A/N: All copyright and trademarked items mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. The remaining content is all mine. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
Once she was gone and the door was closed, I turned my back and slumped against it.
Two down, one to go.
Before I had unlocked the door with Tanya standing there, I made sure to jiggle the knob and fumble with my keys, hoping to tip off Rose and Alice if they were out on the couch. Sure enough, I could see telltale signs of their presence once we got inside, and I was grateful they'd taken the hint and left us alone.
Once my ass hit the floor after Tanya left, I heard both of them squeal and come back out to where I was.
"Well, how was it?"
"Did she kiss you?"
"Did you kiss her?"
"Are you going to see her again?"
They were pelting me with questions so fast and furious, not only were they all jumbled into one frenzied mess, I had no clue who was asking what.
"Ladies, ladies," I said, laughing. "Take a deep breath, you're almost as frantic as I was. Alice, come give me a hand up and let's sit and talk while I wait for Emmett, okay?"
Alice walked over and held a hand out for me, pulling gently when I linked mine with hers.
"Ok, now spill!" she demanded.
"Christ, can't I get to the couch first, lady?"
"If you must." Alice tried to look put out and frustrated, but the excitement in her voice was too much to hide.
"Alright, so..." I took in a deep breath. "It was great. I had a nice time. We established that it was not, in fact, a date. However, she did ask me on a real date at the end, and I said yes. Yes, she kissed me – on the cheek. No, I did not kiss her. Did I miss any questions?"
Rose and Alice squealed again. What the fuck is with the squealing. Clearly these two got too much sleep last night.
"That'll do for now," Alice said. "Don't forget we'll need to debrief again after Emmett."
"Deal. Hey, that reminds me, didn't you two go out last night? How did that go?"
We spent the next forty-five minutes talking about their exploits at the bar. Of course, neither could drink yet, but they'd enjoyed some dancing and good times. They each met a few guys and Rose mentioned stalking one particular boy around the club, never getting a chance to talk to him. Once she had finally worked up the nerve, he was gone.
Interesting. I never pictured Rose as having to work up the nerve to do anything.
They already had plans to go out again Saturday and encouraged me to go with them, but I figured between Tanya and Jasper plus our regular Sunday brunch, the next weekend was already spoken for, and I hadn't even seen Emmett yet.
Saying goodbye, I went down to the lobby to meet Emmett, stopping in the bathroom to freshen up my makeup and hair. Wondering if it was tacky to wear the same thing on two dates in the same day, I realized I didn't have time to change if it was, so I'd have to roll with it.
I stepped out of the stairwell and walked outside to wait. It was a beautiful day.
Just barely on time, Emmett showed up looking exactly how I imagined he would – khaki shorts, a blue striped button-up with the sleeves rolled, and his brown flip flops from a few days ago.
Yeah, he's hot and he knows it.
"Sexy Librarian, how are you this fine afternoon? Ready for our hot date?"
I laughed. Emmett was absolutely the funniest person I knew, and a great boost for my ego, if nothing else.
"Yes, Emmett, I'm ready. Where are you taking me, Hot Stuff?" I winked at him, ready for a light and fun date after the relatively heavy morning.
"I'm so glad you asked, Bellarina. I thought we'd get some lunch, then I could kick your ass at mini golf. How 'bout it?" He winked back and that dimpled smile that I was growing to love showed up.
How about we just go back to your room?
"You're on, Em."
Taking his hand, we walked to the parking lot where he helped me into a monster Jeep. I was thankful I had jeans on. He put his hands on my hips to lift me up and into the Jeep, not a move for a skirt.
"So where's lunch?" I asked.
Since I'd only stolen a few bites of food while Tanya and I talked, I was fairly hungry.
"We're headed to Three Tomatoes. Ever been there?"
"No, but it sounds... garden-y. What kind of food is it?"
"Pizza! I mean, sure, you can get other things, but why bother? They make the best pizza in the area, hands down."
"Oh, good. I love pizza!" I said.
He suddenly looked at me like I had two heads.
"What, are you not used to chicks eating on dates, either?" I said, shaking my head.
"Never a dull moment with you," he said, turning to smile at me.
"Nope, I guess not."
When we arrived and he'd parked, he got out to open my door and help me out. We were seated quickly in a booth next to each other, and both ordered pizzas and Cokes when the waitress came by.
"So, Emmett, I know you used to live in Tennessee, and that's it. What more is there to know about ya?"
I was getting more used to spilling the details of my life, so I just figured I'd get the tough stuff out of the way so we could move on to the fun portion of our date.
Emmett told me that he was a film studies major, he had lived with his mom and dad back home, and was looking forward to moving to New York to begin his career when he was done at Dartmouth.
Impressive. A man with a plan.
I told him the basic story of my parents and Jake as we ate, and he looked like he was actually listening. At one point, he put his hand on my knee as I started to tear up, but managed to hold the tears in. He paid the bill around the Jake portion of the story, not even giving me a chance to reach for it. When I was done talking, I gave him a weak smile.
"So, that's my whole dramatic deal. Still glad you asked me out?"
"Abso-fuckin-lutely, babe. Let's get out of here – we have a date on the golf course!"
I laughed as he grabbed my hand and walked back to the Jeep. He helped me in again and that time I could have sworn he copped an unnecessary feel. Luckily, I enjoyed it, too.
Ah, mini golf. Universal first date ice breaker. Emmett let no opportunity for touching pass. When he offered to show me how to putt, I gladly accepted the help, even though I already knew how.
He put his hands on my hips and bent me over at the waist a bit. Wrapping his hands around mine on the putter, we swiveled together to hit the ball. We were laughing and having a good time, enjoying each other. This date was different from the other two and I realized I was royally fucked. How would I ever figure out what I wanted or needed when everything was so different, but all great in its own way?
I was brought out of my daze by a soft kiss on my cheek. "Sorry, I hope I didn't cross an unwanted line..." He was actually blushing.
Still somewhat in his arms from the putting, I turned and put my hand on his cheek to reassure him.
Bringing my lips up to his, I kissed him softly, carefully. After a few moments, I backed away and smiled at him.
The last few holes we had left were spent heavily flirting, touching, and kissing. Of course, Emmett won the game and didn't let me forget it the entire drive back to the dorms.
"Em, I forgot to ask earlier, where do you live?"
"Oh, I have an apartment just off campus. Mama and Daddy take pride in spoiling their only son." The dimples were back and I just laughed because my only other option was to melt into a puddle of goo right there in front of him.
Emmett insisted on walking me back to the room, so I let him, hoping for another great goodbye kiss.
Yep, New Bella is greedy with the kissing.
When we got to my door, I paused and looked up into his beautiful baby blue eyes. I brought my hand to his cheek again, like I had at the mini golf place, and he leaned into my touch.
"Thanks for a fun date, Emmett. I had a really good time, even if you did kick my ass."
He smiled at me. "Well, at least now you know I don't lie."
Bending down, he cupped my face with both of his hands, then ran his thumbs over the apples of my cheeks as he looked in my eyes. He leaned his body right up into mine and then he kissed me. A toe curling, better than chocolate, hotter than a fireplace, fuck-me-that's-good, kiss. I literally gasped for air when he let go.
"Nothing for you, either, huh?" he said.
"Um." I blinked a few times. He thought I was gasping because it was lacking?
"Damn it, you are so smokin' hot. How come there's no feeling there?"
Shit. Shit. Shit. What do I say now?
"Well, Emmett..." Fucking think, Bella! "Maybe we need to try again?" Sly, Bella. At least you'll get another great kiss before it's over.
We repeated the kiss, and that time I couldn't help it. I was practically huffing and stomping my feet like a petulant child as I spoke. "REALLY? You didn't feel anything?"
"I'm sorry Bellarina. Damn it. You have no idea how much I want it to be hot so I can convince you to let me in and have my wicked way with you... but it's just not there."
Well, at least this narrowed my choices, I decided. Putting my hand on Emmett's chest, I laughed.
"It's okay, Em. I just had such a fun time today. Think we could still be friends?"
He looked like I'd given him a winning lottery ticket. Picking me up, he spun me around and I couldn't help but let out a yelp, scaring half the people in the hallway.
"Yee-haw! Okay, now that we're friends, can I tell you a secret?"
That's what I loved about Emmett – he wasted no time with pretenses.
"Of course, Em, lay it on me."
"So, last night, I went out dancing, right? I saw this smokin' hot blonde. No offense to you, of course, since I've already told you that you were smokin', too. I made my way over to where she was, but I couldn't find her. I can't get her out of my head."
What were the chances that Rose and Emmett were scoping each other out the night before? It was starting to feel like my life again – ironic to the extreme.
I knew that if I brought Emmett into the room to meet Rose right now, she would kick my ass. She was the kind of girl, I could tell already, that wouldn't want to be introduced to him until she was 'prepared.'
"Em, I know we're friends now and I'm glad you told me about the smokin' hot blonde. I might be able to help you out with that, but not right now. Do you trust me?"
"Of course. Like you're family."
"Ok, then, bro, here's the deal. Write down your cell number on this piece of paper and I'll set up a meeting with your blonde, or, at least who I think your blonde is. Write down where you went dancing on there, too, okay? I'll text you later tonight with the details."
He had that look again, the lottery ticket look.
"Bella, you're the best." He wrote the information down and pulled me into a bear hug.
"I can't even say I'm sorry things didn't work out for us, because they did. I feel like they worked out exactly how they were meant to. I hope I didn't hurt you, B, because I really like you and I want you around forever."
"It's okay, Em, I think I can get over you," I said, laughing.
Giving him a peck on the cheek, I let myself in to the dorm.
"You'll be hearing from me!" I shouted as I closed the door, not wanting him to get a glimpse inside.
Listening to him walk away was a relief, in a strange way. Even though, for me, all of the passion was there in that kiss, I knew it wouldn't have worked out for us. You can't force someone to love you and I was excited at the prospect of hooking Rose up with her lost Mister.
As I surveyed the room, I could hear giggles coming from somewhere on the other side. They were in one of the bedrooms, so I made my way to mine first to set my things down. Rose came rushing out before I got to the door and stopped me from going in.
"She's not quite ready just yet, Bella. Let's give Alice five more minutes, okay?"
"Uh, okay. Can I grab a drink? Do you want one?"
"Sure, I'll have a water," she replied.
I walked over to the mini fridge and grabbed two water bottles, handing one to Rose as I sat on the couch.
"I can't wait to see what Alice is up to..." I said, waggling my eyebrows.
"You're going to love it! So tell me about your date," Rose implored. "Did you get a goodbye kiss? Was it great? Are you seeing him again?"
There it was again, the irony. I laughed.
"Rose, slow down. I think I want to wait for Alice to explain this one, okay?"
Just then, we heard Alice squeal.
"Okay girls, I'm ready for ya!" she shouted.
Rose took my hand and led me to the closed door.
"Close your eyes, Bella."
I did as she asked. I heard the door open and felt her tug my hand forward, so I walked into the room.
"Okay, open!" they both said.
I opened my eyes and there on my wall in coordinating colors was a beautifully handmade ribbon bulletin board. At the top, it said "The Discovery of Bella Swan". I noticed there were already two pictures tucked in – one of Rose and one of Alice, as well as my class schedule from Dartmouth.
I couldn't help it, the day had been so long at that point, so many emotions had already gone through me at having to tell my story twice, and here these girls had given me more in one afternoon than most of my friends had given me in a lifetime. I began to bawl and didn't stop until we were all three lying on my bed, crying together.
When the tears slowed, I realized I hadn't yet told them about Emmett. I sat up suddenly, scaring them both, which sent us all into giggles.
"Ladies, let me tell you about my date!"
I spared them no detail, right up until the doorway drop off. I had a plan brewing and I needed Alice's help.
"That's it?" Rose asked.
"Yeah, that's it. Can you believe it?" I winked at Alice, hoping she wouldn't think I was hitting on her.
"Huh. It sounds like you guys have great chemistry though. Do you think you'll see him again?"
I giggled. "Oh, Rose, I am sure I'll see him again."
Realizing I'd confused them both, I tried something else.
"Rose, can you do me a favor and go grab my water from the living room?"
As soon as Rose left the room, I told Alice the missing details. I had to make it quick, so I abbreviated the story.
"So he kissed me outside and it was freaking awesome, but he felt nothing, then he confessed he met a girl at a bar last night. Where did you guys go, quick???" I rushed out in one breath.
"We went to New Moon."
"Oh my god. Alice, Rose saw Emmett there... she's his Mystery Girl. We have to get them together! Let's set up a lunch date sometime this week and not tell Rose, then we'll get them together."
"Bella, you're almost as great with the scheming as I am." She smirked and we had mile-wide smiles when Rose came back in.
"What's with you two?" Rose asked.
"Oh, we're just planning the week ahead. Bella's excited because of a new book she got. Rose, do you have any lunch plans this week? We were thinking we'd get together for lunch one of these days."
Alice walked back to her room to get her Moleskin (she's a die-hard technophobe) and made sure she had a free lunch on the day Rose did so we could all meet up.
"I'm free Tuesday," Rose said.
"Great, me too. Bella, how about you?" Alice asked.
"I'll check and get back to you, okay?"
Quickly ushering them out of my room, I was excited to text Emmett and find out if he'd be free to meet us.
"Okay girls, thank you so much again for the board. Now I have to get to work on some homework." I looked at Alice at the word "homework". "So scoot! I'll come out and check on you guys before bed."
I eagerly grabbed my laptop from the bag and turned it on, willing it to boot faster. I checked Emmett's note first, and sure enough, he'd written "New Moon" on the slip of paper with his cell number. I composed a text to him right away.
Em- 99.9% sure I have your hot babe lined up for a date – can you make it to lunch on Tuesday? Please say yes! -B
To say his reply was instant would be an understatement.
B- YES, Tues it is. Im going to owe you so big if it's her! -Em
I had to focus and actually get some homework done after that, but I hopped over to the girls' room once I was done and let them know we were on for lunch Tuesday. We agreed to meet at the Cafe at noon and I texted Emmett back and asked him to meet us there at 12:15, giving us enough time to fill Rose in on what we had planned and get settled before he showed up.
Letting out a deep breath, I did my best to relax. It was already ten at night, and I hopped into bed to read one of the books I'd picked up, Why We Suck by Denis Leary. Not every book had to be an intellectual stretch, right?
After a few pages and more than a few laughs, I closed the book and set it down, looking over at my board. I knew I wanted to add photos of Emmett, Jasper, and Tanya as well as some poetry.
My first week of college had been fantastic. I felt like my classes were going great (aside from the Banner Incident, as we were calling it), I'd made new friends, and even met some potential love interests. So far, Operation New Bella was on track.