This one-shot is the brainchild behind this entire story. It came to me about a year and a half ago, and though I've only just written it down, it's almost exactly the same. Without this one-shot, none of In a Manner of Speaking would exist. It explains the reason why Kat overreacted to Embry's announcement back in Chapter 14, along with a few other things in the story. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Thank you so much for being the most amazing reviewers, and making the past 10 months (Has it really been that long?) so very special.
An 'In a Manner of Speaking' One-Shot
It's Sophie's Turn to Talk
The door slammed, and my son entered the room, throwing himself on the couch with a loud huff. He brushed his overly-long hair out of his eyes – it really needed a cut, now I thought about it – and glared at nothing in particular.
I exchanged a look with Georgia, who was nearly always at the house and was totally used to Embry now. We smirked at each other, but didn't say anything.
The door shut again, quieter this time, and Georgia's daughter, Kat, entered. She was twelve, just nine days younger than Embry, and beginning to get a more womanly figure – not that she had noticed.
"What's up with him?" I asked Kat as she dumped her bag by Embry's feet, going round the back of the couch and perching on the end by his head.
"There's a dance next Friday, they just announced it today," she replied.
"And...?" I prodded.
"And Maddison's going out with that Jared kid from the year above, so she won't go with me, will she?!" Embry yelled before flopping back onto the cushions.
I bit back a smile and raised my eyebrows at Georgia. "Oh, I see," I replied.
"I don't get what's so great about Maddison anyway," Kat said, miffed. "Just 'cause she wears a bra now. Breasts do not a woman make!"
This time the smile broke free and I saw Georgia trying to hide hers too.
I couldn't remember a time when Kat hadn't had a crush on Embry. It had always been present, but recently it had become a lot more obvious to everyone – except my poor, oblivious son, that is.
"How can you say that?!" Embry shot back, sitting up. "She's so..."
"Awful," Kat finished. "She has like, zero personality!"
"What does her personality have to do with this?" Embry asked. "If I wanted a nice personality, I'd like...well, you!"
I saw Kat's face brighten, then the hope died as she realised it wasn't meant as a compliment, and I felt a wave of compassion for her.
"Still, it doesn't matter, 'cause she doesn't like me anyway," Embry sighed, defeated.
"So you're not going to the dance then?" Georgia asked, sitting down opposite the pair.
Apparently, this was the wrong thing to say, if the horrified looks on both kids faces was anything to judge by.
"You can't not go! That's lamer than going alone!"
"So you'll go together then?" I asked.
"Yeah, I guess," Embry replied.
"Wait," Kat interrupted, "why do you all assume I don't have someone to go with?"
"Do you?" I asked as Embry turned to her in confusion.
"Well, no, but that's not the point!" she replied.
"Then what's the problem? I'll go with you, and make Maddison see how awesome I am! It's perfect!"
"Nice to know that's all I'm good for," Kat mumbled, but the hope shining in her eyes was almost blinding.
I knew this could only end badly.
"So are you excited?" I asked Kat as I patted blush into her cheeks. Her mother had disappeared into Port Angeles again, leaving me to tend to Kat. Our house was always open for her – in fact, the guest bedroom was pretty much hers – but her mother's flighty tendencies drove us all mad.
Kat nodded, smiling, and turned to face the mirror. "It's all anyone's been talking about for two weeks. How did you get my hair so...nice?" She asked, petting it.
"Magic," I replied, and was rewarded with a small smile. Kat treated me like a friend and confidante most of the time, but she still appreciated the motherly touches. She cocked her head to the side and stared at herself, smoothing down her lilac dress.
"You look beautiful," I assured her truthfully.
Kat frowned, and continued staring. "I look different," she replied.
"It's just a touch of make-up and some Frizz-Ease."
"No, not different from normal. Different from...everyone else."
Comprehension dawned on me. "Oh, honey, that's a good thing! You're a real English rose, gorgeous and delicate. You'll attract a lot of attention around here with looks like that." I nudged her arm, smiling at her reflection. She hesitantly smiled back.
"I guess. I-Yeah, maybe."
I was about to reassure her some more when the phone began to ring.
"Embry, can you get that?" I called, and a few seconds later the ringing stopped.
I slipped a lilac flower clip into Kat's hair, sweeping it back from her face, and turned her to face me.
"Perfect," I told her. "Embry will love you in this."
"What?!" Kat looked alarmed. "I'm- He-...This isn't..." Her lies were lost on her lips, and she looked at me helplessly. "Please don't say anything."
"I won't, stop worrying. Now, let's go downstairs, huh?"
Kat nodded and followed me to the living room, where Embry was just putting down the phone, a wide grin in place.
I smiled at his appearance – how he'd tried to keep his smart clothes casual, his shirt wrinkled and his hair messy.
"Who was that?" I asked.
"Oh, you'll never guess," he started excitedly. "It was-" Embry cut off, frowning as he noticed Kat. He looked her up and down with a creased brow.
"You look really different," he stated.
"Doesn't she look nice?" I pressed.
"Uh, yeah. Yeah...Oh, I almost forgot!" he began again, brushing off the previous conversation. "That was Maddison!"
"She just broke up with Jared, and wants me to go to the dance with her!"
I could literally feel Kat shatter beside me, and it took everything in me not to say something.
"That's okay, right Kat?" he asked as I moved away, feigning disinterest. "I mean, we were just going as friends anyway, and this is Maddison, and..."
"That's fine," I heard Kat say in a quiet, weak voice I didn't know she even had.
"Quil and Jake are dateless, you could go with one of them?" he suggested, and I rolled my eyes. They had all planned to go together, the four of them, and now Embry was brushing them all off for this girl.
"I- I don't think I'm going to go, actually."
"Wait, what?!" Embry asked, shocked.
"I don't feel very well," Kat nearly whispered back.
"But you can't not go! I mean, everyone's going, and I'll be there with Maddison, and, and...and you got dressed up anyway, so you may as well!"
Kat put her clutch bag down on the sofa, shaking her head.
"I'm not up to it, Em. I just feel..."
"Well," Embry looked lost. "If you're not going, I shouldn't." He frowned. "You do look nice. ...I like that," he pointed at the flower clip. "It matches your dress."
"That's kinda the point," Kat replied quietly. "Go. But you have to tell me everything tomorrow, okay? Go on, go."
Embry beamed, and it caused Kat to smile a little.
"You're my best friend ever, you know that? Seriously." He pulled her into a hug that she didn't reciprocate, though he didn't notice.
"Okay kid, we gotta go," I interrupted. "You absolutely sure you don't want to come, sweetie?" I asked Kat.
"Yeah, I'm just gonna hang out here," she told me.
"Well, I'll see you when I come back then, okay? Bye, kiddo."
"Bye Sophie. Bye-" But Embry had already left, the door wide open in his wake.
I smiled apologetically at Kat and turned back as I closed the door. And I watched through the crack and Kat pulled the clip from her hair, threw it down and stamped on it, tears falling down her heartbroken face.