ENTRY #26 – AU
Truly Anonymous Twilight O/S PP Contest
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Title: Capture the Sun
Picture Prompt Number: 29
Word Count (minus A/N and Header): 3062
Summary (250 characters or less, including spaces and punctuation): Rosalie avoids mirrors. It's Alice's fault.
Warnings and Disclaimer: Very brief, non-explicit mention of a past attempted sexual assault and some mild violence. I don't own Twilight.
Capture the Sun
Rosalie tiptoed through the hall, dodging squeaky floorboards and stepping over forgotten toys. Years of practice had honed her skills, leaving her with the sort of light-footed stealth that was the envy of all cat burglars. Opening the bathroom door just wide enough to avoid the creak of the hinges, she slipped inside.
Time for the real test. Holding her breath, she plugged the bathtub and turned on the faucet. Hot water pounded against porcelain, loud enough to wake even the soundest of sleepers. After cocking her head to one side and listening for the tell-tale signs of her family tumbling out of their beds, she let her bathrobe fall to the floor. The reflection of her exposed body in the long mirror next to the vanity went ignored. Turning her face from the sight, she stepped into the tub.
Mirrors had become the enemy in recent days. They revealed every crease, every stretch mark. No longer did she gaze at the perfect shape of her nose or the fullness of her breasts, worshipping at the altar of her own beauty. She had no desire to do the equivalent of watching a flower wilt as her body succumbed to the slow pull of gravity, helped along by the births of four children.
She shuddered. Best to avoid mirrors entirely.
The water lapped over her thighs, the temperature just the way she liked it: scalding. Sinking back against the smooth curve of the tub, she propped her neck on a rolled up towel and reached for her book.
"Mama!" her son called through the door. "Natalie hit me!"
"I did not!"
A shriek rang out, followed by the thud of four small feet racing toward the front of the house. Muscles that had been poised to melt into blissful relaxation tensed. Groaning, Rosalie inched down until her head disappeared below the rising water line.
Kids, she thought, I love you, but if you don't give me ten minutes to take a bath in peace, I may be forced to sell you to a traveling circus.
Another voice reached her ears, deep and muffled by water: Emmett. Rosalie smiled. Her hero.
Lathering her body with the last of the fancy soap she'd bought during their family vacation the previous summer felt sinful and indulgent. It was like something pulled straight out of the pages of her former life. She scrubbed the calluses on her feet, willing the rich bubbles to force some moisture into her dishpan hands. The ten minutes flew by. Before the bathwater had cooled to a temperature most people would consider sensible, it was time to get out.
Once she'd toweled off and shrugged into a house dress, she went from bedroom to bedroom, gathering laundry. Alice, her eldest, grumbled at the intrusion, burrowing beneath her blankets until only her dark hair was visible.
"Come on," Rosalie said, opening the curtains and squinting as the morning sun dazzled her eyes. "Rise and shine."
"Mother! It's Saturday."
"Then you should make the most of it, shouldn't you?"
"I was making the most of it until you woke me."
Chuckling, Rosalie kissed what she could see of Alice's forehead. "Yes, I know. I'm unbearably cruel. If I can't sleep in, neither can you."
"You could sleep in. Just shut the door and get into Susie's bed. We'll hide out together."
"Ah, very tempting, but I think your brother and sisters might come searching for me when there are no pancakes for breakfast. So would your father, for that matter."
Alice sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "Pancakes?"
"She lives! It's a miracle!"
"It's a conditional miracle," Alice said, climbing out of bed and stretching her long arms toward the ceiling. "I live if there are pancakes."
Some days, Rosalie could almost make herself forget that her baby had grown tall enough to tower over her. She couldn't believe Alice was already seventeen. Vera had been that age when she got married.
Married. Rosalie blinked to dispel the mental image of her daughter veiled in white. That train of thought would only lead to unrealistic fantasies about locking Alice in a tower far away from boys for the next five to ten years.
"The pancakes are conditional, too," Rosalie said. "They exist only if certain daughters wash the dishes after breakfast, like they're supposed to do."
"I will, I will."
"Good. Just let me start this laundry."
With her armful of dirty clothes blocking her view of her own feet, Rosalie had to rely on luck as she traversed the toy minefield that used to be her hallway.
She almost made it. The front room was in sight when she stepped on one of the wooden building blocks Emmett made when they were expecting Alice. Crying out in pain, she lurched forward. The laundry flew from her arms, scattering over the floor. One sock landed on top of the lamp she'd brought all the way from Rochester.
"God!" she said, hopping on one foot. Those blocks were sharp. Summoning all of the willpower she could muster, she added, "Bless...America!"
Not as satisfying as what she wanted to say, but as she never allowed herself to swear, it would have to do.
Someone giggled. Susan, her second daughter, peered over the top of a book. She was still in her pajamas, her hair mussed from sleep, but it looked as though she'd already found the time to devour twenty chapters that morning.
"Susie, will you please put these toys away?" Rosalie said as she stooped to gather the clothes. Just in case her daughter's response involved a claim that the mess was the responsibility of her younger siblings, she readied her best maternal glare.
Susan pushed herself back hard in the rocking chair, creating enough momentum to spring to her feet as it bounced forward. Rosalie marched away, muttering her thanks. If Emmett's grandfather hadn't made that rocking chair, she would have chopped the blasted thing into splinters and used it as kindling years ago.
It was a fine piece of furniture: sturdy and attractive. Her grudge against it stretched back almost two decades, inspiring a bone-deep loathing that defied logic. Whenever she saw the chair, it reminded her of the dark months after Alice's birth, when forcing herself out of bed to feed and rock her baby had taken Herculean effort. She'd wanted to be a mother for years. She should have been perfectly content when her wish was granted. Instead, happiness took its time in coming. Not even Emmett knew how she had struggled that first time. The chair was the sole witness—the only reminder.
After sorting the laundry by color and getting the first load of whites going, Rosalie cracked an egg into a bowl full of buttermilk. As she whisked the mixture together, a pair of strong arms snaked around her waist.
"Happy anniversary," Emmett said, tickling her skin with the stubbly kisses he trailed along her neck.
Smiling, she reached across the counter for the flour. "It's still May. If memory serves, we got married in June."
"Only because you insisted on a long engagement."
"Oh, yes. What was I thinking, making you wait a whole two weeks?"
"Who knows? If either of us had any sense, we would've eloped two minutes after I asked you for directions."
Abandoning the pancake batter for a moment, she turned in her husband's arms and tilted her head up for a kiss.
"Eww!" a little voice said just as Emmett's mouth settled over hers. Edward, their youngest, looked up at them from beneath the kitchen table. His freckled nose wrinkled at their display of affection.
Emmett groaned. "We'll continue this later," he whispered to Rosalie before hoisting their son onto his shoulders. "Hey, buddy. What were you doing under there?"
Edward giggled. Rosalie waved her wooden spoon at him as he wrapped his arms around Emmett's neck and glanced back at her.
The rest of her breakfast preparations flew by in a blur of sizzling butter, globs of batter, and rushing to tidy the kitchen in between flipping pancakes. As she cooked, she danced to the sound of the radio that floated in from the front room, humming along with her favorite songs. Before long, she had a platter full of fluffy, warm pancakes to feed her little army.
"Breakfast!" she said.
The kids stampeded into the kitchen, followed by Emmett. Rosalie stopped Edward and Natalie with a finger pointed at the sink.
"Wash your hands," she said.
"Daddy," Alice said, giving Emmett her most pleading smile as she passed him the syrup, "is it okay if I go over to Betty's house after school on Monday?"
"What about homework?" Rosalie asked.
"I'll do it over there, I promise."
"And your chores?" Emmett said.
"As soon as I get home."
Susan snickered. "She just wants to go to Betty's so she can see her boyfriend."
Emmett coughed. Alice pinched Susan's arm. Rosalie raised her eyebrows.
"Is that true?" Rosalie said.
"No. Of course it isn't true. I don't have a boyfriend."
"You'd better not," Emmett said. "If any boy wants to take you out, he has to have a nice, long chat with your mother and me."
Blushing, Alice buried her face in her hands. "And that is why I will never have a boyfriend."
"Oh, honey," Rosalie said, reaching across the table to smooth Alice's hair. "It could be worse."
Nausea tore through her stomach as she remembered her parents' efforts to throw her together with Royce. Never mind his character or his intentions; with their tunnel vision, they'd only seen the gleaming temptation of his riches. All things considered, she would have preferred an over-protective father like Emmett.
Embarrassment would have been far easier to handle than the cold fear that clawed at her chest when she realized what kind of person Royce really was.
Brass buttons scattered across the street. A cruel laugh. The sharp pain of hat pins yanking out her hair. The sound of a boy's voice saying, "Leave her alone."
Shaking her head to rid herself of the unpleasant memories flickering across her mind, Rosalie focused her attention on her family—on laughing at her son's silly jokes and chatting with her daughters. Here, hundreds of miles away from that cold April night, she was safe and loved.
After breakfast, she dragged her typewriter out of her bedroom closet and heaved it onto the kitchen table. The clinking, swishing sounds of Alice doing the dishes created a soft backdrop for the pounding of Rosalie's fingers against the keys. Opening a nearby window, she took in greedy breaths of fresh spring air. The completed portion of her manuscript sat next to the typewriter, anchored to the table by a mug full of coffee.
Raising children with Emmett had been all she ever wanted. The desire to write a novel had taken her by surprise around the time of Edward's fifth birthday. All of a sudden, she wanted to make something beautiful—something that was entirely her own. A new dream to fly alongside the old one.
Writing with all four kids milling around the house wasn't easy. Edward fell off of his bike. Natalie had a bloody nose. Susan couldn't find her favorite book. Alice wanted help with her homework. Rosalie stole a sentence here and sneaked in a paragraph there when she could.
By the time she managed to write two whole pages, the laundry was ready to be taken out to the clothesline. Instead of asking one of the girls to complete the task, Rosalie did it herself, welcoming the short break. As much as she loved her children, she wished someone would have warned her beforehand that mothers didn't get vacations. Her vision of motherhood before Alice was born had been ridiculous, populated by angelic children who always slept through the night and never cried. Looking back at the notions of that naive, spoiled version of herself, she had to laugh.
The cherry orchard was alive in a riot of pale pink blossoms. As Rose pinned blouses and pillowcases to the clothesline, a train rumbled past on the track that ran alongside their property. Petals scattered onto the ground.
Funny, how she'd loathed that train when she and Emmett first moved to this place. Now, she hardly noticed it.
The instant she opened the back door, she knew something was different. The house was too quiet—almost silent, save for the low hum of the radio.
"Where are the kids?" she asked Emmett, finding him sitting on the sofa without a child in sight.
"Sent them into town for ice cream," he said. "I thought you could use a little peace and quiet to get your writing done."
She tackled him. He barely had time for an exclamation of surprise at finding his wife in his lap before her lips pressed against his.
"Well, hello," he said, grinning. "What about your writing?"
"I can write when they're at school. When was the last time we had the house to ourselves?"
"I can't remember."
"Shouldn't we make the most of it?"
Laughing like a pair of giddy teenagers, they ran to their bedroom. While he drew the curtains, she pulled her dress over her head. Rough, familiar hands that knew her body well skimmed over her skin and dipped between her legs. She sighed.
"You are so beautiful," Emmett whispered.
Seeing him look at her with such reverence, she felt like the sun shone through her skin. In between kisses and murmured words of affection, she tugged at his clothes, resenting them for getting in her way. When no obstacles remained between them, he scooped her up in his arms and placed her on top of the quilt.
"What are you doing?" she asked as he trailed open-mouthed kisses along her inner thigh.
"Has it been that long?" he said, shifting up to nip at her shoulder. "Did you forget how this is done?"
"No." Chuckling, she swatted his arm. "But we have to be quick, unless you want to get interrupted."
"Oh. Good point."
She kept listening for the sound of the screen door slamming shut, even as Emmett nestled his body between her legs. Coherence began to slide away from her with each of his frantic movements. His gasping moans seemed to settle low in her belly, making her world dissolve into pleasure. She pressed her lips together in an effort to remain quiet.
"Oh, Rose," he said against her mouth.
At the sound of his voice forming her name, the low, simmering heat in her abdomen exploded and spiraled outward. She lost control, crying out. Emmett released a ragged breath, trembling against her. Closing her eyes, Rosalie relished his weight pressing her into the mattress.
"Hmm," he said after a few minutes, giving her a sleepy, sated grin and kissing the tip of her nose. "Our kids are going to get fat."
"Because if that happens every time I send them for ice cream, I'm going to do it more often."
The sound of her giggle was cut off by the metallic clang of the screen door. Jumping out of bed, they scrambled back into their clothes.
Rosalie put the typewriter away for the day and situated herself on the living room floor for a game of checkers with Natalie. Two pages was enough for a Saturday when her all of her children were still young and under her roof. The new dream would keep.
It wasn't until sunset that she remembered the laundry.
Her bare feet flew over the cool grass, carrying her toward the fluttering row of clothes. As she folded a pillowcase to tuck into her basket, she saw them: two boys and a girl, strolling along the railroad tracks. She squinted. They looked like a trio of featureless shadows cut into the pink and orange painted sky, but something about the way they carried themselves was familiar.
The girl was tiny, her shape a perfect replica of Alice. Not Rosalie and Emmett's daughter, but the one for whom she was named: the wild-eyed girl who accompanied Doctor Cullen's brother-in-law on a rescue mission down a dark street twenty Aprils ago. In fact, while one of the boys was a complete stranger to Rosalie, the other had a hint of Edward Masen about him in the set of his shoulders and the untamed mess of his hair.
Secretly, she'd been glad when Royce and his friends went missing. Something deep within her had roared in approval when Alice shoved one of the onlookers to the ground and Edward seemed to crush Royce's arm with just a touch. At the time, she thought the impossibly strong pair were angels of vengeance.
It made it easier to stomach Edward's beauty outshining her own, even if a little resentment remained.
A few weeks after Rosalie's two saviors escorted her home, an inheritance from a long-lost relative brought Emmett to Rochester. He was the only soul she ever told about that night—the only one she trusted to believe the parts she couldn't explain. Throughout their years together, he'd always indulged her desire to heed the original Alice's parting advice.
"Never let your future husband go hunting, Rosalie. Stay out of the woods."
Standing there in the orchard, thinking about the past, she wished she could reach below the horizon and force the sun back into the sky—just for a second. Just long enough to see their faces.
An emotion began to form in her chest, trickling down to her stomach and building into a bittersweet ache. After a few moments, she was able to identify it. Homesickness. Dropping her handful of clothespins, she wrapped her arms around her middle. Longing for family and home blanketed her, colored with intense love.
Gradually, the feeling shifted into bright joy. It reminded her of what she should have felt for Vera when her little boy was born, instead of being blinded by jealousy. She rubbed her eyes, forcing out the tears that clouded her vision.
In the fraction of a second it took for her to blink, the trio on the railroad tracks vanished. Rosalie turned in a complete circle, searching the surrounding trees and fields for any trace of them.
Nothing. They were gone. She shivered.
Maybe they were never there to begin with.