"You're so funny, Edward." Lauren laughed along with Edward, slapping at my boyfriend's shoulder after a lame ass joke.
We had been dating for two years with the first being hot and heavy and the second dwindling downward to warm coals... barely even pink. It was getting to the point that even the sound of his laugh grated on my nerves; like nails on a chalkboard. And I couldn't help but picture a donkey ... their big front teeth matching perfectly.
Esme parked in the school lot and gave us a wave.
"That's my mom, are you ready Bella?" Edward asked, still grinning widely … hee-haw.
Esme had invited me to dinner, despite my indifferent attitude toward her son, I loved his family. His parents were cool as shit, and his twin sister had become my best friend. Breaking it off with Edward meant there was a chance I could lose them, too.
My mom had married a real sleaze and after his third time walking in on me while I showered, by mistake, of course, I decided it was time to make the move to my dad's, two-story house with its peeling paint and out of my mother's, one-wheeled trailer. My first day at school and I was head over heels with the school quarterback who was just as interested in the new girl. He was hot and popular, but it got old after the newness wore off.
My dad had a rotating schedule and worked nights half the time. I was surprised he gave me permission to spend most of my time with the Cullens. I slept in Alice's room, in her spare bed, much to Edward's dismay. As I said, the first year we were all over each other; lots of groping; mouths and hands everywhere. I had slept with my first boyfriend when I was living with Renee, and it had been terrible, so I was in no rush to do it again. I told Edward no, so many times I'm sure he believed I was saving myself for marriage.
I'm almost certain I'll get a proposal on our prom night.
A month and a half till high school was over and I could end our charade while he went to an out of state college.
Oh Edward, don't leave me!
My darling Bella, I must go. Forget about me, I'm no good.
-Cue dramatic collapse onto the ground as he walks away-
"Are you ready?"
"Yeah, sure, let's go eat your mom's bomb-ass stuffed shells."
"Shh, before she hears you!" Edward hissed, waving goodbye to his friends and sending me a dirty look.
I rolled my eyes, annoyed with the same song and dance he gave when I cursed. Esme, who had definitely heard me, giving me a wink.
"Hey, you two!"
"I have a surprise for Edward at home."
"What kind of surprise?" He squealed as if puberty had just hit him at this very moment.
"Wait and see." She sang, tilting her head back and forth in tune with her varying pitch.
Edward bounced in his seat all the way to his house
He bolted out of the car as soon as his mother put it into park, forgetting to open my door – which he had insisted he do on our first date.
"Emmett!" I heard him scream from the living room after stepping through the front door.
Emmett was his older brother, who I hadn't met. Edward had mentioned him off and on ... that he had been away fighting the bad guys. But not enough to give off any brotherly bond like you saw on the big screen or read about in books.
I gave Esme a smile, knowing how worried she had been over her absent son.
"Go meet Emmett while I get dinner on the table." She shooed me away after a quick embrace, discreetly wiping at her eyes.
I turned toward the living room, seeing Edward swallowed in a huge set of tris and bis. Suddenly, the monster with curly, dark, carefully gelled hair lifted his head, and a pair of blue eyes met my browns.
I thought I was going to melt into the floorboards beneath my feet. My body tingled before feeling on fire from my fingertips to my toes, and everywhere in between- if you know what I mean.
A full bottom lip hung slightly as his almost cerulean orbs eyed me up and down, twice I might add, before Edward interrupted the moment a girl could only dream about.
"Emmett, this is Bella."
"Bella." Emmett said in a way that made my toes cross and cramp, "I've heard a lot about you." I could sense he was reigning himself back, putting away the warmth I had felt while he was assessing me.
"The pleasure's mine." Looking at him from under my lashes, I lifted one side of my mouth into a lopsided smirk. I grabbed his hand and slowly circled the tender flesh between his thumb and finger with the pad of my thumb before letting go. Instead of gaining the reaction I was hoping for, his eyes only narrowed.
"Dinner is ready!" Esme called from the dining room, breaking the awkward situation I had created.
"Baby, I had your father grill steaks, and I made twice-baked potatoes and Caesar salad, your favorite." Esme was unable to mask the happiness she felt over her oldest being home and safe. Carlisle came into the room from the back patio with a platter of meat, beaming with the same amount of happiness.
"I know you were expecting stuffed shells, but Emmett surprised us, and I couldn't not serve him a steak." She apologized with no real regret.
"I don't mind, you know I like everything you serve."
I felt the grease from hot steak glaze my tongue, but I was unable to taste, my eyes involuntarily glancing to Emmett who sat across from me the entire meal. I watched his lips circle around and close over the fork with each bite, his tongue sliding over his bottom lip to capture the au jus. Esme came back out of the kitchen with two apple pies after everyone had finished eating dinner and cut everyone a piece for dessert.
"Mmm ... warm apple pie. My favorite." Emmett purred, closing his eyes and savoring his first bite.
I squeezed my thighs together, swatting at Edward's hand that tried to slide between them.
"Edward, we need to talk…" I began the conversation I hadn't planned to have for a few months, if at all when he walked me to Alice's bedroom door. She was out of town to visit colleges in New York where her Aunt lived.
"I'll see you in the morning, yeah?" Edward smiled, giving my lips a brief kiss before turning away and rushing into his own bedroom, the door softly clicking shut before I could even start the speech I had been building myself up to. I had planned to wait, truly not wanting to hurt him, but unwilling to force myself to keep up the act after having such a fierce reaction to his older brother. I think Edwardknew how I was feeling about our relationship, possibly feeling much the same. Perhaps we were both putting on a good show for one another and those around us.
"So, you're Bella."
Emmett stepped forward from a dark corner near the door to what I knew to be his childhood bedroom.
"So, you're Emmett." I countered, raising a brow and smirking at him.
I may or may not have placed my hands on my waist and stuck out my chest to emphasize my curves. What can I say?
I'm proud of what my momma gave me.
He narrowed his eyes, just as he had done earlier when we had first met. It was like he could see through me and it was unnerving.
"You've been dating my brother for what, two years now?"
"You've heard about me." I snickered.
"More from my parents than my brother. I find that a bit odd."
"Edward and I have a unique relationship." I shrugged a shoulder at him.
"How unique?" This time, I was on the receiving end of a smirk instead of being the giver.
By this point, one of his arms was above my head, resting on the wall behind us, his other with the palm placed near my cheek. Our noses were a mere inch away, and his breath was hot on my face.
"Good night … Bella." He finally said, pushing himself away and disappearing behind his bedroom door, leaving me panting after him.
I woke and licked my lips, smacked them with irritation over how dry my mouth felt, throat slightly burning. It was allergy season and raining pollen every morning. Leaving the room, I did my best not to stomp down the stairs, knowing the rest of the house was asleep. Entering the kitchen, I went straight to the cabinet above the stove where the Cullens kept their medicine.
"Can I help you find something?"
Bottles rattled around my feet, one hitting my baby toe, giving a sharp shot of pain.
Emmett sat at the kitchen table with a glass of water full of ice, the condensation causing drips down the sides and a small puddle under it.
"Allergies." I breathed out, eyes wide in shock.
The only light in the room was coming from under the vent above the stove, which Esme insisted be kept on in case we woke in the night and needed something, fearing we would trip down the back staircase.
His eyes, which I knew to be bright, looked almost black as he watched me with a narrowed gaze.
"You aren't who you try to be." He assessed confidently.
"Are you?" I retorted.
"Not in the least," He murmured.
Before I knew what was happening he was up and out of the chair, his body hovering close enough to mine that I could feel his heat.
"What are you doing with my brother?" He more demanded than asked.
I stared up at him dumbly, unsure of how I was supposed to answer him.
"You aren't the kind of girl who should be dating a boy like Edward."
"How do you know what kind of girl I am?" I challenged.
"Wild and carefree, or at least you should be. You have a fire inside of you that you're trying to put out. For the life of me, I can't understand why. What's better than a long-legged beauty with an intensity inside of her?"
"Trailer trash, you mean?"
"I doubt that." He snickered, breath hot and breezy against my lips.
"You don't even know me." I breathed.
"You're going to hurt him in the end." He frowned deeply.
"Me or you?" I challenged.
"Bella?" Edward came into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes sleepily like he was a child.
"I thought I heard voices."
"That's what happens when people converse." I snapped.
Emmett snapped his fingers from across the room, having gotten there without Edward or me noticing.
"I was thirsty; you know how bothered I am with allergies this time of year." I corrected myself after Emmett's reprimand.
"Come back upstairs, I'll rub your back till you fall asleep."
You mean rub your dick against my ass till you fall asleep…
I was unable to resist looking back at Emmett who was glaring at the placement of Edward's hand on my ass as we walked up the stairs.
After my brief talk with Emmett, I had come to a conclusion about the relationship between Edward and me. It was led by how much time Edward and Lauren spent together, the looks that were exchanged between them and how little it bothered me.
"You like her," I stated as Lauren bade us goodbye, eyes only for Edward.
"You know who, Edward, don't play dumb."
"Yes, Lauren." I almost sneered, sliding into the car as he held the door open for me.
"You know it's just an innocent crush."
Hers or yours?
Edward promised to call me later and drove off after I entered the house. I watched his car disappear, nibbling on my lower lip, wondering what was wrong with me. Edward was kind and sweet. The All-American boy. Yet, all I could think about was his brother… the American hero with secrets in his eyes. The feelings I had for Edward were those of a friend, not someone I had a future with.
I did my homework and made dinner in a daze, barely acknowledging my father as I chewed the same bite of my quesadilla over and over. Dad threw me a funny look but gave my forehead a quick kiss and left the room to watch the game while I finished the last of my math.
A few more weeks and it would all be over.
My stomach started to cramp when I realized that probably meant the end of the Cullens as a whole.
Edward may not be the one for me, but I loved him as a friend, his parents, and his sister, too... and now his brother was running a marathon in my head.
I startled from the rap of knuckles on the door, opening it with a shaky hand. To my surprise, Emmett stood there, hands shoved in his pockets and head bent. He raised just his eyes, a lift of his lips caused his dimple to wink at me most deliciously.
He parted his lips and wet them before speaking, my heart fluttering crazily in my chest. I wasn't familiar with feeling unbalanced, usually the one in complete control over my emotions.
"Bella." His voice smooth and sweet.
"Hi," I muttered in the most uncool way possible.
"Wanna go for a drive?"
My better senses told me to slam the door shut and run away before I did something I would be ashamed of in the morning. Then I remembered I seldom felt shame.
"Going out, I'll be back before curfew!" I called out to my father, grabbing my coat from the hook by the door and closing it behind me.
He opened the door for me as his brother did. But his arm brushing against my shoulders as I climbed into his Jeep, spread goosebumps over my arms.
"Where are we going?"
"Places." He winked backing out of the drive and speeding down the road.
"Should I be scared?" I grinned, closing my eyes and leaning my head back, enjoying the wind that whipped my hair around me crazily.
"That is a good question. Do you normally climb into a stranger's car?"
"You aren't a stranger, you're Edward's brother."
He made a noise, and I opened my eyes to look at him.
"I'm not a very good girlfriend." I frowned.
Maybe he was more like Edward than I originally thought. Perhaps I was acting in a distasteful manner, and he was disgusted with my bras actions.
"No, you aren't." He raised a brow in challenge. "What are you really doing with my brother?"
"Wasting time?" I shrugged.
He abruptly turned off the main road and onto a grassy path that looked to have only recently been flattened by big tires. Tree branches scratched at the bars of his Jeep, my teeth rattling together as he drove over hills and ditches. He stopped when we reached a small pond. The moon was full and bright, reflecting beautifully across the water.
Emmett grabbed something from the back and helped me down before laying a blanket over the grass. He sat and took my hand, pulling me down beside him before leaning back and looking at the sky.
"You don't feel like a stranger." I finally said, referring to his early remark.
"Neither do you, beautiful."
"Maybe I should be asking you what you're doing with your brother's girlfriend?"
"That's a damn good question, and I don't have an answer. Stupidity, there's a pull stronger than I can deny… You are a siren, drawing me in from the sea, forever lost to my rational senses. I feel like I already know you. Alice chatters about you non-stop, Mom praises your grades and personality. Edward is the only one who doesn't say much, other than you're hot and you put out." He snickered.
"What?" I screeched, sitting upright quick as lightning. "That is a damn lie."
"I guessed as much by how he said it. It was obvious he was trying hard to make an impression on his big brother. Chill out tigress." Emmett chuckled softly, pulling me back down.
"I'm not sleeping with your brother," I grumbled.
He turned to his side, using his elbow to rest his hand on.
"I know." He smiled gently, rubbing my cheek with his thumb. "My siren." Almost a whisper that stopped my breathing, making me feel dizzy and crazed over this man I barely knew, creating a need I had never before felt.
"What are you doing to me?" I asked.
"That's another good question said in reverse."
He leaned in and brushed his lips against mine so gently I thought I had imagined it.
"Break up with him." Running his nose along the side of mine.
"What?" Barely able to function, my body had turned to jelly.
"You don't love him."
"No, I don't."
"You wouldn't be here if you weren't already planning on it. Tell him."
"I was going to after graduation."
"No reason to string him along, Bella." He pulled away and stood, facing the water with his back to me.
I walked beside him, surprised when his arms wrapped around my waist and he twirled us in a circle till I gave into laughter.
"You are insane!" I giggled.
"So they tell me." He grinned back, the dark mood forgotten.
"Emmett's having one of his dark days," Edward announced when I came to the door, moving aside for me to enter the house.
"He does this sometimes." Edward shrugged and plopped down on the couch without signs of concern for his brother.
"Esme?" I called her name, entering the kitchen.
I found her at the stove with the teapot.
"Hello, dear." She smiled warmly.
"Is Emmett all right?"
"Yes." Her smile turning sad.
"He has moments like these since his last deployment. Melancholy sometimes sets in. It doesn't last, not to worry."
"Can I do anything to help?"
"That is so sweet, unlike somebody we both know and love." Sending a dark look into the living room where Edward was residing. "If you don't mind bringing this tray to him, have some tea, and try to get him to chat?"
"I'd love to."
My heart fluttered as it always did when I knew I was going to see Emmett. I was also scared, not knowing what I was going to walk into.
Ray LaMontagne's soothing voice greeted me when I opened his bedroom door without knocking.
I've been saved by a woman
She won't let me go…
The room was dark; making it appear to be dusk. I set the tray on the nightstand and opened the curtains that covered the entrance to the balcony, allowing light and fresh air to cheer up the space.
"No wonder you aren't feeling very well ... all this gloom and doom," I grumbled, only to scream out in fright when an arm reached out and pulled me into a firm chest.
"This is a huge improvement." Emmett had dark circles around his eyes, his face slightly pale.
"Do you want to talk about it?" I asked, brushing a hand against his cheek.
He kept his arms around me and twirled us to the balcony, as a new song began.
Things ain't been going my way
You know I need you here
You clear my mind all the time
Emmett sang along, twirling me with the sound of the music, swaying us together with more rhythm than I typically could manage.
"You are the best thing that ever happened to me." We both sang, jumping around crazily near the end of the song.
"Your brother said you were having a dark day?" I questioned after we had settled on his futon with the tray of cups between us.
"Some nights are harder than others, and it makes the days not so enjoyable after a bad one." His frown returning.
"Don't do that." I reprimanded, reaching out and flicking the corner of his mouth. He bit at my finger making me snort. "Be present, don't let the demons of the past control your daily living."
"I'm finding it easier today for some reason." His eyes were once again sparkling, losing the darkness I saw the first night we had met in the kitchen.
Still don't know what love means, Ray crooned in the background while our lips met like magnets in the middle.
"Bell- oh!" Esme's surprised gasp made my eyes go wide and look back at a matching 'deer in the headlights' look from Emmett.
"Ma!" He sputtered, getting to his feet.
"Esme, I can explain."
"I am assuming Edward doesn't know?"
We both shook our heads guilty.
"I didn't want to hurt him." I frowned
"You'll be surprised." She hummed. "Don't disappoint me." Shutting the door behind her and leaving us.
My mind was still imagining her pulling me by my ponytail down the stairs and out of the house, calling me a hussy, that I had corrupted her boys. My scalp even ached from phantom pain.
"What the hell was that?" I asked.
"Mom," Emmett smirked. "She's a cool cat." Making me roll my eyes over his corniness.
"See that patch of light?" Emmett asked, guiding my hands that were holding the heavy set of binoculars he had brought to search the sky. "If we had a telescope it would be hundreds of pinpoints of light."
I lowered the equipment, weaving my fingers with his. I had a permanent smile on my face when he was near; his presence brought me a feeling of peace I had never felt before. Growing up with a mother like Renee, I was always on edge, feeling ill at ease. My father gave me more stability, but he wasn't around much. Nothing felt as secure as Emmett did with just a simple look. Before he arrived, I didn't hold much thought of the future other than what I didn't want. Now I was anxious to find out what it was I did want.
"Edward mentioned prom was this weekend." He shifted so that we were face to face. "Why are you still playing this charade?"
"After, I promise. I can't just leave him hanging days before prom. It's bad enough what I am doing."
Emmett didn't say much else but held me a bit tighter before bringing me home.
"Bella!" Alice screeched the next day, running into my open arms, squealing together and jumping with excitement at being reunited.
"Don't ever leave me!" I complained.
"Never ever!" She vowed.
We escaped to her bedroom, talking over one another about how much we missed each other and unsure of how we will make it after graduation.
"Lauren wants to come over tomorrow and get ready together."
"When did you talk to her?" I glared at my reflection, twisting my head back and forth, modeling the earrings she had picked out to go with my dress.
"She was brought Edward his math book shortly after I arrived home."
I went over what I would say in my head...
Hey Edward, I love you, but I'm not in love with you. You're my buddy, now, excuse me while I go bone your brother. Cool?
"Hey, what's going on with you?" Alice bumped my shoulder with hers, a concerned look on her face.
I wanted to tell her all about my agonizing love triangle with her brothers. The look of disappointment on Emmett's face over the fact that I was still going to prom with Edward was making me feel sick to my stomach.
"I think Edward likes Lauren." I blurted out, averting my eyes and searching the dozen lipstick choices before me.
"What the heck happened while I was away?" She wondered to herself. "You know Edward is crazy about you... you have nothing to worry about."
I was surprised when I heard something off in Alice's tone. I searched her face and knew there was a lie hiding somewhere in her words, I just wasn't sure exactly where.
The next night, Lauren and I were getting ready in Alice's room. I was coughing from the overabundance of hairspray being sprayed into Lauren's French twist while mine lay loose and curled.
"Jesus, Lauren," I complained, grabbing my dress off the hanger and heading for the door.
"Where are you going?" Alice asked absentmindedly while twisting around to see the back of her dress in her mirror.
"To put on my dress where I can breathe." Stressing my dirty look in Lauren's direction.
Alice mouthed her apology for the hundredth time, and I walked across the hall to the bathroom to dress in privacy.
Before I could even turn around, the door opened, and Emmett entered, locking it behind him, back pressed against it. His eyes were dark and hooded, a perpetual frown on his face.
"Emmett, I need to get dressed." Not wanting to have an argument before the dance.
"No one is stopping you." He countered.
I gave him a challenging look and grabbed the hem of my shirt, pulling if over my head and dropping it to the floor. I already had my strapless bra on, or I would have lost some of my bravery. His eyes never left mine. I was sort of disappointed, wanting him to glance down and assess my assets— you know what I mean?
Let a girl know.
With a huff, I pulled down my sweats and was left in nothing but my bra and thong and his gaze still didn't waver.
"Damn it, Emmett. What do you want from me?" I snarled, stepping into my dress and pulling the thin straps over my shoulders.
"I want you." His breath was hot on my ear, yet again at my side before I could blink. "You are going to prom with my little brother. What do you think that does to me?"
"What does it do?"
"Makes me question what the hell it is I am doing with you."
"You remind me every time I see you."
"I'm nice to look at. Got a killer bod, I know." I sent him a dirty look and tried to pull away.
"You know that's not true."
"I'm not sure whether I should be complimented or offended."
"You challenge me. Your presence pulls me in like no other ever has, leaving my throat dry no matter how much I drink, craving more. You make the days I would normally stay hidden in the dark, bright. You pull me out of my demons. Yet, I'm reminded daily that you don't belong to me."
"I belong to myself." I lifted my chin in challenge. "I will never belong to anyone."
"I want to possess you." He growled, lowering his head to bite into my shoulder as his hand went to the back of my dress to zip it up for me.
I squeezed my thighs together and shut my eyes, wanting nothing more than for him to take me against the bathroom door, for the whole house to hear him claim me.
"Break up with him." He repeated his request.
"I need to give him this night." I sighed in remorse.
He gazed into my eyes. I saw fury, sadness, and guilt flash in them before his lips crashed into mine. He devoured me, leaving me breathless as I tried to keep up.
"Don't play with my heart, Bella."
He left me gasping for breath, before walking away without another look.
"Emmett, go stand beside Lauren!" Esme demanded while Carlisle took pictures.
"Ma, she looks fine on her own." Edward protested.
His arm felt heavy around my shoulders, his suit itchy against my skin.
"Edward, get off." I grumbled, pushing him away."
I knew I was being irritable and giving him a hard time when he didn't deserve it. I just didn't want to stand there, pretending to be happy at his side taking pictures, let alone spend the rest of the night with him pretending.
"Fine, I'll go stand with Lauren." He glared at me and walked around his sister to stand with our friend.
More flashes as pictures were taken of me looking at Edward in shock and anger, leaving me standing alone on our prom night. I was only going so he wouldn't be alone. But then again, I guess I asked for it.
"I got you, Bells," Emmett smirked at me, stepping into the photo, his arm fitting around me perfectly. I was vaguely aware of even more flashes as I looked up at Emmett's smiling face.
"I can handle a couple more hours." He smirked, poking my nose gently while Edward was still busy talking to Lauren.
As expected, Edward was crowned king, and we weren't too surprised that Alice was queen.
Some were overheard commenting about the fact they were brother and sister, but a quick glare from me or an elbow from our friends shut them up quickly enough. I took a million pictures for Esme and cheered louder than everyone else. The routine ended, and Alice and I took our turns together, dancing and jumping around one another with her date and Edward around us. A few songs later, I looked around and realized Edward was nowhere to be found.
"Have you seen Edward?" I yelled over the music to Alice's date.
"I think he went to take a piss."
I threw him and Alice a wink and left to find him, hoping he was ready to go home. It was hot, and I was uncomfortable, wanting to be with the person I wish I could have gone to prom with.
I walked into the hall outside of the gym and didn't see him. Heading toward the bathrooms, I could hear low voices coming from the dark corner. There I found Edward leaning against the lockers, Lauren pressed against his body, his hands cradling her face.
"Edward?" I gasped.
"Bella!" He pushed Lauren away and straightened himself, turning toward me with anxious eyes.
"I'd like to leave now," I stated simply, holding his gaze.
He didn't say a word as we walked to the car, nor after we were halfway to his home.
"Bella, what you saw-"
"I'm not angry." I interrupted.
"You like her. I've always known you liked her."
"I love you."
"And I love you. You are one of my best friends…"
"There are many kinds of love." He murmured.
"I've seen the way you look at Emmett." He stated in front of his house, putting the car into park and turning his body to face me.
"I don't know what you mean."
"Hey now, don't do that to me." He grimaced. "I think I deserve your honesty."
I quirked a brow at him, remembering the scene I had walked in on. "Yes, what you saw was bad. But, I have seen you and Emmett giving each other secret looks when you think no one else is watching. I know what Lauren and I have together isn't real, but she likes me in a way that you can't. In a way you never have."
"It's okay. I didn't understand before, I thought I just needed to give you time. I can see it now, and you are right. You are my best friend, but you aren't meant to be with me as a partner."
"Okay, Dr. Phil."
"Do me a favor, yeah?"
"What is it?"
"Go find my brother and tell him I have nothing to forgive you or him for. Just don't get your freak on in his room … adjacent walls and all."
"Edward!" I shrieked, laughing and throwing my arms around him, kissing his cheek. "I love you."
"I love you, too." He grinned. "Now get out, I'm trying to get laid on prom night." He laughed, pushing me out of the car.
"Perv!" I yelled as he drove away, a few honks given in return.
"Bella?" When I rushed into the house, Carlisle was in the living room, a glass of whiskey in one hand and a book in the other.
"Where's Emmett?" I asked byway of greeting.
"He took a drive." Giving me a knowing look. "He took the Jeep; I don't think my car would make it through the trail…"
"Do your best not to get it stuck." He chuckled, throwing me the keys.
With my coordination, I failed to catch them, and they clanged together at my feet.
"You are the best!" I ran forward to kiss his cheek and then ran out of the house to his car that we both knew would be useless to reach the pond.
It was a fifteen-minute drive, giving me time to wonder. Why were Esme and Carlisle so cool with me going from Edward to Emmett? I knew Carlisle was, in reality, Emmett's uncle. Emmett's real father had died in a car accident when he was just two years old. Esme, Emmett's mother, fell in love with her husband's brother who had been taking care of her and Emmett during the grieving period. They married, and Edward and Alice following soon after. They were a true family in every sense of the word. Perhaps that was why they hadn't condemned us. They knew how crazy the heart could work. Maybe even they sensed Edward wasn't in love with me the way he had claimed. It also made me wonder how Alice would feel. She was my best friend, and I had been dating her twin, now I was leaving him for her older brother.
I parked the car on the side of the road where the grassy trail began, hoping it was as quick as I had remembered, this time on two legs instead of tires. I ran, my short heels sinking into the ground, tripping me several times before I took them off and allowed my toes to go down into the soft earth. My dress was knee length and pleated; giving me enough freedom to run without tearing, the blue silk material gliding against my skin.
Finally, when I thought my chest would burst, I saw the clearing before me. I slowed to a gait and saw Emmett's Jeep. He was kneeling, head hanging low with his hands on either side, looking far more defeated than I wished to ever see him.
"Emmett?" I called softly.
"You're here." He stated with genuine surprise.
Guilt built in my throat, realizing how truly unsure he was that he was indeed my choice.
"Of course, I'm here. I told you I would be."
"You told him?"
"Actually, he guessed. He already knew."
"This is it?"
"You are it."
He kissed me with more passion than ever before, both of us falling to our knees and grasping onto one another.
"You know what's supposed to happen on prom night, right?" He grinned against my lips.
"I like this particular tradition." He nibbled my bottom lip, pushing me down into the soft grass with his body atop mine.
"Maybe it's not so bad."
Not so many years later, Emmett and I would tell our children, and then our grandchildren about the photo that hung on our wall. Me in my prom getup, Emmett in his jeans and T-shirt. We were so focused on each other we hadn't noticed the flash going off ... we were looking at each other and not the camera.
Uncle Edward became a doctor and was now married to his third wife- none of them Lauren, she was forever the mistress. Aunty Alice was a band groupie, still traveling around the world with her guitarist boyfriend.
In retrospect, I guess you could say the decisions we made many years before were the right ones for all of us...
Thank you Fran for fixing my numerous mistakes and Stephanie for encouraging! I am dabbling in making this longer and in doing that, hopefully make the things others didn't like more understandable :) (because I agreed with them!)