The weight of Alice’s eyes were heavy on her as Rosalie moved to her dresser and began to pull her clothes out. Her nose was high, projecting the air of nonchalance. Could Alice tell that she was terrified? She was worried she could. She wished she would just leave. She wished that everyone would just leave her the hell alone.
Alice hadn’t responded to her insistence that she didn’t want to talk, but instead sat there in silence, her eyes like lasers on Rosalie’s back.
Rosalie wanted desperately to know what it was exactly that Alice had seen. Had it just been her secret? Had she seen a new possible future open up? So many questions could be answered with just a few words from Alice. So many horrors could come to life.
Her back was rigid as she dressed and only grew more taunt as Emmett stepped from the shower, a towel around his waist.
“Whoa, you here for a free show?”
Alice snickered playfully, teasing him back but Rose wasn’t listening.
How was it possible to have the feeling of a pounding heart without a heart rate? Surely Alice wouldn’t say anything while Emmett was in the room. The Cullens all understood the need for privacy. She hadn’t said anything thus far, so that had to be a good sign.
She let her towel drop, never one to hide her body, her mind completely not on the room around her. Alice didn’t seem to even register her nakedness displayed so openly.
But what did it mean that Alice had seen something? Did it mean that things had changed? Of course, they had, Rose had kissed her, ugh god. Her mind wouldn’t stop chattering and not for the first time, Rose was glad that Edward was not home.
Her eyes darted to Alice, who was staring at her pointedly.
But had she seen more?
She ground her teeth, stressed. It didn’t really matter if she had, right? Had she changed her mind? Was she considering leaving Emmett? No. Of course not.
“You smell different, Rose,” Alice said, her voice light but accusing.
She rolled her eyes, doing her very best to seem like she would at any other time. “Geez, switch to a new shampoo and everyone has a meltdown,” she griped.
Alice’s face said she didn’t believe it at all.
A little ashamed, Rose looked away and back to Emmett who was standing as comfortable as could be in his towel, joshing with his sister.
This didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She had messed up and pushed too far. She had… she had acted exactly like her human self, taking what she wanted because she wanted it, mindless of the consequences.
It was who she was, after all.
Self-loathing rippled like an ugly wave over her and she sneered.
She didn’t need this. She didn’t want this.
She wanted Emmett. She would have Emmett. She would keep Emmett. Emmett was hers and she was his. That was all there was to it.
Dressed, she turned to him where he leaned against the wall chatting with Alice.
"Come on, babe." She said in a low voice, reaching over and running a hand over his chest before grabbing the towel.
"You can't just ignore me, Rose, when we have so many things to talk about."
"What are you talking about?"
Rosalie ignored his question. "Would you like to put money on that bet?" With a glance back over her shoulder she smirked at Alice. "I'd go now unless you want to see more than you signed up for."
Alice didn't move, her face challenging, so Rose, despite her mood, slowly dropped to her knees.
"Yessss!" Emmett hissed, his hands already tangling in her hair, the anticipation on his face making it clear he had stopped listening to them.
"You can't pretend this isn't happening, Rose. I saw."
"You saw nothing of importance."
He was hers. She was his.
With a flourish, Rosalie ripped his towel off.
The door clicked and Rose knew Alice was gone.
Emmett looked down at her, grinning broadly.
“What’d you say about playing hooky today?” She asked, readying herself for the task she hadn’t meant to create.
Emmett gave her a nervous but game smile. “Hell yeah.”
“Good.” She cooed. See, she could do this. She wanted to do this. He was her man, and she loved him.
“Can you pick the car up, babe?” Thirty minutes later a smiling from ear to ear Emmett and Rose were down in the car bay to work on the car.
She had decided when she was still upstairs that it was time to revamp. Emmett needed her attention. Emmett needed her care and love and body and everything else. She had been distant lately and now it was time to fix that.
If she felt shame, it was only because she was an idiot. It wasn’t because she had done something that could never be discovered. It wasn’t at all because she hated herself for it. It wasn’t at all because she had done something unforgivable, and it wasn’t at all because even after all of this time, she couldn’t get away from the horrible person she had once been.
His ego clearly stroked in exactly the way Rosalie had intended, Emmett all puffed with pride lifted the car so that Rosalie could jack up the back end.
“It’s starting to look pretty good. Ready to get down to business.”
She nodded, looking at the glistening frame. The outer frame was clean of grease, even clean of most fingerprints and shone as best it could. The interior had been ripped out, leaving room for the new seats she had ordered, the driver’s seat a special order to hopefully be a little more comfortable for a man Emmett’s size. Under the hood was mostly empty at the moment but soon, after some work, it would shine with impressive power. This car, when it was done, would not be one to be messed with. It would drive like the devil.
She smirked at it, proud of the work she had done so far and pleased that there was plenty to still do.
“And can you help me lift this?” she asked, pointing to it on the floor.
Emmett’s muscles seemed to stretch and bulge with his happiness. In truth, she was almost as strong as Emmett was, and was completely capable of doing all of this, but she still owed him an apology.
“Look at you,” she sighed as Emmett’s muscles rippled. “I should have asked you to do this with your shirt off.”
Completely taken with her flirting, Emmett set it down, pulled his shirt off and lifted it again, his eyes glittering. “There you go, babe.” He grunted as he set it down, leaving a large smear of grease across his abs which Rosalie had to admit was very sexy.
“You know,” she turned toward the other cars in the garage, her finger on her bottom lip thoughtfully. “I’ve been feeling a little crowded, can you move Jasper’s car back?”
Emmet chortled. “You mean your car.”
“No,” she sighed out. “None of these cars do much for me anymore.”
He laughed, shaking his head. “Fickle.”
She just clicked her tongue.
After that an impressive display from Emmett, they got down to work, Rosalie doing her best to stay close to him as the house emptied for everyone except Esme.
She was glad they were alone. She needed the time to think. Or maybe she needed time to not think. She didn’t know. She wasn’t sure she knew anything anymore.
Part of her mind on the job, she worked with Emmett to degrease and fix the carburetor while the rest of her mind was on the night before.
The best thing she could do was to go back to ignoring Bella, as she had done before. No more babysitting, no more friendship, no more defending her from Edward’s misogyny. Bella needed to go back to being invisible. Any chair with Bella in it was an empty chair. She could go back to how things were, go back to ignoring the desire to be near her, to the scent messing with her head as she ignored it. She could do that.
She could do that because she had crossed a line.
She could do that for Emmett.
Standing in front of the car, she was debating the best way to put in the new part when Emmett’s arms crossed around her, pulling her in tight. His chin settled on her shoulder, his hand slipping under her shirt. “So babe,” he started, his voice uncharacteristically serious.
Had Alice told him something? A deep sense of betrayal filled her. Her sister wouldn’t do that, right? Then again, a small voice reminded her, you betrayed your brother last night.
“Carlisle wanted me to talk to you.”
“Oh?” she asked, picking up and rag and working some of the grease off of her fingers. “What about?”
He sighed. “School. You’ve been missing a lot over the last couple of months.”
The breath she hadn’t been aware of holding released. School, right! It had fallen to the back of her mind as of late, the desperation of her sudden mating and hiding it constantly taking priority over keeping up appearances.
“They called Esme, I guess. Don’t worry, she told them that you’ve been sick, but it’s drawing attention.”
“Right.” She sighed. Usually, it was she and Edward who felt the most that their human façade was of the deepest importance. And it was. She never wanted to be found out. She wanted to be seen as human. It spoke to her recent distress that she had been letting it slide.
“Right.” She said yet again, her skin suddenly feeling too tight. She pushed gently away and stretched but it wasn’t enough. The car bay was huge, still she felt confined. “You know what?”
Mid-stretch Rosalie paused, studying his face. She hadn’t realized when he was speaking, but there had been a question in Emmett’s comments. In fact, it was the same question, the one that she had been seeing so often. It was a silent ‘what’s going on, Rose’.
She opened her mouth and then closed it again.
She needed a run. She needed to move and feel free. God, she never felt free anymore.
“Come on, let’s go out.”
He seemed to hear her refusal in her words. He looked at her for a long moment and though Rose tried, she couldn’t hold his gaze. After a long and disappointed moment, he nodded.
“Watch me kick your ass, big man.” Rosalie gave him a playful shove, forcing her cheer. She didn’t feel cheery. She didn’t want to feel cherry. She knew Emmett, and she knew those words would trigger his playful and yet competitive side.
Sure enough, he let out a roar of a howl. “No way, babe.”
She glared playfully at him as they both lined up on an invisible line.
“You’re too big,” she catcalled. “No way you can beat—” she took off at full speed, laughing as Emmett yelled that she was cheating.
His footsteps followed only half a second behind. Rosalie wasn’t the fastest Cullen, she knew that. Her skill was more stealth than speed, but she pushed hard, giving it her all and staying just ahead of him.
“Gonna have to do better than that!” she shouted and laughed when she felt fingertips brush her back. “Come on, big man!”
Emmett growled and Rose pushed harder, leaping over stones, fallen trees and once a deer. Soon the landscape began to change, the trees slightly different. They had made it over the Canada border at some point, a trip that only took minutes at their speeds.
“All right, uncle, uncle!” Emmett finally cried as they began to wade through snow.
She turned on jumped on him, her grin more of a snarl. “Say it!”
“Never,” he said through a large smile.
“Say it!” she cried, her teeth on his throat, shoving him back into the snow.
He yowled when she took a handful of snow and covered his face. “All right, all right, you’re the fastest.”
“Yes!” she cheered, forcing the jolly laugh that came out of her. “And?”
His eyes rolled, wiping the snow from his face good-naturedly. “You are the fairest one of all, wicked witch.”
She let out a cry as he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her.
She listened to him laugh, pleased. There hadn’t been enough of that recently. They needed more laughter. She grinned, large and toothy, while her insides cracked, leaking pain.
She loved him, damn it, she loved him.
She took a few steps away from him and with a coy look over her shoulder, she began to slowly undress. Her hips slowly swung, rocking back and forth to music in her head as she unbuttoned her jeans and carefully moved them down her hips.
“Whoooo,” Emmett breathed out, his hand running through his hair, looking at Rosalie’s partially exposed bare ass as if he couldn’t believe it.
“See something you like?”
He just groaned, pulling his shirt off.
She turned, enjoying the slow striptease, enjoying dancing for him, enjoying that it felt like maybe it was working.
She felt sexy under his eyes. Her hips swayed and she moved up to her shirt, pulling it very slowly over her head.
Emmett wolf whistled.
She glanced back to wink and felt a small indescribable pang, a drop of cold water in her rapidly arming tank at seeing him, an Adonis in the woods, glorious in his nakedness.
No, she insisted internally, he was hot, he was so hot. She was interested in this. She fucking loved this.
She pulled the rest of her clothes off and went to him, letting him pull her against him, back to chest. He kissed her shoulder and hummed.
“You really do smell different,” he said, bemused.
She shrugged. “Don’t worry about it.”
He was silent for a long moment, his lips moving across her skin. “It’s a new shampoo?”
“Hey, don’t worry about it, okay?”
“But I’m going to,” he insisted, his face that uncharacteristic seriousness again.
“You missed a spot.”
He kissed her neck, wrapping her in his arms and lifting her so she could circle his waist. His mouth on her neck made her think of the last neck her lips, her tongue had touched. She could still smell Bella’s skin, could feel the delicate softness of it. She let out a short whimper, her head tilting back. Her mouth had been so welcoming at first, so hot, and inviting. She pictured what it would be like to have that heat on her, to feel it on her neck, her breast. The suckling mouth on her skin changed, turning into another mouth and she gasped.
Her eyes flew open at the sound, rejecting the image. “I think we should move to Denali.”
His mouth froze. “What do you mean?” He looked all the more confused. “With Tanya and them?”
“Yeah,” she purred. “I think a change of scenery could be nice.” She leaned forward, brushing against him. Instead of responding, his hands gripped her waist, pulling her off of him easily. He carefully set her back down on her feet. “Hey, come on, I’m naked here.”
Emmett seemed to not even hear her teasing.
“You hate staying in Alaska, Rose.”
Her shoulders bounced, feeling twitchy. This was coming too close to her having to acknowledge that maybe she felt like she wanted to fall apart. She took a step back, her hands on her hips, her nakedness a shield.
His eyebrows rose.
“I know,” she rolled her eyes, doing her best to seem annoyed. “But we’ve never given it a real go. Outside of Tanya’s house. In our own place.”
“Why would we do that?”
Emmett ran his hand over his face, the sound of the barely-there scratchiness it always held rasping against his palm. His head shook. “No,” he muttered.
“No?” She asked, offended.
“No, no. That’s it. What the hell is going on with you?”
“Nothing!” she snort. “I was just thinking a change of scenery would be nice.” She wrapped her arms around him but he held her off.
“No.” He held her back with a single hand on her chest. “No, I call bullshit. You don’t like change. You like Forks and hate going to Alaska. You think that Tanya is annoying and that Irina is a melodramatic twit. The only one you like at all is Kate and that’s only because you guys spend every trip in a bitch-off.”
“Don’t call me a bitch!”
Her arms had crossed, her skin over sensitive, her nerves fried. Why couldn’t he just say yes? Why couldn’t he just not ask? What about New York then?” she asked in a voice that was a far cry from kind.
“What the hell?” He cried, his arms waving. “Since when is this how we work? Since when do you not tell me things? Huh? Something has been going on with you for a while now, and I deserve to know. I’ve always stayed by your side. This is me. What’s going on?”
She felt frozen in place, her eyes wide. She let out a burst of air in a sarcastic snort, shaking her head like he was nuts, and then another. Even when she turned away from him she felt caught. She was caught. She smelled different. Was there anything that confirmed that Bella was supposed to be her mate more than her scent changing after they kissed – as bad and wrong and horrible and wonderful as it had been.
“Is it that you’re not into me anymore? Is that it? Because I—”
“I found my mate.” She gave a squeak, her hand covering her mouth, trying to stop the words that had already popped out.
Words were powerful, she knew that, but she had never seen them powerful enough to make a huge man like Emmett physically stumble. He took a step back as if he had just received a blow to the chest. The gasping sound that he made sounded so much more like a wail than anything else and it sliced through her.
She turned away, unable to look at his face. She had thought that saying the words might feel better, might be a relief or something like it. Wasn’t that how it was supposed to work when you gave up the huge secret you were holding? She didn’t feel that. It wasn’t fair. “I found her. I found my mate, and I’m miserable.”
She didn’t respond, her face in her hands, trying to breathe through the distraught panic.
Emmett grabbed her by the arm, perhaps harsher than he normally would have, but she supposed she couldn’t blame him for that. She let him spin her, ready for the wrath. “Her?”
Rose nodded once. “Her.” She looked up into his face, his sweet, kind face and watched it morph from shock to anger.
“You found your mate and you didn’t think to tell me?’ He bellowed, making the trees near them clear of birds and a small furry animal go dashing off into the forest. “Are you fucking kidding me, Rose? What the fuck?” He turned and with a furious howl, his fist connected with a tree. It wasn’t a small tree, but it shattered into kindling, pieces flying everywhere as the rest of the tree fell the opposite direction. “How could you not fucking tell me that right away? You should have told me that second! I’m me!”
“I just – I just – I just,” she stuttered. “I just I didn’t want it to be true,” she babbled, pulling her clothes back on. fast “I told myself I didn’t feel anything for her, and I don’t, I swear I don’t!”
“You said you’ve been miserable!” he accused.
She looked at him, a grimace on her face and he nodded, looking away.
“I’m sorry, Emm, I’m sorry, I don’t want this.”
“But you do, right? You do want her.”
She just stood there, unable to fight. What could she say? She had told herself that these feelings wouldn’t change her, that they wouldn’t change things, but things were changing. She had kissed her, for fuck sake.
“You’re gay now?”
“No!” she snapped back, her arms crossing in discomfort. She shifted back and forth on the balls of her feet. Was she? It was a question she had never considered. Was it possible that she was… gay? A lesbian? “I like to sleep with men,” she insisted fervently. “I to sleep with you!"
“Um excuse me!” she bit, incensed. She had been trying, thank you very much and if he didn’t like t then he could blow himself from now on. “I just blew you, or did you forget?”
“Well, vampires mate for life, so you might as well be a lesbian.” He pulled his pants on, scratching through his hair. “It explains a few things.” The last part was a small mumble, probably meant more for himself than her.
“Don’t be a pig!” she bit back.
"I'm not!" he roared; his face twisted in a way that Rosalie never wanted to be responsible for. "I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean what. You can be whatever you want to be without having to explain it to me. But, fuck, Rose, you haven't come in months!"
“Okay,” she gave a snort, turning away from him. If he was going to act like that then she wasn’t going to talk to him about this.
“You haven’t, Rose. We barely have sex in comparison, and you haven’t come once.”
“You’re just trying to hurt me!” And it did hurt.
“I’m not! I can tell when you come, Rosalie, and you haven’t. The last time was at the hotel.”
“I’m not gay now, Emmett. I just found my mate!”
“Fine.” He shook his head. “Fine. Whatever. Who is it?”
She licked her lips, sucking her teeth.
“Oh god, who is it?”
She didn’t want to tell him. She turned, hiding her face. “Bella.”
He looked at her for a long moment before he exploded into laughter. “Oh man, Edward must be killing you then.”
Angry, she grabbed a large rock and hurled it at his head.
His hand reached up and plucked the rock out of the air as if it were no more than some pocket lint, laughter still on his face.
“This isn’t fucking funny, Emmett! This is fucking horrible!” She glared at him, unable to believe that he as laughing. This wasn’t funny. This was wrong. It was not how her life was supposed to go. Even Emmett had to see that.
Slowly the laughter died, melting out of his face like runny candle wax. As it did his shoulders slumped. “No, I guess it isn’t.”
She ran her hand through her hair. “I hate this.” Her voice was small, broken, and so honest. She did. This wasn’t what she wanted. Or at least… she was beginning to wish that it wasn’t something she wanted.
“I get it. I guess actually I’m happy to know now. You and Bella… you two have been confusing.”
“What?” Her head snapped up, alarmed.
He just shrugged, unintimidated by her bark. He leaned back against the damaged tree, his arms folding.
He looked away, seeming to think about it. “I’m mad that you didn’t tell me when it happened. But we aren’t mated, Rose. We’ve always known this could happen.”
“I know!” She hissed, of her anger at the surface again. “And we always said that it didn’t matter! We always said that we chose one another! We said that we would fucking fight it! I picked you, Emmett.”
“Yeah, but I bet you didn’t know it would feel like it does, huh?”
The calm matter of fact way he said it made her want to throttle him. She shook her head.
“So, the others weren’t talking out of her asses then, huh?”
Again her head slowly shook.
“What are you going to do?”
She took a deep breath and plopped into the snow. There was a heavy question. “I don’t know.” Guiltily, she realized there was something more she needed to add. “I kissed her, Emmett. Last night. I kissed Bella.”
The hurt was evident on his face, so clear that it was like a knife to the gut.
“I’m so sorry, Emm. I’m so sorry. I never intended… I never meant… I’m so mad at myself. It just happened.”
He winced but nodded. “I don’t think it counts as cheating when it’s with your mate.”
“But it does!” She exploded, all of the tension and hate she felt for herself bubbling to the surface. “It does for you, it does for Edward!”
Emmett sighed. “He’s going to kill you.”
“I know!” She didn’t need him to tell her that. She knew it very well.
“How have you been keeping this from him, by the way? That must be taking some fucking ninja skills.”
Rosalie’s lip twitched, holding back a laugh. “Well…’ she told him about the car, her constant mind games, and the work she had been doing.
Emmett gasped, mock offended. “My car? My car? You’ve been using my car!”
She rolled her eyes, honestly comforted by the teasing. The problem was the teasing wasn’t enough to make her forget. “He’s going to kill me, Emm. And I don’t think he’s wrong to do so.” She sat on a log and hung her head, sickly aware of exactly what she had said. ‘Going to’. It used to be ‘would’ but that was fading quickly. Jasper knew. Alice knew. Emmett knew. Even Bella knew something thanks to the kiss. It was beginning to seem like she had started herself on a path. The question was, where would it take her?