Closing Doors and Opening Windows
Prompt: Three's Company -"A Crowded Romance"
Silence surrounded them like a shroud on the short drive back to Emily's condo, the only sound the swish of passing traffic and the soft music from the radio. As Dave pulled into her short driveway, Emily reached for the door handle blindly, anxious to slip inside her home and shut out the outside world. Stilling as she felt his heavy hand on her arm, she turned to look at his shadowed face.
"I provide door to door service, Emily. Just give me a second, okay?" he said quietly, his soft order seeming to bounce against the windows of the vehicle.
A moment later, he'd squired her to her door, his heavy hand warm at her back as he guided her up the cobblestone path to her doorway. He stood patiently as she fumbled inside her handbag for her elusive keys. With a trembling hand she finally managed to pull them from her bag. She watched as his hand reached forward, surrounding hers and slipping the cold metal from her hand and steadily inserting the key in her lock. Stepping forward as he pushed open the door to her darkened house, she turned reluctantly, feeling obligated to say something…anything. Staring at him for a charged moment, Emily finally found her voice as she asked hesitantly, "Would you like to come in?"
"I wouldn't say no to a pot of coffee," he replied, leaning casually against her doorframe as he stared down at her face. "I'd say we could both use one right about now."
Nodding jerkily as she tore her eyes from the mysterious man ahead of her, Emily turned striding unevenly toward the kitchen as he walked inside, shutting the door before trailing behind her.
His eyes took in his surroundings with a critical eye. Her home suited her personality…a mixture of sleek and stylish combined with hints of comfort. "Nice place," he said from behind her as he followed her into the small kitchen.
"It's a place to sleep," she shrugged noncommittally. Preparing the carafe of coffee mindlessly, her mind spun. Why was he here? Sure, they were friends, of a nature, but not so much that he should feel the need to worry for her safety…to put himself out at her expense. "Dave," she finally asked, turning to face him. "Why did you do this?"
"Taking care of me tonight at the bar…bringing me home," she replied, feeling suddenly, unexpectedly drawn to the man standing in front of her.
"I can't perform a nice deed for a friend in need?" he asked innocently.
"No nice deed comes without a price in my experience, Rossi," Emily retorted, leaning against the counter behind her.
"So cynical," Dave chastised, his eyes glowing as he watched her cleavage thrust forward as she reclined against the granite countertop behind her.
Quirking her lips as she raised a brow, Emily easily returned, "No. Just realistic and I've learned most men have an ulterior motive for everything they do, whether they admit to it or not."
"That's your problem, Em. I don't easily allowed myself to be classified in the category of "most men". Haven't you realized that yet?" he asked, his tone dark and eyes probing as they fell on her face.
Handing him a cup of steaming coffee, Emily shrugged. "Maybe my radar has been on the fritz," she said carelessly. "My track record as of late isn't exactly impeccable, you know?"
"Quit blaming yourself," Dave returned impatiently. "You aren't omniscient, Emily. Right now, you have to concentrate on moving on…on deciding what you want for your future."
Taking a slow sip of the steaming liquid, Emily swallowed. "You think I have so many options, don't you, Dave? I'm pretty sure that I've backed myself into a corner."
"I think you've got more going for you than you know about," Dave replied evenly. "You've just got to open your eyes to the possibilities."
Taking another long sip of coffee, he dropped it with a clatter on the kitchen table beside him. "There's a way out of every corner, Emily, if you look hard enough for it," he replied darkly.
Studying his handsome face for a moment, Emily decided that maybe being cautious was overrated. She was a desirable woman…and Rossi most definitely was a virile man…perhaps, they could be a comfort to each other. Pushing away from the counter and taking a faltering step toward him, Emily pressed her lips to his before her better angels could convince her of the folly of her actions.
"Emily," he groaned against her soft lips just as she took advantage of his parted mouth. Damn it, she'd caught him off guard…and that never happened to him. Feeling her supple body sink against his, he couldn't help his own involuntary reaction to her touch as he momentarily deepened the kiss, his tongue stroking hers as she sighed against his mouth. But as her arms crept around his mouth and her ripe breast brushed against his solid chest, reality invaded. It wasn't him that she wanted. At least, not yet. Forcing his hands from her hips up to her arms, he dragged her back, staring down at her with heated eyes.
"Dave?" she whispered, leaning forward again to try and claim his lips in another kiss.
Shaking his head, he said roughly, "No, Emily. Not like this."
"Wh-what?" she stuttered, her eyes going wide with shock. She'd known what she'd felt as she pressed against him. The man standing in her kitchen was definitely interested in what she offered; she'd felt the evidence pressed against her.
"You heard me, Em," Dave said, with another shake of his head, making sure she was steady on her feet before dropping his hands from her arms and taking a step back.
"Why not?" Emily asked breathlessly, staring at Dave as his face tightened. "Why can't two friends take some comfort from each other?"
"Because you're drunk and not thinking rationally," Dave began angrily, running a hand through his hair. "And I'm not willing to be your consolation prize or play second fiddle to the man you really want in your bed. When I take a woman to bed, I want to know that I'm the one she wants there with her," he bit out.
"Listen, Dave, it isn't as though I'm looking for love everlasting tonight…No strings…" Emily began.
"Another difference between us, Emily. I am…I am looking for strings. I don't want a one night stand with you…I don't want to be the man you use to get over Hotch," Dave replied honestly, his eyes burning into hers as he stared her down.
"What are you saying?" Emily asked uncertainly, swallowing nervously as his words began to penetrate the fog her mind had receded into.
Shoving his hands deeply into the pockets of his jeans, Dave took another step away from her. "You're a smart woman, Emily. I think you can figure it out if you try hard enough," he told her grimly.
"I don't…" she faltered.
"Let me put it to you bluntly then," he declared flatly. "I've stood in the shadows while you've mooned over a man that never deserved you…a man that couldn't see beyond his past. I've waited for you to wake up…to pay attention and see what you had waiting in front of you. But it didn't happen the way I'd hoped."
"I had no idea," Emily floundered, honestly surprised.
"Well, now you don't have that excuse. You DO know. You know that I won't join you in some kind of fucked up crowded romance with Hotch." Sighing, Dave closed his eyes as he admitted, "Emily, I'm fairly certain I'm in love with you, but I'm not willing to settle for less than your entire heart. Half of something good just isn't gonna get it done for me anymore," he said quietly, meeting her startled eyes.
"I don't know what you expect me to say," Emily whispered, crossing her arms over her chest defensively.
Nodding, Dave moved toward the door. "I get that, Emily. Think about it. And while your thinking about it, decide what you want from a man. I'll wait for you, Emily. But I won't wait forever," he said, walking out of the kitchen.
She held her breath as he walked out, only releasing it when she heard her front door softly close. Walking mindlessly to the front door, she automatically reached up to snap the deadbolt into place, her mind reeling with these new revelations. How the hell could she have missed so much? Had she really been so absorbed with thoughts of what could never be that she'd missed seeing something that could be wonderful staring her in the face? Jesus, she'd started out this night feeling like she'd lost the one thing that could save her soul only to end it with a revelation that rocked her soul. What would the coming days bring?