One last time – for our friend, AccioBourbon – we couldn't ask for better.
Characters are not ours.
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 sky. 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 squeeze in just one more ride, he had places he needed to be. High season was over, but that didn't mean there wasn't work to be done. More importantly, there was someone waiting for him, and Emmett didn't want to disappoint her. Ever. He ran through a mental to-do list as he tugged at the long corded pull of his wet suit, his mind going immediately to Rose and how she would try to sneak glances as he peeled off the snug Neoprene skin.
Toweling off, Emmett quickly dressed, pulling on shorts and a hoodie before forcing a baseball hat down over his damp hair. He'd meet Rose at the diner for breakfast and their standing crossword date, then they would head back to the house where he would dive into a mammoth pile of paperwork. Mike was toying with bottling the hard cider they'd been selling at the diner, having gone so far as to trademark the name Newton's Folly in honor of their hometown. He'd emailed the business plan to Emmett last night, wanting his perspective on the distribution assumptions and thresholds necessary for breaking even. Rose had laughed at him, telling him he was hot when he talked net margin.
Not surprisingly, he hadn't gotten much work done after that.
This was all part of Emmett's strange new world, one filled with business, with laughter, and with Rose. She'd not only stepped into his life, turning everything on its head, she'd brought back into it the little details he hadn't realized he missed. His work in Boston had always been enjoyable, but he'd happily given that up to come home, never realizing that it was possible to balance the life of an entrepreneur and an investor. It was possible to balance an awful lot of things, to bend but not break, if one had the right motivation.
With his board stashed safely in the back of the Defender, Emmett climbed into the front seat and fired up the engine, revving it a few times before letting it ease into an idle. Rose drove the truck more than he did these days, preferring the simplicity and the sheer power of 'The Tank' as she had named it. And with him spending time in Charlotte with potential business partners for 'Newton's Folly," having the razzle dazzle of Rose's car didn't hurt. That was the symbiotic nature of their relationship, the easy give and take that came with trust and shared objectives. When he'd signed the lease on the surf shop, he'd thought he'd had everything. He'd been close, but not quite. He'd had a vision, but he'd been lacking a partner. Now, he had it all – and then some.
The crowds long back to work and school now that it was fall, the diner parking lot was much quieter. He pulled in next to the little red BMW, smiling at the brand new plates proudly on display. That fateful word – UTOPIA - in bold black lettering, the silhouette of a palm tree and a crescent moon proudly taking the place of Lady Liberty. Rose was a Carolina girl now, as witnessed by the little cottage she rented a few blocks from Emmett's house, the driver's license and the plates on her car (with the url proudly displayed at the bottom of the plate). She'd made good on her promise. She had stayed, and she'd already made one hell of an impact.
"Hey good looking," Jessica called from behind the counter. "The usual?"
"Does a bear shit in the woods?" Emmett shot back, not looking at Jessica. Instead, his gaze was fixed on the booth in the corner, the head bowed over a crossword puzzle. He could see the sheen of perspiration across her forehead; she must have gone running before coming here, which would prove a challenge to the concept of a quick shower. He walked slowly towards her, a lazy grin lighting up his face.
"That's pretty ballsy," he said, staring down at the blonde head. It had bleached out over the summer, streaks of white softening the perfect New York style and making her more approachable. How many times had he wrapped those strands around his finger, twirling then releasing, as he read a magazine or watched TV?
"Excuse me?" Her answer was not rude, but it didn't match the expression on her face. She always did this, a tip to their first meeting and the miserable start they'd recovered from.
"You show up here all sweaty, and you are going to want to shower at my house. I'm onto your games, Miss Hale. You have your own place."
"But I like your shower more, Moondoggie. Better water pressure," she over articulated the last three words as her bitchy expression relaxed into a big, doe eyed look she'd learned from Maggie. Rose knew exactly what she was doing, twisting him around her finger so tight he would never unspool. She would want him to wash her hair, knowing full well what else it would lead to. He cringed to think what his next water bill was going to look like.
Emmett reached out to run his finger down her nose, tapping the end affectionately. "Six down, easily seen through? That would be transparent."
She laughed, the blue Micro Sharpie tapping against the paper. "After all this time, that's all you have?"
"What, are you going to do me one better?"
Rose snorted at the double entendre he'd intentionally thrown out. "Sit down and eat your bagel, Moondoggie. Don't you know I plan on making one hell of an impression on you today?"
"Babe, you made an impression a hell of a long time ago," he countered, sliding easily into his side of their booth.
They continued their banter, knocking feet under the table and battling over the last of the lox and cream cheese. It was like this every Saturday. The pattern, the ease, the laughter. Rose had created a home here, easily growing into both herself and what she wanted to be. While the family – especially his Uncles Liam and Ali – were ready to rush them down the aisle, they were perfectly happy taking the time and letting things proceed in their natural course. They'd spent a lot of time talking about the things they wanted, their childhoods, as well as their doubts and fears. Rose still had things she wanted to conquer in her quest to purge the fears that had governed her for years – including the deep seeded hope that one day her parents would come around to accepting her happiness trumped everything else. They'd face those fears head on, either conquering or letting go as they figured out what would come next. For now, they knew where they stood with each other, and had a place where they belonged in the world, both together and as individuals.
"Come on, Moondoggie," she said, standing up quickly easily out of the booth. "I think you need to take me home. I promised to do you one better. I'm thinking one isn't going to be quite enough."
"Woman, you are going to be the death of me," Emmett teased, scooting out to follow her. "And you love every minute of it."
"Not as much as I love you. Now come on, let's go home."
It had taken them all summer to get to that one little word - four simple letters that carried so many different meanings and so much potential.
It was home. And it was good.
We leaned on two songs for inspiration – both by Dashboard Confessional – Stolen and Rooftops & Invitations. Both can be found on youtube.
We're offering up a one shots for Fandom Gives Back (both independently and together). Auctions open the end of this week – for those of you that said you wanted more, here is your chance while giving to a good cause.
Thank you for taking this ride with us. Thank you to Lightstardusting for making our words better, and Accio, for giving us the inspiration in the first place.
Have a lovely summer. Heart & Hmonster