DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
Chapter 17: The Break Up
I’m taking the Berlin job.
Are you sure?
100%. I’ll call Alistair to let him know. And Carlisle.
All right. I’m going to miss you, but I’ll always have a spot open if you ever need it.
I’ll keep that in mind. But right now, this is what I need. It’s the right move.
Congratulations on the show! You were great. I loved how you stuck it to ol’ Newton.
Thanks. I’ve got plans to make. Let’s talk about it later.
Okay. Let me know if you need anything.
I tuck my phone into my bag after texting Emmett and wipe away a few stray tears. When I walk through the door of our apartment, Angela is still where I left her, quick to offer her praise.
“Congratulations, Bella. You did amazing.” She holds her hand up for a high-five.
I smack our hands together, then collapse on the couch beside her. “Thanks.”
“I have no idea how you kept your cool with Newton. He’s a grade-A asshole. I bet he isn’t any better off camera.”
“Worse, actually. You have no idea.” A few more tears escape, but I don’t catch them before Angela notices.
“Hey, what’s going on? I expected you to be more excited post-show. Have you been crying?”
I crumble at her question and fresh tears trail down my cheeks.
“Bella, what is it? What did Newton say? You’re scaring me.”
I shake my head. “I’m such a fool. It’s not just him. It’s Edward too. And me.”
“I doubt that’s true at all. What did Edward do? He seemed like the typical host. The hosts of all those shows stir the pot then sit back and watch the fireworks.”
I sigh deeply, catching my breath, and sniff back more tears. “We’ve been seeing each other privately, but after today, not anymore. I ended it.”
“You and Edward Masen?” Her brows distort in confusion.
“Holy shit. For how long?” Surprise fills her features.
“About a year.”
“Bella—” She’s shocked and starts to say something then stops. “Wow.”
“Yeah. We met like I told you earlier and have been meeting up secretly ever since then. I’m so sorry.”
“You’re sorry? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“His agent. Shelly Cope. She threatened me and warned against pursuing a relationship with him. She said I would hurt his career with my connections and baggage.”
“What a bitch. That’s not her call.”
“I convinced him to keep our relationship between us, because I was thinking it was the right move for him. I’m already battling the critics from every angle. He doesn’t need my problems too.”
“And he went along with this?”
“Yeah. But lately, I’ve been feeling like we’re stuck in this relationship limbo with no way out. And his show—oh, God, Ang. The women are everywhere. It’s like a harem, and he’s lapping it up. And has been for, I guess, our entire relationship. And that woman—”
“Tanya Denali. She was practically riding his face the entire time, and in the green room, she was hinting how they would spend their time post-show—in bed.”
“Isn’t she married?”
“Apparently, not happily. Or maybe they have an open marriage. We saw her sister, Irina, with Tanya’s husband, Laurent, at the airport. They were clearly together. It was actually very sweet. Perhaps he married the wrong sister.”
“Wait, wait, wait. When were the two of you at the airport together?”
I pause as realization of my slip tugs at my heart, then share a few of the details. “Edward took me to a private resort in Arizona for my birthday last year.”
“How did I not know you were in Arizona?”
I start to explain, but stop not wanting to admit to lying to her.
She senses my hesitation and redirects. “We’re going to come back to that in a minute. So, if this relationship was a secret, then it wasn’t exclusive? He’s seeing other people.”
“He says, he isn’t, but he could easily be lying too. And I’m positive Shelly is feeding the D.C.’s Daily Chatter details about our relationship only she’s attaching other women to the facts because she doesn’t want me in the picture.”
“Oh! Now, I’ve got to pull up their website and read what the two of you have been doing.” Angela grabs her laptop, opening it immediately. “So, he’s lying to you and juggling Tanya as well?”
I let out a groan. “I have no idea. We aren’t together every day and sometimes we go for days without talking or weeks without seeing each other. We’re both busy. I get that, but I thought it was more. Maybe I wanted to believe it was something it wasn’t.”
“Here we go.” She starts reading, mentioning the highlights. “Lauren… New Year’s… mountain cottage… This was you?”
“Yeah. We spent a week together at a cabin in the mountains.”
“I thought you went away for a work retreat.”
“Let’s go to the next post. Marcus Volturi’s daughters? You were at the Heart Ball?”
“No, but he was.”
“I see the pictures, but it doesn’t mean he was with either one. Have you read all of these posts?”
“Most, but after a while, I can only take so much.” My heart breaks at the thought of him with someone else or the possibility he’s been lying all this time.
“This next one speculates about him being involved with an ex-girlfriend, Katie Marshall. She’s clearly pregnant and having dinner with him in New York it says. The lighting isn’t great, but they look cozy. Do you think they’re together?”
“Oh, God. Let me see.” I glance through the pictures, feeling nauseous with each one. “I don’t know. He never said anything, but we never talked about our exes. It’s like he’s living this other life without me.”
“Did you two ever talk about having kids?”
“No, only birth control.”
“I hope you were using condoms if he’s screwing other women.”
“You know I’m on the shot and I thought that was enough.” My body sags as I lean over burying my face in my hands, as I realize that won’t keep me from catching a sexually transmitted disease.
Angela’s hand rubs soothing circles on my back. “Oh, shit. I’m sorry, Bella. I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe an appointment with your doctor would be a good idea, regardless. Let me ask this—are you seeing anyone else?”
“No.” I lean back against the couch and stare at the ceiling. “Oh, God. What if—people get back with their exes all the time.”
“Did you go on any dates?”
“Did he use the L-word?”
“Ang, we talked about work and had lots of sex. Great sex. Love was never mentioned.”
“Bella, I hate to say this, but it sounds like you were his booty call.”
“I realize that now. What was I thinking?”
“Okay, you’ve been lying to me. Only about Edward or is there other stuff?”
My stomach flutters at what I’m about to reveal. “There’s something else, but I haven’t been lying exactly. It is a recent thing, and I only made my decision today.”
“What is it?”
“I’ve been offered a job.”
“It’s overseas, and I’m going to take it.”
“Yeah, I think it’s time for a new view.”
“Bella, I hope this isn’t you running from your problems.”
“Edward Masen is no longer my problem, but he was never really mine in the first place. I need a break from everything and to stand on my own for a while, focusing on my career. My head is so messed up and I need some space away from D.C., the White House, and Edward. He doesn’t want me.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Maybe to warm his bed, but that’s it. Trust me. There’s a line behind me. When I told him I couldn’t do this anymore, do you know what he said?”
“Nothing. He said nothing to stop me from leaving. He didn’t declare that he loved me or even that we should date and have a real relationship in public for all to see. He let me walk out the door and didn’t utter a single word to prevent my departure.”
“The truth has a funny way of coming out.”
“It all blew up in my face, and I’m so sorry about the lying, Angela. I know it was wrong, but at the time, I felt I had no other choice.”
“I feel a little betrayed that you didn’t trust me enough.”
“I do trust you. I’m telling you now. You’re the only one who knows about us.”
“But others probably suspect, especially now, after the show.”
“Demetri guessed I was seeing someone when I was there for Thanksgiving, but I didn’t tell him anything.” I wipe away more tears. “Angela, I’m sorry. I don’t know what else I can say.”
“I need time to process all of this. When are you leaving for Berlin?”
“Sometime during the next month.”
“Girlfriend, I’m sweating, and we both know I only like to glow.”
“Dem, thanks for helping me.”
“Anything for you, sweets.”
We stack the final load of my boxes into my newly rented storage space near Dad’s home. I’m spending my final week with him before I leave, and Demetri was willing to fly to D.C. and help store my things before the big move, plus it may be the last time I see him for a while.
“I can’t believe my life, or what was my life, fits in such a small space.”
“It’s only temporary, right?”
“Oh, Dem. I don’t know how long I’ll be there. Maybe you can come to visit me in Germany.”
“I’ll try my best. We both know I’m a fan of sausages. Now, didn’t you promise me margaritas?”
“I did. Come on, let’s go.”
It’s a short trip to a local Mexican restaurant where Demetri and I settle into a corner booth ordering food and margaritas.
“Is Daddy joining us?” He grabs a chip, dipping it in the salsa.
“Don’t do that.”
“Call him Daddy,” I whisper, as our server drops off our margaritas.
“Are you afraid I could be your step-mommy one day? Your father can’t resist me forever.”
“Dem, you’re ridiculous. Trust me. My father isn’t gay.”
“It isn’t like I’m asking him to be the catcher, only the pitcher. I’m positive he would like it.”
“I think he has a new girlfriend.”
“Ooooh, that’s exciting. A possible Mommy Dearest. Who is it?”
“We both know Mommy Dearest lives in Miami. I think it is one of Billy Black’s sisters. They are here and staying in the White House for a visit.”
“Oh, that reminds me, how are Jacob and Leah? Are they calling it quits yet?”
“No, actually the opposite and trying for a family.” I cringe with my insider knowledge.
“Yeah, nothing seems to shock me anymore.”
“How’s your secret man? Is he still putting those sneaky smiles on your face I saw at Thanksgiving?”
“No. Uh, I ended it.”
“Oh, my. You’ve been holding out on me. I need all the details.”
“There’s nothing to tell.”
“I’m pretty sure there is.”
“He only wanted sex.”
“And you wanted more.”
I shrug. “I don’t know what I wanted.”
“Aww, sweets. I’m sorry. Maybe you’ll meet someone new in Berlin.”
“I’m going to cool it on relationships for a while and focus on my new job.”
“Oh, no. That sounds bad. What did he do to you? Do I know him?”
“Is he a co-worker? You said ‘no’ on Emmett, right?”
“Not a co-worker or Emmett.”
“That’s such a shame. He’s so sexy. Does Angela know?”
“How can you tell Angela and not me?” Demetri whines. “I’m calling her.”
“Dem, don’t. I’ll tell you, but Ang only found out recently.”
“So, tell me.”
“It was… It was…”
“Girl, don’t play games with me.”
“I know, but I’ve spent so much time trying not to say his name, it’s just weird to tell anyone else.” I lower my voice. “It was Edward Masen.”
Dem whispers. “Edward Masen. The Edward Masen? This Week with Edward Masen, Edward Masen? You were on his show—”
“Is he big? Because he looks like he would be.”
“You’re just wishing and fishing. Stop.”
“Can you blame me? I bet the sex was hot. I see why you agreed to whatever he wanted. I would too. Do you think I’m his type?”
“You know I’m kidding—sort of. What happened?”
“Let me put it in terms you can understand.” I think for a minute. “There were too many people in our relationship, and I didn’t like getting fucked by the other woman, but I went along with it for him.”
“Holy shit, B. I didn’t know you were such a kinky bitch. Who was the other woman?”
“His agent, Shelly Cope. She warned me to stay away, then she spun our relationship to her own narrative, casting someone else as his love interest at every turn.”
“That had to hurt. So, it wasn’t an actual threesome—”
“Girl, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, but for now, I understand your reluctance, especially after Felix. Oh, shit. Was he cheating?”
“I don’t know what he was doing when he was away from me. He said he wasn’t, but he could be lying. How do I trust anything at that point? There were so many cracks and Shelly always found another woman to fill the spot. The sad part is I think I’m in love with him.”
“I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it, and I can’t stay here. This is such a small place, and he’s everywhere. The next big thing.”
Dem grins with a twinkle in his eye. “See, you said he’s big. I knew it.”
“I’m not talking about his ‘thing’ with you.”
“Edward knew his agent was meddling?”
I shake my head. “To an extent. He knows she’s looking out for his career, but I don’t know if he realizes her heavy-handedness in his relationships.”
“You didn’t tell him she approached you?”
“No. Because deep down, I knew she was right. I do have a lot of baggage. People don’t believe I’m not working for the President or I got where I am on my own, which is why this move will be good for me. I’ll have a somewhat fresh start.”
“He hasn’t tried to contact you?”
“Nothing. Clearly, I wasn’t as important in his life as I thought I was.”
“He’s a fool then. You’re worth so much more than that.”
“That’s what I told him. We both deserve more. I’m sick of the secrets and won’t ever agree to another relationship like that again. I’ve been lying to everyone for too long.”
“B, you’re not that good of a liar. I knew something was up in November.”
“I hated lying to Angela. She’s hurt and I don’t blame her.”
“She’ll forgive you. Give her time. How is she handling you moving out?”
“She’s pissed about everything, but you know her.”
“You two have been friends for a very long time. Nothing and no man will change that. Not even Berlin.”
A/N: Huge thank yous to LizziePaige, Honeymoon Edward, purpleC305, and Midnight Cougar for their help with this story. xx
Bella finally confided in two of her friends about her relationship with Edward and made the decision to move to Berlin. It’s time for her to spread her wings.
Based on the feedback of my pre-readers and beta about the next chapter, I’m going to suggest it’s time to pump the brakes again. I’m not a fan of chapter warnings and as we move forward at this point, many of you will wish you had one before starting this story. Edward cautioned back in chapter 1 that this is Bella’s journey and to read it with an open mind. Chapter 18 will test that and probably push many of you out of your comfort zones. You know how the one shot ends, and I hope it doesn’t matter how they find their way back to one another. But if it does, then this would be a good time to make your way toward the exit. I hope you’re still here at the end of the next chapter, but if not, I’ll understand.