Milk Money Chapter 15
I loved and hated work. It was nice to be working so close to home and on a television show. The cast was amazing and so was the crew. The director, Carlisle Stregoni, was very professional, calming even.
I’d been a bit apprehensive about working with Rosalie Hale. I’d heard that she could be trouble on a set, but she was anything but. In fact, she was the exact opposite of a drama queen. She was almost too quiet. I quickly understood why people called her the ice princess. It wasn’t that she was rude, she was just cold to everyone.
I met her my first day on the set when we were both in wardrobe. She was being fitted for a dress and they were looking for the right kind of shoes for me. Emmett had driven me and he was still hanging around. He liked to eat the breakfast that they put out on set. He’d grabbed a few bagels and he’d even brought me one. “Hey, I’m Emmett,” he said, setting the bagels down and holding out his hand toward Rosalie.
She looked at it and then up at him without shaking it. “Hello,” was all she said.
“Uh, can I get you anything?” he asked.
She turned from him. “No. I don’t eat any of that.”
“Any of what? Food?” he asked making her smile for just a second before she regained her mask of stoicism.
“I just don’t eat that kind of food,” she said pointing at the bagel and donut Emmett had on a plate.
“There’s a rabbit on the set of this show, I bet I can get you some carrots.”
I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing.
“There are carbs in carrots too,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Well excuse me for trying,” Emmett said, though he really didn’t sound upset. I’d never seen him banter like this. He usually grabbed the food and left. He just stood there eating his bagel and looking at Rosalie.
“Are you even supposed to be on this set?” she asked with her hand on her hip. “I’ve never seen you around.”
“I’m Edward’s driver and bodyguard,” Emmett said with a cheeky grin. “I go where he goes.”
“My condolences,” she said to me with a smirk.
That did seem to offend Emmett, though there was a sparkle in his eye. “Where’s your driver?” he asked, looking around. “Or do you just fly here on your broom?”
“Ha, ha,” she deadpanned. I thought she’d be upset, calling for security, but she seemed to be having fun.
“No bodyguard? You must feel pretty safe without one,” Emmett continued to tease, but a look came over her face that made him stop.
There was an awkward silence for a moment, but I was called to hair and makeup so I didn’t get to hear the rest of the conversation, if there was one.
Rosalie might not have been friendly, but she was professional, and she was good. It was easy to work opposite her and because of that, we often finished filming early.
I kept in constant contact with Bella during the day. She’d send me texts and pictures of Charlie, but I still missed him and wished I was home. I had enough money and thoughts of retirement went through my head more than once.
When Charlie was about six weeks old, I took him back to the doctor. Bella came with us while Alice watched Elizabeth. I was so happy to learn he’d gained quite a bit of weight. We even went out to celebrate after. Ice cream was a favorite of mine and I ordered a hot fudge sundae. I was impressed that Bella did too. Tanya would have ordered some sort of fat free, sugar free, taste free tofu ice cream. When the sundaes arrived she picked the whipped cream off the top and popped it into her mouth. It was so sexy to watch, I gave her my cherry too.
I absolutely loved hanging out with Bella. She was rapidly becoming one of my best friends. I couldn’t wait to see her every night when I got home from work. She would fill me in on how things went with Charlie.
I’d ask about Elizabeth too because I really was interested in her. I didn’t get to see her much, because she went to bed right after I got home, and unlike Charlie, she didn’t wake again until after I’d gone to work. On the few occasions I did see her, we played tickle monster.
Things were going really well with my career, but as far as Tanya and I, things couldn’t be worse. We rarely spoke and when we did, it was always about her career or her asking if I had any dirt on Rosalie. The shooting for her new film had been delayed a few weeks, so she used the time to do everything she could to boost her image.
The day after the Oscars Tanya had been shown in the tabloids and on entertainment television as one of the best dressed women at the event. Of course, much to her disappointment, so had Rosalie Hale. In addition, and much to Tanya’s shock, but not anyone else, Alice had also been mentioned. She was what they called the “mystery woman” with the trendy dress. Alice was beaming about it, as she should have been. The gown was beautiful and it was amazing that she’d made it herself. It didn’t hurt that she’d been glowing while wearing it. Apparently Jasper had received several calls from colleagues asking if she was available.
“I told them she wasn’t. I mean, it’s not like she’d want me giving her number to strangers,” he insisted when he told me about it.
“No, of course not,” I agreed, though we both knew the reason he didn’t give out her number. He could have taken the men’s information and given it to Alice if he was concerned about privacy, but it was clear that he had feelings for her. He was in denial, or at least he was denying it to me.
I hadn’t spoken to Tanya much so I was surprise one evening when she sat down next to me on the couch. I was feeding Charlie from a bottle while Bella was upstairs giving Elizabeth a bath before bed.
“May I feed him?” she asked looking first at him and then at me.
It was the first time I’d seen her really interested in him and I had to wonder if maybe she’d just been overwhelmed with him as an newborn. As disappointed in her behavior as I was, there was a part of me that had loved her. She was Charlie’s mother after all.
“Of course,” I said, handing Charlie to her along with the bottle. He sucked eagerly and she looked down at him.
“I think I can do this,” she said. “It’s not that hard.”
“Of course you can do this. You’re his mother.” I didn’t point out to her that Bella was more of a mother to him than she was. Hell, Alice was more than a mother to him than she was. Both women had held him and fed him ten times what she had.
“James told me about a photo shoot that People magazine wanted to do with me. They wanted photos of me and Charlie. They wanted to show how natural motherhood was. It’s next week. Do you think if I took Bella and some bottles like this, I could pull it off?”
It upset me that the first real outing she wanted with Charlie was to be photographed with him, but it was a start. For Charlie’s sake, I wanted her in his life. I’d grown up without a father, and knew the pain. I didn’t want my son to go through that.
“I think it’s a great idea,” I said. “Just tell me the date and time, and I’ll tell Bella about it. She can make sure to have everything ready.”
“Thanks Edward,” Tanya said, and kissed me on the cheek. She rested her head on my shoulder and it made me think of when I’d first met her. It didn’t last long. Her phone went off and she couldn’t text and hold Charlie. “Can you take him? Plus, I think he needs a diaper change.”
She was gone before I knew it. She was right, he’d filled his diaper, which wasn’t unusual for him to do while eating. I took him upstairs and changed him. I peeked into Bella’s room. She had her headphones on and was looking at her computer. Her back was to me, but I didn’t want to disturb her if she was trying to get her school work done. I felt bad enough at all the time Charlie took up. She’d insisted that there was plenty of time compared to when she waitressed and that I was paying her better than any job she’d ever had.
I went back downstairs and Tanya was back in the living room. “Oh good. I’m glad you’re here.” I was holding Charlie still and I wondered if she wanted him again.
“Do you want to hold Charlie again?” I asked walking over to her.
“No, once was enough for today. I just wanted to talk to you about the photo shoot and something else.” I nodded, not surprised that she was only thinking of her career again. “James said that the shoot is next Friday. It’s in the afternoon. So can you tell Bella? I’d tell her but I was never good with talking to the help.”
I gritted my teeth. It was true, Bella was the help, but she was so much more. The fact that I had such a strong emotional reaction to Tanya’s words concerned me. Bella really was more to me and it scared me. I had to wonder if I wanted her because she was forbidden.
“I was thinking about us, Edward,” Tanya said, batting her big blue eyes at me the way she used to when she wanted something. “I feel the distance between us. Are you not happy with our relationship?”
I could have lied and said that I was happy. It’s what I’d done all thought the pregnancy, but I was tired of lying. “No, I’m not happy. You don’t seem to care about either Charlie or me.”
“That’s not true,” she responded. “I was just holding Charlie, and I’m going to do that photo shoot.” She was right. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. She was his mother. “And as far as us,” she continued. “We haven’t spent any time just the two of us since long before Charlie was born. I feel the distance, and I think that we could rekindle the spark if we just had a bit of time together.”
I sighed. She was right. We hadn’t been on a date in months, other than going to the Oscars, which was hardly a date for us. Maybe that was what was wrong. “I suppose we could go out on a date.”
She looked up at me. “I want it to work out between us Edward. I think you and I deserve it, and so does Charlie.”
“What is it you have in mind,” I asked, knowing she likely already had something planned.
“Well,” she said moving closer to me so that our bodies were touching. She was beautiful and had an amazing body, yet it did nothing for me. Before Charlie was born, this act would have given me an instant erection, but at that moment, I felt nothing. Perhaps, I reconciled with myself, it was because I’d jerked off a few hours earlier in the shower. The thoughts replayed in my head, images of Bella in her bikini. I felt my cock twitch and Tanya smiled. I stepped back from her.
“Well,” she repeated. “I was thinking of a night away. We could go to dinner and then to a hotel. Have some time, just the two of us.”
The only person I wanted to go out with was Bella, but did I owe this to Charlie? I’d loved Tanya once, hadn’t I? I’d go. Maybe it would rekindle the spark and then things would be good again. It’s what was best for Charlie and I loved him more than anything. Bella deserved better than me anyway.
“Alright, next weekend. We can go Friday night, after the shoot.”
“Great,” she said with a smile and turned and left. I didn’t see her for the rest of the night. I did see Bella when Charlie woke. After she’d finished nursing and pumping, something she did after skipping a feeding, I sat down to talk to her.
She hadn’t come out of her room like she usually did and she seemed a bit distant. I hoped that everything was going alright with school.
“I was talking to Tanya earlier about Charlie,” I started. She nodded. There was a look in her eye that I couldn’t place. I’d seen it the night I’d broken down and cried. She was upset about something.
“Are you alright Bella?” I asked, resisting the urge to pull her into my arms.
“I’m fine,” she said, though I could tell she wasn’t. “Is something wrong with Charlie?”
I decided to continue, hoping I could figure out what was bothering her later. “We were talking about her spending time with Charlie. She wants to take him to a photo shoot next week. It’s Friday afternoon. She asked if you could come. I know you have your class in the morning. Do you think you could go?”
She looked a little relieved, but I could still tell something was wrong. “Yes. I think it’s good for Charlie to spend time with his mom, and I’d be happy to go with them.”
I was planning to tell her about going out on a date with Tanya as well as spending the night with her at a hotel, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was a coward, I knew that, but for some reason I felt it would upset her. I knew there was chemistry between us, and although I believed it was mostly one sided, on my part, I knew that she was in some way attracted to me. We just couldn’t ever act on it.
I never found out what was upsetting Bella that night and the next day things seemed a bit better, but she still was a bit distant. The weekend ended, though, and I went back to work. I was all set to shoot on Monday morning, but when everyone was ready, Rosalie was nowhere to be found.
She came on set about thirty minutes later. It was clear to me she was upset, but her acting was perfect. When we took a break while the children were filming she came over to me.
“How long have you known your bodyguard?” she asked.
“Uh, I guess it’s been like five years, why?” I looked around, wondering if Emmett had said or done something to upset her, but he’d dropped me off earlier and left.
“And you trust him with your life?”
“With my son’s life,” I answered. One of the reasons he hadn’t stayed was because he was taking Bella, Charlie, and Elizabeth to the park. “Why do you ask?”
She sighed. “I’ve had some... uh… threats,” she said, her voice low.
“What kind of threats?” I asked, looking around, as if the person would be hiding in the bushes with binoculars.
“Sometimes, just ‘I’m watching you’, but other times it’s things like, ‘Soon we will be together.’ And then some are of a more sexual nature.”
I’d received a lot of crazy emails and letters. She had to get tons of them too. There had to be something more. “Well, can’t you just chalk them up to a fan with an active imagination?”
She shook her head and pulled out a letter from her bag. It was word processed.
It won’t be long until we are together. I’ll be able to recite my vows and we can consummate our relationship. You will look beautiful with my child growing in your womb.
There was no signature. “I know what you’re thinking, just ignore it, but I can’t. This letter didn’t come in the mail or attached to some flowers that were delivered. I found this letter in my trailer, and it wasn’t there this morning. Whoever it is, is watching me, probably right now.”
“So you need a good bodyguard,” I said, feeling for the poor woman.
“Actually, I was going to see about yours. Just for a while. He seemed good and not the least interested in me. That means that I’m certain that he’s not my stalker. Also, he wasn’t here this morning according to you. Is there any way you’d spare him?”
I loved Emmett working for me, but I could see her point. “I can ask him. I’m sure I can find someone else for myself, if it’s temporary. I was actually going to look for another driver and bodyguard because I wanted one with Charlie and Bella at all times.” It made me nervous when Bella went to school. I knew she wasn’t a celebrity, but if anyone figured out what she meant to me, she wouldn’t be safe.
I reached for my phone to text Emmett and I realized I didn’t have it. I didn’t think it was in my dressing room, then I remembered charging it in the car. I’d left it there. I’d been so distracted with the filming delay and then with Rosalie’s news, I hadn’t noticed the lack of texts from Bella. I’d just thought she’d been busy at the park.
About an hour later Emmett arrived on set. He had Bella, Charlie, Elizabeth and Alice with him. My heart started beating faster when Bella walked toward me with Elizabeth on her hip. “Hi. I hope this is alright,” she said biting on her lower lip. “Emmett said that you’d be on lunch. We realized that you’d forgotten your phone when I was texting you pictures from the park and your phone was going off in the car.”
She held the phone out for me. “Thanks,” I said taking it. For a moment our hands touched and I felt a tingle that made me warm all over.
“Tittle,” Elizabeth giggled and squirmed in her mother’s arms.
“As soon as I get home,” I said laughing. I reached out and tickled her and she let out a squeal. A few people turned to look, but then went back to what they were doing. The director came over.
“And who is this?” he asked. Bella looked embarrassed, but I knew Carlisle didn’t care. He was really easy going for a director.
“This is Bella and her daughter Elizabeth,” I said by way of introduction. “Bella, this is Carlisle, the director.”
He held out his hand and bella shook it. “Nice to meet you.” Then he turned to me. “Use some of this energy when you shoot. This is exactly the chemistry we’re looking for between you and Rosalie.”
It wasn’t acting. The chemistry was real, though I wasn’t about to say that. Instead I changed the subject. “Alice, will you bring Charlie over?” She’d been holding Charlie’s infant carrier.
“Carlisle, this is Alice, she’s Bella’s sister.”
Carlisle smiled and held out his hand but then paused. “Wait, the woman from the Oscars?” he asked.
“You saw me at the Oscars?” she asked wide eyed.
Carlisle chuckled. “Well no, I just saw the tabloids.” Alice’s cheeks flushed pink. “So, Ms. Fashion, what do you think of Edward’s wardrobe for this episode?”
Alice looked at me and then at the clothes that were hanging near me. The outfits already set out. She went through them all. “Hmmm, do you really want me to answer?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” Carlisle responded.
“Well then, I think that sometimes it looks like he’s too dressed up, but other times he’s too casual. It would be an easy fix though. “Look at him now, for example. He’s wearing the same thing someone in high school would wear,” she said pointing at my jeans and tshirt I’d been given in wardrobe this morning. “If you just put this on top of it…” She handed me a short sleeved button up shirt to put over the darker t-shirt. “See?” she asked, and she was right. I looked more the part.
“Want a job interning here?” Carlisle laughed.
Alice took it seriously. “Really? I’m in school for design and even for wardrobe in productions.”
He smiled. “Then it’s settled. You can come by once or twice a week to help go over the cast's’ wardrobe for the next few shoots. If you have suggestions, you can talk them over with the head of wardrobe and see what she says.”
Alice looked like she was going to explode she was so happy. They didn’t stay long after that, though I had noticed Emmett talking to Rose. I walked him to the car. “Did Rosalie tell you about her problem?” I asked, not wanting to break Rosalie’s confidence and tell him anything she hadn’t.
“Yes,” he said looking at the ground. “As much as I tease her, I’d like to help out, but I don’t want to leave you stranded.”
“Well, I have an interview for a new driver. Do you know Seth Clearwater? He comes from the same agency you did.”
Emmett nodded. “Yeah, good kid I think.”
“He drove for some guy named Jenks, and he’s leaving the country for a few months. I’ll check him out tomorrow. In the meantime, when you come back this afternoon, can you drop me off, then take Rosalie home and check out her place? Maybe stay there a few days until she can figure out something more permanent or they catch the guy?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I’ll pack a few things when I take the girls home.”
I leaned in the backseat of the car and kissed Charlie on the head. Bella smiled at me, her eyes sparkling. I wanted to kiss her too, but of course I resisted. It wouldn’t do either of us any good. I hadn’t even told her about going out with Tanya this weekend. I don’t know why I was putting it off.
Deep down I knew.
I was a coward.
I had to remind myself why I was even trying to make it work with Tanya. For Charlie, the voice in my head said. I’d grown up without two parents and I didn’t want that for him. I would sacrifice my own happiness for his. I’d give it one more try, but if this weekend didn’t bring Tanya and I closer, I’d have to face the fact that it was over.