I don't own Twilight, but these peeps and their doings are all mine.
Chapter 9::Venus Fly Trap::Caught at Last
Distraction—Emmett was driven to it.
The books were behind. Ordering, too. He hadn't made proper time to work with Alice in weeks.
Anticipation—that was what held his attention.
He disguised its true source with: How much longer until lunch? How much longer until dinner? When, really, it came down to: When will Rosalie be here? When can I help her again? Moving things—boxes, planters, bags of gravel? Anything? When can I share that idea I had? The one that will make her face light up? The one she'll take and riff on until she hands it back for me to riff on some more? The idea that will make that pinch appear between her brows until she sees it fully formed?
When will I be near her again?
The only thing that could keep him focused in the shop was the iron in his hand—the steady, numbing vibration through his wrist and up his arm. Other than that, he skipped from half-assed attempt to half-assed attempt.
But he was trying for more than half-assed as he flipped through the jobs binder, checking payments against estimates.
He paused at the large piece Edward had secured a few months before—grass and daisies running down the ribs and over the hip. In his original, messy notes, Edward had guessed it would take seven sessions to complete. At some point he changed it to ten and then eleven.
It had been almost three months since the job had come in, and according to the sheet, payment had only been received for four sessions.
He could hear Garrett laughing with Alice in the front of the shop. He knew Edward was out there, too, but he was quiet—again.
"Can you come here? I'm trying to understand something."
Edward appeared at his door a moment later, entering slowly, eyebrows high and questioning.
"This job …" Emmett spun the binder around on his desk so Edward could read it. "Swan. What's up with it? Did she flake? Or go on vacation or something?"
Edward dropped into the chair opposite the desk. He didn't answer.
"Did something happen? Was she unhappy with the work?"
Edward shook his head and slumped back into his seat. His long legs went wide; his shoulders sank, even with the back of the chair.
"You need to explain, dude. Is she coming back? Can I count on this income? Or do I need to …" Something about Edward's expression made Emmett stop. He looked cornered and confused … maybe a little tender, too? "Okay, what's going on?"
Emmett stood, crossing to the door and closing it with a quiet click. When he turned back around, Edward's face was turned upward. The heels of his hands were pressed into his eyes.
"I … I fucking love her, man."
Emmett was only halfway back to his desk, but those words stopped him—dead. This was not at all what he expected to hear—not from Edward.
Lifting one hand away from his face, Edward eyed him—wary, like a teenager who had just confessed to borrowing the car without asking.
"With whom?" Emmett leaned toward the desk to look at the binder again. "Swan?"
Edward nodded. The look on his face said: Am I crazy?
"Okay ..." Emmett took a seat behind his desk again.
"We haven't been working on the art. Not for weeks."
"I gathered that."
"I'm sorry ..."
"What have you been doing?"
Edward sat up and dropped his hands between his splayed legs. He leaned forward, forearms on his thighs, and leveled a guarded stare at Emmett.
In retrospect, Emmett should have seen that one coming, but it still shocked him. Like an exhaust backfiring, it jolted him. In the shop? He pulled a long breath in through his nose and tried to stay calm.
Edward, on the other hand, looked steamrolled. He'd just confessed to letting a girl get beyond his carefully constructed emotional defense strategy. Watching his friend's features shift from defiance to submission, Emmett felt a rising tide of irritation ebb.
What replaced it? Rosalie.
The look on her face when Peter had told her about his brother's high school crush. The look when he himself had almost told her how he felt about her—almost.
Watching Edward's obvious torment, Emmett felt something open up inside. Not Grinch-like—his heart did not grow three sizes—but something clicked into place. It was the moment after takeoff and his ears had just cleared. He was now free to move about the cabin.
"That's all it was … but then it changed. Fuck, I don't know why I'm telling you all this." Edward stood. "She's up and under my skin ... I tried … I didn't want it, but it's done." His shoulders rose and fell with quick, short breaths. "She trusts me. Me."
Emmett leaned back. The spring in his old, wood swivel desk chair complained. "Okay."
"Okay?" Edward started to pace, releasing a exasperated laugh. "Okay?"
"I guess …" Emmett shrugged, not fighting it anymore. "Sometimes it just sneaks up on you."
The mimosa tree was nearly six feet tall. Standing next to it on the sidewalk, Emmett would not have guessed it was as heavy as it turned out to be.
With his arms wrapped around the rootball, hauling it up three flights of stairs, he was very aware of its weight. Edward stood four steps up, dodging the loose fern-like leaves, waiting for a nod from Emmett.
"I'm going to say …" One deep breath and Emmett gave it to him. "Tewww-seventy-five." His body tensed, and he shifted the tree up another two steps. Edward tugged on the trunk, and for a moment, Emmett was relieved of the full weight of the tree. It was like jumping in an elevator and achieving that split-second of free fall. Relief.
"I bet you're wishing we'd gotten the crane right about now," Edward joked, but his heart wasn't in it.
"Shut it, or we can switch places."
Rosalie wavered at the top of the stairs. "Emmett, we can stop. We can …" She sighed heavily, stepping down onto the first step and then back up to the landing. "I should have gotten the four-foot one. I just thought ..."
"Rosalie, it's fine. We're more than halfway there. We're going to do this. It just might take longer than expected." He winked, and the tension drained out of her. She smiled, acquiescing.
He stood, wedging his good leg up against the burlap covered roots. Reaching above his head, he stretched his arms and back. "Let's take a minute."
"As long as you need, man," Edward said, leaning up the stairs, his full weight pulling against the tree.
Emmett looked up the stairs again. Rosalie's tension had returned.
"Rose." Her eyes settled on his again. "Really. I'm going to sit under this tree. And sitting there, knowing my poor back put it there, will make the times I tease you about it all the sweeter. Don't ruin my moment."
Rosalie's smile stretched his muscles more than arching or reaching for the ceiling ever could. Emmett bent, hoisting two-hundred and fifty plus pounds of root and dirt, and took another stride up the steps.
Twenty minutes later, with his back against a wooden barrel and the mimosa branches swaying above his head, Emmett watched Rosalie play hostess against the setting sun. Across the roof, Edward leaned against the brick, draining the bottle of beer she had just handed him.
"Which do you want?" she asked, striding toward him with two bottles between her fingers—a beer and a natural soda. The question was clear on her face.
"The soda." She nodded, and Emmett reached out, taking the bottle from her. Condensation slipped cold over the back of his hand and down his wrist. "But you knew that," he said, taking a sip. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye as she sat down, putting her back against the barrel, too.
She nodded. "I thought so, but I didn't want to assume. You've never said."
"Guys, I'm gonna head." Edward's voice drew them out of their quiet moment. He lightly tossed his beer into the trash and turned for the fire escape. "I've got someone to meet."
"Not at the shop, right?" Emmett's smile was made serious by the rise of his eyebrows.
"No." Edward shook his head, returning the smile. "Not at the shop."
"All right then. I'll see you in the morning."
"Yep." Edward's head disappeared behind the edge of the roof. "In the morning" rose up to meet their ears from below the roofline.
They sat for a moment more in silence, sipping at their drinks. With Edward gone, everything felt still and expectant. Emmett struggled inside, trying to figure out how to get the conversation back to where it had just been. He'd felt it—her pull. It was drawing him out, and he wanted it for the first time in a long time. Maybe ever.
He took a deep breath. "There's a lot I've never said."
Rosalie took another long sip and sat forward, cross-legged. "It's easy to feel like you can't. I know." Her pony tail fell forward, over her shoulder. "But you can." She turned her head slightly to look back at him. A smile flitted over her lips. It was small, but Emmett felt it in his chest. He felt it in his head.
"Fear is a funny thing."
"It is." Rosalie toyed with the label on her beer. "There's that kind that comes from sensing danger." Her blue eyes met his, and Emmett held his breath. She had face danger. She had felt that kind of fear.
Rosalie looked forward again, ripping a long strip of paper from her bottle. "And then there's the thing you create in yourself. You can say— you can say it's to keep yourself out of danger, but that's not always what it is, is it?"
The sun slipped closer to the horizon, shining bright at the edges of the rooftops. Emmett felt words rise to meet his lips. He felt unguarded—slightly drunk on opening up to her. "Maybe it's to keep others safe."
"Maybe." She sounded as if she were considering that as a possibility. "But ... Your real name isn't Bruce Banner, is it?"
"No." Emmett smiled, shaking his head. "No."
"You don't need to keep me safe from you. I'm an expert on fear, Emmett, and this is something that I'm sure of."
Emmett put his drink down and sat forward. Rosalie turned toward him. He could see as she put her own bottle down that she was shaking—just slightly in her hand. Instantly, the churning mess of thought and emotion inside him turned toward her. How hard this must be—to open up like this—and how she was doing it, thinking only of him.
Brave, he thought. She is so brave. You can be at least as brave as she is.
He reached for her wrist, pulling their hands to rest on her knee. The tremble he had seen traveled like a whisper into his fingertips. He could see it in her lips, too. If he knew it wasn't his imagination, he would have said the whole rooftop was trembling.
He wrapped his fingers more tightly around her arm, pressing his thumb to the pulse in her wrist. Closing his eyes, he tried to think of what words to use.
"You're shaking," she said.
"I am?" he asked, opening his eyes to find hers staring back at him in wonder. "I thought it was you."
"Some of it might be."
"I'm ... I'm nervous, actually." He surprised himself with his own confession. Now that the gates were open he was just letting the words flow.
"Yeah. I don't want to fuck this up."
"I don't think that's possible."
"I don't know. Anything's possible."
"No, if anyone's going to, it'll be me."
"I won't believe that," she said, bringing her other hand to his calf. "Won't."
Emmett nodded, breathing through his nose. Rosalie's pulse had slowed under his thumb. They stared at each other. This was not a what next moment. It was a we did it—we crossed over, and they basked in it.
"I'm not quite sure who I am at this moment." Rosalie laughed. "I feel quite outside of myself."
"Me, too." Emmett words were quiet and his movements slow. Do it, he thought. There's time for talk later. Pulling on her arm, he leaned forward. He saw Rosalie's eyes widen just before he closed his own and pressed his mouth to hers. The tiniest of sounds escaped on her breath, and he smelled beer and flowers.
At first, it was like he remembered his first kiss being. Her lips were unmoving against his, frozen. But he leaned further in, closing his mouth around her lower lip, and he felt her yield. Then it was nothing like that first kiss, at all.
Rosalie scooted closer, until their knees were touching. Her hand wrapped around his wrist to mirror his own grip, and she pulled at his calf, leveraging herself up to meet his mouth more fully. It was bumbling and awkward until she managed to get to her knees in front of him. Then it was his head tilted up toward hers, and with her hands on his knees, they kissed and kissed and kissed.
Emmett move his hand up to her neck. Her ponytail slid between his fingers.
"I am quite outside of myself," she whispered against his mouth.
He felt the tip of her tongue dart against his lips, and hunger swelled in him. Chaste kisses started to shift and he opened his mouth, his tongue finding hers. A noise rising from the back of his throat met her sigh.
"Rose, Rose—" He pulled away, looking up. Out of breath, she brought her fingers to her lips. Her eyes were still wide, but not in surprise. The little bit of fear he saw there was not of him but of herself. He let go of her wrist, scrambling to his knees.
"I'm sorry," she murmured from behind her hand, trying to turn away.
"No," he said, his hand still at her neck. "Don't be sorry. That's not what this is." With his thumb, he caressed the flush on her cheek, trying to calm his breath. "I need—for me as much as you—I need to do this right." Rosalie turned back, searching his face. Emmett's eyes dropped, and he swallowed hard. "That's really my fear. That I will fuck it up. That I wreck anything I care about."
Releasing a breath, Rosalie moved her hand to his at her cheek. She shook her head, curling her fingers into his palm and ducking down to meet his eyes again.
"I can't let this be like anything before. I need to take it slow. Is that okay?"
Rosalie smiled, letting out a nervous laugh. "Yes." She sighed, bringing a hand to Emmett's chest. Closing her eyes for a second, she inhaled. When she opened them, she said, "I've never— I don't know how this is supposed to go. So, slow is exactly okay."
Emmett's smile was big enough that even he could feel his dimples. "Okay," he said, pulling her to his chest and pressing a kiss to her temple. "Okay."
Busy, busy. That's what I've been. If you want to see what I've been up to, find your way to www . piquezine . com. Original, literary erotica. We're looking for both readers and writers. So, check it out.
Thanks to my DTCPS girls for reading, counseling and patiently waiting out my many projects and writer's block. And thanks of course to raindropsoup—TheOtherSoup on FFn. She's uber patient with my commas.