Where did we leave off? Oh, right. Emmett and Jasper had just gotten into an angry argument about Rose. Emmett wants to date her, Jasper wants to protect her. Fists went flying.
p.s. I don't own Twilight.
Over her morning cup of coffee, Rose flipped through images of Aphrodite-style mermaids, looking for the one to best complement the Newton bathroom project. She pored over details, from scaly fins, backdrops of shells, seaweed, and floral life to the ethereal, peaceful mermaid that never suspected the viewer spying on her.
Jasper walked in, frazzled fatigue in his eyes and a bruise on his face.
"What happened to your face?" she asked, observing him with a cool expression.
"You should see the other guy."
"What are you talking about?"
"Emmett. You and Emmett. He told me about you two." His anger set to a low simmer.
Rose set down the book, concealing her surprise. All she'd done was dissuade Emmett from pursuing her.
"There is no me and Emmett," she said. "No one asked you two to behave like a couple of fighting wolves."
"So you two didn't kiss, you didn't go on a date."
"I didn't realize I had to run a casual dinner by you."
Rose knew her answer was flippant. Jasper always looked out for her, and had taken it more seriously since their parents passed. At the moment, his expression looked like water about to boil over.
"You know what I mean," he said.
"Last I checked, I was an adult, able to make my own decisions. This isn't high school anymore where you get to play big brother to your defenseless little sister."
"I just don't want to see you get hurt," he said. Jasper knew of Emmett's proclivities toward women. Emmett didn't toss women aside, but he certainly went through them quickly. "He's been with a lot of girls."
She didn't want to remember Emmett's high school reputation with girls, then reminded herself she wasn't looking to pursue anything with him anyway. But the way Jasper tried to manage her really got under her skin.
"If that's all you're worried about, you can leave."
"All I'm worried about?" Jasper placed his palms on her desk and leaned forward. He could really square her with a look. "I give a damn. I'm your brother so I'm going to butt in a little. And I can barely wrap my head around the possibility of you and my oldest friend. He's not even your type, for God's sake."
"My type," she repeated. "You're used to Mother's type."
The only type Rose had been allowed to have was a cleanly shaven, expensively dressed, born-to-fortune man with a lukewarm personality. Dinners, shows, afternoons on yachts, hearing about ambitious business plans at the sacrifice of her own. "A job? You already have my wealth. If you want a pet project, why don't you do some fundraising?" Royce had said dismissively.
And now Emmett was trying harder than Royce ever did. He'd asked her questions about her work, about what inspired her.
Maybe Jasper was right about Emmett getting around, but he didn't treat women badly. How would she know anyway? She'd never been his lover. But while Jasper tried to convince her it was a bad idea, he almost depleted his own confidence in Emmett. She knew Jasper, though he may be angry with Emmett right now, thought well of him. And Jasper rarely thought well of anyone.
"Why did he tell you in the first place?" said Rose.
"Because of The Rule between bros. Telling me is the only thing he gets points for."
She mentally sidestepped his answer because she found the weakness in his reasoning. "What I'm hearing is, he's good enough to be your friend but not good enough for me."
"I— That's not exactly what I meant." Jasper tugged at the collar of his shirt.
"I think you have to choose," she said, finding her stride. "You trust him as a friend or you don't trust him. If you don't, then I shouldn't trust him."
"You know when people make good friends but terrible room mates?"
Rose let out a short laugh. Jasper really did amuse her sometimes, especially when he knew he was losing an argument.
He tried another angle. "Girls have to earn each other's trust, right? Well, guys are automatically friendly unless one breaks The Rule. That includes making passes at my sister."
"I had no idea you knew so much about women."
"Very funny, Rosy." He used her nickname, so she knew he wasn't really mad anymore. He sat on the corner of her desk, looked down at her open book.
"Jessica Newton wants something like this for a mural in her new bathroom."
"An odd choice," he said politely. "Are you going to go out with him again?"
"He's interested, but I don't have room in my life. I have a business to run." She met Jasper's eyes. "I haven't seen you this worked up in a while. This isn't the first time men have been interested in me, you know."
"I know, but none of the others were my friends. It was easier to plan their deaths."
"Well, I think you've made your point. Go away. Don't you have a kitchen to run?"
He threw on his usual slanted smile, though the line of it was taut. "I think I'll introduce an extra dinner special tonight. I'm feeling adventurous."
Or rampageous, Rose thought."You love torturing your kitchen staff."
"Not as much as I love torturing you." He side-hugged her, planted a loud smacking kiss on her head.
She didn't miss the smile fall before he turned away.
Inside the small front office of McCarty's Automotive, Rose watched patiently as Joe McCarty sat behind the desk grumbling at his computer.
The office smelled like hard work, of filed papers, car fluids and grease coming in from the garage, and a pine-scented air freshener. It was a cramped space, but the linoleum was clean and magazines were stacked next to a chair.
While Rose didn't hold herself responsible for her brother's actions, she felt compelled to smooth things over.
"Mr. McCarty?" she eventually said, drawing the man's attention.
He looked up, his scowl disappearing when he took her in. "Can I help you?"
"Rosalie Hale. I'm here to see Emmett."
He rolled back his chair to get a better look at her. "Jim's girl? Good hell. When did you grow up?"
"I don't know but it was too quickly. How are you? You must be glad Emmett's back."
"Oh, sure," he said, but his smile directed itself at her. "Call me Joe. So what are you doing with your life?"
She learned immediately that Joe McCarty was a very brisk, direct man. Once he got enough details about her life that he deemed sufficient, he talked her ear off on subjects that ranged from the community, politics, and general McCarty family facts. He was well informed as much as he was filled with useless information.
Emmett came in from the garage, wiping his hands on a rag. "Dad, do we have that estimate for Mrs. Greer's Honda around here?"
He stopped short when he saw her. Even in casual clothes, she looked pressed and polished. Her light golden hair gathered into a side ponytail at the base of her neck and rested into flowing coils of silk over the front of her shoulder. Her blue eyes were cool, but not unfriendly. And her breasts...he might die and go to heaven if he ever got to see them. They were large and round and rose every time she drew breath.
Emmett got his voice to work again. "Rosalie."
"I've been keeping her entertained for you," said Joe.
"Sounds like you're making trouble." A good-natured glint filled Emmett's eyes.
"It's you who should be staying out of trouble." Joe turned to her. "Look at that swelling on his face."
Rose saw the cut on his lip. It had hardened to a scab and a bruise bloomed from the corner of his mouth to his cheek. As sorry as she was that it happened, she couldn't really blame her brother.
"The reason for it is standing right in front of you, Dad."
"Don't blame this on me," said Rose, arching an eyebrow. "I don't encourage violence over talking sensibly."
Emmett dug through files of documents on the desk. "Sensible is going to sleep on time."
"Never mind that," said Joe. He glanced at his son. "She's something."
Emmett found the estimate he was looking for, and went back into the garage, bringing Rosalie with him.
"I suppose mental filters don't run in your family," said Rose.
"Honesty has its own kind of charm, don't you think?" Another mechanic looked up from the hood of a car, introduced himself as Paul, and winked at her. "Keep your eyes on your work if you want to keep them at all," Emmett growled.
"He was only being friendly."
"You told Jasper to butt out of things, right? You understand."
"How did you know that?"
Emmett's glanced over his shoulder at her resolute eyes and the stubborn angle of her chin. "A good guess."
The garage was a work in progress. Areas of it were organized, other areas were cluttered. But work continued with a few cars lined up at different stages of service. On a top shelf was an old, deflated football, reminding Rose that years of history were in this place, even when Emmett had lived in Tennessee.
They stopped at the other end of the garage, farthest from Paul. Emmett leaned against the vehicle he'd been working on. "You look nice today."
He played with the edge of her sleeve before his fingertip traced down her arm.
She stepped back, just out of reach. "I wish you and my brother hadn't fought."
"That makes two of us." He absently touched the bruise on his jaw.
Rose took a deep breath through her nose, kept her mouth in a flat line. She had her personal issues, but she knew the difference between polite and nice. She recognized when niceness was deserved.
He rocked on his heels, eyes lovingly tracing every curve, then lingering. "I'm looking. I probably shouldn't, knowing how Jasper feels." It was a weak concession. When Emmett wanted someone, he didn't let anybody else stop him.
"I won't get in the middle of your friendship with my brother."
"You already are, angel. Nothing you can do about it now."
He grinned as her eyes turned icy. "If this is your idea of amusement, you can go to hell."
Emmett crossed his arms over his broad chest. "Would you rather I sneak around, seduce you by night, laugh with him by day? That wouldn't make me look very good, would it?"
"You must be delusional if you think anything is happening between us."
Emmett shrugged, but that silent laughter remained in his eyes, which only irritated her more. He could frustrate her because she let him get to her.
"How about that lesson on changing starter motors?" he offered.
Even though conversations with Emmett sometimes felt like Rose was bashing her head against a wall, she was glad he changed the subject. At this rate, she'd go along with his game, gracefully, then cut him off at the knees.
"There's no time like the present," she muttered.
He grabbed a socket wrench and two pairs of safety glasses. "Safety first," he joked. He pushed one into her hands and the other on his face.
"A handyman and a comedian," she said dryly.
"I'm an excellent multitasker."
Rose faked an impressed look. "Such a rare quality in a man."
"You'd be surprised at all the things I can do."
She tried to squash the liquid-heat feeling that his double entendre caused and followed him outside to a pick-up truck. He lifted the hood and disconnected the battery.
"We can work on this one. I won't have to jack it up because it rests high enough off the ground."
She grew puzzled as he climbed under the vehicle on the passenger side. She had assumed they'd be standing over the hood.
"Coming?" he called, his voice sounding muffled from the cramped space.
"You want me to crawl under that dirty truck?" Rose was dressed in her work clothes as she was prepared to go a site after this. But décor was a far cry from engine grease.
"Get all those fine assets of yours down here," he barked.
Rose hesitated, then crawled under to join him, shifting on her back awkwardly until they were shoulder to shoulder looking up at a smelly, dirty underside. She remembered to put the glasses on as flecks of dirt fell.
Emmett held back a laugh, seeing her chin tilted up defiantly. He pointed to where they'd be working, but with the complexity of fitted parts, Rose had a hard time focusing until they went in.
He fastened the wrench over a nut. "This gives you leverage for unscrewing the nuts. Yours were corroded, so I replaced them with new ones. These ones aren't so bad. There's three to undo to release the starter motor."
After he did the first, he let her do the second while holding the starter from falling on their faces. In the dark cavern of the engine, he pointed out the third nut that supplied the power.
They were very close as he spoke and showed her. She liked that the mechanical work began to make sense by doing, yet a person would have to have the skill and experience to diagnose problems and understand how to fix anything properly. Emmett wasn't only hands-on and able, but well informed.
She unscrewed the last nut, freeing the starter motor completely. It was a dirty, clunky thing that matched the rest of the grimy exterior.
"Right here." He pointed to a wheel of teeth at the nose of the starter. "On your old one, it wasn't grabbing the flywheel, which is this cylinder. It was just spinning and hitting the edges."
She understood what he explained, if in abstract terms. She glanced from the flywheel to him. Emmett was looking at her, first to make sure she comprehended, then for just a moment, his eyes darkened, deepened to something warm.
Her eyes lowered to his generous mouth, then cut away. Remembering how well he kissed was a bad idea.
She turned back to the truck, but couldn't quite erase the effect of his gaze. It was in the pale pink that settled on her cheekbones, the awareness in her eyes.
"When we put it back, these gears have to line up," he continued after a moment, and adjusted the starter in its socket a few times. She helped secure the mounting bolts, but he went over them to make sure they were tightened evenly. "If it's crooked, it won't meet the flywheel."
The lesson had lasted twenty minutes tops.
"Not that hard, was it?" he said.
"You were right only to charge me for the new part."
"I like being right."
She rolled her eyes. "Enjoy it while it lasts."
Rose got out from under the truck and brushed off her clothes. Emmett climbed to his feet and reconnected the negative cable to the battery. After he shut the hood, she followed him into the garage and he put the tools and safety glasses away.
She shouldered her bag. "I have to be at a site. Thank you, Emmett. It's been… unusual."
"Leaving without a proper goodbye?" he said.
Emmett may be brawny, but he was quick too. He yanked Rose against him, trapping her in a vice-like grip. "You're into proper," he murmured, and fit his mouth to hers. His kiss was far from proper. The heat of it bloomed inside her. His lips slanted and parted hers, as confident and straightforward as ripping off clothes. Her heart thudded double its normal rate and her mind blurred.
Just as quickly he released her and went back to work. Rose stood alone, thoughts muddled and growing irritated. She left the auto shop, feeling less sure of herself.
Rose tried to avoid seeing Emmett, but in a small rich town he popped up more than she liked. When she got morning pastries at Marshall's Bakery for Dazzle's meetings, she had almost bumped right into him. His size made the bakery look like a doll house. He was ordering a coffee and flirting with young Katie Marshall behind the counter. She helped customers while her mother baked in the back kitchen.
"Cream and sugar?" Katie asked, flushing and having a hard time meeting his eyes. When he asked for just cream, she was eager as a puppy to please. "Are you settled here for good then?"
"If you keep baking those bear claws, I'll never want to leave."
She giggled again, handing him his coffee.
When Emmett noticed Rose behind him, his shameless grin and dimples cozied up to her.
"Well aren't you Mr. Chatter this morning," Rose said, letting her impatience show. After all, he was holding up the line. If you counted herself and one other customer who had just walked in.
"It's called being social. You should try it sometime."
His silent laughing eyes were a little too intense for Rose this early in the morning. She put on a silky smile and turned to Katie to give her usual order. By the time she had her box of muffins and pastries in hand, Emmett was gone.
After Dazzle's meeting, Rose spent the better part of her day transferring her sketch of the mural on the newly constructed wall of the sauna. The wall had been prepared with water repellent and an oil-based primer and covered with waterproof latex paint. Nowadays latex paint came in a large variety of colors and finishes and it would be easy for her to mix a suitable palette.
Her shoulders and knees ached from reaching and squatting, and she'd lost count of the times she'd swept her hair back from her face as it loosened from its clip.
Bella had spent time with a plumber and an electrician to re-route and add the necessary fixtures. Then a company was brought in to install the heated flooring system.
Throughout the comings and goings of these services, there were the usual butting-head conflicts between design and construction, and Rose didn't know how Bella tolerated the irritations.
Occasionally Dazzle stretched its creative power against the conditions of Jacob's construction agreements, causing the partnership to tense. But then Jacob seemed willing to tolerate any hurtle when faced with Bella's velvety doe-eyes and sweet smiles.
Rose herself sneered at the tension as she explained to the crew what type of textile pattern she wanted. The design was going to be nothing less than perfect.
The tiled backdrop would be pearl-white to echo the shimmery, glossy effect of real seashells. Breaking up the static backdrop would be a line of glazed blues: prussian, cobalt, teal, ultramarine. Underneath the border, unassuming patterns of greens and soft pinks would dot the pearl-white walls and marble floor. Rose had also toyed with a seductive quality to ground the nautical flair: glints of onyx-black.
She began packing away her artist tools, not sorry to leave the Newton site earlier than planned.
Bella approached her as she threw the last tool in the box. "Are you leaving already?"
Bella's working clothes were covered in a fine layer of dust, which had reached parts of her face from absent swipes of her hand.
"I can't do much more to the mural until the tiling is finished. I was going to check with Esme's store on the status of new furniture I ordered for Pierce. Do you need anything while I'm in town?"
Bella thought about it for a moment. "Actually, yes. Would you mind picking up a few things for dinner tonight? It looks like I'll be stuck here late." Bella patted her pockets. "I thought I had a grocery list around here somewhere. Here it is! Just a few things…"
To Bella, a few meant fifteen to twenty. Since Rose knew little about what went into cooking a meal, she accepted. Whatever cooking genes Jasper got, none had been passed on to her. "See you later, Bells."
Two heavy bags of groceries later, she leaned against her vehicle, arms full, and fumbled for the keys in her purse with her pinky finger. A familiar rumbly laugh caught her attention. Emmett stood in the next lane over, helping old Mrs. Goff with her groceries.
Well, wasn't he just Mr. Helpful? Lifting heavy things that showed off the thick muscles in his arms.
Mrs. Goff clasped her bony hands in worship. "You are such a good boy. And so strong. Are you seeing anyone? I have the prettiest granddaughter. Single and still looks good after four kids."
"Thanks for thinking of me, Mrs. G. Er, I'm not looking to settle down just yet."
"You call me if you change your mind." Mrs. Goff looked him over again, hungrier than her usual granny lust. "I had an affair with a man who looked a lot like you when I was young."
Emmett held the door open as the old woman got into her car. Her nose barely rose above the steering wheel. "I can't argue with good taste. Take care, Mrs. G. And drive safely."
Rose had just managed to hook her keys up with a finger, but when she groped for the right one, they slipped from her hand.
The sound of them hitting the pavement made Emmett look over.
"Need a hand?" He didn't wait for an answer and relieved Rose of her burden.
Rose picked up her keys. "Mrs. Goff is a little old for you."
Emmett's dimple winked at the corner of his mouth. "She was eyeing me, wasn't she?"
"I think you should go for it. You don't seem like the picky type."
"Is that jealousy I hear?"
Rose let out a short laugh, trying not to stare at his big hands holding her grocery bags. His t-shirt revealed the outline of his chest muscles. "Are you kidding? Me, jealous of Mrs. Goff? She's three times my age."
She opened the trunk just as his voice lowered to an intimate level. "You're definitely jealous. It's making you even sexier. Has anyone ever told you how sexy you are?" She could feel his breath on her ear, and shivered. It was the last bit of chill left in the early spring air. Or something.
Despite her beauty, she didn't feel sexy a lot of the time. Royce had complimented her plenty, but he'd been so polite and distant about it. The better Rose looked, the better he looked, and that's what had really mattered. Her mouth formed a tight line and she took one of the bags and shoved it into the trunk.
"Jealousy is weakness. It should probably be avoided as much as possible."
He stacked the second bag next to the first one. "Then call me a weak man. I'm jealous of any guy who gets a few moments of your time."
She could hardly accuse him of being weak, not with his impressive physique so near. That liquid-heat feeling fluttered inside her again. Annoyed, she slammed the trunk door shut and looked at him. "You're insane." He was hot.
She spun around and got into her car. He caught the door before she closed it, draped a muscled arm over the frame. The gray in his eyes was as impenetrable as a thick cloudy sky. Steady, unmoving, and endless with hopeful rays of sunlight leaving and coming again.
"Maybe you'll agree that there's a certain madness to lust, Rosalie."
She'd heard and read about it, but never experienced it herself. The idea of giving control over to a feeling that was too mindless and vicious to leash was worrisome. But looking at Emmett, sensing that sizzle in the air every time she saw him, could make even the most resistant woman curious.
"I guess there is," she eventually said.
He closed her door. "I'll see you when I see you."
"That seems to be a lot lately."
"Then we might as well get along." He grinned, and she thought he was going to kiss her again. Anticipation for it sneaked up on her. But he stepped back, looked at her for another moment, then headed into the grocery store.
Emmett threw much of his pent up lust into fixing cars. They had a steady income of customers. Emmett did the legwork, but Joe still called the shots. Work was tense, but outside of work was becoming unbearable. They had dinner a few times a week, in which Emmett would inspect the contents of his dad's refrigerator, then buy fresh groceries. His dad liked his steak, milk, and canned goods. Things were going to have to change in more than one area of Joe's life. So when Emmett set a plate of fish and rice in front of his dad, Joe's untamed eyebrows rose to his receding hairline.
He sniffed warily. "What the heck is this?"
"It's better for you, Dad. Just eat it."
Joe made feeble attempts, turning most of it into broken scattered bits across his plate. "It tastes like armpit."
"You don't even know what an armpit tastes like."
"Doesn't matter. I'd rather die than eat this."
"So die already."
"And I hate rice. Where's the mashed potatoes?"
Emmett finished off his plate. "There isn't any."
"I won't give up mashed potatoes."
"We'll try for it next time."
Joe pushed around his food, nibbled pieces of it from his fork, and in general, made dinners difficult.
"I'll send you to bed with an empty stomach."
Joe's hands fisted around his silverware, and he leaned over his plate like an angry canine whose master threatened to steel his food.
"Don't pull that on me. This is my house, my rules." Nevertheless, Joe shoveled his dinner into his mouth. "I'll sneak down later and make a real meal."
Emmett leaned back in his chair, relaxed. "I restocked your kitchen." Therefore, he knew what his dad's choices were.
"My own son is trying to starve me to death. Then you'll take over the business before I'm cold in my grave."
Emmett rolled his eyes.
The next day Emmett went to Home Depot. A pipe under his sink had leaked the entire night and Emmett had woken up to a slippery kitchen floor that he'd almost met face first. Some good morning. He'd turned off the water supply and dried the area, but still hadn't fixed his bad mood.
The last thing he wanted to do was struggle with plumbing before a long day of mechanical work and tense, snappy discourse with his dad.
He bumped into Rosalie on his way out of an aisle just as she was going in it. "Rosalie."
Her face wore minimal makeup, and her skin looked fresh and clean. No amount of cosmetics could change the fact that she was so beautiful and enticing. Just looking at her made his breath stagger. His mood improved fast. And someone must've raised the temperature.
She went to move past, but he struck up a conversation. "On a Dazzle mission?"
"Yes. We're redesigning the Newtons' bathroom."
"What are you here for?"
"Latex paint." She continued walking and he joined her side.
"I was thinking of repainting my apartment, too," he heard himself say.
One of her elegant eyebrows rose as she glanced at him. "Really."
Too late to take back the idea now. He went with it. "There's just so many colors to choose from. I'm overwhelmed. Help a guy out."
"I really wouldn't know where to start. What style are you going for?"
They passed the varnishes and primers, ended up at the display of color swatches. He guessed this would be her comfort zone, would open her up.
"A manly style, obviously," he said.
"What a shame. You'd look great against pink."
"Nice try." They turned and faced the display, and indeed, the choices were overwhelming. "I'm dizzy just looking at this. How do you manage? I've seen the corkboard in your studio."
"Then you might have noticed that the board is white."
"I don't follow…"
She sighed. "I doubt the complexities of color theory interest you."
Her expression softened the slightest degree. She plucked a green swatch, set it next to a swatch of turquoise. She didn't say anything, held it there for moment. Then she held the green square next to a high-saturated yellow. "Look at the difference."
It was the same green, he knew, yet the color seemed to fluctuate.
"Against turquoise," she said, "there are too many tones of blue that the green loses its vibrancy. The yellow makes it pop, and the green even appears darker. Colors change by comparison. The brain is tricked."
"Tricked... That doesn't sound fun."
"The white corkboard keeps me in the right perspective. Against a white background, the colors stay in their true form, so to speak."
He looked down his shoulder at her. "You like staying in the right perspective."
She slowly put back the swatch to its correct place. "I do."
"And what happens when your perspective changes?"
"I suppose I'd have to right it."
He folded his arms across his chest, glaring at the swatches, but his vision had turned inward. "Sometimes it's about balance. When I mix paint for collision damage, I have to get the ratio of thinners and hardeners correct with the color."
"Then you do know something about colors," she said approvingly.
"I know about cars," he countered. "If you had to choose a color out of this rainbow, which one fits my manly style, hmm?"
Rosalie avoided his eyes and concentrated on the swatches, scanning, considering, lingering. A quick glance at him and she bit her bottom lip. His attention couldn't have been anymore intense or focused. What was going through her mind?
She drew a swatch out, stared at it for a moment, then handed it to him. A warm gray.
The other grays in the display ranged from pastel to cold slate-like shades. Except the one in his hand. It had a warm, earthy tone to it. It was perfect. When his eyes met hers, they held, and he felt like he was close to discovering something important about her. The shield in her clear blue eyes weakened.
"Emmett McCarty, I thought that was you." A small woman with light brown hair and sharp eyes approached him.
"Chelsea," said Emmett, surprised. "It's been a while."
Chelsea took this as an invitation to linger. "Since high school. Unless you count that one night over college break," she said in a lower voice. By the look on Rosalie's face, she'd heard every word.
"Er, what brings you to a hardware store?" he asked, noting her done-up hair and tight dress. She looked more fit for a party than Home Depot.
"Why, all the handy men." Chelsea laughed loudly, her hand tracing down his arm. The hardware store was apparently the new place to pick up guys. Emmett tried to keep things casual and stepped back, but her manicured nails held on deliberately as she waved over another woman. "I want you to meet Heidi."
Heidi's statuesque figure moved with all the disciplined finesse of a model walking down a runway. She pinned Emmett with a smile that oozed heady seduction. When she stood beside them, creating a circle that closed Rosalie off, her movements were smooth, calculated, and feline-like. "A real pleasure to meet you."
Emmett's grin strained at the corners. Both women seemed seconds away from humping his leg. Rosalie inched away. No way in hell was she abandoning him now.
"And this is Rosalie Hale," he said. "You remember Jasper's sister?"
Chelsea dismissed the introduction for a split-second, then her eyes lit with an idea. "How is Jasper? The four of us should really all go out some time. Heidi, you would love him."
Heidi agreed and they both looked satisfied with themselves.
"Nice to see you again," said Rosalie, her voice tight and steely. She made a smooth retreat.
He stared at all of those generous curves walking away, and sighed. Then Chelsea was back in his line of vision. "So how 'bout it? It'll be just like old times."
He put a friendly hand on her shoulder—to restrain her. Chelsea smiled wider and her lashes lowered. "Mmm, Emmett."
"Listen, I gotta go. Funny running into you."
He passed a few aisles, eyes peeled. But he found himself going up and down the length of the enormous store twice. Rosalie had left.
Ugh, I am so sorry this took forever. I had to reorganize my outline, and I don't know why but I really struggled with this chapter. It's gone under numerous transformations. There was a lot of late-night drunk writing too. Some is betaed by the lovely MyImm0rtal, and pre-read by dollegirl, but a lot of it is just me revising like a crazy bee. All errors are mine.
Thanks YouTube for that video on changing starter motors, and Twilight Lexicon for reminding me there was some human named Katie Marshall.
And a big thank you to Katinki and anybody else who had rec'd LITA to The Lemonade Stand a few weeks ago. It felt like warm butter sliding over my heart.