Hello everyone! Thanks so much for your support. Here's another chapter!
I appreciate each and every review. It means the world to me, and I'm excited to read them every time! I hope you enjoy this chapter! I apologize for the delay!
I do want to emphasize that I read every review. I am just not able to individually respond to Guest reviews as I would like to! Thank you for your input and support nonetheless!
I do want to say, I left Battle of the Blondes that way on purpose to leave he journey toward the ultimate ending of Rosalie "winning" to the reader's imagination, but who knows? One day I might pick it up again and write some more petty girl fights. hahaha!
Until then, I am wrapping up this Wanna Bet? story and playing around with some more ideas that I'll hopefully post ASAP!
I think we're approaching the final few chapters of this journey though! :( I appreciate all the support from the beginning to now!
Thank you again!
Please leave your thoughts in the review section if you're so inclined!
"Oh my God." I heard Alice squeal in terror, throwing her hands over her face.
I hurriedly clutched my shirt to my chest, raising my tense shoulders discreetly and pushing my bra strap back up. Emmett turned as he fastened his belt and I felt my face turn as red as a tomato.
"Your timing is always tragically impeccable." I mumbled.
Jasper was giggling, but I couldn't bring myself to acknowledge them until I got my shirt back on.
"Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God." Alice insanely half-chanted and half-laughed as I slipped my arms through my shirt.
Emmett handed me my glasses without looking at me and I wanted the floor to swallow me up.
We were standing under the bleachers at the old football stadium like a bunch of teenaged delinquents.
I could only blame myself though. I had talked him into slipping away from the party.
"Are you decent? Because you apparently never are." Alice replied in a playfully snarky tone as she peeked through her fingers.
I sat down in the dirt, laughing awkwardly and putting my hands over my face and clutching my knees to my chest. I actually was about to implode of embarrassment.
"Oh shut up. Why in God's name did you decide to come over here?" Emmett half-growled as he slipped his shirt over his head, still not looking over at her.
"Well…" Jasper made a face as he looked away.
Emmett cursed foully and narrowed his eyes.
"That's my sister." He groaned. "Gross."
"Okaaaaaay." Alice drug out her words uncomfortably. "Let's move along."
"Yes, let's." I hurried the conversation from this subject.
"Why are you on the ground?" Emmett chuckled, extending his hand to help me up.
"Because it's easier for the floor to swallow me up, duh." I took his hand, my eyes widening.
He just laughed, obviously entertained by my misery.
My heart was pounding in my chest as he kissed my cheek once I was on my feet.
We followed Alice and Jasper to the other side of the bleachers and climbed up them in a symphony of clanging.
"I thought I'd hit the daily limit for mortification." I rolled my eyes, as he took my hand.
"Why, what happened?" He asked, taking a seat next to me and tucking my hair behind my ear.
I looked over his face, my stomach feeling hollow as I thought about what his mom told me today.
I thought about how happy he was, how trusting and optimistic and unquestioning with love…
I took a deep shaky breath curling my knees to my chest and resting my head on his shoulder.
We faced the football field that seemed pretty ghostly with no one on it and the sun setting behind the trees.
"I had coffee with your mom today." I started.
"Wait. Did I hear you right?" Alice inserted herself into the conversation.
"Wow. This must be a twin thing, because you literally cannot stay out of his business." Jasper teased, and Alice shoved him playfully.
Emmett looked at me with an emotion in his eyes that I didn't recognize. One of almost betrayal.
"Why?" Emmett started, his eyes narrow.
"She saw me at the coffee shop, and sat down with me to talk." I said, and I sensed that I was being defensive.
"What did you talk about?" His tone was mild, but I sensed some intensity in his voice.
"I'm sure she was happy to see you." Alice smiled tightly and I swallowed, feeling like there was a lot I didn't know.
"What did she say?" Emmett sighed, seeming impatient with me.
I was taken aback.
"Nothing. Just catching up." I shrugged.
His eyes studied my face, and his shoulders relaxed.
"Are you sure?" He pressed.
"Yes." I nodded.
"Okay," he breathed seeming to check himself, but he didn't back down in the end.
"Then why were you mortified?" Emmett questioned.
I widened my eyes settling on displacing my choker to reveal a hickey I could barely conceal with makeup.
He seemed satisfied with this half-answer and rolled his eyes.
"Did she talk to you about brunch tomorrow?" Alice shifted in her seat.
"She's gotten really good at cooking breakfast foods." Jasper laughed.
I remembered what Emmett told me about when he came home from London and all she did was make pancakes and worry about him.
I swallowed, a tight lump in my throat.
"Yeah…. Yeah, I'll be there." I nodded.
"The whole gang." Jasper put his hand on my shoulder with a wide grin.
"Well…" Alice sighed under her breath.
I watched Alice's face.
She was thinking of her father, but Emmett wasn't.
I felt nauseous.
"How was Jane this morning?" Alice asked, putting her hand on his knee and trying to change the subject.
"She wanted to shoot some hoops which… is not on my list of talents so she quite enjoyed being better than me at something." Emmett chuckled. "She had a good time."
"What? There's something you're not good at?" Alice dramatized a gasp.
"Shut up, Alice." Emmett shook his head with a chuckle.
"What are you guys doing out here?!" Bella asked.
"There is literally no way we all had the same idea." Edward climbed up the bleachers.
"What idea are you talking about?" Jasper winked at me and I punched him in the shoulder lightly.
"Ew. Let's not talk about this." I laced my fingers together awkwardly.
"You literally just gave us some weirdly kinky gift basket in front of a room full of strangers." Edward chuckled. "You don't get embarrassed."
"Well that's before Alice saw me half-naked." I gestured with a smug look. "I need a drink."
I pulled out that second flask and Bella started laughing uncontrollably as she sat down beside us.
"Look at us." Edward shook his head sarcastically. "We grew up pretty nice."
He reached for the flask and I generously shared without too much of an eye roll.
"I think so." Jasper smiled that infamous 'Jasper blind-optimism' smile.
I couldn't wait to hear how he justified himself.
We all looked at him in anticipation.
"I mean guys, look at us. Edward and Bella are getting married soon. Edward's a successful accountant, Bella's a nurse - saving people's lives every day."
"Hardly." Bella snorted.
"No really." Alice went on, backing him up. "We've all done pretty well for ourselves."
"I guess you're right." Bella shrugged with a light smile. "Alice got her own wedding dress shop, and a tv show and Jasper's in dental school. Rosalie you're doing everything you ever wanted and Emmett…"
"Is staying afloat." Emmett started laughing to finish her sentence.
"No. No. No. You're a real Hemingway." Edward clapped him on the shoulder with a wide smile.
"Something like that." Emmett shrugged with a smile.
I tucked my knees into my chest as he put his arm around me kissing the top of my head.
"This day has me feeling sentimental." Bella laid her head on Edward's shoulder sweetly.
"I must say… this party was a really good idea." Alice admitted. "It brought back some good memories."
"Thank you." Bella smiled.
"It did turn out pretty fun." Edward added.
"So when do I get to plan your parties?" Bella grinned excitedly, taking Alice's hand.
Alice turned red and I watched Jasper smirk conspicuously.
"Next December?" Alice's voice was more high-pitched than usual.
"What?!" Bella shrieked and squeezed her hands animatedly. "Why didn't you tell me?!"
"Well..." Alice bit her lip, smiling blissfully.
She pulled on a chain around her neck to produce the ring.
"Oh my God." Bella squealed happily as Alice took it off to show her. "It's beautiful!"
"You did good, Jasper." Edward grinned.
"Bella! Are you crying?!" I felt my eyes widen as I reached out for her.
"Ugh, this is stupid." Bella wiped her eyes.
I don't know if I'd ever seen her cry and it shook me to my core. I stroked her shoulder and shot Emmett a questioning look.
"I'm just so happy." Bella threw her hands up with a chuckle. "We're all here. We're all here."
"It's just… We aren't missing anything anymore. We're all here." Bella sniffled a few times, but pulled herself together.
"And… And you're getting married." Bella squeezed Alice's hand excitedly.
"And you two are back together." She grinned at me and Emmett brushed my hair behind my ear.
"It's all right in the world." Edward sighed, taking Bella's hand.
They looked incredibly happy and Edward was right. All was well with the world.
"I can't wait to see all the crazy things you come up with for your wedding." Bella said with a smile, and Alice smiled weirdly.
"You will still have the wedding of the century." Alice comforted, semi-awkwardly.
"Because I have you guys here with me." Bella smiled, wiping her eyes and Edward brushed his hands through her hair. "But, I'm serious Alice, I can't wait to see all the magic you come up with for your wedding."
"I've had my wedding planned since the sixth grade." Alice laughed at herself and Jasper just shook his head.
"And yours." Jasper nodded to Emmett.
My cheeks flushed in response.
"So is it too soon to ask when you're getting married?" Edward asked, and no sooner had he finished his words than Bella and Alice both hit him.
I froze, not wanting to make any sudden movements to signal any of my thoughts on the matter because I still didn't know what to think.
"Edward!" Bella hissed.
"What?" His eyes widened.
I took a drink from my flask, but I didn't want to make eye contact with anyone, especially Emmett.
It was awkwardly silent for a little while, but I noticed Emmett was biting his nails nervously.
I finally realized that I was going to have to speak.
"One of these days." I mumbled with a sneaky smile and I watched Emmett relax.
I handed him my flask and he took it with a comfortable smile, putting his arm around me.
"Really?" Alice seemed unconvinced.
Emmett smiled, shrugging vaguely.
Thunder erupted in the sky, preparing for a summer storm.
I melted into Emmett's arms as I sat comfortably on the bleachers below him, my elbows resting on his knees.
"Do you think our kids will get along as well as we do?" Jasper asked.
"You're being such a girl, Jasper." Edward groaned.
"It's a fair topic of conversation." Jasper defended himself with a chuckle. "All this talk of marriage and commitment and all that really gets you going."
"They'll all be weirdly related in some way shape or form so they'll have to get along." I had a salty taste in my mouth talking about this, but smiled along and got over my own reservations.
Alice looked at me with a weird smile, but looked away biting her lip.
"I didn't even think about that." Jasper laughed. "What a Christmas."
"What a Christmas." Bella agreed.
Something in my stomach fluttered and I felt warmth begin to creep from my center and through my limbs, all the way to my fingertips.
I squeezed Emmett's hand, but he still seemed reserved. I leaned back, turning to see his eyes full of swimming thoughts.
I wondered what he was thinking.
"But, will you two ever come back to Washington?" Alice seemed hesitant in asking.
Lightning struck across the sky, and I curled further into Emmett's arms.
I was going to leave this one to him.
This right here was exactly what I'd hoped for. These people were my family.
But, could I really come back to Washington? That part seemed like a big stretch.
"We haven't ever talked about that." He finally shrugged, vaguely.
But, it was true, we hadn't. We hadn't ever thought of it.
My stomach was empty as I looked out onto the field, noticing the clouds rolling in.
I thought there was nothing here for me in Washington, but this evening with Bella, Edward, Alice, and Jasper had really felt like home.
I watched Emmett start to bite his nails again and reached out for his hand to derail him.
He bounced his knees, looking out onto the field as the lights clicked on, the evening sky painting a scene of color above the ghostly, overgrown grass and empty bleachers.
"I ran a million miles out there." Emmett's eyes were far away as he looked at the field.
"And I did a million toe-touches right there." Alice laughed, pointing to the sidelines.
"And I sat motionless right up there." I directed to the far corner of the bleachers.
"So much school spirit." Jasper jabbed.
"At least I came." I threw my hands up in surrender.
Em was quiet, and I could sense something was wrong.
He took a long drink as thunder erupted in the background.
Edward started reminiscing on games gone by, asking Emmett if he remembered this moment or that moment.
He would nod, a distant smile on his face.
Then as conversation began to redirect, Emmett got up, taking long strides down the bleachers.
"Where are you going?" Alice asked, but he didn't turn around.
She looked at me and I just shrugged unknowingly as he jumped the fence.
The conversation remained lighthearted and full of laughs, but I watched Emmett rambling out there in the center of the unkempt grass, his gaze dancing over the empty stadium.
As invigorating summer rain started to fall, Alice and Bella shrieked and giggled and I couldn't help but smile with them. I turned my chin up to the sky, letting the water run over my skin.
My glasses started to become increasingly difficult to see through, even as I tried to wipe them, so I pushed them up on my forehead. I could still see for the most part, the world around me was just a little fuzzy.
"This is the best day!" Bella outstretched her arms and turned her palms to the sky.
The summer storm soaked my clothes and I just laughed, joy bubbling in my lungs.
"Is he okay?" Alice asked, nodding toward Emmett standing with his back to us in the center of the field.
Her raven black hair stuck to her forehead and she shielded herself with her hands from the rain in preservation of vanity.
I squinted my eyes, seeing that he looked lost in thought.
"Let's go find out." I encouraged, taking Alice's hand optimistically.
She squealed as I lead her down the bleachers. Jasper, Edward, and Bella followed and I took a deep breath before attempting to climb over the fence, but landed with a thud in the grass on the other side.
Emmett turned around at the sound and with a half-smile rushed over to me.
"I was never athletic." I laughed and a chorus of laughter erupted as the rest of them enjoyed my failure.
He reached out a hand, helping me up as he shook his head, his eyes full of humor.
"I can see that." He chuckled and I hugged my arms around his waist.
"Are you okay?" I whispered as the rest of them ran around like children, twirling and dancing in the rain.
"Yeah." He smiled tightly down at me, rain dripping off the ends of his dark hair.
I watched Jasper pick Alice up, spinning her around in euphoric, worriless joy.
"Are you sure?" I exhaled, warmth counteracting the rain soaking through my clothes.
"I just got caught up in all this." Emmett gestured around.
I nodded, not saying anything so he'd continue.
"I mean… Being here… Like this…." He pushed his hair back off his forehead and I noticed a million unsaid words in his eyes.
The others were playing like kids, laughing carelessly.
"What you said earlier…" He breathed, looking away.
"About what?" I pressed.
"That… That you would fight for me." He furrowed his brow.
"I meant it." I nodded, trying to let him see that I was serious.
"What did my mom tell you about Carlisle?" He figured it out.
"Nothing." I swallowed.
"Don't lie to me." Emmett closed his eyes impatiently. "We're past that."
"She just told me you didn't have a good relationship." I wasn't lying, just editing the truth.
"I knew that's why you said that." He wasn't satisfied, and seemed to be actively distancing himself from me emotionally. "She prompted you because that's exactly what she told me last night."
"I would've said it anyway." I took his arm, making him look at me. "I just… I just realized I needed to say it when she told me that."
He sighed still wrestling with his thoughts as he looked out and away from me.
"He used to sit right there. Every Friday." He pointed to the row of bleachers on the 50-yard line.
"Do you miss him?" I asked, hoping to provoke some sort of emotional response and openness from him.
"No." He shrugged unfeelingly.
"He was your father." I felt my hands ball into fists nervously.
I thought about my own father as he talked this way, tears threatening to spill over onto my face.
"I know." He seemed angry with me, so I regretted saying that. "You sound like Alice."
I swallowed, blinking the rain and tears off of my eyelashes.
"But, I guess… Football was kind of the cease-fire zone for us, so now that I'm here, I… I guess I kinda do.. Miss him I mean."
I didn't know what to say.
"Anytime I'd look over to him in the stands after a play, I'd imagine that the look on his face meant he was proud of me or something." He dismissed with a grimace. "When I was out here, he'd cheer for me and support me, but outside of here… was not that way."
My throat felt dry and I bit my lip.
"I'm sorry." I brushed my hands along his face.
He frowned, shaking the thoughts.
"I'm not allowed to be angry at him in here," Emmett admitted. "But, I am. I've just been really angry for a really long time and then… then he died."
"It's okay." I swallowed, trying to understand and support him.
"But, I just keep getting angrier…"
"Why?" My stomach dropped.
"Why am I angry at him or…?" He inhaled.
"Why are you angrier at him now?" I clarified.
"Because… Because as much as he screwed me up, I just… I guess I thought I'd be… I'd inevitably be a bad father too. I guess that all just makes me believe I don't know how to love you and be a good partner for you. I don't know what a functioning family looks like and you deserve that…"
My stomach dropped and I grabbed his arms, intensity in my fingers.
"Stop." I shook my head, not knowing what else to say to dismiss his wild thoughts.
"I thought… I thought losing the baby and punishing you was the universe's way of preventing the royal whack job I'd do messing up this kid and... and messing up you."
I shut my eyes tight, shaking my head.
"Don't say that." My throat was constricted and my hands were shaking.
"Well, it's true." He insisted.
"No, it's not." I took his face in my hands.
"I don't know how to not be messed up, Rosalie." Emmett's eyes were on fire, and I saw he 100% believed what he was saying.
He turned his face away from me, and my blood boiled.
"What do you want me to say?" I asked him. "Do you want me to leave? Do you want me to tell you you're right?"
Emmett looked at me, this question seeming to catch him off guard.
"Because you aren't. You're wrong." I told him. "Don't push me away. Take it from me, someone who pushes everyone away – that doesn't work. I'm not leaving."
"I… I want you to hear that just because your dad never saw the man you are doesn't mean I don't. I do. I see you, Em. I see the person you are and I am so proud of you. You deserve good things."
He wouldn't look at me and my heart beat out of my chest.
"I love you." I exhaled, trying to put every ounce of intensity I felt into my voice so he'd hear it. "I love you and that's not messed up. That's perfect and real. It's the most real thing in my entire life. It's the most right thing in my entire life."
He looked at me, a half-smile revealing a dimple on his right cheek.
"We'll figure it all out as we go." I said as I watched his smile grow. "You're my family now, Em. And we have a great family because we'll always be on the same team. I will always stand by you and I know you will always stand by me."
I was nervous because I was not one for pouring my heart out, but these affirmations were something he desperately needed to hear.
The burdens of darkness had been lifted because he'd let himself share the weight with me, and I saw this was what we had each other for. The more we shared our darkness with each other, the lighter we became.
He held me tight, kissing my forehead.
"Thank you." He exhaled, relief in his voice seeming to be thinking clearly and rationally.
"Now, come on and let's have some fun." I grinned, pulling back and taking his hand, starting to run after the rest of them.
I watched him smile a smile I hadn't seen in a very long time as we all played like children in the downpour.
He looked happy and free, and weightless.
We were a team to split the weight of our darkness… To start over. To move forward. To be as invigorating to one another as this summer rain.
That's why we're all family.