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.