"John I don't think now is really an appropriate time to be talking about this." I sighed out of the phone, wishing that my brother would stop badgering me about going out with his new hostess and let me get back to work.
"Dude, she's your type! Athletic, smart, resourceful..."
"You don't even know my type!"
"Exactly! You've been single for so long that I don't even really know what type of girls you date. Me, your brother!"
"Listen, John, I have a lot of work to catch up on-"
"From what? The vacation you haven't taken? The night off you took for the date you haven't been on?"
I didn't know how to respond. He had a point. It annoyed me.
"You listen to me, bro. What's stopping you?"
I flushed, irritation temporarily clouding my judgment so I didn't have enough sense to give him the brush off.
"I don't know, maybe I already have someone here I'm interested in."
To my surprise and even further irritation, he just laughed to himself. "So you finally admitted it, huh?"
"Admitted what?" I asked through gritted teeth.
"That you're in love with Emma."
At this point, if I had coffee to spit out, I would have.
"Come one Alex. We've known her for forever and a day, but it wasn't until you guys started up The Company that you started looking at her differently."
"I don't look at her differently!"
"Come on, that little half smile, half eye roll thing you do has always been saved for Emma."
I sighed again, sinking back into my chair in defeat.
"Even if I do love her, it could never work. We're too different, and the feeling clearly isn't mutual."
"Whatever, little bro. we'll talk about this later okay? I gotta go."
"Okay, okay. Talk to you tomorrow."
"Don't think you're getting off that easy! More tomorrow!" I dropped the phone down.
Looking up, my stomach dropped harder than my phone.
Blood rushed to my ears.
She nudged me over and sat down next to me. Right next to me.
"Why didn't you tell me you had a sneaky, sultry love affair?" The smile on her face couldn't have been bigger if she had been trying.
She didn't know that we were talking about her. Relief unclenched my stomach, but only slightly.
"Now who can't help but over hear?"
She nudged my shoulder. "Seriously, how could you keep this from me? You know a good tragic romance is what I live for! This is my area of expertise!"
I didn't meet her eyes. "Emma, I didn't tell you because it's none of your business."
Of course, she completely ignored me. "Who is it? Is it someone I know?"
I was on my way to ask Alex if he had heard anything from the new client i was trying to obtain, but I stopped a few paces from the door way when I saw how red his face was.
He was on the phone with someone, clenching the receiver so tightly his knuckles were white.
Please don't be the client, please don't be the client! I crossed my fingers.
"Even if I do love her, it could never work! We're too different and the feeling clearly isn't mutual."
My heart clenched. Of course. Alex hadn't had a girlfriend longer than I could remember. Of course he hadn't gone for Jane fair fax when I mentioned her. Of course. He already had someone else.
How could I not have seen it before? This is my job! Maybe I'm just not cut out for this. Yet another time when I've completely missed the signs.
I put on as big a smile as I could, taking the last few steps into the room just as he hung up.
"Alex Knightley!" I attempted my usual gusto, but my soul was deflating. "Why didn't you tell me you had a sneaky, sultry love affair?"
"Now who can't help but overhear?" My smile became a little less fake at our old joke.
"Seriously, how could you keep this from me? You know a good tragic romance is what I live for! This is my area of expertise!" Just because my feelings for him were a little more... Extensive... Than his for me doesn't mean that I we didn't have a solid friendship.
"Emma, I didn't tell you because it's none of your business." Ooh that one stung. Brush it off, Emma. Brush. It. Off.
"Who is it? Is it someone I know?" Maybe he really does like Jane, and that's why he didn't tell me before. He was embarrassed.
To my surprise, he started laughing.
"Yeah. Yeah, I think you know her."
He looked down at his lap, smiling bashfully, and I took a single finger and tipped his chin up, leaning in to meet his eyes. "Aw, Alex you're blushing. Who is she? She must be pretty great. I don't think I've ever seen you blush."
His smile froze but didn't vanish, his eyes bright.
"Emma." And I noticed for the millionth time this past week how different my name sounded in his mouth from every other person.
"What?" My voice sounded too loud for this little space between us.
He was so still, staring at, that it made me nervous.
"Emma. That's her name."
My heart stopped. Oh My God.
Is he saying what I think he is?
"The girl I loves name is Emma."
I struggled to catch my breath, but managed to whisper, "what a coincidence, my name just happens to be Emma, too."
Her eyes were shining. As many times as Id looked into her eyes over the years, bright with excitement, mischief, pride, and even tears, I've never seen them shine like this.
I kissed her. I kissed her like I've been dreaming about kissing her for what seems like forever, and yet, I never pictured it as good as this.
It was so much better than anything I'd ever experienced before. I didn't want to go any further, and I didn't want to stop. I just wanted to stay like this forever. I guess we got along better when neither one of us was talking.
Alex Knightley, Partner, Business Development, Book keeping, boring stuff.
Can I go ahead and add Great Kisser to that list? Hell, yes.
All too soon, it ended. It's okay. Now that the doors where open, there'd be plenty time for a "visit" later.
I smiled, my forehead against his. It had been so long since I last kissed someone, but I didn't remember it feeling this spectacular, or leaving me this speechless. Me, speechless. Emma Woodhouse always knows what to say. Except, I guess, now.
"Emma, what are we doing?"
There's that Knightley pessimism I've grown so annoyingly fond of. At least he hadn't moved away from me. He also hadn't dropped the smile.
I grabbed the back of his neck. "We're kissing, Mr. Knightley. That's what grownups do when they're in love."
He laughed, his forehead bobbing against mine, making me bob too.
I cut him off, using my other hand to press a finger to my lips. "Shh. Don't ruin the moment by being serious."
He took both of my hands in his, holding them between us.
"I mean really, how is this gonna work? You and I both know that business and pleasure don't mix."
"Pleasure is our business." He raised one eyebrow at me, and I collapsed back into him. "Okay, that sounded so wrong. But you know what I mean. So what we work together, lots of people work with their significant others."
"Yeah, but those people don't usually date their boss."
"Since when am I your boss? We started this together. We're partners."
"No. No buts. How am I supposed to find love for other people when I let my own love slip through my fingers? For the past couple weeks, this is all I've thought about. We can't give that up."
He went to kiss me again, but stopped.
"Past couple weeks? You've only been in love with me a few weeks?"
I laughed. "No, Alex. I'm pretty sure I've been in love with you for a long time. I just didn't realize it until last week."
My hand was back around his neck. "I went back and watched my videos. I couldn't figure out how I missed all the signs from both Senator Elton and Frank Churchill. I'm a matchmaker. It's my job to know when someone's in love, and as I watched them all, I noticed little things, like how every time you left the room, my eyes would follow you as far as they could. How every time you walked away, you left me smiling to myself, forgetting entirely for a moment about the camera. How I couldn't keep my hands off of you. Then, I realized that the reason id missed the signs was because I wasn't looking for them. I knew in my heart that I wasn't available. "
Both of us had our hands wrapped around each other's necks, and our lips met lightly in the middle for just a moment.
"We'll figure out a way, Emma. It's time I learned from your example, and took a few risks."
"Telling me you loved me was a risk. Kissing me was a risk."
"Maybe there's more Emma in me than we think."
"It wouldn't surprise me to find some Alex in myself, either."
She broke away from the kiss with a worried crease in her forehead. "Who were you on the phone with before?"
"John. He's the only person who knows. I mean, I assume he is, but he had already figured out that I had feelings for you."
"John! Oh Alex, is this even allowed? I mean we are sort of in-laws."
I laughed, swooping in to peck her cheek. I never in a million years could have imagined me doing any of this.
"Yes, Emma. It's fine. We're only sort of in laws. Besides, it's not like we're actually related. The worst it will do is make our family tree a little... Distorted. We Knightley men just have good taste, that's all."
Her smile was back. "Then you should probably call him back."
I cupped her cheek. "That's probably a good idea. I'm sure you have work to get back to anyways."
"That I do. But first, I've got to call Annie."
"And why is that?" Of course, I figured she would want to tell her best friend, but that didn't mean I didn't want to hear her say it.
"She won the bet."