Disclaimer: The characters aren't ours. The fantasies we have about them are. Especially the really dirty ones.
I trace circles around the note, over and over, overlapping the black ink until there are grooves worn into the paper. I'd come in today to find Rosalie's feminine scrawl on my desk calendar again.
Peter got back into town early. Dinner for three? Your place?
The note in and of itself was no big deal. It certainly isn't the first time Rose has begged off when it's her turn to cook. But the 'plus one' is certainly new.
I'll be your best friend.
Her tag line whenever she wants to convince me to do something I don't want to do. She knows this shit isn't okay; Mondays are ours. Or they always were before, but it's becoming clear that when Rose gets married, everything is going to change.
If Rose gets married, that is.
I don't want us to change; we've got a good thing, me and Rose, which is why have to find a way to stop it. Do I have a fucking clue how I'm going keep the nuptials from taking place? Not a one, and if you fail to plan, you best plan to fail. I can't fail. Luckily, I've got a brilliant strategist coming in for a logistics meeting.
"Fuck you, Jasper. I did not even give Jacob Black head in your dorm room. That was you. You just don't remember because of the Scorpion Bowls at dinner. You started sucking 'em down... and you never stopped."
I'd know Bella Swan with my eyes closed. It's the voice. Sexy, breathy, with traces of her southern roots woven into the acquired Boston accent. The subject matter is familiar too; I've heard this argument before. Someone gave Jake a blow job in mine and Jasper's dorm room during a blackout, or so he told anyone that would listen. I wasn't there that night, but Bella and Jasper were. To this day, almost eight years later, each of them still insists it was the other.
My money is on Jasper. Bella would admit it if she had - she's never been exactly shy about her sexual exploits. Bella isn't easy, but she likes sex and she's not afraid to say it. Basically, she's me.
Just with tits. Really nice ones, too.
The click of fuck-me heels on the hardwoods alerts me that Bella is on her way across the hall. I put down the pen; I don't want to come off like some lovesick schoolgirl, doodling Rosalie's name on my blotter. I glance up as Bella saunters through my office door, all curves, and smirk and power suit.
"Well, well, Emmett McCarty, as I live and breathe. Are you even sexier than usual, or has it really been that long since I've been laid?" She sinks into the chair across the desk. "Oh wait. It really has been that long since I've been laid."
Jasper calls out from across the hall. "There's plenty of room on this side of the fence..."
Bella rolls her eyes and smiles at me. "Chicks? No. Women are insane. Besides, I already went through that phase in college. I like dick, you know?"
"You've mentioned it once or twice. It's great to see you, B. You look good."
"Spread the word and tell a friend; preferably a single one. I'm not looking to be the other woman." She smirks, and then groans. "Again."
Long story short, Bella's last relationship was something straight out of a daytime soap. She met Marcus at a legal conference, they hit it off right away and they were blissfully happy for a year. Unfortunately, he was also blissfully happy with his wife and two kids, whom he failed to mention. Bella found out when she flew to his New York office as a Valentine's Day surprise . His secretary had politely informed her that Marcus was away for the weekend with his wife.
"What was it about that guy, anyway? I never got what you saw in him." Marcus had been a total dick, and in the four years since their breakup, Bella had measured every man she dated against him and none had measured up. Fact of the matter is, she'd loved Marcus and until she felt that for someone else, she was stuck.
Bella spreads one hand out and starts ticking things off on her fingers. "Emotionally unavailable, commitment issues, no time for me... did I miss anything?"
"Not worthy, Bella. Not by a mile." Her eyes soften a little. She's all heart, it's just buried under the drive and sarcasm and innuendo.
And tits. Really nice tits.
It's hard not to notice them when she flashes me her dirty girl smile and leans forward conspiratorially. Akin to 50s pinup girls, Bella is all gorgeous curves and sidelong glances. She has what my mom calls sloe eyes, dark and turned up in the corners, especially when she smiles... which is often. Bella has a spark to her, something that makes people want to be around her and makes men want to get close to her. Physically, anyway. But she keeps it at that. It occurs to me, not for the first time, that Bella and I have a lot in common.
"Eh, there's plenty of cock in the sea. I'll hook one worth holding on to eventually." She makes some obscene gestures pertaining to size and sexual acts with her hands, and we both crack up.
It's hard not to laugh when Bella is around. We've had a lot of good times over the years. And when you want a balls to the wall, take no prisoners partner in crime... you look no further than Bella Swan. She plays unapologetically dirty, and she plays to win. Always.
"So... she wants to bring him to dinner at my place tonight." Bella arches her brow and motions for me to continue. "You know, Monday night dinners. Just Rose and me, historically speaking. Do I call and tell her that we should just skip?"
"And miss the chance to have home field advantage? Fuck no, let him come over. It's a good chance to size up the competition."
"He's not really my competition, B. Peter's a nice enough guy, I just..." I just what? Don't want to have to share her? Don't want to give up the chance that someday we might be something more? I know I'm a selfish prick.
"Emmett, wake up." I straighten my spine at her tone. Bella obviously means business. "Peter is your competition. He's getting what you want. He is the enemy."
"It's not like that. I'm not trying to be with Rosalie. I don't think she wants me like that. We sort of, one time, and then..."
Bella cuts me off by putting her hand up and giving me the look. "I know. Vegas. I heard all the details, blow by earth shattering blow. And Em, you are a smart guy, but when it comes to our mutual bestie, you are a dumb fuck."
Bella knows about Vegas. I don't know why this shocks me. It makes sense that Rose would have talked to her, but some part of me thought it was this long buried secret. I'd never told anyone, not that there was anyone to tell. I wasn't about to say "Hey Jasper, I kind of had sex with you sister in Vegas. Wanna go shoot hoops?" But if Bella knows, then Jasper knows. And if Jasper knows, then Alice knows. Basically, the entire bridal party knows... except the groom. Or does Peter know?
"You know about Vegas? How long have you... I mean, when did she... what did she tell you exactly?" I'm tripping over my words left and right. It's something that Rose and I never talk about, but if she talked to Bella, I might be able to get a better idea how she feels about that night.
"Okay, first thing - close your mouth. You look like a goldfish. Second - not on your life, buddy. I may be willing to help you break up Rose's impending marriage, but I will not divulge classified information."
"Bella..." I try pouting but she just shakes her head at me.
"Not a chance. I'm a girl; we have rules. Here's the deal. You might not think so, and she is clearly too stubborn to entertain the idea, but you and Rosalie... there's something there. Rosalie and Peter Peter Crumpet Eater?" Bella pantomimes an exaggerated yawn before continuing. "Snooze. So we've just got to make sure she sees that he's not Mr. Right, he's just Mr. Right Away."
"And how do you propose we do that?"
Bella stands and places her hands on my desk, leaning forward and giving me an amazing view of her assets. "Well, for starters, you are going to be the best damn Maid of Honor in the history of weddings."
"I don't really see how that is going to help, Bella. The goal is for her not to get married." The goal is to keep everything as is.
"The goal, Emmett, is to show her exactly how good you and she could be. To do that, you're going to be whatever she needs."
"I don't know how to be a bridesmaid. I'm a guy." I direct the statement at her cleavage, which is prominently on display and right at eye level, to prove my point.
"No shit. And as you can see from your bird's eye view of Benny and Joon, I'm not a guy either. Eyes up here, McCarty." I tear my eyes away, with effort, because I am a guy and those are breasts. "Emmett-san, I am the quintessential 'always a bridesmaid, never a bride'. I've got this. I'll be your Miyagi."
"Dress on, dress off?"
"Keep it in your pants, Lance Romance. I'll get you through the bachelorette party and bridesmaid's brunch and wedding shower..."
"What the hell is a bridesmaid's brunch?" She gives me a stern look, and I jerk my hands up in the 'I give' stance. "Sorry. Do go on."
"As I was saying, I can help you navigate the treacherous and shark infested waters that make up the Maid of Honor Ocean until we capsize the S.S. Peter. I just need you to do one thing."
The look on her face tells me not to even bother going for a dirty joke or a cheap laugh. I'm not sure what she wants from me, since she seems to have this whole wedding thing wired. "What?"
She throws me a soft smile before grabbing her purse and heading for the door. She, turns just as she reaches it. "Emmett, if you want her, if you really want her, this is your chance. Don't be a guy. Be a man."
Six fifty steamrolls in, and after a trip to the grocery store (and the party store in the same plaza), I'm set with the makings of a Mexican fiesta. Rosalie and Peter are due at seven, and everything is just about ready.
I continue stirring the meat, adding seasoning and water to the skillet while singing along with Santana. When we have a themed dinner, I pull out all the stops. It started as a joke years ago, the night we attempted to make our own sushi (by the way, never doing that again - pain in the ass) and Rosalie dressed in a silk kimono and slippers for the occasion. Since then, it's quickly evolved into props and, if the occasion calls for it, accents. I'm looking forward to hearing Peter attempt a Mexican accent over his British one.
Yeah, I'm an asshole.
My phone vibrates in my pocket and I slip it out, smiling at the new text message. Get your game face on and knock his dick in the dirt. Here if you need me. I fire a quick text back at Bella and lay my phone on the counter, knowing I'll be hitting her up for moral support all night. She said it was fine and that she had my back. I should totally do something to repay her for all her help. Chocolate? Flowers? Porn?
Porn. Definitely porn.
The meat's simmering, so I move along to chop onions, my least favorite task. Honestly, I might have given Rose a bit of grief about making dinner but this is where I'm in my element. Should have made a chef my fall-back career.
I try and ignore the burn that's forming in my eyes. If Rose were here, she'd shove a spoon in my mouth and insist it helps.
But she's not here.
I shrug it off and focus on the job at hand while continuing with my song and dance, adding a little hip action.
"Can I get some fries with that shake shake booty?"
I jump and my knife clatters to counter. Rosalie. She's doing an exaggerated slow clap, bemused expression on her face. She's like a cat, that one, always slinking in and out of rooms and apparently front doors. Used to give me fucking heart attacks but now I'm pretty much used to it.
Shaking my head slowly, I mock a face of disbelief at her comment, and continue to move in time with the music as I chop the onions and do my best not to tear up. She's joined in, doing her own little dance, moving her hips suggestively back and forth. I laugh at her antics, the exaggerated movements.
"This is Mexican night. We don't have fries in Casa de McCarty. And how dare you sully Santana with Salt N Pepa."
Rose dances her way over to me, twirling the scarf she's wearing around in circles, before planting an obnoxiously loud kiss on my cheek. "You're kidding right? Salt N Pepa are brilliant. And I'm not the one getting funky in the kitchen while cutting onions."
My iPod switches to Black Magic Woman and she lets out a breathy "Ohhhh, it's my jam!" before shimmying backward so she has a wall where she can slide up and down. The girl's got moves and if Santana had the opportunity to meet her, they'd be singing this to her, for sure. I turn away from the onions, leaning against the counter with my arms crossed. Her dance is sexy, sure, because she's always sexy. But right now she's just acting ridiculously and I have to smile at it all.
"Damn Hale, I hope you do that at your wedding. You been hitting the sauce early? You're acting drunk. And where's Peter?"
"No, I'm acting me." This is true. Things have been so tense and confusing since she told me, I almost forgot that this is Rosalie. "Peter's looking for parking - wouldn't think it would be this bad on a Monday night but we circled the block a few times. He dropped me off so I wouldn't have to walk."
Ever the gentleman, but Peter clearly doesn't know her like I do. Rose doesn't mind walking. If it were the two of us, we would have parked and then waltzed up the sidewalk together. If we were in the mood (drunk), we'd do the Monkees walk or the Laverne & Shirley.
She opens the fridge, pulling out a Corona. "Lime?" I nod my head toward the counter, where I have cut up limes, and watch her pop one into the bottle. She sticks her thumb in and flips it. I'm still taking a break from the damn onions and she notices my eyes are watery. "Why don't you have a spoon in your mouth? You know that helps your eyes not to water."
"This from the girl who cooks... not at all. I think I'll be okay."
"I'm just looking out for you. Don't want Peter to think you're a big pussy."
"Christ, Hale. You kiss your mother with that mouth? I'm secure in my onion tears. Better than walking around like a chump with a spoon in my mouth. Besides, what Peter thinks is-"
She arches her brow at me and I let the thought trail off. I glance at the clock and realized Rosalie been here for a few minutes, but still no Peter.. "Does he know how to get up here?"
She throws me a look that would make most men wither, but I'm used to it by now. Patent Rosalie Hale, circa 2001. Though it had probably been around longer, that's how long I'd been getting the Emmett, you're a jackass look. That particular brand was reserved just for me. "He might not be from the country originally, but I think he can handle walking down the block and finding his way up to Casa de McCarty. By the way, it smells delicious. Can I use your microph- I mean your spoon to try a little guac?"
I hand her the spoon while not so subtly scratching my cheek with my middle finger, which, is ignored while she hums in appreciation of my homemade guacamole. Compliment my cooking and all is good in my book. She goes a step further. "And, the sombreros? Nice touch."
"Did you see your maracas?"
"Why yes, just this morning after my shower."
"Ah, but do your maracas make music? I think not." I walk out to the dining room table where I'd left the props and slap the bright pink sombrero on her head. She looks... absolutely ridiculous. I let out a chuckle as she grabs at the maracas and holds them up, shaking them next to her... maracas. Yeah. She has a nice set.
What? I'm a guy, I've looked.
I manage to tear my eyes away when the buzzer sounds, coupled with a knock on the door. Peter's hesitant voice carries through the apartment. "Rosalie? Emmett? Bugger, I hope so otherwise I'm walking into the wrong flat."
It's a condo, for fuck's sake, not a flat. I place the blue sombrero on my head before making my way to the door. Swinging the door open, I greet Peter with a hearty "Hola!" and a strong handshake. Pops always taught me the importance of a good handshake. He returns the force, and I can see the challenge on his face. Apparently, we are coming out swinging. "Hope Mexican is okay. I didn't know if it was too hot for you."
He runs a hand through his dark hair and I can't help but notice that he's basically the British version of me. I'm just a hair taller but he's right there, matching me and it annoys me. Hell, everything about this annoys me and I remind myself that I have to win this without being a complete asshole.
"Fine, fine. Thanks so much for having us. I'm not sure how you two swap off, what with my future bride's cooking skills." He looks a bit flustered and I can't tell if it is the cold making his cheeks ruddy or the situation in general but I try to make him feel at ease.
"She's got a lot of good take out near her place. May I recommend the Indian?" Peter chuckles and I can tell he's familiar with it, and likely everything else in a ten block radius. "So I hear congratulations are in order, man! Come on in and make yourself comfortable. Take off your coat and grab a beer and a sombrero."
"I heard they're thinking about making that Mexico's slogan," Rose quips as she rounds the corner. She takes his coat to hang on the rack by the door before leaning in to kiss him.
I don't really want to watch the kissing. Or the leaning. I head into the kitchen and call over my shoulder, "Corona or Dos Equis?" Peter indicates the latter and he and Rose follow me around the corner.
I get Peter his beer and Rose offers him a sombrero. He takes it good naturedly but seems horribly uncomfortable once he has it on. "You really go all out, don't you Emmett?"
"Well, we like dinner to be an event, me and Rose." The emphasis on me and Rose isn't unkind, but it's firm. "Especially when we do French."
Rose narrows her eyes. "Don't even bring that up again, Emmett McCarty."
I smirk at her and lean against the counter, ignoring her request. "So my birthday fell on a Monday one year, and Rosie asked what I wanted for dinner. I asked if she could cook French food and she said she could." Rose is trying not to smile. We've told this story more than once. "So I got to her place and the fire alarm was blaring, and she's up on a chair with a broom, trying to get it to stop going off. The alarm finally shuts off and Rose is practically in tears because she burned the... well... French fries. And French bread."
Rose is giggling now, and I'm not going to be able to hold it in much longer. "Emmett, you suck."
"Yup. So none of it was edible, everything was black as tar. Well, except for the salad with..." I look at Rose and we both say at the same time, 'French dressing'."
And we're just lost, laughing at the memory. I managed to keep from crying with the onions, but now I'm wiping my eyes, doubled over. Rose steps toward me, grabbing my forearm and trying to stay upright. We manage to calm the incessant laughter a little, but then I look at her and say the magic words, the ones that she tried to use in her defense. "It's Cajun." We both lose it again, and after a few more minutes of this, I look up and notice Peter standing there, looking puzzled.
"Oh that's funny. She thought that was what you meant by French food, right?"
I look at Rose and she shrugs. "Um, no. Not really. I... guess you just had to be there."
Peter smiles tightly and although I didn't mean for that whole thing to be a competition, I feel like I just won something.
I spy that he's running low on his beer and I figure that the spiciness of the food is doing more of a number on him than he's letting on, so I grab another Dos Equis from the fridge. "Here you go, man." I hand him the beer and he gives me a look.
"Erm, thank you, Emmett. I still have..."
Tapping the top of his open beer with the bottom of mine, I cause the rest of his beer to bubble up to the top. Just a little trick I learned in college. "Drink up, buddy. You're going to need it. Salsa's got jalapenos."
Rosalie's blue eyes have transformed into laser beams and she's glaring at me and my little move. Good thing I've got my sombrero on, I just tip it down and pretend not to see her.
What little I know of Peter, he seems very out of his element. I'd feel bad for the guy, but then I remember what Bella said. He's getting what I want. He's the enemy, a damn redcoat, for Christ's sake.
"Dinner is ready. Why don't you guys get settled in the other room and I'll bring it out." Rose and Peter head into the dining area and I grab my phone so I can shoot Bella a quick message.
USA, 1. GB, 0.
Her response is immediate. Good boy. Second place is first loser, Em. Be ruthless.
I smile. Her killer instinct is insane. This is why she's a great litigator. I pocket the phone and grab the tray of enchiladas and the bowl of rice. I head into the dining area and I falter for a second when I see Rose, leaning into Peter, her eyes sparkling. I can't let myself feel bad. I know he makes her happy, but I could do better.
I set the plates on the table and they pull apart, not like they got caught, just like it's not polite to have some gratuitous PDA. That's got to be a Peter thing, because Rose has zero issue being openly affectionate. I make a trip back to the kitchen, grabbing the remaining dishes. I take a breath and make sure I've got my game face on.
"Dig in. Don't be shy." I'm never worried about my kitchen skills, and there is a litany of moaning noises as Rose and Peter tuck into their food.
"Emmett, this is really delicious. Rose told me you were a great cook, but really, this is top notch." I beam internally, not because of the praise, but at the idea that Rose was talking about me to Peter.
"Thanks, man. I like to cook. I hope you do too." I incline my head at Rose and wink.
"Oh, no. I mean I can make an egg sandwich and whatnot, but I don't spend much time in the kitchen." He turns to Rose before going on. "Don't worry, we'll hire someone, love." He rests his hand on her arm for a moment and she smiles.
The rest of dinner continues much the same way. I go toe-to-toe with Peter as much as I can without being to obvious, bringing up things from the past that have nothing to do with him and engaging Rose in conversations that don't allow him much input. I feel like kind of a dick, but I'm going to need to be single minded if I want to take this one. I get a few raised eyebrows from Rosalie and I'm pretty sure she's caught on that I'm up to something, even if she's not exactly sure what.
He volleys back, talking about some wedding related stuff and trips they are planning on taking. It sounds like an awful lot of travel. I look over at Rose. "What about the business? You going to be okay taking that much time off?" Rose has been pretty focused the last few years, which means just a few weeks off a year, but that is how it is when you're the boss, at least in the beginning.
"Oh, well. I don't think I'm going to keep working, Em. I mean, for a little bit, but... well, Peter and I want kids and we don't really want to wait. And I really just want to be a mom and not worry about daycare, you know?"
I nod, like I know, but really, I don't know.
My Rosalie wants a family. I can't imagine her giving up everything she's worked so hard for in her life just to play June Cleaver to his Ward. She always said she was going to have it all and I didn't have any reason to doubt that she would.
And then she continues.
"Plus, it would be pretty hard to keep the business from..." she pauses awkwardly and looks at Peter. He nods, and I get that this is something that they know and I don't, something they talked about because it was going to have to come up. "...from England."
"From England?" I don't get it. Peter's family is there, but... "I think I'm missing something."
Rose looks me square in the eye and steels her shoulders, like she's expecting a fight. "After the wedding, in a few months, I'll be moving to England. For good."
"You're moving to England? For good?" I'm aware I'm just repeating her words back to her in the form of a question, but what the fuck? I look at her like Peter isn't even in the room, because whatever I think we could be, we're supposed to be best friends and we talk shit out before we make major decisions.
"I'm sorry, Em. I hate to just drop this on you. We've been talking it out, Peter and I." She looks over at him and he takes her hand. There's comfort there, but also possession. "We just decided today, and I didn't want to wait to tell you."
In an instant, I feel it all start to slip through my fingers. She's leaving. He's winning. Fuck, he's already won. At that moment, my phone buzzes once in my pocket and I know that it's Bella, looking for the update. I duck out of the room, using the business excuse. Rock out with your cock out, Em. Her text makes me snort and I'm glad I can still find the humor in this.
I fire back: U.S.A 1 G.B. 24
The response is nearly immediate. A wise, unknown man once said - Losers quit when they're tired...Champions quit when they hold the gold. Down, but not out. Grow at set. Be a man.
I finally get exactly what she means. I remember the way my dad used to say it, a phrase from some big mouthed wrestler. To be the man, you've gotta beat the man.
If there is anyone who can tell me how to be the man... it's my dad.
A/N: This chapter goes out the man who was Hoops McCann, Lane Meyer (no relation to Stephenie) and Lloyd Dobler. John, you knew how to be the man, learned the language of love and always got the (right) girl in the end. We want our two dollars, but since we can't make money off of this, we'll settle for you and your boom box outside our window any day.
So, we're sorry we took so long, but if we'd posted before now, it would have been meh, and we want to give you our unfffff. Unf sometimes has a slow incubation process, but we'll try to nudge it along next time.
H tells us to buckle down and makes us clean up our messes. J hugs us and loves us and will be starring in an RPF with our Unfy. C is our awesome wifey and kid (don't ask, it's not as Jerry Springer as it sounds). You all make our hearts go pitter pat. We love you to pieces (of pie, because really, what is better? Nothing).