#Belward – Chapter 7

A/N: Special thank you to FicSisters for the recommendation and support. Thank you to DataByteDL-FanGirlinGranma for being awesome, and to Googly for being honest. I appreciate each and every one of you who review and take time to leave a comment. It motivates me to keep writing. Thank you all so much.

#####

After Edward finished his workout at the gym, he found himself in a cab on the way to Jasper's office in Brooklyn. When he got there, he checked in with Jasper's front desk minion, Quil. After being cleared, Edward was able to enter the executive offices on the fifth floor. Quil must have let Jasper know that he was there because Jasper had his office door open and was leaning against the door frame facing the elevator.

"Well, well, well. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" Jasper asked. He stuck his hand out and the two exchanged the typical male handshake/one-armed hug. Stepping back from the door frame, Jasper motioned for Edward to follow him into his office. "Want something to drink? I've got water, regular coke, and coffee. Sorry, no cherry coke. That stuff is just nasty."

"You have no idea what you're missing," Edward said, sitting in the chair across from Jasper's desk. "Water is good."

Jasper reached in the mini fridge and threw a bottle of water at Edward. "So, what's up, man? Decided to go for an adventure in Brooklyn?"

"Aside from myself, you're the most logical person in this family," Edward said. After taking a sip of his water, he continued, "I guess I need an opinion on something, and I need an unbiased third party."

Jasper had known Edward longer than he'd known Alice. They met as soon as he'd discharged from the Army and was thinking about starting his own security company. Even though Edward had been a relatively famous actor by that time, he still took a chance and hired him to install the security in his home and provide him with a body guard. Granted, that bodyguard was Embry, but that was another story. Over the years, Jasper had come to value Edward's friendship and considered him to be a brother regardless of his marriage to Alice.

What made Jasper good at his job was that he was a people-reader. Jasper knew just by looking at Edward that he was nervous, and Edward rarely got nervous. Knowing that this must really be important to Edward, Jasper leaned back in his chair and asked, "What's going on, Edward? Is everything okay? Are you in trouble?"

Edward quickly shook his head. "No. I'm not in trouble, J. You can't tell Alice what I'm telling you because she'll get all excited and fly off the hinge prematurely. You know how she gets when she's amped up about something."

"Of course," Jasper said. There was a lot that he dealt with in his professional life that he couldn't share with Alice, and she understood that. Luckily, she didn't expect Jasper to share every detail of his day with her, and she accepted that sometimes he had to withhold information from her. "Your secrets are always safe with me, unless it involves anyone being in danger. You know that."

"I met a girl yesterday." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Edward felt like an idiot. He felt himself blushing, and he couldn't stop it. Feeling even more like a pubescent teenager, Edward said, "I think I actually like her."

"Edward, you know that it's okay for you to be interested in a woman, right?" Jasper asked. He knew that Edward held himself back a lot because he felt like he needed to prove himself to Hollywood, and he also knew that Edward understood the full gravity of his celebrity status and the consequences that would befall any woman he chose to date.

"I do, but it's just so weird. I haven't been interested in anyone for so long. I haven't even had the inkling to talk to a woman for personal reasons. I shut down that part of my brain, and I was really okay with all that," Edward said. Running his hand through his hair, he said, "You know everyone thinks that guys are such fucking horn dogs that we need to get laid in regular intervals or we go nuts. But you know what? I think not getting laid actually made me better. I could actually focus on shit without getting distracted by sex every five minutes."

Shrugging his shoulders, Jasper said, "I'm just going to have to take your word on that one, Bro. I get laid on a very consistent and regular basis. I'm a happy, happy man."

"Shut the fuck up, Whitlock. I don't want to hear about your sex life with my sister," Edward said. Shaking his head, he refocused himself. "This is going to sound so fucking cheesy, and I swear to God I didn't borrow this line from one of my movies. But when I met her, it was like a flip switched, and part of me was alive again. I'm not saying it's love at first sight or anything, but I'm definitely interested in her. I can't stop thinking about her."

"Did you get her number?" Jasper asked. "Does she even know you're interested in her?"

"I didn't really get to talk to her when we first met because she got commandeered by your wife and Rosalie. I guess Rosalie must've known I was interested because she text me Bella's number later," Edward said. Running his hand through his hair again, he said, "But I didn't call her. I didn't want her to get freaked out that I had her number. So I sent flowers to her office. She text me back, and we had a nice text conversation."

"The girls know her? Then yeah, you better keep this information to just us. They're going to fuck shit up if they know you're seriously interested," Jasper said. He loved his wife more than his own life, but the woman could go a little overboard sometimes.

"I don't know what to do, J. I've been out of the game for so long that I think I forgot how to play," Edward said miserably.

Jasper grabbed the tennis ball he kept on his desk and threw it at Edward who caught it before it hit him square in the forehead. "First of all, dipshit, if you think it's a game you better leave this girl alone now. You're too fucking old to be playing stupid ass games with women. If you think of it like a game with intricate chess-like moves then of course it's going to be intimidating and overwhelming. But if you just think of it as building a relationship with a new friend, then it'll come more naturally to you."

Edward squeezed the tennis ball in his hand a couple of times before tossing it back at Jasper. "Thanks, man. I knew you were good enough to marry my sister."

"Dude, aside from your parents, I am the smartest motherfucker in this family," Jasper said with a cocky nod of his head.

Edward laughed and said, "So between my parents, who is smarter?"

Jasper just scoffed. "That's a stupid question. Esme is by far the smartest. I've gone head to head with the craziest fucking insurgents, and none of them scare me as much as Esme does. That woman is the master of mental kung fu. She's my fucking hero, man."

#####

The next day, Bella arrived in Los Angeles. When she got in the cab, she sent a quick text to Charlie to let him know that she'd arrived safely. Even though she was 30 years old, her dad still worried, and that in itself warmed her heart and made her feel loved.

"Landed in LA. In the cab on the way to the house. Got a couple of hours to freshen up before the scholarship awards reception. Will call you tomorrow. Have a good night. Love you."

"Glad you're safe and sound, Bells. Stop riding in cabs all the time. You have enough money. Hire a car service or a driver. It's safer. Stop making your dear old dad worry. Be careful and make sure to rest. Love you too."

Bella smiled. Charlie was the best dad. She knew that she was lucky to have him, and part of her motivation to become successful was always to be able to take care of him. Even after she'd paid off the mortgage on their house, Charlie insisted on keeping his job at the New Jersey Police Department. He said he needed to keep busy, or he'd get old too fast. He also wouldn't let her pay for Leah and Seth's college tuition. They needed to learn to make their own way, he said.

As she debated whether or not to text Renee, Bella's phone chimed with a new message. When she opened it, she was pleasantly surprised to see that it was from Edward.

"Hi, Bella. How are you?"

"Hi, Edward. I'm good. I just got into LA, and I'm sitting in fabulous LA traffic."

"Really? I just got into LA too. Which airport did you fly out of?"

"I flew out of Newark, but I flew private. That actually embarrasses me now that I've actually said it."

"Why would you be embarrassed? My body guard Embry keeps harassing me about getting a private plane, but I haven't given in yet. It must be nice and convenient."

"It is. I have to fly so often that it just made more sense for me to have my own plane. I don't have to deal with TSA and all the airport delays. I have a bed I can sleep in when I need to, and I can work in peace without someone bumping my chair or flight attendants asking me if I want more stale pretzels."

"I have to admit that I Googled you after we texted yesterday. I figured it was only fair since you Googled me. :)"

"You know, I've never actually Googled myself. Did you find anything interesting? What did it say about me?"

"I am not one of those people that think that if Google and Wikipedia said it then that means it's the absolute truth. I read that you published your first book at 16, and you have authored more than 45 books since then. You are a graduate of NYU and you majored in Library Science. That was a little surprising. It wasn't what I expected."

"A lot of people expected me to graduate with a degree in literature or creative writing. But I needed a back-up career. At that time I wasn't deep into real estate either, so I needed to know that I had a plan if one day people decided they weren't interested in the characters and the worlds I created. I've always loved books and being a librarian seemed like something that would've made me happy."

"That's kind of the same reason I went to Dartmouth and graduated pre-med. I never ended up going into medical school, but I could always go back if I wanted to."

"Tell me something about yourself that Google and Wikipedia don't know."

"I'm obsessed with mouthwash, and it has to be the blue Listerine. I'm kind of a hygiene freak, and I always carry a small travel sized bottle of mouthwash in my backpack."

"That probably helps when you have to do all those interviews and kissing scenes, huh?"

"I do it to be courteous to those I have to talk to and the actresses I have to kiss, but not all of them are as courteous back."

"Really?!"

"Trust me. Some of these women look glamorous and put together when the cameras are rolling, but once the cameras are gone they're nightmares."

"What was the worst kiss you ever had?"

"There was this one actress who shall remain nameless that actually ate real food. She wasn't a rabbit, and we had to shoot an intimate scene after a lunch break. She was a really nice person, but she was a little clueless. She had a polish hot dog with onions and garlic fries for lunch, and then proceeded to make out with me on screen. I have to admit that I think I deserved an Oscar for that performance. It was so hard to pretend to be turned on when all I could smell and taste was onions, garlic, and hot dog."

"Oh my god. That's disgusting. My last boyfriend was in college, and he was a social smoker. I know some girls like the taste of smoke and alcohol, but I didn't like it. It was a huge turn off to me."

"Rest assured that I don't smoke anymore. I did when I first came to Hollywood because it's just something that everyone did, but as soon as I had to start training for some action roles I realized what it did to my lungs. I could barely make it through a scene without wheezing. I quit really fast after that. Tell me something about you that I can't find on the internet."

"There's probably a lot about me that can't be found online. Most of what my life is publicly is smoke and mirrors. It's a thinly veiled metaphor of what my real life actually is like, but fair is fair. I'm ambidextrous. I can actually write clearly with both hands. It helps when I storyboard sometimes."

"Wow, that's pretty cool. How long will you be in LA?"

"I'll be here for the week. Then I'll go back to NY for a week because I have to go to the MTV Movie Awards, which I really don't want to do."

"Really? Me too. What do you have to go for?"

"My screenplay for 'Born in Blood' is nominated for an award, so my agent says that it'll be good for me to go and broaden my appeal to a new audience. I became a writer so I wouldn't have to deal with people, and now I'm getting shoved down a red carpet. That didn't really work out the way I'd planned."

"Congratulations on your nomination. I feel your pain. I have to go as a presenter, and after all of the hassle that the press has been giving me this week, I'm not too enthused about going. Part of me wants to suggest that we go together because that might make it more bearable for both of us, but I know we're not nearly ready for that yet. It would do more harm than good."

"Yeah, going to an awards ceremony together is a much bigger leap than I'm prepared for right now. But at least I know I'll have a friend there. Will Rosalie be there too?"

"She's actually up for the Best Kiss award I think. Since Em doesn't have practice, I think he's even going to go as her date. I don't think he realizes that if she wins, she'll likely have to kiss her costar on stage in front of him."

"Both of them are going to be there? I have an idea for you that might make the Awards more entertaining for you."

"I'm listening…"