A/N: I've been waiting a long time to post this one. Several of my sweet friends read it last year, but I needed to finish some other stuff first. This story was born purely from my love of sports, especially football.

I'm not sure how I got so lucky as to convince my lovely friend to beta this story, too. Thank you, Windgirl810. You are a rock star. :)

I also talked three great friends into prereading/editing: Littlecat358, Tennesseelamb, and Michelle0526. I think you ladies all read this multiple times. Many, many thanks.

Thanks for reading!


"Nooooo," I groan as I hear the alarm.

It's way too freaking early. Why did I agree to this crazy plan? Slitting one eye open enough to locate the clock, I press the snooze button. Ah, silence… and nine more minutes of sleep.

The fourth time the alarm blares, I know I really have to get up. Grunting quietly, I roll out of bed, and then use a combination of squinting and feeling my way along the wall to stumble to the kitchen. I skim my hands across the cold, smooth tile of the countertop until I find the coffee pot. Since I loaded it last night, all I have to do now is turn it on.

As soon as it gurgles to life, I bend forward at the waist, laying my entire upper body on the counter while I wait. I may or may not be moaning quietly every time I exhale. Okay, I am. This crack-of-dawn job is so not a good idea. Realistically, I know I'm being a big baby. I used to pull a worse shift than this one. But I was 22 then; now I'm almost 26.

Yawning, I crack one eye open to peek at the coffee's progress and sigh disgustedly. Not even enough for one cup yet.

"Goddamn slow-ass thing," I mumble crankily. Later today, I'm going to Target and buying a coffee maker with an automatic timer. The coffee will be brewed by the time I have to get up tomorrow.

A minute later, the liquid finally reaches the two-cup line and I quickly grab the pot to fill up my stainless steel travel mug. After replacing the carafe, I take a tentative first swallow from my mug, testing the temperature.

"Mmmm," I moan, in ecstasy this time instead of agony. It's perfect. I snap the lid on, and then sip my elixir repeatedly until I feel the warmth invade my veins. My body knows this means it's time to wake the hell up.

Holding my mug with both hands, I shuffle slowly back down the hallway to the bathroom. After turning on the shower, I set my mug down long enough to pull off the t-shirt and underwear I wore to bed, dropping them where I stand. I pick up my coffee, pause to kick my dirty clothes toward the hamper in the corner, and then open the door to step into the small, steamy shower. Leaning my head back under the spray, I remember how I always used to shower with a cup of coffee in my hand. I haven't done it in a few years – not since the last time I worked a shift that requires me to be awake when almost everyone else is asleep – but it's strangely comforting to me to do it again. It's like an old friend, reminding me that I'll survive this horror.

Jeez, I'm a dramatic bitch this early in the morning. Lots of people go to work this early. I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's not forever anyway. I've been assured that I'll be back to my regular mid-day shift within a few months.

By the time I finish, I'm much more awake. I dry off and dress quickly in khaki Bermuda shorts and a plain blue t-shirt. Checking the time, I realize I'm going to have to put it in high gear now or I'll be late. I brush my teeth, leaving the toothbrush in my mouth as I hurriedly rub lotion on my arms and legs. I put on mascara that makes my eyelashes look long and curly, but don't fuss with any other makeup except a little bronzer and pale pink lip gloss. Then I grab my favorite Mariners ball cap out of the closet and pull my long, wet hair through the hole in the back. I slide my watch onto my left wrist, snap the clasp, and check my reflection in the dresser mirror. I'm ready.

After stopping in the kitchen to refill my mug and switch off the coffeepot, I grab my backpack – containing both my laptop and my research for this morning's show – and my car keys and am out the door by 5:05….a fucking m. Apparently, I'm dramatic and foul-mouthed this early in the day.

I skid into the pre-show meeting at 5:29 – one entire minute early, thank you. I try not to look too smug as I take a seat at the small, round table in the station's lounge.

"Wow. Thanks for dressing up, Swan," Emmett says sarcastically from his seat across from me.

"Shut up. I'm wearing almost the same exact thing as you," I retort, sticking my tongue out at him. We really are dressed very similarly. Both of us are wearing shorts, t-shirts and hats. Only our footwear differs; flip flops for me, running shoes for him.

"Yeah, but you're a girl," he smirks. "Don't you care about how we look at you? Are you content to just be one of the guys?"

Emmett McCarty and I have been close friends for several years, and one of his favorite pastimes is teasing me, trying to goad me into a reaction that involves me either yelling at him or punching him. But 5:30 a.m. is definitely too early for teasing.

Or… maybe he's hit a little too close to home. I flip him off – internally pissed at myself for feeding his reaction addiction – and then turn my attention to the papers Newton is laying in front of us.

Mike Newton is, in a word, an idiot. He's the producer on Emmett's morning show – and he doesn't like me very much. The feeling is entirely mutual. He's an overbearing, know-it-all jackwagon, and when I started as an intern at the station five years ago, he repeatedly asked me out. The first time, I laughed so hard I almost fell down. He doesn't possess any of the qualities I look for in potential dates: sense of humor, good personality, general affability. After three weeks of near-daily asking, I finally told him that it just wasn't going to happen.

Since that day, Newton and I have had a hate/hate relationship. We don't usually have to deal with each other since he produces the morning show and I'm on afternoons, but until they find a new co-host for Emmett, we're stuck with each other.

Newton knows that I am saving his ass by agreeing to this plan, but he hasn't expressed any gratitude about it. I'm hoarding that ammunition for a day when I really need it though. Neither Newton nor Emmett needs to be reminded right now that Emmett's former co-host was arrested early last week in downtown Seattle – busted for DUI and possession of a whole lot of coke. The station owners were furious about the negative publicity KSST received, and they blamed Newton for not knowing what was going on. I heard through the station's gossip chain that he almost lost his job before Emmett approached the head honchos with his idea to bring me on the morning show for a while as a fill-in. The afternoon show I co-host with Riley Biers is the station's most listened-to program, and they're hoping that a familiar voice added to Emmett's will help the audience forget about what happened last week.

By the time Newton is three sentences in to his "vision" for this morning's show, I've tuned him out. Propping my chin in my left hand, I pick up a pen with my right and doodle in the margin of Newton's handout. Even though I don't want to, I go back to thinking about what Emmett said.

Am I content to be one of the guys? No, not really, although that's what I end up being most of the time. I haven't dated anyone for longer than a month in a couple of years. I keep telling myself that I just haven't met the right guy. That it's not me.

But what if it is?

I go on a lot of first dates. When guys meet me, they think I must be a great catch. I'm no international beauty, but my face is okay and I have a decent body. Then there's my job. A woman who watches and talks about sports for a living. A woman who loves going to football and baseball games… who can get good tickets… who even knows some of the players. Every guy's fantasy, right?

Right. Until they go out with me and regurgitate whatever opinions they've heard on SportsCenter or another radio show. And that's fine. I don't mind that. What I mind is the part that comes next...where they get offended if I don't agree. It almost always ends the same way, with some version of "girls don't know anything about sports". When they don't call again, I'm usually relieved.

I feel like I've tried them all: The sporties who think they could have played pro, the hardcore fans who blindly adore anyone who plays pro, the casual fans who think teams overpay for the pros. Then I decided maybe I should stay away from guys who like sports altogether.

So I tried the corporate guys who are constantly busy... and usually too uptight for me. I tried the tech geeks who were frustrated by my lack of interest in the latest mega-giga-itoucheditfirst-pad. I even tried the shipyard guys. They were fun, but liked to party a little too much for me. I go on a bender one or twice a year, not once or twice a week.

Maybe there is something wrong with me. I haven't had a really serious boyfriend since junior year of college – four years ago. When he broke up with me, he accused me of not being fully committed to him. And he was right; I wasn't. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even capable of having a relationship like that. My parents certainly weren't at my age, which is why I grew up with just my dad. Both of my parents are in solid marriages now, but earlier in life, they were each happier alone.

I contemplate for a few more minutes as Newton continues to yammer about… something. When he releases us only five minutes before we go on the air, I narrow my eyes at him, and then rush to the ladies room.

When I enter the small, newly-remodeled studio two minutes later, Emmett is already seated at the far end of the black, rectangular table that fills most of the room. Six microphones on adjustable arms extend from the center of the table, each pointed toward one of the chairs situated around it.

"You gonna run the board every day?" I ask, shutting the door behind me. I already know the answer – Emmett's very territorial about the small sound board in front of him.

"Yeah, if it's okay with you," he replies, looking up at me. "I like to do the sound drops. But Newton does the mixing from the booth."

At the mention of my nemesis, I pause mid-stride to glance at Newton through the window into the control room. He smiles haughtily at me, so I assume he's listening to the conversation. I glare back at him.

"Sure. You know, Sam is an awesome producer," I answer, keeping my eyes on Newton as I talk about my producer. It's true; Sam is great. But I'm saying it now because I know that Newton doesn't like him. "I bet he wouldn't mind giving Newton some tips on effective use of music and sound bites."

I continue watching Newton long enough to see his smile fade into a scowl, and then move to the chair next to Emmett with a slight smirk on my face.

As I pull out the chair and set my backpack and bottled water on the desk, Emmett shakes his head at me, but he's smiling. "Starting a war on the first day?" he asks, holding his hand over the mic in front of him so Newton can't hear. "You know he'll retaliate."

"I know," I whisper as I unpack my laptop. "I'll stop." I drop my backpack onto the floor and then sit down in the chair.

"He brought your earpiece in. Maybe he's trying to make peace," Emmett says lowly, still covering the microphone.

"Maybe," I shrug. I think it's more likely that he gave me someone else's unsanitized earpiece, but I'm definitely not going to say that in front of a live mic. When I take it out of the clear, zipped bag labeled with my name, I study it carefully. It looks clean, so I insert it into my right ear, wiggling it around a little until it's comfortable. I plug the end of the cord into the battery pack Newton also laid on the table and then hook the pack onto the back waistband of my shorts.

Sighing, I look longingly at the guest headphones hanging on the microphone across the table. I loved the big, padded headphones I wore everyday for the last five years. But three weeks ago, the station owners, two sisters named Kate and Charlotte, announced that they wanted us to look more camera-ready, and presented us with our wireless earpieces. I'm still not used to it, and I don't know why we have to be camera-ready, but they're the bosses. Since I love my job, I'm coping.

I plug my laptop into the tabletop outlet, and then take the USB cord Emmett hands me.

"Cheating off me?" I tease as I connect it so Emmett can see my laptop on his monitor.

"You do better research," he laughs.

"Check. Check. Give me a thumbs up." Newton's voice booms in my ear. Emmett and I both give the signal without looking at him, already reviewing the show schedule listed on our screens. Newton is rambling about something and barking orders to Seth, the intern. I miss my non-rambling, non-barky Sam already. But I'm determined to start the week with a good attitude, so I pull myself out of my musing and turn to my right to wink at Emmett.

"Let's have a great show," he says, holding both of his fists out toward me like a boxer. Smiling, I tap the top of his fists, and then let him return the gesture.

Checking the countdown clock on my computer screen, I see that it's 5:59:30. "We're on in thirty," I whisper, then hear Newton give the half-a-minute warning in my ear. I stifle my giggle – he's late to the party, as usual. I wiggle my eyebrows at Emmett and take a sip of my water as I hear the morning show music begin.

"Good morning, sports fans. It's Monday, August thirty-first, six o'clock on the dot. You're listening to The Kickoff on KSST, Seattle's leader in sports programming. I'm Emmett McCarty. Sitting beside me this morning is the lovely Bella Swan. Thanks for filling in, Bella," Emmett says, pointing at me.

"It's my pleasure, Emmett," I say into the mic.

"We're borrowing Bella from the early afternoon show. You're going to stay on mornings with me for a while, right?" he asks, reading his line off the sheet that Newton handed us earlier.

"Right, Emmett. I'm keeping my butt firmly planted in this seat until we find a fool who will wake up this freaking early on a permanent basis," I say amusedly, turning my head slightly so I can see into the sound booth behind me. On the other side of the glass, Newton is holding up his copy of the paper I'm supposed to be reading from, shaking it and pointing to it as his face reddens. He'll be yelling into my ear in a minute, I bet.

I'm not known for staying on script or following rules. I say what I think, which sometimes gets me in trouble. But I never do it dishonestly or disrespectfully. Luckily, Sam usually protects me from middle management, and the station owners love me for two reasons: I'm fairly well-connected in this town and I'm pretty good at my job.

"Most of our listeners probably know you, but for those who don't, why don't you give us a little bio, Swan?" Emmett says.

"Sure, Emmett. I have a degree in broadcast journalism. I have worked here at KSST for almost five years and have been co-hosting the afternoon show with Riley for a little over two," I say, glancing over at Emmett. My eyes widen when I see that he's backed up from his mic and has stuffed an entire donut into his mouth. He looks like a squirrel storing food for the winter.

Barely containing my laughter, I continue, "I love football and basketball, both pro and college. I love the Mariners and baseball's post-season, but think the regular season is too long. I like hockey. I don't get the big deal about soccer, but love going to games, especially when the foreign teams come here because the fans are so intense. I will watch almost any sport, but I rarely watch boxing live in case something goes really wrong. Done with that donut yet, Emmett? I'm running out of information."

He swallows and then chuckles quietly into his mic. "All done, Swan. Shall we move on?"

"Okay. It was an eventful sports weekend here in Seattle. The Mariners won yesterday, but the big news belongs to the Seahawks," I announce, reading from Newton's script for once. As Emmett takes over his part, I glance toward the window into the sound booth and smile sardonically at Newton. He nods. I roll my eyes in reply.

"By now most of you know that the Seahawks' aging quarterback, Quil Ateara, was knocked out of the third preseason game on Friday night with a torn ACL. He will likely be out for the entire season," Emmett says. "Yesterday, the Seahawks traded two first and two third round draft picks to get Edward Cullen, who has been a backup QB for the last two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Cullen arrived in Seattle last night and will be practicing with the team for the first time today."

I chime in with the stats Newton gave us on Cullen, and then Emmett and I discuss the Seahawks' chances for a successful season with an untested, formerly backup quarterback at the helm. But we agree that the Seahawks' backup, who played most of the preseason snaps, is not talented enough to lead the team for the whole season.

In the next half hour, Emmett spends a little time attacking me for wearing a hat to work this morning. I reply that it's too fucking early for me to be washing and straightening my damn hair when I have to be at the studio at five-fucking-thirty a.m. – except I say it in words that won't get the station hit with an FCC fine.

Emmett and I have always had a decent rapport on the air. We have co-hosted each other's shows a few times in the past when our regular co-hosts were vacationing or sick. We used to play a game to see which of us could get the other to laugh – a real uncontrolled, belly laugh – first on-air. We've played for money, for beers, for bottles of Crown Royal. I don't really like Crown, but Emmett loves it, and it killed him a little when he had to drop money on a bottle that he didn't get to take home. I ended up giving it back to him for Christmas that year. That was the first – and only – time he attempted to kiss me on the lips.

We didn't discuss playing the game this morning, but when we get to the seven-thirty half hour, I can tell it's on. Emmett and I are in the same fantasy football league and as soon as he brings it up, I'm pretty sure I know where this conversation is headed.

"Bella, tell everyone about our upcoming fantasy draft…tell them how you pick your team based on whose butts look good," he says, smiling at me. I refrain from punching him, but only because he leans away… and because it's hard to be mad at him when he aims his blue eyes and dimples my way.

"That's not true, Emmett, and you know it. I do a ton of research during the preseason. I have such extensive notes on players that I drive most of my league crazy when we're drafting," I argue calmly, not letting my voice betray my annoyance.

"But," he prompts, dragging the word out and raising his intonation slightly at the end. I'll give in on this, but it's all he's getting.

"But I always draft two guys based solely on how they look in the tight, white pants," I say, amused, but not laughing. "That sounds really sexist and I swear that's not how I am. But a girl's gotta have something to look forward to…even if it's someone's behind."

"And the lucky guys this year are…," he leads again.

"I'll never tell," I say coyly. "It's too early to know for sure anyway. But I have a list of well-rounded players who meet my criteria."

When I glance toward the sound booth, Newton's face is so red that I'm briefly worried he might stroke out. I'm not concerned for his personal well-being, but I'll get blamed, for sure, if it happens now. He's made no secret of the fact that he's not happy about me being here. Plus, he talked a really nice girl into marrying him last year and I'd hate to be responsible for making her a widow, even if she might be better off without him. So I steer the conversation in a safer direction. Emmett shakes his head at me in disappointment.

During the five minute bottom-of-the-hour break, I grab my phone to email my mom. I spent the weekend in Phoenix with her and my stepdad, Phil, returning to Seattle late last night. I previously texted her to let her know I made it home safely, but I want to send her a longer note thanking her for the weekend. My mom and I are close, but not necessarily in a mother-daughter way. She was never very maternal; most of our bonding was done after I became an adult.

Ironically, the quarterback the Seahawks traded for was from Phoenix, but I didn't pay much attention to it while I was there, even though the trade rumors started Friday night. Emmett texted me then, but I replied that I was busy with my mom… who made me promise not to spend the whole weekend watching sports on my laptop and phone.

When I got home last night, it was too late – and I was too tired – to watch any local news about him. Cullen. Edward Cullen. Edward Cullen, I say in a British accent in my head. Kind of a stodgy name.

I finish the email to my mom right before we come back from break. Emmett begins by talking about the new QB again. I glance at the clock. It's 8:02. I've almost made it through the morning without a major disaster. But I only have fifty-eight minutes to get Emmett to laugh.

"Hey, Swan, your dad works for the Seahawks, right?" he asks, looking down at the papers in front of him instead of at me.

"Right. He's a quality control coach for the offense," I answer, immediately realizing where he's going with this line of questioning. He's really too transparent.


"He breaks down tape on opponents' games. He's always a week or two ahead of the actual schedule, getting video ready for the offense to watch," I explain. That's a real dumbing-down of what my dad does; it's much more complex than that, but he doesn't like me talking about it on the radio.

"And everyone calls him 'The Chief'."

"Yep. The Chief. I still don't know for sure why people call him that," I say lightly. "I've heard it has something to do with the way he polices the team hotel hallways after curfew, keeping the players in and the women out."

"So what does he think of this Cullen kid?"

"I don't know. He won't really discuss the Seahawks with me," I grudgingly admit. I haven't talked to my dad since the trade anyway.

"And why is that?" Emmett asks, looking at me with shining, mischievous eyes.

"Because I once repeated something on the air that he told me in confidence. If I'd still been living at home, I would have been grounded for the rest of my life," I answer wryly. "But I didn't know that what he said was supposed to be off the record."

"So he hasn't given you any insight on Cullen?" Emmett prods.

"No, but he's always told me to look at a quarterback's feet first when evaluating his skills," I say.

"Really? Their feet?" Emmett asks, genuinely surprised by that bit of information.

"Yep. He says if the QB's feet are shifty while he's in the pocket, 'he'll never last in the league'," I say, frowning and mimicking my dad's voice.

"So how are Cullen's feet?" Emmett asks.

"I don't know. I haven't seen any footage of him at all," I confess with a shrug, "which means that if my dad is listening, he'll flood my inbox with more video than I can possibly watch."

We both laugh, but not enough to declare a winner in our game, and then go to commercial. True to form, I get a shitload of digital footage from my dad twenty seconds later. When I play some of the video, Em connects to my laptop and we watch Cullen's highlight reel for a couple of minutes before the short break ends.

When we're back on the air, Emmett blandly says he thinks Cullen looks all right, then asks my opinion.

"I think he has a lot of potential, Em. His feet looked good in the pocket. Based on what I've read, he didn't play that well when he filled in last year – he was sacked five times, I think, in two games. But, in his defense, the Cards' O-line stunk last year, so that's not completely his fault," I remark.

"True," Emmett agrees. "That offensive front four couldn't stop anyone." He's looking at me and can tell I have more to say, so he motions with his hand for me to go ahead.

"His seven-step-drop looks good, and his throwing motion is spot-on. In the slow-motion clip we watched of his spiral, it was picture perfect," I rave. I'm being honest… but after I say the words, I realize that I sound too impressed. I feel my face heating as Emmett takes over.

"But what about the most important thing, Bella? How does his butt look in the tight, white pants?" Emmett asks, his eyes taunting. Really? He's coming in for the kill on this subject? Ah, Grasshopper, you don't know who you're messing with.

"Meh." I respond, shrugging and wrinkling my nose slightly, biting the inside of my cheek to hold in the laughter.

"What does that mean?" Emmett asks, trying not to laugh, too.

"It means so-so," I answer flatly… doing my best to sound unimpressed and uninterested. Honestly, when I watched the video, I wasn't paying attention to his ass, but that revelation won't win the game for me.

I think I know what will though.

"I've seen twenty quarterbacks with better butts than Cullen's," I announce snootily. "Even Grandpa Favre's is nicer. Heck, I've seen defensive linemen whose butts are better than Cullen's. And you know, Emmett, quarterbacks aren't the backsides I usually draft. I really prefer a tight end."

I win! Emmett belly laughs at the D-line comment, knowing most of them do not have good asses – they pack on the pounds for the season. He laughs even louder at the tight end comment. When we go to break, I ask him what I've won.

"Payback," he answers, his eyes twinkling, his dimples carving deep divots in his cheeks. I quirk an eyebrow daringly at him, but know I'll have to watch my back for a few days. Em's a pretty good practical joker.

It's 8:30 a.m. when we come back, and we take listener calls for the rest of the program. Most of them offer opinions on the move the Seahawks made – and almost all of the callers seem excited. Honestly, Quil, the injured quarterback, is past his prime and hasn't played well the last couple of seasons.

Near the end of the show, a couple of women call in to tell me that Cullen's ass is better than I judged it. Another one calls in to say that he not only has a great ass, but also a nice face. I haven't seen him without his helmet, so I can neither agree nor disagree with that. Maybe I can catch the news tonight. I'm sure they'll show a picture of him. I promise to give him another look just to shut up the horde of female callers.

I turn to roll my eyes at Emmett and scribble a note to him: "How good-looking can he possibly be?"

Emmett shrugs back at me, smiling as he writes his response: "Doesn't compare to me, baby."

I laugh silently and crumple the paper into a ball, tossing it at him.

We go off the air just before nine and have a short post-show meeting right after. Newton wants me to stop talking about guys' asses on the air. I want Newton to fuck off and die. I think both of us are headed for disappointment.

Emmett amuses me during the meeting by making faces behind Newton's back as he berates me for all the butt-talk, telling me I will completely alienate all the male listeners, and the female listeners I might attract won't stay once I move back to afternoons. I sit stone-faced while he talks and entertain myself by thinking of ways to make him scream like a little girl. I don't think it would be difficult.

Newton also tells us that starting tomorrow, the show will be streamed live via webcam. He looks pointedly at me and declares that he doesn't want me to wear a hat on camera.

I was mildly annoyed with him before. Now I am pissed. I am not allowed to talk about the butts of grown men who run around in spandex pants on television, but he is allowed to blatantly parade me in front of other grown men to attract web hits? Nice. Maybe he'd like me to just show up in a bikini tomorrow.

Whatever. I'm now officially tuned out. Leaning back in my chair, I make my Target list in my head, wasting time by inventing mnemonic devices to remind me of all the things I need so I won't forget anything. I could just grab a pen and blatantly write my list in full view of Newton, but I really was going to play nice with him... for a few days at least. I'll save my clear-cut animosity for another time.

Also, Charlotte and Kate have been really good to me. Their father built this station from the ground up and it's an important legacy to them. I don't want to let them down. They gave me a paying intern job when I was 21 and broke, and offered me a full-time position when I graduated from college. They paired me with Riley and promoted the hell out of our show, helping make it into the time-slot winner it's been for the last fifteen months.

I "mmhmm" and nod my way through the rest of the meeting, wondering how it is that Newton thinks Emmett and I are paying attention. Emmett is making popping noises with his mouth. I'm repeatedly curling and uncurling the toes on my right foot so that my flip flop slaps against my heel in time with the song in my head. We're both acting a little like sixth graders – but we have a really horrible teacher.

Finally, Newton wraps it up and I launch myself out of the chair.

"Bella," Newton says, "I expect you to pay attention tomorrow… about everything. I'd hate to have to call Kate and Charlotte on your second day." I turn away, bristling at his attempted blackmail.

"Of course, Michael," I reply sweetly. I know he hates to be called by his first name – he feels like a jock, an athlete, if everyone calls him by his last name. He probably even makes his wife call him Newton in bed. I usually do call him Newton, but not because he likes it. It's more a product of my childhood – growing up around college and pro football players. I call almost everyone by their last name at least part of the time.

For the next few hours, I shut myself in my tiny office to research some baseball stats. It looks like the Mariners could make the post-season, which they haven't done as long as I've been a sports commentator. I find some interesting historical information and familiarize myself with the rest of the teams who will likely be in the post-season, too.

Riley comes in to talk for a while. He and Emmett are my two best friends at the station. Well, since I find it difficult to let my guard down emotionally, they're my two best friends anywhere. That doesn't mean we're exceptionally close, just that I'm not exceptionally close with anyone outside my family.

I don't really have girlfriends. There's a girl in my building, Jessica, that I hang out with a couple of times a month, but, like my dad, I've always been content to be alone. I wonder if that has anything to do with all the first dates. Yeah, it probably does. I'd rather be alone than be with someone just to be with someone.

It's lunchtime when I finally leave the station. I call my stepmom, Sue, but she can't get away from work. I settle for a drive-thru, eating in my car on the way to Target. I'm able to get everything I need except the one freaking thing I really wanted to buy: A coffee pot with an automatic timer. I know that I can't survive another morning without one – ah, the dramatic bitch is still alive in there somewhere – so I drive from place to place and eventually end up at Williams-Sonoma, buying a coffee maker that costs more than my weekly pay was when I started working. It's ridiculous, but it's a necessary evil. Since it grinds its own beans, I also stop at a way-too-expensive gourmet market and spend an hour wandering the aisles, finally leaving with coffee beans, red wine and a bar of dark chocolate.

When I get to my apartment building, there's nowhere to park. I spend ten minutes circling the block before I find a spot and even then, it's a hike to my building. But I'm getting home just when the local news will be starting. I'm excited to see what the Seahawks were up to today while I enjoy the dark chocolate and a really full glass of Cabernet.

When I open the door to my apartment, I gasp…then I yell.

"Holy mother of God, give me a freaking break!"

Chapter 2 will post tomorrow. Please review. :)