Chapter 8

One year later…

"Ouch!" Rosalie yelped.

"If you keep flinching like that this will look like shit." Jacob held the tattoo gun away from her skin, waiting for Rosalie to calm down. When she'd finally managed to compose herself, he lowered it to her hip and started again.

"Why didn't you tell me it would hurt so much?" Rosalie asked, glaring at Bella.

"If I had told you that, you would never have agreed to get it. And I think it's a pretty important step in your journey," Bella argued.

"Stop talking!" Jake grumbled, taking the tattoo gun away from her skin once more.

"Sorry!" Rosalie took a deep breath. "I'll stop now." She bit her lip and looked helplessly at her boyfriend, who reached out and grabbed her hand.

Twenty minutes later the tattoo was finished. "Try to keep the cellophane on it until tomorrow morning. I recommend using Aquaphor twice a day for three to five days. It'll help keep it looking good."

"Thank you," Rosalie said, paying the man and buttoning up her denim shorts. Emmett grabbed her hand and pulled him to her, enveloping her in one of his infamous hugs.

"You survived," he murmured in her ear.

"I did."

"They're addicting," Bella warned. "I bet you'll have one, if not two more by this time next year."

Rosalie shook her head. "No way! It's a miracle I did this, and it's so tiny!"

"Mark my words. You'll forget all about the pain in an hour."

Emmett wiggled his eyebrows mischievously. "Care to wager something on that, B?"

"On her forgetting the pain or on her getting more tattoos?"

"The latter option."

Bella grinned. "Twenty bucks and breakfast at Spot?"

"You've got yourself a deal." The two friends shook hands and burst out laughing. Jake watched on in amusement.

"Are you three coming out to my bonfire tonight?"

"You know it." Emmett gave him a fist bump and slid his arm around Bella's waist. "We should probably find the rest of our friends and get some grub before then."

"Thanks again Jake!" Rosalie said with a smile.

"No problem. Hopefully I'll see you in the shop soon."

"You will," Bella told him with a wink.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Rosalie muttered, shaking her head.

"Rosie!" Alice's voice carried across the street. Her friend stood arm-in-arm with Jasper, bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet. "You have to see this antique shop we found! It's like Mecca for interior designers!"

Rosalie looked up at Emmett, who smiled down at her. She couldn't believe how far they'd all come, or how much a year had changed things.

Rosalie wanted – no, needed – a break from law. She'd always loved the written word, and after resigning from her job decided to work part-time at a used book store downtown. After spending a few months surrounded by books, she decided it was time to write one of her own. Confessions of a Courtroom Drama Queen was the first book in a fictional series about a Manhattan prosecuting attorney.

Emmett was inspired by his own experience, and began working as an advocate for other wrongly convicted inmates. So far he'd had a chance to speak to the state congress about the rights of inmates, and was hoping to do the same with the national one by the end of that year.

Bella decided to trade-in her less-than-legal side job for a hobby – painting. As it turned out, her talent with the brush surpassed her sales skills, and she had been commissioned by several businesses to create murals in their establishments.

Not long after Emmet's exoneration, the Seattle Police issued an arrest warrant for Garret Johnson. The next day they found his body in the Sound. He had a single bullet hole in his head, and his death was ruled a suicide. The community in and around Seattle didn't question this. The Cullen social circle had their suspicions, however.

Demetri Volturi regained his memory and realized he had made a false accusation. He apologized to Emmett, but the two didn't rekindle their friendship. Instead, Demetri went to a posh rehab facility in California, and none of his friends had seen him since.

"Ready to ride?" Emmett's warm breath cascaded across Rosalie's neck. He held open the passenger door to his Mustang and grinned.

"I'm as ready as I'll ever be."

Emmett owed his freedom to his friends – and Rosalie.

And Rosalie owed her love to prosecutions and pardons.

A/N: Thank you for joinign me on this journey!

There's so much more I could tell about this group of people. Maybe in the distant future this will evolve into a longer story. No guarantees though. My plate is plenty full already. :)