Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight Characters. This story is the time leading up to Trooper's birthday when he sleeps with Emma. It is short and only covers two months. And remember Trooper is over the top romantic.

1

I lived next door to Emma McCarty my entire life. I learned to ride a bike with her, she was the first one to sign my cast when Budge accidently pushed me down the stairs, we took swimming lessons together, and she was my first kiss. I had tricked her into doing it, but it was worth the overwhelming guilt.

I loved Emma totally and completely. She loved me too, but in a different way. She saw me as a friend, a confidant, a shoulder to cry on, and a guy who would give her insight to understanding the male mind. Everyone told me to give up on her, but I couldn't. She held my heart in her hands no matter how hard I tried to see it differently.

It was over Christmas break when she brought up the subject of sex. She was going to a movie with her friends but she was too afraid to drive the icy roads so she asked me to come along and drive. I sat at the end of the row as she chatted with the girls, but when the movie grew tense she grabbed onto my arm and snuggled close to me. I couldn't tell you what the movie was about, because all I could concentrate on was the smell of her hair and the warmth of her body holding my arm captive.

When we arrived at her house she reached over and shut off the engine so we could talk. I could see her blue eyes by the light of the porch and her beauty kept me speechless.

"Trooper, I turn eighteen next month and I don't feel like an adult. I feel like a little girl who is so ignorant." Her voice was sad and I was confused. Emma was the smartest girl in school and already a shoe-in for valedictorian.

"You are far from ignorant," I told her softly. "You are brilliant, Emma."

She sighed and shook her head. "I'm not talking about academics." She bit her lip for a moment and then asked me, "Have you had sex?"

I choked at her words and she had to slap me on the back so I could catch my breath. I couldn't believe she asked me that, since I dreamed about making love to her on a nightly basis. Did that count? I shook my head back and forth without speaking, but it still felt a little deceitful.

"I can't imagine going to college as a virgin," she complained. "But the first time should be memorable; with someone you trust and feel safe with."

I felt like a knife was twisting in my chest. Emma would move to Seattle and every college man would be more than willing to help her feel safe with him. I couldn't stand the thought of anyone touching her or causing her pain.

"I think you'll make the right decision when the time comes," I told her and tried to smile.

She moved closer so she could talk softer, even though it was close to midnight and nobody was around. "You're right, Trooper, and I think I have. I want it to be you," she said, and watched me for a reaction.

For the first time in my life I understood how my mother felt when she heard a sentence but it didn't make sense in her mind. I had to concentrate on each word individually and then put them together to make sure I was hearing her correctly.

"Me?" I asked in just a whisper.

She grabbed my hand and held it to her cheek tightly as she spoke. "I trust you and I feel safe with you. I know you wouldn't laugh at me or make me feel stupid. We could learn together, Trooper, just like we learned everything else together."

Her skin was so soft and I could feel my body responding to her. I could easily pull her to me right this instant but she trusted me so I needed condoms and someplace besides a car. I began to think about a calculus test I had taken, actually reworking some of the problems in my head to calm down a bit. She waited for me to say something and I could see the tears forming in her eyes.

"Emma, this can't be a spur of the moment decision. We need to really think this through and talk about it," I said as I battled with my body to be responsible.

She sat back and nodded as her mind made its own calculations. "I have a lot of goals I want to accomplish," she said, sounding much more like her usual self. "I don't plan on marrying young and I'm not going to be blinded by the needs of my body. I think if I make this step now, it won't be such a big deal down the road."

"But don't you want to be in love?" I asked timidly.

She smiled widely and said, "I do love you, Trooper. I can't imagine life without you as my friend."

I knew she meant to appease me but her words stung. I didn't want to be just her friend or her neighbor; I wanted to be her everything. I looked down at my hands and sat silently. She waited patiently until I looked at her again. I felt the burn of tears and wanted to punch myself for appearing so weak in front of her.

"Oh," she said, and her own tears began to form. "I understand if you don't want me. It was just a suggestion."

"Emma, don't," I pleaded. "You know I would do anything you asked. I'm just afraid you'll regret it, and I can't live with that."

"Why would I regret it?" she asked me pointedly.

"We've snuggled and held hands, but we've never been…romantic. Do you expect me to have sex with you and then simply walk away?"

It wasn't how I wanted it to sound. I was telling her I needed some sort of build up toward actually deciding to have sex, luckily Emma is so smart and she knew what I meant.

"Okay, what if we spend some romantic time together and then decide? It wouldn't be an actual relationship, but it would be movement toward a more rational decision."

I chuckled but not because I found it funny. I was laughing at myself for being such a sap. Emma giggled and it sent my heart racing. I finally nodded and said, "Whatever you want. It is getting late; I don't want your father thinking I kept you."

She looked at her house and nodded. She reached for the door handle and then turned back to look at me. "I think you should kiss me goodnight," she suggested.

My hand automatically rose to the back of her head and I pulled her close. I had dreamed about this moment for a long time. It wasn't tricking her into teaching me how to kiss; this was her asking me to kiss her. Our lips connected and I felt like a flame had engulfed me. Her hand ran up my arm and around my neck causing me to naturally escalate the kiss.

When I pressed my tongue into her mouth she opened willingly and moaned softly. I almost bolted from my seat as the need to feel her against me grew by the second. I was practically lying on her when I finally got a hold of myself. I pulled away and my heavy breathing was fogging the windows.

"I'm sorry," I said in shame.

She leaned over and kissed my cheek. "Don't be sorry. I think everything will work out just fine." She opened her door and got out of the car. I had to use my sleeve to clear the window enough to drive next door to my house.

I came inside from the garage and saw my mother watching a movie. She smiled and said, "Dreamer's asleep and Budge is in his room." She spoke as if she was the sitter and I was coming home to pay her for watching the kids.

"What are you watching?" I asked her.

She looked at the screen and said, "It's an old movie, but I can't figure out if Alex is the man or the woman. The woman is a dancer, I think, because sometimes she's a welder."

I walked over to kiss her forehead and she watched me walk from the room. I headed past my room to Dreamer's. I peeked inside to see her cuddled up with a teddy bear dad had given her. I closed the door quietly and moved across the hall to Budge's room. I knocked and then peeked inside.

He was sitting on the floor with a lot of money divided in front of him. "What are you doing?" I asked, since he looked guilty and usually was.

"I'm just counting," he said. "I sold some of my Christmas gifts."

I sighed and shook my head. "Why, you don't need the money?"

"I know," he laughed. "But I would just lose the stuff anyway. I might as well make a buck or two."

I went into my room and crashed onto my bed. I stared at the ceiling and felt a sadness I couldn't articulate. The thought of having sex with Emma was a dream come true, but it wasn't the way I expected it to happen. I was confident one day far into the future I could show Emma I was good enough for her. I would have a graduate degree and a high powered job so she could be proud of having a younger man.

I was in eighth grade when I finally had a growth spurt and became taller than her. It seems like my entire life was spent trying to catch up to Emma, but I knew someday it would happen. If things progressed and we decided to go through with this pact I would have to make sure to make it special for her. I wouldn't take her to the beach like most of the guys I knew, and I wouldn't force her to do it in the back seat of a car.

I tried to imagine the perfect scenario. It would have to be somewhere with no fear of being caught or found out. Someplace I could make romantic for her and relaxed enough for me. I got a vision of the perfect place, dad's boat.

I didn't want to get too far ahead of myself, because we hadn't decided anything at this point. She let me kiss her once and nothing else. I forced myself up to wash my face and brush my teeth before putting on my flannel pants and getting into bed.

I couldn't sleep and I wouldn't allow my mind to go where it wanted to go. I finally got up and went downstairs to make some tea. I was waiting for the water to boil when dad came through the back door. He was surprised to see me up, even though it was Christmas break.

"Is everything okay?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm just having trouble sleeping so I'm making some tea," I admitted, but he continued to look at me with concern so I added, "I saw an intense movie with Emma tonight. I guess it has me all worked up."

"I'll have some too," dad said, before stretching his back and sighing.

"Tough night?" I asked.

"We're shorthanded since it is Christmas break. I worked the bar tonight."

"Do you need me to help out?" I asked, since I wouldn't mind doing dishes or clearing tables.

He smiled and shook his head. "I'll have your mother come in, if you can hold down the fort here? Keep Dreamer and Budge from killing each other."

"I don't know," I teased, "It might be nice to be an only child."

Dad looked right at me, knowing I was only kidding but feeling the need to share something with me. "I hated being an only child. I would have loved to have a brother or sister."

"What about mom?" I asked, wondering if she hated it too.

He laughed loudly and said, "She had tons of brothers and sisters, but nobody else could see them."

I poured us both a cup and sat down next to my father. "Wow, imaginary siblings, how great would that be," I mused. Dad laughed and patted me on the back. I wasn't sure I had a big enough imagination to conjure up someone like Budge and Dreamer. I guess I'm lucky after all.