"How you managed to talk me into this, I will never know," Rosalie said loudly to her friend in the next room. She leaned into the mirror, with her mouth wide open and eyes looking up to the ceiling and swept the wand of mascara onto each set of lashes.
"Oh stop," Vera replied. "You need to get back out there and have some fun."
Rosalie walked toward the door of the bathroom and addressed her friend directly. "What I need to do is to focus on school."
"Well, you're stuck––we're supposed to meet the guys in half an hour."
Rosalie went back into the bathroom to fluff up her hair one last time. She looked at herself in the mirror and was happy with what she saw, but she was more proud of her brains than her beauty. She was currently working on her Master's degree and it was hard, but she knew the reward would be worth all the work. She flicked off the bathroom light and sat down on the bed next to her friend. "It seems pretty ridiculous to go on a blind date when I'm going back to school in a few weeks," she said, while smoothing out the rumpled comforter.
Vera rolled her eyes toward her, then pushed her friend off the bed and led her out of the room.
Rosalie's parents sat in the living room. Her father watching the baseball game and her mom concentrating on some needlework.
Mrs. Hale looked up when she heard them enter the room. "Are you ladies leaving now?"
"Yes we are," Vera replied politely.
"Hey, Dad. What's the score?"
"Last inning and the Yankees just ran one in," her father said with enthusiasm. He was a dedicated baseball fan, something he tried to pass down to all three of his children. His two sons liked the game, but Rosalie was the one who loved it and had sat with her father, on that very couch, countless times to watch the games with her dad––something they didn't get to do much anymore. When he noticed his daughter dressed up to go out, he added, "Don't be home too late and have fun."
"Thanks, Dad. Later, Mom."
The two girls walked down the steps toward the street and got into Vera's new car. The SUV was a present from her fiancée, who didn't blink once when she told him she wanted a car that would be suitable to drive kids around in. He made her best-friend incredibly happy and she was thrilled to be a part of their upcoming wedding.
Before Vera started the car she turned in her seat. "Look, I know you still haven't gotten over what Royce did to you. If a man ever cheated on me, well, I probably would stay away from men, too." She took Rosalie's hand into her own and continued, "But, it's been two years and I'm not saying this is the guy for you. I'm saying he's someone to have fun with. John says he's nice and I trust his judgment."
Rosalie sighed in resignation. "Okay, let's go bowling."
"Good!" Vera started the car and headed to Bowl-a-roll Lanes.
The girls found parking right away toward the front––a lucky break––and headed into the building. Vera held onto Rosalie's back pocket as they pushed themselves through the throng at the entrance. They made their way to the shoe counter where John and Rosalie's blind date waited. When Rosalie saw her set-up, she suddenly felt very self-conscious. Her date was tall, very handsome and dressed nicely. When he smiled at her, a dimple appeared in each cheek.
Rosalie leaned into him so she didn't have to speak too loudly. "Hi, I'm Rosalie." He thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
He in turn leaned down and introduced himself, "I'm Emmett, very nice to meet you." She thought he smelled great.
"Do you like to bowl?" Rosalie shouted over the crowd and gestured to the lanes. She immediately felt stupid; of course he liked to bowl, that's why they were there.
"Yes," he replied and nodded. Emmett internally berated himself; nice one word answer, idiot.
The four of them stood in the slow-moving shoe-rental line. The women whispered and giggled with each other while the men made commentary on different sports.
After they exchanged their shoes and changed into the moist rentals, they waited at an empty table for their party to be called to a lane. Rosalie felt awkward and continued to make idle chatter with her friend.
Vera whispered into her ear, "Emmett's good looking, isn't he?"
"He is rather handsome." Rosalie whispered back.
"Then say something to him. Flirt a little."
"Let him know you're interested. You're beautiful and smart, so you don't have to do much to get him to follow you around like a puppy dog."
"I don't want that."
"You know what I mean."
"No, I don't. If I'm all that and a bag of chips, then why didn't... " Before Rosalie could finish her sentence, Vera smacked her leg. "Ouch, that hurt!"
"Stop... you will be that idiot's biggest regret. You are the prize," she said sincerely.
Vera had always imagined what she would say to Royce if she ever saw him again. The only thing she could imagine was physical violence, though. He made her beautiful, smart, confident and kind friend feel small. Vera had never liked him while they dated, now she loathed him. She thought Emmett might be just what her friend needed. He was sweet and funny and normal. She just wanted her friend to have a good time with a nice guy while she was in town.
"Carpenter, party of four," was announced on the loud speaker and the group hurried out of their seats to claim their lane.
"So, Emmett," Vera called out, "I hear you're a good bowler."
"I'm decent." Emmett was being modest; he was great.
"Rosalie is pretty good, and can get quite competitive." Vera lightly hip-bumped her friend. Rosalie was very aware she had a tendency to become a bit extreme and hoped she could contain that side of her for the night.
John piped in, "Sounds like I'll be in last place again."
"Only because you let me win." Vera smiled at her fiancée. Every cell in her body knew he was the perfect man for her. He put his arm around her and she nuzzled into his chest.
They walked down to lane one. It was quieter at the end of bowling house. Rosalie realized this meant she would have to make conversation, but she promised to try, so she would.
Vera and John typed in their names first, leaving Rosalie and Emmett at the table while they stalled at the top of the lane.
"So, Emmett, I hear you're a Park Ranger," Rosalie stated. Vera had mentioned his job and she tried to think of where there was a forest in Rochester.
"Yes, I work at the Lighthouse."
"Oh, okay." She nodded her head, but found she was still puzzled. "What do you do there?"
"We maintain the grounds, mostly work with the public, giving tours and explaining the history to visitors."
"So you wrangle people, not bears," she joked.
Emmett couldn't help but laugh. "Sometimes I think the bears might be easier."
"They eat people."
"I think I could handle myself, I've had very good training." They were both smiling and starting to relax.
John walked up to the table and nodded to Emmett. "You're up." Vera sat down in the chair next to Rosalie.
Emmett picked up a sixteen pound ball and his face turned serious. Rosalie found herself intently watching him. He slowly approached the lane, his right arm swinging back, then forward. She watched the muscles in his forearm tense as he lofted the heavy ball almost halfway down the lane. Quickly, the ball rolled toward the pins. The clap of contact sounded like thunder and they all yielded to the blow.
"Strike!" Emmett called out while fist pumping, smiling widely, the dimples making their appearance again.
Rosalie was smiling herself, then felt an elbow in her side. "I knew you'd like him." Vera was grinning ear to ear. Rosalie ignored her and walked up to the ball return to retrieve her ten-pounder. She felt the pressure to do well after she was called out on being competitive. She steadied her thoughts, placed her herself just a bit to the left of the darts and went through the motions. She lay down a swift moving, perfectly centered ball.
"Strike!" she cried and started to do a little dance, but caught herself.
The game moved on and frames passed by quickly. John and Vera remained tied throughout the game, as did Rosalie and Emmett. Rosalie was having a great time joking and laughing, and finding she really liked Emmett. He was smart and handsome, but more importantly he had a great sense of humor.
At the halfway mark, John offered to buy a round of drinks. Vera insisted she go with him so she could help carry all the bottles back. Rosalie and Emmett sat down and started to taunt each.
"You're going down," Emmett said.
"Is that a fact?"
"I hope so. I'm actually kind of worried, you're good."
"Lot's of practice over the years. Growing up, bowling was always a fun family outing." Rosalie thought about all the Saturday afternoons spent on the lanes. She and her little brother's always had a good time. "Do you have any siblings?" she asked.
"I have five older brother's."
"Wow, that's a lot of boys in one house."
"Yes, it was––I was the youngest by several years, so my mom babied me a bit."
"Oh no, are you a Mama's boy?" Rosalie liked the way he spoke about his family.
"You bet, I love my mom." His smiled broadened when he mentioned his mother.
"You're from Tennessee, right? Do you visit her often?"
"Yes Ma'am, I am... and no, I don't get down there as much as I'd like. I never miss Thanksgiving though, she's the best cook around. John told me you are a student at Cornell."
"Yes... I'm working on my master's in mechanical engineering." Rosalie was proud of her accomplishments, especially in such a male dominated field.
"So you're really smart." Rosalie didn't know why the statement made her blush; she dipped her head and some of her blonde hair fell forward. Emmett reached out and tucked the hair behind her ear. Her skin was soft and warm against his fingers. "I like intelligent women," he continued.
Clinking beer bottles signaled the return of their friends and the game resumed only for Vera and John to each bowl gutter balls with each toss.
"Do we need to block the gutters for you two?" Rosalie asked sarcastically.
"Ha, ha," Vera replied sarcastically. Her fiancée looked like he wanted to consider the idea.
Rosalie and Emmett continued to bowl well, throwing a lot of strikes and spares. In the ninth frame, Emmett took his turn. After his first toss, three pins were left standing, including the split. He threw his hands over his face and stomped his foot realizing he may have just lost the game. When his ball returned, he launched it and knocked down two of the three pins.
Rosalie didn't want to waste the advantage she was just given. She relaxed her mind and threw a perfect pitch down the lane, earning a strike. She started to feel like she might win and could no longer contain herself, her bottom started to shake.
"Oh no," Vera called out. "She's doing her victory dance."
"Not so fast, we still have another frame to go." Emmett laughed. He liked watching her hips sway. If he thought he could get away with it, he would throw the game to see more of the dance.
Vera stepped up to the arrows and laid down a goose egg that wobbled slowly down toward the pins. She yelled out, "come on, come on," to the ball. Four pins went down. With her next throw she fell two more. John gutter balled his first toss and knocked down 2 pins on his second attempt.
Emmett wanted to bowl three strikes in a row for a final frame turkey. He steadied himself as much as he could, with the utmost care he aimed, but missed one pin that he cleaned up with a spare.
Rosalie marched to the lane, held her ball up as if she were going to pitch a fast ball in the World Series. She turned her head back to her friends and winked. The ball rolled as if it were on a rail toward the center of the triangle. She earned a strike and belted out, "STRIKE ONE!" She was feeling confident and waited impatiently for the ball return.
Vera yelled toward her, "You can do it, Rosie!"
She moved her feet into position and threw. The moment it left her fingers she knew it wouldn't be a strike, but no matter, she still won. Emmett was the first to high-five and congratulate her. They had started their evening late and only planned on staying for the one frame, but Rosalie didn't want the night to be over, no matter how sleepy she suddenly felt.
They cleaned up their area and returned the used shoes. Before they exited the alley, Emmett said, "Wait guys, hang on a second." He turned to Rosalie. "I would like to take you home––I drove John here, so my car is right out front."
Rosalie looked to her friend, who had a sly grin on her face and was not so subtly nodding her head. "Sure, I'd like that."
The two couples parted ways for the evening and walked toward their respected vehicles.
Emmett opened the passenger door of his Jeep for Rosalie. They drove back to her place in relative silence with the exception of her giving him directions to her house. When he pulled up to the curb in front of her home she turned to him and asked, "Why did you want to take me home?"
"I like you. I wanted to make sure you got home safe, and I wanted to walk you to the door." His dimpled smile returned. Rosalie thought Emmett made a perfect first impression.
"Thank you for the ride, I had a great time tonight." She reached for the door handle to let herself out and Emmett exited his side, too.
He walked her up the path to the door and before she had a chance to turn the knob he spoke. "I had a really great time, too. I think you're really great, and well, I've just said 'really great' twice, now three times in a row." Rosalie laughed. "You have a really great laugh, too. Oh man, I keep saying 'really great'!"
"I think you're really great, too. I'd like to have a really great time with you again." She held her hand out, palm up and asked, "Can I have your phone for a minute?" Emmett gave her his cell phone and she plugged her number into his address book, then handed it back.
"Okay, I'll call you." He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. She turned the knob and he took a few few steps down the front porch, then turned back. "How are you at miniature golf?"
She giggled. "Really great."
"Me too. It's a date."
A/N: Thank you to kyla713 for doing some very last minute beta work and always being such a great friend. Thank you to Hmonster4, AccioBourbon and Theheartoflife for putting together the 30 Days of Emmett event.