still come after me with claims that I'm their Baby Daddy."
"Truth," Rachel said with a nod of her head.
When the producer came to escort him to the studio, Edward rolled his shoulders and gave Rachel a pleading look. "I'll give you a million dollars right now if you go out there and do this interview for me."
"Tempting, but you've got one of the chicks. If it was the guy interviewing you, I'd consider it just to set my flirt game on fleek on national television," Rachel saw Edward's face go blank with a look of confusion. "My God, Cullen. You don't know what 'on fleek' means do you?"
"Why the fuck would I know that? Why aren't you using English?" Edward shook his head and begrudgingly followed the producer out to the studio floor. As they walked down the corridors, he turned to the producer who looked to be in his mid-twenties and asked, "Do you know what 'on fleek' means?"
Edward gave the producer some credit for trying to swallow his urge to laugh at him before saying, "Yes, Mr. Cullen. 'On fleek' means 'on point' or 'the quality of being perfect'. It's a pretty popular term on social media."
"Huh. Thanks," Edward said. When he got to his seat, he watched a young blond woman in her early twenties walk up to him with what he liked to call the "slut strut". It was the walk that girls used when they pushed their boobs out a little too far and swung their hips from side to side more than necessary to try to look sexy. Edward just thought they looked unbalanced, and he waited for the day when one of them actually fell from walking that way. It would make his whole goddamn day. Unfortunately, today was not that day.
When blondie got closer to him, he could smell the acrid stench of her perfume. It was so strong, Edward swore he could taste it. Tamping down the urge to cough, Edward took a small step backwards, but the clueless girl just followed him by taking one step forward.
"Hi, Edward," blondie said. "I have your microphone."
Edward clamped his lips together and tried to hold his breath. When he tried to take a small step backwards again, Blondie's hands shot out going straight for the buttons of his shirt.
Grabbing her wrists, Edward gently pushed her back a little. "Whoa. I can get it myself. I've done this a million times, so I think I'm okay. Thanks."
Blondie just pouted and handed Edward the lavalier microphone and mic pack. When she turned to walk away, she paused, threw her hair over her shoulder, and looked back at him. After fluttering her lashes at him, she said in a low voice, "My name is Jezebel. Please let me know if I can do anything for you, Mr. Cullen."
Knowing the game and being smarter than the average bear, Edward didn't even smile back at her. He knew she would take it as an invitation. Instead, he just averted his eyes quickly and got to work putting his microphone on. He wanted to be done with this whole interview as quickly as possible before he called his lawyer to find out if it was possible to start suing people for sexual harassment.
For the most part, the interview went on like any other interview. They walked about the movie he had coming out next month and the WWI film he had lined up for the summer. As they were wrapping up the interview, Kit leaned forward a little more towards Edward with a twinkle in her eyes. Edward watched and felt the sinking feeling in his stomach. Taking a deep breath, he waited for her to ask her "nail in the coffin" question.
"So, Edward," Kit said slowly. Lowering her voice a little, to make it seem like they were sharing secrets, she asked, "the word on the street is that you're planning to come out. Any plans you want to share with us on that?"
After internally rolling his eyes, Edward decided that it was time to have a little fun of his own. Tilting his head to the side a little bit, Edward smiled innocently and said, "Come out where?"
Clearing her throat, Kit nodded to Edward a little and said, "Of the closet."
Channeling his inner puppy, Edward tilted his head to the other side, and asked, "My closet at home doesn't have doors on it. I'm not sure what you mean. I'm sorry."
Edward watched as Kit steeled herself and finally asked point blank, "Edward, are you gay?"
"No, I'm not," Edward said with his trademark smile.
"But we've never seen you date anyone, so that leads us to the conclusion that you must be dating secretly because you're afraid of the world knowing your secret – that you're gay," Kit said with a sympathetic tone.
Shaking his head slowly, Edward said, "For the record, I am not gay. I haven't dated anyone because I've spent the last 12 years trying to make it in this business. I've filmed almost nonstop, and I haven't had time to really invest in a relationship. No one has caught my eye enough to make me rethink my priorities and right now my priority is acting."
Pausing, Edward looked into the camera and said, "And, please, let's be real. It's the 21st century. There's nothing wrong with being gay publicly, so if I did identify with that sexual orientation, I wouldn't hide it. Everyone deserves to love who they want and be happy with who they choose to share their lives with. I just haven't found that person that I want to share mine with. Being independent and career-focused doesn't make me gay. Come on, Kit. You know what they say about assumptions. It makes an ass out of you and me."
With that, Edward stood up, and pulled the microphone pack out of his pocket. He unclipped the lavalier and put it on the chair. Without a glance back, he walked past Jezebel and all the producers. When he turned the corner, he found his security guard Embry waiting for him.
"Don't start, "Edward warned as he continued walking out to the car. He could feel Embry vibrating with laughter next to him.
"Dude, come on," Embry said. "You can tell me. We're brothers. I won't judge you."
"Fuck you," Edward said. Since he didn't have another interview that day, Edward ran both of his hands through his hair. Pulling his fingers out, he felt all of the product that Rachel had used on his fingers. "Ugh. What the fuck did she put in my hair? This is disgusting. Do I have time to go back home to shower?"
Embry looked at his watch, and shook his head. "Nope. Sorry, Ed. You have to get on a plane for New York in two hours, and at this time of day it'll take us at least an hour to get to the airport."
"I fucking hate LA traffic," Edward grumbled as he wiped his hands on his jeans.
"You know, we wouldn't have to rush to the airport to make the commercial flights if you bought a private jet. Then we could just leave whenever you got there," Embry said causally.
"Do you think I'm made of fucking money?! Buying a private jet is expensive," Edward said.
"But it would be so worth it! Think about it, Ed. We'd have whatever food we want, and it wouldn't be that shitty airplane food. We could watch any movies we want. We wouldn't have to listen to other people whispering that it's really you on their flight, and I wouldn't have to pretend to bump or step on people's cell phones when they try to post an Instagram video of you snoring on the plane," Embry said as he got more and more excited about the idea of a private jet.
Edward stopped at the door of the car and looked at Embry over the hood. "I don't snore!"
"Yeah, you do," Embry said getting into the driver's seat of the car. When Edward got in the car, Embry turned up the AC and started to reverse out of the space. "It's like a fucking chainsaw after you've been drinking. I swear to God I've felt the windows of the car shake a time or two."
"Shut the fuck up!" Edward turned in his seat a little to look at Embry to figure out if his friend was bullshitting. "The only person in my family who snores is Emmett, and that's because he is one big motherfucker."
Embry just shrugged and continued to drive out of the studio. "Well, Ed, to be honest, you have picked up a little weight. I know you've been working a lot and stressed about prepping for the WWI flick, so I haven't said anything. But you are getting a little soft in the middle. Do you want me to call your trainer? Maybe he can come on the road with us and help you get back into shape before you start filming. War heroes are supposed to be all buff, not soft and cuddly."
"Fuck you!" Edward grabbed his shirt and pulled it up to reveal his chiseled 6-pack of abs. "Does this look soft and cuddly to you?"
"No," Embry said laughing. "But you showing another dude your abs in a small ass car like this Audi R10 looks pretty fucking gay if you ask me."
"God, I wish I could fucking fire your ass!" Edward said as he threw himself back in his seat.
Embry just laughed. "God bless nepotism! If you fire me, it would make my wifey sad. If Maria is sad, then it'll piss big brother Jasper off. If Jasper is pissed off at you, then it'll upset your baby sister. And we all know what happens when you make Alice angry. If Alice is unhappy, then"
"No one is happy," Edward said gruffly. "Yeah, I know. Fuck my life."