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    2008 2008 Document Transcript

    • NEW YEAR’S EVE 2008He leaned against the balcony, his hands folded and his forearmssupporting his weight. He stared unseeing over the lip of the railing,watching people mingle in the backyard, laughing and toasting each other.A half-finished Amstel Light was perched next to him; his long fingerskept curling around the neck as his thoughts took him over the past year.Disturbia pulsed through the speakers of the house; the bass nearlyvibrated his chest. He was in the middle of a full blown New Year’s Evebash, and he couldn’t even enjoy himself. He was both sad and happy tosee 2008 go; it had, undoubtedly, changed his life for the good and thebad. Yet, as always, he was ready for change, to see what the future –what 2009 – had in store for him.He ran his hands atop his newly shorn hair, missing the feel of the locksthrough his fingers. It was something attainable for him to grab onto whenwords and thoughts failed him; it was a symbol that people understood ashim fumbling, and they would choose to either pass over the question,laugh, or swoon.His year came back to him in flashes – literally, a dominant part of hisyear was spent in front of flash bulbs. Pictures, paparazzi, pandemonium.The three P’s, he had always called them. The reason he was completelyuncomfortable with his job. He tried to think of anything but the realreason that 2008 stuck out like the elephant in the room, but it was allwrapped up in her.Frustrated that his thoughts had taken him there again, he pushed off thebalcony to walk back inside the party that Nikki had dragged him to. Itwas in the middle of a ritzy LA neighborhood, and all he wanted to dowas get back to his new apartment and stare up at the ceiling – maybesilently chant Auld Lang Synge just for good measure.“It’s freezing.”His neck snapped up and there she stood, looking like she belonged outthere on the balcony with him. The thought made him angry and sad; shealways had a way of fitting effortlessly into his life, no matter how long ithad been.
    • “I can’t feel the cold,” he told her honestly, watching as she bit the bottomof her lip and looked away.“Mind if I join you?” she asked finally, holding up two Sweetwater 420’s.“Where did you get those?” he asked gleefully, and she walked towardshim in triumph, handing him the beer that was hard to find on Californiashelves.“Had the company ship some to me,” she shrugged. “I didn’t know youalready had a beer.”He looked at the half-empty Amstel Light that he had been nursingmoodily. “I don’t,” he told her, and poured it over the railing. It fizzed onthe asphalt below, and splattered a couple who immediately lookedaround for the culprit.Kristen laughed, but then sobered quickly. “I haven’t seen you in –““Over a month,” he finished, his hard edges coming back in full swing.The silence fell between them; he could hear her swallowing the beer andit was the only noise between them for quite some time.“You’ve ruined other men for me,” she told him finally, not even turningto look at him as she said the most honest thing she had ever said abouthim.He didn’t ask her to elaborate; he didn’t need to. If she meant it at all likehe felt it, he knew exactly what she meant – he couldn’t see anotherwoman without comparing her critically to Kristen. It was sick, and itdefinitely wasn’t helping him move on, but it was almost involuntary –like breathing.She didn’t seem bothered by his lack of response; in fact, it seemed toencourage her. “There’s this old adage that says that whoever you’re withwhen the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Day, you will be with for thewhole rest of the year.”
    • He checked the time on his cell phone – it was 11:57, and people werestarting to buzz excitedly. “I expect you’ll want to get inside, then,” hetold her, bringing the bottle back to his lips but not at all tasting the beerslide down his throat.He watched her bite on the inside of her lip; she was obviously frustrated,but he had no idea what she wanted him to say to that. He thought he hadalways been good at reading people’s meanings, and if she had been anyother girl, he would have known that she was talking about wanting to behim. But with her, he had obviously misread a year’s worth of signals, andthat had brought him to his not-quite-heartbroken but not-quite-happystate.She sighed angrily, letting out a huff of air all in one breath. He watchedthe cloud of hot air shoot out of her mouth, and it made him shiver in away that had nothing to do with the 30 degree temperature. She lookedabsolutely lovely, in a sparkly black dress and modest heels, with a longpea coat thrown over her small body. Her hair was different – it was curly,styled – and she had the most irresistible smoky eyes and nude lips.“It’s 11:59,” he warned her again, his phone already starting to vibratewith wishes for a happy new year.She didn’t budge, only looked at him through her dark-lidded eyes, and hisblood began to hum through his veins. He could actually feel it poundingin his throat, like he was some stupid fucking teenager.“Ten, nine, eight…”People inside the house began counting down, and he started to getfrantic.“Kristen, really, get back inside of the house,” he urged her, moving away.“Five, four, three…” she chanted softly, not moving towards him, butpinning him with her eyes.“Go!” he shouted.“Two, one.”
    • Inside of the house erupted with cheers and Auld Lang Synge played fromthe TV. People were hugging and kissing and toasting, but she stood still,staring at him steadily as he tried to take in all of the implications of heractions.Fireworks began popping in the distance; he could hear drunken roars andlaughing as people had their own fireworks show in their yard. Over thehills of the Valley, he could see fireworks – the real kind – bursting in reds,greens, blues, golds.Suddenly, she was next to him again. “See the fireworks?” she asked,nodding her head towards the blinding lights.“Yes,” he said quietly, finding her so beautiful that it was difficult to lookat her for very long. She turned to look at him, and he could see the lightreflected in her green irises. Without thinking, he touched his fingertips tothe delicate skin under her eye.“I know what I’m doing,” she told him quietly, and he didn’t have achance to ask her what she meant by that before her soft lips met his. Itwas very quick, very fleeting, like a butterfly had ghosted his lips, or a rosepetal had been traced across them. He could barely taste the beer on herlips, but he could feel her breath on his face as she breathed out against hismouth. Their lips didn’t even part, just pressed, and it was so sweet andachingly gentle that he heard his own breath hitch as she pulled backmuch too soon.“Happy New Year, Rob,” she said quietly. She smiled at him; herfootsteps were unsteady, unsure – but he found that he couldn’t stable her,because he was just as… dazzled. She picked her beer up off the lip of thebalcony and walked back into the celebration.“Happy New Year, Kristen,” he whispered after a moment, touching hislips like a stupid girl.Yeah, 2008 had definitely changed his life for the good and the bad.He just hoped that 2009 would change everything.
    • December 2007She looked like a doll. Like a tiny, porcelain doll. That was his firstimpression of her, as he walked into Catherine Hardwicke’s house andsaw her perched on the counter.She locked eyes with him immediately and smiled, but as she was on hercell phone, she didn’t speak. He could hear her voice murmuring in a lowalto, which was rich in a way that most female voices weren’t. He wasused to the female soprano, but her alto made its way into his ear drumsand settled itself there.She had a bottle of water in her lap, and she was chewing on herthumbnail without actually biting it. She looked like a child, like a littlegirl to him. He hadn’t actually researched her age; he figured she would bein her twenties like him – but this, this girl couldn’t be a day older thannineteen.Catherine chattered away to him excitedly, telling him that it had beennarrowed down to three men and that he was the last to audition. She saidthey had nearly given up on him; his flight was desperately late, and hesmiled apologetically in her direction.He heard the alto voice utter I love you into the phone, and he groanedinternally. Maybe he didn’t want to do a movie with a girl who wasalready attached. Especially a movie with such an exaggerated romance.But then she hopped down off the counter, landing gracefully on the ballsof her feet, and he couldn’t stop looking at her petite form.She wasn’t necessarily beautiful, but she easily could be. Her skin was paleand her hair was brown, but her eyes were a cutting green that sliced theirimage into his brain. She was dressed in an old Fuddruckers t-shirt and cutoffs, and she looked very, very tired.Still, when she reached him, she smiled up at him with one eye halfclosed. She worked her jaw a bit on her grin, and then said, “Hi, I’mKristen.”
    • He held his hand out to her, an automatic gesture. “Rob,” he answered.“Good to meet you.”She grinned at him like she had a thousand secrets he would never findout.“Let’s do this,” called Catherine, motioning for them to join her in theliving room.Kristen moved to get around Rob, but he did that awkward thing where hemoved in the same direction as she. She quickly adjusted, moving to theother side, but he followed her, trying to clear room. They repeated thatfor about three more times before she laughed.“Steady,” she told him, placing her small, pale hand on his forearm.“Follow me.”*“Bella, you’ve got to go to Jacksonville, so I can’t hurt you anymore.”They were together on Catherine’s couch; Kristen lying down on her backlike she was in a hospital bed. Rob sat to the side, his script perched on hisknee just in case he needed a point of reference.“What- what are you saying – NO!” Kristen argued, balling up her fistsand shaking her head. “No! No. You can’t leave me.”“I’m here,” he soothed her, taking her hand into his. God, she was good.She tried to calm herself down, but her face was still bunched up in somesort of internal burning.“I’m here,” he repeated, stroking the soft skin of her face. He ran hisfingertips underneath her eyes, and even though the touching wasn’t in thescript, she turned her face to nuzzle into his palm.“Okay,” she said slowly, her breathing coming back down. “You just can’tsay things like that to me. Ever.”
    • Rob thought the next line in his head – I’ll stay as long as it’s good for you– but what came out was nothing like it.“Where else am I going to go?” he whispered.Kristen stiffened, Catherine breathed out heavily.“That’s perfect,” Kristen told Catherine, switching back to her former selfalmost immediately. “That’s the perfect thing to say there. We have tochange it.”Catherine was already two steps ahead; she was scribbling furiously ontoher battered script. “Where did that come from?” she asked Rob, biting theend of the pen. “You have no idea how long we’ve battled with that line.”“It was just so cheesy,” Kristen agreed, sitting up and reaching for herwater. “I mean, God, who says that? I’ll stay as long as it’s good for you?Really, Edward?” She rolled her eyes.Rob couldn’t help but grin at her; he felt an alliance already forming, andhe hadn’t even gotten the part yet. She didn’t want this movie to be asstupid and as obsessive as the book, either. She resented the perfectness ofEdward Cullen as much as he did.“What about here?” he asked, flipping back quite a few pages to themeadow scene. “I wrote some notes, take a look…”Kristen held her hand out for the script, and he handed it over, ready forthe scrutiny to begin. He didn’t exactly write notes – he scratched theentirety of the dialog out and wrote SILENT SEX in bold letters at the topof the page.He watched her murmur the words silent sex and the way the x made anoise in the back of her throat intrigued him. She turned her head up tohim, and all she did was watch his eyes.He met her gaze back evenly, a little intimidated by her now. She had it,she got it, and he wanted her to understand and accept his version of it,too.
    • “You can really see me, can’t you?” she asked finally, making a V with herpointer and middle finger and putting it below her eyes.“Right now, I can’t see anything but you,” he answered honestly.She bit on her bottom lip; it was the first time he saw her do that. “Silentsex,” she murmured, then turned to look at Catherine. “Mind if we movesome furniture?”*They laid on the floor of Catherine’s living room for almost a full half anhour before Catherine had seen what they were trying to convey to her.She had said no way when Kristen told her that all of the dialog had to becut from the meadow scene, but now, she was saying yes, yes, absolutely.They laid side by side, Kristen’s hands on her stomach and Rob’s arms byhis side. They didn’t touch at all, but they looked. He looked at her for solong he felt that, if he had any sort of artist in him, he could paint a perfectpicture of her and get all of the shadows and blushes and freckles correctly.He stared into her eyes and he felt himself slip into Edward Cullen; he felthimself begging to be able to read her mind. She stared back unabashedly,and he watched the rise and fall of her tiny breasts against the worn cottonof her t-shirt.Their breathing was quiet; the silence was reverential. He felt like heshould be praying; he felt like he was worshipping. This girl – she had toldhim that she was only seventeen – this child was phenomenal. She hadthings going on behind her eyes that not even the most self-assured 40-something could possess. She just knew – what she knew, he had no idea,but that was hardly the point.He reached out and brushed his knuckles against her bare thigh, and sheshivered.Silent sex.*“I have dogs, so excuse the smell,” Catherine said lightly as she flipped onthe lights to her bedroom. “But I need you two to get on the bed.”
    • “Why?” Rob asked, surprised.“I want to do the love scene,” Catherine answered calmly. “So I hope youbrought some breath mints.”Kristen was actually smiling; he found that weird – did she not just tell ananonymous person that she loved them earlier than afternoon? Maybe itwas her mom, he thought – he found himself hoping that it was.“I have gum,” she told him quietly. “But you smoke, don’t you? I cansmell it on your clothes.”“Sorry,” he said quickly. It was the first time that he been embarrassed ofit.She shook her head, inhaling. “Marlboro 100’s, am I right?”He nodded, impressed. “You have the addiction, too?”She chewed on her bottom lip, smiling slightly. “I’ve been trying to quit.I’ve actually gone two days. But I’m afraid once I taste you, I’ll be agoner.” She flushed immediately at her statement, realizing exactly howthat sounded and how he could take that however he wanted.“Let’s do this,” Catherine announced, proffering a handheld video cameraright into their faces. “Rob, you start.”Kristen leaned towards him on the bed, anticipating the start of the scene.She wasn’t nervous, he could tell – and that made him feel like shit,because he was unbelievably nervous.“I just want to try one thing,” he recited from memory. He moved his facein, and she leaned into him too quickly – the kiss was supposed to beachingly slow. “Stay very still,” he improvised, and she froze.Her lips were soft and warm, and it was the most pleasant kiss he’d evershared with practically a stranger. It wasn’t a sloppy kiss in a bar, it wasn’tan open-mouthed pant of a fuck – it was sweet, it was kiddish, it wastender.
    • And that was all it was supposed to be, until she got up onto her knees andgripped her hands tightly into his hair. She turned their sweet meeting oflips into an all-consuming attack. She radiated passion, and his handsinvoluntarily placed themselves on her small hips as he picked her slightlyup and put her back against the bed. She didn’t try to use her tongue once,and he loved that – too much tongue was such a buzz kill, and she seemedto be as fascinated with his lips as he was with hers.Remembering himself, he backed up and gasped out, “Stop!” EdwardCullen was back in control – almost. He adjusted his jeans quickly, but notquickly enough, because Kristen smiled at him and completely missed hernext line.*He was on his way back from the bathroom when he heard her low voicearguing with Catherine.“It has to be him,” she said simply. “I won’t do it with anyone else. It’d besuch a lie. Did you see him? He took notes. He improvised better thanEdward Cullen himself could have.”“I liked him, too, Kristen, but we’ve got three others that are nearly asgood –““Nearly as good,” Kristen agreed simply. “But not as good. It has to behim.”*Catherine pulled him aside before he left that day, confirming to himquietly that he had the part. She would contact his agent later and make itofficial. He smiled and thanked her, but he saw some sort of warningbehind her eyes. Before he could ask, she volunteered.“She’s only seventeen,” she said bluntly. “And her boyfriend is one of mygood friends. Don’t chase after her.”When he walked outside, he saw Kristen sitting on the porch, a long whitecigarette dangling from her fingers. She smiled wryly at him, holding upher pack of Marlboro 100’s in a mock salute.
    • “I’m a goner,” she laughed quietly.January 2008 She stared moodily out into the bitter cold Oregon night, sucking downthe nicotine and letting the smoke curl up in front of her. She was perchedon the balcony connected to the conference center of the Hampton Inn,knowing that her presence was probably required. It was a meet-the-castparty, after all. But she just couldn’t find the energy to mingle with all ofthose exhausting people.“Kristen?”It was a female’s voice; it sounded straight out of a California valley. Sheturned and saw Nikki Reed hanging out of the sliding glass door, lookingat her expectantly.“Yeah?” Kristen asked shortly, stubbing out the cigarette with her Vans.Nikki was the most exhausting person of them all.“Rob’s finally arrived, so Catherine wants us all in there now.”Kristen nodded and tried to smile. Nikki waited nearly fifteen seconds, likeshe was expecting Kristen to follow her immediately. When Kristen didn’tmove, Nikki shrugged. Kristen swore she heard her mutter, more Robmeat for me, then.When the cold finally became too much and it felt like ice water wasrunning through her veins, she stepped back inside the well-lit conferencecenter. She couldn’t see above many heads, but she could guess whereRob was, because there was a huge cluster fuck of people surrounding thedoor. She decided to hang back and possibly greet him later, if at all.Grabbing a plate, she made her way to the assembly line of food and madeherself a Caesar salad.She munched noisily on the crisp Iceberg lettuce. She was annoyed ateverything – the lettuce, because it was too watery, she liked the darkgreen stuff; Nikki, for talking so unbelievably loud about how happy she
    • was to finally meet him; Rob himself, for causing so much commotion byhis mere presence.She added pepper to her salad, trying to ignore the buzzing of voices thatseemed to be getting louder and louder.She smelled him before she saw him; damn him, always smelling like heraddiction. The tobacco radiated off of his skin, but he also smelled clean,somehow. The combination made her dizzy.“Good to see you again,” he told her, sitting down next to her withoutbeing invited.She smiled vaguely at him, crunching the vegetables extra loud.“How were your holidays?” he asked, swiping at the side of her plate tocatch the salad dressing that was dripping onto the table.“Fine,” she said. She didn’t know why she felt such an undercurrent ofresentment towards him; he had been perfectly lovely and friendly andgorgeous a month earlier and had done nothing at all to deserve her wrath.But that didn’t mean she could help it.“Mine were great,” he said enthusiastically, and then he went off into hisland of stories that involved a bar fight and Christmas presents. She triedto pin point the change in him, staring into his face as he immediatelyopened himself up to her. He was like a book, no – like a fairy tale, alllight and white knights and happy endings.Then she realized the change – it wasn’t he that changed, necessarily. Itwas they who had changed, reversed roles. At the audition, Rob had beenquiet and brooding and Kristen had been sweet and laughing. Now it wasjust the opposite, and the fact that she found herself smiling at hisdescriptions irritated her irrationally.“Rob?” she said, breaking him off in mid-sentence. “I know we don’tknow each other very well – well, we don’t know each other at all. So I’mjust telling you now, I can’t stand when people talk to me while I eat.”
    • She watched the light leave his face as his laughter died from the back ofhis throat. “Oh,” he said finally, looking awkwardly down at his fingers.“I’ll just… leave you at it, then.”She nodded. “Thanks.”He got up stiffly. “By the way, you’ve got lettuce in your teeth.”Her hand shot to her mouth immediately, feeling a piece of crunchyiceberg between her two front teeth. Fucking iceberg, she thought, hatingit even more now.He had almost made it all the way down the row of chairs before hestopped on a dime, turned, and walked back up towards her. He wasfiddling with an old, beat up iPod – he handed it to her and she took itwithout thinking.“Try some Voxtrott,” he recommended, putting the ear buds into her earswithout permission. “They always chill me the fuck out exactly when Ineed it.”She smiled up at him close-mouthed, not wanting the lettuce to showagain. He realized what she was doing and smiled with his whole face.“Good to see you again,” he repeated from earlier.“It is,” she agreed. Not it was.Nikki’s voice called out to Rob, and he turned towards the sound.“I’ll be there in a second,” he said amicably. He looked back down atKristen, and it was like he noticed her hesitation. “Just press play,” headvised her. “That’s all you’ve got to do.”Just press play.January 2008 “Just try it,” she told him, holding out a beer bottle with a green label.“It’s good, I promise.”
    • He looked at her skeptically. “Anything called Sweetwater just doesn’tappeal to me.”Rolling her eyes, she searched through a drawer in her new kitchen,looking for a bottle opener. She had finally moved in to her newapartment, just off the main road in Portland. It was small and a bit mustysmelling, but she was grateful for a place to call home.“Bella, we shouldn’t be friends.”Still rummaging through the drawer, she answered, “You really shouldhave figured that out before. That way, you could save yourself all thisregret.”Rob groaned. “I’ll stump you sooner or later.”Her hand finally found the bottle opener, and she grabbed it in triumph.“I’ll let you stump me if you just try this beer. Please.”He looked offended. “I’m designed to kill.”She gasped. “Oh, Edward! You know I don’t care, just so long as we haveextreme vampire sex beforehand.”He crooked his eyebrow at her, defeated. “Fine, give me the beer.”She grinned, handing the bottle opener over to him. He popped off the capwith practiced ease, and then poured the beer into his mouth. He tasted itlike he was a connoisseur, swishing it around his mouth and letting itlinger on his tongue before swallowing.“That’s the best kind of sex,” he said eventually, taking another sip out ofthe bottle.Her eyebrows collided. “What kind?”“The kind where you get to kill the girl afterwards.”She looked up in alarm, but he was grinning at her over the top of the beerthat he had placed to his lips.
    • Rolling her eyes for the umpteenth time that night, she hissed sexy with asmuch sarcasm as she could muster. “You like the beer, don’t you?”He didn’t answer; he was too busy sucking the bottle dry.February 2008 They passed the bowl back and forth over her dining room table. The firsttwo days of pre-production had been productive, with them pouring overthe script and rehearsing and making notes and talking business. Now thatpre-production was over and the first day of filming began tomorrow, theywere both trying to calm their nerves and squelch their fears.“I’m ugly,” he said finally, breaking through the silence and the thickcloud of sweet smoke that flowed between them.“Hmmm,” she said, putting the pipe to her lips and flicking the lighterover the sticky, green substance. She sucked in, closing her eyes as thehazy feeling took her over and over again. They had been smoking on andoff since he had arrived with the small plastic bag over two hours ago. Shewas so fucking stoned she could barely move. She blew the smoke out ofher mouth, watching Rob watch her.“Your lips look nice when you do that,” he told her, reaching across thetable for the purple pipe.She forgot that she even had lips. Touching them with the ends of hertingling fingers, she said, “Your lips are always red.”“They’re always chapped,” he told her, and she watched as they wrappedaround the end of the pipe. He inhaled, but didn’t close his eyes as shealways did.“What were we talking about?” she asked finally, her brain not being ableto process anything. She felt like she was solely there to watch the way thesmoke curl out of Rob’s lips; when he blew out, they puckered like he wasblowing her a kiss.He handed the bowl back to her. She decided to take only one more hit;she almost felt nauseas from being so high.
    • “I’m ugly,” he said again, putting his face in his hands. It would have beena very dramatic gesture, but he made it seem so natural. Like he was somesort of tortured soul. “I’m going to fail.”“I’m never smoking with you again if this is how you get,” she told him,letting the hit she took wrap up her insides.He looked up from his hands and smiled slightly at her. “I’m ugly.”She sighed, rubbing her face with her hands. God, everything was numb.“No, you’re not.”“So you’re worried not because you’ll be in a house full of vampires, butbecause you think they won’t approve of you.”She wracked her brain for the next line, but it just wouldn’t surface.“Fuck.”He grinned stupidly. “Gotcha.”*He didn’t know how to drive; he mentioned that to Kristen offhandedlyone day, not realizing the rippling effect it would have. Nikki overheardand offered to drive him to and from set everyday – they were living in thesame complex, after all.Nikki was undeniably beautiful and warm, if not overenthusiastic. He wasflattered by her attention already, and they had only been around eachother for a few weeks. She had killer taste in music and could make a jokeout of anything, and he enjoyed being around her. But naturally, healways had the option of being around her, which made being around herless appealing.The morning after smoking with Kristen all night, he was awakened by hisshitty cell phone’s generic ring. It was 6:03 AM, according the red lights ofhis alarm clock, and he fumbled on his night stand before picking it up onthe last ring.“Hello?”
    • “Do you feel as shitty as I do right now?”It was Kristen’s voice, full of sleep and ragged. Her usual alto seemed tohave dropped another octave, and it came out gravelly and just a bit toosexy for a seventeen year old.All he did was grunt in response; he wasn’t a morning person – not evenfor her, despite being slightly cheered by hearing her voice before anyoneelse’s that day. That thought was odd to him, but it was easily categorizedby the easy friendship they had formed. He was just comfortable aroundher.”Exactly,” she sighed, and he could hear rumpling of her sheets. God, shewas still in bed talking to him. “So, listen, do you want a ride today? Iknow you told me you can’t drive on purpose.”He quickly ran through his mind the possibility of calling Nikki and tellingher that he found another ride. But that was improbable because a) it wasmore convenient to get a ride with her and b) he didn’t want to causedrama the first day by showing up with his taken co-star.“Nikki’s offered to give me a ride to and from the set,” he said shortly.She paused very briefly before saying, “Oh.” Another pause and then,“Did I tell you that Michael is coming up for Valentine’s Day?”He cringed. So that was how it was going to be. He wasn’t exactly agenius, but he knew enough to realize that she had no other reason to tellhim that at 6 AM except to get back at him. To gain the upper hand.Here’s to the start of a beautiful friendship, he thought wryly.*“Is that your O-face?” Rob asked her later that day, and then mimickedthe way her mouth gaped and eyes crossed as Edward sucked the venomout of her arm.Unperturbed, she held out her cigarette to be lit. He flicked at the lighterand set it to the edge of her smoke, and she inhaled. “No,” she saidsimply.
    • Her answer bothered him a lot more than it should have.“How’s your groin?” she asked him after a moment, stubbing out thecigarette on the wet asphalt.“Chafed,” he said sadly, holding out his hand to help her up. She didn’ttake it, didn’t even act like she saw it.Her phone was going off, and he already recognized the Sufjan Stevensringtone as her boyfriend’s. She watched him as she answered, lookinginto his eyes as she called her boyfriend baby. He didn’t know if she wastrying to be cruel, or if she even realized what she was doing, or if she wastrying to tell him how it was.But it wasn’t like he needed reminding, anyway. He had enjoyed the carride with Nikki that morning a lot more than he anticipated; she greetedhim at his door with her freshly dyed blonde hair, looking prettier andfresher than anyone had the right to at 7 AM. She had entertained him allthe way there with upbeat music and frivolous chatter.When Kristen emerged from her trailer in her Bella clothes, he had to givehimself a moment to look at her before making his presence known. Shelooked… ten times more innocent, more insecure… easier to love. Herusual wardrobe consisted of baggy shirts and cotton shorts, but in Bella’sskinny jeans and tight cotton shirts – she looked tempting, in a demureway.Pretty.“If you were dating a girl for two years, what would you want forValentine’s Day?” she asked him then, as they walked back to the soundstage. She was carefully holding out her right arm, trying not to mess upthe “blood” makeup that was her vampire bite.He looked down at her, feeling their age gap. That was such a high schoolquestion, and how the fuck was he supposed to know what her boyfriendwanted for Valentine’s Day? He hated Valentine’s Day. So that was theanswer he went with.
    • “Nothing,” he said honestly, holding the door open for her as they steppedback in the darkened sound stage. “Don’t fucking ask me, Kristen. I don’tknow.”She sighed angrily. They had only been around each other for about amonth, but he could almost always feel when she was about to saysomething cutting, something that would make him take a step back.Now was one of those times.“Maybe I’ll let him try anal,” she said viciously, and it immediatelyconjured the image of her on all fours in front of him. He cringed, andwatched the swing of her hips as she walked away.“Bitch,” he hissed quietly.*Nikki watched their quiet, intense exchange from a stool behindCatherine’s chair. Her presence wasn’t required yet; she and Elizabethwere the only two Cullens’ that weren’t involved in this scene. Still, shefelt a pull towards the set that had very little to do with the actual movie.Rob had opened the door for Kristen; Nikki had been temporarily blindedby the glare of the sunlight into the dark room. His head was tippedtoward Kristen’s – she was a good deal shorter than Rob, so it must havebeen hard for him to hear her. He looked more than a little annoyed, andstared down at the crown of her head as he contemplated what he wasgoing to say to her.She watched him scowl down at her and watched his lips move with theresponse. Kristen’s face flushed immediately, and Nikki watched herangrily hissed retort. Rob’s movements were actually arrested; he stoppedwalking and just watched her retreat, cocking his head like he was takinginventory. His lips moved in a quiet curse, and she distinctly read the wordbitch.Kristen Stewart was a bitch; there was no doubt about that. Nikki hadtried to be nice to her everyday, but it just felt like Kristen couldn’t spare amoment for her. She answered in condescending smiles and little ‘mm-hmms’ that drove Nikki crazy. She was tight-lipped and high-strung; she
    • always looked like she was on the brink of either crying or screaming. Shewas too intense for the seventeen year old girl that she was, and it madeNikki feel like she didn’t take her job seriously enough.Rob, on the other hand, was all laughter. If Kristen was the night, darkand mysterious, then Rob was the morning, all new light and optimism.She enjoyed his company more than she probably should, and she didn’tunderstand why Rob continually sought out Kristen’s attention –especially when Kristen was attached to Angarano, an old friend ofNikki’s. But, to be fair, Kristen never really asked for the attention; in fact,the more Rob paid attention to her, the bitchier and quieter she became.“Rob!” she heard herself call out, and his head snapped up at the sound.Nikki waved her arm and Rob’s eyes followed the motion; she felt herstomach give a happy little lurch when he smiled in recognition.He began to walk over to her, and she started running ideas through herhead of things she could talk about – what would he find interesting?What could captivate him? Does he like books? What movies does he likebest? He was almost to her chair when a small brunette form knocked himoff course with a harsh tug on the arm.“Can I talk to you for a second?” Nikki heard Kristen hiss at Rob,wrapping her tiny fingers around his forearm. Kristen’s eyes movedtowards Nikki, like she felt the audience – their eyes connected and Nikkididn’t want to look away, to let Kristen know she would meet herchallenge. But Kristen’s eyes barely stayed on her before they were gone,communicating that she barely mattered, that she hardly even saw her.“Is everything all right?” Rob asked, letting Kristen drag him away, noteven sparing a backwards glance to apologize to Nikki.Nikki’s hand made her way down to her purse, her blood simmering. Shedipped her hand inside of it and pulled out her phone; skimming throughher contacts, she found the M’s and had Michael Angarano highlightedand the green button underneath her finger within ten seconds. She almostcalled him, especially when she looked over and saw the concerned lookon Rob’s face as Kristen gestured angrily at him.
    • She decided against it at the last minute. It was only the first day ofshooting, after all. Rob would get tired of Kristen’s – Bitchsten’s – gamesand would need sunshine instead of clouds.Watch yourself, bitch, Nikki thought to herself, sparing one more glancein Kristen’s direction.*“Can I talk to you for a second?” Kristen asked, grabbing Rob’s arm. Shefelt like she was being watched; immediately, she turned her head and sawNikki Reed staring at her intently. She was too agitated to care, so sheturned her eyes quickly back onto Rob’s face.“Is everything all right?” Rob asked her in a low voice, and it irritated hereven further that after their under-the-radar explosion, he still was decentenough to care about her feelings.She pulled him off into a far corner, not wanting to be overheard. She hadthought about their conversation for all of two minutes before decidingthat enough was enough; an alliance needed to be formed. She wasn’t anidiot, there was obviously some sort of underlying issue between them –whether it was attraction or annoyance wasn’t the matter at hand. It wasthe fact that there was something, and it had to be stopped, immediately.“Look, I know you think I’m a child,” she started, turning to face him. Hiseyes looked odd in the topaz colored contacts, and she found it extremelyhard to read him. “And maybe I am, for all intents and purposes. I can’tdrink legally and I can’t smoke legally. I can’t own a house and I can’t jointhe military.” She waved her hands in the air, trying to feel the particlesguide her through her speech. “But I’m not an idiot, despite the year I wasborn. Maybe the age gap is too much, maybe we can’t be friends. But I’mgoing to do this movie right, and you need to be in it with me, onehundred percent, or it’s not going to work.”“I am with you-“ he started, but she held up her hand.“Whatever. Stop for a second. Maybe we got off on the wrong foot; maybewe shouldn’t hang out like we do. Maybe we shouldn’t talk about randomshit and try each other’s preferred beer or pass a pipe at 2 AM. Maybethat’s too intimate for the awkward love story we’re trying to create, I
    • don’t know. But this isn’t working for me. I’m not going to have this sortof tension.” She took a deep breath. “So it’s either all or nothing. Weeither play nice or we don’t play at all. We either talk to each other withrespect or we just talk about the movie.”He scratched his eyebrow absently. She almost had to laugh at thebouffant hairstyle they had created for him; it was very Elvis. She couldalmost feel his urge to run his hands through it, muss it up a bit, just forsomething to pull on to. “I don’t respect you yet,” he said honestly after amoment.That was a bit of a blow – they had shared things. But whatever, if he wasgoing to be like that, then she could be like that, too. “Good to know,” shesaid sharply. “So that’s how it is, then. Is that clear? We aren’t friends. Ifit’s not about the film, then we don’t need to talk.”His teeth clenched, and she took a short moment to appreciate the way hisjaw line bulged at the corners. “That sounds about right,” he answeredneutrally.She swallowed hard – she was positive he heard it. That shit hurt morethan she thought it would; but, admittedly, she had expected laughing,upbeat Rob to commit to being her friend. She wanted his sunshine in herworld, but she didn’t know how to tell him, so she expected him to bring itin on his own.What was it about her that brought out the dark side of him? Whatirritated him so much that he found it difficult to just want to enjoy hercompany? She admitted that sometimes she was a little hard to deal with,but no one had ever plainly told her that they preferred to not be herfriend.“Fine,” she said finally, turning away from him. She was three yards awaywhen she swore she heard her name leave his lips in some sort of somberfashion, but she didn’t turn around.*He jogged through the streets of Portland; his battered iPod in his earskept him moving. He had been spending a lot of time to himself lately,choosing to not go out with the others. Correction – he had gone out once,
    • with Anna and her boyfriend, but the pictures of their drunken encountersurfaced on the Internet not even two days later, so that gave him all themore incentive to stay indoors when the filming was over for the day.Kristen’s boyfriend had been a presence on the set for the past couple ofdays, and he would be an idiot if he refused to notice the change in her.She seemed older when he saw her with a man; it was strange of him tothink of her as only seventeen now. Especially since her boyfriend was inhis twenties, and seemed perfectly well-matched with her. They were abright, pulsing light together, and the perpetual smile on her face almostmade him sick.Once, he had actually heard Kristen giggle. Kristen Stewart – giggling.It was almost like Nikki knew that it was hard for him to watch, becauseshe would coo and nod her head towards the couple whenever theyexchanged a brief kiss or a hand squeeze. Rob found himself spending histime on set with her; she was a breath of fresh air if not a little persistent.She was easy to be around, which he found as such a relief – Kristen wasdifficult to have in his bubble, even when he slipped into Edward Cullen.Kristen’s Bella was a lot more like Kristen than Stephenie Meyer’s Bella.Kristen’s Bella was stubborn and resolute, independent and funny, fieryand strong. Actually, it was hard for him to figure out where Bella beganand Kristen ended, and he found himself nearly stalking her around set,still in a daze. It was difficult for him to slip out of Edward Cullen aseasily as it was for Kristen to adjust her personality slightly to stop beingBella.He stopped at a crosswalk, jogging in place and waiting for the Don’tWalk symbol to stop flashing. The Oregon winter night was bitterly cold,and he hardly had any clothes on. He loved the feeling of getting in theshower after his run to watch the steam leave his body.A black Lexus pulled up to the stop light, waiting for the signal to goforward just as much as he was. He glanced over and quickly looked awayas he recognized Kristen in the passenger seat. She was laughing, herhands cupping her own face as she tried to regain composure. It wasn’tdifficult for him to guess who was making her laugh so hard.
    • He snuck a glance back over, and she was staring at him through thewindow, the laughter still in her eyes. A small smiled played on her lips asthe light turned green, and he watched the car drive away for so long thathe missed his chance and the Don’t Walk symbol flashed at him again.Don’t walk, he thought.Run.March 2008 He walked in on her dancing by herself. She had her arms out, like theywere wrapped around a taller male’s shoulder. Her eyes were closed, andshe was swaying back and forth, light on her little toes.I can see a lot of life of life in you; I can see a lot of bright in you…His ears pricked up; he knew it immediately. Sufjan Stevens had beenfilling his head with music for the past few days – he had been unable tostop listening to it, which annoyed the shit out of him, because he knew itwas due to Kristen’s ringtone. No, Kristen’s ringtone for her boyfriend.He could hear her humming to herself; it was almost cute how off key shewas. She twirled on the spot, her leg arching out gracefully. He leanedagainst the wall of the studio, intent on watching her for as long as hecould.I can see a bed and make it too; I can see a fireside turn blue, I can see alot of life in you, yes, I can see a lot of life in you…Then, she backed up from the invisible man she was dancing with, anddipped into a pretty curtsy. He drew in a loud breath, and she turnedtowards him with a start.“Rob!” she gasped, holding her hand to her heart. “You scared the shit outof me.”“Who are you dancing with?” he asked, only half-mockingly.She looked a little embarrassed. “Well, I’m supposed to be rehearing forthe prom scene, but Sam hasn’t shown up.”
    • His eyebrows collided together. “Why are you using my stunt double topractice dancing?”She shrugged, clearly not in the mood to be interrogated. “I just figuredyou wouldn’t want to.”His feet carried him over on their own accord; he swore he had nothing todo it with it. “You didn’t even ask,” he said, sounding as hurt as he felt.He took her small, soft hands in his; placing one around his neck andlightly holding the other in his big palm, he began to sway her around.When the world looks back, and the face looks after that, I can see a lot oflife in you, yes, I can see a lot of life in you…“Why would you think I wouldn’t want to dance with you?” he asked her,feeling the curve of her bony hip, and the way it dramatically jutted outfrom her tiny waist.“Because I didn’t want to dance with you,” she told him, without a hint ofresentment.He realized she was being entirely honest – she wasn’t trying to hurt him,at all. And that, that made it hurt. He tried not to let it bother him, andjust smiled crookedly down at her, his best Edward smile.The song ended and changed smoothly to Ray Lamontage, crooningabout Jolene.“Cocaine flame in my blood stream, sold my coat when I hit Spokane.Bought myself a hard pack of cigarettes in the early morning rain,” hesang quietly, more out of familiarity with the song than out of feelings forthe words.She watched him without speaking, and he wondered if she thought hewas as good as other people did. He found that it bothered him a lot thathe cared.“Been so long since I seen your face, or felt a part of this human race; beenliving out of this here suitcase for way too long. A man needs something
    • he can hold on to: a nine pound hammer or woman like you. Either one ofthem things will do…”His singing dissolved into quiet hums as he looked anywhere but her. Hecould feel her eyes on his face and it bothered him – they were likeopposite ends of magnets, they shouldn’t fit together but they alwayscollided.“I didn’t know you could sing,” she said quietly, and he held her at arms’length and twirled her slowly around. Unlike Bella, she could dance, andthe turn on her toe flowed effortlessly and she was back in his arms withinseconds, like she belonged there.“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me, Kristen,” he saidheavily.She sighed, loosening her hold on his hand. “Whose fault is that?” shesaid quietly, and he was reminded of their harsh conversation two weeksago, in which he told her in no certain terms that friends just wasn’t goingto work for him.She was halfway down the studio when he took a step towards her. “Don’tleave,” he said in a low voice.She stopped on a dime, but didn’t turn around. He could feel want burningthrough his veins; what exactly he wanted her to do he didn’t know –except, he knew he wanted her to turn around and see him with theapology in his eyes.She almost turned, too – he could see the turn in her toe as she started torevolve on her heel – when Sufjan Stevens began singing from her cellphone.That seemed to ground her; she continued walking forward to the door.She almost had it slammed behind her when he heard her answer it with,“Oh, Michael, I miss you.”*“It’s going pretty well,” Kristen told him, squinting into the brightsunlight. It was so odd for it to be sunny; she almost forgot that a sun
    • existed. “I just got done rehearsing the dance with Rob’s stunt double, andI think it’s going to go smoothly.”“Why his stunt double?” Michael asked.“Because his stunt double is a lot nicer,” she said honestly, listening to theway her shoes scuffed along the asphalt. “Honestly, Michael, he’s such adouche bag.”Michael laughed. “He didn’t seem that bad.”She was about to retort when she heard a muffled noise – it sounded likecrying. Curious, she walked forward a bit, looking for the source of thenoise. She turned the corner and saw Nikki Reed slouched against thewall, biting her nail and letting tears run freely down her pale cheeks. Shegasped and tried to hop back around the corner, but Nikki pinned her withher gaze.“Hey, I’ve gotta go,” she told Michael, unable to look away from thepuffiness of Nikki’s usually perfect face. She said her goodbyes, pocketedher phone, and took out a cigarette. “Um… want one?” she asked Nikki,holding out the box.Nikki sniffled loudly. “No, thanks. I don’t smoke.”“Oh.” Kristen thought it was rude to smoke around people who did not,so she put the box away. She stood there awkwardly for a couplemoments, and then ventured forward. “Are you… okay?”Nikki sighed and looked away. “Yeah.”“Um,” said Kristen again, fiddling with the zipper on her jacket. Shehadn’t said two words to Nikki for the whole month she had been aroundher, so she was the last person to know how to comfort her. Well, she wasthe last person to know how to comfort anybody, really. “Okay. See you.”Kristen had taken two steps when Nikki sighed, loudly. “It’s just hardbeing rejected, you know?”She stopped and turned around. Nikki was looking down at her pretty,feminine hands. Actually, everything about Nikki was pretty – beautiful,
    • even – and she was more than a bit intimidating to be around. She wasreally sweet to everyone on the set aside from her, and she sometimes felta bit resentful that Nikki didn’t want to include her in on her sunshine.“Yeah,” agreed Kristen eventually. “It sucks.”Nikki let out a breath. “I’ve never been rejected before,” she said with alittle laugh – being humbled was obviously an eye opening and ironicexperience for her.“Me neither,” said Kristen, sitting down against the wall next to Nikki.She was a good five feet away from her, but the intent was clear: she waswilling to talk. “But I’ve also only gone after one guy, and he’s myboyfriend… so.”Nikki nodded slowly. “Michael, right?”Kristen looked up, surprised. “Yeah.”“Good guy,” Nikki told her. “Big sweetheart. You’re really lucky.”Kristen nodded, smiling. “Yeah. I am.” She rubbed her hands along herknees, waiting for Nikki to elaborate on her situation.She didn’t, not for a long time. They just sat in a comfortable silence – thesilence was a lot more comfortable than any other she had felt with a girl.She had always been friends with guys, and she never in a million yearsthought she could even entertain the thought of being friends withsomeone as prissy as Nikki Reed.Finally, she knocked her head against the wall and said, “It’s just hard. Imean, I don’t even know if I want to date him. I asked him… well, don’tthink badly of me, okay?”“Okay,” Kristen said, unsure if she could keep her promise.“I asked him for a casual… thing,” Nikki said delicately, using her handsto elaborate. One hand was made into an O shape, the other hand’spointer finger moved in and out of the O a couple times.
    • Kristen laughed. “Really? A guy said no to a casual sex fling withsomeone as beautiful as you?”Nikki grinned at her. “Don’t say that. All of this fake blonde hair makesme look like some sort of albino Scandinavian.”Kristen snorted. “You’ve just given all of the albino Scandinavians hope.”Nikki laughed for the first time around her. It was a cute, little girl’s laugh– all bubbles and waterfalls. “He didn’t even give me a reason,” she saidwith a little sardonic laugh.Kristen shook her head. “He’ll regret it, believe me.”Nikki rolled her eyes. “He was all ‘No, I just don’t think it’d be wise.’ AndI’m like, I didn’t ask you to buy me roses and write me sonnets. I just wanta piece of your ass. You know?”“You said that?”It was Nikki’s turn to snort. “No. Hell no. I said something flippant likeyour loss and whipped my hair around and stormed off. You know, alldramatics.”“It had to be done,” Kristen agreed.Nikki smiled tentatively over at her, meeting her eyes for the first time.“Thanks.”She shrugged. “Yeah. Sure.” She bit at her lip. “So, who was he?”“Nikki?” It was another voice, a male voice. It was calling Nikki’s namefrom around the corner, and Kristen saw her visibly stiffen.“Shit,” Nikki cursed, wiping her eyes quickly. “Yeah?” she called louder.Rob walked around the corner, his head down and his hands in hispockets. He had his mouth open, like he was about to say something –then he saw Kristen sitting next to her, and stopped.
    • Wait a fucking second…, Kristen thought, looking between Nikki’shopeful gaze and Rob’s locked jaw.“I’ve changed my mind,” Rob said finally, looking down at Nikki.Kristen knew that he had no idea that Nikki had told her what hadtranspired between the two; how could he? She truly believed he wouldn’tbe so heartless as to agree to a casual fuck when Kristen was sitting rightthere. But still, she knew exactly what that meant, and she had to watchNikki’s beautiful face break into a smile.“Have you?” she asked in a low voice; it was a caress, a purr.“I have,” he agreed, looking down at Kristen as he held out his hand toNikki.Nikki gratefully took it; giving Kristen a wide smile that she could barelygive back, she gracefully got up and tucked herself into Rob’s side as theywalked away.It was like Rob could feel her watching, because before they rounded thecorner – in the direction of Rob’s trailer – he put his hand low on Nikki’ship, barely grazing her ass with the tips of his fingers.Fuck, I definitely need a cigarette.*She was warm.That was the only thing he could think about afterwards, even after she lefthis bed with a small kiss and a sashay of hips. He knew that she would beback in his bed soon, and the idea cheered him slightly. She was beautifuland made all the right noises, and she was warm.And Kristen’s hands were always cold.Not that it mattered what Kristen’s hands felt like; he didn’t even careabout that stupid girl and her inability to see reason. He couldn’t just becasual friends with someone so lovely and so mysterious and so interestingand so… taken. He would end up hating her, and that thought literally
    • made his chest feel hollow – the idea of hating tiny Kristen Stewart washard to swallow.He thought back to the conversation that Nikki had held with him. Thefirst thought to his mind had been holy shit and the second thought hadbeen Kristen. He told Nikki that he didn’t think it would be a wise ideaand left it at that. He had hurt her; he saw the flash of pain in her eyes thattold him that it was so much more than just sex with him that she wanted,but before he could say anything she shot fire in his direction and left.Dancing with Kristen afterwards had solidified his decision; he was afraidof the forbidden fruit that was she getting the best of him when trying tofuck another girl. He was afraid of saying her name when peaking whilesome other girl was wriggling underneath him – after all, it was Kristen’sname that fell off his lips every time the sensation in his loins became toomuch and he had to take care of it.But then, she had rejected him again and walked away with herboyfriend’s name leaving her lips and he felt nothing but blind rage –stalking out of the room moments later, he left to find Nikki. He might nothave felt the same about her but what he really needed was a good fuck toget Kristen out of his mind.There was just so much tension between them – palpable, tangible tensionthat he could take a big bite out of and chew in his mouth for hours, likelong lasting bubble gum. He found it impossible to be light-hearted aroundher; she just made him feel so heavy all the time.And he had had enough.So, at 10:38 PM, he knocked on the door of her apartment for the firsttime in two weeks. He heard her shifting and then her feet smackingagainst the linoleum. There was a pause, and then the door pulled open.Her hair was wet down her back, her face void of any makeup. She had ona white wife-beater and yoga pants, and she had a pencil stuck behind herear. She raised her eyebrows at him but didn’t say anything, only steppedback so he could come inside.He did so, stepping out of the cold wind. Her skin was a light pink, likeshe had just gotten out of the shower and the water had been screaming
    • hot. She looked young and too tempting; he could see the outline of hernipples through the wife beater.She flushed like she could hear his thoughts and excused herself to gochange. She came back in with a grey hoodie thrown over her body andeven still she was lovely. She didn’t say a word to him as she went backinto her living room; he followed her without comment and saw that shehad tons of books and loose leaf notebook strewn over the floor.“Homework,” she said sadly, gesturing to the open book that herecognized as The Twelfth Night. She plopped down onto the floor againamidst the mess.God, you’re so fucking young, he thought, unable to remember the lasttime homework plagued his life. Instead, he thrust two books at her andsaid, “Here.”She took the books from the ends of his fingers, turning them over in herhands. “Doomed Love by Virgil,” she read off the first one.“One of my favorites,” he said evenly. “It’s very Bella-Edward, I think.”“The title is, that’s for sure,” she said calmly, putting it on the floor andreading the other title. “The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.”He hesitated. “I haven’t read it yet. I skimmed it. I thought… we couldread it together.”She didn’t look up at him; instead, she opened the book and flipped to arandom page. “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It iswhen you give of yourself that you truly give.” She finally looked up athim, questions in her eyes. “What is this all about?”He took a deep breath. “I want to be friends.”She stared at him for a long time. He started to feel for Nikki – is this whatshe felt like when he had stared at her, battling the pro’s and con’s in hishead?“Did you sleep with Nikki?” she asked him suddenly, taking him aback.
    • “Why?” he asked.“Friends tell each other things,” she said neutrally.He sighed, defeated. “Yes.”She swallowed visibly. “She likes you, you know.” He heard the hesitancein her voice; it spoke of new friendships not only between the two of them,but possibly between her and Nikki.“I know,” he said, and he did.“Do you like her?” She wouldn’t relent.“I could like her,” he said honestly, wanting the topic to be closed. “Arewe friends, or not?”She looked up at him again, obviously not intent on giving him a straightanswer. She scratched her head absently, working her jaw from side toside. “Have you read Twelfth Night?”“Yes.”“Will you help me? I’m terrible with Shakespeare.”He smiled slightly, settling down on the threadbare carpet next to her.Their hands brushed as they both reached for the book at the same time.She looked up at him briefly, saw him staring and tripped over his gaze.“It’s weird,” she said finally, watching him read Act Two.“What is?”“Knowing that you’ve seen each other naked.”“It’s not weird,” he argued. “Sex is a beautiful thing.”She made a face. “Do not justify your whorings, Pattinson.”“I’m telling Nikki you said that.”
    • She smiled. “I’ll tell her myself.”He looked over at her. “Yeah?”She shrugged, her damp hair falling forward. He caught a whiff of hersweet smelling shampoo and closed his eyes.“We can be friends,” she told him finally. He opened his eyes and hergreen eyes were staring right into his.You’re lovely, he thought.He didn’t realize he spoke aloud until Kristen flushed and changed thesubject.March 2008“You can’t be serious.”“Why can’t I be? You’ll find that I can be serious about a lot of things.Like weed and sex and rock n’ roll.”“Stop changing the subject. I can’t believe you.”“It’s not like it matters.”“It could matter.”“Kristen. Stop denying us, darling.”Robert Fucking Asshole Idiot Pattinson asked her to marry him, veryloudly, in front of the whole cast and crew after one particularly intensescene – the scene in which Bella and Edward dance in his room and shehas to climb on his back and be dazzled.She wasn’t dazzled. Well, maybe momentarily, until he opened his biggob and ruined it all. He had gotten up on that big quilted bed-couch,jumped on it and said, marry me.Marry me. Just like that.
    • She had flushed and laughed and said, “Shut up.” But it had been done. utEveryone started whispering and it was just fucking great. Especiallyconsidering people from Summit Entertainment were all around, filming asneak peak for Twilight to be put on Penelope’s DVD.Fan. Fucking. Tastic.“I’m sorry,” he said quietly in her ear. “Sometimes, it’s hard for me to getout of Edward.”“That wasn’t Edward Cullen,” she shot back. “That was Tom Cruise onOprah.”He laughed aloud at that.She grinned. “Come closer to me, so they can’t hear us.”He bent his ear down to her mouth, and she wrapped an arm around his ntneck while whispering, “If you do that to me again, I’ll embarrass you sohard that your children will feel it.” She looked up and saw a camerazooming in on their interaction.“You mean our children?” His grin was insufferable.She huffed and stepped back. “I’m warning you, Pattinson. One moreword and…” She mimed cupping something in her hand, twisting it,yanking it hard, and then throwing it behind her shoulder. “I’ll makehaving children impossible for you.”He looked momentarily horrified, but then the easy grin was back on hisface. “Nikki would never forgive you, and you know how cranky shegets.”
    • She rolled her eyes and pretended she was okay with how casually healways mentioned his sex life. Pretended like she didn’t almost ask Nikkiwhat it was like to have sex with him. Pretended like she never wonderedwhat it would feel like to be with him, just once. Pretended like she didn’tknow that just once would turn into twice, three times, or four.When he wasn’t brooding, he was actually sort of enjoyable. Reallyannoying, really cocky, really British – but really fun. But he still brooded.A lot, actually. Sometimes, she would look over at him and wouldn’t evenknow him. His eyes would get dark and his smile would be like a lightbulb that reached its maximum ability and shorted out when you tried toflip on the switch.She couldn’t decide who she liked more: laughing, crazy Rob or serious,intense Rob. She found it was a miracle that she liked him at all. He calledher a silly girl any chance he could get, and she wanted so bad to retortsomething like, I caught you looking at my boobs so I can’t be so little toyou, can I? But that was a mouthful and anyway, she felt like talking aboutanything sexual in relation to Rob was sort of a violation of Nikki’s claim.If she even had a claim. Rob never acted like she did; he barely alluded totheir sexual relationship, which bothered Kristen a lot. She wanted toknow the details, all of them, no matter how sick that was – she wanted toknow how he felt about it and whether he ever thought about her. Nikki,however, had what she felt written all over her face: she would walkaround set hanging onto Rob’s arm and laughing at everything he said.And she wasn’t even faking it. He really did make her laugh that much.Kristen supposed he would make her laugh that much too, if she wasn’t souptight about most of his jokes.And when she heard Nikki’s girlish laugh, Kristen realized that Robwasn’t even next to her anymore, but was leaning down into her ear now,making it look a lot more intimate than she was comfortable watching.But she didn’t look away.*“We’re going to this great little bar tonight,” Nikki told Kristen aftershooting had wrapped early that day.
    • “Who’s we?” Kristen inquired – if we meant Rob and I, then she wouldgracefully bow out.“Oh, everyone,” she said vaguely. “Come. I’m going to try to make Robsing. Have you heard him? He’s some kind of phenomenal.”She thought of dancing in his arms, hearing his low blues-like voicesinging Jolene in her ear. She thought of him saying don’t leave and howshe would have turned right back around if Michael hadn’t have called.“No,” she said simply, shaking her head and putting her hair back into amessy bun.“Then you have to come. Really.”She had two term papers due, a boyfriend that was waiting for her phonecall, and a current of sexual frustration. She should have said no, but ofcourse, she said yes.*Nikki watched Kristen slide through the door of the bar, holding up herfake ID. She whistled underneath her breath – who would have thought?Kristen Stewart was nearly beautiful. All she had on was a black turtleneckand skinny jeans, her hands shoved into her black leather jacket – but shehad cleaned herself up, styled her hair a bit, put on some makeup andmade her eyes dark.For the first time in a while, she felt an undercurrent of something notquite nice go through her blood. She had grown to really like Kristen; shewas witty in her own quiet way, and terribly shy. She was smart, andNikki found that her stumbling, awkward demeanor had everything to dowith her being unable to convey whatever brilliant thought going throughher head at the time. When she spoke seriously, which was rare, it wasalways so full of something that no one could quite understand, buteveryone latched onto every word, trying to get some glimmer into hersoul.Well, she took that back - one person always seemed to understand her.
    • “There’s no way I’m singing up there,” Rob told her, stubbornly poutingand making her want to kiss him there, in front of everyone.“Please,” she said in her most convincing voice, squeezing his thighunderneath the filthy wooden table. His muscle twitched but he made noother reaction. “I’ll make it worth your while, I swear.”“You will anyway,” he said, twisting that red British mouth into a smirk.She wanted to argue, but he was right. She was wrapped around his littlefinger.“Doesn’t Kristen look pretty tonight?” she asked, changing the subject.She knew it was wrong to manipulate them this way, but she felt like sheneeded some sort of control.He looked up quickly. “I didn’t know she was coming.”“I invited her. That’s okay, right?”He didn’t have time to answer; he was too busy watching Kristen makeher way through the crowd. She smiled awkwardly at the few guys thatmade passes at her, and Nikki thought that it was kind of adorable howuncomfortable she was with any sort of attention.“Hi,” she said, smiling prettily at them as she reached the table.“Hey mama,” Nikki said casually, pointedly looking at Kellan to pull outa chair for her. He sprung up immediately, and Kristen blushed whenKellan took her hand and all but laid her down into the seat.Good boy, thought Nikki. Maybe when Rob realizes he could be possiblyfalling for Kristen and breaks my heart, I’ll try you on for size.“So, Rob…” Kristen started, startling everyone at how comfortable hisname sounded leaving her lips. Kristen rarely spoke first, especially if shehadn’t been spoken to. “I hear you’re going to sing for us.”Nikki raised her eyebrows at Rob, who was shaking his head adamantly.
    • “No, I’m not,” he said, but even to her ears, he sounded unsure. Like all itwould take was one pout of Kristen’s before he was on the stage with theguitar in his lap.“Oh,” Kristen said, settling back in her chair. “That’s… kind of why Icame.”She didn’t even pout, Nikki thought a bit smugly and a bit moreheartbrokenly as she watched Rob set up on the small stage.*Kristen didn’t know if it was kosher to apply a word like dazzling ineveryday life, but when Rob Pattinson opened his mouth and startedsinging, that was the only word she could come up with. He sang twosongs, one called Stray Dog and the other called Let Me Sign, one simpleand one so intense that she felt it crawl up and down her spine like errantfingers.Nikki was the one who greeted him when he came down off the stage,rubbing his back and telling him how beautifully he sang. Nikki was theone who was single and able to touch him any time and any way shechose. So even though Rob looked to Kristen for her opinion, all she coulddo was smile slightly, and then turn to start a conversation with asurprised Jackson.She enjoyed herself a lot more than she thought she was going to; the castaround her were all extremely down to earth and enjoyable, and she feltslightly guilty about all but ignoring them before. She was enjoying herselfso much that she almost forgot Nikki and Rob had left together and didn’treturn.Almost.Needing a cigarette, she excused herself out of the bar and opened the exitdoor into the alley. She heard footsteps and grabbed onto the pepper sprayin her purse – cute, Bella – but then she heard a familiar voice around thecorner and continued inhaling the sweet nicotine that she could stillsometimes taste off of Rob’s lips.“Do you think she liked it?” Rob was asking, sounding a little hurt andmore than a little distracted.
    • “I’m not sure, she didn’t really say,” answered Nikki.That was a lie – Kristen had distinctly leaned over and whispered he’samazing to Nikki and she had nodded in response. Rolling her eyes, shefigured it didn’t really matter whether Nikki told the truth about it or not,because she decided she’d rather not let Rob know how beautiful shefound him tonight.“Hmmm,” he said noncommittally, but there was something else in hisvoice.“I know you like that,” she heard Nikki’s voice murmur, and Kristenalmost choked on her cigarette.“Well, I know you like this,” Rob answered, and she heard Nikki’s gaspylittle breath as Rob did whatever he was doing to her.“Don’t toy with me,” Nikki hissed. “Do it now.”He evidently didn’t have anymore words to say, because Kristen heardthem both sigh as Rob did it now. She had wondered why Nikki waswearing a skirt in 20 degree weather, but now she knew the purposebehind it – alley way sex. She tried her hardest not to listen, but she didn’tgo back inside, either. She heard Nikki’s little cries of yes, yes, like thatand her declarations of mmm, you get so deep and Rob’s little groans thatwere muffled against some sort of skin. She heard Nikki demand for himto put his hands on the wall, and Kristen could almost see Nikki tightenher legs around his waist as he braced himself against the solid brick. Shedidn’t have to wonder anymore what it felt like to be fucked by RobPattinson – Nikki had made that crystal clear.He only said one word the whole time.“Kris.”She didn’t even go back into the bar. She drove straight home.*
    • He played it off as if he said Christ, and she had believed him on a laugh.Your accent always gets me, she told him, and he felt terrible because hehad actually said someone else’s name.Not just someone else’s. Hers. Her nickname that he hadn’t even gottenthe chance to call her yet. Kris. He wondered how she would take it;wondered if her boyfriend called her that.Probably, the rational side of his head told him.So his heart told him to never call her that to her face.*“I’m going to break her heart,” he told Kristen the next night. She had justpicked up the dog-eared copy of The Prophet they had been reading aloudto each other; his pronouncement arrested her movements and she lookedup at him through her dark eyelashes.That look was the first look that had actually jumped started his heart. Hewas always in control around her, and prided himself on keeping whateverhe felt towards her – which he wasn’t even sure of, to be honest – underwraps. He did a pretty damn good job, too.But that look, that look could have undone it all. Her green eyes piercedhim through black eyelashes and her mouth was open in a little ‘o’ ofshock. It was pink and slightly wet; she had a habit of biting on it and itdrove him crazy sometimes.“Whose heart?” she said carefully, opening up the book and placing it inhis lap. It was his turn to read that night.“Nikki’s.”She took a deep breath, letting it come out of her nose slowly. “Don’t hurther too badly.”He found it extremely weird and just a little frightening that Kristen – whowas becoming fast friends with Nikki – didn’t even try to stick up for herfriend’s and his relationship.
    • “I’ll try.”She took another breath. “She thinks she could love you,” she divulgedquietly.He nodded; Nikki had told him that the night before. “That’s why I’mdoing this. It’s better to end this now than to let her think that my heartbelongs to her.”She grinned up at him. “And who does your heart belong to?”He looked down at the book and began reading from the passage they hadleft off at. “But if you love and must have desires, let these be your desires:to melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night, toknow the pain of too much tenderness, to be wounded by your ownunderstanding of love. And to bleed willfully and joyfully, to wake atdawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving, torest at the noon hour and meditate on love’s ecstasy, to return home ateventide with gratitude, and then to sleep with a prayer of your beloved inyour heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”When he looked back up at her, she had the quietest look on her face thathe had ever seen. It was like she was sleeping with her eyes open. But thenshe smiled sadly, and he caught a glimmer of moisture in her eyes beforeshe turned away.“Love isn’t like that,” she said finally.“It could be,” he said, closing the book again.She shook her head. “It never would be. Has it ever been that way foryou?”He thought for a moment, thinking it slightly ironic how inexperienced hewas with relationships in general, especially considering a seventeen yearold was lecturing him on love. “I’ve never been in love,” he admitted.She looked at him curiously. “Then how do you know that love is likethat?”
    • He shook his head slowly at her, and then reached across the small couchand took her tiny hand. It was the boldest touch he had made yet, and hersoft, cold hand wrapped around his fingers like he was a life vest and she adrowning victim. “I didn’t say it was,” he answered eventually, wonderingat the smoothness of her skin. “But I did say that it could be.”She met his gaze and didn’t look away until her cell phone started ringing;Sufjan Stevens was back to serenade them.*Nikki wasn’t an idiot, so when Rob showed up at her door at 2 AM, sheknew what it was about. Still, she decided to let him speak, in case hisjustifications made him feel any better. She could give him that.“It’s just not right to do this to you, when I don’t feel the same,” he saidquietly, holding her hand loosely and staring at his scuffed shoes. “I’msorry to have given you the wrong impression, but when you came to me,you asked me for sex and that’s all I can give you. I don’t have anythingelse.”Rob might not have known it yet, but she knew that sex was all he wouldever give her – because he didn’t have ownership of his heart anymore.And she knew exactly who did, even if he didn’t, and even if the ownerdidn’t. Still, she had to ask.“Is it her?” Nikki whispered, hurting so much that she felt her normaltimbre would cause her voice to crack and then she would have to run offcrying.He ran his hand through his hair, pulling at the ends of it in the way thatshe loved. Loved. “It’s me,” he said finally, and even though it soundedlike the usual it’s not you it’s me line, she understood.It wasn’t Kristen who had the feelings and was pulling him towards her. Itwas Rob who had the feelings and was drawn towards her.“Then it looks like I’m not the only one who will end up with a brokenheart,” Nikki said finally.“I know,” he whispered.
    • *Michael could hear his voice in the background, and it bothered him a lotmore than it should. Kristen had been his girlfriend for over two years,and she had never failed him – once. Even while filming with EmileHirsch, she never even once had the urge to cheat on him, and he knewthat.So why was goofy, odd-looking Robert Pattinson annoying him so much?He tried to tell himself that it was because he always annoyed Kristen. Butthen again, most everything – bless her – annoyed Kristen. But she alwayshad a new complaint about him, oh you’ll never guess what that douchebag did today, and it made him feel better to know that no matter howEdward Cullen he was on the set, he was nothing like his almightycharacter in real life.She hadn’t lodged a complaint about him in two days, however, and itwas starting to worry him a bit. He could hear her screaming at Rob now,laughing, and he could hear him answering back in a low, attractive voice.She had muffled the speaker with her hand so he couldn’t make out whatthey were saying, but he knew that no one but her dad had ever madeKristen laugh like that.“Sorry,” she said breathlessly as she came back on the phone. He waitedfor her to complain, but she never did. “Anyway, what was I saying? Oh,yeah – we’re doing this thing called Twilight Tuesdays and it’s justretarded, Michael. Like, we’re doing this series of interviews that have tobe split up into tiny segments so MTV can play them every Tuesday untilTwilight comes out in theaters.”“That sounds horrible-“ he started, but he was cut off by Kristen’s loudsqueal.“I AM ON THE PHONE, ROBERT. What are you – GET THAT SHITAWAY FROM- OH MY GOD, YOU ARE GOING TO PAY FORTHAT, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE.”Michael distinctly heard that fucking asshole say, “Just agree to marry me,love, and it’ll never happen again.”
    • “Kris?” Michael asked uncertainly, his blood simmering underneath hisskin.“Michael? Baby, I’m sorry, but Rob just dumped a whole can of bluewater colors on my head and I need to go wash it off, like now.”“All right, I’ll talk to you later.”“Love you. Sorry.”She hung up before he could even say love you too.Michael sat still for a moment, then went to his computer and bought thenext flight out to Portland.April 2008“I’ve never watched this with a guy before,” Kristen admitted, tucking herfeet under her legs as she slumped back onto Rob’s couch.“I find a little porn watching is good for friendship,” Rob told her, slidingthe ancient VHS into the even more ancient VHS player he had stationedon his TV.She glared at him as he turned around. “It’s not porn, it’s art. Don’t makeit sound so dirty.”“You’re right. Marlon Brando does a good job of that on his own.”She grinned. “Just keep the butter in the fridge. And stop leering at me likethat; I’m going to go home.”He stalked over to the couch after pushing play. The beginning notes ofthe credits began to tinkle from the screen, and Kristen tried to swallowher awkwardness as Rob settled down beside her.He kept his distance.
    • “I think this is what we should base the whole relationship on,” Rob saideventually, grinning over at her. “Don’t roll your eyes at me. I could callthe police; you’re underage.”She saluted him with her beer – a Sweetwater 420. “Then I’ll just tell themyou’re providing a minor with alcohol. Shut up and let’s watch MariaSchneider get fucked to high heaven.” She immediately flushed – using theword fuck in relation to sex when her body was annoyingly aware ofRob’s proximity made her stomach feel like she had just eaten a batch fullof worms.But he just grinned. “Your wish, my command.”“I’ve never done that,” she said later, watching the butter scene with herhead cocked like she was surveying a science experiment.“Anal?” Rob asked, and she heard his voice crack a bit.She nodded, keeping her eyes straight ahead. “Have you?”He breathed in heavily, and she chanced a look over. He was grinning ather, and she gave him a look.“Yeah,” he said slowly. “I have.”“What was it like?” she blurted out, unable to control herself. The idea ofhis sex life was so deliciously interesting to her, like being able to smelland stare at a forbidden fruit without being able to taste it.He laughed. “It was a lot different for me than for her, that’s for sure.”“Well… what was it like for you?”He shook his head. “Really?”She shifted, turning her gaze back to the TV. “No. Never mind.”A couple of beats, and then, “Tight.”
    • Her jaw clenched along with her stomach and something else she didn’twant to acknowledge. Oh my God. He said tight. Oh my God. “Tighterthan…” She gestured towards her lap, trying to stay clinical.He nodded slowly. “Uh huh.”“Hmmm,” she said, running a slightly shaking hand through her hair.“And what do you think it was like for her? I mean, I don’t know, it justseems so… painful.”He sighed. “Well,” he nodded his head towards the movie, “she wasn’tcrying, I’ll say that much.”She snorted, knowing the topic was closed. They remained in silence forthe rest of the movie; the only noise was Rob shifting his weight aboutevery three minutes. He seemed awfully uncomfortable, and she wasabout to inquire what his problem was when he turned to her.“Kristen, I think…”But then, there was a knock on the door. They looked at each other,puzzled.“Who could be coming by at midnight?” he wondered, standing up andshaking out his pants.She glanced up at him and then turned away quickly. Oh. My. GOD.That’s why he was shifting so much.“It could be Nikki,” she told him as he moved towards the door.He threw her a look over his shoulder, and then looked in the peephole.“Um… I think it’s for you, Kristen.” Then he opened the door, and therestood Michael.“Michael?” Kristen asked, both equally confused and happy to see him.“What are you doing here?” She rose from her seat, straightening her t-shirt and thanking God that Last Tango in Paris was over.“Well, I came to surprise you,” he said, grinning at her. “I stopped byyour place, but you weren’t there. So I called Nikki, and she directed me
    • here.” He glanced up at Rob, who had a very strained smile on his face.“Sorry to crash your party.”“We were just finishing up,” Rob said kindly. “Would you like to comein?”Nikki. And Michael. Friends. She had completely forgotten, and it madeher just a bit nervous to know that Michael had an official spy on set. Notthat she would ever do anything that warranted a spy. But, still.“Sure,” Michael said, stepping inside, but Kristen cut him off.“We’ll go,” she said decidedly, moving towards the open door. “I’m tiredanyway, and the movie is already over. Thanks for the beer, Rob. See youtomorrow?”“Sure,” he said amicably, smiling down at her as his eyes followed her outof the door. “Don’t forget that we’re supposed to be early. Catherine saidthat the kiss scene will probably take all day. You know how she is.”“Right,” she said professionally, internally grinning at what she knew wasRob paying back Michael for busting in his apartment unannounced.Touché, she thought. “Good night.”“Good night,” he said, and the way he said it sounded like a lover’s caress– a good night spoken from across a bed, not from across a foyer. Then heshut the door and the warmth and light from his apartment was snuffedout and she faced Michael.“It’s nice of you to surprise me like this,” she said sweetly, taking hishand. “I’ve missed you.”He smiled. “Just thought you might need another ally on set,” he told heras they walked down the short steps to the parking lot. “On the phoneyesterday, it sounded like he was driving you crazy.”You came all this way because of Rob? she wanted to ask, but instead shejust smiled. “Oh, he’s not so bad. Kind of like a toddler that needsbabysitting, but still lovable.”He just nodded, and his smile took on a fake air.
    • She thought back to the day before. Rob had been hounding her all dayabout the marriage thing, so he had taken a bowl of blue watercolor paintthey had used to make a belated birthday card for Kellan. He proceeded todump it all down the front of her just because she kept refusing his hand inmarriage.It sounded a lot more dramatic than it really was.Michael and Kristen had barely made it to their respective cars when shemuttered shit under her breath.“What is it?” Michael asked, unlocking his car with a beep beep.“I left my jacket,” she sighed. “You want to wait, or just go on ahead?”“I’ll wait,” he said quickly, and she mentally rolled her eyes.“Be right back,” she promised, then ascended the stairs back to hisapartment.She knocked on the door; he didn’t answer. She groaned. Typical. Shefigured he was in the shower or something, so she let herself in afterfishing the key out from under the mat. She left her jacket right inside onthe hook, so she expected to just grab it and go.But that wasn’t how it happened.Later, she would think of eloquent words to describe the scene she walkedin on, like she was committing them to a diary. But now, all she couldthink were small phrases that left her completely and utterly breathless.Rob. Pants Down Around Ankles. Boxers Open. Hand Fisted. LengthExposed. Jerking Wrist. Eyes Closed. Head Thrown Back. QuadTwitching. Quiet Groans. Breath Catching. Moans Getting Louder. NeckVeins Bulging. Sharp Tap With Foot. Loud Sob. Quick Pumping. WetnessSpilling.When she got back down to her car, Michael looked at her questioningly.“Where’s your jacket?”
    • She stared at him for a moment, quite sure that she forgot how to speak.“Um… I guess I didn’t take it with me, like I thought I did. He said itwasn’t up there.”As she drove home, she knew that the image of Rob masturbating wouldnever leave her.And she was really okay with that.*Nikki sat around with Michael as the makeup artists hovered over Kristenand Rob, making sure their look was complete before the infamous kissscene was to begin. She figured that Michael would need some supportthis day; Rob and Kristen had become disgustingly close over the pastmonth, and she was sure that would translate on camera.The couple was sitting on Bella’s bed, whispering to each other andgrinning. He was extremely close to her ear, and she kept laughing andtrying to push him back.“You’re disgusting,” she heard Kristen say, and Rob’s answering laughmade Nikki’s nerve endings go into hyper drive.It was hard enough being dumped in a relationship that wasn’t evenromantic. It was hard enough falling in love with your co-star when hehad sex with you and didn’t even find that appealing. It was hard enoughbeing more beautiful than Kristen, being nicer than Kristen, and stillfalling behind. It was hard taking second place when Kristen couldn’t evenhave Rob, and he couldn’t have her, no matter how charming he was.It was especially hard answering to Michael, considering he had asked herto keep on eye on them, and she had failed. She knew that they had beenalone together last night, and when she had asked Rob what they weregoing to do, all he said was porn and then hung up, laughing at her stonysilence.“They’ve gotten close, haven’t they?” Michael asked her, watching them.Kristen was laughing at Rob – he was moving his mouth in distastebecause his makeup artist was a little overenthusiastic on the powder andit had gotten on his tongue.
    • “Suck it up, you baby,” they heard Kristen tell him.“Don’t make me get the butter,” Rob warned, crooking his eyebrow at herand making her crack up all over again.What the fuck did that mean?But then Catherine bustled over, telling them to get serious. Andsomething just shifted, like the particles in the air began moving in theopposite direction. A hush fell over the small set, and the air fairlycrackled with electricity, with anticipation.Rob’s face got very quiet, and when Catherine shouted action, Nikkileaned forward in her seat to get a better look at her heart breaking.“I just want to try one thing,” Rob said, slipping into his low, even,americanized voice. “Stay very still.”She watched as Kristen’s breath fluttered out of her chest; she could hearthe hitch from across the room. Kristen’s eyes began to blink rapidly asRob moved towards her – she leaned into the kiss, but Rob said, “Don’tmove.”So Kristen stayed and waited for the contact. It was very slow and verypainful, watching him lean in and out and around to get the best angle, thebreath tearing from his lips so forcefully that she could see his chestheaving. Then finally, his mouth parted against hers and she heard anaudible sigh from everyone in the room.They both sagged into the kiss; she swore to God they were bothtrembling. Their lips broke with a small pop, and then it was Kristen’s turnto lean into him. She pushed her lips into his more forcefully than he had,and Nikki could feel her own heart beating frantically against her chest.She felt like she was watching someone’s sex tape. Their kiss looked sointimate, so real. Like they had been practicing it up to this moment.Their lips drew apart again, this time for Kristen to rise up on her knees.She locked her fists into Rob’s hair, her tiny fingers keeping a vise-likegrip. She melted her mouth against his, and he took it submissively – it
    • couldn’t have been any plainer that he wanted it, all of it. His hands foundpurchase on her waist, and suddenly Rob was back in control – he grabbedher up and made a breathy noise as he placed her on her back and forcedtheir lips together in the messiest kiss, the most beautiful kiss that couldhave been put on film.Kristen’s hands stayed fisted in his hair, and the kiss seemed to drag onforever. She knew that Edward would have lost control by now, and shewas thinking that it was about time for Catherine to call cut when Rob’sweight shifted and suddenly, he was on the floor.Kristen’s laugh broke through the sexual haze that had surrounded the set.“Very smooth, Don Juan.”Nikki spared a glance at Michael, who had a very fake smile on his face,trying to laugh along with everyone else.*“You don’t have to say anything,” Rob told him, before Michael even hada chance to speak. “I know what you’re going to say.”Michael had asked to speak to Rob privately, drawing him away from theothers. He wasn’t going to do it, but then, when he had walked outside ofthe set after having a stern conversation with Nikki – she wasn’t upholdingher friend-like duties – he came upon Rob twirling Kristen to the beat ofsome pop song that was playing on the radio.Twirling her. Right there. On the asphalt, in front of everyone. AndKristen was laughing. Laughing, and twirling along.Michael didn’t consider himself a very jealous person. In fact, he wasextremely tolerant as far as boyfriends went, considering he was in thebusiness himself and knew that in acting, people just had to kiss people.People that belonged to other people. That was fine. He understood aboutco-stars; hell, Kristen had been his co-star. He got it.But any boyfriend had to raise the alarm when the other guy wasn’t eventrying to hide his feelings. Especially when that guy was a former modelwith a British accent and a nice voice and blue eyes.
    • “What am I going to say, then?” Michael asked him, crossing his armsover his chest.“You’re going to say that I’m crossing the line, and that I’m being veryinconsiderate. And you’re right, I am. I’m sorry.” Rob looked down athim, ruffling a hand through his hair. “But I respect Kristen a lot, and Iwould never do anything to put her in a difficult position.”“You like her,” Michael said, not accusingly, but not a question, either.Rob shrugged.“Listen,” Michael said, finding it very hard to hate him. “You’ve got goodtaste, all right? Don’t you think I understand her appeal more thananyone? But we’re together, and I’m not going to step aside, because I loveher. She’s a huge part of my life.”“She loves you too,” Rob assured him, and Michael had to commend him– he barely could hear the strain in his voice.“I know,” said Michael. “I’m not trying to come across as some asshole,beating his chest and peeing on his girlfriend’s leg to claim her. But it’sdaunting for me, hearing things that I do. Okay?”“You don’t have to worry,” Rob said, looking away. “I wouldn’t doanything to hurt her. I care about her.”Michael didn’t know if that made him feel better or worse.*“Twilight Tuesdays start tomorrow,” Kristen told Rob over the phone. Hewas lying in his bed, completely exhausted by the day’s events, and the tollthey had taken on his mind, body, and heart.“I know,” he told her. “I’m just so excited, aren’t you?”“Thrilled,” she answered, and he smiled at the eye roll he could hear inher voice. “Listen, Michael just left – he had to get back to LA. Want tocome over? We still have fifty pages of The Prophet to get through.”
    • A yes was on his tongue, threatening to leap out and make its way into herears. But then he thought back over on the conversation he had withMichael, and the promise he had made to him and to himself. Things weregetting entirely too heated between him and Kristen, and he knew thathanging out with her as much as he did wasn’t helping at all.It had gotten so bad last night that, coupled with an NC-17 movie and hersweet smelling shampoo coursing over him, he had nearly rubbed himselfraw as soon as she left with Michael. He hadn’t had to please himself insuch a long time, and forgot what a relief it was. He had a feeling hewould be doing that a lot within the next month and a half they had left –unless he called Nikki up…No.Yes.No.Maybe.“I’m tired,” he told Kristen. And he was. Tired of the growing feelings hehad for her, and the label he didn’t have for the feelings. What were they?Like? Care? Friendship? … Love?Definitely not love.“Oh,” she said after a beat, and he knew he had hurt her. There he went,breaking a promise to Michael while trying to keep a promise to Michael.He told him that he wouldn’t hurt her, but pushing her away was hurtingher anyway. “Um… I’ll just see you tomorrow, then.”“Wait-“ he blurted."Youre just - Youre like, my best friend, you know?" she told him quietly,and then the phone clicked and she was off.He stared at the phone for all of three seconds before dialing back. It rangand rang but she didn’t pick up.Fuck this, he thought.
    • He dialed a different number that time.“Hello?”“Hey, Nikki. Feel like coming over?”She said yes, just like he knew she would.April 2008It took Kristen all of thirty seconds to roll out of bed and search for thenearest pair of pants. It’s not that she didn’t know she was a bitch, and it’snot that Rob didn’t know, either. But fuck him, if she didn’t feel guilty forhanging up and not even giving him a chance to explain.Maybe he really was tired. But there was something so off about his voice,like he was holding back this huge secret, and that just wasn’t like him.Rob was an open book about everything – his disdain of mentholcigarettes, his love of Earl Grey tea, the last time he jacked off – so whenhe had to hide something, it was big. And she didn’t like him hiding bigthings.Especially since, no matter how clammed up she tried to be around him,his easy going and downright stupid attitude always drew her out of hershell and she found herself laughing and kind of liking him a lot for that.Liking him – as a friend. Strictly.So, when she knocked on his door twenty minutes later, shivering in thecold and waiting for him to answer, she already had her apology on the tipof her tongue. Fingering the spine of The Prophet, she recited to herselfI’m sorry for hanging up, but you know you can tell me anything, right?And she saw him smiling and letting her in for a nice long chat on histhreadbare couch, and she heard him reading a passage out of their bookin his low, attractive voice as her vision blurred in and out from tirednessand contentment.But he didn’t answer, so she found herself breaking and entering for thesecond time that week. She shoved the key in the lock, fumbled with it for
    • a minute – her hands were freezing, it had to be 20 degrees outside – andthen walked into his dark apartment.Immediately she heard it. Immediately.The bed was creaking, and two distinct voices could be heard from thedirection of his bedroom. One was low and steady, the other was highpitched and breathless.“God, you’re so good, don’t stop.”Nikki Fucking Reed, filling out Rob’s résumé for him – excellent lover?Check.Rob groaned in response, and the bed hit the wall harder. Kristen stood inthe foyer with the door open for all of ten seconds before she slammed itbehind her as hard as she could. The polite thing to do would be walk outand act like she didn’t hear the little tryst.But Kristen Stewart was not polite, especially when she didn’t have to be.Especially when her cast mates were whores and liars, so she trudgedthrough the hallway and opened the door of his bedroom with the palm ofher hand so hard that it slammed against the wall.Nikki screamed and immediately fell off the side of the bed from whereshe had been previously perched on top of Rob. Rob said shit and went tocover himself up, and she could have almost laughed – he covered himselfall the way up to his chin, like a woman.“Kristen?” he asked tentatively, like he was about to fucking apologize.“Shut the fuck up,” she said, holding up her hand. “I’ll get to you in aminute. You,” she said, glaring at a very shaken Nikki, who was all aboutcowering behind the bed, “should be fucking ashamed of yourself. I stuckup for you, and told him to stop fucking around with you since you lovehim, and everything.” She watched that sink in on Rob’s face, and thencontinued. “You apparently don’t care that he’s only using you, and that’sjust such a slutty thing to do. Where’s your self respect?”She rounded on Rob then, and he backed up visibly. “And you,” shehissed. “I can see that you’re so tired. If you wanted to get off the phone to
    • fuck the girl you told me that you gave up for her heart’s sake, you couldhave just said so. Then I would have been able to get a good night’s sleepwithout worrying about your fucking feelings. I wouldn’t have come overhere to apologize for possibly upsetting you.”She drew herself up to her full height, letting breath into her lungs. “So inconclusion, you’re a whore,” she said, pointing at Nikki. “And you’re anasshole,” pointing at Rob, “who would rather get his dick sucked thanworry about the feelings of a girl who’s pretending to fuck you when shereally goes home and wonders if it was making love for you like it was forher. I fucking love you guys. See you at work tomorrow, you fuck ups.”She was about out of the door when she turned again, directing her stareat Rob. “And don’t bother covering up; I saw you whacking off the othernight after we watched Last Tango in Paris. I guess my proximity is a littletoo much for you, hmmm? Don’t worry; I won’t let it happen again.”Remembering the book in her hand, she threw it at his head, hard.He ducked it. “Kris –““Don’t call me that. I’m not your friend, and I’m not your lover. Got that?Fuck you.”*Nikki stayed silent for quite some time, huddling on the floor and lettingKristen’s words wash over her. Whore. Slut. Sad. Pathetic. They were allharsh – and all true. She heard the sob escape from her throat before sherealized that she was crying.“Nik,” Rob whispered, seeming to break out of his reverie with the noise.“Shhh.”“Everything she said was true,” Nikki answered, naked and cold andashamed.“I know. Look, don’t cry. Come up here, let’s talk about this.” He heldout a hand to her, and her heart squeezed when she realized she keptfalling in love with him over and over again. She took it lightly, and hethrew his covers around her shoulders and allowed her to huddle againsthim, shivering.
    • “I love you,” she said sadly, feeling like she should confirm it to him.He sighed, rubbing her back. “You’re a beautiful girl,” he answered after amoment, and she wondered why people felt it necessary to break others’hearts with compliments. The fact that she was a beautiful girl didn’tmatter at all because she would never be his beautiful girl.“Thanks,” she sniffled anyway, breathing in his scent. Cigarettes andsweat and sport stick. Very masculine, and a smell she would never forget.“I’m so very sorry to infringe upon your feelings,” he said quietly, rubbingher arms up and down. “I took complete advantage of you, and youdeserve a man to love every single part of you.” He kissed her foreheadsoftly, and she closed her eyes against it. “I’m just – I’m afraid that mancan’t be me.”She laughed without humor, attempting to bring her false arrogance to thesurface. “Oh, I know that.” She wiped at her eyes. “It’ll pass.”He nodded. “It will. I’m not all that special,” he said with a beautiful,heartbreaking crooked smile and her stomach clenched painfully.He was the most special man she had ever known, and the fact that hedidn’t realize it just made him that much more special.“You’re all right,” she said indifferently, making him laugh.“I’ll be your friend,” he promised. “Always.”“Me too,” she said, and because he was making her feel warm and open,she said, “Michael is having me spy on her.”“Who?” he asked, like he didn’t know.“Kristen. He’s a little worried. I’m just… letting you know. I don’t knowhow you feel about her and I don’t really want to know. But if it’sanything like what’s written all over your face when she walks in a room,you need to be careful.”
    • He ran a hand through his hair. “Thanks. But I doubt she’ll ever speak tome again, so…”Nikki picked up the book. She knew The Prophet, so she flipped to thepage that she needed. “When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you lovemost in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climberis clearer from the plain.”*He cornered her the next morning. She saw him coming and stubbed outher cigarette – her fingers were trembling, whether it was him or nervesover the MTV crew setting up everywhere, he didn’t know – and went toclimb back in the small trailer.He slammed his hand against the door she had half open, causing her tofly forward with the momentum. “Morning,” he said cheerfully, and shecringed.“Go away,” she demanded, tugging uselessly against the doorknob.“No,” he said neutrally, letting up on the door. He opened it for herhimself, and then ushered her inside with a little bow.She went in, confused, and he followed her and closed the door quietlybehind him.“You were right-““I’m so sorry-“They spoke at the same time, and then stopped awkwardly, tripping overeach others words and gazes.“You go,” he said kindly, ducking his head, trying to meet herdownturned eyes.“Rob, I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into me. What you and Nikki
    • must think of me, barging in on such a personal moment that isn’t any ofmy business-““Shush,” he said, holding out his hand. She didn’t take it, so he rested itagainst her arm. “You were right, and we both know that. But what Ireally want to know is… did you really see me wanking off?”She flushed and pressed her lips together. “Um…”He grinned. “That’ll be three dollars.”She sighed, breathing out a little laugh. “Shut up.”They turned serious all of a sudden, like someone had turned off a lightand everything went dark. He stretched his hand up to her face, and let hisfingers run across the delicate skin under her eye. His blood hummedunder his veins and he was so close to spilling everything when she sighedand backed away.“Don’t make this any harder than it already is,” she warned him.“Don’t make what harder?” he asked, wishing for her to acknowledgesomething between them.She shook her head, looking away. “I can’t accept it, whatever it is. Youhave to keep it to yourself.”He took a long look at her. “Can I tell you that you’re beautiful?”She sighed. “You just did.”“Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.”She looked up at him through half-closed eyes, like she would guard hersoul from him. “Is that from The Prophet?”He nodded.“We haven’t gotten that far yet.”He sighed, and looked away. “I read it last night because I couldn’t stop
    • thinking about you.” His whisper was soft and he knew sounded half-tormented.She put her little face in her smaller hand, and he immediately felt guilty.He was breaking his promise to Michael, to her, to himself. He shouldn’tsay such things. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I won’t do it again.”She looked up at him, meeting his gaze finally. “We can still be friendsdespite this, right?”“Best friends,” he told her, and he felt that her answering smile would gethim through any pain. Grabbing a piece of chocolate from off of hercounter, he opened the door back up for her. “Let’s go get hounded byMTV, shall we?”“We shall,” she answered primly. “By the way, you look like a raginghomosexual in that jacket.”“You look like a stupid elf in that parka,” he retorted.She laughed and rolled her eyes. Pulling up the hood to the top of herhead, she asked him, “Have you started on Bella’s Lullaby? I thinkStephenie almost came in her Mormon panties when she heard you wereattempting to write it.”He laughed heartily. “Um, no,” he said quietly. “I was planning on doingit today, but I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to.”“We’re only doing the field trip scene,” she told him. “And besides, youcan do it in between interviews. They’ll eat that shit up if I tell them aboutit.”“You better not,” he said severely.“I won’t,” she answered sweetly, but even then he could tell she was lying.*“Hey MTV, welcome to the set of Twilight,” she heard Rob say, and shesmiled blankly in the camera as her heart began to pound.
    • I hate this interview shit, she thought savagely and before she knew it, Robhad the microphone shoved in her face.She looked up at him, then to the camera. “I’m Kristen Stewart,” shepointed to herself, “and this is Robert Pattinson.”“Let’s go take a look,” Rob said weirdly.The cameras shut off. “That was horrible,” she told him. “You’re going tofuck the whole thing up.”*“How did you guys get to know each other? Did you like, go out and youknow… go to a coffee shop, something like that? Get to know each other alittle bit? How much- important was that?”“We sat around my dining room table for like, two entire nights, with thescript,” Kristen answered.Rob thought back on passing the bowl back and forth and the way her lipslooked against the pipe – pink and dry, like all they needed was a littlepressure to wet them down.“And uh…” It was way more than that, he thought, almost insulted.“Two nights? It was more than two nights.”“Well yeah,” Kristen clarified, scrunching up her brow. “It was actuallylike… all of pre-production.” She chuckled awkwardly. “But the, but therewas two nights that were actually like… ““Yeah,” said Rob, wanting her to finish the sentence and not sayproductive, because that would sound terrible.“Productive,” she answered anyway, and he mentally cringed – knowinghe would have to answer to Michael’s glares for that one.He laughed it off, unable to stop the happy memories of meeting her andgetting to know her and making her laugh for the first time. She laughedawkwardly, biting her lip a bit and he wondered if she was thinking alongthe same lines as him.
    • “No, I mean, we uh, yeah we did, we did um, uh… a lot of rehearsing andstuff. I mean, we’re staying like… two blocks away from each other andstuff, so I mean… yeah. We hang out quite a bit.”She looked up at him, and he thought of her close proximity on the couchconstantly driving him wild. The way her eyes closed every time he beganto read always reminded him of how she smoked marijuana, like she wassavoring every single inhalation of breath.“Have you guys bonded over any favorite movies, favorite books, favoriteauthors - anything like that?”“Last Tango in Paris,” Kristen jumped in quickly, leaning towards themicrophone.Fucking Hell, he thought. Fuck. My. Life. He nodded, a small smilecreeping up on his lips as he saluted her with the microphone. Thank youfor getting me in so much trouble.She cracked up like she realized her mistake, and all he could do washelplessly laugh along with her.“That’s kind of what we’re basing the entire uh, relationship on, in a lot ofways, for Twilight.” He smirked, not caring – it’s not like a lot of peoplewill care about this interview, anyway.“So you guys get together and watch Marlon Brando NC-17 movies?”Well, when you say it like that…“Yeah,” answered Kristen calmly, not at all embarrassed.“Just one,” Rob quickly clarified.“Yeah, just that one,” Kristen laughed. They looked at each other brieflyand laughed, and he knew she was thinking about that night just as hewas.“Yeah, and I gave her a book of… what was it? Virgil,” he said. He almostsaid The Prophet, but decided that he wanted to keep that a secret –
    • reading Gibran with her felt like their thing, and he didn’t want anyone toknow about it but them. It was the only thing that was theirs.She caught on. “Virgil,” she smiled.“Virgil,” he repeated again, laughing.“Doomed Love, Virgil.” Why were they repeating it so much? It was likeshe was saying it over and over again to drive the secret of The Prophet indeeper and deeper. “It was good.”She hasn’t even read it yet, he thought.“And uh… uh…” he looked away, grasping for thought.*Kristen looked up from biting her nail. She knew exactly why Rob hadn’tmentioned the Gibran and she felt a rush of gratitude towards thisunusually sensitive man.She noticed a bit of chocolate on the side of his lip – disgusting, shethought, he can’t even eat like an adult – and before she even knew whatshe was doing, she had reached up and scraped it off.“We don’t really get on at all,” he had been saying, his voice suddenlymuffled by her finger. “At all,” he repeated, licking his lips after she got itoff. She surveyed it for a minute, and then wiped it on the arm of his coat.“Sounds real cheery,” said the interviewer, but she barely heard him. Shewas staring down at the gross lump of chocolate on Rob’s jacket, and theyboth cracked up laughing as Rob leaned in for a better look.“Yummy,” he said on a laugh, and she giggled – fucking giggled – andwiped it off with her hand.Then she looked up and realized the cameras were still rolling.Shit.Oh well, she thought. It’s not like a lot of people will care about thisinterview anyway.
    • *“Maybe you could tell us something you noticed about her acting stylethat most impresses you, and you could say something that blows youaway about uh, Robert.”Rob watched Kristen lift her hands, shielding her eyes from the sun as shegazed up at him in rapt attention.So he said the first thing he could think of, something he knew wouldmake her smile. Laughing, he said, “Um… Kristen’s the best actress of hergeneration, and that’s why I wanted to do this movie. And I uh, I uh…Idunno why she is; she’s just better than anybody else.” Then he laughed ather expression; she looked so serious and happy that he had to lighten themoment. “Maybe you should uh, leave that out,” he laughed, throwing hiselbow over face as she ducked behind him. He cursed, and then made aface – public television. “Woops.”“God,” she said, laughing and standing back in her original position.He looked off in the distance, twirling the microphone as the interviewasked her the same question.He had no idea what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t, “I think he’s reallyhandsome.”As he laughed, he felt his heart and his hope grow tenfold.*She listened to Rob explain the kiss, not at all remembering it that way.She remembered the way the slow burning fire had made its way throughher veins like venom, and the way she wouldn’t have stopped if Robhadn’t have fallen off the bed.“They’re testing each other’s limits,” she threw in, talking more aboutherself and Rob than Edward and Bella.“But then it turns into Hell… like all kisses do,” Rob said with a funnylittle smile on his face.“Shut up,” she demanded on a laugh. “What are you talking about?”
    • “Did you actually sit down and say okay, I’m going to come in this wayand you’re going to come in this way to make sure you guys don’t bumpnoses, or whatever?”“Yeah, I mean, those things…” She watched Rob look away and sheknew that something cheeky about her was coming up. “Kristen doesn’thave any idea what she’s doing at all, so I mean, it’s always going to bedifficult-““Yeah,” Kristen said with a laugh, trying to shut him up. No idea whatI’m doing, huh?*“I’ve just announced that you’re writing the lullaby,” Kristen told himfrom across the green as he walked towards her.Bitch, he thought, and his words showed on his face.“Yeah,” she laughed, a lot more pleased with herself than she should be.Payback will be a bitch, little one.April 2008“Are my teeth really that sharp?” Rob asked Kristen as they made theirway towards the school bus.Kristen flushed; she had been trying to make a joke about vampire teethwhen she answered his teeth are…pretty sharp but it had come out allmuddled, and then she had said that it was nice and that she liked it.“They might be,” she said vaguely. “Your snaggle tooth cut at me.”Rob laughed uproariously, clapping his hands together once. “My snaggletooth? Oh good God, woman. No one has had the guts to comment on ityet.”She looked up at him and his insufferable smile, paying extra attention tothe small tooth that stuck out a bit awkwardly away from the others.“Well, get used to it, snags.”
    • Rob laughed so loudly that Kristen barely heard Catherine beckoningthem to get a move on.Kristen began walking; she got about three feet when she realized that Robwasn’t beside her. “Coming?” she asked, turning around to see himplaying with his phone.“In a moment,” he answered, so she shrugged and continued walking.I wonder if that’s Nikki, she thought acidly.And that was when she felt it.A hand. Hard.On her butt.And then she heard Rob’s loud laughter as his form zoomed by, runningfaster than she had ever seen.Her face flushed even as she laughed, shaking her head and trying to thinkof immediate retribution. She turned her head slightly, and that was whenshe saw the MTV camera focused right on her.Fuck.*April 9, 2008“Rumor has it that it’s your birthday.”Kristen groaned and stared at the clock. It was 6:28 AM, and why exactlyRob felt it was necessary to call her when she would see him in two hourswas beyond her.“It is, but don’t say anything about it,” she warned him, her voice stillscratchy from sleep. Michael looked up from the other side of the bed,where he was lying naked, half-asleep. “I hate birthdays.”
    • “You won’t hate this one,” Rob promised.Michael’s gaze was boring into her back, so she said, “Yeah, maybe not.Michael’s promised to make it pretty special.”She could hear his easy grin. “Touché, Kristen. Happy birthday.”*She avoided him on set all that morning, spending all of her free time inher trailer with Michael. He kept showering her with unexpected andexpensive gifts, from a ring with a tiny pearl set in platinum to a boxed setof The Sopranos. She kept insisting that he stop making such a big dealabout it, but he kept saying you’re only eighteen once.All eighteen meant to her was that she could finally, finally be treated asan adult on set – now she could work the long hours and really put in timeon this movie.And she could be around Rob, and get him his coffee when he started tolook exhausted, or hop around with him when the cold started to eat attheir bones. Or just be around his warmth and his light, even though sheknew all of that was wrong.She finally escaped Michael - the head of wardrobe called to tell her thatshe had to make the final selection for her prom dress, because therehearsal was in an hour and the actual scene would be tonight. They weredriving to a little Inn on the water, and it was a closed set.Which meant no Michael. She would spend her birthday night with Rob,and God damn it, why did that make her so happy?Because I’ll get to spend some uninterrupted time with one of my closestfriends, she told herself.She turned the corner to get to the wardrobe trailer and ran smack intoNikki, who looked to be heading in the same direction. Kristen turnedpurple – she hadn’t seen Nikki since that night she had called her a whore,and she wasn’t sure if Nikki was the type of girl to just haul off and hit her.
    • “Hi,” she said shortly, drawing her coat tighter around her body.“Hi,” answered Nikki, looking down at her. “Kristen, listen, I knowyou’ve been avoiding me. Although I don’t necessarily appreciate the wayyou said it, what you said was right. I just… wanted you to know that.”“I shouldn’t have…” Kristen said, letting her thoughts trail off.“Maybe not,” said Nikki with a shrug. “But you did, and I accept it.”Kristen twisted her fingers under her sleeves. “Do you love him?”Nikki just smiled. “Yeah.”She breathed out heavily, her heart turning in strange little flips. “I’msorry,” she said, unsure why she was apologizing.Nikki stared down at her, her eyes half-closed. “He doesn’t see anyonebut-“Kristen held up her hand. “Please, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”She turned to go into the trailer, but then stopped and turned on her heel.“I… I’m kind of overwhelmed by all of these dresses. All I know is that it’ssupposed to be blue. You always look so put together… maybe you couldhelp me?”Nikki’s answering smile was pure. “Okay.”* “Well, don’t you look lovely,” Rob laughed, walking into the dancestudio where he and Kristen were to rehearse to prom dance.She turned from her position at the CD player and chuckled. “I could saythe same about you.”They were both in the most casual clothes possible – Kristen’s hair was upin a knot and she was in yoga pants. He was unshaven and in a dirty whitet-shirt. It was like they were rebelling from the amount of dressing up theyhad to do later.
    • “Have you decided the prom song?” he asked her, moving towards the CDplayer. She smelled really nice – her shampoo was always so clean andsweet, like passion fruit or mango or something citrusy.“No,” she said, obviously frustrated. “I can’t believe Catherine left it tome. Do you have any ideas?”He held up a CD, grinning cheekily. “Only a few.”Laughing, she took out the Iron and Wine CD she had been testing outearlier. “Let’s hear it.”The beginning of a Muse song she recognized began, but she immediatelytried to turn it off. There was no way she could keep her composurethrough that one. But then she realized every time she hit ‘next’, it wouldgo back to the beginning of the song.“Rob?”“Okay, so there’s only one song. I think it’s perfect.” He pushed play, andthen took her in his arms like he had been waiting to do it for years.You could be my unintended choice to live my life extended; you could bethe one I’ll always love…Immediately, she was aware of every single place he was touching her. Hisdigits curled around her waist, and his other hand lightly held onto to herfingers. She looked up into his blue-green eyes, and she couldn’t lookaway.You could be the one who listens to my deepest inquisitions; you could bethe one I’ll always love…“Why is laundry less annoying than a woman?” he asked suddenly,breaking through the too-serious reverie they had been holding.She grinned slightly as he spun her around. “Why?”
    • “Because laundry doesn’t follow you around for two weeks after youdump a load in it.”She laughed despite herself. “That’s disgusting!” She slapped at his arm,fully intending on telling him off when he grabbed her hand and pressedher knuckles to his lips.I’ll be there as soon as I can, but I’m busy mending broken pieces of thelife I had before…They were warm and chapped, rough from the hellish wind. He draggedhis lips across each knuckle, holding her gaze as her breath hitched in andout of her chest. Then he drew her close to him again, his arm wrappingall the way around her waist.“And you’re ready right now,” he said finally, sliding into his Edwardvoice – it was low and pained and Americanized.“Yes,” she gasped, trying to make herself be Bella, but all she could thinkwas Rob Rob Rob and what was coming up next in the scene he haddecided to act out.He dipped her smoothly, his palm going flat on her back as his lips nearedher neck. She closed her eyes and memorized the feel of his warm breathtickling her small, flyway hairs.First, there was the one that challenged all my dreams and all mybalance…She knew that it was the worst romance-novel description, but later, whenshe tried to recollect it, all she could think of was how her knees went a bitweak when his lips touched her jugular. It was an open-mouthed kiss; shecould feel his tongue tasting the pulse that thrummed against her skin.And then he was backing up, looking into her face.She could never be as good as you…“Is it not enough, to spend a long and happy life with me?” he recited,staring down into her face, tracing the lines and shadows and angles withhis eyes.
    • “Yeah,” she said softly. “For now.”And then his eyes took on a different quality – they filled with ancientsadness, and she was so confused about where Edward ended and Robbegan.I’ll be there as soon as I can, but I’m busy mending broken pieces of thelife I had before…And then he was backing away, resisting the kiss that was supposed tocome next. She took a step towards him involuntarily, and his hands cameup to her face and rested on her cheeks.“Kristen,” he said heavily, and she knew Rob was back, and that he hadcontrol of his senses.“It’s my birthday,” she whispered, like that mattered. She moved evencloser to him; she watched him swallow.“Kristen,” he said again, but it was weaker, softer.“Bella,” she whispered.“Bella,” he repeated, his American accent back.And then he kissed her.I’ll be there as soon as I can, but I’m busy mending broken pieces of thelife I had before…It was slow and achingly sweet, torturous and slow burning. It was alsoshort, much too short. He barely allowed his lips to part against hersbefore he took control again, resting his forehead against hers as his breathlabored heavily. Too heavily.“Happy birthday,” he whispered.*Nikki bustled through the sound stage to get to the studio, where Kristen
    • said she would be. She finally found the perfect dress; it was halter anddeep blue and would look just lovely against the ivory of Kristen’s skin.She thought back of the easy conversation that flowed between them asthey looked through racks and racks of dresses, and she found herselfsmiling at how much she liked Kristen.She finally got to the door and was about to walk in when she looked inthe window above the door and into the room and onto the scene of Robkissing Kristen.Her heart jumped up in her throat and she heard her own gasp. Fuck,nothing had ever hurt like that. Rob had Kristen’s face cradled between hispalms, and his eyes were screwed shut like he was trying physically toimprint the feeling of her lips into his brain. Kristen was fairly swooningagainst his chest; he was holding her up by the waist and once again,Nikki felt like she had just barged in on the most intimate momentbetween two lovers.If she had any doubt of how Rob felt about Kristen, it was all erased now.He pulled back and looked down at her, and Nikki couldn’t help but feelsorry for him – the pain and confusion and want and desire was written allover his face. Kristen was a blank canvas, nothing showing on her face,but she could easily be painted into his masterful creation.He murmured something to her – happy birthday – and then steppedaway. Her arms lingered around his waist, but then dropped and sheturned away.Nikki had one hand on her phone, knowing she should tell Michael. Thiswasn’t just a longing look or a lingering touch, this was real. This was akiss. This was Kristen, the girlfriend of one of her best friends, kissing Rob,the man she was in love with.But she couldn’t make herself do it. She couldn’t make herself callMichael. She wouldn’t burden herself with giving him that news – becauseshe loved Rob, and because she liked Kristen, despite everything.“Happy birthday,” she told Kristen, even though the younger girl couldn’thear her.
    • *Rob had to swallow to keep himself from telling her how beautiful shelooked over and over again. When Kristen had emerged from the makeuptrailer in her little blue dress, with her long eyelashes and pouty lips, hehad literally felt the bottom drop from his world.They were alone up here at the Inn, in the sense that Michael and Nikkiand everyone else wasn’t around. It didn’t matter that there was a full castof extras, not to mention the Forks High School cast, and Teen People anda local TV station. Rob was able to be with Kristen on her birthday, on hereighteenth birthday, all alone.His mind kept wandering back to the afternoon, even though he tried tostop it. It did no good to dwell on that kiss, no matter how much hewanted to. He had no idea, no idea what he meant to her, and he wouldbe damned if he’d follow after like a fucking love sick puppy. The truthwas that she had a boyfriend, and despite whatever he felt for her, shewasn’t anywhere near breaking up with him to chase after some sort ofmutual attraction between co-stars.Because she was smart. She was so fucking smart; he ceased to think ofher as younger than him. In fact, in a lot of ways, she acted older – shewas more refined and softer spoken and could articulate her thoughts andcalled him on his shit.He remembered following her around set, naming books and movies thathe knew she liked and she humored him for awhile until she finally turnedaround and said, “Have you really seen that movie? Really? What wasyour favorite character? What did you think of the subplot?” and he had toadmit that he was full of shit, and that he had just wanted to impress her.You intimidate the hell out of me, he had told her, and she had justgrinned and kept on walking.“Rob?”It was her voice, snapping him back to present day. He smiled down at herand knew that this afternoon would never be mentioned between them,and for now, that was okay.
    • *He was beautiful.That was the only word that did him justice. She had always thought himgood-looking; he pulled off that fancy grey pea coat with ease, and he hada great smile. But in that tuxedo, with that skinny tie and tight black pants– oh God.“And I think the dress looks nice on you,” he sang in her ear cheekily,reminding her of that day she was so angry with him but still danced withhim to that Sufjan Stevens song.“Alice lent me the dress,” she said cheekily, and he smiled.“You’re perfect,” he answered back, proffering his arm to her.*The notes of Unintended by Muse began to play, and Kristen put a stop toit.“This song is all wrong,” she said stubbornly, even as Catherine argued.“You told us just two hours ago that it’s the one you wanted to use,” shesaid reasonably.Kristen could feel Rob looking at her; she hoped she wasn’t hurting hisfeelings but if she had to dance to that song again, she would go absolutelycrazy.“I agree,” Rob said suddenly. “It’s too much; it’s overkill. We alreadyknow that they love each other, why do we need a sappy song to reiterateit?”Catherine sighed. “Which song, then? We have to get this scene done,tonight.”
    • Kristen thought, and then said the first song that came to her mind.“Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron and Wine,” she said randomly,thinking of the Iron and Wine CD she had been listening to earlier, beforeRob had come in with his Muse.The CD was scrounged out of Kristen’s bag, and twenty minutes later,they were back in position.“Let’s just do a quick rehearsal dance to it,” Catherine said. “I want tomake sure you two have got the feel of the beat.”As the beginning notes started to play and Rob steered her around thelighted gazebo, she began to cry.“Are you crying?” Rob whispered.She nodded. It wasn’t this song that was making her cry; it was thememory of the song she couldn’t ever dance to again without thinking ofhim.*After the scene was finally finished at 2 AM, they decided to stay at thelittle Inn instead of drive all the way back to Portland. Kristen settled intoher room, tying her hair back and was about to wash the makeup off of herface when there was a knock at the door.She stiffened; it could only be one person.“Happy birthday,” he said again as she opened the door, and she breathedin a sigh of relief – he was out of that tuxedo, so she could actually thinkproperly.“It’s not my birthday anymore,” she argued, but let him in with a smile.He sat down hard on the edge of the bed. She kept standing, feelingawkward in her small shorts and big t-shirt. She heard him swallow, andthen he was shoving a paper bag in her face.“What’s this?” she asked, taking the crumpled sack.
    • “Your birthday present,” he answered, like she should have known.“You shouldn’t have gotten me anything,” she argued, but she couldn’thelp but feel small butterflies start their descent into her stomach.“It’s your eighteenth birthday,” he argued back. “The most important one.You can buy your own cigarettes now.”She arched an eyebrow at him. “I’m only eighteen once, right?” she asked,mimicking the words that Michael had repeated over and over againearlier that day.He grinned. “Actually, you’re eighteen three hundred and sixty-five times.Sixty-six if you turn eighteen on a leap year. Now open your present.”It was a CD that had no writing on it. She went to put it into her mini-CDplayer, but he stopped her with a self-conscience clearing of his throat.“Not yet,” he whispered. “Um, it’s a bit embarrassing.”“What is it?” she asked, turning the CD over in her hands.He stood, moving to leave. “It’s, um… well, it’s something that alwaysseemed to soothe you. And if it was my birthday, and I could haveanything from you, it would be that.” He hesitated at the door. “Anyway,happy birthday.”“Your birthday?” she asked, looking up at him. “When is it?”“May thirteenth,” he answered promptly. “I’ll be twenty-two.” And thenhe was out of the door, shutting it softly behind him.“Hm,” said Kristen, under her breath. She felt strangely disoriented, likenothing she had known before made sense now.She put the CD into the player, and had to sit back onto her bed when thesound came through the speakers.It was him. His voice, reading The Prophet.
    • She listened to it for a minute, her breath coming out in strange littlegasps.If it was my birthday, and I could have anything from you, it would bethat.If he could have anything from her, it would be the sound of her voice.Late April 2008“I’m going to get my driver’s license today,” Rob told Kristen as they ate ashitty lunch in the food tent.Kristen nearly spit out the cube of cheese she had been chewing on. “Ithought you had never driven before,” she said slowly, looking up at him.Her eyes found the strong line of his jaw, and the way it popped in and outas he chewed on the carrot stick.“I haven’t,” he said nonchalantly. “But it can’t be that hard if Nikki canmanage it.”She grinned. “Don’t distract me.”“But I do it so well,” he argued, dipping his next carrot stick into herranch.She snatched the ranch dressing away, out of his long arms’ reach. “Youcan’t expect to get your drivers license if you haven’t even driven.”“I’ve driven,” he said grievously. “Just never very well, and only inEngland.”She sighed, knowing that she was about to do something very stupid.*“Watch, it’s really easy. You press down on the gas as you let off theclutch at the same time. There’s a balance there. See?” She eased up on theclutch and pressed down the gas, and the five-speed BMW that Robbought the day before without telling anyone slid into first gear.
    • He was staring intently down at her feet – but then when she caught hisgaze, he flushed and smiled.“Stop looking at my legs and concentrate!” she snapped.“Don’t wear such tiny shorts in April, honestly,” he chided her.She ignored him. “You have to shift gears every ten miles per hour yougo,” she continued. “It’s simple. First gear is zero-to-ten, second gear isten-to-twenty, and so on.”“I didn’t know I’d have to do math to drive the thing,” he said, stillwatching her legs.She sighed. This was going to be a very long day.*In between takes of the meadow, they discussed the semantics of a manualtransmission while lying on their backs and staring at the moody sky.Kristen’s small hands kept moving up and down as she showed the way toswitch gears in the air, clutching her fists as she moved it from first tosecond to third. He watched the way her tiny white knuckles popped outas she clenched the muscles of her hand, and he had to swallow very hardand ask her something about the clutch so he could get the image of herpetite fingers curling around the gear shift out of his head.So she put her feet in the air, pressing down on an imaginary acceleratorand letting up on an imaginary clutch as she held an imaginary steeringwheel in front of her face. She looked so intense and cute that he couldn’thelp but not hear a word she said.And then when Catherine called action again, he could silently stare at herand marvel at her strength and independence and beauty and have hisfeelings for her written all over his face, because after all, he was playing aman falling in love for the first time, too.*
    • “You did it,” Kristen breathed, like she could barely believe it herself.It had taken him two hours – two hours – of her patient reiteration andnever ending persistence to get him to release the clutch, push down on theaccelerator and change gears all in the same motion. But he had done it,and they coasted down the deserted road easily as he moved into secondgear without a hiccup.“I’m doing it,” he said, like he couldn’t believe it, either. He laughed aloudwith the joy of it, but lost his footing suddenly and they stalled out.Kristen groaned as she lurched forward in her seat, the seatbelt cutting intoher collar bone uncomfortably. “Ooph,” she complained with a pout.“Well, nothing lasts forever. Let’s try again, okay?”But when she looked over at him, he was staring at her with a look thatcould only be described as Edward. It was intense and painful to look at,like he was a drowning man and she was the life vest. Like he was analcoholic and she was cognac. Like he had tried to quit smoking and shewas the nicotine.“Marry me,” he said, so low and serious that she flushed immediately.She laughed it off. “Can it, Casablanca. Don’t try to distract me. Let’s goagain.”But he didn’t move. He shut the car off with a pop and tossed the keysonto the floorboard. “Marry me,” he said again.“Don’t do this,” she told him, moving to fish the keys from under his foot.“Kristen,” he said so painfully that she had to look up at him. “Marry me;I swear I can make you happy.”She swallowed around the tight feeling in her throat. God, were his eyesalways so blue? It had to be the sun. “I don’t think Michael wouldappreciate that very much,” she said lightly.He jerked his head to the side, like he would toss away the mention of herboyfriend’s name. “I will cook you breakfast every morning. I will rubyour feet when they’re tired. I will read you Baudelaire poems and let you
    • laugh at my French. I will always listen to you and I will always be therefor you. I will be your best friend and your biggest fan and the best lover. Iswear to God.”“You’re acting insane,” she told him, trying to fight the breathless feelingthat her stomach’s great leaps were giving her. Her heart was poundinghard in her throat because she was speechless and unable to come up witha good argument against him, because all of that sounded so beautiful andlovely, to see him every morning and kiss him every night.What the fuck? she thought suddenly, blaming the heat coming from thevents for the flush in her cheeks and the foreign images in her head.“Am I?” he asked, reaching for her hands. “I’m an idiot, but I swear I canbe a good man for you.”“Rob,” she growled, getting frustrated by his lack of tact and her lack ofcontrol.“Marry me,” he answered simply.“If I agree to marry you,” she said slowly, letting her annoyance creep intoher voice, “will you turn the fucking car on and prove to me that you candrive to the DMV for your license?”“If you agree to marry me, I’ll do anything you ask,” he said so naturally,so easily that she had to pull her hands back.“Fine,” she said through her teeth. “Just turn on the fucking car.”“Say it,” he demanded. “Say you’ll marry me.”She sighed. “I’ll marry you, okay?”“I will make you happy,” he answered, and then turned the car back on.*Later that day, when Rob and Nikki and Michael and Kristen all met upfor dinner, Rob walked right up to Kristen, put an arm around hershoulders and said:
    • “Michael, have you met my fiancée?”Kristen shoved an elbow into his ribs and laughed. “Don’t forget Nikki,”she lied easily. “You ask everyone to marry you; you must have eighteenfiancées by now.”And Nikki, whom Kristen was growing to absolutely adore, stepped righton in even though she had no earthly idea what they were talking about.Slinging an arm around Rob’s shoulders, she said, “That’s right. We’restarting a polygamist colony, Mike. Want in?”And Michael had laughed and agreed, and it all was played off but Robknew he had messed up, because Kristen had glared at him so hatefully -even though she should be proud of herself, because he had gotten hisdriver’s license and it was all because of her.So the rest of that night, he had asked every girl he met to marry him. Andnearly every day after that, he always asked someone to marry him,hoping that their enthusiastic responses would one day fill the shoes ofKristen’s grudging half-agreement.It never did.*May 2008It was over.Kristen sat amid tons of boxes, trying to pack all of her things to sendthem ahead of her to her family’s home in the Valley. She would live therefor awhile, but she was already moving on to different roles, so shecouldn’t search for a permanent settlement for a long time.Michael had been talking about moving in together, but that thought madeher a little uncomfortable – she was eighteen years old, barely at that, andeven though she loved Michael… she needed her own space. She neededtime away from him. She needed time away from everybody.
    • Rob’s voice was reading to her through the ear buds stuck in her ears; shehad uploaded the CD onto her computer and then put it on her iPod soshe could carry it with her always. As she sorted through the trash andtreasure, she listened to him read about goodbyes.“Brief were my days among you, and briefer still the words I have spoken. Butshould my voice fade in your ears, and my love vanish in your memory, then I willcome again, and with a richer heart and lips more yielding to the spirit will Ispeak.”She swallowed around the tears that were fighting to escape. She didn’tconsider herself a weepy sort of girl, but as she waded through thebittersweet memories of him with his voice filling her ears of love andsorrow, she couldn’t help but let one tear trickle down her cheek.She wiped it away, irritated. It had never been this hard to say goodbye toanyone, but the thought of saying goodbye to Rob was almost heartwrenching. She didn’t know if she’d have the chance to work with himagain – New Moon had not been confirmed – and she knew the world ofpress junkets that they were about to face would leave them unable torecede back to their world, their bubble.But most of all, she would miss him desperately. Seeing his face every day,whether he had been smirking or laughing or brooding, had become aconstant in her life and as much as she hated to admit it, he made herhappy. The implications of that swirled in her brain, but she quickly cast itout – Nikki made her happy, her cat made her happy. She wasn’t in lovewith either of them.“Knock knock,” said a quiet voice behind her, and she jumped at thesensation of his voice being so close in her ears and being so far away, ather door jam.She pulled out her ear buds and sniffled loudly, throwing them to the sideand refusing to acknowledge him. That was how it was with them, shewould continue to deny him and he would continue to irk her and charmher until she opened up.“Are you crying?” he asked her, moving into the room and sitting downnext to her.
    • “Yeah,” she said heavily, cracking a bit of a smile and throwing somerandom scripts into a cardboard box.“Don’t look so sad,” he told her, nudging her a bit with his elbow.She looked up at him, thinking of him at the wrap party the night beforeand how he had ignored her the whole entire time. He had moved fromgroup to group, shaking hands and smiling and letting the whole placerevolve around his energy and light. And he didn’t spare a glance for her,once. So she had clung onto Michael’s hand and whispered to Nikki,keeping her eyes trained on Rob’s back for the moment that she couldsmile sadly at him, but he hadn’t given her a chance.“Why are you here?” she asked him a bit angrily, still feeling the sting ofhis brand of rejection.He shrugged, leaning back onto his hands. “Just felt like it was the rightplace to be,” he said vaguely. “Where are you going to go?”“Home,” she answered. “Are you going back to London?”He shook his head. “No. I think Nikki and I are going to live together forjust awhile – don’t look at me like that, little one. There’s no point in mecrossing the pond for a month, just to have to be back here again.”“You ignored me,” she said suddenly, letting the hurt creep into her voice.He stared at her for a minute, and then looked down at his hands. “I’msorry.”“Why?” she wanted to know. “What was the point?”“It’s just…” He looked up at her again. “It’s all so weird, you know?When I see you now, I still feel the same way about you, and I feel like Ishould be distancing myself from you because it’s never going to be thesame way for us again. We’re not going to see each other every day andI’m not going to be able to tease you, and that really…”“Sucks,” she finished for him.
    • He ran a hand through his hair, and it stuck up in so many awkwardangles that Kristen almost asked him when the last time he washed it was.But then he threw a curveball at her.“And I think I resent you,” he said quietly. “Just a little.”“What in the hell for?” she demanded.“For kind of breaking my heart,” he answered honestly, without anyapologies in his voice.She sighed heavily, running a hand through her own hair. “I never gaveyou any sort of indication that we’d be together. I’ve always been reallyhonest with you, and very loyal to Michael.”“I know,” he said. “That’s why it’s been so hard. You dance around meand make me want you, not even on purpose, and I know I can’t haveyou.”She shook her head. “You barely even know me, Rob. You’re still inEdward-mode, thinking of me as Bella. Snap out of it.”That hurt him, she could tell. “I know you better than anyone else,” hesaid fiercely. “No one has ever watched you the way I do.” He got in herface; she inhaled and smelled the tobacco on his breath, and thought backto the audition and the way his taste had forced her back to her addiction,and started a whole new addiction.“Marlboros,” she breathed, and then his lips were on hers.They were soft and so tender, so gentle that she felt the marrow in herbones ache. He parted her mouth with his bottom lip, taking her top lipinto his mouth and cupping her face with his big hands and never onceinvading her with his tongue. It was chaste and it was a train wreck.“Who am I?” she asked him, and he groaned against her mouth andpressed her until she was on her back and his weight was on top of her.She felt something digging into her and she shifted uncomfortably, but hekept kissing her.
    • “Kristen,” he said. “Kristen Stewart,” he repeated, his words coming inbetween his pulls on her lips with his own.She breathed out heavily – this wasn’t Edward she was kissing, it wasRob. She gave in and wrapped her fingers in his dirty hair, pressing herselfup against him and kissing him back, completely. She gave him hertongue, and he groaned and took it, tasting her and bruising her mouthwith his intensity. Her hands shook as she instinctively ran her hands upunder his shirt and she felt the hard muscles on his back, and his skin wasso warm and smooth, unlike the roughness of Michael’s –She shot up just as he hitched her leg around his waist. “Get off,” shedemanded, shoving him and hiding her face in her hands. “Get off, please,God, get off me.”He scrambled up. “I’m so sorry, Kristen, I’m so sorry,” he said as shefrantically backed away from him. “That was, I’m so- I was out of line,and I just, I think I love-““Get out, please,” she begged, cutting him off.“Okay,” he agreed. “God, I’m so sorry-““Just stop. It’s okay, just, you have to go. Now.” She had her handsburied in her face and she couldn’t look at him. She was already movingforward, praying for him to leave so this could just be a memory.“My birthday party in on the thirteenth,” he told her suddenly. “Pleasecome.”“Sure, sure,” she agreed automatically, but couldn’t see the way his face litup when she agreed.And because her face was buried in her hands, he couldn’t see the lie inher eyes.*
    • May 13, 2008“She’s not coming, is she?” Rob asked Nikki that night as they sat in a bar,surrounded by Rob’s closest friends.He had been watching the door for nearly two hours, his eyes lighting uphopefully every time it opened. But then, when it wasn’t her, he would goback to nursing a beer broodingly, thinking of how awful of a person hewas to have put her in such a situation.“No,” Nikki said finally, giving him the first straight answer. “But she…she gave this to me yesterday, to give to you. She got you a present,” shefinished lamely, holding out a square package.“You saw her?” he asked, his heart pounding painfully in his throat.“She came over,” she answered, and that made it even worse – KristenStewart had been in his house, and he hadn’t seen her in nearly twoweeks, and she hadn’t even tried to see him.He took the package, not really caring what was inside. All he wanted forhis birthday was to see her, for her to tell him that their special, closefriendship hadn’t been ruined by his hormones and his inability to controlhis feelings when she was around.“I’m leaving for New Orleans in a couple days,” Nikki told him suddenly.“Why?” he asked, surprised.“Kristen invited me to come stay with her on the set of a movie she’sdoing down there. Michael and I are leaving in the morning.”He thought of Nikki and Michael surrounding Kristen, forming a perfectlittle trio that had no room for him. His heart squeezed painfully and heknew that no one in the whole fucking world had had a worse birthdaythan him.*It was a CD.
    • He took the silver disc out of the package and held it in his hands for a fewminutes before sticking it in his CD player. He lay back on his bed, almostexpecting it to be blank.But then the opening notes of Jolene by Ray Lamontagne played, and heshot up in his bed.They were all there. Every single song they had danced to, discussed,laughed over, argued over. The Sufjan Stevens song they had twirled to theday that he and Nikki started their “relationship.”Come On, Get Higher by Matt Nathanson – the song that he had beenspinning her to before Michael had told him to watch himself.Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron and Wine.A rough version of Let Me Sign by him, that he had no idea how she hadgotten her hands on.He kept playing through the CD, a smile creeping up onto his lips. Shehad remembered everything, every single one of their songs – he stoppeddead as he listened to Unintended by Muse flow through the speakers,remembering the kiss and that whole day, her birthday.And then he had to sit down on his bed to listen to the last.It was her voice, speaking to him.“Hey, Rob… okay, this is really awkward speaking into this microphone, but it’syour birthday so I guess I’ll get over it. Sorry I couldn’t be there tonight, but… well,you probably know why. It’s not because of you, so don’t worry. I’m just stressed tothe max, but this is your birthday recording so I won’t bore you with it. Anyway,um, Happy Birthday and why don’t you do us all a favor and take a shower, okay?Um… thanks for such an experience, I really had a lot of fun. And thanks for…well, I’m not sure if I should be thanking you for this, but… you kind of… like,you changed my life. And um… well, I guess I’ll see you soon, whenever the pressshit starts. Um, happy birthday buddy.”He heard her clear her throat awkwardly, and then she was reading Gibranto him, but just one line.
    • “In the stillness of the night I have walked in your streets, and my spirit has enteredyour houses, and your heart-beats were in my heart, and your breath was upon myface, and I knew you all. Ay, I knew your joy and your pain, and in your sleepyour dreams were my dreams.”Early June 2008Rob was not the sort of person to nurse a broken heart with sad music anddark rooms and long crying sessions. He didn’t even know if he had abroken heart or not, because he wasn’t sure if the beating organ in hischest still functioned.It can’t be broken if it’s not there, right?He preferred to spend his nights out on the town, ducking curiouspaparazzi and laughing with random girls as they slowly began torecognize him. It was flattering, really, that he could go into a club andeasily pick out girls to have a threesome.Nikki had been gone for nearly three weeks; she had left with Kristen’ssignificant other to spend time in New Orleans with her as she researchedher new role: a stripper. Nikki would constantly text him, and mention tohim anytime Kristen brought up his name in conversation. He knew whyshe was doing it; she was a good friend and had somehow turn-coated onMichael without him knowing. She was like his double agent, and it wasvery endearing and sweet, but it was also annoying.Especially when Nikki tended to send him terrible pictures, like of Kristenin thigh high boots and not much else, sweaty from trying to master the artof pole dancing.“Let’s go,” crooned a blonde girl into his ear, twining her fingers aroundthe bottom of his shirt. “Let’s get out of here.”He was in a bar, becoming more and more buzzed by the second. Theblonde had been entertaining him all night; she was actually quite good atbody shots and had a very interesting tongue. She was also very funny, buthe couldn’t for the life of him remember her name.
    • An undetermined time later, he had the blonde pressed against the door ofNikki’s and his apartment, his fingers rubbing in between her legs as shewrithed and sucked on his tongue. They hadn’t even made it inside yet,but he knew once they did, it would be a quick one for him – so he wastrying to get the unnamed blonde as worked up as possible. Tonight, hewas tired and felt that a good two-pump chump would send him quicklyinto the land of dreams.His phone vibrated in his pocket, and the girl moaned as the vibrationstouched her accidentally. He grinned, ignoring his phone and moving toopen the door. The girl wouldn’t relent on his mouth, so he found it verydifficult indeed, but he eventually shoved the door ajar and they both felllaughing into the dark living room.“Let’s find some light,” he whispered. From the time it took him to find alamp, she had his shirt over his head and his belt undone. He heard thewhirring noise as she whipped it out of the loops, and he went to kiss heras the light flicked on.“Rob? Can you do that elsewhere, please? I’m trying to sleep.”Her voice was so familiar to him that it seemed natural that she would behere, in his living room, and he was so drunk that he barely registered thewords.“Sorry, Kristen. I’ll just turn the light back off.“But then he realized that he was talking to Kristen, Kristen. He couldsmell her, in this room, and he was half-naked in front of her, with arandom girl slithering up and down his body.And then Nikki was in the room, and he felt better, because if anyonecould take control of this situation, it would be her.“Rob,” she said scathingly. “If you would check your phone in betweenfuck sessions, you would know that Kristen and I just got back from NewOrleans and that she has decided to crash here tonight instead of drivingback to Laurel Canyon.” Then Nikki turned her gaze to the randomblonde girl who was just kind of standing around, apparently star struck.“You can go,” Nikki said dismissively, flicking her wrist like she wouldbrush her away.
    • The girl left quietly, but he was still half-naked, trying not to stare atKristen’s body which was sheathed only in a wife-beater and shorts. Hecleared his throat and excused himself to his room. When he shut thedoor, he heard the giggles of a girl he hadn’t seen in over a month – a girlwhom he had missed desperately.*Rob emerged in sweats and a t-shirt, and Kristen couldn’t mask the smirkon her face as he strode over to the couch she was lying on. Wordlessly,she moved her feet so he could sit next to her.“Interesting night?” she asked quietly. He was obviously still a bitintoxicated, so she felt like playing with him.“No,” he said quickly. Too quickly, and then he wrenched Kristen’sblanket from her lap and used it to cover part of his legs.“Cold?” she asked.“Mhmmm,” he mumbled.“Too bad,” she said, yanking the blanket back and tucking it around herbody. She grinned at him and accidentally looked down – then lookedback up extremely fast when she realized what exactly he had been tryingto mask with the blanket.“Where have you been?” He questioned her.“New Orleans,” she answered slowly. “With Michael and Nikki. I’ve beenresearching for a new role, and I know you know all of this, so why areyou asking?”He sighed, scratching his eyebrow and leaning his head against the back ofthe couch. “Just miss the sound of your voice, that’s all,” he murmuredsleepily. “How’s Michael?”“Good,” she answered automatically, ignoring the familiar burst of heathis words brought to her stomach. “How have you been?”
    • He sighed out heavily; she felt like he was annoyed with her, but shewasn’t sure why.“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said finally. “You never called me.”She knew that this was going to come out eventually; he was alwaysterrible at hiding his emotions, and when he was hurt, he let her know.She thought briefly of his parents, wondering if they overindulged him as achild.“Anything I could have said wouldn’t have interested you,” she answered,leaning back into the arm rest.“How could you possibly think that?” he whispered.“Because none of my sentences would start with, ‘So, I broke up withMichael today.’”He swallowed, and she immediately regretted it – she didn’t want to hurthim, but she was hurt and couldn’t help but keep replaying the image ofsome random girl stripping off his shirt and kissing him like… like shecouldn’t.“Sorry,” she murmured, reaching over and taking his hand. It was one ofthose forbidden movements, one that she would never want Michael to see– but she needed to feel his calloused fingertips tracing along her palm.He did not disappoint. Immediately, his thumb began to brush up anddown her hand.“Look,” she said suddenly, holding up her hand and putting his palm flatagainst hers. “Your thumb is bigger than my middle finger.”He wasn’t looking at their hands, he was looking at her, and in the dimlight of the lamp, he looked mysterious and sad and lonely. And her heartliterally ached; it bumped painfully against her ribs as she cocked her headand stared into his eyes.His fingers moved forward and they fit perfectly in the space between hers.They were warm and rough, and she felt so unbelievably safe, in his smallliving room while he was inebriated and so plainly some sort of in love
    • with her. She didn’t feel pressured or uncomfortable; she felt pretty andwanted, because the way he was staring at her left her no room for doubtsabout how much she appealed to him.“I missed you,” he told her quietly after a moment, bringing their joinedhands down to his knee. “Please, don’t ever leave me alone for that longagain.”She had so many things on the tip of her tongue – I’m not your babysitter,I’m not your girlfriend, I’m not your fi-fucking-ancee. You have no rightto demand my time; you are just my ex co-star, and you are not so special.But then he shifted, and the small amount of light in the room played onhis face. It cast it in shadows, and showed his cheekbones as sharp anglesand his mouth as a soft meeting point in the middle. He smelled like a bar,his hair was dirty, and his eyes were bloodshot. But fuck.“You’re like… the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen,” she told him,leaning forward to get a better look.He chuckled at her, allowing that. “Listen, I’ll sleep on the couch. Youcan have my room.”She protested at once. “No, no. I’ll be leaving early in the morning beforeeither of you even wake up. The couch is fine.”“Take the bed.”“I’ll have the couch; I don’t want you to not have a bed.”“Then sleep in the bed with me.”She blinked at him. “Okay.”He didn’t touch her the whole night, even though she stayed awake theentire time to see if he would. He respectfully kept his distance, snoringlightly on the other side of the bed. She wondered briefly if he would evenremember seeing her in the morning.
    • His sheets smelled like sweat and cigarettes and deodorant – it wasn’texactly pleasant, but it was him and it was real. Rob Pattinson didn’t evenown a can of Febreze, and that was a little more than attractive.She rolled over on her side, facing him. Her breath caught in her throat asshe met his sleepy, open eyes, looking particularly bright in the moonlightstreaming in from his window.She didn’t say anything and neither did he. The silence stretched betweenthem, their breaths growing stronger as the moment elongated. And thenshe reached out her hand and touched his face, following the patterns ofhis stubble and the way it roughly cut against her fingertips.He sighed and nuzzled slightly into her hand, closing his eyes. Withinthirty seconds, he had drifted back to sleep.What just happened? She cursed herself, drawing back her hand like hewas on fire.Before she left the next morning, she left him a note on his bedroom table,scrawled out in her messy handwriting. It was from the The Prophet, ofcourse – and it was the only way she could answer his plea to never leavehim alone again. It was the best she could do.“And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour ofseparation.”June 2008“What’s it like having sex with him?”Rob stopped dead in his tracks. He was on the way back from thebathroom, and he had to pass by Nikki’s room to get to his own room. Hedidn’t mean to overhear it, but when he heard Kristen – who was gettingready for the MTV Movie Awards with Nikki’s help, just as he was – askthat question, he pressed his ear against the door like a fucking stalker.He could almost hear Nikki’s grin. “Why do you ask?”It took Kristen an annoyingly long time to answer. He literally lookeddown at his watch for almost a minute, knowing that he had to get ready
    • because their car was going to arrive in ten minutes – but he couldn’tmove.He heard Kristen sigh finally. “It’s just, it’s like, he walks around all cockyand everything, and all of that hair, and that one woman of questionablenature he brought home – it’s like, I don’t know, he radiates thisunderlying sex appeal. So I just wanted to know if he lives up to it.”I do not walk around cocky all the time, he thought hotly.“Well, he’s amazing,” Nikki gushed suddenly, and Rob couldn’t help butgrin. “Oh, you know, he’s got the biggest penis I’ve ever seen. I mean,Ron Jeremy’s got nothing on that shit.”Rob’s grin was stretching across his face rapidly. Oh, yeah? Fuck yeah, itis pretty big…“And his body,” Nikki continued, her voice practically spilling over itselfin excitement, “oh God, can I even describe it? Luscious. Delicious. I’d lethim break my heart all over again just to see it one more time.”Now, Nikki, I’m not at all that special…“And the best part is…” Nikki trailed off, and Rob leaned all the wayagainst the door, wanting to hear this.Then suddenly, the door flew open and he fell into the room, barelycatching himself on the foot of the bed.“That he’s standing right outside the door, listening to every lie I spew,”Nikki finished, glaring down at Rob.Kristen was laughing so hard she could barely sit up straight.“Uh… ladies,” Rob said, trying to sound as smooth and casual as possible.“You are just so predictable, Pattinson,” Nikki spat – but he saw the smilecurl up the side of her mouth. “Go get dressed, okay? The car will be herein like, two seconds. Kristen still has to get her clothes on, too.”
    • That’s when Rob noticed that Kristen was draped in a rather thin robe –he shot a grin in her direction, and she just rolled her eyes.“Get out,” she laughed.*Nikki pressed her ear against the door, certain she heard Rob leave and gointo his own bedroom. She cracked it open just in case, and when shefound the hallway empty, she turned to Kristen.“Okay, seriously. Why do you ask?”Nikki had never seen Kristen look more uncomfortable, and that wassaying something. Nikki was a smart girl, despite her loud voice and deeptan, and knew that Kristen had some deep, underlying Rob issues.“I’m not really sure,” Kristen said finally, twisting her fingers. “Forget Iasked. It just kind of came out.”Nikki stared down at her for a moment, wondering how to word her nextthought. “Kristen… how many guys have you slept with?”“Only Michael.”She nodded; she suspected as much. “Listen, Rob has been with… well Idon’t know how many exactly, but he knew what he was doing, I’ll tellyou that much. He knows the weight he has to throw around. He knowshis own sex appeal, whether he chooses to be humble or not. Just… becareful.”Kristen suddenly looked stricken. “Do you think he’s doing all of this justbecause he wants to have sex with me?”“No!” Nikki exclaimed, immediately sorry for her choice of words. “No. Ididn’t mean it like that. But, at the same time… I mean, why do you care,sweetie?”“I don’t,” Kristen said quickly. “I mean, I don’t know. I just don’t want tobe toyed with.”
    • Feeling like she ought to get a Nobel Peace Prize for keeping calm, Nikkiasked, “Who’s toying with whom?”Kristen stopped in the middle of lifting her shirt over her head. “I’m nottoying with him. He knows how it is with me. He doesn’t stop making hispresence known, but at the same time, he’s never pushed anything. It’sdriving me crazy. I just, I love Michael. I do. He’s great, you know that.”“Great,” Nikki echoed, watching Kristen change into her black tank topand pants. “You’re wearing that?”Kristen ran a hand through her newly dyed dark brown hair. “Yeah. Imean, who cares, right? They probably won’t even recognize Rob and me.We’re nobodies.”*“Just for the record,” Rob said as they were driven towards theirdestination, “I think having sex with me is amazing.”Kristen couldn’t help but laugh at that, even though he had been crackingjokes of sexual nature all the way. She had been trying very hard not tofind him amusing, but he looked so good in his grey jacket and blackbutton down and Ray Bans and sex hair and oh my God, you’re staring athim, and he totally knows it.“You want me,” he said in a sing-song voice.“I want you,” she said slowly and she watched his eyes light up, “to shutthe fuck up, now.”He laughed – it came out like a bark.*"Yeah, I mean, I asked her to marry me like four times," Rob answeredhonestly. He was obviously already tired of the chemistry questions – sohe did what he did best, and that was make a fool out of himself.Kristen looked up at him, smiling slightly at how honest he had to be allthe time. She let her memory linger on certain memories – him jumpingup and down on the couch, him pleading with her in his car. They were all
    • tinged with a bittersweet aftertaste, and this wouldn’t be the first time shewould wonder whether her answer would have been different if she weresingle."It uh, it didnt really go anywhere,” he continued, not meeting her gaze.“It just fizzled out, fizzled out," he said, waving his arm in the air.Kristen looked back down, smiling. He was so charming and good withthese sorts of things – if she had been forced to answer that question, shewould have stuttered incoherently and given some sort of we’re justfriends answer.And then the bitch with the microphone turned to her."Sorry about that," the interviewer said. "Maybe youll reconsider."Defenses up, Kristen thought. "Oh no, nah man, Ive acquired like, a goodbuddy, and thats a big deal."A good buddy that randomly likes to kiss me and let me lay in his bed andtext me lines from a book that we read together.She looked up at him, tucking the microphone awkwardly in her arm.Immediately, it was like he felt her gaze - he looked down at her andsmiled, and she couldnt help a breathy little laugh that escaped her.If only you knew.*They told everyone they were going to the after party. But what they reallydid was get a taxi and go to the nearest hippie store.“I haven’t smoked out of a bong in forever,” Rob said sadly, fingering theornate object sitting boldly on the shelf. Only in California.“I never have,” Kristen told him. “Only pipes and the occasional joint.”“Would you be willing to try?” Rob asked, turning around to look at her.
    • “As long as you’ll show me what to do,” she said hesitantly, wrinkling hernose at the purple bong that Rob picked up off the shelf.“You don’t have to worry about that,” he promised, and for some reason,it made her insides tighten.*Somehow – don’t ask her how, she doesn’t know – in her haze, she foundRob’s shoulder with her head and refused to move it because she wasscared that the world was flat. Or something.“You’re stealing it all,” Kristen complained as Rob took another hit, andreached out her arm to snatch it. But then she was caught in thefascination of her veins, and the way they moved when she twitched herfingers.They were in Rob’s room, and it was late, and they were stoned out oftheir minds. Nikki hadn’t returned, so they were alone, but she wasn’tthinking about that, not much anyway.He moved so she could bend down to the night table to take a hit, but shewhined as his warmth left the back of her head. So he let her lay backdown against him, and picked up the bong and held it in front of her face.“If you get any pot water on my sheets, I’ll murder you,” he whispered inher ear.She let the smoke out of her mouth, blowing it in his face impertinently.“Do you ever think about immortality?” she asked finally, settling her faceinto the nape of his neck. She could feel his pulse against her nose, and italmost distracted her from everything else. Especially since it sped upconsiderably.“All the time, as of late,” he told her. He rested back against hisheadboard, and she was resting against his chest and neck and shoulder,and it was all very comfortable, so she closed her eyes and pressed a kiss tohis jugular.
    • “Me too,” she said, her breath ghosting over the wetness left by her lips.“And I think I’m too selfish to be immortal.”His breathing was slightly uneven, but she pretended not to notice becausehe hadn’t commented on her breathing, either.“I wouldn’t want it,” he said finally, picking up her hand and staring ather fingers, like they held all the answers. “I was given this life, and I wantto live it as hard and as heartbreaking and as loud as I can, and I want toleave this earth knowing that I made someone, somewhere happy.”“I want to leave a mark on everyone’s soul that I meet,” she said honestly.“I want there to be a crevice, a crack, a crater. If I was immortal, I don’tthink I’d feel that way. I think that it would get old to me, and that’sdevastating. I want people to see me and understand me and love me, butI’m terrible at letting people.”“I disagree,” he said softly, twining his fingers with hers.Because she was high and honest and he smelled so nice, she turned herhead up and asked, “Are you in love with me?”And because he was high and honest and he loved the way her fingers felt,he said, “Maybe.”*When Nikki returned home that night, at approximately 4 AM, shepeeked into Rob’s room to see if he was home yet.She took two very deep breaths when she saw the scene before her, closedher eyes, and shut the door.What the fuck do I do now? she wondered helplessly.Michael was constantly nagging her for updates, especially since he was inToronto for a small project. Nikki herself was still in love with Rob,because things like that just don’t go away and technically Kristen wasboth moving in on her sloppy seconds and potentially breaking one of herbest friends’ hearts.
    • She just didn’t know if the best friend’s heart would be Michael’s or Rob’s,or whether Kristen would break her own heart and end up alone.But that, what she had walked in on – it was like the end of a major lovescene in a movie, except all of their clothes were intact and there was abong spilling pot water across Rob’s sheets.They were asleep, with Kristen tucked into Rob’s side like she waspermanently welded there, her arm draped across his rising and fallingchest. Her nose was buried into his neck, and she had never seen him lookmore peaceful.Nikki wondered how long she could stand being everyone’s secret keeperbefore spontaneously combusting.*She had been staying at their house for nearly a week, and Rob couldn’thelp but wonder why she just didn’t permanently move in. Shecomplimented both him and Nikki perfectly, always the calm mediatorbetween their clashing personalities. She smoked with him and stuck upfor him when Nikki complained of the smell. She went shopping withNikki and stuck up for her when Rob complained of being alone all day.And every night, after Nikki went to sleep, she would crawl into his bed.She would open his door slightly, calling out his name in a question, andhe would say yeah? and she would come in, wearing nothing but a tanktop and tiny shorts and make herself comfortable against him.They would talk for hours, sometimes stoned but most of the time not. Hewould hold her hand and skim her waist and she would kiss his neck andrun errant fingers over his spine but they never, ever kissed or evencuddled, really. He could just tell that Kristen wasn’t a big cuddler, andthat was fine.One night, she dragged in her copy of The Prophet, which was so wornout and dog-eared that he couldn’t help but smile.“Read to me,” she said simply, holding out the book for him to take.
    • He opened the book as she settled against him, her long hair tickling hisbare chest.“How often have you sailed in my dreams, and now you come in myawakening, which is my deeper dream. Ready am I to go, and myeagerness with sails full set awaits the wind. Only another breath will Ibreathe in this still air, only another loving look cast backward, then I shallstand among you, a seafarer among seafarers. And you, vast sea, sleeplessmother, who alone are peace and freedom to the river and the stream, onlyanother winding will this stream make, only another murmur in this glade,and then shall I come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean.”She looked up at him, and their noses brushed. They shared each othersbreathing, in and out, but he still didn’t kiss her.And that was okay, because he knew that he didn’t need to.*When Rob emerged the next morning, Kristen was sitting on the couchnext to her bag. Nikki was chatting animatedly in the background, but hecast Kristen a look towards her things.“Michael’s home,” she said simply, and it knocked the breath out of himmomentarily.Nikki turned and looked at him sadly behind Kristen’s back, knowing thefull weight of those words were settling upon him.“See you, then,” he said shortly, grabbed his keys, and left.He couldn’t be the one to wait for her to leave this time.*Nikki pressed the mute button later that night, interrupting the show thatshe and Rob were watching silently on the couch.“Do you want to talk about it?” she said finally, turning to look at him fullin the face.He sighed. “Not particularly.”
    • “Rob…,” she trailed off, hating that his heart was broken, because sheknew exactly what that felt like.“I’m just not good enough for her,” he said simply. “And she keepsshowing me that, over and over again, and I’ve kept refusing to believe it.But now… I don’t know if I can ignore it this time.”Nikki raked a hand through her hair. “Did anything happen?”He shook his head sadly. “No. I wouldn’t do that to her.”“You must really care for her,” she said neutrally. ”Especially since she’swilling to do it to herself.”He stood up, not wanting to talk about this anymore, obviously. “I’mgoing to go to bed. See you in the morning.”She watched him retreat, heard his door close, and almost pressed themute button to start the sound again when she heard something shatter inhis room. She jumped up immediately, running over to his door and wrenching itopen. He stood with his back to her, surrounding by broken pieces of aclay vase.“Rob,” she whispered, and he turned to her, and his eyes were bright withtears.He nodded towards his phone, which was lying on his bed. The screenwas still bright with a just-read text message. She picked it up, saw that itwas from Kristen, and read it aloud.“Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable heights, why dwell you amongthe summits where eagles build their nests? Why seek you theunattainable?”“Gibran,” he whispered, almost to himself. Then he recited a line fromthe book out of memory, like it had haunted all of his dreams.“You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built atower in the sky.”
    • July 2008Kristen had her cell phone out, ready to call him as soon as the planelanded. She jostled her leg impatiently, ready to get out.Why the fuck does it take so long? We’re on the ground, open the fuckingdoors!She shot up as soon as the pilot thanked them for the flight, grabbing hercarry-on and almost knocking down an elderly woman as she bustled outonto the tarmac. She pressed ‘call’ – his number had already beenhighlighted – and flashed her phone to her ear.It rang and rang and rang, and her hopes dwindled with each passingshrill. His voicemail picked up, and she sighed dejectedly.Hi, just in case you got this number and I have no idea who you are, thisisn’t Robert Pattinson.She always smiled at his voicemail message – the way his lips lilted overhis own name made her picture his tongue and the way it rolled over hisr’s. But then the frown returned to her face, because once again, he didn’tanswer her phone call.It had been nearly a month – a month – since she had spoken to him. Ithurt – after all, he was still one of her best friends, even if they stoppedsaying that out loud because lines got blurred all the time. She nearlyneeded his laugh and his ability to make her own laughter come out. Shemissed his craziness and his inconsistencies and the way he alwayssmelled like cigarette smoke even if he hadn’t smoked yet that day. Shemissed the way he would drop everything when she spoke to him to holdher gaze so she would know that she was the important thing to him atthat moment.She knew that he been hurt by her leaving that morning so abruptly, butshe had no idea that he would hurt so much to stop talking to her. Hehadn’t answered his phone once, never replied to the texts or emails, andeven Nikki wouldn’t respond when she asked about him. Nikki herself hadbeen extremely short with her, and Kristen just wanted to know why.
    • She thought back to that night, the last night they had been in his bedtogether, and the way she had intentionally laid her head on his chestbefore dozing off to sleep. His fingers had traced her spine through herthin tank top, and she was surprised she could sleep at all with such a highheart rate.Maybe he just finally realized that it wasn’t fair to him. And she knew that– she really did. She was being awful, but it just didn’t make any sense todrop her long term, wonderful boyfriend for some sort of mutual attractionbetween costars.She snapped back to attention when she heard the beep signaling shecould speak.“Hi, it’s me… again. Listen, I’m back in L.A. – New Orleans suckedagain, by the way – and I’d like to see you. I mean, I guess you don’t wantto and I should just take a hint, but… well, anyway, if I don’t see youbefore, I’ll see you at Comic-Con. Okay? Really, you can call me back. Iwouldn’t be offended. Bye.”But even as she hung up, she knew he wasn’t going to call her back.*Nikki sighed as she heard the rifts of Forget Her pulsing through the doorof Rob’s bedroom. She pounded on the wood with her fist, and it shut offabruptly.“If I hear that Jeff Buckley song one more time,” she threatened, “I’llshoot myself in the fucking foot.”Two heartbeats and then a Sorry, Nik came wafting back through thedoor. God, if she could just get him to fucking smile, that would be great.But the past month, he had been obsessing over every single call andvoicemail and text message from Kristen, asking Nikki whether he shouldrespond. But Nikki had maintained her stance – Kristen had made herselfperfectly clear and Rob was being a lap dog.Time to move on.
    • But Nikki knew herself that moving on wasn’t exactly the easiest thing todo. Rob’s door opened and he was bare-chested and scruffy and she feltthe breath hitch in her throat at how lovely he looked, even in his sadness.She ached to reach out and touch him, to just draw him in her arms andlet him feel the warmth of someone who did love him. But Rob didn’twant her, and she knew that.“Hey,” he said softly, leaning against his open door. “Dinner ready yet?”“Yeah,” she said after a second, taking in the way the light hit his highcheekbones. “Delivery straight from Pizza Hut, my specialty.”He almost smiled – she saw it creeping up his mouth – when his phonerang and he stopped dead in his tracks, frozen, like he was a deer who justrealized the hunter had the rifle pointed at him.He turned on his heel and went back into his room, staring down at thescreen without answering. That only meant one thing – it was Kristen. Butthen, he almost caved – his wrist shot out to pick up the phone and Nikkiwas across the room in a flash, snatching it out of his hand.He reached for it again, putting his arm around her waist involuntarily toget at the phone that was behind her back. He was so close to her face thatshe reached up her chin and kissed him.He kissed her back like he was a drowning man, grabbing her by theelbows and pushing their lips as close as possible. His phone dropped fromher hands and onto the bed with a thump, but then it made another sound,signaling that he had a voicemail and he dropped her immediately andflashed the phone to his ear, obviously desperate for the sound of Kristen’svoice.“Hi, it’s me… again. Listen, I’m back in L.A. – New Orleans suckedagain, by the way – and I’d like to see you. I mean, I guess you don’t wantto and I should just take a hint, but… well, anyway, if I don’t see youbefore, I’ll see you at Comic-Con. Okay? Really, you can call me back. Iwouldn’t be offended. Bye.”“Seriously?” Nikki groused, heightened by the fact that he had kissed herback. “I can barely stand to talk to her these days, with what she did toyou. She doesn’t deserve you.”
    • “I want to call her back,” he whispered, staring down at his phone. “Shecan keep hurting me. I don’t care.”Nikki sighed, leaning into kiss him again. But he backed away and said nowith such pain in his voice that she felt like she was almost raping him.“I’m sorry, Nikki,” he said quietly. “But I keep telling you no. I keepmaking it plain.”Shaking her head, she gestured to the phone in his hand. “So does she. Butyou can’t help wishing and always coming back for more.”*It was July 23rd and the day before Comic-Con that Kristen finally got fedup and drove herself over to his house. She cringed when she saw thatNikki was home, parked outside of their apartment right next to Rob’sshady BMW, but she had to do this.She pounded up the steps, listening to the way her flip flops hit thecement. She knocked on their door roughly, and it wasn’t thirty secondsbefore she heard Nikki telling her that she was coming.The door opened and light flooded out into the night.“Oh,” was Nikki’s response. “You.”Not exactly the most welcoming response, but Kristen smiled all the same.“It’s good to see you. How’ve you been?”“Fine,” Nikki said shortly, not moving to let her in.And then she heard his voice, sounding gravelly and tired and sad.“Nik? Who is it?”Nikki sighed, throwing open the door and stalking back into the housewithout inviting Kristen in. She watched Nikki stomp off down thehallway and heard her bedroom door slam before Rob had even roundedthe corner.
    • “What the fuck was that?” he shouted at her bedroom door before movinginto the living room.She breathed in shortly when saw him, barefoot and scruffy and perfectlybeautiful in a black t-shirt and low slung jeans. He didn’t notice her at first;he was moving towards the door with a cell phone in his hand. He movedit to his ear and then her own phone started ringing.He looked up then, meeting her gaze and his phone almost dropped out ofhis hand. She picked her own phone up – it was flashing Rob’s name –and said, hello?And even though they were not even ten feet apart, he said softly into thephone, “Why don’t you come inside and stay awhile?”She hung up the phone with a press of a button and stepped across thethreshold, shutting the door behind her. They stared at each other for along time, and then Rob said,“I was just about to call you.”She cracked a smile. “I noticed.”And then they fell silent again, just taking each other in and breathing thesame oxygen.“I missed you,” she said finally, moving towards him and the couch in thesame motion. She plopped down, slinging her bag off of her shoulder andkicking her shoes off with her toes – they fell with soft thuds to the floor.“Why have you been ignoring me?”He cleared his throat, and then walked into the small kitchen. “Wantsomething to drink? Water, beer? I haven’t been able to find Sweetwateranywhere, and I really miss it. Is water good?” Before she could answer,he threw a bottle in her direction and she caught it, the condensationmaking it slide through her fingers.He fidgeted nervously in the kitchen for a few more minutes - opening andclosing a Pringles can, organizing the refrigerator, drying off the counter,arranging the salt and pepper shakers – before she cleared her own throat.
    • “Um, Rob, as cute as this domesticated side of you is, I really came hereto talk to you, so…”He walked back over to her in a flash, like he had been waiting for her totell him it was okay to be near her. She scooted over on the couch andmade room for him, but he sat down on the hardwood floor in front ofher, instead.She took a sip of her water, waiting for him to begin his explanations. Shetried to be patient with him, but all he did for a good while was stare at hishands. Then, he finally said, “You… have enchanted me.”He had never named his feeling to her so bluntly, and it made her feelflustered and senseless. “Then why have you been ignoring my phonecalls? I thought we were friends, Rob.”He cringed at the word friends – but only a little, where she could barelysee it. “I thought we were, too,” he said sadly. “Why did you do it?” Heturned his face up and looked at her, and he looked so vulnerable andsmall sitting on the floor at her knees that she wanted to hug him.“Why did I do what?” she asked. “Leave the morning that Michael camehome? I couldn’t just stay here.”“No,” he said. “I know that. Why did you text me that horrible passagefrom The Prophet? I could barely… I couldn’t… I couldn’t get a grip onmyself for quite some time.”Her brow wrinkled together in the middle. “What do you mean? When Isent you the quote about friendship a couple weeks ago when you weren’tspeaking to me?”“No,” he said, getting frustrated. “Don’t play stupid, Kristen, please. Itmakes it worse.”“Rob,” she said as patiently as possible. “I have no idea what you’retalking about.”He took his phone from the floor and shoved it in her face. “Read it. It’sunder the Saved messages.”
    • Kristen took his phone, confused and a bit worried. She read the text andgasped.“I never sent you that,” she protested.“Well see, it appears you did,” he said just a bit sarcastically. “FromKristen, 11:39 PM.”Her breath was coming in short, angry gasps. She had never sent him thatmessage – she would never, ever try to dissuade him and that was selfishand idiotic but she would never tell him that she was unattainable becauseshe knew that she wasn’t.“Rob,” she said firmly. “I did not send you that.”“Really,” he said, not believing her in the slightest. “Well, who do yousuppose did, then? Did Satan get a hold of your phone?”She thought back to that night and the way that Michael had been acting –very sweet, very loving, but also very strange. She had walked in the roomjust as he was flipping her phone shut; he had turned it off because, as hesaid, he didn’t want any interruptions. She had accepted that and smiledas he slid his arms around her waist, but now…“It wasn’t me,” she whispered. “Oh, my God. Rob, please. You have tobelieve me – I didn’t, I would never.”“What was I supposed to think – I mean, it was a quote from Gibran,which we do like every day, and it was your number, and it was right afterthat night that, I don’t know, we kind of had a moment, at least in mymind, and what the fuck, I mean, who did that?”“Who do you think?” she murmured, reaching her hands down andtracing the wrinkle between his eyebrows.He closed his eyes and the wrinkle smoothed out. “He didn’t.”“He had my phone, and it wasn’t me. He must have deleted it from mysent box, because I had no idea – I had no idea. I thought you hated me.”
    • “Hate you?” he whispered, like he was being tortured. “Hate you? Kristen,God, I could never-“ He took the hand that was against his face and kissedthe palm, the back, the fingers – short little kisses that were warm and wetand breathless with each word. “I thought you hated me, for alwayshaving to be around you and never leaving you alone, and oh my God,I’m so sorry for ignoring you, what you must think- I could never hateyou.“His desperation and his plain love carved a deep hole in her stomach andpatched a deep hole in her heart. So she leaned down, to stop his incessantapologies and caught his lips in hers.It was nearly over before it started – a quick little peck, like something youshare with your grandmother after she hadn’t seen you in years. But shecould feel it jostling her insides, like a storm on the sea. His lips werealways so warm and rough in such a mannish way and it left her a littlemore than turned on. She didn’t even part her lips against his, even thoughshe wanted to taste him and show him that she couldn’t ever hate him,either. When she pulled back, he sighed so contentedly that she rested herforehead against his, letting her hair fall around them in a dark curtain.“Thank you,” he whispered, and it broke her heart.*“Let me show you something,” he said excitedly an hour or so later, aftertheir breathing had slowed and their banter had returned.She bit her lip and offered an off-color comment, which made him flushand laugh happily.“Only if you ask nicely,” he offered, standing up and reaching behind hisbed for his heavy guitar case.A please was on the tip of her tongue but she was too curious to reallyspeak. He seemed extremely nervous and fumbled with the buckles at leastthree times before snapping them off and taking out his worn acousticguitar. It fit in his hands so nicely, and she watched the way his fingerscurved around the neck, lovingly plucking at the strings as he turned theknobs to tune it.
    • “Am I about to be serenaded?” she asked levelly, even though she was alittle more excited than necessary.He chuckled. “I actually converted the world’s cheesiest song to acoustic,and I wanted you to be the first to hear it. Do you think your ears couldstand it?”Intrigued, she leaned forward. “I think they might be able to.”He grinned, already strumming on his guitar, letting his fingers skimacross the strings.“You have my heart, and we’ll never be worlds apart, maybe inmagazines, but you’ll still be my star. Baby, ‘cause in the dark, who cansee shiny cars? That’s when you’ll need me there, with you I’ll alwaysshare…”She laughed aloud, recognizing the song and the way his throaty, Blues-like voice caressed the notes in his own special way.“When the sun shines we’ll shine together, told you I’ll be here forever.Said I’d always be your friend, took an oath I’ma stick it out to the end.Now that it’s raining more than ever, know that we’ll still have each other,you can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh…”She shook her head and smiled at him, letting the feeling of his easyfriendship and difficult love swirl up inside of her. She knew, without himtelling her, that he had learned this song to sing for her and the fact that itwas a cheesy pop song that had dominated popular radio made herwonder at him even more.She stared at him as he reached the bridge, feeling like an idiot for lettingher breath catch as his voice swelled over the words.“Oh, you can run into my arms, it’s okay, don’t be alarmed. Come intome, there’s no distance in between or love. So go on and let the rain pour,I’ll be all you need and more, because…”He finished the song on a laugh, already embarrassed.
    • “Ella, ella, ella?” she asked, shaking her head at him and giggling.“Honestly…” But she was moved and heard the lyrics in a whole newway.“It’s raining,” he said.“Oh baby, it’s raining,” she echoed.He laughed. “Uh, no, really – it’s raining. Do you need to head home oranything?”She listened to the sudden downpour clattering against the roof, wantingto say no more than anything and surround herself in his warmth for thenight. But Michael was waiting for her, and she had quite a few words forhim.“Yeah,” she said heavily, standing up. “I’m really glad I came over. I…”“Shush,” he said, placing the guitar down and standing up with her. “Notnecessary. Everything’s forgiven and over with. We need to be an alliance,anyway, have you heard the craziness surrounding Comic-Con tomorrow?Catherine called and told me that they’re expecting something like sixthousand screaming women…”“Stop lying,” she warned him. Then, on impulse, she leaned over andhugged him. She couldn’t ever remember doing that.He laughed – she could feel it vibrate his chest – but hugged her backtightly, squeezing her a bit. But then he released her quicker than shewanted, and she couldn’t help the disappointment that flooded throughher.*“Explain yourself,” she demanded of Michael as soon as she stepped intohis apartment.He knew immediately what she meant because he stiffened – his backwent ramrod straight against the couch. “You went over to see him?” heasked, accusations and implications trailing all throughout his tone.
    • “Um, yes, possibly because one of my good friends hadn’t spoken to me innearly a month and I had no clue why! But I’m sure you know why, don’tyou?”“It’s inappropriate,” he said, not even sorry. “I’m sorry Kristen, but it is.Yeah, I stole your book and found a quote that told him to fuck off,because you seem incapable of doing that yourself.”“I don’t want him to fuck off,” she said through her teeth. “He’s one of mybest friends, and you’re being insane. How dare you?”He sighed, rubbing his hands over his face. “Baby, I’m not trying to be anasshole, okay? But put yourself in my shoes. I try to be understanding –but what if I get this co-star, who is not only really smart and gorgeous butalso totally in love with me, and I spend my time encouraging her.”“He is not in love with me,” she said quietly, making him scoff.“Are you saying that just because you want to hear someone say it?Because I will. He is in love with you, and it’s really disgustinglyobvious.”She drew herself up to her full height – it wasn’t all that impressive, but hecowered anyway. “We’ve been together forever, Michael, and now you’resuddenly developing a Pattinson Complex? You didn’t develop a Hirschcomplex.”“Because you didn’t eye fuck Hirsch every time he glanced in yourdirection,” Michael spat.She slept alone that night. Fuming, she wrenched the covers up over herhead and was about to drift off to sleep when she thought of Rob, alone inhis own bed and hopefully thinking about her. She suddenly needed to feelconnected to him somehow, so she grabbed her iPod and listened to himread The Prophet in her ears. She smiled to herself, grabbed her phone,and texted him.Thought I should make up for the pseudo Gibran text by saying ‘let therebe no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.’
    • Her phone buzzed within the next minute, and she grinned knowing thathe was awake, too. It made her feel less lonely, like driving in the middleof the night and seeing a light on inside of a house. She pressed ‘read’ andknew that tomorrow, at Comic-con, her feelings would be written all overher face due to the quote he sent her.And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future withlonging.July 24, 2008Kristen, feeling blindly overwhelmed as she walked out onto the platform,wished she could clamp her hands over her ears and let the audience knowhow revolted she was by the screaming. She must have lived in a bubble,because even though she had been doing interviews and small press thingsfor Twilight, she’d never been confronted with this much… noise.She smiled out at everyone, trying to keep her eyes at her seat, like it wasthe white light she was walking towards to save her. She waved a bit asshe went to sit down. Then Rob’s name was called and she found herselfwhirling around, smiling crazily at him as he nearly cowered at the noise.She knew exactly how he felt, so she put her hands together over her headjust as Cam did, waving her fists in the air. Then her feet lifted her upinvoluntarily, and she was clapping crazily for him.He smiled nervously at her, thanking her silently – the screams wereridiculous, how were they going to even hear the orators’ questions? – thentook the seat next to her, making a face at the crowd as he combed his hairbehind his ears.“Can you fucking believe this?” Kristen hissed at him, barely moving herlips as Stephenie Meyer’s name was called.He turned his head, resting the bottom half of his face in his palm. “It’slike the gates of Hell,” he said from behind his hand, obviously onehundred percent terrified. “Stephenie’s gained a little weight, hasn’tshe…” he whispered conspiratorially, trying to make her laugh.It worked. She snickered, reveling in the secret hate both she and Rob heldfor the creator of their characters. Rob hid his expression; combing hishand through his hair once more, he turned to Stephenie and murmured
    • politely to her. Then Catherine’s name was called, and everyone turnedtheir hands, clapping as their beloved director sauntered onto the stage.“Hi guys, thanks for coming out,” the orator started, to the tune of sixthousand bloody screams. “I think there’s a little bit of interest, huh?”Kristen turned to Cam, who was fidgeting in his seat and she laughed withhim, trying to keep her gaze from Rob. Catherine had warned thembeforehand, telling them to avoid going into their “bubble” – they eachneeded to keep their attention to the questions. So, she was trying.The orator announced that his first question was for Stephenie andCatherine, so Kristen turned her attention back to Rob. “Thirsty?” shewhispered, before pouring him some water like she was completelydomesticated by him.He grinned over at her, his eyes wide by both the screams and the act shewas doing. Just like his little wife, or something. “Thank you,” he saidwith a smile, then turned his attention back to the questions being asked.Kristen flushed and poured herself some water, realizing that she hadserved Rob first. Like an Amish wife. Again with the wife word, shechastised herself. Focus, Stewart.She cringed as Catherine’s voice came too loudly through the microphone,but tried to concentrate all the same. She tried not to think about the nightbefore, with Rob singing quietly and hugging her back fleetingly.Ella, Ella, eh, eh, eh…She ran a hand through her hair, listening to Catherine drone on and on.She noticed that Rob mirrored her, and she couldn’t help the small smilethat graced her lips. They were so close; they couldn’t help butinvoluntarily share in the same actions. Stephenie went to say somethingin the microphone, but she was cut off by screaming.“Thank God,” Kristen muttered, not moving her lips. But Rob heard herand bit on the edge of his cup, laughing. She chuckled to herself too, andthen turned to look as Stephenie began to speak.
    • Stephenie seemed to purposely evoke the screams, so Kristen’s annoyancegrew. Then Taylor was called on, and everyone turned their heads towatch him answer. Rob said something to her but she didn’t turn around,knowing that she was going to get in a lot of trouble under Catherine’swatchful eye. So Rob turned around and began talking to Stephenie.Kristen felt a wave of annoyance rush through her; she whipped her headaround and tried to listen in on what Rob was saying to a nearly swooningStephenie, but she couldn’t hear.She leaned in closer, trying to disguise it as stretching. Then she felt Rob’sfingers pinch her thigh, and she laughed and turned around, still smiling asshe tried to listen to Taylor’s answer.Taylor finished his question and it turned to Edi, so Kristen leanedtowards Rob and said, “Keep your hands to yourself.”He grinned, leaning towards her too. “Then mind your own business,” hechallenged.“I hate you,” she hissed, barely able to keep the smile off of her face.He opened his mouth in mock-surprise, still grinning. “That hurts.” Hisgaze shifted, and he looked down to Edi as he murmured, “I know youdon’t mean that.”“Watch me mean that,” she insisted, crossed her arms over the table andleaned forward, looking down and listening half-heartedly to Edi’sresponse.He chuckled behind her, so she turned back around. “Fine, I suck at it,”she whined.“And here I thought you were the best actress of our generation…” He bithis thumb around his smile.“And here I thought you were handsome,” she huffed, but he kept onsmiling at her in that infuriating way he had perfected.Rachelle was saying something about looking good doing it, and eventhough neither of them had any idea what they were talking about, Robwhispered, “I look good doing it.”
    • He bit on his fingers, and she flushed and whipped her head around,damning him for the image he put in her head. And he was still smiling,finding himself hilarious. She took a sip of her water, feeling a little hotaround the ears. He finally relented, drawing back with a sigh.Kristen finally directed her attention on Cam, who was speaking andlooking gorgeous. She smiled, looking above him, trying to ignore thepinch that Rob directed at her thigh again. Asshole, asshole, asshole.She turned to him furiously. “If you don’t stop that, I will castrate you. Iam so fucking serious, Pattinson, quit smiling at me like that.”But a smile still crept onto his mouth as her head flung at her words. Hedipped his head and said, “Don’t dismantle the ride until you’ve ridden ityourself, Kristen.”“You. Are Not. Funny,” she hissed, but he was grinning even wider now,finding her anger amusing.She turned to Cam, who was speaking again, determined to ignore him.“Do we look good doing what we do?” Rob hissed in her ear, mirroringCam’s response. She smiled, running her hands through her hair andrefusing to answer him, even as he continued to repeat the question.He bit on his cup, holding it in his mouth with his teeth and she found thatso adorable that she was momentarily blindsided by a rush of affectiontowards him. Then they rolled a clip of the movie, and Rob took completecontrol of the situation to torture her.*“You are my perfect Edward,” Stephenie crooned to him, holding onto hisshirt and smoothing out his collar.He grinned politely. Jesus Christ. “Thank you.” But then Kristen’s namewas called, so he turned back to her gratefully, finally having a legit reasonto look at her.“So, can you tell us about your first experience with the books…”
    • Rob watched her answer, smiling involuntarily as she answered – she wasobviously flustered and nervous, because she kept shaking her head andrunning a hand through her dark hair. But then his name was called, andthen he couldn’t hear anything else because the screams were deafening.Fucking hell, he thought. If all of these girls only knew how disgusting hewas – he clipped his toenails in bed and left his molding towels on thefloor and hadn’t washed the shirt he was wearing in two weeks…Kristen laughed at him as he cowered with a small smile.“I think you have a few fans out here,” the orator said, and that annoyedhim. He grabbed the water pitcher and poured himself some more, almosthoping to choke on it so he could be rushed to the emergency room andnot be put through this. “What’s it feel like to have so many fans…”He scooted forward to the microphone, feeling Kristen’s eyes on his face.“This is the first time I’ve really seen any of them,” he said honestly.“So…” He chuckled, not really sure what else to say. “I didn’t reallyexpect it. I dunno… I guess, I guess, I, I,…ack. It’s just, it just baffles me.”He laughed stupidly. “I uh, I dunno…”Kristen made a comment, but he couldn’t even hear her because it was soloud.“It’s nice, it’s nice though,” he said, the sound of his voice causing evenmore screams. Are you serious?“I can’t even hear anything!” He ran a hand through his hair, laughingagain and taking a sip of water.“Don’t say anything to me, I might start screaming,” Kristen joked, barelymoving her lips.He smiled around his water cup.*“I just wanna ask how it feels to portray a super hot vampire in the all themovies, for all the actors.”
    • Kristen backed away immediately. “I don’t play a super hot vampire,so…” She leaned back into her seat.She watched Rob look down the line, saying Hey Rachelle – and Kristen’sback immediately went up. He thought Rachelle was hot? Super hot? Withall of that hair and big smile, who could blame him? She thought sadly ofher own mousy brown hair and stick thin body.But then he decided to conquer the question on his own. “How…uh…,”Then the screaming started again, and she watched him shake his headbemusedly and run a hand through his hair, giggling. “I don’t know how itis playing like, super hot, you know…that’s kind of…uh…”Super hot, Kristen mouthed, shaking her shoulders and mimicking thegirl’s stupid question.“I don’t know if I am playing that,” Rob continued, being both modestand stupid. The screams got even louder, and Kristen shook her head. “Ithink Rachelle would be much better answering this question.”Rachelle again? Kristen thought angrily, trying to mask it with a smile.“She’s just so much more intelligent than I am,” he finished, saving it. Shelaughed, relieved, listening to Rachelle’s attractive giggle.She rambled on in her modest, beautiful way and Kristen couldn’t help butmake fun of them a bit. She shook her shoulders again, playing with herhair and fluttering her eyelashes.“We’re all so pretty!” Rachelle laughed, playing along.“…and there’s something really sexy about having that much power,”Rachelle was saying, “and I think we all enjoyed that part of it, verymuch.”Kristen smiled, raking her hand through her hair and holding her bangsaway from her eyes. She felt Rob’s gaze on her back, so she turned to himwith that same smile.
    • “So powerful that he tore his groin trying to lift his dying beloved!” shegasped, her shoulder shaking and her body rising as she dramatized theline as much as she could.And he laughed, remembering that scene – then she turned to the audiencewhen she realized they were watching the exchange with a small smile onher face.Bubble, she thought angrily. Concentrate.“I don’t remember that,” he said with a smile. “I am all brawn, and don’tforget it.”“Where is the brawn? Is it hiding?” she joked.“No, it’s all in my di-““Hi,” Cam said into the microphone, and they both turned, realizing thatanother question was about to be asked.The girl asked a question about the soundtrack, and Kristen was about togo back to whispering to Rob when Catherine alluded to Rob possiblybeing on the soundtrack.Rob ducked back nervously, and Kristen looked at him in surprise. Shehad no idea – that asshole.“Can you tell us about any spontaneous or unexpected moments duringfilming?”Catherine said something to Cam, and Kristen sighed in relief – she andRob had plenty of spontaneous moments but didn’t necessarily want thewhole world to know about them.Cam stuttered for a couple minutes, and then Catherine chimed up again.“I remember one,” she said happily. “When we were doing the kissingscene, and Rob got a little passionate and fell off the bed onto the floor.”FUCK, Kristen thought, running her hands through her hair and tryingnot to smile at that memory. The fans went wild, screaming and clapping.
    • Catherine was dying of laughter, taking in the uncomfortable smile onRob’s face.He raised his eyebrows, smiling a little as he tried to come up with somesort of response to that. But he laughed shortly, failing at it and shaking hishead, for once refusing to comment.It’s like it hit a little too close for their secret relationship, the actualpassion that flowed between them every time either one lost control. Theyhad never had it put out there before, and she knew with a sinking feelingthat because of Rob’s hesitancy, this probably would be just the beginningof a long series of questions revolving around them.Rob turned to her, his mouth open on a bewildered smile. “Holy shit,” hesaid quickly. “I cannot believe…”“It’s okay,” she murmured, and he turned his head around really fast thenturned it back to her, obviously now extremely paranoid about seemingclose to her.Great.*He watched Kristen try to explain Bella’s appeal, a big smile on his facethrough her stuttering response. She was just so nervous, and she was trulyterrible at having to explain herself and her deep, underlying feelings.But then she threw in something he hadn’t been expecting.“And plus, like, I got to do this audition with Rob Pattinson,” she saiddreamily, tossing her head back in forth like she was, indeed, dazzled.He smiled nervously, taking a sip of his water.“It was on Catherine’s bed,” she added, throwing all abandon to the wind.He raised his eyebrows – wow, okay, I guess the cat’s out of the bagnow…“In her bed,” he corrected, trying to top her.
    • They both laughed nervously, unable to stop their thoughts from trailingback over that day. They had both been strangers, connected by strangeroles, who had come together and formed a close, unbreakable friendship.“With Catherine,” he added, a devilish smile on his face.“No, no, no!” Catherine protested with a smile. “I was filming!”Rob and Kristen busted out laughing, Kristen shaking her head andsaying, “God, if she could have made that any worse…”Then Catherine realized what she said, but Rob couldn’t help but continuechortling. “Wow,” he said, rubbing his hand over his face.*“This is all so crazy,” Rob said, turning to Kristen as Stephenie answeredthe billionth question about her inspiration behind Twilight. “I can hardlybelieve they’re screaming like this.”“It’s not for you,” she said. “It’s for Edward.”That seemed to humble him, and she hadn’t meant it to – he smiled alittle, running a thumb over his forehead. “You’re right. The infamousEdward Cullen.”She scratched her head. “Well, it’s probably for you too. Maybe a little.”“Don’t be sweet to me,” he warned her, flipping his wrist a bit and shakinghis head. “It’s not like you.”“I didn’t mean it like that,” she insisted.He had a small smile on his face. “I know. It doesn’t offend me. Actually,I almost let myself get a big head. And you brought me back down. I’mglad.”“Rob,” she said, frustrated. She wanted to tell him that he deserved all ofthe hoopla, all of the screaming, all of the crying.“It’s not a big deal,” he said, a big smile returning to his face as he ran hisfingers through his crazy hair. “Don’t fret. I need my down-to-earth girl to
    • bring me back down with her.” He grinned at her so winningly that shehad to turn away.“I embarrassed you,” he laughed, and she ignored him as another newquestion was asked.*“Well, I wanted to know what’s it like being known as the most – well,one of the most – wanted guys in America? ‘Cause I want you, baby!”He heard Kristen’s happy giggles as embarrassment washed over him. Heducked his head, wondering what his friends back in London would thinkabout all of these girls going crazy over him. He hit his head against thetable, then brought it up again and ran a hand through his hair.“Uh….um….well…you know, I reckon most people, if they’ve talked tome for two minutes, you know, it’s all gone,” he said on a laugh. “Youknow? Seriously.”Kristen laughed and said that’s true so softly that he barely heard her, butcouldn’t help the grin. “No… no, it’s filling a void,” he said, pullingsomething out of his ass. “Filling a void in my life. Right? I need love. Alot of love,” he said, grinning.He laughed as the girls went absolutely crazy, screaming and nearlythrowing themselves out of their seats. Kristen was just quietly smiling,looking at him with those screaming green eyes.“I think,” he said, continuing. “I need something.” His voice was full ofimplications.*“And one last question for Taylor and for Rob, or Edward and Jacob. Is itboxers or briefs or nothing?”Kristen laughed at Rob as he tried to dodge the question by turning it intoa gay joke. At least no one had asked her anything insanely uncomfortableyet, but then again, she wasn’t the sex symbol.“Do you know, Kristen? Do you know?”
    • The whole crowd erupted in cheers and catcalls as Kristen flushed angrily,leaning forward into the seat and giving the sad Twimom her best bitchstare. How fucking dare you.“Just a joke, just a joke,” the Twimom said quickly, and Kristen noddedand sat back in her seat.And just for the record, bitch, she thought as she looked at Rob’sunderwear riding up from his jeans. They’re boxers.*Rob watched as Kristen picked up her phone, staring down across thescreen. Michael’s name was flashing across it. He shot her a quick glanceand she dropped it back down.He felt a flash of anger, knowing that she had forgiven him for nearlyruining their friendship.*“I love you, Rob!” a random fan shouted from the audience.Kristen’s eyes flashed to his face, knowing the kind of embarrassment thatmight cause.“Oh, good,” he answered a cute smile on his face.And she knew, with some sort of dismay, that he was finding his place inthis world of screaming and swooning while she was still fumbling.*“We were doing some improv at one point, we like, we were frolicking inthe leaves and we were just sort of laying around, and he’s uh, being cockyand I, I stick my fingers in his mouth and say, you want a taste?”Rob laughed, his anger dissipating as he remembered that particular scene.*
    • After Comic-Con, Kristen was leaning against the brick wall, a cigarettedangling between her fingers as she read the eight texts on her phone.Some from her mom, some from Michael, one from Nikki.Hey, Stew, can we talk?She texted a yes back before thinking about, trying to swallow down heranger as she remembered the way that Nikki had sided with Rob without asecond thought. Without even consulting her. Without knowing herbetter.But then again, Rob had done the same – and yet, staying mad at him wasan impossibility. He came out of the back then, his own pack of cigarettesin his hand and his Ray Bans on his head, pushing his hair out of his eyes.He had a smile on his lips and it grew even wider when he saw her.He lit his cigarette with practiced ease. “Got plans tonight?” he asked,leaning next to her. She felt the warmth of his skin – or maybe that wasjust the hot brick in the July sun.She didn’t know what it was about today, about this particular interview,but affection for him was coursing through her veins like alcohol,impairing her judgment and making her feel a little unsteady. She watchedthe way his lips wrapped around the end of his cig, and she bit her lip. Soeven though she had tentative plans with Michael, had promised Nikki aconversation and her mom a phone call, she said,“No.”His answering smile was infectious.Late July 24, 2008 “I didn’t expect you to be quite so shady,” Kristen admitted with a smirkas Rob made his way back into the car, a small bag in hand.“I didn’t expect you to be quite so impressionable,” he shot back with agrin, throwing the bag of sticky green leaves into her lap.“But really,” she pressed. “You’re getting more and more recognizable.You can’t just call the same dealer over and over again.”
    • “I pay him enough,” Rob grumbled, pulling away from the curb. “Fiftyfucking dollars for that bag.”“High price of entertainment,” she said dryly, not moved. She, more thananyone, knew how much the man was worth. “Where are we going?”Rob smiled at her, but didn’t answer. He turned up the radio – his horriblecar only had a cassette player – and tapped his thumbs against the wheel tothe beat of the seventies love song.Kristen looked down at her shirt, different than the one she had beenwearing at Comic-Con. She had rushed back from San Diego, meeting athankfully empty apartment of Michael’s. She scribbled him a quick andangry note, changed into a flattering black tank, mussed up her hair, andthen zoomed out the door to meet Rob at his apartment. They had set offon an “adventure,” as Rob had called it.They drove through two-lane roads for awhile, delving deeper into forestareas. Just when Kristen was about to get impatient, the forest opened upand she was afforded the most beautiful view of Los Angeles she had evenseen.He looked over to her, seeking her approval. She smiled her real smile,and that was enough.Kristen hated blunts, so she sneered when Rob offered her the brownpaper lined with tobacco.“Please,” she said haughtily, drawing her pipe and a lighter out of herpurse.He laughed like he found her both amusing and wonderful. “You’re goingto get busted with that.”She was too busy packing the bowl to pay him any attention. He watchedher methodical way – she put a little in, and then smashed it in tightly withher thumb. A little in, smash it tight. A little in, smash it tight. He lit up hisblunt, taking in the weed and tobacco and sighing contentedly. He pushedhis seat all the way back, set his knees against the steering wheel and letthe cloud of sweet smoke overtake him.
    • Kristen flicked the lighter over her tightly packed bowl, inhaling deeply.She mimicked Rob, pushing her own seat back and propping her feetagainst the dashboard.They didn’t speak for a long time, their inhalations the only noise betweenthem. They breathed in each others smoke with closed eyes and openmouths, content to just sit in silence. His hand found hers in the haze anddarkness, and their fingers laced together slowly, the feeling heightened bythe cannabis coursing through their veins.“Your fingers feel like sandpaper, like the prickly ends of roses,” Kristentold him finally, running her smooth palms against the calluses.“The guitar,” he explained shortly.She disconnected their hands to put her light to the pipe again. She drewin a breath, letting the smoke fill her and seep out of her pores. Shehiccupped a bit, held the pipe away from her and ignored Rob’s laughter.“I wonder what they’d feel like inside of me,” she said casually, like shewas wondering how hot it was outside.It was a mark of how high Rob truly was that he didn’t even react.“Probably good,” he said, putting the blunt between his lips and suckingin. “Friction, and all of that. Let’s roll down the windows; I’m almost toohigh.”Kristen rolled down the window, letting the smoke out and the warmnight air in. “Hmmm,” she sighed, leaning against the door. “The lights ofthe city are so bright.”“Do you not like it? I found it so I could show you something you’d neverseen before,” he said slowly, taking one last hit, and then throwing theblunt out of the window.“I like it.” She leaned across the arm rest, placing her head against hischest and closing her eyes sleepily, contentedly. His hand came up to meether hair, tracing the long strands through his fingers. The black of her haircontrasted with the pale of his skin, and it mesmerized her – it looked like
    • piano keys. “We’re so small…” Her thoughts trailed off, forgetting whereshe meant to go with that sentence.“We don’t even matter,” he said after a moment, his fingers tracing linesdown her jaw. “Like this? What we’re doing right now? It’ll be gonetomorrow. It doesn’t matter. People have come to this place and havedone it before and they’ll do it afterwards, and they’ll feel exactly how wefeel right now.”She looked up at him through her eyelashes, barely able to make out hisprofile in the moonlight. “No, they won’t,” she whispered.He sighed through his nose, but didn’t respond. Instead, he drew her allthe way into his seat, nestling her in his lap. She buried her chin in thecrook of his neck, breathing in the musty scent of his shirt and the oilyscent of his hair. She felt the scrape of stubble against her cheek, felt hiseyelashes against her temple as they opened and closed on his blink. Hisstrong arms wrapped around her tiny waist, holding her flush against hisbody. They shared the same oxygen as they listened to John Denver croonthrough the radio, serenading the hot California night.Kristen’s heart was pounding in her throat; she was surprised she hadn’tpassed out yet. She had never been this deliberately close to him – allwrapped up in his limbs and his smell and his feel. She looked down at hisface at the same time he looked up at hers, and their lips met somewherein the middle.Her hands tightened in his hair, bunching it up in her fists as she partedher lips against his and tried her hardest to taste him. His essence was amixture of weed, tobacco, peppermint and something else, somethingwoodsy and natural, and she wanted all she could get of it. She clashedtheir mouths even tighter together, opening her lips and inviting him toexplore her mouth with that long, capable tongue.He didn’t; he just touched her lips with wet, open-mouthed kisses andshort smacks and sucks and pulls and bites and sighs. His long fingerscombed through her hair, smoothing it away from her forehead as she gotup on her knees and straddled him. He groaned softly, and that was thefirst noise she had ever heard him make like that – so full of longing closeto his heart. He finally gave in, sweeping at the roof of her mouth with hislong tongue, making her giggle into his mouth. He grinned against her
    • lips, settling her against his lap as he raised his hips to meet her straddledcenter.She leaned her head back as his kisses trailed down her neck, leaving linesof liquid fire across her collarbone and at the pulse point of the base. Shebreathed in sharply and pulled his hair harder as his lips took him justabove the swell of her small breasts, and he placed a long, open mouthedkiss against her flushed skin.She didn’t even realize she was crying until Rob had pulled back, cradlingher again and whispering sweet nothings in her ear. When she realizedthat the tears had leaked down her face and onto his lips, she licked themoff before succumbing to even louder sobs.“I’m so sorry,” he whispered, kissing her forehead and trying to push herback into her seat. She went willingly, angry at him for trying to take theblame – it wasn’t his fault that he looked so lovely and sad in themoonlight.“Don’t,” she warned him, buckling her seatbelt. “Let’s go.”*He stopped at her apartment, pressing down on the brake lightly, notwanting to let her go. Her breathing was gentle and he could hardly hear itover the soft music, but it stirred the few pieces of hair in her face, and heitched to push them back.She turned to him. “Why are you stopping here?”Michael’s car gleamed in his headlights. “Because you live here.”She shook her head. “Take me to your house.”His hands gripped the steering wheel tightly. “Kristen, if I take you there, Ican’t promise that I will bring you back.”She turned a stare on him, quite clear through the haze in her eyes. “Takeme there.”*
    • He opened the car door for her, and she used the leverage to push herselfup into his arms. Shocked, he grabbed her around the waist to steady her.She kicked the door shut with her foot, and then wrapped her legs aroundhis waist and locked her arms around his neck.“What are you…” was all he got out before she answered him with strong,deep, urgent kisses.He carried her like she was a jar of air in a diamond container – weightlessand priceless. He kissed her as they walked up the stairs, kissed her for agood minute against the door, kissed her all through his house on the wayto his bedroom, and then finally dropped her against his bed. She felt herhair fan out behind her and stared up at him as he battled some sort ofinternal war.“Close the door,” she told him, and because he was wrapped around herfinger, he did.He ran a hand through his hair, and she touched the worry lines creasingthe corners of his blue eyes. She trailed her finger down his face, over thebump in his nose and the crease in his chin and then finally over hisswollen lips. He kissed her finger absently.“What do you want from me?” he asked her finally.She looked up at him, taking him in completely. His hair was in extremedisarray, his eyes were bright with lust and love and something else. Hislips were red and swollen, his cheekbones stood out against the lamp light.His chest was heaving with loss of breath, his shirt had ridden up and shecould see a tiny trail of hair that led into his boxers.And that’s when she knew what she wanted.“I want you to let me see you,” she whispered, and she caught the bottomof his shirt and wrenched it over his head before his lips came down onhers.He was gentle at first, afraid of her tickling explorations of the planes ofhis chest and the hard muscles of his stomach. She pinched the skin therelightly, and he grinned against her lips and his kisses grew in intensity.
    • “Stop,” she said, pulling back. “Let me look at you.”Bashfully, he ducked his head and backed away. She took in inventoryand smiled; he wasn’t a beefcake, he didn’t even have a six pack but hehad muscle and it was toned and looked perfect under his beige skin. Hehad lightly defined pectorals and a smattering of light-colored hair inbetween them. She ran her fingers over the hair, smiling.“And?” he said, chuckling. “What you would like now?”He really was going to make her ask for it. He wasn’t the sort of person tojust assume things with her, and most of them time she loved that – butright now, she knew exactly what she wanted but she didn’t know if shehad the guts to ask for it.So she got up on her elbows and whispered something in his ear that madehim stiffen, and then pin her shoulders to the bed with his hands.“Are you sure?”She was sure, and before they knew it, Kristen knew exactly how it felt tohave his rough, sandpaper fingers inside of her. It felt wonderful, like adelicious torture, quick to ignite but slow to burn. She ground down on thetwo digits he pumped inside of her, rubbing herself against the thumb hehad pressed against her clit. She was so turned on she was on anotherfucking planet. His mouth would occasionally dip down to suck at thepebbled peaks of her breasts, and she wouldn’t know which way to archher body when he did that.But then his fingers were gone, and she was about to protest when she felthis soft hair graze her thigh. She propped herself up on her elbows,watching his eyes as he took a good look in between her legs. Sheswallowed, never feeling more on show than she did at that moment. Shewatched his tongue dart out of his mouth, but couldn’t watch anythingafter that because her head tipped back on its own when the warm, wetpoint met her hot, slick center.He was torturing her. He held her hips flat, not allowing her to arch up orbuck down. He kept on a constant barrage of pressure, alternating itbetween tight flicks, shallow presses, and languid licks. He slipped a finger
    • inside of her again, and she groaned loudly from the onslaught of senses.Penetrating her and licking her and making her see stars behind her eyes,and oh my God-He felt it; he clamped down on her swollen bud with his lips, sucking ithard between his teeth as she came and came apart around him,shuddering and groaning. He smiled at her, teasing her with a few extralicks – she kicked at his chest in annoyance, so he slithered back up herbody and dropped a sweet kiss on her lips.The smile left his face quickly as she, in one motion, took him in herhands and guided him to her entrance. He stilled immediately, choking onair. And then he moved, barely grazing her when the front door slammed.They both jumped as Nikki’s voice rang through the air.“Rob? Are you in there?”Rob pressed his hand over Kristen’s mouth, and even though they wereboth still sweaty and turned on and whatever else, the moment had beenbroken as soon as someone from outside their world came barging in.“Guess he’s asleep,” they heard Nikki mutter, and then her feet weremoving down the hallway and her door slammed shut.Rob sagged against Kristen; she could feel his heart racing a mile aminute. She wrapped her arms around him tightly for a moment, and thenreleased him, knowing that she needed to go. Rob knew it too, so he gotup and let her gather her clothes, which had been thrownunceremoniously across the room. Her bra was hanging from his lamp.She giggled when she retrieved it. She put her arms through it, and thenturned her back to him. “Help me?” she asked, and he kissed that spot onher back before clasping the bra together.“This can’t happen anymore,” he told her as soon as her shirt was backover her head – he knew he wouldn’t be able to say that if she was in anyshape or form undressed.She sighed, closing her eyes.
    • “I’m trying my hardest, Kristen,” he said, and it was like he was pleadingwith her, even though she didn’t understand why.“I won’t do this to you again,” she said, the guilt already creeping up intoher stomach. If Nikki hadn’t have come in – they would be having sex…making love?... right now.“It’s not me I’m worried about,” he said seriously.She smiled, turning to go.“Listen,” he said suddenly. “This is the plan. We have to avoid each otherat all costs, and be awkward when we’re around each other. I don’t wantto jeopardize your career and your relationship with Michael. I know youlove him.” He barely flinched when saying that.“I don’t know if I can do that,” she said honestly. He was still bare-chestedand he looked so achingly lovely that she wanted to crawl back into his bigbed and let him sing her to sleep.“I’ll help you,” he promised. He kissed her forehead fleetingly. “We’llmake this work. Your presence in my life means more to me than I can…”He broke off, turned and headed to his desk. He picked up a CD. “I knowwe do this to each other all the time, but this is the only way I know howto tell you how I feel.”She took the CD out of his hand, her gut already aching at the thought ofnot being able to appear close to him. “We really crossed the line,” shewhispered. “Not just with,” she gestured to the bed, “but with Comic-Con.I heard Catherine was furious at us.”He ran an errant finger down her face, and then drew it back like it burnedhim. “We’ll figure it out, love.”She smiled fleetingly at the word love, and how nice it sounded comingfrom him.*Kristen pushed the CD into the player in her car, waiting for the song tocome on.
    • A few rough guitar strums, and a man’s high pitched humming. A chucklethat she knew well.Oh God.I’ll be your man, I’ll understand. And I’ll do my best to take good care ofyou… You’ll be my queen, I’ll be your king. And I’ll be your lover, too,yes I will.She shoved her knuckles into her mouth to stop the keening noise fromleaving the back of her throat. What was it that he had said? This is theonly way I know how to tell you how I feel? Oh God, she didn’t deservethis man, she knew that she didn’t. So even if Rob hadn’t had decided tokeep them apart in public and possibly in private, she would have donethis to herself anyway – she was going to punish herself for making himfall in love with her when she wasn’t whole, wasn’t ready for someone likehim.She was going to punish herself for falling in love with him, too.Derry down green colors my dream, a dream that’s daily coming true.When the day is through, I will come to you, and tell you of your manycharms…She nearly ran a stop sign; she could hardly see through the haze of tearsin her eyes. She had to get back to the Kristen Stewart she was before shehad met Rob Pattinson, before she had let him change her life. She owedeveryone that much – her parents, her career, Michael. Oh, Michael.Girl, when you look at me with eyes that see, we’ll melt into each others’eyes. Mmmm, you’ll be my queen, no no, I’ll be your king… and I’ll beyour lover, too…*When Kristen got home, Michael was waiting for her on the couch with abouquet of roses in his hand.“Baby,” he said immediately, as soon as she shut the door behind her. Shecombed her hair over her neck, so to hide any bite marks or anything Rob
    • could have left. Although she doubt he did; he was always that kind toher.“Hi,” she whispered, stepping out of her shoes.He walked towards her and she leaned into him and they met in a warmembrace in the middle. She clung to his back, smelling his familiar cleanscent and letting herself go limp in his arms.“I got you flowers,” he whispered, hauling her up into his embrace andcarrying her to the bedroom. She fought down a wave of nausea as sheremembered this scene in a different pair of arms, not too long ago.“I saw,” she said, smiling softly.“Kristen,” he said heavily, lying next to her on the bed. “I am so, so sorry.I’ve acted like a jealous idiot instead of your boyfriend. I swear to you thatI will be the man you deserve, not the one you keep around out of habit.What can I do to make it up to you? What can I do to earn your trustagain?”She swallowed back bile at the word trust. “Just please, don’t ever leaveme. Everywhere we go for Twilight, I want you with me. Even if you havea project. Please. Madrid, Paris, Rome. All of the premieres. I need you.”I need you to keep me away from Rob.He agreed softly, like she knew he would. His soft I love you floatedthrough the air, and he kissed her when she got choked up, thinking that itwas his love making her cry.The next morning, Kristen’s heart flew up into her throat when shechecked her email. She had one from Rob, sent at 2:03 AM.It was a poem.You return when you feel like it, like rain.And like rain you are tender, with the rains inept tenderness.A passion so general I could be anywhere.You carry me out into the wet air.You lay me down on the leaves and the strong thing is not the sex,But waking up alone under the tress after.
    • -Linda GreggAugust 2008Kristen hadn’t actually gotten the chance to talk to Nikki until a few daysafter the month had turned. She arrived at Nikki’s house – she refused tothink his name – thankfully seeing that the only cars parked near theirapartment were Nikki’s and an unidentified Mercedes. She pushed thedamp hair off the nape of her neck, climbing out of her own car andwincing at the leather sticking to her bare legs.Nikki answered quickly, smiling beatifically and ushering her inside. “It’stoo hot to stand out there; you’re letting all of the cool air out. Wantsomething to drink?”“Anything,” Kristen answered, stepping out of her black flip-flops,ignoring the humongous Vans by the door that belonged to him.Anything came in the form of sweet pink lemonade, and Kristen smiledaround the glass as she and Nikki sat down at the table to talk.“So…,” Nikki began, but then there was a very girlish giggle somewherein the house that didn’t belong to Kristen or Nikki.Then Kristen heard Rob’s voice, low and attractive, answering to thegiggle. She hadn’t heard his voice in nearly two weeks; apparently, hispromise to help her through came in the form of completely ignoring herexistence. Which was just fucking fine, whatever, but did he really have agirl in there? Now?Kristen tried to smile at Nikki around the lump lodged in her throat.“So…,” she mocked, trying to get the older girl to continue.Nikki cast a knowing look in her direction. “Stew, listen…”But that was in vain, too, because Rob’s door flew open and out poured apetite brunette who looked exotic, but not exactly pretty. However, Robwas smiling down at her like she was the second coming.“I really appreciate this,” he told her, and Kristen physically had to puther hand over her mouth to keep from saying something to get attention.
    • “You really need to stop saying that,” the girl chided, and then Kristenrecognized her from that shitty movie Michael had forced her to see –10,000 BC. She had also been at Comic-con; she was starring in a moviethat Summit was putting out in the beginning of 2009.Camilla Belle.Rob hadn’t noticed Kristen yet; he had his cell phone to his ear andappeared to be speaking to someone about the state of his car, whichapparently had broken down. But Camilla noticed her immediately,stopping in her tracks.“Hi,” she said slowly, and Kristen knew that Camilla knew who she was –if not her presence in Rob’s life.It was almost humorous; both Kristen and Nikki crossed their arms overtheir chest at the same time, leveling a not-quite-mean but not-exactly-friendly look in the direction of the offending brunette. Kristen felt a raresurge of pride in herself; she might not have been a household name, butshe knew that she had done some good shit – she worked with Sean Penn,for God’s sake. What had this girl done? A Disney Channel OriginalMovie and a box office tank? Nikki had written a movie – a damned goodone, at that. And this bitch dared to say hi to them in Nikki’s kitchen, likeshe was a friend? She dared to come out of Rob’s bedroom flushed withhappiness when she was clearly not wanted?She didn’t respond, but shifted her gaze to Rob’s – he was looking at her,surprise written all over his face. He said a few words into the phone, andthen hung up. He cleared his throat awkwardly, realizing that Kristen andNikki weren’t exactly appreciative of his little friend.“Kristen,” he said as a greeting, his voice like a caress through darkness.She blanched at the sound of her name coming from his lips, and henoticed. “This is Camilla. I’ve had some car trouble, and she’s offered tolug me around town until the Beamer gets itself fixed.”Do you want a fucking medal? Kristen hissed inwardly, cocking hereyebrow. Feeling like she should say something, she painted a very fakesmile on her face, and in her lowest voice, she said, “That’s so… sweet.”
    • “Fucking precious,” Nikki agreed, her voice dripping with malice. Kristenhad no idea what made Nikki hate Camilla so much, but – oh. Shewatched as Nikki’s eyes narrowed at the arm that Rob had slung acrossCamilla’s shoulders and remembered that Nikki was in love with him.Nikki was in love with him… also.She swallowed around that thought.“Right,” Rob said after a moment of trying to catch Kristen’s eye. “We’releaving.”They shuffled out of the apartment, but Kristen didn’t miss the way Rob’shand trailed on the small of Camilla’s back as he ushered her out of thedoor.As soon as the door slammed, Nikki dropped her elbows to the table andpressed her fingers against her temples, massaging slowly. Kristen reachedher hand out and tentatively touched Nikki’s arm.“Still?” Kristen whispered.“It doesn’t just go away,” Nikki whispered back, and Kristen felt herrespect and admiration for the prettier girl go up ten-fold. She was sofucking strong and every one had failed to see it – she stepped aside overand over again, lived with him so he wouldn’t have to be alone, cooked forhim so he wouldn’t starve, but still, still he didn’t love her.Kristen felt guilt eat up her insides when she thought of how one man’slove could poison everyone else. She could still feel the way Rob’s fingershad curled inside of her, could still hear her name fall off of his lips eventhough she hadn’t touched him, once – he said her name over and over asif she was giving him pleasure by just letting him love her. She knew thatNikki had never experienced that sort of thing with him, and Michael –her liver churned at the thought – had never made her arch up off the bedlike that, like she was some sort of human pretzel.“Talentless whore,” Nikki finally whispered, bringing her hands down andletting her face light up with a smile that almost reached her eyes.
    • “Seriously,” Kristen agreed, taking another sip of her now watered-downlemonade. “Did you see 10,000 BC? Worst. Movie. Ever. He could atleast be fucking someone with talent.” The words flowed off her tonguewithout her mind taking into account how much that would hurt herheart.Nikki swallowed. “Kristen. He’s not fucking her.”Kristen put the glass down on the table with a shaking hand. “It doesn’tmatter to me.”“Stew,” Nikki protested. “Yes, it does. It flows off of you in waves. Itmatters so much to both of you that you don’t know what to do with it atall, so you ignore it.” She sighed. “Sometimes, at least. I know you werein there with him that night.”Kristen nearly swallowed her tongue. “Nikki, we didn’t-“ Even though wedid, sort of.Nikki held up her hand. “Listen, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.I’m done playing secret keeper for everyone. We got extremely close therefor awhile; I had a fucking blast with you in New Orleans. I’d even go sofar as to say I thought of you as a best friend. With that being said… youcan tell me anything, because my loyalty is to you and to Rob, becauseI’m stupid in love with him and don’t want to see him hurt over anything,and because I love you and wouldn’t sell you out.” She ran a handthrough her disheveled hair. “Just don’t lie to me. You don’t have to sharethe details, but don’t lie. Okay?”Kristen had very little words – she wasn’t the best at expressing herfeelings, and she was never good with girls. So she rose up her fist andstuck out her pinky finger. “Best friends?”Nikki locked her pinky with Kristen’s. “Best friends.”*Nikki felt like she deserved some sort of sainthood as she steered a verytipsy Rob away from curious paparazzi. She smiled at them, not wantinganyone to think of her as a mega bitch, but she had a hard time holding onto a two hundred pound man as he tottered down the LA streets. She
    • finally found her car parked by the curb, and winced when she heard Robknock his head against the top while getting in.“You okay?” she asked him as she cranked up the engine. Kings of Leonblasted through the speakers.He smiled in response, closing his eyes and settling in against the seat. Robwas a very quiet drunk, very introspective and a little brooding. Nikkiknew that drinking brought out truth, and she felt that it was no differentfor him – underneath the layers of awkward charm, Rob essentially existedas a very shy, very sensitive man.Rob’s phone went off in his pocket, and he scrambled so hard for it thatNikki took her eyes off of the road to watch his progress.“Where’s the fire?” she wondered, turning down the music.“I’ve texted Kristen, and she has just answered me back,” he said calmly.Nikki rolled her eyes. “Do I need to take your phone away from you whenyou’re drunk? God. What did you say?”“I told her I loved her,” he said simply.Nikki’s heart squeezed so painfully against her chest that she had to closeher eyes against the feeling. He had to be drunk – because one, he wouldnever hurt her on purpose like that, he was too conscientious. And two,Rob had confided that he had never told Kristen that he loved her, andwanted to save it for when it could be heard in a special light.Well, he fucked that one up.“What did she say?”“I have no idea. I don’t want to open it.” He held his phone out to her.“Will you read it to me?”“I’m driving.”“Pull over. God, Nikki, please. Pull over.”
    • She pulled over, swerving extra hard so he would hit himself on the side ofthe door. She snatched his phone out of his hand once she parked, andpressed the read button on his crappy pay-as-you-go phone.She read the message once, twice, three times before saying with a shakyvoice,“And if this day is not a fulfillment of your needs and my love, then let itbe a promise till another day.”Nikki watched Rob’s face as the words of Gibran washed over him; hesmiled so blindingly that it rivaled the way the moon casts light over stillwater.*When Michael woke up, the first thing he noticed was that he was alone.The second thing he noticed was the sobbing coming from his bathroom.In his sleep-induced haze, it took a couple seconds to put the two eventstogether before – Oh, God, Kristen.He padded his way across the bedroom floor and saw light streaming outfrom under the bathroom door. She was definitely in there, and she wasdefinitely crying. He felt some sort of blind panic – she was not a cryingsort of girl, and he hoped that her family was okay, that her cat was okay.He knocked on the door tentatively. At once, he heard her suck up hercries and her sniffling was silent as she said, “Yes, Mike?”“Are you okay in there?” he asked her. “Is everything okay with the fam?”Her laugh was extremely forced. “I’m fine, I’m sorry. I think I’m justPMSing.”He did a quick calculation – she had just gotten off her period, because hehadn’t been able to have sex with her up until three days ago… so didn’tthat mean that PMS wouldn’t happen for another three weeks or so? Orsomething like that. Still, she sounded like she didn’t want to talk about itand he knew better than to pressure her. He opened the door and saw hersitting on the toilet, her elbows propped on her knees and her hair in
    • complete disarray. Her eyes were so puffy they were nearly swollen shut,and her face was flushed with red blotches.She looked like hell.But she smiled for him, rising up off of the closed toilet lid. She splashedwater all over her face, and then suggested they go back to bed.She fell asleep quickly; her sobs obviously had worn her out. He knew thatshe hadn’t been telling the truth about PMS, and he felt that only oneperson in the world could make her feel that confused.He picked up her phone and scrolled to the inbox.Fr: Rob12:24 AMgod hlep me, i lvoe yuo*Kristen’s phone rang much too shrill the next morning. She groaned androlled over, trying to ignore the way it cut into her ear drums. Michaelbegged her to shut it off, so she snatched the phone from off of the dresser.”Hello?” she groused.“Kristen? Hi, it’s Catherine!”Kristen sat up immediately, the covers of the bed pooling at her waist.“Hi,” she said slowly, but not unkindly.“Listen, I know it’s early and I’m sorry, but I’ve got the best and mostfrightening news, ever.”She swallowed. “And?”“Twilight’s release date has been pushed up to November twenty-first,”Catherine bubbled, explaining something about Harry Potter than Kristendidn’t quite catch.
    • “That’s great,” she said enthusiastically, although she didn’t know whythat warranted an 8 AM phone call.“I’ve called Rob, too. I need you two by tomorrow; we’re reshooting somekeys scenes in the movie that Stephenie didn’t really put her stamp ofapproval on.”“Oh,” Kristen responded, nodding her head a bit. “All right. Whichscenes?”“The meadow, for one. And the kissing scene. Stephenie said it wastoo…”But Catherine’s voice trailed off as Kristen’s blood pumped so hard itsounded like rushing water in her ears. She was going to have to kiss him.Again. She was going to have to kiss him and she would love it and shewould have to act like she didn’t.When she hung up the phone, Michael turned his gaze on her. Eventhough she knew he heard every word, he still asked.“So, what did Catherine have to say?”*Rob arrived at the sound stage too early, but Nikki had all but shouted outat him to leave when he kept getting under foot while she was trying tovacuum. He shakily took a cigarette out of the little white box, putting it tohis lips without lighting it. He was so fucking worried that Kristen wouldignore him the whole time, especially considering that he was a grade-Aidiot and texted her when he knew he shouldn’t have. What made it bothbetter and worse was that her response was warm.How was he supposed to get over it when he couldn’t even let her alonefor two weeks? It didn’t help that she kept doing possessive little thingswithout realizing it – like the look she had given Camilla, that poor girl.As if any woman could hold a candle to the person who was barely awoman herself.“Need a light?”
    • And then her voice was there, filling all of the aching voids in his body,like poison creeping in through his pores. He turned and it was like goingback in time, because there she was in her Bella clothes, her hair curled atthe ends and her skinny jeans tighter than she wore them in real life.He proffered his lighter without a word, cupping his hand around theflame as he lit the tip. He shook the box of cigarettes in her direction, butto his surprise she shook her head.“No, thanks,” she said quietly, sitting down next to him against the metalwall of the sound stage. “I’m trying to quit.” She looked at his lips whileshe said so, darting out her tongue almost involuntarily to wet her ownmouth.“No point,” he said, speaking for the first time. He blew smoke out of hismouth, and then waved it away with a hand. “You’ll just keep going backto it.”“It’s bad for me,” she argued.“It doesn’t matter,” he told her back. “In a very sick and twisted way, youneed it. It’s like an addiction.”She stared at his lips again. “An addiction,” she whispered, and he leanedin to kiss her words away when Kristen’s phone rang – it was Catherine,telling them it was time.He stood up first, smashing his cigarette with his toe.She looked up at him for a moment, taking in all of his Edwardianappearance – the pea coat and the auburn hair and the too-pale skin. “Ilike you better the other way,” she said finally.“What way?” he asked, holding out his hand to help her up.She took it, letting her fingers curl around his palm in a slow dance. “Likehow you always look. Crazy, roughed up, disheveled. Beautiful.”At the word beautiful he tightened his hand around hers, and in theywalked to the sound-stage, fingers intertwining like lovers.
    • August 2008“You are my life now.”“Rob.”“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.”“Rob.”“I like watching you sleep.”“Robert!”He grinned winningly at her from around his water bottle. His nervousenergy had obviously made him into a crazy person. He hadn’t had to stepinto Edward for months and now, here he was again, forced to love a girlplayed by a girl he loved. It was maddening, and he didn’t know whereEdward’s love stopped and his began.“You’re my own personal brand of heroin.”She glared at him from over the top of her notebook. She was reading hernotes, trying to absorb everything that Catherine had said about thechange of both the kiss and the meadow scene. She was always on hergame, and he always had to annoy her.“You’re my own personal brand of unbelievably irritating. Shut the fuckup.”He grinned even wider, and then shot forward to sneak a peek at hernotes. “What have you got there?” he whispered, acting like a five-year-old.She moved them above her head, out of his reach. “Fucking stop it. Iswear to God- ROB!”He snatched the notebook successfully out of her hands. She scrambled forit, threatening him the whole time. He got on top of a speaker, completelyout of her reach and began reading her messy scrawl.
    • “Less intense kissing, more nervous pulls. Kiss him like you are falling inlove for the first time, not trying to get in his pants. The kiss can’t be a lie.Kiss Edward as Bella like you would kiss Rob as yourself.”“Happy now?” she hissed, grabbing the notebook out of his weak grasp.She settled back down on Bella’s bed, and began crossing out random linesin her notebook. She ducked behind her long hair, not letting him see herexpression.“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “You make me nervous, so I act like anidiot.”She looked up at that. “Maybe that would fly with me back in March,Rob. But I know you, and you know me, and you should know whenenough is enough.”He swallowed. “It’s not the same as it was in March,” he said.“Yes, it is,” she argued, still scribbling in her notebook. “I knew you lovedme then, too.”He ran a hand through his hair, his heart beating against his rib cage like astrong bass beat at a concert. He wasn’t ready to confirm that vocally, soinstead he said, “Does that bother you?”She slammed the notebook down on the bed. “What bothers me is thatyou’re insistent on having this conversation. What does it matter?”“It matters because I’m twenty-two, you’re eighteen, and you shouldn’thave such an amazing grip on reality. You make me feel about an inch tallwhen you’re around, but I like it. I can’t understand why. I can’tunderstand why I’m so particularly masochistic when it comes to you, andI can’t understand why you let me be.”“I can’t control your actions.”“That’s a lie, you know you can. I’m wrapped around your fucking finger,Kristen. You know that if you told me to make love to you right now, Iwould. You know that if you told me to never speak to you again, I would
    • try my hardest. But you wouldn’t tell me that, and I know you wouldn’t –because you might not love me, but you want me all the same.”“I do not want you.” She hissed the words, bracing herself on her palmsand leaning on the bed towards him, her green eyes glinting under the dimlighting.He twisted his mouth, running his tongue over his teeth. “Really? Thenwhat was all that moaning and thrashing about that you did on my bed afew weeks ago? ‘Oh Robert, Oh God, I want you inside me, please.’”Her hand reached out and connected with his cheek so violently that hishead actually snapped to the side. “I fucking hate you.” Her handwhipped around again, but this time he caught it with his strong fingersand gripped them tightly in his own.“Do that again, and you will regret it,” he said neutrally. Then he lungedat her, knocking her to her back and hovering over her, his palms bracedon either side of her head.“Rob, I…” She looked around frantically, and he realized he was beingcrazy, again. He was probably scaring the shit out of her, and he moved toback away when she wrapped her legs around his waist and brought hisembarrassing erection against the apex of her jeans.His hips involuntarily thrust against hers, creating sweet friction inbetween their clothing. She groaned and wrapped her arms around hisneck, picking her back up off the bed. She put her mouth against his, justbreathing, and he stilled his motion and waited for her to kiss him.She didn’t. She just stayed there, hanging limply from his neck, justbreathing him in. It was maddening, and he almost kissed her when shesaid:“I do want you. I want you to know that.”He sighed, resting his weight on his elbows. He took her face in his handsand whispered, “I swore that I wouldn’t do this to you.”
    • She smiled sadly. “I’m pretty good at doing it to myself.” She reached upand touched her fingertip to his nose, something he found insanelyintimate.“Maybe I should get off of you before Catherine comes back in,” hesuggested, a little too comfortable against her warm body.“Maybe she’ll think that we’re method acting,” she retorted.“No, I’d have to do this for her to believe that.” He kissed a spot on herneck, and then drew it into his teeth and bit down lightly. She made nonoise, but her breath hitched out of her chest as she pushed him away.“Maybe you shouldn’t do that anymore,” she warned him. “You’ll leave amark.”Rob looked down at her neck, seeing the faint red line of his teeth on herpale skin. Something welled up inside of him, looking at a mark he left onher. His mark was on her skin. Part of him was now stamped onto her.“Why are you staring at me like that?” she demanded. “You look like youjust got caught masturbating. God.”“I would be careful,” he warned her, slipping into his American accent. “Iam a one hundred year old virgin, ready to spew any day now. One snarkmight set me in motion.”“Edward Cullen would never lose his precious control,” she rebutted,kicking at him with her tiny feet.He caught them, pinching her toes. “Ah, but you see… my Edward hasvery little control…”“So it would seem,” said Catherine behind them.*“I see you are breathless due to my kissing expertise,” Rob told her.She ignored him, running a shaking hand through her hair. Kissing himagain had been like… like traveling a very long way, and then realizing
    • you left something vital at the beginning. His lips had been so soft and soinsistent, so full of love and wonder, so confused and so heartbroken.When he had pinned her to the bed moments before Edward almost lostcontrol, her mind had wandered to that night in his bedroom, and how hehad kissed her like that as her hips arched up to meet the thrusts of hisfingers.She wanted him, and that terrified her. She wanted him not only as aperson, but as a man – a man that could please her and love her and pressher face down into the pillow as he took her from behind –“Kristen? I was just kidding. Do you need a paper bag? You’rehyperventilating.”“No,” she snapped, waving him away.“Or maybe some Nine Inch Nails? I want to fuck you like an animal,” hesang in her ear.The word fuck leaving his lips made her physically curl away from him.“You better get this out of your system, because the moment we leave thissound stage, I will kill you in your sleep.”“Then I guess we will just never sleep, then,” he said cheekily, wagglinghis eyebrows at her.“Rob.”The grin dropped from his face. “I’m sorry. I just like seeing you squirm. Itmakes me feel like I am not alone.”She shoved her hand into his without thinking about it. “You are neveralone,” she said harshly.He kissed the back of her hand, tracing her knuckles with his teeth. Thenhe dropped it, taking out his pack of cigarettes. “Yeah, I am.”Then he walked outside to smoke without inviting her to come with him.*
    • Kristen laid herself down on the fake grass in front of the green screen,watching Rob as he lowered himself down next to her. She felt that thiswas both the easiest and most difficult scene to shoot – staring at him wasthe easiest part of her job, but both conveying and hiding certain emotionsthreatened to kill her.She thought back to the first time she met him, and how they both hadtaken over the script to write out all dialog during this scene. They had noway of knowing that this is what it would come too – gazes that bothtripped and held, breaths that labored and flowed, knuckles that brushedand bruised. They had no idea that eight months would change both oftheir lives – for better, for worse, forever.Under his breath, he began to hum tunelessly – or at least she thought itwas tunelessly, until she caught onto the melody – yeah, your sex is on fire– and realized it was that fucking Kings of Leon song he insisted onplaying all the time. It wasn’t exactly an appropriate song to sing at themoment of Bella’s and Edward’s absolution – Stephenie would surely notapprove – but she felt it sting through the marrow of her bones.He shifted his weight slightly and stopped humming. Catherine shoutedsun! so they both looked toward their mark, and Kristen wondered howRob would look sparkling in the sunlight.“Let’s go again,” Catherine said after reviewing the tape. “Kristen, scoot abit closer.”So, like a good actress, Kristen moved a bit closer.“Passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.”She barely heard him murmur the Gibran in her direction, but she heardthe unmentioned plea behind the notes of his voice.Don’t let this burn.*They walked out of the soundstage exhausted, their knuckles brushingwith each swing of an arm. She followed him to his car without comment.He unlocked her door with his key first, opening it and holding out a
    • mocking arm to usher her inside. She got in without breathing too loudly,her heart already jumping somewhere behind her tongue.He got in next, a lit cigarette already between his lips. He held the box outto her, but she shook her head.“Quitting, remember?” she told him, trying to ignore the way the nicotineand tobacco curled up her noise.He shook the box without a word.“No,” she said stubbornly.“You want one, so just take it,” he argued.“I don’t want one,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “Shut upand drive.”Instead, he took a particularly long drag on his cigarette, his lips pursingover the end. Smoke trailed out of his nose, and she was so entranced andridiculously turned on that she took the long, white stick out of his mouthand put it between her own lips.She closed her eyes as she took a long suck on the end, letting the taste ofburnt peanuts linger on her tongue. Then she handed it back to him,letting her fingers curl against his as he took it back.“I didn’t want one,” she clarified. “I wanted yours.”*She sat on a chair in his kitchen, watching him eat a peanut butter andjelly sandwich against the counter. His long legs were crossed at the ankle,and his jaw worked maddeningly slow against the thick peanut butter anddense white bread. She watched his Adam’s apple bob every time heswallowed, and she wondered why every single move he made justscreamed sex to her.“You’re sure you don’t want one?” he asked for the third time, breakingoff a piece of his to offer her.
    • “I’m sure,” she said, already finished with the couple of pretzels she hadfished out of his pantry.“I think you want one,” he argued. Then he seemed to think about it.“Maybe not one. But mine.”She couldn’t argue with his logic, so she held out her hand for the smallcorner he had torn off. But instead, he stalked towards her slowly, andthen dropped to his knees in front of her so he was eye-level. He put thesandwich to her lips and she opened her mouth, watching his eyes thewhole time.She closed her mouth around the sandwich and one of his fingers was stillin her mouth. She sucked on it slowly, using her tongue to trace thecircumference of the tip. He watched her without speaking, and then tookhis finger slowly back out of her mouth – it fell from her lips with a littlepop.Then he got up, his knees crackling from the weight. He threw the rest ofthe sandwich on the counter, and then walked to his bedroom, slammingthe door behind him.Kristen was breathing heavily, unsure of whether she should follow him ornot. Just before she decided to get up, he emerged again – shirtless and insweats.“Sorry,” he said. “I was just uncomfortable.”She moved to stand, but he stopped her with a raised hand. He movedslowly towards her, meeting her gaze levelly before dropping to his kneesin front of her once more. He put his palms against her thighs, runningthem up and down absently.“What do you want to happen here?” he asked her, watching his hands.She didn’t want to voice it; that was more like cheating than just letting ithappen. She pushed the voice away that screamed it’s all cheating!because there were things that she didn’t want to live without andsometimes they collided with each other. She wanted Michael’s love andcomfort, she wanted Rob’s lips and silent adoration, she wanted to beNikki’s best friend and take her sloppy seconds. She wanted to be a
    • household name but she didn’t want to be screamed at. She wanted totravel the world but she didn’t want to just see the inside of hotel rooms.She wanted just to be and to feel and to love and to let things happen asthey did because that was how life worked.So she shook her head at him and said, “Nothing. Everything. I won’t puta name to it.”*She grasped her jeans with her curling toes – they were in a pile on thefloor next to her feet, with her shirt and bra and underwear. She wascompletely naked and a little freezing against the wooden chair in hiskitchen, his warm mouth on her nipples the only source of heat. Shewound her hands in his hair; her head was tipped back and she was tracingrandom patterns on the ceiling with her eyes, letting every throb that hither center be punctuated by a low moan from her throat.His teeth scraped their way down her body, his two strong hands graspingher thighs and pushing them apart. He sat level to the wetness between herlegs for a long time, breathing in deeply and just staring.“What?” she demanded, the aching between her legs needing some sort offriction.He shook his head. “It’s so…” He finished his sentence by sliding a fingerinside of her, curling it slightly as it made its way deeper and deeper. “It’sso tight,” he clarified, his voice strained like his cock was what was buried.She put a foot against his chest, bracing herself as he thrust the fingerslowly, scraping the tip against all of her nerves. Then he pressed histhumb against her clit, watching her face for her sort of reaction. Shebreathed out heavily, feeling the way that particular sort of sweet, painfultightening in her lower stomach swirled up inside of her muscles as hejerked his thumb back and forth in tight, small motions.“Hmmm,” she said, her foot going up to his shoulder and resting there. Hekissed her pinky toe, and she opened her eyes to see him flushed and open-mouthed, watching her every move and intonation of breath.
    • “Is this what you wanted?” he asked her, his voice low – his syllables werepunctuated by thrusts of his middle finger.“No,” she gasped when he curled his finger so tightly, in nearly foldedinside of her. “Yes. No. More.”“More?” he asked, moving his mouth closer to her pulsating heat. Hisbreath ghosted over the sticky wetness his finger was causing. “Likewhat?”“You, your-“ But she stopped when his finger went so deep inside of herthat she gasped, especially in the way that he was moving it up and downinstead of in and out. Her toes curled around his collarbone. “Rob, shit-““Yes, it’s me,” he answered back, and it was both a strange and naturalthing to say. “My what? This?” He touched the very tip of his tongue toher clit.“Yes, yes, that,” she cried, tugging on his hair to get him closer.“Say it,” he demanded.“Your tongue, fuck, your tongue,” she nearly sobbed, and he gave in rightaway.It wasn’t a slow motion; it was quick flicks with the point of his tongueagainst the most swollen part of her anatomy. Then he flattened his tongueand licked it like a mother cat would clean her kittens, and then sucked itinto his mouth altogether with a smart little tsst noise. He repeated thiscycle over and over again until her back was arching up off of the chair.She was close, but not quite there until his finger scraped that spot insideof her and he pushed down against her stomach with his other hand, andshe was so built up by all the sensations that her orgasm forced him to usehis tongue and mouth to lap it up. She had never come so hard that it hadbeen forced outside of her, and she slumped exhausted against the chair ashe took a few last strokes against her hypersensitive clit.And then he rested his face against her stomach and batted her handsaway as she tried to return the favor. He ran his nose from her bellybutton, up between her breasts and to her face, where he kissed her, hersalty-sweet taste mixing with his lingering cigarettes. It was a slow kiss,
    • telling of so many emotions that both of them had decided to say onlywith their bodies and mouths. They weren’t ready for each other yet, sothey had to express it the only way they knew how – they receded into thebubble that had formed their friendship so many months ago. The outsideworld had no place there.He placed one more chaste kiss against her lips and then backed away. Shemoved to pick up her clothes, and he watched her dress with a slowlydying fire behind his eyes.“I’ve never told you,” he said quietly as she slipped her shirt over herhead, “but I think you’re beautiful.”“You’ve told me,” she said.He shook his head. “You’re beautiful out of clothes, too.”She pursed her mouth, smiling slightly as she got up. “You’ve got to driveme back to the sound stage. I left my car.”*He stopped his car next to hers, the dusk fading along with the light in hereyes.“We’re here,” he said cheerily, like he was a chauffeur instead of aconfused man. He licked his lips involuntarily, still tasting her on his lips.“I noticed,” she said with a small smile, picking her bag up off the floor ofhis car. She was about to say something when his phone rang – it was hismanager, so he held up one finger to Kristen and answered.His manager told him about a photo shoot that the cast had been signedup for – it would be happening in little under a month, just one more thingon the long list of ‘to-do.’“We’ve just been booked for a shoot with Vanity Fair,” he told her with asigh.She rolled her eyes. “Just another shoot. I doubt this one will be anythingspecial.”
    • He nodded in agreement, and she moved to get out of the car. He knew heshouldn’t, but he grabbed at her arm when she was halfway out.She turned her green-eyed stare on him, and he blurted out, “Is this anaffair?”Her mouth tightened on the word, and he could see the wheels turning inher head as she mulled over her answer. Then she surprised the hell out ofhim by placing a lingering kiss on his lips.“It’s just the way things are,” she answered.September 2008After the VMA’s “That was ridiculous,” Kristen moaned, leaning back against the coolleather of the limousine. She kicked off her heels and put her feet inMichael’s lap – he began rubbing them with his soft fingers, and sherelaxed.Nikki leaned her head against Kristen’s shoulder, picking at her own hairfor split ends. “I didn’t even have to present or be seen, and still it washorrible. All of that screaming.”“I’m so glad you both were here,” Kristen said honestly, her pale legstwitching as Michael hit a ticklish spot on her foot. “Watch it!” Shegiggled and toed him in the stomach.He kissed her big toe and released her feet, so she tucked them underneathher and shifted against Nikki. She felt the vibration of Nikki’s phoneagainst her leg and closed her eyes lazily as Nikki went for it.A couple clicks of buttons and Nikki snorted. “God.”Kristen’s eyes opened. “What?”Nikki shoved the phone in Kristen’s face. “Behold idiocy at its finest.” Itwas a video message from Rob, so Kristen pushed the play button and hisface popped up on the screen.
    • He had taken a video of himself being grinded on by some random girl.And then he shouted, “EDWARD LIKES PUSSY!” and it shut off.Kristen didn’t know whether to laugh or be horrified. “So… I take it he’sstill at the after party?”“I take it that he should be castrated. Immediately,” grumbled Nikki, asmall smile playing on her lips. She pushed play on the video again, andthis time Rob’s shout of EDWARD LIKES PUSSY caused everyone inthe car, including Michael, to burst out in laughter.“He’s not nearly as humble as he pretends to be,” Michael offered, andthough it was obviously true Kristen felt a prickling of something likeindignation behind her eyes.“He must be really drunk,” Kristen said lamely.Nikki was on her phone and didn’t answer, so Kristen closed her eyesagain – only to be met with the sound of her own phone buzzing. Shepicked it up out of her bag and opened it.It was from Nikki, and it read:Or really heartbroken.*Kristen shouldn’t have called him, but as of late, she was in the habit ofdoing a lot of things she shouldn’t do. So when Michael finally settleddown for the night, she walked out into the small living room and pressedcall on his number before she could even think about it.It rang a few times and she sighed dejectedly – he was probably getting hisfill from someone else that night. Which was fair, she conceded,considering she had just had sex with Michael and –“Booty call services. What’s your pleasure?”A grin spread across her face at the sound of his voice. “It would pleasureme to know what you are doing right now.”
    • He sighed and the line crackled. “My head is actually in the toilet rightnow, because- oh, fuck-“ the phone made a loud noise like it was thrown,and then she heard him coughing and retching.Her stomach turned – disgusting.He coughed a few more times and then picked up the phone. “Jesus, sorryabout that.”“A little tipsy?” she asked scathingly. “Nice video, by the way.”“Video?” he asked, clearly confused. “What video?”She sighed. “Check your sent messages.”He did, she could hear the pressing of buttons. “It won’t let me play itwhile you’re on the phone. I’ll call you back.”The line clicked off and she waited about thirty seconds before her phonebuzzed in her hand. When she put it to her ear all she could hear was hislaughter booming, echoing in his small bathroom.“Not funny,” she chastised, despite the smile on her mouth.“Did I send that to you?”“No. Nikki.”His laughter cut off abruptly.“She was laughing about it,” Kristen quickly assured him. “It’s okay.”He let out a big breath. “I’m such a dick.” And then his cough began againand the retching continued and Kristen had to hold the phone away fromher ear to keep from gagging.“Is there anything you need?” she asked him as he got back on the phone.“Yeah, how about-“ Then he caught himself. “No. Nothing, I’m fine.”
    • Her eyebrows collided. “No, really. I can run something by if you needanything.”“No, it’s fine.”“What is it? Some ginger ale? Crackers? There’s a twenty-four hour mini-mart up the road, I can-““I don’t need anything, Kristen.”“You definitely were about to ask for something.”“I was going to ask for you, but since that’s impossible I really think thatyou dropping this is a better idea.”She was silenced by the venom in his voice; he had rarely spoken to herlike that. She listened to his uneven breathing on his end of the phone forabout a minute before hanging up without saying goodbye.She was nearly back in bed when her phone vibrated in her hand. Sheopened the text message and it read:And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling withinthe bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.*September 13, 2008Vanity FairKristen swung her legs up and down impatiently, waiting for the makeupartist to be finished. All she could take in was the smell of hairspray andthe floral scent of expensive makeup. A pop song she barely recognizedflooded into the trailer, pumping from outside.They were in the middle of a field, almost a desert, for a photo shoot thatwould be as monotonous and boring as the rest. She tugged up thestrapless dress, its black ruffles barely covering up her pale skin. They hadtried to step her into black Jimmy Choo’s but she insisted on her Chucks.A small battle and a bitch face later, they were firmly in place on her feet.
    • “Ready?” the stylist asked, and then spun her around to face the mirror.Kristen touched her hair, unable to believe that the figure in the mirrorwas her. She never looked like this – even at award shows, she chosecotton dresses and straight hair. But the black dress and her painted, rosycheeks set off her green eyes and her ivory skin and she looked lovely.She stepped out of the trailer, pulling up her dress again. Her eyesautomatically scanned the area for him, whom she hadn’t spoken to orseen since the night of the VMA’s. It had been about a week, a weekwithout his jokes and his hair and his kisses, and she missed all of it, evenas she lay contently in Michael’s arms every night.She saw him in the distance, looking out over the field with his armsfolded over his back. He looked gorgeous, in a simple black t-shirt andgrey pants but she felt her breath hitch like an idiot school girl in love forthe first time. She could tell when he saw her, because he stopped hisrocking and his whole body went still, like a hunting dog pointing at adeer.She walked towards him, running her hand through her poufy hair andtried to control her breathing.When she reached him, she looked up at him, holding her breath as sheimagined his surveying of her body. She couldnt see his eyes; they weremasked by the dark Ray Bans that were now his custom. She tried to pickout his expression, but his face was a mask. She could remember his eyesthe first time they kissed, the first time he had seen her naked body splayedacross his bed. But now, when she was made up and in a dress she wouldnever wear, she was worried about his... approval."Well?" she said finally, fidgeting nervously and scratching her ankle withthe other heel of her Converse.He swallowed; she saw the way his Adams apple bobbed up and down inhis throat. He ran a hand through his already artfully messy hair and tooka long drink of water before answering."Did you know that when I first met you, I thought you were not quitebeautiful?" he asked, his voice low.
    • She shook her head. "Most people think that, I guess.”He sighed. "But as I got to know you... my opinion began to change. Andnow, I think you might be the most beautiful thing Ive ever seen in mylife."She smiled despite herself, ducking her head and turning away. "Rob-"He cut her off. "Its like... the people who are undoubtedly beautiful thefirst moment you meet them are like houses. Beautiful, empty houses thatyou can dream anything into. But youre like...," he ran a hand through hishair again, "youre like a home, a home that has a sturdyfoundation. A home that has already been established, a home that knowsit might not be the most picture-perfect house but is okay with that. Ahome that already has inhabitants, almost too many to fit. And its like, allI can do is stand outside on the porch of that home and hope that one day,I might be able to wipe my feet on the welcome mat and come inside tostay."*“The point of this photo shoot,” said the photographer as Rob and Kristenstood side-by-side in front of her, “is to create a level of intimacy andsexuality to Bella and Edward in a more realistic element. We’re lookingfor projection of love between you too. I hope that’s not too awkward.”Rob took off his sunglasses and glanced down at Kristen, who wasnodding her head and chewing her gum – he couldn’t tell if she wasagreeing with the photographer or if she was in her own little world,nodding her head to the beat of the song playing. They broke formationand Robert felt that things might get a bit too serious, so he startedflouncing around to the beat of the R&B song playing.The photographer walked back up to them and started spurting moredirections, and he ran his hand through his hair and barely heard thewords leave her lips. He was trying his hardest not to breathe in thefamiliar scent of Kristen’s perfume but it wrapped around his brain like avine.The first set of pictures encompassed Kristen jumping up and kicking outher feet like a karate fighter, and Rob couldn’t keep a straight face. He
    • ducked down, trying to hide his laughter – but then he caught a glimpse ofher lacy black underwear and it felt like someone knocked him over thehead with a frying pan.It wasn’t so much seeing her underwear – even though that was horribleenough – it was the fact that if he could see it, the male assistants bendinglow to the ground could definitely see them.Rob hide to fight the urge to rip off the man’s head.*Kristen’s palms flattened against Rob’s chest as he leaned his weightagainst her.“This is like one of those exercises where you fall back into a teammate’sarms an as affirmation of trust,” Rob told her with a grin.“You can’t trust me,” she told him and shoved him as hard she could inthe opposite direction.*Rob did strange little judo moves, trying to throw Kristen off from the kickshe was about to land into his backside.“This is for laughing at me,” Kristen said, posing her foot against Rob’sleg and kicking a little harder than the photographer probably intended.“Don’t put your leg so high,” he told her quietly as the photographerbusied herself with the lens.“Why?” was the muttered response behind his back.“It bothers me,” he said shortly.*“Up?” Kristen asked, gesturing into Rob’s arms. When the photographergave her assent, Kristen put her hand onto Rob’s neck and jumped up intohis embrace – he caught her immediately and steadied her against him.
    • “Hello,” he said funnily, smiling at her breasts.She went forward flushing, wrapping her arms all the way around his neckto get her cleavage out of his face.“You’re very light,” he said casually, but there was something behind hisvoice and the way he weighed her with his big hands palming her ass.“Hmmm,” she said noncommittally, but she swallowed around the latentarousal that was rising inside of her. They hadn’t participated in anythingsexual since that night in his kitchen – they had barely done anything,except make out like rampant teenagers when confronted with alone time.They certainly hadn’t had sex yet – she hadn’t even really seen him in theheight of pleasure and the thoughts of him with a flushed face and sweatyhair made her shift uncomfortably against him.He groaned almost imperceptibly and grabbed her ass even harder.“Steady,” he whispered tauntingly and then they both looked into thecamera the same time, the flushed desire apparent on both of their faces.*“When’s the last time you applied sunscreen?”Kristen flipped her hair out of her eyes and cast an annoyed look in Rob’sdirection before focusing back on the camera. She was settled comfortablyin his arms, her pale legs wrapped around his waist.He stared deliberately at the creamy skin of her chest before looking backup at her. When she didn’t answer, he sighed audibly and looked towardsthe camera, too.“Seriously,” he implored. “It’s hot out here.”“I’ll be fine,” she told him. “I do live in California. I’m used to a littlesun.”“But you’re so exposed,” he argued, sounding legitimately worried.
    • “Rob, stop annoying the shit out of me,” she said with a little grin. Theyfaced the camera again, their gazes suddenly both becoming intense asthey focused the weight of their souls into the lens.“Kristen-”The photographer gave Rob permission to put Kristen down, so he didwith a firm hand. He nearly threw her away from him and they bothlaughed.“Am I that repulsive?” she asked, looking around for the water bottle. Hedidn’t answer; she could see how worried he still was about the state of herskin which was still ivory under the sun. “Listen,” she said, getting closeto him while the cameras were occupied elsewhere. “If I do get a sunburn,I’ll let you put the Aloe Vera on my back. Okay?”He looked shocked at her forwardness, and she shocked herself a bit withthat admission. Their relationship had very strict boundaries – they wereeither goofy friends or sweating almost-lovers, and there was hardly anyroom for flirtation and innuendos. But that was definitely flirting on herpart, and she had to turn away from the happiness written on his face.He handed her the bottle of water they were sharing. But before she couldgrab it, he snatched it away. “Promise?” he asked in a whisper so low, itmore like a growl.She shouldn’t be promising him anything, but she was damned if she didand damned if she didn’t, so she said promise so clearly that it was like thelast note of an opera – it rung strong and true through the heart of thelistener.He grinned sweetly at her, and handed her the bottle of water. She took along swig of it gratefully, maybe sort of purposely sucking on the bottle towatch him squirm.He didn’t even flinch. He leaned into her ear while she was drinking andsaid, “By the way, nice knickers,” and she choked so hard on her waterthat he had to pound her on the back, laughing the whole time.*
    • Cam arrived on the set, and Rob felt like a too-often-indulged brat by howsulky he was over Kristen’s attention being divided. She was laughing atCam’s jokes and rolling her eyes and Rob nearly pouted behind them.Kristen bent down at the photographer’s bidding, crouching between Roband Cam. The wind kept running through Kristen’s hair and it looked sosoft that Rob reached out to touch it almost involuntarily- then he realizedwhat he was doing and casually drew his hand back to scratch at hismouth.Close one.And then Cam got to rest his head and upper body in between Kristen’slegs, on her creamy thigh and Rob, for the second time that day, almostripped someone’s head off.The only thought that calmed him was that he had been there before, andwithout a photographer egging him on.*Kristen sat in the small trailer, reveling in the thirty minute break thephotographer gave them between sets. They had a swing to set up – which,apparently, she would have to ride on and look cute without falling off.A short knock on the door made her heart speed up and she wonderedwhen she had begun recognizing his knock. “Yeah?” she asked, lifting herhead up off of the couch and looking around.Rob was standing there with a bottle of water in his hand; it was cold andhad sweats marks running down the side. She swallowed and reached forthe water. “What are you doing?”He pursed his lips as he watched her take a drink. “Just wanted to makesure you were properly hydrated.”She put the bottle down and barely said his name before they met in themiddle, nearly lunging across the small space to attack each other withhard, breathless kisses.
    • He pushed her up against the wall, his hand hiking up the already shortdress. His warm palm rested against her inner thigh and his rough thumbdrew circles where her thigh met her pelvic region. She arched her hipstowards him as she kissed his soft mouth.“It’s been… too long…” he said roughly, quietly. He pressed his weightagainst her and she could feel his erection against her stomach and beforeshe thought about it, she reached out and wrapped her fingers around itthrough his pants.“Kristen,” he said, his head falling to the crook of her neck like it hadsuddenly become too heavy. He placed small kisses on her shoulder andthrust into her hand as she squeezed his cock lightly in her palm.She wanted to see him – all of him. The only time he had been naked infront of her was that first night and she had been too wrapped up in herown pleasure to look at him, and here in the sunlight of her trailer seemedlike a perfect time to do it. So she jerked him around and pressed himagainst the wall instead, running her fingers down the softness of his shirtbefore kneeling in front of him.“I’m going to mess up your hair,” is all he said and she smiled at him asshe unzipped his pants. She felt around in his boxers and his hands foundtheir way into her hair and she almost whispered what side do you hangon before she found him and grasped before she could talk herself out of it.He hissed and slammed his head back against the wall. She held him inher fist, and then brought his cock out of his boxers and looked at it in thesame way he had surveyed her nakedness that night in the chair. Hewasn’t disgustingly big, but he was slightly bigger than the average – hewas more length than girth, and the circle of her fingers made a perfect fistaround him.She looked up at him and he was watching her through heavy-lidded eyes,waiting for her approval just as she had waited for his. She noddedwordlessly with a smile and then poked her tongue of her mouth to tastehim for the first time.
    • September 13, 2008Vanity FairKristen leaned her head contentedly against Rob’s back, her fingersmaking passes at his hair. The camera wasn’t even taking pictures, but stillshe stayed, feeling the warmth of the sun and the warmth of his skinthrough his black t-shirt. He didn’t move at all, just let her rest there as thestylist artfully disheveled their hair even further.She knew that Nikki’s eyes were on them – she had shown up fifteenminutes before, knocking on Kristen’s trailer just as she was about to takeRob into her mouth. They both had jumped up and Rob barely had hispants zipped when Nikki had strolled in, looking lovely in a cream tankand black skirt. She took one look at them, all flustered and red, archedher eyebrow and grabbed Kristen’s wrist to march her out of the trailer.Kristen had flashed an apologetic look over her shoulder at Rob, but hehad just grinned easily and she rolled her eyes in return.What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Nikki had hissed. Be careful,you whore!Nikki had said whore with a smile so Kristen just popped a piece of gumin her mouth and chose not to respond. Even though Nikki was obviouslykidding, the word whore resonated in her mind like bells in a cathedral.No matter how she tried to justify it, it was cheating on her boyfriend andbreaking her best friend’s heart.But then Rob had emerged from the trailer, sliding his Ray Bans back inplace with a cigarette dangling from his swollen lips. And she knew thatshe was going to end up hurting everyone, probably herself the worst butfuck if she would live without the way he smiled at her then – all crookedand mischievous, like they had been caught with their hands in the cookiejar. So she sewed the guilt up inside her the best she could and decided atthat moment, that here and now was the only way to live and the futurewas just that – in the future.So she just leaned up against him as he gazed off in the distance, thecameras finally snapping away at the intimate moment in her mind. Sheknew he probably had the worst sort of blue balls and she felt just a bit
    • guilty about that but here and now he was letting her lean against him,being her rock in this world – the only other person out of six billion whoknew exactly what she was going through right then.Kristen wasn’t great at math, but she figured that the odds of finding eachother – two out of six billion – were pretty slim, and the fact that they hadeach other, despite the confusion and the tension and the four-letter-wordthat hovered between them, was worth Nikki’s stares and Michael’sgrumbles and the world’s conspiratorial ponderings. He was her bestfriend, even if no one else ever knew that.And that was what mattered.*She knew that feeling so comfortable around him would get her intotrouble. She knew that the familiarity of his skin would take her over andmake her act like a fool in some sort of love. But she grasped onto hishand as tightly as she could as they jumped up and down, smiling like anidiot and wrenching her dress back up. His eyes would make playfulpasses at her cleavage and that was making her laugh and making herannoyed at the same time.But even as they adjusted and waited for the next time they would have tojump, they clung to each others’ hands.*She leaned back in the swing, Robert’s strong arms holding her waist flat.The photographer had been serious about emanating love from the two –it was all about having that partner there to lean on, to fall back onto. Shegrabbed at his hands and their fingers interlocked at her sides – they wereso warm, warmer than usual due to the hot sun. His palms were rough anddirty from the dust and before she had any conscious thought she let go ofhis hands and trailed her fingers along his palm, smiling shyly as shestraightened her arms out. His rough fingers tickled the soft skinunderneath her bicep and she watched her hands go, biting her lip andthinking about how nice he always felt against her.She laughed and stuck her tongue out, trying to alleviate some of thetension as she listened to his heavy intake of breath behind her. She
    • adjusted on the swing, the rough wood cutting into her legs and she was soready to be off of this thing. Every single ounce of self preservation shehad was becoming undone as his big hands fit themselves perfectly aroundher ribcage.*Balancing on the swing was difficult and Kristen clung to the tiny ropewith both hands as Rob’s weight propelled them back and forth.“Having fun?” he asked her, the first words he had spoken to her since thetrailer.She only smiled in response, clinging to the rope tighter as he rocked themback and forth.“Terrified?” he questioned, grabbing the rope with both hands above hers.He swung them even more forcefully and she looked up at him andtouched him lightly on the chest.“Not quite,” she answered. “But I’ll get you back for this if you don’tstop.”He swung an arm down and didn’t stop.*“Who’s calling the shots now, bitch?” she asked him with a laugh, shovinghim as hard as she could on the swing.He fell over slightly, breathless with laughter and she shoved his wholebody down and caused him to nearly fall off the swing.“That’s just mean,” he told her, regaining balance as she pushed him backlightly.“I told you I’d get you back,” she said without a trace of remorse.“It wasn’t necessary,” he clarified. “I’d never hurt you.”
    • And she knew his double meaning and she knew that he knew the affectthat sort of proclamation would have on her. She swallowed the smile shewanted to give him.*Kristen swung lightly against Rob’s back, trying her best to ignore hissmug silence.“Place your hand on his leg,” the photographer called and she gropedbackwards to do so, but instead she brushed slightly against somethingthat wasn’t exactly erect but wasn’t exactly latent.He backed away and laughed down at her; she refused to look up at himand shot an awkward smile to no one in particular.*Kristen looked directly into the camera during her solo shots, trying toignore the way Rob stood unseen behind a couple of trees, smiling softly ather. The song playing was one she recognized and actually liked, so shecouldn’t help but mouth the words.Wrap me up, unfold me… I am small and needy…The camera clicked in her face and she smiled, glad that this portion wasnearly over. They would be moving on to the group shots and then shecould finally go home… or maybe, go wherever Rob was going.He was watching her mouth the words of the song so she finally looked upat him and met his gaze and mouthed:And breathe me…*“If I would’ve known you and Nikki were like that, I would have invitedyou for a threesome long ago,” Rob told Kristen as soon as she descendedfrom the trailer in a black t-shirt and jeans. He was referring to the peck onthe lips between the two of them – something Nikki initiated and Kristenhadn’t minded.
    • She rolled her eyes at him. “Nikki and I have a grand and epic love thatcannot be besmirched by your phallic ways.”He grinned at her. “I am not sure what all of those big words mean.”“No threesome.”He sighed.Her phone went off in her purse and she scrambled for it. She saw himturn to leave but she stopped him with a hand on his arm. “Wait asecond.” She took her phone out and looked at the text message Michaelhad sent her.I’m texting you to let you know I made it safely home. Call me latertonight. Hope it went well. Love you.She smiled to herself absently, her heart thrumming in her throat. Thenshe turned her face up to Rob’s – he was looking down at her curiously.“Want to… hang out?” she asked awkwardly. She had never been the oneto initiate anything between them but she felt like today was a day of firsts.She smiled at the flushed surprise on his face. Clearly, he had beenexpecting anything but that – anything but her choosing to spend timewith him away from all of the bullshit they were being thrown into.“I mean, it’s just… we’re about to do all of these stupid photo shoots, andthen we’ll be apart for most of October, so I figured…” She fumbled for anexplanation when he didn’t answer.He held up a hand to stop her. “Don’t ever doubt that I want to spendtime with you. I just didn’t know that you would want to… see me.”She laughed at the absurdity of it all. “Robert,” she growled. “Let’s notmake this anymore awkward, okay? You’re my friend – actually,remember what I told you like… back in March? My best friend. Andthat’s only become stronger. Just because sometimes it’s not convenientor… or… prudent doesn’t mean that I don’t want to spend time with you.Okay? Let’s get out of LA and go somewhere and just be.”
    • “What about him?” he asked, gesturing to her cell phone.“He’s home,” she answered.He looked back at her, uncomprehending. “Won’t he ask questions whenyou go home for a shower?”She smiled. “I’m sorry, I meant home. As in, New York, where he’sfrom.”“So… he’s not… here?”“No,” she said clearly. She reached forward and in another first, shebrushed her knuckles across his cheek, feeling the rough almost-beard.“But I am.”*Rob walked into the stylist’s trailer and she immediately blushed anddropped what she was holding. He grinned at her easily, still finding itweird the reaction he was starting to have on women who would haveignored him a year ago.“Mr. Pattinson… how can I help you?” she said breathlessly, picking upthe folders she had dropped.“I want to buy the dress that Kristen wore.”He said it plainly, without a whisper of regret. The stylist looked shockedand immediately stammered that it was extremely expensive and shethrew a designer name at him that he recognized. But he shook his head,completely adamant. He hadn’t spent his well-earned money on hardlyanything besides weed and he felt like that dress was an important part ofwhatever had happened today to turn Kristen’s head. And he wanted it forhimself, to maybe someday give to her - when she could wear it for him,and only him.He wrote the woman a check on the spot, not even blinking when she saidthe price – it was thousands of dollars, but that was fine. Robert didn’tnecessarily believe in big gestures but he believed in the importance of
    • preserving moments and if he could preserve anything it would be thisday. He made sure she wrapped it up carefully in the garment bag, and hecarried it out to his car after thanking the stunned woman. He had tippedher extremely well for her silence and he couldn’t help but smile as heunzipped the bag a bit and breathed in the scent of Kristen’s perfume thatstill lingered on the black ruffles.*Kristen ran a hand through her slightly damp hair, not-quite-watching thecommercial playing on TV. It felt all wrong, sitting in Michael’sapartment, waiting for her best friend slash somewhat lover to show upand take her somewhere. It felt especially wrong because she had takencare of her appearance tonight, choosing snug skinny jeans and a blanktank top that made her ivory skin stand out like the moon against the nightsky. She had even applied makeup – thinly, but it was there. And she wassure he would notice.The knock on the door made her jump out of her seat in both fear andanticipation. She stood where she was for a good ten seconds, breathingdeeply and turning off the TV with a click. Then she walked over to thedoor and opened it and there he stood in a black v-neck t-shirt that showedjust a hint of chest hair. His grin was easy but it widened along with hiseyes when he saw her.He was about to compliment her, so she cut him off with a hey andwalked out of the apartment, wanting to leave the smell of Michael’sthings as quickly as possible.“So where are we going?” she inquired as they trudged down the stairsside-by-side. Their knuckles kept brushing and it was driving her insane soshe wrapped herself up in her arms.He pulled a bag out of his back pocket and shook it at her – it wasmarijuana of course, and she had to laugh. “God, why is it that wheneverwe hang out all we do is get stoned?”He looked contrite instantly and went to shove it back in his pocket.“Never mind, it was stupid of me to assume you’d want-“
    • She almost cut him off with a sharp kiss but her mouth went to his earinstead. “Don’t be stupid. You just better have legit papers; I am notsmoking any of your disgusting blunts.”*They drove for nearly an hour and whenever she asked him where theywere going he would do something very annoying like turn up the radio orpinch her thigh very hard. So after awhile she gave up and leaned againstthe cracked leather of his shitty car, closing her eyes and listening to VanMorrison on the cassette tape she bought him a couple weeks back.And then he pulled off the road so roughly she nearly screamed. She puther hand to her heart and glared at him through her hair. “Almost missedthe turn,” he said and that wasn’t even an apology for scaring the shit outof her.But then she looked out in front of her and they were at a beach that wasdeserted and bathed in white from the bright moon. It was a full moonthat night and she smiled at him. Whenever she wanted to hang out healways took her to places where they couldn’t ever be seen and where theycould always be alone and she appreciated that more than she could eversay with words.He caught her smile and rolled his eyes. He shoved his hand in thecompartment by his door and came up with thin white papers and threwthem into her lap. She busied herself with folding and licking it as he madehimself a blunt very quickly – God, how long had he been doing that?Since he was ten? But she didn’t ask and he handed over the bag without aword.He began to light up the blunt but she stopped him with a hand on histhigh. “Let’s do it on the beach.”He crooked an eyebrow at her. “Feeling dangerous?”She rolled her eyes. “We’re miles from civilization on the coast ofCalifornia somewhere. I think we’re okay.”He grinned at her. “I think you’re right. Hurry and pack your shit, anddon’t lick it so wet, you’re going to ruin the flavor.”
    • “My joint, my rules,” she snapped.*They ended up on the shore, the waves rolling over their bare feet. Thewater was still warm, despite being the middle of September and veryclose to autumn. It was very pleasant and she always appreciated howRobert never felt the need to speak when it wasn’t necessary. She loved theeasy silence between them.She unabashedly watched the way he pulled on the blunt with his lips,always mesmerized by that simple action. She hated the smell of bluntsbut she knew that as soon as he was finished, she was going to kiss himbecause she had some unfinished business to attend to.He caught her staring and raised his eyebrows at her as he took a very longhit from the blunt that began to look as tiny as a pencil eraser between hislong fingers. She busied herself with finishing her joint, but she couldhardly be blamed because the marijuana was fresh and potent and herhead felt hazy and she felt light as a feather.She threw the end of the joint into the ocean and watched it wash awaywith the tide. Robert soon followed with a great sigh and she looked overat the way the wind was ruffling up his hair. It was standing on all endsand obviously had the same product in it from earlier today. She scratchedher nails through his scalp and he closed his eyes.“That makes me want to orgasm,” he said after a moment.She found the way his accent made him say orgasm was hilarious andimmediately snickered. “Ohr-gah-zeem?” she mimicked in a proper accentthat didn’t exactly match his.“Do you have a problem with the way that I speak?” he asked curiously,watching his hands make random patterns in the sand.“Not at all,” she said, very serious all of a sudden. “I think it’s beautiful.”His grin was crooked, very Edward, and she reached up her finger totouch the side of his mouth. His smile faltered and he grabbed her hand
    • and kissed her finger. Then he bit it and she screeched and shoved himweakly.But he hadn’t been expecting it so he went over and fell into the water,soaking his left side completely. Kristen laughed loudly, not bothering tocover up the noise until he shoved her back and she fell forward face firstinto the sea.“This means war,” she growled and lunged for him.*He won – for some reason he felt the only way he could stop her was topin her body to the ground with his own. They were soaked from head-to-toe, their clothes sticking to their bodies uncomfortably. He made the firstmove to take off his shirt so Kristen followed suit, wrenching her drenchedtank top over her head. She settled back underneath him, comfortable totake his weight against the cool sand. His eyes swept unabashedly over herbody, taking in her small breasts straining against her black bra and herflat stomach that was rippling from scrutiny.He moved down to unbutton his pants and it made sense to her, for somereason, to mimic his action so she kicked off her jeans and threw them inthe growing pile of clothes farther up the shore. She put her hands to hisneck, cupping the twitching tendons there before scraping her fingersdown his back – effectively arching his body into hers. His erection wasnot only visible, she could feel it too against the soaked cotton underwearshe had slung on her hips. She closed her eyes as it scraped against her andhe took it as a good sign so he did it again.And suddenly their camaraderie turned into passion because she proppedherself up on her elbows and couldn’t kiss him fast enough, hard enough.She pressed her lips against his parted mouth and he caught hers instantly,tugging on her top lip with his sharp teeth. She hissed and wrapped herlegs around his waist, arching herself up completely against his body. Hishands were everywhere, down her sides and counting her ribcage andcupping her breasts and then his long, clever fingers were rolling andpinching and smoothing over her nipples and she was gasping into hismouth in the most feral way she had ever dared. He brought her bra downand exposed her breast to the night and to his mouth; he covered hernipple with his lips and instead of sucking his brought out his tongue to
    • flick and she ground extremely hard against him – she liked that andneeded friction.And then it all went fast from there – he dipped his fingers inside of herand she rubbed him through his boxers and then there weren’t any barriersat all, only him waiting for her assent as he braced himself against hiselbows and looked down at her face like he had never seen a womanbefore tonight.“Go,” she told him and he pressed into her slowly and her back came upoff the ground and her eyes rolled back in her head and she had never feltso part of something, so full and so complete in her life. He kept pressing,his breath ragged until he hit her hilt and then he stopped, trying to getcontrol.“I’m sorry,” he gasped, pressing small kisses to her face. “We’re going tohave to take this very slow.”She groaned because all she wanted to do was press her heel into his backand urge him as fast as he could go. But he wasn’t a horse and she wantedhim to feel this good, too so she raised up on her elbows – that made himgo deeper and he groaned and she whispered sorry – and kissed hisforehead and his nose and his mouth, telling him to take his time.His first thrust was almost awkward, almost unsure. But it made her dropoff of her elbows and she flattened her back against the sand with an ungh;he did it again, scraping her nerves with his unforgiving hardness.Yes she told him against his mouth, and he kissed her as his hips pickedup speed – she couldn’t even call them thrusts, they were more likestrokes, rolls of his whole body up into her. He finally made it to a tempothat had her eyes rolling back into her head when he cursed.“Shit, Kristen, I’m so sorry-“ and then he pulled out and came all over hishand. Some of it fell onto her bare leg and she just watched it, not quitebelieving that their first time had been so anticlimactic. She looked up intohis face and he looked so guilty and embarrassed that she had to laugh.“You feel so good,” he said, like that explained everything.
    • She grinned. “Your stamina is astounding.” She raised herself up, trying toignore the feeling in her loins that wouldn’t stop pounding.“Where are you going?” he asked angrily, and then pinned her body backdown on the sand and then her hands were in his hair and his face wasbetween her legs and she was arching up off of the ground.And even though only the moon and waves and sand were a witness towhat had transpired between them she knew that something had changed,something huge, something forever.September 2008Nikki stifled a yawn as she shuffled towards the kitchen. It was almostmidnight and she had woken up parched, so she set out for a bottle ofwater and not the earful that was blasted in her direction.She winced against the noise – she would recognize that groan anywhere.She came around the corner and witnessed Kristen straddling Rob on thecouch. He was completely sheathed inside of her; she could tell by the wayhis fingers scrabbled helplessly down her back. Thankfully, they were bothclothed – it looked like in a moment of passion they had just unzippedRob’s pants and pushed Kristen’s underwear to the side a bit so she couldsit on him and take him in.Nikki gripped the wall tightly, grateful she couldn’t see Kristen’s face – herback was to her. She would probably end up hating Kristen if she couldsee exactly how Rob was making her feel at that moment and if the noiseswere any indication, it was pretty fucking good. He had his feet plantedfirmly on the ground and his strong fingers kept grabbing at her hips,holding her steady as he used the entirety of his lower body to stroke upinside of her. No, stroke wasn’t the right word – that was for love makingand what they were doing constituted fucking. So Nikki guessed the rightword would be pound because the noise of skin slapping against skin andthe way Kristen’s back was bowed left no room for how hard he was goinginside of her.She almost turned around to go back to bed when Rob tilted forwardslightly and gathered her torso close to his body so he could drop random,
    • chaste kisses all over the plane of her chest. And that’s what broke her –his ability to fuck the hell out of Kristen and still remind her of his love.She cleared her throat loudly and the reaction reminded her of back inApril, when Kristen had barged in rudely on a private moment betweenshe and Rob. Kristen screamed, her hand flying up to her mouth and Robimmediately ducked his body forward to shield her and cover hernakedness – even though nothing of her was visible. Still, the message wasclear – he was protecting her. She thought bitterly of how Rob had let her,Nikki, fall onto the floor that night in April as Kristen yelled at both ofthem and only picked her back up after she left.“I’m trying to sleep,” Nikki said quietly, not really sure what else to say.They were being perfectly quiet and she probably would have neverknown otherwise, but now she did and she wondered when they hadstarted having sex to begin with.“Nikki-“ Kristen started, kicking up off of Rob and leaving himmomentarily exposed.That sight made her sick to her stomach: the way Rob’s erection was stillwet and glistening before he covered it hastily and the way Kristen hadhopped off of him easily like she was used to straddling him and the wayRob looked so sad the moment their connection had been broken.Nikki put a hand up and Kristen stopped coming towards her.“I said I would keep your secret, and I will. But respect my house, please.Respect me,” Nikki pleaded on a whisper.*As soon as Kristen heard Nikki’s door snick shut, she rounded on Rob. Hewas staring at his hands, watching the way the shadows hit them atdifferent angles in the lamp light.“Great fucking idea,” she hissed at him.He didn’t answer.
    • “I mean, what’s the point of… of this,” she gestured wildly between thetwo of them, causing Rob to look up, “if we can’t even do the secret partof it correctly!”“Then let’s not keep it a secret,” he said calmly.She huffed and wrenched her jeans up off of the floor. She shoved her legsthrough the holes and then she really had Rob’s attention.“Where are you going?”She looked at him incredulously. “You can’t honestly expect me to stayhere after that!” she hissed, pointing in the direction of Nikki’s bedroom.“I can’t sleep under her roof now.”“Ever?” he said, his eyes widening and then closing off immediately.“Oh.”She turned her back on him and began walking towards the door, runninga hand through her sweaty hair.“Wait,” he begged, grabbing her wrist. “I’ll come with you. Just let megrab something to sleep in.”“Oh, that’s really cozy,” she spat. “We can snuggle up right in Michael’sbed while he’s on vacation. Perfect! Why didn’t I think of that?”“Just let me come with you,” he said quietly. “Please.”She wrenched her wrist out of his grasp. “Go to sleep. I’ll see you at theEmpire shoot tomorrow.”“Kristen, please,” he begged. “We don’t have to go back to Michael’s. Wecan get a hotel room. Or we can sleep in my car in a random field. Justdon’t leave me.”“That’s ridiculous,” she told him, trying to ignore the downright pleadingin his voice. “Stop acting like I’m your girlfriend.”“Then stop confusing me by acting like my girlfriend when he isn’taround!” he hissed through his teeth. “Sure, it’s okay for me to buy you
    • dinner and kiss you and sleep next to you when he is conveniently out ofthe picture, but as soon as he pops back in, you’re Kristen fucking Stewart,lap dog extraordinaire.”She felt the anger so strongly that her teeth clenched without thought. Herhands shot out and she shoved him roughly away from her so hard that hestumbled. To her surprise her shoved her right back, not treating her like afragile piece of glass so she tested the waters once more and shoved himand he shoved her back and back and back until she was flush against thedoor.She was still wet from the surprise not-quite-ending on the couch so whenhe shoved down his pants and picked her up and slid into her he went allthe way without stopping. He bit her lip so hard that it drew blood and hesucked at the wound like he was Edward Cullen incarnate. He pushed hiscock so hard inside of her that her head hit the back of the door but he wasunforgiving. He braced her with one hand on her neck, squeezing to thepoint where air was cut off slightly and the rush it brought to her headturned her on so much that she was on another planet.It was over quickly for both of them, their rage a bigger catalyst than love.When he came he flattened her body so flush against him and the doorthat she could hardly breathe and the only sensations she could feel washim inside of her and the cool wood against her overheated back. Andthen he stepped away without even helping her down and her skin made asquelching noise when she lifted off.They didn’t say a word to each other as they straightened their clothes andshe didn’t say goodbye when she turned the doorknob to go. She lookedback to see if he would say something but he was stalking to his room andnot paying her any mind at all.She whispered a sorry to the wind and then she slipped out in the coolingautumn air.*When Rob woke up, he had no idea where he was. He opened his eyesagainst the sun streaming in through a window somewhere and he knewhe wasn’t in his room – he hated sunlight and always had the blinds shut.He rolled over to plant his face in a pillow and that’s when he felt it,
    • smooth warm skin against his bare leg. He looked over, planning to seeKristen but instead he saw a girl he couldn’t remember seeing before in hislife. He backed away quickly, surveying the floor for his clothes. Theywere folded neatly onto a bean bag chair and he thought that was creepyuntil he actually took in his surroundings and saw his face plastered on thewalls.Fuck.He scrambled up, not even bothering to waste his breath waking the girl tosay goodbye. He had his jeans half on when he saw a digital camera layingnext to the girl on the bed and he groaned and picked it up. There weredozens of pictures of them – she going down on him, she riding him andhe wore the same bored expression in all of them. He couldn’t evenremember any of that but he breathed a sigh of relief at the used condomin the trash can.He opened the girl’s camera and slid out the memory card, leaving atwenty dollar bill next to the camera so she could buy another one. He justcouldn’t afford something like that to leak, not when he had so muchabout to happen for him.His phone buzzed in his pocket and he glanced down at the time – fuck,he was so late for the Empire shoot already. He smelled like a bar and hewas still a little drunk but that couldn’t be helped. He breathed a sigh ofrelief when he saw his own car parked outside the apartment complex, andas he cranked up the engine he tried not to let guilt seep into his pores forsleeping with another woman.Even though his woman had an active sex life with another man.*Kristen breathed out a sigh of relief when Rob coasted through the door,forty five minutes late. She had been worried about him – she had tried tocall him last night when she was lonely in Michael’s big bed and she wasgoing to tell him that they could sleep on the floor amidst blankets andpillows but his phone had been off.He breezed by her with a short glance and her hand went to her nose. Hesmelled awful – where the fuck had he been? A brothel?
    • She inquired as to his whereabouts when he emerged from the stylist’ssmall set up in the warehouse, looking too beautiful to stare at for verylong. He still reeked and that was what had provoked her – he smelled ofalcohol and cheap perfume.He didn’t offer a response and she had to endure the solo portion of thephoto shoot giving fake smiles and letting someone ruffle her hairendlessly. All of Rob’s solo photos had featured an unsmiling, brooding,almost dangerous looking man so she had to do something.When he bent down to take a drink of water during Cam’s solo shots, shehanded him a slip of paper that she had scribbled familiar words onto.“These things he said in words. But much in his heart remained unsaid.For he himself could not speak his deeper secret.”He clung to the paper tightly, the ends crackling in his palms. They hadnot spoken in Gibran for quite some time and she missed it and him andthe simplicity they used to have. The words of The Prophet reminded herof that time and she would be damned if she would stop using Gibran’swords to tell him of her feelings now. She needed that transition piece,from the old to the new, from the way it was to the way it is.He smiled shyly at her over the paper and then tucked it into his shoe – theonly thing on his body that wasn’t borrowed. She reached out her hand tohim and he grasped it briefly, but dropped it soon – he was preserving theirdeeper secret.*He wrapped his arm around her body for their couple shots and pulled hercloser, asking her quietly if that was okay. She had a lot of boundaries thathe was still learning. When she smiled softly down at his fingers he had tofight to keep the brooding look on his face because all he wanted to do wasgive the first, genuine tooth-showing smile of his day.*He was going to be alone again. That night she lay in his bed and as theywere still catching their breath she told him that she was leaving in two
    • days with Nikki to finish filming her stripper movie in New Orleans.Michael would be meeting them down there.She must have felt him stiffen so she said quietly, like it was breaking herheart, “You can… you know. Sleep with other people. It’s only fair, Iguess.”He swallowed and ran her dark hair through his fingers. “I already have,”he answered honestly.She smiled; he could feel her lips against his chest as they curled up. “Iknow.”“It was a mistake.”“It’s okay.”“I’m not going to sleep with other people.”“You can.”“I won’t.”She looked up at him, resting her chin on his chest. “Okay.”“I’m going to miss you,” he said, even though she probably already knewthat.She sighed; her warm breath tickled the hair on his chest. She didn’tanswer him for a really long time.“Do you know what I’m going to do while I’m down there?” she finallysaid.“Gallivant around on stripper poles?” he offered.She laughed. “Yes. But besides that.”He shook his head and drew her closer to him.“I’m going to look through The Prophet and find the perfect quote.”
    • He looked down at her. “The perfect quote for what?”“For how I feel about you,” she said. “It’ll help for when I start missingyou so much it hurts.”He breathed out heavily, already feeling hollow in his chest. “Will you tellme when you find it?”“I’ll read it to you when I get back,” she promised. “You should do thesame.”“I can tell you how I feel without a quote,” he said.She propped herself up and looked down into his face. “How do youfeel?”He swallowed again. “When I look at you, I want to die.”She wasn’t mad, even though she should be. He knew she was expectingan I love you but he had messed that up once and wasn’t going to say thatever again until it was time. So he told her how that love made him feel –all torn apart and then sewn back together by an amateur doctor. It wasraw and bleeding and painful and had loose ends that needed to be tied up.But she heard the underlying acknowledgement of that love and shewasn’t angry at him for not wanting it there.She stayed silent and he thought she had gone to sleep when she pressed akissed to his chest.“One day, I’ll let you live.”Mid-October 2008“Here she comes walking, here she comes talking. I do believe itsMadame Joy. Shes walking by that old street corner, and shes looking forher boy. Oh yes, looking for her boy…”Kristen leaned a heavy head against Nikki’s shoulder as her friend sangoff-key into the night sky. She giggled as Nikki’s voice ghosted over aparticularly flat note and took a sip of the coffee in her hand. It was a
    • muggy night in the outskirts of New Orleans, and sweat clung to theexposed skin of her thighs. She crossed her legs and felt Nikki’s fingerswork through a knot in her dark hair.“That feels nice,” Kristen told her as the song came to a close. “God, I’mso tired.”“Liven up, Stew,” Nikki warned her. “Don’t make me pour some moreespresso down your throat.”“Anything but that,” she joked weakly. “What time is it?”Nikki pressed a button on her phone to make the screen light up. “It’salmost 4 AM. Come on, smoke break is almost over.”Kristen hadn’t even smoked; that’s how tired she was. She couldn’tconcentrate on anything but the heaviness of her eyes. “Why are you evenstill awake?” she grumbled. “You should have gone back to the hotel.”Michael emerged from Kristen’s trailer and smiled when he saw the two ofthem leaning against each other and the cool metal of the trailer. “We toldyou,” he said, shaking a shot glass. “We aren’t going anywhere, baby.Now drink up.” He shoved the shot glass in her hand and she made a face.More espresso.She tipped it down her throat, wincing at the bitter taste of pure caffeine.Michael stuck his hand back out for the glass, but Kristen put down theglass and drew herself up into his arms instead. They shared a long hugand Kristen breathed in his familiar scent. He was so relaxed down here.Their relationship, before New Orleans, was a downward spiral – but here,they were back in their element. They were close. They were affectionate.Kristen still loved him, and that baffled her completely. When she brokeaway, she turned to Nikki who was smiling at both of them. It was a puresmile, with no malice or sarcasm and Kristen, once again, had to marvel ather best friend. She could be happy for Kristen in all occasions because shewas that selfless, even though Kristen had taken what Nikki had reallywanted and used it and didn’t want it enough to have it fully.She took Michael’s hand and he smiled at her so beautifully that she had
    • to wonder when the last time was she held his hand like that. She couldn’tremember.“Was that you I heard crowing out here?” Michael asked Nikki, holdingout his other hand for her.Nikki looped her arm through his elbow instead. “That’s right. MadameJoy is a classic. I can’t get enough of it.”“We can thank Rob for introducing the joys of Van Morrison,” Kristensaid quietly. Immediately, she shot her eyes to Michael to see if hercareless mention of his name would affect him any.“I’m sure Rob wouldn’t be happy you two were degrading his favoritesinger with your awful voices,” Michael quipped, keeping up the banter.Kristen caught Nikki’s eye behind Michael’s back. Nikki looked just asbewildered as she felt. Apparently, something in New Orleans hadhappened to Michael that made him completely and totally confident inthe relationship he shared with Kristen. He was so confident that he couldspeak Rob’s name without any sort of malice, any sort of sarcasm.Kristen’s stomach churned at the thought. Michael should be lessconfident than ever.“Anyway,” Nikki said lightly, smoothing over the moment. “Madame Joyis going to be the song we play at our weddings. Right, Stewbaby?”“That’s we have decided,” Kristen agreed.“Is that so?” Michael laughed. “I’ll remember that, then.”The smile and hand squeeze he sent Kristen made her so nauseous thatshe almost had to excuse herself to the bathroom.*Kristen sat on the balcony of her hotel room, smoke curling up from thecigarette she held in her fingers. It was 10 AM and she had only just gottenback from the set. She took a shower and now she couldn’t sleep at all, soshe had dragged The Prophet and her iPod outside. She was engrossed in
    • the text now; this was the only way she allowed herself to remember him.She missed him in the worst sort of way but she couldn’t lose focus.She followed along in the book as he read the story in her ears, her penposed above the lines of the page. She would put a star by a line that shewanted to look over later, a line that rang true in her heart and her bones.She had seen new pictures of him the other night and ever since then, shefelt the need to search for the perfect quote more than ever. He had been atthe premiere for the movie Sex Drive, in a light grey shirt that brought outthe grey in his eyes. He had looked thoroughly fucked that night, and shehad to wonder who had been in his bed – even though he had assured hewouldn’t sleep with anyone, he was twenty two and had needs.Still, that bothered her a bit – not because she was possessive, she toldherself – but because she and Rob hadn’t used a condom the times theyhad had sex because he had shoved his current physical in her face – novenereal diseases, he had laughed – and she was on birth control. But if hewas going to sleep around then she would punish him with a condom.But then she heard something in Rob’s recording of The Prophet shehadn’t heard before. His breath hitched after saying a particular passage soshe scrambled to rewind and listen to it again.Her own breath hitched.Perfect.*Her phone buzzed on her thigh just as she clicked the pause button on theYouTube video of Rob being mobbed in Mexico City. She was so upset –that poor, sensitive man was probably crying somewhere due to all of thestress.She looked down and her breathing caught in her throat. She lookedtowards the bathroom of her hotel room – Michael was still in the shower– so she flashed it to her ear.“Rob?”“Kristen.”
    • Her exhale was audible. They hadn’t spoken since the day she had left LAfor New Orleans nearly three weeks ago. It had been intentional on bothof their parts – no use in the making the hurt grow.“Are you all right?” she asked, running a hand through her still damp hair.“I’ve just seen the videos, and I-““Where are you?” he cut through her questions with one of his own.“In my hotel?” she said, her answer coming out as a question.“Which hotel?”“Just a Best Western – Rob, don’t tell me you’re in New Orleans!”He sighed. “I’m in New Orleans.”“What the fuck is wrong with you?” she hissed into the phone. “Go backto LA, I can’t see you!”“I don’t know what made me do it. I had my return flight booked for LAbut at the last moment, I changed it to New Orleans.”“That was stupid and expensive,” she snapped. “I’m in a completelydifferent element down here. A different zone. I’m not Bella right now.I’m Mallory, a stripper. Okay? A stripper. You wouldn’t even know me.”“You’re Kristen,” he said steadily. “You’re Kristen Stewart, not Malloryor Bella or Tracy. I would know you anywhere. And I’m here to see you.Are you going to come to me or not?”“No, I’m not!” she nearly screeched. “You have no idea what you’redoing. You are making this messy and complicated. You can’t just make afrivolous decision, a dangerous decision to come visit me whenever youfeel like it.”“I have just been pulled at, screamed for and completely violated by a lotof girls I don’t know. All I want is to be pulled at, screamed for andcompletely violated by a girl I know better than myself.”
    • She bit her lip as the smile crept up onto her face. She looked towards thebathroom door again, her heart pounding now that she was seriouslyconsidering seeing him.“Can I call you back in like, two seconds?” she asked, and then didn’t waitfor an answer. She hung up the phone and knocked on the bathroom door.“Michael?”“Yeah? Everything okay? Gotta pee? I’ll be out in a second,” he calledback, his voice muffled by the shower stream.“No, no,” she said, making her voice go husky. “I’m just…I feel… I thinkI’m going to go take a drive. I just had a hard day today, the character isreally getting to me, you know? I need to clear my head…”The water shut off and Michael stepped out of the bathroom, a towelaround his waist. “Do you want me to go with you?”She shook her head. “No, I need to be alone… listen to some music… youknow?”He nodded and gave her a huge, tight squeeze. “Don’t get lost. Call me ifyou need anything, okay?”She smiled at him, grabbed her cell phone, purse and keys, and nearlysprinted out of the door.*When Kristen saw him, she thought of those movie dream-sequenceswhere two lovers run towards each other across a meadow, armsoutstretched. They jump up into each others embrace and twirl and falldown into the grass and make love until sunset.In reality, she saw him across a dirty street, leaning against a brickbuilding with a joint between his fingers. She parked her old truck on thecurb and rolled down the window.“You’ve got a purty mouth,” she said in a low country accent.He laughed, running his long graceful fingers through his hair. She missed
    • him so much, everything about him and her heart was fluttering againsther chest so hard that her hands kept slipping off the steering wheel. Shefelt like a spastic idiot.She jerked her chin to the interior of her truck, and he pushed up off thewall and threw the roach to the street. She watched his long legs makeway to the passenger side door, and then he was in it and his smell was allaround her.“You have a beard,” she crowed.He scratched it self consciously. “I was hoping it’d deter the Mexicangirls.”She couldn’t stop staring at him. He looked so… so… old. It had been solong since she had felt the age gap, but he looked like a defined man whileshe still felt like a child. She put her hands to his face and combed herblunt nails through the coarse hair and he closed his eyes and leanedagainst her fingers.“Why did you come?” she asked him.“How much time do you have?” he countered, his bloodshot eyes pinningher to the seat.“It doesn’t matter, hours,” she said vaguely.“Take me somewhere quiet, for the love of God,” he whispered, and thensat back against the seat like he trusted her to do exactly that.So she did.*She found a small clearing on Lake Pontchartrain. She looked over at himto see if he approved, but he was asleep against her window. His handswere cupped under his cheek, and his whole face was slack like he hadn’tclosed his eyes in days. She didn’t have the heart to wake up him, so shetrailed her fingers through his messy hair and pressed her face against hisshoulder. He sighed and accommodated her; even in his sleep he movedso she would be more comfortable. She settled her head against his chest,
    • right against his quiet, steady heartbeat and felt the rise and fall of hisbreathing.Kristen would be leaving for Madrid in three days, and then the next weekshe and Rob would be together in Rome. Her head spun as she thought ofthe whirlwind that her life had become – before, she was Kristen Stewart,young indie actress and now she was Kristen Stewart, actor. All becauseshe believed in the story of a normal girl falling in love surrounded byunusual circumstances.Rob snuffled in his sleep, and she peeked up at him. Running a fingerdown his neck, she thought that she knew exactly how Bella felt – to be anormal girl falling in love surrounded by unusual circumstances.*When he woke up about an hour later, he was irrationally angry at her forletting him sleep.“I’ve only got limited time!” he told her. “My plane leaves at midnight.”She arched an eyebrow, unimpressed. “It’s only five. Chill out.”“I have not seen you in three weeks,” he argued. “You expect me to chillout?”“You haven’t seen me in three weeks,” she agreed. “So use your energy todo something besides freak out.”She expected that invitation to be taken a different way. Instead of lungingacross the bed of the truck at her, he opened the door and nearly sprinteddown to the bank of the lake. Confused, she climbed out and followedhim. She was almost to him when he turned to her.His eyes were wet with tears and bloodshot with weed and wide withdelirium.“I’m freaking out,” he told her. “I had no idea, no idea that being Edwardfucking Cullen would culminate into all of this. I’m just, I’m just an idiotfrom London with a girly dog and no clean clothes and I can’t live up toall of these expectations. I mean, I was standing up there in Mexico City,trying to introduce the trailer and all they did was shout at me. Like,
    • anything I had to say was unimportant but as long as I stood there andlooked somewhat attractive, they were appeased.” He drew away from thehand she held out to him. “I never wanted any of this. I wanted to be awriter; I wanted my words to mean something. Instead, I try to talk andpeople shout ‘you’re gorgeous!’ at me instead. Like, who the fuck cares?I’m not gorgeous; I am just a man who is completely in over his head.”She held up a hand to stop his tirade. “Listen to yourself! You are themost sane, composed person I know. You take everything with effortlessgrace, and I’m supposed to be the one that fumbles through everything.Get a grip. It’s going to be okay.”He grabbed at her forearms. “I know I’m being melodramatic; I can hearit. But you have no idea what it’s like to be pulled at by all of these peoplewho don’t even know your middle name-““Thomas,” she whispered.“What?”“Your middle name is Thomas.”He sighed. “Yeah, it is.”“When and where were you born?”“London, on May thirteenth, nineteen eighty six.”“What’s your favorite band of all time?”“Van Morrison.”“What do you love more than anything in the world?”“Writing. Beer. Marijuana. My family. You.”She swallowed around that last one. “You know yourself, Rob. That’s allthat matters. All of these girls can project whatever they want into you, aslong as you remember who you are. It’ll keep you above the water.”He smiled down at her, his mouth quirking up at the corner. “Do you
    • remember that night in my room, when I said that the plan was that we’dhave to stay away from each other no matter what?”She smiled back. “Yeah.”“And here I am, in New Orleans… the last place in the world I shouldbe.”“Why did you come?” she asked.He shrugged, looking out over the vast lake. “You are the realest thing inthe world to me. Even though our relationship is surrounded by thingsthat don’t make any sense at all – you, you as Kristen, make sense to memore than anything else. I can’t let it go.”“We’re about to go through some crazy shit,” she told him. “When we goto Europe, it’ll be hell. I know it will. But we’ll be there together. Michaelwill be there, too. But I won’t… I won’t forsake you. I’ll be there for youhowever I can, if you can be there for me. Through everything, eventhough you get to see me naked sometimes when it’s entirely wrong andinappropriate, you’re my best friend and I kind of need you, Rob.”He grinned so wide that she could see his canines. “You kind of have me,Kristen.”She made a noise in the back of her throat, so sad and so hopeless that shehad to kiss him. She rose up on her toes and pressed her lips to his. Itwasn’t feral and wild, it wasn’t passionate and all consuming. It wasaching and tender and chaste, and a keening noise left his mouth andresonated against her tongue. She bunched her hands up into his hair andthen he was leading her down, down against the grass.Much later that night, Kristen dropped Rob off at the airport. Theybehaved as lovers, kissing each other recklessly as she pulled up to thecurb. The feel of his skin in the evening heat earlier had been so fresh, sonew to her that she couldn’t help but replay it over and over again. Shecouldn’t get enough of him, not ever, so even as he tried to back away andclimb out of her truck she lunged across the seat and caught his lips inhers, over and over, the noise making little smacks.
    • He laughed against her mouth. “I have to go, and you’re causing aspectacle.”“I’m not,” she muttered, drawing his bottom lip into her mouth suddenly.He groaned and pushed her back.“Kristen,” he chastised, but he couldn’t hide the adoration in his eyes.“You’re being silly and careless. It isn’t like you.”“I missed you,” she blurted out. She felt every bit the ridiculous teenager.“When I get married, I want Madame Joy to be played at our wedding.”“What?” he gasped.“I want Madame Joy to be played at… at my wedding, I meant,” she said.He looked at her, open mouthed. “I uh, I’ll keep that in mind,” he said toher with a heartbreaking little smile.She thought of Michael saying that a couple days earlier and how she hadbristled at the thought of it.“You better,” she told Rob and he climbed out of the truck and slammedthe door.You better, she said again to herself as she watched him slink awkwardlyinto the airport.You better.October 31, 2008 – Early morningRome, ItalyKristen pushed on the door and listened like a paranoid burglar to the wayit creaked. She held her breath as the hinges fell silent, and then poked herhead around into the dark room.“Rob?” Her whisper was so quiet that even if he was in the room, he
    • probably wouldn’t have heard it. But he wasn’t and she didn’t know wherehe was, but she was relieved. She snuck inside and the door made a snicknoise behind her as she shut it.The key card that Rob had slid in her hand after the Q&A session glintedin the sliver of moonlight coming through the hotel window. She sighedand set it down, removing her leather jacket as she moved across his room.She kicked off her heels and ran her hands down the flowing material ofher white dress.They hadn’t been alone since New Orleans, and she was nervous in a wayshe couldn’t explain. Whatever had occurred between them in that cityhad changed something in their dynamic and she couldn’t put her fingeron it. It was almost like the dominance of the relationship had shifted.Kristen undoubtedly had been the dominant one, simply because she hadthe boyfriend and had someone to go home to, so she had to call the shotsand say yes or no or not tonight. But in New Orleans, it had been Robcalling the shots – make love to me, come see me, I have to go – andKristen didn’t know how she felt about that.She sat down on the edge of the bed, her dark hair falling over her face.She rested her cheeks in the palm of her hands, breathing in and outslowly to calm her nerves.She heard the door open but she didn’t lift her head. She was afraid ofmeeting his eyes until he gave her some sort of sign that it was okay. Sheheard his surprised intake of breath but still didn’t lift her eyes to his. Sheheard him take off his jacket and his shoes and slide his belt out of hispants with a woosh and then his finger was on her chin, lifting up her face.“I’m surprised to see you here,” he said after a moment of staring down ather. “You told me you wouldn’t be able to get away.”“I…” She cut off, embarrassed. “I crushed up a couple of Benadryl andput them in his drink.”His laughter pinged off the taupe walls. “You drugged your boyfriend?”“Don’t say it like that!” she hissed. “He was just stressed, and needed afull eight hours…”
    • He grinned. “This really is an affair.”She grimaced against the word – it sounded so cheap. So tawdry. So…slutty. Rob noticed her look of distaste and frowned.“What? Don’t like the bad taste it leaves in your mouth, hearing what wereally are?”“That’s not what we are,” she whispered to the floor. “We just are.”He rolled his eyes. Obviously something had put him in a sour mood andhe was going to take it out on her. He was a very sweet-tempered, mild-mannered person but when he got into a funk, he could be the world’sbiggest asshole. She wasn’t sure that sticking around right now would be agood idea but she didn’t want to make him angry enough to… to leaveher. So she stuck around, scooting forward towards him and touchingtheir knees together.“Don’t be angry at me, Rob, please,” she said quietly. “I didn’t come herefor you to be sour to me.”He didn’t respond. He turned on his heel and walked over to thebathroom, slamming the door behind him. She heard the shower cut onand she sighed, throwing herself back onto the bed.He had cried earlier; he said the stress and the screaming finally got tohim. To watch him tear up in the middle of thousands of fans was terrible,especially knowing she was the real cause of it.Kristen had gotten in a fight with Michael on the way to the event andthey had nearly broken up. Kristen was horrified to feel that she bothwanted it and didn’t. So as soon as the car pulled up the red carpet, shestepped out and smiled benignly at the photographers in her face, tuckedher hands into her jacket pockets and searched for a friendly face. She sawCatherine and made her way over, running her hands through her hair asshe tried to explain what had just happened.Catherine was sympathetic but distracted, so Kristen felt no relief. Thenshe heard thousands of piercing screams and turned her head to see Rob’scar pulling up to the carpet. She swallowed hard, her heart throbbing
    • behind her tongue. He stepped out and she sucked in a breath – he lookedbeautiful, with the vestiges of a beard and a black jacket and perfectlydisheveled hair. He smiled vaguely at all the cameras, looking distinctlyoverwhelmed so she had strode over to him, meeting him in the middle ashe slipped an arm around her waist.“How are you?” he had asked, keeping his eyes on the camera.“Michael and I almost broke up in the car,” she said honestly.He didn’t respond but gave the photographers one of the best smiles of theevening.She let him think that she and Michael were breaking down, that it wasalmost his chance. But Michael had apologized and Kristen had forgivenhim and Rob had figured it out wordlessly so she guessed the stress andthe screaming and the perpetual heart break, the constant catch andrelease caught up to him and then there were tears pouring down his face.“Are you crying?” she had whispered and he had turned from her, wipinghis nose on his sleeve. They didn’t speak for the rest of the evening andeverything had been tense and unrealistic and unlike how they really werewith each other – open and laughing and beautiful. Then he had pressed aroom key in her hand as she went to go find Michael and she had told himthat she probably wouldn’t be able to get to him tonight.“Of course you won’t,” he had said viciously, sadly and she decided thenthat she had to go to him, no matter what.So here she was, lying on her back in his spacious hotel room, staring atthe ceiling as she listened to the muffled sounds of him singing in theshower. She sighed resignedly and hopped up, stripping down nakedbefore moving over the bathroom and shoving open the door.The steam in the bathroom was overwhelming, it was thick like smoke.Rob’s broken singing could be heard through the cloud and he was singinga song she recognized.“It’s just a drop in the ocean, a change in the weather; I was praying thatyou and me might end up together… “
    • She finished the verse for him. “It’s like wishing for rain as I stand in thedesert, but I’m holding you closer than most, ‘cause you are myheaven…” Her singing voice was unsteady at best, but he stopped the songat once and a loud thud told her that he had probably dropped the soap.She pulled back the glass door and stepped in the hot shower with him.She picked up the bar of soap off of the tile floor and handed it to him.“That’s how you get raped,” she joked over the sound of the beatingwater.He smiled slightly, taking the soap from her and continuing to run it overhis body. The bubbles were caught up in his chest hair and his happy trail,and he was nearly red from the heat of the hydrogen and oxygen. Shepressed her face against his chest and inhaled, appreciating the muskyscent of the soap before it got distilled by his cigarettes and sweat.“Shampoo?” she asked after a moment, some soap getting in her mouth.He picked up the generic brand of dandruff shampoo for her and motionedfor her to turn towards the stream. She tipped her head back and let thehot water run down her neck.“Close your eyes,” Rob said to her, speaking for the first time. She let herlids fall closed and she heard the pop of the shampoo bottle opening. Thenhis rough hands were in her hair, scratching at her scalp as he worked theshampoo through her tresses.“I might not get it very clean, obviously I’m not very good at washinghair,” he laughed. Her heart soared at the sound.“Keep scrubbing until I say to stop,” she whispered, so he did. It felt sonice that she leaned her head again against his chest and she felt that shecould fall asleep like this, warm and wet and comfortable with Rob’sstrong hands rubbing foam through her hair. His smell was all around her.“Rinse,” she told him finally, her voice muffled against his skin. He puthis arms around her waist and walked them back, putting her head underthe water so they wouldn’t have to let go of one another. She let the waterfall around her face.
    • She was so sleepy and warm that it surprised her when he nudged her legsopen with his knee. His erection was so prominent that she couldn’tbelieve it took her this long to notice.“That was the most erotic thing I’ve ever done,” he whispered against herneck, sliding his tongue down her collarbone, catching the droplets ofwater.“Washing my hair?”“God, yes. Did you not hear yourself? All of that moaning and carryingon? It’s like, it’s like I have an affect on you that isn’t just sexual.”She stared up at him. “You have had an affect on me since day one, Rob.How could you ever doubt that?”He shook his head wordlessly, pressing her up against the cool tile. “Latchonto me,” he told her instead, picking her up from under her arms. Shebrought her legs around his lithe waist, hooking her ankles as he grappledto get a good hold on her.“Shower sex is so impractical,” he laughed. “But God, I want you now.”“How can I help?” she asked breathlessly, her arms falling uselessly to hersides.“Put your arms around- wait, no, can you- can you take me? Like, mypenis? And put it up to your, ah, yes- okay, now put your arms around myneck and hold on, I’m going to press you against the wall, and then- ah,”he moaned as he finally slid inside of her.“Hmmm,” she groaned, her lips curling. “That’s, that’s an interestingangle-““I can’t get a hold of you,” he complained, his hands sliding from herwaist to gripping her thighs. “I have no dexterity-“She wrapped her legs around his waist so tightly that he almost slippedforward. Instead, it brought them both as close in each other that they hadever been, she swore he was almost touching her womb, and not because
    • oh god he was so impossibly long like a snake from the Amazon, butbecause their hips were grazing each other as he lifted up on his toes tothrust up inside of her. Her hands scrabbled up and down his back, tryingto find leverage as he hit spots in her that she didn’t know existed.And she had been waiting for a much more romantic moment than this,possibly for some wine and candles, not awkward shower sex after anemotionally exhausting day but she said fuck it and pressed her mouthagainst his ear and poured out her heart.“It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth, but rather aheart enflamed and a soul enchanted. It is not the image you would seenor the song you would hear, but rather an image you see though youclose your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.”It was the passage from The Prophet that she had picked out and she hadspent the last few weeks memorizing it perfectly, getting her tone andbreath intonations correctly. But the way he moved up inside her made itcome out all breathless, but even still, he said Oh my God, Kristen and itsounded like he was crying.*“You figured it out,” he told her later, as they lay across his big bed with adown comforter thrown over their naked bodies.They had given up on the shower sex but hadn’t made it out of thebathroom. He had bent her over the sink and taken her from behind, and ithad been the hottest thing she had ever experienced until he thrust into herso hard that she had hit her tooth against faucet of the sink. But she hadbeen close so she told him to keep going, and after she came with hisinsistent finger against her clit, he showed his ability to multitask byworrying about her tooth and pounding into her relentlessly at the sametime.He had pulled out at his moment of climax, coming all over the sink andnot even bothering to wipe it up before turning to her and examining hertooth. She was laughing so hard that she bit him a couple times when hetried to pry her mouth open, so he had given up and shoved her hand intothe puddle of semen on the sink. Then she had wiped her hand across hisface and she had never seen him so disgusted.
    • But now the playing was over and the lazy heat of the night descendedupon them. He twirled a damp tendril of hair in his long finger and staredinto her eyes as she colored, knowing he was referring to the passage inThe Prophet that she had chosen.“I heard the hitch,” she said to him. “I rewound it and listened to it andknew that was the one I had to use. It’s how I feel about you. When Iclose my eyes, you’re still there. When it’s silent, I hear your voice.That’s… that’s all I can say. I don’t know what that means. But that’s howI feel.”“Don’t you know what this means?” he asked her, cupping her neck withhis palm.She remembered his declaration by the lake – do you have any idea howmuch I love you? – and she thought that he was going to say somethinglike it again. She closed her eyes, preparing for the onslaught of sensationwhenever the four-letter one-syllable word slipped from his lips.But instead he said, “It means we’re finally equals. Finally we’re on thesame plane. If you chose that passage then you truly understand how I feelabout you and reciprocate it.”She pondered that. “But you said that you love me.”He pressed a short kiss to her lips. Her fingers curled around his forearms.“I do love you,” he told her, finally giving her a straight response. “I loveyou so much that it cancels out all other things – reason and morality andvirtue. I love you so much that I have to have any part of you that I can. Ican’t live without this feeling. I can’t live without this little hand,” hekissed her palm, “touching my face. I can’t live without this big heart,” hepressed his palm against her left breast, “reaching out to mine. I can’t doit.”“Then it’s love?” she whispered, wondering how she could have seensomething different. “The passage I picked out, the mutual feelingbetween us – that’s love?”He smiled at her. “Sweetheart, if that’s not love then I won’t be able to
    • handle the true definition of it. I already feel like my heart will explodeevery time I’m around you.”She thought back over everything – their meeting, their fighting, theirattraction, their camaraderie, their tension, their inside jokes, theirbutterflies, their joints, their affair. The way they fought tooth and nailthrough heaven and hell to be together, despite Nikki and Michael andCatherine and the public. The way they forgot about everyone else,everything else when they were together. The way that he knew how tomake her body sing and the way a single look could make her feeldiscombobulated for the rest of the day. The way his kisses made her toescurl inside of her Chucks. The way he had been her best friend for so longthat she couldn’t think of someone else she was closer to. It fell all aroundher ears and it was like someone ripped open a hot air balloon – fireflamed through her head and down to the very tips of her toes.“Oh my God,” she whispered.She didn’t say it, but she didn’t have to.November 8, 2008The concert was over and he was high, high on music and life and maybea little bit of the green stuff. The miniature woman next to him looked justas gone, just as obliterated – she swayed to a beat that was heard only byher ears, only by her thoughts. He thought back to months ago, walking inon her dancing by herself with her arms held above her head, twirling justas she was doing now. Except he didn’t want her to be alone now, nowwhen she didn’t ever have to be.He grasped onto her fingers with his hand and twirled her once, twice,three times before she stumbled and giggled and shoved her small palminto his chest. Then she went on down the street, making her way to hiscar in her own fashion, small pirouettes and grand jetés and trips over herown tiny feet. He watched her go with a mix of amusement and sadness,maybe he was high but it all seemed like a metaphor, this girl wouldalways move her own way in life, and even though that direction wasalways away from him he couldn’t help but watch her leave in wonder.Her voice floated down the street and he was finally clued in on what shewas dancing to.
    • “And I’ll stand beside you, beside you…”So she was still lost in Van Morrison’s music, which would usually makehim happy that someone else could be so overtaken by his favorite artistbut at that moment, it made him sad. He had just been to one of the bestconcerts of his life but his thoughts had taken him away from VanMorrison almost immediately and instead, he was thinking of her like healways was, hoping that she was all right and she was happy, because eventhough she was ten feet in front of him with a vague smile on her face, hewas never sure anymore.And even though she had all but admitted to loving him, she would neversay so and he knew it, and so he accepted his fate – to be waiting aroundfor the day she came to her senses or for the day he came to his.*“I’m starving,” Kristen complained once they were back in his car. Shewas picking at her toenail polish and flicking the red bits of paint onto thecarpet of his BMW. He smacked her hand away. “Take me somewhere toeat.”Rob did a strange little hat tip and said princess in a mocking way, but hecranked up the car and they began to drive. And as always, Rob drovethem for miles and miles out of the way and Kristen began to whine aftertwenty minutes of black road.“You could have taken me to a twenty-four hour burger joint, for God’ssake,” she moaned. “I think my stomach is about to cave in on itself.”“Patience,” he chided her as he pulled into the parking lot of hisdestination. “I just thought you’d like to go somewhere we wouldn’t berecognized, is all.”Her mood turned happy all of a sudden, maybe it was the combination ofthe sweet thing he did and the fact that food was just in front of her, butshe leaned over and kissed him on the lips, something she hadn’t donesince Rome.
    • He groaned and gripped the sides of her face, holding onto her kiss as longas she would give it to him. She backed away, breathless and mad atherself.“Let’s go,” she said, trying to keep her voice from shaking.“Okay,” he agreed, not trying to keep his voice from shaking.The diner was the stereotypical grease-ridden hole in the wall and sheloved it. She hated the world of all-white linen tablecloths of restaurants inLA, the places that served you tiny portions with something stupid likebalsamic vinegar drizzled over the top. They sat down in a damp boothand pulled out the laminated menu from the condiments rack.The waitress sidled up to their table in an obnoxious pink apron and Keds.“What can I get’chu to drink?”“Diet Coke,” Rob answered.“Uh… I’ll have coffee. Black,” Kristen decided, still looking over themenu. The waitress nodded and shuffled away, popping a piece of gumthrough her teeth.“What are you getting to eat?” Rob inquired, turning his menu upsidedown.“Everything,” Kristen answered. “Covered in cheese.”He laughed. “Even chocolate pancakes?”Kristen raised her eyebrows. “Don’t judge me.”She eventually decided on a bacon sandwich and hashed browns coveredin cheese, which Rob found absolutely hilarious as he ordered a modestwaffle with a side of eggs.“Why must Americans cover everything in cheese?”She raised an eyebrow over her steaming mug of coffee. “I’m halfAustralian, so you should really be asking why I’m not coveringeverything in Vegemite.”
    • He made a horrible face. “Oh God, please don’t tell me you actually eatthat shit.”She slammed her mug on the table. “What did you say?”He set his own glass down. “Please. Tell Me. You Don’t. Actually Eat.That Shit.”She huffed. “You never insult the food of a person’s homeland, SpottedDick!”He turned red. “Spotted Dick is delicious, thank you so very much.”“Anything involving the word dick is not delicious!”“That’s not what you said last night.”They glared at each other from over the Formica table top, faces red andchests heaving in indignation. Then Kristen’s mouth twitched up and Robsnorted and then they both gave in to their laughter.They were still bantering when the waitress set their plates down in frontof them with loud clatters, gave them both two seconds to request ketchupor more coffee, then scooted away to continue gossiping behind the cashregister.He wrinkled his nose at Kristen’s cheese-smothered hashed browns so shemade a big show of eating them, letting the stringy dairy connect a linefrom her mouth to the fork with each bite. He quirked an eyebrow at heras he methodically filled each square of his waffle with maple syrup, andshe just shrugged with a smile.“My stomach is going to hate me later,” she said cheerfully, actuallyputting some of her cheesy hashed browns on her bacon sandwich.“I hope you understand how completely disgusting that is.”She considered shooting a fuck you in his direction but decided to be morecreative. She knocked the hand that was holding the syrup, causing adollop to miss the next square. It went outside the lines.
    • He looked horrified. “Oh my God. You ruined it.”She made a rude hand motion that looked a lot like jacking off.He put down the syrup container, looked at her briefly, and then stuck hislong pointer finger in the middle of her hashed browns.“What. The. Fuck!”It went on like that until Rob had to call a truce because there was maplesyrup stuck in his eyebrows. Kristen might have apologized but she waslaughing too hard from the mix of the caffeine and the way Rob said owow ow every time he peeled a layer of syrup out of his brows. She sighedand got out of the booth.“Where are you headed?” Rob called after her and she gestured to themammoth juke box in the corner.She flipped through pages and pages of seventies love songs and countryhits until she found something worth listening to. She slid a quarter in theslot and pressed the button for it. The beginning guitar riff started and sheswayed her hips to the beat.She tiptoed back to the booth to the rhythm of the song, making cute littletwirls and feeling light-hearted despite everything. He was smiling at her inappreciation of the song and maybe more than that.“I used to see you everyday; I used to see you everyday… I dance aroundyour folk and soul; I dance to all your fuckin’ soul…”Kristen watched Rob take a piece of paper and a pen out of his pocket.With the cap between his teeth, he began crossing something out andscribbling furiously in its place. Curious, she danced her way over to hisside of the booth. He made room for her without looking up.“What have you got there?” she asked, leaning her head against his upperarm.He smiled at the easy comfort she was displaying and kissed her forehead.It almost felt real.
    • “This is the thing for iTunes I have to turn in,” he said, gesturing to a longlist of songs and explanations behind them. “You know, celebrity playlistsor some shit. Well, I had one of Kings of Leon’s new songs on here butafter that… I have to use Soft.”“Are my dancing skills that epic?”He laughed but didn’t answer. “Now I have to come up with some bullshitresponse as to why I picked this song.”She shook her head, smiling. “What, you don’t think Kristen Stewartshaking her ass is good enough?”He actually put down the pen and paper to look at her. “Kristen Stewartshaking her ass is always good enough.” His eyes twinkled.“Just say that you relate to the lyrics or something like that,” she yawned.He arched an eyebrow. “You know the song is kind of about whiskeydick, right?”“Whiskey dick?” She grinned. “Is that the excuse you gave Nikki?”His mouth gaped. “Kristen!” Then he laughed, slapping his palm on thetable. “I cannot believe you said that. Both insulting your best friend andalluding to our former sex life. What has gotten into you?”She shrugged. “Oh, come on. I had to. You finished?”“Sure. Ready to go?” he asked, drumming his fingers on the table. As if oncue, the waitress waddled over and handed them the check. Rob fishedtwo twenties out of his pocket and told her to keep the change.“Would it be pompous to say for your silence after handing someone a tiplike that?” he wondered as they made their way back to his car.“Yes. Still,” she sighed, grabbing his hand and swinging it, “I wish youwould have.”“For your silence!” he yelled back in the direction of the restaurant.
    • She laughed. “Oh my God, stop!”“Pattinson. Robert Pattinson,” he deadpanned as they reached his car.“Get in the car, agent 69.”“Ooh, dirty girl.”*Sigur Ros sang through the stereo of his car as she climbed into his lap. Hestill tasted of syrup and she licked the mixture of his natural essence andthe sweetness of the sugar off of his lips as he groaned against her mouthunabashedly.When he entered her, she hit her head on the roof of the car as she tried toget leverage. Her knees were uncomfortable and her skin was digging intothe seat belt but she could think of little else. She loved him like this,beneath her and at her mercy. Sure, he was still stronger and bigger andcould plant his feet firmly on the ground and thrust up into her but fornow he let her take the reigns, so she grabbed onto his shoulders andmoved her body up and down to the beat of the song.It was a slow song so it was a slow motion, more sensual than sexual atthat moment. She memorized the glisten of sweat that always started at hishairline and the way it trickled down around his ear and into his beard.She memorized the jump of his jaw whenever she took him in all the wayand she memorized the long nails of his guitar hand and the way theyscratched patterns into her side.Maybe she was being sentimental because she could feel whatever theyhad was drawing to a close. She only hoped he could feel that too, so shewouldn’t have to break his heart again.
    • November 2008Toronto, Canada“Do you think you could remove that from the tape, please? I don’t wantthat aired.” Kristen leveled a stare at the producer, the first definitive thingshe was able to spit out after her incoherent spluttering. Rob’s line ofquestioning became too invasive, too personal so she stuttered outsomething – buddy – and tried to give him a look that said cool it.He ignored it so now she was ignoring him.“Of course, Ms. Stewart,” the producer promised. “We’ll get theuncomfortable parts off the tape immediately.”“Thanks,” she said with a small smile. Then she turned to go, pulling upher strapless plaid dress and yanking at the uncomfortable, heavy Chanelnecklace Michael had given her that morning.She had almost made it to the exit when a pair of rough hands grabbed herand dragged her into a small corner. It wasn’t hard to guess who it was, soshe kicked out and connected her heel with his shin.“Bitch,” he hissed.She shoved him back and he caught her again. She wrenched her armsaway but he was stronger.“Bloody woman, stay still,” he groaned. “Can I please just talk to you fortwo seconds?”“Fuck no!” she hissed, trying to kick at him again.“I didn’t mean to make things hard for you,” he said over her struggles. “Ijust forget sometimes that we’re not actually in a relationship.”That stopped her. “What did you say?”He shrugged, obviously unwilling to repeat it, which was good because thegossiping whore Lainey chose that moment to walk around the corner.
    • “Oh… so sorry,” Lainey said, her eyes running over their predicament.“I’ll just uh… go.” She shot them both a simpering smile and shuffledaway, but not nearly far enough.“You have no idea,” she whispered passionately to him, well aware ofLainey’s eyes on them. “No idea what it’s like to constantly have to treadaround the truth when it comes to you.”He just stared at her and she flushed because he probably had a better ideathan she did.“I’m sorry,” he said bitterly after a moment. “I’ll do my best not toinconvenience you with my broken heart and unrequited love. But maybeyou could do your best not to egg me on, couldn’t you? It kind of sends methe wrong signal when you leave Michael’s bed at night to come climbinto mine.”She flushed again, but this time it was anger. She went to move past him,but he caught her arm with his calloused fingers and she leaned towardshim, like a flower aching for sunlight.“I’m sorry,” he repeated, but his remorse was clear and true.Kristen’s eyes flicked to Lainey’s, who looked away, already typing intoher Blackberry. Kristen sighed and leaned really close into Rob’s face.“You aren’t sorry,” she spat, wrenching her arm away. “’What about herboyfriend?’” She was quoting one of Rob’s recent interviews. “Pfft.” Shewaved her hand like she was flicking away dust.“That was a joke-““It was hilarious. I’m rolling. Seriously. Goodbye.”Her heels clicked against the floor so hard that she could act like she didn’thear Rob’s tortured whisper – her name – follow behind her.*
    • At 2:07 AM, Rob’s phone rang.He knew it was 2:07 because he had been staring at the clock, wishingaway the minutes. He would see her at exactly 5 AM – that was when theywere to board their plane to NYC and he would have a chance to talk toher, to really apologize even though he wasn’t quite sure what he didwrong.He leaned over his night table, unsurprised to see Kristen’s name lightingup the screen. The familiar feeling in his gut twisted his organs as he liftedthe phone off the table and put it to his ear.“Hello?”“Hi.”Even from that one syllable, he knew she was drunk. Kristen Stewart didnot say hi to him that way, all breathless like she had been nervous overwhether or not he’d answer the phone.“It’s late,” he said shortly.“I know you weren’t sleeping,” she whispered.“And how do you know that?”“Last time we got high, you told me that you don’t ever sleep unless I’mnext to you.”He sucked in a sharp breath. “I thought it was an unspoken agreement tonot speak of what we say when we’re not in our right minds.”She gave a little laugh and it echoed from off the walls and into the phone,making her sound far away. “The only time we are in our right minds iswhen we’re inebriated. Which is why I’m drunk and talking to you, notdrunk and fucking Michael.”He was about to overanalyze that when she switched tactics.“What are you wearing?”
    • He immediately glanced down at his dirty white t-shirt and oversizedsweats. He told her and her breath hitched and that was strange becauseshe had seen him in the same t-shirt and sweats dozens of times.“I’m in my underwear,” she informed him. “Just the plain white cottonones. And one of your shirts. I washed it so Michael can’t smell you onme. But I wear it every night.”“Kristen.”“I’m in the bathroom while Michael is asleep on our hotel bed. We hadsex and I didn’t even come because he didn’t feel like you.”“Fuck, Kristen-““I want to.” Her voice was a hoarse whisper. “I want to, but you can’t.You can’t… fuck.”“I can’t fuck?”“No. You make love. Always. You can’t ever just fuck me.”He was speechless. Literally, he opened his mouth several times torespond but all that came out was a squeak or two. He cleared his throatand still he couldn’t make a sound. He almost made a noise but then heheard the click of a disconnection; he held his cell phone out and callended was flashing across his screen.Something was pounding through his veins, something hard andunrelenting and raw. Something was tearing apart the capillaries with itsforce, ripping the tiny vessels to shreds and dripping blood into his soullike a fresh wound against a band aid. His breath ripped from his lungs; hecould barely hold it in his mouth before it seeped out of his nose in harshgasps. His fingers grappled at his chest and he felt his own heartbeatagainst his palm, felt the strong thud against the calluses of his hands.It was anger. Blinding, pulsating, unadulterated, passionate anger thatshredded his resolve and made him feel like he was a being of anotherworld. He was a mild-mannered person but not anymore. He gave herhimself but it wasn’t enough. So he’d give her what she wanted and would
    • show her why she would never want it again. He would humiliate her likeshe humiliated him.Starting now.*Kristen was almost back in bed when there was a loud, sharp knock at thedoor. No, it wasn’t a knock. It was a pound – unrelenting and a littleterrifying. Michael grunted in his sleep and Kristen shushed him with asloppy kiss before she got up to answer it. She knew who it was before sheopened the door.He had obviously taken a few shots because he hadn’t been drunk tenminutes earlier. But now he was at her level, pleasantly inebriated. Shecould see it in his eyes, burning like liquor set ablaze.“Hi,” she said.He breathed in slowly through his nose and leaned against the doorframe.“He asleep?”She barely got a yes out of her mouth before he grabbed her upper arm inone hand and slammed her hotel door shut with the other hand.“You’ll wake him,” she hissed but he didn’t care, because he shoved herbody forcefully against the door. Her head hit it with a loud crack and shewhimpered in protest so he did it again, harder this time.“That’s hurting me,” she told him.“Shut up,” he demanded and grabbed her arm again. He wrenched herdown the hallway and she was reminded of the scene they shot in theforest, with Edward leading Bella up the mountain.“Where are we going?” she asked.“I said shut up!” he nearly yelled, and then pressed her against the wall,stomach first. He formed himself along her back, planting his armsalongside her head and she could feel his erection against the curve of herass. He bit the back of her neck hard, pinching the skin between her teeth.
    • She screeched in protest but she had nowhere to go, because Rob formed acage around her against the wall. So she backed her ass up into hiserection and ground her hips and that lost him for a moment. He hissedand let go of her skin and then backed away completely before grabbingher wrist and all but throwing her along with him.“You’ll be sorry for that,” he promised her as they made their way to theelevator. He pressed the up button; his room was ten stories above hers.The door opened immediately with a ding and he shoved her inside. Assoon as the door closed he was unzipping his pants.“What are you-“He pressed the button to his floor. “Get on your knees.”“Are you-““Get on. Your fucking knees.”So she did, confused and angry and turned the fuck on. By the time shedropped to her knees, his pants were around his ankles and he barely gaveher time to open her mouth before he was shoving his cock beyond her lipsand into her mouth.He touched the back of her throat with the first pump of his hips and shegagged like always.He pulled out. “Sorry, love, I for-““I knew you couldn’t do it,” she hissed at him. “I knew you didn’t have itin you.”His jaw clenched and his eyes burned black under the blue. He forced hiscock back into her mouth and when she gagged this time he gave her alittle pop on the side of her face.“Take it,” he goaded her.She swallowed around her gag reflex which made her throat tightenagainst him. He groaned and shoved his fingers into her hair. It was a
    • gentle caress of her tresses so she ran her teeth against him, not wantinganything tender from him.He shoved her back and pulled up his pants, and she could almost see hispulse throbbing in his neck. The door opened with another ding and hepulled her up by her elbow and nearly dragged her the short way down thehallway to his room. He fiddled with the key card and she reached out andgrabbed his erection through his pants. He thrust into her hand so shecontinued her ministrations, even as they made their way inside in quickdesperation.He kicked the door closed and they stood there in the entryway, looking ateach other while sharing harshly expelled oxygen. Then he moved to her,loping with strange elegance that he didn’t usually posses. He put his handup to her face, hovering it above her cheek and staring into her eyes. Sheknew he was asking permission so still he didn’t get it, still he wouldn’tgive it up and just fuck her.She shoved him away from her and it wasn’t long before they were tearingat each other’s clothes while biting each other’s lips instead of kissing,bruising each other instead of caressing. She bit into his neck and actuallydrew blood and he actually growled, a noise she wouldn’t ever expect torumble from the chest of a docile human being. But he wasn’t dociletonight, not by a long shot.When they were naked she went to lay on her back, subservient to him buthe shook his head like he was displeased. “I want you from behind so Ican’t see your face,” he told her angrily, spinning her over and sheimmediately braced herself for impact.Instead she felt his tongue against her, licking and scraping against hernerves as his hands massaged her hips. He swirled the tip of his tonguearound her clit and she jolted back automatically, forcing his face closerinto her most intimate area.He smacked his hand against her ass, and bit the curve of her cheek.“Don’t do that again,” he warned her. “You better be ready because Iwon’t wait any longer.”“I’m ready,” she told him and then she felt the tip of his cock against her.
    • He usually eased in slowly so they both had time to moan and kiss andsigh in each other’s mouths but he sheathed himself inside of her soquickly she might have missed it if he hadn’t have pushed her face downinto the bed sheets as he did it. But then he thrust again and she couldn’tmiss it because he pushed into her so hard that their skin made a slappingnoise. He scraped his long guitar-hand nails down her back and she knewthere would be welts. His fingers grabbed her hips and she knew she’dhave bruises, five finger-print shaped bruises.“Is this what you wanted?” he whispered in her ear, taunting her as histhrusts became uncontrolled, frantic, rough. They weren’t strokes tonight,they were pounds. They were a means to an end. When she didn’t answer,he tugged on her hair, causing her to immediately arch her back and heslid in deeper. “Answer me.”“Yes,” she bit out, pushing back against his thrusts.“Stop it,” he demanded, thrusting back into her so hard that she scootedforward on the bed. He took advantage of that and climbed onto it,planting a knee next to her left bended one and planting a foot next to herright elbow. He bent forward so his chest was against her back and hisarms were holding up his body, positioned in the crooks of her neck.“Kristen Stewart,” he taunted, “getting fucked to Hell. What would sweetMichael think?”“Shut the fuck up about Michael-“He shoved two of his fingers into her mouth and she gagged, unable tospeak.“You don’t get to tell me what to do,” he told her, his breath becomingmore and more jagged as his frantic thrusts began a random, frenziedpattern. “Are you close?”“Yes,” she told him.He grabbed onto her hips again, settling into a pace she recognized. Shecould always tell when he was about to come and the familiarity started tomake her feel better when he pulled out. She looked behind her and hewas touching himself, jacking off at a frantic pace and she understood – hewasn’t going to let her come.
    • She understood his game and wasn’t offended. She lunged forward andsucked the tip of his cock into her mouth as he continued to rub himself upand down, his fist hitting her mouth with every upward stroke.“I’m coming,” he warned her and she was ready to take it in her mouthand swallow it when he pushed her mouth away and wetness hit her in thecheek and lips before she realized what was going on. She opened hermouth half-heartedly and his last traces of come landed on her tonguebefore he turned away and bent to pick up her clothes.He shoved her panties and shirt in her face. She took them and watchedhim stalk over to his bathroom. She winced at the slam the door made butshe couldn’t move to get dressed. So she sat in the damp sheets with hiscome all over her face, trying to convince herself that she had known whatshe was getting herself in to. He had given her what she taunted him forbut that didn’t help because tears began to slide down her face, mixingwith the salty liquid already on her cheeks.He emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later, shirtless andcomposed. But then he took one look at her crying and he rushed over toher, his face crumpling as he gathered her into his arms.“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Kristen,” he whispered against herhair, rocking her back and forth as she cried into his shoulder.“It’s not your fault,” she sobbed and she knew it wasn’t. She didn’t hatehim, she hated herself because she had done something to this man tomake him so subservient that he would hurt her if she asked him to.“I shouldn’t have, I can’t believe- oh God,” he murmured into her neck,placing sweet kisses along her collarbone. “I love you, I love you, pleaseforgive me.”“There’s nothing to forgive,” she told him as her sobs died down intohiccups. “It’s me, I’m sorry, this is all so fucked-“He picked up a random shirt from the floor and wiped her face clean oftears and come. Then he placed kisses all over it, not short pecks butlingering touches of his lips against her eyes, her nose, her forehead, herlips.
    • She clutched him to her, gasping for air as his kisses trailed along hercollarbones. “I just, I can’t- I couldn’t differentiate between fucking andmaking love before, because you were always so… so… I can see that youlove me in everything you do, and… God, I can’t, I can’t deal with it ifyou don’t love me in everything you do. I see that now. I can’t handle it.Don’t ever stop, please, don’t-““I won’t, I can’t, I’ve tried,” he whispered. “But I can’t stop. Kristen, wehave to talk about this. We can’t keep on with-“She pressed a finger to his lips. “Please, let’s save it. I know we have todiscuss it but all I want to do right now is lay next to you and have youshow me your love. And let myself show you mine.”“Show your what?” he asked carefully.She breathed in heavily, breathed out heavier. “My love,” she whispered.“My love.”And it could have been a declaration or a term of endearment because shekept repeating it as she pressed her naked body against his, as she trailedkisses over his chest, as she brushed her lips against his eyelashes.My love.And maybe I’m too young to keep good love from going wrongBut tonight you’re on my mind so you never knowWhen I’m broken down and hungry for your love with no way to feed itWhere are you tonight, child, you know how much I need itToo young to hold on and too old to just break free and runSometimes a man gets carried away, when he feels like he should be having his funAnd much too blind to see the damage he’s doneSometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no one- Jeff Buckley
    • November 17, 2008L.A. Premiere“You look beautiful.”Kristen whirled around, her hand at her neck as she struggled to connectthe back of her necklace. She smiled at Nikki, who was standing beforeher. She looked lovely in a dress of white bathed in grey flowers,something that Kristen felt she herself couldn’t pull off without effort. Butit draped on Nikki elegantly, accentuating the nervous smile on herfriend’s face.“Thanks,” Kristen grinned shyly, smoothing the red skirt of her dress.“Have you seen Michael?”Nikki shook her head and walked further into the bathroom, whereKristen was performing last minute preparations on her makeup. “He’sflailing around somewhere. You know how he gets when he has to be seendressed in something other than a t-shirt.”Kristen laughed. “I know how he feels.” She ran her hands through herup-do and was about to ask Nikki a question when Nikki volunteered theanswer.“I haven’t heard from Rob, either.”Kristen ducked her head down and became extremely interested in thechain around her neck. Rob’s name hovered between them like a spiritthat never departed.“I, uh, well…, I’m sure he’s just as nervous. So… I’ll just…” Kristenturned on her heel, ready to be out of that conversation before a soft handon her shoulder stopped her.“We haven’t talked in a really long time, Stew. I mean, really talked.”Kristen breathed out. “Yeah. I know. Life has just been… crazy.”
    • Nikki waved her hand. “Please, let’s not do the whole I-should’ve-calledfriendship bullshit. I know it’s because of him. And that’s okay.”Kristen twisted away from Nikki’s line of vision. She hadn’t seen Robsince the night in Toronto – granted, that had only been two nights agobut after such a night, she felt like she needed some time to see him innormalcy before being thrust out into the world of cameras and watchingeyes. She knew that the love she felt for him – she swallowed around thatword, love – would be shining in her pupils and that terrified her. Notbecause Michael would be there, not because Nikki would be there, butbecause thousands of random people would be there and it would all beexposed, all of her hard work trying to hide it. It would be ruined.“Are you still…?” Kristen asked Nikki, her question trailing off becauseshe couldn’t bear to utter the words in love with him.Nikki gave a funny little laugh that sounded too tinkling, too strained,even to Kristen’s tired ears. “Oh, yeah,” she said casually, waving herhand. “I mean, it doesn’t just go away.” Nikki took a step closer to Kristenand touched her shoulder again. “To be honest, it’s getting easier for meevery day. I’m going out with friends, with guys. It’s you I feel sorry for.”Kristen looked up at Nikki, surprised. Her friend didn’t sound sarcastic oreven the least bit bitter, so she inquired why.“Because he loves you back,” Nikki whispered. “And to bear thatburden… to take that on your tiny shoulders? Kristen, you are a strongerand a stupider woman than I could ever be.”Kristen chose not to comment. “Well, we’ll be together for the Hot Topicthing soon. Like, tomorrow? The next day? God, I don’t even know. ButI’m glad it’s you.”Nikki smiled. “I’m glad it’s you, too.”*“You look beautiful.”
    • Kristen dropped her clutch to the floor, the masculine voice startling herfrom her reverie. Her shoulders immediately relaxed upon hearing hisvoice and she had a smile on her face when she turned around.“So do you,” she said honestly, reaching her hand out to him.He took it gratefully, and then dropped a kiss on her lips. She reached herface up for another, and he immediately responded. She put her handsagainst his cheeks and smiled against his mouth, and when his kiss turnedinsistent, her nails clawed into his face and she had to back away.“Michael,” she gasped. “It took me three hours to get this ready and I’ll bevery pissed at you if you ruin me.”“Kristen,” he teased back. “You are unruinable. That’s not even a word.But you are. You’re beautiful.”“That’s what I was just telling her,” Nikki said from behind Kristen. “Butyou know how she is. Stubborn and unrelenting. Shall we?”So Kristen joined hands with her boyfriend and her best friend and letthem lead the way.*She didn’t see him at first, but she was surprised she could see anythingwith all of the popping bulbs in her eyes. She smoothed her hair back fromher face and turned half-smiles to all of the cameras, all the whilesearching for that familiar face in the crowd so she could artfully ignorehim until the time was nigh.The screams were of Hell itself, shrill cries of pre-pubescent teenagers, allclamouring for the man she had seen naked not even two days ago. Theydidn’t really care about her and she knew that and usually it didn’t botherher, but it did tonight because this was her movie. She created Rob, shegave him his chance because without her, Catherine would have gone witha better looking one and she knew that. Kristen often wondered whatwould have happened to Twilight without Rob – sure, she probably wouldhave still made an okay movie but would there be this mania?
    • Deafening shrieks pierced her ears and she turned on the spot and there hewas, with a strange matted-down hair-do and an all black ensemble and hewas looking directly at her with a strange, glittering, dangerous smile onhis face.His progression to her was stopped as he was intercepted by journalists soshe moved to join him, braving the cameras and microphones just to beclose to him. She gave him a touch on the small of his back when sheapproached and he, instead of stiffening, perceptibly relaxed under hercaress.“Kristen, how was it kissing Robert?”“Oh, so good.”They made their way down the line of microphones, each answeringspecified questions, leaning close to the journalist to hear the question overthe dog-whistle pitch screams. They never left each other’s side unless itwas at all necessary.“What’s up with your hair?” she asked him as they made their way downa stretch of carpet to more fans awaiting autographs.“I tried to tame it by putting all of this ridiculous goop in it, but it didn’twork and I ran out of time,” he explained casually, like he had shown upto the gym looking that way, not the premiere of his first starring-roleblockbuster.She laughed and he looked down with a smile, his tongue between histeeth as a flashbulb popped.“Robert! Kristen! More pictures, please! Stay where you are!”They both sighed and smiled, looking at each other to laugh when theother realized their motions had been mimicked.“Have you seen Nikki?” he asked her as they stood there, clinging to eachother’s waists.“Yeah, I came with her and Michael. Why?”
    • “We’re not getting along very well,” he answered quietly, so quietly thatshe almost didn’t hear him. “We got in a huge fight the other day. Sheseems to think I’m taking advantage of you.”“Shush,” Kristen warned, looking around at the thousands ofmicrophones.“And she threatened to tell Michael,” he finished like he didn’t hear her.Kristen’s insides went cold. “How could she do that?”“I don’t think she actually will, but I guess we have lasted longer than sheever thought possible and it’s starting to irk her, or hurt her too much, I’mnot sure. I’ve always admired her resiliency but I suppose everyone has abreaking point.”“She, she can’t tell Michael!” Kristen hissed as they broke apart to walkdown to the other cast members, waiting for them to take a group photo.He shrugged and looked down at her. “She could, actually. Would that beso terrible?”“Yes!” she hissed. “Of course it would! Rob, I love him and I don’t wantto hurt him.”“And where does that leave me?” he demanded. “Or is the love you claimto have for me just a walloping pile of bullshit?”“I-“ She glanced around. “We’re not having this conversation here.”“Maybe you’re right,” he said in a low voice, meeting her eyes and drillingholes into her with his. “But we will be having it. Soon.” With that, hewalked ahead of her to meet their cast, already laughing and jovial atsomething Peter said to him.Kristen turned on her heel and smoothed out the worry lines around hereyes. She wasn’t an actress for nothing.*
    • She sat in the dark theater, grasping Michael’s hand tighter than she had inmonths. If he were to find out about her discretion in the upcoming days,she wanted him to feel how much she loved him and appreciated him intheir last moments. She had to put a stopper to the tears; she had toconcentrate on something besides the gurgling in her stomach.Robert Pattinson was a dangerous creature, and she had forgotten that.She had forgotten the early days of shooting and how he had alwaystempted her but relented, always wanted her but never went for it. It hadbeen her to initiate their first moments of secret passion – she rememberedhow she had had said it’s my birthday in the middle of that dance studioas they practiced the prom scene, and how she had acted like she wasBella so he would lay a kiss upon her. And he had and so she had started itall, she had encouraged whatever he had felt for her then and she hadallowed it to grow and catapult into love.And now she couldn’t fix anything, she couldn’t relent, she couldn’t backaway from the situation without breaking someone’s heart. Whose heartwould she break? The man she had been carrying on an affair with for sixmonths whom she cherished more than her most prized possession, or theman she had given all of her firsts to and whom she still loved despite herselfishness?When did her life become so complicated? The answer was easy – the dayRobert Pattinson stepped into Catherine’s house, looking exhausted andhomeless and smelling of cigarettes and dirty sex. He certainly hadn’t beenthe best looking or the most charismatic but he had the most going onbehind his eyes so she had given him the thumbs up and it was too late forthe thumbs down.He had changed her life. And she loved him and hated him for it.“You’re amazing,” Michael whispered in her ear at that moment, givingher hand a sharp squeeze.She smiled and kissed his temple, already knowing whose heart she wouldsave when it came down to the moment she had to choose. She felt asqueeze on her other hand and Nikki was smiling down at her, knowingthe same.
    • “Can we talk soon?” Kristen whispered into her ear, ignoring the whoo!rushing through the theater at that moment – the kiss scene was playingout on the screen and Kristen refused to watch it.“Anytime you want, Stew,” Nikki answered with a smile. “I checked theschedule and it’s tomorrow we do the Hot Topic thing. However…,” sheleaned around Kristen to address Michael. “Hey, let’s the three of us goout and celebrate, yeah? Actually, no. Let’s invite Jackson and Ashley andKellan, too. Too bad Taylor is too young for any legit fun, he’s a coolkid…”Kristen leaned back into her chair and listened as they formed plans fortonight. It was obvious who wasn’t invited.*Kristen made her way down the small hallway, her dress flung over herarm, and adjusted her much more comfortable shirt and jeans. Nikki andMichael and nearly all of the rest of the cast were waiting for her in orderto leave – they were going to hunt down a small pub and relax like oldtimes.The image of a drunken Rob singing his heart out in the midst of a mistycity imprinted itself in her mind and she knew that no matter how manypubs they found, it would never be like old times without his soulful voicespilling out of her pores.“Hey!”Kristen stopped, the speaking voice of the singer she was thinking ofresounding behind her. Her back stiffened and then she turned around,watching Rob run up to her. He was still in his premiere clothes butluckily his hair had relaxed a bit and was flopping over his forehead andinto his eyes. He ran his hands through it and she watched the tendons inhis strong fingers pop out and whiten his skin.“Hi,” she said shortly, awkwardly. She had lain naked next to him noteven two nights before and still she felt awkward, unsure whenever theywere confronted with a difficult situation like the one she was about topresent.
    • “Listen, I’ve been looking for you everywhere. You’re excellent athiding.” He grinned shyly down at her and it made her heart speed up,and she knew that no matter how long she searched she would never finda man as beautiful as he. He took a small bag of green substance out of hispocket and shook it temptingly in her face. “I searched far and wide forthe best cannabis in California for this occasion.”“What occasion?” she asked, her voice flat and monotone, trying to deterhim even though she knew what he was talking about.He scrunched his eyebrows together. “After every gigantic event, you andI sneak off to act like hoodlums. You know. Comic-con. The Vanity Fairshoot. The VMA’s. More than that, even. I just can’t think of them all. It’sa bit of a tradition, right?”She crossed her arms over her chest, hating herself. “Tradition? I wouldn’tcall it a tradition.”“You wouldn’t? What would you call it?”“A convenience. A distraction. Michael and I had either been fighting orhe was out of town every time we did that. I mean, thanks for the free potand all, and you’re good company, I guess, but…” She shrugged,watching the light leave his eyes. “Not a tradition.”“You told me that we were best friends.”“You told me that you respected me. Obviously that isn’t the case,considering you’ve found it acceptable to have sex with a taken woman.”“Don’t you bloody act like I’m the truly guilty party…”“I’m young and naïve and you’ve taken advantage of me, Rob. I thoughtthis is what you wanted to talk about? Here it is: I can’t play like thisanymore. It was fun while it lasted, but…” She shrugged again. “It’sfleeting. Like a flash in the pan. Like a shooting star.”He shook his head at her, his nostrils flaring and his jaw clenched. “Theonly difference is that you were always the brightest star in my sky. Excuseme.” He shoved past her, knocking his shoulder into hers.
    • She fell against the wall, holding her chest, knowing that her heart wasbreaking inside it.*“You look like total shit.”Kristen’s head snapped up and she smiled benignly at Nikki, who wasmaking her way through the small coffee shop towards her. The streetsoutside were filling up with people ready to accept their autographs andKristen could barely hold herself together. She shrugged out of her red andblue striped shirt – she was sweating inside the tiny shop and felt like shecould hardly breathe.“I feel like it,” Kristen admitted. She put her face in her hands as Nikkireached her.“I haven’t seen you look so pale and down in… well, never.” Nikki put ahand on her arm. “When I got home last night, Rob was passed out on thefloor in a puddle of liquor. Would you perhaps know why?”Kristen’s mouth snapped open and just as quickly she snapped it closed. “Icut it off with him. I broke his heart.”Nikki drew in a sharp breath, obviously not expecting that answer.“Couldn’t you have waited until all of this promotional Twilight shit isover? You two have a lot riding on your public appearances. I thought Iwas going to have to call an ambulance for him.”Kristen closed her eyes and tried to get that mental picture out of hermind. “I couldn’t wait any longer, Nikki. He was beginning to expectthings that I couldn’t give him, things that I should only be givingMichael. I’ve been so detached from the real world, so unaware and socallous of things that are truly happening. It’s like I’ve existed in my ownlittle dream state and I’m afraid that in my dreams is the only place Roband I can work out. Back in reality, I’ve been with the same man for threeyears and he has my everything and I have his.”“Sweetheart-“
    • “It’s like I’ve had two separate realities. But really, there’s only one.There’s only here and now, which is what I’ve told myself all along – howI’ve been able to justify being with two men at the same time. Just goingwith the flow. But Nikki, I’ve had it all wrong. Here and now effects thereand later. Living in the moment with Rob has fucked up a future withMichael. I could have married him. I resented him because he was sojealous but fuck, I gave him a reason. I’m a hypocrite, the biggest fuckinghypocrite who has ever lived.”“Kristen-““And so whose heart do I save? Because I can’t save my own, I know thatnow. My heart is broken, just thinking about giving up either of them. Ilove Michael because he has my whole life, my whole past wrapped upinside of him and I love Rob because he gives me parts of myself that Inever knew that I wanted until he handed them to me. And so who do Ichoose? It’s not a question, I know it’s not. I have to choose Michael. Robneeds to be able to see who all is out there for him. I ruined your chanceswith him, and how you can stand to look at me I’ll never understand, but Itruly love you, Nikki, because you’re unselfish in a way that I could neverbe.”Nikki held up her hands. “Kristen. I love you because of who you are, notwho you’ve had sex with. Okay? I don’t agree with your choices and yeah,you’ve made love with the man that I’m stupid in love with and thatmakes me so jealous it hurts, but it’s not your fault that he doesn’t wantme. And as much as you say your mind is made up…” Nikki pushed herhair back from her face. “I can say this because I’ve known Michael foryears. He’s your safe place. Your comfort. Your rock. But if it was me…God, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if it was me I’d want to bethrashed around against the sea. I’d want someone to push my limits, andinstead of complimenting me, I’d want someone to complete me. So just…think about it. Okay?”“I think it’s too late,” Kristen told her. “I’ve already broken his heart.”Nikki actually laughed. “Stew, you’ve been breaking his heart from dayone. Go to him if that’s what you want. Stay with Michael if that’s whatyou want. But make sure it’s your decision. You have Europe with him todecide, right? I know Michael’s coming, but… Europe has plenty ofdistractions to offer him. I’m sure he’ll sight see or something during the
    • promotional part. So you and Rob can truly be alone and talk about whathappens next. Because like you said, you can’t do the here and now thinganymore.”“Kristen?”The bells of the door tinkled and Michael poked his head around thecorner. “Oh, hey Nik. Listen, they’re calling for you out here. I think it’stime to begin.”Kristen and Nikki stood up at the same time and Nikki reached for thesmaller girl’s hand. “Don’t worry baby, don’t worry baby, don’t worrybaby. Everything will turn out all right.”Kristen smiled up at Nikki and squeezed her hand, thankful for the BillyJoel lyrics that brought her down to earth. Then she let go of Nikki andwent to Michael, who was standing on the stoop. She shrugged her redand blue striped shirt back on and leaned up on her tip toes to kiss him.“I love you,” he whispered against her lips. “I’m so proud of you.”Just before Nikki and she joined hands again to take the stage to presentParamore, her phone buzzed in her pocket. She whipped it open, herunder arms prickling with sweat when she saw it was a text from Rob.“Brief were my days among you, and briefer still the words I have spoken.But should my voice fade in your ears, and my love vanish in yourmemory, then I will come again, and with a richer heart and lips moreyielding to the spirit will I speak.”December 2008London, EnglandShe kept telling herself that she had no business being where she was, butthat didn’t deter her in the slightest. She hugged her arms to her chest andthen rang the bell once more, her breath coming out in white puffs.The London evening was bitter cold and she had only arrived twelve hoursago. Kristen had left Michael sleeping in their hotel room, and she had
    • taken off on an adventure to locate the house of the man she hadn’tspoken to without the premise of Twilight for over two weeks. TheLondon premiere would be the following night, and she wanted to be onsome sort of speaking terms with him, if anything to respect Catherine andall of the others who put so much time and effort into the movie. Shecould give them a good premiere.She had to.She sighed, turning on her heel to walk back down the steps when thedoor cracked open. Kristen turned back around in a flash and wasconfronted with a confused looking Claire Pattinson, wiping her hands ona dish towel.“Mrs. Pattinson,” Kristen started. “I’m sorry, do you remember me?I’m…”“You’re Kristen,” Mrs. Pattinson beamed. “I’m so glad you’re here, love.Rob’s been all of a dither ever since he got in a few hours ago and he needssome cheering up. We’re about to eat supper, won’t you come in?”“Oh, no, I just-““Mum? Who’s there? I told you to quit opening the door for randompeople.”Kristen heard the tired voice that accompanied the shuffling, awkwardfootsteps and she wondered if it would be too terribly rude to take offrunning. She didn’t have long to consider before a very weary looking mancracked the door all the way and took a good look at her before slammingthe door in her face.Kristen blinked at the closed door, tears automatically springing to hereyes. Damn her every emotion being incased in tears, but howembarrassing-The door opened again just in time for Kristen to hear Claire Pattinsonusing very unladylike words to describe her son in a booming screech.Then she turned a sweet smile to Kristen. “I’m so sorry for his manners,like I said, he’s been very out of it. Come in, dear, you’re nearly blue withcold.”
    • “Oh, I don’t think so-““Get in here, Kristen.” A very hard male voice said behind the doorsomewhere, so she followed it without thinking, like a dog answers to itsmaster’s whistle.“Can I take your coat, love?”“Oh, um-“ Before she said yes, Mrs. Pattinson’s soft hands were workingher coat off her arms and Kristen wiggled around to accommodate. Theyactually had a coat rack, which was adorable and she smiled beforeturning around and facing Rob, who was sitting at the base of the stairs,looking very young and very sullen.There was an awkward silence in which Kristen stared at Rob, Rob staredat the floor and Mrs. Pattinson stared at both of them seemingly at a lossfor words.“Well, I’ll just leave you two to it, then,” she said in a chipper voice andbustled off down the hall.“What are you doing here?” Rob asked her then, touching his forehead tohis knees.She had no idea. “I just thought maybe we could talk, and I could see howyou’re doing, you know…”She heard his muffled laugh. “I’ve been better,” he said, raising his headand staring into her eyes with his dead ones.She sighed, running a hand through her hair. “Yeah, me too.”Rob was about to respond when his mom’s voice trailed down thehallway, informing them it was time to eat.Kristen shifted uncomfortably. “Maybe I should go.”He shook his head. “No.”
    • “Rob, I didn’t ask for this – you must know that. I wasn’t trying to impedeupon your family, on your domestic setting you’ve got here. I only wantedto see you, talk to you before the premiere, maybe get some thingsstraight…”He stood up and she marveled at how tall he was. She hadn’t noticed him– really noticed him – in weeks.“Yeah, I know you didn’t come here to barge in on my family,” he saidand she thought he was being understanding until he added, “I wouldn’twant to see them if I were you, either.”She furrowed her brow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”He snorted. “I just don’t understand how you could even look at them,knowing what you’ve done.”She crossed her arms over her chest. “And what exactly have I done?”“Broken their son’s heart,” he hissed.She was about to retort when Mrs. Pattinson tolled a children! from thekitchen. Rob made a mocking bow, pointing Kristen in the direction of thekitchen so she went, ducking her head to keep the tears from falling.The Pattinson’s kitchen was good sized, all wood and very homey. Itsmelled of marinara and garlic, and Kristen’s stomach rumbled – shehadn’t eaten in… oh God, who knew?“Smells good,” Kristen said appreciatively, making Rob’s mom smile.“Spaghetti Bolognese,” she responded. “Is that okay?”“Sounds great,” Kristen said quickly, because it truly did.“Haven’t you been eating?” Rob barked at her. Before she had time toanswer, he directed a question to his mom. “Where’s dad?”“Out with his mates, as I told you earlier when you asked. Weren’t youlistening?”
    • “No,” he said shortly, sitting down at the table.Mrs. Pattinson gave Kristen a meaningful look. Kristen shrugged back.Mrs. Pattinson made a face that clearly, exasperatedly said men. Kristenmarveled that she already had a silent communication line going withRob’s mom.“Stop talking about me as if I’m not here,” Rob complained.“Then start acting like you’re a participating life member,” Mrs. Pattinsontold him. “Kristen, love, do sit down.”“Can I… help you with anything?”“No, no. Just sit.”Choosing a seat at a new table was always daunting. She didn’t want to sitnext to Rob for obvious reasons, but she didn’t want to sit in a seat thatmight have been Mrs. Pattinson’s designated seat, nor sit in Mr.Pattinson’s seat in case he arrived home and had to be inconvenienced byher. No one liked giving up their seat for a stranger.Rob solved it by pulling out the chair next to him. Kristen sat.Dinner was long and awkward, with Rob making random snipes and Mrs.Pattinson being lovely and sweet and Kristen feeling like she would bespontaneously combusting anytime. When their plates were finally clearedand Rob’s mom denied needing help with the dishes, Rob motioned forKristen to follow him.She did without comment, trailing him up the flight of stairs and into hischildhood bedroom. He closed the door behind him and then fell onto thebed. He closed his eyes and she looked around at all his posters and hisbelongings and his untidiness.“Talk,” he demanded suddenly, rolling over onto his stomach so shecouldn’t see him at all. She didn’t know if it was because he was protectingher or himself.“Can I sit?” she asked awkwardly, looking around for a safe surface. Hemoved his legs over and she assumed he was making a spot for her on the
    • bed. She sat and he didn’t protest, so she folded her fingers in her lap andtried to spit out what she had planned to say.“I chose Michael,” she finally blurted and he visibly recoiled – he scootedso far away from her he was nearly off the edge.“Did you really come all this way to twist the knife – ““No, let me finish – ““I think you’ve said enough, Kristen – ““I said chose Michael. Past tense. Now, I’m not… I’m not so sure.”He whirled around and in a graceful movement unlike him, he liftedhimself up into a sitting position on his whirl. “Oh, so you came here totell me that you’re not sure? Don’t you see that’s even worse? You can’tjust let me get over it in peace, you have to waltz back in here and tell methat you might have changed your mind. You know, it hurts like hell butat least I knew one way or another. At least I was sure of something – youdidn’t want me. Okay. It’s fucked up but that knowledge is easier thanknowing that you’re not sure who you want. I didn’t have to wonder iftoday maybe I’d tip the scales in my favor. You know?”“I didn’t expect to fall in love with you.”That stopped his tirade. “Then why did you start the affair? It was on yourterms, remember? What, was Michael not doing the job for you so youneeded someone else to fill your holes?”“Rob – “ she hissed, offended.“The only reason I agreed to being your – your mistress was because of thelove I had for you. Because you offered yourself to me and I have nobloody self control, especially when it comes to you. I thought – I thought,I’m an idiot, but I thought you wanted me, me as Robert, not as… as aphallic symbol. And now, I mean, okay, you’re in love with me – so yousay – but so what? I mean…” He was losing control, tugging at his hairand making it stand on in. “I mean, so what? Do you not realize that Inever would have started this… this affair with you if I had known youwouldn’t pick me in the end?”
    • “That’s a terrible thing to say,” she whispered.“Is it? To tell you that I love you and want an actual relationship withyou? But now, I don’t know if I can. I think it’s all ruined, and I don’tknow if I have the capacity to ever be in a normal relationship with you,because I was so bloody insistent to have you right then, instead of justwaiting in the wings for you to sort out your own problems… becauseKristen, I really do think you would have come to me, I really do thinkyou would have broken up with him on your own. You’re not happy,obviously. But I think our affair has given you a reason to cling on, to keepon – because you feel guilty, like you owe him something. You owe himsomething for falling in love with another man, instead of just lettingyourself be happy. And now, I don’t know if we can ever be happy. I’vebeen so… so… tunnel vision about this whole thing, just thinking KristenKristen Kristen without seeing the bigger picture. We’re adulterers, we’recheaters, we’re liars. There’s nothing pretty about this, and now we’re allgoing to end up worse off than if we had just… let it alone.”Kristen turned her face away, trying to hide the tears that had finallybroken free. “You sound so resigned,” she said quietly, her voice thickwith saline.“I’ve had a long time to think about all this. Kristen, I want you. All ofyou. You have to be willing to give me that or I can’t take it. I can’t besecond best anymore – no, I can’t be competing anymore, period. I haveto be yours and your only one. If we got to together… you and I bothknow there would be trust issues at first - Hell, there would be a lot ofissues. But I want you. I don’t care. I’d be willing to work throughanything, go to therapy for God’s sake – if only you would tell me thatyou want me just the same. I know you can’t tell me that… and thatbreaks me.”She crawled across the bed on her knees to him and he opened his arms,like she knew he would. “I do want you,” she begged against his chest, notknowing exactly what she was fighting for. “Everything has just gotten sofucked up.”He smoothed hair away from her face and gave her chaste kiss on the lips.“It’s up to you to fix it. Kristen, I can’t be that guy anymore. I can’t beyour go-to. You’re so strong, so smart, and I think you’ve forgotten it
    • because you’ve had crutches to fall back on. You haven’t given yourselftime to think, what do I want? Who am I willing to hurt?”“I told Michael,” she whispered.He stilled. “What?”“I told him everything. Well, not everything. But enough.”A cloudy, muggy night – unusual in the Los Angeles valley. Her handswouldn’t stop fidgeting in her lap. Michael reached over to soothe them.“I slept with Rob.”His hands stilled in her lap. “Not now, Kristen.”“What?”“I want to see Europe.”“…What?”“You didn’t think I knew? Kristen, I love you. I’ve had indiscretions in thepast, too. You know that. And honestly, you have continued to choose meover whatever spell Rob thinks he has over you. That says enough. I wantthis relationship to last long enough for me to see Europe. Then, if youchoose him – then do it. But I don’t want details. I don’t want to knowhow much you looooooove him. Just… leave.”A pause. She could hear the last birds in the distance, settling down for thenight.“Okay.”Rob stared at her, dumbfounded. “That’s it?”She laughed bitterly. “Yeah.”“Hmmm.” During her story, Rob had picked up his guitar and wasstrumming it tunelessly. Then she heard the catch of a tune, and his voicefloated between them.
    • “I wish you freedom, I wish you peace… I wish you nights of stars thatbeckon you to sleep… I wish you heartache that leaves you more of aman… I wish I could be there, but I can’t.”Kristen put her head between her knees and listened to his song tell hergoodbye.“I wish you places that sit so still, where people never ever change andnever ever will. I wish I could hold you and make you understand… Iwish I could be there, but I can’t.”She reached over and touched his denim-covered knee with the back of herhand, letting his warmth seep through to her skin, like her tears wereseeping through her jeans.“There are rhymes and there are reasons and times when nothing stayedthe same. But you know my love still remains.”She grabbed at the loose denim on his calf, wordlessly begging him tostop.“I wish you wisdom, I wish you years… I wish you armies to conquer allyour fears. I wish you courage for all that life demands… I wish I could bethere, but I can’t.”She expelled a long, shaking breath and waited for the last part of the song– the part she knew would kill her.“I wish we were together, I wish I was home. I wish there were nightswhere I was never alone. I know I’ve said it, but I’ll say it once again… Iwish I could be there, but I can’t.”He continued to wordlessly strum the tune for minutes afterward, as he lether regain composure. He didn’t comfort her, obviously too ridden withhis own grief to be much help.“We’ve got Europe,” he said finally, another song beginning against hisfingers. “We’ve got Europe to be together, and after that… I can’t be withyou if you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to be sure.”
    • “I don’t know how long that will take,” she whispered, licking the salt offher lips.He didn’t answer her. Instead, he began to hum – a high, almost off-keyhum that she hadn’t heard in person but knew well from the CD she hadworn to the bone.She ducked her head into his lap as his voice picked up.“Mmm, you’ll be my queen, no no… I’ll be your king. And I’ll be yourlover too…”*December 4, 2008London PremiereShe was numb to the flashing lights. She barely saw them as they poppedin front of her eyes. She was freezing cold, her short black dress doingnothing to shield her from the frigid temperature and sharp wind. Shehadn’t done a thing to her hair, she was dressed slightly better than ahooker and she was being photographed for all the world to see but shecould hardly care.Her life was finally falling apart and all she had to cling on to in times ofadversity was letting her go.But not tonight, she reminded herself. There was still Munich, still Paris.Still time to show him how much he meant to her, despite everything –and he seemed agreeable to letting her love him and loving her in return,because he curved his fingers around her waist just then, in a way that wasplainly more than platonic.But she didn’t care. She put her hand on his back, thinking of the bare skinthere she would see tonight. Even if she had to tie him down and strip himherself. He had fought it last night, saying that crying was no way to get ahard on and she had half-heartedly laughed and shot some sort of tear-snotcombination out of her nose. He took one look at her and said that if heeven had a boner then, it would be gone now.
    • She had laughed. It had been funny. But the rejection was clear in hisvoice. He was drawing himself away slowly, letting her get used to theidea of him not being around for her whenever she wanted him. She feltlike he was going the wrong way about it. She wanted to use him until shewas tired of him and couldn’t stand to have anymore.But no, he had to be devastating about it.“Are you even here, sweetheart?” he whispered in her ear, his hot breathmaking her shiver against the chill of the air.“No,” she whispered back and he clutched her tighter to him, his hipbonefitting in perfectly against the curve of her waist.“Be here now,” he told her.She looked forward into the cameras with effort. She’d do anything forhim now.*They disappeared from the festivities as usual. They lay against Rob’s dirtychildhood bed and he tried to teach her how to make smoke rings. Butthey were smoking pot and she was getting too fuzzy to follow directions.“It’s like this,” he insisted and pursed his lips.She thought he looked like a dying fish. She snorted and then died oflaughter, rolling over onto her side and burying her face into his chest tomuffle her giggles.“You silly girl,” he chastised, but brought his arm up around her shoulderand drew her closer to him.All was silent. There was no noise save for their breathing, for clouds ofsmoke being expelled. It was the most peace she had felt in months. Itreminded her of the easy days back in Portland, when they had been socarefree and silly, so careless and clueless, and yet they always had eachother to lean on. He had always been her best friend – she hadn’t used thatword in awhile but it was true – and now it was over.
    • “Do you remember when you poured that can of water colors on myhead?” she whispered, trailing her fingers over the thin cotton of hisundershirt.He laughed. “I can’t even remember why.”“Because I wouldn’t agree to marry you.” She wondered if that wouldturn him sour but his grin turned wider.“Rude of you,” he commented. “There I was, sticking my neck out atevery turn and you continued to deny me.”“There’s something to be said about persistence,” she answered lightly.“Hmmm.” He threaded their fingers together and laid them on hisstomach. “Do you remember teaching me how to drive?”“God, how could I forget? It took all day.”“It did not.”“Yes, it did, because you wouldn’t stop staring at my legs.”“You do have beautiful legs.”“Exactly.”They spent the rest of the night bantering back and forth about theirmemories (“You pinched my thigh so hard at Comic-con it left a bruise!”)before Rob finally dozed off nestled between her neck and shoulder. Shestared up at the ceiling, running her fingers through his sticky hair andhumming tunelessly. He rolled away from her eventually, finding his ownspot on the bed to sleep on so she stood and stretched, not at all tired.She roamed his small room, picking up books – she giggled at the dog-eared copy of Twilight on his desk – opening journals exposing illegiblehandwriting, throwing away trash that littered the floor. She eventuallymade her way to his closet, opening the double doors.
    • She wrinkled her noise at the musty smell, and then reached for the chainthat was connected to the small light. She tugged on it and then nearly losther balance when she saw what was hanging inside of it.Facing out, in a clear plastic bag, was the Chanel dress she wore at theVanity Fair shoot.She didn’t sleep that night.December 6, 2008Munich, GermanyThe car ride was painful and silent. Kristen fidgeted endlessly, crossingand uncrossing her legs; the squeak of the leather against her bare thighswas the only noise. She lifted the top of her dress up over her chestunnecessarily, the cream colored fabric making her look just as pale andworn out as she truly was.So much for being a good actor.Rob, on the other hand, was the picture of calm. He sat next to hercomfortably, his eyes closed and his head resting against the seat. Hisbrown leather jacket lay next to him, ready to cover him from the harshGerman weather.She didn’t have a coat with her because she had wanted to draw Rob’sattention to her skin but that was incredibly hard to do when he wouldn’teven look at her. She sighed loudly and she swore she saw the tips of hismouth turn up into a smile. He was doing this on purpose.So she straddled him.He had not been expecting that.His hands went to her hips like he was on autopilot, even though his eyesconveyed his disapproval.“You won’t kiss me. You won’t touch me. You won’t even look at me.You promised me we’d have this European tour and you lied.”
    • “We do have this tour,” he argued. “We’re together and we’refunctioning.”“You call this functioning?” She let doubt color her voice.He raised an eyebrow at her. “I don’t necessarily call what has happenedbetween us for the past nine months as functioning either, so maybe myopinion isn’t the best option right now. However,” he shifted her until herbutt fell onto the seat next to him. “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t dothat.”“Do what? Try to be close to you?”He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the seat once more.She was whining and she knew it. It had been a difficult past couple daystogether – he had all but told her that he didn’t much trust her anymore,regardless of the fact she showed up at his house, freezing her ass off justto see him. Regardless of the fact he let her sleep in his arms for the twonights they were in London, swathed in his worn sheets. Regardless of…that dress.She sighed loudly when she thought of it, the black ruffles that wereunmistakable. What was he doing with it? Why did he have it? When didhe buy it? So many unanswered questions – she had been so close toshaking him awake and demanding an answer when she closed the closetdoor and decided that for once, she would let him come around on hisown time. Tell her the meaning when he felt good and ready.It was the least she could do.The car drew to a stop and she could hear muffled screams coming fromoutside the car. She shifted her dress back down; it had ridden up to hermid-thighs during her failed seduction.“Ready?” she asked him with bravado.He didn’t respond and used the opposite door to exit the car.*
    • She didn’t want to see the pictures from that event because she knew thatthe journalists probably caught every lingering stare that she had trailedacross his face. He was so in control of himself now, no longer the sweet,vulnerable, bumbling man she had met a year ago in Catherine’s livingroom. He was strong and modest, content in his own skin and able toresist her, able to tell her no.Every look she cast at his face, she wished for him to look down and batheher with the same light that he had shown to her during the LA Premiere,during every event before that. But he wouldn’t. The LA premiere hadchanged it all – what she had said to him backstage had finally crushedhim, had finally taken him out, had finally been the proverbial strawbreaking the camel’s back. She knew that whatever love he still felt for herwas now locked deep inside him, so deep that it wouldn’t leak out of hiseyes or smile or lingering touch on her waist.So she marched on.*December 8, 2008Paris, FranceAll was quiet as Kristen perched herself on the end of Rob’s bed – allexcept the heartbeat racing in her ears. She was going to be in so muchtrouble, he was going to be so angry but hopefully, maybe a little bit ofhim would understand. Maybe a little bit of the man she fell in love withwould return to her, on this last night of their time together.She swallowed hard – their last night together.It was like it had been in Rome; he had earlier slid his room key in herhand and so now she waited for him with baited breath, the curls she hadjust ten minutes ago set in her hair brushing against her bare shoulders.She smoothed the black ruffles of the Chanel dress she had worn threemonths previously at the Vanity Fair shoot. She had taken it out of hiscloset at the last minute before departing from London, folding the pricey
    • garment in next to her Nikes and jeans. She knew she was going to wear itfor him tonight from the moment she saw it hanging in his closet. Sheknew she was going to replicate her hair and makeup from that day to thebest of her ability.Maybe, just maybe seeing her like this would bring him back. Maybe itwould remind him of the scorching sun in the desert, the way she hadleaned her head against his back, the way she had laughed as she pushedhim on the swing. That day had changed everything for them, that nighteven more so.She heard his familiar steps coming down the hallway, his shiny blackshoes hitting the marble floors. The light of the moon spilled in over herskin from the open window – she could just barely make out the EiffelTower in the distance.She stood up and steeled herself. She was in the city of love, with the manshe loved. And she would love him.Kristen breathed in heavily when she heard the key card being slid in tothe slot, and breathed out as the door creaked open. She scratched at herankle with her opposite bare foot and balled her fists as he walked throughthe door way.The air between them was still for the longest time. He just stared at her,his jaw clenched and his left hand tugging his hair back from his forehead.She wished he would say something, she wished he would either movetoward her or slam the door in her face – anything, anything that wouldindicate what he was thinking. But still he stood, in his black coat andwhite shirt, with his disheveled hair and his impassive face.“That’s… that’s not what you were wearing earlier,” he finally said, hisvoice barely above a whisper.“No,” she agreed. “It isn’t.”He finally took an audible breath. His coat slipped off his shoulders and hethrew it over the back of a chair, and then he walked slowly towards her.She counted the steps. Then he was in front of her, his hand hesitantlyhovering over her cheek.
    • “How do I look?” she whispered.He closed his eyes as the tips of his fingers ghosted over her cheek. “Likemy favorite dream and my worst nightmare.” He sighed heavily. “Youlook beautiful. You always do.”“I found the dress in your closet. I…”He silenced her with a callused finger over her lips. “And I think the dresslooks nice on you…” he sang, evoking memories of their early days, ofdance studios and first kisses, of secrets and whispers.“I can see a lot of life in you,” she sang back on a whisper, her voicewarbling over the last note.“Kristen,” he breathed, “what do you want to happen here?”She thought back to his kitchen, where he asked her that question justbefore she was naked on one of his wooden chairs and he was between herlegs, making her come so hard she saw God.She took his hand and pressed a kiss to his palm, her eyelashes heavy withmascara. “I want you to love me,” she told him. “This last time.”A smile hitched up the side of his mouth. “Our last tango in Paris?”She breathed out, but it was more like a sob. She probably would havestarted crying if he hadn’t have pressed his mouth to hers, kissing her withall of his aching sadness, all of his scorching need, all of his undyingpassion.He scooted her back on the bed and undressed her slowly, kissing everyinch of skin he exposed. He was always an attentive lover but that night helavished her like he never had. He took his time, skimming the pads of hisfingers against the softest places of her body – the underside of her arms,the crook of her elbow, underneath her knees. He fitted his hands aroundher ribcage, marveling at how perfectly she fit in his grasp.He touched his tongue to the most sensitive places on her anatomy,begging her to say his name in her moans. She balled her hands in his hairand that made him smile. He hummed tunelessly against her stomach as
    • she came down from her high, perfectly content to let his pleasure wait aslong as she wanted to.When he finally slid inside of her, he held her eyes with his own even ashis mouth opened on a silent moan. She breathed out harshly and tied herhands behind his neck, never relenting in her gaze. The room was darkaround them but she could see his eyes, shimmering as they were. Theirbodies moved and melded, the sound of skin sliding against skin growingrougher with each passing minute. But it never crossed that line – that linebetween fucking and making love – because the other was so concernedabout the other’s pleasure, whispered are you all right’s and how does thisfeel leaving their lips.They had never come at the same time. It was an unrealistic goal for anysexual relationship – people met their pleasure at separate times and onlyin erotica novels did one orgasm spontaneously set off the other person’s.But real life wasn’t like that. Which is why when Kristen bit out she wasclose and Rob whispered that he was too, she was more surprised thananything. But she supposed that such a climatic relationship couldn’t endin such an anticlimactic way, and someone Up There was looking out forher and her heart.So she rose up on her elbows and kissed him, all the while staring into hiseyes as his last few thrusts picked up a harsh tempo.“I’m com-“ but the rest of her words were muffled when Rob crashed hislips against hers, sealing his orgasm inside of her completely – inside of herwomb, inside of her mouth, inside of her soul.*Much later, she sat out on the balcony of his hotel room with nothing buta white sheet draped over her shoulders. She kept pulling at a cigarette, buther heart wasn’t in it. The nicotine did nothing to satiate her addictiontonight and that was because of the man sleeping twenty feet behind her,amidst damp sheets.She should be in there with him, considering this was the last night inGod-only-knows-how-long she’d get to feel his warm skin curved againsther bare back. But she couldn’t bring herself to go back in there just yet,knowing that it would seem more like a goodbye than anything else.
    • The Eiffel Tower shone in the distance and she breathed in the coldParisian night, letting the sharp air fill her lungs.“It’s freezing.”She didn’t even startle. She knew he’d wake up and find her eventually –he always did.“I can’t feel the cold,” she said honestly.He walked around and kneeled in front of her, laying his head against herknees.“What are we going to do?” she asked finally, running her hand throughhis matted hair. “I don’t know if I can live without this.”He sighed and she felt his warm breath seep through the sheet and ontoher skin. He stood up and took her hand. “Come inside.”She stubbed her cigarette out against the cement floor of the balcony andfollowed his lead. He closed the balcony doors behind them and she onlythen realized how cold she was.“Your lips are blue,” he chastised. “Come on, I’m going to put you in thetub.”She shook her head. “No, let’s just get into bed.”“Not a chance, Stewart.”She actually smiled at his stern tone and the use of her last name. Itreminded her of less complicated, less heartbreaking times.*Kristen sat with her back against Rob’s knees, which were halfwaysubmerged in the hot bath water. His strong fingers kneaded the knots inher neck and she moved her head from side to side, giving him betteraccess.
    • The room smelled of his generic dandruff shampoo and Dial soap – theonly things he had to wash her with. But she didn’t mind. She knew thattomorrow, when she left him, she would still smell like him for at leastanother twenty four hours. That gave her hope, gave her peace.“We’re going to be strong,” he said suddenly, answering her previousquestion from over an hour ago. “We’re going to smart, independentindividuals. We’re going to live our lives the way they should be lived, andcome together again only if it’s perfect, only if it’s right.”“How will we know?” she whispered.“Things have a way of working themselves out,” he said vaguely, but shecould hear the doubt in his voice.“What are you going to do until February? That’s our next Twilightevent.”“I’m going to live in London,” he answered.She knew it yet she still felt her heart squeeze uncomfortably. He’d be halfa world over, surrounded by people who loved him better than she evercould.“Oh,” she said, and even to her own ears she sounded pathetic.“I just feel it’s the right place for me. To get away from all of this…hysteria, this drama… this confusion…”“And me.”He sighed. “I don’t ever want to get away from you, Kristen. But I need toclear my head, make sure of what I really want – of what I’m really willingto go through to have it.”She turned around in the tub, some water sloshing out of the sides. “I loveyou. I don’t think I’ve ever directly told you. But I’m in love with you.”He closed his eyes, like he was trying to imprint the memory of her naked,with wide eyes, spilling her love just as readily as she was spilling wateronto the floor.
    • “I love you too, Kristen.”“Say it again.”“I love you.”“I love you too, Rob.”He smiled with his whole face – his lips, his mouth, his teeth, his eyes. “I’llremember that.”She reached up and traced his face with her wet finger. “Please do.Always. Always remember that I love you.”He picked her up out of the tub and told he loved her for the rest of thenight, using his body and not his words.*It was the most cliché thing she had ever experienced, standing in thethreshold of his hotel room door, biting her lip anxiously as she chokedout a goodbye.It was strange, because she would be seeing him later, on the plane back tothe States. But she knew that now was the last time they would ever bethemselves until maybe one day, in the future, they got their act togetherand decided to go for it with nothing but truth.He couldn’t stand to watch her so he closed her eyelids with hisforefingers. He put a piece of paper in her fingers, pressed a kiss to her lips– she cried out when he backed away – then said go with a sad smile onhis face.“Goodbye,” she told him, crumpling the paper in her fist.He cupped her cheek with his hand and pressed another kiss to herforehead. “Au revoir.”
    • Much later, when she could see through her matted eyelashes and puffyeyes, she smoothed out the note that Robert had stuck in her hand thatmorning. What she read started the tears all over again, and she pressedher mouth to the paper, both a goodbye kiss and a way to muffle thesound of her sobs.“You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built atower in the sky. But now our sleep has fled and our dream is over, and itis no longer dawn. The noontide is upon us and our half waking hasturned to fuller day, and we must part. If in the twilight of memory weshould meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall singto me a deeper song. And if our hands should meet in another dream, weshall build another tower in the sky.”*Christmas DayLos Angeles, California“Merry Christmas, Stew,” Nikki whispered, giving Kristen a half-hug asshe strolled into Kristen’s house, gifts in hand.“Merry Christmas,” returned Kristen, a genuine smile on her face. Shewas doing much better now, eating properly and laughing when she feltlike it, which was often. “Come in, will you?”Nikki shuffled into the living room behind Kristen, receiving hugs fromKristen’s family members. Nikki settled down on the couch and Kristensmiled at her friend, having so many questions for her. She had seen thepictures on the internet of she and Rob out buying boxes and she wantedto know everything – how was he doing? What were the boxes for? Andwhy in the hell did he cut his hair?But she remained silent, content to lean against Nikki’s shoulder as shebantered back and forth with Kristen’s brothers. Eventually they rose fromthe couch and made their way to Kristen’s room for gift-giving.Kristen had gotten Nikki a pair of Nikes she had been eyeing and VanMorrison on vinyl. Nikki squealed over her gifts and Kristen wasgenuinely happy to see the glow in her friend’s eyes. After everything,
    • Nikki had never given up on her, had never forsaken her, had never let herdown.“Here,” Nikki said, shoving a bag in her face. “I… made it. It’s nothinglike the cool shit you just gave me, but…”Kristen pulled a scrapbook out of the bag. She opened the first page andsaw a picture of her and Rob together on the Twilight set, smiling with Gil– the man who played Billy Black. Bile rose up in her throat and sheslammed the book closed.“I thought you might want to see all of our memories, when you’reready,” Nikki explained. “It’s got everything in there.”“Thank you,” Kristen whispered, more touched than she could convey.One day she’d be able to look through that book and smile. But not today.“There’s something else in the bag,” Nikki told her just as Kristen plungedher hand in there.She pulled out a sparkly black dress, something she would never wear –something she’d never have to opportunity to wear.“It’s beautiful,” Kristen said honestly, because it was if not baffling.“I want you to come to a New Years Eve party with me,” Nikki told her.“And I think this dress will be perfect.”“Nik,” Kristen groaned, biting her lip. “I don’t know…”“It’ll be fun. Come on, you have to go out for New Years.”“I’ll think about it,” Kristen said lightly.Nikki handed Kristen something else, a messily wrapped package. “Thisis… from Rob,” Nikki said quietly. “I saw him… a few days ago; we wentto go get boxes… he finally moved out of the apartment we were sharing,you know? He’s in London now…”“How is he?” Kristen asked, her fingers shaking against the sloppywrapping job.
    • Nikki shrugged. “He’s broken, but I’m sure you already knew that.”Kristen didn’t answer. She lifted the top off the box she finally unwrappedand pulled out a bunched up piece of black fabric. She scrunched hereyebrows together and nearly asked what the hell this was when the smellof Dial soap hit her nostrils and her mind raced back to Paris, to his bedand to this black fabric lying on the floor of his hotel room as he madelove to her.“It’s my dress,” Kristen whispered.Nikki nodded. “You looked beautiful in it.” That was an odd thing to saybut Kristen knew that she couldn’t offer any words of comfort.“He really is letting me go,” Kristen sobbed and she fell forward intoNikki at the same time Nikki reached out for her.When Kristen’s crying had ceased and Nikki gathered up her things toleave, she told Kristen that she’d be back for her on New Years Eve.“We’re going to this party,” she said adamantly, a fire behind her eyes.“Why?” Kristen wondered, her whole body tired.“It just may change your life,” Nikki said vaguely, waving as she left.Kristen doubted that.NEW YEARS EVE 2008And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of yourtide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that youshould seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in thesweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and isrefreshed.
    • *“I can’t believe you dragged me along,” Kristen moaned, slamming herhead against the cotton seat of Nikki’s car.“Can it, Stew,” Nikki said neutrally, driving with her right hand andtexting with her left.“That better be an important text. Like, it better be Obama. Because it’sinexcusable otherwise.” Kristen rotated her foot, listening to her anklespop inside the kitten heel Nikki all but shoved on her earlier. “God, myfeet hurt already.”Nikki tapped the brakes, causing Kristen to lurch forward. “Holy God,shut up already. And it is an important text; I’m giving someone directionsto the party.”Miffed, Kristen tried a different tactic. “Did you tell them it was BYOB?”She gestured to the beer of choice she was bringing – Sweetwater 420,shipped to her all the way from Georgia.For some reason, Nikki found that hilarious. She snorted, bringing theback of her hand up to her mouth. “Somehow, I don’t think this personwill have trouble getting a beer. From anyone.”Kristen waited for Nikki to elaborate, but she was preoccupied withtexting the anonymous person, a smile on her lips. After a moment,Kristen sulked.“Fine. Don’t tell me.”Nikki shot Kristen a look. “God, you are so whiny when you haven’tgotten laid in three weeks. I’m about to have sex with you just so you’llquit bitching.”Kristen sat stunned for a minute, unable to believe that her friend wentthere. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Nikki smirking and suddenlylaughter bubbled out of her mouth.Kristen echoed. “God, you bitch!”
    • “I’m for-fucking-real,” Nikki clarified. “The first phallic thing I see – itcould be anything, an orange cone, a pin roller – I’m duct taping it tomyself and going at it on you. So just shut. The fuck. Up. Stop laughing,Stewart. Stop laugh – “ But the rest of her words were lost in the midst ofher own laughter*Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from whichyour laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.*Kristen followed Nikki into the giant LA mansion, keeping her eyes down.She heard whispers of their names but didn’t react, just held tighter to thecase of beer she was carrying. The party was in full-swing, the kind of NewYears Eve bash you would find in a movie – girls wearing tiaras thatsported the year 2009, men scavenging the playing field for the midnightkiss. She almost smiled at it, but the feeling of being so utterly alone in thisroom full of people washed over her and she turned her head from it.She was almost crying when she made it to the kitchen to put down thebeer in one of the many coolers. That’s how it was with her – she washappy most of the time but due for bouts of melancholy when somethingparticularly strong hit her. She recalled being in a department store theother day and a man brushed by her, smelling of Rob’s cologne and shehad to immediately find the nearest restroom to freak out.It wasn’t always like that, though. She was a strong woman – she was aStewart, for God’s sake – and she knew that sometimes life handed you afew cards that you cant play but you have to go all in to win the chips.You could get fucked and left with nothing. That was playing the game oflife.Nikki pressed a beer in Kristen’s hand. “Liven up, sweet girl. We’re hereto have fun.”Kristen sucked in a deep breath. “Everything hurts, Nikki.”Nikki shut her eyes. “Believe me, Kristen. I know.”Another fucked up thing to bond over? Check.
    • *And then I shall come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean.*It’s incredible what a few beers in your veins will do for your mood.Kristen was feeling pretty great, talkative and happy, chatting with arandom guy when she felt a hand on her shoulder.“Hey boo,” Nikki said suddenly, coming up behind her and interruptingher conversation with a cute guy who’d never even heard of Twilight. Healso didn’t speak English very well but that was beside the point.“Uh, hey,” Kristen answered. “What’s up?”Nikki had a blinding smile on her face. “I just wanted to show you thebalcony. Nice view from there. It’s nearly midnight – good place for thefireworks.”“Um,” was all Kristen could get out before Nikki thrust her coat in herface.“It’s a bit chilly, but I think it’s worth it,” Nikki continued, all butdragging Kristen towards the back of the house.“That was so rude!” Kristen hissed. “I didn’t even get to say goodbye to…to… well, I didn’t even say goodbye to whats-his-name.”“Kristen, trust me on this one. You won’t even remember.” They were fastapproaching a set of French doors, Rhianna’s Disturbia pulsing throughthe speakers.“Better think twice, your train of thought will be altered, so if you mustfalter be wise…”“Honestly Nikki,” Kristen complained, shrugging into her jacket. “Whatthe fuck is your pro – “Speech died in her throat when she took a glance outside. A tall figurewith cropped hair stood leaning against the lip of the balcony, his forearms
    • propping his weight. She stared, her heart hammering so loudly shewanted to throw up. She knew him as suddenly and as swiftly as she knewher own name.She couldn’t breathe. She put a hand on Nikki’s arm to steady herself. Herheart was so deeply lodged in her throat that it took her several tries tospeak.“I thought he was in London,” she finally choked out.“He was,” Nikki confirmed. “But the storage company he was using tohold his stuff collapsed, so he had to come back to move his things into hisnew apartment early.”“He’s… he’s here. Right there.” She breathed out. “Nikki, I can’t go outthere.”“Oh yes the hell you can,” Nikki threatened. “I had to all but pay the manto get him to come here.”“He didn’t want to see me?”“He doesn’t know you’re here,” Nikki corrected. “Surprise.”“I can’t… I don’t… beer!” She shouted suddenly. “He likes beer.”Nikki smirked all over her face. “Um, yes, Kristen.”“I’ll go get him one…” Kristen decided in a voice very unlike her usualtimbre.Five minutes later, Kristen was standing out on the balcony, with two coldSweetwater 420’s in her hands. He didn’t know she was there so shewatched him for what seemed like hours, her nerves making every particleon her body shake. The man who had haunted her dreams and held herheart in his rough palms was ten feet in front of her, with a chilly breezeworking its way through his shorn hair.The breeze made her shiver and without thinking, she said, “It’s freezing.”
    • His whole body tensed visibly. He turned around slowly and their eyesmet across the balcony. God, he was beautiful – the cropped hairaccentuated his strong jaw and sharp cheekbones, and yet it made himlook more vulnerable somehow, without all that hair to hide behind.“I can’t feel the cold,” he said finally.The low baritone of his voice traveled across the distance and filled inevery single hole that had formed from his absence. His words broughtback the words spoken on a different balcony, across the ocean with aglowing tower in the background. She had missed the sound of his voiceso much that she let the music of it float around her, let it fill her ears andher pores and her soul.She bit her lip and looked away, unable to keep up the stare betweenthem. “Mind if I join you?” she asked in a small voice, holding up the twobeers as an offering of sorts. She wondered if he would remember thebrand of beer that she had made him try nearly a year ago in a rainy city.The smile that cracked his face told her that yes, he did remember.“Where did you get those?” he asked so happily that she couldn’t help butsmile back, her heart just behind her tongue.She began towards him, holding out the beer to him to him in triumph. Hewas smiling so she was on cloud fucking nine.“Had the company ship some to me,” she explained, but then frowned atthe Amstel Light perched on the lip of the balcony. “I didn’t know youalready had a beer.”Rob turned and looked at the beer, looking almost surprised, like he hadforgotten. “I don’t,” he told her, pouring it over the balcony andsplattering a necking couple down below.Kristen laughed, ducking back a bit so not to be spotted. “I haven’t seenyou in – ““Over a month,” he snapped, his good humor leaving immediately.Kristen frowned at his back but didn’t say anything. It hadn’t even been amonth yet, but she knew he was prone to dramatics so she let it go. She
    • was around him, with him for the first time in weeks and didn’t want tobicker over semantics. So she leaned against the balcony next to him,taking short swigs of her beer and taking deep breaths, breathing in thescent of him to cement it to her memory for when he left her again.The silence was overtaking her, so she had to say something – anything –to let him know that she still loved him, still needed him, still wanted himwithout sounding desperate.“You’ve ruined other men for me,” she told him honestly, unable to evenlook at him as she said the most revealing thing she’d ever said about him.Even her confession in the bathtub in Paris of her love wasn’t asvulnerable as this because he had known that she loved him. But to tellhim that he had ruined every single chance at a normal relationship withanyone – that was big. Huge. Terrifying. Stupid.She saw him tighten his fist around his beer but he didn’t respond and thatwas okay. She wasn’t expecting declarations of love from him tonight – orever, really. He had given her everything and now it was probably too lateto try to fix that. But she would lay it all out there for him, this last time.“There’s this old adage that says that whoever you’re with when the clockstrikes twelve on New Years Day, you will be with for the whole rest ofthe year.” She looked up at him expectantly, throwing all caution to thewind. She knew it was nearing midnight and she was going to plant herfeet right here in front of him, to let him know that she was his and wouldalways be his.She watched him reach for his phone in his pocket – it had been buzzing,so she assumed he was checking a text, but really, he was looking at thetime. “I expect you’ll want to get inside, then.” He took a swig from hisdrink.She bit her lip out of frustration. God, this wasn’t going to be easy at all –he was being purposely difficult, how could he not know how badly shewanted him? She sighed angrily, a cloud of white air leaving her mouth asshe huffed. She wrapped her arms around herself, thinking of anything shecould say that would impress him, show him what she really meant bybeing here.
    • “It’s eleven fifty-nine,” he remarked to her, his voice sounding oddlystrained.She stood where she was, staring up at him, her eyes fully focused on hisface. I’m not going anywhere.Chants from inside the house began, people screaming the numbers of thecountdown.“Ten, nine, eight…”“Kristen, really, get back inside of the house,” he begged her, turning hiswhole body towards her like he would shove her.She taunted him and began counting along with everyone else. “Five,four, three…”“Go!” he shouted at her.“Two, one,” she finished on a whisper.The house erupted with cheers, as did the rest of the world, and AuldLang Synge began playing from the TV. But she didn’t concentrate on anyof it. She only stared at him, holding his eyes with her own, praying thathe understood.Fireworks popped in the distance and she finally broke away, staring outover the Valley as the different colors exploded in the night sky. Her mindghosted different memories of him, when finally her thoughts brought herback to his bedroom in London and his impassioned plea.“We’ve got Europe. We’ve got Europe to be together, and after that… Ican’t be with you if you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to besure.”She sucked in a sharp breath, turning to face him. She knew what she hadto do – what she had to say to get the point across. She had told him thatshe didn’t know how long it would take for her to be sure – well, it tookher a month, an agonizingly long month.“See the fireworks?” she asked him, nodding her head towards the Valley.
    • “Yes,” he answered, but when she turned to him, he was staring at her,not the fireworks.She gathered up every bit of courage she owned, raised on her tiptoes andsaid, “I know what I’m doing.”Then she kissed him, achingly gentle and soft, her pulse thrumming in herbrain. She didn’t part her lips to taste him, she barely brushed his mouthwith her own but still she heard it, the sharp intake of breath and the hitchin his control.She backed away, unsteady on her feet. That innocent kiss rattled her andmade her want to lunge across at him and demand more. But shewouldn’t. She couldn’t. She’d give him that to mull over when he wentback to London and then maybe he would figure some stuff out.“Happy New Year, Rob,” she whispered, picking up her bottle off the lipof the balcony, wondering if he would try to stop her from leaving. Hedidn’t, so she turned and walked back into celebration, tears falling fromher eyes before she could stop them.NEW YEARS DAY 2009Early morningFor often have I put my finger in my own wound that I have the greaterbelief in you and the greater knowledge in you.*Kristen was nearly off the driveway – where she was going she didn’tknow – when she heard her name being called out. She turned blindly, thetears in her eyes clouding her vision. It was like trying to look through afog at midnight, but it’s not like she really needed her sight, she wouldknow that voice anywhere. She stepped forward, trying to man thebattlefield when her shoe caught a nick in the pavement and she fellagainst the concrete, her ass hitting the ground hard enough to jostle herteeth together.
    • The irony, the metaphor, the symbolism of the situation made her laugh.She had literally been knocked on her ass and she had to hold her stomachbecause her giggles threatened to topple her over - not that she was farfrom the ground. She couldn’t bother getting up. So she sat in the middleof a crowded street in the middle of a suburb of Los Angeles, waiting forthe man who owned the disembodied voice to join her.“Have you gone mad?”He was in front of her suddenly, offering his hand but she refused it. “I justthink it’s hilarious,” she told him, “that one of us is always chasing theother, no matter what. And that one of us always gets bowled over, nomatter what. It’s like this constant push and pull game, and then one of uslets go of the other side of the rope and the other person flies backwards.Like a cruel game of tug-of-war, you know?”He shook his head. “Let me help you up.”She grabbed at his jacket. “Let me bring you down here, to my level.”He sighed. “I don’t ever let you. You do anyway, without my expressedpermission.”She smiled, even though it wasn’t necessarily a compliment. “And youalways help me back up, even when I don’t want you to.”He grabbed her by the elbow, hoisting her to her feet. “You’re right aboutthat.”She stumbled a bit, the alcohol and the dizzying effect of his proximitymaking it difficult for her to stand. “Um, thanks,” she said finally. “Youcan let go of me now.”His hand shot off her elbow so quickly it was like she burned him. “Wherewere you headed, anyway? I thought Nikki brought you.”She shrugged. “Just going for a walk.”“Is that safe?”
    • “Why did you follow me out here?” she questioned instead. She was angryat him for letting her walk away after that kiss, the kiss she knew hadrattled him to the marrow.“I…”“Because there had better be a good reason. I’m not going to throw myselfat you practically, and then get yanked around.”“I came after you to see if you’d like a ride home.”She arched her eyebrow at him, her temper flaring. “How sweet of you,but I’m quite sure Nikki is capable of that.” She turned to go.He caught her elbow again. “Okay, then I came to offer you a ride to myhome.”She looked up at him and their eyes met in the darkness. Even with thezooming cars and the thumping bass and the shooting fireworks, the restof the world disappeared.*In the stillness of the night I have walked in your streets, and my spirithas entered your houses, and your heart-beats were in my heart, andyour breath was upon my face, and I knew you all. Ay, I knew your joyand your pain, and in your sleep your dreams were my dreams.*“Sorry for the mess,” Rob said, his hand ghosting over the small ofKristen’s back as he ushered her inside his apartment. “I had to literallythrow everything in here last minute.”Kristen looked around the spacious, open apartment as Rob locked thedoor behind them. It was very different from the dingy two-bedroom thathe had occupied with Nikki; this was a bit on the chic side. But the chicwas downplayed by the pure amount of shit everywhere.
    • She turned and looked at him. “No. You only say ‘sorry for the mess’when there’s a couple crumbs on the table or last night’s pajamas on thebedroom floor. This is nearly inexcusable by any means.”Boxes were thrown haphazardly in any empty space, with their contentsleaking out of them onto the floor. Cups and plates were stacked, teeteringon the edges of cardboard. Clothes were thrown anywhere there was somesort of a hook or basket.He grinned. “Well, when did you get so pretentious? I do remember everyspace you occupying being a disaster area.”She sighed, turning away. “I suppose I’ve gotten a little OCD withorganization. I’ve had little else to do, and it helps take my mind off…things.” She moved into the living area, noticing a familiar yellow booklying on the floor, open.It was The Prophet, opened to the section about love. She sucked in a deepbreath and picked it up.“Been catching up on some reading?” she asked lightly, skimming thefamiliar words.He walked up behind her quietly, his loping grace putting him therequickly. He pressed his chest against her back, but just barely, looking overher shoulder to see what she was reading.“Just trying to gain some levity,” he said after a moment, the smell of hisbreath washing over her. “This always seems to help.”“This is the first passage you ever read to me,” she told him, pointing tothe timeless words on love. “Do you remember?”“I don’t ever forget,” he said, backing away from her.She turned around to face him. “Will you read to me?”His eyes shot up in surprise. “Now?”
    • She bit her lip and stepped out of her heels. She felt small in the middle ofhis bare living room. “Well, maybe after I get something to drink and outof these clothes. Can I borrow something?”She leveled him with a stare, letting him know that she meant this. Shewas going to have it her way unless he told her no.“Sure,” he said finally, a small smile creeping up on his mouth. “Let mego find you a shirt, or something.”“Okay. Wait,” she called on second thought. She peeled her pea coat offher shoulders, throwing it over a box and exposing him to her creamy skinagainst the glittery black of the dress. She saw him swallow and hid hersmile by turning around. “Can you unzip me? I can’t ever reach it.”Her dress was basically backless, except for a small zipper that ran fromthe small of her back to the first curve of her ass. She waited with her backturned to him, and then suddenly she felt his hot breath against her neck ashe ran his rough fingers against the smooth skin. He unzipped her slowlyand so she took that time to undo the straps at the top. When he wasthrough, the dress fell in a puddle to the floor and she was exposed to him,naked except for a pair of black boy shorts.She turned to him, her arms over her breasts in modesty. He was breathingso heavily she could see the rise and fall of his chest and she couldn’t havebeen happier – she could still get to him.“Can I have that shirt now?” she asked sweetly.He stepped backwards quickly, almost tripping over his own feet. “Right,yes, of course – “She giggled.*And if you could hear the whispering of the dream you would hear noother sound.*His plaid flannel fell down to just above her knees, but she still feltexposed as she sat cross-legged in the middle of his floor with a steaming
    • mug of tea in front of her. She blew on the surface, waiting for him toemerge from the bathroom and thinking of the good fortune she had toland her here.Never in a million years did she dream that she would be spending the firstday of the new year with the man she loved more than anything else, withthe man who finally loved himself a little bit more than he loved her. Sheknew they had a lot to discuss, but right now all she wanted to do wassoak up every second he allowed her to be in his presence.She heard the toilet flush and the bathroom door open, and he strode intothe living room, his mouth wide on a yawn. He wore a simple white t-shirtand black pajama pants, but still she flushed and felt her heart pick up atthe sight of him. He smiled down at her when he caught her stare, and shesmiled back slowly.He sat down across from her and thanked her with a smile when shehanded him his own mug of tea. He sighed contentedly as the hot liquidmade its way smoothly down his throat. He held his hand out for the bookand she nearly clapped with excitement – he was really going to read toher.He started with the first passage he had ever read to her – the passage onlove.“But if you love and must have desires, let these be your desires: to meltand be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night, to know thepain of too much tenderness, to be wounded by your own understandingof love. And to bleed willfully and joyfully, to wake at dawn with awinged heart and give thanks for another day of loving, to rest at the noonhour and meditate on love’s ecstasy, to return home at eventide withgratitude, and then to sleep with a prayer of your beloved in your heartand a song of praise upon your lips.”She leaned back on her hands and sighed. “Remember what I told you?”“’Love isn’t like that’,” he echoed.“’I didn’t say it was’,” she echoed back. “’But I did say that it could be.’”They stared at each other for a minute.
    • “Where’s Michael?” Rob finally asked, thumbing through the book for anew passage.She shrugged delicately. “I have no idea.”He stopped his thumbing and looked up at her. “What?”She laughed a bit and hugged her knees. “I haven’t seen Michael sinceEurope. We aren’t really… together.”He stared at her. “I don’t understand.”“Well, Summit got a hold of us,” she said. “I mentioned to my managerthat Michael and I were progressively on the out, and she got freaked out –you know, no one wants us together – so she talked to people at Summitand even though Michael and I aren’t really… dating… I guess we’regoing to appear to be. You know, show up at events together, hold handsfor the paps, whatever. I think they’re paying him for it, because fromwhat I heard he was not pleased at the proposition. I wouldn’t be either, tobe honest. So, you know, he hasn’t really worked in a while so they threwhim some bones to shut him up.”He worked his mouth like he wanted to say something. “So even… even ifyou and I worked everything out, they’re… we can’t… you have to act likeyou’re dating him even though you two clearly haven’t been happy forawhile? Just for the sake of Summit’s ass and a few disgruntled fans?”“Well, think of it this way,” she said calmly. She’d had a lot of time tothink this over. “What if you and I got together publicly, then we went ourseparate ways before all the movies were finished? That chemistry weapparently have on screen would just be awkwardness. We’d hate eachother, and there goes the cash cow.”He blinked. “That is so fucked up.”She laughed a bit. “Yeah, it really is.” She shrugged. “Maybe I shouldhave fought harder on it, but… I mean, Michael’s been in my life foryears, so I guess it’s nice to know that he’s always going to be there to fallback on. We’ve reached a sort of agreement, I guess. Grudgingly, througha lot of tears and yelling but I think there will be peace. Maybe friendship
    • one day. And to be honest, Rob,” she directed a stare at him, “I neverdreamed you would care and I would have to explain this to you.”He grimaced. “I suppose that’s fair.” He cleared his throat, finding apassage to read. “Verily you are suspended like scales between yoursorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill andbalance.”“God,” she breathed out, scrubbing her face with her fingers.He looked up from the book. “What is it?”“It’s just… your voice. The sound of it – I’ve missed it so much.” Sheshook her head. “That was out of line. Sorry.”“Kristen – ““Continue, please.”He sighed in a huff. “And I say that life is indeed darkness save whenthere is urge.” He thrust the book at her. “Your turn.”“My turn?” she asked, her voice squeaking. She had never read this aloudto him.He nodded.She turned to a page, the thin sheets of paper rustling. “And when hespeaks to you believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams asthe north wind lays waste the garden.”“Kristen,” he warned, looking as if she slapped him. “Play fair.”She ignored him, flipping randomly to a new page. “For that which youlove most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to theclimber is clearer from the plain.”“Enough.”“Less than a promise have I given, and yet more generous have you beento me.”
    • The book was snatched from her grasp and it fell with a thud against thecarpet.“I said enough.” He looked livid, the dim lighting of the room just barelyaccentuating the flare in his nostril and the clench of his jaw. “What doyou think you’re doing? What’s the point?”She stared at him a minute before speaking. “I’m not with Michaelanymore. I’m sure of what I’m doing – I want to be with you. We can betogether now, for real, like you said.”He shook his head. “With what you just told me, we can’t be together nowmore than ever.”“What?!” she cried, leaning forward. “Fuck Summit! Fuck the movie, fuckthe fans, fuck everything. This – you and me – this is what’s real. And youknow that. You know it and you’re trying to fight it, God only knowswhy!”“Because even if we got together now, we’d still have to hide it, Kristen!God, I’m so sick of hiding everything. I’m so sick of hiding how much Ilove you – “ She nearly choked on her tongue when he said that – “toevery fucking person on this earth, when all I really want to do is go to thebusiest intersection in every major city in the world and just hold yourhand right there, in front of everyone.”“I want that too, Rob,” she whispered.“But we can’t have it, so why do you insist on torturing me, when I’m just– for once – trying to do what’s best by you and by me and by us? God, wecan’t be together now, Kristen, even in private - we’re both walkingmesses. We can’t stay in a room with each other for longer than tenminutes without fucking or fighting, and that’s just – ““That’s just us, Rob. It’s not a dysfunction, it’s just how we are – ““That’s bullshit.”“No, what’s bullshit is that you have to escape to your little hidey-hole inLondon while my heart is shattering into five-fucking-million pieces – “
    • “ – Well, at least you know how it feels – ““ – Fuck you, Pattinson – ““ – You fucked yourself this time, sweetheart – ““ – I can’t fucking stand you, God!” She finally shrieked, pulling her hairnearly out of her head in frustration.“Well, good! Maybe now you’ll leave me alone, you fucking harpy – ““I’m not the one who brought me here in the first place, Robert! Youinvited me, if you could take two seconds to pull your head out of yourass, you fucking dick stain!” She whipped out her phone, angry tearspouring down her face. She pressed the phone to her ear.“Hello?”“Nikki, it’s me. Come get me.”“Stew? Where the fuck are you, anyway?”“I’m at Rob’s and he’s screaming at me and I didn’t even ask to be here,God – “Rob wrenched the phone out of her hand and put his mouth to it. “Don’tyou even think about coming to get her, Reed.” Then he hung up thephone and threw it across the room.“How dare you, you have no right – I just want to go home, I’m sick ofacting like I’m okay, when really I’m not okay at all and I don’t want tohave to act for you, so just let me go, please,” she begged, her voice bothangry and sad.“God, this is not – I didn’t – this isn’t what I wanted to happen when Iinvited you here,” he whispered, pinching his noise with his thumb andforefinger. “I just have missed you so much, but now it seems entirelyselfish to even ask you to be around me when I’m not even sure of what Iwant yet. Kristen, please, forgive me… if you want to go home, I’ll takeyou myself.”
    • “I want to go home,” she said stubbornly, crossing her arms over herchest.The look in his eyes was almost too much to bear. It reminded her of allthe times she had instigated his pain, by playing the push and pull, thecome and get me, the catch me if you can. But she had to remind herselfthat this time, it wasn’t her fault. So she stood, raising her eyebrowsstoically.“All right,” he said heavily, standing up next to her. “Got all your things?”She picked her purse up off a box and nodded. “Yes. Coming?” She beganwalking towards the door. She had her hand on the knob when sherealized he wasn’t behind her. She turned and he was still standing in themiddle of the living room. “Rob?”“Don’t go.”“What?”“Don’t go, Kristen. Please.”She pressed her back against the door. “Give me one reason why Ishouldn’t.”“I’ll give you three.” He began walking towards her slowly, like a catstalking its prey.She wished she could melt into the door. “Okay.”“One, because I’m sorry for acting the way I just did. It was uncalled for,and you’re right, I did invite you here, and it was certainly not to screamat you.”She swallowed.“Two, because I’ve missed you so much that I hurt everyday. That firstcouple of days I nearly scratched my skin raw, trying to get the smell ofyou off me. But it’s never gone away. Your eyes, your laugh, your moans -all of it, they haunt me day and night.”
    • He was to her now, his body so close to hers that she could feel hiswarmth against her skin.“And three, because I’m in love with you, Kristen. I was in love with youa year ago, I was in love with you six months ago, and I’m in love withyou today. I’ll be in love with you tomorrow, and the next day, and thenext month, and the next year. I’ll be in love with you in fifty years. Evenif this never works out, even if this is fucked up beyond repair, I’ll alwayslove you. And I know you love me, too. If us being together tonight,miracle of miracles, isn’t enough of a reason for you to stay then please, byall means, leave. But I want you to stay. I’m begging you to stay.”“But, you just said you don’t know what you want – ““I lied,” he said simply. “I want you. I’m selfish, but I want you. I don’tknow how to have you, but I want you. I’m not trying to avoid the issue athand, because I know we have so much shit to work through. I’m notgoing to lie to you and tell you that we’re going to be in a relationshipright now, private or not, because we’re both not ready. We’re both stillraw. I’m going to go back to London tomorrow, as planned. You’re goingto stay here and do what Summit asks of you.”“Rob – ““Let me finish. I’m not saying no to you anymore, but I’m also not goingout of my way to make anything work, either? You understand? I want totalk to you over the phone as much as I can, and email you as much as Ican, and maybe you can visit once or twice, because I’ll be gone foranother month and a half. But we have to let the chips fall where they will.Nothing forced. You know? Things will work themselves out, and timewill help us. We’ll talk it through. We’ll… be private and sneaky if wehave to. We’ll negotiate with Summit when the time is right. We’ll let thepublic think we hate each other or at least scoff at the idea of us beingtogether. Whatever it takes.”She was breathing through her nose so not to pass out. “You mean it?You… you want this?”“I want you, Kristen, and whatever mess you bring. You’ve always beenworth it to me – God, you have to know that. I don’t know how this will
    • work out but I know it will. I don’t want to say goodbye anymore. Thegoodbye I said to you nearly killed me. We’ll play people’s games,sweetheart, as long as we’re the master of our own creation.”“So… you’re leaving for London tomorrow morning?”“Yes.”“So we have how much time?”“I don’t know – six hours?”She started undoing the buttons of the shirt she was wearing like a womanon fire.He laughed. “What are you doing, crazy girl?”“Getting to work. Which you need to be doing. Lose the pants.”He laughed and covered his body with hers, shielding her kisses andmoans and heart with his own.Like he always had and always would.*Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and youare the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing itself in a mirror. But you areeternity and you are the mirror.FIN.
    • EPILOGUEFebruary 2009Tokyo, JapanCheck your email, Stewart.Squinting blearily at the text message, Kristen humphed and threw thecovers off her body. Nikki was a smart girl, so why did she feel it necessaryto text her when it was dark outside and therefore an acceptable time tosleep?“Inconsiderate snatch,” Kristen mumbled with a small smile, firing up herlaptop as she settled back under the warm sheets.This better be good, Nikki, she texted back.Nikki texted back a wink-face, so Kristen sighed stoically, knowing shewas about to be either very angry or too amused to be alone. She clickedon her hotmail account, ignoring the ads telling her she could increase herpenis size with one simple step, and opened Nikki’s email with the subjectOMG!It was a link to an article on Perez Hilton’s website – a briefing featuringRob and a brunette girl he was sighted getting on a train with in London.They looked very much in love, said the random article. Kristen snorted,especially when she read Nikki’s added caption:Been busy, Stew? :-)Annoyed, Kristen rolled her eyes and shoved her laptop to the other sideof the massive bed. She grabbed her phone and texted Nikki a quickresponse.You’re hilarious. It was probably his sister, you know it wasn’t me.It wasn’t his sister, Nikki texted back, it was me.I will end you, Kristen typed fervently.
    • Ha! Just kidding, I don’t mess with epic love. Speaking of… have you seensaid wonder-boy yet?Kristen sighed, knowing Rob was somewhere in the hotel, but she hadbeen ushered to her room as soon as she arrived with the instruction tosleep. He was probably doing the same thing, but it was a shame – shehadn’t seen him since New Years and it’d be nice to be catching up onsleep together. She closed her eyes, briefly imagining having her cheekagainst his warm chest, her head rising and falling to the rhythm of hisbreathing.No, Kristen texted back finally, but I’m sure you’ll hear the screams whenI do.She could almost hear Nikki’s disgust. I lived with him, remember? I’veheard all the screaming I can take, thanks. Listen, get some sleep. Sorry towake you. Love you.Smiling, Kristen texted love back, and then dropped her phone to theground. Her body was tired but her mind was wide awake; she was in afrenzy, it was like she could almost feel him. He was here, in this building,in the same country as her.Her phone buzzed again and Kristen groaned aloud, ready to throw thething out the window. She snatched it up off the floor and squinted as thebright LCD screen shone into her eyes.I know you’re not asleep.Her heart flew to her throat and she had to fight to breathe around it.Apparently, you aren’t either. She tried to sound cool and collected in hertext, but oh my God, he was here, he was awake, he knew she was awake,and what if… what if he was going to –What’s your room number?She texted him the number as she hopped out of bed, running to thebathroom frantically for a toothbrush, a comb, a cigarette – anything shecould find to help calm her nerves. God damn Robert Pattinson, choosing
    • now for their reunion when she wasn’t in anything but sweats and an oldOakland Raiders t-shirt. She ditched the sweats because the shirt was longenough to show off her legs, which she had shaved that night for the dresstomorrow morning. She thanked God for foresight but cursed Him formaking Rob so insensitive to her girl-side.A rapid, hushed knock sounded against her door and she almost didn’tmove to it. She was paralyzed by fear and overwhelmed with want. Shecrept towards it, and asked stupidly, “Who is it?”“It’s the police, Miss Stewart. Someone tells me you’ve been a naughty,naughty girl.”It was the stupidest thing he could have possibly said, but the sound of hisvoice trailing through the crack of the door, that infuriating accent withthose red lips twisting the words made her wrench the door open so fastshe nearly took it off the hinges.And then there he was, all six foot two of him, smiling down at her withhis eyes all crinkly at the corners and his shirt dirty and his face unshaven.“You again,” she said, like she wasn’t trembling. “And I thought I was soeffective in getting rid of you.”“I’m like a weed – you can’t pull fast enough to stop me from coming.”She laughed. “Oh, my God. That’s what she said.”He made a face at her. “Are we really exchanging sexual innuendos rightnow? Are you going to let me in? Where are your manners, Kristen?”She pulled him in by the scruff of his collar. “Luckily I’m in love with aBritish boy. They don’t care about manners much.”He brightened. “That’s very true. Where’s my kiss?”She eyed him as she closed the door behind them. “Did you honestly justask me that?”“Where’s my mother fucking kiss, Kristen? I can’t find it. Can you locateit for me?”
    • “Yeah, it’s right up your – “He stopped her by putting his hands on the side of her face and drew herin to the sweetest kiss she had ever tasted. His lips lingered against hers inslow pulls, soft smacking noises the only sound between them for quitesome time. She held on to his forearms for support because she was prettysure she was swooning.Then he pulled back suddenly. “Ah, found it.” He grinned at her like hewas extremely pleased with himself. He moved away from her, taking inher hotel room. He lifted her suitcase and peered in, turned the light on tothe bathroom and took a look, opened the curtain and stared at traffic.She watched him, transfixed. He was here. He was here. He was here. Shecould smell him, she could still taste him on her lips, she could touch himand oh my god, why was he so far away?It’s like she came to her senses all at once, because she ran at him. Heturned and looked startled but held out his arms just as she jumped up intothem and she pressed herself against him, her nose finding its way into thecrook of his neck as his arms wrapped tightly around her. She breathedhim in, his warm smoky smell, placing kisses all over his neck andwhispering how much she missed him over and over again.Their mouths found each other and then it was all messy and fast, withclothes flying across the room and giggles as zippers and buttons werefumbled over. The first touch of his fingers against her skin was likeDorothy clacking her heels together and finding herself back in Kansas –there’s no place like home. His callused finger tips ghosted over her breastsand stomach and hips and then he was sinking into her and they werepanting into each other’s mouths and she knew he wasn’t going to lastlong but she didn’t care, because God, he felt so good – so right, so perfectand yet so familiar, but wasn’t that what love was all about? Being able tofeel comfortable without losing that spark, that passion? Because the wayhe looked into her eyes as her name melted off his lips with his finaljerking thrusts was passion but the kind of familiarity that she lookedforward to and knew she wanted to see for the rest of – well, for the rest ofher life, really.
    • He went to find a towel to clean her up and so she lay against the dampsheets, the vague smile never leaving her lips. When he came back, sheopened her legs so he could clean her and he did, but he also knew thatshe hadn’t come and all the towel was doing was making her groanbecause she was still so overheated and needy and because he wasbeautiful and wonderful and loved her, his tongue found its way betweenthe V of her thighs. He wrapped his arms around her legs and lifted herhips up into his mouth and how could one person be so good at this? Histongue lightly flicked at the swollen, sensitive nerves that had been scrapedby his erection not five minutes previously so it wasn’t too long before herhips were jerking against his mouth and he held her down until she came,and then he let her jerk all she wanted, riding her orgasm out with swivelsof her hips against his tongue.He kissed his way back up her body and she kissed him, tasting herself onhis tongue and this was all so familiar that she choked up, unable tobelieve that this had really worked out – this was them, this was how itwould be always be for them, and she couldn’t be happier with that.Their relationship had progressed through a tumultuous, heart breakingaffair but the real essence of their togetherness survived – their love for oneanother. Over the past month and a half, she had worried herself to death,wondering if the thrill of the chase or the thrill of the sin had been whatkept him coming back and what if now, that she was truly his for thetaking in all the ways that truly counted, he decided that it was too easy?But all those thoughts were gone now as she stared down at his sleepyeyes, smiling up at her as she raked her blunt fingernails through hisslowly-growing hair. He hummed as she scratched at his scalp and kissedthe valley between her breasts, his warm mouth and wet tongue acomfortable fire against her skin.“This is how it is,” she murmured to him, feeling the way his eyelashesfluttered against the plane of her chest. “For us. This is how it’s going tobe, even after Twilight stuff. I’ll be on a movie or you’ll be on a movie andwe’ll only have these stolen moments, these few hours in a dark hotelroom – ““Or a house of our own,” he cut in.
    • She smiled as she continued, “Or a house of our own, before we have togo back to the grind. Are you okay with that?”“No.”His answer was so terse that she actually gasped. “What?”“I’m going to have to work on my stamina if this keeps up, Kristen. Truly.That’s going to suck, and porn subscriptions get expensive.”She raised an eyebrow. “Oh, and after you subscribe to every porn site onthe Internet, what are you going to do with the millions you have left?”“Weed. And probably a lot of flowers for you, because I’m going to fuckup. A lot.”She resumed scratching his scalp. “I’m obviously not concerned withperfect since I’m with you.”She felt his grin against her stomach. “Ouch. By the way, I’m in love withyou.”“Say it with carnations, Robert. Good night.”“Good night. By the way, I’m in love with you.”“Go to sleep.”“Okay. I love you.”“ROB!”“What? Love you.”“You’re so fucking annoying.”“Hm? Je t’aime.”“I LOVE YOU TOO.”“Jesus Christ, Kristen, you don’t have to shout – “
    • A wrestling match ensued, and Kristen shouted again later, but for a muchdifferent reason this time.*Kristen tried to keep her eyes of Rob in his well-fitted brown suit but shegot to the point where fuck that rang through her brain and then shesmiled because she did fuck that, last night. Twice.The translator got her attention then; Kristen turned to her with a smile.“She’d like to know what it’s like to kiss Robert Pattinson.”Kristen smiled to herself, having so many adjectives she couldn’t use shedidn’t even know how to begin to answer it acceptably. Heartbreaking.Passionate. Electrifying. Life-changing. Love. Love. Love.“How do you think it is?” Kristen asked her, and when the translatorcopied her, the crowd erupted in screams.Kristen looked over and caught Rob’s eye. He was smiling at her in thatway he only knew how – the smile that drew her out of her shell andtucked her tightly into his. Their worlds would forever collide, she the tinywell-spoken girl from the Valley, and he, the fumbling British man whomade fun of himself more than was socially acceptable. She didn’t knowwhat the future held for them, and for once, she found that was okay. Shedidn’t have to know, so long as she had the chance to explore it with him,the man who stumbled in late to an audition and turned her world on itsend.She shrugged at him as the audience continued to cat call, and heshrugged back.He had certainly turned her world on its end, and if she wanted to be withhim for anything, it was to thank him for that.
    • Kristen Stewart was tired. This was apparent to anyone around her, butmost especially to the man sitting to her right, rubbing small circles intoher temple with the pads of his fingers.“We’re almost there,” he promised, his breath ghosting over her closedeyelids. “I promise.”“Thanks for staying,” she whispered, rolling her shoulders as his fingerstraveled below the lines of her shirt. “I mean, you know, waiting. It’s nicehaving you here, coming back to California with me.”“I’d do anything for you,” he told her.She shut her eyes, the smile on her lips genuine and private. It was May,and this year’s May was treating her so much better than last year’s. Hermemory showed her flashes of being pressed against a cardboard box asRob kissed her breathless, she avoiding him for weeks until staying thenight at Nikki’s and his place after her long journey home from NewOrleans –“You know that, don’t you?”She leaned her head against his shoulder, the worn cotton of his shirtrubbing happiness against her cheek. “No, I have no idea – you onlycarried on an affair with me for a year, despite my selfishness…”“Be serious, please.”“I know you would. It’s reciprocated.”“Anything?”“Yes.” She snuggled deeper into the chest she could draw in her sleep.“Kiss me tomorrow night in front of everyone at the MTV awards.”She smirked into his chest. “Okay.”“Really?”“No.”
    • “I would do it for you.”She closed her eyes. “Can I please sleep the last leg of the flight?”At once he shifted so she could lie more comfortably against his chest. “Ican deny you nothing, do you know that?”“Rob. Shhh.”He chuckled and pressed a wet kiss against her ear. “I love you.”She didn’t say it back in words, but in the way she used him as an anchorfor her dreams.*“Who are you and what have you done with my life partner?”Rob ignored her. She watched him flit around his room, throwing clothesinto piles before pulling out an ironing board and starch spray. Shelaughed, but turned it into a cough to save his feelings.“Are you… no, you are not ironing.” She pulled the covers up to the highplane of her chest, watching his butt in appreciation as it scooted back andforth between piles of clean and dirty clothes.“I am,” he told her. “Look, don’t make fun of me – I could win anaward.”“Since when have you cared?”He mumbled something unintelligible.“What?”“Since I have to be seen next to you,” he whispered. “You’re just – well,you’re perfect. And… and what are you doing?”She peeled the covers back from her body, revealing her nakedness to hiswidening eyes.
    • “Don’t distract me!” he hissed. “You’re like a machine, truly…”She crawled towards him on all fours, and then grabbed his collar with herpale hand. “Don’t you dare iron a thing. Come here, and I’ll show youhow perfect you are.”He fell onto her, a mess of white sheets and tangled limbs, awkward lopinggrace and sighs of satiation.*“Ow,” she moaned as Rob tightened the pack of ice around her ankle.“Ugh, I was not meant for pretty things.”“I told you that heels in that sort of compromising position would bedetrimental -““Rob? Not helping.”Rob placed a warm kiss on her swollen ankle. “We’ve got to go or we’llbe late.”Kristen stood up and balanced with one hand on his shoulder. With theother hand, she snatched her Chucks off the table and limped out the door,Rob guiding her by the elbow and snickering at her Bella-like tendencies.They were late to the checkpoint, where they each met their respectivelimo driver. They weren’t late because of traffic but because Rob thoughtit’d be a good idea to sing a version of Romeo and Juliet into her ear tomake her forget the pain. His Cajun-blues voice full of sorrow remindingher, Juliet, when we made love you used to cry actually made Kristen cry soshe had to redo her makeup in the parking lot and she was really veryannoyed and completely and totally in love.“I’ll see you soon,” he told her in his professional voice and waved, andshe closed her eyes and reminded God that she deserved to see the daywhere she could kiss him goodbye in front of countless strangers.She waved back sadly, adjusting the belt of her ready-to-wear Yigal Azrouel,her ensemble so different from last year’s Movie Awards. There was no
    • time left for Ray Bans and black tank tops; she was no longer just anotherface in the crowd, having to start over at the Red Carpet to actually beinterviewed.As she climbed into the lonely limo, her phone buzzed in her purse. Shescrambled for it, smiling as she opened the text message.Don’t be so dreary or I’ll kiss you for all the world to see.She texted back, her fingers tapping at the keys noisily.Is that a threat or a promise, because I’ll leave you breathless.He responded quickly, making her toes curl. She had to remind herself shewas a lady, and ladies didn’t scream at their limo drivers to drive faster.You always leave me breathless.When they arrived, he had already ducked through the private entrance,opting out of the red carpet. She couldn’t blame him; he was mauledeverywhere and she was glad that one night, she didn’t have to pretend notto hate everyone who touched him.She posed for pictures, aware of the scrutiny due to her shoe choice, butremembering Rob’s lips against her tiny ankle put her in a place beyondcaring. She finally made it inside and Rob was sitting in his seat next toStephanie, who was his plus one at nearly every event.“Didn’t you bring someone, Kristen?” Stephanie asked, not out of the loopbut genuinely curious.Kristen shrugged. “I was going to bring Nikki, but she and I haven’t beengetting along…” Biting her lip and trying not to remember the harsh wordsNikki had thrown at her about Michael, she turned a smile to Rob.“Sit,” he told her, and when she bent over him to get to her seat, hepressed a quick kiss to her temple. “How was the red carpet?”“Red,” she answered, giddy to be around him. “How was the privateentrance?”
    • “Private,” he said, pinching her thigh.She leaned over him. “How private?”He rolled his eyes. “Your sexual appetite made us late. Do controlyourself, love.”She bit her lip. “It wasn’t a problem, was it?”He looked at her and then crossed his legs uncomfortably. “Shut up. Theshow is about to start.”*She was glowing, and she couldn’t help it. Watching him up there,accepting the award for Best Breakthrough Male – God, she was such asappy person, but she was so proud. It didn’t matter how awkward hisspeech was, how embarrassed he was, she loved him and would neverregret working on this project with him. Ever.She had watched him grow from a shy young male to a man in the pastyear and a half, closer to him than anyone else, and it was an honor and aprivilege and she loved him so, so much and needed to be close to him andall of a sudden had the overwhelming desire to kiss him there, on stage, infront of everyone.She felt the camera pan over her, but she kept her eyes on her lover, herbest friend, her confidante, her soul mate, her life partner. When hethanked the cast and crew, his eyes connected with hers and she was sofull of love, she swore her heart burst in her chest because she felt herblood making her warm everywhere, all over her body.And then not even a half an hour later, she was hearing their names beingcalled out for the Best Kiss award MTV had notified them of winning daysago. She staggered up the stage next to him, her hands shaking badly. Shegave a silly hug to Sandra Bullock, a kiss to Ryan Reynolds, and then shewas standing across from him, her hands on her hips.“I need to uh,” said Rob, taking his gum out of his mouth and putting intoa spare piece of paper, “I need to remove my gum.”
    • Then they faced each other, as they had practiced, bouncing a bit like twoboxers about to fight for the championship belt. Then they inched closer,and Kristen still wasn’t sure whether she’d kiss him or not; he had left thedecision up to her. Kristen scratched at her chest, coughed a bit in herhand as Rob stared down at her, all desire and cool demeanor.She inched closer still, touching her forehead to his nose, feeling his breathfan against her elongated eyelashes. She closed her eyes and leaned,smelling him, taking him in, remembering rainy nights in Portland and thekissing scene that changed her life forever.She could hear his short little gaspy breaths, and oh God, she wanted tokiss him so badly, it was an ache and a void, but she couldn’t, she couldn’t–She pulled back and hissed, a smile on her face and her hands against hertemples. “Thank you so much!” she told the crowd of gaspers andlaughers, only imagining the look on Rob’s face.She grabbed the award as he shook his head at her, and they were in theirown world again, not listening to the screams.“Come on,” she said with a laugh, holding out her hand to him, butdropping it at the last second, because they weren’t actually in their ownworld.“Filthy tease,” he hissed in her ear, his breath hot against her temple. Shegiggled as they made their way backstage.“Meet me in the corridor between bathrooms,” she told him. “Go.”He gave her a calculating look that clearly said she was going to paydearly, but left and did as he was told. She gave him a head start and wasabout to walk over there herself when she heard her name being calledbehind her.No, she thought, and took off running. She dodged everyone,interviewers, stars, cameras, stage hands – only stopping once to tease theMTV blogger with a few jumping jacks – before skidding to a halt arounda corner. She walked slower, her breath coming in pants from the randomrunning and too many cigarettes.
    • He was leaning against the wall, his thumbs in his pockets, waiting for her.She felt choked – nothing so beautiful should be held so captive, shethought. But he was hers, he was captive, and she was continuouslythankful and disbelieving.“You again,” he said when he saw her, his voice disgusted but his eyessmoldering. “What else do I have to do to get rid of you?” He pushed upoff the wall with one foot, and she watched his advances, feline and sleek.“I’m not going anywhere,” she told him, an assurance, not a challenge.He pinned her against the wall, the heels of his hands against hershoulders. “You sure aren’t,” he said against her neck, licking the line ofsweat under her hair with the point of his tongue.“We don’t have a lot of time – ““Then it’s a shame you keep wasting it with incessant chatter.”She wanted to protest, indignant, but his lips were on hers and her headwas against his palm, bracing it against the hard wall. The lights of thecorridor faded in and out in blue hue, an eerie aphrodisiac.He shoved his knee between her legs, rubbing against her and she moanedagainst his teeth, the reverberation like echolocation, letting her know shewas exactly in the right place. She fisted her tiny fingers in his hair,bringing him down hard against her as his leg raised her up a coupleinches off the ground. The harsh hit of his knee holding up all one-hundred-ten pounds of her against her clit should have hurt, but it didn’t,not really, and she rubbed hard against him, creating friction as he kisseddown her exposed throat.Then he dropped her down, and she fell back against the wall. She bracedher arms against it, staring at him through hooded eyes as he stared sexback at her.“I’m sure that wasn’t entirely appropriate to do in front of millions ofpeople, so I suppose I forgive you for cock blocking me out there.”
    • “I open free-trade negotiations with your cock often enough for you neverto complain, Pattinson.”*She was whispering to Rob how adorable Abigail Breslin was one secondand hearing her name the next. She didn’t even know it was Best Femalebeing called, she was so enamored by the man next to her, teasing her andlaughing, the polar opposite to the brooding sexuality from not long ago.She stood up, a smile on her face as she realized she had just won somesort of semi-legitimate reward – her brothers were never going to stopteasing her. She waved to the camera then hopped on stage, coming to thepodium with nothing good to say and too much happiness.It made her nervous and clumsy; that was her excuse to Rob later, as hetold her that she made awkward beautiful. She picked up the award,thanking her cast for an experience she actually liked – but the fuckingthing was heavy, and it spilled from her hands and went thumping acrossthe stage as she ran after it, a squeak on her lips.She ran back to podium, covering her mouth and trying not to stare at Robdying of a giggle fit back in his seat.“And I… thank you all for doing it with me, that was awesome! So… so…so… I was just about as awkward as you thought I was going to be, bye!”She tried to run, but Cameron Diaz stopped her and gave her the piece ofbroken off popcorn from her award. She laughed and loped off the stagewith them, already knowing that would go down in Movie Awards’history forever.But that was who she was, awkward and fumbling and silly, not the tightbrooding woman everyone thought she was – so she thought, if anything,she was glad her true self was cemented forever.*Kristen squeezed into Ashley, exhilarated and knowing she didn’t deservethis award, to be on the stage for Best Movie. There were so many brilliantmovies out there, and she was crying a bit, letting Ashley hold her. Shewas glad of her newfound friendship in the girl – she was different thanNikki, sweeter and less catty, and not harboring a deep infatuation forRob. In fact, if anything, Ashley could understand her – she and Jacksonhad some strange dynamic, all fire and ice and it was interesting andbeautiful.But she couldn’t think of that now, not when she was being led off thestage, with Rob’s hand discreetly pressed into her back. She knew she had
    • the press tent to go to, but all she wanted was his bed and his warm skinpressed against her. She was tired and hungry and missed the white duvetshe had been used to sleeping on the past few months. She had bought itfor their shared hotel bed in Vancouver, a piece of something that wassolely theirs, and Rob had brought it home just days before to hisapartment in LA.It smelled like love and tears and whispers and sweat and sex andcigarettes. It smelled like home.“Soon,” Rob mouthed to her before they made their way into the tent, andshe smiled. Before, with them, the word soon was an unattainable goal –months away, when things were finally in the clear. She used to hate theword soon. But now that soon meant in a few hours, she loved it.*“Finally,” Kristen announced as she and Rob arrived at his apartment, hisshirt not buttoned. She liked the hard lines of his abs, so unfamiliar andstrange against the soft stomach that preferred beer over crunches onceupon a time. But it wasn’t a bad thing, not at all, and she traced a fingeragainst the V that dipped into his pants and before she could take ten morebreaths, his pants were down around his ankles, and he was hot andpulsing in her hand.“Will it always feel this way?” she whispered against his mouth, strokinghim up and down, twisting at the head in the way that made him crazy.“It will if you don’t stop,” he growled, still sarcastic in heat.“I didn’t mean – “ she started, annoyed, but he pulled her dress up overher head, a puddle of red and black at her feet.They didn’t make it to the bedroom. Kristen’s weak ankle and Rob’sresolve to get inside her as quickly as possible had them on the floor in thesmall hallway, half-heartedly shedding clothes while just pulling asideothers, letting hot mouths descend on hyperaware flesh. She twisted as histeeth and tongue zipped across her nipple, trying to get her wet and slick,ready for his intrusion.“Go, go,” she panted, and he went, positioning himself with one hand andbracing himself above her body with the other.
    • When he pushed into her, his mouth opened and his eyes closed, and sheremembered his clumsy first entrance, his premature ejaculation and howshe hadn’t wanted to rush him because he wasn’t a horse to be made fasteror slower, but now she didn’t care, he was hers and he was going to move.She shoved her heels in his back and he stroked up into her body with hispowerful thighs, the sweat dripping off his nose making its way into hereye.She giggled and wiped the salty liquid away, and even as he pumped hiships in time with his heartbeat, he had a smile for her.Later, after she came to his insistent fingers and angled thrusts, she sentthat smile back to him, and it sent him over, spiraling into his ownnirvana.*“There’s something to be said about three-day-old Chinese take out,”Kristen said much later, sitting in the middle of Rob’s bed with a shirt ofhis thrown over her nakedness.“What’s that?” he asked, slurping lo mein in a way that made her want togo all mother on him.“It’s disgusting,” she said, pushing her won tons in his direction. He tookthem happily, and she lay back against the sheets.She closed her eyes, letting the breeze filtering through the open windowplay in her hair and across her face. She breathed it in, happy and full andso in love.“You know what you said earlier?” Rob asked finally, his mouth full ofmu-shu pork. “About if it’ll always be like this?”“Mmm-hmmm,” she muttered, half asleep.She felt the bed shift and then his salty breath was in her face, and sheopened an eye to complain but couldn’t when she saw the look in his eye.“Don’t forget that I fought for you for almost a year,” he said, brushinghair out of her eyes. “It’ll always be like this, for me.”
    • She didn’t answer for a minute, trying to think of something. “Do youremember the passage you read to me about love, from The Prophet, and Isaid love would never be like that?”“Yes.”She closed her eyes and snuggled into his knee. “It is like that.”The last thing she remembered before sleep was a kiss near her ear andthree words that would sustain her better than air.“Take the picture.”“Kristen…”“Just do it.”Her mom sighed, and then focused the camera phone on Kristen’sunsmiling face. The camera clicked, and then Kristen turned away, backto the mirror, and ran her hand over the cropped hair.“I think it suits you. Joan loved it.”Kristen nodded.“I’m sure Rob will love you either way.”“Mom? Stop. Please.” She held her hand out for her phone, which hermom placed in her hand.“Want some lunch? I think your dad and I are going to run up the deli.”“Yeah, if you can get something spiked in Everclear,” Kristen groused,making her mom laugh as she walked down the stairs.Kristen quickly highlighted Rob’s name, located the picture, and then hit‘send’ before she could rethink it. Then she flew back onto her bed,wanting to die or at least wallow in self-pity.
    • She knew she wasn’t supermodel gorgeous, but she felt like she had beencoming into her own lately. She felt comfortable in her skin, her sexuality,her love life – everything was making her glow. And now she felt sallowand pale and drawn, with the stark black hair, and let’s face it, the mullet.Kristen’s phone vibrated by her head, and she glanced down. Rob’s nameflashed across the screen and she waited a few shaky moments beforeanswering.“Hello?”“Hi, beautiful.”She huffed. “Don’t patronize me, Robert.”“I’m not. At least you didn’t have to play Edward Cullen.”She could hardly hear him; he sounded like he was in a crowd, and sheimagined him, bustling and beautiful through the streets of New York. Herache for him intensified in the pit of her stomach, and before she knew it,there were tears.“Please, just let me feel sorry for myself.”“Nothing doing, sweetheart. At least you didn’t have to get white makeupcaked on your face, along with bright red lipstick and trounce around witha pea coat and a bouffant, and by the way, the one person in New Yorkwho doesn’t know who I am just overheard me saying this and ran veryfast in the other direction.”Kristen’s laughter burbled out strangely from the lump of tears in herthroat. “Might be good for your ego.”“Oh yes, you know how much I love people clamoring for my attention.”“You better not. There are way too many people willing to give you alltheir attention, you know what I mean…”“Don’t be silly, silly. Attention is overrated – why are so many people
    • staring? Jesus. I’m just walking here. Maybe I should juggle flamingjackrabbits; give them something to look at…”“You have plenty to look at.”“I’ll give you something plenty to look at.”“I swear to God, if you ever send me a picture message like that again,especially when you know I’m at dinner with my grandma, you’ll havenothing to photograph after I’m finished with it…”He laughed, clear and strong. “I miss you. Stop sniffling. I think you lookbeautiful, although you could use a smile.”She felt the tears again. “Rob, how can I smile? I’m just so… ugly.”There was a long silence on the other end, and all she could hear was hisbreathing. Then he said, in a fierce, low voice, “Don’t you ever say thatabout yourself, ever. Do you hear me? Ever.”“But I was just feeling so good about myself, and now it’s all ruined, and Ijust want to be beautiful for you, all the time… there are so many MeganFoxes and Paris Hiltons and Emilie De Ravins…” She sniffled, reallyworking herself up. “And I’m just this mousy haired girl from the Valley,with nothing beautiful about her except the fact the most amazing manloves her, and I just… I want to feel like I have something to offer you.”“You are absolutely ridiculous and this insecurity is not like you, at all.You realize you’ve cut your hair to play the lead role in a biopic of one ofthe most influential musicians in rock n’ roll, ever? Hair grows back,Kristen. Think of it, what if one day, I get, I don’t know, leukemia, and Ihave to go bald? Would you love me less?”She understood his point, but the thought of her strong, beautiful Robsickly and dying made her sob even harder. She was to the point ofincoherency and she could barely manage to tell Rob she had to go overhis pleas for her to stay, please Kristen, stay.*Kristen pulled her hood up and kept her head down as she evaded the
    • clicks of a dozen cameras, all trying to get a money shot of her new hair.She just didn’t understand the fascination; did people want to see her ather most vulnerable?She hadn’t spoken to Rob in nearly twenty-four hours. After she had hungup sobbing, she had turned off her phone and went to work, meeting withher director and Dakota Fanning and Joan Jett herself, which nearly madeher throw up with nerves.She reached her mini-cooper just as her phone buzzed in her hand; sheneeded to throw up again because the screen read Joan Jett.“Hello?” she said, trying to sound cool and not like the nineteen-year-oldfan girl she was.“Babe, the hair looks great,” said the deep voice full of girl rock andwisdom, and Kristen swore she almost blacked out from Joan Jett callingher babe.“Thanks,” said Kristen. “I can’t wait to get started.”The next five minutes were full of Kristen hyperventilating – somethingshe was not accustomed to, being star struck – and Joan giving her wordsof wisdom and advice, all along the lines of fuck what people think.She was feeling pumped up and raw by the time she got back to her house,ready to go up, call Rob, and hash out whatever it was that was gnawingbetween them.“Hi,” she called out into her house as she stepped gratefully into the airconditioning. She heard a few calls of welcome from the living room area,so she skipped up the steps to the second floor and burst into room, herphone already in hand.Then she looked up, and the phone dropped with a thud against thecarpet.Rob was sitting on her bed.She cried out and moved towards him, intending to throw herself on him,but the harsh lines around his mouth stopped her.
    • “Thank God for the Internet,” he said brashly. “It’s the only thing that’sclued me in on my girlfriend’s whereabouts for the past couple days. Notknowing if she’s hurt or dead or unhappy… I almost bless the paparazzi forfollowing you tirelessly.”“Rob, I…”“What’s the point of all of this? Why did you shut me out?”“I don’t…”“You sounded so heartbroken when we spoke, and you didn’t say I loveyou when you hung up, and then you wouldn’t answer me, and you lookso dead in all of your photos, I thought maybe… you hated me, or didn’twant to be together anymore, I don’t know!”“That wasn’t it at all – ““Well what was it? Because it’s not fair to shut me out – ““I’ve been busy, and – ““Too busy for the man you claim to love?”“Claim to love? You fucking know that I love you – ““Yes, I’m basking in its eternal glory at the moment – ““Don’t be sarcastic – ““Then give me some answers!”“Why are you so upset about this?” she demanded, slamming her door soher parents and siblings wouldn’t hear the argument. “I’m sorry; I wasupset and didn’t want to talk, and then I’ve been really busy the pasttwenty-four hours, which you should know and actually, what are youeven doing here? I thought you had a meeting with that big-wig, youknow, what’s his name – ““I cancelled it,” he said flatly. “I cancelled everything until tomorrow
    • night. My professional life can wait, because if you shut me out, it wouldkill me. I don’t know how to function without you, Kristen, it’s beenmaking me utter shit.”She tentatively moved to him, and he sighed and reached out a hand. Shetook it and they fell into each other, her nose pressed against his neck as hecradled her small body against his large frame. She wrapped his soft t-shirtinto her fingers and clenched, feeling small frustrated tears squeeze out ofher eyes and onto his collar.“When you shut me out,” he whispered, “it reminds me of… those days,you know. When I didn’t know if I would ever be good enough for you.When I would have to pray for the phone to ring, or sit there and thinkabout you and Michael being in love, together… when I only got a pieceof your heart. I know it’s stupid, but I’m not fully over it, at all. And then,when I don’t hear from you, after we’ve sniped at each other, it just… youknow. Especially after I’ve never shut you out, not once, I’ve alwaysopened my heart to you, even after it almost killed me then, too.”“You’ve shut me out,” she whispered, smelling his familiar scent oftobacco and some obscure cologne. “Munich.”“I did that for a reason, and you know it. Kristen, please, I’m not trying tofight or say ‘look at my track record’, just please, please don’t shut me out,okay?” He raised her up so he could look her in the face.He looked so tired. The bags under his eyes were purple and she touchedthem with soft fingers, and he closed his eyelids under her caress. His fiveo’clock shadow was more of a nine o’clock, and his hair was matted downfrom the baseball cap sitting beside him on the bed. His clothes hadobviously been slept in, but he was so lovely and she had to press her lipsagainst his and feel his reassurance through physical attentiveness.He kissed her for a few minutes, and she lavished the feeling of theirtogetherness, the physical affection that was once their only expression oflove. He held onto her upper arms with loose fingers as he pressed andsucked and bit and licked her lips, and she all but melted against him,chocolate against a flame. He pulled back and rested his forehead againsthers, his ragged breathing blowing warm against her face.
    • “I’m so glad you’re here,” she whispered. “I need you so much. Iobviously fall apart when you’re not around.”“I was not… doing so well on my own, either,” he admitted, his armslocking across her back. He pressed his nose into her hair and took a deepbreath. “It’s only been a week, too. I think I’m going crazy.”“I think we just deprived ourselves of this for so long, we’re gluttons foreach other now,” she said, sort of joking but mostly serious. “I can’tbelieve you’re here, God.”“You sent out the bat signal,” he said.“More like the bat-shit crazy signal. My hair really had me freaking.”He held her back away from him and surveyed it. “It’s certainly going totake getting used to, but you could never be ugly and you will always bebeautiful. I really like the dark color. It brings out these.” He touched thecorners of her eyes with his fingers, one at a time, and she kissed the padof his thumb as he brought his hand back down.“Also,” he said, “I have a favor to ask.”“Yes?” she asked, moving to his knuckles with her lips.“I’d like to propose a ménage a trois.”She arched an eyebrow. “With whom? You, me, and… Dakota?”He nearly launched himself backward. “Oh my God, don’t say that!Haven’t you ever seen How to Catch a Predator? Jesus.”She laughed. “I don’t think you could handle Joan.”He looked highly offended. “What is that supposed to mean?”“She’s a fierce older woman; I’m sure she would be bored by your youngman tricks…”“Oh really?”
    • “You better not deprive me just for saying that.”“Women aren’t the only ones who can withhold sex as punishment.”“Rob,” she whined.“Okay, you win.”“You’re easier than a game of Candy Land, do you know that?”*They ended up in Kristen’s mini-cooper, headed for the coast. Rob hadshook a bag of sticky green substance in her face and promised her solace,and now they were looking at the lines of a two-lane highway along thePacific, holding hands over the console.“We took advantage of so much,” she said quietly, over the sound of theBeatles telling her to let it be. “When we were nobodies, we did this all thetime. And now, we’re validated life members, and I would give up nearlyeverything to go back to being just another number in the population.”He squeezed her hand as he turned into a deserted parking lot. “There alot of things I miss, but there are a lot of things I don’t,” he said decidedly,and she agreed silently, letting his statement lie.They walked hand in hand down to the shore, their fingers never ceasingmovement. Rob took off his jacket for Kristen to sit on, and she smiled athis gesture, crossing her legs Indian-style and searching in her pocket forher lighter.“You’ve gotten so much better at this,” he said, admiring the two jointsshe had rolled up in the car.“Yes, congratulate me on debauchery like a proper boyfriend.” She heldout her hand for one of them, and he placed it carefully in her palm.She lit the tip and breathed in, letting the smoke fill her mouth beforeinhaling all the way. Then she breathed out, watching the clouds curl
    • around her. Rob reached over and rubbed her neck with one hand, and herhead fell forward of its own volition.“Is this laced with Ecstasy?” she asked, gesturing to the joint. “Because Iswear to God, that feels amazing…”He chuckled sleepily and then their joints were forgotten points of burningin the sand, because they moved to each other like two opposing polarmagnets, connecting with harsh breaths and slick heat at the mouth.His hand tugged at the buttons on her plaid shirt, sliding them deftly out ofthe holes as he palmed her breasts with his other hand. She sighed into hismouth, and then his lips were moving down her neck, hot and fast, andthen she was just in her bra lying on her back with his erection pressinginto her stomach.His tongue met her bra and he flicked at her nipples through the thin fabricand she arched up, meeting his hips with her own. He pulled down thecup with his teeth and then his lips found her peak and she clenched herlegs around his waist and tugged on his hair, bowing her back to press himcloser.She struggled out of her jeans; they were damp from the ocean. He wasimpatient and feral, growling when they wouldn’t come off and shegiggled at his urgency. Then his long tongue met her nipple again, and shecouldn’t do anything but just feel, especially when his long fingers dippedinto her underwear and scraped along the silk heat she emanated for him.They had been partners in sexuality for nearly a year, and she keptexpecting the passion and the smoky, hazy need for his physicality to wearoff. But it just kept expanding, the more she found out about him – theway he looked at her when she revealed herself in only a black negligee,the feel of him in her from behind, the harsh twist of her nipple that shenever told him she liked but did.When he finally pushed inside of her with one hand braced by her headand the other holding his cock, her eyes rolled back into her head and shescrabbled her fingers down his back, looking for a place to hold on to. Sheexpected him to pound into her, due to his mood seconds before, but heslowly worked himself in and out, scraping her nerves just so.
    • They stayed that way for a while, just quietly making love, his hipsmoving in beat with her heart, like a metronome. They kissed lightly,licking the sweat off each other’s lips and she bit into his shoulderwhenever he hit a sweet spot inside of her. Then they would lock eyes andfingers, and she watched him love her, the look in his eyes something shewould draw, if she could.With her bad haircut, pale skin and insecurities, she had never felt morebeautiful in her life, as she saw the reflection of love in his eyes.“Ready?” he said to her suddenly, and she nodded, wanting whatever hehad to offer.He hitched her leg around his waist and pushed his whole body, causingher to gasp. His thrusts came harder and faster, now working themtowards a goal, rather than languid love. She grabbed onto his arms andheld on tight as his movements scraped her along the sandy shore.“Oh, God…” he groaned, dipping his forehead down to hers. “Takeover.” He rolled them and then she was perched on top of him.She braced herself against him, hips flat and hands on either side of hishead. She pushed up and down with gyrations of her hips rather than herlegs, so she could keep him deep, right where she needed him. Shewatched his face as he came closer to his pinnacle, feeling him engorgeand stretch into her nerves, making her feel tight and hot and close.“Help me,” she whispered, and he thrust up on her downward shove andshe moaned out loud, her eyes rolling back.They continued that movement for another thirty seconds before shecame, the sweetly painful tension in her stomach uncurling into anexplosion. She was wet and hot and open, and Rob rolled her back overand used her body to his own end, and she loved it, watching him take hispleasure.Another two minutes and he was murmuring random words, fuck and yesand Kristen, Kristen, Kristen, before his pumps became sporadic. Hegroaned deep in his throat, the rumbling moving through her own body,
    • and he stilled after two more sharp thrusts, breathing out with a harsh tearof oxygen.*Much later that night, they lay in Kristen’s childhood bed. She had herhead over his heart, in that special place between his neck and chest,where she swore she fit perfectly. He had his fingers through her shornhair, running it through his hands lovingly, sleepily.She fell asleep against him, aching about his nearing departure and lovinghim for coming to her when she needed him most. But he had alwaysdone that, from day one – he had been her best friend first and her loversecond. But now she could reconcile both into one word – and eventhough boyfriend was such a blasé term for how she felt – it wascomforting, lovely, wonderful to know that she could have him and holdhim and eat her cake, too.When he left the next night, he whispered to her words she hadn’t heard inso long. They filled up her heart, patched every hole, every wound, everyinsecurity.“And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy. It is not a mouth thirsting nor an emptyhand stretched forth, but rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted. It is not theimage you would see nor the song you would hear, but rather an image you seethough you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.”The next day, she wore her hood down and had a smile for the wholeworld, but most especially, for him.