Behind Closed Doors – C29

DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.

-BCD-

Chapter 29: The Plans

You’re welcome.

What?

You can thank me later.

For what?

Rose?

You’ll see.

You’re so frustrating sometimes.

And yet, you love me. X

I’m still in my pajamas. I don’t know what to wear.

Stick with your pjs. You’ll look sleepy sexy. Perfect for a breakfast date.

Maybe I need a robe. Is it too late for shopping?

Does this hotel have a concierge or personal

shopper on staff for a last-minute crisis?

This is New York. Everything is open all the time, right?

It’s too late. You don’t need a robe.

What about lost and found? Do they have one of those here?

I’m not picky. Any robe will do. I can call down to the front desk.

This isn’t the Playboy Mansion, Heff.

Leave the concierge alone.

No robe. Let him see what he’s missing.

Maybe unbutton a few buttons and stop rambling.

I’m nervous and don’t know what to do.

Leave your hair down—a little wild and brush your teeth.

I already slayed my dragon breath. 😉

Good girl.

Let’s remember, I’m not trying to seduce him.

It’s only breakfast. I’m keeping my expectations low.

He may have changed his mind.

Don’t count on it.

A sharp knock on my door at the exact time of 8:00 a.m. brings an immediate smile to my face. He’s always so precise.

I gotta go—he’s here!

Good luck! I’ll see you later this afternoon.

I toss my phone to the side and climb off my bed, realizing a little too late that I probably should have made it. Shaking off those thoughts, I understand we’re way past first impressions and walk toward the door.

Looking through the peephole, my grin widens when I only see a room service cart.

“Who is it?” I ask, even though I already know the answer.

“Room service.”

I’m excited to see him again and anxious to hear what he’s thinking after having a night to process our previous conversation. I hope he wants to continue the discussion, but if he has doubts, then this will be another step toward a friendship, which wouldn’t be bad for either of us to have. I can return to Berlin happy we’ve cleared the air between us after a year.

I know I need to tread lightly, because I’m as attracted to him today as I was two years ago when we met unexpectedly at the hockey game. My subconscious is all-in as I remember dreaming about him last night, leaving me a little needy and on edge this morning. I know it would be so easy to fall back into something physical, but if we’re actually going to give our relationship another shot, then we need to pace ourselves and figure out a new right way of moving forward. This is all great in theory, but the reality usually turns out to have a much different result.

After unbolting the door, I open it wide, standing back, so he can easily get the cart in the room. “I don’t remember calling for room service.”

“Then it’s lucky for you I happen to be walking by your door with breakfast. Good morning, Bella.”

He looks good, better than yesterday. I’m always a sucker for him in a suit, but when he goes relaxed-casual, I’m putty in his hands. He’s wearing a long-sleeved gray T-shirt that stretches tightly over his muscles and a pair of jeans aged in all the right spots. It would be so easy to reach up and peck his lips with a kiss as he pauses pushing the cart into the room. I want to, but while I’m busy weighing the pros and cons of a kiss, he surprises me, planting a sweet one on my cheek.

“You look beautiful. One of my favorite looks on you.” He winks.

It’s over too quickly, and he’s rolling the cart to the end of the bed as I follow closely behind. “Hey, good morning.”

“I hope you’re hungry. I’ve been busy in the kitchen.” Edward smirks as his eyes linger over my casual just-out-of-bed state.

An awkward laugh bursts from my chest at his playfulness, and I can’t resist teasing him, playing along. “You’ve probably dirtied every pot and pan in the building.”

“You see it’s already working out between us. I’ll cook and you can clean.” He waves me toward the bed and returns the desk chair to the other side of the cart exactly like our set up from last night. “Please, take a seat.”

“We never agreed on a distribution of chores. Let’s leave the cooking and cleaning to the hotel staff. “

“As you wish.”

“You look refreshed and rested. Which hotel are you staying at? I hope it wasn’t too far from here.”

He shrugs. “I was only two floors away.”

“You’re staying here?” I’m surprised I missed that detail. “How did I not know?”

“You told Emmett where you were staying and he booked our rooms here.”

Edward tries to play it off as if it isn’t a big deal, but this is more of Emmett’s handiwork. I need to have a talk with him soon about his meddling.

“Anyway, let’s get to the main event. This morning, we have…” He removes both silver metal domes from the plates in a flourish. “…braised short rib hash if you’re interested in something savory, and French toast with fresh berries if you prefer something sweet.”

I grab a strawberry from the French toast plate and pop it into my mouth. “Mmmm, tough choice, but I’ll take the sweet.”

“Coffee?” Edward turns over our cups and has the carafe in hand already filling a cup before I can answer.

“Yes, please. Have you been up long?”

Edward hesitates, giving me an immediate answer while filling the other cup. “This isn’t my first or even second cup of coffee.”

“Did you get any sleep?” I chuckle.

He grins. “An hour or two. Dig in.”

I’m hungry and everything looks delicious. “When are you flying out today?”

“Emmett and I are flying back together, taking flights later this afternoon.”

“I thought he was leaving this morning.”

“I think his plans have changed.”

I pause, wondering about the reasons for his delay, but conclude it must be a way for him to spend more time with Rose, which brings me to focus on Edward’s plans.

“Have yours changed?” I ask, pouring syrup over my French toast.

Edward pushes the potatoes around on his plate while thinking over his answer. “Change is too small of a word for what’s happening with my plans, Bella.”

“Oh, God. You aren’t overreacting, are you? Maybe you should go easy on the coffee.”

“After our conversation, I am clearing the drawing board and figuring out a new way of doing everything.”

“Please don’t tell me you’ve been emailing people all night.”

“Bella, I do the same job week in and week out—sitting behind a desk, tossing around current issues with assholes pushing their own agendas, and I’m merely the means to do so. Anybody can do this job. I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s not a career; it’s settling.”

“Edward, you love your job. You’re a lawyer who’s trained to argue every side of an issue. You love good banter and your interviews are some of the best.”

“Maybe I loved the show when I was a new host, but two years in and I’m ready to jump ship. If I wanted to stick with it, I wouldn’t be thinking that way. I signed on for five years, with three still to go, and I’ve been going through the motions for a while now. But regardless of my feelings about the show, I’m always here waiting for—”

I gasp, then hold my breath, hoping the next word he says will be “you.”

“Waiting for what?” I prompt.

“Your next article.”

“My next article?”

“And the one after that. To know what you’re writing and what has caught your interest. You have no idea how many times a day I check The Post’s website hoping to find your words.”

My shoulders sag a little when I realize he’s only a fan of my work.

“And if I’m wanting to know this, I’m sure there are others out there who feel the same way. I’ve got an idea, Bella. For a news magazine show.”

“The world doesn’t need another one of those.” I snort, stuffing a large strawberry into my mouth.

“Hear me out. What if it was a platform for human rights issues only? We would be the only true, non-partisan voice.”

I’m already shaking my head. “That sounds ambitious and impossible. Politics have a way of weaving into everything. It’s something I struggle with constantly.”

“Bella, we could co-host… chase stories together all over the globe. There aren’t enough of these stories getting out there, and when they do, they are confined to a two-minute segment on the nightly news, jockeying for position with the other current events of the day. What if we gave a full hour to these issues weekly on a major network?

“We can make a real difference by putting them front and center. I know I’m not an educated and credentialed journalist like you, but being a lawyer and my television experience is bound to come in handy if we find ourselves in tricky situations. I realize my column with The Journal isn’t hard-hitting investigative journalism, but between the two of us, we have an amazing network of connections. What if… what if I negotiated my departure from This Week with the option of a new show? Then I wouldn’t be leaving television behind completely and the network wouldn’t be losing me. We can pull my current viewership from morning to evening and expand to a wider prime-time audience, bringing you into the fold. You’re a Pulitzer Prize winner now, which would give us unbiased journalistic credibility. You were great on my show. Jasper couldn’t stop singing your praises, and you know I think your work is amazing.”

“You want us to start our own show?”

“Yes, it’s an idea. I think it’s my best idea, but I want to know what you think? Oh! I also have a name for the show: Behind Closed Doors with Edward Masen and Isabella Swan. I thought it was appropriate, because we would be sharing and revealing what is happening away from everyone’s mainstream view, where decisions are made, and those who are carefully concealed from the public eye by people like world leaders and lawmakers.”

“So much for my ‘unbiased journalistic credibility’ getting me top billing,” I tease.

“Actually, I think it’s too wordy with both of our names. We may need to shorten it to only Behind Closed Doors, but I think it’s a great start.”

“It sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time on this… which is incredible.” I look into his hopeful eyes and consider whom we could ask to join us. “Um, Carlisle may be someone to consider for direction or advice. He’s proved to be invaluable to me for years and he’s a well-known leader for human rights.”

“Maybe, but the show would be us—you and me. We would anchor it together as partners—equals. We can negotiate creative control and whom else we bring on board. I want Jasper behind the scenes, but if you have recommendations for additional journalists, I would be open to those.

“Bella, I think I’ve figured out a way for us to work together. I understand there will be plenty of travel and times when we’re apart, but we’ll always have each other at the end of the day, and that’s all that matters.”

“Edward, what about marriage and children? I get that you’re extremely career-focused this morning, but what about what we talked about last night?”

“Would I like to be married? Yes. Do I need to be married? No, not if it means we’re together. Did I look up alternatives? Of course I did, but cohabitation agreements aren’t really any better than pre-nups. All of them are focused on what happens in the event of the relationship ending, and that isn’t something I want to worry about when it comes to us. If something happens, and we split up, you can have everything you want—take it all, I won’t fight you. I promise. I’m more than happy to sign any legal document to protect you.

“Would I like for us to wear some symbol of a commitment we may make to one another in the future? Yes, but wedding rings don’t seem like the right answer. So, I haven’t figured that one out yet, but when I do, I’ll run it by you. I doubt you would be interested in tattooing my name in bold letters across your chest. So, I’ll keep thinking of new possibilities.”

I chuckle. “Thank you for eliminating that idea.”

“Would I like to have children? Yes, but I understand and heard your concerns. If I decide one day that I need to be a father, then I’ll find another way to do it. I can look into adoption on my own. You wouldn’t need to be involved at all, if that’s what you want.”

“Oh, Edward.” I’m stunned at his thoughtfulness on everything, but especially this issue. He gets it. No. He gets me. “I think that’s the best thing you’ve ever said to me.”

He grins. “Bella, I know it’s a stretch, but the show will be a version of our own baby. Something we will need to invest all of our time and energy into for it to be a success. But I believe it’s a great first step toward us building a life together. What do you think?”

“I think you’ve been awake all night. Did you put together a PowerPoint presentation too?” I taunt, but I suspect his laptop contains a variety of documents full of bullet points and flow charts detailing, “if Bella says this, then I’ll say this.”

“I was hoping I wouldn’t need it, but I can forward it to you. And I can sleep on the plane or when I get back to D.C.”

“I have to tell you, this is all a little overwhelming. I need time to think about everything you’ve said and process your ideas. My first concern is I’m not sure how easy you will be able to sell a television news magazine with me as a co-host. I’m nobody in the television world. Plus, are you forgetting I’ll be in Berlin?”

“Minor details, Bella. We can figure something out, but if I don’t have you on board with this one, then I’ll work on another idea that plays to both of our strengths.”

“Wow.”

“And with your blessing, if anyone asks, my answer about a relationship between us will be, ‘Yes, we’re dating,’ or ‘Yes, we’re together.’ I will not elaborate allowing anyone the opportunity pick our relationship apart, but I won’t deny us by saying ‘no comment.’ We will be exclusive with zero doubts to anyone who asks.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Say, you’ll seriously think about making a commitment to moving forward together, not only personally but also professionally.”

“Okay, I’ll think about it. You must hate someone at The Times to make this kind of offer prior to my interview there.”

“You need to know all your options.”

I chuckle. “You’ve set the bar high for all future breakfast dates: a perfect job offer with a side of breakfast and plenty of coffee. How can you top this?”

“I don’t know, but I’m willing to try.” He wiggles his eyebrows.

My phone vibrates with the notification of a text.

“Sorry, I should check that. Leah is due any day and I’m hoping to hear from Jacob while I’m here.” I reach behind me to find a message from Rose. I remove my phone from my charging cord and click on the link she’s sent. It takes me to D.C.’s Daily Chatter, and I scan the post, shaking my head. “This is what she meant.”

“Who?”

“Rose. Here, let me read the latest post for the gossip site Emmett reads religiously.”

“Emmett follows gossip sites?”

“Yes. You said you were friends. So, this shouldn’t surprise you, but everyone isn’t always open about their reading selections. After all, how did you find out about Seth and me? Shelly, right?”

Edward thinks for a moment and shrugs. “I think that info did come from her.” He shoves a large fork full of eggs in his mouth.

“That’s what I thought. Here we go—

NEW COUPLE ALERT: It isn’t summer yet, but it’s getting hot in the city. We aren’t talking D.C., but New York. Anyone in attendance at yesterday’s Pulitzer Prize winners’ luncheon ceremony at Columbia University will also agree, Edward Masen is off the market indefinitely. It was a Who’s Who of journalism and many were surprised by his attendance at the event until Isabella Swan arrived. Even though Edward pens a regular column for the Wall Street Journal, guests say he was seated next to Isabella at The Post’s table for lunch. Attendees noticed his close proximity to her during the entire day and no one missed the two leaving together for the evening. According to sources close to the new couple, they are old acquaintances, as Isabella appeared on This Week before moving to Berlin. We can’t wait to see where this one goes, but the pictures below show a very smitten Edward Masen. We don’t need to reach out to Edward or Isabella to know what they’re thinking. The photos say it all.’

“They’re right.” Edward’s grin widens. “And so are the sources. Even though I suspect we know who those are.”

“I can’t believe him. Emmett knows I hate being the center of news or gossip. Do you want to see the photos?”

“Sure.”

I hand over my phone and watch as Edward scans the pictures of the two of us. “We look great. I want to send these to my phone. Do you still have my number? I don’t see it under ‘A’ for asshole or ‘C’ for cocky, which is a win in my book.”

I raise a challenging eyebrow. “I can change it.”

His grin widens, shaking his head while tapping on the screen of my phone. “It sounds like we are officially on everyone’s radar or will be soon. Are you okay with that?”

“I think so. It feels different this time, doesn’t it?”

“It feels great. Let’s hope I’m not followed at the airport this afternoon.”

“You’ll have Emmett with you. He can intimidate, if necessary.”

“Are you finished eating?”

“Yes.”

“Let me roll this back out into the hallway. I’ll do the dishes this time.” He winks. “Be right back.”

As I watch him go, I’m rushed with an onslaught of emotions and realize how my life is evolving again. I’m teetering on the precipice of an unknown future with Edward, and as I listen to my head and heart battle for dominance in the ways to move forward together, it’s my gut telling me to hold onto him with everything I’ve got.

A/N: Huge thank yous to LizziePaige, Honeymoon Edward, purpleC305, and Midnight Cougar for their help with this story. xx

Edward has been awake all night putting together his ideas and making plans for the two of them. He is a man with a plan, and he’s doing everything possible to not let Bella slip through his fingers again. Will it be enough to sway her? I’m certain Shelly is fuming over the latest gossip about Edward and especially with it coming from a source other than her. While Rose and Emmett may have jumped the gun on leaking the news, it’s better than letting Shelly twist everything to her own agenda.