Catch us on the flip for all the gory details…
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It was 7:00 am, and the sun rose slowly over the Atlantic Ocean, a wash of soft pinks and purples against the dawning hazy blue. Fluffy puffs of clouds dotted the horizon, an homage to summers past and the childish longing for cotton candy, running through the sprinklers or popsicles.
Emmett glanced down at his dive watch, the heavy silver band glinting in the early morning light. As much as he would've liked to get in just one more ride, there were things that need to be accomplished. It was high season at Folly Beach, and the tourists would be lining up to rent boogie boards, buy baseball hats, and load up on sun screen. This small town of three thousand could easily double or triple in size based on the weather forecast, and he'd learned to take advantage of that, using his business acumen to stock the merchandise that would move the fastest at the highest margin. He might not like the way the summer people changed the dynamic, but Emmett loved what they did for business. He ran through a mental to-do list as he tugged at the long corded pull of his wet suit; the zipper gave easily, splitting the Neoprene open down the length of his back. The humid morning air hit his skin, warming the cool water that trickled down his exposed skin. South Carolina was warm in early June, but the Atlantic Ocean carried a chill, making it too cold for extensive exposure without a wetsuit.
"Catch you tomorrow, Money Man?" one of the other locals called out as Emmett carried his board up the hill to the parking lot.
"Like you need to ask," Emmett said, waving in an offhand manner. This was a tight-knit little group, and they looked out for each other, but their rules were informal. Inquiries would never go deeper than a see you tomorrow, but the intent was there. This little knot of local surfers were like a dysfunctional family, coming and going as they pleased, slaves only to the crashing surf and the need to ride the waves. It reminded him of his large, raucous family; they might not always flat out tell you what they thought, but they made sure in their own way that you knew you were important.
Toweling off, Emmett quickly shed his wet suit, replacing the warm protective skin with his summer uniform of baggy khaki cargo shorts, a white t-shirt and running shoes he kept stashed in the back of his truck. Breakfast, a quick shower at the shop, then a day appeasing the ravaging hordes; such was his life these days, a far cry from the one he'd set out to lead. One that, while at times felt repetitive, he wouldn't give up for millions of dollars.
With his board stashed safely in the back of the Defender, he climbed into the front seat and fired up the engine, revving it a few times before letting it ease into an idle. This car was his baby, a holdover from the days when he was flush with cash and high on life. He'd ridden a different type of wave, cresting with the Street and cashing out just months before the bottom fell out of the market. While he enjoyed helping others find their dreams, big cities and fast living weren't for him, and he felt himself longing for simpler things. A good wave, dinner with his family, the way the gulls cried out before swooping down to snap up a late afternoon snack. Boston had its own distinct sounds and smells, but it had never felt like home, no matter how hard he tried. After launching a small company that revolutionized voice over internet technology, Emmett had tendered his resignation. He thanked the head of the firm for the experience, and wished him the best. A few of the partners tried to convince him to stay, but Emmett knew his heart would never be in it. Maybe he'd known that all along. He took the money he'd made along the way, invested in the companies he'd helped cultivate and launch into the stratosphere, to build his own kingdom. Instead of buying a nice loft close to Fenway, he bought a comfortable little cottage just blocks from the beach. Then he signed the lease on a prime piece of retail space on the main street of Folly Beach, and filled it with surf boards, clothing, and other beach paraphernalia. He didn't need much more.
At least that is what he managed to convince himself.
He could feel the sun, strong and warm against his neck as he drove, the wind drying his hair as it whipped through the open cab of the truck. This was all part of his Saturday morning ritual. Surf; stop at the diner for breakfast; then grab a quick shower before opening. His colleagues in Boston would have shaken their heads, shocked that 'Em McCarty,' Mr. Golden Touch, would be happy with this mundane life of repetition and habit. They had all missed that he thrived on certainty. He was a creature of habit, and predictability suited him just fine.
The parking lot at the diner was already crowded, full of expensive European sedans and convertibles with out of state plates. He parked next to a bright red BMW convertible, laughing at the way his vintage Defender towered over the tiny car. Substituting for a small dick, he thought as he glanced down into the front seat. A tube of lipstick, a bottle of sunscreen, and a map of South Carolina were wedged into the center console. A pussy whipped one, at that.
A chorus of hellos rang out as he made his way into the small, fifties style diner. It hadn't changed much since his childhood with the same monochromatic color scheme and simple menu. The Newtons had maintained it up until their retirement, when their son, Mike, took it over. The town of Folly Beach half expected that it would be overhauled or closed down all together, but Mike had surprised everyone, giving the diner a face lift and investing in a liquor license. Now it was one of the town's mainstays, a place where the locals dominated, even in the summer time.
"Hey good looking," Mike's wife, Jessica, called from behind the counter. "The usual?"
"Does a bear shit in the woods?" Emmett shot back. This was part of the ritual, the predictable that he loved so well. Jess would flirt with him and make him a cup of coffee (cream, no sugar) while the line chef pulled together his breakfast; a lightly toasted with cream cheese and an egg white omelet with Swiss cheese and mushrooms. It would tide him over until the shop closed at five. He would then go home and make dinner, reading and playing with the dog or watching TV until it was time to go to sleep only to repeat the pattern the next day.
Emmett sat down on a bar stool, sipping his coffee as he waited patiently for his food. The diner was full, which was to be expected for a Saturday morning during high season. Families eating pancakes, their children antsy, demanding their parents to hurry up. They wanted to be down by the water, chasing waves and building sandcastles, not held captive into bright red vinyl booths as cars loaded down with other children passed them by. Younger couples wedged into the same side of small benches, their heads pressed close together as they exchanged words meant for them and them alone. It had been a long time since he sat with anyone like that; shutting out the world to get lost in the simplicity of a smile or the way the light revealed subtle little freckles across the bridge of the nose. Emmett glanced away, refusing to be pulled under. His life was good, satisfying. No use getting caught up in what…
A lone woman sat in the far booth, her golden blonde head bent down over what appeared to be a newspaper. "Hey Jess," he said quietly. "Who's that?"
Jessica Newton, Mike's wife and Emmett's long time friend, followed his gaze. The blonde woman had angled her body a bit, and the sun caught her hair, turning it a blaze of white gold, like wheat in the summer sun as she stared intently down at a crossword puzzle. One immaculately painted nail scrolled down the list of clues, hesitating for a moment before scooping up the pen and filling in the squares. The red lacquer complimented the subtle golden hue of the woman's skin and her simple light blue sundress. It wasn't a tacky red; it was classic, subtle, like screen sirens from another time.
"I don't know," Jessica said, topping off Emmett's coffee. "Never seen her before."
Emmett watched the woman as she continued to work on her crossword puzzle, fascinated as she neatly filled in each row. She was pretty. No, she was more than that, she was stunning, but it was her intent focus on the crossword puzzle and the manner in which she went about filling in each square that fascinated him. Before he could second guess himself, Emmett found himself in motion, moving towards her with his coffee cup clutched in his hand.
"That's pretty ballsy," he said, staring down at the blonde head. Up close, the strands of soft yellow mixed with coppery red and platinum, giving the golden waves even greater depth and warmth. He fought the urge to reach out and touch a lock, wondering if it would feel warm, like the sand in the late afternoon. But before he could lose himself in silly ruminations, the woman glanced up, her eyes narrowed in irritation.
"Excuse me?" Her answer was not rude, but it didn't match the expression on her face. Bringing the bitch, his cousin Alice would have said. It didn't scare Emmett off though; he'd broken down tougher customers, both in his professional and personal life.
"Doing the crossword in ink. That's pretty ballsy," he said, flashing her a grin. The grin, a friend in Boston had called it. The one that typically rendered women speechless, convinced potential investors to pony up even more cash, and charmed every child that walked into his surf shop.
The thing was, Emmett knew he was good looking. At thirty four, he was tall and lean, his body fit from surfing and long runs with his dog. Women never turned him down, he just didn't go out of his way to pursue anymore. But for some unexplainable reason, he was compelled to seek out this woman. Maybe it was boredom, maybe it was curiosity, he didn't quite know, and didn't spend too long delving down into the 'wonder whys.' It wasn't in his nature to second guess, he just did.
The woman surveyed him, her expression never changing. Emmett couldn't resist but smile a little bigger, entertained by her perseverance. Most women would have gone weak in the knees to find him standing over their table, flashing a smile with dimples deeper than the sea of tranquility. He hadn't met a woman yet that could resist him.
Until now, it would seem.
"It's a warm up for tomorrow," she said, looking back down at her newspaper. The way she responded rang as a dismissal, but he didn't hesitate long enough to let it register.
The woman dropped her pen, looking up at him with an exasperated huff, her expression of disdain deepening into a scowl. "I know you might not get out much, Moondoggie, but tomorrow is Sunday. The New York Times Crossword puzzle. I do it. In ink." She articulated the words, as if trying to infer superiority with her clear diction. She'd looked him over, and made assumptions based his tatty t-shirt and cargo shorts.
It was a challenge, the one thing that Emmett McCarty never backed down from. He glanced down at the newspaper spread out on the table, quickly skimming down the list of unmarked clues. Fifteen. Perfect. "Bwana."
"Fifteen across. What do you call the leader of a safari? A bwana." He turned, returning to the counter to retrieve the sack Jess had prepared for him. The blonde woman didn't say a word.
He didn't expect her to. He knew he'd made an impression.
Blame it on AccioBourbon. We (theheartoflife and hmonster4) signed up for Fandom Gives Back (an Emmett/Rosalie one shot) and decided we needed to practice. Acky gave us a prompt. It was only supposed to be a one shot, but yeah, well…there was way too much potential.
So here's the skinny – there will be an update every weekday (Monday-Friday) for roughly four weeks…this is our way of kicking off the summer.
A little fun. A little sun. A hell of a lot of fluff…
Big love to Lightstardust – our rockstar betafish
See you tomorrow!