Wednesday, May 20, 2015 | By: Drotuno

Man Behind the Mask Chapter 25 & Pics

Chapter 25 – Every Girl Crazy ’Bout a Sharp Dressed Man
Clean shirt, new shoes
And I don't know where I am goin' to.
Silk suit, black tie,
I don't need a reason why.

They come runnin' just as fast as they can
'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.

Gold watch, diamond ring,
I ain't missin' not a single thing.
And cuff links, stick pin,
When I step out I'm gonna do you in.

They come runnin' just as fast as they can
'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.
“Sharp Dressed Man” – ZZ Top
“Miss Bella, it’s good to see you back with us,” Tony greeted with a big smile as he took my bags from me.
“Thank you, Tony,” I told him, standing up on my toes to kiss his cheek.
He tipped his baseball cap dramatically, which caused groans from all the guys – my brother and boyfriend included. Not boyfriend…fiancé. The word caused a brief pause in every thought process I had, making me glance back as Edward set his own stuff down, except for his guitar case. He was dressed for comfort and travel – old, worn-out jeans with rips in the knees, a black T-shirt, and his usual Docs. Though, the latter would most likely be kicked off as soon as we got moving. His hair was still in a damp disarray as he rolled his eyes at Tony’s big grin.
“Work it harder next time, Tone,” Edward drawled sarcastically with a shake of his head when Tony popped his collar at him, all in good teasing.
“Dude… Cheesy much?” Mike laughed, squeaking like a girl when I gave him a wet willy as we trudged up the bus steps. “Augh! B! You know I hate that shit! Mase said something, too!”
“Yes, but you’re closer,” I told him, smiling when he scowled at me. “It’s not cheesy; it’s called manners. Didn’t Mom teach you any-damn-thing?”
“She taught me which fork is the salad one,” he said with a laugh at my eye roll. “You’re just cranky ’cause you were probably up all night.” He waggled his eyebrows, only to scream again and slam his hands over his ears when I put my finger back in my mouth. “It’s a long fucking way to Arizona, B!” he grumbled, dropping a backpack into the seat he usually took.
It was early as hell the morning after I’d arrived in Salt Lake City. However, my brother was right – Edward and I had been up most of the night. I’m not sure it could’ve been helped; we’d simply spent most of the night celebrating being back together…and our engagement.
I shook my head to clear it of all the stuff running through my mind. We were about to get on the road to make our way down to Phoenix, and then it was Vegas. Edward wanted to marry me. And I’d said yes. As I took my usual spot on the tour bus, my eyes drifted to the door. Edward stepped up inside, careful not to bump his head or smack anyone or anything with his guitar case as he made his way down the small walkway. He seemed too big for the space. Or maybe the bus was just too damn crowded, but his presence on it felt…enormous. Or hell, maybe things just felt different.
A paper cup appeared in my vision, and I could smell coffee, cream, and sugar. Taking it like it was the Holy fucking Grail, I looked up at him like he was the rock god he pretended to be, which made him grin that sexy half smile my way.
“I honestly didn’t want a wet willy, so I’m hoping to brownnose my way out of it.”
Giggling, I peeled the lid up gently, sipping it. “It worked.”
“Well, that was easy,” he said, leaning his guitar on the cushion and sitting next to me. Wrapping an arm around my shoulders when I leaned against him, he pressed a kiss to the side of my head. “Ready for this?” he asked, his brow furrowing when my head snapped around to him. “What?”
“Ready for what?”
“This…the whole on-the-road thing, angel.” He huffed a laugh, bringing me closer. “What’d you think I meant?” He cupped the side of my face, his eyes raking over every inch of it, it seemed. Finally, he smiled a little, his face blushing so beautifully. “Baby, there’s no rush on anything we discussed last night.” He brushed soft, temptingly sweet kisses to my lips before adding in a whisper, “Just the fact that you said yes… That’s everything.”
Smiling, I kissed him again. “I meant it… And stop blushing like that!” I hissed, kissing him again. “You’re killing me this morning.”
He laughed, raising his hands in surrender. “It’s not something I can stop with you, obviously.”
I chuckled as I took another sip coffee. “Tease.”
I felt his hand cover mine, his fingers ghosting across my ring finger.
When I met his gaze, his eyes were dark green. “I meant it, too, angel,” he whispered. “I want… We can… I just want my mark on you. Here. Permanently. I’ll get you a ring, if that’s what you want. I’ll get you any-fucking-thing in the world, Bella.”
“Fuck,” I breathed, and despite the fact that our activities the night before could be felt all over every inch of my body, he was killing me. My forehead fell to his, and it took all the restraint I had not to kiss him stupid in front of everyone on that tour bus – just about all of us were present and accounted for at this point. Hell, Tony had already closed the doors. “I don’t feel rushed, Edward,” I whispered back, finally addressing his original concern and giggling when his face tinged pink again while that smile of his could’ve lit up all of Salt Lake City.
“What’s with you two today?” Emmett asked, narrowing his eyes at me and then his brother, never mind that everyone was staring at us.
“Nothing,” Edward and I sang in unison barely breaking our gaze, which caused us to laugh again.
“Ah, leave them be,” Demetri drawled. “It’s good to see.” He shot me a wink. “Your dad has to be cracking the hell up, though. You with a musician.”
“Yeah, I know. Oh!” I gasped, handing Edward my coffee so I could grab my backpack…and successfully take the focus off Edward and me, simply because we weren’t sure what we were going to tell everyone else, especially Rose. Not yet, anyway. “Tony, hold on. You’ll want to see this, too!”
“Yes, ma’am.” He stood up from the driver’s seat and walked toward us.
I turned on my tablet, smiling down at the file I opened. “Thought you might like to see who I met just before I left Seattle.”
I held up the pictures of Alec, Carrie, and the reason for their tired smiles…Tia. She was eight pounds of chubby, sweet, brand-new baby girl. She had a headful of dark hair that matched her dad but a bow-shaped mouth that was like her mother’s.
“Oh, stop,” Edward said with a laugh.
“God, she’s beautiful!” Tanya squealed softly.
I let Edward take the tablet so he could scroll through all the pics. Alec and Carrie had stopped by my place the day before I was due to leave Seattle. Tiny Tia was a grunting, grumbling little ball of sweetness. We’d all seen the pictures Alec had mass-texted the day she was born; we’d gotten them just after we’d left Chicago. Carrie had come through labor just fine, Tia was perfectly healthy, with all fingers and toes accounted for, and Alec was madly in love with his girls. Now she was a little over a month old and was cuter than ever.
“He’s so not gonna want to leave home,” Kate said with a chuckle as she looked around Edward’s arm. “She’s so cute!”
“No, he said he’s coming. He’ll be in Vegas like he’d promised,” I assured them. “He stopped by to see the studio, and he helped Harry with a few things. In fact, keep scrolling, and you’ll see the renovation progress.”
I sat back, sipping my coffee as Edward kept scrolling. Tony muttered that he’d better get on the road, so he took his spot in the driver’s seat and told us all to settle in. Once they’d gone through all the pictures, Edward handed me back the tablet, leaving one picture open. I grinned, glancing from me holding Tia to his face. He wanted it. He wanted it all. I could see it all over his face.
I merely nodded, leaning in to kiss him. “Yes to that, too, Edward.”
Edward reclined back on the bench, and I leaned my back to his chest, his legs on either side of mine. I toyed with the tear in the knee of his jeans as everyone slowly let the rumble of the bus lull them into their own quiet activities. This was my favorite part of touring. The small, quiet moments, the world flying by outside the windows as Edward held me through it all.
Edward pressed kisses to my head, and then his lips were at my ear. “We should tell them.”
Turning, I pressed my forehead to his cheek and nodded. “We should. Rose first, I imagine. I mean, if you’re serious about Vegas…”
His chuckle shook us both, but he shook his head as his voice was only for me to hear. “I was kinda kidding, Bella, but not really. We can wait until the tour is over and do shit the right way.”
“That’s Edward talking,” I teased him, laughing at his grin. “How’s Masen feel about such things?”
He huffed a laugh, gazing out the window. “He wants you his as soon as fucking possible.”
“Well, too late for that,” I sang, kissing that strong neck where his pulse pounded. “That happened the second you came barreling into my bar. You knocked me on my ass in more ways than one.”
He laughed, his head falling back as he scrubbed his face with both hands, only to rake them through his hair. When he finally met my gaze, he shrugged. “Angel, I don’t know. I’m torn. What do you want?” He kissed my lips and then my cheek, putting his lips at my ear. “You want the big wedding – church, big dress, and all – it’s yours. You want to slip away and just have it be me and you, done. So…you tell me.”
I studied his face, and I could see he honestly didn’t know what to pick. The thought of a giant church wedding and all the fluff, frills, and pomp that went along with it made me want to claw my own skin off. It wasn’t me. And I didn’t think it was Edward either – and definitely not Masen – though I could see him going through it simply for the outcome.
Tanya hissed a curse, glaring over Rose’s shoulder, and both of us were pulled out of our small private, whispering bubble to glance over at them.
“Oh my fucking hell,” Tanya sighed, looking to us and shaking her head. “Guess who’s accepted an invitation to the VMAs? She’ll be one of the presenters.”
“Heidi,” I stated without any inflection in my tone.
“Queen Twatwaffle herself.” She pointed to the laptop Rose was glaring daggers at and added, “Says here, you two will be…presenting together.”
I snorted into an ugly laugh, and I wasn’t the only one, but Edward was still. When I looked up at him, his face was resigned yet fierce. It was one of those moments where I could see just how tired he was of being put into positions that made him uncomfortable. Putting him with Heidi at the award show made sense, simply because she’d been in two of Radiant Eclipse’s videos, one of which was up for an award that very night. However, their relationship that had stemmed from it was over, and he didn’t want to be in the same auditorium with her, much less share a microphone for a few minutes to give away an award. Whether she had pulled strings to get that result or someone else thought it would be a genius idea, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that my Edward wasn’t happy, but I knew what would make him smile, make him feel like he had control over his life.
“Vegas,” I whispered to him, and his dark gaze snapped to mine. “I want Vegas. I want to fly our parents out, but I want it small. Private…like no one outside of this.” I gestured a thumb behind us. “Nothing big. Nothing flashy. Just those who matter most. And when it’s all over…we’ll tell the world.”
Edward’s handsome face flushed a beautiful pink, but his eyes looked at me with heat and love and want.
“But you’re telling Rose,” I whispered, grinning at his dramatic expression of fear.
Edward’s lips met mine, teasing, tasting, claiming. “I love you, and you’re gonna tell her with me.” My giggle made him smile against my lips. “But we’ll wait until Phoenix…at least we can hide in the hotel room when she snaps.”
I buried my laugh into his neck, and his colorful arms wrapped all the way around me, holding me close as kisses pressed to my cheek.
“Sounds like a plan, Edward.”
“You wanna do…what?!” Rose bellowed, making me flinch.
I groaned, rubbing my face as I sat on the edge of the hotel bed in Phoenix. We were about to get ready to grab dinner with the band before sound check. Edward couldn’t hold off telling his brother and sister-in-law any longer.
“Hey, that’s kinda awesome! Congrats, baby bro!” Emmett cheered, starting for his brother, but he stopped dead in his tracks when his wife shot him a withering glare. He grinned, shaking his head. “Relax, Rosie… You knew it would happen.”
“Yeah! Eventually!” She raised her arms up and let them fall back to her sides. “Do have any idea what kind of media chaos will be all over that? And just how do you expect to keep it quiet?!”
Edward’s jaw rolled when he gritted his teeth, and I knew he was about five seconds from losing his temper.
“You would deny me this? After all the bullshit I’ve done? I’ve jumped through every goddamn hoop, been paraded all over the fucking world…and you’d shut me down on this, Rose?”
“I… I…” Rose faltered, her gaze softening. “No, Edward. That’s not… It’s just…”
Emmett walked to her. “Aw, hell, babe… This isn’t much different than what you and I did.”
That really melted her. “I know that, too! But your face isn’t sprawled on T-shirts, magazine covers, and CD cases!”
“It could be! I’m damned cute!”
The giggle that erupted out of me couldn’t be stopped if I’d glued my damn lips together. Edward shot a glance my way, his own temper fading just a little. His grin was a quick flash of adorable amusement.
“We’re getting married,” Edward said, though the fight in him was down to a heavy urge instead of being five seconds away from stomping his foot like a petulant child.
“No one has to know,” I added, getting up from the bed and cupping Edward’s sweet yet slightly hurt face when he rounded on me. “Until it’s done.” I added the latter, not breaking my gaze from his, and he leaned in to kiss my forehead. Facing Rose, I said, “People get married every day, Rose. They do it with ginormous parties, in tiny little churches, in secret at the courthouse…” I gestured to Emmett, who nodded, because that’s how they’d been married. “They run off to Vegas…” I urged, raising an eyebrow. “Legally, there’s nothing stopping us. In reality, we didn’t have to tell you.” I held up a hand when she started to argue. “But…we wanted you to know. We wanted everyone who mattered to be there. We can keep it quiet until it’s done.”
“Why now? Why can’t you wait until we’re home?” Rose asked us, her eyes flickering between us.
“I don’t want to wait,” Edward stated, and where that could’ve sounded childish, it came out simple and sweet and completely honest. He shrugged a shoulder. “We shouldn’t have to wait. What I do on stage and in the recording studio has nothing to do with my personal life, Rosalie. Not anymore. I won’t let my career – the career I don’t regret…not a fucking second – dictate what goes on behind closed doors. I just can’t do it anymore. Aro did that enough, and now that he’s gone, I’m done. I won’t act like something I’m not. I’ve played the part long enough. I have zero problem doing what I do on stage and in interviews. None. It was fine when we were kids and it didn’t matter, when it didn’t hurt anyone. Now it’s different. I won’t hide who I am, who I love, who I want to spend the rest of my life with. I just won’t. I love her, and that won’t change tomorrow, when we reach Vegas, or even if we waited for a hundred years.”
“Aw, fuck… You’re killing me, brother-in-law,” she sighed, smirking my way when my eyes welled up with just how sweet that was. “And just how the hell did you think we’d pull it off?”
Smiling, I leaned into Edward’s side. “That’s kinda why we wanted to tell you, Rose.”
She laughed, and while it was probably a humorless gut reaction to the whole stressful moment, she genuinely smiled our way. She sighed deeply, rubbing her temple with two fingers. “Okay, okay… You know we have to tell the rest of them, because I damn sure am gonna need Tanya’s and Kate’s help, not to mention Alice, who may kill you both dead.”
Edward grinned, rushing to his sister-in-law and hugging her. “We don’t need a big…thing,” he told her softly. “Or fancy. That’s just not us. We just wanted…”
She stopped him, nodding a little. “I know. I get it.” She leaned into Emmett when he draped an arm around her shoulders. “Just… Oh, guys…” She shook her head slowly. “You will cause an explosion. Good, bad, shocked…just a huge blowup. You need to brace for it. I can only prepare you so much, but if we can keep it quiet until it’s all over, then you’d better hold on to your asses, because you’re in for a shit-storm.”
“We know,” Edward and I said at the same time.
“No, I don’t think you do, because you’ll be walking the red carpet at the VMAs when you should be honeymooning,” she stated firmly, pointing a finger at us. “You release that information before you get to L.A., and they’re going to be all over you.”
Edward smiled, and it was evil and sexy and mischievous all at the same time, and the blush that graced his scruffy cheeks made me want to do things to him that I had no business thinking about since we were about to leave for the arena. I could see that all he wanted was control of his life back, to do what he wanted, when he wanted, and do it in spite of the rumors that floated around out there.
“We’re aware.” His statement was firm, but his tenor was deep and slow. “We’d be doing this – award show or not. It’s what we want.” His hand slipped into mine, linking our fingers together. “The timing of this is a bonus, Rosie.”
She narrowed her eyes on him, but her shoulders sagged in defeat. “I… Fuck, I honestly can’t blame you for that one. Truly, those old-as-hell rumors need to be put to rest.” She smiled at him, and it was just as evil as his. “Releasing this will be…interesting…”
She was already hard at work, thinking about it, and she started for the door. “Let’s go. You don’t want to be late for sound check.”
Emmett stopped with his hand on the door knob. “You get to tell the parents why their second son is denying them a wedding, too. Poor Mom… She wanted the big, fluffy shit…cake and all.”
“Oh, yeah, ’cause I look like the kinda guy on top of a wedding cake,” Edward drawled, gesturing to his ink-covered arms.
Emmett grinned, yanking open the door. “You’re still telling them.”
Edward and I didn’t move when Rose and Emmett walked out of our hotel room. When the door clicked closed, I found myself tossed to the bed and a tall, inked god of a man looming over me, suddenly kissing me until I forgot my name. He pressed deliciously down onto me, our denim rubbing together in ways that made me wrap my legs around his hips and pull him in closer. We lost ourselves for a moment – lips and tongues claiming and tasting. Edward braced a hand by my head, but his free one was everywhere he could reach.
When he pulled away from my mouth, I groaned at the loss of him, but his eyes were wicked and deadly. “Fuck, I should’ve waited until later to tell her. Now I want you, and we don’t have time to do all the things I want to do to you.”
“Save it up, baby,” I breathed against his sharp jaw, trailing my lips across his throat. “Save it for after your show. Then…you can be all sorts of selfish…”
He hummed, licking his bottom lip slowly, only to bite down hard on it like he was fighting everything he had not to rip every piece of clothing from me. Just when I thought he’d say something naughty and laced with innuendo, he shocked me.
“Angel… I… Damn, baby, I can’t wait to marry you,” he whispered, his cheeks pinking up with just the right amount of color to make me smile.
“Me, either,” I agreed, raking my fingers through his hair that I had now truly sent into disarray. “You might wanna wear a hat,” I noted, grinning at his deep chuckle. “Just sayin’.”
He dropped a heavy, dramatically loud kiss to my lips. “Okay, let me grab one and go before she comes back in here with Senna’s whip or some shit.”
Laughing, I collapsed back onto the bed when he pushed off me. “Don’t knock being tied up, Edward Cullen.”
His face fell in a shocked expression as he gaped at me as I sat up.
“You might like it,” I told him, getting up, picking up my bag, and walking to the door. When he grabbed a baseball cap and pulled it on, he walked to me, and I kissed his cheek. “It’s the ultimate in selfish, baby,” I whispered, opening the door for him.
“You’re killin’ me, angel,” he muttered, shaking his head. “Just fucking killing me!”
Smiling innocently at him, I shrugged a shoulder. “But you love me.”
He sighed, smiling and kissing me before we reached the elevator doors. “God, yes. More and more every damn day.”
“This is a first for me.”
Glancing around the large private reception room, I nodded in agreement. My heart was too full today. And as I gazed around at the clusters of conversations, I smiled. My mom was deep in conversation with Esme, who hadn’t let go of Carlisle’s hand since they’d walked into the room. Felix was guarding the door, with Emmett by his side and Tony nearby. Jasper, Jacob, and my brother were teasing Alec as he held his baby daughter. Alice, Tanya, Kate, Carrie, and Rose were sitting at a large table with Garrett, Maggie, Tori, Harry, and Demetri, swapping old gig stories.
And the most important person was sitting right behind me, waiting for his turn yet unable to stay away from me, no matter who was in the room. We’d been separated since we’d arrived at the hotel in Vegas the day before, and now that the ceremony was complete, I didn’t see him letting me out of arm’s reach for very long.
I flinched at the pinch of my skin so close to the bone but smiled at Angela when she raised an eyebrow at me.
“Almost done,” she said, dabbing at ink and blood and skin before adding the final touches to my wedding band.
Kisses were pressed to the side of my head, and I tried my best to control the idiotic smile that spread across my face when I looked over at my husband.
The ceremony had been brief and very private. No one was allowed inside this room, and we owed it all to the girls sitting at the table. The very second Kate and Tanya had heard the news, they’d taken control of everything. They’d planned every detail – not that we’d wanted a big deal – and they’d made arrangements for everyone to be here, not to mention forced everyone involved into secrecy. And that included my friend, and tattooist, Angela.
“Which part is a first, Ang?” I asked her in order to distract myself from the heat Edward was giving off next to me. “Wedding bands? Or being flown somewhere to do it?”
She grinned. She was a shy thing, and I’d known her since college. Her artwork was stunning, always. And she’d decided to forego painting on canvas in order to paint on skin. I’d been her first client before she’d even been certified, and I’d never regretted it. She was the one responsible for all four of my tattoos – now five – and she’d been the one to pierce me, which Edward found highly entertaining.
“Yes,” she said with a laugh, dabbing at my skin again. “Both. It feels…kinda awesome to be flown in by a band in order to do a private session.”
Edward chuckled, but his eyes were dark as he watched her finish the design on my left ring finger. Angela had designed it for us, but it was Edward’s idea – or Masen’s, really. After we’d told Rose about our engagement, what we’d wanted in Vegas, Edward and I had sat down to truly talk about the details. Diamonds were pretty, and rings were traditional, but we weren’t traditional people. Nothing about our relationship was normal to those outside our circle of family and friends. And as much as Edward meant what he said about giving me anything I wanted, I had wanted…different. Even though diamonds were forever, ink was permanent. When Edward and I had said until death do us part, we’d meant it.
“You’re set, Bella,” Angela said with a smile, patting the top of the table. “Next, handsome.”
Edward smirked at the compliment and placed his hand down on the table as she got ready. She changed gloves and needles, then put the design lightly on his skin before getting started. They would match. It was a music staff, complete with the notes to the chorus of the song Edward had written for me, the first song that would be recorded by Radiant Eclipse at Chainsaw Records once they were home from tour, and the prayer Edward had written for when we were apart. It was perfect and so us. It was a beautiful reminder of all we’d been through, and it meant everything to the two of us.
It also posed as a reminder for when we were apart, which was inevitable in the future and something with which we’d come to terms.
“Bella! Let us see!” I heard Tanya yell from across the room.
Grinning, I started to stand, but Edward’s free arm locked down around my waist. Kissing his lips, I mumbled, “I’ll be right back.” I kissed his cheek too, whispering in his ear. “You can’t blame a girl for wanting to show off her ring, baby. When Angela’s done, you’re all mine.”
He blinked slowly, his eyes almost pitch black with want, framed by long eyelashes just as dark. He bit down on his lip, but I laughed because he obviously couldn’t say what he wanted in front of my friend. Edward’s love for me was all over his handsome face. Today had been amazing, and he was dressed to absolute distraction. Alice had done a phenomenal job with the two of us. She’d worked with our personalities, not tradition. He was in a black silk suit – though, the crazy thing still wore his Docs and the jacket had already been discarded – and I was in a very pretty white dress, but neither of us looked like we belonged on the top of a wedding cake.
I raked my fingers through his newly trimmed hair and then down his smoothly shaven face. The thoughts of where I wanted that face caused my vision to blur. I finally stood, and he let me.
“I’m not going far. Promise,” I vowed in his ear, kissing his sharp jaw before walking away.
Before I could get to Tanya and the girls at the table, I was intercepted by my mother, Esme, and Carlisle. The latter pulled me into a big hug.
“You look beautiful, Bella,” he whispered, pulling back to cup my face as he smiled sweetly. “You know, you didn’t have to go alcohol free…”
Giggling, I kissed his cheek. “Have you seen this crowd drunk?” I countered, raising an eyebrow at him as he laughed and shook his head. “They can drink on their own, but alcohol in this room would not be conducive to keeping this event quiet. Jacob, alone, yells when he thinks he’s whispering when he’s been drinking. Just…they can wait. They just need to shut up for the next twenty-four hours.”
Esme laughed but opened her arms to me.
I hugged her fiercely. “I’m so glad you came.”
“God, sweetheart. Look at my son. Look at him! He’s so happy. How could I miss this?” She smirked Emmett’s way. “Neither of my boys wanted to do things the old-fashioned way. But they’re their own men. Their marriages suit them.”
I hugged her again. The call we’d made to Edward’s parents had been a nail-biting experience. We weren’t quite sure how they’d take not only the spur-of-the-moment wedding but the casualness of it all. They’d been fine. Carlisle had laughed, asking what had taken us so long, and Esme had shed tears of joy over the phone line. My mother, who now pulled me into a hug, had been shocked but merely verified my happiness. Of all the people we’d told, she had been the one we’d worried about the most. She had come to terms with Mike’s career choice and Edward’s and my relationship, but marriage was another thing altogether.
“Tell Phil I’m sorry he couldn’t come,” I told my mother with a grin as she eyed my wedding band with a slow shake of her head. She’d never been a fan of ink but never complained, really.
“He wanted to, but he had a conference in Portland.” She reached up to toy with a loose curl of mine, finally cupping my face as Carlisle and Esme walked to Edward. “Isabella, are you happy?”
She fought her smile. “Yeah, I guess so, since you’re about five seconds from bouncing clean out of your skin.” She studied my face. “Good, Bella, you deserve it. And he’s… He’s a good one. He’s all over the news and TV, but… You’d never know it. He’s just…normal.”
Laughing, I nodded. “Yeah, well…he puts on a good show for the public. He’s pretty down to earth behind the scenes.”
She nodded, glancing behind me and then back to my face. “I’m glad you guys did things this way, actually,” she said, which surprised me. “I mean, you could’ve just done it all and then told everyone, but this is really intimate and so you, sweetie.” When I nodded, she smiled again. “So…when are you home again?”
I took a deep breath because our itinerary was pretty hectic. “The band plays here tomorrow night, and then we’re off to California – San Diego, San Bernardino, then L.A., where we’ll attend the Video Music Awards. The band is up for like three of them. And then when the guys head to San Francisco, I’ll come home. Garrett and Tori promised they’d help me move Edward’s things into my place, and I’ve got to figure out if I’m going to rent out the apartment. Not to mention, I have to finish with the studio.”
“Busy, busy,” she teased. “Good, I’m glad. Let me know. I’ll pick you up.” Her eyes drifted past me, and I felt the heat against my back as Edward’s left hand appeared under mine, lifting them up to show it off.
Fuck, that was sexy, seeing his finger now marked for me.
Soon, everyone gathered around, and we were enveloped in hugs and well-wishes, but it was Rose’s voice that caught my attention.
“Edward, Bella… We need…” Her grin was adorable, but she held up her phone. “We need photos we can ‘leak’ tomorrow.”
She took pictures of our hands with matching rings. Edward put his suit jacket back on, and we posed for a few pictures for her – some of us dancing, some of us kissing, and one or two of us laughing. We kept everyone else out of the pictures, making sure just the two of us went public. There was no need to subject our families and friends to the hubbub once they returned to Seattle.
However, for our own personal collection, we took huge group pictures. I knew the second the phone clicked that the one of Edward’s family would be one of my favorites. It was just Edward, Emmett, Carlisle, and Esme. Another favorite was of the band all acting stupid yet all dressed up.
As Edward and I posed for one last picture, Garrett’s deep voice asked a question.
“How does one…leak pictures?” he asked, making Emmett chuckle.
“The Internet, dude. My brother’s got this fan on Facebook…” He went on to explain.
“Donna will love these,” I whispered, making Edward laugh in my ear as we finally relaxed when Rose walked away, scrolling through all the pictures she’d taken. “She’s kinda perfect, too. She’ll spread them like wildfire.”
“Hmm, that’s what Rose thinks, too. It’ll be Tori who sets them loose.”
I turned in his arms, smiling at the pure, unadulterated happiness that was all over his face.
“How much longer do we have to put up with these people?” he asked, grinning against the skin of my forehead when I laughed at his impatience.
“Technically, this is pretty damn high on the selfish list, Edward. No one expects us to think about anyone else but ourselves today,” I told him, loving the fact that my heels put me in direct line with his lips. “Damn, I wish I was this tall all the time.”
Edward grinned, shaking his head. “No, angel. You’re perfect just the way you are.”
I hummed against his lips at how sweet that was, and Edward pulled me flush to him as we ignored everyone babbling away behind us. We kissed slowly, softly, and sweetly. We kept it fit for public, but I was slowly burning for him.
“Mrs. Cullen,” he growled against my lips.
Pulling back from his mouth, I gazed at him through my suddenly hazy vision. To him, to everyone around us, I was now Mrs. Isabella Cullen. On paper, we’d decided to hyphenate my name – Isabella Swan-Cullen. It was the only way to do it. In fact, to the world, he was still Masen, and he always would be, which meant that I was still Isabella Swan, daughter of Chainsaw Charlie Swan. Rose would be using that tomorrow when the news of our private, secret wedding went global. But privately…I was Edward’s wife. Edward, not Masen. And that meant everything to me.
“I have two surprises for you,” he rasped, still looking at me like he could eat me alive, but he also looked like an excited little boy. It was a heady combination on him.
“What are they?” I asked out of pure curiosity.
He smiled, shaking his head. “Well, they aren’t fit for public, angel.”
The loud chatter from the people behind us made me smile, but it was Edward’s slow backwards walk toward the elevator that made me start to laugh as he tugged me with him. Surreptitiously, he pressed the up arrow on the wall, and when the doors slid quietly open, he pulled us quickly into the car, slamming his hand on the top-floor button.
Just as everyone noticed we’d slipped away, the elevator doors slid closed. I heard their yells and laughter, but it all faded away as we rose up and as Edward suddenly had me pressed into the wall of the elevator car.
“Edward…fuck…” I panted against his lips, but his hands and lips were everywhere. When his strong hand lifted my leg up by my thigh to wrap around his, my eyes rolled back at the feel of him pressing into me. “Edward…Edward…” I tried again, grinning in spite of it all. “Baby…cameras,” I finally blurted out.
His forehead fell to my shoulder, but his hand beneath my thigh just kept rubbing. Over and over, his fingers teased just beneath the edge of the bottom of my dress.
“It’s been fucking torture all damn day, angel. If I don’t get you out of this elevator…and this goddamn dress soon, I’ll fucking lose my mind.”
The ping of the elevator reaching its destination made me jump a little. Edward immediately pushed back, taking my hand. He guided me down the corridor to a room on the end and slipped the keycard into the door.
My mouth fell open at the sight of the suite lit with what seemed like hundreds of candles. It was gorgeous.
“This is the first surprise,” Edward said softly behind me. “I had all our stuff moved up here, though…” He chuckled a little. “I think our friends decided we needed food and champagne.” He pointed toward the table that was set up, bottle of bubbly on ice included.
“It’s beautiful,” I whispered, turning to face him.
His face reddened as he shrugged a shoulder. “I just… It’s just… I know we aren’t going to get a honeymoon until this tour is over, so…I wanted at least this to be special.”
“I don’t need a honeymoon, Edward,” I told him, pushing at him until he sat down on the edge of the bed, and then I stepped between his legs after kicking out of my shoes. They may have made me taller, but my feet were tired. Edward followed my lead, the thump of his Docs almost loud in the quiet room. “We travel…you travel all the damn time. You know what would be a honeymoon for me?” I asked him, and his sweet face broke into an even sweeter expression of simple, happy curiosity. “Home. When you’re home, we’ll just…lounge around like slugs. We’ll order pizza and sleep in. We’ll never get dressed some days.” I cupped his face, kissing him softly. “But this is beautiful. Thank you.”
“That sounds just about perfect, angel. Count me in.”
He smiled with pride, his hands holding on to my waist. He let go with one hand, picking up my left in order to give a light kiss to my fresh ink. He seemed to study it and his own, staying quiet for a moment.
Finally, he licked his lips, meeting my gaze. “I know… I know that we decided against the traditional rings, but I…I wanted to give you some sort of something sparkly.”
Giggling at how cute he was, I cupped his face. “What’d you do, Edward?”
He swallowed nervously, but he smiled as he reached into the inside pocket of his suit coat before shedding the thing completely. He pulled out a black velvet box. “I… I’ve told you before, I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of us. I never have. I told you that going into Pike Place that day. Everything about us is…it’s mine, yours, ours. Whatever misconceptions come out of our wedding tomorrow, I need you to understand that, I need you confident in me. I don’t…care what they say; nothing will tear me away from you. Ever.” He held up his left hand, showing off the blaringly dark ink on his finger. “This is everything. And this isn’t what most will understand. But outside of this room, I couldn’t care less what the opinion is.”
He huffed a light laugh. “I teased you that you’d be marrying both Edward and Masen.” He grinned at my chuckle, leaning in to kiss me when I pressed my lips to his. “And I know you love us both, and we’re crazy about you, but…I wasn’t kidding when I said Masen wanted one thing while Edward wanted something more traditional. I felt…wrong? Maybe? I don’t know if that’s the word, angel, but it fits. I felt like something was missing when I didn’t do the bended knee, pretty ring proposal thing.”
“I didn’t feel that way, baby.” I was honest about that. I loved everything about how we got to the moment we were experiencing.
“I know that, but still… I wanted to give you something, something that said forever – a token, I guess.” He held the box up and met my gaze with wide, honest, worried eyes. “This is… Well, shit…it’s kinda from both of us. The sentiment is Edward, what they are is from Masen.”
Laughing a little at that convoluted explanation, I took the box and opened it. My gasp was sharp at what I was seeing. Diamonds glittered in the candlelight; they were bright and clear and beautiful.
“I had them made for you,” he stated, glancing from my face to the box.
He’d given me three new piercings – two straight bars with diamonds on each end for my nipples and one teardrop-shaped diamond dangling from a round one for my bellybutton. There was no telling exactly how much they’d cost him, and I didn’t want to know. They were stunning.
“Edward, baby…they’re…gorgeous,” I whispered in awe of them, and I met his sweet, bright-green eyes. I realized what he’d done. He didn’t need an expensive ring to show the world any-damn-thing. That simply wasn’t Edward. Or Masen, for that matter. He’d done this as something personal, private, and just ours. He didn’t have to prove a fucking thing to anyone…but he’d give me the world. “I love you, and thank you.”
His worried face broke out into a big grin, but he froze when I handed the velvet box back.
“You should do it,” I told him.
His eyes darkened as he shook his head no, but his hand took the box from me slowly. I wanted to laugh at him, but I didn’t. He seemed to be a heartbeat away from tossing me onto the bed and fucking me senseless, which I wanted, truly. However, I could tell both of us wanted to take our time. He set the box down on the bed beside his leg, reaching out to tug me closer.
“I’ve been studying this dress all damn day,” he whispered, turning me around so he could pull the zipper down. “I imagined a thousand ways to get you out of it.”
When white fabric pooled around my feet, I turned to face him again, clad only in white lace and silk. Warm hands with calloused fingers from years of playing guitar reached out to touch. He skimmed over my ink, across the lace of my underwear, and around to my back in order to trail lightly down my spine.
When he reached for the clasp of my bra, I stopped him. “Wait. My turn.”
Edward stood silently, tall and seemingly nervous, but he let me tug his shirt from his pants. I unbuttoned it slowly, revealing colorful skin, swirls of ink, and a beautiful, strong chest. I studied the ink, loving every inch of it, but I also knew as much as I was attracted to tattoos, he could’ve been completely free of ink, and I would’ve loved the man in front of me, no matter what. He was so beautiful – inside and out. He was sweet and thoughtful and probably the most giving and selfless person I’d ever met. The whole world loved the idea of him, but I loved the real man behind the mask he put on for the masses. It was that man who made up the other half of me, who’d come stumbling into my bar one night, bringing color and laughter and love with him. It was the man behind the mask who was all mine; no one would know him the way I did.
He let me push his shirt off his shoulders, and it joined my dress on the floor. Edward was breathtaking as he stood in front of me in just black dress pants. My hands skimmed over abs and pecs and ink, wrapping around his neck, and instantly, I was lifted into strong arms.
Holding me with one hand, he deftly removed my bra, which made me giggle against his lips. He smiled and raised a sexy eyebrow at me, dropping the apparently offensive undergarment to the floor before crawling us both up onto the bed.
The feel of his warm, smooth skin against mine caused me to pull him closer, and we were kissing like we’d never come up for air. The weight of him pressed down onto me. His elbow braced by my head as his free hand touched everywhere. My legs wrapped around his thighs, and I moaned in want of him. I wanted closer, more.
When Edward’s kisses left my lips and started moving south, my breathing picked up. He pushed up on one hand, trailing fingers lightly around my nipples, but his sweet gaze met mine for help.
Smiling, I nodded a little, showing him how to remove all the piercings, and he reached for the box. He started with the bellybutton, grinning evilly as I squeaked and squirmed beneath him when it tickled. He leaned over, pressing kisses to my stomach when he was done. He eyed my bare chest with dark, hungry eyes.
“Hmm,” he hummed softly, leaning down to press a light kiss to one. “Ladies…you’re gonna have to help me out.” He grinned at my silent laugh, but when his lips enveloped my nipple, I just about came up off the bed. My moan was shameless and loud, and Edward’s tongue rolled around my peak before popping off it. Blowing lightly across wet skin, he practically caused me to come at how hard they were. “There, angel, that’s better,” he murmured into my skin.
I was shaking as he put the first one in, and by the time the second one was finished, I was sweating, gripping onto his biceps with trembling hands.
“Edward…please!” I cried out. “It’s…too much!”
“Shh, angel. I’ll take care of you. I’ll take care of my wife,” he vowed in a tone so deadly, the sweat on my forehead started to roll back into my hair.
He shifted off the bed and dropped his pants, only to crawl back up and reach for my underwear. They, too, were swiftly removed. We moved quickly together, and then he slid slowly, deeply inside me, whispering words of love, that he would take his time later, that I was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Rock’s Royal Couple Wed in Secret Ceremony
Rock’s Royalty Due to Walk Red Carpet at VMAs
Masen No Longer Eligible Bachelor
Daughter of Chainsaw Charlie Swan Now Married to Radiant Eclipse’s Masen
Heidi Summers Unwilling to Comment on Ex’s Secret Wedding
The last headline made me snort to myself. Glancing up and out the windows of the giant limo the boys had decided they wanted, I could see that we were still in line to hit the red carpet. The car was filled with chatter. And I smiled at my nervous brother, who had flown his girl in for this thing. Lauren looked scared – very pretty but scared shitless.
I wasn’t much better. This was the first really big event Edward and I were attending together, and it was going to be chaos.
The “leaked” pictures of our wedding Tori set loose on Facebook went viral. They’d exploded all over the Internet. They’d set off shocked reactions, welcomed celebrations, and more than once had I seen them on the cover of gossip rags. Some claimed they were fake, and others said they were real. There had been speculation that I was pregnant, that I’d signed a huge prenup, that I hadn’t signed a prenup, and that our relationship was a PR thing.
Not a bit of that shit mattered. Everyone inside that limo knew the truth. Everyone at home knew the truth. And the man currently reaching for my hand didn’t give a rat’s ass about what anyone else thought.
Edward carried himself differently now that we were married. His shoulders were held high, not weighted down with stress. His face was quick to brighten with a smile. Where he used to duck and avoid the paps, now he simply walked through them, barely batting an eye.
Linking our fingers together, he brought my hand up to kiss the back of it. “You ready?”
“No,” I said with a laugh, which made him flash a quick grin. “That long stretch of red carpet will be pure hell.”
“No, it won’t,” he argued softly with a laugh, leaning in to kiss me lightly. “You look beautiful.” He tilted my face up so I was looking directly into fierce, honest green. “I won’t let go of your hand the whole way. Promise.”
Smirking, I knew that wasn’t true, simply because the boys would be asked to pose for pictures, and they’d be interviewed along the way. But it was a sweet sentiment.
“Thank you, though.” I pointed to him. “You look very handsome, Masen,” I told him, having to remind myself to use his stage name.
He grinned, adjusted his jacket, and thanked me with a quick kiss. Alice had outdone herself with all of us. There was an edge to every dress and every guy’s suit. Edward was in all black – black suit jacket, black jeans, black button-up shirt with his ink barely peeking out, and of course, his black Docs. I was in red leather, and when she first posed the idea to me, I about laughed myself sick, but the dress was beautiful, with classic lines, strapless, and not at all as crazy as I’d originally thought.
The limo came to a stop and the door was opened.
I turned to Edward, saying, “I hope you win.”
He laughed, and it was sweet and beautiful to see on his face. He kissed my almost healed wedding band. “Angel, I’ve already won.”
I kissed him. Hard. Pulling back quickly as everyone shifted to step out onto the red carpet, I reached up to wipe my lipstick off his lips, which made him chuckle.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too, Bella. Now…let me show the world how much,” he whispered, stepping out the limo door, but his hand stayed held out, waiting for me.
The eruption of cheers and screams when he stepped out could rival that of one of Radiant Eclipse’s shows. The very second I put my hand in his, the explosion was deafening. Flashes of cameras, screams from fans, and calls of our names from the media made it impossible to actually hear anything.
It was a blur, most of it, moving down the long carpet. It was stops for pictures and to answer questions. It was the guys seeing fellow musicians they knew. Like I’d predicted, the guys were ripped away from us to pose for a few pictures, but they were right back to us quickly, only to run into the last interviewer before we got inside the theater.
“Radiant Eclipse, you’re up for three awards tonight. This isn’t your first. You nervous?” the woman asked, and it was Jasper who stepped up to the microphone.
“Naw, we’re just happy to be here. We’re in good company.”
“You are in amazing company, Jasper,” she agreed, turning toward Edward and me. Edward’s arm around my waist squeezed me closer. “Masen, I hear congratulations are in order. You’ve recently been married to the beautiful girl at your side.”
To watch Edward switch from my Edward to the world’s Masen was humorous. The slow, sexy grin curled up one corner of his mouth as he nodded to her. His eyes were playful and easygoing, but he pulled me closer.
“Thank you. I’m a lucky man,” he stated firmly.
“Now, Bella, you’re the daughter of the famous guitarist, Chainsaw Charlie Swan. Did you two meet when Radiant Eclipse filmed there?
Edward and Rose had decided that the best way to answer that question was with the truth.
“Actually, no,” I answered, feeling Edward’s kiss to my shoulder. “We met just before that, but we’ve been together ever since.”
“Well, good luck tonight. All of you.”
We were dismissed, and we turned to wave to the crowd of photographers. A few questions were yelled out, one catching my ears.
“What? No diamond ring, Masen?”
“Oh, I have diamonds on her,” he whispered in my ear, only to glance down to my chest as a salacious grin spread over his face at my cleavage. He made me laugh, and just like that, not a bit of it mattered.
The show was long, and parts of it were boring. Edward kept me entertained with whispers in my ear of the shit he’d seen about the celebrities around us – who was sleeping with whom, who was probably high as a fucking kite, and who was the most demanding. The first couple of awards Radiant Eclipse was nominated for, they didn’t win, not that the boys cared. They’d won before. Edward was removed from his seat in order to present an award, and Rose and I sat forward, nervous for him. He had to step out onto that stage with Heidi.
“Oh, Jesus, she’s pissed,” Rose whispered to me.
I smirked, but she was right. Edward had specifically offered her his left arm to lead her out to the podium, and her eyes were locked on to that beautiful wedding band ink on his finger. The girl looked like she’d eaten a lemon, and when she spoke, her voice was stiff and bitter. Edward, however, looked like he owned the damn world.
“He’s so fucking puffed up right now,” Jasper chuckled in my ear. “He could fly, if he wanted to.”
Giggling, I nodded. What was even better was that she wouldn’t touch him on their way backstage. Edward didn’t return, and the last nomination they were up for was next. It was the song they’d released from the most recent album, and the video had been cut directly from the show they’d filmed at my bar. It was the one they kind of wanted most.
“And the award goes to… Radiant Eclipse!”
Our whole row just about jumped up out of their seat. I hugged Jasper, Jacob, and Alec but kissed my brother’s cheek before the boys met Edward, who stepped out from the curtain. There were fist bumps, high-fives, and guy-hugs up there, and Masen was in full-on performing mode when he held up the award.
Where usually Jasper took the microphone, it was Masen who did this time, and the screams of love and adoration echoed over the whole theater. He took a breath, gazing out over the audience.
“We want to thank the usual cast of characters: Volturi Records; Rose, our manager; and our families who put up with what we do…but we’d all like to thank one person this time. Without her, we wouldn’t have made this video, we wouldn’t have found a place filled with so much musical history, and I…personally…” He placed his hand on his chest. “I wouldn’t have found the one person I can’t live without. My wife.” He held up the award. “This is for you, Bella Swan.”
“Bella!” the whole band yelled and cheered.
The crowd around us went crazy, Rose wrapping an arm around me when my tears welled up in emotion.
“Love you, angel,” he stated firmly, looking our way, even though he couldn’t see us.
And with that, Radiant Eclipse was led off the stage. The man himself had just smashed every rumor that had ever lived. He’d just taken everything Aro had tried to destroy, and he’d owned it. The mask he’d worn for so long was gone. Masen had wanted to show the world, and he’d just done it. And he’d done it his way, with a sweetness and honesty that only he had. Nothing would ever be the same.


flyrbrd said...

Wonderful chapter!

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